A Somber 4th of July

A Somber 4th of July

I can hear Lee Greenwood’s voice in my head and vividly remember the fireworks blazing over his head as I listened and watched him sing on a televised 4th of July celebration many, many years ago, ” I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free. And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me. And I proudly stand up, next to you and defend her still today. Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land, God bless the U.S. A!”

I can no longer sing that song with Mr. Greenwood. I couldn’t last year, and I certainly can’t this year. My Christian beliefs preclude me from asking God’s blessing on a prideful nation that has collectively turned its back on Him. The current President has downplayed American exceptionalism and crafted an environment fertile for a pluralistic republic. He declared that we are not a Christian nation early in his presidency and regretfully, we are moving further and further away from “one nation under God.” Instead, we have moved to one nation apart from God.

The Supreme Court’s decision to legislate from the judicial branch, an act which the Founding Fathers warned against and worked to prevent, has set the course for the nation’s undoing. We were heading that direction state by state, but the ruling by SCOTUS last Friday expedited the process and ushered in a new fight to protect our First Amendment rights, specifically the exercise of  religious liberty.

I am rendering a very gloomy state of the Union. I understand. Many may stop reading and thankfully, you have every right to. Likewise, I currently possess every right to say what’s on my mind. Freedom of speech, also a right under the First Amendment.

Our First Amendment rights may be under siege, dear Christian, but our first allegiance to the Living God need not be.

As a pastor’s wife, a homeschooling mom, and an American grateful for the government set up by the founders of our nation, the men and women of our armed forces, and the firefighters and police officers who risk their lives for their fellowmen every day,  the ruling and ramifications of the SCOTUS decision greatly saddens me. I  have read the Bible, I watch and read the news, and I see the cultural road signs–we live as in the days of Noah. Sin is rampant, self-love is evident, and persecution of Christians is like unto the days of the Roman Empire. I’m not surprised, for Jesus foretold of such, but I must admit that I am deeply saddened.

We have often wondered why we Christians in America have not suffered persecution like our brothers and sisters around the globe. Well, our time may be at hand. We must cling to the document which bears the words of the Living God; it is the only firm foundation in a world of shifting sand. The Word of God is not tethered to one nation or one time period. The Word of God is for all mankind in every nation, forever. His joy comes in the morning and our work is at hand. Be strong in the Lord Jesus and stand firm.

Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. Stand, therefore,

with truth like a belt around your waist,
righteousness like armor on your chest,
and your feet sandaled with readiness
for the gospel of peace
In every situation take the shield of faith,
and with it you will be able to extinguish
all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Take the helmet of salvation,
and the sword of the Spirit,
which is God’s word.

Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints. Pray also for me, that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel. For this I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I might be bold enough in Him to speak as I should.

Ephesians 6: 10-20, HCSB

Home is a place called Heaven,

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Liberty, Freedom, and Love

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For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. 

For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed  that ye be not consumed one of another.

Galatians 5:13-15, KJV

Liberty…freedom.

These words provoke feelings of patriotism in U.S. citizens, moreover, they elicit relief and celebration in Christian brothers and sisters. For those who live in free countries their hearts can swell at the mention of liberty, but how much more so those who have been set free and liberated from sin and death for all eternity?

This week’s protests in Baltimore and surrounding major U.S. cities have evoked different responses from citizens, news correspondents, and politicians alike. One will cry oppression and the next thug. Next the two will mull over the meaning behind the words and continue to put forth his or her views and, if we are lucky, actual facts concerning the situation at hand. Meanwhile, vandalism escalates and police are told to stand down and forget their training which would provide protection to the private citizens and business owners. Gang members gather and pursue face-time as the press seeks to bring us the latest on the breaking news in Baltimore.

Liberty…freedom.

Liberty and freedom ring loudest when the citizens are self-governing their moral and ethical obligations to their neighbors from a contrite heart who knows that it bears the image of God. The Imago Dei. Further that they will give an account of all their actions to their Creator.

Our society has fallen so far off the Biblical path that we are ignorant of the fact that we are created by a Someone, for a purpose, with an eternity after death. Insteadwe have a society largely comprised of people who believe they came from nothing, are going nowhere, and are held to no one’s standards or moral code than the one they choose for themselves.

Liberty and freedom are found at the threshold of obedience and discipline, not the scattered remains of crashed windows and looted goods. 

Government funds and legislation are not the answers to the problems in Baltimore, nor across the U.S. God is the answer to the problems. Once each neighbor realizes that he or she is created by God, bear His image, is held to His standards, will be judged by His premises, and can be saved and liberated from sin by His grace, then prayerfully,  they will live for His glory and obey His commands.

Our response as Christians to all the headlines of today’s news is evangelism and disciple making. Simply put, we are to fulfill the great commission and be ambassadors of Christ in our homes, our neighborhoods, and our places of work. We are to bear the image of Christ and spread His message on all street corners of America and the world.

The inner men must be changed before the outer actions of man become civil and just. Good Christians make for good citizens and good leaders. We must love God, and love our neighbor as ourselves, live within the law, and spread the gospel to stop the biting and devouring of one another in our country.

Another pertinent matter for prayer: in June, the Supreme Court of the United States will make a ruling concerning same sex marriage. Please be in prayer for the upholding of the biblical definition of marriage. You can follow the story from a much more knowledgeable source on legal matters than myself, Dr. Russell Moore, at his website (click here).

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To Honor and Remember

Rice has become a mainstay in our home the last 6 months with our new diet restrictions. Thursday as I was preparing our rice for lunch, a few cooked grains fell to the counter. As I retrieved the three stray grains, my mind wandered to the story of Louis Zamperini as documented by Laura Hillenbrand in her brilliantly crafted book, Unbroken. Shortly after reading his biography I recall telling a friend, “I’ll never look at rice the same way again.”

You see, for Louis and his fellow Pacific POWs, rice had become a symbol of the horrors they endured. Curious about the connection? Read the book and find out why.

The Pacific POWs who went home in 1945 were torn-down men. They had an intimate understanding of man’s vast capacity to experience suffering, as well as his equally vast capacity, and hungry willingness, to inflict it. They carried unspeakable memories of torture and humiliation, and an acute sense of vulnerability that attended the knowledge of how readily they could be disarmed and dehumanized. Many felt lonely and isolated, having endured abuses that ordinary people couldn’t understand. (Unbroken, Hillenbrand, p. 349)

The story of Louis Zamperini is one of God’s amazing grace and restorative power in the midst of life’s pain, the forces of evil, our insufficient coping mechanisms, and His unfailing pursuit of human hearts.

Louis Zamperini went on to be with the Lord this week. How fitting that a man who sacrificed years of his life as a POW drew his final breaths so close to the day we celebrate America’s Freedom.
This weekend as we remember those who have sacrificed life, limb and certainly peace of mind in the wake of all that they are witnesses to, I would like to pause and remember the life of Louis Zamperini. He endured the unimaginable and went on to live a life grounded in Christ Jesus. Thank you Louis for your service  to our country and for sharing your story of faith with the world. I look forward to meeting you in heaven and telling you, thank you face to face.
May America turn in repentance to Jesus Christ and return to the shining city on a hill that we were founded to be. One that was founded on religious freedom and the quest to spread the gospel. May we recognize and honor the sacrifices valiant men and women make today to secure our liberty and protect our land.  My sincerest thanks to them and their families.
I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace, a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity, and if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it and see it still ~Ronald Reagan, 1984
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Fallen But Not Forgotten

Fallen But Not Forgotten

In celebration and remembrance of the valiant, willing men and women who sacrificed their own lives to enable us to live in freedom. You are fallen but not forgotten. May your memory go forth and your deeds be remembered as long as men are born free and liberty resounds from sea to shining sea.

Father, thank you for all our armed service men and women. Thank you for the scores of men and women who have served on our country’s behalf. For those who have stood guard, charged ahead, and kept the peace in turbulent times. Today, we honor their sacrifice and that of their families.

Thank you for bravery in the face of fear, for fortitude when retreat seems logical, and for sacrifice of self for the good of fellow man and soldiers. No one can fathom the face of war unless they have looked into its dark eyes themselves. Likewise, none know the pain of heroism like the widows, children, and parents of the fallen.

Thank you for our freedom in America and for those who served and are serving. May we not give up what they fought so hard to provide and maintain.

Please forgive us our sins as a country and as the body of Christ. Help us to turn from the bondage of sinful living and turn to the freedom found in obedience to your life-giving commands.  May we remember and spread the good news of your Son, Jesus, who also laid down His sinless life so that we might live in your presence in total forgiveness of sin.

In Jesus Name I pray. Amen.

Happy Memorial Day.

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