Category Archives: Past

Past – indebted to while growing beyond

Thomas Paine noted in his pamphlet Common Sense that it didn’t follow that the American Colonies should remain in the British Empire since it had so profited by being part of it.  He argued that the Colonies would have prospered independent of, and separate from, the Empire.  In essence, America had grown beyond her need of England’s protection, tutelage and identity.  The American Reader, 25ff

Paine’s treatise surfaces the truth that the past can’t always be the basis of present and future belief and behavior.  While an unerring tutor to its students, they may need higher learning when scholars of its didache.  If we remain committed to it in our maturity, it forfeits some of the value it held when we were more child-like.

Jesus faced the issue throughout his ministry.  His willingness to heal on the Sabbath; and his unwillingness to be strait-jacketed into man-made traditions surfaced the conflict with Pharisees.  He defended himself as the One God sent to lead Israel from its honored past into a glorious future.

However, what Paine said applied to human relationships; it never applies to the human-divine relationship.  At what period of time would the Master’s own tutelage be eclipsed by something better?  At no time in the future.  When would humanity find themselves too mature for his “limited” revelation?  Never, at no time!

Jesus Christ remains in history all he had been in the past, and all he would be in the future:  the Great I AM.  No people, no age, would reach a point where they even approached equality with him, let alone achieved superiority to him.  The beatitudes offer an excellent example.  Basic as they are to the Christian life, we have hardly matured into the Kingdom person they develop, let alone surpass them into super-spirituality.  And our immaturity is glaringly evident in considering Christ’s in-depth teaching in the Gospels; and the immensely challenging didache of the Pauline, Petrine and Johannine epistles.

Hang in there, Christians.  But never hang-out with anyone but Jesus.  He’s ALL anyone ever needs.  He’s exactly what everyone needs.

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Books at:  (Go to search, dropdown to store, Virg Hurley.) 

 Apologetics book:  Their Own Best Defense, Volume 2, Part 1

 Books also at  (Virgil Hurley & Virg Hurley)

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Past – keeps coming back

Well, the old saying may be true:  the more we change, the more we stay the same.  Indeed, the more innovative and impersonal life gets, the more people long for a time when individual to individual communication meant something.

Old-school typewriters offer one such renaissance.  Who would have thought a 1920 typewriter would have any value today?  Or the 1950 antique Hemingway used to bang out his novels?

The “Digital burnout” occasioned by smart phones, really-smart phones and brilliant-beyond description smart phones has aroused an interest in the past.  San Diego U-T, 6/15/17

Who knows:  should the trend continue long enough—and as of 6/15/17 it’s far beyond the fad stage—church boards, church planters and Senior ministers will reach back into the past and seek out older and old Ministers as leaders and associates.  If they do, they’ll find they have much wisdom, and surprising energy, to share with those presently in charge of Kingdom growth.  If only there’s enough time for the trendy and techie ministers to catch on!

Check out my E-books and website at:; 

Books at:  (Go to search, dropdown to store, Virg Hurley.)   

Apologetics book:  Their Own Best Defense, Volume 2, Part 1 

Books also at  (Virgil Hurley & Virg Hurley)


New book:  The Parables of Jesus at



Of two million men engaged in the Battle of Verdun, February to December, 1916, over 300,000 died and hundreds of thousands were wounded.  Its famous slogan, “They shall not pass” entered human language as the determination of French forces not to let the Germans advance on Paris.

Sixty million shells filled the air in those ten months, many of which buried themselves in the battlefield soil.  They remain to this day, 100 years later, preventing any housing or farming in the area.

A century later French and German leaders met and swore friendship that would prevent another occurrence of such a blood-bath.  Still…they had lectures, not solutions, to offer.  They talked of the bigotry, nationalism and political failure inflicting the tragedy.  But said nothing of the warfare in humanity against God that creates the certainty of warfare among nations.  So long as God in Christ isn’t considered important in the council of nations, so long will warfare afflict the nations.

Current events prove that.  Just because we don’t see repetition of the Verdun’s doesn’t mean we’ve made lasting peace.  Nor does it mean we won’t have future holocausts that will make the Verdun’s minor military clashes.

Humanity, come back to God in Christ or worse will yet happen!

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Past – mourning for

The book of Lamentations records Jeremiah’s response to Jerusalem’s destruction.  “How deserted lies the city, once so full of people.”  “In the days of her affliction and wandering Jerusalem remembers all the treasures that were hers in days of old.”  “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?”  Lamentations 1:1, 7, 12.

It was something to the prophet:  bitter, mournful, decisive, final!

Something like that, though far less distressing, came from a woman in Illinois writing to Reminisce Extra, January, 2016, p 20.  She had memories…the family homestead …children and gaiety, experiences gone and irretrievable….  The family had a weeping willow among the trees in their yard.  Like that willow, she wept, but for the past…lost except to remembrance.

God gives us enough pleasures from the past that we enjoy visiting it.  We made enough mistakes there that we don’t want to stay long.  We enjoy it enough to pass through, not linger; to stay a night or two, not buy a residence.

“I believe in yesterday,” the Beatles song said.  “We remember yesterday,” Christians say, but “we believe in tomorrow.”  Because God wants to hear our laughter, not see our tears, he calls our attention to his coming, from his present world.

Save for Christ’s grace, we would be like the lady in Illinois, weeping over her good memories flown and vanished.  Christians could grieve over the mistakes, sins and failure of the past.  Jesus stands between all we did there that we now renounce; all we didn’t do and wish we had.  His grace forgave everything there that didn’t meet his expectation, as it presently forgives all that presently fails to equal his perfection.  Having removed it all, and buried it in the deepest trench of the deepest ocean, he forbids any deep-sea diving to retrieve them.  Come along with me, Jesus urges; with me the best is yet to be!

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Past – personal experience different

Reading several books featuring American geography—what it was while held by Indian cultures—always surfaces three feelings.  One, while the Indians learned from birth to live in the wilds, Caucasians had to adapt to the wilds.

Two, what we read into the discovery and exploration of the earliest Europeans sometimes differs from what they felt at the time.  A best example of that was the experience of Louis Jolliet and Père Marquette.  In 1673 they crossed the portage between the Fox and Wisconsin rivers, entered the Mississippi and floated down those mighty waters to what is now Arkansas.  Hearing of the presence of Spanish traders beyond, and fearing capture—to say nothing of realizing that coasting south wouldn’t lead to the Pacific—they retreated.

Journeying down the Father of Waters opened a new world to them.  Two factors terrified them, however, the second more than the first.  They passed cliffs on which Indian tribes had painted monsters.  (This may have been one of the earliest government-sponsored efforts to get unemployed artists something to do—in addition to warning other tribes away.)  That fear faded as they journeyed only to balloon when they approached the mouth of the great Muddy Missouri pouring its debris-laden flood into the Mississippi.  Nothing more dreadful had threatened them.  To find partial safety from the piles of logs, trees and dead animals, they paddled to the eastern bank of the Mississippi and hugged its shores until past the danger.  Westward Vision, p 15

The third awareness is the different response of the Indians and Caucasians to the environment.  The natives lived with what they saw, adapting to it, moving with the seasons.  White men immediately thought of ways to tame wild rivers, plant orchards and fields and build cities at key locations.

Both societies had advantages.  The Red Man saw nature and its often-uncontrolled mayhem.  The Europeans figured ways to lash nature into a more agreeable configuration. When we long for the past, however, remember:  with the “natural” world came travel by dog and travois over open, uneven country, with the danger from wild animals and hostile tribes always a threat.

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Past – be careful how far back you go in

Judy and I subscribe to the magazine Reminisce.  It’s about, naturally, an older time.  But only stories from the 1940’s-1950’s really interest me.  It’s like the birthdays listed daily in the paper.  I read all the older birthdays, but none of the younger.  Reverse age discrimination!

Anyway, while having little good to say of morals in today’s America, we certainly have improved our health and hygiene over our 19th century ancestors, whether in villages, towns or cities.  For those who long for the “good old days,” when life was simpler, we need to remember it was also a lot less healthy and hygienic.

In Springfield, Illinois, when Lincoln served as a lawyer, more pigs roamed the streets than were in pens during the State Fair.  Urbana, Illinois had “more hogs than people,” and the porkers had equal rights to the streets.  Shades of India with their sacred cows!

Dogs also roamed unchecked and only the threat of hydrophobia would expedite a campaign to kill strays.  Rats infested the underside of wooden sidewalks.  Even public buildings had their infestation.  Only the horror of having a new-born infant devoured by a pack of rats at Bellevue Hospital roused the New York City Council to action.

Community water works usually lagged behind population growth.  Even when New York built Croton reservoir in 1862 the city’s tenements often had to find other sources for use.  Chicago’s water supply, from Lake Michigan, often contained disease-ridden parasites when rain ran off manure heaps on city streets.

Like my dad, who picked up food left-over’s—we called it slop—from the Lincoln Hotel, Lincoln, Illinois, whatever their stage of decomposition, then fed it to family pigs, Chicago’s milk-giving cows often drank and ate from “whiskey slops.”  Irrepressible Conflict, 179-181

But do not be misled, however.  We haven’t eliminated filth from our society.  We’ve merely moved it indoors as moral filth.  Into our T.V. rooms and community movie houses where Hollywood pours out its sewage.  Into university classrooms where professors damn God and exalt Darwin.  Into the studies of liberal theologians who spout anti-Christ lies.  Into the offices of arrogant politicians who declare themselves superior to all opinions but their own.


Give the mid-19th century a spiritual awareness we can’t claim.  They knew the difference between what could make them physically sick and would kill their souls!  We haven’t a clue that a difference between the two exists.  What good is it to have gained better health for a few extra years of life, and lost God in Christ forever and ever?

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Past – learning from, not living in

Somerset Maugham wrote a short story called Red.  In it a woman wasted the love of her second husband because she couldn’t escape the love she felt for her first husband.  Yet, when they met years later, they had both changed so much that neither recognized the other.  She sacrificed happiness of years with her second husband for a memory without substance.  She lived in a past she mentally fashioned but couldn’t recapture.

If our past has had marvelous memories, treasure them, but don’t dwell there.  If it’s had more mistakes than we want to remember, learn from them but don’t dwell there.  The popular song may call us to “believe in yesterday,” but God calls us to a tomorrow where greater joys and successes await.  We can helpfully keep the past in memory only if we realize that God’s best lies before, not behind us

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Past – return to for present guidance

Launched from the carrier Hornet on April 18, 1942, General Jimmy Doolittle and his raiders flew the 600 miles to Tokyo and dropped their bombs.  The raid lasted only 30 seconds, but it created the wildest enthusiasm and confidence in America at a time when our people needed a boost in morale.

Each year in April afterwards, the survivors of that daring raid regrouped to rehash it all, swap stories, and remember those fallen since their last reunion.  In so doing they kept alive a victory that even the most optimistic hadn’t really thought possible when planned and executed that day so many years before.

The past always keeps coming back to us.  We never outgrow it or get so far removed from it that it has no message for us.  It simply cannot be forgotten by us.  Nor should it.  We can learn from the past and, in so doing, appreciate what we now have.

When, in Micah 6:1-5, God called Israel to account for its rejection of him, he asked that they consider all that he had done for them in their past:  the deliverance he effected, the care he showed, the concern he expressed.  That past should have taught them how much they owed him and how carefully they should obey him.

Christians cannot despise their past.  If for no other reason than we’re products of it.  Creation by God a few thousand years AGO determines what we NOW are.  Our past!  We can never be less than the humans we’ve always been since that creative act in Eden.  Even the improvement of our state in a future time—when we rule angels who now serve us—will be appreciated by reflecting on God’s original creation.

If we wonder if God cares for people, we need only look in scripture, for it offers numerous examples, from the Jews of Sinai to the miracles of Jesus.  If we want assurance that God keeps his promises, consider the fulfillment to a 100 year old Abraham of a promise to a 75 year old Abraham.  If we wonder if God punishes wrong-doing, read the story of Sodom, of Assyria, of Babylon, of a faithless Israel.

Go to the past, God still urges us, when we tend to falter in our commitment and resolve.  In that past we’ll find courage to renew our faith in the same, eternal God who always IS.

Past – letting it go

The PAST is closer than we sometimes imagine.  “Our estate seemed to me the finest in the world, for it was so near the city that we enjoyed all its benefits, and yet could come back home and be rid of all its rush and worry.”  Sound like the 2014 suburbanite?  A rich suburbanite did write it, but in 539 B.C, not A.D. 2014.  And the city was Babylon, not San Diego, Chicago or New York.

The PAST.  It has always seemed more peaceful and less rushed than the present, no matter when the present is.  In the 1840’s a railroading boom changed the face of America.  The boom brought wrecks, greater speed and frequent death.  One man decried the 25 MPH speed of the trains and the “haste” in which everyone moved.  “O,” he cried, “for the good old days of heavy post-coaches and speed at the rate of six miles an hour!”

The PAST.  We cannot live in it, as Somerset Maugham’s story Red so ably dramatized.  Nor can we change it.  “Stare out the window,” Doug Collins wrote after being recaptured, trying to escape in W W II.  “Think about bad luck and bad planning.  But nothing changes what is past.”  We must also forget its mistakes, since their remembrance only brings more trouble.  As the Duke in Othello says, “To mourn a mischief that is past and gone is the next way to draw more mischief on.”  And Paul adds:  “Forgetting what is behind, and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

The PAST.  It’s a wonderful place to visit.  But isn’t it nice to be living in the PRESENT?  Isn’t it even nicer to have a Sure and Secure FUTURE in Christ Jesus?