Recently, Paulette and I had the opportunity, along with pastors from around the nation, to share some thoughts regarding the upcoming movie Risen. Over the past several years, faith-based films have become more and more prevalent in the theaters, and lives are being introduced to the message of the love and hope we have in Jesus through the medium of film. We are seeing Christians come together, and through God-inspired creativity, begin take back the “mountain of media”. We are honored to be a part of this exciting featurette, and encourage you to invite your friends, and see Risen when it comes to theaters in February.
For the better part of the last century, any person driving the roads of America (and most other countries) have experienced something every time they get behind the wheel. It is something that, although we often take it for granted, guides every mile we drive down the highways and byways…
The painted lines in the road.
Whether double yellow lines, dotted lines, white lines, or any other lines that the DOT has taken the time to paint, we look to those lines without even thinking, to guide us in our travels, and to keep us safe.
Seems kind of crazy, huh? I mean, think about it: We are expecting an assortment of painted strips and symbols on the roadways to guide and protect us from the hazards and pitfalls of driving. Without thinking much about it, we typically abide by what the paint instructs us to do, and travel about from place to place, heeding its direction. We speed down the roads in relative safety, assuming that everyone else on the road will do the same, and abide by the paint’s instruction.
We have faith that the little strip of paint on the road is going to keep the 20-ton semi hurtling toward us on its own side of the road.
While we may not understand why a road is designated “one way”, the paint on the road reflects that it is so, and we don’t question its validity… we just do what it says.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes, while driving down the road on a foggy night — when I can’t see the road ahead of me, or even the shoulder beside me — all I have to guide me is the reflection of my headlights off of the reflective paint on the road.
And through all of it, we are making a lot of assumptions. We assume the driver heading toward is alert, and is abiding by the same rules of driving etiquette we are. We take it for granted that, as we travel down that one way street, every other driver on the road recognizes the clearly stated flow of traffic, and abides by it. We hope and pray that, when we are driving slow and nearly blind on a foggy night, that the guys who painted the lines knew what they were doing, and didn’t dead-end the lines off the side of a cliff.
If you think about it realistically, what is keeping that other driver on his side of the road?
The vast majority of accidents on our roadways, in one way or another, are caused because someone didn’t follow the paint… someone didn’t stay between the lines.
“So, Pastor… what does this have to do with ANYTHING????”
I’m glad you asked.
God has painted lines on the road of human history that are intended to be followed. He gave us a driver’s manual called “The Bible” that He meant to guide us along the journey. When we get into trouble — as individuals or as a society — it is generally because we have not stayed between the lines. We may not like the lines. We may not like the way they look, what they represent, or how they make us feel at a given time. We may not understand the logic, reasoning, or thought processes that went behind the formation of the lines.
But the lines are there nonetheless, and our wants, wills, desires, dreams, or intentions have no bearing on their existence… or the consequences of violating their borders.
Just as a 20-ton semi hurtling down the road, there is nothing there to stop us from crossing the lines God has drawn. Man has — from creation — been given a free will. Should we choose to go outside the lines of the laws of God, we do so at our own peril. Paul writes in Galatians 6…
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.
We can decide to travel against the flow of history, and ignore natural law. We can choose to ignore the “One-Way” signs, and presume that there are many ways to God… that as long as we are earnest in our belief, we will one day reach Heaven. But just like the person going the wrong way down that one-way street, it won’t take long before we are proven wrong. Jesus said…
I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. ~John 14:6
It all comes down to faith. Following His lead, regardless of public opinion, political winds, or the fleshly yearnings of our own hearts. In Hebrews 11:6, Paul said…
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
And in those times when we can’t see clearly, and are fraught with fear, doubt, and insecurity, God has given us fellow believers (Godly friends, pastors, teachers, etc.) to reflect His love and wisdom, and help guide us along the path when the thick fog closes in around us.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. ~ Colossians 3:16
Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11
In a culture that is more and more running off the road and into the ditch of immorality and unGodliness, it is more important than ever for the Church of Jesus Christ to lift high His banner, proclaim His Word, and keep the lines clearly painted on the roadway.
You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. ~ Matthew 5:14-16
A sailor was on his way out of Algeria aboard a ship that contained a sick missionary. Right before the missionary died, he pointed his hand toward the distant horizon and spoke prophetically: “There lies a land there where the seas wash. There is a native people there that have never heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
When the sailor finally arrived home, he told his son – and later his grandson – what the missionary had told him. When the grandson grew older, he also became a sailor. He remembered the old missionary’s words, and wrote many letters and diary entries expressing his desire to see the inhabitants of that land convert to Christianity.
The land the missionary spoke of was America.
The sailor’s grandson was Cristoforo Colombo, or as we know him, Christopher Columbus.
From the very beginning, our nation had, at it’s very core, a foundation centered on faith in God. While liberals and history revisionists would like to erase every mention of God from the history books, there is no denying the reliance our Founding Fathers placed on The Almighty. Don’t believe me? Listen to them, in their own words…
“The general principles, on which the Fathers achieved independence, were the only Principles in which that beautiful Assembly of young Gentlemen could Unite, and these Principles only could be intended by them in their address, or by me in my answer. And what were these general Principles? I answer, the general Principles of Christianity, in which all these Sects were United…”
~ John Adams, 2nd U.S. President
“God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever…” ~ Thomas Jefferson, 3rd U.S. President
“Let us then, unite in offering our most grateful acknowledgments for these blessings to the Divine Author of All Good.”~ James Monroe, 5th U.S. President
“The hope of a Christian is inseparable from his faith. Whoever believes in the divine inspiration of the Holy Scriptures must hope that the religion of Jesus shall prevail throughout the earth.” ~ John Quincy Adams, 6th U.S. President
I could go on and on… and on.
The 4th verse of the song My Country, ‘Tis of Thee sums up the prayers and petitions of these great men appropriately…
Our fathers’ God to Thee, Author of liberty, To Thee we sing. Long may our land be bright, With freedom’s holy light, Protect us by Thy might, Great God our King.
Freedom’s Holy Light still burns brightly in America…
That Holy Light which was ignited in the hearts of her Founders, kindled by the dreams of her citizens, fueled by the blood of her soldiers, and sustained in the hearts of her children. It was the Holy Flame that burned brightly during two Great Awakenings, at the Cane Ridge Revival, the Finney Awakening, in the streetlamps of Azusa Street, and in the eyes of Billy Sunday and Billy Graham. It is that Guiding Light of God’s love that guided the Pilgrims to the shores of New England, kept freedom’s dream alive in the cold of Valley Forge, illuminated the heart of Abraham Lincoln during the dark nights of the Civil War, was the fire of freedom in the face of imperialism following December 7, 1941, and was the light of hope in the darkness of September 11, 2001.
It was the fire that blazed in the forge from whence came
the timeless inscription on the Liberty Bell:
“Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.”
~ Leviticus 25:10
So… let freedom ring.
Let the sound of freedom be heard in the cries of repentance of the people of God. Let the church rise and once again be the vessel that unashamedly bears the message of forgiveness and hope that the world needs to hear.
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where
the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” ~ II Corinthians 3:17
No amount of legislation or Supreme Court rulings will change America… only the cross of Jesus can bring real change.
No amount of political correctness will change a single heart… only the love of Jesus can turn a heart of stone to a heart of flesh.
No amount of wealth-redistribution can force an ounce of compassion… only identifying with the tears of Jesus can break our hearts for a dying world.
It’s time for we as American Christians to wake up, get up, and go. It’s time for us to get on our knees and pray for a breakthrough… in the White House, the Statehouse, the schoolhouse, and the churchhouse. It’s time for us to be salt and light, look the world squarely in the face and say, “This is going to sting, but THIS is the truth, and the truth will set you free.” It’s time for us to BE the revival we have been praying for, and put our lives out there for that which He gave up His life. It’s time for us to stop asking for God to bless America, but for we as Americans to start blessing Him – through obedience, sacrifice, and holiness.
On this July 4th, I leave you with the words of President George Washington, from his Inaugural Address of 1789:
“In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own; nor those of my fellow-citizens at large, less than either. No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States.”
May America bless God once again.
“I will bless the Lord at all times: His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” ~ Psalm 34:1