Fifty years ago, a hard-working, risk-taking, family-loving man was shot in the back, dead in his own driveway for his efforts leading the NCAAP in the Civil Rights Movement. His name was Medgar Evers.
That was only fifty years ago.
As we get older, history seems shorter in perspective. In high school, to me, the Civil Rights movement and segregation sounded so far away because it was forty of fifty years earlier, and that was almost three or four times my age then. To a twenty-five year old now, however, fifty years ago is only twice that age, so the perspective changes.
Thankfully, We The People have come quite far in the last fifty years, in terms of segregation, by the grace of God. There is, of course, still work to do, and there always will be.
I first heard of Medgar Evers, though, in the opening lines of “Only a Pawn in Their Game,” a song Bob Dylan wrote in 1963, the same year of Evers’ death:
A bullet from the back of a bush took Medgar Evers’ blood
A finger fired the trigger to his name
A handle hid out in the dark
A hand set the spark
Two eyes took the aim
Behind a man’s brain
But he can’t be blamed
He’s only a pawn in their game
The last verse also explicitly references Evers and his burial:
Today, Medgar Evers was buried from the bullet he caught
They lowered him down as a king
But when the shadowy sun sets on the one
That fired the gun
He’ll see by his grave
On the stone that remains
Carved next to his name
His epitaph plain:
Only a pawn in their game
Thirty years passed before the jury convicted Evers’ murderer, according to Debbie Elliot’s NPR blog today. Those years surely crawled by, especially for Reena Evers-Everette. Even when Medgar was alive, however, the last decade of their marriage was still fettered to fear, she says:
“And we never knew from one day to the next what would happen. I lived in fear of losing him. He lived being constantly aware that he could be killed at any time.” (NPR-Elliot)
So the shooting of Medgar Evers was not something that happend randomly: it had been a long time coming, and Evers lived waiting for it. Yet he kept at the work he knew he was called to do.
In the book of Phillipians, Paul writes:
Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. (3:17, ESV)
I am certainly no expert on Medgar Evers nor the Civil Rights, but it seems clear that Evers was a man who looked fear and evil in the eye, without a blink, and kept on working.
Such a person is to be honored.
To read more about Medgar Evers, see his entry in the encyclopedia of the King Institute, here: http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/index.php/encyclopedia/encyclopedia/enc_evers_medgar_1925_1963/
The following words are Charles Spurgeon’s (not John Piper’s), and I want to note them here, for sharing with you and personal review later:
“Oh, that you and I might get into the very heart of the Word of God, and get that Word into ourselves! As I have seen the silkworm eat into the leaf, and consume it, so ought we to do with the Word of the Lord—not crawl over its surface, but eat right into it till we have taken it into our inmost parts. It is idle merely to let the eye glance over the words, or to recollect the poetical expressions, or the historic facts; but it is blessed to eat into the very soul of the Bible until, at last, you come to talk in Scriptural language, and your very style is fashioned upon Scripture models, and, what is better still, your spirit is flavoured with the words of the Lord.
I would quote John Bunyan as an instance of what I mean. Read anything of his, and you will see that it is almost like reading the Bible itself. He had read it till his very soul was saturated with Scripture; and, though his writings are charmingly full of poetry, yet he cannot give us his Pilgrim’s Progress—that sweetest of all prose poems — without continually making us feel and say, “Why, this man is a living Bible!” Prick him anywhere—his blood is Bibline, the very essence of the Bible flows from him. He cannot speak without quoting a text, for his very soul is full of the Word of God. I commend his example to you, beloved.”
“Puritanism, Protestantism, [and] Calvinism are poor names which the world has given to a great and glorious faith: the doctrine of Paul the Apostle, the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
“Those who do away with Christian doctrine are, whether they are aware of it or not, the worst enemies of Christian living.”
Defining preaching: “to know the truth as it should be known, to love it as it should be loved, to proclaim it in the right spirit and in it’s proper proportions.”
Working to discipline myself in reading and writing (regularly), I aim to share periodically, small gems (and questions, etc.) as I read through the Bible. [Edit: though this has turned out to be mere notes, in some cases, and simple ones, at that.] This is only my second time reading all the way through the Bible, and I am using the ESV Daily Bible Reading Plan. I have grown up in the Bible belt and heard more sermons and Bible classes than I can count, but reading the Word in personal study is quite different. I prefer a reading plan, because if I don’t have one, I just piddle around, nibbling but never getting to the feast. I prefer the ESV plan because I like having a day’s reading split up between different areas in the Bible, so as to hopefully get a fuller picture of everything, each day.
Here is the thing about daily bible reading plans: most of them are set up to get the reading through the Bible in one year, but one can read at any pace. Better to start and keep trekking through at any pace than to never read the Scripture at all. If you miss a day, and you will, fine. Two days, fine. Don’t worry about the yearly deadline. Just read.
Enough introduction. Nuggets, questions, and thoughts from this morning’s passages.
Pentateuch and History of Israel – (Gen. 9:20-10:32): After the Flood and Rainbow Covenant
- First, isn’t it funny that, given all of the so-called “gay marriage” debates in the last year, to rediscover that the rainbow was actually a symbol not only created by God, but one with specific meaning? See Genesis 9:8-17.
- The whole earth had to disperse from Noah’s three sons, Ham, Shem, and Japeth, after the flood. I haven’t thought about that in a while. (9:19)
- Nakedness is a big deal. That is actually easy to forget in modern American culture. Not because we run around nude all the time, but pretty close, some of us. Ham accidentally (it seems) saw his father naked and had his own lineage cursed as a consequence. This just shows how far we’ve gone in desensitizing our nation (especially in the last 20 years, I am sure). I’ve witnessed it; does that mean I’m getting old?
- The sons after Ham, Shem, and Japeth are those who would have their languages split and scattered at the Tower of Babel. (10:5)
- Nimrod is Noah’s great grandson, and was the “first mighty man” (10:8). This is strange to me because I grew up only knowing this name as an informal, slang insult.
Chronicles and Prophets – (1 Chron. 8): Genealogy of Saul
Although there are tidbits of story (besides lineage) in Chronicles, verses 6, 8, 10, and so on) , nothing of the lightbulb-sort came on as I read today. *Now, I would love to dig deeper and research some of the statements/discoveries for us there, but that is a different blog entry all together.
Psalms and Wisdom Literature: Psalm 9
- God is the one who maintains David’s just cause, not David. This tells us that David knew that it wasn’t up to himself to maintain the kingdom, but the Lord. Now, David certainly has responsibility to act, think, and do, but ultimately anything that succeeds does so because the Lord maintained it. (Verse 4)
- God is just, righteous, and will never, ever, be shaken from His throne; He is a stronghold for the oppressed. (7-9)
- David wants to be saved, why? To recount praises of God and rejoice in the salvation God gives. This seems to David as much about God as his own life. (14)
- Verse 18: “For the needy shall not always be forgotten, and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever.”
Gospels and Epistles – (Luke 6:17-49): Sermon on the Plain
This passage really deserves either its own blog entry, or even a blog totally dedicated to it. Nevertheless, quick clips and takeaways from it today include the following:
- Jesus stands on ground-level with his audience. Preachers in raised pulpits ought to tremble every time they go to speak. (17) That is what makes this the sermon “on the plain” rather than it’s more famous sibling, Sermon on the Mount. Such is my new discovery for myself, today.
Instead of rambling on about that and trying to unpack the whole passage, I am going to summarize key points and sections (that most everyone knows, but we always need review).
- 20-22: Beatitudes–rejoice, blessed sufferer. This reminds me of an interview I watched of John Piper interviewing Rick Warren. Of course because Piper is hyper-Calvinist (in every sense of the term), God’s election of souls saved is brought up, and along such lines Warren says (and I’m paraphrasing) Do I believe God has favorites? Absolutely. I think God favors the poor.
- 24-26, Woe to the rich and well spoken-of: if everyone speaks well of you, that’s probably because you aren’t being completely honest with them.
- 30: Give to everyone who begs of you. (Really…everyone?) Shane Claiborne asks, “What if Jesus meant what He said?” here. This is getting into the kind of “radical” love Jesus should be and is known for, which Martin Luther King Jr., in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” even calls “extremist,” in a most positive sense. Consider the non-violent, literal interpretation King synthesized in the Civil Rights protests. See verses 27-36.
- 31: Golden rule.
- 35: Give without expecting return, as God does.
- 37-42: Judge not. Log/speck parable.
- 45: “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Such is why Proverbs 4:23 cautions the reader to guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Piper says “you are what you behold,” finding that in 2 Corinthians 3:18, where we learn that we are being transformed form one level of glory to the next as we behold the glory of the Lord. So, we should be careful what we “behold” on the internet, television, in books, and movies…
- 45: Good people produce good fruit, and bad people produce, well, bad fruit. How’s yours?
- 46-49: Build your house on the rock of Jesus by obeying Him.
- 46: “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and not do what I tell you?”