Tag Archives: lincoln

The Power That Fueled Lincoln’s Greatness

8 Feb

Do you ever wish you had more power for living?

I’m nearly finished reading Lincoln’s Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness by Joshua Wolf Shenk.  Now 150 years since Lincoln’s passing, my suspicion is that most people view him in a mythic sense.  But take a look at this photo of Lincoln inspecting a battlefield in 1862.  Though grainy, it is very telling.

Allan                                                           Pinkerton                                                           (left),                                                           Abraham                                                           Lincoln, and                                                           John Alexander                                                           McClernand                                                           (right),                                                           October 1862

Granted, in 1862 things were generally not going to so well for the Union armies, and thus for Lincoln.  But in our day, even when things are going poorly, we expect a Commander-in-Chief to also be the Morale-Booster-In-Chief, to put on a big smile at all times and rally the troops.  Look at Lincoln’s face.  Pretty drab, I would say.  This might seem shocking to those of us who think of his amazing speeches, such as the Gettysburg Address and the Emancipation Proclamation, or to those of us who credit him with leading a divided nation during Civil War back to unity and inspiring the end of slavery, or to those of us who visit his massive statue at the Lincoln Memorial or see his face on pennies and $5 bills.  Lincoln has become legendary, to many the best president ever.

There is another side to Lincoln’s story.

Shenk tells us in his book that depression, commonly called melancholy in those days, was a very visible part of Lincoln’s life, including during his years in public service.  Lincoln struggled with severe depression nearly all throughout his life, and even on certain occasions nearly committed suicide. So it is perhaps equally shocking to hear Shenk say that depression fueled Lincoln’s greatness. How do you feel, what do you think, when you hear that?

Those struggling with depression have shared how debilitating it can be.  No doubt, it was so for Lincoln too.  But somehow he plodded on, especially during his tenure as our president, which is amazing because under his watch about 620,000 Americans died in the war.  That number is staggering. Consider what it would feel like for 9/11 to happen every day for nearly 7 straight months.  Also during this time, imagine the stress of the very real possibility that the nation seemed about to split apart permanently. How did this melancholic president stay the course?  How did the depression not overwhelm him?  And to the contrary, how did depression inspire him, even fueling his greatness?

We’ll discuss this further tomorrow when we continue our series studying the 1st letter Paul wrote to the Christians in the city of Corinth.  In the middle of an extended discussion on unity, we have arrived at chapter 2, and Paul has some things to say about what fuels greatness in God’s eyes.  What is true power for living?

On not feeling thankful during Thanksgiving

22 Nov

I found this quote that made me wonder how you might be thinking during this season of Thanksgiving.

There are plenty of people who don’t feel thankful at Thanksgiving.  Life is very hard.  Maybe you’re one of those people who is struggling.  Know that you’re not alone, and there is hope!

Sometime you might consider doing a study into the history of holidays.  When and why were they started.  You might be surprised.  I was surprised to learn that this year is actually the 150th anniversary of Thanksgiving, despite the fact that we attribute its beginning to the Puritans in 1621.  Along with the Battle of Gettysburg and the Gettysburg Address, Thanksgiving hits a major milestone, thanks to Abraham Lincoln.

In the church we make a big deal out of Christmas and Easter as the two most important days in the Christian calendar, as we should.  For me, Thanksgiving makes a great case for coming in third place just behind those two days.  We see over and over again in Scripture how vital an attitude of thanksgiving is. So how are you doing with being thankful?

This Sunday we look at how to cultivate the discipline of thanksgiving.

Then join us on Sunday evening at Zion Lutheran Church in Leola for a Community Thanksgiving service, 7pm.  And then again on Wednesday evening for our annual Thanksgiving prayer service, 7pm.

Is America the hope of the world?

28 Oct

About a year ago during his bid to unseat Barack Obama as President of the USA, former Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney, said this.

How do you feel about what he said?

What I came to learn as I was researching this post, is that Romney was actually quoting Abraham Lincoln.  It was a phrase that Lincoln used more than once, for example here, on the eve of issue the Emancipation Proclamation.

Yesterday Brandon Hershey spoke at Faith Church.  Brandon, at the end of the year, finishes his second three-year term as Faith Church’s Ministry Council chairperson.  After two terms our by-laws state that a person must take a break from serving in that capacity, so Brandon’s tenure will be complete.  I asked him to preach, to reflect on his time in leadership, and what the Lord might want to say through him.

In the sermon, Brandon quotes Bill Hybels who says “The local church is the hope of the world.”  As it ministers the love of Christ to a broken world, the local church, not America, truly is the hope of the world.  No doubt a nation can be a force for good in the world, and America certainly has been that time and time again.  But if you are looking for true, lasting hope, it can only be found in Jesus.  And that is what we, as a church, have to offer.

Brandon then pointed us to a foundational teaching of Scripture, about how the local church must handle itself in order to be the hope of the world.  Offering this hope is only possible when we, the local church, work together as we ought.  He said that we all have a role to play, and what we do matters.  Do you believe that?  Do you believe you have a vital role to play, that you have been gifted as part of the local church, or to use the metaphor that Paul uses in 1 Corinthians 12:12-27, the body of Christ?  Do you need to discover your giftedness?  Do you need to step out of your comfort zone and serve in a new way?  What part of the body are you?  Are you using your gifts?  Do you need to develop them more fully?

You are vital to the local church being the hope of the world!