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As a writer, needle artist and photographer, I invite you to share my pursuits with me on this site. Among other things, there is a weekly post called “D-mail” that examines the spiritual meaning in current stories, both personal and news events.  I invite your comments at  cathycongerblog@gmail.com

“The act of putting pen to paper encourages pause for thought, this in turn makes us think more deeply about life, which helps us regain our equilibrium.”  N. Platt

Tell Me a Story About How You Love Me

During this past summer, I spent several weeks with my three-year-old granddaughter, Katie. She is quite the precocious child and an innocent, yet profound observer. When Katie loves you, you’ve been LOVED. One day she said, “I love that you came to my house, Grandma! You’re my favorite person who came.” My husband is completely bald except for a narrow crescent of hair from one ear, around the back of his head, to the other. Katie has seen me run my fingers through his hair and kiss him on his bald head. One evening at dinner, she leaned over to him and said, “Grandpa. Can I blow on your little bit of hair?” As we howled with laughter, she blew on his hair and kissed his bald head.

One of Katie’s latest favorite things to do is to ask me, “Grandma. Tell me a story about when you were a little girl.” Oh my, have I racked my brain for story after story! One night we were reading her bedtime story and she said, “Grandma. Tell me a story about how you love me.” My eyes misted over as I squeezed her tight and told her all the things I loved about her. But isn’t that what we all want to hear - from our spouses, our friends, our parents, our children, and God? And isn’t that what the Bible is - God telling us a story about how much He loves us? I John 3:1 says,
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!”

David wrote about God’s love all through the Psalms. For example,
“I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me. He sends His love from heaven and saves me, rebuking those who hotly pursue me; God sends His love and His faithfulness.” Psalm 57: 2-3

The prophet, Joel, wrote,
“Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” Joel 2:13

As God pours out His love on us, all He asks is that we love one another as He loves us.
A little child, like Katie, often knows just what true love is. A friend sent me an email this week with quotes from children who were asked what they thought love is. Let me share just a few with you.

‘When my grandmother got arthritis,
she couldn’t bend over and paint her
toenails anymore. So my grandfather
does it for her all the time, even when
his hands got arthritis too. That’s love.’

Rebecca- age 8 
‘When someone loves you, the way
they say your name is different.
You just know that your name is safe
in their mouth.’

Billy - age 4

‘Love is when you go out to eat and
give somebody most of your French
fries without making them give you any
of theirs.’
Chrissy - age 6

‘Love is what makes you smile when
you’re tired.’

Terri - age 4

‘Love is when my mommy makes coffee
for my daddy and she takes a sip before
giving it to him, to make sure the taste is
OK.’

Danny - age 7

‘Love is when you tell a guy you like his
shirt, then he wears it everyday.’
Noelle - age 7

‘Love is like a little old woman and a
little old man I know who are still friends even
after they know each other so well.’

Tommy - age 6

‘Love is when Mommy gives Daddy
the best piece of chicken.’

Elaine-age 5

‘During my piano recital, I was on a
stage and I was scared. I looked at
all the people watching me and saw my
daddy waving and smiling. He was the
only one doing that. I wasn’t scared anymore.’

Cindy - age 8

‘My mommy loves me more than
anybody You don’t see anyone else
kissing me to sleep at night.’

Clare - age 6

‘Love is when Mommy sees Daddy
smelly and sweaty and still says he
is handsomer than Robert Redford.’
Chris - age 7

‘Love is when your puppy licks
your face even after you left him alone
all day.’

Mary Ann - age 4

The next few are my favorites. These is really quite profound.

‘Love is what’s in the room with you
at Christmas if you stop opening presents
and listen.’

Bobby - age 7

‘If you want to learn to love better, you
should start with a friend who you hate,’
Nikka - age 6
(we need a few million more Nikkas on this planet)

‘When you love somebody, your
eyelashes go up and down and little
stars come out of you.’
(what a beautiful picture ! )
Karen - age 7

‘You really shouldn’t say ‘I love you’
unless you mean it. But if you mean it,
you should say it a lot. People forget.’

Jessica - age 8
I saved the best for last. This came from a four-year-old boy whose next door neighbor was an elderly man whose wife had just passed away. Upon seeing the man sitting on his porch crying, the little boy went into the old gentleman’s yard, climbed into his lap, and just sat there a while. When he came home, his mother asked what he had said to the neighbor. The boy replied,
‘Nothing, I just helped him cry.’

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it does not keep score. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” I Corinthians 13: 4-8
Prayer: Thank you Lord for your inestimable grace, mercy, and love. Thank you for children, who, perhaps because they are so freshly come from your presence, give love so easily and know what love is about. I pray that each one of us will become more attentive to the love- or lack of love- around us this week. Show us, Lord, where our love towards certain people in our lives is weak and faltering. Show us how to love . Amen

Scripture:    I Corinthians 9:16-18,   II Timothy 4:2

A Man Called Peter
“Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and careful instruction.” II Timothy 4:2

Many Christians are familiar with author, Catherine Marshall, who is best known for her book, Christy, which portrays the life of a young Christian missionary teacher in 1912 in the mountains of Appalachia and her final novel, Julie, which depicts the depression years in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. ( Both works are based on Catherine’s family life: Christy Huddleston was nineteen-year-old Leonora Haseltine Whitaker, Catherine’s mother. Julie Wallace, the central character in Julie, is in part drawn from Catherine’s own memories of her life in Keyser, West Virginia, as an eighteen-year-old). However, many people do not know that Catherine was married to Dr. Peter Marshall, a minister who became one of the most beloved and quoted chaplains of the U.S. Senate.

The Reverend Dr. Peter Marshall was born in Coatbridge, Scotland in 1902. At 14, Peter Marshall was a skinny, knob-kneed boy working as an office boy in a steel company in his native Coatbridge. He came to the U.S. in 1927 with no money. He dug ditches and wrestled iron castings in a New Jersey foundry. But Marshall really wanted to be a minister, finally studying three years at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia. After a brief pastorate, Marshall accepted a call to Atlanta’s Westminster Presbyterian Church in 1933. It was in Atlanta that he met his future wife, Catherine Wood, a student at Agnes Scott College whom he married in 1936. In 1937, he became pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. Ten years later he became Senate chaplain of the Republican 80th Congress and was re-elected in then 81st Democratic.

Marshall was known for his wise and powerful prayers and his distinctive Scottish brogue. One of his most famous prayers was offered one winter day when the Senate was hemming and hawing over the post-WWII European Recovery Program. Marshall liked to make his prayers timely. Rolling his r’s he prayed the following,
“O God, our Father, let us not be content to wait and see what will happen, but give us the determination to make the right things happen. Give us the courage to stand for something, lest we fall for anything… Amen.”  Senators who had their moments of ringing, and sometimes hollow, oratory, came to find Peter Marshall’s prayers plain and pertinent. Once he prayed,
“When we do not know what to say, Lord, keep us quiet.”  Senator Arthur Vandenberg once remarked, “I never know whether Dr. Marshall is praying for me or at me.” Another time Marshall prayed,
“Save us from the sin of worrying, lest stomach ulcers be the badge of our lack of faith.”

Marshall’s biographers say that there was nothing stuffy about Peter Marshall, even when he thundered from the pulpit against liquor, sexy magazine pictures, and Hollywood divorces. He wore tweed jackets, polo shirts and bright ties. He chain-smoked cigarettes (no doubt a major contributor to his early death) and once surprised some elderly churchwomen by banging on a piano and singing Oh, You Beautiful Doll. A member of no political party, he called himself “progressive and liberal”. At times his philosophy was reflected in prayers before the Senate. He once implored, “Help us to care, as Thou dost care, for the little people who have no lobbyists, for the minority groups who sorely need justice.”

In March 1946, he had a heart attack during a sermon, finished what he was saying, and only then allowed himself to be helped from the pulpit. Though he recuperated, he never let up, frequently ending services by saying, “If I am still here, I’ll be with you next week.” Once he asked an audience, “Are you scared of death? I’m not. I’m looking for-r-ward to it! I can hardly wait.” At age 46, death came swiftly to Peter Marshall. Two weeks after his death, the last prayer he had written for the Senate was read aloud. “Where we cannot convince, let us be willing to persuade, for small deeds done are better than great deeds planned.”

Marshall was buried at Fort Lincoln Cemetery in Brentwood, Maryland. He and Catherine had one son, Peter John Marshall, (who passed away this month at age 70) Catherine went on to write her husband’s biography, A Man Called Peter, in 1951. It was later made into an Oscar-nominated film of the same title in 1955. In his short life, the Reverend Dr. Peter Marshall gave the world many wise thoughts to contemplate. Here are just a few:

Give to us clear vision that we may know where to stand and what to stand for - because unless we stand for something, we shall fall for anything.

God will not permit any troubles to come upon us, unless He has a specific plan by which great blessing can come out of the difficulty.

If you hug to yourself any resentment against anybody else, you destroy the bridge by which God would come to you.

It is better to fail in a cause that will ultimately succeed than to succeed in a cause that will ultimately fail.

Lord, where we are wrong, make us willing to change; where we are right, make us easy to live with.

May we think of freedom, not as the right to do as we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right.

Most of us know perfectly well what we ought to do; our trouble is that we do not want to do it.

One person with a belief is equal to a force of ninety-nine who have only interests.

Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned.

Teach us, O Lord, the disciplines of patience, for to wait is often harder than to work.

The measure of life is not its duration, but its donation.

When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure.

Despite the wisdom and comfort that Senate and Congressional chaplains like Peter Marshall have given throughout the history of our nation, their presence in the halls of our government has been contested. A suit was brought before the Supreme Court in the early 1980’s calling the Congressional chaplaincy unconstitutional. However, the constitutionality of the chaplains’ prayers was upheld in 1983 by the Supreme Court (Marsh v. Chambers) on the grounds of precedent and tradition. The Court cited the practice going back to the Continental Congress in 1774 and noted that the custom “is deeply embedded in the history and tradition of this country” from colonial times and the founding of the republic. Further, the Court held that the use of prayer “has become part of the fabric of our society,” coexisting with “the principles of disestablishment and religious freedom.” Another suit was brought before the court twenty years later. Subsequently, on March 25, 2004, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, citing Marsh v. Chambers, dismissed this suit which challenged the congressional practice of paid chaplains as well as the practice of opening legislative sessions with prayer. No doubt similar suits will be brought before the courts in the future.  As American Christians, we are greatly blessed to have the word of God in our legislative halls every day. We must never take it for granted.

Prayer: Father God, thank you for men like Peter Marshall, who are bold enough to speak your truths to those in high positions of power. I pray that you raise up men like Marshall to pray for our leaders and that you protect them and keep them on a straight path. Amen

So, all you writers out there. How often have you sat at a conference or in a writing class or critique group and tried to write something really impressive in response to a writing exercise the leader set out there? For you non-writers, just know that this happens a lot. Writing exercises are a common way to get the creative juices flowing. Writing exercises come in all shapes and forms, but a common one is to complete an open-ended sentence that sets up a story idea.
Well, this time the exercise was to write a few sentences to set up the following phrase for a great story. “And that’s how the fight started.”
All by itself, this line is a perfect story starter, but here’s what a few very clever writers’ did with it that made it even better!

One year, I decided to buy my mother-in-law a cemetery plot as a Christmas gift…
The next year, I didn’t buy her a gift.
When she asked me why, I replied,
“Well, you still haven’t used the gift I bought you last year!”
And that’s how the fight started…..
______________________________

My wife and I were watching Who Wants To Be A Millionaire while we were in bed.
I turned to her and said, “Do you want to have sex?”
“No,” she answered. I then said,
“Is that your final answer?”
She didn’t even look at me this time, simply saying, “Yes.”
So I said, “Then I’d like to phone a friend.”
And that’s how the fight started…

________________________________

I took my wife to a restaurant.
The waiter, for some reason, took my order first.
“I’ll have the rump steak, rare, please.”
He said, “Aren’t you worried about the mad cow?”
“Nah, she can order for herself.”
And that’s how the fight started…..

________________________________

My wife and I were sitting at a table at her high school reunion, and she kept staring at a drunken man swigging his drink as he sat alone at a nearby table.
I asked her, “Do you know him?”
“Yes”, she sighed. “He’s my old boyfriend. I understand he took to drinking right after we split up those many years ago, and I hear he hasn’t been sober since.”
“My God!” I said, “Who would think a person could go on celebrating that long?”
And that’s how the fight started…

________________________________

When our lawn mower broke and wouldn’t run, my wife kept hinting to me that I should get it fixed . But, somehow I always had something else to take care of first, the shed, the boat, making beer - always something more important to me. Finally she thought of a clever way to make her point. When I arrived home one day, I found her seated in the tall grass, busily snipping away with a tiny pair of sewing scissors. I watched silently for a short time and then went into the house. I was gone only a minute, and when I came out again I handed her a toothbrush. I said, “When you finish cutting the grass, you might as well sweep the driveway.”
The doctors say I will walk again, but I will always have a limp.

________________________________

My wife sat down next to me as I was flipping channels.
She asked, “What’s on TV?”
I said, “Dust.”
And that’s how the fight started…

________________________________
Saturday morning I got up early, quietly dressed, made my lunch, and
slipped quietly into the garage. I hooked up the boat up to the van, and proceeded to back out into a torrential downpour. The wind was blowing 50 mph, so I pulled back into the garage, turned on the radio, and discovered that the weather would be bad all day. I went back into the house, quietly undressed, and slipped back into bed. I cuddled up to my wife’s back, now with a different anticipation, and whispered, “The weather out there is terrible.”
My loving wife of 5 years replied, “And, can you believe my stupid husband is out fishing in that?”
And that’s how the fight started…

________________________________

My wife was hinting about what she wanted for our upcoming anniversary. She said, “I want something shiny that goes from 0 to 150 in about 3 seconds.”
I bought her a bathroom scale.
And that’s how the fight started……

________________________________

After retiring, I went to the Social Security office to apply for Social Security. The woman behind the counter asked me for my driver’s license to verify my age. I looked in my pockets and realized I had left my wallet at home. I told the woman that I was very sorry, but I would have to go home and come back later.
The woman said, ‘Unbutton your shirt’.
So I opened my shirt revealing my curly silver hair.
She said, ‘That silver hair on your chest is proof enough for me’ and she processed my Social Security application.
When I got home, I excitedly told my wife about my experience at the Social Security office.
She said, “You should have dropped your pants. You might have gotten disability, too.”
And that’s how the fight started…

________________________________

My wife was standing nude, looking in the bedroom mirror.
She was not happy with what she saw and said to me,
“I feel horrible; I look old, fat and ugly.
I really need you to pay me a compliment.”
I replied, “Your eyesight’s damn near perfect.”
And that’s how the fight started……..

Maybe you would like to give this writing exercise a try at your next writer’s conference or writer’s club meeting. However, I guarantee you’ll never get results quite as good as these!

I guess the timing of the special D-mail I just sent a few hours ago is a bit off, but who cares!  I just heard that Terry Jones has been persuaded not to burn the Koran on September 11th.  Thank God!

Special D-mail September 10, 2010

Scripture: “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:19-21).

Be Not Overcome With Evil, But Overcome Evil With Good

I am very distressed, along with most of the world, that anyone would consider burning another religion’s holy book in the name of Jesus Christ. I am also distressed that someone like Terry Jones, who pastors only a very small congregation of 50, can in this day and age, get his radical intentions spread across the whole world. But that is the technological day in which we live. I spent some time reading and listening to the dozens of reactions on the internet to Jones’ proposed event. I would like to pass on one by the leader and spokesperson for Faith and Action (www.faithandaction.org ) in Washington, D.C., Rev. Rob Schenk. I have met Rob and heard him speak several times in my church. My husband and I have supported the ministry to our nation’s capital that Faith and Action conducts and believe in what they are doing for Christ. Reverend Schenk put the following statement concerning a proper Christian perspective to Terry Jones’ Koran-burning plans on the wire services and in a podcast on YouTube. On the website he requested people to pass this message on and I would like to share it with you.

BURNING A KORAN IS UNCHRISTIAN, UNKIND, AND UNAMERICAN

It’s hard to understand why Pastor Terry Jones of Gainesville, Florida, will burn a Koran on September 11. After my 36 years of Bible study, three degrees from Bible-believing schools and 28 years of preaching in Bible-centered churches, it’s impossible for me to cite one instance in the life or teaching of Jesus Christ that could justify such an act.

Taking Pastor Jones at his word that he sees all Muslims as violent extremists who want to impose sharia law in the United States, it is still clear the New Testament teaches Christians to love even their enemies. When He said from the cross, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34), Jesus showed consummate generosity to the people who spit on Him, mocked Him, beat Him and ultimately murdered Him.
Later, one of the first missionaries, Stephen, as he was stoned to death, prayed to God and said, “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.” (Acts 7:60)
The Apostle Paul instructed the Romans that when it comes to those who harm us, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:19-21).

Following his service as a missionary abroad, surely Pastor Jones knows the Koran is more than the Holy Book of the Islamic religion. For most Muslims, the Koran represents a culture, a heritage, a people and even a language. Burning the Koran is not instructive, but insulting. It also says we don’t really believe the message we preach, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
Surely Pastor Jones knows burning a Koran will not bring a Muslim to faith in Christ. Surely he knows insulting Muslims will not make Christians or our message more appealing to them. Certainly the pastor knows burning things belongs to groups like the Ku Klux Klan, Nazis and, yes, terrorists. If the pastor knows these things, then what could be his reason for doing something so contrary to Christ and the Gospel? Burning a Koran is un-Christian, unkind and un-American. Pastor Jones and those who intend to aid and abet his intended act should confess their sinful attitudes and repent of them.

Only after the Pastor admits he is wrong will Muslims take seriously whatever else he may want to say to them.  by Reverend Rob Schenk

I heartily agree with Reverend Schenk and I would add that not only is burning a Koran un-Christian, unkind and un-American, it is insulting and dangerous. I am praying that God will intervene and Terry Jones and his congregation will change their minds and admit they were wrong.

Prayer: Lord God, I pray for your intervention in this frightening situation. I pray that Terry Jones, who has accepted the role of pastor, minister, and teacher in your name, will repent and heed the appeals that so many have sent him. I pray that as Rev. Schenk travels to Florida to personally appeal to this man, that you will give him success and lead Pastor Jones to repentence. I also pray that you would guard Pastor Jones’ life and the lives of his family and congregation against those who may want to harm him. I pray that this situation will resolve and bring only peace. In Jesus name, Amen

D-mail for the week of September 9, 2010
Scripture: Ephesians 1:17-23

THE U.S. CONGRESS AND THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST

On April 6, 1789, it was brought before the legislative bodies of the new country of the United States of America that one of the first orders of business would be to appoint a committee to recommend a candidate for chaplain. On April 25, 1789, the Rev. Samuel Provoost was nominated and elected as the nation’s first Senate Chaplain. Since that time, there have been 62 Senate chaplains and 59 House of Representatives chaplains. They have all been Christians, although from varying denominations. In 1857 a group of citizens objected to having a paid chaplain for the legislative bodies based on the concept that it breached the separation of church and state ( I guess some form of that debate
has been around for a long time) and that the appointments were too politicized. So Congress voted that year to no longer have an official, paid chaplain. For the next two years, various clergy volunteered as chaplains, but when it became too hard to get voluntary chaplains (for the work is demanding), Congress voted to reinstate the position.

I wondered what exactly the job description of the Senate and House chaplains is, so I did some basic research. The Senate and House Chaplains perform ceremonial (weddings and funerals), symbolic (public prayer), and pastoral duties for all members of the Senate and House, their families and their staff. The custom of opening legislative sessions with daily prayer began at the Continental Congress back in Revolutionary times and continues today. The Chaplains hold a weekly prayer breakfast, lead Bible studies, and hold prayer meetings for any members of Congress who wish to attend. The Chaplains are also paid to provide spiritual care and counseling for Senators and Congressmen and their families and staff. For this, the Senate Chaplain is paid $146, 600 per year and the House Chaplain $167, 800. Chaplains usually serve for one year, but can be re-elected as many times as they are nominated. These men and women have a crucial and influential position. I can imagine that much happens spiritually under their pastoral oversight that most of us don’t, nor may never know about. I’m sure that the enemies of the Gospel would like nothing better than to keep Christian chaplains out of our government (and particularly off the payroll). Have you ever prayed for these chaplains? Sadly, I must admit that I have not. But I do now.

Another question we might raise is - what is the place of a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ in a democratic society and governing body? In 1981, theologian Richard John Neuhaus composed the mission statement for the Washington-based Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD), entitled “Christianity and Democracy.” IRD had been launched that spring by a small group of evangelicals, Roman Catholics, and old-line Protestants who were concerned about the ambiguous witness of the churches on the cause of human freedom. In its declaration, the IRD intended to set forth the Christian case for, and stake in, the democratic order. The case statement, though very interesting, is fairly lengthy, so I have extracted only the parts of it that pertains to my topic (feel free to read the whole document, which can be found online). Neuhaus wrote,

“The first political task of the Church is to be the Church. That is, Christians must proclaim and demonstrate the Gospel to all people, embracing them in a sustaining community of faith and discipline under the Lordship of Christ. In obedience to this biblical mandate, Christians give urgent priority to all who are in need, especially the poor, the oppressed, the despised, and the marginal. The Church is called to be a community of diversity, including people of every race, nation, class, and political viewpoint. As a universal community, the Church witnesses to the limits of the national and ideological loyalties that divide mankind. Communal allegiance to Christ and his Kingdom is the indispensable check upon the pretensions of the modern state. Because Christ is Lord, Caesar is not Lord. By humbling all secular claims to sovereignty, the Church makes its most important political contribution by being, fully and unapologetically, the Church.”

In the halls of “Caesar”, we must have someone to witness the message of Christ’s Church. In Ephesians, the Apostle Paul says,

“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.” Ephesians 1: 17-19 NIV

This prayer of Paul’s can have a mighty effect if it is prayed in the halls of our national governing body by its chaplains, don’t you agree? If our nation’s citizens prayed this prayer for all of our leaders, think what could happen?

Some Christians believe that there should be a separation of the Church from the government so that a state church does not rule. Even when we don’t believe that, we often act as if we do. How much prayer and speaking about the Christian view on political issues do you see before voting opportunities? How often do we Christians write our representatives in Washington about our Christ-centered beliefs on the issues they will decide for us?   Richard John Neuhaus also wrote,

“While our first allegiance is to the community of faith and its mission in the world, Christians do not withdraw from participation in other communities. To the contrary, we are called to be leaven and light in movements of cultural, political, and economic change. History is the arena in which Christians exercise their discipleship.
Democratic government understands itself to be accountable to values and to truths which transcend any regime or party. Thus in the United States of America we declare ours to be a nation “under God,” which means, first of all, a nation under judgment. In addition, limited government means that a clear distinction is made between the state and the society. The state is not the whole of the society, but is one important actor in the society. Other institutions-notably the family, the church, educational, economic, and cultural enterprises-are at least equally important actors in the society. They do not exist or act by sufferance of the state. Rather, these spheres have their own peculiar sovereignty which must be respected by the state.”

The most fundamental of all human rights is the freedom of religious faith and practice. Religion is both freedom’s shield and central sphere of action. “For religion,” Pope John Paul II has declared, “consists in the free adherence of the human mind to God, which is in all respects personal and conscientious; it arises from the desire for truth and in this relation the secular arm may not interfere, because religion itself by its nature transcends all things secular.” Neuhouse continued,

Religious freedom consists of many parts: the freedom to believe, to worship, to teach, to evangelize, to collaborate in works of mercy, and to witness to the public good. Where religious freedom is violated, all other human rights are assaulted at their source.”

Therefore, as citizens of the United States, each of our senators and each of our congressmen is entitled to believe in Jesus Christ, to teach and be taught Biblical principles, to worship as they see fit (including to pray when they deem it fitting and needed), to collaborate in works of Christian charity, and to speak out on principles they believe are in the public’s good. And to this end, they have a right to support a chaplain to help them on their spiritual way and have done so since 1789, praise God!

The founding fathers assumed that the Constitution they wrote would be the order of law in a God-centered society. John Adams said,
We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” –October 11, 1798

Another esteemed founding father, Benjamin Rush, said, “The only foundation for . . . a republic is to be laid in Religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments.”

And James Madison, known as the father of our Constitution said, “We’ve staked our future on our ability to follow the Ten Commandments with all of our heart. We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We’ve staked the future of all our political institutions upon our capacity…to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.” [1778 to the General Assembly of the State of Virginia]

Our history has proven that more law is needed the more our society moves away from a righteous, Christian foundation. A much respected theologian from our time, Reinhold Niebuhr, once said,
Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.” Is it any wonder that Satan has attacked the Ten Commandments as well as other Christian principles in the public square?

As much as I, personally, would love to have a Christian government, I agree with Richard John Neuhaus that the first political task of the Church is to be the Church. Christianity does not exist to prop up government or a particular regime but to critique it and call it to judgment. To do so, the Church must not be part of the government. I suggest that the Senate and House chaplains are in an ideal position to speak for the Church in the public square of the Capitol and we should pray for them. We should also pray that their office should remain and that they be Christian because as the Apostle Paul goes on to say in Ephesians 1:19,

That power (see verse 18 above)) is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given (including U.S. Senator, U.S. Congressman, President of the United States, etc.) not only in the present age but also in the age to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” Ephesians 1: 19-23

Next week I would like to tell the story of one of our most beloved and well-known Senate chaplain, Dr. Peter Marshall.

PRAYER
Great heavenly Father, who has blessed our nation exceedingly throughout our tumultuous history despite her sin and corruption, I ask that the chaplains who everyday have our leaders’ ears, be genuine, faithful men and women that you have called, who teach the Bible and pastor our lawmakers according to your Word. I pray that their office will stand and not be voted out as it was in 1857-59. I also pray that those God-centered ministries in Washington, whose mission is to preach the gospel and support our President, his cabinet, our lawmakers and their staffs, will prosper. And Lord, place your mighty hand on this situation where a small, misguided pastor and church intend to rock the world by burning copies of the Koran. Guard this very tense situation so that it will not incite violence and conflagration and instead will lead to an opportunity for peace that passes all understanding . Amen