“The emblem of the land I love …”

Today, June 14, is Flag Day. It marks the date in 1777 when the Continental Congress adopted the first American flag.

When I typed the title of this blog, “The emblem of the land I love …” I paused, for as a missionary kid, I consider Nigeria West Africa and the United States of America my “home” and I love both of them. They hold special places in my heart. I am grateful for the experiences, some very positive and some negative, that I had growing up in Nigeria. And, I am grateful that I live in the USA, with all of her faults and problems.

My dad loved America, the country for which he fought during World War II as a  Navy Corpsman attached to the 3rd Marine Division on Guam and Iwo Jima. And, he loved the US Flag, and taught us to love and respect it as a symbol of America, and a symbol of the freedoms we have because of the sacrifice of so many men and women throughout the years who have fought for those freedoms. The flag gave hope and spurred on those Marines on Iwo Jima as it was raised on the top of the volcano, Mt. Surabachi. After the first smaller flag was raised, Joe Rosenthal took the now-famous picture of the Marines raising the flag at Iwo Jima.

Our nation has so many serious problems, and collectively we seem to have lost the ability to be civil. Yet, the flag still stands for our freedom!

George M. Cohan wrote, You’re a Grand Old Flag that says:

You’re a grand old flag,
You’re a high flying flag,
And forever in peace may you wave.
You’re the emblem of the land I love.
The home of the free and the brave.

The final verse of our National Anthem, The Star Spangled Banner, written by Francis Scott Key says:

O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand,
Between their lov’d home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with vict’ry and peace may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the power that hath made and preserv’d 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.

Many people today are trying to rewrite history and the future by removing anything that points to God and limiting our freedom as Americans to worship freely. Regardless of these things, our nation was founded by men and women, flawed and sinful as they were, who placed their trust and hope in God.

I pray that on this day, as the news is filled with the horrible account of the shooting in Alexandria VA, that we would all take a moment to reflect upon the events of today and the current state of our nation and world, and give thanks to God for His blessings, and commit ourselves anew to be beacons of the Light and Hope of God! The only HOPE for us individually, for our nation, and the world is in and through the Risen Savior, Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 15:1-19)!

NOTE: I commend to you  A Call to Christian Patriotism written by my friend and mentor Dr. Howard A. Eyrich.

Will God discipline us today in the manner he did Israel?

I am delighted to have Dr. Howard Eyrich, my dear brother in Christ, friend, counselor, and mentor as my guest blogger. It has been my honor to minister alongside him in various capacities for several years

Read Ezekiel 17.

How do we apply this passage?

Why do we in the New Testament church think that God will not discipline us in the manner he did Israel—pestilence, storms, disease, and wicked people?

God loved Israel. God took Israel to wife. He chose her. He purposed her. He sent prophet after prophet to teach and to confront her. He called her to repentance that he might bless her. When she would repent, He would forgive and restore her. When under attack He defended her unless He was using the attacker to chastise her and even then, limited the impact.

So, Jesus loved us. He chose us in eternity past. He calls us in due time. He translates us from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. He sends us preacher after preacher to teach us and to call us to repentance. He teaches us that as a Father He will discipline us.

Yet we preach, we insist on preaching in today’s evangelical church, a God Whose love does not harm us. We preach a God of grace that tolerates us to the point of never being mad at us. We shudder when someone suggests that natural disasters may be the hand of God to awaken us. We, by implication, insist that being not under law but under grace we can give ourselves license to live as we please and not incur the wrath of God?

Why do we do this? Is not Yahweh the Father of Jesus—the only begotten Son Who is one with the Father? Do we not see in Jesus the personalized relationship dimensions of the Father as He relates to individuals while walking the face of the earth?

Is not the life of King David a prime example of a God/man relationship? God called him “A man after my own heart” (I Samuel 13:14 and Acts 13:2). God choose him. God purposed him. God sent prophets to him. Yet we see David living a life of sin, discipline (God was angry with him), repentance, and restoration, experienced with the consequence of his sin.

Is it not possible that we have perverted grace in the name of grace? Is it not possible that we have diminished biblical anthropology by a misapprehension New Testament theology and fallen prey to the mal-formed liberal theology of the 20th Century that saw Yahweh as the bully-God of the Old Testament, and Jesus as the love-God of the New Testament.

It seems to me that Ezekiel 17 calls us to reconsider our 21st Century theology of grace. Should we not see grace as the shield that holds back the full throat of the wrath of God rather than a wholesale prevention of the wrath of God? Should we not see grace as the love of the Father that disciplines us to bring us, when He is angry with us for our insistent sin, to repentance and restoration of fellowship with Him? Does he not desire to be a Faithful Just Father Who will forgive our sins upon confession of our sin (I John 1:9)?


Dr. Howard Eyrich, after a long ministerial journey of more than 60 years, retired as the Pastor of Counseling Ministries at Briarwood Presbyterian Church. Over his career, he served several successful youth ministries, as Dean of Men in a Bible College, as a church planter, a senior pastor, a seminary president, and a Biblical Counseling professor at the graduate and lay levels for more than 40 years.

He has served on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Birmingham Theological Seminary, Trinity Seminary, and the Biblical Counseling Coalition, to name the major efforts.

His publishing efforts include: two books as solo author, three books with a co-author, and numerous chapters in significant volumes in the biblical counseling field, as well as articles for the Journal of Biblical Counseling and several other magazines.

Dr. Eyrich and his wife Pamela have two grown children, eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Retirement for Dr. Eyrich is a time for ministry. He writes, teaches, preaches, and travels for the Kingdom. He also enjoys the hobbies of model railroading, hunting, and shooting.

In-Studio Guest Phyliss Wright

Phyliss with her granddaughters Lily and Ruby

The next two Saturdays we will rebroadcast two programs we aired last year. My dear friend, Phyliss Wright, is our in-studio guest. Phyliss is a committed Christ-follower who understands the importance of disciple-making, particularly in the context of future generations.

Phyliss serves as Associate Children’s Minister at The Church at Brookhills. She is one of the most creative, energetic, and “crazy-in-the-right-way” people I know. It way my honor to minister alongside her for many years before we both moved on to different aspects of ministry.

Join us as we revisit the topic of “Women in Ministry” in the context of our discussions using the book, Paul the Counselor: Counseling and Disciple-making Modeled by the Apostle, edited by Dr. Mark Shaw and Dr. Bill Hines as our springboard. Ruth Froese and I co-wrote Chapter 11: “Paul and Women in Ministry.”

Live-stream, listen, or watch at 2:00 p.m. Central.

Live-stream at: gleniris.net

Listen locally on WGIB 91.9 FM or:
92.3 FM – Springville
101.5 FM – Columbiana
106.1 FM – Moody / Odenville
106.1 FM – Jasper
107.9 FM – Tuscaloosa

Watch on WAY-TV Channel 47

Exciting News!

Here we are signing the joint contract for this devotional to be released in early December 2017.

I will be collaborating again with Harriet E. Michael, my fellow Nigeria MK and lifelong friend, by adding a devotional on prayer that will be part of our “Prayer Collection” and also the second in our Glimpses of the Savior devotional series.

Harriet and I co-authored Glimpses of the Savior: 30 Meditations for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year. Then, Harriet authored Prayer: It’s Not About You, for which I wrote Study Guide on Prayer–A Companion to Prayer: It’s Not About You.

Harriet and I, and our publisher Marji Laine Clubine (Pix-N-Pens Publishing) would appreciate your prayers as we work to complete this project!