America Past and Present :: By Holly Spate

As we get ready to celebrate the birth of our nation this July 4th, I can’t help but think back over the years and reminisce. My heart dearly misses the days when God was welcome in our country. I miss the patriotism that seemed to resonate in every heart and the appreciation for our many blessings, freedoms, and our one-of-a-kind nation. A nation richly blessed because of God and God alone.

I miss the respect among fellow citizens and respect for our laws which seek to protect our country. I miss personal accountability, private matters remaining private, and a high standard of morals. I miss the days when people were allowed to express their opinion without someone waiting in the wings ready to pass laws to silence opposing voices.

I miss a government made up of more individuals who brought conscience, morality, and true selfless service to its citizens. I miss good manners and people thinking more of others than themselves.

I miss the days when Hollywood had less award ceremonies to congratulate themselves! I miss the days before reality tv and am disgusted by all the voyeurism and trash that it’s created which has cheapened our society. I miss wholesome tv programs and the family unit being cherished, respected and celebrated. I miss the fact that practically every movie that comes out for kids isn’t rated G, but PG.

I miss the days when people dressed modestly and left something to the imagination. I miss true role models, not the many today who are esteemed for their narcissistic, coarse behavior who have added to the dumbing down and degrading of our society.

I miss people showing respect to our flag, our customs, our traditions and having hearts of gratitude for living here. I miss the days before social media when real communication between individuals grew relationships. It saddens my heart that people are missing out on the art of real communication, real interaction and connection.

I miss the days when good was seen as good, and evil rightly condemned as evil.

I miss the America that is fading.

Many of you may be thinking…this writer must be on in years to be writing about the good ole days. But, I was actually born in the 70’s; and in my lifetime I grew up in an America that is different from the America I live in now.

We felt safe riding our bikes in our neighborhood. We went to church, had family dinners around the table, were taught to respect our elders and teachers. We said the Pledge of Allegiance in school. We learned about our country’s real history, not a rewritten politically correct version. We didn’t have cell phones, social media or the internet. We sat around and talked with friends and spent quality time together with our families.

We didn’t boost our self-esteem through how many “likes” we got, but rather understood that respect and self-esteem come from being a good person and being selfless in our actions. We understood personal accountability and did not hold everyone accountable for one person’s actions. We were not “politically correct” and didn’t apologize for being so.

It’s amazing how much has changed in such a short time. As time moves forward, the push has never seemed greater for opposing forces to replace all that’s good and moral with all that’s degrading and evil. The voices of those wanting to silence all that’s decent, especially Christian values, seem bolder and louder with each passing day.

I know, as a Christian, that America has never been a utopia. I’m not naive to think that everything’s been perfect, nor have I viewed America through rose-colored glasses. I realize, in this fallen world, there’s always been sin. There’s always been evil, but it’s become so much more prevalent…so much more out in the open… so much more celebrated. Our nation has changed so much from the nation I grew up in. It seems within the last 10-15 years things have rapidly declined.

Despite all the unwelcome changes, I’m so thankful that there are still so many people in our country that continue to cherish their God-given freedoms and blessings…so many who continue to uplift and hold to all that is moral and good. So many who still sit around the dinner table and have meaningful conversations.

So many who still go to church, gather for potlucks, and enjoy family time together. So many who are still kind, friendly, appreciative, selfless and respectful. So many who are still willing to sacrifice and give their all, even if that means giving their life so we all can remain free.

Thankfully, there are still many who will watch the fireworks this 4th of July and be truly moved and truly grateful for all God’s done. I am especially thankful for those who still recognize that America has only been great because God is good.

Even though things are drastically different and today’s America does not resemble yesterday’s, I know my family and I are still blessed to live in the U.S.A.

And moving forward, I have full assurance and peace that although America may have changed, our God has not! Our true home still awaits us, and for that I am forever thankful, and my heart can always rejoice!

Happy Independence Day, Everyone!

“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).

hspate@verizon.net

Celebrating Crazy :: By Holly Spate

Crazy.

Webster’s Dictionary defines crazy as: not mentally sound: marked by thought or action that lacks reason. Synonyms used to describe this word are: absurd, bizarre, fanciful, foolish, insane, nonsensical.

The very opposite of this would be that which is sound, wise, rational, intelligent, balanced, reasonable, moral. This kind of stance/thinking is what identifies evil as evil and good as good. It’s what has held people accountable. It doesn’t redefine meanings and change sound laws. It’s based on truth, not whimsy…reality, not lies.

Crazy, on the other hand, is another story. It elevates that which is wrong and makes a mockery of anything wholesome, true, lovely and pure. It has no regard for and shows no empathy towards others. It causes people and societies to break down. It loosens the reins on wrong behavior and drives a society straight into a Sodom and Gomorrah existence. It casts a dark shadow on anyone and anything that tries to shine forth truth and bring common decency.

Unfortunately, if I had to describe the condition that is taking over our world in one word, it would be crazy. Crazy seems to accompany much of the headlines we see in the news today. Crazy sums up the state of chaos and depravity that our world has sunk to. It elevates the toxic and tries to eradicate the good and that which brings needed healing to so many hurting hearts. Sadly, it’s become the celebrated norm in many circles within our world.

Crazy does not allow for rational thought, soul searching, or respect for those who differ in opinion. It’s devoid of all empathy and clings to all depravity. It is what causes one to abandon all common sense and cling to unrealistic views while closing his/her heart to anything decent, good and moral. Crazy throws caution to the wind and stirs up seeds of destruction.

One of the most defining characteristics of crazy in a society is when people begin to call evil good and good evil. Psalm 52:3 states: “You love evil rather than good, falsehood rather than speaking the truth.”

The very act of demonizing good and celebrating evil equates to crazy. And, sadly, in our world, things have gotten to such a state.

The Bible clearly speaks to this in Isaiah 5:20: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” Isaiah 1:4 goes on to say, “Woe to the sinful nation, a people whose guilt is great, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the Lord; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him.”

Ultimately, crazy happens when God is unapologetically dismissed and shown the door.

Anyone willing to turn their back on God, and harden their heart to lusts of the flesh and selfishness can, through time, be given over to a reprobate mind as the Bible conveys in Romans 1:28: “Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.”

The further one ventures from what’s good and moral, the more depraved one seems to become. It’s a slippery slope that can quickly lead to dark places and a depraved mindset.

Our society has sunk deeper because so many would rather worship sin than a Savior. We have witnessed over and over many calling evil good and good evil. We have seen the decline happen at record speed and the birth pains the Bible addresses increasing. Given all that’s happening, it seems evident that Jesus’ return is near.

Mark 13:4-8 reminds us: “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?” Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.”

2 Timothy 3:1-4 states: “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.”

With all the crazy in our own society, it’s no wonder our country is unrecognizable from the beautiful America many of us grew up in. Growing up (and up until recently), I remember when good was called good and evil called evil. There were no shades of gray. I remember people being respected for their points of view and being able to come together peacefully and have a conversation. I remember God being welcomed and our country being richly blessed as a result.

I also remember very vividly the verses that speak to God’s blessing on a nation that welcomes His presence:

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance” (Psalm 33:12).

“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 I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

Praise God for the promises in these verses and for His promise to bless those who seek Him.

It truly saddens my heart to see things spiral downward, but I am forever thankful that, even in the midst of all the frenzy, our great God is bigger than all the chaos and crazy. My heart is happy and rejoices because believers have the promise that our God has never left us. He continues to guide us, protect us, love us, and hold us through it all. We should all remember we can have peace knowing that He is in control even when everything seems to be spinning out of control.

I’m so thankful we can always come to Him and cling to Him. May He use each of us as instruments of salt and light while we continue praying for the lost to be set free, the blinders broken, and hearts open to the only hope that can rescue. The time feels short while we wait expectantly for the wonderful return of the Savior.

And while many in the world continue celebrating crazy, we’ll continue standing and celebrating Christ.

hspate@verizon.net