Tag Archives: christian writer rick marschall

Marschall: Faith of our fathers, distinguished guests’ comments

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One Nation Under God

By Rick Marschall
Special to ASSIST News Service

SWARTZ CREEK, Mich. (ANS) — We approach the Fourth of July again. I am going to suggest we save a little time apart fromOne Nation Under God our backyard barbecues, or town parades if your town still holds them. In addition to ketchup and mustard, add some of these patriotic condiments to your picnic fare; in addition to cheering the flag or the Boy Scout troop in the parade, cheer some of these quotations.

In fact, in addition to prayers, or the Pledge, at your gatherings — even if your family does not already exercise those traditions — draw together and exchange the quotations by our distinguished “guest bloggers” here. (And they are verified quotations, not those manufactured by well-intentioned patriots or challenged by Snopes and Urban Legend watchdogs.)

Long ago, a Frenchman visited the United States, toured the great cities and smallest towns, and came away astonished. Alexis deToqueville reportedly said, “Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”

Our president has denigrated the term of current popularity, “American Exceptionalism.” He has said that he is sure every nation thinks of itself as exceptional. We can worry that his complete misunderstanding of that term reflects his complete misunderstanding of America. Americans are not exceptional by virtue of birth certificates or driver licenses. American farmers or American firefighters are not different, or “more exceptional,” than human beings anywhere doing their jobs honorably. Heroes are heroes. And American villains can be as villainous than any others.

“American Exceptionalism” refers to the American system. What “is” the USA? The first of nations, not to declare independence, but to enshrine Liberty. To acknowledge God in the foundational documents of its Declaration and Constitution. To be a nation of laws, not men. To be a Republic, not a Democracy: elevating individualism, under law, over institutions and governmental whims. To respect religion, and religious freedom, as vital components of our American system. In revolutionary fashion — yes, the first; exceptional in world history — to protect minority rights but guard against majority tyranny.

Here, our guest bloggers may remind Americans of things we might have forgotten, God forbid.

“The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained.” George Washington, first Inaugural Address.

“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and Citizens.” George Washington, Farewell Speech, 1796.

“I therefore beg leave to move that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven and its blessing on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning.” Benjamin Franklin, 1787, Constitutional Convention.

“I’ve lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing Proofs I see of this Truth — That God governs in the Affairs of Men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his Notice, is it probable that an Empire can rise without his Aid? We have been assured, Sir, in t he Sacred Writings, that except the Lord build the House they labor in vain who build it. I firmly believe this…” Benjamin Franklin.

“Our Constitution was made for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.” John Adams.

“I have a tender reliance on the mercy of the Almighty, through the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am a sinner. I look to Him for mercy; pray for me.” Alexander Hamilton.

“Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.” John Jay, Constitutional framer, First Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

“[The Bible] is the rock on which our Republic rests.” Andrew Jackson.

“It is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins andRick Marschall transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon.” Abraham Lincoln, Proclamation Declaring the National Day of Fasting.

“Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.” Abraham Lincoln.

“Our laws and our institutions must necessarily be based upon and embody the teachings of the Redeemer of mankind. It is impossible that it should be otherwise; and in this sense and to this extent our civilization and our institutions are emphatically Christian.” United State Supreme Court, 1892.

“Ever throughout the ages, at all times and among all peoples, prosperity has been fraught with danger, and it behooves us to beseech the Giver of all things that we may not fall into love of ease and luxury; that we may not lose our sense of moral responsibility; that we may not forget our duty to God, and to our neighbor…. We are not threatened by foes from without. The foes from whom we should pray to be delivered are our own passions, appetites, and follies; and against these there is always need that we should war.” Theodore Roosevelt

“Can we resolve to reach, learn and try to heed the greatest message ever written, God’s Word, and the Holy Bible? Inside its pages lie all the answers to all the problems that man has ever known.” Ronald Reagan.

These are exceptional credos. It would be an exceptional disaster if a free people would forget such an inheritance. Happy Fourth. GO forth.

Send comments about this column to Marschall at RickMarschall@gmail.com

Marschall: How can they believe?

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By Rick Marschall
Special to ASSIST News Service

SWARTZ CREEK, MI (ANS) — If you had a child playing at the edge of an ever-widening sinkhole — and sinkholes lately have been inRick Marschall the news, including ones that swallowed people as well as houses — you would call that child to move back. If your friend were eating something poisonous without realizing the dangers, you would advise that friend of the fact. We do the same, some of us, with people, even strangers, who smoke. “Intervention” today increasingly is employed on behalf of people with drinking problems.

Followers of Christ, who subscribe to the beliefs that all of us make mistakes and are sinful at heart; that therefore a wide gulf separates us from a Holy God; that this God nevertheless desires eternal fellowship with us and offers forgiveness and salvation; and that “accepting” Jesus — believing in our hearts and confessing with our words — these Christians cannot do anything else than have the same regard for other people’s souls as we do their health and comfort.

How often do contemporary Christians fit that last puzzle-piece in place?

Failing this, we condemn ourselves; and we are implicit in sending others to the cold darkness of eternity, separation from God. How often do we avoid sharing even the smallest portion of Jesus with someone because we might “offend them”? Hurt their feelings? “Hey buddy, don’t smoke in your apartment, but I don’t care if you go to hell.”

It’s not always comfortable, but neither was that splintery cross. Living in a multimedia culture makes it easy to assume everyone thinks like we do, or has access to the same facts that we process. Not so. When the Apostle Paul arrived in Ephesus, word-of-mouth about the Savior had already led to the establishment of several Christian communities. But not every word had been shared by every mouth:

“…he reached Ephesus, on the coast, where he found several believers. ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ he asked them. ‘No,’ they replied, ‘we haven’t even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.’ ‘Then what baptism did you experience?’ he asked. And they replied, ‘The baptism of John.’ Paul said, ‘John’s baptism called for repentance from sin. But John himself told the people to believe in the one who would come later, meaning Jesus.’ As soon as they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then when Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in other tongues and prophesied” (Acts 19:1-6, NLT).

Paul wrote letters to local churches and church leaders, sharing the good news, and answering questions. These letters comprise the majority of the New Testament. We shared last week how papyrus letters from a generation or two after Paul are extant. Before Christ’s time, spiritual news and God’s words were shared by Torah scrolls, inscriptions, sacred texts. After him we have the successive march of letters, manuscripts, tapestries and stained-glass picture stories, parchment books, printed books, mass-production, tracts, evangelistic crusades, recordings, radio, short-wave, television, and the internet.

The SHARING of the good news is central to the good news itself. “Go into all the world…” Jesus said, commissioning His disciples. Romans 10:14-15 argues: “How can they call on Him to save them unless they believe in Him? And how can they believe in Him if they have never heard about Him? And how can they hear about Him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, ‘How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!’ (NLT) Like much of the Book of Romans, this is like an advocate summarizing his case. How can they hear about Jesus unless someone tells them?

Right about in the middle of humankind’s list of ways to share the good news — not in a timeline, but in the numbers of methods and technologies — is the radio. After its invention it was available to almost every community on the earth. And much of its message, especially today on short-wave broadcasts, is Christian. I went to Sunday school as a child, but it was preachers on my AM transistor radio from whom I really heard the first hard (and sweet) truths of the Gospel; and came face-to-face with decisions to make, or avoid, regarding Jesus Christ.

Albert E. Brumley was an American gospel songwriter of the past century. He wrote more than 800 sermons-in-song, many of which are favorites today in churches, hymnbooks, and recordings. Among them are “I’ll Fly Away,” “If We Never Meet Again (This Side of Heaven),” “I’ll Meet You In The Morning,” “Jesus, Hold My Hand,” “I’d Rather Be An Old Time Christian,” and “Rank Strangers to Me.”

He told a story about another of his classics… and the role of radio in spreading the gospel:

“I wrote ‘Turn Your Radio On’ in 1937, and it was published in 1938. At this time radio was relatively new to the rural people, especially gospel music programs. I had become alert to the necessity of creating song titles, themes, and plots, and frequently people would call me and say, ‘Turn your radio on, Albert, they’re singing one of your songs on such-and-such a station.’ It finally dawned on me to use… ‘Turn your radio on’ as a theme for a religious… song.”

Like the poor, radio we will always have with us. In the words of the song, “turn your radio on and listen to the music in the air; Turn your radio on and heaven’s glory share…”

Are you tuned in… to what God is saying to you? Don’t touch that dial! You can broadcast (as it were) a brief public-service announcement, or a personal message, every once in a while yourself.

Marschall: We CAN go home again

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By Rick Marschall
Special to ASSIST News Service

SWARTZ CREEK, MI (ANS)Many popular sayings that are regarded as embodying folk wisdom are, in fact, as crumbly as the fortuneRick Marschall cookies where they should stay. I have always been struck by how almost every handy, traditional capsule of folk wisdom is cancelled by another such time-honored saying. “Look before you leap”? But… “He who hesitates is lost.”

You can “roll with the punches” OR “if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” And so forth.

I recently thought the oft-quoted Thomas Wolfe aphorism, “You can’t go home again” when I did in fact visit the home in New York City where I was born, and the address in the New Jersey suburbs where I was reared. I drove from the Philadelphia Christian Writer’s Conference with my friend Shawn Kuhn, who was born in a different neighborhood of Queens. We were each a little surprised that our neighborhoods were clean, appeared safe, and had not fallen prey to real or clichéd urban blight: just the opposite.

Later in the week, with my sister Barbara, we visited the address of our adolescent years — I call it such because it was recently razed and replaced with what regretful “natives” like me are calling “McMansions,” ridiculous mini-estates on half acres. Most of the new owners likely suffer from the affliction common to parvenus, the Edifice Complex.

It was sad to see my home no longer there; our Village School boarded up; the town’s Swim Club closed and overgrown; an d the church of our youth condemned, doors chained closed, neglected.

However. Paging Thomas Wolfe: “You CAN go home again.” I understand that I am supposed to understand that the past is past, a rose is a rose, and all those other syllogisms. The more important facts relate not to whether our parents have died, or our homes have been demolished, but what value they had in our development. The important corners of our memories. Then, the question is not whether we can “go home,” but whether those “homes,” our foundational values, can, or should, ever leave us.

I will call someone else, George Santayana, into the discussion, and mangle his own famous aphorism: “Those who forget the past are not only in danger of repeating it, but of having no past at all.”

I recently quoted Theodore Roosevelt in this space: “Both life and death are parts of the same great adventure.” And we should be reminded that Wolfe’s adage refers to the emotions and our intellectual growth, as much as nostalgic real-estate tours. My childhood is not a house; it was spent in a home that stood there. What I am, or have achieved, as a man is no less real because my parents died after my formative years. The chapel of my affectionate memories is gone, all the more bitter because it stands as a skeleton; but my faith was not diminished because the doors are chained shut.

Indeed, the pasts we miss and the futures we distrust are seldom pieces of real estate or schoolrooms or, say, battlefields. They are of the mind, the intellect, of life-choices, emotions… in fact, the spiritual realm.

Even when we know this fact, whether we are filled with joy or anxiety, it is easy to forget: a most human part of our humanity. My heart currently grieves for the director of the writer’s conference Shawn and I attended, because she is beset by personal problems, health trials facing herself and family members, business challenges galore… (Please look for the website of Write His Answer Ministries and see the wonderful things Marlene Bagnull has done and is doing)

Christians know the Author all good things, and know who the enemy of our souls is, and who comes to seek, and kill, and destroy. Words are cheap (if I can cite another old cliché) but, being a frequent victim of discouragement myself, I feel qualified to remind anyone who will listen that there is a Larger Story. We cannot always see it. But we need to remember it.

“I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee,” Joshua 1: 5.

We call to our memories: we should summon the best of them. They call to us. And, whether our children live near or far, we should always be in the mode of calling them home too. Just as our Heavenly Father does to us.

Rick Marschall is the author of 65 books and hundreds of magazine articles in many fields, from popular culture (Bostonia Magazine called him “perhaps America’s foremost authority on popular culture”) to history and criticism; country music, television history, biography and children’s books. He is a former political cartoonist, editor of Marvel Comics, and writer for Disney comics. Email Rick at RickMarschall@gmail.com.

Marschall: ‘Abide with me’ dear Lord

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By Rick Marschall
Special to ASSIST News Service

SWARTZ CREEK, Mich. – Recently we have been thinking about times we have gone through, and days facing us. About short-term anxieties and losing sight of God’s long-term blessings, and His care. “Have a good week!” is the implication of sharing messages on Monday mornings, and is a common wish we speak to each other. Almost (too often) like a mantra: “Have a good day,” “Have a nice week,” even a vague “Have a good one.”

“Have a good week!” That’s the implication of sharing messages on Monday mornings, and is a common wish we speak to each

Writer's Opinion: Rick Marschall

other. Almost (too often) like a mantra: “Have a good day,” “Have a nice week,” even a vague “Have a good one.”

My friend Chris Orr of of Londonderry, Northern Ireland, put these pleasantries in perspective to me a while ago. He wrote, “It is great to start the week knowing that time does not exist to God. He already has seen the end of the week. Because of that, He has no worries at all about any of His children… so why should WE worry?… and, after all, we are only given one day at a time.”

Chris’s insight made me think of the hymn “Abide With Me” – a musical prayer that God be WITH us, that we be blessed by the realization of His presence, every moment of every day, right now and in the limitless future.

It was written by Henry Francis Lyte in 1847, as he lay dying of tuberculosis. Once again, the Holy Spirit strengthened a person at life’s “worst” moments with strength enough for that person… and for untold generations to take hope from it. Many people have been blessed — often in profound, life-changing ways — because of this one simple hymn.

Mr. Lyte died three weeks after composing these amazing words.

I urge you to watch and listen to the wonderful Hayley Westenra’s performance of Abide With Me… and then return here and read the full words to the hymn.

… and then ask God to abide with you today, and this week. And ever more.

Abide With Me

Abide with me! Fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide.
When other helpers fail, and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

Swift to its close, ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim; its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O Thou who changes not, abide with me.

Not a brief glance I beg, or passing word;
But as Thou dwelled with Thy disciples, Lord-
Familiar, condescending, patient, free-
Come not to sojourn, but abide with me.

Come not in terrors, as the King of kings,
But kind and good, with healing in Thy wings,
Tears for all woes, a heart for every plea-
Come, Friend of sinners, and thus abide with me.

Thou on my head in early youth did smile;
And, though, rebellious and perverse meanwhile,
Thou hast not left me, oft as I left Thee.
On to the close, O Lord: abide with me.

I need Thy presence every passing hour.
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?
Who like Thyself my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.

Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

Rick Marschall is the author of 65 books and hundreds of magazine articles in many fields, from popular culture to history and criticism; country music, television history, biography and children’s books. His e-mail address is RickMarschall@gmail.com.