War is all around us. Names like Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Caucasus, Nepal, Syria and Yemen, to name a few, remind us that we live in a world full of wars and rumors of wars. All over the world, there are battles & skirmishes & conflicts & fighting insurgencies and civil disturbances & combat and wars both hot and cold. This is the day of atomic bombs and nuclear warheads. We live every hour of every day on the brink of destruction and on the edge of world-wide devastation. But frankly, the principles of peace do not rest upon disarming the superpowers. The principle of peace rests on changing people’s hearts. We could sink every battleship, blow up every powder factory and junk every warhead, and still men would go at each others throats, with their bare hands if necessary, so long as greed, and hate, and lust, and malice, and bitterness fill the hearts of mankind. This is Just-a-Minute with Ed Boggess
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My article today examines the Civil War and the lessons we can learn from that terrible conflict. We examine the effects of racism, prejudice, hatred and division.
The sesquicentennial of the Civil War began on April 12th. In the intervening years, have we learned the major lessons from the war? We can quickly say that we have, because we have not had another internal war on our own soil. Yet, our speedy answer may betray us.
The Civil War was not an isolated event occurring in a vacuum. It happened because of reasons and motivations. If we have the same attitudes today, even without engaging in combat, we have learned nothing.
As an avid student of the Civil War, I see many more lessons than I described in the article.
For example, on both sides of the conflict, completely unqualified men were given the responsibility to lead troops when they did not possess one iota of ability to do so. It was a hopeless situation for the troops and countless numbers of men died, as a result. Why were they installed as high officers? They were successful businessmen, so certainly they could lead troops. The folly of such a decision had fatal results.
The implications for the church are obvious. How many churches have installed men as elders simply because they were successful businessmen? These congregations overlooked the qualifications for a man to be an elder and made a political appointment, instead. The results, sadly, are the same. The army loses its way and people die.
Another lesson we learn from the Civil War is that without the proper tools, no Army can succeed. In the second half of the War, the Confederate troops were constantly in survival mode. They routinely ran out of supplies as the Union cut off their supply routes. In time, they were without shoes, clothes, food and weapons.
As God’s people, if we do not utilize the tools/weapons God has given to us, we will run out of supplies, as well. We will be defenseless if we fail to wear our spiritual armor (Ephesians 6:10-17). We need the fruits of the Spirit and the lessons of God’s Word with us all the time. When we leave them behind, we haven’t a chance. Moreover, if the pulpit is bereft of Godly teaching and it is missing from our homes, then we find ourselves without any means to defend ourselves.
Finally, the Confederates fought with extraordinary courage and did things that they had no right to do with their emaciated bodies, tattered clothes and poor supplies. They fought with everything that they had. If we can separate ourselves from why they were fighting, they are an astonishing example or what courage, strength and resolve can accomplish.
We need that resolve as Christians because we face an Army that APPEARS to be an overwhelming foe. Naturally, there is a difference because we have the Lord fighting for us (Hebrews 13:5).
On the other hand, the Union Army suffered defeats in the beginning because they were overconfident and under-prepared. We can find ourselves in the same position if we do not arm ourselves with God’s Word. We must be humble before God, understanding our weaknesses, and committed to righteousness and evangelism. God’s grace and mercy cannot help us, if we try to fight Satan on our own (Ephesians 2:8-9). Allow God to empower you and fight ahead of you every day (Romans 12:1-2).
What other lessons can we remember?
The Civil War tore our nation apart, exposing our shame to the world. We still carry the scars of this War in the fabric of our nation.
The words of the Gettysburg Address delivered by Abraham Lincoln on June 1, 1865 are as eloquent as anyone has ever been on the scourge of this war. The text of the speech is as follows:
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
The enslavement of millions of humans in our land will be a permanent stain upon our national psyche for all time. We must learn the lessons of this war, so we will never again stand in those bloody shoes.
- I have added something new to my blog: Do you think new converts in the early church ever asked why they didn’t use mechanical instruments in worship? Why would they have not? Everybody does today. What are the implications of that? Read my post and join the discussion.
- I was baptized in Fort Smith, Arkansas in August, 1980. I did the white-knuckle thing for a year or so. I finally made the decision and preached my first sermon the next year. It amazes me that that sermon was nearly 29 years ago. My first sermon and my first book were on the same subject. That’s symmetry!
- I preach in an Army congregation, so today I spoke on Army Values and how they will also make us better Christians. The sermon was very well-received. I am deeply humbled by serving a military community.
- One of our men preached his first sermon tonight and I was thrilled. He was “discovered” less than four years ago through our door knocking efforts. He was baptized and immediately became involved. A couple of years ago, his wife was converted and they are very faithful. Now, he is already preaching. He has been a great encouragement.
- I am blessed to have been asked to speak in the Preacher’s Files Lectureship this summer and at a Wednesday series in Florida. I don’t get asked that often, so I am always thrilled and humbled. I also have several writing projects the rest of the year.
- As far as being Wired, I have a cell phone and a laptop. Years ago, a congregation I preached for bought me a pager. I am so glad we are past searching for pay phones and hoping you won’t get mugged in the process. I’ve been online for around 14 years and on discussion groups ever since. I have learned so much from them. I think I am a better thinker and student of God’s Word and human nature, as a result.
- Pray for Randal Matheny’s travels and fundraising.
- God Bless you. I appreciate our Fellows!
- I will be finishing up the New Testament on CD tomorrow. I am still on track to listen to it each month this year.
- I just finished listening to something fresh: A biography of a book. Hew Strachan analyzed Carl von Clausewitz’s classic book, “On War,” which has been used as a manual in military colleges all over the world. Strachan examined “On War” in light of the developments of the day, including the wars that Clausewitz participated in and was influenced by. Plus, the ideas and flow of Clausewitz’s writing. Dry, but interesting. However, it is certainly not for everyone. :)