Friday, July 6, 2012

Happy Sixth of July


Today I am going to begin with a quote:
"The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more."

- John Adams (October 30, 1735 – July 4, 1826) written in a letter to his wife Abigail on July 3, 1776.
We are very good at pomp and parade, shows, games, sports, guns, bells, and fireworks.  What much of any July 4 celebration lacks is solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.  Is this what our nation has become?  Are we all about pomp and nothing about substance?  Are we all about glorifying our soldiers who claim the victory but neglect the one who gives the victory?  Are we more about getting drunk than we are on being thankful to God for all that we have?  I mean sure many people say grace before we stuff our faces with all kinds of delicious summer BBQ foods, but that is more habit than devotion.  We joke about our "first world problems" but rarely do we fall on our knees and thank God for our first world blessings.  We should not feel guilty about living in a land so blessed, we should feel thankful. 

But I worry sometimes if we remember that all we have is because God.  We have grown a sense of entitlement of our blessings instead of solemn gratitude.  We have come to rely on our blessings and not on the One who has given them to us.  This is evidenced by how so many are moving further and further away from God.  This is especially true for government.  We are no longer allowed to pray at our town meetings. Teachers are not allowed to pray with students.  Students are not allowed to pray at graduation speeches or in "holiday" programs.  Our nation has been going through some serious economic turmoil for the past few years.  What is troubling is that people are not getting the message  People are thinking that it will just turn around, that America is somehow too great to fail.  They think that America is forever.  It is not any of those.  It can fail and it will not last forever.  I fear because I do not know what more God can do to get our attention or what will happen if He just decides to put out our torch. 

The storms from last weekend show me a warning for America.  There were hundreds, if not thousands of trees ripped from their roots.  These were not young trees, but trees that were probably 100 years old.  These trees survived storms of rain, ice, and wind.  They even survived hurricanes.  They survived times of severe drought and times of flooding.  They survived scorching summers and frozen winters.  They survived various prunings and cuttings.  They survived vandalism, car accidents, and children climbing and playing on their branches.  They survived infestations and attacks from all sorts of bugs, fungi, and caterpillars.  These trees were also large.  They stretched their branches to the sky stretching just a little but more year after year.  Their trunks were strong. In just over one hour, they were gone.  They were torn up from the roots and once that nourishment was gone they looked alive but were already dead.  Over the next few days, those lush green branches turned to dead, dry, brown.  Then they were cut up, chopped, and many will end up burned in someone's fireplace. 

America is like one of those trees.  We have been around a long time and we have been through a lot.  We have survived storms of various kinds.  Whether it be depressions, recessions, wars, civil wars, terrorist attacks, political conflict, and disasters and calamities of all kinds.  One day, though, there will be a strong storm that we can not bear.  We only see the sky and we have forgotten the roots that hold us where we are and send us our nourishment.  Our nation was forged in prayer and though many bloody battles were fought, it was God who ultimately gave us our victory.  Early on we recognized that, but now it is all but forgotten.  How long will it be until we ignore our roots so long that God sends a storm that tears those roots right out of the ground.  In the flash of an eye, all that we thought was invincible could be dead. 

Many times, when faced with harsh conditions, a tree will push its roots deeper.  In fact, sometimes it is not best to over-water a new tree or plant so as to encourage it to stretch its roots deeper to better handle harsh conditions.  God sends these harsh conditions our way to push our roots deeper, but this time I do not really see that happening.  There are many out of work, there are many struggling to get by, there are many who do not know how they will pay for their house or put food on the table, and many have lost everything. Despite this happening with scary regularity, we continue to allow our roots to grow ever-more shallow.  It is not too late, though.  It is not too late to remember God.  It is not too late to turn back to Him.  It is not too late to repent.  The clouds are gathering, you can hear the thunder of various pundits warning us of a very unsure future, we can see flashes of lightening each time another business lays people off or closes altogether.  Will the storm miss us?  Will we survive if it does not?  Only God knows and it is only Him we can turn to.

When those giant trees fell, I can only imagine the sound.  Some fell on houses, some on cars, and some on power lines.  I am going to close with something written about Israel that can be taken as a warning to us today.  Should we crash, how loud will our crash be and what will we take with us?  I do not know about you, but I hope we never have to find out.
And from the daughter of Zion All her splendor has departed. Her princes have become like deer [That] find no pasture, That flee without strength Before the pursuer.
In the days of her affliction and roaming, Jerusalem remembers all her pleasant things That she had in the days of old. When her people fell into the hand of the enemy, With no one to help her, The adversaries saw her [And] mocked at her downfall.
Jerusalem has sinned gravely, Therefore she has become vile. All who honored her despise her Because they have seen her nakedness; Yes, she sighs and turns away.
Her uncleanness [is] in her skirts; She did not consider her destiny; Therefore her collapse was awesome; She had no comforter. "O LORD, behold my affliction, For [the] enemy is exalted!"  Lamentations 1:6-9 NKJV

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