So I'm with you, and I'm aware and I feel you and I understand so specifically the challenges before us, and it's just good for us to be together in the house of the Lord. I want to go to the word of God. I want to spend the time that I have with you in a very, very significant and essential way, sharing what I believe that the Holy Spirit has defined for me to share with you today. I want you to go to the Gospel of St. Matthew, Chapter 13 , verses 3 through 39.
"Another parable put He forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of Heaven is likened to a man which sowed good seed in his field, but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, sir, did you not sow good seed in thy field? From whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, an enemy has done this. The servants said unto him, shall we not go to gather them up? But he said, nay, lest while you gather the tares, you root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and in the time of harvest, I will say to the reapers, gather you together first the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them. But gather the wheat into my barn."
Can you say amen?
Remain standing. We're going to pray, but I'm going to be talking to you this morning about the gathering of America, the gathering of America. Whether you realize it or not, there is something going on quite serious before our eyes. I want to talk to you about it today. I want to use this text merely as a backdrop, a canvas on which I will attempt to paint some of the contemporary issues and challenges that are facing our country today and put that in context with the text that we're sharing today and where we are in the scheme of God's purpose and will for our lives. I think it's very significant. It's certainly on my heart today, and I believe that I have a word from God, and I want to share it with the house today.
Amen. I want you to be praying with me.
Father, in the name of Jesus we thank you for your word. We know that the grass withers and the flower fades, but the word of the Lord will stand forever. Great God that you are, use the next few moments that we talk together to inspire and challenge and transform us that we might be the people that you are calling for in this last day. I thank you for what you have already done, but more specifically, I thank you for what you're going to do. Great is our God and his people, and I praise you for being our strength, our shelter and our fortress. In Jesus' name, amen.
You may be seated in the presence of the Lord. I was somewhere in the Midwest of our country. I woke up in the morning and found myself wiping sleep out of my eyes. I had gotten in like one or two o'clock in the morning, very, very late, having ministered and shared in another part of the country, and slept in late that morning and woke up to the sound of aircraft crashing into the World Trade Center.
When I first looked at it, I would have thought that it was a movie produced in Hollywood. It was shocking to me how distinctly different it was from entertainment to recognize that something was happening in our country, and something that we have never seen before in this generation and certainly not in this way.
Originally in my mind, I thought that perhaps a pilot had had a heart attack, lost control of the aircraft and that some accident, some hideous, deplorable accident had occurred, and before I could digest that, the second aircraft came in, and suddenly I knew that that could not be an accident, and all of a sudden, the horror, the utter horror of what had happened began to sink into my mind and into my heart, and from that time unto this, it has been in the forefront of my mind almost continuously, as I wrestled as a passenger and as a religious leader in this nation and in this world to digest and understand specifically what is going on in our country.
I hasten to tell you today that this is perhaps, I believe, the most serious days that I have ever witnessed in the 44 years of my life, and I hope that you don't take it lightly or merely think that it's just some tragedy, some unfortunate dilemma that has come against us that will be dismissed and replaced with other headlines.
We have certainly had our share of tragedies, Columbine and the Oklahoma City bombing and all the other things that have riddled and shaken us and challenged us. We have had aircraft to fall out of the sky, to explode in the middle of the air and been devastated by the tragedies that we have seen down through the years. We have fought our share of skirmishes and conflicts and even wars, as it were, but all of them dim in comparison to what is confronting this nation today.
Can you say amen?
Well, my brothers and sisters, we are deeply concerned and devastated for the tremendous amount of loss that has taken place in this country as it relates to the lives that have been broken, homes that have been fragmented, policemen who have lost their lives valiantly fighting to salvage lives, firemen who have been trapped in buildings trying to get people out of buildings.
Four thousand nine hundred and seventy-two people have been reported missing today, and we still don't know how many more people are missing who were in that building, either employees or businesses that have not been reported yet. Out of that, only a hundred and fifty-two bodies have been recovered, and ninety-two of them have been identified.
And it is certainly a dark and tragic day. I don't see how you can be a human being and see the families wandering the streets of Manhattan, where I have recently left myself, to see them wandering up and down the streets with pictures of their loved ones and tears streaming down their face and not be touched, not be broken, not be sensitive, not be concerned.
Before I go deeper into this, I want to encourage, plead, solicit, beg, implore with all long-suffering that Americans and our friends around the world everywhere begin to pray for our President, that the hand of the Lord might be upon President Bush as never before, never before. It absolutely makes no difference whether you voted for him or did not vote for him. It means absolutely nothing, absolutely nothing. He is the man at the helm. He is not contending for the presidency. He is the President of the United States of America. And I believe we are to give him our utmost support.
He literally will make the decisions over the next few weeks that will affect this country perhaps years after he's gone out of office, and we need to bombard the Heavens that God might grant unto him the spirit of wisdom and revelation and knowledge. Amen. That he might in fact make appropriate and speedy decisions to come to our time-sensitive decisions.
I spoke with my daughters this morning. I said, I want you to pay keen attention to the message that I'm going to share this morning, because what is happening in this country is not something for young people to glance at the television set and continue to listen at rock music and beating up and beating down and beating over. And I don't say that as a criticism against the music. I'm criticizing the destruction that would cause them not to focus in on the magnitude of this kind, because many of them are going to be in a position to be the ones that are going to be sent to fight on foreign soil and to defend this soil, and when we think about that, that is in fact a very sobering reality.
We are caught between two extremes, my brother and sisters, two polarities. On one hand, we are devastated, as the earthquake of trauma has been released in this country, as people are dealing with just the tremendous devastation and the loss of life.
I think that the media has been tactful and tasteful at not sensationalizing what must be intensely disturbing--to see the pieces and parts of bodies and people falling out of buildings, leaping out of a building where the building is experiencing so much heat that the steel gave way, and people choosing rather to leap out of buildings than to deal with the pain.
. I have been asked all over the country to speak out about grief, about how to manage our grief and how to begin the process of healing, but the reality is that we have not even begun the process of mourning. And it is very difficult for us to move quickly into a mode of healing when we are still struggling with the distinct possibilities that there might be someone left trapped underground. People still have not accepted the fact, and I'm not suggesting that they should accept the fact that their loved ones are dead. When those realities and those confirmations begin to come in, we will continue to reverberate for weeks and months and I dare say years from the intense pain and grief process that will ultimately bring us to healing.
And right now God has brought this country to its knees. But you must understand when I say God has brought this country to its knees, please do not misunderstand to think that to be on our knees is a posture of defeat. I dare say to you, my brothers and sisters, that to be on our knees is a posture of warfare. It is the best position that this country can ever take. And let Osama Bin Laden and whosoever shall rise against this nation understand that we have not dropped to our knees because we are defeated, but we have dropped to our knees because we are armed and dangerous and ready to fight the good fight of faith. Glory to God.
And while our country strategizes and contemplates and prepares now for war, we who know the name of the Lord understand spiritual warfare, and we're praying to our God that if it should come down to a fight and if we should get the signal from our commander and chief to go in to fight, that while our boys and, yea, daughters are fighting on the front lines, that we will grab the horns of the altar and fight, because God's grace will give us the victory. I don't know about you, but I'm ready to go into warfare and to pray for a tremendous movement of God on behalf of this country and this world.
America has been placed under the Threat con Delta. This is the highest alert of threat to our native soil, and if the President has already declared war, the threat is not just our coming to the defense of some country who is riddled by oppression or degradation or attack from another country. We are not merely acting as policemen walking someone else's beat. But the enemy has dared to come on our own soil and threaten our houses, our schools, our family and our children, and we need to, as the Bible says, quit yourselves like men, prepare yourselves for battle, and begin to pray for a tremendous movement of God.
We cannot afford to sit back passively and not react to the issues at hand and think naively that if we are silent and bury our head up under the pillow that the enemy will go away because we are quiet. We are not dealing with that kind of enemy. We are not dealing with that kind of threat. We are dealing with a ruthless, reckless, evil, wicked debauchery such as this nation has not seen before, and if we proceed passively, we will not be prepared to guard what is rightfully ours.
And hear me when I tell you, Christian believers, this Bible is filled with a God who fought behind his people. People, hear me. Hear me. Hear me when I say that. Lord God is not passive. Your God is not indifferent, and your God is not weak. The Bible says that your God is a man of war. Oh, yes. Oh, yes. Oh, yes. Away with this timid, passive, indifferent, lukewarm, mediocre Christian idea of what God is. Our God is a God of war. He swallowed up nations in the earth. He stood and he fought with his people, before his people and behind his people. And if God be for us, who, who, who can be against us?
When I began to pray over what to say to you today--because I knew that you would be here, and I knew that you would be concerned, and I've been praying for God to give me direction--my heart fell on this particular passage of scripture, and I think it is very significant because Jesus talks through a parable about the kingdom of Heaven is like unto a man who sowed good seed in his field. He sowed good seed in his field. But while men slept, the enemy came. And I want to say that I am concerned because this country in the most part has been in a slumber, asleep. We have been on a resort. We have been on a cruise line. We have laid back and taken it easy and become indifferent.
We have been asleep, but we're awake this morning. Oh, yes. I want to say to you that we've been asleep for a long time. In the absence of war, we have used the term war as a cliche--we have got a war on crime, and a war on drugs, and a war on this, and a war on that. In the absence of understanding what a real war is, it has become cliche and in vogue to use it as a terminology for political speeches and for our own entertainment and enjoyment.
We have made war games. We have got war games in boxes. We have got video war games. We play war games. We have spent millions of dollars on movies playing about war, entertaining ourselves with war. Oh, yes, we have been stuck in a state of sleep that has allowed our boredom to entertain ourselves by arguing and bickering amongst ourselves between Democrats and Republicans. Oh, yes. We have been asleep, and while we were sleeping, we have enjoyed the luxury of majoring our minor issues and complaining about things that were not significant.
While we were asleep, we have argued about racism and racial profiling and who was going to live in what neighborhood and pay scales in employment. While we were sleeping, we have argued about gender and Zionism and where we stood on foreign policy. While we were asleep, we have dealt with the issues, and the issues were sincere and the issues were important, but they have paled in comparison to the challenge that is before us now.
And suddenly I don't hear anybody talking about women's rights or black and white or brown issues. I don't hear any policy jockeying between Democrats or Republicans, because with one swoop of the enemy, God bound America together, and suddenly you recognized that this is a wonderful country. And before we give it up, we fight all over the world, with all of its faults, with all of its weaknesses, with all of its mistakes.
Still we have been asleep, my brothers and sisters. And while we were asleep with nothing to write about and with nothing to do, we began to entertain ourselves with talk shows and Jerry Springer shows. While we were asleep, we started coming up with new types of television ideas and real-life television because we didn't have anything else to do, and in our boredom, we have become voyeurs peeking in the windows of our leadership, discussing their sexuality and their weaknesses because we didn't have anything else to do and we didn't have anything else to fight about, and we had to keep on doing business as usual.
But now God is showing us an issue that is more significant than any of these other issues. While we were sleeping, the enemy was strategizing and moving and structuring and setting ambushes and getting ready for attack.
If we end up in the war that seems to be before us, it will not be a particular country that we are fighting with. We will not just be dispatching troops in one direction. This is more diabolical than that. It is more dangerous than that. There is no point of reference for this kind of war. It is an unprecedented attack. President Bush cannot look back in the annals of American history and find anything in the textbook that relates to the kind of war and challenges that is before him now.
The enemy came, and the Bible said that he planted. Somebody say planted. He planted tares amongst the wheat. To be planted is to network, to scatter. This is not in one location. You can't fly over there, and Colin Powell has been speaking to us strongly, we cannot just fly over there and vanquish out the enemy in a particular location, because he has spread like sown seeds.
He is scattered everywhere, everywhere, everywhere, from New York to California. Right here in Fort Worth, they're snatching them out. It is believed that the ones that were snatched out of Fort Worth were setting up to do this, to lead, to take over one of the aircraft from here and to further assassinate and attack our people. So I don't want you to fall asleep now and think that because you're in Dallas you can be comfortable. They are in your neighborhood. They are in your back door.
So this is not an opportunity for us to discuss -- and I'm hearing discussion in the media, what do we tell our children. And over and over people are saying, just tell the children everything is going to be all right. It is not that simple. You had better tell them the truth. This is not about Santa Claus. This is not about the tooth fairy. We must teach them that if a stranger leaves a box in a strange place, you must get on the phone and get somebody quick. We must teach them and prepare them that if there is a strange car parked in front of a big building, you have to be suspect of the situation. We have to teach and train like other countries have been doing for years. When I was in Israel, they were walking around, 16- and 17-year-olds with guns on their shoulder while our children were carrying boom boxes. Do you hear what I'm saying?
America has been asleep, relaxing, taking it easy. But I want to serve notice on every evil, demonic force attacking us: we are awake now. Somebody shout, wake up, America. And I certainly agree that we need to repent, and I certainly agree that we need to pray, and I certainly agree that we need to seek the face of God as never before, but I do not suggest that God has gotten angry at us and decided to allow the enemy to destroy us. I do not believe that this is the work of God. And I am upset that anyone would suggest that the God that I serve would do such a thing. This is not the God that I serve. The God that I serve wouldn't have killed those mothers and children and babies. The God that I serve would not have used this wickedness and debauchery to execute wrath on people who are praying.
Even if America has its immoralities, and it does, might I remind you that God said, I would save Sodom and Gomorrah if I could find 10 righteous people. Somebody in America is praying. Somebody is praying while somebody is drinking and stealing and lying and discriminating. So if you have been sleeping and in the comfort and the lust of your flesh, it is time for you to wake up, my brother and sister, out of your sleep. You are not coming to church this morning because your mother has been begging you to come. You're not coming to church this morning because your wife has been after you to come to the Potter's House. You're not coming to church this morning because your son or your daughter has been trying to get you to come.
How in the world did this happen?
That is the question before us now. And everyone is attacking it from different aspects. How in the world? Who are these people? Why do they hate us? What are they trying to do? And there is a lot of conjecture. And if we don't get all the information, some dangerous things are going to happen.
I want to speak of Arab-Americans. You cannot stereotype these people and attack those people because they look different or because they worship different or because they believe different. You cannot start blowing them up or harassing them or giving them death threats.
Come on, black people, if anybody ought to understand this, come on, black people. Come on. We cannot racially profile nor religiously profile these people because their faiths are different than ours. I'm not a Muslim. I don't agree with the Muslim religion, but I respect it. I respect their right to worship the way they believe. That is what America is all about.
Understand that Osama Bin Laden is not Muslim. It is a mutated, destructive, volatile religious war where they're using Muslims as a disguise for some hatred that has already been renounced by the Muslim community, and the church needs to understand that and America needs to understand it, and you must speak out against it.
You whose great-grandparents were burned at the stakes and raped in the villages, you whose great-grandfathers were hung by the neck because of the color of their skin, you who have withstood abuse and were watered down with water hoses and our pregnant women were beat down in the streets of Montgomery, Ala., how dare you be quiet when anybody rises up and wants to profile anybody. You must, if nobody else speaks up, you must speak up. The blood of our ancestors requires that we speak up.
Our President is saying we're going to need the support of other countries. America cannot, hear me, cannot do this alone. How did they get here, everywhere? How did they get our planes? How did they get our flight plans? How did they get access to our top secret? While we were sleeping, while we were playing games, entertaining ourselves, arguing between parties and parties and cultures and cultures, how did they? While we were discussing this, that and the other and complaining about every little inconvenience, while we turned our country into one big talk show, while we were talking, they were quiet. While we were watching, they were in disguise. While we were stuck on TV, watching to see who was going to make it through the next Paradise, they were planting their cell roots all over the world.
The servant said, how did that happen, and the first thing the Bible said clearly, this is not the work of God. An enemy has done this. Say it with me: an enemy has done this! But understand that we have such an awesome God that he can take what the enemy meant for evil and switch it around and make it work for our good.
Maybe God didn't start it, but I can tell you one thing for sure, that God is going to finish it. Are you hearing what I'm saying to you? The enemy is not looking to be found. He has been planted everywhere. He warns us that the enemy has been planted everywhere around us.
. The challenge that is before our nation is how to uproot these terrorist groups who have been scattered across the country and around the world without killing the wheat, without killing American lives, with minimizing our death toll. While we are grieving on what has happened, we must also quickly move to prepare ourselves against what is about to happen.
This weeding-out process of wickedness is so delicate, because what we need to be praying for -- and I say this to you so you know how to pray that the strategies that we move into place would maximize our strength and minimize our losses. Some people don't want justice, they just want to retaliate. But understand that you feel that now until your children go marching out to war. It's our sons and daughters.
They're not going to be sending for men my age. They're not going to be sending for most of our deacons. They're going to be sending for our children, and it will be a blood bath such as you have never seen before--but the enemy has pushed us in a corner and shoved us to the wall, and when you pray for this nation, pray for her strategy, pray for her strength, pray for her leadership, pray that they will move stealthily without exposing everything for the sake of the public's need to know.
The Bible says, do you want us to go gather them up, and the master says, no, lest while you gather up the tares you root up the wheat also. The reality is that it's very unlikely to have a war and not have deaths. But if we will listen at God, God can strategize a way that we minimize our losses and maximize our strength.
America is being besieged and attacked, and we need to pray specifically with focus. It's good to say God bless America, but tell him how to bless America. Specifically what do you need God to do? Give us strategy, give us strength, open up our resources. We pray for the economy of this country. We pray for the military of this country. Start writing down specific areas that you want to see God move in.
I hate to talk to you like this, but we have got to grow up. We have got to grow up. Gather the tare into bundles, God said. Gather them into bundles. Gather them into groups. You will know you're in harvest when you see God gathering into bundles the enemy that is against us. Jesus says that the wheat are the children of the good seed, and he says that the tare are the children of the wicked one. He does not leave us guessing as to what the tare is. He says the tare are wicked, evil, corrupt people. God says, I will gather into bundles and deal with them. But he also says, I will gather the wheat into my barn.
If you think that you're wheat and not tare, if you think that there is any good seed in you, if you think that you are on the right side of this war, if there is anything in you that acknowledges God as God, that believes that we have a holy God and a visible God, a God who sits on the circle of the earth, a God who has all power--and I know you got weaknesses, I know you got problems. If there is any faith in you at all that believes that God is God, that God is sovereign, that God is holy, that God is able, that God is invincible, that God is eternal, that God is everlasting, if there is anything inside of you that sees the mighty Mississippi empty out into the Gulf and flood out into the ocean and says there must be a God somewhere, it is time for us to get ourselves together and gather into the barn of God's grace.
It's time to come home now. It's time for the prodigal son to come out of the hog pen. It's time for Jonah to come out of the belly of the fish. It's time for Esther to rise up in the palace. It is time to wake out of your sleep. Stop living in sin.
Can God snatch you out of what you're into and bring you back home in time? There is a secret place where the wicked and the weary shall be at rest. It's time to go home, back to God, back to his purpose, back to his will, back to his word, back to holiness. America has gone to praying now.
I was on CNN the other day, and right in the middle of the interview, the interviewer said, will you just stop right where you are and pray for America. I thought for a moment, I was on CNN and nobody is arguing about separation of church and state now. America is coming home. Nobody is talking about praying in school. Nobody is talking about whether you should pray at a football game.
My brothers and sisters, simply stated, we're prayingfor the nation. We're praying for the nations of the world that line up on the side of right. We're praying for the military that's quickly moving into place while I'm talking to you right now. Hear me good. My trust is in God. What are you going to do if you wake up and your backyard looks like a war zone? We used to have--you folks don't remember, and I barely do- they used to have little fallout shelters left over from the war. There were little arrows to places where if there was a bomb dropped you could go to, and they were stuffed with food and water, and emergency preparations were in place if we were under siege or attack. We may have to have that again like we never had it before.
But let me tell you something. While we're getting all of that together, I know a place where you can hide under the shadow of the Almighty. David said, in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion. In the secret of His tabernacle He shall hide me. He shall set me up on a rock. Now, he said, shall my head be lifted up above my enemies roundabout me. I will sing praises unto God. I know a place where you can go where a bomb cannot blow you up. I know a place where a gun can't kill you. I know a place where you can hide your soul, and no terrorist can break through the blood that covers this place.
Today I'm not going to try to talk you into Jesus. But I tell you what, in the days to come you're going to need him. You have needed him before, but you were asleep. America has always needed this. We have always needed prayer and worship and coming together, and we've always needed blacks and white and browns to melt down to just being Americans. We have always needed it, but we were asleep, playing political games, arguing about words, fighting over semantics, missing the greater issues.
I believe in a Jesus that can snatch a soul before a plane explodes I believe in a Jesus who can snatch a fireman out of his suit before the fire burns his flesh. I just believe some crazy stuff about God.
Searching today, tired of sin, want to be saved? God has been dealing with you before, but you're awake now. I want you to step to the nearest aisle. Don't even care who is looking at you. Come right now. Brother, come right now. Out of the balcony, come down right now. Young people, you're going to need him. You've been thinking you were a child, but you're old enough to fight. You're old enough to go to war. You need to get right with God. I'm not trying to scare you, but I sure do want to challenge you.
This next message is for backsliders. Backsliders, you're stuck out in the foreign country of sin. I'm waiting for you. Come on, brother. Come on, wayward girl. Come on, America! Let's be one nation under God, one nation under God, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Lord, while these fine souls are coming, I pray for those that are being sent out and being prepared and all of the branches of military and the Armed Forces to defend our country. I pray for them that are getting phone calls and letters being dispatched as our country moves into a position of war. Some of those young men and women are in this building right now. I pray for our sons and daughters, that in the days and weeks and months ahead when letters start coming and challenges are made and we move deeper and deeper into a position of protection, not retaliation, protection, I pray, God, in your name that your great grace will cover our sons and our daughters, our fathers and mothers. Cover our buildings, our stadiums, our auditoriums, our government branches. There are people in here who work in positions and highly visible places that need your protection. Holy Spirit, help us to know that the time to get right with God is now. This is my prayer in Jesus' name.
Quickly I want to tell you this is the strategy. The nation is coming together. God is gathering America. Churches are coming together. He's gathering churches. This is what I want you to do with your family. Squeeze that hand you're holding. Bring your family together. Bring your kids together. Support one another. Embrace one another. Start family devotions. Start teaching and talking to your kids. You keep your eyes open. Keep your head up. Squeeze that hand. Don't be afraid. Don't be intimidated.
Father, I bless this congregation. In the name of Jesus, I bless every home represented, every house represented, every apartment represented. Cover it with the blood of the Lamb. Cover every job represented, every company represented. Cover our children and grandchildren who are working in other places, in other cities, in other locations. Protect them with Thy great might. I pray for our nation. I pray for our President. I pray to God that you would stand up in George Bush like you have never stood up in him before. Surround him with wise cunning men who are prepared to face the challenge of this country. I pray for our young men that are kicking into active duty, young women who are called into the military. Cover them with the blood. And the final thing I ask you, God, if we must fight, if we must fight, if there is no other alternative and it comes down to it that we must fight, I humbly, humbly ask you just one thing, fight with us. Fight with us. Fight with us, and fight for us. In Jesus' name, Amen.