Learning To Shine From Within

As our family recently gathered in our living room to worship, pray, and seek to hear from the Lord, interesting revelation came into the light. My husband had been prompted the previous evening to research specific influences impacting our nation since the 1960’s. A television special and an email the same day on the same topic confirmed the direction the Lord was leading. That period in time brought about the beginnings of significant changes in the direction our nation was heading. The culture would refer to most of these changes as progressive, yet a tree is known by its fruit: “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, and a rotten tree cannot produce good fruit” (Matthew 7:18, God’s Word Translation 1995). Good fruit rarely comes from pointing out the negative that has transpired as a result of that rebellious time period in our nation’s history. It will suffice to say, however, that the fruit of the 1960’s has penetrated every sector of our society, has been significantly advanced through media, education, arts, & entertainment, and that our nation stands at a critical crossroads.

As our family contended for what the Lord was revealing to us, we were prompted to reflect on our newest children’s book, The Little Ugly House: A Story About Learning To Shine From Within. (*See the article entitled, The Little Ugly House: A Story About Learning To Shine From Within, on this site for background information.) I suddenly realized this story was representative of our nation, striving intensely at trying change itself on the outside in order to ‘fit in.’ In actuality, our nation has been exhausting much effort trying to become ‘like’ something it was never intended to become. Our founding fathers fled to this country in order to escape some of the very mindsets now shaping our nation in 2011! The only way our nation can ever truly arrive at what it is seeking to become, however, is through internal changes that impact and transform character that bears good fruit.

As a nation, we need to learn to shine from within again. Our nation once stood as a beacon of light and hope to the entire world. The only way to restore what has been lost is to invade the atmosphere with Truth. We need to invite Truth back into this great nation. The nature of God is Truth. “God is not like people. He tells no lies. He is not like humans. He doesn’t change his mind. When he says something, he does it. When he makes a promise, he keeps it” (Numbers 23:19, God’s Word Translation 1995). It is oftentimes necessary to take a step back, a retreat so-to-speak, in order to ‘catch one’s breath,’ in order to be able to really see and hear Truth in the midst of all the busyness, conflicting messages, and noise.

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you” (Romans 12:1-2, The Message Translation 2002).

The New Testament is the revelation of Truth regarding the living out of our lives here on the Earth. Jesus is the embodiment of Truth, and the means by which nations learn to shine from within. “I am the Road, also the Truth, also the Life. No one gets to the Father apart from me” (John 14:6, The Message Translation 2002). “Now I’m returning to you. I’m saying these things in the world’s hearing so my people can experience My joy completed in them. I gave them your word; the godless world hated them because of it, because they didn’t join the world’s ways, just as I didn’t join the world’s ways. I’m not asking that you take them out of the world but that you guard them from the Evil One. They are no more defined by the world than I am defined by the world. Make them holy—consecrated—with the truth; Your word is consecrating truth. In the same way that You gave me a mission in the world, I give them a mission in the world. I’m consecrating myself for their sakes so they’ll be truth-consecrated in their mission” (John 17:13-18, The Message Translation, 2002).

We need to invite Love back into this great nation. The nature of God is Love. “My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God” (1 John 4:7-10, The Message Translation, 2002).

Speaking Truth and walking in Love is what transforms nations from the inside out. We need to invade the atmospheres of every sector in our society (government, media, education, business, arts & entertainment, church and family) with Truth and Love, in order for our nation to begin to shine again from within. Just as the 1960’s changed everything in a direction that has advanced bad fruit in our nation, we can turn, and once again be the bearers of good and abundant fruit. This generation needs to take hold of penetrating the atmosphere of our culture with music, poetry, art, literature, television programs, movies, education, etc. of Truth and Love, and through leadership that demonstrates Truth and Love in action. While writing this blog, I was prompted to read Psalm 85:10-13, The Message Translation 2002, “Love and Truth meet in the street. Right Living and Whole Living embrace and kiss! Truth sprouts green from the ground. Right Living pours down from the skies! Oh yes! God gives Goodness and Beauty; our land responds with Bounty and Blessing. Right Living strides out before Him, and clears a path for His passage.’

Our nation could use some bounty and blessing in the midst of this recession, but from this passage it’s clear that those fruits are a result of shining from within – right living. There is only one way this right living is possible: through Jesus Christ in us, our hope of glory. After all, there is no recession in Heaven, and we are to pray for Heaven to manifest on Earth. However, there is also no bad fruit in Heaven. The two go hand-in-hand, and Jesus made a way for right living to manifest here on Earth through HIS indwelling people by the Holy Spirit.

During the month of January, we set aside a day to commemorate a man who spoke Truth and Love and did much to bear good fruit during a tumultuous time in our nation’s history: Martin Luther King, Jr.. During the month of February, we set aside a national holiday to honor great presidential leaders who have served and advanced this great nation. Sandwiched in-between is a day to celebrate love. At the head of this calendar year, it would do us well to connect the dots, and then revisit  historically, the rich Truth and Love behind each of these national days of celebration. It is also befitting, on behalf of those who have forgotten, and on behalf of those who have never been taught Truth and Love in this context, to revisit the lyrics of a well-known and well-loved song, America, the Beautiful, written and sung often about our great nation in generations past. I close in sharing these lyrics as a prophetic declaration of a new season of decreeing, proclaiming, and walking out Truth and Love. America, you can learn to shine again from within!

America, The Beautiful
by Katharine Lee Bates (words) and Samuel Bates (sound recording)

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!

America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassion’d stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness.

America! America!
God mend thine ev’ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law.

O beautiful for heroes prov’d
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life.

America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness,
And ev’ry gain divine.

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears.

America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea.

*Be sure to check out our newest children’s book, The Little Ugly House: A Story About Learning To Shine From Within at www.TheArtsExpressed.com