Beliefnet
Safe Place with Ruth Graham

Anger begets anger. Surely we have witnessed that these past days. My heart is heavy for those who lost their lives and their families dealing with the reality of the results of anger and how it ripped through their lives and hearts leaving an emptiness that lasts long past the event.

I’ve seen and listened to the newscasts. I have listened to the pundits and commentators. To be honest, I don’t think they help. In fact listening to some, I think they make matters worse. Some news people seem to bait their interviewees or put words in their mouths to push their own agenda or their network’s agenda. It doesn’t work for me.

A network is not interested in truth – it is interested in ratings and ratings turn into money. Big money.

Opinion alert! I have yet to hear anyone talk about the steady diet of violence on our television screens, in our movie theaters, in music lyrics and in the video games. Most of them are angry and violent – and very graphic. Our young people are listening to this day and night on their iPods or watching it on the screen.

Is it any wonder we have young people who were weaned on this sewer turn violent. They cannot translate blowing a head off the bad guy in a video game is not a same as killing in the streets. Reality is very different. It’s ugly. It is hell-inspired.  And real people’s lives are snuffed out leaving grief behind. A family, a community, a nation scared.

The video game doesn’t kill – people do. Just like guns don’t kill people, people do. What we need is not a new gun law but a new heart.

These BLM protests are not helpful. I fear they are infiltrated by those with a wicked agenda. The Psalmist said, “Do not associate with man given to anger; or go with a hot-tempered man; lest you learn his ways, and find a snare for yourself.” If you join an angry mob you could well find it to be something that feed itself and grows until you are consumed yourself. Job 5:2 says, “anger kills the simple.” In other words, anger is unwise and it hurts the one who is angry. Yes, there is righteous anger which is justified but it does not grow violent.

Let us take a breath, address our anger in a non-violent (not weak) reasoned way and become statesman that can lead this great nation out of this darkness.

But first, let’s change our hearts. Only God can do that through the blood of Jesus Christ. He suffered untold violence so we wouldn’t have to.  He is the only hope for us.

 

Yesterday, I watched part of Director Comey’s testimony before Congress. It was fascinating.  As the hours wore on, he looked so weary and tired. I know this whole situation must be grueling. I prayed for him as he testified that God would give him wisdom and integrity.

I believe he is a good man put in an untenable spot. There was no way for him to win.  I don’t think the American people won, either.

And once again, we see how words make a difference.

We remember when Mr. Clinton testified about his relationship with Ms. Lewinsky and said, “It depends on what your definition of “is” is.  It seemed laughable at the time. To parse words to such a degree… Now it happens again.

It depends on what “intent” means and how do you prove a person’s motive.  You can only look at surrounding circumstances and actions to get at an intent. The dictionary says the legal definition is, “the state of a person’s mind that directs his or her actions toward an objective”. Now how in the world can you determine that? You can’t.

But Director Comey seemed to think he could determine that Mrs. Clinton did not intend to be negligent in the handling of classified materials. Although he said she was careless and and ignorant technologically speaking. Well, I am too so I can understand her dilemma. However, I am not dealing with State secrets!

It is important to say what we mean and mean what we say. Let’s be people known for integrity.  That way there will be no need to having   hearings on our intentions.

We all need to pray for our leaders to be people of integrity that seek God’s wisdom not just each other’s.

 

I don’t know about you…but if I hear another poll number I may just scream. We are months away from the election so these polls don’t really mean anything. Many people haven’t decided who they plan to vote for and the way it is all going people may just decide not to vote.

By the way, I think that is an irresponsible decision. We have a great right and privilege to have our voice heard in this county. We are free to vote. I don’t take that lightly. (I know right now it doesn’t seem like our voice makes any difference – but it does.)

How can we forget the elections in Afghanistan. It was the first time they had that freedom and to show they voted the put their fingers in a gentian violet powder which satined their finger purple. They showed off their stained finger – so proud they had voted. No. We can’t take it for granted and if we don’t vote, one day that freedom might be taken from us.

Who to vote for? Well, I think that is a conundrum. There are good and godly people on both side of the aisle. It has been sad to see the ranker and anger boil up on each side. The name-calling! No statesmen. It’s more like watching gladiators being ripped to shreds by lions.

To be very candid…I wish we had term limits.

But that’s for another day…

This morning, I read this and thought I would pass it along. It’s from Justo L. Gonzalez: “Look again at your political commitments. If you belong to a particular party, make sure your loyalty to that party does not lead you to actions and attitudes contrary to your loyalty to God.”

And let’s wait until, at least, after the conventions to decide. Until then PRAY! God’s listening for our prayers. The Bible says He inclines His ear to us. The Great, Almighty, Eternal, Merciful, God is listening.

 

Lot, Abraham’s nephew, has something relevant to teach us. When Abraham left Ur to go the the land God promised him, Lot wisely chose to go with his uncle. Once there, they grew into a large company of people, livestock and tents. When a famine came Abraham decided they would go to Egypt to wait it out. To protect himself, he told his wife, Sarah to lie to Pharaoh – that she was his sister. She was a beautiful woman and Abraham feared he wold be killed and Pharaoh take her into his harem. (It was a half-lie since she was his half sister – but still a lie.) Not Abraham’s best moment.

When the famine was over they travelled back to Canaan – to Bethel the place of worship.

Abraham and Lot, through his proximity to Abraham, were blessed abundantly. Their flocks and possessions were so large the land could not sustain. Arguments arose between the two camps. Abraham, wisely, told Lot they needed to separate, Abraham, being the elder, had the right to choose where he wanted to live first but he gave Lot that right. Lot looked around and saw the beautiful, lush Jordan Valley,  chose it and moved near Sodom. He chose what looked good to him.

Once he left, God told Abraham,“Look as far as you can see in every direction—north and south, east and west. I am giving all this land, as far as you can see, to you and your descendants* as a permanent possession.  And I will give you so many descendants that, like the dust of the earth, they cannot be counted!  Go and walk through the land in every direction, for I am giving it to you.” (Genesis 13:14-17, NLT) Abraham let God make the choice. The first thing he dis was to build and altar and worship.

Eventually, there was a rebellion between regional kings and Sodom was in the path of destruction. Close to Sodom and no longer with Abraham or under his protection, Lot was captured when Sodom was overrun in the battle. His choice had cost him dearly.

Frankly, at this point, I might have said, “Good riddance. He chose to live in Sodom; he took the best looking land and look where it got him.” But Abraham wasn’t that kind of man. He gathered up 318 armed, trained men and went after Lot. The Bible says, “he mobilized the 318 trained men who had been born into his household. Then he pursued Kedorlaomer’s army until he caught up with them at Dan. There he divided his men and attacked during the night. Kedorlaomer’s army fled, but Abram chased them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus.  Abram recovered all the goods that had been taken, and he brought back his nephew Lot with his possessions and all the women and other captives.” (Gen. 14:14-16, NLT)

It was after this that Abraham was met by the King of Salem, a “priest of God Most High”. There is no mention of Lot – maybe he’s back in Sodom unpacking his things. Lot was a leader in Sodom – or at least a respected figure since he was sitting in the gate, a place honor in Genesis chapter) The King of Salem offered Abraham all the spoils of war but Abraham didn’t want anyone to get the credit for his success except God. Abraham had integrity and put God first in all things.

It’s a very interesting history but several things to take note of: Lot did leave his home with Abraham and as long as he stayed near Abraham, he prospered. Lot chose for himself what looked good to him – Abraham took what God promised him. Lot moved closer to pleasures of Sodom than to Abraham which put himself and his family in physical, moral and spiritual danger.  Though Lot made foolish, selfish choices, Abraham chose to go after him and rescue him. Lot was a prisoner, in many ways, by his own choices. It was Abraham’s grace that motivated his choice to go after his nephew.

In II Peter 2:7, Lot is referred to as a “righteous” man. From what we know about Lot, I wouldn’t call him a righteous man. But it gives me so much hope! You see God sees Lot through the righteousness of Christ. He didn’t see his selfish, foolish, sinful choices. God sees Lot with eyes of love and grace. Lot is washed clean by Christ’s blood. Did he deserve it? No. Nor do I.

As a child of His, God looks at me as He does Lot – through the righteousness of Jesus. That’s my only hope. I am flawed. As sinful or more so, than Lot. I made foolish, selfish, sinful choices but God has forgiven me of all. I stand redeemed in His righteousness.

“You were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (I Corinthians 6:11)