Category: Essays


Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7

I am a shy person – I tend to be awkward at social events, and quite nervous. While I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that on its own, if it detracts from my ability to trust in God and socialize with others, then it is a problem. In this passage in Peter, we are reminded that it doesn’t matter if we think we are awkward. God cares for us. So what does it matter what others think of us?

Perhaps you need to make an important decision in your life. I’ve been applying for graduate school, and thus have had to make many important decisions. But, we shouldn’t late that worry us – God is in control. Yes, we should make wise decisions, but it shouldn’t eat away at us.

If we allow anxiety, allow worry, to build up inside, how does that help? God wants us to go to him with our worry, with our concerns. He will be there in our distress. Talk it out with him. Let his peace fill your soul.

In August 2008, I remember watching on the news the story of how the Russian Federation launched a massive invasion of the bordering nation of Georgia, in order to aid separatists in the then-Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.The war was short, only five days, but ended decisively in Russia’s favor. This war was part of a larger, ongoing conflict in the Caucasus, one that has been going on for over 200 years. Today is the final article in my series on Russian colonialism. It will examine Russian colonization of the Caucasus, the underlying cause of the centuries-old conflict.

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Russian artillery shelling Chechen positions near the village of Duba-Yurt during the Second Chechen War, January 2000. Source: Photographer.ru, uploaded to the English Wikipedia by User:PeterPredator. This is a copyrighted image used under US fair usage guidelines.

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“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” 1 John 5:14

In this passage, the Apostle John tells us that we can be confident in our faith. We can go to the God who created the universe, and ask him to help us. John makes an important note, though: We should ask according to God’s will. If we ask within his will, our prayer will be heard. So how do we know God’s will? Studying the word of God, and through prayer. Jesus, who was God and yet also a man, prayed that God’s will be done, but he also expressed his anguish and physical desire that he not have to endure the torment that was coming. So, prayer is aligning our will toward God’s will, and seeing what he desires come to fruition within our lives.

 

In working on the final history weekend article for my series on Russian colonialism, I realized that I will not be able to complete it in time. I need a break, but will be back next week.

“Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written, ‘”After this I will return, and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore it, that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name, says the Lord, who makes these things known from of old.”‘” Acts 15:15-18

When David was king, he commissioned musicians to constantly be performing music for God surrounding the tent where the Ark of the Covenant was housed. The prophets Isaiah and Amos looked forward to a time when constant celebration before the presence of God would be restored.

In Acts, we learn from the Apostle James that these prophecies have been fulfilled: The church is for what the prophets searched. We, the believers in Christ, are the singers constantly worshiping God. And this worship is no longer confined just to those of Abraham’s lineage, those who are ethnically Jewish: It is for all, Gentile and Jew alike. I, someone of mostly Northern European ancestry, can participate in this celebration. All in Christ are part of the rebuilding of God’s Kingdom, are part of the grand festivity.

This is the penultimate post in my mini-series on Russian colonialism. Last week, we examined the colonization of Alaska. Next week we’ll learn about Russia’s expansion into the Caucasus, a conflict that is still ongoing today. For this week, we’ll revisit the Crimea and Siberia – we’ve discussed both of these regions previously, but week’s post will see the later periods of expansion into those areas.

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Catherine the Great. By Fyodor Rokotov. Public Domain. Uploaded to Wikimedia Commons by User:Concerto

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“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.” Zechariah 7:9-10
This past Sunday, one of the elders at my church preached on Micah 6:8, and referenced Zechariah 7:10. It was a very convicting sermon.
In both of these passages, we see that God is very concerned about what is commonly called “social justice” – that everyone in a society be treated fairly, justly, and equally. Much of the Old Testament prophets and much of Jesus’s sayings and the apostles’ writings in the New Testament strike home the importance of taking care of the disadvantaged in society. Zechariah gives one of the most complete lists – orphans, widows, the poor, and immigrants.

As a Christian, I am commanded to care for those who are disadvantaged, to bring them justice and relieve their suffering. So the thought for Thursday is, how can I do that? What can I do in my life, with my social position, talents, and experience, to help achieve justice?

No, this is not a post about the recent and now former U.S. National Security Officer Michael Flynn. It is the latest installment of my series on Russian colonialism. Last week, we saw the consolidation of Russia under Peter the Great. So far, the imperial and colonial spread of Russia we’ve looked at took place on land. For this week’s installment, we will learn about Russia’s maritime colonial efforts, specifically those in North America. While the three previous posts have been relatively in chronological order, this post will break away somewhat from that format, and look at the entire history of Russian America from 1732 to 1867.

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Map of Russian America (present-day Alaska, United States). Public Domain. Uploaded to Wikimedia Commons by User:Angusmclellan

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For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. Romans 8:20-21

This fall, I will be going to graduate school in the field of historic preservation. Historic preservation is the protection, conservation, and restoration of object, buildings, and other things valuable to the human story. Thus, the idea of restoration is an important one for me. And, according to the passage above, it is important to understanding human destiny.

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The past two weeks have looked at the rise of Russia and its colonial expansion across the Urals. As explained last week, though its drive eastwards was immensely successful, Russia’s efforts to combat other European rivals proved less fruitful, apart from its conquest of much of what is today the Ukraine. But, even as it continued to expand its territory, Russia stagnated politically. That is, until the rise of the Romanovs, and, especially, the rise of Peter the Great.

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Peter the Great, as depicted posthumously by Paul Delaroche in 1838. Public domain. Current version uploaded to Wikimedia Commons by User:Trzęsacz.

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