God Bless America?

A week after 9/11 I wrote an article for a writing class.  My self-proclaimed “pagan” instructor did not like my article; it dripped in blood-red ink.  It wasn’t my writing he disliked; it was the subject.

In the aftermath of that horrible attack on America, “God Bless America” signs were everywhere.  You couldn’t turn on the television without hearing someone shouting it.  Every politician that spoke ended their speeches with the interjection.  And I couldn’t help but think, “Why should He bless America?”

The United States keeps moving further and further away from God.  Why should He move closer and closer to us?  Why should He open His benevolent hand to us when we’ve turned our backs on Him?  We’ve cast God out of our government, out of the classroom, out of the public square, but let us be rocked by fear and we cry out to Him to save us.

This was the topic of my article that so repulsed my instructor.  He did, however, begrudgingly give me a good score on the poem I had attached.  As you read this poem, ask yourself the question as well: Why should God bless America?

God Bless America?*

“God bless America!”

            Aloud in the streets we cry.

God bless America?

            I have to wonder, why?

 We’ve cast God out of every place

            By politic’s poison pen,

And torn down from every wall

            Commandments One through Ten.

 From school to work to court

            His Name has been repressed.

Even among His churches

            He’s an oft unwanted guest.

 But now in terror we turn

            And hope to see His face.

God bless America?

            T’would be an act of grace!

And yet God’s grace is sufficient: sufficient to forgive, sufficient to heal, sufficient to bless our country.  And He promises to do it IF we — if His people, the CHURCH —  will turn to Him and remember Him again.  As He promised so long ago,

…if my people,

who are called by my name,

will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways,

then will I

hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

2 Chronicles 7:14

 * ©Donna Lewis September 2001

Deal with it or let it go!

Months ago I saw an old schoolmate in a local restaurant. Beth Green** was a grade ahead of me in our small little high school, where everybody knew everybody — and everybody’s business!  Seeing her again after all these years brought back an unpleasant memory.

I remember being in the 7th grade and you know how 7th and 8th grade girls can be: drama queens, every one of them!  Just after school was out one afternoon, I was walking around the corner of the building, heading to a water fountain outside the school office, when I heard two girls giving Beth “down in the country,” as my mom would say.   

“She said…Then I said…”

“Yeah, but she’s just…”

And so on it went.

As I finished drinking the water and straightened up, the talking stopped and both girls looked at me.  In an pitiful attempt to be funny, I said, “What is this? The I-hate-Beth-Green Club?”  They both cracked up laughing and said, “Yeah!  Wan’na join?”  I just laughed, shook my head, and walked off, in a hurry to catch my bus.

The next afternoon when we got home, my brother let me have it.  He was in Beth’s class and she had told him that I had formed the I-hate-Beth-Green Club.  “I can’t believe you’d do such a thing, Donna.  You know better!  Beth may not like you too much but this is certainly no way to treat her — and it’s surely no way to get her to like you!”

I couldn’t believe my ears!  Apparently one (or both) of the two girls who were actually gossiping about her told her that I was the culprit!  I didn’t recall anyone else being within earshot. I told my brother how the whole thing really went down.   “I’ll straighten it out with Beth tomorrow,” I sighed.

“Wait a minute,” my brother said.  “If you tell her that the other two were actually the ones talking about her, then they’ll just deny it.  And who do you think Beth will believe?  She already doesn’t like you too much.  And if you do tell her, then instead of just 1 person, you’ll have 3 people mad at you.  My advice is to just let it go; it’ll blow over after a while.”

I took my brother’s advice and said nothing.  Beth and I were never bossom buddies, but we did get along a lot better as we grew older.  We never talked about the incident, but I never forgot it; and it hurt to think that she didn’t know the truth. 

That was over 35 years ago.  Seeing Beth again brought it all back to me, including the pain of being unjustly maligned and never being able to set the record straight.

A few weeks ago, I saw Beth again in Wal-Mart.  We talked and talked while waiting in a long, slow cashier’s line.  She was so kind and jovial; she even invited me to join her and some of our other schoolmates who occassionally get together.  All of a sudden, the reins on my tongue that I had held tightly for so long were loosed. 

“Beth, I’ve always wanted to right something that happened way back in school.  I got blamed for starting the I-hate-Beth-Green Club but it wasn’t me…blah, blah, blah.”  (Just so you know I’m not all bad, I never revealed the names of the 2 other girls.)

“There was an I-hate-Beth-Green Club?” she asked.  “Hmmm, I didn’t know that.  You learn something new every day.”  She looked hurt and wasn’t quite as pleasant as she was before my mouth spewed forth like a pent-up geyser.

I felt sick as I walked to my car. I couldn’t believe I did that.  More amazingly, I couldn’t believe she didn’t remember.  I mean, this unjust event tore at my gut for over 35 years — and she didn’t even remember it!  Then it hit me why I felt the need to blurt out my vindication: pride and anger. 

My pride (which was quite large) had been injured.  And although I had held my tongue all these years, I had harbored anger against the two other girls.  Instead of swallowing my pride and holding my tongue like I did back when I was young, I let my anger spill out as I attempted to restore my so-called dignity.  The result?  I re-hurt her and put a stumbling block in the way of our renewed friendship. 

So what have I learned? Either deal with an issue while it’s fresh and then deal with the consequences that follow; or, swallow your pride, extinuish any anger, and let things heal (or, in my case, let it remain healed).

Where was that brother when I needed him this time?  Oh, wait.  I’m supposed to be a big girl now.

A fool gives full vent to his anger,

but a wise man keeps himself under control.

Proverbs 29:11

**Not her real name.

The Eclipse God*

partial eclipse - small

Solar eclipse: A phenomenon that occurs when the moon passes between the sun and the earth, blocking out the sun’s light and casting a dark shadow on the earth. 

A solar eclipse is a bizarre sight to behold,  appearing like the moon has locked up the sun and the sun’s rays are fighting to free it from captivity.  Yet, the moon has not obliterated the sun nor harmed it in anyway. The sun is right where it’s always been, doing what it’s always done: shining brilliantly. The moon has simply gotten in the way, blocking the earth’s view of its precious, life-giving star.


How like the eclipsing moon is man with all his “ignorant intelligence” — and by “man” I mean all humans.  Men and women alike have concocted shadowy theories and dark philosophies about God that have clouded (not changed) the truth:

“God is not the Creator of the universe; rather, it has evolved to its present state.”

“God is Love; therefore, He (or She) would never deny someone like Gandhi access into heaven.”

“God is in every created thing; therefore, every created thing is God.”

“God is a creative-energy-essence all around us; we call it the spiritual realm or our God-selves.”

“God is the ‘man upstairs’ who is either happy with you or mad at you.”

“God is just the beginning word in an expletive phrase; you know, ‘God *@&#^%!!'”

“God? There is no such being.”

Oh, the pitiful little “moons” who attempt to obliterate God, who try so desperately to block out the light of His Truth, who spend their lives casting shadows on the earth with their cold, dark theories. But God is right where He’s always been, shining brilliantly as He always has. His warm, life-giving rays are available to anyone who will push the little moons aside and step out of their shadows and into His light.

Dr. R. C. Sproul once said that his heart’s desire is to remove the shadows, to pull back those obstinate little moons, and “to reveal the resplendent glory of the truth of God’s majesty.”  You can tell by his choice of words that Dr. Sproul certainly doesn’t think of God as just “the man upstairs”! No, he clings tightly, lovingly, and worshipfully to the truth of God. 

Have you clung to the truth?  Are you standing in the shadows or in the light? Are you a protector of truth?  

Oh, Father, may it be the passion of all your children to live in the light of your Truth, to stand strong against any “little moon” that attempts to rise between Your Truth and our hearts. May we not allow the theories of man to darken our understanding of You or reduce our awe of You. May we testify to the truth of who You are: YHWH, Creator, El Shaddai, Most High God, Savior, Redeemer, Lifter of My Head…  May we be protectors of Your reputation: loving yet just, gracious yet holy, perfect yet forgiving, far above yet deep within Your children…  May we be valiant warriors in the fight against any who attempt to eclipse the majesty and the glory of the one, true God!

*The provacative title The Eclipse of God is original to the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, who published a book by the same name in 1952.

Saints Win! Saints Win!

Saints logo-tinyPeople were screaming, car horns were honking, fireworks were popping as the Cinderella Saints won Super Bowl XLIV last night. Even yours truly, a diehard Peyton Manning fan, was acting quite the fool, jumping up-and-down and screaming. From the heart of New Orleans, throughout Louisiana, and across the nation, people were tuned in and turned on to Saints mania — 106.5 million to be exact, the largest television viewing audience ever!  Wow!

Now, if only we could get that lathered up over being a saint — a real saint, that is, not a football player or a team fan. 

Saint = chesidh (Hebrew) 

“…kind, benevolent, gracious…holy one”*

“Saint” is rooted in the Hebrew word chesed (often translated as lovingkindness).  One of the most important words in the Old Testament, chesed carries the idea of a superior bending down to perform an act of kindness for an inferior.  So when Christians are called “saints,” it has nothing to do with what they’ve done or how they live; it has everything to do with what God has done for them.   

Think about it: The God of the universe didn’t just bend down to perform some kind act; He came down to earth to perform the greatest act of kindness the world has ever known. He took our place on the cross, cancelled our sin debt, and paid the price for eternal life!  And to those who have accepted His gift, to those who believe in Him, God gave them the right to be called “saints.” 

Wow!  Shouldn’t we be doing a lot of screaming?  Shouldn’t car horns be honking? Shouldn’t fireworks be popping?  Shouldn’t the saints of God be more excited over this victory than over a ballgame win? 

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever (1 Corinthians 9:24-25). 

Let me put that in today’s vernacular. Only one team can win a ballgame.  So all the competing athletes get into a training program, learn to work together, and strive to be the best team possible.  All the winner gets, however, is a trophy and a title; a trophy that gets dusty, rusty, and forgotten, and a title that lasts only a year.

But saints?  Our victory has already been won through the cross of Christ!  It’s really, really true:

Saints win!  Saints win!

 Wooden cross - small

*From the Lexical Aids to the Old Testament included in The Complete Word Study Old Testament by Spiros Zodhiates (AMG Publishers 1994).