To Hell in a Hand Basket

I try not to watch CNN and Fox News. I try not to watch any kind of news anymore. I guess to some that may not seem very adult or responsible. Shouldn’t I want to gobble up all that tragedy, violence and general mayhem going on in the world?

I walked into my parent’s house yesterday and they had the news on. Three more Baton Rouge police officers were gunned down by a “deranged” gunman. I think “deranged” is the new politically correct word for crazy. My dad asked me if I had heard about it. Surprisingly I had. Someone had mentioned it to me at church that morning. More tragedy, violence and mayhem.

On the TV screen in that moment was a quote from the local Baton Rouge Police Chief or Sheriff or something. The quote basically said that the problem is in the hearts of people. I thought, he’s got that right.

The prevailing idea of many people is that things aren’t going to change until there is a regime change in this country. It’d be nice if the fix was that simple. Half a century ago in this country, we decided that we did not value the gift of life enough to protect the unborn. Decades ago we invited God to leave our schools and began teaching theories to young people that go against the truths of scripture. Today, we have told Him that what He defined as marriage is not inclusive enough, and that we have redefined it. Now we are telling Him that his design of the human body is flawed, and that we know better who we are than He does. (Isn’t that kind of like the clock telling the clock maker where he went wrong in his design? But I digress…)

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What we have today is the result of people telling God that He is no longer relevant in their lives. I mean it’s not like it hasn’t happened before. Israel was God’s chosen people. You can read for yourself how when the people of Israel followed God’s plan they prospered, and when they didn’t, well, they pretty much lost everything. In fact, they generally found themselves slaves to someone else. You see, we will belong to someone. We like to exert our independence in this country, but we will belong to someone. For two hundred years we belonged to God, and we quickly became the most powerful and wealthy nation ever to exist on the earth. Now we’ve made God irrelevant and we are surprised by what we see on CNN?

It would be easy to be all doomsday and want to hide in our homes. After all, it does seem that the world is going to hell in a hand basket. The threats of violence are more real today than ever before. Darkness is covering the earth. This will not change because of who is sitting in the Oval Office on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.  For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,  having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.” 2Timothy 3:1-5

There is no caveat to this that states… “…unless you elect the right person President…”

(I get points for using the word, caveat.)

I think about the times when I was growing up and how peaceful and prosperous they were. I could wish for that time again, but I won’t. Those times did little to draw people to Jesus. No, it’s during dark, treacherous times that people seek God. To be a part of the church at this time in history is like none other. You see, we have the hope. We have the answer for the ills of man. Jesus is the hope. Jesus is the answer. There has never been a better time to be alive and be a part of the church than right now. We weren’t put here in this time and in this place to sit around wringing our hands, watching CNN, and complaining about the government. This is not our home. Those are not our affairs.

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The darker this world gets, the brighter the church will shine. Oh, it will bring us trouble, but the church has faced trouble before. Darkness doesn’t care too much for the light, but we are called to be that city on a hill that cannot be hidden. (Matthew 5:14). While the things happening around us are quite disturbing, we can take hope in the fact that it is all happening right on schedule. The harvest is great in these last days. Let’s turn off the news, and go light up the darkness.

But, However, Yet, Still, Then, and So: This isn’t a black and white issue.

If I was a black woman, I might be hard-pressed to keep my cool about white people who seem to abuse their authority and do not appear to answer for their actions in recent days.

Even as a white woman, I have to wonder at times about people. But regardless of my color, I have to decide for myself how to respond to the things going on in our country today. First and foremost I am a follower of Jesus, and I have to  form my response to the happenings in this world in a manner that considers that relationship first. When everything else fades, it is Christ that remains.

Our enemy wants white Americans to fear black Americans. And our enemy wants black Americans to hate white Americans and white authority. Fear always leads to bad decisions, and hate always leads to violence. Both fear and hate will cloud good judgement.  

images.jpegI think it must be so hard to be a peace officer these days. We have to remember that for the most part, they do not deal with the upright people in society. They don’t have daily dealings with law abiding citizens like you or me. Their daily dealings are with people who live apart from the law. These are often the poor or marginalized people who have, for whatever reason, been unable to rise above their circumstances, have not always made good choices, nor taken responsibility for their lives. So many of our police officers have a skewed view of humanity that is full of distrust and suspicion because of what they see and deal with on a daily basis. You and I make great armchair quarterbacks, but we are not walking their beat.

BUT… I can remember officers who worked in the inner city and really knew the people there and cared for them. They might even have had to arrest those people from time to time, but they knew their names and they cared about them and their families. Now they fear the very people they are called to serve.

Fear always comes from our enemy.

HOWEVER… More than ever our officers must be able to stand up under greater and greater pressures. As the world continues to spin out of control, they must be able to remain in control. God bless them. They must be men and women of high integrity, and they have to love the people they serve. You don’t shoot people you love… at least until they give you no other choice.

YET…We have a serious problem with authority in this country. Children are no longer raised to respect it in their lives. We fail to teach our kids that sitting under authority blesses them. When we willfully disregard authority, we step out from under it’s protection and it’s anything goes. We must find some way of getting things back in order. Where those in authority are not abusive of it and those sitting under it appreciate it in their lives. 

Today, Americans are getting a good look at what a Godless society looks like. “They” asked for it, so that’s what “they” got. They didn’t want to be hindered by the guardrails set in place by scripture. They wanted to roam freely and taste in plenty what this world has to offer. Okay, then, this is it. How’s it tasting now?

The worst thing we can do in this country is to allow ourselves to be swept away in an emotional firestorm that is orchestrated and paraded in front of us 24/7. We must stand up under the scripture that tells us that it is by faith, not our eyes, that we see. We are called to love people, all people, and hate our enemy. We must hate Satan, not each other, or he wins this racial thing and other things, too. He will own our society if we fail to find a way to love each other.

STILL… we serve an amazing God. We only have to look at Chronicles 7:14 to find our solution.

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

I see lots of believers posting this verse in hopes that our country will take heed. But let’s look at it closely. That first part? The “if my people” part? That’s us. That’s not everyone. That’s only to those who are called by His name. If those of us who are called by God’s name will do four things:

  1. Humble ourselves. (Sounds easy, but it’s not. We are a prideful lot.)
  2. Pray (When was the last time we really spent time in serious prayer about this?)
  3. Seek His face. (This becomes all about Him and nothing about us.)
  4. Turn from our wicked ways. (That’s us, not them. Turn that finger upon yourself.)

THEN... He will hear us. But only after we do what we are supposed to do. Not before. And then… He will heal our land. With a swipe of His hand, all those things we have mucked up, even the things that those who are not called by His name have mucked up, will be made right again. The power is within us to fix this. Are we willing to do it?

SO… Let’s not allow our enemy to win. Let’s fight the right battle. Together. We do not struggle against flesh and blood but against principalities.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12

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This is a war going on that we cannot see with our eyes, but is more real than the acts we do see. That’s our battle. That’s where we need to fight. People want to take the battle to the streets, but we fight this one on our knees. It’s the only way we will ever win. And it all starts with a little bit of humility from the people of God.

Where There is No Vision

So what’s been going on here? I’ve had some folks ask about Cracked Pot Pieces and why it’s been silent for a while. Well for the last month or so, I have been writing, just in another forum. I recently went back to school. I know, I was surprised, too! Back last January, God gave me a vision for my future and to see that vision come to pass, I was going to have to go back to school after twenty-five years. Let me tell you, it’s pretty intimidating. But, I am four weeks in, and so far so good! I hope to finally be regaining a bit of balance, so my postings here will be more frequent.

This vision I have for my future is a new thing for me. I’m not used to having God show me a vision just for me. Generally, the visions I have for my life include my husband and family. How about you? Do you have visions for your life?

I have a great friend and mentor that speaks such life into my life. If you don’t have one of those, at least one, then get one. My friend once shared a story with me about a young wife who was struggling to make her work life balance with her new home life and husband. The young woman asked my friend how she managed it all. My friend asked her this, “What is the vision for your home?”

So many of us just let life decide what is going to happen to us. We just wait to see which way the ball bounces or how the cookie crumbles. We take things as they come without really deciding what we want things to look like, and then we are surprised when we wake up one day and nothing looks like we really thought it would. Then we look around and try to decide whom we want to blame for the mess we’re in.

We have to have a vision for what our life, home, marriage, and family will look like one day. And then we must be intentional about getting there. Okay, I’ll share mine with you. I have always wanted my home to be a place of peace, joy, and refuge for all who live and visit there. So I am intentional about creating that kind of space for my family and me.

I don’t get angry much, until someone goes and messes with my nest, my vision. Why? Because the atmosphere I have cultivated in my home has not happened over night, and it has not been easy. My enemy does not like the vision I have for my home, and he wants to foil my plans. Sometimes people want to work in opposition to my vision as well. As my Granny used to say, “I don’t cotton to those kinds of people.”

The Bible tells us that whatever we sow, that shall we reap also. (Galatians 6:7) Most of the time we use that verse when we see someone suffering from a bad decision they have made in their lives. After all, that’s pretty much the context for the scripture. But the reverse is also true. If we sow and cultivate good and beneficial things into our lives, generally, that’s what we get back.

So if I want peace in my home, I have to sow peace. If I want joy, I have to sow and cultivate joy. I can’t deposit anger, wrath, and judgment and expect to get peace and joy. It just doesn’t work that way. My Pawpaw would not have planted corn on his farm and expected turnips to grow. He knew what would be coming up in every field he planted because he was very intentional in what he sowed into the ground. He was careful to cultivate the ground and provide the right ingredients at the right time to reap the harvest he hoped for. Scripture also tells us that without vision, we perish. We have to know what we are working for to know how to set our hands to the plow.

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I have this little ornament that hangs in my kitchen window. I decided a few years back that I would place it there rather than pack it away with the rest of the Christmas ornaments. It stands as a reminder of the vision I have for my home. How about you? Do you have a vision for your home? Your marriage? Your life? What are you doing today to bring that vision to pass?