Sunday, September 22, 2013

What Makes One a Martyr?

In Dr. Erwin Lutzer's book,"Hitler's Cross", he summarizes four marks of martyr as taken from Eberhard Bethge's "Bonhoeffer: Exile and Martyr". Here is a brief overview of those four distinctive characteristics.

1. "First, the risk of martyrdom is freely chosen... ...martyrs choose the path of suffering in the face of other options. They could have denied their convictions or remained silent. But they spoke out or acted, choosing to obey God rather than man. They understood the risks, but did it anyway."

2. "The second characteristic of a true martyr is that he does not seek to die, but is willing to accept death should it come. He might even greatly fear death, but he fears compromise much more. These people were not looking for death, hoping to be martyred for some noble deed. Most martyrs have a strong desire to live, and forfeit life only reluctantly."

3. "Third, martyrs have a fanatical commitment to a cause that they regard to be more important than life itself..."

4. "Finally, most martyrs believe that to remain silent is to comply with the enemy. They would agree with Abraham Lincoln that "silence makes cowards out of the best of men." This cowardice, martyrs affirm, is exactly what they labored to overcome. Even when given the option of silence, they are so overwhelmed by the greatness of the cause that they speak out or act as emissaries of justice."

("Hitler's Cross: How the Cross was used to promote the Nazi Agenda"; Erwin W. Lutzer; (Moody Publishers; 1995, 2012); pages 167-169)

Given what we see happening around us in our culture, the day may soon come when Christians will have to decide how important to them the Faith really is. May God grant us grace and mercy and fortitude to remain faithful to the end.

Sunday, September 15, 2013


Over the years of my life there have been certain recurring themes or patterns to my dreams. These patterns have to do with places; certain sections of different roads or highways, particular rivers or a lake, a particular small town, a house filled with bookshelves loaded with books, and other such places. Over the years one gets used to seeing these particular places in our dreams, and we develop a comfortable familiarity with them.

In this past year I began to notice a shift which marked the fading away of those old familiar dream patterns. I woke up one day recently and realized it had been months since I had seen any of the old familiar places in my dreams.

I know when it changed, or it may be more accurate to say I think I know when it changed.

Last November we knew Mom was not doing well, and very well may not make it to the end of the year. The story of our last visit to see Mom while she was still living has been told in another place.

This particular dream happened around that time. In that dream, Mom was in what appeared to be a car. The car window was up, and though I did not clearly see him, Dad was in the drivers side. In my dream I yelled out, "Momma!" She turned her head and smiled at me through the window. Then the dream faded away.

A very short time after that dream, Mom died and a few short weeks after that, Dad was gone too. The two people who had been a central and vital part of the pattern of my life were gone. The whole pattern of my life was irrevocably changed. A link in the chain of the collective memory of my family has been cut off, and now it is my brother and sister and I who carry what we can of that collective memory.

My more recent dreams, the ones I can remember anything about, no longer have those familiar patterns of places, or events. It is if in the land of sleep, a certain degree of anarchy prevails in the universe of my dreams. Perhaps new patterns will eventually emerge, I do not know.

I do know that significant life events touch one 's being at many different levels. I am not one to spend a lot of time trying to understand dreams. I believe there is a reality to dreams that resists the prognostications of soothsayers and psychoanalyst alike. If He who is the giver of dreams wants me to understand a particular dream's meaning, He will make it clear in His own good way and time. I make no claim to prophetic dreams, and reserve a certain skepticism for any who claim so.

God has created us as complex beings. We often focus on the parts of our being and tend to lose sight of the interrelatedness of those parts. I am not so sure how well we as humans understand the fullness of the organic being of our humanness. I am coming to realize more and more just how deep and complex the patterns of our being and life really are. As the Psalmist put it, we are indeed fearfully and wonderfully made.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Sunday, September 01, 2013

"He is here..."

"The galaxies shout out, "He is here." The wildflowers sing together, "He is here." The rippling brooks join in, "He is here." The birds sing it, the lions roar it, the fish write it in the oceans--"He is here." All creation joins to sing His praise. The heavens declare it, the earth repeats it, and the wind whispers it--"He is here." The mighty sequoia tells it to the eagle who soars overhead, and the lamb and the wolf agree, "He is here." God has left His fingerprints all over the world. Every rock, every twig, every river, and every mountain bears His signature."

Credo; by Ray Pritchard; (Crossway Books, 2005); page 30