Monday, July 20, 2015

God First? OR Country First?

Choosing God Over the USA
Barbara Henderson

I love the United States of America. It has been my family home since before the Revolutionary War.  Family members have fought in every major war.  My husband’s family has been here longer than my family.  We love America.  We are not proud to be Americans.  We are thankful to be Americans.  This nation was raised up by God Almighty.  It has been through His marvelous grace and protection that this land has stood as nation.  It is by his grace that the USA is still standing.  I know that according to some America is on its last legs.  This may be true.  As a Christian I know there is a better world coming where Jesus is Lord over all.  But it still hurts to see this beautiful land given over to every sin known to mankind.

I do spend some time reading news stories on the internet.  There has been a great deal written regarding the homosexual agenda, the recent Supreme Court decision on marriage, and the persecution of Christian businesses.  Unfortunately, I cannot stop myself from responding to some of the remarks made by left-wingers.  Sometimes I don’t respond simply because I am certain the person writing is not in the right mind frame to even read a reasonable rebuttal.  I am offended by so-called Christians saying that because Christians are supposed to love everybody that means we are not supposed to tell the truth about things that oppose God’s rules.  We are just supposed to love the sinners and apparently accept their sin.  But one thing stood out as really offense.  One commentator said Christians are bad if they love God over the USA.  That was brought on by a story about a church flying the Christian flag above the American flag.  The pastor of the church simply said his first allegiance is to God, and his second allegiance is to his country. 

In generations past there was no major conflict between Christians and the government because the majority of our laws were based on Christian morality.  Now we are facing an entirely different situation.  The government has increasingly sanctioned lifestyles that are not acceptable to God.  For instance, the Bible does say that if man will not work let him not eat.  This doesn’t say if a man can’t work – it says if he won’t work.  We are to care for disable.  We are not to support people who won’t work.  The Bible is clear that marriage is for one man and one woman.  Children are to be born to married couples.  Having babies without getting married is wrong.  Don’t misunderstand.  I am 100% against abortion except when the mother’s life is in actual danger.  But the ideal situation is that a husband and wife set out to raise children to love God and keep the commandments.  Our government sanctions immorality of all sorts by funding it.  Women who have babies without being married get a monthly check! 
God is very clear in the Bible that Christians are to pay our taxes. Most of us wish that wasn’t in the Bible, but it is.  So, most Christians obey that rule and pay their taxes. Most Christians make a serious effort to pay all their bills on time.

Now there are serious conflicts between Christians and the US government.  There are going to be times when we face that conflict head on whether we want to or not. 

I have to say once again that I am very thankful for my country.  However, I acknowledge that the USA was lifted up by God.  Even the pagan nations have risen through God’s plan.  I don’t understand it. I certainly can’t explain why.  But we know God’s finger is in everything.  Nothing happens without Him.  For me to love my country more than my God would be very foolish.  That would be like choosing to honor a painting or book instead of the artist or author.  In God we have daily blessings.  In the United States we have a huge example of God’s blessings. 

That is the real story.  In the United States you have an example of God’s blessings on people who followed Him with all their hearts.  That first little Pilgrim settlement came here for freedom of religion.  Their first year in this land they suffered around 50% casualties!  Let me repeat that.  The first year the Pilgrims spent in this land they lost half their settlers.  This was due to cold, hunger, lack of adequate shelter and supplies, and many other things.  I don’t believe they lost a single person to hostile Indians.  In fact, God used the Indians to help them.  The land the Pilgrims settled was vacant land as the tribe who lived there previously had all died in an epidemic. 

Now, here we are today.  We have enjoyed freedom of religion for centuries now.  These early settlers paid a very dear price to provide a future free from religious persecution to their children.  The question today is what will Christians sacrifice to keep freedom of religion?  The family in Oregon has sacrificed their business.  Whether or not you agree with their decision to refuse to bake the cake or not, they clearly have a deeply held belief.  To demand that they participate in something the Christian religion forbids is most definitely taking away their freedom of religion.  So far they have lost their business.  They have been profiled as bigots because of their stand on this issue.  Who knows how far it will go or what they will wind up sacrificing before the fight ends. As a result of their exercise of freedom of religion, the Oregon court has also taken away their freedom of speech.  The family is speaking out anyway, so who knows where that is going to lead. The truth is that the loss of any freedom leads to the loss of more freedoms.

The next question is this, ‘What price are you willing to pay for religious freedom?’  We are blessed to have examples of those like John Bunyan who refused to stop preaching without a license.  Eventually Bunyan won, but he did pay a dreadful price.  He was locked up in jail for years!  We know about the Pilgrims and the dreadful suffering and loss they went through all in the quest of freedom of religion. We know about the founders of this nation.  They were Christian.  Freedom of Religion was held dear enough to them to be written up as a specific freedom.  We know of missionaries who carry to good news of Jesus Christ into fearsome places where some have never heard about Jesus Christ.  They aren’t always welcome in those nations.  Sometimes they are even killed.  We know about the Islamic threat to the world today.  Christians are murdered every day because they won’t conform to Islamic dogma.  These Christians are choosing freedom to worship Jesus Christ over their very lives. 

Probably, for committed Christians, the price they will pay for freedom of religion depends on the circumstances of their own lives.  When a direct affront to God comes to them, they will stand in favor of Christ no matter what the cost. 

Regardless of what revisionist history says there were enough Christians in charge at the time of the Revolutionary War to get Freedom of Religion included in the Bill of Rights.  Whether or not there were atheist or deists in the group doesn’t really matter.  The law was written clearly stating that freedom of religion is a right guaranteed by the constitution.  There was also a majority who believed in the right to bear arms or that would not have made the bill of rights either.    Unfortunately, the two are connected. In fact, all our freedoms are connected.  Governments will attempt to take away rights.  Individuals wanting their own way will help governments.  Lawyers and judges twist laws to suit their own personal ideology.  Or they all flat out take bribes.  Any way you look at it the world is a sinful place.  There is always going to be a conflict between freedom of religion and government.  Ultimately government sees itself as god.  They don’t openly demand worship as the Biblical Nebuchadnezzar, but they do demand obedience to their rules.  Because government is made up largely of people who do not respect the God of creation their rules will not respect God either.  These people do not respect the people who follow the God of the Bible. 

And so it comes down to a choice for Christians.  Where does our ultimate allegiance lie?  If our first allegiance is to God Almighty then dangerous persecution lies ahead.  Currently the government is so sold out to socialism and humanism that Christianity is seen as an antiquated and trivial belief system.  They don’t take individual Christians seriously.  They marginalize and trivialize Christianity in its entirety. 

It is easy to say that our allegiance is to God in times like these when persecution is just beginning here in the USA.  Now is the time to speak out boldly in favor Christianity.  Now is the time to be faithful to our God and King in the smallest of things.  That is setting a pattern of faithfulness when it is easy.  If you can’t be faithful in the smallest things why would you suddenly have the faith to stand for God on the really hard issues?  The Christians around the world who have been martyred by Islam didn’t suddenly decide to be faithful to God on the day they were murdered. That sort of courage is something that is built up by daily faithfulness in the small things.  The big tests are much more easily passed when the muscles of faith and courage have been strengthened daily.

Currently there is a massive effort to de-Christianize the history of America.  Try doing an internet search on something as simple as the Pilgrim’s first thanksgiving and see what you find.  I can promise you that nine out of ten articles will be very anti-Christian.  The Pilgrims will be made into grave robbers, enslavers of the Indians, and the worst exploiters of others that ever walked the face of the earth.  Nine out of ten articles on our founding fathers will have them as atheists at best and deists at the worst.  If you look up the treatment of American Indians you will find it very difficult to find an article that tells of the plague that wiped out 80% of the Indian population before the Pilgrims even arrived.  You will not read about people like David Brainerd, Missionary to the Indians, unless you already know about him and do a specific search.  While the things positive to America and Christians may still be on the internet they are buried so deep under articles that are so biased against America and the early settlers that it appears they should all have been on death row for crimes against humanity.  This does not make any of their nonsense actually true.  It does eventually make it into what most people perceive to be the truth.  I am definitely not saying that early settlers were even close to perfect.  I am saying that many of them were practicing Christians who treated others like they wanted to be treated.

These early settlers choose serving God freely over all the comforts available in their day. 
They choose freedom of religion over the country of their birth. 
They chose freedom of religion over family members who didn’t find freedom of religion important enough to make the changes required to practice their religion freely. 

We really can’t imagine what it cost these early settlers emotionally to give up literally everything they had in the world to just get to America.  Then it cost them half their members in just one year.  Freedom of religion was obviously so important to them that they would die for it.

What these settlers had that most people today do not have was assurance of heaven and heavenly rewards.  True Christians have that assurance in every generation.  The courage to stand for God comes from knowing there really is a totally different world coming for everyone.  Those who follow Jesus Christ will be joint heirs with Him.  Those who reject Jesus will be joint heirs with the devil.  Hell will be their reward.

If it came down to it, a few Christians might choose to go along with the world to just stay out of trouble.  But most Christians will choose to stand for Jesus because they may be the one who makes the difference for one lost soul headed for hell.  Standing for Jesus is about being faithful to our Savior.  It is also about carrying out Jesus’ instructions to go into all the world to spread the gospel.  How can the lost be saved unless they first know salvation is possible?  And how can they hear about the gospel if no one will speak out and tell them?

Freedom of Religion is important.  Don’t confuse ‘freedom of religion’ – which is constitutionally guaranteed right - ‘with ‘freedom to worship’.  Freedom to worship is far more limited concept than freedom of religion.  Anytime politicians start changing one perfectly good word or phrase for another there is definitely something wicked going on.

Here we stand today on the top of a great divide.  True Christians will be divided from the children of this world.  The division will be made to appear unclear since many professing Christians will be on the side of the world.  True Christians will choose God over government every time.  They are wise enough to know that God is maker of everything including nations and governments.  Christians will worship God.  They won’t worship a nation that God has created.

The song for this article is the ‘Star Spangled Banner’.   The song tells a marvelous story of a man waiting through a long night to see if the flag was still waving over Fort McHenry.  He wrote the song and praised God for raising up this nation and preserving this nation.  It is a marvelous choice for our national anthem.

The Star Spangled Banner

Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
Here is a nice video regarding Francis Scott Key and the ‘Star Spangled Banner’