From the brave ones who fell from the first shots fired at Lexington-Concord, to the latest American casualty brought home in a “pine box” from Afghanistan, the willing surrender of ones life in the defense of ones country is the profoundest of sacrifices.
Foreign Armies on American Soil. America has long contended with enemies. But due to our unique geographic setting, we have remained relatively free from the threat of foreign armies on our soil. We beat back the British a second time in the War of 1812. We brought Japan to her knees after her assault on Pearl Harbor in 1941. And we kept vigilant watch for German U-Boats along our eastern shores in WWII. It has been almost twelve years now since the Islamic Jihadist assault on New York’s Twin Towers and the Pentagon on 9/11 was met quickly with the taking out of the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Americans have always been quick and decisive in their reactions to armed assaults from our enemies. But we have been very slow to grasp the more insidious invasion—that from within. Abraham Lincoln once wisely intoned,
"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter, and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."
Foreign Enemies in our Midst. Following the events of 9/11, when then President George W. Bush identified Islam as a “religion of peace,” I reacted to his wrongheaded mantra. In that same piece—found on my old blog Kingdom>>Church>>Culture—I also called out President Bush for his failure to deal with the lawless invaders from south of the border. And I called his reckless insistence on passing his beloved “Immigration Reform Bill” a “.. load of CRAP!”
Today, radical Islamists, disguised as genuine Americans, occupy government offices, make major policy decisions, and even advise our highest ranking governmental appointees. Meanwhile, millions of illegals, just walking into our country without permission, sap our precious resources, take advantage of our largesse, and chide us for our “racism.” And we just say … OK.
In hindsight, it is now clear to me that the long-maligned Democrat Senator Joseph McCarthy was far more on target with his claims of communist infiltration than we ever knew. Today the communist/socialist/progressive mindset is pretty much mainstream thinking in America. Two generations since McCarthy, the foreign invaders have almost achieved their goal.
Keeping Our Republic. Let us step back in time for a moment. On a hot September afternoon in 1787 Philadelphia, the day our Constitution’s framers finally finished their masterful work, Benjamin Franklin stepped out onto the cobblestone street for a breath of fresh air. He was met by a woman, purportedly a Mrs. Powell, who asked him a question.
“Dr. Franklin, what have you given us?” she inquired.
“A republic, madam, if you can keep it,” was the sage’s wise reply.
Keeping our republic has always been our biggest challenge. As Lincoln, and so many of our founders warned, the greatest threat to our liberty has never been an external military force, but rather a threat from within, fed by our own weakness of character. America’s greatest asset—the idea of genuine personal liberty—has also been her greatest weakness. When fallen humans are given the freedom to choose their own way, eventually, even with the inestimably magnificent Constitutional framework provided by our founders, we weak men fail. No longer bolstered by the founders’ recommended triad of “religion, morality, and virtue,” we weak-minded Americans have succumbed to the sweet-sounding, once-whispered but now trumpeted wicked and deceitful promises of those who seek our demise.
Keeping Our Garden. Yesterday morning, my pastor, Jeff Ling, began a series of messages built around the theme of the Biblical mandate for work. Yes, you read that correctly. I wrote “work.” Putting our hands to the proverbial plow as they say.
Biblically speaking, work is not a part of the curse that came after the fall. For Adam was given the charge of tilling and keeping the Garden (of Eden)—that’s work in case you had not noticed—before sin ever entered the human equation. What was cursed, Jeff explained, was the “ground,” not man’s work upon it and with it.
Keeping the garden was also a part of Adam’s responsibility. Jeff explained that “keeping” means “protecting.” In my telling of the Ben Franklin story above, I have always interchanged the word “keep” with the word “maintain.” But the idea of “protecting” clearly adds a new dimension to the conversation.
Jeff then threw out a question to us that he did not answer. Rather, he let it hang there for us to ponder. He asked, “If Adam’s job was to “protect” the Garden, how then did the serpent get in?” Hmmm …
Honor and Dishonor. Today, we rightfully honor those in uniform who gave their lives to “protect” our republic. But sadly, while these honored ones laid their lives on the line in order to “keep” our republic—and continue to do so—those of us in civilian clothes at home have utterly failed to “keep” the crafty, deceitful, lying serpent out of our Garden of Republic.
So today, as we remember those who surrendered all, let us ask what we have given. The great American patriot and soldier, General Douglas MacArthur, admonished us that,
"No man is entitled to the blessings of freedom unless he be vigilant in its preservation."