"Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people."
As I said a while ago, I love America. I love the flag; I love the 13 stripes, and I love the 50 stars. I love the national anthem. I love the Statue of Liberty. In fact, you could just chalk me up as one of those corny, superpatriots who would rather be dead than Red!
I've crossed this country for these years. Few people have crossed the country any more than I have. I love America. Sure, I love the people. Sure, I love our heritage, but I also love America!
I love the orange groves of Florida. I love the beautiful lakes of Minnesota. I especially love the oil fields of Texas. I love the dairylands of Wisconsin and the deserts of Arizona. I love the coal mines of Pennsylvania. I love the fertile fields of Arkansas, the rolling hills of Missouri and the wheat fields of Kansas. I love the mountains of Colorado and the orchards of California. I love the beaches of Florida and the redwoods of Washington. I love America.
I love Independence Hall in Philadelphia. I love Niagara Falls in New York. I especially love the Alamo. I love the Golden Gate Bridge. I love America. I love it.
I love the Grand Canyon. I love the Royal Gorge and Pikes Peak. I love the Liberty Bell. I love the bluegrass of Kentucky. I love Wall Street and the Washington Monument. I love the Potomac, the Mississippi and the Rio Grande. I love America's rustic villages. I love her dusty deserts. I love her verdant valleys, her fruited plains. I love Mt. Rushmore, Yankee Stadium and the Astrodome. I love the blacklands, the sandhills, Yellowstone National Park and Lake Michigan. I love America.
I love its history. I love our Betsy Ross and her needle, and Wilbur Wright with his airplane. I love Babe Ruth and his bat, and George Washington and his cherry tree. I love Sergeant York and his bravery, and Paul Revere and his horse. I love Will Rogers with his humor, and Mark Twain with his wit. I love Benjamin Franklin and his kite. I love the Pilgrims and their ship, and Thomas Jefferson and his quill. I love Bunker Hill, the Merrimack and the Sherman tank. I love America.
I hate to see it go. I hate to see the spread of the Playboy philosophy. I hate to see the "God is dead" theology. I hate to see the permissive society. I hate to see our schools crumble. We glibly say, "Amen!" when somebody predicts the public schools will be ruined by the year 2000. I think, as they are now, it would be better if they would crumble. However, I hate to see it happen.
I cherish America. I cherish Douglas MacArhur's "I shall return," and Paul Revere's "The British are coming!" I cherish Patrick Henry's "Give me liberty or give me death," Jonathan Edwards' "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," F.D.R.'s "We have nothing to fear but fear itself," and John F. Kennedy's "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." I love William Jennings Bryan's "You cannot crucify mankind on a cross of gold," and Grantland Rice's "It matters not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game." I even love Leo Durocher's "Nice guys finish last." I love Abraham Lincoln's "The Union at any price." I cherish America.
I love her airports. I love her county seats. I love her churches; I love her steeples. I love the air. I love the people. I love our heritage. I love her 3,000,000 square miles; her 5,000,000 farms; her 10,000,000 small businesses; her 200,000 schools and colleges; and her 300,000 churches. I love America.
I hate to see the enemy take it over. I hate to see a potential president being interviewed by the pioneer in pornography, Playboy magazine. I hate to see a man who may be our leader use words that are used only in the filthiest gutter in America. I hate to see it. I love America.
I love the roar of a crowd in a stadium. I love the "Amens" in a tent on a vacant lot. I love the voice of the choirs in our churches and the ringing of a bell in a country church. I love the parade on the Fourth of July and the air of a Thanksgiving afternoon. I love the playing of taps. I love America.
I remember its heroic dead. I remember those heroic dead of Flanders Field, Anzio Beach and Normandy, Pearl Harbor and Corregidor, Guadalcanal and Okinawa, Iwo Jima, Korea - where many of my buddies died. I love its heroic dead, those with whom I went to school as a kid whose bodies are buried beneath the sod on foreign fields. I love those men with whom I trained in the army and who went overseas when I went to become a cadre and a paratrooper -- I shared
"One Nation Under God"
barracks and trained with many of them. I love the heroic dead of Vietnam- some of them my buddies and my high school friends. The very word "America" sets my pulse to pounding, my soul to thrilling, my blood to warming and my heart to swelling. I love America. I am irritated and mad at this crowd that won't stand up for the national anthem at ball games. I'm angry at this crowd that stood in Washington, D.C. on the fourth of July and ruined our birthday party! The dirty bunch of communists! You say, "I don't think you ought to call a communist 'dirty."' Well, I always call black "black" and white "white" and dirt "dirt." I am mad because we allow that kind of thing to go on in America.
America's enemies set my blood to boiling, my top to blowing, my temper to rising, my fist to clenching, my lips to tightening and my skin to burning.
I love our heritage. I love the story of Columbus, who came to America and planted a cross in new soil, fell on his knees and kissed the earth and took possession of this new land for our God.
I love the pledge. "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God...." It says under God! I love our heritage. I love the coins on which are written "In God We Trust."�
I love the Mayflower Compact and the prayer they prayed when they said, "Oh, God, our Heavenly Father, we bless Thee for having brought us over this vast and furious ocean to a new world." I love the Scripture they read at the writing of the Mayflower Compact-Psalm 107:1, "0 give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever." I love the story of Pastor Brewster, who met that day in a little building with a handful of Pilgrims and started to worship God.
I love the heritage of Governor Bradford who, on that first Thanksgiving with 90 Indians and 55 pilgrims, thanked God, preached, prayed, rejoiced and praised the Lord for the new land! I am dead sure that they didn't have in mind this dirty adult movie house down on Calumet Street when they did that! I'm sure they didn't have in mind this filthy adult bookstore down the street. They didn't have that in mind. I love our heritage.
Every family of our forefathers tasted death in their immediate family that first winter. The first public building ever erected in America by our founding fathers was a church, and the first public meeting was a worship service.
I love to read of that first Constitutional Congress. They were trying to write the Constitution and couldn't seem to started. Benjamin Franklin stood up and said, "Men, we've been trying to do this without God." They fell on their knees in prayer and prayed for Divine help.
More than we need a balanced budget, Mr. Carter or Mr. Ford, we need Divine help! By the way, we won't get Divine help by talking about being born again and then hobnobbing with Playboy magazine. We won't get it that way.
I love our heritage. I love the heritage of George Washington being inaugurated. He held firm the Bible on that day when he was inaugurated. He then pressed the Bible to his lips, kissed it, turned his face toward God and said, "So help me, God." I am angry when folks in public schools make light of George Washington. I love you teachers over here, but I'll guarantee that you're going to be teaching somewhere else if you make light of George Washington! I'm angry because they have taken our heritage, made light of it, mocked it and ridiculed it! Would God we had some leaders today who would kiss the Book, who would put their lips on the Word of God instead of on the cocktail glass. I love America!
Many years ago, a noted Frenchman came to America to search for the secret of her greatness. When he left America and went back home, this is what the Frenchman wrote:
I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and ample rivers, but it was not there. I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her fertile fields and boundless forests, but it was not there.
I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her rich mines and her vast world commerce, but it was not there. I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her public school system and her institutions of learning but it was not there. I sought for the greatness and genius of America in a democratic Congress and her matchless constitution, but it was not there. It was not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power.
Did you hear what he said? "Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power." In essence, he said America is great because America is good. If America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great! What America needs more than she needs a new Congress is a new generation of preachers who will preach righteousness and call America back to goodness and repentance toward God. I like this poem by Alexander Blackburn.
What Makes a Nation Great?
Not serried ranks with flags unfurled,
Not armoured ships that gird the world,
Not hoarded wealth, nor busy mills,
Not cattle on a thousand hills,
Not sages wise, nor schools, nor laws,
Not boasted deeds in freedom's cause -
All these may be, and yet the state
In the eye of God may be far from great.
That land is great which knows the Lord,
Whose songs are guided by His Word;
Where justice rules 'twixt man and man,
Where love controls the art and plan,
Where, breathing in his native air,
Each soul finds joy in praise and prayer-�
Thus may our country, good and great,
Be God's delight, man's best estate.
The Bible puts it this way, "Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance." (Psalm 33:12) That's how a nation is great unto God.
It's not "Blessed is the nation whose army is big," though I believe in a big army. It's not "Blessed is the nation whose navy is powerful," though I believe the American army and navy ought to be the most powerful on the face of the earth! It does not say, "Blessed is the nation whose air force is large, whose bombs are many," but "Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD"!
It's not the nation that rocks and reels in the new morality. It's not the nation that stumbles in gutters. It's not the nation where wine and whiskey run like a river. It's not the nation where pornography is on every newsstand. It's not the nation where they play the World Series on Sunday night.
Bless God, you couldn't have played the World Series on Sunday night 25 years ago -- everybody went to church on Sunday night! God pity you folks who will stay home and watch it tonight instead of coming to God's house. I hope your television set breaks in the first inning. What's that announcer's name in New York? I hope Joe Garagiola gets the hiccups before the game starts. I hope it's rained out. There was a day when you couldn't have a ball game on a Wednesday night or a Sunday night. There was a day when Carson, Pine, Scott and Company right over here in Chicago wouldn't even employ you unless you went to prayer meeting and tithed. That's the kind of nation that was great!
Over here in East Chicago, I met a Communist not long ago. He said, "You're always rabble-rousing." I said, "Yeah, and you're always rabble-rousing!" He said, "Why don't you fundamentalists just leave America if you don't like it!" I said, "We got here first! That's why we don't leave!" You had better watch us, buddy; we may be here last, too! (I'm going to preach about that tonight - "Two Kneecaps and an Eyeball," or something like that.)
How is a nation great? Proverbs 14:34 tells us, "Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people." Righteousness, Johnny Carson! Righteousness, Pat Boone! Righteousness, Mr. Ford! Righteousness, Mrs. Ford! Righteousness, Mr. Carter! Righteousness, Supreme Court! Righteousness, preachers! Righteousness, laymen! Righteousness, Hugh Hefner! Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin...S-I-N is a reproach to any people!
No nation, no civilization has ever stood without faith in God and belief in this blessed Book. They have crumbled. God owes America nothing except to keep His promise. America must meet the conditions of God if we accept and receive the promise of God. Yet, our nation today finds Satan deified, sin glorified, man magnified and God horrified because of our condition.
We need to heed what the Psalmist said in Psalm 20:7 - "Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God." What does that mean? Some trust in bombs, and some trust in cavalries: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God. Some trust in armies, and some trust in navies: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God. Some trust in budgets, and some trust in presidents: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.
Though I tremble when I think what could happen if certain things take place in November at election time, and though my heart trembles when I think about the load of Lester Roloff's trial tomorrow and next week at the Supreme Court and many other things, let me tell you something, ladies and gentlemen. What has made America great is not the 500 men in Congress, nor the one man behind the desk in the Oval Office, nor the nine men of the Supreme Court; what has made America great is God's men standing behind God's pulpit, God's people who live righteous lives and God's people who believe this Book and fall on their knees before God Almighty. That's what has made America great. That's what will save America.
If these boys and girls down here on the front have freedom and have homes and churches like we know today, it will be because America has been called back to righteousness. That's why I crisscross my land, preaching.
We need to emphasize that stanza of our national anthem,
O thus to be it ever, when free men shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation!
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n -rescued land
Praise the Pow'r that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just;
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust!"
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
You ask, "Brother Hyles, what can I do?" The honest, simple truth, ladies and gentlemen, is this: You are the only one who can do anything. America is not a society; America is people like you and me. America is no stronger than you are strong. America is no more decent than you are decent. American is no more honorable than you are honorable. America is no more righteous than you are righteous! America is no more pure than you are pure!
The old illustration that I have used so often is so appropriate. Dr. George W. Truett preached at his church in Dallas for over 40 years. One Saturday afternoon, he was in his study trying to study his message for the next day. His little five-year-old granddaughter was there with him. She was bothering him -- as five-year-old granddaughters often do. Dr. Truett said, "Sweetheart, you're going to have to let Granddaddy study because he has to preach twice tomorrow." She tried, but she was very restless and couldn't quite be quiet. Dr. Truett said, "Sweetheart, now Granddaddy is glad to have you, and I'll play with you when I get through; but I've got to study right now. Please be quiet."
A few minutes passed and she asked, "Granddaddy, could I have a drink of water, please?" He gave her a drink of water. Five minutes passed to him; three days passed to her. She asked, "Granddaddy, could I have another drink of water?" He said, "You've asked me for water enough now; I'll give you one more drink, and that's all. I've got to study!"
Then it dawned on him; he happened to remember that he had a jigsaw puzzle in the secretary's office. He said, "Hey, sweetheart, do you like jigsaw puzzles?" She nodded her head. He went out and got the puzzle. He took hundreds of pieces of puzzle out of the box and shuffled them all up. He said, "Now, you put that puzzle together; as soon as you put it together, I'll give you a drink of water again."
He went to his office thinking he'd have plenty of time to study. A few minutes passed, and she said, "Granddaddy, I've got the puzzle all put together!" The puzzle was a map of the world. He thought she would never be able to put together a map of the world. "What? You've got the world all together?" "Yes, Granddaddy." "Who's been there helping you?" "Nobody. I've been by myself." "Well, how in the world could a five-year-old girl know how to put a map of the world together so fast?" She said, "It was easy, Granddaddy. There is a picture of a man's face on the back side of the map of the world. I just turned it over and worked on the man; when I got the man right, the world took care of itself."
That's exactly what I am saying this morning. People like you and I have to be right with God. As long as you drink your liquor, America will drink her liquor. As long as you take your dope, America will take her dope. As long as you read Playboy magazine, America will read Playboy magazine.
If every preacher in every pulpit in America this morning would do what I am doing and call America back to righteousness, we could spare this old nation! That's why I'm pouring out my soul on Monday nights to groups of preachers and Christians. I fly across the country on Mondays because I'm trying to get preachers to do something for God. That's why we have the annual Christian Womanhood Spectacular and our annual Pastors' School. That's why Dr. Rice has gone across this nation all these years; he's worn himself out and spent lonely hours in motel rooms over and over again to try to get Christians to do something for God. A few others of us have tried to do the same thing in recent years. Why? We do it because we love America! We love our children!
I looked out and saw our youngest daughter, Cindy, sitting with my mother this morning. I wonder how many hours I spend with her compared to the hours most dads spend with their daughters. I'm 50 years old, and I've gone to bed in motel rooms night after night after night till I hate them! I hate restaurants and I hate airplanes; but I love America! I want her to have a chance. I want Becky to have a chance; I want her kids to have a chance. I want Dave and Linda to have a chance. I want our bus kids to have a chance. I want our teenagers to have a chance. I want our grade school kids to have a chance. We're not going to have a chance if we don't mean business for God! Today, I have called you to do two things.
1. I have called you to turn from your sins. The Bible doesn't say, "If my nation, which is called by my name shall humble itself and pray"; it says, "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." (II Chronicles 7:14)
The Bible says "my people" -- individually! Clean out your ice-box! Clean out your magazine rack! Clean out your bookshelf! Clean out your rock music! Clean out your filth! Clean out your cigarettes! Clean out your sin! Repent; turn from your wicked ways individually- individually!
2. I have called you to turn in faith to the God of our fathers. There is nothing wrong with America that you and I couldn't cure. Nations do not repent; individuals repent. Nations do not turn from sin; individuals turn from sin. Nations do not get right with God; individuals get right with God. I can say this today: I can look into the eyes of David, Becky, Linda and Cindy and say, "You spend a lot time without a dad, but, if the old ship sinks, I tried." I tried.
What are you doing? Individually, what are you doing? What are you doing to save our nation and make it, as long as our kids live, "one nation under God"?
Let us pray.
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