America the Beautiful, limping, torn and bleeding.

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This morning I woke up dreaming. In my dream I saw in the clear blue skies over me clouds, many clouds, and they were beautiful! Remember when you were a kid and you would lay in the sweet green summer grass while the sunshine warmed your face making every muscle in your body relax? The skies were a brilliant blue with white puffy clouds overhead. In my dream there were many many white puffy clouds overhead, but they were not in the usual shapes of clouds, you know, the kind that look like animals or objects when you look at them with your imagination. These clouds were distinct and I knew exactly what they depicting.

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The clouds in my dream were in the shape of tanks, planes, jets and ships. Military equipment that was strong, large and impressive! Positioned in the sky, row after row of them. All lined up in perfect military formation. However, as I was remembering how they looked in the dream, I had a sadness come over me along with a great sense of patriotic emotion. These wonderful majestic pieces of military equipment represented the past. Having long ago surpassed the glory of their missions. Now, tethered in the sky, they were a beautiful shadow of what once was. Sadly, I realized, that what I was seeing was the glory of the United States of America standing tall and proud in the fast fading form of clouds that come and go with the flow of weather.

These remnants of a brilliant, strong and hardy America were reminders that the heyday of this country with its military strength is just about gone. This country that boasted the brightest and the best was now losing its strength and posture in the eyes of the world. Fading into the memories of countless veterans and their families and those who faithfully watched as the USA went forth helping, enabling and supporting other countries when they needed it most.

Just as the picture below shows one of our wounded warriors, dependant on a chair for his mobility, we too have been injured and wounded as a country. We are not the people we once were. This is not the America that once was. Just as the generations after Moses lost sight of the wonderful miracles that God had done for them in Egypt and in the desert, it is with a heavy heart that I ponder what will happen to the generations following mine as they no longer hear the stories of the people and their battles that kept us a free nation.1779073_10152083545299270_741731931_n

I am part of the baby boomer generation, now welcoming grandchildren into our families and linage. Will these children currently being born have even a hint of the patriotic spark that we were raised with? Will they sing the great songs we learned by heart? God Bless America, You’re A Grand Ole Flag, or even America the Beautiful. I wonder how long we will be opening sporting events with our National Anthem. Will the generations following us even know who Francis Scott Key was and why he penned such unusual lyrics? I once had an elderly teacher make sure we knew the lyrics of the last verse:

 O, thus be it ever when freemen shall stand,
Between their lov’d homes and the war’s desolation;
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the heav’n-rescued land
Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause 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! 

Those fading remnants of our military strength that I saw in my dream not only reminded me that there is a crisis here politically, but also, and much more importantly, this country is in a spiritual crisis like none we’ve ever seen before. Our faithful nation has become one that is tarnished and torn. While there is still a remnant, yes, strong and bold who declare daily the faith of God through both prayer and behavior, there is a sinister and malevolent spirit that has overshadowed such a large portion of our “united” states. Lawlessness and murder are rampant, what was once evil is now called good. The bible tells us that this will be happening in the last days. Anyone with eyes and ears can realize that it is now true. We are there now!

The God that helped bring this nation to its feet is still the God he always was. As we chopped away at the goodness that brought us our strength with decisions such as removing prayer from school and allowing sins like abortion and immoral sexual behaviors to override our souls we have stayed the protective hand of God that once held us so securely.

As individuals, we have the power to take back what we have lost. It will only be through repentance that we can regain some sense of unity in this nation. As those figments I saw in my dream of our past strength fade away, my prayer is that we will be drawn to our knees and repent for the sins of the nation and once again invite the God of the universe back to us with contrite  hearts.

Will we ever recover that which has been lost? I doubt it. However, with faith I speak the powerful lovingkindness of God over my family, friends and loved ones and yes even those who persecute me. Will we be reduced to a people who has to deal with lawlessness and disaster? Perhaps, but as Joshua said: As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15

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What?!?! But I have GRACE! Have we forgotten that God also told us to Repent!

In the book of James, we read this: Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep; let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. James 4:7-10

Wow, does this sound like the sweet words of the gentle savior? Sometimes Jesus comforts us with words of loving kindness and sometimes like a good parent he speaks to us a bit more sternly with words of correction. However, these words although they may sound harsh, will ultimately take us to a place of personal freedom! We don’t always like to be corrected or instructed to do something. We don’t always see things the way God sees them. He is a God of omniscience, he knows everything all at once. He knows the past, present and future. He knows what we need for today and also the days to come. Matthew 3:2 tells us that Jesus wants us to repent because the Kingdom of God is coming. Well, what does that mean? He wants us to know that there will be an end to this world. How will he find us when he returns with that angelic shout at the last trumpet? Will he find us going about his business or our own business? This is a stern word for us all, but we do not want to be tricked into believing that we will go be with him simply because we have been “good.” That is not what he said, he said to repent. Confess your sins.

Let’s take to heart what the bible says, what the Lord of heaven AND earth is saying to us, to those who he says, have ears to hear. When we take the words in James and really apply them, we will see that it is the Holy Spirit who convicts us of those things in our lives that do not line up to the word of God. When we get serious and really mourn the behaviours and attitudes that need to be rooted out of our lives, it is then that we will receive the freedom we need. By leaving these things in humble repentance at the foot of the cross we enable God’s hand that was stayed, to once again release blessings unto us.

He really is a loving God who wants His best to flow into us. He tells us how that can happen. Obedience is paramount. Obedience to his word brings that freedom and that truth, along with so many other wonderful truths will bring us what we need. He longs for us to come to him and release these things that hinder us. Pride and false confidence brought by the enemy will keep us from repentance. But, really it is so simple. The rest of James chapter 4 will show us what to do. It is our decision if we will do it or not. God won’t force us to repent, but it delights him when we choose to be obedient, and oh how he smiles when we are finally released from bondage by doing so. In order to live that abundant life he tells us about in John 10:10, this must be done, for by repenting we keep the “thief” from stealing from us.

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