Some people believe this New Year will be the greatest year ever while others are gearing up for 2015 being incredibly difficult. While I do not know the future, I do see potential potholes that may cause great difficulty ahead. Eight times the Scripture implores us to “take heed to yourselves” (Exodus 19:12, Deuteronomy 4:23, 11:16; Jeremiah 17:21; Luke 17:3, 21:34; Acts 5:35, 20:28). Taking heed is one of the primary tasks in prayer. Please take spiritual inventory to consider one of these blind spots:
Religious liberty is at risk.
The handwriting on the wall is clear to those who care to observe it: Christians in more than 60 countries around the world are facing religious persecution but when it rests on American soil, most Christians will not recognize it. Our freedoms of speech and freedom of religion are eroding under the most anti-Christian administration America has ever had. If exercising our muscles prevents atrophy, then exercising our freedoms must be effective in retaining those freedoms. Speak up!
I recently watched my 11-year-old son, recite Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. This most famous speech of Lincoln’s career took place following the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1–3, 1863) where between 46,000 and 51,000 Confederate and Union soldiers were killed, wounded, captured or missing. As my son spoke, the swell of patriotism formed into a lump in my throat as I could only long for the freedoms, which he described, could only be assured of in his coming generation. Yet, these freedoms are more at risk today than in the wake of our nation’s civil war.
Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon 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 battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of it, as a final resting place for those who died here, that the nation might live. This we may, in all propriety do. 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 hallowed it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here; while it can never forget what they did here.
It is rather for us the living, we here be 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 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.
In his latest book, Counter Culture, David Platt wrote: “those who understand and believe the gospel advocate the free exercise of faith.” God has given every person the freedom to decide whether to worship Him or not and we cannot allow our nation to rob us of proclaiming this freedom to all people. Furthermore, if those Christians who have no religious liberty are doing so much for the advance of the Gospel, what must God think of us who have been given so many more freedoms yet are doing so much less?
To borrow some prayer request from Platt’s same book:
- Ask God to prepare Christians in East Texas to respond boldly and humbly to increased governmental and cultural opposition.
- Ask God to work in the lives of rulers in our country and in the world so that there is more freedom given to live and speak the truth of the Gospel.
- Pray that God will strengthen persecuted believers around the world regardless of the consequences they face.