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God Bless America

America is getting older. On Saturday, July 4, 2009 she celebrated her 233rd birthday! How do you feel about America? Clearly, not everybody feels the same. Our Presidents often breathe a three-word prayer that hopefully is prayed by millions — "God Bless America." Jay Leno reminds us some would rather blast America than bless her. He said, "A new book lists all the countries that hate the United States. It's called the World Atlas." While he surely overstated the case, Leno's words remind us "America" does not mean the same thing to everyone. The late comedian George Carlin once said, "I don't get all choked up about yellow ribbons and American flags. I see them as symbols, and I leave them to the symbol-minded." Well, I don't want to be symbol-minded, but neither do I want to forget the sacrifice and history behind yellow ribbons and the American flag. There is enough wrong with America to trouble thoughtful people. The Scriptural and historical fact is, "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people" (Proverbs 14:34). That being true, there is cause for alarm. Public morality has been on the slippery slope for decades. Concerning sexual behavior, we have legitimized much which God still labels as illegitimate. Adultery and homosexuality, once done only in secret and considered shameful to speak of (Ephesians 5:12), are now out of the closet and in our faces and in our living rooms via TV, DVD's, PC's and the Internet, etc. Thirty-six years ago the Supreme Court legalized and gave constitutional protection to abortion, a practice once considered not only illegal and immoral in America, but in the public mind as barbaric and unthinkable. Divorce is not an American invention (see Matthew 19:3ff), but our culture has experienced a meltdown of marriage and the Biblical definition of family and home life. In spite of a slow economy, money and material things are still popular American idols. Time and space won't allow us to begin to note all the injustices and immoralities, prejudices and perversions that are eating away at the political and public life of our nation as well as the private lives of its citizens.

But wait a minute. In spite of all that is wrong with America, there is much that is good and right. Millions of ordinary citizens get up daily and go to work to support their families. Millions do not rob banks, rape someone, lie or cheat or steal, abuse their kids, or commit adultery. These good citizens love their country, vote, salute the flag, sing the national anthem, and seek to be good neighbors. Many still show courtesy to the elderly, pay their taxes, respect the laws of the land and pray for our leaders. In the words of 1 Peter 2:17, they "Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king." Because of all that is right, and wrong, with America, I urge you to frequently pray this familiar but magnificent prayer, and then live a righteous, upright life so that God can honor it — "God bless America, Land that I love. Stand beside her, and guide her, Through the night with a light from above. From the mountains, to the prairies, To the oceans, white with foam. God bless America, My home, sweet home."

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ