Category Archives: Prayer

How Long, O Lord?

And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?  (Revelation 6:10)

This scene in heaven takes place shortly after Jesus opens the fifth seal of the seven-sealed scroll.[1] The Tribulation is just beginning. The first seal releases the white horse rider[2] that carries a bow but no arrows. He has a crown and he goes “forth conquering, and to conquer.” Most end-times prophecy teachers believe this one is Antichrist that appears at the beginning of the Tribulation. That he has no arrows for his bow suggests that he conquers through diplomacy. Further confirmation of this comes from the statement that “a crown was given unto him;” he does not take it by force. The Prophet Daniel describes him as the “fourth beast/kingdom”[3] whose kingdom will be unlike any before, and it “shall devour the whole earth.” Daniel’s “beast” – the “little horn” – a.k.a. Antichrist, will “speak great words against the Most High.” Daniel says that he will “wear out the saints,” i.e., the Jews for three and one half years. This will take place at the final three and one half years of the seven-year Tribulation.

In a later vision, Daniel predicts the appearance of Antichrist. “And he [Antichrist] shall confirm the covenant with many for one week [seven years]: and in the midst of the week [after 3 ½ years] he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation [when Christ returns], and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate” (Daniel 9:27, emphasis mine). Of him the Apostle Paul says, “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition [i.e., Antichrist]; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, emphasis mine). Jesus also warned, “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains” (Matthew 24:15-16).

So, to recapitulate, Antichrist, the rider on the white horse, comes on the scene and obtains world renown and power by diplomatic means (“speaking great words”). He confirms a peace agreement with Israel (and “with many”), which probably allows for the construction of the third temple (which needs to exist since he is going to desecrate it).[4] This act will begin the seven-year Tribulation. After 3 ½ years, he breaks the covenant, he enters the Temple declaring himself to be god, and initiates what will be the worst persecution of Jews the world has ever known. By the way, this persecution will also include Gentiles that come to faith in Christ during the Tribulation.

The next riders also show up at the beginning of the Tribulation, the first 3 ½ years. The rider on the red horse[5] removes peace from the earth. The rider on the black horse[6] brings global economic collapse. The rider on the pale (green) horse brings famine, plague, and death. The four horse riders represent the first four seals of the seven-seal scroll.

“And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” (Revelation 6:9-10, emphasis mine). These are the “Tribulation Saints” that come to faith Christ after the Rapture (the “snatching away”) of the Church. Being a follower of Christ during the Tribulation will come at a high cost and many will pay with their lives. Now their souls are with the Savior, but they also see their brothers and sisters in Christ suffering the horrors of the Tribulation on earth. So, they cry, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” And, the Tribulation has only just begun.

We are beginning to see the “signs” of the end-times. Israel, the focal point of end-times prophecy, is ready to institute an unstable government. The players in the Gog and Magog[7] war are staging for battle. Through vaccine and mask mandates for the Wuhan Bug, the world population is being conditioned to blindly obey all orders that come from “above.” The US Government spends money that does not exist in the treasury and justify their foolishness by simply printing more. The “woke cancel culture” systematically undermines or destroys all social norms. Even language has lost all meaning. Violence among people groups is increasing all over the world. The downward spiral of our moral decay removes any trace of hope for a rational thinking person.

It seems that I find myself on a daily basis crying out, “How long, O Lord will You allow things to continue as they are?” Anyone who places their faith and trust in Jesus sees the light at the end of this dark tunnel. That light is the hope of Jesus’ soon coming for His Bride. “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, emphasis mine). After that comes the seven-year Tribulation, which culminates with the return of Christ to set up His 1000-year reign on earth.[8]

I feel bad for those that will not come to Christ until after the Rapture. Life will be unimaginably difficult for Christians (Jews and Gentiles) living in the Tribulation, if they are not martyred early on. However, Jesus’ reign on earth is the only fix for this sick and broken world. I can only plead to anyone reading this if you do not know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you need to settle that right now. Please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life” and meet Jesus at the Rapture rather than at His Second Coming.

Notes:


[1]  Revelation 5:1

[2]  Revelation 6:2

[3]  Daniel 7:23-25

[4]  Israeli religious leaders claim they have everything they need to build the Third Temple. All they need is the “go ahead” in order to start construction. They claim they can have it built in a matter of months.

[5]  Revelation 6:4

[6]  Revelation 6:5-6

[7]  Ezekiel 38-39

[8]  Revelation 19:11-20:10

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Reflections on the Washington 2020 Prayer March

Franklin Graham greets a crowd of over 50,000 prayer warriors to initiate the 2020 Prayer March in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

Franklin Graham held a Prayer March for our nation in Washington, DC on September 26, 2020. It seems that a lot has gone wrong with our nation. The steady erosion of our moral fiber started its decline decades ago, but in the last 20 years, and more so in this past year, the decline has taken an almost 90-degree plunge. At this point, no hope exists for a reversal of the trend — but God!

My brother, Eli, and I drove from Texas to participate in the prayer march. Early on Wednesday morning, September 23, 2020, I drove from Garland to Tyler to pick up Eli, and from there, we headed eastbound on I-20 to rendezvous with thousands of like-minded prayer warriors. We were on a mission from God to plead for our nation.

I take terrible selfies. If Eli (standing behind me) looks a little more handsome, it’s only because he is five years younger.

The extended weather forecast for Washington, DC on the 26th called for 60% chance of rain. We packed our ponchos determined to pray come rain or shine. With all the civil unrest and rioting across the nation, including DC, I maintained some concern about possible protests, perhaps even violent protests, against our efforts. However, as with 90% of our worries that never take place, not a drop of rain fell, although the sky remained overcast, nor did we see a single protestor. It was as if God put a protective shield around His people.

Waiting for our marching orders

I do not know why I should be surprised; I have experienced this hundreds of times throughout my life. Among the thousands of people there, I did not meet a single stranger. The bond of Christian fellowship was palpable, and the warmth of the Holy Spirit dispersed the slight chill in the air. It seemed to me as if God cupped His hands over the group to keep us safe from any harm. As we congregated at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, someone on a keyboard started playing and singing an old hymn. The congregation immediately joined in on all four stanzas. (I wish I could remember the titles.) Then the song leader started another old hymn and again the entire congregation joined in on all stanzas. After that, the song leader led in a couple of modern worship songs. The volume of singing went down considerably – not everyone knows the new songs — but with the oft-repeated phrases, the volume rose toward the end. The “song service” ended with four stanzas of “Amazing Grace.” The singing stirred my heart! I do not believe the angels in heaven could sound as good.

The Prayer March starting at the Lincoln Memorial and ending at the United States Capitol Building

After the singing, Franklin Graham came to the stand and announced that we had a surprise visitor. Vice President, Mike Pence and his wife Karen came and led the congregation in the opening prayer. Former Congresswoman, Michelle Bachman and Bishop Harry Jackson led in prayer, and when they were done, Rev. Graham asked us all to individually pray out loud. The sound of thousands of voices calling out to God was too incredible to express in human speech. It is awesome to know that God heard each and every prayer. Then our march started.

Praying every step of the way

We prayed every step of the way. From the Lincoln Memorial, we marched and prayed to the World War II Memorial, then to the Washington Monument, the White House, the National Museum of African American History & Culture, the National Archives, and finally to the U.S. Capitol. As we marched and prayed the words of a familiar chorus played over and over again in my head:

LORD, listen to Your children praying.
LORD, send Your Spirit in this place.
LORD, listen to Your children praying.
Send us love, send us power, send us grace.

Praying for our Legislators

We finally arrived at the Capitol Building where we prayed for our lawmakers. I know God wants us to pray. The Bible instructs us to pray for our leaders and those in authority over us. Many that came to pray, including me, asked God to forgive our nation for her sins and to turn our nation back to God. As I prayed, I rehearsed our national sins. In the 60’s we took prayer out of school and banned the Bible from our public education systems. We expelled God from the public square so that now the Democrat Party has stricken God out of their party platform. We have legalized the murder of unborn children and our national heart has hardened so much that even infanticide is acceptable in the process of partial-birth abortions. We have called good evil and evil good so that what used to be considered pedophilia is now acceptable, and we even teach it to our very young children. 

Our nation is sick, and I seriously wonder if God will answer our prayers in the way many of these brave prayer warriors expect. I recall the Prophet Jeremiah praying for his people as they tried God through their idolatry. Jeremiah prayed that God would spare Judah from the certain punishment they deserved. God spoke to Jeremiah and said, “Thus saith the LORD unto this people, Thus have they loved to wander, they have not refrained their feet, therefore the LORD doth not accept them; he will now remember their iniquity, and visit their sins. Then said the LORD unto me, Pray not for this people for their good” (Jeremiah 14:10-11).

Our nation has loved to wander away from God, and “have not refrained their feet.” Could it be that God will refuse to answer our prayers on behalf of our nation? Perhaps, but our mandate is still to pray and so we have and continue to pray. God has His plan and His plan will not fail. Consider that the United States of America is not found in prophecy although some would like it to be. For us, the over 50,000 prayer warriors that showed up to the Prayer March, our true citizenship is in heaven wherein we have our hope. Our hope is in Christ and in His return. His kingdom is a kingdom of eternal peace. Therein lies our hope.

Eli and I were blessed beyond measure to participate with thousands of our brothers and sisters in Christ in a loud call to God on behalf of our nation. We enjoyed warm fellowship with God’s family. I leave you with one final picture of my brother, the Marine.

Along the way we found a young man with his bulldog. The bulldog being the Marine mascot, Eli asked if he could get a picture with the “Devil Dog.” The young man was kind enough to grant his request!

If you would like to watch the entire Prayer March, click on this link: https://prayermarch2020.com/live/

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Filed under Christianity, Holy Spirit, Prayer, Random Musings, Religion, Second Coming of Christ, Worship

If My People

solomons-temple

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)

Fear hangs like a dark, menacing storm cloud over our nation. Insecurity saps the courage of our people to venture into the unknown. Anger and hostility ignite flames of anarchy in our streets and everyone yearns for a savior. Our nation is deeply troubled. Anyone with any sense of awareness can see it. Many feel helpless to stem the tide, while many others tenaciously cling to the hope that the downward spiral can be arrested and reversed through a spiritual awakening and revival. The latter frequently quote, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14, emphasis mine).

The passage quoted intends for “God’s people” to collectively storm the gates of heaven petitioning God on behalf of our wicked and sinful nation. The petition is conditional and incumbent upon “God’s people,” not the general populous, but who are God’s people and where are they?

Before I respond to that question, I need to restate what have emphasized in the past concerning this particular verse in Second Chronicles that is so often quoted. Regarding the United States of America, the verse is taken out of context and misapplied. The Second Chronicles begins with Solomon’s ascension to the throne of Israel and the building of the first temple in Jerusalem. At the completion of Temple, the priests placed the Ark of the Covenant in its place in the Holy of Holies (2 Chronicles 5:1-12) and “the glory of God” in the form of a cloud that filled the temple in such a way that the priests could not minister in the place (vv. 13-14). As the dedication service continued, Solomon prayed and asked God to “Hearken therefore unto the supplications of thy servant, and of thy people Israel, which they shall make toward this place: hear thou from thy dwelling place, even from heaven; and when thou hearest, forgive” (2 Chronicles 6:21, emphasis mine). Solomon’s plea for God’s forgiveness goes beyond individual sins and extends to the sins of nation collectively.

And if thy people Israel be put to the worse before the enemy, because they have sinned against thee; and shall return and confess thy name, and pray and make supplication before thee in this house; Then hear thou from the heavens, and forgive the sin of thy people Israel, and bring them again unto the land which thou gavest to them and to their fathers. When the heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; yet if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou dost afflict them; Then hear thou from heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel, when thou hast taught them the good way, wherein they should walk; and send rain upon thy land, which thou hast given unto thy people for an inheritance … If they return to thee with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their captivity, whither they have carried them captives, and pray toward their land, which thou gavest unto their fathers, and toward the city which thou hast chosen, and toward the house which I have built for thy name: Then hear thou from the heavens, even from thy dwelling place, their prayer and their supplications, and maintain their cause, and forgive thy people which have sinned against thee. (2 Chronicles 6:24-27, 38-39, emphasis mine)

Notice that Solomon’s request specifies God’s people (Israel), the Temple (this house), Jerusalem (the city), and the nation (their land). “Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the house. And the priests could not enter into the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD had filled the LORD’S house. And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the LORD upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever” (2 Chronicles 7:1-3, emphasis mine).

Obviously, God approved of the Temple and the offerings presented there. The dedication of the Temple took place in the midst of the Fall Feasts. Scripture tells us that it was “in the seventh month” (2 Chronicles 5:3). The Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Ha Shanna) was celebrated on the first day of the seventh month (Leviticus 23:24). Then on the tenth day of the month, they observed the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur – Leviticus 23:27). That was followed by the Feast of Tabernacles (Succoth) fifteen days later (Leviticus 23:34), which was celebrated for seven days. Solomon dedicated the Temple on the eighth day (2 Chronicles 7:9), and the celebration lasted through the Day of Atonement for seven days. The dedication ended in time to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles, which lasted an additional seven days (1 Kings 8:65-66). “And on the three and twentieth day of the seventh month he sent the people away into their tents, glad and merry in heart for the goodness that the LORD had shewed unto David, and to Solomon, and to Israel his people.” (2 Chronicles 7:10).

It is in this context that God responds.

And the LORD appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for an house of sacrifice. If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place. For now have I chosen and sanctified this house, that my name may be there for ever: and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually.  (2 Chronicles 7:12-16, emphasis mine)

As specific as Solomon’s prayer was, so was God’s response. Note that God is responding to Solomon’s prayer: “I have heard thy prayer.” Solomon’s prayer request focused on the Temple, Jerusalem, and the “nation” of Israel as noted above. In response, God says that He has “chosen this place to myself.” His people which are called by His name is the nation of Israel collectively. If they sin, which they did and which resulted in expatriation for the northern  kingdom and Babylonian captivity for Judah, and they humble themselves, repent and seek God, then He will heal their land. Note also that the prayer must either originate in that place or be directed toward that place. We see this exact scenario when Daniel recognizes that the 70-year captivity had been met (Daniel 9:1-19).

Christians these days have adopted 2 Chronicles 7:14 as their own and applied it to what is currently going on in the United States of America. They rightly claim we are “God’s people.” You will not arouse an argument from me on that point. The New Testament repeatedly teaches that we are the children of God. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12). However, the claim ends right there. Where is God’s Temple right now? “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16, emphasis mine). What borders mark the land of God’s people? Americans claim the United States. Are there no Christians in Australia, Canada, China, France, Great Britain, etc.? What of all the Christians being martyred in the Middle East and Africa, are thy not God’s people, and do they not have the right to intercede on behalf of their land?  God’s “grafted in” people have no land here on earth. “For our conversation [i.e. citizenship] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).

It seems somewhat hypocritical that many Christians today want to reject the Old Testament Law claiming that we are “under grace” – those things no longer apply – and yet will take this verse, completely out of context and force it apply to 21st Century America. Sorry, folks, it will not work. There is still a nation of Israel with whom God is dealing. To date, the majority of Israelis are secular. Many are agnostics or atheists. There exists a small minority of “completed Jews” in the land, but with laws against proselytizing, their numbers remain small. Israel exists to show God’s faithfulness to His promises, and in the end, those who survive the Great Tribulation that is coming, “they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn” (Zechariah 12:10), and they will be saved.

So, what can the Christian get out of 2 Chronicles 7:14? Taken in context, we can rest in the assurance that God does hear the prayers of His people, and He does answer according to His will.

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When God Won’t Hear

man-alone-with-god

Then shall they cry unto the LORD, but he will not hear them: he will even hide his face from them at that time, as they have behaved themselves ill in their doings. (Micah 3:4)

I get weary by the overwhelming onslaught of depressing news that assails me from all directions. It assaults me from the radio, TV, social media, internet, emails and even from normal conversations with friends. Let us face it, the world is a mess and nothing seems to make it better; it just seems to keep getting worse. Perhaps that is why we see so many people with their faces buried in their personal communications devices (PCDs) playing Candy Crush Saga, Angry Birds, or the latest craze, Pokémon GO, or whatever – anything to escape the “real” world – but the news refuses to go away.

Without detailing every account, anyone not fixated on their smart phones knows that the whole world is in serious trouble – economies are failing, ISIS grows like a cancer, rogue nations threaten the peace with nuclear arms, etc. The United States once served as a stabilizing force in the world, but America has her own problems now. Since Barack Obama became President, America’s economy has faltered, her military strength has declined, her influence for good in the world has diminished, and the heart of her people has weakened. President Obama mocks Christians for clinging to their guns and Bibles while he praises the virtues of Islam. He criticizes police use of lethal force against blacks without knowing all of the facts, and excuses the perpetrators as victims of racism. Obama lashes out at Christians who denounce the sin of homosexuality and celebrates the “bravery” of those that “come out of the closet.” When the Supreme Court legalized same-sex “marriage,” Obama gave assent and showed approval by bathing the White House in the rainbow colors of “gay pride.”

Recently a man, claiming allegiance to ISIS, entered a gay bar in Florida and slaughtered several people in the name of Allah and Obama refused to acknowledge him as an Islamic terrorist. Just two weeks ago, another man, Micah Johnson, targeted white police officers assigned to protect peaceful protestors of the Black Lives Matter movement. Five police officers were murdered in cold blood and several others were wounded. In honoring the fallen officers, President Obama began his speech in praise of the heroic officers who ran toward the danger and did all they could to protect the marchers, but his speech quickly degenerated into his typical race-baiting rhetoric. When our leader has no concept of unity, it is no wonder that our country is so fractured. However, the problem is greater than just one man’s inability to lead. The problem began some sixty years ago when the nation slowly chipped away at our Christian foundation and ousted God from the public square. “In God We Trust” are just words on our currency. Our beloved country is very, very sick.

Christians are encouraged to pray for our nation and to pray for our leaders. Albeit out of context, 2 Chronicles 7:14 frequently serves as a call for Christians pray for the nation. God promises, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (emphasis mine). God’s promise was made to the united nation of Israel, but Christians have (erroneously, I think) claimed it as their own forgetting that “our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20, emphasis mine). The Greek word translated “conversation” in the King James Bible (KJV) is politeuma, from which we get our word “politic,” means “a community” or “citizenship.” Not that we should be “so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good,” but the United States of America is not where our primary allegiance should be. As the Apostle Paul asserts, “our citizenship is in heaven,” not the United States of America. Ours is the Kingdom of God, not the kingdom of Barack.

Like the United States of America, Israel, first the northern kingdom and then Judah, rejected God and turned to false gods – not every individual, but the nation as a whole. Even so, there are many faithful Christians in America who “have not bowed unto Baal” (1 Kings 19:18), but there exists only a remnant. I am certain that the faithful in Israel prayed for their nation, but that was not enough to dissuade God from punishing the entire nation – including the faithful ones.

Micah prophesied in Judah. By this time, Israel, the northern kingdom, no longer existed as a nation, having succumbed to the Assyrian Empire. From the time the ten northern tribes broke with Judah, the nation fell into idolatry. Now Judah followed suit. Micah voices the words of God who charges Judah’s leaders, for lack of judgment (Micah 3:1).  God points out that they “hate good and love evil” and they abuse the people with unjust taxes. The graphic words paint the picture: “who pluck off their skin from off them, and their flesh from off their bones; Who also eat the flesh of my people, and flay their skin from off them; and they break their bones, and chop them in pieces, as for the pot, and as flesh within the caldron” (Micah 3:2-3). There comes a point when, “Then shall they cry unto the LORD, but he will not hear them: he will even hide his face from them at that time, as they have behaved themselves ill in their doings” (Micah 3:4, emphasis mine).

Isaiah brought a similar charge to the nation as a whole, not only the leaders, but also those who willingly followed.  “The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider” (Isaiah 1:3). Sad! Dumb animals recognize their source of provision better than “intelligent” people do. “Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward” (Isaiah 1:4). Can we not say the same of America? As the passage continues, God laments that the more He punishes the nation, the more rebellious they become. God assesses their condition as sick of head and weak of heart. Out of rote, they bring insincere offerings to God, but their hearts belong to other gods. So, God says, “when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood” (Isaiah 1:15, emphasis mine). God is infinitely patient, but He does set limits. When those limits are breached, His response is predictably sure. I say “predictably” because He gives an abundance of warning for those who are willing to listen.

Well, that seems just and deserved for those who rebel and reject God; but what about the faithful remnant who cry out for their nation? Just before the conquest and expatriation of Judah to Babylon, Jeremiah pleaded for his nation, but three times God charged him to stop. “Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee” (Jeremiah 7:16, emphasis mine). Then again, “Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up a cry or prayer for them: for I will not hear them in the time that they cry unto me for their trouble” (Jeremiah 11:14, emphasis mine). Finally, “Then said the LORD unto me, Pray not for this people for their good” (Jeremiah 14:11, emphasis mine). Jeremiah certainly qualifies as one of God’s people. There comes a time when God will not hear the pleas even when they come from His people.

For Judah, God kept His 2 Chronicles 7:14 promise and returned them to the land, but only after they had served their full time in Babylonian captivity. Even today, we see God’s promise fulfilled as Jews from all over the world continue to migrate back to their land. However, America is not Israel, and this promise does not have universal application.  I realize that many disagree with that statement, but I suggest that such sentiment stems from deep-seated patriotism and love of country. I understand that. I too am a patriot. I willingly and gladly gave 12 years of my life in the service to this nation. These words I write tear at my heart as I see the inevitable demise of the country I love. Yet, our directive calls for us to hold the things of this earth loosely and cling to that yet unrealized country.  Jesus said, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:19-21, emphasis mine). Is your treasure in America or in heaven above?

Praying for our nation is a noble thought, but I believe our country is too far-gone for that now. I believe God is saying, at least to me, “Pray thou not for this people.” What about Paul’s exhortation to pray for our leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-2)? Consider where Paul had been – imprisoned in Rome – and where Timothy was – pastoring the church at Ephesus. Rome hardly qualified as a bastion of republican democracy. In Paul’s exhortation, he does not call for prayer for the preservation of the empire. He says to pray for “the leaders” – individuals. Why? In order “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (1 Timothy 2:2).  In his letter to the church at Rome, Paul says that God appoints leaders. “For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God” (Romans 13:1, emphasis mine). The Roman rulers under which Paul and Timothy lived were despicable despots to whom they were to submit in order “to lead a quiet and peaceable life” regardless of who was in charge.

Christianity flourishes in China under an oppressive communist regime. Should Christians in China pray that their form of government continue? My point is that no matter what form of earthly government we live under, we owe a higher allegiance to the Kingdom of God. We should pray for our leaders that they might come to a saving knowledge of Christ through whom they will gain godly wisdom to rule. Even so, salvation is a personal matter between God and each individual. On that same note, rather than praying for the survival of our nation, we should not only pray, but labor for the salvation of individuals. For our nation to return to its foundation, the hearts of individuals must change. A wholesale repentance of a majority of individuals must take place before God will hear the pleas of His people for their nation.

Remember Abraham’s intercessory prayer for Sodom and Gomorrah? (Genesis 18:23-33) If there are 50 righteous, if there are 40 righteous, if there are 30, 20, 10, will you destroy the city? In the end, there were not even 10 righteous, and God destroyed the cities. Depending on what poll one reads, the number of “genuine” born-again, Evangelical Christians in the US hovers around 20% and declining. Should God spare the nation for 20 righteous? Did God spare Israel for the 7000 that did not bowed unto Baal? (1 Kings 19:18).

When a nation exceeds the limits of God’s patience, God stops His ears to the intercessory petitions of His people for the nation. Indeed, He says, “Pray thou not for this people.” Has America reached that limit? I think it has. We see a rise in depravity, perversion, and unrestrained violence, not to mention natural disasters. This is why the best response we can offer to a Hillary Clinton presidency is Donald Trump. It is sad to watch, but take heart Christians. We have a heavenly citizenship, and we pledge our allegiance to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Our duty is to work for and expand His Kingdom until He returns. I pray that is soon!

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Dad

Left to right: Dad, Me, Ednoi, Eli and Esther

Left to right: Dad, Me, Ednoi, Eli and Esther

Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me…  (Deuteronomy 4:5)

He came to the United States from Mexico in 1943 with false papers under an assumed name and started working for the railroad. Not long after, his work brought him to the West Texas town of Monahans where his eye fell upon the lovely Elena, and his life changed forever. Elena was one of five children of store owner and Baptist lay preacher, Porfírio Enriquez. Elena was hard to get, especially since her father wanted her to have nothing to do with the “mojado” (“wetback”), especially since he was not a Christian. But, eventually Elena fell prey to his boyish charm and the couple soon married – he was 20, she was 18.

The “unequally yoked” couple (2 Corinthians 6:14) soon experienced struggle over religious differences. Chale (Chah-leh), as he was known to his friends, was a non-practicing Catholic, so “church” mattered little to him. In fact, he found the practice of praying to inanimate images silly and pointless, so church to him was a waste of time. Chale also loved to party, and he loved to dance, much to the chagrin of the good Southern Baptist girl he had married. But Elena was not without recourse. On Saturday nights when Chale wanted to go dancing, Elena promised to go with him, if he would come to church with her on Sunday. Chale would dance all night with all the other ladies while Elena sat patiently by and watched. She would later say that he looked like a little demon dancing around through the haze of cigarette smoke. That arrangement worked well. Chale honored his promise to attend church with her on Sunday, and before long Chale surrendered his life to the Lord, gave up his partying ways, and took after his father-in-law as a lay preacher.

Shortly after Chale surrendered his life to the Lord, Elena became pregnant with me. At that time, Chale still resided in the US under an assumed name and false documentation. His new “tenderized” conscience started to bother him not only because of his illegal status, but also because he did not want his son given some stranger’s name. Determined to set the record straight, he returned to Mexico to earn the right to return to the United States legally. Wenceslao Carrasco de Cortez (his legal name) was required to spend two years in the Mexican Army Reserves to fulfill his military obligation to that nation, while at the same time working with a Mexican lawyer to legally come to America. While in Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico, he served as assistant pastor in a Baptist church in that city.

I was born in Monahans in 1950, and when I was about one year old, Elena, Mom, took me with her to be with Dad in Juarez. We lived there a year until Dad got all his legal matters resolved and fulfilled his military obligation to Mexico. We returned in 1952, and the following year I was blessed with a baby brother, Ednoi.

Dad continued to work on the railroad, and soon his work carried us to Odessa, Texas where, in 1955, another baby brother came along – Eliseo (Eli). Around this time Dad felt called of God to go into full-time ministry, and soon we moved to San Antonio, Texas for Dad to train for the ministry. W.C., as English speakers referred to him, was not well educated. He got as far as the third grade in Mexico where he learned reading, writing, and arithmetic, but the needs of his father’s ranch were of higher priority than education, and school fell by the wayside. Study at the Instituto Biblico Mexicano proved difficult for Dad, not to mention the burden of a family that needed provision. There were times when we had no food and no money for food. Mom told me of a time when she sent me to school with the last bit of beans folded in a flour tortilla (a bean taco), and after that no food was left for the rest of the family. That day, Dad was in the school chapel crying out to God; Mom was at home on her knees in prayer, when a knock came at the door, and some ladies from an Anglo church showed up, completely unaware of our need, with a month’s worth of groceries. In the meantime, the president of the school overheard Dad crying out to God and came to see what was troubling him. When he discovered the need, he reprimanded Dad for failing to make his need known, and promptly wrote him out a check for $100. In 1957, that was a lot of money! Dad couldn’t wait to come home to give Mom the news, and when he arrived, he found her in tears of joy for how God had provided.

I could relate many more stories just like that, but what I experienced in my young life taught me that God is real. His love is real, and He really does care about our every need, and He will provide exactly what we need, exactly when we need it.

W.C. spent five years in school preparing for the ministry. In the end, he left the school without having completed his training. Our family moved to Cotton Center, Texas in 1960 where Dad was ordained as a Baptist minister, and where he pastored his first mission church in that capacity. Many mission churches followed. In 1963 we moved to Raton, New Mexico where Dad served as pastor of his first non-mission church. In 1965, God blessed us with our baby sister, Esther. I only got to know her the first five years of her life, and then I was off to the Navy and a life of my own.

Dad taught me many things. He taught me to read and write in Spanish. He taught me how to play baseball and throw a curve ball. He taught me how to drive; in fact, at 10 years old, when we were living in Cotton Center, he would send me, by my 10-year-old self, in our 1956 Ford Victoria to pick up kids for Sunday school. By the time I was old enough for my driver’s permit, I was already the most experienced driver in my Driver’s Ed class! Dad taught me the value of hard work. And even though he was not yet a naturalized citizen of the United States, he taught me patriotism, love of my country, love of my flag, and respect for authority. Dad taught me to take responsibility for myself and to never shy away from a challenge. He would always say, “Si está hecho por hombres, yo también lo puedo hacer.” (If it’s done by man, I can do it too!). But the greatest thing Dad ever taught me was the love of God and the love of God’s Word. The lessons learned from that have kept me from drifting to the left or to the right knowing that God does not change, and God’s Word never changes. Some have thought me insensitive, or unmoving, but although Dad taught me to love, and God’s Word teaches me to love, I also know that some things, from God’s perspective, are non-negotiable, so I do not easily yield to compromise even when “love” comes into play. The love of God must always supersede all others.

Dad was always strong – a trait I greatly admired in him, and one that I tried to emulate. He almost always had a cheerful disposition. He loved life, and he loved people – something else I admired in him. And he sang (or hummed) incessantly – to the point of annoyance – oblivious to anyone around him. But even that I admired in him – there was always a song – usually a hymn – in his heart. The world could be falling apart all around us, but one would never know it around Dad.

After Mom went to be with Jesus in December 2001, he, now 75, continued on with life as before, only without his lifelong partner. Shortly after we buried Mom, he took the pastorate of a small dwindling church in Brady, Texas, and served and ministered to them the remaining years of his life. His knees gave him trouble since his late 60’s, but the fear of knee replacement surgery kept him from taking care of the problem. It finally got to the point where he could hardly get around, and that interfered with his ministry, which to him was a high priority. So he finally conceded to replace his knees, first the right one followed by the left the next year. Dad got a new lease on life with his new knees, and it was hard to slow him down at age 85. I found out through the grapevine that he helped a family put a new roof on their house. He was climbing ladders with bundles of shingles on his shoulder, and down on his new knees nailing shingles to the roof. He even outworked two much younger men that were helping him. I had to give him a good scolding for that, but that was just Dad. He would make the four and a half hour drive from Brady to Dallas and mix it up in Dallas traffic to make his doctors’ appointments.

He was an incredible man, my dad. As I watched him live his life – full-bore, filled with joy, loving the Lord with all of his heart and soul – I dreaded the thought of his decline into helplessness in later life. That would not have suited Dad at all, and I prayed and asked God not to allow my dad to decline physically or mentally, but rather that when his time came, that God would just take him. God answered my prayer on August 26, 2014. Dad got up that morning with respiratory issues (he had developed asthma late in life) and collapsed in the kitchen of his Brady home. My brother Ednoi, who was living with him, called emergency services, but by the time they arrived, Dad’s brain had been deprived of oxygen too long. The EMTs worked on him, got him to the Brady hospital, and then on a Care Flight to San Angelo. Dad lingered on a ventilator long enough for all of us kids, grandkids and some of his siblings to come and say goodbye. His body was functioning with the help of the ventilator, but he was not there. On August 28, 2014, we had the ventilator removed, and in a short seventeen minutes all life-functions stopped. Dad went to be with Jesus and to celebrate his 64th wedding anniversary with Mom the following day. Dad was exactly one month shy of his 88th birthday when he went to be with our Lord, but because of the greatest thing he taught me, I KNOW I will see him again, and maybe some time very soon.

This year (2015) marks the first year that I celebrate Father’s Day without my dad, but it will not be a time for sorrow. Rather it will be a time to thank God for the father He gave me, and for the instrument that he was in my life to instruct and guide me in the ways of God. It will be a time of joy knowing that soon I will be together with him again forever because God is faithful, and His Word is true. That is not hope. That is assurance! Happy Father’s Day, Dad! Thank you for all you meant to me, to our family, and to everyone whose life you touched. See you soon!

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