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Lessons from Ivanhoe, Part 2
Posted on May 26, 2009

One of the things that really disturbed me in reading Ivanhoe this time through was the Medieval Christian attitude toward the Jews as portrayed by the book.  I cringed as I read both the spoken and thought dialog about the Jews.  Both the clergy and the laity were portrayed as viewing the Jews as vile, almost less than human.  They were viewed that way, that is, until those who held those positions were in need of the Jews financial assistance.  At that point, somehow, they overcame their distaste for those of the dispersion.

One scene in the book that graphically illustrates this is the dialog between the injured Ivanhoe and the Jewess healer Rebecca.  In the scene Ivanhoe has just awakened from a swoon caused by loss of blood from an injury sustained in a tournament melee.  Rebecca has bound and treated his wounds and he has awakened with her still in the room.  Rebecca is portrayed in the book as stunningly beautiful.  Ivanhoe awakes to see this beautiful woman ministering to him and is taken by her care and beauty.  This lasts until she tells him of her nationality.  At that point the narrative paints the picture of an immediate change in countenance and attitude of Ivanhoe toward his healer.  Rebecca in her thoughts is saddened by the impact of one word on her relationship with Ivanhoe.

Regardless of your theological bias, a plain, honest reading of the Bible makes it clear that Israel has a special place in the history of mankind and in the workings of God to reveal himself to us.  I found myself wondering, in light of this, how Christians could have such a negative view of Israel.  It occurred to me and it was clear through the book (I know that it is historical fiction) that most of the laity, were illiterate.  The Bible was, at the time, the exclusive domain of the clergy.  The laity, including the knights, like Ivanhoe, did not have access to the Word of God.  That rendered them completely dependent on the clergy for all matters that dealt with faith.  The result was some seeming misguided crusades and some practices that, using the words of one of the men in our men’s Bible study, were from the department of making things up.
Category: Spiritual Life

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Lessons from Ivanhoe, Part One
Posted on May 25, 2009

You may have read Ivanhoe in high school lit or college lit.  I did not.  Jenny had a copy left over from her time at Hartselle High School.  The book is falling apart.  This is the second time I have read the book.  A couple of things really struck me as I read the book this time.  I will share one now and one a bit later.

We have been studying I John in our Sunday school at church.  This last week we were in chapter two.  In verses 15 – 17 it says, “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.  The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.”

Have you ever wondered what friendship with the world looks like, or what its result would be?  Cedric is Ivanhoe’s father.  At one point in the book he is held captive with one of his friends.  They are talking and Cedric says in part, “We made these strangers our bosom friends, our confidential servants; we borrowed their artists and their arts, and despised the honest simplicity and hardihood with which our brave ancestors supported themselves, and we became enervated by Norman arts long ere we fell under Norman arms.  Far better was our homely diet, eaten in peace and liberty, that the luxurious dainties, the love of which hath delivered us as bondsmen to the foreign conqueror!”
Category: Spiritual Life

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Back to Egypt
Posted on May 22, 2009

Do you ever have trouble trusting God, I do.  I am ashamed of it, but there it is.  Time and time again God has proven Himself faithful to us, but it seems like every time we get into a bind, anxiousness settles in.  I know that 1 Peter 5:7 says “casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”  I have memorized, translated from Greek, exegeted, and preached on that verse.  Doesn’t matter; as soon as things get dicey I get anxious.  I pray, journal, pray, study, cry out to God… still it is hard.

This morning I was thinking and praying through this.  It occurred to me that I am not alone in this.  Not sure this really should be classified as encouragement; more along the lines of misery loves company.  Israel leaped to mind.

Israel saw the Lord perform amazing miracles.  Starting with the plagues, they were lead out of Egypt by the Lord’s power and His anointed servant Moses.  They were really content to follow Him right up to the Red Sea where they begin to complain (Exodus 14:11).  The Lord opened up the Red Sea, which they walked across on dry land, and then closed the Sea on their pursuers.  They were really content to follow Him then, until they got hungry, then they wished they were back in Egypt (Exodus 16:3).  So God gave them food.  They were really content to follow Him then, until they got thirsty.  Then like at the Red Sea, they complained that they would have been better off in Egypt (Exodus 17:3).  So God gave them water.  They were really content… you get the picture.
Category: Spiritual Life

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The Crowd, Again...
Posted on May 18, 2009

I have been re-reading Daws, the biography of Dawson Trotman, the founder of the Navigators, one of the cloud of witnesses that has gone before (Hebrews 12:1, 2).  It has been an interesting experience.  I think this is the third time I have read the book.  This time through I am challenged by his life more than I have been in the past and I have also seen an emphasis on the believer’s position in Christ that I had not noticed before.

On the other hand the book has impacted me, not sure that negatively is the right word, but in a manner that has depressed me somewhat.  Daws died at 50 while saving a girl from drowning.  By that time he had done much for the Lord.  He had founded an international ministry, assisted Billy Graham in the follow up for his crusades, was instrumental in the founding of Wycliffe, Young Life, and MAF, the list goes on and on.

I am 58.  When I look at what Daws accomplished in the short time that God gave him and I compare what I have done…  I am at some level ashamed.  Now, I know that we are not to compare ourselves… but.  Hebrews 12: 1, 2 does tell us that we are to run the race with vigor because we have that crowd cheering us on.  With the list in 11 that is a significant level of encouragement.  The question with which I am wrestling is though I am not supposed to compare myself with these saints and men like Daws, the reality is that I fall really short. 
Category: Spiritual Life

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The Faithful Cloud of Witnesses
Posted on May 08, 2009

It has been a tough couple of months.  The reasons are not important; they are probably no different or more difficult than things that you have been struggling with.  But nevertheless, it has been hard.  I have found myself waking up in the night struggling with issues; frustrated, angry, scared.

This morning was one of those mornings.  I woke up at 4 AM with my mind churning over several things.  I lay in bed for thirty minutes trying to go back to sleep to no avail.  At 4:30 got up, grabbed my Bible and journal and headed for my father in law’s office at the back of the house.

For the next hour I wrote out all of the things that were troubling me.  Again, the specifics are not important, but I was feeling abandoned, disoriented, confused, anxious… I knew I was supposed to cast all of those cares on Him, but that was a whole lot easier to read and memorize than is to do.  So for an hour I poured my heart out on the pages of my journal.
Category: Spiritual Life

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