Summary: We have these rights because of what our forefathers have done. You & I didn't earn the privileges we enjoy. But I'm thankful for those who did earn them & passed them on to me - & for that I am truly grateful! (PowerPoints Available - #356)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
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Friends, I stand before you torn by mixed emotions. On the one hand, I am deeply grateful to be an American. But at the same time I am disturbed & disappointed by the events of the past few weeks.
Most of you are very aware that my parents were missionaries in the border region of China & Tibet, & then in the Philippines where they spent 3 years as prisoners of the Japanese during WW2. You have heard me tell of some of their suffering as prisoners, & then of their rescue by 900 courageous men of the 1st Cavalry Division.
There is so much more that I could mention that makes me deeply grateful to be an American! And as I think of all those who have gone before to make it possible for us to rejoice in the freedoms that our forefathers envisioned, feelings of patriotism tend to flow rather freely.
And if you share my feelings, when we sing the "Star Spangled Banner," or hear a choir sing about America & the freedoms that we enjoy, we often want to stand up & salute or just do something to show that we're proud of our nation.
Sometimes we hear patriotic speeches which contain that ringing phrase, "I'm proud to be an American!" And we echo those sentiments, too. But think about it for a moment. Maybe what we ought to be saying is, "I'm grateful that I'm an American!"
You see, we could have been born in Bosnia or China or Pakistan. We could have found ourselves on the streets of some other nation this morning, wondering where our next meal is coming from, surrounded by squalor.
But here we are, in a nice air conditioned building, surrounded by beautiful people, in a loving church, in the great state of Oklahoma.
A. I am deeply grateful to be a citizen of the United States. And I trust that you are also.
ILL. A father was talking with his rather rebellious son one day & said, "Every person who lives in the United States is a privileged person." The boy answered, "I disagree." And the father replied, "That's the privilege."
We have the privilege to disagree. We have the privilege to speak our mind. We have freedom of religion, of speech, of the press, & the right of petition. We have freedom to hope & dream & pursue our dreams. We are free in so many ways whether we recognize it or not!
We have these rights because of what our forefathers have done. You & I didn't earn the privileges we enjoy. But I'm thankful for those who did earn them & passed them on to me - & for that I am truly grateful!
Yet it is obvious that there are many in our country today who do not treasure or honor the rights & privileges that our forefathers fought & died to secure.
ILL. During the 1800’s, Alexis de Toqueville, a famous French political philosopher, visited our nation seeking to uncover the secret of our greatness. He traveled from town to town, asking questions, examining every facet of our society, & then wrote his conclusions in his famous work, “Democracy in America.”
Dr. John McDowell, a Presbyterian minister, attributed the following statement to de Toqueville. While proof is lacking that de Toqueville is the author, Presidents Eisenhower, Reagan, & Clinton have quoted it. And I believe the message is still relevant today.
He wrote, "I sought for America's greatness. I found it not in her fields & forests. I found it not in her mines & factories. I found it not in her Congress & great tribunals.
"It was only when I entered her churches & heard her pulpits thundering against sin & preaching righteousness that I discovered her greatness.
"America is great because America is good. If America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great."
If de Toqueville were alive & tried to say something like that today I'm afraid that in most universities & public forums he would be shouted down & not permitted to speak.
SUM. If we put our trust in education, then we'll get what education can teach us. If we put our trust in money, we'll get what money can buy. If we put our trust in government, we'll get what government can give us. But if we put our trust in God, we'll have everything we need, for all eternity.
B. Now think with me for just a moment. Do you remember the names of the great prophets of the O.T.? How about Isaiah, or Elijah, or Jeremiah, or Jonah, or Daniel, or Hosea? And our list could go on & on.