Part II – The New America: Accept, Be Honest, Do Not Deny….

… and yet as the sun rises, foot must still reach soil.

I have asked Sharon to pen her thoughts, because she possesses a gift and can arrange words in a specifically splendid order, at the most difficult of times.  Like now…. /SD

I’m aware that being on the receiving end of the mercy of God, personally or nationally, does not always mean being spared the consequences

I’m aware that the terrible and real loss that had been suspected is now documented. The reports have now come back on the tests that were done to check for national malignancy. It’s Stage 4. There is no more maneuvering room for yet one more fallback position. There was an ugly line drawn across the page as darkness fell last night and a new chapter is under way.

The broad expansive joys of simply being an American seem to be dust. We know today for sure, if we weren’t sure of it before, that we are no longer the go-to nation. We are no longer a functioning Republic. I am painfully aware today that here in our new home, we are twenty-five miles as the crow flies from the physical “end of the Oregon trail.”

I’m aware that all the trouble in the world cannot hurt a man if it doesn’t get inside of him.   Keeping this trouble external feels almost impossible…and yet that is the goal.

I’m aware that our present condition no longer reflects the historical blessings of God. It’s not difficult to understand that much of the reason for that is the institutionalized, legislated and formalized rejection of the presence and blessings of God–the latest blazing example being the Trinity of Votes in which the Democrat party loudly and publicly shouted their defiance against the Sovereign God.

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I am numb. I can’t locate the reference right now, but there’s an Old Testament verse which says, “That which we feared has come upon us.” Today that is not a Scriptural quote for me. It’s a fact. That which we feared has come upon us.

I am angry. Unspeakably and righteously angry (as far as I am capable of righteous anger) at the willingness of a nation’s people determined to chase their baser instincts no matter what the cost to themselves and to others. I am not referencing “degrees of faith” here, for there are self-identified athiests who are patriotic Americans, and who do not chase base instincts and destruction.

I am accountable. In chapter 9:3-19 of Daniel, his prayer is recorded. Daniel was living in Babylon, captive and yet an employee of the conquering king. Here are excerpts of that prayer:

O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts…

O Lord, righteousness belongs to You, but to us shame of face, as it is this day–to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those near and those far off in all the countries to which You have driven them, because of the unfaithfulness which they have committed against You.

O Lord, to us belongs shame of face, to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, because we have sinned against You. To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him.

….O my God, incline Your ear and hear;…for we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies. O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act!

Two points: Daniel had never personally participated in any great sins and wickedness, and yet here he stands before God, interceding for the nation, and he uses the humble “we” in identifying with the nation in both its sins and its needs.

Secondly, Israel was (and still is) the covenant-related-to-God-nation, the only nation on the face of the earth so covenanted. We have the privilege of covenant with God as individuals; only Israel has covenant as a nation. However, since our Founders depended on and called upon Jehovah God for His mercies and blessings as they founded this nation, it is clear that our nation has been uniquely blessed specifically because God’s blessing was sought.

There’s another example of this kind of “identifying with the nation” prayer for mercy in the first chapter of Nehemiah.

As a member of this nation that has sinned against God greatly, in broad daylight, for decades, I am not given the option of lifting my skirts and standing prissily aside, suggesting to the Sovereign, Thrice-Holy God: “GIT ‘EM!”  I don’t have that option.

I am calm at the core. I am deeply distressed, but calm because of what I know to be true. I know that the Sovereign God is willing to relate to me personally, in a completely reality-based way.

I know that He is willing to equip me to identify what is so. He is willing to assist me in identifying what I am responsible for, identifying what I have control over. These things require that I exercise faith, that I participate with Him in receiving the clear thinking and stability He gives. Thinking requires a willingness to do the work.

Thinking does require effort and is not always easy–that’s why so many don’t want to do it. It requires effort for me. Today requires that I exercise the faith He has given me, exercise that faith in the present moment–which means it also requires my time.

Exercising faith and walking by faith is not a warm fuzzy chosen in lieu of reality.

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I Know What I Must Do

I will be the go-to person for my family.

I will exercise the spiritual disciplines of Scripture-reading and prayer so that I am adequately sustained for what lies ahead. I will stand by faith. In Isaiah 7:9, the prophet is speaking to wicked King Ahaz and warns him, “If you do not stand in the faith you have, you will not stand at all.” The power of faith is such that it only takes mustard-seed-size to get the job done. I must stand in the faith I have.

I will guard against either generalizing or personalizing events past, present or future.

Generalizing trouble would be that propensity to take a limited trouble and extend it to my whole life, refusing to believe anything good or anything hopeful. There is a very rational reason that the Apostle Paul, writing from prison to a people who were living under the thumb of Roman cruelties, said to them in Philippians 4:8,

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things.

Personalizing trouble focuses greater conflict and trauma on my personal weaknesses, which are fear and despair, and makes a weapon out of reality, pounding me into depression, emotional anger and flailing around, wasting energy and time, and being of no good use to anyone around me.

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~The end of the beginning~

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10 Responses to Part II – The New America: Accept, Be Honest, Do Not Deny….

  1. gretchenone says:

    Job 3:25. “That which I greatly feared has come upon me.”

    • Sharon says:

      Thank you! In my haste, couldn’t find the right concordance. That’s a problem when we enjoy various translations. ;)

  2. woohoowee says:

    Thank you, Sharon.

    “I will exercise the spiritual disciplines of Scripture-reading and prayer so that I am adequately sustained for what lies ahead. I will stand by faith. In Isaiah 7:9, the prophet is speaking to wicked King Ahaz and warns him, “If you do not stand in the faith you have, you will not stand at all.” The power of faith is such that it only takes mustard-seed-size to get the job done. I must stand in the faith I have.”

    Standing On The Promises
    “Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
    When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
    By the living Word of God I shall prevail,
    Standing on the promises of God.”

    (Listening to Alan Jackson sing this, but can’t figure out how to post the link from iPad.)

  3. bufordt says:

    Thanks Sharon, very inspiring. At this point I think my “fear” emotion is long gone–anger has taken over.

  4. Mikado Cat says:

    One of my favorites;

    Lord grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
    the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know
    the difference.
    - St. Francis of Assisi

  5. thefirstab says:

    Mikado, thanks for posting.
    Sha, I, too have relied on this for years in times of personal distress.
    Sharon – Thanks for this thread.
    I cried like a baby yesterday. Today, reflection and research (and work).
    And thank you Lord, for your many blessings still to come.
    And thank you Treehouse for keeping a branch open for me.

  6. churchladyiowa says:

    Ronald Reagan said it best. To paraphrase, “we are one nation under God. But if we ever forget/walk away from Him, we will be a nation gone under.” Back in the 1980s when RR first said this we still had a few members of the WWI generation with us, along with mega numbers of WWII veterans. And a sizeable number of Americans who worshipped on a weekly basis.

    In 1984 when I first joined my church’s evangelism team, our pastor passed out a study done in just my western Iowa county that said 40% had no.religious.affiliation.of.any.kind. I remember thinking, “Whiskey? Tango? Foxtrot?” That figure seemed very out of kilter for a Bible Belt state area, as almost all of my neighbors were church-goers. However, one of my team pointed out that our town has two packing plants, and we were starting to see an influx of workers that are not from the area and probably not from Iowa. Fast forward almost 30 years and whites are barely 30% of my town, with the rest being Hispanic/Sudanese. Almost every traditional church denomination in town is crying out for members.

    I thank God that I was born into a family that “trained up a child in the way he should go.” From 6th-9th grade during the school year, I attended Saturday school at my Lutheran church. We had 3 hours of catechism/Bible History/choir. Looking back, I would defy high schoolers today to pass some of the tests over the material put forth to us. But dang it, I learned & retained so much! Hundreds of Bible passages (King James), as well as Luther’s Small Catechism. Then there was the Advanced Bible History class. I can remember having to memorize the journeys of St. Paul and lots of other “head information”. In the past few months, I find myself thinking of the lessons that dealt with the Old Testament children of Israel history. God’s chosen people started out walking with Him out of Egypt to the Promised Land, but fell away. Return and then fall away, return and then fall away. This cycle went on for hundreds of years until God had enough and let them be overtaken by their enemies. Can you say “Babylonian Captivity”?? As I recall, it lasted for 430 years. Now I find myself using that parallel to the past 40 years of American society issues. Infanticide (abortion) and homosexuality are about as slap-in-God’s-face as you can get.

    As you said, Sharon, Biblical era good men were sometimes punished along with the evil. And we stand as universal sinners in this fallen world. We try to put forth God’s laws in secular ways and to lead people to faith. We know that ultimately we are safe underneath God’s holy wings but being human, we still have fears. I, too, look to the heroes of Scripture like Daniel who followed God’s commands. Leaders such as Obama certainly appear to thwart God’s plan for the world, Over the years I’ve often thought of the quote, “Sometimes kings weren’t always good; sometimes they were just there.” I firmly believe our current president falls into this category

    • Sharon says:

      Thank you for expanding on your thoughts here….good, good stuff….my thoughts are the same as yours re the OT lessons. I’ve been reading and reading the prophets the last several years. We are serving and trusting the same Sovereign God they served and trusted. His covenant in the cross is something they looked forward to by faith, and now that is a completed covenant that we enter into by faith, as explained in the book of Hebrews.

      Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the martyr and pastor and spy in Nazi Germany, railed against the churches of Germany for preaching cheap grace instead of being willing to recognize the world-impacting, costly grace that is presented in the cross of Christ and through the earth ministry of Christ. The Lutheran church in German detested Bonhoeffer almost as much as the Nazis did, and they got in bed with Hitler early on, some of them even believing that their opportunities for evangelism would actually increase under Hitler’s regulatory schemes. They thought that being “under the protection of Hitler” would enhance their standing and secure their future.

      Paul hammered at the misperceptions about grace in Romans 6 which is not a legalistic and heavy-handed law-keeping teaching at all (by Paul) but a recognition of what is so in this world, in terms of our individual sinfulness and the impact sin has had on the world around us. He implores the believers to get a grip on what is so about them and what is so about the amazing strength to be found in the cross of Christ.

      It has been a major error, regardless of the motive, that the churches (generally speaking) have turned to an emphasis of “God is love” to the exclusion of “God is holy.” Both of those attributes (among his many) are equally true. It’s a massive error, whether made by individuals or by groups, to believe as though we must choose one over the other. Both are always totally true. God is always full of mercy toward those who come in humility, acknowledging His holiness and their own (my) sin. He is always full of wrath toward sin and that wrath will be played out against those who refuse to acknowledge either His holiness or their sin.

      The lessons of the Old Testament are precious to me. They remind me of the depth of the wisdom, the righteousness and the mercy of the God in whom I take shelter, and they help me understand the swirling, out-of-control evil and chaos around us these days.

      We do well to take shelter in the God of the prophets, looking for and receiving His mercy even as they did, both for time and for eternity.

      (too many words–sift for whatever makes for good conversation! ;) )

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