Four things that make America great.

To me, our political process has been exciting to observe as well as to participate in. I am deeply moved when I think about the men who established our country and set in order what I personally believe to be one of the finest governments to have ever existed on earth. While I think these men were some of the brightest, most intelligent people of the day, I also firmly believe that what was done 241 years ago to cause this country to be born was Divinely inspired.

sparkler flag

In the booklet “The Rebirth of America” published by the Arthur S. DeMoss foundation, the writers talk about the greatness of America’s land.

“Some say the land itself has made America great. One of our most moving patriotic hymns cites the beauty of America – a beauty that all who have traveled across the continent surely recognize. Katherine Lee Bates stood atop Pike’s Peak and scanned the sweep of the land, then wrote of the “Purple Mountain Majesties”, and the “amber waves of grain.” She concluded that God had shed His grace on this land – a vast unexplored wilderness that, in an astonishingly short period, grew into a great nation. It would be foolish to deny that the rich natural resources of the land itself have not helped to make America. The oil, the ore, the timber, the water, the soil, the climate, all have combined to nourish a civilization that would eventually spread from sea to shining sea. Other nations too, though, have been blessed with fine resources; yet some how these have not risen to such greatness.”

So what is it that has made America great? What is it that stands behind freedoms so great that they are the envy of the world? Why has America been blessed with such abundance when so much of the world goes to bed hungry each night? Here are a few things that I believe have made America great.

  • The Foundation of Our Law. Our founders firmly believed in the Creator and believed that He had endowed them with inalienable rights. They also believed that man was “fallen” and therefore could not be trusted to be his own law or judge. They therefore used the Divinely inspired Holy Scripture as the foundation for the law of the land. The law can not be simply what a judge or dictator says it is, It must comply with the Constitution which was based on God’s laws in scripture.  I think it’s important to point out that a country can’t have morality without religion and even though something is legal doesn’t mean that it’s moral. Our government is designed to give liberty, but with a moral fence.Calvin Coolidge – “The foundations of our society and our government rest so much on the teachings of the Bible that it would be difficult to support them if faith in these teachings would cease to be practically universal in our country”.
  • The Generosity of the American People. America has been and continues to be very generous. Whether it has been to help rebuild countries that have been ravaged by war, or help with relief for countries that have been ravaged by natural disasters, the generous spirit of the American people can be seen. America is blessed because many Americans continue to sow good seeds, be generous, and help the less fortunate.
  • The American Dream. America has been called the “land of Opportunity” and rightly so. The dream that a person can excel and become something in this country has been the driving force behind the immigration to our country for as long as it’s been in existence. The Free Enterprise system has ensured that everyone has a fighting chance to be successful if they will only take the opportunities. The ingenuity of the American people over the last 200 years has given the world well build, low cost goods, provided good jobs to millions and has given Americans the income to buy the goods they produce.
  • The Hand of God. All of our blessings really point back to this. In his writing “The Bulletproof George Washington” David Barton wrote: “Washington’s part in the battle of the Monongahela is indisputably one of the most significant events of his early life–his life literally hung in the balance for over two hours. Fifteen years after the battle, the chieftain of the Indians Washington had fought sought him out and gave this account to Washington of what had happened during the battle:“I am chief and ruler over my tribes. My influence extends to the waters of the great lakes and to the far blue mountains. I have traveled a long and weary path that I might see the young warrior of the great battle. It was on the day when the white man’s blood mixed with the streams of our forest that I first beheld this chief [Washington]…I called to my young men and said…Quick, let your aim be certain, and he dies. Our rifles were leveled, rifles which, but for you, knew not how to miss–’twas all in vain, a power mightier far than we, shielded you…I am come to pay homage to the man who is the particular favorite of Heaven, and who can never die in battle.”We read accounts of the British destroying the Capital during the summer of 1814. It really looks like just 38 years after America declared independence from Britain, we’re going to lose our place and be put back in subjection to the Crown. The British captured and set on fire the public buildings in Washington. Then the storm blew in. Weather experts indicate that this storm probably spawned several tornadoes. One hit Washington, destroying buildings that the British soldiers were hiding in. Some accounts indicate that canons were lifted & hurled through the air. On his blog “Historical Digression” Patrick Browne writes:

As the storm began to subside, one of the British officers in command of the invasion emerged from his shelter and said to one of the inhabitants of Washington, “Great God, Madam, is this the kind of storm to which you are accustomed in this infernal country?!”

She responded, “No, sir, this is a special interposition of Providence to drive our enemies from the city.”

I don’t know about Providence. But there can be no doubt that the tornado that struck Washington that day did more to save the capital than the United States Army ever did. The fires were largely extinguished. And the British limped back to their ships.

As you celebrate this Independence day, take a moment to stop and thank God for your country. Thank Him for His continued hand of protection and His continual guidance as we move forward as a Nation. We are here by His will and by His help. God Bless America.

What we obtain too cheaply, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a price upon its goods, and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated. – Thomas Payne, 1776.

The Rebirth of America – Published by The Arthur S. DeMoss Foundation
A Tornado Saves Washington during the War of 1812
Originally published in part July 2014.


The WELCOME HOME replaced with tears.

I originally wrote this post last year.  As I thought about what to write, I realized that what I have to say, I’ve already said.  Of all the holidays we observe in the United States, Memorial Day, at least for me, commands a remarkable level of respect and reverence.  That’s why I want to share this post again this year.  -Art.

It’s Memorial Day! Three day weekend – Woo Hoo! For many of my friends, it’s time to hit the lake! I have a couple friends heading to Indiana this weekend – one is going to the Indy 500. It’s the kick-off of summer and a lot of food will be cooked outside this weekend.

In 1968, Congress passed the “Uniform Monday Holiday Act” which moved four U.S. Holidays, one of which was Memorial Day, to Mondays, thereby creating three day weekends for Federal employees. This law took affect in 1971. Before then, Memorial Day was traditionally observed on May 30th.

“When the will defies fear, when duty throws the gauntlet down to fate, when honor scorns to compromise with death – that is heroism.”  -Robert Green Ingersoll

Headstones, graves

Even as I write this, I struggle for the words to express my heart. While I enjoy the three day weekend and the cookouts as much as anyone, Memorial Day for me demands a solemn respect.  A recognition that I get to live in a truly great country and enjoy tremendous freedom, but that this blessed gift came, and continues to come at a price. A price paid with the blood of the fallen soldiers who won it for you and me.

Memorial Day was born out of grief and loss. Waterloo, NY is officially credited with being the birthplace of Memorial Day. On May 5th, 1866, mourning families set aside a day to place flags and decorations on the graves of their fallen fathers, sons & husbands. This day was originally called Decoration Day.

I can’t help but imagine the war widows and children trying to rebuild their lives after so many of the men in this country fell during the Civil war. The surviving families going to the grave sites of their loved one to honor their memory by decorating their grave. I can’t even imagine the heart pangs of the families, with tears running down their cheeks, laying flags, mementos and flowers on their loved one’s headstone. The families that were longing for their soldier to return. Longing to say “Welcome Home” with a hug and a kiss, only to have it replaced with a reunion of tears.

“These fallen heroes represent the character of a nation who has a long history of patriotism and honor – and a nation who has fought many battles to keep our country free from threats of terror.” – Michael N. Castle

There are some in this country that think the cost is too great. Some say that the United States should never go to war. They are not willing to pay the high price of freedom. I have never lost someone close to me because of war. I can’t speak with any authority about the pain and suffering a family goes through when they lose a daughter, son, husband, wife, father or mother in battle. I can say with certainty though, that through the sacrifice of these men and women, not only our country, but our world is better. They made a difference for us all.

When tyranny has risen over the years and around the world, the U.S. Soldiers, Sailors & Airmen have willingly put themselves in harm’s way for us time and time again. Their mission – to keep us safe and to advance the cause of freedom around the world. This is a noble cause and while the cost is indeed great, I am so thankful for our soldiers who stood up to go and to do, to spend and to be spent. For all who serve, the risk is great, and Memorial Day for all of us is a time to be grateful for those who paid the ultimate price. They did it for us.

“I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”  -Nathan Hale

In 2000, a resolution was passed that appointed 3 p.m. local time, on Memorial Day, for all U.S. Citizens “To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to ‘Taps‘.” (link leads to video of The United States Navy Band performance of Taps).

Miona Michael was the first to wear a red poppy in honor of those who died in service to their country. A tradition that is now identified with the VFW.  Moina wrote the poem below in 1915, inspired by the poem In Flanders Fields

We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.

It seems fitting to end this post with the words of the Gettysburg Address.  272 words spoken by Abraham Lincoln at the battlefield near Gettysburg, PA in November of 1863. 272 words that, at least to me, sum up what Memorial Day really means. It chokes me up every time I read it.

“Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives, that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate—we cannot hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

The lives laid down –

  • Revolutionary War – 4,435
  • War of 1812 – 15,000 est.
  • Civil War – 620,000
  • Mexican American War – 13,283
  • Spanish American War – 3,289
  • World War I – 323,018
  • World War II – 416,800
  • Korean War – 36,914
  • Vietnam Conflict – 58,220
  • Gulf war – 294
  • Iraqi freedom – 4,501
  • Afghanistan (OEF) – 2,381
***The above list does not represent all of the conflicts where American lives were lost.
OEF = Operation Enduring Freedom.

Thanksgiving perspective.

When I think about why we have Thanksgiving in the U.S.A., It touches my heart.  We’ve all heard the story when we were in grade school of how the pilgrims and the natives sat down to have a meal together.  Maybe you were one of the children whose school put on a Thanksgiving play.  I personally remember making hats out of construction paper.  Some kids made pilgrim hats while others made Indian head-dresses.  I think I had a head-dress.  The truth is though, that there’s much more to it than that.  That Thanksgiving was a celebration of survival and the Europeans would not have made it through that first winter without the help of the native Americans.


We know from history that the Pilgrims left England and moved to Holland to flee the persecution that was coming from the Church of England.  The writings of some of the pilgrims indicate that they decided to leave Holland to come to the new world because of what they called “the hardness” of Holland and what some called the “great licentiousness” of the youth there. For whatever reason they came, their coming was a mile marker of something huge – look how far we’ve come!

True thanksgiving is something that is done on a more personal level.  Thanksgiving is of the heart.  The word for thanksgiving in the New Testament is the word Eucharistia (Strongs G2169).  It literally means Grateful, gratitude language – giving of thanks.  In the Old Testament the word for Thanksgiving is  Todaw  (Strongs H8426).  It means to avow. Adoration, signified with an extension of the hand.  Literally, lifting hands with thanksgiving.

Philippians 4:4 says Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice.  The BBE says Be glad in the Lord at all times: and again I say be glad!.  Paul goes on to talk to the us about what we should do when things challenge our reasons for rejoicing.  In verse 6 he says “Care for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, just, pure, lovely, good report, virtue, praiseworthy, think on these things.

If we are all being honest, Thanksgiving is not our default setting. Selfishness is.  It seems that all we have to do to be selfish is let our feet hit the floor every morning.  Being anything else takes intention.  That’s why it’s important to have a daily devotion routine.  It brings your mind back to the truth.

When I miss my times with the Lord for very long, I start to have a sense of entitlement.  I begin to get angry with people around me because they are not doing for me, what I think they should.  I find that I think about myself far more, and about others far less.

When I take time with my Heavenly Father and His Word, It brings things back into perspective.  I remember that what I deserve is far worse than what I have received.  In fact, I try to remind myself often that what I deserve is to be lit on fire for all eternity. Real fire, real torment.  That will never happen to me because of the blood of Jesus.  And because of that, I can be very thankful every day.  With great humility, I acknowledge that, no matter how difficult things are in my job, in ministry, with my family, with my bills, or any other thing, It can be fixed, It will change, and I am grateful for every good thing I have received.

I never want to lose sight of this truth.  Thanksgiving doesn’t have to come from feelings. It’s a choice.  Today and everyday, I am thankful.

Simple Guidelines For Making Great Decisions In 2016!

Jeff Walker in his book Launch said that in a workshop that he was hosting, an attendee came up and asked him what was the one thing that made all the difference to him and his business success. The thing this man should be focusing on as his business grew. Jeff ‘s answer was this – Opportunity Cost.

Opportunity cost is a theory in Micro-economics. defines it this way – The value of the next best choice, that must be given up when making a decision. defines it this way – The value of the best alternative foregone, where a choice needs to be made between several mutually exclusive alternatives given limited resources.

Opportunity Cost image card

When I was a teenager, I started learning to play guitar. I used to lay in bed imagining myself playing my favorite songs in front of large audiences. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s ever had rock-star dreams. The thing is, I also liked hanging out with friends and I was getting interested in girls. While I did learn quite a bit about playing guitar, I knew several guys in my school who could play far better than I could. Why? Because they didn’t spend the majority of their time hanging out with their friends. When they had spare time, they were sitting on the edge of their bed practicing scales. Here is where we find the Opportunity Cost. There has to be a trade off.

We all have the same amount of time every week. We all get 168 hours to work with. While we would like to be awesome at everything we pursue, we simply can’t. We humans develop excellence through study & practice, so we can’t realistically expect to be stellar in every area of our lives. We need to make choices as to what we are going to give our time to because for everything we say yes to, we have to say no to something else. You will be saying no to opportunities in order to say yes to (hopefully) better opportunities.

“The chief cause of failure & unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want right now.”  -Zig Ziglar

One of my favorite Zig Ziglar quotes is: “The chief cause of failure & unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want right now”. Isn’t that sad? We sometimes short circuit our own long-term success because we run off after vain, short-term satisfaction.

Another favorite Zig Ziglar quote is “Success occurs when opportunity meets preparation.” Let’s take that to heart and take the time as we enter the new year to build a plan. Set a goal to make the life we dream of, a reality. As we make our plans, here are some things to consider:

  1. Look through the corners; Another thing I learned from Jeff Walker. If you only focus on what’s immediately in front of you, things will “suddenly” pop up in your field of vision and you will not be able to react in time. Make it a practice to look around the turns & see what’s coming before it gets here. Also, consider how your actions will affect your future. Wisdom sees down the road.
  2. The value of a good reputation is immeasurable.  Therefore, sacrificing a good reputation is not acceptable. When considering Opportunity cost, saying no to a solid, honorable reputation in order to achieve short-term gain is not worth the trade-off. Above money or power, your reputation will work for you, or against you. Protect it constantly.
  3. Money should be a byproduct of making the world a better place. When we focus on enriching the lives of those around us, we stand a better chance of finding happiness and fulfillment in our own lives. There’s a book by Marsha Sinetar called Do what you love and the money will follow. I believe this to be true unless your love is sleep. I haven’t seen anyone making a long term living at that one yet. I will say this though. There are now people making a living playing video games on youtube. No joke. The bottom line is that when money is at the top of the priority list, things are on shaky ground.

“Success occurs when opportunity meets preparation.” – Zig Ziglar

As we stand here staring square in the face of 2016, let’s examine not only our goals for the coming year and beyond, but also the opportunity cost to make them happen. If we carefully choose only the few truly important things we want this coming year, we can use these to guide our decisions about all the other things. The things that while eating up all of our time, don’t really get us where we want to be. Let’s get where we want to be in 2016! Let’s be strategic with our “Yes & No”. Say NO to good opportunities so you can say YES to great ones!

Happy New Year!

Christmas From Heaven’s Perspective.

When I type the word “Zeal” into a Google search, the definition that comes back is as follows: Noun. “Great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or an objective.”

I think it’s important to establish the meaning because God specifically used this word when talking about Himself in Isaiah 9:6-7.

It reads as follows in the New King James Version –

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder.  And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

The angel speaking to the shepherds the night Jesus was born said “I bring you Good tidings of great joy”.  (Luke 2:10-14). Think on this for a minute.  An emissary of Heaven is speaking words into the atmosphere of Earth.  Good tidings of great joy.  We who are under grace may not fully recognize the significance of these words.  God Himself was making it known that if you fully understand this message, it will give you GREAT JOY.  Then something else happened.  Suddenly that angel wasn’t alone.

“There was with the Angel A Multitude of Heavenly Host praising God & saying “Glory to God in the highest, And on Earth Peace, Good will toward Men”.

Think about what they are saying!

An Angel told Joseph “You shall call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins” (Matt 1:21).

Think about what he was saying!

This is Heaven’s perspective.

When I read the Old Testament, I can hear God’s heart behind the ordinances. His heart longed for the closeness with His man that He had established in the beginning but had been corrupted by sin.

When Jesus was born, Heaven was saying Finally!

Just like the younger generation loses perspective of the wartime sacrifices of their elders, and do not comprehend the reasons for the fight; so sometimes we who are under grace don’t have a clear understanding of how good we have it or the reasons why we need grace and the cost paid so that we could have it.  Heaven’s perspective of Christmas is the most important perspective of Christmas.

This event heaps upon God, glory in the highest.

On Earth, Peace – Finally! The curse has a cure.
The way has been made for life to flow to man from God again.

The gap has been closed.

Men can now see, experience, know and enjoy the good will from Heaven. It has been there all along but had no sufficient access to be able to flow.

It flowed a little in the Old Testament. Now it flows in it’s Fullness – In Christ!

Christmas represents the long enduring passion of God.  His Love charged heart to have fellowship with us.  His heart’s desire to be able to close the gap that separated us…So that we can have Life…Finally!

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder.  And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.


The Zeal of the Lord of Hosts will perform this!  To understand God’s heart for you is to understand Heaven’s perspective concerning Christmas!

Joy to the world!

A Heart Of Thanksgiving.

When I was a little boy, we used to celebrate Thanksgiving in style. I remember my family would rent the second floor meeting room at city hall in the town where my grandparents lived. All of my family from my Great Grandmother down would show up for a really big family feast. Because of this I grew up knowing my second & third cousins. My Great Grandmother had 12 children & my Grandmother had 9 children. You can begin to see why we needed such a large venue for our Thanksgiving.

Pumpkin with leaf in grass resized

photo courtesy of

These times were truly wonderful. We ate together, played together and fellowshipped together. Thinking back, I miss those times. Most of us have lost touch and sometimes I wonder where all those second & third cousins are today.

To me Thanksgiving means family. I am truly thankful for my family. I realize that I am not standing where I am today by myself. I am here because of the wisdom, guidance & example of my elders and the influence of my relation.

Edward Winslow’s 1621 account of the first Thanksgiving indicates that 53 Pilgrims celebrated with 90 Native Americans in an event that lasted three days. Many Pilgrims died during the voyage and during the first winter. The surviving Pilgrims expressed their gratefulness to God that He had preserved them and that, with the help of the Native Americans, they were able to see and enjoy the first harvest.

While in the past Thanksgiving has been a time for families to stop, take note of the bounty and blessing that they enjoy, and be truly thankful, now it seems like “Black Friday” has over-shadowed the true meaning of Thanksgiving. Many stores this year will open on Thankgiving night. It almost seems to me that the date that we’ve set aside for thanksgiving has been usurped by a secular day based on covetousness and greed.

I know people who make it a fun family time to go stand in line for door buster deals and I am not trying to lay guilt on anyone. I just want to encourage you this year to keep your Thanksgiving celebration set apart and meaningful.

True thankgiving represents a true heart of humility toward God and a grateful acknowledgement of His blessing.

This year take the time, examine your heart, be truly thankful…and celebrate.

Happy Thanksgiving & God bless you!

Art & Family.