One Nation Under God
(The following message was delivered by State Chaplain Kenneth Morrill at the BOM on Sunday, October 11, 2015)
Psalm 11:3 – “If the Foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do??”
A news reporter recently asked someone, “What are the two greatest problems facing America?” My first thoughts were greed / self-centeredness / sin / violence / corruption / etc…you could add to this list as well. Now, there are a lot things that are outstanding about our country…that are right!!! But, the man replied, “I really don’t know—and I really don’t care!” And then it occurred to me that, the two greatest problems facing our nation today maybe…ignorance (“I don’t know”) and apathy (“I don’t care”). Bill O’Reilly (Parade Magazine / Not My Primary Source of Biblical truth) he did say something that caught my eye: “My worries today are that most Americans “don’t know anything” and they “don’t care to know”. No two single factors seem to be working harder to destroy the very foundation of our great nation than ignorance and apathy.
Three thousand years ago King David asked this very penetrating and probing question that’s all too relevant today: “IF THE FOUNDATIONS ARE DESTROYED, WHAT CAN THE RIGHTEOUS DO??” (Psalm 11:3). We are living in a time when many of the moral and ethical values that once formed the infrastructure / foundation of our great nation are crumbling before our very eyes. We are living in a time that is almost “Cultural Chaos”. (Pastor Robert Jeffress @ FBC – Downtown Dallas - Shared their church’s Implosion Story with me. How the main pillars of the old church buildings were destroyed or blown up and the buildings imploded into a pile of rubble). Could this possibly happen to our country…if we destroy the key pillars that our nation was built on??
George Washington entered the office of the presidency with these wise words: “The propitious (in dictionary – favorably disposed / His favor / Good Omen) smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained.” In 1796, he left office with this farewell: “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity / religion & morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man or country claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars.” Sadly, our first president would not recognize his nation today. A nation that no longer allows prayer @ high school graduations or athletic events / Christmas carols of faith are forbidden in elementary school programs / churches are under attack for their believes & tax exempt status of churches being threatened if they don’t comply with the cultural norms of the day / and long-held religious liberties are diminishing with each passing day. (You can even be imprisoned in Kentucky or shot on Oregon college campus for honoring those Christian beliefs).
What are some of the pillars that have helped America be a shining city on a hill before the rest of the world?? While there are many pillars that have built the foundation of our country, there are four (4) to me (and Dr. O. S. Hawkins – former pastor of FBC – Dallas) that have significantly made America a great nation…”UNDER GOD” !!!
(1) THE PILLAR OF DIGNITY
Through the decades…HUMAN DIGNITY…the worth of an individual / self-respect & the respect of others / and the value of human life have kept the foundation of America strong. President Washington warned of people who would labor to subvert this “Pillar” of dignity…the value of life. Yet, our courts have ruled that innocent / defenseless / unborn children have no right to life. To many, these precious little lives are simply globs of flesh undeserving of any human dignity (There are over 300K abortions each year in our country…and one organization even sells the body parts of these unborn babies / human beings for a profit). Ex: My Daughter’s Sonogram…definitely shows are real, live human being even at only 3 months. There was an audible heart beat at four weeks. Do you think God will continue to bless a country that kills thousands of its own babies every year???
Yet at one time we were the forerunner of the world in regard to human rights…and in many ways we still are. My father fought in the South Pacific in WWII…flying dive bombers off the USS Bennington aircraft carrier. How many of you fought in the Pacific theatre during WWII or Korea or Vietnam?? When I tried to get him to talk about his Navy Cross / Distinguished Air Medal / and other medals of valor, he only said that the real heroes were those that gave their lives for our country and didn’t come home….hundreds of thousands of US military lives lost and billions of dollars spent on defeating the enemies of our country. And yet, after WWII fighting stopped, on the deck of the USS Missouri, the Japanese signed a peace treaty and surrendered to Allied forces. Despite the huge loss of lives / war crimes in the prison camps & throughout the Pacific theatre / and the Japanese total disregard for others’ lives…American freighters were plowing across the Pacific to take the Japanese people what they needed to rebuild their nation and take care of their people / restitution payments forgiven / war criminals released (Louie Zamperini Story…Book: “Unbroken”)…almost before the ink dried on the surrender papers. Why did we do that?? Because we believed in the dignity of human beings and the value of life. A good friend of mine once said…”Kindness is Christianity with its working clothes on”
That belief is even proclaimed by Emma Lazarus in the words found on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired / your poor / your huddled masses / yearning to be breathe free.” King David’s question echoes down the corridors of the centuries to today -- “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do??”
(2) THE PILLAR OF DEVOTION
One of the things that has made our nation great is our devotion to God / home / and country. USA was birthed as a result of our ancestors’ / patriot-forefathers’ devotion to God. While not all of the Founding Fathers were what we would call “born again” believers, they all believed in God: Our patriot ancestors / Founding Fathers acknowledged the rule of a sovereign and supreme God who was above all…and that all good things were from Him. Drive through New England even today, and you’ll see a church steeple at the center of every little village you pass through. These buildings stand as a testimony that this pillar of devotion to God was at the heart of who we were and where we came from (State Conventions – all 13 of the original colonies – Christianity and our faith in God were very important to our country):
- DELAWARE (1st State to ratify the US Constitution) stated in its 1776 State Constitution: “Every person appointed to any office shall subscribe “I profess faith in the one GOD, blessed for evermore; and I do acknowledge the Holy Scriptures of the Old Testament and New Testament to given by Divine inspiration”
- PENNSYLVANIA (2nd State to ratify the US Constitution) stated in its 1776 State Convention (signed by Benjamin Franklin): “Each member, before he takes his seat shall subscribe “I do believe in one GOD, the Creator and Governor of the Universe, the Rewarder of the good and the Punisher of the wicked. And I do acknowledge the Scriptures of the Old & New Testaments to be given by Divine Inspiration.”
- MASSACHUSETTS (6th State to ratify the US Constitution) stated in its 1780 State Constitution (written by John Adams): “Any person before he executes the duties of his office shall subscribe…”I declare that I believe the CHRISTIAN religion and have a firm persuasion of its truth. The legislature shall authorize the support and maintenance of public PROTESTANT teachers of piety, religion, and morality.”
This is true not just in the ecclesiastical world of that time but in the educational one as well. Each of our nation’s oldest colleges were founded by a Bible-based denomination wanting primarily to train ministers & promote the Christian faith:
- Harvard (1636) – founded by New England Puritans. Early on their commencement addresses were given in Hebrew.
- Princeton (1746) – founded by Presbyterians.
- Columbia (1754) – founded by Anglicans (Episcopalians)
- Brown (1764) – founded by the Baptists.
Sadly, these schools today sweep their religious roots under the rug and promote a culture throughout the educational process that cannot display the Ten Commandments and where prayer is prohibited. The pillar of devotion is being destroyed. People used to get a lump in their throats singing the national anthem at a ball game or from singing “Faith of Our Fathers” at a commencement service. We need that back !!!!! My youngest son is a sports writer in the DFW area and since he doesn’t drive, I have been his chauffeur and have attended over 240 high school games this past school year. It amazes me the # of people today that don’t even take their hats off or stand for our National Anthem. King David’s question: “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do??” is a question we should all take very seriously today as more and more words (like patriotism / dignity / and devotion) become forgotten words in our American vocabulary & value system.
(3) THE PILLAR OF DUTY
Through the years America has been set apart by the pillar of duty…by our tough / never quit / determined work ethic. But, like other pillars mentioned today, it too is crumbling before a culture that advances an entitlement mentality…where almost ½ of all Americans are receiving some type of federal financial assistance. We know it as the welfare system. The free enterprise system is what encourages ambition / incentive to work & achieve…the welfare system doesn’t. Now, don’t get me wrong, the welfare system does help people in times of distress but it can’t be a replacement for having a job and generating your own support. There is a dignity and a duty in a solid work ethic. I know I am preaching to the choir…when talking to this group today. Like you, my mother & father always told me to work hard & do my best…and I wouldn’t have to worry about getting rewarded. Hard work has always been the key to success and satisfaction in my life…and is also responsible for the powerful / industrial nation we have become and are today.
Again, we can hear David’s question echoing down through history to us this morning. Can you hear it??? It is not a whisper but a roar: “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do??”
(4) THE PILLAR OF DECENCY
Common decency—basic morality – is also one of the (4) attributes that has helped shape America. But our sense of decency has been radically redefined. I remember seeing the classic movie “Gone With the Wind” when I was younger and hearing Rhett Butler say to Scarlet O’Hara…”Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn”. The shock and rage that viewers expressed at that time resulted in an uproar of condemnation. I can still remember my mother putting her hands over my ears when that line came in the movie. Yet, today, many movies made for our youth are filled with expletives and deemed acceptable. POP POP SLEEPOVER with my three (3) grand-daughters..trying to find a “G” rated movie to watch on TV with my grand-daughters was almost an impossibly a couple of weeks ago. You know what I am talking about…Right?? Major TV Networks show nudity today without a word of complaint, and scripts are expected to be vulgar and vile. Pornography is now a multi-billion dollar market today and lifestyles that were hidden in dark alleys not that long ago now are paraded proudly down Main Street in most every American city and town. People that have publicly announced their lifestyle choices are being recognized as courageous and given awards like ESPN giving the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award to Katelyn Jenner for his/her sex change. I have seen real courage and so have you in the (WWII / Korea / and Vietnam heroes / many of the Marine Corps buddies I served with / and my late wife (Judy’s) battle with cancer and heart failure // that is real courage. And these other stories don’t even come close.
Ignorance & Apathy – are weakening the pillars of dignity / devotion / duty / and decency that made America the great nation it is!!!!
Oh, by the way, our neighbors to the north and south….Canada & Mexico…were discovered by explorers looking for gold and dominion. But, the early American settlers (our patriot forefathers) were looking not for gold, but for freedom to live out the gospel of Jesus Christ. They were in search of God, not gold. They came to the New World, as stated in the Mayflower Compact: “for glory of God and advancement of the Christian faith.”
“If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do??” WHAT CAN WE DO?? We are an organization that knows and cares about this great nation. It was one of the primary reasons I became a TXSSAR member. As Christians & patriots, we are the light & salt of this country / we are the preservatives. We can’t GIVE IN / OR GIVE OUT / OR GIVE UP!!!! I applaud what TXSSAR does and we stand for. We know what matters and we care about those things. As Christians and patriots, we must not let these essential pillars be destroyed. We must continue to “Stand in the Gap” --- show our country what real courage looks like and what will keep this “ONE NATION UNDER GOD”.
Tom Lawrence (PG) @ the National Congress in Louisville, Kentucky last July (2015) made these comments: “I think organizations become great when they help people or when they influence a positive and fundamental change in our society. Our chance for the SAR to become great is to inspire this great country to continue to follow the patriotic vision of our Founding Fathers. Those of us in this room have contributed our money and valuable time in furtherance of preserving the principles of the American Revolution and we recognize that the future of this country is dependent on those principles (or pillars) remaining the cornerstone of our government and national vision. We have to dream the same dream that George Washington, John Adams, and all of our patriot ancestors dreamed and we have to work to make their sacrifices count and to make sure the youth of today understand and appreciate those dreams.”
I will close with the words of our Lord speaking to another great leader (Joshua) as the Israelite people (like our patriot forefathers) prepared to enter the Promised Land (USA) and build a new nation. Here are His Words in Joshua 1:6-9: “Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong & very courageous, be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. This book of the Law (Our Bible) shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous and then you will have success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous!!! Do not tremble or be dismayed (or Give Up today) for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”