America: Home of the Brave
Let me begin with a bit of honesty… My heart is heavy as I consider the state of America. Perhaps yours is, too. If so, I am writing this for you.
I am first writing this for me, to remind my soul of God’s goodness when I can’t see it in plain view. But I am writing it for you, as well. Perhaps together we will see God’s goodness more clearly.
This afternoon I was reading about Christopher Columbus -you know, the guy who discovered America. Well, it turns out (if my resources can be trusted) that the true story of Christopher Columbus is quite a bit different from how I heard it in school. Here is what I found:
- The name “Christopher” literally means he who holds Christ in his heart, or Christ bearer.
- Christopher Columbus was an explorer, but it turns out that his driving motivation was to go into all the world and preach the gospel. He thought of himself as a missionary.
- His desire to sail west instead of around the horn of Africa was, by his own admission, something that the Holy Spirit had inspired him to do so that the name of Jesus could be proclaimed among people who had never heard the Good News of the gospel.
- It was his connection to the church that actually landed him the opportunity to set sail for the New World. He had been staying in a monastery for years as he waited for a response from the King and Queen of Spain as to whether or not they would fund his voyage. After four years of consideration, they rejected his request. Christopher spent that evening in prayer with the keeper of the monastery, who was later instrumental in getting the King and Queen to reconsider Christopher’s request.
- Throughout the voyage to the New World, his personal journal shows Christopher Columbus to be a man of constant prayer.
I’m not sure why I never knew any of this. I was certainly never taught any of this information in school.
It does make sense, though, when you stop and simply think about the names that he gave the places he explored. The first place where they landed was given the name San Salvador, which means “Holy Savior” -named after Jesus, of course. The first European settlement on the New World was given the name La Navidad, which means “the Nativity”. It was named thus because it was founded on Christmas day, 1492.
This story begins well, but it doesn’t end very well.
Columbus’ desire to preach the gospel was soon replaced by a desire to acquire gold and fame. He got sidetracked. The New World offered seemingly unlimited resources -especially in the form of slaves. Since he could not communicate well with the natives, he resorted to “converting” them to Christianity by force.
America. Home of the brave.
It started out so good… how did it get so messed up?
My heart resonates with the Psalmist as I reflect on our nation… and on the world (as I see it):
O LORD, God of vengeance,
O God of vengeance, shine forth!
Rise up, O judge of the earth;
repay to the proud what they deserve!
O LORD, how long shall the wicked,
how long shall the wicked exult?
They pour out their arrogant words;
all the evildoers boast.
They crush your people, O LORD,
and afflict your heritage.
They kill the widow and the sojourner,
and murder the fatherless;
and they say, “The LORD does not see;
the God of Jacob does not perceive.” (Psalm 94:1-7, ESV)
It is as if the Psalmist were alive today! Consider these few examples of world that we are currently living in:
- The Supreme Court has declared same-sex marriage to be legal across all 50 states, and any appeal from elected officials based on the First Amendment has been shut down.
- An online dating company that exists to help people have an affair has been hacked and literally millions of customers have had their private information leaked across the web. (In light of the 7th and 8th Commandment, I’m not even sure who to root for on this one).
- A white police officer shoots a black man who is violently resisting arrest and the act is considered to be racism. Meanwhile a black man shoots a white News reporter and cameraman in the middle of an interview and the President of our nation calls for increased gun control and simply talks about “gun violence”.
- ESPN (which actually used to cover sports) gives a “Courage Award” to a man who has undergone a sex-change and is now wanting to be recognized as a woman. Meanwhile ESPN suspends Curt Schilling for courageously tweeting an accurate and thought-provoking comment comparing Muslim and Nazi statistics.
- Planned Parenthood continues to kill human beings at the rate of one abortion every 97 seconds (more than 330,000 per year). As an organization, they are receiving over $528 million per year from the US Government (which makes up more than 40% of their annual budget). Meanwhile, undercover videos have revealed that the organization is knowingly breaking the law in multiple ways by selling baby parts. Still, the funding, killing, and law-breaking continues and the undercover videos have been dismissed by mainstream media as “useless as evidence”, even though they were acquired using the exact same methods that any useful evidence would be acquired through.
Friends, we have a real mess here. The Psalm continues:
Understand, O dullest of the people!
Fools, when will you be wise?
He who planted the ear, does he not hear?
He who formed the eye, does he not see?
He who disciplines the nations, does he not rebuke?
He who teaches man knowledge—
the LORD—knows the thoughts of man,
that they are but a breath. (Psalm 94:8-11, ESV)
I am encouraged, not as I look at the world, but as I look at Jesus. He knows. He cares. He weeps. He’ll save.
Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O LORD,
and whom you teach out of your law,
to give him rest from days of trouble,
until a pit is dug for the wicked.
For the LORD will not forsake his people;
he will not abandon his heritage;
for justice will return to the righteous,
and all the upright in heart will follow it. (Psalm 94:12-15)
Yes. He’ll save! But I believe that He wants to use us to bring it about.
Men and women of God, we cannot stay silent. We have to do something.
Last week I held a sign during a protest of Planned Parenthood. Did holding that sign change the world? No. But it was something. I believe that the LORD is looking for people who are willing to be brave.
Who rises up for me against the wicked?
Who stands up for me against evildoers? (Psalm 94:16, ESV)
This nation started out so good… it was the home of the brave.
I believe that as we lean on the LORD, our stronghold and our rock, we can be brave again.
Let’s be brave.
If the LORD had not been my help,
my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence.
When I thought, “My foot slips,”
your steadfast love, O LORD, held me up.
When the cares of my heart are many,
your consolations cheer my soul.
Can wicked rulers be allied with you,
those who frame injustice by statute?
They band together against the life of the righteous
and condemn the innocent to death.
But the LORD has become my stronghold,
and my God the rock of my refuge.
He will bring back on them their iniquity
and wipe them out for their wickedness;
the LORD our God will wipe them out. (Psalm 94:17-23, ESV)