Friday, August 31, 2012

Proud to be an American

If you are an American you have something to be proud of. Some call it “American exceptionalism.” I call it a privilege to live in this great land. There has been for some time now, the idea that it’s a shameful thing to be an American. The pressures and problems we experience cause some to shy away from their national pride.

The Liberal ideology of our day causes some to do this. However, we want to be proud of our country and America is an exceptional country. No nation on earth can compare.

Personally, I feel we Americans should be proud of who we are and of this great land. The majority of Christian missionaries around the world came from America. The majority of food based subsidies feeding millions come from America. America has sent her young boys and girls into battle defending freedoms’ cause. We have never asked anything of those nations we’ve helped except some land on which to bury our dead.

In recent years we have called peace-keeping missions in a conjoined effort to keep the United Nations pacified. Truth be told, the UN would fall into the Hudson if it wasn’t for America. We are not perfect but we are a sure sight better than any other land.

The story is told of our old grandmother sitting on the porch. The confederate army came marching through. She grabbed a broomstick and jumped in line whooping and hollering! A soldier told her, “Granny, you can’t shoot anybody with that broomstick.” Granny replied, “I know, I just want folks to know whose army I’m with.”

Instead of apologizing for America we ought to let people know this is a special God- blessed country and we are sure proud to be Americans.

See ya Sunday!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

It's Election Season!

As we move into this presidential election season, prepare yourself. The political posturing and party rhetoric with which we are certain to be inundated will be a virtual tsunami of name-calling and mudslinging, and it is poised to flood every form of media known to man. Amidst this cacophonic wave of negativity, there will also be abundant promises from both sides of the political fence that “our goal is to get America back on track”! Evidently, both Democrats and Republicans believe their “plan” for government is necessary to rescue us from the current economic crisis, and for that matter all the other maladies which plague our society. But the big question confronting us as citizens is not which candidate/party to believe or support, but this: exactly what is the role and purpose of our government, and at what point do we become concerned that it is becoming too “big”?

History has shown repeatedly that “big” government is often the enemy of free enterprise, and freedom in general. So while we are to be thankful for government protection, we must guard against government’s intrusion into our personal lives. There is a necessary balance which must be achieved in order for government to perform its primary function without overstepping its bounds and infringing upon its citizens freedoms. This is one reason the founding fathers labored so diligently to develop the concept of the three distinct branches of our government; a built-in system of checks and balances, as it were.

Over the past several years we have seen our national debt sky rocket, in large part due to what have become known as “entitlement programs” funded by various government entities. We essentially are gambling on our children’s future if we continue down this path (see Proverbs 22:7 if you want to see what the Bible has to say about this!). Perhaps even more concerning for Christians is the recent trend of government restrictions on our constitutionally guaranteed rights of freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

Although no one would argue government is not necessary for the ordering of society, it is incumbent upon the citizenry to hold the government, and politicians in particular, accountable. As Christians, we need to be keenly aware of the issues which challenge this country, and we should strive to educate ourselves on the proper biblical approach to respond to these challenges. We should make it a priority to be actively involved in the democratic process and cast our votes accordingly, and to make certain our voices are heard in the public square. It is not only a God given right; it is our obligation to our children to ensure that America remains, as Abraham Lincoln phrased it in The Gettysburg Address, a “government of the people, by the people, for the people,”

See ya Sunday!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Taking Troubles in Stride

We often find ourselves in one form of trouble or another. It may be a spiritual struggle, an emotional crisis, or a physical ailment that besets us or a loved one. It may be brought into our lives by circumstances beyond our control, or it may be self-inflicted. What is surprising is that we, especially as Christians, are bewildered as to why “our” lives have been inconvenienced by these unwelcome intrusions. Many seem to believe that once we profess Christ we will be immune to any of the hardships of life, and all our troubles will fade away. But this line of thinking overlooks two inescapable (and Biblical) truths.

First: It is an inevitable fact of life - trouble is going to happen; as Job said, “Man born of woman is few of days and full of trouble”. In John 16:33, Our Lord Himself declares: “In the world ye shall have tribulation”. Philosophers and theologians have debated for centuries about “why bad things happen to good people”, but there is no avoiding it, trials, tribulations, and trouble will invade every single one of our lives.

Second: It is through trials that the greatest life lessons are learned. The type of character which demonstrates the ‘fruit of the spirit” is seldom, if ever, developed when things are going smoothly. Even a quick survey of the New Testament will underscore this fact, as it is a common theme among the authors that true faith will be challenged, but this is necessary for faith to mature. A poet put it in these words:

I walked a mile with pleasure
She chatted all the way
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say
I walked a mile with sorrow
Not a word said she
But oh the things I learned from sorrow
When sorrow walked with me.

If this is true for individuals, then it is no surprise America as a nation has been through a storm or two, and has endured through times of great difficulty: The War Between the States; the two World Wars; the Great Depression, to name but a few. These all evoke dreadful memories of rather desperate historic periods when this country struggled to survive. But it is also as a result of these times that the “never–say-die” character which is emblematic of the American people was forged. And though the present social climate within the country is somewhat daunting, it is noteworthy that when tragedies strike, Americans rise to the occasion. Churches, civic groups, and communities band together, striving to collectively serve the common good. We will come through our down-turn; not because of any measures enacted by our government, but because of the selfless acts and characteristic resolve of the American people, which is rooted in our Christian heritage.

See Ya Sunday!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Heart Issues

When our founding fathers gathered together to draw up the Declaration of Independence, this somewhat peculiar statement seemed to be the foundational precept upon which they supported the political weight of this historic document. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

I say “peculiar” because when you ponder the inherent implications of this statement, it is easy to question how these men arrived at this conclusion. After all, it is rather obvious men (and women!) are not equal in many areas: we are not all equal physically - in many areas of life, such as athletics, this is obviously true; we are not all equal intellectually – some are naturally superior in IQ, possessing the ability to grasp difficult concepts in math, physics, philosophy, etc.; some have mechanical aptitudes, while others are all thumbs! Our differences seem to strongly suggest men are certainly not equal!

So what standard were our forefathers utilizing when they were developing this principle? The statement which immediately follows provides the answer: “that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. They were using the Biblical teaching that God created man in His image, and thus all men have equal value in His sight; from this premise it was rather easy to formulate the corollary that all men deserve equal opportunity to prosper, and the primary function of government was to assure this opportunity prevailed. (As a side note, I have always found it intriguing our founding fathers used the word “created”, as opposed to “evolved”!).

There is, unfortunately, another area of human nature in which we are all equal; our sin nature. The Bible emphatically informs us of this fact in the book of Romans “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God “. It has been said the best of men are men at best; we are all bound by the limitations of our human shortcomings.

As graphic evidence of this inclination, consider the horrific massacre we recently witnessed in a movie theater in Colorado. When such senseless tragedies occur, we ask “How could these events happen? Shouldn’t we have laws against people securing firearms to prevent violent acts of this nature?” But ladies and gentlemen, the problem in our society is not that people have guns. The problem we have is intrinsic to our human condition; it is a sin problem. It is the hearts of individuals that must be changed in order for a society to flourish. Our founding fathers recognized the Bible provided the basis for establishing the principles upon which our liberty is founded, but they also understood the Bible presented the means by which hearts are transformed, and it was only through this heart transformation that this liberty would be secure.

Perhaps it is time for America to revisit the historic roots which transformed this country into the greatest nation on earth. For until we deal with the condition of our hearts, we will not solve the heart of our problems.

See ya Sunday!