I am thankful that the Lord instructs us how to pray. We want to pray what is on God’s heart and mind, agreeing with what He feels is important for us to pray. We want to hear from Him and respond with intercession by praying for others or a certain situation. This can be difficult to do as there are so many things that vie for our attention, so it is encouraging to see the ways the Lord helps us to know what and how to pray.
I had a small encounter that has fueled my prayers concerning praying for the United States. I had a short dream around October 15. In the dream I was talking to a group of people from the book of Joel. Joel is a prophetic book in the Old Testament, and specifically Joel 2 is a Scripture that is insightful to us as to how we as the people of God should respond in a time of crisis. The command in the book of Joel is to gather the people together, cry out to God, and return to Him with all our heart. Then in the dream, a man, who I feel represented the Lord and also faithfulness in the word of God, said to me, “Look at Athaliah.” It was almost as if that phrase was added to the message of Joel I was sharing.
So, who was Athaliah? In the Scripture, Athaliah was a wicked woman, the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, two of the wickedest rulers in Israel’s history. She married Jehoram, the son of Jehosophat, one of the kings of the southern kingdom of Judah (2 Kings 8:16-18). Their son, Ahaziah, reigned after Jehoram died. Both her husband and her son “did evil in the sight of the Lord.” Ahaziah walked in wickedness like the house of Ahab. His mother, Athalia, advised Him to do wickedly. She was a great proponent of Baal worship which included much idolatry and sexual immorality. In 2 Kings 11:1-21, it is recorded that after Ahaziah’s death Athaliah usurped the throne and killed all the rightful, royal heirs to the throne. From the heirs, Joash was spared and hidden for 6 years in the house of the Lord. At the right time, Jehoida, the priest, along with the military captains and their thousands of armed men, arranged for a rightful coronation of the young King Joash. As a result, Athaliah was slain, Joash took the throne, and the temple of Baal was destroyed. For part of his reign, Joash did what was right in the sight of the Lord. Joash even instructed the temple of the Lord to be repaired.
For me, the Lord highlighted this account through this short dream to alert me to pray about some of these things in connection to our current national situation.
First of all, we need to look at what Athaliah promoted. It was Baal worship. This is not pleasing to God. In America, we see the promotion of the evil practices of sexual immorality and idolatry. We need to recognize those who are promoting this in our nation and call it for what it is, Baal worship.
Athaliah usurped the throne. This parallels a real desire in some in this nation to take positions of authority illegally. We need to pray against it. As we look around our nation we see individuals and groups grabbing for authority that is not rightfully theirs, and seeking to overthrow government and authority with violence, rioting, and destruction. This is not godly, but lawless. As we approach this election on Tuesday, there is more and more talk of subversion of authority. I believe that we need to pray for these attempts to usurp rightful authority to be brought to nothing and be made ineffective.
Athaliah also killed the rightful heirs. We need to pray for threats against rightful leaders and godly leaders to be halted. We need to also pray that those who are in positions of leadership would embrace godly principles and policies (I Timothy 2:1-4). We need to pray for those God has “hidden away” to come into rightful places of authority at the right time. I believe this happened with the appointment of Amy Coney Barrett at this time to help preserve the godly principles in our nation’s founding document and to be used to end abortion in our land.
When there is so much going on in our nation, it can be overwhelming to know how to focus our prayers. It can be discouraging and depressing to look around and see the crisis and trouble. Yet as believers in the Lord and because He instructs us to pray, it is imperative that we pray in these times. It is imperative we know His character and ways in the Scripture. We find in the Word important directives of what to pray (for the church, people in authority, etc). Even so, we can be overwhelmed by the mountains of needs/crisis/tumult we need to pray about. I am encouraged that He can reveal to us how to focus our prayers. I am thankful He gives specific direction in what to pray in the Scripture. Let’s ask Him to help us pray about the things on His heart, interceding for others and our nation according to His word and ways.
When I heard about the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg I had quite a different reaction than I thought I would. I heard the news when I was at one of our regular Tri-Cities House of Prayer Friday night prayer meetings. A wave of grief hit me and I wept. I have actually thought many times before about when her passing would be. This influential Supreme Court Justice had fought her way through many health battles and yet she remained on the court at 87 years of age until her death.
Justice Ginsburg was a champion for women’s rights to choose abortion and the LGBT community. Yet, in an interesting way, she won her way into my heart. Let me explain.
I didn’t even know who Justice Ginsburg was until about 10 years ago. I first heard about her when I became involved in a 40 Days for Life campaign in 2010, a movement that focuses on praying in front of abortion clinics worldwide. I was involved in those campaigns for about 9 years.
During those campaigns, we would pray for issues pertaining to life in our region and our nation. We would pray for the Supreme Court, many times praying by name for individuals on the court. I personally would pray for those who were pro-choice to be removed from their seat, retire, or repent. Specifically with Justice Ginsburg, I didn’t agree with her view on abortion and promotion of it as a woman’s right.
I will be honest, I don’t know much about the personal life of Ginsburg or her history. I did find plenty to disagree with when reading about her. I found her statements about the US Constitution shocking and disturbing. I didn’t agree with the pro-LGBT views she supported and backed. Yet I found over the years my heart become burdened for her. Whenever we would pray for the Supreme Court, I would remember her and many times weep for her.
I also knew that Justice Ginsburg was Jewish. Being a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, I knew she had not accepted Him as her Messiah. So, I would pray for her to know Messiah. Her life also intersected with my burden for the Jewish people (Romans 10 and 11).
This brings me to September 18,, 2020. I wept upon hearing she passed. I literally was grieving over the lost soul of this woman. Not only hers but many Jews who do not know Messiah, many people who do not know Jesus as Savior. I got up on the microphone and prayed through my tears. I prayed that many would consider their end when they heard of the passing of Justice Ginsburg. I prayed that many Jews would receive the Lord.
I began to see that my heart was experiencing in a very small way the grief God must feel when people reject the very One sent to reconcile men to Himself, the solution for our sinful state.
“He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” John 3:36
In order to have eternal life with God we must trust in His Son. So when Ruth Ginsburg died my reaction was to weep. I didn’t want to see her separated from her Creator for all eternity. And as many rejoiced more over a vacant seat on the Supreme court in hopes to be filled with a “pro-life” judge, I was reminded of the state of men’s and women’s souls who do not know Him and the eternity they will spend in torment.
Lord, help us to consider the state of other people’s souls and their need for a Savior. Help us to pray with fervency that they would be won to Christ. Help us to be led by love to the place of intercession for their souls. In the name of your Son, Jesus, we pray. Amen.
The Return was a solemn assembly prayer meeting on the Mall in Washington, DC on Saturday, September 26th. The description of this even is: “A movement, an appointed time, and a specific day set apart for one purpose – the return to God, that there be a coming before His presence in humility, in sincerity in prayer and repentance, that there be intercession for America, for each other, and for oneself, for God’s mercy, for salvation, for healing, for revival, for restoration, and for the fulfillment of God’s purposes for America and all who dwell within it.”
It was truly a sacred gathering with a focus of Joel 2; returning to the Lord in fasting and humility. This was the same day that Franklin Graham gathered many on the Mall and led a prayer walk.
If you would like some more information about it, you can go to www.thereturn.org. On the site the mission of the event is explained, along with testimonials, as well as a replay of the event.
Ruth and I tuned in with the Tri-Cities House of Prayer. They hosted a gathering where we participated via webstream. We were tuned in from 8pm to 5pm that day. Julie and our kids tuned in at home. I was particularly impacted by several things about the event.
One aspect of the event that greatly encouraged me was seeing so many leaders in various arenas, ministries, and ministers of different streams in the body of Christ come together under one banner of return to the Lord. Some of which were Carter Conlon of Times Square Church in New York City, Ann Graham Lotz, Dick Eastman, Michael W. Smith, Paul Wilbur, Ben Carson.
Jonathan Cahn delivered a prophetic word to America in the middle of the day that I feel like every believer in the body of Christ would benefit from hearing. CLICK HERE for the link to that message, The Potter’s Jar. God is truly calling us to return to Him; what will our response be in this time of human history?
During the solemn assembly a proclamation came from the White House declaring a national day of Return for America. It was also the same day Amy Coney Barrett was nominated to the Supreme Court.
Within the corporate gathering, God was speaking to me, and dealing with me individually. He was helping to change my perspective. He was pointing out areas in my life that need adjusting, areas of sin and idolatry that I need to repent of. It reminded me of another gathering I had been a part of that resulted in a significant shift in my life. I know this event will be something I meditate on for a while.
I shared some reflections on the event at our church, Hosanna Fellowship, the following Sunday morning. CLICK HERE to watch that video.
Well, we are now in the midst of one of the busiest seasons of the year. How are you doing? Stressed? Overwhelmed? Ahead of Schedule? Under the gun? Sick, Fatigued, Over it? Is your schedule crammed with so many events that you find it hard to find time to breathe. Perhaps there are other emotions that you are dealing with that make the season a difficult one, like loss or feeling discouraged.
Even though it is already the 11th of December, it doesn’t mean you have to succumb to the frenzy of the season. Getting major priorities as major priorities in place is vital to do if we are wanting to ourselves at a certain place come January 1st.
At our last Lampstand meeting in November, we discussed the necessity of this for the upcoming season. I used an illustration that was repeated to me in my college years and now I see even more and more importance of it. It is a simple example but really makes a great point. Imagine there is a jar of small stones and you are challenged to get in some bigger rocks. Of course you cannot because the jar is already full. Then you have an empty jar and instructed to put in large stone first. Then small stones fill the empty space, then you can even add pebbles and sand. Even then you can add water to totally have the jar full. The example shows us in order to have the major priorities in our lives, we have to get the big rocks in first. For Julie and me we are constantly reminding ourselves to get the big rocks in first.
Now, as believers we know that the 1st and greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind (Matthew 22:38). The Gospel of Luke adds to that to love Him with all our strength, too. This is to be our highest priority and of most importance. The FIRST and GREATEST commandment. So if I want this first in my life in December and want to be more in love with Jesus and have greater devotion to Him come January 1, it needs to be the big rock in my jar. Then I put in the other “priorities in my jar” as He leads. I could go through December strung out and overwhelmed but if I am consistent in making Him first then He will help me with the rest and I CAN HAVE SPIRITUAL AND EMOTIONAL FUEL, EVEN PHYSICAL FUEL in my life as priorities are set in place after the big rocks. Connection with Him is the best fuel we can have for our hearts to stay encouraged, strengthened, motivated, peaceful, and content.
So I have not done the best at this priority thing so far in December but I can say it would be worse if we didn’t try. This week, I am experiencing more joy and peace because I feel these priorities are a little more concrete. How did they get more solid? We’ve taken time to talk and pray about our schedule. We are saying no to some things, and we are saying yes to others. We are asking the Lord to direct us in what things we need to do and when and how we need to rest. Keeping things in right priority is not easy, but we are intent on having fuel in December and in beginning the New Year so it is worth it! Keeping our lives in right priority will always be a challenge but we have been given the Helper, the Holy Spirit, to help us! (I’ve been reading John 15 and 16 this morning). I am banking on the fact if we seek first His kingdom and righteousness, He will add what we need. (Matthew 6:33).
In this Christmas season, I pray that you would be filled with the fuel of encouragement and strength from intentional connection with Jesus. May you have the peace He brings. May your focus and desire be first for Him. O, COME LET US ADORE HIM!
During the recent 40 Days campaign (CLICK HERE for more info on 40 Days for Life), I met a pastor who travels about an hour to stand with his wife in front of the Bristol abortion clinic every Monday morning as a positive pro-life witness. I felt led to join him on Monday mornings. So, since the Spring 40 Days for Life Campaign, I have stood on Monday mornings down in front of the abortion clinic in Bristol and continued to pray and also to be a pro-life witness for a few hours.
I have had the opportunity to pray but also to have some short conversations with those going in and out of the clinic. I think the most impacting conversation so far has been a simple, short conversation but it has spoken volumes to me. The conversation went something like this…
Me: Can I speak to you a second, ma’am?
Woman: No, no, I am only here for an exam.
Me: Do you know they do abortions here?
Woman: Yes, I am aware of that. That is why I go here.
It is one thing to reach out to a woman who may be considering an abortion and offer a better way, communicate that there is a real baby in her womb, and that there are other, better options than the decision to have an abortion. It is a whole other thing to know that women are frequenting this clinic to support the killing of the unborn. Undoubtedly, they would say they are for the woman’s choice and she alone can make the decision about her body. It’s a whole mindset, philosophy, and ideology.
Fundamental to this mindset is that God is not the center but the woman is, her rights, her choices, her decision. The fact of the matter is that more and more pro-choice individuals are believing that a fetus IS life in the womb. The main argument for abortion has changed from “it isn’t even a life.” It is now more accurately stated that it is more important that a woman has the choice to kill that life rather than the value for life itself. It’s disheartening to see that the life that God values and created is not valued. If He were at the center of the mindset, there would be serious consideration of what HE thinks about aborting a baby. (Psalm 139, Psalm 106:38).
So, my short conversation illustrated for me the problem of a faulty mindset that is a factor in someone having an abortion, but also it is that mindset that fuels and supports the whole abortion industry.
Oh, that God would be our center again and not what we feel is right in our own eyes.
*We want to make a special note that we realize there are very difficult situations surrounding a woman considering abortion. We always want to express compassion for women in these circumstances and emphasize that abortion harms women (and men and families) as well. We also always want to point to Jesus and the forgiveness and healing that He extends to those who turn to Him who have chosen abortion.
15 And I will give you shepherds according to My heart,
who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.
The context of this passage in the book of Jeremiah is a prophecy to the nation of Israel in the midst of the Lord’s beckoning message to Israel to return to Him. It was a message of encouragement to Israel that God was going to raise up shepherds who reflect His heart in contrast to some of the unfaithful shepherds that they had experienced.
It is a great encouragement to me that God will not only literally do this with Israel but He is raising up more and more shepherds who fit this description in Jeremiah 3:15 in the church worldwide.
This description is very similar to the description we have of King David, a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22), who was called to be Israel’s “Shepherd King” (2 Samuel 5:2). God prepared David to be a shepherd to His people by being a literal shepherd where he learned to shepherd them “according to the integrity of His heart, and guided them by the skillfulness of his hands.”
The “according to My heart” described in Jeremiah 3:15 describes shepherds who are after the Lord’s heart, diligently seeking Him. They are those whose hearts are corresponding with the Lord’s heart, conforming to His heart, and in agreement with His heart; not only His emotions, passions, and desires but His thoughts and His ways.
These shepherds will feed others, caring for them by leading them to the knowledge of God. This is more than just an informational knowing of Bible facts but a “knowing God,” intimate with Him, familiar with His personality, attributes, etc (Jeremiah 9:23). This kind of knowledge is what brings stability to us (Isaiah 33:6). It is not a window shopping type of knowledge but a partaking of every aspect of who He is. The understanding of Jeremiah 3:15 describes insight into, consideration of, and comprehension of the Lord, who He is, what He is like, and why He does the things He does.
In contrast to the descriptions of other shepherds in Jeremiah, these ones the Lord is raising up will be those who don’t “destroy and scatter the sheep,” those who attend to the needs of the sheep, who have stood in the counsel of the Lord causing God’s people to hear His words (Jeremiah 23). We also get other descriptions of unfaithful, irresponsible, and absent shepherds out of passages like Ezekiel 34, Zechariah 10, and other places in Scripture.
We also have prophesies about God himself being a shepherd in Ezekiel 24 & 37, Zechariah 13, and Jeremiah 31. We know the ultimate example of a shepherd of God’s people is Jesus. He had compassion on people because they “were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.” (Matthew 9: 36). He is the Good Shepherd described in John 10, modeling wonderfully what His shepherds will look like.
So, God is raising up shepherds. They will be after His heart and according to His heart. They will fill others on knowledge and understanding, yet they will not be just in the “pastor of a church” role. They are those who will carry His heart into the workplace and lead like Jesus leads. They are fathers, mothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, older brothers, older sisters who will influence others in their family according to the heart of God. They are mentors and teacher who will tend to others with right understanding of who God is and what He does. Two questions each of us can consider are: where are we serving as shepherds and what kind of shepherds are we?
The most important lesson for shepherds is knowing THE SHEPHERD. How else can we truly impart His heart and truth to others? Shepherds must themselves feed on knowledge and understanding from the Good Shepherd before they can effectively lead others.
Lord, you are raising up shepherds like King David who are after your heart. You are preparing them to tend your people. Prepare us in whatever role of shepherding you would call us to. Feed us. Tend to us. Help us to grow in knowledge and understanding of You. And then use us to feed and care for others, effectively leading others in Your paths. Amen.
Wow! It is hard to believe that the fall 40 Days for Life campaign is upon us. It begins on September 27th and goes through November 5th! For those of you who don’t know, here’s a brief summary of what this ministry is about from their website: “40 Days for Life is a focused pro-life campaign with a vision to access God’s power through prayer, fasting, and peaceful vigil to end abortion.” To read more about the campaign in the Tri-Cities, CLICK HERE. To learn more about the international ministry of 40 Days for Life, visit the website www.40daysforlife.com.
This past Sunday afternoon, we had a rally preceding the campaign. Instead of gathering in Johnson City (as we have done in years past), we gathered across from the Bristol Regional Women’s Center, the abortion clinic we pray in front of for the ending of abortion during the campaign.
Linda, our fearless leader, had asked me to share about the subject of solemn assemblies in regard to 40 Days for Life and this fall campaign, even calling those gathered there to the solemn assembly gathering that the 40 Days for Life Rally in Bristol is. A solemn assembly is a time of serious gathering for God’s people, to humble themselves and cry out to the Lord to have mercy in the face of His judgments. A clear picture of this is in the book of Joel. In Joel, the people of God have turned from the Lord and are under His judgments. They are experiencing great economic crisis and are under the threat of an invading army. The instruction God gives His people through the prophet is to blow the trumpet, sound the alarm, gather the people, return to the Lord, rending their hearts and not their garments. It is a call to repent and seek the Lord. If they respond, then there is hope God will restore the land and protection.
We as a nation are in great crisis. Abortion alone has claimed the lives of over 60 million innocent babies. We have embraced and celebrated immorality. We have issues of hatred and racism. We have gone against God’s purposes for Israel. We have turned to greed, self-reliance, pride, compromise and covetousness. We have abandoned God for idols of pleasure, entertainment, comfort, possessions and money.
We have stepped out from under God’s protection and we have turned from God. Because of that we have faced current race riots, natural disasters of hurricanes and flooding, wildfires ravishing the west, not to mention the effects of the sins we have committed.
Many have opinions about what we should do in the face of crisis but God gives us a prescription for what we are to do first when we are in crisis: gather and turn to Him.
With this upcoming 40 Days for Life, we are gathering on the streets with this understanding. We want God’s mercy (specifically the ending of abortion) and so we will humble ourselves before the Almighty God and appeal to His mercy. We will make a conscious effort to seek His face and turn from our wicked ways. Please join with us in this prayer movement/solemn assembly. Contact us if you would like to be involved.
But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious,
Longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth.
Consecrate a fast,
Call a sacred assembly;
Gather the elders
And all the inhabitants of the land
Into the house of the Lord your God,
And cry out to the Lord.
2 Chronicles 7:13-14
When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, 14 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 will forgive their sin and heal their land.
With the solar eclipse coming Monday, August 21, 2017, people are talking a lot about this historic event. Some people are mostly interested in getting their glasses to view the spectacle, but we have also seen some interesting conjecture about the end of the world or other cataclysmic events because of the eclipse. It also seems to stir up a lot of questions about the times we live in and there seems to even be anxiety about what this can mean.
We believe this is not only a historic event, but a prophetic one that we should pay attention to. At our recent TRIHOP meeting, our director Skip Cone shared a very helpful explanation of this event. He described two extremes of responses to the total eclipse that will soon be crossing our nation: we can look at it as simply a natural phenomenon and ignore what God may be saying with it OR we can move into prophetic mania.
Skip’s words regarding the eclipse: “At best, it is an opportunity for us to consider our ways and cry out for our nation to return to the Lord. At worst, this could be a final warning for us to repent before God severely chastens our nation.”
You can read his thoughts in their entirety in a document about the eclipse that I thought was helpful. Check it out.
I think more than anything we need to turn to the Lord. He is always interested in getting our attention and leading people into deeper relationship with Himself. He wants us to ask questions of Him and to seek Him in His word. We need to lift up our eyes, not just to see the sun eclipsed by the moon, but to see the Son of God on the throne and to bring our own hearts into agreement with His word.
We should guard against turning to prophetic meanings without turning to the One who is actually speaking. Sometimes, we get more fascinated by the message and we miss the point which is to behold the One with the message.
The fact that we can see something like this in the heavens at all is reason to lift our eyes and consider the One who created these things and it should cause us to heed what God may be communicating to His church through this sign in the heavens. It is worth it to ask if this is a prophetic indicator of what He is already speaking? If You are speaking, Lord, what is our response to be?
The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament shows His handiwork.
2 Day unto day utters speech,
And night unto night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech nor language
Where their voice is not heard.
4 Their line has gone out through all the earth,
And their words to the end of the world.
Recently, I was praying from 2 Peter that God would deliver His church from damaging doctrines and false teachers and one verse jumped out at me.
2 Peter 2:14 “having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, enticing unstable souls. They have a heart trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children.”
This verse is specifically speaking of false teachers but what jumped out at me is that “unstable souls” were the ones being enticed. What exactly makes one’s soul unstable?
I think a great answer is looking at what the Scripture says stability IS. “Wisdom and knowledge will be the stability of your times, and the strength of salvation; the fear of the Lord is His treasure.” (Isaiah 33:6) If we want stability in our lives, it is directly linked to the wisdom and knowledge of God. This is not a wisdom or knowledge that is human philosophy but rooted in the truth of the Lord and the revelation of Him in Scripture.
We have a famine of biblical knowledge in the Scripture in our culture and even in the church. In an article, “The Epidemic of Bible Illiteracy in Our Churches” by Ed Stetzer in Christianity Today, he sites some of this lack of biblical knowledge:
“But it's more than simply not knowing stories from Scripture. Our lack of biblical literacy has led to a lack of biblical doctrine. LifeWay Research found that while 67 percent of Americans believe heaven is a real place, 45 percent believe there are many ways to get there—including 1 in 5 evangelical Christians. More than half of evangelicals (59 percent) believe the Holy Spirit is a force and not a personal being—in contrast to the orthodox biblical teaching of the Trinity being three Persons in one God. As a whole, Americans, including many Christians, hold unbiblical views on hell, sin, salvation, Jesus, humanity, and the Bible itself.”
To read the entire article, click here.
So if there is such a problem in the nation and the church we are sure to be the “unstable souls” that would be enticed by false preachers. It is time to take a serious evaluation of our own lives in the word. Are we growing in knowledge and stability?
24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.
26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”
For the past year I have pondered the issue of slavery in our nation’s history. This is partly from reflecting on two outings our family was able to take. One was a tour of Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home near Charlottesville, VA and the other was a trip to Mammoth Cave, in Kentucky. Both trips significantly impacted me.
I cannot get out of my head one of the tour guide’s comments from the slavery tour at Monticello. We were standing on Mulberry Row, which was, in Jefferson’s time, a literal row of slave quarters and shops. Now they have recreated some of those buildings. From that row, you can easily see Jefferson’s home. We were standing on the lot where the original “nailery” would have been. The guide suggested a possible story of a day in the life of a young slave boy who would have had to make so many buckets of nails or face being whipped or being moved to work in the hot fields. As he worked to make the nails, maybe he would look up at Mr. Jefferson’s house, where the author of the Declaration of Independence lived, in which he wrote, “All men are created equal.” What would that young boy think as he faced a life of slavery, never to leave its grasp? Ugh, that thought weighed heavily on me that day as it has many other days in this past year.
It has been recently revived in my thoughts from the news that I heard of archeologists finding the room that they believe was designated for Sally Hemmings. Sally Hemmings was a slave with whom Jefferson probably had 6 children. The fact is, no matter how many stories would like to romanticize the relationship between the two, and whether there was an element of romance with Mr. Jefferson or not, Sally Hemmings was his property, not allowed to leave his estate.
At Mammoth Cave National Park we took the historic tour which was absolutely fascinating yet disturbing, again because of the issue of slavery. Using slave labor rented from a neighboring county, saltpeter was mined in the caves.
“During the War of 1812 between the United States and Great Britain, much of the large quantity of saltpeter needed to fight the war was mined at Mammoth Cave. The cave owners relied on a work force of approximately 70 African American slaves to mine this valuable mineral.” (https://www.nps.gov/nr/twhp/wwwlps/lessons/35mammoth/35facts2.htm)
I love to learn about American History. But honestly, the slavery we had in this nation sickens me. It’s a blight on our nation that continues to leave its effects. This injustice, with the cruelty that was expressed to human beings, is a major part of the sins of this nation before God. What do you do when you see such an atrocity?
The solution is not found in trying to cover over the atrocity, somehow whitewashing our nation’s history, our forefathers, or even our own actions and attitudes. The solution is not found in having certain people do penance or get punished for what their former relatives may have done. The Scripture gives a clear prescription of what a nation is to do when they have sinned against God and turned their back on Him. I find it encouraging and comforting knowing we lean into the mercies of a God who can forgive and heal.
2 Chronicles 7:14
14 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 will forgive their sin and heal their land.
This Scripture is in the context of God giving instruction to the nation of Israel when they would turn from God and then experience resulting crisis.
As we face the atrocity in our nation’s past we must not try to whitewash what has been an offense toward God. We don’t deny it happened. But we do as Daniel did with his nation; he identified with the sin and prayed to God for mercy (Daniel 9). We turn to God, ask for forgiveness, and offer forgiveness to others in that same vein. Without it the atrocities and injustice will continue in ignorance, vengeance, and retaliation.
God, we repent of our past sin. The atrocities that our nation has committed, the darkness we have embraced. We are sorry for slavery which infected our nation’s past and we are sorry for the racial wars, prejudice, injustice, and discrimination that continues today. God, help us to humble ourselves. To bow low and kiss the Son (Psalm 2) and say we were and are wrong. Help us to seek your face and know you, to know how you feel about all this, and to know what our current actions should be. Help us to forsake any wicked thoughts, motives, and actions. We ask that you would hear us and respond with the extension of your forgiveness and healing.
Matthew or Julie Wine