Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Remembering "Stone Wall" Jackson

Creighton Lovelace, modern Confederate Chaplin

By: Creighton Lovelace
Pastor, Danieltown Baptist Church of Forest City, NC
Chaplain, Moses Wood Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp #125 of Gaffney, SC

My SCV Camp's Confederate Memorial Day observance was held on May 11, 2013. Now, each year around this time as I head out to check on several resting places of local Carolina Confederate heroes, I cannot help but think about the death of General Stonewall Jackson, which happened on May 10, 1863.

It was this great Christian general who uttered, while on his deathbed, those immortal last words: "Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees." For many Southerners, the question has been which river? As a Confederate, my heart can only tell me - the Potomac River. Capture the Yankee Capital and force an end to the War! However, as a Christian, my heart can only tell me - the "Spiritual" Jordan River. It is this river that the young brave Southern Patriot - Sam Davis (for whom our SCV Youth Camps are named) - sang about some 6 months after Stonewall's death, on the evening before his own hanging. We Christians sing the song Sam sang: "On Jordan’s stormy banks I stand, And cast a wishful eye, To Canaan’s fair and happy land, Where my possessions lie."

Again, remember, General Stonewall Jackson said in his dying breath: "Let us cross over the river..."

The Jordan River has become a symbolic understanding or a euphemism for death. One day we will die. The Scripture tells us plainly in Hebrews 9:27"And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.The great General said on another occasion: "My religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death. I do not concern myself about that, but to always be ready, no matter when it may overtake me.

We all have an appointment, one day, to cross the river, in light of that fact, knowing that death could come at any moment for any one of us - in our sleep, while driving, the Lord knows when - I ask you: are you ready? The General was correct when he said: "be ready."

For recall again, Stonewall said with the last breaths of air: "...rest under the shade of the trees."

In his book called: All the Last Words of Saints and Sinners, Herbert Lockyear recorded the gut-wrenching last words of a lost man named Adams: "I'm lost! Lost! Lost!  I'm Damned!  Damned!  Damned forever!"  His agony was so terrible that he tore his hair from his head as he passed into eternity." Again, in the pages of the Bible, we known there was a "certain rich man" which means he really lived and that the account is no mere tale, but real. In Luke 16:23 the Bible records that this Rich Man was in Hell and he lifted up his eyes and cried to Abraham in verse 24: "And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame." 

For 2,000 years, while men and women have walked the face of this earth, the Rich Man has been in Hell screaming for just a drop of water. In Hell, he has had No Rest. No cooling water, air, or shade. Torment for eternity. That is not the eternity God has in mind for you. He wants all people to come to Christ and to know Him as Saviour. Acts 16:31a states: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved..."

Jackson has had rest these past 150 years in Heaven with his Saviour. When you cross the river, will you be able to rest? What will your last words be? I pray, dear reader, that you know Jesus as your Saviour. If you don't I would be happy to introduce you to Him. God Bless.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The word "FREE"

There is a word in the English language that once meant so much to so many.  That is the word "free."  It is the root word for "freedom," which is something all Americans longed for and believed they had after the great Revolution and under the new constitutional republic. 
When North America was first populated by Europeans in the 1600's, it was begun by people who wanted freedom.  They wanted to be free of monarchal rule and run their own lives.  Some sought religious freedom, desiring to be free from denominational dictators and religious persecution.  Thus, they took the chance of crossing the Atlantic to build a home for themselves and a Church.  They knew what true freedom was.  It was distance between themselves and those who sought to subjugate them.  It was living in a society in which evil was far away and liberty was openly preached and practiced.
Later, as time went on, more and more people came to the New World seeking freedom.  They too, wanted to be free to do their own thing, make their own way, and choose their own destiny.  America soon became the envy of the world.  Why?  Because of freedom.
But have you ever noticed that the word "free" has two different and distinct definitions?  To be free is to have liberty to do what you want, when you want, how you want, where you want.  But the word free also means to get something for nothing.  Something "free" is something given with nothing expected in return.  It's a gift!
How odd, then, that the word "free" can mean two different things.  The first is in the context of "freedom" and that is something that is not free here on earth.  To be free physically, one must fight against those who seek to enslave.  One famous person once said: "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance."  That is to remain free, one must always be looking over their shoulder and watching for those who seek to take away their freedom.  The truth is there are many out there who despise true freedom.  In fact, they are so self-righteous that they believe people are too stupid to be free.  They believe only they can help people make the right choices, acept the best decisions, and guide humanity down the right path.  But who are they?  Such people are nothing more than "Dictators" and "Tyrants" who desire to steal people's liberties.
What's strange is how they seek to do it.  They too use the word "free."  But they mean it in a different context.  For the way that tyrants and dictators have always sought to steal man's true freedom has always been through trying to give them something for "free" until the person becomes entirely dependent upon them.
In ancient Rome, Caesar gave away suits of clothing and 20 pieces of gold to those who would vote for him.  Why did he do this?  To gain power.  Who wouldn't vote for a guy who gave him this for "free?"  The only thing was it wasn't really "free."  For it took away a man's "freedom" to vote for whom he wished of a pure conscience.
Throughout history we see example after example of kings, presidents, despots, generals, etc., all taking away men's freedoms all under the guise of giving them something for "free."  During the Revolutionary War the English promised great tracts of land to loyal English subjects who fought against the Colonists.  The idea was they would trade their freedom for something free.
During the great Civil War of Northern Agression, the North claimed to want to free the Slaves, while at the same time enslaving the Southern whites to their system of government and taking away their Constitutional State's Rights, and even the individual rights of free citizens. Some got something for "free" while others lost their freedom.
Today we see the exact same pattern.  In our country we have a government that desires to take away even more of man's freedoms.  They don't desire man to live free, and make their own decisions.  rather, they are willing to give out free handouts like wellfare, free cell phones, grants, bail-outs, etc., all with the goal in mind of enslaving such people who will receive them.
The old saying is: "There is no such thing as a free lunch!"  This is so true.  What might be free for some is definitely not free for others.  Someone has to pay for that lunch!  Who pays for it?
The answer is that TAXPAYERS pay for it!  Whatever the government gives for "free" isn't really free at all.  Taxpayers have to cover the bill.  This means that someone has to work harder to pay for the money that it costs to give something to someone else.  Is the person who works harder really free, especially, when he's paying someone else's debt?  Has the person who received the free gift really free?  Or is he trading his freedom for a handout?
True freedom is to be left alone by others to do your own thing.  When someone is left alone, it falls upon them to either stand or fall.  It used to be that hard work paid off in the end, and that the more you worked, the more you earned, and the more you prospered, and the more free you truly were.  This is the old maxim.  This is how it always worked.  But in our modern world that isn't always the same.  In fact, it's almost exactly the opposite!  Today the harder you work, the more you will be sought out by others who hope to prey on you, and get something out of you.  It's easier to just walk around with your hand out and get what you can for free.  If man won't help you, the government certainly will, and you are almost guaranteed that you won't be turned down if you seek government assistance.  But the more you take, the more dependent you become, and the less free you truly are.
True freedom is Independence.  That's why America began with the Declaration of Independence.  It was to assert that they were FREE.  It was not the Declaration of Welfare.  It did not assert the right to RECEIVE SOMETHING FOR FREE.
Yet, in this crazy, mixed up world we live in, the word "free" means different things to different people.  To be free to one person means to be indepenedent, and self-reliant, able to make one's own way.  To another, it means to have your needs met without ever having to do anything at all!  It's a lifestyle.  Actually, it's two different lifestyles.  One is that of self-sufficiency, while the other is that of self-decadence.
These two ideas both love the use the word "free."  One says, "Let me be, so I can be free to prosper!"  The other says, "If it's free, it's for me!
How can they co-exist?  They answer is they cannot, at least not for ever.  Those who get things free will eventually have to pay for it, whether it be by losing their freedom, or losing the free gift itself.  You can't keep giving away free stuff without it eventually catching up to you.  Someone has to pay for the stuff, and when they find out what they are paying for, they might just stop!
So what does the word free mean to you?  Do you think of it as in the context of "freedom?"  Or do you think of it as in the context of gaining something off the back of others in taking "free" stuff?
On a side note, it is interesting that the Bible uses the term in both contexts explained above.  In Mark 7:11 (look it up, I'm not going to quote it here for you.  Get your Bible out and look it up!), we read of a person who is "profiting" off their father and mother and taking a free "gift" from them.  We read in the end of the verse that such a person thinks they shall be "free."  But this is in the context of thinking they will be free from having to pay back their gift.  But God speaks of such people in disdain. 
Yet in other passages, like Rom. 5:15-18 (look that up too!), we read of the "free gift" which only Jesus Christ offers, which is the gift of justification or salvation.   According to the Scriptures, Jesus Christ DIED for our sins, IN OUR PLACE, PAYING our sin debt for us.  And to be saved, it's not by anything we can do, it's only by accepting and believing in what he did for us.  This is the only truly free gift that is worth anything.  For it is the gift of ETERNAL LIFE.  And it is only through this gift that we can find true freedom, for we read in John 8:36 that: "If the Son therefore shall make you FREE, ye shall be FREE INDEED."
True freedom, therefore, is only through the Lord Jesus Christ and his free gift of eternal salvation.   Have you taken this gift?  Are you truly free?