THE WATCHMEN ON THE WALL

In ancient times, a wall with strong gates surrounded every city or town. Citizens installed watchtowers so the watchmen would see for great distances, observing the surroundings for enemies. Entrusted with the people’s well-being, the watchmen were committed to sound the warning of impending danger so people could flee to the security of the wall. If they were derelict in their duty, people would die or become captives to the intruders. Enemies with their own beliefs and customs would engulf the cities, changing everything.  

Today, we do not have physical walls, but our nation has a Constitution written with an allegiance to the God who had blessed them. They did not set up a democracy, where the strongest rule. They wisely established us as a constitutional republic with strict boundaries as to what government can do. Uniquely, they saw the watchmen as ordinary citizens charged with the task of calling the alarm when danger approaches. However, a constitutional republic requires informed citizens. We elect representatives to enact laws, etc., but we have the responsibility to hold them accountable to us, including the President and the executive branch.

Alarms should be sounding all over this nation today. We have an insidious enemy, much like the Trojan horse in ancient times. Our enemies are destroying us from within because we have not sounded the alarm. Some of these enemies come clothed in persuasive words, offers of aid, and words we love to hear, but they come with strings attached. They also promote division to achieve their goals.

Our Constitution is not a perfect wall, but it has protected Americans for over two hundred years. It is unique in that it was bound by principles of Christianity. Freedom, liberty, justice, and mercy for all. Lately those who have filtered into every institution, local and state governments, and even churches have offered solutions outside the wall that shields us from tyranny and loss of freedom.

As Christians, we are “watchmen on the wall”. Ezekiel says in 3:20, that if we succumb to losing our liberty for a hand-out; in other words, don’t stand for righteousness, justice, and mercy, we will cause our nation to fall. We will no longer be unique in history, but just another crumbling empire.

Hosea 4:6 says God’s people face destruction for lack of knowledge. Because they have refused to listen or to warn others, and forgotten His laws, He will forget our children. This sober warning is what should propel us all to be watchmen, caretakers of the blessings God has given us in this nation. Our children, grand-children and later generations need our help to survive. 

Blessings Beat Bad News

As an postscript to my recent post on the boarder rally and the disturbing things we heard and saw, I cannot let an unexpected blessing go to waste. In these times the news fills our senses with the evil deeds of others; of betrayal; hypocrisy and lies. It is easy to let them guide you into an “ain’t it awful” attitude.

Returning from the rally dusty, thirsty, and exhausted, we travelled through the dark Arizona countryside. We were in the middle of nowhere and if not, we could see it from there. Suddenly a streak appeared in our headlights. A giant pig/peccary known here as a javelina, darted across the road and we hit it with our right bumper. Speaking of blessings, if it had made contact on the driver’s side, we might have lost control. We kept going amidst the sound of something dragging and a few lights flashing on our dash. We limped into the tiny town of Hereford, Arizona and stopped at the first gas/convenience store and to assess the damage.

We drive a Ford Explorer, and at first glance, the upper bumper seemed okay. A kindly older gentleman (probably our age) was filling his tank and asked if we had a problem. He at once got a flashlight from his car and looked underneath (I will always carry a flashlight from now on). I expected to see gory remains of the javelina, but we discovered instead the sensor cable hanging from the front bumper, along with the radiator housing, and several other things. Then we noticed part of the bumper either was gone or leaning at a rakish angle. That accounted for the dragging sound we heard.

Soon two more young men came up and gave their assessment. They went into the convenience store and bought some rope and refused to accept reimbursement. Another gentleman with an unkempt beard looking like someone from the movie “Deliverance” arrived on the scene. He laid down with the rope and tried to tie up the hanging fragments with no luck.

A Cochise County Sheriff Deputy arrived next and surveyed the damage. He acknowledged that a full-grown Javelina is indeed a sturdy animal and the fact the countryside was teeming with them. He watched the man with the beard for a moment and went back to his car. He returned with zip ties used for restraining prisoners and that did the trick.

All these ordinary Americans were polite, caring, and ready to help a stranger. It warmed my heart and took away the fear and stress we would have to find a place to spend the night…and then what? When we offered to compensate the bearded man for all his trouble, he shook his head and said, “No, that would ruin my blessing.”

The mainstream media harangues us with distortions about all Americans being bad people coming from a bad history, but I now had proof their narrative is not the truth. I knew it before, but this was a good reminder. I hope someday I can pay that blessing forward to someone else in trouble.

We headed back to SaddleBrooke Ranch in a now-unairconditioned car. The javelina had wrecked the compressor/condenser too. I did not realize as we approached Tucson, that it could still be 95 degrees at 10:30 p.m.

The Bible teaches we are to praise God continuously no matter our circumstances. At times that is so hard to do. We find ourselves mired in the muck of anger, fear, bitterness, and foreboding; a prison of our own making. Before we realize it, our stress levels rise, and we lose our joy. Praising and thanking God is more for our sakes than His. As we recall His attributes; His omnipotence, sovereignty, justice, truth, and mercy, our spirits lift as if we are already in the heavenly realm. We were still able to drive the car; we were unhurt in our confrontation with the javelina, and we were going to make it home. Sometimes counting our blessings is all we can do.

The Invasion

The sun hung like a brass coin in the blue sky. The 100-degree heat enveloped us like a shroud. Clouds of dust rose as we walked to our destination—a border rally sponsored by FAIR. Then we saw it—miles and miles of iron fencing, a stark sentinel in a deceptively peaceful scene. The realization of what that much-debated wall meant hit all of us like a massive wave from the sea.

I stared at it a long time, trying to sort out my feelings—awe at its massiveness, understanding that the wall was a barrier, and a realization of what it means to be American. Lee Greenwood’s anthem “I’m proud to be an American” resounded through the surrounding mountains and in my heart. As I sang the words, I realized that my pride in being an American didn’t say it all. I am thankful to be an American! I am thankful for the founding fathers, though imperfect, who prepared a document, the Constitution, unique throughout world history. I am thankful for those who died protecting our borders in war. I am grateful to those who protect our sovereignty today. I am thankful for my freedom. All I could do was raise my eyes to the heavens and thank the One upon Whom this nation was founded. However, with that freedom comes a responsibility for us all. We cannot allow blatant encroachment of that precious Constitution to go on without speaking up.

Standing at the wall, looking across to another nation, whose border patrol was clearly in view, I understood why so many want to come to this country. Hearing the stories of the price these people pay the cartels to transport them, the rapes, the sex trafficking, the drugs, and who knows what else, struck both sympathy and fear into my heart.

The wall in this sector is complete. BUT the technology that should go with the wall is absent because our current president has shut it down. Speech after speech ranging from the former ICE director to Angel Family members who have lost loved ones to illegal immigrants or deadly drugs that come in with the tide of humanity being allowed to enter our country with immunity.

Article IV, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution says: “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican form of government and shall protect each of them against invasion….” The Federal government has usurped state’s rights by allowing the pouring in of people who themselves have been manipulated by the cartels. They charge exorbitant fees and often coerce them to carry drugs on their person. The cartels use them as a distraction for their real money-maker—drugs. Unaccompanied children, and children who have no biological commonality with the “families” they are travelling with, are put at risk, pawns in a deadly game of drug and sex trafficking.

There has been an exponential increase in drugs entering this country since the Biden administration took over, particularly Fentanyl, a drug so deadly it only takes minute dosages to kill. China is the largest producer of Fentanyl.  Much of it comes through Mexico and the southern border. Often disguised as a Percocet tablet, it has the ability to kill. That on its own should be enough to close the border.  Yet, as there is an enormous increase of confiscated drugs throughout our nation, there seems to be no sense of urgency for our government to do their duty—protect our borders and Americans.  

Many sheriffs from all over the country attended, proving that this is not just a border state problem. These drugs and trafficked persons are sent throughout the country, forcing states to assimilate, feed, and supply medical service for them at taxpayer expense. A sheriff from Massachusetts said they have the largest illegal problem in the country, showing it is an American problem. All the sheriffs stood before us holding banners of faces, approximately 200 to a page, represented American lives lost at the hand of drunken illegal drivers, gangs, and drugs. The line of banners stretched as far as I could see. I thought of my own grandchildren who, while not prone to taking drugs, might be enticed to “try” a phony Percocet as an experiment. I thought of the sex slaves and laborers—the modern slavery—and I wept.

Freedom comes at a price—the very least Americans should do is to understand our republic, its laws, and Constitution. The “silent majority” cannot afford to stay silent anymore.

WATCHMEN ON THE WALL

Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; and you will find rest for your souls. But they said, “we will not walk in it.” And I set watchmen over you; listen to the sound of the trumpets.” Jeremiah 6:16-17a

America needs a change in direction; she needs to return to the ancient paths. The watchmen over her have been calling out warnings, and the trumpets have sounded, but America refuses to listen. She pridefully assumes that she will go on forever and does not need God anymore or His hedge of protection. She seeks worldly solutions instead, depending upon her military, her prosperity, other nations, and her false gods to protect her rather than God. We may not worship virtual idols, but we as a nation have not only placed things before God, we have counted on everything else but God.

In ancient Israel, watchmen were to give the warning of invasion. The furthermost border towns had walls around them with a watchtower raised high above the walls. If the watchman saw an invading army, he was to blow his trumpet to alert the people. They then would make a huge bonfire that nearby cities could see, whose watchman would repeat the process until the warning reached Jerusalem.

The Hebrew word for watchman is tsaphah which means “to lean forward; to peer into the distance, to observe.” The ancient prophets, like Ezekiel, commissioned by God and cast in the role of foretelling the future, called for repentance, and encouraged people to follow the ancient paths—found in God’s Word. They were often rejected, and the people of Israel suffered from those civilizations who rose and fell, despite their huge armies and military prowess. Will America live forever?

The United States is at a crossroad. Our founding documents, all the way back to the earliest settlers, centered upon God and His protection—our ancient paths. Those men and women recognized the sovereignty of God, and, while not perfect, could still find their way back to their original covenants with God, and reap the benefit of His protection. He has remained true to His word and America has prospered and remained untouched until 9/11. In a sense, 9/11 was the cry of the watchman calling us back to God and His ancient paths. The sight of our elected officials standing on the Capitol steps singing “God Bless America” after the attack was heartening, but it did not take long for everything to return to paths chosen by men rather than God. America’s leaders’ words were right, but they did not penetrate the heart–except for a remnant.

The ancient prophets God sent to Israel functioned as watchmen in that they called the alarm, urged people to repent and turn back to God, and encouraged them with their foretelling of the future. Today we have God’s written Word and as Christians, the Holy Spirit living in us.

Do you hear the sound of invasion? If so, are you calling out the warning? Will America refuse to listen? God is waiting for Americans to repent from their wicked ways and return to Him. He is looking for those who do justice and seek the truth. His Word is truth. He is compassionate, but He is also just. We must return to the ancient paths to survive.

We live in times of great upheaval. Enemies in the form of ideologies, false assurances, idols, and self-centeredness whisper “Peace, Peace,” but do not shout the warning of judgment. Repentance, agreeing with God’s rules, brings His peace. We can find peace in no one else.

America Set on Fire by Words

”And the tongue is a fire, the very word of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.” James 3:6

When I was a child, my mom always told me to tell the truth when I was in trouble; that lying would bring on even more punishment. She also warned me that carelessly spoken words were like someone standing on a hill in a brisk wind and emptying a feather pillow. One might retrieve some of the feathers, but most were victims of the capriciousness of the wind. All of us have experienced the pain of thoughtless words directed toward us. Usually, there is no defense that can that can completely erase the impact to our character, and the way others see us. In some cases, ruined reputations are the casualties of untamed tongues.

In the days following the November election, verbal arrows of accusations flew in all directions. Serious charges of election fraud in many cases were not taken seriously, so Americans’ frustration grew into an inferno of innuendoes from both parties. This dissension seems not to have faded; in fact the words directed at those who supported the President have grown more venomous. Toxic character assassination fills the mainstream media whose commentators lob cannonballs of noxious opinions nightly. Terms like “reprogramming” and censoring people’s opinions became nightly fodder on the news.
Yesterday, the former leader of the US Senate called those who rallied for President Trump a “mob” intent on storming the U.S. Capitol. He maligned and falsely accused American citizens—some eighty million strong of intending harm, most of whom belong to his party. He allowed the lie to continue about those who attended the rally to exercise their Constitutional right to assemble. Most of those were ordinary, tax-paying citizens. The fact that rabble-rousers were already breaching the Capitol before Trump supporters arrived did not make the news until much later.
Words like “ insurrection”, “violent attack”, and “rioters” immediately were incendiary bombs meant to marginalize Trump supporters before anyone knew what had really happened. The wagging tongues of the media and many in Congress served to label good and honest Americans as undesirable and needy of re-education.
James wrote that the tongue is untamed and full of deadly poison, that the tongue is the outlet for a heart that is jealous and full of selfish ambition that produces disorder and every evil thing.
I never thought I would see this rhetoric directed at fellow Americans. I am ashamed of many of our politicians, leaders, and others who have added fuel to an already blazing fire, rather than quenching it with the wisdom from above James describes in his letter. That wisdom is first peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy, unwavering and without hypocrisy. If more Americans planted peaceable seeds instead of fueling the fire of destruction, America would flourish.

Three books in “The Scarlet Thread Series”by J L Smith tell the stories of biblical characters like Joseph who was falsely accused, but survived and flourished with God’s help. They are available on Amazon, B&N, and Xulon Press.

Pray our nation would return to following His wisdom.


Success and Defeat

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8 NASB

The past four years have been like watching the last two minutes of a football game a thousand times. Who will fumble? Whose defense will break down and allow a touchdown? Those last two minutes are agonizing because we all want to win.

Violence is not the Answer

In the same way the election nears its culmination amid hysterical appeals for votes, ugly smears, and slanders against opponents, with justice and kindness a casualty. Only one side is going to win in this election, and, from all reports, violence will occur regardless. Spurred on by a biased media and suppression of truth, nobody will be happy with the outcome. Already one side has vowed violence if they do not win, and retaliation if they do. What has happened to the America I knew?

The Way to Do Good

God has told us through the prophet Micah what He wants from the people who claim to love Him. “Do what is good” means to set our standard, the plumb line for our deeds, attitudes, and character to a holy God, pure and blameless. Every good and perfect gift comes from Him. He does not change to meet the whims of corrupt mankind but sets the eternal standard by which we can approach Him.

Doing justice

“Justice and liberty for all” is part of our Pledge of Allegiance to the flag. Justice belongs to all—regardless of religion, ethnicity, gender, skin color, or political preference.  Justice and righteousness mean the same thing—righteousness produces justice for everyone. “Love your neighbor as yourself” ensures righteousness.

Loving kindness

When the air has cleared from all the name-calling, slander, threats, and selfishness, will there be anyone left that loves kindness? This election process has hurt many people and fractured friendships, families, and marriages. One Greek word for kindness in the Bible is philanthropia which means good will manifested in a friendly, considerate demeanor; a readiness to help another, and cherishing and keeping fellowship. After this election, can we exercise kindness toward those with whom we disagreed? Will we restore these broken relationships? Four years from now there will be another election—will there be any kindness left?

Walking humbly with our God

Romans 13 states that it is God who appoints rulers, kings, and presidents. He set up governments to keep order. We are to submit to those authorities because they could not have gained their position without God. Therefore, when we yield to His sovereignty, we acknowledge He “removes kings and establishes kings” (Daniel 2:21) and He does according to His will, not ours. Isaiah tells us He will achieve His purpose; that everything He plans will happen.

It is our choice

I don’t know who will win, but I know I must choose to walk with Him rather than tremble in fear, shake my fist at my fellow Americans, and throw a toddler tantrum if I don’t get my way. I will pray earnestly for whoever wins because God told me to pray for authorities because it is good in His sight. (1Timothy 1:1-2)

Vote

Voting is a privilege that many on earth do not share. Do your part and make your voice known and then accept the results of fellow Americans’ choice.

Pursuing Peace

“So then, let us pursue the things which make for peace and building up of one another.” Romans 14:19 NASB

This year’s election season has produced more than its share of animosity, suspicion, and disunity. Families torn apart, neighbor against neighbor, and even violence stalks Americans these days. A car struck someone I know in Prairie Village, Kansas while he defended political signs in his own yard. He previously had several signs stolen, so he was watching them when he spied a man in a car veering onto his lawn to knock down the signs. He struck my friend down. After a stint in the ICU, he is home recovering, realizing he could be dead over a fit of anger at a political sign. Sadly, this is not an unusual occurrence in this election. Tempers flare, lifelong friendships are over because of a Facebook post, and even family members are at odds.

I Want America Back

America is not a perfect country, but I can remember no time in which I have heard so many angry words exchanged by previously well-mannered people. I remember an era when neighbors helped neighbors, when children played outside until dark without supervision, where disagreements were civil, and where name-calling was taboo. These days everyone feels free to express their unsolicited opinion regardless of the social setting. Civility is terminally ill if not dead.

The Solution

The cure for the seething rage in America is simple—love your neighbor as yourself. Do for others what you hope they would do for you. As Paul states in Romans, pursue peace. Make an active decision to be a peacemaker. Look for ways to build the other person up, instead of arguing and tearing them down. Show respect for another’s opinions. Listen and respond with logic, not emotion. Ask questions and listen to the answers. Often, we gain insight into another person by understanding how their life experiences drive their opinions. Know when to walk away. My mother always told me, if you cannot say something nice to someone, then say nothing at all.

Jacob and Esau

Isaac’s twin sons, Jacob and Esau quarreled when Esau felt Jacob had stolen his birthright. Esau was the first-born son, which meant he would inherit the bulk of his father’s estate. Jacob approached Esau when he was hungry and traded him the birthright for a bowl of stew. The enmity between the two brothers simmered throughout their lives, and it exists even today in their descendants. The nomadic tribes, some Esau’s descendants, of the Middle East are still warring against their Jewish brothers. What would be different if the two men had followed a pattern of peace instead of resentment and jealousy?

Be a Peacemaker

Being right does not mean we win. If prevailing in an argument demeans the other person, or results in injury, that is not a victory. Run after peace as a habit of life. A little humility has substantial rewards—a friendship kept, families united, and the absence of angst. Someone will win this election, and someone will lose. Do all in your power to make certain we do not lose peace.

Check out Esau and Jacob’s story in my first book, “The Scarlet Thread: God’s Promises to the Patriarchs.”

Anger and Malice: The Twin Destroyers

Anger and Malice: The Twin Destroyers

“… but let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger, for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” James 19-20 NASB

Imagine

What would this nation look like if everyone listened, thought before they spoke, and curbed their anger? How many families would still be together? How many friendships would thrive? Would it unify us?

The twin destroyers

Truth is hard to find these days, for the political season is upon us. Candidates’ signs proliferate in yards like the wild poppies in the desert after a rain. They are on every street corner. Television and radio advertisements invade our homes. Much of what we see, particularly in the tv and radio ads, promotes fear or slanders the other candidate. Pundits spout their unsolicited opinions as if we wait expectantly to hear what they think. Every election season, it is the same, but it seems the anger, bitterness and malice have mushroomed into something menacing these the past four years. Rather than dissipating after the election in 2016, the twin destroyers’ anger and malice have mushroomed into wrath and rage against friends, family, and acquaintances. One must wonder when these angry people will run out of hateful adjectives.

A Dark Cloud

Because of the seeds of hatred sown by otherwise reasonable people, Americans are reeling from the loss of friendships, isolation from family members, and the name-calling and vitriol that seems to sprout like noxious weeds in our formerly beautiful and generous nation. It grieves my heart to hear over and over from friends how they have lost lifelong friendships over a political affiliation. Facebook seethes with hateful memes and malicious comments meant to demean anyone who has a different opinion. Twitter posts, rather than informing, just supply invective, fuel for an already out-of-control blaze of wrath.

A Bitter Harvest

Anger is part of being human. We see evidence of that when we watch toddlers fight over a favorite toy. Like Frank Sinatra, we want things our way. When someone or something keeps us from getting what we want, anger worms its way into our lives. However, we sow the seeds of bitterness when we let anger make its home in our heart. Bitterness is a poison that destroys the vessel that holds it, for if unchecked, it matures into malice, rage, wrath, and murder. The first family on earth experienced a bitter harvest when Cain murdered his brother Abel. Cain made a choice not to curb his envy, but allowed his anger to blossom into malice, the intent to harm another. Instead of accepting his brother, his anger blossomed into rage. Murder followed. In today’s world, the murder of a person’s reputation, and his character is equally bad. Yet, with malice in our heart, our tongues destroy reputations, livelihoods, friendships, and families.

Weedkillers

The weeds of hatred, mistrust, malevolence, maliciousness, slander, and hatred are choking America. Her generosity, compassion, and acceptance of other cultures defined the America of the past, but now suspicion, strife, and slander characterizes her. How do we eradicate the weeds to allow her beauty to show once again? Love your neighbor as yourself. Defined by my mother, “treat others as you would like to be treated.” Love conquers anger, hatred, and the things of the world. Love’s harvest is peace, patience, joy, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control.  We will always feel anger, but to have true contentment, we must master it by loving instead of hating.

The Scarlet Thread Series by JL Smith tells the stories of biblical characters who did not manage their anger: Cain, Samson, Saul, and Moses and many others show us none of us are perfect, but a perfect God can help us conquer ourselves.

Anger and Malice: The Twin Destroyers

“… but let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger, for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” James 19-20 NASB

What would this nation look like if everyone listened, thought before they spoke and curbed their anger? How many families would still be together? How many friendships would thrive? Would it unify us?

The twin destroyers

Truth is hard to find these days, for the political season is upon us. Candidates’ signs proliferate in yards like the wild poppies in the desert after a rain. They are on every street corner. Television and radio advertisements invade our homes. Much of what we see, particularly in the tv and radio ads, promotes fear or slanders the other candidate. Pundits spout their unsolicited opinions as if we wait expectantly to hear what they think. Every election season, it is the same, but it seems the anger, bitterness and malice have mushroomed into something menacing these the past four years. Rather than dissipating after the election in 2016, the twin destroyers’ anger and malice have mushroomed into wrath and rage against friends, family, and acquaintances. One must wonder when these angry people will run out of hateful adjectives.

A Dark Cloud

Because of the seeds of hatred sown by otherwise reasonable people, Americans are reeling from the loss of friendships, isolation from family members, and the name-calling and vitriol that seems to sprout like noxious weeds in our formerly beautiful and generous nation. It grieves my heart to hear over and over from friends how they have lost lifelong friendships over a political affiliation. Facebook seethes with hateful memes and malicious comments meant to demean anyone who has a different opinion. Twitter posts, rather than informing, just supply invective, fuel for an already out-of-control blaze of wrath.

A Bitter Harvest

Anger is part of being human. We see evidence of that when we watch toddlers fight over a favorite toy. Like Frank Sinatra, we want things our way. When someone or something keeps us from getting what we want, anger worms its way into our lives. However, we sow the seeds of bitterness when we let anger make its home in our heart. Bitterness is a poison that destroys the vessel that holds it, for if unchecked, it matures into malice, rage, wrath, and murder. The first family on earth experienced a bitter harvest when Cain murdered his brother Abel. Cain made a choice not to curb his envy, but allowed his anger to blossom into malice, the intent to harm another. Instead of accepting his brother, his anger blossomed into rage. Murder followed. In today’s world, the murder of a person’s reputation, and his character is equally bad. Yet, with malice in our heart, our tongues destroy reputations, livelihoods, friendships, and families.

Weedkillers

The weeds of hatred, mistrust, malevolence, maliciousness, slander, and hatred are choking America. Her generosity, compassion, and acceptance of other cultures defined the America of the past, but now suspicion, strife, and slander characterizes her. How do we eradicate the weeds to allow her beauty to show once again? Love your neighbor as yourself. Defined by my mother, “treat others as you would like to be treated.” Love conquers anger, hatred, and the things of the world. Love’s harvest is peace, patience, joy, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control.  We will always feel anger, but to have true contentment, we must master it by loving instead of hating.

The Scarlet Thread Series by JL Smith tells the stories of biblical characters who did not manage their anger: Cain, Samson, Saul, and Moses and many others show us none of us are perfect, but a perfect God can help us conquer ourselves.

The Scarlet Thread Series by JL Smith tells the stories of biblical characters who did not manage their anger: Cain, Samson, Saul, and Moses and many others show us none of us are perfect, but a perfect God can help us conquer ourselves.

“… but let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger, for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” James 19-20 NASB

What would this nation look like if everyone listened, thought before they spoke and curbed their anger? How many families would still be together? How many friendships would thrive? Would it unify us?

The twin destroyers

Truth is hard to find these days, for the political season is upon us. Candidates’ signs proliferate in yards like the wild poppies in the desert after a rain. They are on every street corner. Television and radio advertisements invade our homes. Much of what we see, particularly in the tv and radio ads, promotes fear or slanders the other candidate. Pundits spout their unsolicited opinions as if we wait expectantly to hear what they think. Every election season, it is the same, but it seems the anger, bitterness and malice have mushroomed into something menacing these the past four years. Rather than dissipating after the election in 2016, the twin destroyers’ anger and malice have mushroomed into wrath and rage against friends, family, and acquaintances. One must wonder when these angry people will run out of hateful adjectives.

A Dark Cloud

Because of the seeds of hatred sown by otherwise reasonable people, Americans are reeling from the loss of friendships, isolation from family members, and the name-calling and vitriol that seems to sprout like noxious weeds in our formerly beautiful and generous nation. It grieves my heart to hear over and over from friends how they have lost lifelong friendships over a political affiliation. Facebook seethes with hateful memes and malicious comments meant to demean anyone who has a different opinion. Twitter posts, rather than informing, just supply invective, fuel for an already out-of-control blaze of wrath.

A Bitter Harvest

Anger is part of being human. We see evidence of that when we watch toddlers fight over a favorite toy. Like Frank Sinatra, we want things our way. When someone or something keeps us from getting what we want, anger worms its way into our lives. However, we sow the seeds of bitterness when we let anger make its home in our heart. Bitterness is a poison that destroys the vessel that holds it, for if unchecked, it matures into malice, rage, wrath, and murder. The first family on earth experienced a bitter harvest when Cain murdered his brother Abel. Cain made a choice not to curb his envy, but allowed his anger to blossom into malice, the intent to harm another. Instead of accepting his brother, his anger blossomed into rage. Murder followed. In today’s world, the murder of a person’s reputation, and his character is equally bad. Yet, with malice in our heart, our tongues destroy reputations, livelihoods, friendships, and families.

Weedkillers

The weeds of hatred, mistrust, malevolence, maliciousness, slander, and hatred are choking America. Her generosity, compassion, and acceptance of other cultures defined the America of the past, but now suspicion, strife, and slander characterizes her. How do we eradicate the weeds to allow her beauty to show once again? Love your neighbor as yourself. Defined by my mother, “treat others as you would like to be treated.” Love conquers anger, hatred, and the things of the world. Love’s harvest is peace, patience, joy, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control.  We will always feel anger, but to have true contentment, we must master it by loving instead of hating.

The Scarlet Thread Series by JL Smith tells the stories of biblical characters who did not manage their anger: Cain, Samson, Saul, and Moses and many others show us none of us are perfect, but a perfect God can help us conquer ourselves.

The Chasm

Cataclysmic foreshocks rumble throughout our society daily. Most of us acknowledge the unsteadiness but hurry on, hoping everything will stabilize, that our world will remain the same. Just like the seismic shifts beneath the earth’s surface signal an earthquake to the scientists, cultural swings foretell looming disaster, an ever-widening chasm reflecting the cultural shifts.

Keeping our balance

For years many of us have tried to have one foot on one side of the chasm, while keeping the other foot on the familiar other side. We hope the chasm will not widen, but inch by inch the gap is growing broader, causing us to struggle to keep our balance and support our precarious stance.

Teetering on the edge

However, the gap is getting too wide to buttress our equilibrium. Things like abortion-on-demand up to birth, gay marriage, civil rights, politics, the police, border control, religion, and other critical issues assault our senses, causing us to waver to re-establish our balance. Many hope to embrace both sides of these issues and still preserve our position and our friendships. Hoping to please and not offend, we find ourselves in danger of falling into the yawning chasm below.

Making the choice

At some point, we realize we must decide—go with the cultural shifts or jump to the other side—our traditional and Godly values. That leap of faith separates us from others, some of whom are family and friends. We face the epithet of being judgmental and lacking compassion, when, in fact, we are preserving righteousness. God has said in His word there can be no justice is there is no righteousness, and, as His people, we must choose the world or Him.

More shifts

The chasm will continue to widen. Just this week, the California Assembly passed a law that children can give consent to sexual encounters, opening the door to the normalization of pedophilia. New York allows the abandonment of babies born in a botched abortion, allowing them to die. Vile and obscene exploitation of women and children fill our homes with sewage from our television sets.

Suffering persecution

The anger permeating our society is palpable. The shifts in culture force people to take sides, resulting in rationalization, justification, promoting lies to support their position, and hatred for anyone who disagrees. The result—a nation divided.

The Way

There is a way to stabilize America. God’s side of the chasm brings hope, mercy, and justice for all. He gives us a new life, and a way to walk in His ways, the ancient paths. We can leave the chasm behind and return to being the nation who entered a covenant with Almighty God to follow His ways, not the ways of the world.

Examine the Fruit

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22 NASB

I love peaches. They are in season right now, so every week I buy some. When I make my choice, I don’t just blindly pick up any of them; I inspect them for blemishes, bruises, stage of ripeness and color. I don’t condemn the fruit I did not choose; I merely pass them up after examining their qualities.

You will know them by their fruits

Jesus said a lot about fruit in His teachings, using an analogy the people understood—good trees bear good fruit and bad trees produce blighted fruit. He was speaking of how we can discern if someone is bad or good using an agricultural metaphor. We must look at the fruit people produce by their actions.

Deceit cloaked in a façade

Today’s world is full of conflicting ideologies, proclamations, and pronouncements, some of which sound reasonable and good on the surface. Wrapped up in a veneer of mantras with which everyone would agree, we are often deceived into believing what we see is what we get. However, If one takes the time to scrutinize the fruit of these ideological trees, the pretense of desirability disappears. The Treasury Department trains its people to recognize counterfeit bills by studying the real. The truth does not need a facade, for it is genuine, much like a piece of furniture that is solid wood rather than pressed wood covered with a veneer.

Destruction and Chaos

Nightly videos of violence, destruction, looting, mayhem, and murder have convinced me that under the eroding pretense of caring, there is nothing but violence and hatred. Interestingly, in addition, these riots always start in the dark of night, in the shadows, for light exposes their evil deeds. The people they profess to care for are the ones suffering the most loss. Add to that the fact the English language has degenerated into one foul word used for every part of speech.

The Law

The laws are there to protect us, to render justice, yet the ones who are called to enforce the law are ridiculed, injured, and derided. The fruit of that is anarchy, an absolute rejection of authority. This fruit is the exact opposite of the fruit of the Spirit. If these people loved, violence would not be their fruit. They would work to solve problems by using the unique system of government we enjoy in the U.S., not acting like some third world country.

Our response

We cannot consume this bad fruit. We must be selective about ideas presented as truth. We need to research, examine every philosophy, and compare it to the plumb line of righteousness. If we do not, anarchy will produce its own fruit—tyranny.