Today ronniefloyd.com welcomes guest writer Drew Griffin. Griffin serves as Cross Church’s Church Planting Apprentice. In August 2013, Griffin and his wife, Emily, will relocate to New York City to ignite the launch of a church plant in New York City’s Upper East Side. Follow Griffin on Twitter at @dg_nyc and on his blog, The Implanted Word.
Why I Love America
We live in an evil era. There is no doubt about this. One cursory look across the landscape of culture and media confirms that our world lies under the domain of the evil one. It could be argued that from Jesus’ very ascension into heaven Christians have been living in what the Apostle Paul would have described as “the last days.” Many days during this last year have given the Christian much reason for pause and concern.
For many American Christians, amid the cultural chaos and the moral decline, it has become increasingly difficult to love America.
But I look at the landscape of America and still find much to appreciate and even more to be grateful for.
Nations are not accidents; they are examples of God’s providence and protection. In Romans 13, the Apostle Paul informs us that God raises up governments and that individuals in power are His instruments to administer justice. When we reflect on what God has given us in and through America, we have particular cause to be thankful. Consider these four characteristics woven into the fabric of the American experience.
America is unique in that it is one of the only nations in the world where one can become ‘an American’ regardless of where you’re from or who you are. Everyone here is from somewhere else. We identify an American not simply in terms of legal status, but also as a way of life, a set of ideals, principles, and habits. I was an American long before I was a Christian; and I was taught how to be an American — how to identify with something greater than myself. I cannot look back on my experience of learning what it means to be an American and not draw a parallel to my experience of learning what it means to be a Christian. God in His grace and mercy gave me the gift of salvation. Since the day I became a citizen of God’s Kingdom, I have learned the way of life, principles, and habits that mark a Christian’s life. As a believer, my identity is in Christ. As an American my identity is rooted in a common history. I love America because being an American has taught me the value of an identity.
I still remember as a child watching the footage of distant wars and going to parades to see the full regalia of American might on parade. I was filled with awe and an overwhelming sense of feeling protected. Although that sense of protection has been tried at times, most notably on 9/11, I am grateful that our nation rarely takes the sword in vain. In this too, America serves as but a shadow for the protection my Lord provides. When our nation fails in its role to protect, and when justice remains unsatisfied, I know that ultimately there is One who will never leave nor forsake His own, and no one will ever be able to pluck me from His hand. I love America because I know in some small way how it feels to be protected, so many in this world only dream of this gift.
I have had the occasion to visit Arlington national cemetery in Washington D.C. a number of times. I even had the opportunity to lay a wreath at the tomb of the unknowns, which commemorates all those who have fallen anonymously in service to their country. It is impossible not to be moved when one stands amid the fields of marble headstones in Arlington. Though the tombs are silent, the cry of their sacrifice is deafening. Those brave Americans who have given the last best measure of their lives so that I might enjoy mine deserve veneration and respect. They model the selfless love of the One who came before them, who died so that all might live. I love America for the witness of many who willingly sacrificed their life for the lives of others. Whether they realized it or not, their lives and their gift of life pointed to Christ and His sacrifice.
America has often been referred to as an experiment, a temporary trial of new ideals and bold freedoms. This nation was not simply born; it has and continues to be reborn. Through great sacrifice and difficulty America came into being, and ever since it has been a haven for potential. The very air that we breathe is scented with possibility. For many years people from all over the globe have crawled and scraped just to take a gasp. We are an unfinished project, an incomplete structure, and we know it. Our founders recognized that they were not the pinnacles of human achievement; they gave us the tools to improve our lot and better our culture. Those same tools have been used for both good and ill, but their mere existence should give the Christian hope. As Christians we should realize that we are also unfinished works, being renewed day by day in the Spirit of God. I love America because it is a land of rebirth and second chances; and as such it points to the grace of God who desires all to be born again and whose limitless love stands open to embrace the faithful and prodigal alike.
Perhaps the most important decision a pastor makes in his life and ministry is choosing the woman who will become his wife. Through my years of pastoring and leading churches, I have always found that a pastor and his ministry will not surpass his marital relationship in terms of healthy growth. If his marriage is healthy, his ministry has a much greater probability of being productive and effective. Conversely, if his marriage is unhealthy, his ministry will be extremely limited and affected greatly.
Jeana and I have been married over 36 years. I became a local church pastor in September 1976, and we were married on Dec. 31, 1976. Jeana was a piano major in college and I am convinced I received the call to my first church because they needed a piano player!
I want to share a few practical things for every pastor and his wife to consider and act upon in life and ministry:
You Are Partners
You are partners in marriage and in ministry. Yes, I wrote that statement correctly. Partnership in marriage many understand, but partnership in ministry is becoming a unique quality for a pastor and his wife.
Jeana and I have always been partners in ministry. We have walked together hand-in-hand through all our years in ministry. She is fully involved in the life of the church. Every pastoral candidate that I call to serve on our Cross Church team is joined by his wife at his final interview. That interview is more about her than it is him.
During that interview I talk to her and ask her:
*Do you go to worship?
*Are you involved in a ministry of the church?
Then I proceed to tell her along with her husband:
*If you come here I expect you to be in worship weekly.
*If you come here I expect you to be involved in a ministry.
*If you come here I expect you to be involved in our monthly staff wives luncheon that Jeana leads.
*If you come here I expect you to be involved in our annual staff advance.
At Cross Church, we expect a pastor and his wife to be partners in ministry. More importantly, God expects a pastor and his wife to be partners in ministry.
Live Life Together
A pastor and his wife need to live life together. Yes, ministry is busy and at times very demanding. Every job has challenging seasons.
However, a pastor and his wife need to live life together. When time away from ministry occurs, this should not mean that he goes his way and she goes her way. Go together! Live life together.
The strongest testimony of a pastor and his wife comes when your people see you together, enjoying life together and living life together. This also keeps both of you from becoming vulnerable to the enemy’s attacks of sexual temptation. When people see you and your wife living life together this lets all others know: She is mine and I am hers. If you are not together or you are rarely seen together, you are sending signals that are very unhealthy for your people. Therefore, live life together!
Be consistent in your walk with Christ and your calling to ministry both at church and at home. Do not be a hypocrite! The last thing the wife of the pastor needs to see is a different man at home than she sees in the pulpit. This is especially true when children enter into your life. Equally, the pastor does not need to come home to a wife who is personified at church as a great woman of God, but at home is a tough lady.
Both a pastor and his wife need to be consistent in their daily walk with Jesus. Consistent in their daily time with God. Consistent in praying together daily. Consistent in their family life and church life.
The anointing of God cannot be fooled! God knows if you are real and consistent daily, wherever you are. Usually, the anointing of God is strongest to those who live consistently wherever they may be, whether at home, at the ball field, within a restaurant, or at the church.
Many More Thoughts
Yes I have many more thoughts on this, but let’s just think upon and pray about these for now:
*You are partners
*Live life together
May the Holy Spirit empower you to be these things and more!
Yours for the Great Commission,
Ronnie W. Floyd