A Memorial to the Foundations 5/30/99

“If the foundations are destroyed, What can the righteous do?” Psalm 11:3

Jesus Christ, with His crucifixion imminent, was dining in Bethany when a member of the dinner party anointed His feet with an expensive ointment and wiped them with her hair. The gift of the ointment was expensive but the wiping with her hair was expressive. A woman’s hair is her glory. If you don’t believe it try to interfere with her appointment at the beauty salon.

Jesus said, “Wherever this gospel is preached throughout the whole world, what this woman did will also be spoken of as a memorial to her” (Mark 14: 9).

A memorial is a testimony and tribute to something or someone noteworthy. Go on the Web and look for the heading “Memorial Day” and you will find a variety of headings, such as, Viet Nam Memorial,” “Beirut Memorial,” and a variety of others.

Our nation has a memorial day designated to honor those persons who have given their lives in defense of their country. The origin of the day is obscure. Some say it began on Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, some Columbus, Mississippi, others on Belle Island, in the St. James River, near Richmond, Virginia.

In 1966 the U.S. Government declared Waterloo, New York to have been the birth place of Memorial Day, May 5, 1865.

In his inimitable manner Henry Wordsworth Longfellow wrote of the graves of those killed in battle:
“Your silent tents of green
We deck with fragrant flowers;
Your’s has the suffering been,
The memory shall be ours.”

We have faint memories when it comes to recalling the values and virtues for which our country formerly stood. The Psalmist posed an intriguing question when he asked: “If the foundations are destroyed what can the righteous do?”

Unless we remember some of the primary concepts inherent in our culture the culture is in danger of degeneration. Most of the foundational virtues and values upon which our nation was built are now under attack.

WHO WE ARE is under attack. Evolutionary thought that we originated from green slime in a primordial swamp gives not dignity to humankind. The reality you were created in the image of and by a loving God gives dignity and self-worth.

We are told we are nothing but animals. God told us to have dominion over animals.

We are told we are only machines programmed to make automatic responses to external stimuli. The Bible says we were created by God and given a free will.

Methodically the foundations are being destroyed. Revisionist historians are presenting a skewed misrepresentation of our past. Biographers are increasingly hostile to their subjects dredging up any negative and exploiting it. Social scientists stridently assert that human beings are products of their genes and environment.

Secularism professes human beings are self- sufficient and have no need of God.

Many in the art and literary communities repudiate structure, form, and conventional values.

The media creates the impression sleaze is everywhere, that nothing is sacred, that no one is noble, and that there are no heroes. There are 81 TV sets per 100 Americans and the average set is on eight hours a day. Actors, actresses, supermodels, and musicians are no longer simply entertainers. They are treated as philosophers, theologians, deities telling us what values we should have.

Their immoral life style is advocated as the norm. The freedom allowed by cohabitation is to be preferred to the commitment marriage requires. They fail to tell the whole story as revealed by unbiased studies. When a mother and her boy friend live together the child is 33 times more likely to be abused. When the parents are unmarried the child is 20 times more likely to be abused.

If a couple lives together before they marry they are 46 times more likely to divorce than those who live morally.

Living together before marriage is divorce training.

Numerous studies confirm that couples who live together before marriage have a lower level of happiness and well-being than married couples.

The foundation of the church is constantly under attack. Tragedy of tragedy that it is often from within as clergy disgrace their office and abandon sound teaching in search for what the people want.

A leading personality in America wept recently (George Gallop) when he said of his denomination (Episcopal) “We have lost our denomination and can’t get it back. Because of the structure of the denomination it has fallen into the hands of liberal theologians and there is nothing we can do about it.”

That can be said of more than one denomination. It can be said of many churches in all denominations.

Much of the decline in the dynamic of the churches in America has been caused by ministers who don’t teach\preach God’s Word. H. Richard Niebuhr commented the faith of many is weak because: “It preaches that a God without wrath brought man without sin, into a kingdom without judgement through the ministration of a Christ without a cross.”

Materialism has become an effective means of destroying the foundations of righteousness.

Years ago Rousseau expressed it well in explaining the mood of street life in Paris. One of his heros said: “I’m beginning to feel the drunkenness that this agitated, tumultuous life plunges you into. With such a multitude of objects passing before my eyes, I’m getting dizzy. Of all the things that strike me, there is none that holds my heart, yet all of them together disturb my feelings, so that I forget what I am and who I belong to.” (Cox, “Religion in the Secular City”)

What are we to do?

The first advice given the Psalmist is: “Flee as a bird to your mountain. For look! The wicked bend their bow, They make ready their arrow on the string, That they may shoot secretly at the upright in heart” (Psalm 11: 1, 2).

Psalm 11: 2 depicts the stealth assault to which believers are subjected.

Their tongue is bent like a bow and their words are “arrows” against the bow string. They seek to replace God’s law and justice with human autonomy and its resultant spiritual anarchy.

Let’s escape. Ignore it. Look the other way. There is nothing you can do about it.

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia made remarkable comments to the Christian Legal Society at the Mississippi School of Law. He said, “Being a Christian means holding values the world will count as foolish.”

Did you notice who said it? A member of the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Scalia. Did you notice what he said? He didn’t say Christian values are foolish. To the contrary, he thinks they are correct. He said the world will count them as foolish.

Scalia warned that those who believe in the transcendent moral order and power of God that raised Jesus from the dead must be prepared for derision.

Justice Scalia illustrated his point by referring to Sir Thomas More, a noted English author and statesman during the reign of King Henry VIII. When Henry VIII announced he was going to divorce Catherine of Aragon and appoint himself head of an independent Britain Sir Thomas More refused to endorse the acts. He refused to compromise his convictions and resigned his post as Lord Chancellor of England. Henry VIII, a most worldly king, said of More and his Christian convictions, “That’s foolish,” and beheaded Sir Thomas More.

More did not flee he stood by his convictions. Justice Scalia’s critics proved him right about the world calling a person’s Christian convictions foolish. They demanded he resign from the court for holding such views.

The Psalmist offers three insights.

A. “In the Lord I will put my trust” (Vs. 1).
“The Lord is in His holy temple … His eyes behold the children of men…” (Vs. 4).

Go to the Lord in worship and prayer. He will enable you to gain strength to rebuild the foundations of your life.

A Harvard professor who is a Christian warned his students: “If you do not pray daily, one day you will have to learn how to pray.”

B. “His soul hates him that loves violence” (Vs. 5).

By the time the average American youth reaches the age of 18 he or she has seen over 18,000 acts of violence depicted on TV. Like the drip, drip, drip on a stone it gradually erodes the fabric of our society until it becomes the norm.

There is a stage of adolescent development known as the cognitive stage. In the word cognitive can be heard the word “cog.” Cogs lit together and result in productivity. During this stage of development a person learns to compute according to what they have learned. They learn to put the pieces together, to reason. When they have been fed a diet of violence it seems right. Teens of today are the same as they have been for every era. They tend to think the world focuses on them, what they wear and how they look. They form gangs into which to retreat and hang out. They seek to prove themselves. They fail to see the consequence of their actions. The school is the common ground where all these forces come to play.

Let me illustrate how influential the media is. A little boy in Ethiopia listened to a short wave radio account of an Olympic runner winning his race. That simple single message inspired him to sacrifice everything to become the greatest distance runner in the world and win his gold medal in Atlanta. If Haile Gebrselassie was so inspired by a short wave broadcast what influence is the media having on our youth. If a ten second spot can inspire people to purchase worthless products, then the pervasive violence on TV is having a tremendous impact on 77 million children turning into teenagers.

A corollary to God hating violence is His demand for justice. In his Second Inaugural address President Lincoln said, “The Almighty has His own purposes: ‘Woe unto the world because of offenses! For it must be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh …. as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said, ‘the judgements of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether.’”

Cease to do violence!

C. “The Lord loves righteousness” (Vs. 7).
The starting point is with Jesus Christ.

If the foundations be destroyed what shall the righteous do? They must do what the Lord loves —- righteousness.

What does a basketball player do? He plays basketball.

What does a printer do? He prints.

They do what is inherent in their profession.

The righteous are to do what is becoming of their profession.

I contend we are each living a memorial to our self. Three things reveal our true values.

One is our calendar. Study your calendar and let it tell you what you think of our Lord and righteous deeds. Does your schedule reveal time reserved daily to spend time alone with Him in prayer and Bible study? What does your Sunday calendar reveal regarding your devotion to Him?

A second is your check book. In what are you investing. What support to you give to righteous causes? Is it a “me” centered check book or a Christ centered one revealing spiritual interests?

A third is your Bible. What does it reveal by its wear or lack of wear? Does it show signs of use?

John the disciple of Christ was called “Camel Knees.” His knees supposedly had callouses like those of a camel from kneeling so often in prayer.

Your membership involvement is a memorial to you. In what are you involved? How involved are you in the body of Christ?

Memorial Day is a day to pay tribute to those who gave their lives for us. In the eternal spiritual warfare Christ gave his life for us. What gratitude are you showing? What is your memorial to His victory won at Calvary?

The foundations of any nation can be destroyed. But there is one indestructible foundation on which
life can be built.

“No other foundation can any man lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (I Corinthians 3: 11).

He can enable a person to live properly on their way to that city which has foundations whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10).