The Proclamation

"This I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of Heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far off from each of us, for in Him, we live and move and exist...'For we also are His children.'" The Apostle Paul - v. 23b-28 NASB

Preachers are called to proclaim The Way, The Truth, and The Life. In other words, the story of redemption is the message and the mission of Jesus. It is HIS-story, not my story.

Note to self: Your story of salvation is written in the blood of Jesus, priceless to God, and precious to you, but it is not about your love for God. The life-changing power comes from HIS love for you. BIG DIFFERENCE.

One of the oldest preacher jokes introduced to preacher-boys is a question designed to help them break the ice with a cold crowd. Here it is. "How many of you brought your HIM-BOOK? Hold it up." When people dutifully pull out from the pew rack, and hold up their song book, the young preacher is supposed to hold up his Bible and say, "No that is a song book. This is your HIM BOOK. It is all about HIM!" This kind of preaching always generates mild annoyance and nervous laughter. Stop it.

Still, the story Paul told to the arrogant, and astute Athenians was not his story, but HIS story. A friend of mine suggested that Paul got caught up in the moment, and instead of giving his personal testimony, he tried to engage the culture. I doubt that, given the Holy Spirit's capacity to fill Paul with what God intended for people to hear. These five and half verses of Scripture are some of the most profound words ever produced in any human language. But I digress.

I haven't been to Athens since 1972, but I can still recall the impressive and imposing ancient remains of the city square, when I stood where Paul once took his stand to make The Proclamation..."He is not far off from each of us, for in Him, we live and move and exist." NASB

When The Pilgrims landed in what is now Cape Cod, Massachusetts they brought with them The Geneva Bible. Their boundaries had been moved from the Old World to the New World, but they brought the Old and the New Testament with them. Their version of the Bible preceded the King James Version, by several years, and contained The Proclamation...

"For in him we live, and move, and have our being, as also certain of your own Poets have said: For we are also his generation." v. 28 - Geneva Bible 1599

This new generation of Christian believers, blown off course from their destination in Virginia, were planted by the hand of God in New England. They birthed The Mayflower Compact and the form of government that breathed life into a new nation. They did not establish the United States of America, but they produced the idea of America.

The secularists have sought to demonize The Pilgrims as Eco- terrorists who ravaged the pristine landscape, and rabid racists who massacred the indigenous people. Well-meaning, but nostalgic conservatives have eulogized The Pilgrims until they have become almost mythological paragons of virtue. Both extremes do them a dis-service and cloud HIS story.

God always hits HIS straightest licks with crooked sticks. The Pilgrims were not perfect people. They were directed people. People who seek God's direction, protection and correction will never search for Him in vain. The Truth is...

" He is not far off from each of us." Thank God!

The people God uses are not perfect, just forgiven. The Pilgrims were flawed people who sought God, and as result saw themselves as instruments, in the hands of God. The result? They birthed a new generation that was the genesis of a new nation that has made a difference in this world.

The Pilgrims carried in their hearts and minds a vision of a "City on a Hill." They poured their life blood and buried their children into the sands of Cape Cod, and with every sacrifice, they established the foundation of a new nation. Never forget it. Don't sit down in the face of any attempt to deny their monumental sacrifice. STAND UP!

"Having undertaken, for the Glory of God, and advancements of the Christian faith and honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents, solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic; for our better ordering, and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience." The Mayflower Compact - 1620

In 1630, just ten years after these words penned by William Bradford, and the original Pilgrims, John Winthrop saw a vision. In his eyes obedience to God was the source for all the direction, protection and correction his generation and subsequent generations would need, in the new land.

"...for wee must Consider that wee shall be as a Citty upon a Hill, the eies of all people are uppon us; soe that if wee shall deale falsely with our god in this worke wee have undertaken and soe cause him to withdrawe his present help from us, wee shall be made a story and a byword through the world, wee shall open the mouthes of enemies to speake evill of the wayes of god and all professours for Gods sake; wee shall shame the faces of many of gods worthy servants, and cause theire prayers to be turned into Cursses upon us till wee be consumed out of the good land." John Winthrop - 1630

Winthrop's words, even without the benefit of Spell Check, frame the debate. There is no impact on history, without HIS story making an impact in the lives of HIS children, one life at a time.

"For in Him, we live and move and have our being." Indeed.

"The Message" offers this contemporary observation on the all-consuming relationship God has with His children.

"He doesn’t play hide-and-seek with us. He’s not remote; he’s near. We live and move in him, can’t get away from him!" v. 28 The MESSAGE

As Thanksgiving Day approaches, and The Pilgrims are parodied on TV commercials or replaced altogether by
Happy Turkey Day", STAND UP! Remember they were children of faith. Their faith led them to leave their homes, climb onto the deck of leaky boat, fight for their lives through powerful storms, that landed them on the wrong shore. They chose to stay and eke out a meager survival, and pass on a legacy of faith to those who followed in their footsteps.

The Pilgrim's faith led them to establish a compact that embraced their trust in God to guide them in the decisions they would make while they remained on earth. One of their first decisions had to do with the establishment of a form of self-government. Dare I say it. They got involved in politics.

Don't get me wrong. They were not on a cruise. They were on the run. The Puritans in England had lost control of the political process. The Royalists were exacting revenge. Their search for freedom of worship was driven by a desire to live, not just to live free. Life trumps liberty, every time.

Freedom to worship is of precious little value to a dead man. The Puritans became The Pilgrims because they sought life, then liberty. Sound familiar? Remember! They had the idea of America in their soul. Though the words were not theirs, the idea of "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" would be The Pilgrim's legacy to America. More than a place, America will always be an idea, held in the hearts and minds of people seeking freedom.

Pilgrims seeking freedom hit the beaches of America every day, from every nation of the world. Why? America was God's idea, long before it became a good idea. Observation: For American Christians who have not gone out to reach the world, perhaps God is bringing the world to their doorstep.

The signs of the times, in this nation, call for a new generation of Christian citizens who will do no less than The Pilgrims. They must exercise their faith in Heaven, and their due diligence on earth. When Christian citizens all over this nation, humbly pray for God's direction, protection, and correction, then they must STAND UP! Christian citizens must register to vote, and cast their vote with God-given direction.

A Great Awakening begins with the humble prayer of one Christian's confession. But it is more than a Christian withdrawing inside the walls of a church, and lighting a candle in a secret prayer meeting. The next Great Awakening must stir cold embers of sitting Christians into flames of fire. Revived Christian citizens must STAND UP and light up a dark world to illuminate "The City on a Hill."

Prayer strikes the match that lights the night, and enables Christian citizens to see God is closer than they think. He is near. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!