Monday, November 11, 2013

Name That Tune

If we played the “Name That Tune” game, I imagine most of you would get this one right off the bat: “And I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free”.  Particularly if you watched the Miss USA pageants in the 80’s. For those of you who don’t recognize this gem, it’s Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA”.  And, if that's you.…please, google it or go to You Tube….I’ll feel better.  I think it is safe to say everyone in my family knows it because I played it only 5,000 times when I was growing up and rode my bike up and down the driveway about as many times singing it to the top of my lungs.  Many of the kids in my elementary school likely know the words if for no other reason than the fact that I sang on the swing sets almost every day (also to the top of my lungs) and this was one of my favorites.  Yes, I was country when country wasn’t cool.  Hey, I did mix in some occasional Cindy Lauper. 
So, today, on Veteran’s Day, just as it happens on all the other patriotic holidays…I have that song playing in my head again.  “From the lakes of Minnesota, to the hills of Tennessee…Across the plains of Texas, from sea to shining sea….From Detroit down to Houston, from New York to L.A., well there’s pride in every American heart….and it’s time we stand and say……” Having been born and raised in Tennessee and transplanted from the South to the South Bay of Southern California a little over year ago, I can attest that the American dream is alive and well throughout this great country. 

Only today, as I think of all the soldiers who have fought in years past and are still serving us around the world, “thankful” to be an American is the more appropriate word to describe the way I feel about our country….the land of the free….because of the brave.

1.        I’m thankful that I was able to freely pray to God and thank Him for the food I just finished with my 3 kids (who are out of school today because Veteran’s Day is a federal holiday), without fear of someone busting down my door and arresting me for it. 

2.       I’m thankful that if I choose to own a gun….or multiple guns…to defend myself from someone busting down my door, I have that right. 

3.       I’m thankful that I can freely voice my opinion on this blog without having to go underground.

4.       I’m thankful that I can vote my conscience for those who are vying for positions of government over me. 

5.       I’m thankful that I can raise my children the way I deem best for them, and as closely to the standard of the Bible as I know how and not be deemed a traitor. 

6.       I’m thankful that however flawed our judicial system may be, there is due process.  I can’t be just locked away never to be heard from again because I’m suspected of committing a crime or worse….simply because of a belief that I hold.  (That is the fear for Pastor Saeed Abedini….An American Pastor, arrested and sentenced to 8 years in an Iranian prison for being a Christian.  He had already received beatings and sustained serious injuries in the prison and recently, he was inexplicably moved to the worst prison in Iran….the prison where people go and are too often never heard from again.) That alone makes me want to sing “God Bless the USA”.

7.       I’m thankful that with hard work and a few lucky breaks, my children have the potential to enter whatever vocation they choose and pursue whatever dream they may have or whatever calling God may place on their lives.

8.       I’m thankful for the beauty of this land and the diversity of the people that occupy it.

9.       I’m thankful for all of the soldiers past, who volunteered to join the armed forces and put themselves in harm’s way to secure the freedoms that I’m so thankful to have today.

10.   I’m thankful for the men and women who still enlist to serve today and are currently serving, sacrificing time with their families and risking their own lives to ensure those freedoms…..and even to obtain those basic freedoms for others around the world. 

I could go on and on about why I am thankful to live in the USA.  I will tell you though, at the risk of sounding like an ex-patriot (which I totally am not!), I’m a little hesitant to use the word “proud” these days. I think there’s more than enough pride to go around.  Pride sings a tune all its own. And it's quite catchy.  We ALL struggle with it in some form or another. 

Proverbs warns us that pride comes before a fall.  And let me tell you, when I look at the state of our country, we are definitely falling….and many don’t even realize the pit….correction….the abyss…. we’ve stepped off into.  Or, because of their great pride, they’ve led themselves to believe they’re soaring when they’re really free-falling.  Thus, I give you yet another list…….The 10 Things I Hate About Pride:

1.       Pride convinces husbands and wives every day, “He/she doesn’t deserve me.”

2.       Pride tells friends and family members, “You didn’t do anything wrong, why should you be the one to apologize?”….regardless of the pain they feel from being at odds with loved ones.

3.       Pride convinces young men and women, “You must have that house…that car”…regardless of the cost.

4.       Pride tells all of us (especially in America), “You have the right to be happy”…regardless of the cost to others. 

5.       Pride convinces us that, “You must be the best”. So much so that we can’t celebrate the achievements of others.  (Well, accept the makers of Apple products....they deserve extra blessings in my opinion.)

6.       Pride bullies teenage girls and boys saying, “Don’t be a loser….do whatever it takes to get them to like you.”

7.       Pride tells employees, “He’s not telling me what to do!”.....even as they are handed their termination letter. 

8.       Pride tells leaders, “You’re in charge….you do what you want.”

9.       Pride convinces the heart it is its own authority….at all times and at all costs. 

10.   (I should have listed this to say that this is the #1 reason I hate pride)  Pride would rather you fall flat on your face and hit rock bottom than see you admit you’re wrong….or heaven forbid…change your course.   

Let me give you a couple of scenarios to illustrate how pride might play itself out in the downfall of a nation.
Scenario A:  (Totally hypothetical)

There’s a young, smart, American woman on the path to greatness.  Really, doors are opening up left and right for her.  She’s the pride of her family and the top of her class.  She may very well be the first woman president.  She meets a nice young man, also on his way to the top. He definitely has husband to be potential…..The American Dream is playing in her head.  Now, she is a modern young woman….. smart…educated….takes care of herself….doesn’t need anyone telling her what she should or should not do.  When he wants to take the relationship to the next level….he doesn’t mean marriage….he means the bedroom.   Deep down she’s hesitant but pride tells her, “This is not the 1950’s.  Everyone else does it….What? Do you really still think it’s a SIN or something? This is YOUR body…..Who are they to throw stones? You are your own woman.” 

Well, we know how that story ends.  Only it doesn’t end there.  The smart, young, American woman on the path to greatness finds out she’s pregnant.  (Turns out, she’s not as smart as we thought.  Young people….no matter how smart….are usually not as smart as they think they are and do stupid things.) But, pride tells her, “You just made a mistake….you don’t have to pay for it the rest of your life.”  What’s funny is pride then begins to change its tune and tell her, “You can’t take care of a baby…’ll never have the time or the money….you can’t handle this.”  She’s now terrified and bullied into thinking she doesn’t even want her baby and then pride throws its final jab, “This is YOUR body….that child is not a child….I mean it can’t survive without you can it?  No one can tell you what to do. Who are they to throw stones? You are your own woman.”  So, instead of allowing the visions of the American Dream to end….she decides to end the life of the child she’s carrying.  Score one for evil…I mean…pride. 
Family sizes are smaller and you can never underestimate the power of instilling the love of self over all else.  It’s really more like a two for one! This would be where pride would say, "Booyah!"

 Case B: (Again…..totally hypothetical)

Meet a young, ambitious man who is full of ideas.  I mean….he has the answers.  Or at least, pride has convinced him he has the answers.  He knows how to make America an even greater nation.  But, in order to do that, first he needs a lot of power.  So, he makes a lot of promises to the people that can get him the power.  Now that he’s got it…..he’s going to need a few things to make sure his plans for America work out. (HIS plans for America).  Let’s see, he needs:

1.       The ability to watch people really closely…..’cause see….that’s the problem, nobody’s been keeping a close enough eye on the average Joe.  Joe can be dangerous.  Well…..dangerous to the America “I” want to build anyway.  It’s for Joe’s own good…..and obviously….I know best.

2.       The ability to bring repercussions on those that he finds don’t like his plans for my America.  He’ll hit them where it hurts…..their wallet.  Pride has told him he’s the one with the power and there’s nothing they can do about it. 

3.       He needs a lot of fools…..I mean…..dedicated idealists surrounding him.  Even pride knows he’ll need someone to blame things on if they go wrong.   

4.       He really, really would like it if we could give a new boost to the whole “Anti-God” thing. We already took bibles and prayer out of schools…that was a massive blow but pride tells him its not enough.  “See….the military has too much freedom.  We don’t need the ones with the guns listening to God and looking to Jesus….you are the law of the land.” 

5.       Pride goes on to tell him, “And oh yea…..about the guns…..I don’t think people that you are trying to govern should be able to raise a gun to you.”  So, every chance he gets, he throws up stories of gun violence to instill fear in the hearts of mothers and constituents everywhere and get more and more lawmakers to back him on this. 

6.       Pride also tells him that since people who disagree with him are ignorant fools, they could be dangerous to him and his America, they should be labeled as terrorists….or at the very least….targeted for extra scrutiny. 

7.       Yes, he has all the answers.  He intends to see them come to light.  People can get on board or pay the price.  However, if the plans he implements go downhill, he will seek wisdom from those who opposed them from the start and immediately take steps to correct the situation for the good of his country.  Won’t he?  Pride laughs and says, “Yea, right! In your antiquated, American dreams baby!”  

Good thing those scenarios are hypothetical.  Can you imagine where those attitudes would lead a country? I guess that’s why God hates pride.   It insists on its way.  It makes fools of the wise.  It answers to no one.  It seeks to cut Him out of the picture.  It comes before a fall. 

See, I love our country and the people in it.  I am so thankful to be an American and profoundly thankful for all who have fought and continue to serve in our nation’s military to protect our precious, God-given freedoms.  However flawed we may be….they still protect us….even when they don’t agree with us….even when we don’t acknowledge them.  Talk about laying your pride aside and serving the greater good! Yes, I think God can relate to the soldiers. He saves us from ourselves when we are so undeserving of His devotion.....and refuse to acknowledge Him.  I have to say, with the absolute foolishness that is seeded in the hearts of so many today, the travesties that we have made law of the land, and the increasing threats to the freedoms we hold dear…..I am more thankful than ever that my citizenship is in heaven.   

So, until Jesus returns or calls me home….”God Bless the USA” will not simply be something I attempt to  belt out in song….but something I will continue to whisper in prayer.  Who knows.....maybe He'll change our tune. 

Happy Veteran’s Day.  May God bless each and every one.