FOURTH OF JULY 2020
HAVE A HAPPY and safe JULY 4th!
The Fourth of July always seems like a welcome celebration in the middle of summer. It’s a time for fun and picnics and festivals and the fireworks that I love—although this year gatherings are limited. July 4th is an opportunity to remember that the freedoms and privileges that we Americans experience were not easily gained. They were fought for. The price was paid over and over again. Many throughout the last two and a half centuries gave their lives so that our freedoms and amazing rights could be maintained.
July 4th was the date in 1776 when the Declaration of Independence (from England) was signed. Our forefathers saw fit to base our primary governmental beliefs on the biblical beliefs that “all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights” to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…” (from the United States Bill of Rights). We have a very unusual history compared with the rest of world history in that our country was founded by those who sought to base its government on God’s governing principles and truths.
God had a hand in it then and He so much seeks to bless us now by having us seek Him, His ways and His answers for our country. After prayer, we can begin with the important act of voting. Voting is a privilege. It’s a privilege few of us think much about. Yet there are still countries where the freedom to choose representation and leaders is not even considered. It is a blessing to our American life now and to our children to vote in a way that honors the very same God that many pilgrims and pioneers and immigrants came here seeking the freedom to profess and worship and serve.
They took action to leave cultures where they experienced typical troubles that make up everyday life for the majority of others all over the world. That includes religious persecution; rampant disease/ hunger/ drought; life in a third world economic country; continuous fear from oppressive governments; life in a non-representative, totalitarian style government—the list is long.
There are those religious people who follow and read prayers and histories and journals of those who have suffered much in life. Some devoted themselves in a sacrificial way in intercessions and prayers for others. Some were physical martyrs, or underwent great physical pain, as did (St.) Padre Pio. There are those who point to Fatima and other modern prophetic messages. And they pray according to the revelations and intentions given—especially praying the rosary. They are sober about the messages and watch for the fulfillment of their warnings.
But just like the New Testament encourages early believers to “occupy until He comes”, we, too, need to earnestly pray AND take action as God sheds His light on our path and on what’s going on around us. As difficult and even discouraging as some things seem to be, the need for hope is greater now than ever. This is not a time to quit. We need to persist in prayer, in hope, in love, and in God-inspired action. Simply and directly: God is stirring hope to fight the fear. God truly desires to help those who call out to Him.
The Lord speaks His wisdom in Ecclesiastes 3, “There is an appointed time [season] for everything. And there is a time for every event [purpose] under heaven…” Wisdom and understanding from God Himself are needed to an unusual degree this season. Ecclesiastes chapter 3 mentions sixteen opposites.
Some are: “A time to be born and a time to die… to plant and to uproot… kill and heal… tear down and build up…weep and laugh… mourn and dance…[five more opposites, then]… be silent and speak… love and hate… war and peace…” This shows that timing is important to our Omniscient, Loving God. Totally opposite things can be most perfectly right—at the right time (not including moral absolutes). We need God’s prescribed wisdom and God’s moves during these difficult times.
Left to our human wisdom alone (our “lower” thoughts, assumptions, presumptions and judgments that sound “reasonable”—which the enemy caters to vs. God’s “higher thoughts” and “higher ways”), we are especially vulnerable to our own blindnesses. We become more susceptible and gullible to well-reasoned, twisted truths. Even the most intelligent among us can be fooled by the shrewd and sophisticated persuasions of evil speech and convincing words. Others may be drawn more by enticing and attractive (false) promises or emotional heart-tugs that have little or no connection with what’s good or right or true. All of us can easily fail to pay attention to God’s timing and specific answers and wisdom. When we realize that, we can stop and look God’s direction and ask for help. He hears. He cares. He answers.
All this is to say: We need to be aware of the season that we are in. Things are changing more rapidly and in more ways than we realize. We are moving past a more care-free American life, with the “same ol’ same ol’” that many grew accustomed to in years past.
There are those who work diligently in calculated ways to derail every traditional value we can imagine. We have a media war going on against authentic, timeless customs and biblically-prescribed institutions—particularly what is considered “Christian” or faith-based. There is much that is in danger of (or already becoming) extinct in American culture. Only as we pray, speak and stand against some of the amoral and immoral successes will we see productive, life-giving change.
Looking to the future, some religious (and non-religious) people are watching for scriptural and other modern prophetic words (confirming biblical truth) to come true—perhaps sooner and perhaps later than some realize.
But here we are between the two—the quickly passing “past” and the unknown future. What do we do? Many become troubled or confused by all this. It leaves some feeling a bit paralyzed or impotent to some extent. Where do we start? Maybe we can begin with what NOT to do.
We don’t presume negative outcomes nor invite destruction—not in our voting, in our prayers, in our speaking or in our actions. We can face the truth—even when the truth is very ugly and we feel stuck without solutions. When the God of the impossible is hearing our prayers, we don’t assume destructive outcomes. He cares about the affairs of man and the earth. (“The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.” [Ps. 24:1]) And we can do our part.
It’s time for hope—much needed hope. In Mark chapter 9 Jesus told a deaf and mute boy’s father, “All things are possible to him who believes”. Like the man in this scripture we can pray, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief”. We can be encouraged as we remember “doubting Thomas”. The Lord did not get angry with him when he failed to believe what the disciples told him: that they had seen the risen Lord. The Lord simply helped him to believe, giving him tangible proof. And He said that those (like us) are blessed “who have not seen and have believed”.
Things don’t have to look or seem highly probable or even possible to fully work out in a good way. God has a part to play. We can continue to pray and thank Him and remember: He is the One who makes a way where there is no way. A Red Sea. A defeat of 450 prophets of Baal by one prophet—Elijah. A David and Goliath. A Savior born in Bethlehem. A Resurrection and Pentecost outpouring. Then… innumerable stories and Godly interventions and miracles since then.
And we, too, can act appropriately. Sometimes even one person or one act tips the scales toward success. That person may be you or me. We can be assured, at least, that we are an important part of the picture that can bring success.
We don’t support unrighteous platforms and foundations.
We don’t base our decisions on the media voices with a biased, anti-Christian agenda. We look past the drama that plays out in the secular and social media as various groups and individuals try to grab attention to one crisis after another. While real injustice and various events need careful attention and help, other publicly staged exhibitions are intended as spectacles that distract from larger truths or the bigger picture. Publicly prescribed answers can then miss the real issues and create mayhem and fear in the process—and send us all looking in the wrong direction for answers and solutions.
What CAN we DO?
First, we CAN and DO pray much. We DO stop long enough to learn to listen to the still, small voice of God that tells us to choose wisely whom we are listening to and whom we are following. Things are not always what they seem—especially now.
We must keep very alert and watchful. Although the lies and slanders continue to abound around us, we have the rare privilege to vote. We must keep choosing what is in line with our Creator’s ways and truth and thoughts that seek to bless us all. When we choose to believe “In God we trust” we become more aware that He seeks to give us every chance at a life well lived. We will also be choosing what is in line with the foresight and foundations chosen by our early American leaders and founders.
I believe with every fiber of my being that there has never been a more important election season. There is more of a wider gap between those who would seek basically biblically just and Godly ways for our country’s future and those who would not. Some say we are at a crossroads more serious than we have seen in a long time—possibly ever, and certainly in any of our lifetimes. We have our children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and future generations to think of.
There are those who have seen “behind the curtain” and looked beneath the surface (through fact-finding research and personal experience) of much that is happening this year—religiously and politically. And they confirm the urgency of the present need. May we carefully choose whom we listen to and what we believe. We will skip many facts and details, but still take a moment to mention some wisdom regarding deeper sources here.
Paul’s letter to the Ephesians in chapter 6 tells us (in the Amplified [further explained] version): “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places.” [Eph. 6:12 Amp.] This explains part of the need for (and effectiveness of) prayer covering all these needs and issues.
There are literally evil powers that spawn much of what is working behind the scenes, along with their (sometimes deceived, sometimes fully willing, sometimes reprehensible and nefarious) front men and women. (So prayer AND action are both needed.)
Remember the days when the term “non-profit” came with the assumption of life-giving work and noble motives? Not any longer. Numerous destructive strategies and moves are funded by exorbitantly wealthy sources. That includes non-profit organizations created and sustained with very unholy, unhealthy objectives.
What if we think that this concern is overinflated? What if we do nothing? The side-effects of our ignorance or lethargy or inaction are not just limited to the distant future. With what some genuinely informed people have direct awareness of (or have researched to know as destructive facts and detrimental strategies operating right now), the nearest years ahead will be marked by our own deep regret and generally increased trouble and distress on many fronts. America as we have known and loved it will become more and more unrecognizable and disturbing. Some with great knowledge and awareness even believe things have mushroomed (unseen by most of us) to the extent that this is our last workable opportunity to push back greater darkness.
Moving forward through summer and into the fall, may we keep these thoughts in mind. May we realize what most of us are blind to: that keeping our freedom and Creator-based rights and blessings will not happen automatically.
There is nothing automatic about it. Our choices make a difference. Our vote makes a difference. Our whole way of life and every vital element of our society will be affected. As imperfect as our system is and even the individuals involved in it are, we can still make a vital choice. We can contribute to basic moral foundations for our country. We can seek God’s kind of life and rule and way on earth. He asked us to pray, “…Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
We may be far from heaven on earth, but God still loves us so completely that He desires to bless us and our choices (Deut. 30:9). He cannot bless us if we choose as leaders those who represent what fundamentally goes against His ways and His truth regarding “life”—not just the right to life, but fundamental issues in life and what scripturally brings “life” and what brings “curses”. Early in the Old Testament, God says, “Choose life”.
“I call heaven and earth to witness… I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the Lord, your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him.” [Deut. 30:19-20b]
There is a path that can bring blessings and a path that opens us up to “curses” and evil outcomes. God desires to bless us and still bless America. Are there things and people that have continually and resolutely refused God’s ways and determined to remain on a path of destruction? Yes. For sure. But God looks to His true children who continue to turn to Him and seek Him and pray and seek to obey His words (Mark 12:30, 31)—however imperfectly.
2 Chron. 7:14 says, “If My people who are called by My name shall humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
The scriptures speak of several times when God looked to a small number of faithful people—to hear their cries and answer them. God even reduced the numbers in Gideon’s army and had most of them go home—so all could witness God’s power and glory at work. We may have smaller numbers. (The media would have us think so.) But God is not shaken by smaller numbers. We can pray and gain courage and see God make up the difference. And we can “speak the truth in love” [Eph. 4:15] to as many as possible and see those numbers increase. Many have just simply been deceived or seduced by falsehoods. Scripture warns of “plausible liars”.
It starts with Him. Our prayers reach the ears of a caring Father. Like any good father, Our Father is real and loving and delights in His children. Let’s do what we can do to delight His heart this season. Let’s be both salt and light. Even a little bit of salt seasons and preserves. And a little light still pushes back the darkness.
May we continue to pray.. and choose… and act… and support what God calls “right”… and vote … and speak the truth… and love God and others…And pray some more—for others who are voting, for leaders who are desiring to follow what is right and true and good, for those who are not, for God’s intervention, for wisdom , for angelic help, for His kingdom come and will be done. Pray with thanks and praise for all God is and all He has done that we have rarely thanked Him for—all His immense goodness and mercy and kindness. And pray in every other way that the true Spirit of God will lead us.