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The Response

Yesterday, Saturday August 6th, 2011, a prayer and fasting event was held at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas. It was a call for fasting and prayer for our nation, for our people to turn one heart to God and seek His face. It was a II Chronicles 7:14 event:

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

Was the stadium filled to capacity? No. 30,000 people made their way there. But over 1,000 churches joined nationwide by live webstream simulcast. Over 80,000 people joined via live webstream from their homes. The main goal of the gathering was to encourage people to stop, fast, and pray for the direction of our country, her leaders, and the people of this nation.

Given the trials that beset our nation and world, from the global economic downturn to natural disasters, the lingering danger of terrorism and continued debasement of our culture, I believe it is time to convene the leaders from each of our United States in a day of prayer and fasting, like that described in the book of Joel. … Some problems are beyond our power to solve, and according to the Book of Joel, Chapter 2, this historic hour demands a historic response. Therefore, on August 6, thousands will gather to pray for a historic breakthrough for our country and a renewed sense of moral purpose. – Governor Rick Perry

The event was organized by Governor Rick Perry, but not in his capacity as governor of Texas. He organized the event as a private citizen. The main theme of the event contained no political points, as Perry stated:

He’s a wise, wise God. He’s wise enough to not be affiliated with any political party, or for that matter, He’s wise enough to not be affiliated with any man-made institutions. He’s calling all Americans, of all walks of life, to seek Him, to return to Him, to experience His love and His grace and His acceptance.

Prayers were given for the financial health of the nation; the crisis we find ourselves in as a country economically, spiritually, and morally; for the leaders of our country to govern in wisdom and humility; for the wars that engulf us, and that people in this country would turn their hearts toward God.

You would have thought the event was a slobbering fest of gun-toting radicals intent on the overthrow of the American culture if you went by the mainstream media press coverage and the voices of outrage by liberals. It wasn’t “inclusive” enough because it was “Christian-themed.”

According to the American Religious Identification Survey of 2008, a private organization the conducted sampling across the United States, 76% of Americans identify themselves as Christian. All other faiths account for 3.9% of the population, with 15% answering agnostic/atheist on the survey.

Have we really gotten so hardened of heart that we can’t even take an event like this in the spirit it is intended and join together as one people to cry out to God for our nation? Do people really view this event as this one poster on Huffington Post?

Until there is a plan which respectfully addresses those left out or those who choose not to participate, Response, and all those responding to it, will be adding to America’s woes not healing them.

Really? Prayer and fasting for our nation is going to “add to America’s woes”? Have we degenerated so much as a people that repentance and prayer is considered a “national threat”? The mainstream media gives scant coverage to the president’s pastor who invokes God to “damn America,” but a peaceful gathering of repentant hearts asking God to return His favor to our country is reason enough for the caterwauling that has been going on over this event?

Can I confess to a Jonah moment here? I want to run away. I want to get as far away from this country and her people who have become whiny, mewling, crybabies reminiscent of the Israelites after God freed them from slavery in Egypt. I want to slam the door and shake the dust from my feet because there appears to be nothing – nothing – that anyone can do, in the most innocent of ways, that doesn’t provoke offended feelings of outrage across some segment of the population.

If we hadn’t succumbed to allowing revisionist history being taught in our classrooms, our people would know that calls for national prayer and repentance actually have a rich history in this country. Our Founding Fathers, between the years 1774 and 1798, called for no less than thirteen documented public proclamations for “prayer,” seven of which also included calls for “fasting” and “humiliation.”

President Abraham Lincoln, in 1863, called for a day of “humiliation, fasting, and prayer.” And in more recent history, President Harry S Truman called for a day of prayer upon the surrender of the German army. In 1952, with a joint resolution of Congress and the president, a national day of prayer was instituted.

The problem is that we don’t want a holy God who embodies justice and mercy, who says we can’t treat Him like a cosmic Santa Claus, and who demands that, if we want to claim to be His people, then we have to pick up our cross and follow Him. We want an ineffective idea of God that makes us feel good when we think about him but doesn’t ask very much in return. We want a magic fairy god that will grant us anything we wish without any strings attached. We want to act and believe however we want with no absolutes, no responsibility, and no accountability.

Thank heavens that God does not exist.

In essence we are no more than children to the Father that created us, no matter how old we grow. Like any child, boundaries and rules give stability and sustainability. Having guidelines actually increases self-confidence and assurance. Fear and instability come to a child when there are no rules or order to their world. The same is with us. Without the very clear boundaries that God proscribes, we would be nothing more than a flailing, desperate people that would never know peace or comfort.

Which , because of our stubbornness and insistence on going our own way, is pretty much the way we find ourselves today.

Because I claim to be a follower of God, I don’t have the luxury of turning my back on my country or her people. I don’t have the choice of walling myself off from the culture that I’m in. I am a foot soldier in the army of God, and I have to don the armor, wield the sword, and fight the enemy wherever I am called. (And for those who think that that statement is proof that Christians are engaged in a “holy war” like the jihad of Muslim extremists, the “enemy” in Christian circles is none other than Satan, not any group of people, and the sword I refer to is the “Word of God.”)

The other day a friend and I were talking. He remarked how it seemed that those bent on destruction and deceit were winning the day. It seemed to him that upright citizens who were contributing members of society and who loved God were being hung out to dry and stigmatized by every group there was.

I reminded him of Psalm 37. The opening line is “Don’t fret yourself because of evil-doers.” In fact, following is the psalm in its entirety. Read it, consider its words, and be comforted. We are in a war that has already been won by the victory of Christ on the cross. What we’re enduring are merely skirmishes – the outcome is assured. We are the hands and feet and mouth of God in this world. We are His representatives. Our job is to snatch from the mouth of hell every soul that is willing to follow His call.

Keep your eye on the goal, your heart in the hands of God, and your knees firmly planted in prayer.

Psalm 37: A Psalm of David (NIV)

1 Do not fret because of evildoers,
Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity.
2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass,
And wither as the green herb.

3 Trust in the LORD, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
4 Delight yourself also in the LORD,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

5 Commit your way to the LORD,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.
6 He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light,
And your justice as the noonday.

7 Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.
8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath;
Do not fret—it only causes harm.

9 For evildoers shall be cut off;
But those who wait on the LORD,
They shall inherit the earth.
10 For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more;
Indeed, you will look carefully for his place,
But it shall be no more.
11 But the meek shall inherit the earth,
And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

12 The wicked plots against the just,
And gnashes at him with his teeth.
13 The Lord laughs at him,
For He sees that his day is coming.
14 The wicked have drawn the sword
And have bent their bow,
To cast down the poor and needy,
To slay those who are of upright conduct.
15 Their sword shall enter their own heart,
And their bows shall be broken.

16 A little that a righteous man has
Is better than the riches of many wicked.
17 For the arms of the wicked shall be broken,
But the LORD upholds the righteous.

18 The LORD knows the days of the upright,
And their inheritance shall be forever.
19 They shall not be ashamed in the evil time,
And in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.
20 But the wicked shall perish;
And the enemies of the LORD,
Like the splendor of the meadows, shall vanish.
Into smoke they shall vanish away.

21 The wicked borrows and does not repay,
But the righteous shows mercy and gives.
22 For those blessed by Him shall inherit the earth,
But those cursed by Him shall be cut off.

23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD,
And He delights in his way.
24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down;
For the LORD upholds him with His hand.

25 I have been young, and now am old;
Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken,
Nor his descendants begging bread.
26 He is ever merciful, and lends;
And his descendants are blessed.

27 Depart from evil, and do good;
And dwell forevermore.
28 For the LORD loves justice,
And does not forsake His saints;
They are preserved forever,
But the descendants of the wicked shall be cut off.
29 The righteous shall inherit the land,
And dwell in it forever.

30 The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom,
And his tongue talks of justice.
31 The law of his God is in his heart;
None of his steps shall slide.

32 The wicked watches the righteous,
And seeks to slay him.
33 The LORD will not leave him in his hand,
Nor condemn him when he is judged.

34 Wait on the LORD,
And keep His way,
And He shall exalt you to inherit the land;
When the wicked are cut off, you shall see it.
35 I have seen the wicked in great power,
And spreading himself like a native green tree.
36 Yet he passed away, and behold, he was no more;
Indeed I sought him, but he could not be found.

37 Mark the blameless man, and observe the upright;
For the future of that man is peace.
38 But the transgressors shall be destroyed together;
The future of the wicked shall be cut off.

39 But the salvation of the righteous is from the LORD;
He is their strength in the time of trouble.
40 And the LORD shall help them and deliver them;
He shall deliver them from the wicked,
And save them,
Because they trust in Him.

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