Star-Spangled Sunday! 9/14 – Anniversary of Our National Anthem – JOIN IN!

Celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Star Spangled Banner!  
An inspirational event for churches and small groups!


“Together we will learn the forgotten story of the great acts of faith behind our National Anthem.” – Family Research Council

Participate in the 90-minute webinar event on Sunday, September 14, 6 p.m. CST. Be challenged by the story and the speakers, which include Tony Perkins, Pastor Mark Harris, Rick Scarborough, and more!

>>>>>Click HERE to learn more about this FREE event that you can bring to your congregation, your friends and neighbors, and your small groups!

In God We Trust?

From the desk of WFA president Julaine Appling:

 

I ended up with a $20 bill in my hand over the weekend—not for long, I assure you. But for a change, I was still enough long enough to really look at the bill. The way I was holding it the words “In God We Trust” loomed large.  It was almost as if I had never seen them before. They fairly leaped off the bill.

In-God-We-Trust-415x276I paused and pondered. “In God We Trust.”  For a few moments I allowed myself to be transported to 1776.  Did the founders of this great country really trust in God?  Who did they look to for direction in a time of great adversity, a time of the heavy hand of government taking away their individual freedoms and their ability to self-determine?  We don’t have to look much beyond the words of the Declaration of Independence for a reasonable answer.

Fifty-six different men signed this document. Men from all walks of life, representing the diversity of the various colonies. They knew what they were doing. The Declaration of Independence represented the sentiments of all of those who took the quill, dipped it in the ink well and with their signature pledged to one another, their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor.

While written relatively quickly, the Declaration of Independence was not hastily or casually considered. Records show that some 86 changes were made including the insertion of three complete paragraphs, before the final vote on the document on July 4th. The deliberations and the number of and types of changes tell me that they were extremely careful about the wording.

In the opening paragraph of this incredible document, the signers make a bold statement regarding the “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God,” with the word God capitalized. For those men, there was no doubt as to which god they were referring. This was God Almighty, the Creator God.

The second paragraph has that phenomenal declaration:  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”  Again, there was universal agreement among the signers that the Creator was the same as “Nature’s God.”

In the concluding paragraph, the colonists through their elected representatives to Congress, boldly declare their decision:  “We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be free and independent states, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown…”

Strong words. Frightening words. But I note that their trust was not in themselves, individually or collectively.  Rather their trust and their appeal was to the “Supreme Judge of the world” to God Almighty.  In those days, no one asked, “Who were they talking about using that phrase?”  Everyone knew.    It was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

For those 56 men who risked everything signing this document, “In God We Trust” was not a nice-sounding national motto showing up on paper currency.  It was a rock solid belief.  It was direction in the midst of oppressive circumstances.  It was the light of hope in the midst of the darkness of tyranny.

How the times have changed. One of the most profound, world-changing documents ever penned referred 3 specific times to God. Today, some 238 years later, we seriously entertain abolishing the motto, removing it from coins, taking out “one nation under God” from the pledge and completely eliminating God from our culture and government.

I assert that such actions would be absolutely unthinkable to those who risked everything so that you and I could, as their posterity, live even today in the “land of the free and the home of the brave.”  So what does “In God We Trust” mean to you as you prepare to celebrate July 4th with friends and family?  Is it just a nice motto or is it a bedrock belief lived out every day?

The Reality of War: Sacrifice

From the desk of WFA president Julaine Appling:

I am, technically speaking, a daughter of the South—born and reared for the first twelve years of my life in Atlanta, Georgia.  Amongst other things, including a Southern drawl that rivaled the best of them, I grew up with a true Southern take on the Civil War or the War Between the States.  I was told repeatedly to save my Confederate money because the South would rise again.

To me, Sherman’s March to the Sea via Atlanta, wasn’t just a story.  It was very real to me as I considered that he had burned my home city en route.  I had visited numerous local historical spots made famous by the battle that essentially leveled this beautiful city.  In addition, I was a somewhat frequent visitor at the Civil War Cyclorama in downtown Atlanta.  Because it was on the top of my father’s “must-do” list for any visitor, I was able to go numerous times. Dad was smitten with it, in spite of the fact he was a transplanted Yankee from Michigan.

ImageThe Cyclorama, for those of you unfortunate Northerners who haven’t yet had the privilege of seeing it, is a huge circular oil painting and a diorama that so perfectly blends in with the painting that you can’t tell where the three-dimensional representation stops and the one dimensional starts.   It graphically and vividly depicts the Battle of Atlanta on July 26, 1864.  Music and sound and visual effects accompany the telling of the story as visitors are absolutely drawn into the scene as they sit on a rotating platform during the presentation.

Even now, many years later, I can still recall the smoke filling the room after we’d heard cannons firing.  I can see the flashes of light and the flames being highlighted.  But what I most vividly see is the bodies—the bodies of soldiers, both Confederate and Union, lying bloody, either dead or dying.  Maybe it was at the Cyclorama that I first realized that war requires sacrifice—especially the sacrifice of human life.  Now I know that those soldiers were someone’s son, father, husband, grandfather, uncle, brother, nephew, friend…and they had given everything they had and were in cause they believed in, regardless of whether they were wearing grey or blue uniforms.

Years after my last time visiting the Cyclorama, I watched a World War II movie that reminded me again of that very real and very sobering truth.   In a stunning way, I realized anew that the fact that my father survived his 2 years on the front lines in the European theater was nothing short of God’s grace.  Nearly 300,000 of those who served with Dad in World War II died as a result of injuries on the battle field.

War isn’t pretty—ever.  It’s bloody and often very costly—especially in terms of human life.  No war we’ve ever been involved with has been without American casualties.  According to the government’s statistics, well over 650,000 armed services personnel have died as a result of battlefield injuries.   These are the men and women who gave the last full measure of devotion.

ImageHonoring these fallen heroes on Memorial Day, this Monday, May 26, is altogether fitting. Whether they were coerced, cajoled, drafted or volunteered, the bottom line is each of these men and women was on some battle field defending our freedom, our form of government, our national interests, when their lives ended.

This Memorial Day, while some of us may go to a ceremony or put some flowers on the grave of a veteran, other Wisconsin families will be observing it quite differently.  For more than 127 Wisconsin families this coming Memorial Day will be different. They will be without their son or daughter who died in either Afghanistan or Iraq.  Whether this is the twelfth such Memorial Day or the third such Memorial Day, it is certain that for these Wisconsin families Memorial Day will never be the same.

How fortunate I’ve been.  I’ve never lost a loved one in battle, and I’ve never seen a battle first-hand.  Like many of you, my experience regarding war has been from the safety and distance of such things as the Cyclorama, movies, books and news clips, which, while often very realistic and sometimes even real, still aren’t the real thing.  This Memorial Day may we each recall that for some Americans war has been horribly real—the last real thing they ever knew.  May we thank God for those who on some battlefield have sacrificed their all for us.  May we pray, too, for the safety for those still standing in harm’s way on our behalf—those still willing to make the ultimate sacrifice.

WI Rep Kleefisch Calls Out Freedom From Religion Foundation

After witnessing an offensive sign on display in the Wisconsin State Capitol rotunda a few weeks ago, Rep. Joel Kleefisch (R-Oconomowoc) decided to send out a press release countering the message. The release’s headline was “Thank God, the Atheists Have a Voice.”  The sign was put up by the Madison-based organization Freedom From Religion Foundation in response to a Christian Easter display a few weeks ago.  Kleefisch remarks, “I guess if I were responsible for the FFRF marketing message, I’d find some actual proof God doesn’t exist to counter the multitudes of proof He does.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) is in the process of enlarging their offices on W. Washington Street in Madison (photo, left) and we can expect to see more activity as they go from an old apartment complex to a four-story building near our state capitol.  Construction is being done by NCI-Roberts, general contractor who, ironically, is also in the midst of putting an addition on Door Creek Church in Madison. The FFRF building is named the “Free Thought Building,” but NCI wrongly and quite badly refers to it as “The Freedom Building.”