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From Daniel’s Den…


     Perhaps you saw the pre-recorded version of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on television. I understand that this particular parade is recognized as the world’s largest parade. Unfortunately many parades normally scheduled by organizations and municipalities in the weeks leading up to Christmas Day already have announced cancellation due to COVID-19. In a “normal” year, these parades may feature high school and college bands, dance students, cheerleaders, and state and local dignitaries riding in antique or classic automobiles many of which are convertibles.



     Last week, “From Daniel’s Den” introduced the Nominalizers as those “Christians” who (1) seek a simple or easy path to focusing on Christ, (2) savor the cultural practice of favoring Christ, and (3) shine amid a legal pattern of following Christ. In other words, nominalizers are those “Christians” who believe that joining a church or participating in church ministries, accepting the local customs and culture of the church, and checking all of the expected boxes properly in somewhat pharisaical fashion, qualifies them as Christian.



     Not too long after COVID-19 resulted in the closure of bank lobbies for walk-in customers, I found myself in the third or fourth drive-through lane at the bank seeking to deposit a check while receiving a small amount of cash back. I placed the check and deposit slip in the plastic cylinder and carefully loaded the cylinder onto the launching pad and hit “send.” With a whoosh, the cylinder quickly ascended through tubing that reminds me of a hamster cage I had as a kid and came to rest right next to the drive-through teller.



     In 2002, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals determined that the inclusion of the phrase “under God” in the pledge to the American flag is unconstitutional. In their ruling, the Court, which has jurisdiction over nine western states, held that the phrase “one nation under God” violated the establishment clause of the first amendment presented in the U.S. Constitution. According to the Court, the United States Congress did not have the right or responsibility to incorporate the phrase “under God” into the pledge back in 1954 because such an action was tantamount to promoting a specific religion by the government.
     In 2010, the same Court overturned the earlier decision determining that inclusion of “under God” does not promote a national religion in violation of the Constitution. Writing for the majority, Judge Carlos T. Bea declared, “The Pledge of Allegiance serves to unite our vast nation through the proud recitation of some of the ideals upon which our Republic was founded and for which we continue to strive: one Nation under God–the Founding Fathers’ belief that the people of this nation are endowed by their Creator.”
     I’m not a political scientist so I may not understand fully the rhyme or reason underlying the Court’s initial decision. While acknowledging that the Court’s action in 2010 may offer encouragement to many, I also recognize that the “proud recitation” of a pledge with the phrase “one nation under God” does not automatically “unite our vast nation” or mesh the citizenry of this country into a Christian country. Although we may be a “religious” or “godly” country in one sense, I’m afraid that we worship the wrong thing(s) and person(s). Someone accurately submitted that we worship our work, work at our play, and play at our worship.
     Perhaps now, more than ever, we need to be a nation “under” God rather than trying to live as peers “beside” God or superiors “above” God. I suppose that the ruling of the 9th Circuit Court or any court is of little consequence unless Christians in America reevaluate, reposition, and refocus our hearts and lives on the Lord above. In fact, the Court may have done Christians in America a favor by offering a wake-up call to live and serve in accordance with the example of Christ who we say that we love and follow.
     Isaiah saw God “seated on His throne, high and exalted” with the seraphim calling “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of His glory.” Isaiah also recognized himself for who he really was and he recognized a world in need. When our perspective of God and self is parallel to Isaiah’s perspective of God and self, then we can refer to ourselves truthfully as “one nation under God.”

     As you pray this week, ask God to help you to be the kind of citizen that exemplifies Christ in attitude, action, word, and deed. Pray that you would submit completely to the Lordship of Jesus Christ as you help others to remain “under God.”




     If you are familiar with GSTV (Gas Station Television), you may have seen replay footage of an athletic contest, heard some pop culture news, or a bit of trivia. GSTV typically offers a “word of the day” which is a real word, with a real meaning, but perhaps not utilized in one’s vocabulary real often.



     Two weeks ago, the focus of “Daniel’s Den” was honoring parents by making them a Priority while treating them with Courtesy, Dignity, and Integrity. Last week, the focus of this article was reversed to encourage aging parents not only to offer Affirmation, Communication, and Cooperation to their adult children who desire to honor them, but also to encourage elderly parents to make Preparation through a Last Will and Testament, an Advance Health Care Directive, and a Durable Power of Attorney.



Under divine inspiration, the apostle Paul wrote: “Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and your mother’ which is the first commandment with a promise, that it may go well with you and you may enjoy long life on the earth” (Eph. 6:1-3).



     From what I understand, folks in my age category often are referred to as the “sandwich generation.” This classification applies to those who not only have young children they are raising (or maybe young adult kids they are helping to launch), but who also have parents that find a measure of assistance at their particular age and stage of life to be helpful.



     Robert Frost wrote the poem “The Road Not Taken” in 1915 in a joking attempt to mock his fellow poet and good friend Edward Thomas. Because Thomas was often indecisive, Frost penned the poem both as a veiled jab at his friend’s inability to make decisions and to stress the fact that all of us experience frequent opportunities to make choices throughout life’s journey.               
     In the poem, Frost identified two seemingly similar paths or roads. After a careful review of each road, the individual presented in the poem opted to follow the less traveled road as noted by the words of the last stanza:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

     Jesus also talked about choosing between two roads or ways. He declared, “Enter through the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way (or road) that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).
     In a somewhat parallel portion of Luke’s gospel, Jesus talks about entering through the narrow door which, once closed, prohibits anyone else from gaining access. The owner of the house has no knowledge of those out in the street who are pleading to be allowed to enter. These evildoers, as they are described, begin weeping and gnashing their teeth because they can see those who entered the narrow door/gate feasting in the kingdom of God (Luke 13:24-30).
     Who in your family needs for you to tell them about the road that leads to life? Who of your classmates or work associates do you need to share a message of grace and hope and love and salvation? What is the possibility that a friend that you have known for as long as you can remember is not traveling the narrow road that leads to life?
     Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me” (John 14:6). Jesus also declared, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep…I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved…I have come that they may have life, and have it more abundantly” (John 10:7, 9-10).

     In a unique way, Frost’s poem reflects the reality that only a few find the road that leads to life. Taking the one less traveled, however, can make/has made/will make all the difference! Would you prayerfully seek opportunities to introduce someone to Jesus Christ who is the only path for obtaining eternal life?




This article is the third in a series of reflections from a father of three recently married/soon-to-be-married adult children who are beginning new chapters in their lives. Thank you for reflecting with me!