Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Prayers

I was hoping for a sweet, uncomplicated post for the night before Thanksgiving. Maybe even something funny. I considered a Wonder Dog Thanksgiving post. Then, I read the news. This morning, I saw troubling words on the WTVA news app. A soviet official, commenting on recent protests and violence, expressed concern about the "instability" in our nation. That has troubled me all day. Tonight, I find that there are numerous concerns in the international community about the stability and values in our nation, as evidenced by the recent rioting and protests.

Here's just a sample of what I've found (you might check ibtimes.com for more information)
- The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine "expressed solidarity with the protesters".
- The Times of India describes events as an "eruption of black fury"
- An article in Venezuela compared the events in Ferguson to the demonstrations in Mexico and stated that the common link was the "role of the state".
- A Chinese business executive, commenting on social media, said "Americans urgently need universal values." 

In case you missed that, the international community is questioning our values and our stability, and rightly so. I do not presume to say what is right and wrong in a situation about which I do not have all the information. There are some things that are obvious, however. It is wrong to steal and to destroy someone else's property. No matter what else has happened, two wrongs do not make a right. My grandmother taught me that truth, and so did my mama. I have taught my son that, and I certainly hope he remembers it.  

Two wrongs do not make a right.

On the other hand, our first amendment prohibits the government from making laws that limit our right for peaceable assembly. I have reread the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Amendments to the Constitution this evening. It is a masterfully written and assembled document. There is nothing wrong with our Constitution. Just to be sure we all understand the first amendment, I've copied it  here:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The first amendment does not guarantee us the right to violence. It guarantees us the right to peaceable assembly. I, myself, have attended peaceable assemblies. If we are peaceable, then our Constitution guarantees us the right to assemble in that manner. I have sworn to uphold the Constitution on three separate occasions, and I have tried hard to do that very thing. The guarantees we have been afforded are precious and must not be taken lightly. Please understand me. I have nothing at all against peaceful demonstrations with signs, chants, or songs. I am not against a row of people standing quietly in the middle of a busy highway with a banner or a sign. That is inconvenient for the people on the highway, but is peaceable and is protected by the First Amendment to our Constitution. When we see injustice, it is our duty and our right to speak up, but we must do it in a peaceable manner. Shouting obscenities and threats are not peaceful, and are not protected by the Constitution. Throwing frozen water bottles is not peaceable behavior and is not protected by our Constitution, nor is looting, arson, or destruction of public property. Those behaviors are crimes.

You may not see this outbreak of protest and violence the way I see it. You may think I am wrong, and, frankly, I pray that I am. In a nutshell, we have a mess and only God can fix it. This is not going in a good direction. The looting and destruction of minority businesses does not help to heal a wound for which healing is long overdue. The burning of patrol cars makes a statement, but it is costly for the town in which it happens, and, in the end, it hurts the very people who need help the most. 

Lest you think I have overlooked the behavior of law enforcement, I have not.  My dear friends' son was arrested in St. Louis and, frankly, manhandled, while trying to assist protestors who had been maced and were seeking to flee the violence. There is not likely a more kind and gentle man, and I cannot imagine a situation in which he could be construed as a violent offender while sharing the love of Christ.

As disciples of Christ, we cannot expect the non-believers of this world to act like Jesus. Why would they do that when we find it so hard to do ourselves? Acting like Jesus is OUR responsibility as the body of Christ. Acting like Jesus is not optional. I hope you understand those two facts, but they bear repeating. 

Acting like Jesus is OUR responsibility as the body of Christ.
Acting like Jesus is not optional

I really do not want to go here, and to be honest, I would have had a happy, funny blog post up two hours ago, but I was under such conviction that I had to repent and write what was on my heart. Body of Christ, we do not have much more time. We must get with it. We need to do what needs to be done, and we need to do it now. We do not need to wait until after Black Friday and we probably do not need to wait until after Thanksgiving. Our nation is in a mess, and that Great Cloud of Witnesses is poised and watching to see how we will respond. 

I remind you again of what God told Solomon. When the country is in a mess and under the judgment of God, only God's people can help. If they do not do what needs to be done, judgement will proceed. Are we under judgement? I can't say for sure, but we certainly do not appear to be in a peaceful, blessed condition right now. If there is injustice, we need to correct it. If there is prejudice, we need to lead the way in changing that. If there is brutality, we need to speak up and demand change. 

More than all of those actions, however, there is something that is not optional, and only God's people can do it.

If My people who are called by My name humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. 

It is not enough for  me, alone, to humble myself, pray, seek God's face, repent, and turn from my sin. It is not enough for me alone to repent of our corporate sin. The body of Christ must join together to accomplish healing in our nation. We can do this, and we must. We will be so glad we did. It will be much better than getting a great before-dawn deal on something we do not need. I recognize it is the holiday season. I know we have family gatherings scheduled. I know all that, and I have all those same things planned. 

At the same time, I am deeply concerned about our country and deeply committed to its preservation. Please, my brothers and sisters, look around you. We have a situation that cries out for our help. I hate to say this, especially the evening before Thanksgiving, but the best way to humble ourselves is to fast and pray, begging God for forgiveness.
Oh, dear ones, please understand the urgency here. I hope that I am wrong about what will happen if we fail to act in repentance. I hope I am wrong, but I do not think I am. You will not like where we are headed. You will not like it at all. Time is short, dear ones. Please pray.