What I am thankful for today

I have as much to be thankful for as any man that ever lived.  But today I am gripped, stunned and collapsing beneath a weight of gratitude.   I am thunderstruck with thankfulness over this one thing: God’s mercy on America.  Seven times in our history when we would have been destroyed, and by all accounts should have been destroyed, God intervened.  Read on.

new signature

Signing_of_Declaration_of_Independence_by_Armand-Dumaresq_c1873_-_restored

Seven Miracles that Saved America

 “In the beginning of the contest with G. Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayer in this room for the Divine protection — Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. … I have lived, Sir, a long time; and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, that God governs the affairs of men!”

—Benjamin Franklin, 1787

“There is no overwhelming proof, but deep inside we know. And to those who believe, it also seems clear that these events took place with the direction and purpose. Despite our weaknesses, which are many, and our failings, which have existed since our inception, God has been willing to intervene so that this nation might survive.”

– Chris and Ted Stewart, 2009

The Founding Fathers regularly wrote that they considered themselves to be doing God’s work in establishing the United States. This habit was not just confined to the conspicuously devout, such as Patrick Henry and Samuel Adams but also to such secular saints as Jefferson and Franklin, the so-called Deists.  More to the point, they fervently believed — and often asserted — that God in his Providence actively intervened in events to make their efforts successful.

Today, we often dismiss such rhetoric as “just the way people talked back then” and explain how politicians of a certain era used it to rally an overwhelmingly religious populace behind them.

In their terrific new book, Seven Miracles that Saved America: Why they Matter, Why We Should Have Hope, former Air Force officer Chris Stewart and his brother, U.S. District Court Judge Ted Stewart, argue forcefully that the Founders not only meant what they said, but they were right.

The Stewarts look at seven instances in which overwhelming odds had to be beaten for the United States to exist in its current form. While some might argue over their meaning or the significance of some of their “miracles,” the unlikely circumstances that saved the day in several cases will have even a hardcore secularist taking a second look:

  • The extraordinary unlikelihood that America was colonized due to the efforts of an ambitious navigator with humble beginnings  – rather than perhaps the greatest fleet ever assembled for just such a purpose– which “discovered” North America about 70 years before Columbus.
  • The million-to-one odds that saved the English colonization of America as a fleet crossing the Atlantic arrives in Jamestown minutes before it was to be abandoned.
  • The fortuitous fog that saved Washington’s army that was as well-timed — and accurate — as any artillery smokescreen.
  • The discovery of the Japanese fleet heading toward Midway in the vastness of the Pacific during World War II by an American reconnaissance airplane extending its search well beyond its operational range.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

While this book makes a theological and political point, the emphasis in Seven Miracles that Saved America is on storytelling. The Stewarts employ an unusual device — novelizing part of each chapter, much like the Shaaras or Alan Eckert — while sticking to known facts and actual quotes. This makes for an extremely engaging, if rather quirky, narrative.

The authors open with the fascinating — and not well known account — of how America should have been colonized by the Chinese, rather than by Western Europeans.  Even if the Chinese did not discover the American continents, though it seems likely they should have, with their massive fleet and more advanced technology.

However, the glorious fleet that was sent on a mission of discovery, returned to a China that had changed and become inward-focused and xenophobic. The records of the exploration were burned, and the fabled fleet was left to rot, along with China’s expansionist ambitions.  (For more on this, check out last year’s interesting, if flawed, book, 1421.)

The next chapter, The Miracle at Jamestown, continues the discussion of the religious and cultural nature of those who colonized America and why it was important. While the Stewarts propose the obvious, that those who followed Columbus were culturally very different than the navy of Zheng He, the authors assert it was also very important that a Protestant presence be established in America. They contend the competition among Christian sects led to the religious diversity and tolerance that formed the basis of the United States.

Their story of how close Jamestown came to failure and abandonment is gripping reading.  How it was saved is one of the more convincing cases for the word “miracle” in the book—along with the “mysterious fog” that saved Washington’s army in New York in the Revolutionary War, allowing him to pull off a Dunkirk-like evacuation and live to fight another day.

Many might put the circumstances of extraordinary events down to the American character that results from free men, for the first time in history, being allowed to operate on principles of liberty.  It’s not unusual, for instance, to hear the term “the miracle of the Constitution.”  It’s just unusual — today, at least — for it to be meant as literally as the Stewarts’ assert.

This is particularly true in the chapters in which the authors see the hand of God in the timing of Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan assuming the presidency in times of crisis.

Easily the most controversial chapter — and the most likely to raise the ire of some country club Republicans, much less Democrats — is the chapter saying that Ronald Reagan not only won the Cold War but also saved America.

The Stewarts, however, point out that George H.W. Bush, while a good man, did call the Reagan economic agenda “voodoo economics” during the Republican primaries. Even if Bush 41 truly was aboard, he would not have had the political oomph to push it through a Democrat-controlled Congress.GodBlessAmerica

More importantly, Bush was from the “realist” foreign policy tradition, which would have looked for “stability” and détente over real change. The most persuasive point the authors make here is to remind us that, after all of Reagan’s successes in putting the USSR on the ropes, Bush ordered a “reassessment” of U.S. relations with the Soviets upon taking office.

While the first Bush administration was “reassessing,” communism collapsed, and 41 was too surprised to even celebrate the Berlin Wall coming down, as Reagan had predicted.

Of course, such pivotal battles as Gettysburg and Midway had hundreds of little moments that one could argue “changed the course of history.” In the case of Midway, for example, the authors are persuasive in their argument that nearly every one of those moments miraculously went the Americans’ way.

In the case of Gettysburg, for instance, they could easily have titled the chapter, “The Miracle of Friendly Fire.”  Had Stonewall Jackson, the South’s best tactician and Lee’s greatest commander been with him at Gettysburg … who knows?  Jackson was easily the most important figure in American military history to be mistakenly shot by his own troops.

Those of a determinedly secular mindset may be apt to dismiss this book too quickly.  Even if you reject the premise out of hand and prefer to think of it as “Seven Statistically Wildly Improbable Coincidences that Saved America,”this book is worth your time.

In each case, the Stewarts do a masterful job of setting the stage of not only why the odds were stacked against the outcome we take for granted but also in reminding us of what was at stake.  Each chapter, it could be argued, is as good a one-chapter treatment of a momentous time as you are likely to find anywhere—particularly setting the stage for the Civil War, and demolishing the notion that slavery was a side issue.

Which brings us to the authors’ ultimate point. As bad as things seem now, America has been much closer to the precipice in its history. The Stewarts write that if God did not let the nation fail, or fall to its enemies then, there is no reason to suppose he is done with America yet.

The end may not be near after all.

P.S.  I am gripped by hope but equally sobered by the fact that today is unique in our history.  This is the first time that America has been led by God haters.  That hatred extends to every vestige of Christian influence on America.  Our leaders are, in fact, shaking their fists at God.

We are in desperate need of a new mercy, a mercy unlike any that we have ever known.  Today I am stunned by the fact that we will be shown mercy.  It will not be easy, it will be costly and we can certainly expect that God will even allow crisis that will, in the end, save the Republic.  It begins today with hearts full of gratitude for past mercy and a new passion to repent and pray.  Your prayers are powerful.  We must cease with lukewarm intercession and graduate into prevailing prayer for America.  MM

prayer blog art

Dangerous new attacks on our emotions and our health. Here is what to do now!

The Stockdale Paradox states that in every circumstance, you must retain faith that you will prevail in the end regardless of the difficulties – and at the same time confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be. 

During his eight years as a POW, Stockdale looked the reality of his situation squarely in the face each day, yet he never lost faith that he would eventually prevail.  And he did.  After the war, Stockdale became the first 3-Star officer in the Navy’s history to earn both Aviator Wings and the Congressional Medal of Honor.

This letter will practice the Stockdale Paradox.  First the facts: Stress is now constant, grinding and toxic.  You are facing intense battles and it is more draining than ever in history.  You are being threatened!  You have to face the brutal facts and you must have the unshakable conviction that God will bring you out of crisis.

You must face your crisis honestly and squarely.  Today’s talk shows and news channels constantly analyze the evil done by leaders and rage against. But there is nothing you can do about them.  This can agitate your spirit, use up vital time and energy, and as roil your spirit like a barrage of mosquito bites.

At the same time you cannot entertain even the smallest doubt of your deliverance and breakthrough.  We will look for this in Psalm 37 which is an emphatic promise of victory upon victory. There is no possibility of God forsaking you.  It is beyond impossible for your story to end in tragedy.  You must believe that with all of your heart. David said, 25 “I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his descendants begging bread.” 

When my life was totally changed about crisis:  It is 5 A.M. The phone rings.  The voice says, “We are on the air with Mario Murillo.”  The call is from a popular radio talk show in Miami.  The host hits me with this question: “Why did God allow Hurricane Andrew to destroy the homes of faithful Christians as a well as rank sinners? I am too groggy to give a clear answer. I try to stall; begging God for wisdom. I hear, “Tell them that the foolish man built his house on the sand.”  I argued with God complaining that this statement seemed heartless and that the D.J. would not like it. He did not like it.  In a panic I pray, “Lord you have to give me more!”  Now I was told to say, “The wise man built his house on the rock.”  I did and this too irked the radio host.  Then something amazing happened right while I was on the radio.

Then revelation hit me.  Now I knew why Jesus gave us this parable of the storm. I immediately said to the radio host, “I know now why you asked me this question, it is a trick question to try and discredit Christianity.  So now I will answer you. Why would Jesus say to build on the rock?  Because storms are coming!  I did not become a Christian because it meant the end of storms, but because storms are inevitable.  Since storms are inevitable, the only way to go through a storm is with Jesus and not without Him!

 Listen to more from Psalm 37: 1 Do not fret because of evildoers, Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity.2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, And wither as the green herb. 3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. 4 Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.  5 Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass. 6 He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your justice as the noonday. 7 Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret—it only causes harm. 9 For evildoers shall be cut off; But those who wait on the LORD, They shall inherit the earth.”-Psalm 37:1-9.

 

King David wrote these words late in his life after he had faced every storm imaginable and had seen God’s deliverance out of all of them!  Then he explains why these commands make sense.  Then he lists the special miracles, protection, provision, and direction from God that will come to those who obey these commands.  Above all, he guarantees a profound peace and comfort in the storm.  Take these steps now!

Step One:  Do not fret because of evil doers.  Stop worrying, analyzing, and fretting.  We watch helplessly as an ongoing financial firestorm caused by criminals and politicians plunder our jobs, savings, and our homes.  What makes it so enraging is that they seem to have gotten away with it!

In verse one he orders us not to fret and then repeats it several times throughout the Psalm.  In verse 8 he says, “Do not fret—it only causes harm.”  Why do something that only does damage?  Since the storm is already doing damage why add to it with worry?  You may not know where your next job will come from.  You may not have the money to save your home, but do not fret!

Step Two: Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.   We must make God our one and only hope.  It is our duty to do this and only by doing this can we find the way through the hurricanes of life.  We are to believe fervently in our God’s good intentions for us.

We must still do good deeds!  We still pray, witness, and carry on our duty leaving every crisis in His hands.  We must feed our soul on the testimonies of past breakthroughs and in the exhortations of friends, Godly leaders, and the Word of God. 

David breaks up this command to trust into two smaller commands:

 A. “Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heartWe must make God our heart’s delight and then we shall have our heart’s desire.  We must be satisfied with His loving-kindness, and make that our exceeding joy.  He will not give us everything we crave, but He will give all of the fondest desires of a sanctified heart!

 B. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass:  We must make God our guide, and surrender everything to His guidance and disposal; and then all our affairs, even those that seem to be the most tangled and perplexing will reach a satisfying outcome. We must trust Him with every outcome of our crisis.  He may do it in a way that we never thought of.  We need not get into a frenzy of speculation of how we will get out of this mess. All we need to know is that He will do it!

Step Three: Wait on the LORD, And keep His way, And He shall exalt you to inherit the land:

A. Wait on the Lord: This is where you take your stand.  This is the stand that will stand against every storm.  You wait on God; you learn what to do and what not to do.  You do not fret.  You do not try to carry the weight of you crisis. You do not try to figure out solutions.  You wait on God.  Every saint in history has done this and has found final victory!   Take every care, every weight, every hurt and pour onto God.  Pray in exacting detail about what you want and what you need.  If you need a specific answer, why would you pray a general prayer?

Keep His way and He will exalt you to inherit the land: Obey every impulse of the Holy Spirit instantly, without hesitation or doubt.  Obey it even if it seems totally out of the blue and seems to have nothing to do with your situation. Our Father cannot resist the cry of His child.  He also cannot but bless a suffering vessel when he sees them obeying in baby steps!

What is guaranteed to us if we obey the directive of Psalm 37?

1. That we shall have the blessing of God, and that blessing will be a constant source of delight and security for all of our needs and Godly pleasure. (v. 22)

2. That God will direct our actions and guide our affairs in the way that brings Him the most Glory.  (v. 23): The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord.

3. That God will keep us from being destroyed when we stumble and fall. (v. 24): Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down.

4. That we shall not lack and the necessities of this life. (v. 25)

5. That God will never desert us, but will aggressively protect us in every calamity and against any enemy. (v. 28)

6. That we shall be beyond defeat in this world and blessed in the world to come. That we will live forever with Jesus (v. 27), and not be cut off as the seed of the wicked.(v. 28)

7. That we shall never be a prey to our adversaries and those who seek our life. (v. 32, 33)

Hallelujah!