By Joe Palcsak,
I won't be attending service at my church this Sunday and I want to
tell you why:

I know my church. I know the people there. I know the pastorate. I
love them all and I do believe that the Holy Spirit is at work there,
but this Sunday there will be a theme that I personally see as not
only inappropriate, but detrimental. At my church this Sunday, the
congregation will be celebrating America; our senior pastor told us
from the pulpit last week that we would be honoring the 4th of July
this week. Our church never misses an opportunity to honor America in
lockstep fashion.

So what's wrong with praying for America? Not a thing. Today more
than ever, America needs to be prayed for. The question is, what
should these prayers look like? My prayers for America look very
different from the prayers of many of my brothers and sisters at my
church. Oh sure, they may pray for revival in America. So will I.
But a prayer and a spirit I will not be able to share with them will
be the overarching theme of honoring America. Most likely the
congregation will sing "America the Beautiful." They always do.

Is God still shedding his grace on America? The better question would
be, "why is God still shedding His grace on America? And the answer
to that question, I believe, is not the answer that most Christians
would like. I don't think He is blessing us today because He is
pleased with us, or because we enjoy some sort of special privilege in
His eyes. In times past He may have been pleased with us, but today
He is suffering what we have become as a nation, giving us every last
opportunity to change the course we are on. Because He is a merciful
God. Because He is longsuffering. Not because we are favored in His
sight and pleasing to His eyes. This is more than just a feeling I
have in the Spirit. It is also what I have been told and shown in the
Spirit. America should not be celebrated today, especially in our
Churches; America should be warned, and as it is written, "Judgment
begins at the house of God". America as a nation has turned away from
God; far away, and we as Christians need to soberly assess our active
complicity in this turning.

In the final week of June, the Supreme Court of America approved gay
marriage. A poll taken in the wake of this decision revealed that the
majority of Americans support the decision. If the majority of
Americans call themselves Christians, well, you can do the math. But
you really don't have to. Just look around. The biggest Lutheran
church in St. Paul overwhelmingly voted the reverend Bradley
Schmeling, an openly gay pastor, to its senior pastor position last
year. Just hours before the 4th of July, an annual national
conference of the United Methodist Church passed a resolution
supporting gay marriage. An entire Christian denomination! There are
many Christian organizations that exist for the sole reason of
supporting gay rights.

Christian groups and indeed entire Christian denominations continue to
support abortion rights. In 1988, the Episcopal Church boldly and
unambiguously declared, "In those cases where abortion is being
considered, members of this church are urged to seek the dictates of
their own consciences." Oh have we not all longed for a return to the
days when men did what was right in their own eyes?! Here is an
equally firm and clear statement by the Presbyterian Church: "The
considered decision of a woman to terminate a pregnancy can be morally
acceptable, though certainly not the only or required decision."
This, following their observation that "Problem pregnancies are the
result of, and influenced by so many complicated and insolvable
circumstances that we have neither the wisdom nor the authority to
address or decide each situation" Well it can at least be agreed that
the Presbyterian Church does not have the wisdom or authority. Yet do
they not exist to glorify the only One who does? The United Church of
Christ has passed several different statements affirming "freedom of
choice". In the words of Messianic Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, "Israel
killed its thousands (of children), but America has killed its
millions." Tens of millions actually, but hey, who's counting?
America has in my lifetime kicked God out of schools and out of the
public square. This has been done in a nation which was overwhelmingly
Christian for most of my lifetime. The truth is that most American
Christians endorse the "wisdom" of keeping our faith out of our
schools and out of our politics. The national Republican Party, home
to most evangelical Christians, prefers candidates whose shifting
values make them "electable," to candidates who stand firmly on
Biblical values. They would much rather marginalize than support such
candidates. My question to Christians who endorse any of the above
is, "What do you suppose God thinks of this?" Really. I'm serious.

Isn't it pretty clear that God will honor the nation that gives Him
glory? A nation that gives Him glory not merely from officially
authorized regions, such as the closet in our bedroom, but gives Him
glory in all places and in all circumstances? A country that gives
Him glory from the schoolroom, from the public square and from the
ballot box? A country that gives Him glory by following His statutes?

There is a word that will most likely not be mentioned in my Church
this Sunday (not in any meaningful or personal way). That word is
"Repent." We will be far too busy celebrating. Yet "repent" is the
first word out of the mouth of John the Baptist. It is the first word
out of the mouth of Jesus. It is the first word out of the mouth of
the apostles Peter and Paul. Do you think that maybe, just maybe,
repentance is important? Therefore my prayer for America this 4th of
July is that our Merciful God might bless America in a mighty way by
bestowing upon us the kind of circumstances that will lead us to
become serious about considering national repentance.

Heavenly Father, you created the Heavens and the earth out of nothing
but your will. You sustain us by Your good pleasure, that we might
seek you, that we might grope for you, and that we might find you. Oh
how I pray today that this nation to which you have shown great favor
in material blessings may now come to know by Your mighty will that
You are the Living God, and that naught else sustains man nor nation
save for Your good grace. God of all creation, to whom the entire
earth is but a footstool, remind us today that every blessing that has
been established, has been by your good pleasure, and cause us to
consider that by our own might we cannot so much as draw a single
breath to sustain ourselves. Humble us, for we are puffed up with
pride. We have forgotten you. We think we are wealthy and have need
of nothing but we are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.
Remind us of this truth that we may seek You anew. Remind this
nation which once was pleased to consult You, to cry out to You, and
to proclaim You, that You are God and You alone are worthy of praise.
Teach us anew to celebrate You, to rely on You, to turn to You. Turn
us now, oh Father!

God bless America!

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