Benjamin Franklin is by no means remembered as the picture of a pious man. However, he did have his own faith and was good friends with George Whitefield, who rode up and down the colonies telling them that in God’s eyes, there were no different than a man born to be king. It took somebody with the insight of Franklin to poke the bear and question the status quo. This happened during the constitutional convention in Philadelphia in 1787. Here is a portion of Franklin’s statement:
I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth- that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that "except the Lord build the House they labour in vain that build it." I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel…
I love the beauty of this language. The imagery is important. If a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice… Leads me to wonder what else does he notice?
I am sure he notices the brokenhearted. Those who strive for peace and joy only to have it dashed on the rocks of broken relationships. I am certain he notices the small kindnesses we pay to others. The time we pick up the piece of trash, the time we make sure a waitress gets ever nickel of her tip. I believe he notices when we make decisions based upon our understanding of faith and scripture, and not along the lines of popular culture, especially when those two diverge. I believe he notices each and every person, and is interested in every aspect of their lives.
If almighty God is interested in your everyday life, isn’t it time to spend a little time with him and try to understand him better? Take a few moments to pray and establish a relationship with him.
Benjamin Franklin understood that we need God in order to make our Republic and to make it work. In this political season, we really don’t have a particular “God” candidate. We can only pray that God would find a way to work through the eventual winner.
Are you lonely?
Are you hurting?
Do you feel rejected?
Are you afraid?
Do you feel like your life is a lie?
When I was in my 20’s that was me. I was lonely all the time. I spent hours trying to find a relationship that would make me complete. It took years before I realized that I need to be complete before I can truly find that relationship. But I’ll come back to that.
My loneliness led to incredible hurt and anger. I would see friends of mine who had meaningful relationships and I couldn’t say anything nice to them, or about them. I had one young lady that I got to know that was engaged to another guy. She moved back to Wisconsin, but a year later shows up at my door, she moved in with me for two weeks and left. Nothing happened. She leaves me this long note about how it wasn’t meant to be. The hurt became something like an angry animal. It raged, it hungered, but wasn’t fed.
Rejection after rejection drove my anger worse. It began to turn inward so I couldn’t respect myself. I doubted my own self-worth. I got into a relationship with a woman who was married, and I eventually married her, then did it again legally. That’s a whole other story. But a few weeks after we got married she got pregnant. The problem was she already had a son, and wasn’t ready to have another child. Her mother drove her to planned parenthood and she terminated the pregnancy. In other words, she killed my child or children. The hurt and anger were there, but the rejection, the sorrow. It hurt to breathe.
Then the fear. This unhealthy relationship then began to be ruled by fear. It was fear of future rejection. I stayed in it because I didn’t want her to leave me. I would do anything to slake the fear. I went too far in debt. I lied to my family. Anything to stop the fear, if for only a little while.
It finally got to a point after 11 years that I realized that I was living a lie. I ended the relationship, and began another 8 years of arguing about child support (for her son that I adopted, and twins that were born later). It was a horrible, stressful, agonizing time.
In all of this, I practiced atheism. I relied upon myself. I thought that religion was man’s attempt at putting something in place to teach people how to be moral. Since I saw myself as already moral, I didn’t need religion. Which God would I serve anyway? I spent a lot of time mocking those of faith, and challenging their beliefs. Did it make me feel good? No, not really. It gave me a momentary feeling of superiority, but I would not call that good. You see that pride was just a future indication of personal failure that would happen at some point.
There is more, but that’s enough to get my point across. You see, that depth of hurt, that raging animal of anger, the icy cold loneliness, and the bone breaking heartache are no more. I have renounced atheism and have been a loyal, faithful, zealous Christian for more than 5 years. The times have not been easier, in some ways they have been tougher. But I’ve never been alone. I’ve never been rejected by my heavenly father. I am a child of God before I’m a father, husband, employee, or anything else. In Genesis it says that God looked at his creation and said it was very good. God thinks I’m very good. Is there anything that could top that? You know that you are very good in God’s eyes too?
The point of this message is that God is there for you. You may go through trials, but that is just a way to refine your character. If you submit to God, he will get you through, and he will make you better. He will support you. He will take care of you. He is your heavenly father, and he loves you.
If I had it all to do over again, I would have renounced atheism earlier, I would have driven pride from myself and I would have sought God’s approval, not man’s. But I can’t do that. Instead, I have a rich history of experiences to share with people that can build them up, and help them get through the tough things, the heartache, the rejection, the loneliness. You see, it isn’t me who makes me complete. It isn’t my wife that makes me complete (she makes me better). It’s my relationship with God that makes me complete.
How can I help you find him and make yourself complete?
I have always loved history. I’ve told countless people that it’s the best storybook there is, and it’s all true. That may be one of the reasons I’m so proud of this country, the United States of America.
You see, it’s that love of this land that brought me back to God. I gave my life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ when I was a junior in high school. But I quickly recanted in my pride and lived the life of an atheist for 28 more years. But one night, alone behind the wheel of our Suburban, driving from Phoenix to San Diego, I had a long discussion with myself. Or at least I thought it was myself at the time. I talked about how this country started from humble roots. It allowed the cast offs from other lands to come in and to build a land that would throw off the tyranny of an absentee monarch. This country would grow and prosper and save the world from two world wars. We have much to be proud of, and much to be thankful for. But that night, I decided, with myself that there had to be a God. Because the circumstances of the independence of our land, and the simple inspired truth of the Declaration and the Constitution could not come from mere man.
So that brings me to this week. We acknowledged the 15th anniversary of 9/11. My family went to see the movie about “Sully” Sullenberger and the “Miracle on the Hudson.” I also watched several of the 9/11 documentaries on the History Channel. With this as a backstop, we learned about Colin Kaepernick, who feels that this country harbors institutional oppression of the black community. He has decided he will not stand for the National Anthem in protest. Before I get into how I feel about this, I have to say that it is his right to sit during the National Anthem. The freedom of speech protects such acts of protest. The last 50 years have been filled with many people finding many ways to protest the status quo. Sometimes with results that improved our society, sometimes not. The only caveat to his right to protest, is in doing so, he is also responsible for the repercussions. The NFL or the San Francisco 49’ers can take disciplinary action. Fans can quit buying his merchandise. People can quit going to NFL games. If he has decided his protest is worth those actions, then by all means, sit during the National Anthem.
On Monday I posted a Facebook comment poking fun at Mr. Kaepernick’s protest. It was amazingly met with people who disagree with my stance. The reply that just shocked me was the one saying that we need to listen to Mr. Kaepernick’s protest because there has been so much injustice poured upon the black community by the white community. I said, I would like to hear more about this and be able to get into a civil debate. The next reply opened my eyes. But not in the way that person was hoping. You see the argument hinged on the assumption that America is flawed and has purposefully sought to subjugate members of it’s society. I’ll be the first to admit that we are not perfect. We have had parts of our history that are morally and ethically reprehensible. It is important to remember these so we don’t repeat them.
My feeling is there are societal groups, and even churches and pastors that are trying to find a way to justify the current popular social trends. It’s now legal to abort a baby, but the Bible clearly says that is wrong. It’s now legal for a man to marry a man, and a woman to marry a woman, but the Bible clearly says that is wrong. These are the two major things that people are trying to twist and justify. The racial divide gets caught in this in the name of social justice. However, once that swell of pride around what our society calls legal, and the outrage of social inequality, comes to a head, we see that what is being protested for, is not biblical. No matter how many pastors or prophets encourage and embrace it. There is a folksy proverb that says, “Man plans, God laughs.” At this point, he is probably beyond laughing and shaking his head.
There is a sin called pride. This is where we as human beings start to think we are on par, or know better than God Almighty. It happened with the tower of Babel, it’s possible to happen here again. Compromise is another sin that churches and pastors get themselves wrapped around in order to ensure the collection plate stays full.
One more thing, it’s a fact that if you look for the bad things in life, you will find them. If you look for the good things in life, you will find them. If you are convinced America is bad and is horrible, how can you feel that it was blessed by God? If you think the only way to God’s heart is to honor the protests of an overpaid, undertalented, spoiled brat, whose only job is to play a game, then you might need to revisit the book of Romans.
You see, America is great, and it is great because it has been blessed by God. It has been blessed by God in order to bless others. We can be part of this great land, and continue to work to bless others, or we can take the seat of the skeptic and miss the blessings that God has already set out for us.
For me, I choose to stand.
I sit here puzzling the words of Eric Metaxas in his new book, “If You Can Keep It.” It is a marvelous book that re-energizes my dormant patriotic nature, and makes my eyes leak with the love of this country. Such love brought me back to God, and such love brings me to here and now.
Our nation is at a crossroads. These roads were not made by those before us, but made by us, ourselves. We made the road to minimize God. We made the road to lionize sinful activities. We made the road of abortion, destruction of the family, prayer taken out of public schools, and we have made the road that erases our own history. We have found it fashionable to cut our own umbilical, that blood-tie that keeps us on track and sane as a nation. We have decided to submit to societal amnesia and therefore, we built the road of political correctness from a lonely footpath to the major interstate highway it is today.
We stand at this intersection, amazed by it’s grandeur. Many roads, crossing at one place, with height of concrete, and lights that turn night into day. We as man revel in our own magnificence. Why do we need a God, when we can build anything, go anywhere, solve any problem, and allow any person the desires of their heart, as long as those desires are not to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Eric Metaxas reminds me of the timeless words George Winthrop, that were echoed by John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. Speaking of this nation, this society as a city on a hill. Bringing forth the imagery that originated with Jesus, talking about God’s light, and that light shining through his people, cannot be hidden, but will be broadcast to all men, from that shining city on a hill. We may currently live in that shining city, but we have put on our curtains, our blinders, our safe areas, so we can live in sin and debauchery and call it good, call it progress, call it right. We then call the Christian bible evil and outdated. It needs to be rewritten to reflect the times.
Or do we take a step back from that massive intersection and choose the path less travelled, the path mentioned by Jesus, the narrow path, the winding path, the path that ends with the living waters. The path that ends with our heart solidly given to Christ. The day is here. The time is now. Do we act upon the times and get what we need, or will we act in coordination and cooperation with others to see that shining city on the hill celebrated, re-annointed, and brighter than ever.
Alliteration and allegory can only go so far. This is not the nation we grew up in, even if this is the first election you are eligible to vote in. This nation has changed under our watch, and it’s up to us to change it back. Not to the America of the 1950’s, with racism, the cold war, and the first itch of consumerism. No, how about to the America where people could have a civil debate, the America where politicians served the people, not themselves. How about the America where the people really did have the reigns, and the politicians and government truly did rule at the pleasure of simple, unobstructed, legal votes. The way back is not easy, nor will it be swift. But to start any journey, we must take the first step, and give our hearts to Christ, work to protect the family, and operate within our community to the highest of God’s standards. Showing the world what Christian men and women are at their core. We came from teaming masses, yearning to breathe free, to a nation that strives for each man or woman to be judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
Isn’t it time character wins?