Over the past weekend we had the great pleasure of hearing a patriotic lesson from our dear friend and brother, Rick Barton. In this article, he tells about why he felt compelled to share and you listen to the mp3 of the lesson as well.
I am in my early sixties, and it has only been in recent years that I have learned about some amazing historical instances in which God directly intervened in establishing this nation. James 1:17 states “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
For me this wonderful gift of living in America brings to mind the responsibility that comes from such a blessing. The last words in Luke 12:48 are “…From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”
My gratitude for what we have been given, and the responsibility that comes from such a gift compelled me to share some of this historical information. I believe that knowing more about how God established this nation helps us in being stewards of His phenomenal blessings.
When Elizabeth, Rick’s wife, heard we we recorded and were publishing this message, she wanted to implore others to understand the man and his message:
What if your spouse came to you one day and said, “I have a sermon I have to preach”? Now, mind you, this man is an accountant, not a public speaker, a somewhat reserved man I have heard speak before a crowd only twice in his 60+ years. My thought was, “Okay, I’ll humor you as we walk down fantasy lane.” But, of course, I asked him to tell me more.
He said he had more than enough on his schedule, that he would have to drop other plans, but that this was something that could not be dropped. He said that God had laid on his heart how important it was that Americans realize the unique role they had in history and in God’s plan to bring the gospel to the world and to help in establishing His kingdom, that Americans understand that the men who founded this nation were God-fearing men who meant for God to be the guiding light for our government and our people. He wanted to help Americans understand how far this nation and its leaders had fallen, how much we have compromised with the world. He said it was important people knew the Christian heritage of America, so that we would recognize the need to repent and would come to see that our blessings, prosperity, and influence in the world was God’s gift to us, but only so long as we honored Him. Otherwise, judgment was at hand.
Of course, I agreed with all he expressed to me that evening, but my thought was that there were not very many pastors willing to turn over their pulpit to another — nevermind that Rick had never preached a sermon and only knew Brother Steve casually. In the end, we decided all he could do was ask Brother Steve and see what he said.
Rick did talk to our pastor, who was very generous and open to the idea. Ultimately, it was decided the message was best suited to adults who could maintain concentration; so it was decided he would speak to an assembly of the Sunday school classes the Sunday before July 4th.
And so, on the rainy morning of June 29th, before an intrepid assembly of faithful Baptist Sunday school members, dreading to speak before a crowd, but passionate about his message, and in obedience to God, my husband delivered the message God had given him: America needed to repent and return to God. He spoke well and competently. God was with him, and people were moved.
He was relieved when it was over. As his wife, I was very proud of him. We had recently studied Blackaby’s “Experiencing God” together and had an ongoing discussion about how difficult it was to distinguish between a message from the Holy Spirit and our own desires. I think God, knowing his struggle, gave my husband a special gift: This is what it is to be led by the Holy Spirit. He didn’t want to speak before a crowd, but he felt he must. He believed he must be in the center of God’s will. What a blessing!
The next day, as I was reading my e-mail, I opened a forwarded message from Anne Graham Lotz, Billy Graham’s daughter. She was expressing the same message that Rick had expressed, that we needed to pray for America to repent, lest we incur God’s judgment. I was literally blown away that God had used my husband the way he used Billy Graham’s daughter, to spread the message that America needs to repent. God is speaking to us, America, Gateway Baptist Church, that we need to pray for repentance in our land. We need to be obedient. I pray that I will be as obedient as my husband has modeled for me, and that we will please God and experience his protection and blessing..
— Elizabeth Barton