Pastor Don Wolan

Pastor Donald Wolan
Downriver Christian Community Church
Melvindale, Michigan

Monday, February 28, 2011

It's Black and White!

The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him! - Proverbs 18:17

Today brings an end to the month of February. The month of February was set aside by President Ford in 1976 to commemorate the history and contributions of black Americans in the development of American society and culture. Most Americans are ignorant concerning America's founding and founders, its providential path to a free and independent state, and the important roles played by many people with a deep conviction and trust in God Almighty. It is also true that most Americans are even more ignorant of the roles black Americans have played in the country's birth and development. Many Americans are somewhat knowledgeable about the Civil Rights Movement of the sixties, slavery in early years of the Republic, and the poor treatment of blacks through most of the pre-civil rights era. However, when asked to name the contributions of black Americans in the Revolutionary War or the development of the black political thought and action, most people will scratch their heads and admit to possessing very little or no knowledge at all about those areas.

According to a 2003 Wallbuilder's article:
A black civil rights leader recently told an assembly at Michigan State University that American democracy was only decades old rather than centuries - that not until the 1965 Voting Rights Act when blacks could vote did democracy truly begin.[1]
Unfortunately, in most cases, there is only one side of the story being presented to students and the public.

In 1911, President Woodrow Wilson, however, wisely observed:
A nation which does not remember what it was yesterday, does not know what it is today, nor what it is trying to do. We are trying to do a futile thing if we do not know where we came from or what we have been about. [2]
If any group of people should study and understand history, it should be Christians. We understand that history has a purpose and is moving in a direction ordained by God himself. The Bible says that the men of Issachar understood the times and knew what to do. The history of all nations, peoples, and tribes must be understood and examined through the lens of God's eternal plan and purposes. To view history through the set of lenses provided by revolutionaries, revisionists, or secularists will eventually lead to a society shaped by the image of its history providers. Black History Month has been designated for ALL Americans to take an opportunity to examine a part of their country's history, and the amount you will learn may surprise you. For a good starting point, I recommend going to Wallbuilder's homepage and clicking on Black History. There are numerous articles and videos, all documented, for your reading, viewing, and learning pleasure.

May we take the time to be studious of and give thanks for our history and for those who pioneered the blessed road we now find ourselves on.

Pastor Don

[1] The Washington Times online, Steve Miller, "Jackson dismisses Founding Fathers," September 16, 2002.
[2] William J. Federer, America's God and Country, Encyclopedia of Quotations (FAME Pub., Inc., 1996), p. 697. 


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Mission Possible!

While browsing through a recent Reader's Digest article, I happened to notice an advertisement for free college courses. There were many different kinds of classes to choose from and many universities offering them. Schools such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Michigan as well as numerous other prestigious universities had numerous classes on video and offered them free of charge to anyone willing to take the time to view them. There was no credit offered for taking the classes, but I suppose just the opportunity to watch an entire college course would appeal to many people who had never had the chance to attend college or who were just interested in or curious about a particular subject. The latter applies to me!

A couple of courses in particular caught my attention, so I visited the website and began to watch two classes. One of the classes I began to watch was an ethics class entitled "The Morality of Murder"! It was offered by Harvard University. The other class was offered by Yale University and was an entry-level philosophy class on death. What was being taught to these young people in both of these classes was a particular religious view about life and the world. I have stated over and over again that all of life is religious and that religious presuppositions form the basis of all our thinking. Separating religious thought from so called “secular thought” is a modern day invention and has no basis in reality.

While many different thoughts went through my head while watching these class videos, one thought in particular saddened me. These universities were founded at one time by Christians for the raising up of Christian ministers! Let's compare a description of the founding premise of Harvard University with its current mission statement.
By all accounts, the chief impetus in the founding of Harvard was to allow the training of home-grown clergy so that the Puritan colony would not need to rely on immigrating graduates of England's Oxford and Cambridge universities for well-educated pastors:

After God had carried us safe to New England and we had builded our houses, provided necessaries for our livelihood, rear'd convenient places for God's worship, and settled the civil government: One of the next things we longed for and looked after was to advance learning and perpetuate it to posterity; dreading to leave an illiterate ministry to the churches, when our present ministers shall lie in the dust.
Harvard was also founded as a school to educate American Indians in order to train them as ministers among their tribes. Harvard's Charter of 1650 calls for "the education of the English and Indian youth of this Country in knowledge and godliness." Indeed, Harvard and missionaries to the local tribes were intricately connected. The first Bible to be printed in the entire North American continent was printed at Harvard in an Indian language, Massachusett. Termed the Eliot Bible since it was translated by John Eliot, this book was used to facilitate conversion of Indians, ideally by Harvard-educated Indians themselves.

Today, Harvard’s history reads differently in its own writings:
Gradually emancipating itself from religious control, the university has focused on intellectual training and the highest quality of academic scholarship, becoming known for its emphasis on critical thinking. Not without criticism, Harvard has weathered the storms of social change, opening its doors to minorities and women. Following student demands for greater autonomy in the 1960s, Harvard, like most institutions of higher learning, largely abandoning any oversight of the private lives of its young undergraduates.

And its mission statement reads:
Harvard College adheres to the purposes for which the Charter of 1650 was granted: "The advancement of all good literature, arts, and sciences; the advancement and education of youth in all manner of good literature, arts, and sciences; and all other necessary provisions that may conduce to the education of the ... youth of this country...." In brief: Harvard strives to create knowledge, to open the minds of students to that knowledge, and to enable students to take best advantage of their educational opportunities.

To these ends, the College encourages students to respect ideas and their free expression, and to rejoice in discovery and in critical thought; to pursue excellence in a spirit of productive cooperation; and to assume responsibility for the consequences of personal actions. Harvard seeks to identify and to remove restraints on students' full participation, so that individuals may explore their capabilities and interests and may develop their full intellectual and human potential. Education at Harvard should liberate students to explore, to create, to challenge, and to lead. The support the College provides to students is a foundation upon which self-reliance and habits of lifelong learning are built: Harvard expects that the scholarship and collegiality it fosters in its students will lead them in their later lives to advance knowledge, to promote understanding, and to serve society.

Harvard’s evolution, as well as that of many other early institutions, is a sad reminder of the encroachment of the world’s thinking and control of these institutions once dedicated to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords for the advancement of the Kingdom of God!

Our mission, church, - should we choose to accept it - is to once again reach out to disciple all nations and institutions with the knowledge of God and His Son, Jesus Christ. May God grant us the strength and wisdom to fight on behalf of our King!

Pastor Don

Monday, February 14, 2011

God's Valentine!

As society attempts to redefine or eliminate the institution of marriage as well as various Biblical beliefs and practices, the groundwork for a future generation void of any Biblical, cultural, or spiritual reference points is already well underway. The church itself has abandoned or redefined many historical practices or traditions that brought the saints a time for reflection, repentance, or celebration for the things God and his loyal saints had done in previous generations. The Catholic Church, as well as most mainline Protestant churches, used to put out a yearly calender with every day set aside to remember and celebrate a past saint's life. It was done to honor those who had gone before us and who paid a tremendous cost for the advancement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

One of the saints who was awarded an honor of having a day to commemorate his life was St. Valentine. The most popular story to be associated with Saint Valentine is that he lived approximately 250A.D. St. Valentine was a leader in the church at Rome, which was being persecuted at the time by the Roman Emperor Claudius II. Claudius had imposed a ban on marriage because married men could not be conscripted into the military. St. Valentine violated the ban and conducted marriages anyway. He was imprisoned and executed for his violation of the Emperor's decree as well as for trying to convert the emperor to Christianity.

While awaiting his execution, Valentine befriended his jailer and the jailer's daughter. Legend has it that the jailer's daughter was blind and received her sight when St. Valentine prayed over her. Valentine and the jailer's daughter became good friends in a parental sort of relationship and communicated with each other frequently while he was in prison. After Valentine's execution, the jailer's daughter went to Valentine's cell where she found a note addressed to her. The note was from St. Valentine and encouraged her in her service to God and to also thanked her for her visits and friendship. The note concluded with the farewell of...."Love, from your Valentine"!

As we celebrate Saint Valentine's Day with our loved ones, may we recall the origin and the meaning of the day as well as the ultimate sacrifice of the man associated with it. May we be inspired to stand, proclaim, and live the message of Christ without compromise and dedicate every day for the glory of Jesus Christ!

Pastor Don

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Give it Up for Laying it Down!

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interest, but also to the interest of others. (Philippians 2:3-4)

It was recently brought to my attention that a young woman from our congregation was involved in an incident that I felt I had to proudly comment on. This young woman swims on one of the area's junior high school swimming teams and has been an outstanding swimmer in her school career as well as one of the best swimmers in the state of Michigan! She recently competed at the state finals and finished sixth in the state in the 100-meter breaststroke, her favorite event. She also competed in another event that was not her strong suit, but she gave it her best shot anyway. In that race, she was tied by a girl from another school. When it came to the presentation and awarding of the medals, there were not enough medals to go around and the girl from the other school did not get a medal. Then it was actually left up to the two girls as to who would get the medal. They had to decide the issue themselves. When the young woman from our church noticed the heartbreak on the face of the girl who had tied her in the race, she was moved with compassion and awarded the medal to the girl who had tied her! The other young girl could not believe her eyes and proudly accepted the medal with heartfelt tears and gratitude. It was an act of true sportsmanship, respect, and compassion between two competitors who had given the race their best shot.

In the scriptures, we are told a story about a young rich man who wanted to know how to receive eternal life. Jesus told him to obey all the commandments. The young man pridefully announced that he had obeyed all of them from the time he was a child. Jesus then told him if he wanted to be perfect, he should go and sell all he had and then come and follow Jesus. At this, the young man balked and walked away sadly because he possessed great wealth. When it came time to really being serious about serving God, the young man could not let go of his prized treasures. He may have worked hard for his wealth and sacrificed many things in order to have it. It may have brought him new opportunities, new and influential friends, and a good reputation. To give up everything and follow Jesus just didn't seem as fulfilling as his current lifestyle.

In contrast to the rich young man, the young woman from our church laid aside something that cost her dearly. Her hard work, monetary sacrifice, and statewide recognition were laid aside so someone else could be blessed, rewarded, and recognized. She saw the other girl's disappointment when she did not receive a medal and realized from her own life how precious that particular medal was to the young girl. I'm sure no matter how many medals the other girl wins in her swimming career, she will always remember the medal that was given to her as an act of sportsmanship, compassion, and friendship!

May we follow the example of the young woman from Downriver and give up something of great value and importance to us so that others can come to know Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. Jesus said, "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13).

Isn't it about time we lay down our lives for the Kingdom of God so others can take hold of the eternal life offered by Jesus Christ?

Pastor Don

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The End is Near!

This upcoming Sunday brings the ultimate conclusion to the entire football season. Whether it is youth, high school, college, or professional football, the Super Bowl is THE final football game of the season. With the potential for billions of viewers and tens of billions in revenue, the Super Bowl has become an event of gigantic and worldwide proportions. Everything about it is BIGGER than life! The media coverage, the stories of the numerous athletes competing, the ticket prices, the television commercials, and the halftime entertainment. Everything about the day screams "important" to a worldwide audience only willing to take in every moment and believe every report coming out of or about the game! The events surrounding the game have become bigger than the game itself in many instances. The game, many times, fails to live up to the hype surrounding it and leaves many people feeling disappointed and embarrassed that they have just fallen for the hype and promise of some type of "fulfillment" from watching "The Game"!

P.T. Barnum is credited with proclaiming, "There's a sucker born every minute." As I thought about the upcoming Super Bowl and all the hype, glitter, and pomp surrounding it, I could not help think about the distractions in life and how many times we get distracted by things that seem so important. Now don't get me wrong - I love sports and different activities just as much as the next person. However, there is a proper place in life for all these things. To be suckered in by the hype will surely leave us empty and depressed. Jesus said, "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" (Mark 8:36). In contrast, seeking the Kingdom of God is not only our first priority, but also something that strengthens our walk with God and leads to eternal life!

May we continually learn to be careful and discerning in what we believe, seek, and place great importance in. The Kingdom of God is the ultimate game in town with great rewards for the "winners" and great "disappointment" for the losers. May we not be the "suckers" whom P.T. Barnum spoke about and believe all the "hype." Instead, may we be wise and watchful in our words and conduct and always prepared to be about our Father's very important business because the end of our season is near - we just don't know when.