Statues, Conflict & WWJD

Statues, Conflict & WWJD

“Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.”  1 John 2:6

As Americans weigh in on the latest race relations battle, I can only imagine how satisfied Satan is, knowing that he has once again fanned the flames of division, racism and hatred in our nation. It seems that these skirmishes continue to flare up, no matter how many years we move away from the scourge of slavery that marked our nation’s past. 

So as iron and stone artifacts are receiving increased focus by newspapers, cable news, and social media, what seems to be lacking, at least for those who claim to be followers of Jesus, is WWJD — as in What Would Jesus Do?

There was a time when this slogan was routinely seen on bumper stickers, wrist bands, and t-shirts. And many continue to pose the question, WWJD, to test their actions and words. But the problem with using WWJD is that too often a person’s subjective evaluation can yield multiple answers, if Scriptures are not abundantly clear.

So I’ve been searching the Bible for answers to how Christ’s followers should respond to the calls for removing statues, flags and monuments. Rather than pragmatic or even patriotic approaches, I’m more interested in what Jesus would actually do were He here physically today. But as I considered the likelihood of a subjective response to this latest American problem, I became more intrigued with WDJS — as in What Did Jesus Say?  

If you grew up never knowing your father, but he left you a book with explicit instructions on what he valued and believed, such a document would be of great value as you encountered life’s struggles. 

You and I never had the privilege that the original twelve disciples had, to not only hear the words of Jesus but to also see Him live those words out day after day. So when Jesus told them, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” and the disciples then witnessed Jesus loving and forgiving those who tortured and crucified Him, they could see that what Jesus said directly impacted what He did. 

So whether it’s Jesus or you and me, our actions are driven by our thoughts and our thoughts spill out in our words. 

If you and I profess to be followers of Jesus, and we routinely ask WWJD, then what Jesus said, and He directed others to say for Him throughout the Bible, should be of supreme importance to us as we deliberate over how to respond to statues and racism, and those who are drawing lines in the sand. 

So let’s look at what the Bible has to say about how a follower of Jesus should respond to this latest racial skirmish. 

Dealing with Anger & Conflict

“God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.”  Matthew 5:9

“But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another.”  Galatians 5:15

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”  Ephesians 4:31-32

“Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people.”  2 Timothy 2:23-24

“If we love our brothers and sisters who are believers, it proves that we have passed from death to life. But a person who has no love is still dead. Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them.” 1 John 3:14-15

Looking to the Good of Others

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”  Matthew 5:44

“Don’t be concerned for your own good but for the good of others.”  1 Corinthians 10:24

“Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.”  Galatians 6:10

“See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people.”  1 Thessalonians 5:15

“We who are strong must be considerate of those who are sensitive about things like this. We must not just please ourselves. We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord.  Romans 15:1-2

Showing Grace, Forgiveness, Love & Unity

“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”  Matthew 6:14-15

“Any kingdom divided by civil war is doomed. A town or family splintered by feuding will fall apart.”  Matthew 12:25

“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39

“Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.”  Ephesians 4:2-3

“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”  Colossians 3:13

“So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.”  Romans 14:13

“May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.”  Romans 15: 5-7

The Lawsuit Analogy

“When one of you has a dispute with another believer, how dare you file a lawsuit and ask a secular court to decide the matter instead of taking it to other believers! Don’t you realize that someday we believers will judge the world? And since you are going to judge the world, can’t you decide even these little things among yourselves? Don’t you realize that we will judge angels? So you should surely be able to resolve ordinary disputes in this life. If you have legal disputes about such matters, why go to outside judges who are not respected by the church? I am saying this to shame you. Isn’t there anyone in all the church who is wise enough to decide these issues? But instead, one believer sues another—right in front of unbelievers! Even to have such lawsuits with one another is a defeat for you. Why not just accept the injustice and leave it at that? Why not let yourselves be cheated? Instead, you yourselves are the ones who do wrong and cheat even your fellow believers.”  1 Corinthians 6:1-8

Final Thoughts

This last weekend our nation was reminded of the priority of life, unity and cooperation as Hurricane Harvey bore down on Texas, wreaking death and unimaginable destruction for millions of our fellow Americans.  Interestingly, my blog post last week entitled “Racial Strife: Finding the Antidote to the Enemy Within” dealt directly with such catastrophic events that can bring our nation together and what the two step solution is for this division we are facing. 

While most of us have not been directly impacted by Hurricane Harvey, our hearts, minds and prayers are with those who are struggling to survive.  So as I was communicating with some friends in Texas and viewing the scenes of catastrophic destruction, the following thought suddenly struck me:  Statues No Longer Matter

When an event like a hurricane, a terrorist attack or something similar occurs, our attention is immediately brought to bear on what is ultimately important. Likewise, if we are a follower of Christ, we should understand on an even greater scale that we have opportunities to make an eternal difference in the lives around us when we chose to live as Jesus did.  

As you and I consider the controversies playing out over statues and monuments, may we remember the words of Jesus and the scriptures, focus our attention on eternity, and then adjust our behavior to align with God’s principles. 

If you think others might benefit from this post, please consider forwarding it to them, including your pastor.  And feel free to share your thoughts with me.

 

Racial Strife: Finding the Antidote to the Enemy Within

Racial Strife: Finding the Antidote to the Enemy Within

If you’ve ever watched the movie Independence Day, or one of the many other films that have been made over the years about aliens attacking the world, you know there’s one consistent theme with all of them: There is a common enemy that seeks to annihilate mankind, and this common threat brings together people of every race, background, and even religion to fight the enemy. The myriad of differences of the people no longer matter. Rather, the people become united as one because without such unity they will surely die. 

 

Abraham Lincoln once said:

“American will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

The President who led our nation to battle the evil of racism, which resulted in the deaths of 620,000 Americans, had a front row view of the hatred that nearly destroyed our nation. And he ultimately lost his life because of that hate.  

Since the founding of our great nation, the scourge of racism has pulsated through our communities. If we are honest with ourselves though, racism flows in all directions. It is not limited to a particular race or skin color. 

But racism is not the root of the problem, any more than the spaceships of the aliens were the underlying threat to mankind. Rather, the aliens within the spaceships were driving the threat to annihilate mankind. 

Likewise, racism is merely the vehicle that carries the real threat: Hate.  We hate others because of their skin color, or their socio-economic status, or their geographic location in our nation, or the wealth they possess, or the education they were provided, or the President they voted for, or a host of other reasons. 

Pure and simple, Americans Hate. And the latest stage where we have seen that hate playing out is in the streets of Charlottesville as KKK and other white racist groups battled with BLM and other black racist groups. Sadly, if we’re honest with ourselves, hate is often present in our own hearts and lives. As we view the bloody scenes of men and women clashing in the streets, what wells up in our hearts?  Is it anger or sorrow?  Is it the desire for retribution or forgiveness?  Is it rationalization or condemnation?

Jesus said that we should be willing to forgive our brothers up to seventy times seven, symbolizing an unending flow of forgiveness. Yet, are we willing to do so?

Consider that unforgiveness is a sin that directly severs our relationship with God, as Jesus affirmed:

“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”  Matthew 6:14-15

Later, when asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus replied:

“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39

The antidote to the poison of hate is a two step process: forgiveness and love. This process requires a daily commitment on our part to insure that the enemy of mankind, hate, does not well back up in our hearts. Unless we commit ourselves to the discipline of forgiveness and love, the future of the union for which so many bled and died is at stake. But more importantly, the eternal destiny of our own souls hangs in the balance. 

Thank you for reading and if you enjoyed this post, would you mind forwarding it to a few friends?  Thank you.

The Left’s Words of Hate & Their Role in the Deeds of Hate

The Left’s Words of Hate & Their Role in the Deeds of Hate

Cause and effect. Words and deeds. Ideas and Consequences.

Most would readily acknowledge that for every deed or action there is a corresponding force, idea or motivator behind it.  But all too often biases and subjectivity cloud the facts and the understanding of them, even when the clues are abundantly clear.  This week was a case study of these truths.

On Wednesday, a 66 year old political activist picked up a rifle and handgun, with deliberate premediatated intent, and hatred in his heart, and drove to a baseball field where Republican Congressmen were preparing for the annual baseball charity benefit game.  These Congressmen hailed from the party that pushes grannies over cliffs.  They were men whose mission in life was to steal money from the poor and give to their rich friends.  They were polluters whose chief aim was to destroy the globe they lived on.  They were men who were racists, bigots, and homophobes.  These men, in baseball cleats and uniforms, were the worst of the worst America has to offer, or so news reports, media, pundits, late night show hosts, Hollywood elites, millions of Americans, and particularly their Democratic colleagues across the aisle, would have you believe all these obvious lies and slander.

And so Mr. Hodgkinson, a staunch Bernie Sanders supporter, and avowed left-wing activist, following months and years of hearing his ideological leaders malign and defame Republicans and conservatives, made the horrific decision to do what seemed the logical thing to do, given the “crimes” of these Republicans.  He would grab his weapons and descend upon these “vile” GOP Congressmen, becoming their judge, jury, and executioner.  He would do what others could only bring themselves to verbalize, whether through innuendo, jest, theatrical drama, or outright threats.  He would carry through.  He would extinguish their lives, and in so doing, he would finally mete out the only justice these “immoral” Republicans were worthy of… destruction and death.

Thankfully, Hodgkinson’s murderous plan was foiled due primarily to the grace of God, and secondly to the heroic actions of the Capitol Police, who just “happened to be there” because Rep. Steve Scalise, Republican House Majority Whip, had his assigned security detail with him. Rather than a mass shooting with numbers of lives lost, there were a handful of Republicans (including Scalise) and Capitol police who were shot up, but are expected to recover.  In a move of swift justice, the would be executioner met his Maker that very day, receiving the ultimate judgment reserved for unrepentant murderers.

But, is that the end of the story?  Are there others, beyond Mr. Hodgkinson, who played a role in the tragic events of this week?   If for every effect there is a cause; and if words drive actions; and if movement is preceded by force; and if ideas have consequences, then there is a mountain full of blame to spread behind the left-wing ideological lines, as I wrote about a couple months ago in this post.

Recent Calls for Political Assassinations

Whether it’s Kathy Griffin’s recent graphic beheading stunt of President Trump, or the Julius Caesar play in New York this week that depicted the main character, a Donald Trump look-alike, being assassinated, these are just two whose ideological DNA are at the scene of the crime.  To call for or fantasize about the death of anyone, but particularly a member of an opposing party because you find him objectionable, or even reprehensible, should be intolerable and be met with the swiftest condemnation. Those participating in such despicable behavior should pay a heavy price.  Tragically, when those toying with such hideous fantasies are nationally recognized, they water a soil that is already sown with seeds of hatred and thoughts of violence. To be clear, Mr. Hodgkinson was completely responsible for his actions.  But before his fateful day, those calling for Trump’s assassination lent credence to such crimes and played a part in fanning into flames the embers of Hodgkinson’s hate.  

The Media & Entertainment 

It’s long been established that the overwhelming slant of ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC, nearly every major newspaper, and the vast majority of entertainment (Hollywood elite and musicians) in our nation participate in the unholy alliance that seeks to portray those on the right side of the political spectrum as all that is wrong with America.  Every kind of disparaging remark is hurled at those of us whose “guilt” is simply embracing an ideology that, while at odds with their alliance, is most in tune with the philosophy of our founders and our Constitution.  If it’s any consolation for conservatives, were our founders alive today, they would undoubtedly be targets of the left’s smears, vilification and even assassination attempts by their most radical elements.

Since Trump’s election, the barrage from the left has only increased and intensified.  And so Hodgkinson’s mission to “Destroy Trump & Co.” as posted on his Facebook page, was affirmed time and time again by Hillary, Obama, Pelosi, Schumer and their partners across this nation with their latest message of RESISTANCE and disruption.  This article from American Thinker identifies a partial list of the threats against the GOP and Trump by Hollywood celebrities.

Purveyors of Hate

One cannot discuss this subject without highlighting the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), an organization that speaks in unison with the agenda of the progressive left.  Like a rabid animal, SPLC’s fangs can be extremely destructive and even potentially lethal.  SPLC targets many of the leaders in the Republican and conservative mainstream, listing them either as “hate groups” or affiliating with the “hate groups” they singularly pronounce.  So was the case with Rep. Scalise, the Republican Congressman shot this week by Mr. Hodgkinson.  SPLC had asserted that Scalise had associated with groups it deemed hate groups.  And it should be noted that Hodgkinson had “Liked” SPLC’s Facebook Page.  

SPLC’s ties to violence were furthered portrayed when they labeled Family Research Council as a hate group several years ago.  Note that FRC is a mainstream political and policy organization that affirms both conservative and biblical values.  In 2012 another left-wing gunman attacked FRC, seeking to kill dozens.  Thankfully the security officer at FRC was armed and neutralized the would be murderer.  Later, when interviewed by the police, the gunman acknowledged that he had gone to the SPLC “hate group” website to gain info on FRC before his attack.  Shamefully, while SPLC boasts that it calls out those who hate, they have become purveyors of hate and violence themselves, and share some part in the climate that led to Hodkinson attack yesterday.

Are all liberals to blame?

It’s tempting to use a broad brush when opining about political matters but to do so would be wrong. Many Americans who voted for Hillary were appalled by the Griffin stunt and other such vile deeds. But while hatred doesn’t drive all liberals, many of them are certainly influenced unduly by the biases of their deceptive sources.  And so the mouthpieces of the left, too numerous to list, carry a high level of responsibility for sowing the seeds that eventually sprout into full blown violence by some against their fellow Americans, whose sole “crime” is believing differently.  

At the end of the day, this whole matter reminds me of a couple of truths from God Himself.  In Matthew 5:21-22, Jesus stated, “You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.”

And in 1 John 3:15, we see that hatred is merely murder in one’s heart:  “Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them.”

These are weighty thoughts and should cause all of us to look inside to test our own attitudes. If hate is equal to murder, it’s no light matter.

The question many ask themselves today is whether America can be saved from herself?  Is she too far gone?  Is the tenor and level of our disagreement in America between the predominant political and spiritual ideologies too far split to see a patching of our nation together again? Time will tell. But if the machine of the left continues on its unrelenting agenda to vilify and slander all views contrary to theirs, then what we witnessed this week at a baseball field in our nation’s capitol, will spill over into your city and mine next.

Plant a thought and reap a word;
Plant a word and reap an action;
Plant an action and reap a habit;
Plant a habit and reap a character;
Plant a character and reap a destiny.

Husbands, Love Your Wives

Husbands, Love Your Wives

Guys, do you remember those courting days, when you and your wife-to-be couldn’t get enough time together?  Remember when saying “I love you” to your sweetheart was as normal a part of your life as waking up each morning?  Remember when she could do no wrong and everything about her was new, wonderful, and invigorating?  Remember the laughter, the fun, and even the silliness of those days when a note, a call, or a text absolutely made your day?

And do you remember that special day, when you stood before a crowd of friends and family, and made this pledge: 

“I take you to be my wedded wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part…”

Well, if you’ve been married any amount of time since those days, it’s possible, if not likely, that the routine, burdens and grind of life has served to distort and distract all those initial thoughts, feelings and beliefs.  You may have even forgotten the words you enthusiastically recited as you began your new life together. 

Lori and I have been married for nearly 37 years and, while we have had our share of disagreements, and things have not always been rosy, I thank God that our love and commitment remains strong and unwavering.  Yet, over the years, I’ve had a number of close friends confide in me that their marriages were struggling and that the “D” word was even coming up in conversations with their spouse. Many guys I’ve known have expressed their discontent, anger, frustration and second thoughts about the lady who they felt 180-degrees differently about just a few years earlier. 

So what changed? How is it that something that was so hot became so cold; something that was meant “till death do us part” could now so readily be concluded?

There are a myriad of reasons and explanations for each one of these marital challenges.  But one thing that might be missing in most, is the choice to love. And that choice to love is illustrated beautifully in these verses in Ephesians 5:25-29:

“For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church.”

Note that inherent in Christ’s love of the church is a choice that He made: to give up His life and to care for His church.  No one could doubt Christ’s commitment to love.  But as great as that commitment was and is, what is even more astounding is the object of Christ’s love, the church.  Consider that the church is full of broken, sinful men and women, who routinely fail their Savior and turn their backs on Him. Yet, Christ’s love remains constant and immoveable, in spite of our frail and ugly selves.  

Now, using the illustration of Christ’s love for the church, we husbands are commanded to “love our wives.”  Period.  That command has no qualifier, other than we are to love her as our own bodies.  Furthermore, because of the illustration of Christ giving up His life for the church, we can also conclude that a husband should exhibit an unwavering commitment to sacrifice on behalf of his wife, even unto death if it were required.  But since it’s unlikely most of us will be called to actually die for our wife, perhaps we should just strive to love her when she might act unloveable, which might be possible.  (Of course, what’s more likely is that we husbands might be even more unloveable than her.)

Now this may be an odd sort of article coming from a guy who loves to write about politics, government, culture and philosophy.  But if you believe, as I do, that as the family goes, so goes the nation, then there is no more important topic than marriage and the family.  

My heart often grieves for the state in which we find our nation, cities and culture.  Sadly though, I believe that we are reaping the severe consequences of what we have sown via our rejection of God and His founding values upon which our nation was built.  And certainly there is no more important value than marriage.  

So if you are a guy who is struggling in your marriage, and if you seemed to have lost the love and commitment that you once had for your wife, I encourage you to reconsider, recommit and begin to evaluate the kind of love that Christ showed for you. If you will do this, and then find someone you respect to walk alongside you as you seek to restore your marriage to what it was always meant to be, then there is hope.  And where there is hope, there is potential that, with God’s help, and your willingness to follow His leading, your marriage can be healed.  

So keep keeping on. Do right until the stars fall. Love your wife. And look to the ultimate example of love.  Christ chose to love you, even while you were unloveable.

Liberal Violence vs Conservative Protests:  A Moral Equivalence?

Liberal Violence vs Conservative Protests: A Moral Equivalence?

For the last several years I have watched in utter disgust as a steady stream of liberal groups have acted out violently in cities across our nation.  Whether it was the Occupy Movement, Black Lives Matter, or most recently the anti-Trump “protesters,” there is a common thread to all these anarchist-type leftists.  While some of their grievances may have merit, what might begin as organized protests soon turns to threats, rioting, vandalizing, destruction, and assaults.  Common to many of these violent events are clashes with police, tear gas, arrests, and injuries.  Sadly, some of these criminal leftists have even killed those we entrust our safety to — our men and women in blue.

The media is quick to cover for these radical extremists, often comparing them to protests by the tea party movement on the right, as if there is some moral equivalence.  But this comparison could not be more distorted, and intentionally fraudulent, by a media that is hell-bent on uplifting the radical leftist groups and marginalizing and misrepresenting peaceful conservative protests.

I founded the Chattanooga Tea Party in early 2009, and was present at the inception of the modern tea party movement.  I’ve been engaged in this worthy and impactful conservative movement every step of the way.  Our group in Chattanooga, just one of thousands across our nation, began as a protest rally on April 15, 2009 with patriotic songs, prayers, inspiring speakers, and more than 2,500 local citizens.  The family-friendly protest was peaceful and consisted of mothers, fathers, children, grandparents, professionals, blue-collar, white, black, hispanic, elected officials, clergy and more.  As was the case in all of our rallies, we consistently left the locations we rented, as clean or cleaner than when we arrived.  And not once did we have any clashes with authorities.  

In the fall of that same year, more than a million tea party members and conservative groups traveled to Washington DC to protest the policies of our government.  The protest was peaceful, patriotic, respectful and not one violent clash with authorities or citizens.  In 2013, I had the opportunity to speak at the Audit the IRS Rally on the grounds of our Capitol in Washington DC.  Many tens of thousands of tea party patriots attended and again there were no clashes, violence or destruction.  

Most of us who led in the founding of the tea party movement had never participated in a grassroots political effort, particularly one that was focused on expressing the frustration and anger that had been simmering for many years.  But while tea party members had little experience in leading protests, there was a common thread of love of country, respect for the law, and regard for our fellow citizens, even when we disagreed.  Furthermore, our strategy was to use the power of citizen lobbying, persuasion and ultimately the ballot box, to affect change; not intimidation, violence and rioting.  

To be clear, the tea party is not a perfect movement.  We have had our share of struggles and some of our members have not represented us well.  But those are the rare exceptions.  And even in those instances, they do not include rioting, violence or worse.

But not so with many of our fellow citizens on the left side of the aisle.  The record is one of consistent and regular rioting and violence over the last several years.  Here are just a few examples of their detestable criminal activity, but there are literally dozens and dozens:

Occupy Movement

Black Lives Matter

Trump-era Protestors

While certainly there are millions of Democrats and liberals who would never protest by picking up stones, bottles or even guns to vent their anger, the truth is there are millions who would and tens of thousands who have.  There is a quote that states,

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. Not to speak is to speak.”  

There’s a deafening silence from many Democrats/liberals as the behavior of many in their party can only be characterized as criminal.  Most agree that our nation is deeply divided.  But there is no doubt that the continued silence of the left when their own engage in violent acts, will only worsen the deep divide.  So I call on my fellow Americans who may not identify with a conservative ideology, or even the unorthodox style of our new President, to reject the path of violence and anarchy.  Protest if you feel the need, but do so in a peaceful and respectful manner.  Convince your fellow Americans of the soundness of your views and values via your ideological arguments, not your violent acts.  Only then can we hope “to form a more perfect union.”

Drowning in Fear?  How to Find Peace in the Midst of an Electoral Storm

Drowning in Fear? How to Find Peace in the Midst of an Electoral Storm

were-going-to-drown

Has Campaign 2016 left you feeling like you are about to drown in a barrage of fear and moral corruption?  Have you experienced any of these emotions over the last few months?  Angst? Anger? Worry? Uncertainty? Nervousness? Fear?

As I’ve engaged in political discourse, I have seen these emotions permeating the discussions.  It’s clear that Americans are experiencing an extreme degree of angst.  The level of fear that is expressed by conservatives, republicans, independents, and democrats seems to be off the charts.  

Our future appears to have been boiled down to the choice that will prevail on November 8th.  While there are monumental factors at stake that are driving the choices Americans will make at the ballot box, there have been other seminal moments for our nation.

If you think back over your life, you can no doubt identify times when your future was dire and bleak.  Similarly, while our nation’s homeland has faced a relatively tranquil and prosperous series of decades, there have been periods in our history when citizens wondered if the Republic would survive.

I’m reminded of a passage in the gospels where the disciples were fearing for their lives.  The story is found in Matthew 8 and highlights one day in the life of Jesus.  Throughout that day, Jesus healed a leper, a paralytic child, a feverish lady, cast out a demon, and healed dozens of others.  At the end of this “day in the life of Jesus” where the miraculous became almost commonplace, Jesus led his disciples into a boat to cross the Sea of Galilee. 

Shortly after Jesus and the disciples embarked on the journey, a violent storm encompassed their boat.  The disciples, terrified by the tempest that surrounded them, and the waves that were crashing inside the boat, yelled out in utter hopelessness, to a sleeping Jesus.

“Lord, save us!  We’re going to drown!”

Consider exactly what the disciples were revealing with those chilling words.  First, they had completely forgotten what they had just witnessed earlier in the day, when Jesus performed miracle after miracle, reflecting His complete dominion over the physical and spiritual.  Second, consider that this supernatural Man had led them directly into the boat.  While they were unaware of what lay ahead, Jesus fully understood what that dark night held for them.  Finally, while Jesus knew there was a storm directly in their path, He also knew that the storm was not the object of that night.  Rather, a lesson that the disciples needed to experience and learn, was precisely what Jesus had in mind.

So Jesus awoke to the disciples’ screams of fear, panic, and hopelessness.  He saw it in their eyes, heard it in their voices, and fully understood their emotions.  But, He did not immediately deliver them from their greatest fears.  Rather, as the waves were swirling around their knees, Jesus questioned:

“Why are you fearful?”

Did the disciples not understand what the purpose of the last twelve hours had been?  Did they not remember that Jesus was the Son of God?  Did they fail to comprehend that He delivered dozens from physical and spiritual oppression?  Did they not realize the most obvious reality, that Jesus was in the boat with them?  Could they perish with the Son of God at their side?

Yet they so easily forgot, just as we so often do.  But notice Jesus’ next words.

“O you of little faith.”

The disciples had within minutes lost their trust in the very Creator of the universe; the God-man who had called them to follow Him, and told them things about themselves that only God could have know; the Nazarene who they were seeing live a perfect life, who had turned water into wine, healed the sick and lame, brought words to the lips of the mute, opened the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf.

Yet, fear gripped the disciples and they lost their faith.  And what was drowned out that night by the storms that swirled around them was not their physical lives, but more importantly their spiritual faith.  

But then, despite the fear and lack of faith by the disciples, we read these words:

“Then Jesus arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.”

If Jesus can halt physical storms can He not conquer the storms in your life, and our nation?  Of course He can.  And although there are clear biblical principles that instruct us to not simply sit back and do nothing, we also learn from Matthew 8 that what we are often lacking is faith.

Faith that believes. 

Faith that trusts.

And, as we learn in the book of James, faith that is revealed by our works, for we read that “faith without works is dead.”

Remember that “Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.”  The same Jesus that saved His disciples from drowning that stormy night, is the same One who is fully aware of the storms in your life, and our nation.  But will you and I acknowledge, trust, and follow Him, not just on November 8th, but more importantly on November 9th and forward?

In just a few days our nation will enter a new era.  It could be a very stormy and tumultuous period.  So we have two choices.  Will we turn to the ultimate answer for a stormy future and return to the only One who can guide us through these storms?  Or will we trudge on, in fear, disunity and hopelessness?    

Politicians, their Parties and ideological movements are not our hope.  There is only one Hope: Jesus Christ.  Let’s turn to Him as we climb into the boat that will traverse a Clinton or Trump Presidency.  It’s going to get rough, but we know that God Himself will never leave us nor forsake us.

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”  Isaiah 26:3

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