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1961 Catherine Marshall
(Best-selling author and wife of U.S. Senate Chaplain Peter Marshall; from Beyond Our Selves
)
Church folk often give the impression that there are only two ways of entering into the Christian life: being born into a Christian family or stumbling into a dramatic religious experience as an adult. Either approach to Christianity seems to have two unfortunate factors in common: the initiative was apparently not with the individual and the way to God was clouded in vagueness.

I am convinced that God never meant for anything about the Christian life to be vague, least of all the steps by which we enter into a meaningful relationship with Him. The obscurity must surely be on our side, not God’s.

Growing up in a believing family is not to be undervalued. It is still the ideal beginning, because it is the foundation of the happiest possible childhood. Yet I know now that something more is needed: each human being must enter into Life for himself. There is therefore, no such thing as inheriting Christianity.

August 28, 1963 Martin Luther King Jr.
(Civil rights leader; from “I Have a Dream”)

I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.” And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania! Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado! Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California! But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia! Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee! Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

September 2001 Lisa Beamer
(Wife of Todd Beamer, 9/11 passenger; from her book, Let’s Roll;
on her visit to the 9/11 crash site of United Airlines Flight 93)
At the top of a bluff overlooking the site, a makeshift altar area had been constructed from several bales of hay. Two small flags and one large flag were stuck in it. A cross with white bunting was on the side of the hay-bale memorial.

We had been told in advance that we would be able to place wreaths, flowers, notes, pictures, or other personal items at the crash site memorial area, so following the brief ceremony, as tears streamed down our faces, family and friends placed their offerings on the hay-bale altar.

As my special mementos of Todd, I left an Oracle pen, a Chicago Bulls cap, some pictures of Todd and the boys, a container of M&M’s (one of Todd’s favorite candies), notes from family members expressing our love and how proud we were of Todd and how we hoped we would make him proud of us, too, and a book, A Life of Integrity by Howard Hendricks, that Todd and the guys had been using in their Friday-morning breakfast group. I had thought of leaving a Bible, but I didn’t feel comfortable leaving a Bible out in the elements.

It was a sunny September day, close to 70 degrees. As I gazed out over the site one last time, I saw a hawk soaring high in the sky above the field where the plane had crashed. Suddenly a sense of peace flowed over me. I couldn’t explain it, but I was reminded of Isaiah 40:30,31:

Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

Never before in my life had the difference between those who put their hope in God and those who put their hope in this world been so obvious to me.

January 28, 2003 President George W. Bush
(Forty-third president of the United States; “State of the Union” address)

Americans are a resolute people who have risen to every test of our time. Adversity has revealed the character of our country, to the world and to ourselves. America is a strong nation, and honorable in the use of our strength. We exercise power without conquest, and we sacrifice for the liberty of strangers.

Americans are a free people, who know that freedom is the right of every person and the future of every nation. The liberty we prize is not America’s gift to the world, it is God’s gift to humanity.

We Americans have faith in ourselves, but not in ourselves alone. We do not know — we do not claim to know all the ways of Providence, yet we can trust in them, placing our confidence in the loving God behind all of life, and all of history.

May He guide us now. And may God continue to bless the United States of America.


Scott Harrup is associate editor of Today’s Pentecostal Evangel. Dr. J. Calvin Holsinger of Evangel University contributed to the research for this article.

E-mail your comments to pe@ag.org.

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