A Modern Woman's Perspective On The Kingdom of God on Earth

Showing posts with label Law and Order. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Law and Order. Show all posts

January 31, 2022

These Are The Days of Difficulty and Lawlessness


This is going to be a very emotional blog post from me today. As I sat and watched the funeral of NYPD Office Jason Rivera, I was overcome with emotion and crying out to the Lord. This 22-year-old police officer, who was living his childhood dream of becoming "a cop", was senselessly gunned down when he and his partner answered a domestic disturbance call. This is personal to me because I have three nephews, all brothers, who serve their communities as law enforcement officers. This post is not meant to be a social commentary on the failing of law and order in this country, the soaring crime and murder statistics, or "soft-on-crime" district attorneys -- although it's time that all these topics become the focus of serious discussion among all Americans. No, I cried out to the Lord because I am witnessing the raw reality and the consequences of my country's slide into Biblical lawlessness.

And I deliberately use the phrase "Biblical lawlessness" because my worldview is based on the tenets, principles, and moral laws of the God of the Bible, and I can clearly see the road we are headed down, based on God's Truth in the Bible. My Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, prophesies in Matthew 24:12, "And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold". We can certainly see hearts growing colder as the number of deaths by violence continues to grow. But what is the origin of this lawlessness? We aren't born cold and heartless! We must face the truth that lawless nations don't just happen in a vacuum. We must come to the knowledge that our nation's sins have given birth to a lawless generation. And that happens when people reject the righteous laws of God; when they decide to do what is right in their own eyes [because it brings them profit and power -- and is convenient], rather than acting according to the moral law of God.

I know some will see this post as "religious" and not in the interest of the masses. It may be seen by those who do not know God as sanctimonious, preachy, or holier-than-thou. It will be rejected because it leaves no room for personal opinion. But that will come from people who don't understand the importance of boundaries when it comes to keeping an orderly and productive society. But there is a greater knowledge that we all must come to understand: It is important for all people to keep the commandments of God because that is how He is going to judge the nations. 

But we also need to understand the complexity and totality of God's laws. In a decent society, it is about more than obeying traffic signs, not stealing, or murdering. It is about how we treat each other; how we help the underprivileged and the widows and orphans. It's about teaching our children to value every individual, and to govern their own lives in fruitful ways. It's as simple as good behavior. When a society abandons these Godly principles, it only leads to crime, disorder, and chaos... men living according to the desires of their flesh. 

Another way to think about it is this ... There is an absolute Truth by which we are to live in this world (see previous post). That Truth comes from God and His laws. He created them when He created the world. For lack of a better way to say it, they were "baked into the creation" from the beginning, and we don't get to say whether they are right or wrong, and we don't get to try to change them. And if we decide to go against these moral and absolute laws, then we will pay the consequences. We need to understand that there is a limit to how much God will withstand our rebellion before His restraint against evil is taken out of the way.

That's why I am deeply saddened in my spirit as I see the growing number of innocent people dying in our streets. And I see far too many good men [who have dedicated their lives to holding back the evil] being targeted for the color of their uniform. I know it grieves the Father's heart! If we don't have a national change of heart and abandon our sinful ways, I'm afraid we will find this nation judged as in in the words of Isaiah: The grave is licking its lips in anticipation, opening its mouth wide. The great and the lowly and all the drunken mob will be swallowed up.  Humanity will be destroyed, and people brought down; even the arrogant will lower their eyes in humiliation. But the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will be exalted by His justice. The holiness of God will be displayed by His righteousness.

It is crucial that we recognize that the spirit of Antichrist is fomenting a spirit of lawlessness in these difficult days. This spirit is nothing new in the history of mankind. It has been present since the Garden. I am not yet ready to say that the person who will embody this Anti-Christ spirit is present on the earth at this time -- we still have people to reach for both salvation and knowledge of their kingdom assignments. But, we, as the Ekklesia, who are charged with carrying out the government of Heaven here on earth, must guard against the seduction and deception of thinking "the Church" is going to get raptured out of here, thereby escaping any participation in "the time of Jacob's trouble". We still have a role to play in the restoration of Israel. I want to borrow a quote from writer Emily Bernardi of the Adventures in God website: "Do you think God waited all of these years for us to learn our authority, only to "Rapture" us out when the going gets tough?" 

It's time that we who have matured into that knowledge of our power and authority in Christ turn back the tide of lawlessness in our nation and the world. We need to personify God's nature and walk in His laws. We need to make ourselves visible and heard. The Lord is our banner, willing to lead us into battle against lawlessness; but let us not leave Him wondering if we have the courage to follow Him. Let the world see Him [and acknowledge Him] speaking and acting through us. Let us not be witness to any more heartbreaking funerals of innocent citizens or guardians of society's law and order.

It pained me to see Officer Rivera's young widow, in all her justifiable anger, grief, and tears as she recounted that last morning with her husband. The regret and pain was almost unbearable. It is my prayer that we will do as Mrs. Rivera did at the end of her eulogy for her husband .... stiffen our spines, throw back our shoulders, and lift our eyes to Heaven, declaring that "we will take the watch from here". Lord Jesus, we commit to partnering with You to uproot all sin and law-breakers out of Your kingdom on earth. We will no longer be silent in the midst of lawlessness; we will no longer cower in the face of tyrants. We will stand for Your rule of law in all the heavenly realms. Amen!

Matthew 13:41-43   The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will remove from his Kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. And the angels will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father’s Kingdom. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!

August 15, 2020

"And Because Lawlessness Will Be Increased..."


     I'm going to go right to the heart of the matter ... it is time for all who are Warriors for Christ to get in the game. I dare to say that there is not a citizen of this nation that is not aware that we are on the precipice of a dangerous season in our history. And there has been a phrase that has been circulating among the secular citizenry as well as the faithful ... "As goes Texas, so goes the nation. And as the nation goes, so goes the world." I happen to subscribe to the truth of that statement -- both politically and spiritually.

     I know that Texas is a bastion of faith and prayer. I know that there is a spiritual movement across this wide and great state that is in relentless battle with the Enemy for the soul and spirit of this republic. And I see the first aggressive act on the part of the Enemy to gain ground for his infiltration. 

     Over the last couple of weeks, BLM and Antifa tried unsuccessfully to instigate the same kinds of rioting and destruction in Austin that they implemented in Portland and Seattle. They bussed people into our state capital, after one of their protestors approached a car in an intersection with a pointed rifle and was shot by the driver and killed. While still under investigation, initial reports are declaring the shooting justified. And I say "unsuccessfully instigating destruction", because the word went out across prayer networks to stand together in opposition to this kind of chaos. As Antifa plotted to take over the city by blocking the interstate and shutting down businesses, Spiritual Leaders came alongside the Austin Police Department and prayed with them for deliverance from mayhem, and the police were able to peacefully stop anything that resembled what we've all been seeing splashed across our TV screens for the last 70 days or so.

     Yet, did you see that success story of lawful intervention reported on any of the news networks or news outlets on the internet? No! The spirit of Anti-Christ does not want that message shared across the nation! It only wants to spread images of upheaval, anarchy, and lawlessness. Yet, the faithful in Texas have been praising God for this victory and trusting Him that He will help Texas to be a stronghold for Him in these lawless days.  

     So, I'm sad to say that the headline today in the state of Texas is this: Texas Governor Greg Abbott Slammed the Austin City Council for its Decision to Strip $150 Million From the Capital City's Police Department. Governor Abbott said in a written statement, "Austin's decision puts the brave men and women of the Austin Police Department and their families at greater risk, and paves the way for lawlessness"

     My spirit was instantly on alert! You see, I know the significance of lawlessness. The Bible makes it very clear, and Jesus had a lot to say about it. At its root, lawlessness [in the Bible] is rebellion against God, whether viewed as the condition of your life, or as specific acts that demonstrate a determined refusal to acknowledge God. And for those of you who are interested in eschatology and how the End Times are to play out, the Lord gives a pretty easy-to-follow road map to lawlessness in Matthew 24.

     When the Disciples want to know what the signs of His Coming and the end of the age will be, He tells them not to listen to all the men who come claiming to be Him; and not to get too caught up in the wars and rumors of wars-- those have to happen as kings and nations fight among themselves. He said famines and earthquakes are to be expected, but all of that will be like the false contractions that a mother feels as her child prepares to be born -- warning signs of an impending event; in the case of lawlessness, a period of tribulation that will be coming upon the earth.

     And when that tribulation starts we should expect to be persecuted and hated for our identity in Christ, even among our fellow Christians. Jesus doesn't state it, but there will be great fear among men on the earth. Even the faithful will stumble in their faith, and betray one another and hate one another. And among all people there will be many false prophets and leaders. And this false leadership will cause lawlessness to increase and the love of many will grow cold. The essence and nature of God is love, so that tells me that many will abandon any connection to Him in their mind, soul, or spirit. The fire of the heart connection to God will be extinguished and their heart will be cold and hostile to Him.

     Paul tells us in Romans 1:28-29 that "since they did not see fit to acknowledge God or consider Him worth knowing [as their Creator], God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do things which are improper and repulsive, until they were filled (permeated, saturated) with every kind of unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice and mean-spiritedness." This is the very picture of what we are seeing on the nightly news in Portland, Seattle, and now Chicago! We are seeing lawlessness exhibited as stores are looted and burned; Louis Vuitton purses are justified as "reparations". It's nothing more than unrighteousness and greed. Lawlessness is depicted in the innocent people who have been killed in the name of "peaceful protests". Let's call it what it is: murder and evil. Lawlessness is portrayed in the destruction of honest and law-abiding businesses in the wake of the chaos. That's a picture of malice and mean-spiritedness. 

     But we can take heart, even in the midst of the bad news! Jesus tells us all this will happen. Then He gives us Hope! "But the one who endures to the end will be saved". He's not talking about saved in the sense of a Salvation experience. He's talking about a future deliverance of Believers; a deliverance from the wrath of God that will be executed upon the ungodly at the close of this age, and from eternal death and doom. That's why Jesus's very next sentence is "And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come"... the end of this age of lawlessness. 

     So, although I am a realist, and I believe what the Bible says will happen (and because I see it before my own eyes), I am also full of hope that Jesus is hearing our prayers here in Texas. And along with the Holy Spirit, He is interceding for us [in prayer] according to the will of God. And I know it is not God's will for Texas to give in to lawlessness! Jesus and Holy Spirit not only stand beside us in our battle, but they stand in the gap for us when we feel weak, until we are again strengthened by their Might to take our place on the wall again. 

     And I pray for our Governor that he will be fortified by the Lord because I also believe that Texas will be a battleground between God's Heavenly Host and Satan's demonic hordes. If the survival of the nation and the world truly depend on Texas, we must be led by a man who relies on the Lord. And I am hoping that Governor Abbot's statement about lawlessness and that, "In the meantime, the Texas Department of Safety will stand in the gap to protect our city" portends a Biblical understanding of the importance of Texas's response in these wicked days. Please join us here in Texas as we fight for the Lord and for our nation. Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done, On Earth As It Is In Heaven!

Psalm 18:48-49   He rescues me from my enemies; He lifts me up high and keeps me out of reach, far from the grasp of my violent foe. This is why I thank God with high praises! I will sing my song to the Highest God, so all among the nations will hear me.


June 21, 2020

God Will Bring Order Out Of Chaos

          Our God is a god of order. He brings His discipline and authoritative direction in the midst of confusion and upheaval. The perfect picture of this is Genesis 1:1-2, In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Let's dissect these familiar verses, and see if we can get a picture that mirrors what we see coming upon this modern version of the earth.
     "Without form" is the Hebrew word tohu, and "void" is the Hebrew word bohu, giving us a picture of an earth that was a desolate wasteland; an empty ruin. "Darkness was over the land and the face of the deep" .... "darkness" is the Hebrew word chosek, defined as misery, destruction, death, sorrow, wickedness; and "deep" is the Hebrew word t'hom, meaning an abyss (as a surging mass of water").
     "And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters". Here, the word "hovering" indicates movement, as in a shaking, or a tempest [violent storm]. So, we have a picture of an earth that is existing in chaos and turmoil. The environment is one of destruction, death, and wickedness, which results in misery and sorrow. And the culmination of all this disorder is that the Spirit of God begins to shake one of the foundations of the earth: the waters.
     Obviously this is not the same earth about which the Bible says "and God saw that it was good" in verse 10. But I'm not hear to debate the question of whether something happened to a prior earth in Genesis 1:1-2, or that God re-created a new earth beginning in Genesis 1:9 that He was then able to declare "good" in verse 10. My point in dissecting the first two verses in the Bible is to show that God is able to identify when His creation is a wasteland shrouded in chaos and confusion; misery and destruction. And He is not above violently shaking it to bring it back into an orderly state that pleases Him.
     In fact, the Bible is full of references by both Old and New prophets and writers who describe just such discipline from God ... and they aren't referring to what happened in the past in Genesis 1:1-2. They are talking about a future event. The prophet Haggai says, "For thus says the Lord of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land (2:6)". Isaiah prophesies, "Therefore I will make the heavens tremble, and the earth will be shaken out of its place, at the wrath of the Lord of hosts in the day of His fierce anger (13:13)". Jesus, Himself, tells us in Luke 21:25-26, "And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves,  people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken." Even the Apostle Peter declares, "But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will vanish with a [mighty and thunderous] roar, and the [material] elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and the works that are on it will be burned up."
     So, we must not be like those people "in the days of Noah" who were unaware until the Flood came and swept them all away. God has promised that He will never destroy the world with a flood again, but He is not blind to what is happening upon the earth in these days. There is much deception and lies as men are being used by agents of Satan to cause disorder, chaos, and destruction. There is much misery and sorrow among the fellowship of men, and lawlessness is abiding in hearts that are devoid of the love of Christ.
     The very fact that there are numerous reports of Satanic marches in the major cities of our nation today, on this day of the summer solstice, is evidence that our Enemy is emboldened to openly display his opposition and antagonism towards our God Most High. Our Enemy believes he is closer than ever to gaining complete dominion over the earth and destroying the followers of Christ. We can see wave after wave of evil, fostered by multiple factions within the kingdom of darkness. It has the appearance of that violent storm or tempest which moved over the earth in Genesis 1:2.
     But we must not yield to his wickedness and scare tactics. Our Lord has already defeated him and we must rise up in an even greater tsunami of praise, worship, and spiritual warfare that will crush the devil's waves of evil. Pray fervently that the curtain will be pulled back on every contingent of Satan's conglomerate of evil-doers. Call down warrior angels to expose the duplicity of politicians [both Democrat and Republican; black and white] who are financially/politically benefiting from the very world systems they claim to be against. Ask our Lord to confuse the Enemy's schemes and cause confusion in his camps, just as He did in Joshua 10.
     The demonic realm rejoices over displays such as a Luciferian March for a One World Government, and the rituals and curses that accompany it. But Satan and his hordes also celebrate the chaos and destruction they have been able to convince the men and women of earth to commit on behalf of what they see as a "righteous cause". Pray that the veil that separates dark and Light will be torn by our Lord Jesus, as He reveals what's really been going on behind the scenes. Pray that the Church will rise up to be the voice and representative of Heaven, declaring that this dark kingdom of the world is coming to an end, and the Kingdom of our Lord and Savior is going to reign for ever and ever. Pray that everything that is counterfeit is exposed for the lie that it is, and that the Spirit of the Lord, the Spirits of Wisdom and Knowledge and Understanding; of Counsel and Might, and the Fear of the Lord will sweep this land, making way for the "true" One World Government ... the Government of God's Kingdom on earth.
     So, it's time we discern that God will bring order out of this chaos. He's done it before and His Word says He will do it again. Please pray that mankind rejects the lies and temptations of the Evil One before we've gone too far. The Man of Lawlessness is ready to take the stage, but God, in His Sovereignty, will determine His appearance. Father, we pray for Your protection from the shaking that we deserve! Destroy the plans of everyone whose heart is aligned with the Enemy, and may Your Holy Spirit guide us towards restoration and reconciliation. You are our Hope and Strength and Refuge!

Jeremiah 10:10     But the Lord is the true God; He is the living God and the everlasting King. At His wrath the earth quakes, and the nations cannot endure His indignation.

November 11, 2016

Valley of Decision: Don't Let The Father Of Lies Steal or Destroy Our Nation

     How sad, that on this Veteran's Day, we are seeing such acrimony and malice being exhibited post-election.  It is estimated that over 1.1 million Americans have died in service to this country since its inception.  I hate to think that the memory of that monumental sacrifice is diminished in the wake of unrealized election results.  I can recognize that one-half of the nation is disappointed at the outcome, but I truly am grieved at the excessive and unreasonable responses -- everything from abusive language and insults, to the calls for violence, destruction, and revolution.  And believe me, if the election had turned out the other way, I would feel the same if I saw such rancor and resentment.
     For those of us who have prayed for peace, reconciliation, and a return to moral absolutes and true liberty, I think we are a little aghast at the venom and poison being spewed.  But what else should we expect?  If President-Elect Trump is to be a genuine instrument of God, then isn't it likely that the Enemy is putting his own game plan into motion?  And let's be honest, we know that Romans 13 tells us that all those in authority have been granted their position by the permission and sanction of God.  Whether Donald Trump holds office as an indicator of God's Judgment or Restoration remains to be seen.  We can be hopeful -- and should be -- at this point, but there are lots of decisions to be made in the coming days that will set our nation on its future course.
     I can't help but compare this tenuous time to what it must have been like when Abraham Lincoln took office and the nation, like now, was so divided in its political character and complexion.  President-Elect Lincoln took a cautious approach in the days leading up to his inauguration, being careful to offer an olive branch to his former opponents, while making it clear that he would take a firm stance on preserving the nation.  And, just as now, he found it necessary to remind the citizens of America that we share a common heritage.
     In the closing remarks of his Inaugural Address, President Lincoln said, “In your hand, my fellow countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath in Heaven to destroy the government, while I shall have the most solemn one to preserve, protect, and defend it… We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
     How appropriate for each of us ... to decide if we are willing to let our differences tear us apart; or if we can find a way to come together for the common good.  How we make that very important decision will have tremendous consequences for this nation.  Because it is clear to me that we have allowed ourselves to be indoctrinated and lied to, while we remanded our civic duties to a federal government who only looked out for themselves.
    I happen to believe that God established this nation.  The Bible tells us, "From one man He made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands" (Acts 17:26).  We were appointed to this nation at this time, and there is a purpose for both our lives and our country.   As a Believer, I happen to think our purpose is to glorify God.  Unfortunately, too many have listened to the Father of Lies and their purpose in life has become to exalt, elevate, and enhance themselves.  They listened to the Devil whisper lies of entitlement and privilege, so that they have forgotten that it is God "who gives to all [people] life and breath and all things".  Instead, they now believe that it is the Federal Government who provides all things, and they bow down at the altar of the man (or woman) who promises the most.
     I would caution all who are reading this blog today to be careful about falling into this trap.  Whether you are cheering at the prospect of a President Trump, or are devastated over "what might have been" with a President Clinton, we must not put our hope and trust in a clay vessel.  Yes, we must reside as citizens of the United States until we are called to our heavenly home, and it is reasonable to want a prosperous and free life.  But our first responsibility, as Christians, is to be a part of establishing the Kingdom of God on earth.  And there is no place for hatred or division or exploitation or alienation in that Holy government.
     REMEMBER:  the Devil comes to steal, kill, and destroy.  Don't let him steal the brotherhood you share with your fellow man.  Don't let him kill the Spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness that resides in your heart.  And don't let him destroy your testimony of the Word!  As President Lincoln solemnly swore, We must not be enemies!  Let's recognize our true Enemy and do not allow him to devour us!
     We have been down that road before in this nation, and it has caused a grievous and grave wound upon our land.  So, please pray for our nation and our leaders; it is time for us to come together and heal.  The next two months until Inauguration Day will be a time of momentous decisions.  Let us remain steadfast in our purpose of reconciliation and resolution, and not make the same mistakes the nation made prior to Lincoln's Presidency .... Six weeks later, the Confederates fired on Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina, and the Civil War began.  May God have mercy on our nation!

And thank you to all the Veterans who have done their part to preserve this great nation... I am especially proud of my father, my uncle, my cousin, and my nephew.  I am grateful each of you answered the call!

Acts 17:30    "Therefore God overlooked and disregarded the former ages of ignorance; but now He commands all people everywhere to repent [that is, to change their old way of thinking, to regret their past sins, and to seek God’s purpose for their lives]..."

July 9, 2016

Psalm 11:5

The LORD tests the righteous, 
but His soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.

     I decided to break my regular pattern of blog posts and run a Scripture reference for the entire weekend, rather than just on Sunday ... because I think we desperately need this one.  I cannot imagine any human being (with a heart) who is not grieved over what the people of this nation are experiencing.  I am going to address my emotions and my perceptions honestly -- no political correctness and no preconceived opinions or judgments; just trying to come to terms with what I'm seeing and what my faith is telling me.
     Last week we witnessed two horrific shootings of black men by white police officers.  Yes, we do not have all the facts yet, but at this point, I'm willing to say that the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were unprovoked and unwarranted.  And, I am also willing to say this: the actions of those police officers who were involved in those deaths directly contributed to the anger and violence in Dallas on Thursday, which resulted in the assassination of five law enforcement officers, the injury to at least seven more, and the panic, fear, and anxiety of not only those in the vicinity of the shootings, but of the entire nation.  To say we are a people on edge, is to put it mildly.
     And the hate and violence between the races saddens me deeply.  Not only because the color of one's skin is such a stupid reason to hate, but because Jesus, Himself, tells us, Then many will take offense, betray one another and hate one another (Matthew 24:10).  I'm afraid that the "then" He is talking about is now.  We must all admit that racism exists; by all races. Is the frustration within the black community warranted?  I can understand it.  Do the police have a difficult job in gang and drug-infested neighborhoods?  I don't think it can be denied.  But how does this escalating hatred and violence solve any of those problems?
     In the coming days and weeks, we will hear the media (both corporate and social), our government leaders, and every form of public analysis and commentary give us their theory on why we are at this point in our race relations, and who is at fault.  But it is as clear as day to me, at least, that this hatred is being fomented, and I mean that in all the various connotations of that word -- instigated, incited, provoked, agitated, excited, stirred up, whipped up, encouraged, and urged -- all for the purpose of having the flames of hatred fanned.
     Most people will see this only from a racial slant and will be unable to see beyond the black and white of it ... literally.  Then there will be those who will be called conspiracy theorists, but who are able to see this from the perspective of the physical realm.  They will declare that the Puppet Masters of the Global Elite are pushing us towards a race war in order to achieve their goal of world domination.  And, finally, there will be a few like me who see the Biblical prophecy of our Lord coming true.  We discern that this is all about the Enemy spreading his hate, in defiance of God's love.  And hate breeds the violence that we are seeing coming at us from all sides.
     And it is so unnecessary!  When you get right down to it, the only difference between people of different colors is the amount of melanin in their skin.  Jesus created us all in His image, and truth be known, our Savior was born a Jew, born in the Middle East, and He far more resembles the various skin tones of the black race than He does my skin color.  But the enemy of mankind has taken that one element of difference among men and used it to foment violence in our midst.   And guess what?  The ranks of the wicked come in all colors!  But this Scripture clearly says that God hates those who love violence; therefore, when violence is committed against anyone, regardless of their color, it is violence against a human being who is made in God's image.  
     That's why it is incumbent upon us, at this time, to concentrate on a very important aspect of God's character:  He hates violence!  That's what Psalm 11:5 clearly states.  But note what it also says:  He tests the righteous!  It is at times like this, when hatred and violence are stirred up, that we must not give in to the temptation to hate.  And none of us are perfect, so our Adversary will use the wicked to commit heinous crimes to stir up our emotions and feelings of hatred.  The devil wants us to retaliate; to repay insult, injury, and death in kind.  That is what most people expect and it is their natural reaction.  That's the response of worldly people.  
     But we are called by Jesus to practice non-retaliation -- as difficult as that might be when violence is perpetrated upon you personally.  I will admit; refusing to respond to such hatred as we've witnessed in the last few days is not easy.  Love is not the natural answer to hate ... but it's the only one that neutralizes satan's intended goal.  And that's what Jesus did.  When He was crucified, He did not retaliate by calling down Heaven's army to destroy those who committed such deadly violence against Himself.  Instead, He asked His Father to forgive them, and established a way for mankind to escape the wrath they deserved ... satan's plan to defeat God's love and institute violence, hostility and bloodshed among men was forever conquered. 
      I have to tell you that all this is very personal for me.  I have older nephews who are white police officers, and my youngest nephew is biracial and rightfully proud of his black heritage.  I am equally proud of them all; they are all moral and beautiful young men, inside and out.  For me, there is no difference between any of them; my love for each of them is unbiased and impartial.  But I can see how satan wants to show them that there are differences between them.  He would like nothing better than to put a mirror before them and have them see their reflections through the eyes of the world.  I want them to see themselves -- and each other -- as God sees them.   I want them (and our society) to view each other through the supernatural lens of the Holy Spirit and, as difficult as it is, to not fall prey to the violence and hatred that is corrupting the earth.  I look at each of my nephews and see my flesh and blood; they are each a blessing from God, and I pray He protects and guards them from the ugliness of man's sinful ways.
     At the end of the day, there's not much I can say that will end the chaos and violence that is erupting across our land.  I know it sounds simplistic and naive to say that the Peace of Jesus and the Love of the Father is the answer, but .... it is!  We must trust in the Holiness and Righteousness of God, and let Him be Judge of the wicked, having faith that He will do it.  Putting our trust and faith in the justice of man will only disappoint us.  But I pray for the violence to end, and for mankind to reflect the love of our Creator.  In these difficult times He must be our hope; we must let Him wipe our tears and console our souls; and He must be our security.  Only in Him will all people be able to come together and love each other as we are meant to do.    

January 12, 2016

Where Are The Feminists?

     In our current political season, a favorite rallying cry is that there is "a war on women".  It is usually lodged against the Republican Party to describe their policies and legislation as a wide-scale effort to restrict women's rights, especially reproductive rights.  As unmerited as this charge is, I realize that the so-called Feminists in our nation love to play the victim card, and are always on the look-out for causes or women who have been wronged.
     So, why are they so silent about the abuse being heaped upon the women of Europe by the Middle Eastern refugees?  They love to throw the word "misogynist" around, and what could be more representative of hatred or disrespect towards women than headlines like this at The Daily Mail:  "Migrant rape fears spread across Europe: Women told not to go out at night alone after assaults carried out in Sweden, Finland, Germany, Austria and Switzerland amid warnings gangs are co-ordinating attacks."
     I mean, Donald Trump is loudly and vociferously castigated across the airwaves for his admittedly crude remarks, while not one of those feminist political strategists makes a peep about young women being fondled, raped, and being subjected to all manner of physical violations by gangs of Muslim men.
     The warnings in Europe come as reports emerged that Austrian and German police tried to cover-up the issue over fears of reprisal attacks on asylum seekers and damage to the countries' tourist trade.  Where is the uproar over the last part of that statement?  Putting money ahead of the safety of their young women?  Where are all those radical feminists who scream about gender equality, racial justice, the silencing of women?
     Where is the outrage over the chilling police report (about the attacks in Cologne, Germany) which describes women being forced to run through a 'gauntlet' of drunken men while officers themselves were mobbed by victims claiming they had been sexually assaulted.  Where are the champions of a woman named Jenny, who suffered serious burns when a firework was shoved into the hood she was wearing? "I heard a sizzling sound in my hood," she said. "I somehow tried to get the firecracker out of the hood. Then it fell into my jacket and burned everything. The scars will be permanent. I was lucky that it didn't explode."
     In Sweden, a gang formed a ring around girls and started molesting them. A police spokesman said, "They grabbed their breasts and genitals. In some cases they tried to drag girls into a waiting car, but those girls escaped, luckily."
     Perhaps the most chilling report is that which comes from German police, who have confirmed what they found on one man they have arrested from the gang of Arab and North African men who attacked women in Cologne.  Written on pieces of paper, police discovered lurid phrases in Arabic translated into German for him to use against women victims.
     Among the threatening messages was: "I'll kill you."  The notes also had the phrase for "nice breasts" and "I want to have sex with you."  The suspects arrested from the Cologne sex attacks reportedly included 9 Algerians, 8 Moroccans, 4 Syrians, 5 Iranians, 2 Germans and one each from Iraq, Serbia and the USA.
     So, once again, I ask, Where is the outcry by American feminists?  Why are they not marching in the streets, as are the German protestors who question just how their government is prepared to react to this outrage, and frankly, the danger it presents their women?  Is it that they fear it will contribute to another of their cause célébres, "Islamophobia"?  It is true that the people of Europe are trying to determine how the flood of refugees is going to affect their countries.  And after the New Year's Eve attacks in Cologne, it has inflamed a debate over Germany's ability to integrate the 1.1 million asylum seekers it took in last year alone.
     The facts remain... there is a clash between cultures.  Middle Eastern refugees see Western women in skimpy clothing and hugging and kissing in public.  In their culture, that equates to prostitution.  Does that necessarily lead to the flagrant rape and molestation that Europe is experiencing?  Or is there something more sinister at foot?  Regardless, there is a cancer spreading in Europe, and the growing crimes against women threaten to release an explosive reaction upon an already nervous and anxious European population.
     So, are we prepared to deal with similar ramifications from our own refugee policies?  Will the feminist politicians speak out for the potential victims, or will they remain silent, so as not to offend those of a different religion?  Do not think that we will remain unscathed in this nation.  I pray that our communities and cities, and those who are elected to protect us, become aware of this potential problem before it happens here, and prevent the horrendous experience of European women.  American feminists, this is your challenge.  What are you going to do about it?

2 Corinthians 5:11    "Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience."

August 17, 2015

Personal Reflections on Ferguson, One Year Later

     Yesterday, my sister texted me a photo of my nephew, a police officer in St. Louis County, Missouri; a photo that has appeared in countless newspapers.  He is standing with fellow officers in riot gear during a protest in Ferguson, Missouri on the one-year anniversary of the death of Michael Brown -- a death that has polarized that community and all of America.
     It is one thing to view that image as an American concerned over the racial violence that has spread across this nation; and quite another to view the steely gaze of a loved one who is standing for law and order, and putting his life on the line to protect the community and innocent citizens from further destruction.
     I guess I thought as long as I could not distinguish him from among the policemen whose images have become part of the disturbing montage of rioting and mayhem, I could pretend that he was safe and far removed from harm.  But there he was, his eyes and features clearly distinguishable through the glare of the lights on his helmet's safety shield.  He had often texted me not to worry, he wasn't assigned to that area and he was stationed in other parts of the metroplex.  But now I know that to be an effort to calm the fears of his anxious aunt.
     So now the turbulent and unstable state of race relations are up close and personal.  After a long year of turmoil and genuine efforts to change the conditions in Ferguson that led to this point, I am desperately looking for signs that positive change is happening.
     Admittedly, there has always been an uneasy relationship between the citizenry of neighborhoods like Ferguson (and nearby East St. Louis, close to where I spent much of my childhood) and the police, whose job often seemed to be about keeping the violence from spilling over into the surrounding middle class suburbs.  It is easy to blame the disparity between education and job opportunities among the races; all of which seemed to grow worse after the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibited discrimination in public places, provided for the integration of schools and other public facilities, and made employment discrimination illegal.
     It has been 51 years since this law was passed.  The Civil Rights Act was declared the most wide-ranging civil rights legislation since Reconstruction, nearly a century prior.  So what happened?  Why are we still seeing the imbalance in education, skills, and upward mobility in the black communities? Why is there still a perception that more crime is committed against blacks by white authority figures,  while statistics are ignored that suggest black on black crime is the primary cause of death among young blacks?  Why, as an article in The National Review points out, do we, as a nation not consider that "the disproportionate criminality among the black population is the reason that the police are deployed in much higher numbers in black neighborhoods, where they are trying to save innocent lives. There are thousands of law-abiding inner-city blacks who live by conventional values and who need protection from criminals. Only the police are willing to provide that protection."  Doesn't that indicate that "black lives matter" to them, too?
This photo of police officers in Trinity, TX went viral
     Are the police perfect?  Of course not!  And there will inevitably be incidents where bad cops prevail, but let me ask you this .... there are honorable black men who become police officers; is it the authority of the police department that is so despised, or just the particular skin color of the officer?  Why are we, in the 21st Century, still judging people by the color of their skin... and why is it this racial prejudice always one-sided?
     I am no social or cultural anthropologist, but it isn't hard for me to see the correlation between the signing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the subsequent War on Poverty, that introduced the Job Corps and Head Start (both designed to help disadvantaged youth to combat poverty and raise their standard of living), and perhaps the most damaging and divisive legislation of my lifetime -- the Food Stamp Act of 1964.  Does is strike anyone else as antithetical that these two forms of legislation were signed back to back in 1964?
      Were these components of LBJ's dream of a "Great Society" merely empty promises, that were really designed to counter any forward advancement made by the Civil Rights Act?  I know that sounds cynical and conspiratorial, but it just seems odd that at the same time that the disadvantaged segment of our society were given the keys to economic and social equality, they were also given a ball and chain called "Welfare" that enticed them to avoid employment, and kept them indebted to the politicians who controlled those welfare checks.
     And it all leads to Ferguson, Missouri. As Breitbart.com reports, there have been some positive changes .... "The city has a new police chief, a new city manager and a new municipal judge — all blacks who replaced white leaders. All Ferguson officers [now] wear body cameras. The city council has new members, too, several of whom are black. And the business district that was at the center of last year’s sometimes-violent protests is slowly rebuilding."
     It appears that this proud community is engaging with those who govern them, and both sides are listening to each other.  Ferguson's leadership is now reflective of the demographics of the community.  At the time of the Brown shooting, just three of Ferguson’s 53 officers were black. The department now has five African-Americans among a total of 50 officers, including the newly appointed interim chief, and has four budgeted positions still to fill.  Nearby West Florissant Avenue, a scene of pillaging and destruction one year ago, is poised to get $37 million in upgrades. The improvement plan is expected to include bricked sidewalks, bicycle lanes, stylish lampposts and landscaping. Those are the positive signs of change and hope.
     But the prejudice and doubt among the community is harder to transform.  It's going to take more than millions of dollars of cosmetic changes to erase the mistrust.  The peaceful protests of Ferguson residents did not fall on deaf ears, and I pray that continued efforts to heal this damaged city will be successful.  It remains to be seen if outside agitators and those who stand to profit, both politically and socially, will fail in their efforts to make the race division permanent.
     One year later, some progress has been made -- and while the peace is holding, it is not guaranteed.  I pray that Ferguson can become a model for other cities who sincerely want to see improvement in race relations, and foster mutual respect between law enforcement and the community.  As a nation, it is imperative that we succeed in this mission.  And as a concerned aunt, I would like to be able to sleep better at night.

Romans 12:9-10    "Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;"

June 13, 2015

What Disrespect Has Cost Us

     I've wanted to talk about this idea for awhile, and with all the turmoil we're seeing in our nation, it just seems like the time is now.  Do you remember when, as children, we were taught to call our elders by "Mr." or "Mrs."?  When it seemed impertinent to refer to them by their first names?
    And do you remember when we held the door for women, or helped the elderly carry their groceries, or smiled and said, "hello" when you passed a stranger on the street?  When was the last time that the teenage cashier at your local convenience store thanked you for your purchase, or even met your eyes during the transaction?
     Somehow, in the last 50 years we have allowed the spirit of Disrespect to poison our relations with others.  It has never been more prevalent than the ongoing scorn and rude behavior being displayed to our law enforcement officers.  Has there been some concern about the lack of respect that some of the officers have shown individuals?  The honest answer is "Yes".  But that does not imply that all policemen should receive a blanket indictment of contempt.  The large majority of them do their job well, and I must admit, I would find it hard to show respect and civility to some of our citizens, myself.  But, as mediators between society and unlawfulness, they deserve our respect and admiration.  Without respect for the law and its custodians, we are doomed to chaos and tyranny.
       Now, think about our teachers and educators.  I remember when insolence and rude behavior was not tolerated in the classroom.  You can ask my husband how many times he was paddled for not behaving in school; and that was when a trip to the principal's office was seen as an embarrassment.  But today, according to a teacher's blog on The Guardian website, a poll of more than 1,500 teachers by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) revealed that more than half of teachers in state schools have faced aggression from pupils in the last year, and more than a quarter have experienced it from parents or care-givers. Does anybody else find this appalling?!?
     But, here's the deal ... disrespect in our school systems ranges from acting out in class, to verbal insults, to physical threats.  Those kids have learned that behavior ... either in the home or in the culture.  Haven't you noticed the increasing number of headlines detailing teachers being attacked inside and out of the classroom?  What is happening to our society?  Why the disdain for respect towards others, where did we get so far off track?
     I think we have to look at how, as a society, we have stopped demanding a standard for ourselves; we've eliminated a code of behavior, or a code of honor, morals, scruples, and ethics, if you will.  Somewhere along the line, it was determined that we were too hard on ourselves, and it was time to relax the guidelines a bit.
     But do you see where that line of reasoning has taken us?  It was too difficult to expect (or respect)  a lifelong commitment in marriages, so adultery and divorce were given a green light.  It was too much for our kids to be expected to work hard for good grades, so we taught them to disrespect themselves, disregard education, and then we dumbed them down with the "every kid gets a ribbon" standard.
     Perhaps the biggest social mistake we made was instituting the welfare system, in which the government convinced our citizens that self-respect and dignity were worth nothing.  The poor bought the lie and exchanged the disintegration of their families, and the satisfaction of a hard day's work, for a monthly pittance.  Now disrespect is running rampant; and that same lie, which was generated by the government, is being foisted upon small businesses and successful entrepreneurs.  "You didn't build that" is just the latest manipulation of disrespect against free-thinking and industrious people.
    However, the greatest example of relaxing our standards can be seen in how we treat God.  How do you think He views the wearing of shorts and flip-flops when we come into His House?  What about our relaxing the standards for His shepherds and elders?  And what about how we've turned His Temple into entertainment centers, defiling the holy atmosphere of being in His presence? How we no longer rebuke or discipline sin among the members of the Body of Christ; the "don't ask, don't tell" policy towards abortion, adultery, sexual perversion?  Is the stench of our Disrespect as offensive to your senses as it is to mine -- and as it most assuredly is to YHWH?
     Respect is defined as "a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements."  When we decided that the measure of those abilities, qualities, and achievements should be disregarded in the attempt to make everyone equal, then there was no standard in which to regard each other.  When we decided that those standards could be reduced, or weakened, then there was less to admire about each other.  And when standards begin to crumble, we find that our code of behavior suffers and the results are destructive ... we no longer honor commitments and promises; we think only of ourselves and stop caring about others; and we stop listening and talking to each other.  It all adds up to DISRESPECT.  
     We're paying the price for decades of this harmful mindset; and at this point, I'm not sure we can turn the tide.  Only through the full recognition of all our mistakes, can we begin to reintroduce moral absolutes and a standard of righteousness.  And we can't do it without God.  Reverence towards Him, His House, and His statutes would be a good place to start.

Isaiah 53:6    "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all."

May 12, 2015

The Effects of Lawlessness

Slain Police Officers (left to right) Liquori Tate, Benjamin Deen, and Brian Moore  
     A few days ago, New York City Police Officer Brian Moore was laid to rest, with thousands attending his funeral.  Officer Moore, who was only 25, was shot in the head while on patrol.  A couple of nights ago, Police Officers Benjamin Deen, 34, and Liquori Tate, 24, of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, were shot and killed during a routine traffic stop.  And last Friday, the Attorney General of the United States announced that the Justice Department will be investigating the methods of the Baltimore Police Department.
     Citing police/community relations as "one of the most challenging issues of our time," Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced that if it is determined that violations are found, the investigation will result in a "court-enforceable agreement" to change the practices of the Baltimore Police Department.  In addition to investigating any possible violations of duty by police officers, why doesn't the Attorney General consider investigating what makes people commit the crimes that result in murdered cops?  The Justice Department says it wants to look into any patterns of unconstitutional actions by police departments across the country.  But I have real concerns about the Feds swooping in every time there is a high profile case and the public demands it.  Is that how we fix the problem?  And is there even an attempt to identify what is at the core of these problems? If there is a crisis in relations between the police and the community, why are we only looking at the police part of that equation?
     I will agree that if the police are over-reaching their authority, then they must be reined in.  We cannot tolerate law enforcement that oppresses or represses our constitutional rights.  But can we go too far in restraining them, and end up impeding law and order?  It is my real fear that there is a movement to vilify the police (with prejudice), as well as unspoken permission given by politicians and community leaders to attack them in retaliation for perceived injustices.  We must remember that Police hold a special place in the criminal justice system. Not only do the activities of law enforcement officers affect the operations of the entire criminal justice system, but police are said to be the “gate keepers” of the system and a lawful society.  They are the guardians of a civilized society; and they are what stands between us and the consequences of lawlessness.
     There is already talk that police officers may become less willing or slower to serve their communities and uphold the law.  Can you really blame them?  Every thug or criminal sees the trend ... there's a crackdown on cops and they [the criminals] are not being held responsible or accountable for their actions.  And it's all playing into Satan's hand.  If we hamstring the cops -- if they hold back and don't feel confident in doing their job, then you can count on more crime and chaos in the world.  Satan is licking his chops at the prospects!
     I have three nephews -- all brothers -- who are law enforcement officers.  And I can tell you that their motives are pure.  They do it out of a sense of serving the public, as do the majority of those who keep the peace, and protect lives and property.  They know that there is good and evil in this world, and they choose to confront evil, so we don't have to.
     What happened to respect for law enforcement and authority?  And don't tell me that all the fault lies with the police.  Without question, the crime in our society is unprecedented.  Men refuse to follow God's laws or the government God has put in place.  They want to make their own laws and follow their own rules.  The law exists because there are bad people; and so there is a need for those who will uphold the law to keep our communities from falling into disorder, anarchy, and frankly... from going straight to hell.
     We are on a very slippery slope in this nation.  Will we uphold the rule of law and support those who provide a protective wall between us and evil?  Or will we tip the scales towards Satan and allow the Lawless One to score a victory for those who follow him?

1 Timothy 1:9    "We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers,"

May 8, 2015

Why Has It Taken This Long?

     I viewed a decision by our nation's prominent religious leaders to openly declare that they are ready to enact "Civil Disobedience" with a bit of consternation.  On the one hand, I applaud their bold move to stand in opposition to the Supreme Court, should that august body decide to make same-sex marriage legal across the land.  On the other hand, I am left wondering why now, and why this issue?
     A veritable Who's Who of religious notoriety and distinction signed a pledge, which states in part, "While there are many things we can endure, redefining marriage is so fundamental to the natural order and the common good that this is the line we must draw and one we cannot and will not cross."
     Everyone from newly announced Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, to Reverend Franklin Graham, Pastor John Hagee, U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, James Dobson, and the founder of Liberty Counsel, Mat Staver, have signed on.  Their stated purpose is to send a strong message to the Supreme Court (or any court in the country) that they will oppose elevating same-sex marriage to a protected legal stance, engaging in "peaceful resistance against unjust laws and unjust rulings."
     They want it known that they fear the legalization of same-sex marriage will transform the face of society and will result in the “beginning of the end of Western Civilization.”  Furthermore, “We have no choice,” Staver is quoted as saying. “We cannot compromise our clear biblical convictions, our religious convictions."  Supposedly, they have stated that they are willing "to resist [the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage] as much as Martin Luther King, Jr. resisted unjust laws in his time."  Now, that's a pretty big commitment.
     So here's my concern ... why hasn't this stand been taken for the issue of abortion?  Why haven't we heard their outcry over late-term abortions, or of the issue of abortion, itself?  Hasn't abortion transformed the face of society, and I think a good argument could be made that it is leading us to the end of Western Civilization.
     I want to believe that their motives are pure ... I really do!  But, as an article on the website News With Views, pointed out, these are all very wealthy and comfortable men who have had the means and the positions to fight for their "convictions" for a very long time.  They have boldly declared WE WILL NOT OBEY ... but are they willing to follow through?  And why has it taken them this long to come to that conclusion?
     Are they willing to go to jail as Dr. King did?  Are they willing to face harassment and persecution and loss of income and status for their cause?  Can they see themselves following in the footsteps of John the Baptist, or Peter or Paul?  Or is it as German Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer noted during his pre-WW II visit that the American Church lacked leadership which had any knowledge of true suffering.  Our nation's prosperity has spawned mega-churches and million dollar corporations, all clothed in 501(c)3 protective raiment.
     Are these men willing to forego their soft and comfortable positions to get down in the trenches of real Biblical battle?  Are they willing to contemplate Jesus's words in Matthew 11:7-8?  Scripture says, "Then as these men went their way, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: What did you go out in the wilderness (desert) to see? A reed swayed by the wind?  What did you go out to see then? A man clothed in soft garments? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in the houses of kings."
     Was He intimating that John the Baptist's coarse and rough clothing showed that he was dead to all the pageantry of the world and the pleasures of the senses; that his clothing agreed with the wilderness he lived in?  Could we say that his appearance was consistent with his character and how he viewed his position and how he was to conduct his ministry?  If so, what does that say about how today's religious leaders have conducted their commission to spread the Gospel?  Have they relied too heavily on their connections with political figures, and cast their lot and organizations' funds on campaign contributions in the hopes of influencing the culture through political means?  Or are we going to find that they are simply too comfortable in their soft and plush clothes, and in the company of the kings of our day?
     Forgive me for being so cynical, but to my mind, there have been far too many years, and millions of aborted babies, that deserved such a call for "civil disobedience".  Perhaps if this approach had been considered in the 1970s, we wouldn't even be talking about same-sex marriage.  So, I guess I can accept "better late than never", but my natural skepticism tells me not to get too excited.  Are these wealthy pastors and religious leaders really willing to get dirty in a fight that may ask them to sacrifice all they own and are?  What will be the fruit of their actions?  Are they willing to go as far as  John the Baptist, Peter, Paul, or Martin Luther King?  I guess we will see ....

December 23, 2014

The War On Policemen Is A War Against Humanity

      In the wake of a rash of Police deaths this past week, I can no longer remain silent.  Regardless of whether you agree with the verdicts in the court cases involving the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, how could anyone think that assassinations of police officers will improve race relations or keep more people safe from suspected police tyranny?
     Anyone of sound mind should realize that we must have Law and Order to maintain a civilized society.  Are there bad cops?  Yes, just as there are bad apples in every business, organization and community.  But without rules to follow, and boundaries to control our impulses, chaos would reign.  Remember studying Lord of the Flies in school?  The author, William Golding, showed us just what happens when the savage side of our human nature is not constrained.
     I'm tired of hearing all the blame for the deaths of Brown and Garner laid at the feet of the cops.  I happen to agree with the decision rendered in the Brown case, and disagree with the result of the Garner case.  But there were two parties in each circumstance!  Can you honestly say that neither of the men who died contributed to their own demise?
     And, yes, I believe that policemen who use excessive force should be carefully examined to see if they still meet the psychological criteria to "protect and serve." But I want to see the NYPD police itself -- and there are ways to demand that; and it is not any ol' citizen reaping vigilante justice as he sees fit.
     As a matter of fact, I want everyone to consider what it takes for a man to decide to become a policeman.  I know from personal experience what kind of man answers that call ... I have three nephews, all sons of my middle sister, who have answered the call to put themselves in danger to serve their fellow man.  I know their hearts, and I think I know why they took this path.  I remember when the oldest one was around eight-years-old, and attending Catholic grade school.  He was having trouble sleeping at night and when my sister asked him why, he revealed that there was a young black boy in his classroom that was being bullied by the other kids, and the injustice bothered him.  After talking over his feelings with his mom, he decided he had to go talk to the Monsignor the next day and stick up for the tormented child.  That's the kind of child who chooses to be a police officer when he becomes a man.
     My youngest nephew loved to hear my dad's WWII stories and what it meant to be brave in the face of evil.  When he was in junior high, he watched the entire series of Band of Brothers several times; once with my husband, his uncle, and they discussed the character of the men of the 101st Airborne's Easy Company; that band of heroes that fought from D-Day through the Battle of the Bulge and to the end of WW11.  They discussed what would make the Greatest Generation continue to fight the bad guys, even when all the odds were stacked against them.  That's the kind of young man that wants to live up to an ideal.  He followed his two older brothers into the Police Academy, and graduated last year.
     My middle nephew is the one that marches "to a different drummer" than the other two; not in an unorthodox way -- maybe just in a little more daring way.  Last year, I wrote a blog post, about his mindset as a police officer.  I shared an essay he wrote while at the Police Academy.  In it, he revealed two of his important influences:  1) a book by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, titled: On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society, and 2) the very wise words of his father, who counseled him every day to "Be a leader, not a follower."  This is a young man who sees himself as a leader and isn't afraid to say, "I want to be the person people look to in a time of crisis. I want to stand up for what I believe to be morally right."  And he thinks that being a police office is one of the best ways to accomplish this.  And he is currently trying to be that leader as he serves in the Ferguson, Missouri area.
     While I am extremely proud of my nephews, they aren't the only examples of what makes a good policeman.  In 1970, radio legend Paul Harvey wrote an essay in honor of his father, a policeman who had been killed in the line of duty when Harvey was three years old.  In part, it reads:  "A policeman is a composite of what all men are, mingling of a saint and sinner, dust and deity ... What is a policeman? He, of all men, is at once the most needed and the most wanted. A strangely nameless creature who is “sir” to his face and “pig” or worse to his back ... He must make instant decisions which would require months for a lawyer ... The police officer must know every gun, draw on the run, and hit where it doesn’t hurt. He must be able to whip two men twice his size and half his age without damaging his uniform and without being “brutal.” If you hit him … he’s a coward. If he hits you … he’s a bully.  He runs files and writes reports until his eyes ache, to build a case against some felon who will get “dealed out” by a shameless shamus.  The policeman must be a minister, a social worker, a diplomat, a tough guy and a gentleman.  And of course, he’ll have to be a genius…for he will have to feed a family on a policeman’s salary."
     The men who were shamelessly killed this week for being nothing more than a policeman, didn't deserve to be singled out.  Charles Kondek, an officer near Tampa, Florida was gunned down and then run over by the perpetrator after responding to a disturbance call at 2 a.m.  Charlie "K" was a 17-year police veteran, and worked the midnight shift so that he could watch his 15-year-old daughter Aleena’s soccer practices and travel with her wherever she played.  New York City officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were murdered as they sat in their patrol car, by a man determined to take revenge against cops for the death of Eric Garner.  Ramos was a Christian who would have been officially commissioned as a lay chaplain on the very day he died.  As evidence of their legitimate faith, his family is calling for peaceful co-existence, saying they've already forgiven the murderer.
     But, as expected, policemen across the nation are on high alert and the threat of violence against them appears to grow.  How do you make angry people realize that policemen are not the cause of the injustice they feel?  How do you make them recognize that it is an immoral system that keeps them enslaved to a government handout, and robs them of dignity, opportunity and self-sufficiency?  How do you do that when there are corrupt politicians and social agitators who benefit from perpetrating the lies of injustice?
     I have a genuine fear of where all this is leading.  I can see chaos and anarchy on one end of the spectrum, and over-reaching authority and power on the other.  And somewhere in-between lies you and me, the average citizen who still observes and respects law and order; and the men and women who stand in the gap against the law of the jungle.  I pray that law and order will prevail, and we don't descend into that madness.

Psalm 94:16    "Who will rise up for me against the wicked? Who will take a stand for me against evildoers?"


December 3, 2014

Can We Heal From Ferguson?

     Protests surrounding the Ferguson debate continue to dominate the news cycles.  The media pits representatives, who are clearly one-sided on their perspective, against each other -- after all, it makes for entertaining and interesting dialogue.  But does it serve to further positive relations in a nation torn apart by the racial divide?  Is that even the objective of such debates?  Or are we truly on the verge of a "new" civil rights movement, as provocateurs like Al Sharpton and Louis Farrakhan allege?
     At the time, I was not old enough to have understood the issues behind the civil rights movement in the early 60s.  However, I instinctively knew that something important was happening.  As I peruse  the transcript of Dr. Martin Luther King's famous "I Have A Dream" speech, I can't help but feel the goals of the two movements are diametrically opposed.
    Both movements have "racial justice" in common; but King promoted nonviolence, cautioning protestors, "Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred."  Today's civil rights leaders (like Sharpton and Farrakhan) urge their followers to gear up for "a fight" -- and not through peaceful methods!  King hoped to "transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood."  Farrakhan wants to "tear this (expletive) country up!"
     It is not hard to see that as long as violence and hatred are exploited by both public and political figures, the races will never come together in mutual understanding and respect.  And I tend to agree with former basketball great Charles Barkley, who says the media is largely to blame.  "The media loves this stuff," he said, and until information began surfacing from the evidence presented to the grand jury, networks had free rein to spin it anyway they wanted.  The more they could fan the flames of racial hostility, the higher the ratings.  And, if in the process, the Truth was ignored; well, that didn't really change anything between the races, did it?  After all, no one would believe anything different, right?
     And how dare anyone bring Faith or the blessed name of Jesus into the conversation.  As I related in an earlier post, NFL player Benjamin Watson made quite an impression on social media with his honest and prayerful impressions of the Ferguson controversy.  So, of course, the media jumped all over that story.  The desire for higher ratings will even lead to religious tolerance -- up to a point, that is.  While being interviewed at CNN, Watson was warming up to his theory that the nation's racial problems are related to sin, not the color of skin; and the cure was "to understand that Jesus Christ died for our sins."  It was obvious that the CNN anchor was getting uncomfortable with the direction the interview was headed, and kept trying to cut him off.  But Watson persisted, talking over the talking head, until she finally cut him off, going to a green screen, and pretending that she had lost transmission. “Whup…just like that, we lost him,” she said.  Yeah, right. 
     Well, even in the midst of such negative coverage, I want you to know that there are reasons to be optimistic.  I hope you have had the opportunity to see some positive stories that are emerging from the protests.  I'd like to share a couple.  Did you hear the one about the black residents of Ferguson who showed up (armed) to protect a local gas station from looters?  Everything around the Conoco station was burned and looted, but these young men stood guard over the property and customers who arrived at the station.  It remained unscathed.  It seems that the owner (a white man) had hired each of the men, at some point in the past, and had treated them with respect and dignity.  They showed up to help him save his business.  This is a story of mutual respect and doing the right thing.
     Then there is the story of a group of student protesters who shutdown a California highway, in an apparent attempt to impact commerce.  But one hard-working man, who was black, did not see the purpose in such tactics.  He was just trying to get to one of the three jobs he works to support his six kids.  He grabs a protester's bullhorn and tries to reason with the mob.  In an expletive-filled video, he can be seen telling the crowd that this isn't the way, that they should do "the right thing".  He admits he was confused, frustrated, and angry about being delayed for work, and worried about losing his job.
     "I'm nobody special," he said.  "I was just trying to do the right thing."  But his actions so moved people that a fund has been started on social media to provide him with the means to give his kids a great Christmas.  This is a story that shows that our preconceived biases are not always correct, and that human beings respond to sincerity, courage, and ethics -- no matter the skin color.
     There is also the story of Devonte Hart, a 12-year-old black youth who attended a protest in Portland, Oregon, and stood on a street corner holding a sign that said, "Free Hugs".  The photo of Devonte, with tears streaming down his face, hugging a white police officer, has gone viral.  It is becoming a symbol of hope for reconciliation between the races.
     But there is more to the story than you might know.  According to an online profile of the young man, "[Devonte] was born to a drug-addicted mother, and by the time he was only four-years-old he had suffered extreme neglect; he had smoked, been given alcohol, handled guns and been shot at. His abusive childhood meant that he could barely speak, and he suffered from a number of disabilities."
     His adoptive mother, Jen Hart, relates that he had struggled "with living fearlessly when it comes to the police"; that he didn't fully understand the circumstances surrounding the Ferguson incident, and worried that he might one day be the subject of prejudice by simply being a black male.  All those issues contributed to his tearful stance on that street corner.
     But the compassion of Sgt. Bret Barnum should not be discounted.  He approached Devonte and they engaged in a private conversation.  At the end of it, he asked Devonte if he could have one of those free hugs.  The viral photo captures the sincere and heartfelt exchange between the white policeman and the black youth.  We should not dismiss the message this photo conveys.
    Unfortunately, this is not the message of the "new" civil rights movement.  It is not hard to discern that there are those who wish to perpetuate the racial hatred; power is a seductive temptress, and one's authority and leverage might be compromised should the races find common ground.  
     Martin Luther King advocated becoming a voice "of reason, sanity, and understanding amid the voices of violence, hatred, and emotion."  He also said, "Someone must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate."  Those who would promote violence and anarchy while laying claim to his legacy, and project themselves as his predecessor, do a great injustice to his memory and those who walked by his side.  
     Today, I asked if we could heal from Ferguson.  If left up to man, I would highly doubt our chances of success.  There are forces, both human and spiritual, who stand to profit from continued strife and conflict.  The voices say they want freedom, but true freedom includes being free from hate.  True freedom gives us the opportunity to love and serve each other.  I admit we have a long way to go, and injustice too often prevails.  But as each of the positive stories I have presented shows us, it is possible because we were made in the image of God, who IS love. We just have to want it; to receive it and to give it.  It's the only way to heal.

Galatians 5:13    "For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another."