This is a true story of an American tribal member who, after coming to know Jesus Christ, realized just how much liberal policies within tribal and federal government were hurting his extended family.
Roland grew up watching members of his family die of alcoholism, child abuse, suicide, and violence on the reservation. Like many others, he blamed all the problems on “white people.”
Beth Ward grew up in a middle class home in the suburbs. Raised in a politically left family, she also believed that all problems on the reservation originated with cruel treatment by settlers and the stealing of land. Meeting her husband, her first close experience with a tribal member, she stepped out of the comfort of suburban life into a whole new, frightening world.
After almost ten years of living with his alcoholism and the terrible dangers that came with it, they both came to realize that individual behavior and personal decisions were at the root of a man’s troubles, including their own. After coming face-to face with the reality of Jesus Christ, their eyes opened to the truth of why there is so much Dying in Indian Country.
What cannot be denied is that a large number of Native Americans are dying from alcoholism, drug abuse, suicide, and violence. The reservation, a socialistic experiment at best, pushes people to depend on tribal and federal government rather than God, and to blame all of life’s ills on others. The results have been disastrous. Roland realized that corrupt tribal government, dishonest federal Indian policy, and the controlling reservation system had more to do with the current pain and despair in his family and community than what had happened 150 years ago.
Here is the plain truth in the eyes of one family, in the hope that at least some of the dying in Indian Country — physical, emotional, and spiritual — may be recognized and prevented. Unfortunately, persistent public misconceptions about Indian Country, misconceptions sometimes promoted by tribal government and others enjoying unaudited money and power, have worked to keep the situation just as it is.
- “Roland truly has encouraged many people…the last trip to D.C. was a testimony to God’s faithfulness.” Rev. Robert Guthrie, B.Th. M.A. –Professor, Vanguard College, AB
- “…he earned my deepest respect, and…made heroic and very honorable attempts to improve the lot of Native Americans in this country.” Jon Metropoulos, Attorney, Helena, MT
- “‘Dying in Indian Country’ is a compassionate and honest portrayal…I highly recommend it to you!” Reed Elley, former Member of Parliament, Canada; Chief Critic for Indian Affairs in 2000; Baptist Pastor, father of four native and metis children
- “I truly admire Roland for the message he was trying to have heard.” Ralph Heinert, Montana State Representative
- “He was a magnificent warrior who put himself on the line for the good of all…. I can think of no-one at this time in this dark period of Indian history who is able to speak as Roland has.” Arlene, tribal member
- “…hope emerging from despair… This is a story about an amazing life journey.” Darrel Smith. Writer, Rancher, South Dakota
- “He’s a Christian now you know… I saw him crying on his knees on my living room floor. I was there.” Sharon, tribal member
- “…truly gripping, with a good pace.” Dr. William B. Allen, – Emeritus Professor, Political Science, MSU and former Chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (1989)
- Website: dyinginindiancountry.com
- Twitter: twitter.com/WriteBethWard
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/DyingInIndianCountry
Praise God for all that has been happening over the last month. While we grieve for 2-yr-old Veronica who was taken three weeks ago from the only home she has ever known, she has been blessed with national attention – unlike many other children whom this has happened to. This has brought the issue of ICWA to the forefront.
For those who are concerned about this being a case involving a birth father – let us clarify;
The adoption wasn’t finalized because the tribe had intervened, but M&M were ‘parenting’ Veronica from the moment she was born. They were at the birth. The bio-dad was not. Matt cut the umbilical cord – the bio-dad did not. Melanie stayed in a room at the hospital where she could parent/mother Veronica right away. The bio-dad did not. The bio-dad made no effort during the pregnancy or after birth to contact or support the mother, and made no real effort or request to see the little girl at any point in her life. She had never met him up until the evening she was handed over to him in the attorney’s office. The judge had allowed only ½ hour for Veronica to meet this man before he was free to take her. But it took two hours for the transfer to complete because she kept crying for M&M every time they tried to leave the room.
Matt and Melanie are the only parents she has ever known.
Had South Carolina law been applied to this case, the bio-dad would not have had any standing. By state law, he has essentially abandoned her and would not have had any parental rights. This is a law meant to protect adoptive parents and children from being bounced around like ping pong balls. He had also signed a paper sometime after her birth giving up any claim to her. But after Veronica had been with M&M for four months, he changed his mind and because he has a small percentage of Cherokee heritage, he was able to get the tribal attorney involved.
Matt & Melanie are emotionally devastated.
We are praying for Veronica. The State Supreme Court has accepted their appeal. It might take months though for them to hear the case. Knowing how hard it will be for a 2-yr-old to #1) remain away from the only parents she has ever known for months – and #2) how difficult it will be for her to make the transition back if she has been gone for months and then they win the case – we are praying for God’s mercy on Veronica and her parents. As crazy as this sounds, I am praying for a miracle – that Veronica be allowed to go home today, if not tomorrow.
Lord, in the name of Jesus, please return this baby girl to Melanie’s arms.
- We also have a family going to court this Friday, January 27th, who really needs prayer for their little boy.
Please pray for both these families.
But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Luke 18:16
“Suffer the Children to Come unto Me”
Deborah Maddox, acting Director of the BIA Office of Tribal Services in 1993, once said Congress intended the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)
“to protect Indian children from removal from their tribes and to assure that
tribes are given the opportunity to raise Indian children in a manner which
reflects the unique values of Indian culture.”
Advocates of ICWA point to the devastation suffered by children of tribal heritage when, years ago, they were forcefully removed from homes they loved and forced to stay at boarding schools. The trauma those children and families experienced was, indeed, devastating.
However, in the implementation of the ICWA, the exact same thing has been happening to children in reverse. What has to be acknowledged is that we live in a migratory, multi-cultural society. This means that many children who fall under the jurisdiction of the Indian Child Welfare Act have more than one heritage, and many times are predominantly of another heritage, and/or have family who not only haven’t any connection to the Indian Reservation, but have specifically chosen not to participate in the reservation system.
Though some argue that ICWA has safeguards to prevent misuse, scores of multi-racial children have been negatively affected by its application. Letters from birth parents, grandparents, foster families, and pre-adoptive families concerning their children hurt by misapplication of ICWA can be read at ~ http://www.caicw.org/familystories.html
There is no inborn difference between persons of tribal heritage and other persons. Any emotionally healthy child, no matter their heritage, will be devastated when they are taken from their familiar homes and forced to live with strangers.
Even children of 100% tribal heritage can be devastated if taken from the only home they know and love, no matter the heritage, and placed into a home they know nothing about.
In the words of Dr. William Allen, former Chair, US Comm. On Civil Rights (1989) and Emeritus Professor, Political Science MSU;
“… We are talking about our brothers and our sisters. We’re talking about what happens to people who share with us an extremely important identity. And that identity is the identity of free citizens in a Republic…” (Re: The Indian Child Welfare Act, September 20, 2008, Wahkon, MN)
Consequent to this Congressional error in understanding the practical aspects of the ICWA, dozens of adoptions are held up every year. Some of these adoptive homes have had the children since infancy and are the only homes the children know. However, even simple adoptions can be expensive and many families aren’t prepared for this additional impediment. Time and again families have contacted the Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare (CAICW) to ask for help because they don’t have the funds needed to hire attorney’s to defend their children. Some families, after mortgaging their homes and having nothing else to use, have been forced to give up the fight for their children.
- Children have been removed from safe, loving homes and been placed into dangerous situations by Social Services.
- Some Indian and non-Indian families have felt threatened by tribal government.
- Some have had to take out additional mortgage on their homes and endure lengthy legal processes in attempt to protect their children.
- Equal opportunities for adoption, safety and stability are not available to children of all heritages.
- The Constitutional right of parents to make life choices for their children, for children of Indian heritage to associate freely, and for children of Indian heritage to enjoy Equal Protection has in many cases been denied.
Saturday, November 20, 2010 is National Adoption Day. Support Families nationally in defending their children from unreasonable impediment to their adoptions by helping raise $50,000 for ten $5000 Attorney retainer fees for ten Adoptive Families. These would be families that are in the midst of adopting children they have had physical custody of over a long term or from infancy, or stable ‘relative families’ attempting to retain or regain custody within the extended family – whether or not said family is enrollable with a tribe.
The “Fund Attorney Retainers for 10 Families” Drive begins on National Adoption Day, November 20, 2010 and ends on December 31, 2010. The Fund website can be found through FirstGiving.com at http://www.firstgiving.com/caicw/Event/AdoptionRetainerFund
The Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare (CAICW) has been advocating for families affected by the Indian Child Welfare Act since 2004 and is the only National org advocating for these families. Our advocacy is both Judicial and Legislative, as well as a prayer resource and shoulder to cry on.
Funds raised from this event will be used to assist up to 10 families in obtaining the legal assistance they need in order to complete their adoptions.
Additional informational links:
Legal and Constitutional concerns re: ICWA http://www.caicw.org/icw.html
Letters from Affected Families: http://www.caicw.org/familystories.html
ICWA Case Law: http://www.caicw.org/caselaw.html
U.S. Atheists Reportedly Using Hair Dryers to ‘De-Baptize’
Published July 17, 2010 | NewsCore
According to Nightline, the leader wore a monk’s robe and said a few mock-Latin phrases before inviting participants to “come forward now and receive the spirit of hot air that taketh away the stigma and taketh away the remnants of the stain of baptismal water.”
Then he “blasted his fellow non-believers with the hair dryer to symbolically dry up the holy water sprinkled on their heads in days past. The styling tool was emblazoned with a label reading “Reason and Truth.”
The leader told the Nightline that he believes parents are wrong to baptize their children before they are able to make their own choices, and slammed some religious education as “child abuse.” He said the blast of hot air was a way for adults to undo what their parents had done.
A 24-year-old said, “I was baptized Catholic. I don’t remember any of it at all,” said “According to my mother, I screamed like a banshee … so you can see that even as a young child I didn’t want to be baptized. It’s not fair. I was born atheist, and they were forcing me to become Catholic.”
Ironically, the leaders own son became a fundamentalist Christian minister after having “a personal revelation in Jesus Christ.”
“One wonders where they went wrong,” he chuckled to Nightline.
Wow. That brings up some interesting questions!
- Does baptizing a child in the Catholic church force them to be Catholic as adults?
- I gave birth to some kids in Montana: Did I abusivley force them to be Montanans?
- I gave most of the kids dance lessons; Did I force the girls to be Ballerinas? What about the boys?
- Should there be a limit to what a parent can introduce to a child or educate a child in, in case they won’t like it when they grow up?
- Or is it okay for a parent to offer academic and creative opportunities, just so long as nothing spiritual is involved?
- What about the child that might say later…’Mom, now that I am an adult, you are telling me that you knew about ‘Jesus Christ’…and that you experienced all kinds of answers to prayer from the Holy Spirit during the time I was growing up…but you never told me about it? You watched me struggle through my teen years, yet never once showed Me how to pray? Why?’
Hopefully the participants didn’t pay their snake-oil leader anything for the “De-baptism.” After all, going through a ritual ”de-baptizing” and making the kinds of statements these people made… are they even truly atheists?
1) “He said the blast of hot air was a way for adults to undo what their parents had done.”
- Excuse me, but what did the parents do? If there is no God, how was their Baptism any different from washing their child’s hair? What is he “undoing?” Wouldn’t one have to believe in something Spiritual in order to “undo” what was done?
2) “I was born atheist, and they were forcing me to become Catholic.”
- Are some people born atheist, and others not? Why? How does one know if they were born atheist?
Or….is everyone born with an innate understanding that God exists? …Or….
- If he really WAS born atheist…AND from the time of conception never had any kind of spiritual connection, how did he have a ‘sense’ that he didn’t want to have the baptism done?
3) The 24-yr-old, still wet behind the ears, said, “According to my mother, I screamed like a banshee … so you can see that even as a young child I didn’t want to be baptized.”
a) – As a very young child, did he know he was getting ‘baptized’ and that it carried a religious connotation? If he was too young to ‘know’, how did he ‘sense’ that this was something spiritual that he didn’t want done?
b) – Ok, if it wasn’t a spiritual sense…maybe he just didn’t like getting wet. My 4-yr-old grandson still screams like a banshee when his hair is washed. Does the fact he doesn’t want it washed mean he has a right to not have it done? Is his mother abusing him by forcing him to have clean hair?
c) OR – did he have a spiritual sense, but didn’t want to accept the Spirit of God as his authority. Instead, what he is saying is that even as a baby, he wanted to choose another spiritual leadership. In which case, he’s still not an atheist, because even satan believes in God.
Methinks they protest too much. Obviously, the very fact that they are doing this “ritual” and making the statements they made testifies to the fact that they do believe in the supernatural.
Follow up Questions…
a) When is someone old enough to honestly believe in God? Is there a set age, or does it depend on the person?
b) What do we believe, then, about children that die in infancy?
I recently shared with my sister a blog my pastor had written concerning God and the suffering in this world.
I was excited about this blog because my sister had told me just two weeks earlier that she can not honor or follow a God that allows innocent children to suffer horribly.
You know the debate… “How can God be all powerful and loving, yet allow the horrors of disease, war, famine, and natural disasters?” If “God is good all the time” – as the song says…then how come there is so much suffering in this world?
In response, Pastor quoted verses from Job that expressed Job would rather die than continue suffering;
“Why is light given to those in misery, and life to the bitter of soul, to those who long for death that does not come, who search for it more than for hidden treasure, who are filled with gladness and rejoice when they reach the grave? Why is life given to a man whose way is hidden, whom God has hedged in?” (Job 3:20-23)
Pastor brought up a great point. He said,
“…we must remember where suffering came from. It actually came from us. When humanity rebelled against God and chose to rule the world in our own wisdom apart from God, the earth and our labors were cursed. …under man’s care apart from God…Weeds began to grow and choke out nutritious plants. Viruses and bacteria mutated into harmful diseases. People no longer provided themselves with the proper nutrition and habits that promoted optimal health. Jealousy and carnal appetites drove humanity to murder, rape, slavery and host of other cruel sins. Earth itself began to quake and unleash cataclysmic disasters upon man.
“Humanity’s choice to call the shots and be like God has had horrendous effects …ever since. If we want to understand suffering, then we must understand that …Humanity brought on its own suffering through our rebellion against God, which started in the Garden of Eden.”
Pastor summed that up suggesting “Perhaps God allows suffering to emphasize the horror of sin and our desperate need of Him. Maybe that’s one reason God allows suffering.”
Great point. Man made a decision to be independent, run his own life outside of God’s direction and guidance. As a result, without a recognized higher power to look up to – or submit to – Man starts in with all those human things – trying to be top dog over each other, etc.
So in deciding to rebel, Man brought in sin and all that comes with it. In greed, pride, self-indulgence… Man’s desire to be a top dog over everyone else means that innocent people will get hurt.
God wants better for us, but he gave us Free will, even though that Free will pains him to watch
The next point Pastor brought up was even better. We are asking why God allows children to suffer horribly, or any innocent for that matter.
Yet Jesus, his son – an innocent whom he could have intervened for – suffered horribly before his death. Jesus – who actually told God the Father in the garden that he really didn’t want to do this.
God so loved the World that he sent his only Son….
Jesus’ purpose from the very beginning was to be our sacrificial lamb, the only way through which we could reconcile with the father and come back into relationship with Him. Jesus died for our sins.
But along with being the promised sacrificial lamb, was Jesus’ horrible death – Jesus who was completely innocent of sin – meant to show us that God the Father, who loves us so much and hates to see our suffering…was willing to …partake in the suffering with us? To cry with us?
Did Jesus come in the flesh and die suffering as he did – as a way to show us that God is walking with us in the pain, knows how it feels, and that He is suffering with us?
In other words, suffering is all about our own sin….a progressive result of ignoring God’s guidance. The children are suffering as a direct result of human rejection of God and His wisdom…they are suffering because of our selfishness and lack of compassion for each other. Not God’s.
Is it not about God allowing suffering, but about God allowing Man Free Will?
My sister shot the explanation down with one crisp sentence;
“So if God has a non-interference policy, then having a God is exactly the same as not having a God.”
But… it’s not a non-interference policy. Jesus healed much suffering. But she’s right in that…for some, the suffering continues despite much prayer.
Sigh. Okay…so Part II coming up…”Why God answers some prayers to alleviate suffering, and not others?
I was tired of arguing with one of the kids today, and when it was over and he had finally gone to bed, I wondered again if I did right.
See – I was so tired of arguing. Always an arguement from this particular child. So I told the person just to go to bed. I’m done. I don’t want to argue. Go to bed. I had to say it more than a few times. Finally, he went, but only because I’d threatened to ground him.
After everything quieted and I was by myself again, frustrated, I went back to what I had been doing in my office. I resumed my tasks at the computer, but all the while, still thinking about what just happened.
And then I saw a tweet by Randy Alcorn -
“Job stops arguing with God. Job 42:2-6. It is when he surrenders to God that he finds comfort.”
Ok. I had to look that up. What is Job 42: 1-6?
1 Then Job replied to the LORD :
2 ‘I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.
3 You asked, “Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?” Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.
4 You said, “Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.”
5 My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.
6 Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.’
This is what struck me immediately…
After years of having to maintain total control while my husband was drinking, I worked at letting go, shushing up, and letting God guide my husband’s decisions after we became Christians. During this period of time, I even wore a scarf. – not for legalistic reasons - but to remind myself to back off and be quiet and listen to what my husband had to say.
It was hard! Hard for me to let go of the reins, but also, surprisingly, hard for my husband to pick them up and take control. For a little while there, he actually got mad at me if I wouldn’t say what we should do next. So one of the pastors told me to give Roland options, discuss the issue, but then still back off from the final decision. (Kind of a tight rope)
And of course my husband made mistakes. Kind of like a child learning to walk. One of his first major decisions was the phones for our Medicab – and he signed us into a terrible contract. But we all make mistakes. Making the correct decision all the time wasn’t the point. The point was for me to rest and let him do it – and trust God, not necessarily him. In other words, if my husband made a mistake, it was okay, because I was trusting God to make things work in the long run.
Anyway, my stepping back and his stepping forward helped us both, and we grew. Neither of us were perfect, but we did get to a point where we were both much better. We were also much more comfortable with things this way. I really did find myself enjoying that certain things were no longer ‘my’ problem and stepped back with relief that I didn’t have to worry about certain issues anymore.
Which is, I think, what I was trying to express to some of kids when they were teenagers; telling them to just tell friends at school that certain decisions were out of their hands. Tell them that their mother was a mean decision maker, and that I would kill them if they tried drugs or alcohol. I had hoped my kids would find comfort in not having to make certain decisions – kind of like I had found comfort in letting someone else be in control. “See,” I told them, ”the decision has already been made – you aren’t allowed to do what they were asking you to do. You can rest in that decision”
Unfortunately, it didn’t work. Most of my older kids didn’t embrace that teaching. Maybe it was in the delivery.
Anyway, so I’ve been trying to teach some of the younger kids with an even simpler – maybe gentler – certainly more tired – version of that concept.
“Let me be the boss. Let go. Simply quit arguing and do as I ask. Really. Things are a lot easier that way. For everyone. Yup.”
In some ways, it’s getting through a little better. Perhaps more because the younger can see the troubles older siblings had gotten into and know that if ‘such and such’ rules had simply been listened to, those sibs wouldn’t have gotten into those troubles. At any rate, motivation aside, the younger ones seem to be listening a little better.
Sure, I will make mistakes, too, just as we all do. But in the big picture, it doesn’t matter. Does it matter today that my husband, who passed away 6-years ago, put us into a bad contract 17-years ago? No. No one but me even remembers the contract, and it is totally irrelevant to me or to anything happening today.
However, the big picture – that he and I had eventually learned to work together as a cooperating team – matters a great deal. It matters to my heart, and it matters to my kids. The big picture is that he is no longer with us, but our good memories, the lessons we learned together, and our love for him will last forever.
And my older ones, having gone through their grief, are starting to see and understand that, especially now that some of them are raising kids.
So back to that lesson from Job; there’s a lot of good for us all to learn in it. It refers to God and our submission to Him, but can also teach us about getting comfort from simply listening to – and obeying - any of our authorities. (as long as the authorities aren’t telling you to break God’s laws)
In our society, we already know we aren’t ever to argue with the police. Or with a judge. These are ‘given’s that most of us easily accept. And we aren’t to argue with or disrespect our military commander, no matter what an idiot he might be, as General McChrystal recently reminded us. Submitting to the concept of obeying those in authority is a real expectation in our society, and most of us rarely question it.
And arguing with our boss isn’t always bright. (although I’ve done it in my youth) (and lost jobs because of it)
Simply dong as our domineering boss asks, even if is stupid, makes life simpler. (as long as everyone knows it was the boss who demanded that it be done in a stupid way.) Most of us understand this about authority.
Except when it comes to parents. In the last 60 years, the expectation that parents be obeyed has been erroded. Strict parents are seen as ”controlling,” and assumed to be “abusive.” This has been brought on by an intrusive school system as well as television and movies, where teens and even pre-teens are lauded for their sass and rebellion. Parents, teachers and school principals are often portrayed as idiots with whom the children must endure. Although I like Will Smith a lot now, I never used to let my kids watch “the Fresh Prince of Bel Air” because the attitude toward those in authority was so nasty. The movie “Home Alone” is another example were parents were shamelessly ridiculed and disregarded. And those are just a couple examples. The televsion and movie industry is full of matrial that disregards parents.
We have learned to disrespect the authority of parents, and I say “we” because I was raised within the last 60 years, as well. I was a teen in the 70′s, when disregarding parents (and bosses we thought were stupid) had already become a norm. Sass was an art form – one with which you could get lots of good attention from friends for. (believe me, I got good attention for my sass)
Further, when I began raising my kids, I had no confidence in my own authority. If my older children disagreed with me, I actually believed that I should factor that into my final decision. I confess that I needed to be stronger about making decisions and sticking to them no matter how my kids wheedled.
Now, toward the end of my child raising days, I’m finally getting the hang of it.
Kids need to know “No more arguing. Just do it.” Yup.
And for me – teaching my kids to simply ‘shush and obey’ IS my job in obeying my God, who commanded me in Deut. 6 to teach my kids everything there is to know about Him and all His expectations. Teaching my children about authority - most importantly, HIS authority – is MY act of shushing and obeying my God… who commanded me.
Submitting to earthly authorities can be a way to learn how to submit to God. Kind of like – if we can simply listen to, trust and obey the flesh and blood parent screaming lunatic standing in our living room, then maybe we can understand how to submit to, trust and obey our much quieter, comforting, and always correct God.
And that’s all I really wanted from this child tonight. Just to - shush - listen, and obey. That’s all.
Really parents – it’s okay to want and receive that. In fact, it’s our job.
Part V of V: Walking the Walk – What we are really supposed to be doing…
But now …what does that mean for us on a daily basis! What, exactly, are God’s instructions for our imperfect… but trying our best …Christian Walk…?
Walking our ‘impossible-without-God’s-constant-guidance’ Walk, begins with the First and Greatest Commandment, Deuteronomy 6:5: to ‘Love God’ – our purpose for being – completely, and follows through with the second, to ‘Love Others.’
While the usual instruction for walking the walk: Prayer, worship, fellowship, discipleship, tithing, and reading God’s Word, are all important parts of growth, the purpose of our growth is to be able to fulfill God’s purpose. God’s purpose for us is the Great Commission:
Matthew 28: 18-20, — The Great Commission — “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
When we obey the Great Commission, we are expressing Love to God by obeying his instruction with faith. Further, we are expressing our Love for Others by caring enough to tell them the Good News and see them Blessed. The Great Commission isn’t optional – it’s vital to our expression of love for God. The evidence for that is the fact that the Great Commission, just like the Great Commandment, is a concept interwoven and repeated throughout both the Old and New Testament.
The Bible begins with the first eleven chapters in Genesis introducing the Universe, then Adam, father of the human race, and finally Abraham, father of the chosen race. In the first three chapters, God moves quickly from creation of all things to our rebellion and his judgment. The next eight chapters describe the destructive results of that rebellion. (Interesting: this structure is similar to the structure of the Ten Commandments; First all about God, followed by all the ways man can mess up…)
Chapter 11 reports men saying to each other in verse 4,”Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves.” Their focus was on a name for themselves; not God. The point here is not that they would ever be able to build a tower to heaven, but that their hearts were in completely the wrong place. God reacted to this overt rebellion by disbursing them.
Gen. 12:1-3 comes at a critical juncture when society is deteriorating.
It is here that God first states His missionary purpose. The Lord, speaking to Abraham, said,
“Leave your country, your people, and your father’s people and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse: and all people’s on earth will be blessed through you.”
God’s whole purpose is summarized here in the most unifying verses of Scripture.
Most people have paid attention to the part where God is promising Abraham that he will make his people great. But note the last sentence, which is frequently overlooked. Not only will Israel be blessed by this covenant, but all the people’s on earth will be blessed through God’s covenant with Israel.
God’s promise to make Abraham’s name great was a response to man’s attempts to make his own name great in Chapter 11. Why would God turn around and give that promise, when the subject of making man’s name great was such a problem in the earlier chapter? The lesson here is that significance doesn’t come from creating your own prestige, but from being a blessing to others. That’s God’s purpose. He wants us to Love Others more than ourselves. A true love, that comes from a selfless position; a depth of love that we learn only from him.
This promise of a blessing that includes God’s people being a light to all peoples of the world is repeated to Jacob in Genesis 26:4 and 28:14 and is intertwined throughout the rest of the Bible.
God’s gift of salvation for all people is evidenced in Ruth, Isaiah, and many other books. The Bible is not a collection of unrelated stories for enriching our personal lives; it’s a clear message of God’s ultimate intent.
Jonah for example, shows us how NOT to behave. He was one of God’s people, but was lazy and self-centered. He had no heart for the Gentiles. He was angry when God showed Nineveh mercy and he did his best to evade God’s wishes. Chapter 4:1-4 shows us that the greatest hurdle for Jonah to overcome wasn’t the sailors, big fish or even Nineveh, but his own attitudes. - Jonah is an example to those who want the benefit of Christianity but none of the responsibility.
On the other hand, Paul was motivated by hope that God would be glorified among the nations. In Romans 15:8, Paul writes,
“For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs so that the Gentiles may glorify God…”
Other examples include:
Ex. 19:4-6, “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” (What does it mean to be priests but to minister to others?)
Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witness in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Missionary scholars equate this to ministering in your home community, in a close or similar community, or in a completely different culture.)
Rom. 12:1, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.
Walking the Walk doesn’t require perfection, so don’t wait until you think you are perfect.
Walking the Walk requires getting up, getting out there, and walking. (In fact, if you think you are perfect, please stay home, and start this lesson over again at the top.)
We need to see ourselves for who we are: God’s servants, working together in Christ for His purposes and glory. If God hasn’t told you NOT to disciple, then the mandate to disciple stands. God has given each of us gifts to fulfill the specific role He has for us.
So is He is calling you to serve as a worker in a mission or ministry, a support person, a financial contributor, or to pray for the workers on the field?
If He is calling you out as a worker, is He calling you to work in your hometown Jerusalem, or in a similar “Samaria” community, or in a completely different land at the ends of the Earth?
Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil. .May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it. 1 Thess 5:21-24
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. 1 Thess 5:28
To Begin at Part I of this discussion – Click Here
Part IV of V: What exactly are we supposed to do in our Walk?
Are all Ten Commandments mandatory?
Of Course. Some people try to cause division between Christians by pointing out that different churches number the Commandments differently, or put different emphasis on this one or that one.
But Jesus made it all pretty simple when he wrapped the commandments up in that same towel with all Mosaic law. In the book of Matthew 22:36-40, a Pharisee, trying to trip Jesus up, asked; “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
You see, he’s not dissing the Ten Commandments. If you look at the ten Commandments, the first few pertain to loving God, and the remainder pertain to loving others, just as much of Mosaic law had to do with showing respect to God as well as the community. If one were able to truly love God and others as He loves us, obedience to all Ten Commandments would come natural.
Mark 12:29-31 and Luke 10:26-28 also quote Jesus saying this.
All three of those books are actually quoting Deuteronomy 6:5; “Love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our strength.”
The verse in Context, Deut. 6:4-6, reads, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. [a] 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. (again with the heart thing)
But now …what does that mean for us on a daily basis! What, exactly, are God’s instructions for our imperfect… but trying our best …Christian Walk…?
Five Parts: Part V, Walking the Walk… June 10, 2010