While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,
Let us swear allegiance to a land that’s free.
Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,
As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer:
God bless America, land that I love,
Stand beside her and guide her
Through the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans white with foam,
God bless America,
My home sweet home.
Did you know that these words, made popular in our culture by Kate Smith’s distinctive voice, are actually a prayer? On the evening of Sept 11, 2001 after two towers had fallen, a plane had crashed, and with the death toll of American casualties still rising…Congress met and stood on the steps for an impromptu meeting. Republican stood shoulder to shoulder with Democrat… fierce enemies politically had now, for the moment, forgotten their animosity. Something bigger was at stake…our future as a nation. They broke into a spontaneous prayer that night as every eye in America was on them and someone began singing, “God Bless America… a song written in 1938 as war began to rage in Europe. And it was written first as a prayer, and only later was set to music.
Can we pray that today? Can we ask God to bless the things that are happening around us in our nation? Can we hope these continue into the lives of our children and grandchildren? Do we really want God to bless America as things are now? Are we now the nation we truly want our children and grandchildren to inherit?
We are no longer the “United” States of America. To say we are united is almost a mockery. We are more divided than we have been since the country broke into Civil War. Politically, ethically, morally, our views of how we see gender and sexuality, race, and the economy. Unity does not define our nation. While we tried to bring diversity to the forefront of our national consciousness, what we inadvertently brought was disunity.
But by the good grace of God, it may not be too late for Him to hear, one more time, the Christian family…the Body of Christ…praying again; pleading again; turning in repentance. No culture has risen to the heights we have known in America; no country has been lavished with more opportunities… no nation has been quicker to aid and assist those who are hurting.
Certainly, there is still greatness. But the days are turbulent, and the circumstances are growing darker, and the time is getting shorter. It’s time to pray. It’s time to ask God to forgive us. It’s time to recognize that politics, or a growing economy, or a unified Washington will not bring the change needed. Only God can do that.
And by His grace, we pray He will bless America!
Occasionally we need to be reminded of what we already know. We need to be reminded because it is vitally important that we not forget. Ever. And it is important because, if you’re a Christ-follower today, it is to be your priority-not just to bring us to salvation, but to bring everything in our life under this radical truth. The Gospel, lest we forget, says:
We were dead in our trespasses and sin.
Religion couldn’t help us.
New resolutions to change couldn’t help us.
Jesus, the baby born of a virgin in Bethlehem, was the Son of God.
He did what we couldn’t do.
He lived a righteous life that pleased God.
Still he got crucified on a cross under the curse of sin. He did that for us. He died in our place.
But Jesus was raised from the grave to offer new life in his Spirit. Jesus gives this new life to all who call upon him in faith.
The beauty of the Gospel is that those who trust in Jesus need never again fear alienation from God. In Christ you are secure. In Christ you are loved. In Christ you are whole. In Christ you are chosen. In Christ you are pure. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.” (Rom. 8: 1)
Remind your heart often of this. Remind and tell those you love …and even those you don’t about this. Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes…”
If you have been transformed by the Gospel, you have been commissioned by Jesus to share it with others.
It is, after all, the most important thing in your life!
When we begin to teach our children as they are very young our “lessons” tend to be very practical: “How to” tie your shoe. “When to” say please or thank you. “How to” spell hard words
As they grow older the lessons become more complex. “How to” drive. “How to” pick a major in college. “How to” know when we’re really in love
But much larger and more important questions must also be undertaken by parents who wish to see their children embrace the faith:
- WHERE did we come from?
- WHY are we here?
- WHERE are we going?
These questions loom large in our lives and we will seek and we will find answers, though not always the right ones
Don’t allow this present world to squeeze your children into its mold (Roman 12:1-2). Teach them. Answer these questions from the Bible’s perspective and you will set their lives on the right path.
A Christian worldview will inform almost every decision your child makes. Be certain they hear the truth from you first.
And then, when they are old, they will not leave the way they should go.
Start with the three questions above. You will never be sorry they heard it first from you!
Marriage is a mystery, according to Paul. A “mega” (great) mystery in fact! Many would agree with that assessment, whether you’re in a brand-new marriage, or a broken relationship, or if you’re ready to walk away from your spouse. It’s a profound mystery to us.
It’s a mystery how men and women manage to get together. And then, when they get together, they find themselves in a relationship with a person that is in many ways the opposite of who they are or who you may have thought they were.
It’s a mystery how to make this thing work. You may, again, be just starting out. The journey from where you stand today looks daunting. How are we going to make it “till death do us part” since the adjustments of the first few months have been brutal.
Or maybe you’ve just given up on your relationship altogether, deciding it’s way too mysterious to figure out how to go back to square one and start again, or how to choke out those words “I’m sorry” or “I forgive you” to the person to whom you are married.
Part of what makes marriage so mysterious is we don’t know how to read what the Creator of marriage said about it. He said things like:
- “It’s not about your happiness or fulfillment, but your sacrifice.”
- “It’s not about you always getting your way, but serving”
- “It’s not about you getting love, but about you giving love.”
- “It’s not about you winning, but you surrendering.”
Most of us turn to our peers, not the Bible, when it comes time to ask for advice or share our struggles with marriage. Our friends, steeped in the culture of the world, will advise you from the world’s vantage point to do just the opposite of what the Bible says.
The Bible’s counsel for marriage is summarized in Ephesians 5. There we see three “anchor” points or principles that help us navigate when the sea of matrimony gets stormy.
First, we are to exhibit a submissive spirit. Our primary submission is to “one another” in marriage… unto Christ. A submissive spirit, though assigned as the wife’s duty, is first of all to be given to the Lord.
Second, we are to exhibit a servant’s heart. This quality is to be exhibit from the husband to the wife. The husband is to serve his wife as he serves the Lord. His service to his wife is an act of worship to the Lord. We love our wife in the same way we want to love Jesus. No wife will ever resent being submissive to that kind of partner.
Third, we are to display sacrificial love. This is a love that, not only is willing to die for the beloved (as most husbands would claim they would), but that actually dies! Not the death of taking a bullet or throwing himself in front of a speeding automobile to save them, but daily dying to himself; his wants… his needs… for the sake of loving his wife.
This kind of marriage will truly glorify the Lord, mystify the world and please those involved in it. Don’t take your marching orders from the wrong source.
But the mystery extends to what our marriage shows. A Christian marriage demonstrates the love of Christ for His Bride, the church. Don’t give up on the picture. Your marriage is bigger than you, and more important than your momentary trials. The Gospel is seen as you live this out.
Live in the mystery. It is there that God shows His greatest power, and the world sees an astounding witness.
And one day, the mystery will become clear to us!