How Is Your Vision?

CELT
The hymn “Be Thou My Vision” has deeper meaning than you think.

Saint Patrick’s Day is not about getting drunk.

Thousands of years ago, Ireland was a wild land filled with fierce, tribal people known as the ancient Celts. Much like the other early peoples of Europe, the Celts were devout pagans, animists who worshiped nature along with thousands of false gods and goddesses. Ruled by spiritual leaders who were fascinated with the occult, known as the Druids, the pagan Celts of Ireland were in bondage to sin and dark superstition. In a complicated series of events that can only be interpreted as God’s providence, the Irish Celts were finally reached by the truth of the gospel, thanks to the bravery and faithfulness of a young man named Maewyn Succat, whose name was changed to Patrick by an Irish chieftain he served. Patrick was a Britonic Celt from what is now modern-day England. He survived being kidnapped by Irish pirates, who sold him into slavery for six long years.

During his time in Ireland, Patrick realized his need for God’s salvation, and asked the Lord to come into his heart and save him. Being kidnapped and forced into slavery in a foreign land had greatly humbled Patrick, who was formerly rebellious against his Christian parents in Britain. It is said that Patrick used to pray one hundred times a day, acknowledging his constant need for God while he fulfilled his daily tasks. He eventually managed to escape Ireland, returning home to safety. However, Patrick was plagued by his memories of the pagan Irish people, burdened by their desperate need for a Savior. Following God’s call, Patrick chose to return to Ireland, determined to release his former captors from the slavery of sin. Amazingly, Patrick’s message of God’s truth was well received, and quickly spread throughout all the land of Ireland.

However, the Irish people’s memory of paganism persisted for centuries to come.

The Celtic people of Ireland willingly converted to Christianity, in spite of stubborn opposition from the pagan druid priests and chieftains. However, since people are naturally slow to embrace change, the Irish people transferred many elements of their pagan beliefs to fit into a Christian context. For example, many of their favorite gods and goddesses were transformed into saints with the same names. This practice of Christianizing ancient pagan beliefs continued for many centuries, so that superstition prevailed under the guise of spirituality. Even though the Catholic church claimed Patrick as one of its followers, the truth is Patrick would have wanted nothing to do with it whatsoever. He would have recognized the subtle blend of pagan practices with Christian culture, shaking his head at how cleverly deceitful its doctrine was to the Irish people. Patrick would weep if he were alive today to behold how the Catholic church has falsely associated itself with his legacy.

No matter how deeply paganism pervaded the Celtic conscience, exposure to God’s truth could not escape the Irish people’s hearts.

A well-known hymn, called “Be Thou My Vision,” contains a very old Irish melody, paired with distinctly Christian words. While it is beloved by many people, not many are aware of the hidden Celtic symbolism in its lyrics. First of all, the phrase “Be Thou my vision” is significant to Celtic culture because the ancient pagan Celts believed that certain people were gifted with the ability to see into the future, beholding mystical visions of the unknown. Within the context of the hymn, this belief holds a direct parallel to a Christian trusting in God with his future, and seeking His will for his life. Rather than seeking out guidance from superstition as they did in ancient times, the Irish learned to seek out God as the main Authority in their lives. Second, the phrase “High King of Heaven” is significant to Celtic culture because of the system of government in ancient Ireland. The land was once greatly divided into several tribes and petty kingdoms, who were constantly warring with each other over trivial matters such as stolen cattle. However, there was one man appointed to be the High king, who had the rightful rule over all the other kingdoms and tribes of Ireland. His power was superior over everyone else without question. Within the context of the hymn, this historical fact holds a direct parallel to God being superior to all other false gods, Celtic pagan deities included. By calling God the High King of Heaven, the Irish people are acknowledging His sovereignty over their lives, and also His true, absolute power over all other lesser, imaginary deities. These words in the hymn form a beautiful, poetic meaning once they are connected to the personal spiritual testimony of the Irish.

 

God’s own Words reflect the truth of “Be Thou My Vision” the best:

 

Psalm 97:9 ~ “For thou, LORD, art high above all the earth: thou art exalted far above all gods.

Psalm 95:3 ~ “For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.”

Psalm 37:4 ~ “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

Psalm 17:7 ~ “For God is the King of all the earth: sing ye praises with understanding.

Psalm 5:3 ~ “My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.

Matthew 6:33 ~ “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

1 Corinthians 8:6 ~ “But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

1 Corinthians 15:57 ~ “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Galatians 3:1 ~ “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?

Galatians 4:3 ~ “Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world:

Exodus 20:3 ~ “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

 

What can we learn from the testimony of the Irish people?

The story of the Irish people’s salvation is truly inspirational, proving that God can work miracles in people’s hearts in spite of all opposing circumstances. However, we can also learn from some of the lessons they experienced the hard way, such as falling back into superstition under a different name and form. How can we guard ourselves from falling prey to the same old sins over and over? The answer is simple – we must make God our one and only Vision. When He takes His rightful place as High King of our hearts and their desires, we will be able to see His will clearly without confusion. When we make God our first thought each and every day, we will be less likely to fail Him and more likely to please Him, seeking to honor His Name through all that we do, think, and say. If we give our Heavenly Father the respect He deserves by acting like His adopted children as we should, we will make Him very happy indeed. So how is your vision today? Are you seeking God first, relying on Him for your future to be revealed to you day by day? Are you acknowledging Him as the High King of your heart and all its desires? I hope so.

– Gloria D. Hopkins

 

 

Finding the Dream: The True Meaning of Equality

 

hands

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

ALL men are created equal.

On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. gave his immortal speech about his dream of equality for all people in America. He believed in a world that would celebrate and embrace people for how they look on the inside, rather than just the outside. His legacy is remembered to this very day, inspiring millions of people everywhere to respect the truth that skin color does NOT define a person’s character.

While our nation has made tremendous progress in achieving King’s ideal dream, there are still more than a few holes that need to be patched up in the philosophy of equality. Let’s look at a few points of truth that need to be cleared up before we can find his dream, the true meaning of equality:

1. Equality isn’t just black and white.

First of all, the concept of equality is not two-dimensional. It has many different facets that contribute to its definition, just like the many different people groups who make up our world. If we can establish the fact that equality is for everybody, not just for black and white people, then we will make great strides in achieving harmony and peace for all mankind.

Now, before this post gets misinterpreted, allow me to define the word equality:

equality

[ih-kwol-i-tee]
noun, plural equalities.
1.

the state or quality of being equal; correspondence in quantity, degree, value, rank, or ability:

promoting equality of opportunity in the workplace.

 

That is the internet dictionary’s definition, but here is my own personal definition:

Equality is the condition where every person is recognized as a unique individual, worthy of receiving certain unalienable rights such as respect, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of career choice and opportunity, and freedom of will.

In other words, I agree with the moral philosophy of America’s Founding Fathers, as stated in the Declaration of Independence:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Now that we’ve taken a look at what the word equality really means, let’s examine why it is so important. In the past, there have been many misconceptions about equality, leading to some extremely tragic historical events. Without getting into too much detail about these past sorrows, it is fair to say that much of past social injustices was caused by one little word, which brings me to my next point.

2. The idea of “race” is a myth.

The word “race” was an idea formed by Charles Darwin when he wrote his book called, On The Origin of Species. Instead of accepting biblical truths, he turned to his own imagination to produce a false explanation of the different people groups that populate the world. Unless you agree with his theory about evolution, there is absolutely no need to include the word “race” in one’s vocabulary, at least in the context of attributing it to different cultures of people. We are all descended from two people: Adam and Eve, the first human beings to live on this planet. When God created them, they possessed a genetic code filled with endless possible combinations! It wasn’t until after the global Flood in Genesis chapter 5 that people’s DNA began to change due to the extreme climate changes. Our ancestral bloodline traces all the way back to the Garden of Eden, where our very first parents lived. We are all brothers and sisters born into a huge extended family! This is what the Bible has to say about this topic:

Acts 17:26 ~ “And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;”

The fact is, there is only ONE race – the human race.

3. We are all equal in God’s eyes.

Every single person who has ever existed is an eternal soul created by an all-powerful, loving God, designed specially by His hands. God cares about all people, since he made all of us in His divine image. We are all already equal in that aspect alone, yet there is still another reason why we are all equal in God’s eyes. Here is the reason why:

Romans 3:23 ~ “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”

Unfortunately, we are all born with an inherent sinful nature because of our very first parents, Adam and Eve, another proof that we all come from the same extended family. However, the story did not end there; God saw our helpless condition and provided us a way to be rescued from it, through the sacrifice of His perfect, Holy Son, Jesus. Because Jesus came to this earth as the Son of Man, He gave His blood for the redemption of all mankind, giving us yet another reason to see all men as equal. God the Father loved us so much that He wanted to adopt us all into His Heavenly family for all eternity, restored into divine union and fellowship with His holy presence. It does not matter to God one bit what we look like, or where we come from; His salvation is a free gift given to all men:

Colossians 3:11 ~ “Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.

In the perfect world of Heaven, there is only one existential distinction – the Creator and His creations.

Let’s make the dream of equality a reality!

In conclusion, I hope that these three points have helped improve our understanding of the true meaning of equality. Now that we have patched up the holes in our society’s definition of equality using God’s Word as biblical proof, we can fully accept one another as a special creation of God who is loved unconditionally by Him. As Christians, it is our responsibility to share the gospel with those who haven’t yet heard the good news around the world, so that we can reclaim our lost brothers and sisters into the family of Heaven. Also, it is our duty to show love and kindness to everyone around us, no matter what culture or ethnicity they come from, so we can be a shining example of God’s love to them. If we can prove faithful in these two things, sharing the good news of God’s love and showing it to people, then we will be successful in finding Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream become a reality in the world around us.

– Gloria D. Hopkins

Starting the New Year bright!

Happiness-is-a-choice-lifepopper-words-of-wisdom-how-to-live-a-happy-life-stay-positive-smile-1
The future is as bright as the promises of God!

Welcome to another new year!

As we say goodbye to 2015, let’s take a brief moment to embrace another year of God’s presence. We have seen many things happen over the course of this past year, and not all of it is particularly wonderful; yet I want to share a small, simple reminder with you: God is still on His throne.

No matter what man thinks, says, or does regarding the matters of this temporary earth, God is still the King of the universe, and He’s never going to abdicate His position of Heavenly power. Whenever we hear the news on television, it’s a constant flow of nothing but bad headlines. Natural disasters, political controversies, global violence, and social unrest are but a few of the many problems that our world faces today.

However, we are presented with two choices – Are we going to praise, or panic?

This world has been suffering from the war between good and evil since the beginning of time, but as Christians, that doesn’t mean we are obligated to live under its negative circumstances. In fact, we have many reasons to rejoice and praise God in spite of all the negative things in the world. First of all, what we see on the news each day is a strong indicator that our Lord’s return is imminent, and He will deliver us from what is yet to come and set this world aright. Second of all, we are provided with a unique opportunity to give this world a bright, shining testimony in spite of all the darkness that surrounds us.

God gives us some very specific words of comfort about this subject in His Word:

Luke 21:36 ~ “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.”

Romans 13:11-12 ~ “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.”

John 14:1 ~ “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.”

As you can see, God has given us the power to be a shining example for Him every day in this world, and He has promised to be with us always no matter what happens in the future. All we have to do is make the choice to praise Him instead of panicking, and our new year will be very bright indeed.

– Gloria D. Hopkins