What does it look like when God is trying to get your attention? I’ve been thinking about that lately, especially now that we are three-quarters of the way through this crazy and surreal year.
2020 has been the year of disruption. We’ve had fires, floods, riots, and a historic pandemic. So much has happened, I feel like I need to go back and recreate a timeline to remember what has happened in this unexpected year.
The natural disasters have been one thing, but it is the human disasters that have been the most troubling. A man is slowly suffocated to death in broad daylight for 8 minutes … and there is debate on whether or not that is police brutality.
Over 200,000 Americans have died from coronavirus so far, and I see people around me daily justifying why they don’t need to modify their behavior to stop the spread. Unnecessary and premature deaths should just be accepted … or at least it is more acceptable than the request to wear a mask.
The love of many has grown cold.
And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. – Matthew 24:12 ESV
The U.S. seems to have devolved from the leader of the developed world into one that is the object of pity and ire of the rest of the world. We have the best medical minds in the world and the greatest resources, yet we have 21% of the world’s deaths from coronavirus with only 4% of the world’s population.
Federal troops are sent to violently disperse, and even abducting, protesting citizens … reminiscent of the authoritarian actions of communist regimes. Our president makes casual comments about not accepting the outcome of the election if he loses like some tin-can dictator of a third-world country; and a segment of the population not only do not find that concerning but encourage it. We can’t even count on the Postal Service, one of the very basic of a civilized society.
I have asked myself so many times this year, “What world am I living in?”
It’s not supposed to be this way.
John Adams once said that democracy depends on a civilized people.
We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.
We aren’t a civilized people anymore. We don’t seem to be able to care about anything beyond ourselves … even when our well-being as a nation and our individual lives depend on it.
What is wrong with us?
All of the things I mentioned could be plucked out of the plot of a post-apocalyptic film. What we are seeing today is the chaos we would expect to see after a nuclear disaster or some equally catastrophic event … what it would look like if physical structures of society were suddenly destroyed.
But that isn’t what has happened is it?
What we are seeing today is not because of some external attack on the pillars of our society, but because we as a people do not have the moral fortitude, the character, or the conscience to be the foundation that those pillars stand on.
The problem is us.
As scholar and Bible teacher once said, the problem of society is “the ruthless pursuit of self-interest.” The evil causing the issues we see around us is not because of some “secret Satanic cabal” or Russian interference.
The problem is just us. We are the problem.
And I keep wondering, “What will it take for God to get our attention?”
What will it take for us to realize as John wrote to the church of Laodicea:
You say, “I am rich; I have grown wealthy and need nothing.” But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked. Revelation 3:17
God is talking to us here. I’ve been reading through The Benedict Option by Rod Drehrer with some friends over the past couple of months. I’m really not a fan of it overall. The main message to Christians is “You’ve lost culture, so hole up in your own communities.”
That’s one response. Do I think it’s Biblical? No. Do I think it will solve the core problem? No. More on that.
I’ve also noticed the push for the opposite approach in certain Christian circles. A drive to push back harder against what is seen as opposing ideology … even to the point of a physical fight.
Both Drehrer and those pushing to start a 21st-century Crusade are blind to the true problem.
The problem is us, not them, us. We are the problem.
We preach against sexual immorality while we allow it to run rampant in our churches.
We talk about the sanctity of life while continue to belligerently endanger it.
We insist on religious freedom while succumbing to the leaven of Herod.
Why should anyone listen to us when we have shown ourselves to be such hypocrites? We have lost all right to influence and speak into society when we have failed so miserably at exhibiting true virtue ourselves.
That is the issue with Drehrer’s book, it assumes there is a “purity” to isolate with, and there’s not. It would be like trying to quarantine with the spiritual version of COVID-19. Just as structures alone will not ensure the stability of a society, so rules and control won’t ensure the continuation of a faith.
It is the Holy Spirit that does that (who, by the way, doesn’t make much of an appearance in Drehrer’s book.)
Then he said to me, “This is what the Lord says to Zerubbabel: It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. Zechariah 4:6 NLT
The Holy Spirit doesn’t seem to make much of an appearance in the discussions of the Crusaders either does it?
Are we told to pick up arms to advance the Kingdom of God?
For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds. 2 Corinthians 10:4
Are we told to demonize those who don’t agree with us?
Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Romans 12:14
What is it that we are supposed to do when we find ourselves in a mess?
We are to call on God and repent.
WE are to repent
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
We are to recognize that we are the sinners that need the continuing presence of the Holy Spirit to cleanse us and bring us into right understanding of God’s will and ways.
“Make sure that the light you think you have is not actually darkness. If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight were filling you with light.” Luke 11:35-36 NLT
For by that one offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy. Hebrews 10:14 NLT
Create in me a clean heart, O God.
Renew a loyal spirit within me.
Do not banish me from your presence,
and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and make me willing to obey you.
Psalm 51:10-12 NLT
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 1 Peter 5:6 KJV
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
We have made God in our own image, forgetting that we are to be conformed to the image of Christ.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2 NASB
That means that we have to change. We don’t stay as we are. That humbling and submitting ourselves to God means that we have to recognize that our ideas about a thing may not be his ideas. We have to seek his truth above all else.
As Christians, we have already acknowledged that we are sinners in need of a Savior. We don’t stop needing one … so why does repentance and submission seem to be so hard?
What Does God Have to Do to Get Our Attention?
Again, what does God have to do to get our attention? How bad does it have to be before we are willing to humble ourselves and not only ask for help, but seek his will.
The plagues of Egypt were a call to pharoah, the most powerful man in the known world, to listen to the instructions of God to let his people go. He ignored every word and sign and persisted in his stubbornness. He hardened his heart.
It took every single household, other than those who believed in the salvation of Yahweh, losing their firstborn son to break that pride.
What will it take for us?
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 The year began with catastrophic fires continuing in Australia and we have just seen widespread fires on the west coast in the U.S.
Yeung, “What You Need to Know about Australia’s Deadly Wildfires,” CNN, last modified January 13, 2020, accessed September 22, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/01/australia/australia-fires-explainer-intl-hnk-scli/index.html.
Linda Givetash, “Australian Wildfires Killed, Displaced 3 Billion Animals, Scientists Say,” NBC News, last modified July 28, 2020, accessed September 22, 2020, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/australian-wildfires-declared-among-worst-wildlife-disasters-modern-history-n1235071.
Christoph Koettl et al., “Video: How an Oregon Wildfire Became One of the Most Destructive,” The New York Times, September 20, 2020, sec. U.S., accessed September 22, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/video/us/100000007341513/oregon-fires-path.html.
Eliot C. McLaughlin, Amir Vera, and Susannah Cullinane, “Detroit, Oregon ‘looks as Though a Bomb Went off’ as Fires Continue to Scorch the West Coast,” CNN, last modified September 14, 2020, accessed September 22, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/09/13/us/us-west-fires-sunday/index.html.
Paulina Firozi and Andrew Freedman, “Wildfires: At Least 35 Dead as Oregon and California Are Ravaged,” The Washington Post, last modified September 14, 2020, accessed September 22, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/09/14/wildfires-oregon-california-washington/.
 Reese Oxner, “Thousands of Texans Remain without Power in the Aftermath of Hurricane Hanna,” The Texas Tribune, last modified July 27, 2020, accessed September 22, 2020, https://www.texastribune.org/2020/07/27/hurricane-hanna-aftermath-texas-power/.
Susie Neilson, Charles Davis, and Ashley Collman, “Hurricane Isaias Killed at Least 5, Left Millions without Power – Insider,” Insider, last modified August 5, 2020, accessed September 22, 2020, https://www.insider.com/tropical-storm-isaias-hurricane-season-record-puerto-rico-2020-7.
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“Hurricane Laura Kills at Least 6 People in Louisiana,” The New York Times, September 15, 2020, sec. U.S., accessed September 22, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/27/us/hurricane-laura-update.html.
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Martin Gurri, “Why Were the Protests and Riots So Explosive?,” City Journal, n.d., accessed September 22, 2020, https://www.city-journal.org/2020-riots-protests.
 Molly Walker, “COVID-19 Was Worse Than the Flu in NYC… the 1918 Flu,” Medpage Today, last modified August 13, 2020, accessed September 22, 2020, https://www.medpagetoday.com/infectiousdisease/covid19/88048.
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 Evan Hill et al., “How George Floyd Was Killed in Police Custody,” The New York Times, August 13, 2020, sec. U.S., accessed September 22, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/31/us/george-floyd-investigation.html.
Edward Chang, “In The Death Of George Floyd, Perception Is Reality,” The Federalist, last modified June 5, 2020, accessed September 22, 2020, https://thefederalist.com/2020/06/05/in-the-death-of-george-floyd-perception-is-reality/.
Jordan Davidson, “New Documents Show George Floyd Had ‘Fatal Level’ Of Fentanyl In His System,” The Federalist, last modified August 26, 2020, accessed September 22, 2020, https://thefederalist.com/2020/08/26/new-documents-show-george-floyd-had-fatal-level-of-fentanyl-in-his-system/.
Rod Dreher, “George Floyd And ExDS,” The American Conservative, last modified August 5, 2020, accessed September 22, 2020, https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/george-floyd-exds-fentanyl-methamphetamine/.
 As of September 22, 2020, there have been 7,057,560 reported cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. and 204,867 deaths.
“Coronavirus Update (Live): 31,628,025 Cases and 971,779 Deaths from COVID-19 Virus Pandemic,” Worldometer, accessed September 22, 2020, https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/#countries.
 I have seen countless ignorant and narcissistic posts like these on Facebook. Just a few highlights of living through a pandemic in the Bible Belt.
Pat Pop Jackson, “A Share in the Texas Tea Party Republican Women’s Facebook Group of a Post by the ‘Texas Freedom Coalition’ Encouraging People to Refuse Business Mask Orders under Supposed ADA Guidelines.,” Facebook (Facebook Groups, July 16, 2020), last modified July 16, 2020, accessed September 22, 2020, https://www.facebook.com/groups/18891031658/.
Ed Henderson, “A Post Claiming a Mask Is the Mark of the Beast (Revelation 13:17) Posted in the Texas Tea Party Republican Women’s Facebook Group,” Facebook (Facebook Groups, July 3, 2020), last modified July 3, 2020, accessed September 22, 2020, https://www.facebook.com/groups/18891031658/.
Ritzy Fletcher, “A Share of a Live Video by ‘Here We Go’ Claiming That Walmart’s Requirement That He Wear a Mask Is a Violation of His Religion and Threatens His Health. Posted in the Texas Tea Party Republican Women’s Facebook Group.,” Facebook (Facebook Groups, July 29, 2020), last modified July 29, 2020, accessed September 22, 2020, https://www.facebook.com/groups/18891031658/.
Carolina Galvan, “Photos of a ‘Fight for Freedom’ Rally Held in Katy, TX on Sept 19, 2020. The Freedom They’re Fighting for? The Right to Spread Their Germs to Whomever They Please. Posted in the ‘Texas Unmasked’ Facebook Group,” Facebook (Facebook Groups, September 19, 2020), last modified September 19, 2020, accessed September 22, 2020, https://www.facebook.com/groups/1495487230649591/.
Holly Quick Urick, “Photos from a ‘Fight for Freedom’ Rally to Protest Mask Mandates Held in Kingwood, TX on August 22, 2020. Posted in the Texas Unmasked Facebook Group,” Facebook (Facebook Groups, August 22, 2020), last modified August 22, 2020, accessed September 22, 2020, https://www.facebook.com/groups/1495487230649591/.
 Daniel Allott, “Thanks to Red States, the World Views America with Shock and Pity,” Text, The Hill, last modified August 4, 2020, accessed September 22, 2020, https://thehill.com/opinion/international/510452-thanks-to-red-states-the-world-views-america-with-shock-and-pity.
Robin Levinson-King, “Americans, Go Home: Tension at Canada-US Border,” BBC News, August 13, 2020, sec. US & Canada, accessed September 22, 2020, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-53742684.
 National Science Foundation, “Report Shows United States Leads in Science and Technology as China Rapidly Advances,” Science Daily, last modified January 24, 2018, accessed September 22, 2020, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/01/180124113951.htm.
 Currently, there have been 971,879 deaths worldwide from COVID-19. Today’s total deaths in the U.S. is 204,913, or 21% of total deaths. It has been as high as 25% as I have been watching over the past few months.
 Sanya Mansoor and Anne Most, “Portland Medics Speak Out on Being Targeted by Police, Feds,” Time, last modified August 10, 2020, accessed September 22, 2020, https://time.com/5877631/portland-injured-medics-aclu-lawsuit/.
 Katie Shepherd and Mark Berman, “Portland Protesters Say Federal Officers in Unmarked Vans Are Detaining Them,” Washington Post, last modified July 17, 2020, accessed September 22, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/07/17/portland-protests-federal-arrests/.
 Austin Ramzy et al., “Protesters in Hong Kong Rally Against China’s Tightening Grip,” The New York Times, May 28, 2020, sec. World, accessed September 22, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/27/world/asia/hong-kong-protest-china-anthem.html.
 “Belarus Protest Leader ‘Abducted’ after Mass Anti-Gov’t March,” Al Jazeera, last modified September 7, 2020, accessed September 22, 2020, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/09/07/belarus-protest-leader-abducted-after-mass-anti-govt-march/.
 Aris Folley, “Trump on Whether He’ll Accept Election Results in November: ‘I Have to See,’” Text, TheHill, last modified July 19, 2020, accessed September 22, 2020, https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/508045-trump-on-whether-hell-accept-election-results-in-november-i-have-to-see.
 Harold Trinkunas, “Three Things to Know about the Venezuelan Election Results,” Brookings Institute, December 8, 2020, accessed October 20, 2020, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2015/12/08/three-things-to-know-about-the-venezuelan-election-results/.
 Scott Smith, “Buzz over Venezuela’s Guaido Fades as Maduro Holds Firm,” AP NEWS, last modified December 22, 2019, accessed October 20, 2020, https://apnews.com/article/469ab005d21726440c6226ccb9bd4a37.
 Om Maranthe, “Explained: The Law That Trump Supporters Want Him to Use If He Loses November 3 Election,” The Indian Express, September 16, 2020, accessed October 20, 2020, https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/donald-trump-us-elections-insurrection-act-6596008/.
“Speaking to the conspiracy theory website InfoWars last week, Stone said that Trump should invoke the Insurrection Act of 1807 and arrest Hillary and Bill Clinton, Democratic party heavyweight Harry Reid, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Tim Cook of Apple and “anybody else who can be proven to be involved in illegal activity”. “
 Andrew Feinberg, “Trump Supporters Are Already Talking about What They Might Do If He Doesn’t Win — Extremism Experts Are Worried,” The Independent, last modified July 11, 2020, accessed October 20, 2020, https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/trump-lose-2020-election-supporters-maga-presidency-a9606081.html.
“Daryl Johnson, a former Department of Homeland Security analyst who consults with law enforcement agencies on combatting far-right extremism and domestic terrorism, warned that there is already significant “chatter” about the election among right-wing extremist groups, which he said are “flourishing” under the Trump administration.
“They’re already talking about what they are gonna do if the Republicans don’t win,” he said. “They’ve already… accepted the narrative that it would be a false election, that it would be a result of fraud.”
 John Adams, October 11, 1798, letter to the officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts. Charles Francis Adams, ed., The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States, (Little, Brown, and Co., Boston, 1854), 9:229.
Quoted in J. David Gowdy, “Without Virtue There Can Be No Liberty,” Mount Liberty College, July 21, 2018, accessed October 20, 2020, https://mountlibertycollege.org/without-virtue-there-can-be-no-liberty/.
 Derek Prince, “The Ministry of Intercession – Intercession Basics with Derek Prince.” Intercessors for America, Published September 18, 2018. Video, 56:20. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LA5FixNtjA
 Jason Lemon, “Evangelical Pastor Urges Christians to ‘Mobilize’ to Fight Civil War against Left-Wing Activists,” Newsweek, last modified September 14, 2020, accessed October 20, 2020, https://www.newsweek.com/evangelical-pastor-urges-christians-mobilize-fight-civil-war-against-left-wing-activists-1531827.
 Marc Duvoisin, “Express-News, Houston Chronicle Honored for Exposing Sexual Abuse in Southern Baptist Churches,” ExpressNews.Com, last modified June 17, 2020, accessed October 20, 2020, https://www.expressnews.com/news/local/article/Express-News-Houston-Chronicle-honored-for-15347067.php.
“The series showed that the misconduct reached the highest levels of the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s second-largest faith group, and that abusers were shielded from accountability while their victims were disparaged and ostracized.
The team of reporters documented credible allegations of sexual misconduct against 380 pastors and volunteers over 20 years. The series identified more than 700 victims.”
 Daniel Burke, “California Pastor Defies Public Health Orders, Holds Services for Thousands with No Social Distancing – CNN,” CNN, last modified August 13, 2020, accessed October 20, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/12/us/pastor-macarthur-church-california/index.html.
“I’m so happy to welcome you to the Grace Community Church peaceful protest,” MacArthur said from the pulpit last Sunday, as his congregation, few of whom appeared to be wearing masks or social distancing, erupted into applause.
The pastor has said his church offers an outdoor tent for worshipers, but photos and videos posted on social media by church officials show indoor services and tightly packed rows of congregants, most if not all of whom are maskless.”
 Exodus 12