An Independence Day Perspective

American_Flag-2 I turned the corner. Just over the rise, I would be home. It had been a busy week and I was tired. More than once, I had asked myself the question “What is this life?”

It was not a question asked in total despair, but rather in response to the subtle pressures both inward and outward to “make life count,” and “live with purpose.”

What is this life?

It was not a question for which I do not have a ready answer. Simply put, for the Christian, life is about loving God and loving and serving others (for God’s glory).[1] Not necessarily in a grand way, but rather in the milieu of life—in the everyday happenings and in a culture that seeks to exchange the truth for a lie.[2]

My street now in view, I spotted a man in the roadway waving his hands at passersby. As each car slowed but continued on, he waved vigorously at the next car.

Before long, I was the next car.

I eyed the situation with apprehension. The man was standing beside an SUV with a bag in his hand. A woman was turned sideways in the passenger seat.

Fearing that she or someone in the backseat needed medical attention, I pulled onto the right shoulder, turned my emergency flashers on, opened my car door and yelled, “What’s wrong?”

“I need a jump!” he called back.

This was perhaps the worst possible place to need a jump. It was a busy two-lane road in each direction, with a raised median in between.

A flurry of cars gave me time to collect myself. I needed to make a U-turn in the middle of the road and face oncoming traffic. Yikes.

The fellow seemed to read my mind. With an occasional backward glance at me in hope, he continued his appeal to oncoming traffic.

A break in the flow enabled me to do the seemingly impossible.

From the bag in his hand, the man extracted jumper cables (aha!) and ably affixed them to my battery and his. The first turn of his ignition produced a feeble whine. The second attempt sounded a bit more promising but was equally unfruitful. I revved my engine a couple of times—I seemed to recall my Father teaching me that—and the fellow tried again. The engine roared to life—a geyser of anti-freeze shooting up in celebration.

I pointed out this latest bit of bad news, which noticeably made the young man’s shoulders droop.

Life is hard. …Making that second U-turn in the middle of the road was fairly easy.

We live in a great country that was founded on religious freedoms and the rights to “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” At the same time, we live in a culture that increasingly calls evil good.[3] As a result, the interpretation of what constitutes “life, liberty and happiness” has become whatever anyone wants it to be—as opposed to the clear principles set forth in the Bible by the “Creator” mentioned in the opening lines of our nation’s Declaration of Independence.

A certain recent court decision may seem like our country has easily made a U-turn and is heading in the wrong direction entirely. As grievous as this is, we shouldn’t be all that surprised. People who do not know or acknowledge the triune God in whose hands our forefathers entrusted a young America will not seek to do what is truly good. Their idea of good will be based on personal preferences—what feels good and what seems right in their own eyes.

No doubt, U-turns in our culture—those seemingly progressive, open-minded and inclusive changes that make some people feel liberated and happy (but the eternal consequences of which are horrifying)—will get easier and easier to make. If this continues, the flow will begin to move steadily and fully in the opposite direction—becoming the new direction—leaving those of us who hold to a biblical worldview facing oncoming traffic.

Take heart, true Christian. Our job (purpose) is the same as it always was. Love God and serve others, so that the love of Christ, who died for the sins of the world, may be seen in us.[4] Shine bright in the midst of a culture that cannot do anything truly good or be truly free apart from the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.[5] Shine bright like the stars in the heavens, which were created and are superintended by Almighty God.[6]

Shine bright, like the stars on our American flag. American_Flag_NC-2

[1] Matthew 22:37-39; Galatians 5:13-14 [2] Romans 1:21-25 [3] Isaiah 5:20 [4] Matthew 5:14-16; 2 Corinthians 4:3-6 [5] John 8:31-36Romans 8:2-11 [6] Psalm 8; Psalm 24 Suggested reading: the book of Ephesians; Romans 12

The Duty of a Nation, The Privilege of an Individual

“It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God.” – President George Washington, 1789

May 7th, 2015, is the National Day of Prayer—an annual observance held on the first Thursday of May calling those of faith to pray for the American nation.

The National Day of Prayer was created in 1952 by a joint resolution of the United States Congress and was signed into law by President Harry S. Truman. On May 8, 1988, Ronald Reagan signed a law designating the first Thursday in May as the annual observance for the National Day of Prayer.

“If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we are a Nation gone under.” – President Ronald Reagan

What to Pray
The National Day of Prayer Task force, whose mission is to “mobilize prayer in America and to encourage personal repentance and righteousness in the culture,” suggests praying for government, military, media, business, education, church, and family.

Such a “call to prayer” has its basis in the Bible, in such places as 1 Timothy 2:1-4:

“I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (ESV)

The National Day of Prayer Task Force offers further suggestions for what to P.R.A.Y. by providing this acrostic:

PRAISE: Thank God for what He has already accomplished through Jesus.[1]

REPENT: Confess your sins. Repent personally and on behalf of our nation. The Lord is quick to forgive when we come humbly to Him.

ASK: Ask God to reveal truth, turn our hearts toward Him, and bring healing.

YIELD: Yield to the LORD and recognize that He has heard our prayers and will answer according to His will. He is ready to provide guidance and instruction.

It is a privilege, a comfort, and a joy to come before God in believing prayer.[2] May we be encouraged to do so today and every day.

[1] This can be summed up in John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (ESV)

[2] Hebrews 4:16Philippians 4:6

Factual and Fabulous

Which state has a statue in honor of a bug? [1] … Who was the first woman elected to the United States Congress, and which state did she represent? [2] …  In which state were the most Revolutionary War battles fought? [3]

You’ll find the answers to these burning questions and more in Fabulous Facts about the 50 States.  Written by Wilma Ross, with illustrations by Bill Cummings and maps by Frank Ronan, the book is currently in its 4th revised edition.

My Fabulous copy, which was published in 1976 and purchased at a Scholastic Book fair for a whopping eighty-five cents, is well worn and well loved.  (In fact, it should have rated in my Insights into the Soul post, but alas there are too many good books in my life to list!)

Fabulous Facts is packed with tidbits about our 50 great (and united) states of America. The states are presented alphabetically. But that’s not all!  What follows is a map of the 13 original colonies (with notes indicating that what is now Maine was owned by Massachusetts, and what is now Vermont was claimed by New Hampshire and New York).  The book concludes with a flurry of adhoc “More Fabulous Facts.”

Growing up, I was eyewitness to many of the states up and down the east coast, thanks to Dad’s keenness for educational summer vacations.  The states that we didn’t see in person, I went to in my imagination courtesy of the facts, illustrations and maps exploding from the pages of Fabulous Facts.

Obviously, the population information in the book has changed since my edition, which was based on the 1970 (yowza!) census. Nevertheless, the book is still delightful because it serves up a hearty helping of American history, fact by fabulous fact.

[1]  Alabama; [2] Jeannette Rankin, Montana in 1917; [3] South Carolina