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A New Look at America's Christian Heritage (Part 2 of 2)

Original Air Date 07/05/2012

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Pastor Andy Stanley describes how Christian beliefs were woven in to the founding of America, from the Declaration of Independence to the national conscience of the country as a whole. Also, Dr. Michael Youssef shares his vision for how Christians today can help return this nation to its spiritual roots. (Part 2 of 2)

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Episode Transcript

Opening:

Excerpt: 

Andy Stanley: The issue is really, are we gonna be a nation of gratitude to God and accountability to God or are we gonna be a nation where we don’t express gratitude, because it’s not politically correct and we’re not accountable to anyone other than ourselves? Is it gonna be “In God we trust?” Or is it gonna be, “In we... we trust?” That is the more fundamental debate. 

End of Excerpt 

John Fuller: That's Andy Stanley, and he's our featured guest on today's Focus on the Family broadcast with Jim Daly. I'm John Fuller. 

Jim Daly: That is a great question, John, and it’s a good reminder of how our nation has really turned away from public displays that acknowledge God. And as we celebrate Independence Day, we’re going to hear part two of this message from Andy Stanley. If you didn’t hear part one yesterday, you’ll want to get the DVD of Andy’s complete, two-sermon series called God and Country. It is fascinating. 

John: Yeah, and we'll send that to you for a donation of any amount today, at focusonthefamily.com/radio. 

Jim: Yesterday, Andy talked about the fact that we have a "national conscience" that was based upon the laws of God. And obviously over the years we, as a nation, have turned our back on God, forgetting the need to be dependent upon and grateful to Him for all of the blessings that he has bestowed upon America. Now Andy's going to turn the corner and talk about times when America was proud to be a Christian nation. And a bit later we’re gonna come back and introduce another speaker, who will be giving us an immigrant’s perspective on America. 

John: And let’s go ahead and get to it, here’s Andy Stanley on this special 4th of July Edition of Focus on the Family. 

Body: 

Andy: I love to read history like so many of you love to read history. Several years ago, I read Stephen Ambrose’ book D-Day. He outlines and gives documentation to support his statements, that during the build up to our invasion of France - obviously you know this - everybody in the United States pretty much knew we were gonna invade France to push the Germans back to Germany. That wasn’t a secret. 

The secret was - the mystery was when and where? And so, on June 6, 1944, when we finally launched the invasion, eventually the news was announced through radio all over this country that the invasion had begun. 

I want to read to you what happened in this nation instinctively, intuitively when our nation became aware that our amazing, most well-organized military operation that had ever happened in the history of the world, that we organized, you know, to the Nth degree and were able to keep secret from our enemy.  

Even with all that power and amazing American ingenuity, there was not in this nation a sense of, “Hey, who is the Lord? Who is the Lord? Who is the Lord?” Listen to this: on  D-Day, Franklin Roosevelt used the power of radio to link the nation in a prayer.

Wait, wait, wait. Do we really need to pray? Haven’t we planned? Haven’t we prepared? Haven’t we trained? And here’s what the prayer - written, read by our President, a sitting President - “Almighty God, our sons, pride of our nation this day have set upon a mighty endeavor. Lead them straight and true. Give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith. These men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They yearn for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home. 

“Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom. And O Lord, give us faith. Give us faith in Thee; faith in our sons; faith in each other. Thy will be done, Almighty God. Amen.” 

The New York Daily News threw out its lead articles and printed in its place the Lord’s Prayer, front page. Lord & Taylor never opened that day: President Walter Hoving said he was sending all 3,000 of his employees home to pray. The New York Stock Exchange paused for two minutes while everyone prayed. The editors of The New York Times printed this lead editorial for the June 7th edition: “We pray for the boys we know and for the millions of unknown boys who are equally a part of the U.S. We pray for our country. The cause prays for itself, for it is the cause of the God Who created man free and equal.”  

Special services were held in every church, synagogue and every house of worship. Pews were jammed with worshippers. In Columbus, Ohio, Mayor James Rhodes ordered the air raid sirens and factory whistles sounded as a call to prayer at 7:30 p.m. Get this: the entire city came to a complete stop. For five minutes, cars, buses, trucks and pedestrians halted and people simply prayed. 

Because in that moment we understood this. Even with all the American military might at our disposal, we still need the favor and the blessing of God. We were a nation who was willing to admit we need the Lord. And with all of our blessing, we are still a nation with all of our faults and failures, no, not everybody agreed. In fact, there was significant push back to some of these endeavors, but these push backs were largely ignored by the American populace. 

And it’s a good thing they were, because a few years later there would be another conflict in this country called the Civil Rights Movement. And the leader of the Civil Rights Movement was not a politician. What was he? He was a preacher. Before he was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., he was Reverend King. And from pulpits all over this country, people cried out against laws and against restrictions, because they were unjust. And why were they unjust? Because men were created free, because we believed in a Creator. And we believed the Creator and a belief in a Creator should impact the laws of the United States. 

And he appealed to our national conscience and there were enough people in this land to say, “even though it’s different and even though it’s uncomfortable, they’re right; they’re right. They’re right.” I want to read you two statements from his most famous speech, probably the most famous speech given in the United States.  

August 28th, 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial: “Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children. I have a dream, that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed.” And then guess what he quotes from. He quotes from the Declaration of Independence - that famous statement that at the very beginning of our nation was like a compass point that said, "even though it’s gonna take us awhile to get there, even though this isn’t gonna happen overnight, even though we believe that God gives every man rights, we’re not sure exactly how to apply that yet." And yet, years and years later, Dr. Martin Luther King said, but we haven’t forgotten, that from the very outset, the goal of this nation was to give every man and woman the rights that God gave them as members of His big, broad family. 

And he says this, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” And then he closed with a line everyone one of us listening to this message knows by heart, but we don’t remember when we memorized it, we’ve heard it so many times. By his own admission, that - he was quoting from a Negro spiritual and he said this: “Free at last; free at last. Thank God, Almighty, free at last.”  

Aren’t you glad that after the Second World War, there wasn’t a group that rose up and said, "Now from this point forward, we can’t talk about prayer. We can’t talk about God as it relates to law. We can’t talk about God as it relates to social and civil justice. That’s preacher talk. That’s church talk. We’re too smart for that. We’ve evolved beyond that. All we need is a Congress. All we need are laws." 

If there had not been a national conscience during the Civil Rights Movement, perhaps there would have been no Civil Rights Movement. If there had not been the leverage of God Who created all men equal and free, if there had not been those men who sat around the table and wrote that Declaration of Independence, who understood that the leverage point for our freedom and the leverage point for who we are as Americans, the leverage point is that God created us to be a certain way and God gave us rights and they’re not rights given by government or by law. They’re rights given by God. Now we’ve just gotta figure out how to create a legal system that reflects the Divine decree, that reflects the Divine part of us that God put in all of us. 

We can’t afford to allow God to disappear from the national conversation, because it will continue to erode our national conscience. And that will lead to more moral ambiguity. 

You see, the most sensitive thing we could do for people who don’t believe in God is to keep God in the center of the conversation, because it is His presence and it is our intuitive accountability to Him that enables us and gives us the leverage to create a system where everyone who chooses not to believe, will always have the freedom not to believe. 

And so, at whatever level you have influence in our society, as a government leader, as a civil leader, as a leader in a neighborhood, this is not the time to lose heart. This is not the time to be afraid. If we should fear anything, it would be that we will become so arrogant because of our wealth, that we would be a nation who says nationally and internationally, “Who is the Lord? Who is the Lord?" 

John: Well that's where we're gonna have to end this message from Pastor Andy Stanley of North Point Community Church, speaking to his congregation on today’s Focus on the Family. Do stay with us though; we have one more element of the program that I think will really bring an exclamation point to what Andy was saying. Jim? 

Jim: John, before we introduce our next guest, let me thank Pastor Andy Stanley for letting us share his message, which again, I hope you as a listener enjoyed and considered it thoughtful.  

In light of our current culture, it’s almost a shock to hear those public demonstrations of faith that Andy mentioned. The story of our American troops hitting the shores of Normandy on D-Day during World War Two. And what the President and Congress and other political figures did to recognize our need for God's intervention at that moment.  

I can’t imagine a large news outlet, like CNN, posting The Lord’s Prayer - think of that - or letting someone read it on-air today. I would hope that that would happen. I don't know that it would. And it shows how far we've drifted from our Christian heritage. And whether you're a Christian or not, I think it's intellectually honest to say, "Yes. This nation was founded on Christian principles.  

That Christian foundation actually attracts people from around the world. It's the freedoms that we so enjoy that people wanna partake in. And our next guest is an example of that. His name is Dr. Michael Youssef, he's the pastor of Church of the Apostles in Atlanta, Georgia. He also has a radio program called “Leading the Way”. He's a good friend of Focus on the Family so let’s listen to his unique perspective now, as an immigrant to this country. 

Michael Youssef: What I really wanted to do in this very special occasion is to pour my heart to you as an immigrant to this country who value it, who cherish it, who is proud of the fact that America gave me home when I fled the country of Egypt. I know what it is to be persecuted for the faith, but I also know of the process by which he can get to that point. And I want to tell you as one individual, I am vigilant when I see those signs rising everywhere in our nation that I speak, and I speak my mind and be as it may. 

But the picture of what is happening in this country the last 40 years is this: out of the generosity and the kindness of America, it opened its doors to immigrants such as myself to come here and to receive all the benefits and all the blessings that this country offers.  I’m immensely thankful to be an American, immensely thankful to be a naturalized American citizen - a ceremony that I think each of you ought to go through. It is a great experience and a great joy that day when that happened a couple of decades ago. But I speak for many modern-day immigrants when I say this - please listen carefully - I speak as an immigrant when I say that we want an America as it was envisioned by the founding fathers. 

Audience: Amen! 

(APPLAUSE) 

Michael: We want an America that fears God. We want an America whose foundation is the Bible. We want an America of which the 1844 Supreme Court said, “The Bible, and especially the New Testament, should be read and taught as divine revelation in schools, otherwise...”  

(APPLAUSE)

“Otherwise, where can the purest principles of morality be learned so clearly or so perfectly as from the New Testament?” We want an America of which the 1892 Supreme Court said, “The morality of the country is deeply regrafted upon Christianity and not upon doctrines of worship of other religions.” We want an America... 

 (APPLAUSE) 

We want an America of which the 1811 New York Supreme Court said, “Whatever strikes at the root of Christianity tends manifestly to the disillusion of the civil government because it tends to corrupt the morals of the people and destroy good order.”   

We want an America that reflects the views and the beliefs of the 97 percent of the population, not only the three percent minority. 

(APPLAUSE) 

We want an America of which Webster said, “The principles of all genuine liberty and of wise laws and administrations are to be drawn from the Bible and sustained by its authority. The man, therefore, who weakens or destroys the divine authority of that Book, may be an accessory to all of the public disorders which society is doomed to suffer.” 

How prophetic that is. How prophetic that is. That’s the kind of America that so many of us who are immigrant to this nation want to see happen again. Far from heeding the words of the early courts, in the past 40 years, the courts have been busily striking at the Christian foundation of this nation. Not only that, but the educational bureaucracy has been so busily rewriting America’s history as we knew it.   

Let me quote to you for what Mrs. Chaney said, who headed up the National Endowment for Humanity between 1986 and 1993. She said that the authors of the new history books appointed by the Clinton Administration, Goal 2000 Act, has no mention of Robert E. Lee, Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Jonas Saulk, and the Wright Brothers. Meanwhile, the students were asked to analyze the achievement and the grandeur of Manasseh’s Moses Court, the social custom in the world for the kingdom of Maway. Give me a break. How far have we come? How far have we come?  

One of our educators hit it on the head when he said, and I quote, he said, “If foreign government had done to the nation’s schools what we have done, we would have considered it to be an act of war.” End of quote. But the media in general is trying desperately to make anyone who says anything positive about the God of the Founding Fathers to look like a fanatic and stupid. Well, we are stupid for Jesus. 

(APPLAUSE) 

In America today, you could never say anything negative about Mohammed, or Buddha, or Krishna, but you blaspheme the name of the Lord all day long and will not be considered politically incorrect. They think that this is a new era of enlightenment. I want to tell you, in reality, if it keeps on persisting is going to be a new dark ages. 

What is the solution? Psalm 119 verse 11 says, “I have hidden your Word in my heart so that I may not sin against you.” The solution is for God’s people to wake up from the religious stupor and get on with being the army of the living God. The solution... 

(APPLAUSE) 

The solution is for God’s people to rise up and say enough is enough. For one of us can put a thousand to flight and two cause a legion to flee. That is the solution. The solution is for God’s people to get out of their passivity and out of that mode of doing nothing and get involved in the political process and make a difference. The solution is for God’s people to believe that one man - or one woman - plus God, can make a difference in the world today.  

I’ve told you I’ve lived in a society and I know what it is to be persecuted for your faith.  You don’t have to say much, but the very fact that you’re a Christian, you are alienated. I have seen it with my own eyes when the government can try to convince its citizen that the government knows best, and ruin a nation.  

But returning to our roots as a nation will not happen only by political action. It will not happen by merely wishing it to happen. Returning to our roots will not happen by merely gathering one day a year and praying for the nation. That will not cut it. It will not happen as long as God’s people continue to rationalize and explain away sin. Change will not happen as long as we continue to explain sin as freedom. Change will not happen unless we repent. Change will not happen unless we call upon our God in tears and in repentance. Change will not happen unless the citizens insist that arm of biblical principles of the founding fathers be reinstated by the Congress - overturning, if they have to, the decisions of the Supreme Court. Change... 

(APPLAUSE) 

Change will happen when we get back to the old-fashioned mourner’s bench. Change will happen when mothers are honored again in this country. Change will happen when children be seen as a gift of God and not as a nuisance. Change will happen when the fathers take the rightful place in the family and be the spiritual heads of their homes. Change will happen when we insist that our representatives, regardless of their political affiliation, must be honest, upright, and God-fearing. Change will happen... 

(APPLAUSE) 

Change will happen when we start hiding the Word of God in our hearts, not from the classrooms, but in our hearts.

It was Andrew Jackson who said, pointing to the Bible, “This book, sir, is the rock upon which this Republic is built.” If Andrew Jackson comes back, he will find that the rock is being shattered. Patrick Henry said, “The Bible is worth all of the other books that have ever been written.” If Patrick Henry would come back, he would be shocked at what happened to the Bible, especially in the public schools. The Psalmist said, “If the foundation be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Jesus said of the Father to the Father, he said, “Thy Word is truth.”  

And I want to tell you in the jungle of academia, in which I spend quite a bit of time - thank God he saved me out of it - in the jungle of academia, they are spending hundreds of millions of dollars and untold hours simply asking: What is truth? Here it is, plain and simple: “Thy Word is truth.” 

(APPLAUSE) 

But you know what? That is not mind-twisting enough for them. If they could only understand that the truth gives hope to the hopeless; that the truth gives peace to the tormented; that the truth gives joy to the sorrowful; that the truth gives freedom to the captives; that truth gives salvation to the lost. This is the only Book that will save our nation from cultural collapse and disintegration. 

I know that there are untold billions that have been spent in trying to find the solution to our national problems, our national crisis. If anybody in DC is listening, I hope that you’re listening to this: the solution to our problem is in this Book. Go back to the Book, for this is the only Book that was written by God’s own Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit of God is the one who knows the past, he knows the present, and he knows the future. And the Holy Spirit of God said, “Thy Word is truth.”  

Closing:

John: With those powerful words we bring our special 4th of July episode of Focus on the Family to a close. That was Dr. Michael Youssef, sharing his unique perspectives on America, as an immigrant to this nation. 

Jim: You’re hearing Dr. Youssef’s passion for this country, John, and he does have a different angle as an immigrant coming from a country that doesn't have the freedoms that we enjoy. And we’re offering his portion of this program as a free audio download. Just look for that at focusonthefamily.com/radio.  

And as we celebrate Independence Day, let me remind you of this: when our founders signed the Declaration of Independence, they were committing treason against the King of England, and the result was a bounty on their heads. Many of them were killed during the revolution, or had their homes burned down, or were captured by the British. So if our founding fathers could risk their lives to establish our nation, the least we can do is vote! It is a privilege Americans have fought for and died for. Be a good example to others - get out and vote in the upcoming election. 

You know, as Christians, we want to be good examples in other areas of our lives as well, especially when it comes to our marriages and our families. And whether you need a little help, or a lot of help, Focus is here with time-tested, biblical truth that you can rely upon. Almost one million moms and dads credit Focus on the Family with helping them build stronger, healthier, more God-honoring families. 

We are listener-supported, so please pray for us, and support us financially if you can. And when you make a donation of any amount today, we’d like to send you the DVD of the entire message from Andy Stanley, called God and Country - it’s a two-sermon series with over an hour of content. 

Right now is a great time to give. Generous friends of this ministry are offering to match your donation, dollar-for-dollar, so that your giving will have twice the impact. So get in touch with us today! 

John: Donate online at focusonthefamily.com/radio or give us a call tomorrow: 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. Either way, request that DVD and make a generous contribution. 

And by the way, at our website you can get a free download of Dr. Michael Youssef's portion of today's broadcast. Just stop by focusonthefamily.com/radio to get that. 

And if you enjoyed today's program, please tell a friend to listen in online or through the mobile app, and then join us tomorrow when we focus on marriage - specifically how to be more intentional in loving your spouse. 

On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening today, and join us next time on Focus on the Family as we once more help you and your family thrive in Christ.

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Guest

Andy Stanley

View Bio

Andy Stanley is the founder of North Point Ministries and the senior pastor of North Point Community Church, a multi-campus congregation based in Alpharetta, Ga. He is also an author of numerous books including The New Rules for Love, Sex and Dating, Ask It, and Deep and Wide. Andy and his wife, Sandra, have three grown children. Learn more about Andy at his website, andystanley.com.

Guest

Michael Youssef

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Michael Youssef is the founding pastor of The Church of the Apostles in Atlanta, Ga., and the founder and president of Leading the Way, a worldwide media ministry. He is also an author of more than two dozen books. Michael holds a Ph.D. in social anthropology from Emory University, as well as degrees from Moore Theological College in Australia and Fuller Theological Seminary in California. He and his wife, Elizbeth, have four grown children and five grandchildren. Learn more about Michael by visiting his website: www.MichaelYoussef.com.