Enter the Story

tfp.2014.06.06.d.day.image007Yesterday we commemorated the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Normandy. Code named Operation Overlord, the successful Allied effort to establish a beachhead on the shores of France, this monumental day was the first step in the long slog toward taking Berlin in our quest to defeat Nazi Germany.

This critical moment in world history involved not only the American soldiers who stormed ashore at beaches named Utah and Omaha, but also the brave American paratroopers of the 82nd and 101st Airborne who jumped out of perfectly good airplanes under enemy fire in the still dark early morning hours of June 6, 1944. And we must not forget the valiant efforts of hundreds of thousands of other, everyday Americans who supported these brave warriors behind the scenes in a myriad of ways.

In this worldwide conflagration, we did not stand alone. Our most loyal ally, Great Britain, had been fighting this war for several years before we Americans fully entered the fray. My purpose here is not to discount the efforts of the British, the Canadian, the Australian or any other allied warrior who spent their blood, their toil, their sweat and their tears. My purpose here, as an American, is to tap this inspiring story of millions of Americans who gave themselves willingly to defend liberty. My hope is that I might inspire today’s generations of Americans. For we too are called, in our own way, to stand and fight for freedom.

The American heroes and heroines of the WWII generation entered the story. We can take a lesson from them.

Today, we early 21st Century Americans likewise fight for liberty. Yet ours is a war of a different kind. I write not of the War on Terror, the conflict in Afghanistan, or our recent engagement in Iraq. These are real wars against real flesh and blood enemies who seek our demise and destruction. They want to fill our hearts and minds with terror. But my focus here today is not on this ruthless enemy.

The conflict of which I speak, the struggle in which we find ourselves engaged today, is the defense of our own lives against the treacheries coming out of our own, out-of-control national government. All three branches have become detached from the core principles of our nation’s founding, often ignoring our Constitution’s Bill of Rights. And what may be even more threatening is the massive bureaucracy in Washington which now moves unchecked into every nook and cranny of our lives, telling us what to drive, what kinds of light bulbs we must buy, and now, even what we should eat.

Underneath this fearsome foe of big government lays a seedbed of co-conspirators in our primary and secondary schools, our colleges and universities, and in our entertainment industry and news media, who wish for us to stop thinking on our own. And many of us have.

Meanwhile, most of our church pulpits remain silent about this war of worldviews going on right under our noses. Ours is a war fought on the battleground of ideas, where worldviews collide, where hearts and minds are the contended-for ground. Should we not be contending for this ground? We attend our Sunday services, read and study our Bibles, enjoy our morning devotionals, and then send our children off to the university-mills, which with factory-like clockwork, regularly crank out mind-numbed, brainwashed products. Fortunately, not all are as weak and unprepared for the assault on their souls as are most. Some survive to join us, the protagonists in this story. The vast majority are simply taken out of the story altogether, reduced to mere outside, unengaged observers of the story, but not participants in it. And some are won over and become warriors, now standing against us as fresh, newly recruited antagonists in the story.

tfp.2014.06.07.ab1e4ff4e2adaadfec9135565b8b3c2cAlthough we do not yet face the same fears of shed blood, loss of limbs, or even loss of life as did our ancestors and those who fight on foreign fields today, we yet contend for the same American liberty. Yet sadly, unlike those in the days of our parents and grandparents, Americans of our generation slumber. Awash in things, we are numbed by our possessions and our pleasures. As our country is systematically subdued, and our founding principles are methodically undermined by twisted, malevolent ideologues, we go about our everyday routines, either oblivious or unconcerned.

Yet underneath it all, there exists in many of the slumbering, a hidden, yet to be quickened, yearning for meaning, for purpose. I recently viewed a short, but well produced video that I found to be quite poignant. It is about a young man’s discovery of life’s meaning beyond the emptiness of his own “selfie” generation. Please take a few minutes to watch.

My Mom’s Motorcycle: My Rode Reel.

“I was concerned with having something. They were concerned with giving something.” Douglas Gautrad

Consider now this simple invitation. Like this young man, take some time to reflect on those in your own personal history. Perhaps you have a family member or a friend of a family member from another generation who spent their life pursuing an heroic purpose. Perhaps you have a hero from history from which you draw inspiration. Perhaps you have decided that you simply want to begin living for something bigger than yourself.

Ponder. Reflect. Consider.

How might you “enter the story?”

48 Years—This Old Guitar No. 11

1975—The Way Up is the Way Down

1977—It’s So Easy to Worship the Lord

Please read below before you listen to these songs!

As I noted in my very first This Old Guitar post (March 29, 2013), I received my first guitar on my 14th birthday in 1965. Within a couple of years I began writing songs. I also noted in that same post that I have catalogued 138 songs born of my own creativity or developed in collaboration with friends and family members.

I am posting only a selection of these 138 songs, in part because some of them are not really worthy of public display, and perhaps more importantly, because many of my tunes have not yet been recorded. Going through my song file folder I just now counted 42 recorded songs. That leaves 96 songs of mine, still unrecorded. A number of these unrecorded tunes are, in my humble opinion, among my best works.

In today’s installment, I am providing two short songs. The first song is a mere sixty-four seconds in length, the second just a bit longer at eighty-eight seconds. Neither song is among my best, and for that I apologize. However, I have posted them both because they emerge from an era of my life that might be counted among some of my best years.

Although I began playing guitar in the fall of 1965, it was not until the spring of 1968 that I began my walk with Christ. I was thus wed to music for 2-1/2 years before I became betrothed to my Savior. And it did not take long for my music to become focused on my Lord. In the summer of 1969 I first began to sing publicly in praise of my Savior, and to play some of my own works. By the early 1970’s I was regularly leading worship in small groups. By the mid-1970’s I was a church worship leader. And by 1984, one of my songs was published by Integrity Music. That song will soon be published in This Old Guitar No. 14. During that stretch I wrote or co-wrote a number of worship songs. Unfortunately, just a handful of them will be posted on This Old Guitar because only a few have been recorded. The two posted today, unquestionably among the weakest, are published only because they are recorded. I wish I had a some better examples from that period to share with you.

The Way Up is the Way Down, crafted in 1975, is actually song no. 40 on my list of 138. And It’s So Easy to Worship the Lord falls in at number 43. So, number 11 (and 12) are really numbers 40 and 43. These two, sadly, are the poorest representation of my song-writing capabilities that I will be publishing on This Old Guitar. But I share them here because, as I noted above, they are among the few recordings I have from that significant stage of my song-writing life.

Don’t judge me!

The American Frontier

tfp.2014.05.03.the.frontiersman.f4c781b0c8a0c7845c9a8110.LWay back in 1986, nearly thirty years ago, I began reading a series of stories about the early American frontier. These stories captivated my imagination in such a significant way that I have yet been able to shake myself loose from their grip.

The first book I read, Follow the River by James Alexander Thom, is classified as a novel. In fact all of the books I am going to list in this brief blog post are technically classified as novels. Nevertheless, they are heavily researched novels, researched to such a depth that they are extremely close, or as close as humanly possible, to the real history of events.

 Follow the River tells the true story of Mary Draper Ingles’ capture, captivity and escape from the Shawnee Indians. Twenty-three, married and pregnant, Ingles’ family home was raided on July 30, 1755, and she and her sister-in-law were kidnapped and carried away from their homes in Virginia’s New River Valley not far from the present-day Virginia Tech campus. After several months of captivity in Central Ohio (my home state, which fact only added to my interest in the story), Ingles bravely escaped and trekked 800 miles through the wilderness, moving in a southeasterly direction and following upstream the rivers that her captors had led her down several months earlier. She found her home again and was reunited with her husband. This brave, determined woman not only survived but lived to the ripe old age of 83. A dramatic, inspiring, true and powerful story.

Now captivated by the storytelling magic of James Alexander Thom, I picked up another of his novels titled From Sea to Shining Sea. This marvelous story recounts the lives of several sons of Virginians John and Ann Rogers Clark. The two most well known are Revolutionary War hero George Rogers Clark and his younger brother, William Clark of Lewis and Clark fame. At the time I was reading this story, I was working in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, just one county north of the historic Clark family home in Caroline County, Virginia. Thus, once again, I found myself held captive by local geography.

I had never heard of George Rogers Clark. But wouldn’t you know it—and much to my great pleasure—Thom had also penned his story in another novel titled Long Knife. The term Long Knife is the label the Indians who hunted in Kentucky gave to the frontiersmen who crossed the Appalachian range and began to settle in their hunting grounds. When we read and study the Revolutionary War, we seem to focus on events along the eastern seaboard—Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Charleston, Savannah and of course, Yorktown. But while all of this commotion was going on in America’s colonies struggling for freedom, other battles were being waged in the west. Rogers, visionary leader that he was, almost single-handedly defeated the British Army west of the Appalachians. The story of his march on Vincennes is stunning in its stark nature of commitment and war. It is a story for the ages which few have heard. And I will soon be posting that story here. You will not wish to miss it.

There are other novels I read during that period of my life and they shall, for now, remain unnamed. All that is except for one, the one pictured above, The Frontiersmen, by Allan W. Eckert. I have left this novel for last because, without question, it is my favorite. It is perhaps my favorite novel of all times. The novel spans the life of its main character, Simon Kenton (1755-1836).

Born in present-day Fauquier County, on the western side of Bull Run Mountain, not far from The Plains, a small town in northeastern Fauquier, not far from my present-day home, Kenton became one of the primary leaders on the Kentucky and later Ohio frontiers. He fought the Shawnee, and served many times as a scout for both British and later American armies. A Shawnee captive, he escaped death more than once and became a legend to the Shawnee people to the point where they feared to kill him. He served under the aforementioned George Rogers Clark, he knew both Tecumseh, the legendary Shawnee Indian leader, and Daniel Boone. I remain captivated by Kenton’s story especially, and the others named above to a lesser degree.

I grew up in Ohio, first along the Ohio River where much of the story of the early American frontier took place. I have walked the same Kentucky shoreline as Mary Draper Ingles and later, James Alexander Thom, who followed her path in preparation for his novel. I have boated on the mighty Ohio as did Simon Kenton, though I confess I was not on the lookout for the Shawnee. As a youth I dug for and found Indian arrowheads in my own backyard and in the woods behind our house—arrowheads no doubt shot from the bows of the Shawnee, the Miami and the perhaps other tribes of the Southeastern Ohio region. Later I moved north, to Cleveland on Lake Erie, where brave sailors waged naval battles in the War of 1812. I moved to Virginia in 1971 and adopted this Commonwealth as my home. I have since traced my own, personal family history from Ohio, through Kentucky and North Carolina, and eventually to the early days of Virginia from whence my ancestors came, back to the early decades of the 1600’s, and even into Loudoun, Stafford and Albemarle Counties. I feel a deep connection to both Virginia and Ohio, and to the people who settled these lands. And that is why I find these stories so compelling, even after nearly thirty years.

48 Years–This Old Guitar No. 10

1971—True Love

It has been 282 days since I last posted a song to This Old Guitar. Way way way too long. For those following who have not forgotten, I have been slowly (in this case very slowly) posting songs that I have written, or participated in writing, throughout the years. My father and I began writing this tune, True Love, in 1971. We finally finished fifteen years later, in 1986, two years before he passed away (miss you Dad). Another seventeen years passed and I found myself at my cousin’s house in Gainesville, Florida. It was there, in his in-home studio, that this recording was quickly slapped together. Don’t expect anything too serious. My dad, after all, didn’t much care for exceptionally probing conversation. One my favorite lines of his was, “Aww … we’re not gonna talk about any “deep crap” are we?” So expect for a smile or two to cross your face as you listen to this sorrowful ballad of love lost.

Boundaries

tfp.2014.04.06.BoundariesMy pastor, Jeff Ling, is preaching through the book of Luke. On Sunday, April 6th, Jeff began to open up and explore Luke chapter six. He was only able to get through the first two verses. But when early on in his message, Jeff proffered the word “boundaries,” my ears perked up and my cognitive wheels began to spin. I was also simultaneously reminded of a conversation I had last week with my boss. I will get to that conversation in a moment, but first, let’s look at Luke six, verses one and two, from the English Standard Version (ESV):

“On a Sabbath, while he was going through the grainfields, his disciples plucked and ate some heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands. But some of the Pharisees said, “Why are you doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath?”

Jeff reminded us that historically, the Sabbath day has been reserved for rest. The Sabbath, to the Jews, is the seventh day of the week, or Saturday. We Christians take our rest day on Sunday, the first day of the week, or resurrection day. We set it aside not only for rest, but also to acknowledge God’s mercies displayed in Christ, and to worship and glorify Him.

The word “rest” in Hebrew, as Jeff explained, is shabath שאבאט which literally means “cease.”

“And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.” Genesis 2:2 ESV

Literally, God ceased His creation work after six days. Another way of looking at this passage is to say that God set a self-imposed “boundary” for Himself. “I will work for only six days. I will cease working on the seventh day.”

Boundaries can be found everywhere in our world. A door for example represents a simple and universally-understood boundary, while a door with a lock and a key represents a more serious boundary. A fence represents a boundary. And a fence with a gate represents a boundary that is meant to be crossed under certain conditions.

After God created mankind, he laid out certain boundaries for the first man and woman:

"…’You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.’” Genesis 2: 16b-17 ESV

And when that boundary was breached, God set up another boundary.

“ … therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.” Genesis 3:24b-24 ESV

Jeff read to us a few verses from Job, chapter 38, which tell us a great deal about God’s boundary-making ways:

“’Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb, when I made clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, and prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors, and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?” Job 38:8-11 ESV

We also learn from the book of Acts that God created the boundaries around the nations:

“And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place …” Acts 17: 26 ESV

I have provided but four examples of likely thousands of places in Scripture where boundaries can be found. For example, God’s Ten Commandments are certainly boundaries – not physical boundaries, but moral boundaries.

The Pharisees in Jesus’ time, with their pharisaical laws, created unnecessary boundaries – actually man-made add-ons to God’s laws. Theirs were burdensome and excessive boundaries, nearly crushing the Jews of their day, and that is why Jesus challenged them often.

But, I am drifting over into Jeff’s sermon now, and he is so much better at this than I.

So … on to my short story about the conversation I had with my boss last week. And for time’s sake, I won’t set the stage, I will just say that in the course of a conversation with another person in my office, I blurted out these words:

“It isn’t the government’s job to take care of the poor.”

Well, he heard this statement of mine and interjected from his office.

“Mark!? You don’t believe it’s the government’s job to take care of the poor?”

“No sir, I do not.”

After a few minutes of lively discussion, we mutually agreed to disagree.

Boundaries? Yes. A boundary has been crossed. It was actually crossed a while ago. Today, our civil government is now taking care of, not only the perpetually, multi-generational poor, but just about anyone who asks.

In February of 2012, I published a series of three short articles titled: The Government We Deserve. Here they are. Check them out and as you read, think about the theme of boundaries breached:

I’m Almost Back

tfp.2014.03.23.please stand by

Nearly twenty-five years ago, on the Friday evening of Memorial Day weekend, 1989, I went down to the ball field behind Marsteller School to assist my wife and daughters at a softball practice for our church’s ladies’ softball team. My job was to stand out in left field and shag fly balls. After successfully fielding a number of hits, a hard hit fly ball soared towards me and I knew it would be over my head. And so I backpedaled, trying desperately to make the catch.

But something went wrong. My feet slipped out from under me and I tumbled backwards, the back of my head colliding with the turf. The next thing I recall is standing at home plate with a small crowd gathered around me.

“We should get him to the hospital,” someone said.

Next, only a faint memory remains, one of my head being connected to a colorful menagerie of wires.

Then I was home, in a fog, my mind racing at 100 miles an hour. I talked and talked and talked, endlessly reciting my name and my social security number. I remember taking a shower at 2:30 in the morning, and finally heading off to bed about 3:30.

The next morning, Saturday, five old friends arrived, seating themselves around our small living room. They had come to help me reconnect.

You see, I had lost my short-term memory. I could not recall recent events. I was struggling to remember if my dad was still alive. He wasn’t. He had passed away that previous fall, but inside my brain, none of it was making sense.

The doctors told my wife, Sally, that my brain had been injured by the fall. “It will heal,” they said, “and in time, he will be back to normal. But for a little while, he will struggle to make sense of it all.”

A week passed and Sally thought it safe to take me out in public. She was mistaken.

Standing in the produce section of the Giant Food store at Manassas Junction Shopping Center on Liberia Avenue, I turned to a total stranger and quipped,

“I had an accident and my brains got all scrambled up. But I’m almost back.”

Well, that’s sort of how I feel tonight, sitting once again at my computer, typing out this blog post for The Famished Patriot, my first since August of 2013. Yes, it has been nearly eight months since I, The Famished Patriot, have published a single thought on these pages.

There is, of course, an explanation for my absence. I will provide it in due course. I am still sorting things out, you see. But for now, for my faithful readers who have surely noticed my absence, you will have to be satisfied with these words …

“I’m almost back.”

Home

tfp.2013.08.04.family-tree-printableFor a number of years I have been wanting to research my family history. In fact, ever since I learned at the age of 10 that my father was born in a log cabin in Brodhead Kentucky in 1926, I have nurtured an interest in learning more about my family history. It was around that same time that our family took a trip to Brodhead to see if we could find the actual cabin where my dad had come into the world some thirty-five years earlier. We found it. It was empty and uninhabitable but still standing. Somewhere in our family archives, buried deep in the bowels of someone’s basement or garage or attic, there is an 8mm, grainy, choppy film of that cabin. I have no idea where that film is.

I am the first-born son of a first-born son. Don’t ask me to explain why, but there is, in family terms, a certain burden that comes with such things. Real or imagined, I carry it.

A few days ago I decided to jump into some serious research on my family tree. So far I have found …

  • My 4th Great Grandfather on my Grandpa Weaver’s side, John Hamm, fought in the Revolutionary War.
  • My 4th Great Grandfather on my Grandma Weaver’s side, David Owen, fought in the Revolutionary War.
  • My 5th Great Grandfather on my Grandma Weaver’s side, Nicholas Coble, fought in the Revolutionary War.
  • My 7th Great Grandmother on my Grandma Weaver’s side, Joanna Jennings, was born in 1650 in Virginia.

I have only begun my research. In my early quest though I have also found some other pretty remarkable stories, but am still working on firming up an absolute, lock-tight connection to the people involved. If any of these connections pan out, I will have some remarkable (at least to me) news to report. If not, I have already found some pretty amazing stuff.

Born and raised in Ohio, my immediate family roots take me back to Kentucky. Three of my four grandparents were born there. Seven of my eight great-grandparents were born there.

All but one line of those seven great-grandparents came up into Kentucky from North Carolina. And prior to their moves to North Carolina, those same family lines sprouted in Virginia.

Though born a Buckeye in 1951, I came to live in the Old Dominion in 1971. Long ago I claimed myself as a Virginian and now, with my family history, I have a serious argument to substantiate that claim.

With its rich history, and its prominent role in the founding of our nation, I proudly claim Virginia as my home and now, as my heritage.

Most of my ancestors were pioneers, moving west to make new lives for themselves in sparsely populated parts of the country. They were what we would call “country folk,” living off the land, carving out meager existences by the sweat of their brow and the work of their hands.

As you might suspect from the log cabin story, my dad’s family were poor folks. Dad was the first of eight. The Weavers came to live in Lockland, Ohio, just north of Cincinnati, in the late 1920’s. Their raggedy old house was the tiniest house I had ever seen. Their bathroom had no tub or shower, just a toilet and a sink. And Dad and his seven siblings bathed, one at a time, in a washtub in the living room and shared the same bathwater. They were poor but happy, hammering out their lives in a sooty, dirty, factory town where my grandfather worked for nearly forty years in a paper mill.

Home. I nurture a deep connection to my family history, to their pioneer spirits, and to the land they cultivated. My roots run deep in Virginia, North Carolina, and Kentucky. Even my birthplace and home for twenty years—Ohio—holds to some measure, my heart.

Knowing what I know today, with this fresh—though long suspected—information, I can understand more clearly why I feel a particular burden to defend my home, my country. So far, my family tree can already be traced back at least 363 years on American soil. Not too many today can make that claim. At least three of my ancestors fought in the War for Independence to break free from the tyrant, King George of England. My own family dug their spades and plows into the rich soil of the fertile, colonial land of Virginia. Some, through their military service, played a role in birthing our political liberty.

Can I do less in defending the political liberty they sacrificed to bring about?

Tonight I am at home, in Virginia, doing my best to hold the ground of liberty won by my forbears for those who follow after me.

Where Are You?

tfp.2013.07.20.firewx1As of today, I have 856 Facebook friends. Of that number, probably 150 or so are folks I have never met in person but became friends with on Facebook through a mutually shared interest, because they are a friend of a friend, or a high school classmate which time and geography has long kept us apart, or because they are a "several-steps-removed" family relation.

Add to that number at least 150 or so people I know who are not on Facebook (I’m guessing).

Now certainly all of my "friends" are not "friends" in the truest sense of the word. Many are simply acquaintances, friends of friends I met once or twice, business connections, or folks I have met along the path of life and maybe shared only a conversation or two.

Beginning in early 2007, I began to meet and cultivate a whole new collection of friends. These new friends came out of my renewed interest in political activism. That year, "Help Save Manassas" was launched in an effort to address the overwhelming flood of illegal aliens into our community. And I am talking about the menace of large groups of men hanging out all day in 7-11  parking lots, urinating in public, and showing little respect to the long-standing members of our community. I am talking about pregnant women with children in tow, pushing strollers along the gravel shoulders of the heavily trafficked Sudley Road with little regard for their own safety, the safety of their children, or the safety of the motorists. I am talking about folks darting across that same road, dodging cars and completely ignoring the crosswalks at signaled intersections. I am talking about men, young and old, on bicycles, weaving their way through traffic on this same Sudley Road—the busiest avenue of commerce in our greater Manassas community. I am talking about people who clogged our hospital’s emergency room and then walked out without paying their bill. I am talking women who brought their babies into the world in our hospital’s delivery rooms, left without paying, and rode off with their newborns in late model SUVs.

These people, or their parents, broke the law stealing across our Southern border. And our Manassas community had thousands of them. So a bunch of us began meeting in the spring of 2007 and planning how to influence our local governments to address the problem. I have collected a bunch of new friends from that season of my life.

In the winter of 2008-09, the bailouts of Wall Street, Fannie Mae, General Motors and Chrysler, the collapse of the housing market, and the election of Barack Obama and a full, Democrat Party led Congress, led to the emergence of the Tea Party movement. We feared a “government” run amok. Not that the “government” wasn’t already amok mind you. Our nation’s troubles had been slowly parboiling for decades, like the proverbial frog in a pot. It was just that with this new administration, and a Congress to aid it, we could see the heat under that lightly boiling pot, rising sharply.

It did. And I joined up.

Since then, I have been actively engaged in Tea Party work. My work has included some political activism, but I have come at things primarily from a teaching standpoint, offering classes on our nation’s founding, the principles of our Constitution and their roots in the Judeo-Christian Worldview. Many new friends of like mind have emerged from my engagement in this arena.

So, I have a lot of “friends.”

But I am sad. I am lonely. I have a broken heart.

Most of my new friends share my deep concern for the decline and the intentional, systematic unraveling of our great American republic. Most of my old friends … well I just don’t know. I have heard virtually no voluntarily-offered concern from most of them about the rapid decline of our nation, about the increased moral degradation amongst our citizenry, about the fast-paced stripping of our liberties.

Few of my old friends appear to be engaged in any efforts at all to stem the tide of tyranny sweeping our land. They just appear to be going about their lives as usual, as if nothing was going on.

Friends, America is aflame.

Do you not know?

Do you not care?

Do you see my Tea Party work, my engagements in the political arena, my passion for teaching America’s Christian history as Weaver’s nice little niche, something that I have found for myself to do, but something that has no real bearing on your life?

I work publicly. I weep silently.

Why is your voice not being heard?

Your country will soon be gone.

The Beautiful

tfp.2013.07.07.cartoon-lateI was involved in some conversations this week that got me to thinking. A few discussions occurred on Facebook. One discussion occurred face to face. All of the conversations boiled down to one simple question—a question that contains some very consequential implications. It is a question that I do not believe anyone can answer with absolute certainty. Nevertheless, I urge you, Dear Reader, not to allow that fact to quench your thirst to explore with me the ramifications that the question I am about to pose brings to the table.

OK. Enough of the buildup. Let’s get to the question. Here it is …

“IS GOD DONE WITH AMERICA?”

Please do not deny that you have not pondered this question in the privacy of your own thoughts. Every Christian in America who has any kind of serious relationship with God, and who considers the Holy Scriptures as His inerrant, unmitigated, timeless Word, must certainly have wrestled with this question internally in recent times.

Some readers may be tempted to take the Hillary-Clinton-Responds-to-Questions-About-Benghazi approach, reacting in frustration. “What difference … does it make?”

Well it does make a great deal of difference and here is why … First, a bit of background …

Christians who are serious students of American history, who look honestly at the facts, who read the writings of America’s founders, who consider the influence of the Church and of Christianity in general upon the colonial American culture, and who weigh the evidence, overwhelmingly conclude that God had a Providential hand in establishing this country we have come to call America. I will not again lay out, point by point, my arguments for this statement. I wrote about it nearly two years ago in a blog post titled Forum: Was America A Christian Nation? If you wish, pause here, click the link, and go explore my reasoning. But please, come back to this page and finish where you left off because what follows is equally important.

If, as I have come to believe, God did Providentially invest Himself in bringing this nation into existence, do we not, as His followers, have a responsibility to, at minimum, ask ourselves what His purpose might have been? Many of us Christian Americans have sadly never even pondered this question at all. I would hope, since you are reading this post and have made it this far down the page, that you are not among those who have never had this question cross their mind.

So then, if God did have a purpose in assisting in the birth of our American republic, can we with confidence now say that His purpose is absolutely fulfilled? There are some with whom I have recently conversed, that appear to believe that this is or might be the case. To a few of these I posed a question: “Has God specifically told you that He is done with America, that her purpose in history is fulfilled?”

One responder pointed me to God’s Word to Samuel regarding His rejection of Saul.

The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go. I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.”          I Samuel 16:1

Another suggested that perhaps, even as God finished His work with Jerusalem in 70 AD, He might be likewise finished with America.

I do not in any way, mock or scorn these examples. They are legitimate renderings of God’s past dealings with kings and nations, and could, realistically, represent our current situation.

But for me, at this stage, I am not ready to presume that these examples, or others like them, truly and unquestionably represent God’s relationship with a country that He clearly had a significant role in establishing.

I submit to you that unless and until God specifically makes it clear to you that He is done with America, you still have, personally, a responsibility to “defend” your liberty, and, as Benjamin Franklin once admonished, to “keep” your republic in good working order.

But alas, across the vast plain of American Christianity, the “keeping” of our once strong Christian republic has, overall, been an extremely low priority on our list. Such is the reason we now see the dark clouds of tyranny beginning to break across our once bright horizon.

Friends, God gave us a nation – a nation founded on the principles of liberty, self-government, the rights of the individual, the separation of powers to protect the people from the terror of big government, and so forth. I could go on with a lengthy list of our Biblically-inspired American attributes, but I won’t because I have already covered so much of this, in so many other ways, and in so many other places in past postings of my thoughts, on The Famished Patriot blog.

I believe that God gave us this nation because He wanted to demonstrate to the world how, by following His principles, the individual, set loose in a land of near limitless possibilities and bound only by his internal commitment to honor God and His ways, would lead to unmatched blessing. I believe that God also helped birth America to create a platform for His Church to grow strong and to seed the world with the gospel. Thirdly, God also assisted in the birthing of our nation in response to the multitude of Christian believers who came to this land in colonial times for the very purpose of creating a “City on a hill.” And perhaps a fourth reason might be in order. Just maybe God helped form this American nation simply because He is a good God. I can, with bold confidence, say that these good things are God’s purposes because clearly, Biblically, they are revealed in His Word as His will, and because, for a number of generations, we Americans actually lived them out.

Having proclaimed all of this marvelous stuff, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that we Americans, at times, missed the boat. Slavery comes to mind as does the mistreatment of our land’s indigenous peoples. Both certainly sit at the top of our failure list. In recent generations—my own to be specific—we have, I think, been a bit too busy sticking our noses into the affairs of other nations. This last acknowledgement is a relatively recent conclusion of mine and has come about for a number of reasons which I won’t go into here.

Regardless … and back to the point … the idea of our nation, as conceived, was a rather beautiful idea, I think. The ideals our Founders sought to elevate and the principles they endeavored to employ are unmatched in history – a marvel to behold and even celebrate if you ask me. And I have celebrated them and I do now mourn their fading from the American scene.

The America I seek to restore is the one where, first of all, God is loved, honored and obeyed. Secondly, I hope for a return to a time where government is limited, where the individual, under God, is free to be all that God made him or her to be. I do not seek a return to the America of my youth—my halcyon days—the post-WWII era—where a triumphant America sat as a world power, and where the military-industrial complex, as Dwight Eisenhower dubbed it, became a dominating force in American government. I explain things this way for some of my readers who I think have subconsciously categorized me, and many like me, as Nixon-Reagan-Bush-Republican Party worshippers. I am not.

So then, if God Providentially guided the birth of our republic and did so with a clear purpose, who are we to now give up on a work that God Himself began? Is this not presumptuous on our part? Should we not, instead, be working to right the ship? Is that not a part of our responsibility as Christians? Or are we called by God to sit by and allow the wicked and the evildoer to fully and completely assume control of our country?

Yes. It is late. But you are still welcome. Don’t just be a bystander. Jump in. God wants to use you in ways that you have yet to imagine. And personally, I believe that caring for our country—our home—is simply part of the stewardship with which God has entrusted us.

So, all week I have been turning the above, bold-lettered question over in my mind. “Is God done with America?” I am happy to report that the week ended for me on an upturned note which involved a conversation this past Saturday at a friend’s 60th birthday party with a woman I had never had the privilege to meet until the moment we began to converse. Bear in mind as you read, that what I am about to report is a second hand account. I had no personal experience with any of what follows. I am just reporting.

Back to the birthday party … As the celebrants poured into my friend’s home I found myself seated next to a woman I had never met before. Let’s call her Joyce (not her real name). Joyce, as it turns out, is one of those intercessory prayer types. She prays up to three to four hours a day. Consequently, as it is with most of these types of prayer warriors, Joyce frequently converses with God and He, at times, talks to her.

Joyce told me about something she experienced at a recent event held at the Hylton Memorial Chapel in Dale City, VA called “Awaken the Dawn 2013.” At the event, while in the presence of the Lord, Joyce heard the Lord speak to her. He said, “I am not finished with The Beautiful.” Later in the evening, during the keynote speaker’s message, the speaker proclaimed from the podium, “God is not finished with The Beautiful.”

Hmmm. Two witnesses to the same word—Joyce and the speaker, independently. Again … second hand info here. Just reporting what was shared with me.

And the moment Joyce spoke those two words—“The Beautiful”—I knew what she meant. I am taking this internal knowing as a witness of the Holy Spirit within my own spirit, so I guess I do have a small piece of first-hand stuff going on here after all. Nevertheless, I wanted to confirm and so I asked. “The Beautiful?”

“America, The Beautiful,” she replied.

Joy lifted my heart.

Now I cannot say with certainty if this was indeed the word of the Lord. And I can only hope that He views our country as “The Beautiful.” But I will continue to pray to Him for her.

48 Years—This Old Guitar No. 9

1970—Sweet Sorrow

Well it has been a while since I posted any music to This Old Guitar. I have been going through some of the songs I have written through the years and posting them here. Sweet Sorrow was written in 1970, early in my walk with Christ. According to my count, Sweet Sorrow was the 34th song I wrote since I received my first guitar as a present for my 14th birthday in 1965. It has been one of my favorites down through the years, and one of my wife’s favorites, too. I hope you like it!