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.

LIGHT AND DARKNESS

“You are the world’s light—a city on a hill, glowing in the night for all to see. Don’t hide your light! Let it shine for all…” Matthew 5:14-15a LB

Light is a common metaphor in the Bible. It is the natural contrast to darkness. Light illuminates, reveals and gives us understanding of murky concepts. At creation, the earth was formless and void, without light. There was no one to see or understand.  God commanded light to illuminate the earth before He created the sun, moon, and stars on the 4th day and man on the 6th day. If there had been life before then, it would have been a meaningless existence in the shadows. God called the light good; it separated light from darkness, so His creation could flourish and appreciate the difference.

Darkness

Even though we experience night and day through the cycles of the sun and moon, darkness has an added connotation—historically and biblically, it is associated with evil. Children instinctively feel uneasy in the darkness. They intuitively know that not being able to see clearly is threatening. As a child, I resisted going into my grandparent’s basement because the pull-down light was halfway into the room. After carefully descending the stairs I had to feel my way, while imagining all sorts of creepy crawlies on that dirt floor. Monsters lurked in that shadowy void. Turning on the light brought relief and yes, a little embarrassment at being afraid of nothing. When the light came on, I saw the truth of things.

World System

We live in a world system that thrives on the fear and panic of uncertainty. Additionally, those who plot nefarious deeds usually shroud them in the shadows, away from the light-revealing truth. When I was a child in Georgia, we would sneak out at night with a flashlight and uncover stones and rocks to reveal the hidden creatures. We would shriek and run away after getting some nasty surprises. We saw the truth.

Love and light

Light and love have a relationship with truth. Truth reveals the hidden things—the nefarious deeds the unrighteous like to hide. Those who practice evil hate the light for it exposes them. Love demands truth even when it is unpopular or brings criticism from others. God’s love is unselfish, undemanding, and seeks the other’s well-being even if rejected. Human nature resists disapproval. We dislike correction of an attitude or an act. We do not want our unrighteous deeds exposed, lest we must do something about them. Deny, reject, or repent—those are the choices when daylight shows up the dust bunnies in our lives.

Do not hide your light

Truth does exist. It is absolute, inviolable, and eternal. As Christians, we accepted that truth—Jesus affirmed to us He was the way, the truth, and the life. He fulfilled perfect righteousness on earth. He was the Light of men and those who accept Him are His lampstands in a shadowy world that relies on speculations and assumptions. We have the Light living in us, but often we fear ridicule, rejection, and persecution for shining it. We were all formerly darkness, but now we must shine a beacon to those who continue to stumble in the darkness. We are bound to expose those things shrouded in shadows and in so doing, help others find their way. It has nothing to do with condemnation but is about helping others discover the light.

Check out the stories of men and women of the bible who gravitated to God’s light and in so doing, advanced the scarlet thread of salvation for the world.  www.thescarletthreadseries.com

FEAR OR FAITH

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:9 NASB

Fear is the opposite of faith

Joshua stood on the banks of the Jordan River viewing the fortified city of Jericho. He had just lost his mentor, Moses. Forty years before he witnessed the other ten spies who refused to enter the Promised Land because they were afraid. He and Caleb were the only ones to urge the people to take the land promised to them. I imagine he stared at the multitude of people waiting for his signal to move forward and wondered, Will they lose courage too? Yet the God who led them out of Egypt and through the forty-year consequence of their lack of faith now assures him: “I will be with you. Do not fear or be dismayed, believe Me.”

God is unchangeable

One of God’s attributes is His immutability. He never changes. He is the same yesterday, tomorrow and in the future. So, should His words to Joshua mean anything to us? The giants of Covid-19, riots, loneliness, loss of income, isolation, and anarchy challenge us. Can God deliver us? One thing God warned Joshua was His promises were conditional upon obedience. Do you think some of the Goliaths of our culture are too strong for Him? Or, do you believe He is omnipotent, sovereign, and powerful enough to raise Jesus from the dead if we honor Him with our obedience? Or, has our refusal to honor Him and obey Him rendered us defenseless?

Courage in the face of the unknown

God urged Joshua to be strong and courageous. The Hebrew words mean to bind, to hold fast in the face of a challenge. We face challenges in our nation, but nothing like the early settlers who left homes, families, fortune, and fear behind and forged ahead across this magnificent land. What about those of the greatest generation that answered their country’s call and fought against the giants of their time—despots, tyrants, genocidal zealots, and philosophies that ripped nations apart and took away freedom? We have never been a nation of fear, but I see fear’s insidious march upon our nation, particularly upon our youth, trampling faith and producing national impotence.

The Antidote

The antidote to dismay and the fear that beats us down, demoralizes us, and incites terror is faith. Odds against Joshua and the Israelites seemed insurmountable—strong fortified cities, better weaponry, and larger numbers, but because Joshua believed God and led the people, God performed miracles.

Fear Crushes our Spirit

Instead of feeling panic whenever we hear the latest statistics on COVID, or the destruction and disregard for lives and property we witness daily, we must take a stand and retake the land. Jericho, the first city Joshua met after crossing the Jordan, fell because all the people obeyed God. Think what could happen if we turned to Him rather than allow the latest expert dispenser of scary news crush us.

As for me and my house

Whenever I feel fear creeping into my heart, I pledge to extinguish its flames with faith. Joshua told his people, “As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” I will continue to take precautions against this unknown virus, but I refuse to let it destroy my confidence or my Constitutional freedoms. When I hear those who speak against our nation or tell lies to further their ideology, I will speak up. The God I serve is bigger than all my fears. He has overcome the world system. Christian, believe it!

Check out my books on www.thescarletthreadseries.com  

I Am Proud to be an American

Lee Greenwood’s anthem, “I’m Proud to be an American” recently made the rounds of Facebook and YouTube in commemoration of July 4th. Every time I hear it my heart swells with pride and gratitude for the blessings God has given to this country. Past 4th of July celebrations swirl in my mind—picnics, fireworks, patriotic songs, chasing fireflies, and flags everywhere. Happy memories of a time past.

A new normal?

This 4th was more subdued—no family, no fireworks, and the threat of a disease no one seems to fathom. The televised onslaught of mobs defacing and tearing down statues, rioting, blocking roads, and screaming epithets at anyone who disagreed with them brought tears to my eyes. Such a contrast to carefree outings with families, children with sparklers signing their names, and the tasty food. Many Americans, like my husband and I, felt appalled at the unchecked violence and hatred. We love this country, not because it is perfect, but because our system of government is flexible enough to remedy societal ills without violence. Americans used to be able to disagree with each other without retaliation.

Remember

Christ gave His assessment of the churches in Asia to John, one of His disciples. The first church, Ephesus, had started out well, but had forgotten her first love, the things she did at first. Christ told this church to remember her past and repent.  America too needs to remember who she was. She was a light shining on a hill, a beacon to the downtrodden, and a place where freedom was not just a longing, but a fact. Blood, sweat, and tears of all races secured America. She became a great nation because her people understood sacrifice and hard work. Americans took risks, showed courage in expanding her borders to the west coast, and did not expect instant reward.

Repent

Some Americans seem to have forgotten their past and the grit that made this country great. They demand respect but do nothing to earn it. Many are moving toward a hybrid socialism/Marxism that supplies everything but opportunity unless you are one of the elite hierarchy or race du jour. America has always been diverse, having welcomed people from all nations and cultures. However, America cannot stand if her diversity becomes an obstacle to the freedom of every individual.

History

History is the story of people whose desires, emotions, and aspirations are no different than ages past. To ignore our history is to wipe out the accomplishments, and yes, sometimes mistakes, to our own detriment. A people who do not know who they are turn out to be a people despoiled. Eventually, a benevolent despot or a tyrant must bring about order. History records events without commentary. It is up to us to learn from history, not destroy it.

Hope

If we genuinely believe that God loves all nations, nationalities, races, and creeds enough to provide a way of salvation, then we must work together with Him to return our nation to a place God can bless again. Unity is essential for a free and productive society—loving our neighbor is the first step to making America great again.