What if America Really is Going to Hell in a Hand Basket?

presidential-1311753_1280

What if our worst fears come to reality?

Throughout this election process, we’ve spent months either on our knees in prayer or holding our knees to keep them from knocking. Let’s face it. We’ve all been a little bit afraid.

As the preliminary races whittled down the candidates to two main choices, many of us watched in horror as the reality of our options were placed before us. Media painted them as a jerk and a crook. We were to choose the lesser of the two evils. And to make matters worse, they both led some of the biggest smear campaigns in history. What ever happened to focusing on the platform issues and letting the other party’s character speak for itself? Their mud slinging did nothing to assuage our fears and help us settle on a candidate; it did the opposite. Fears escalated as the American people decided they really didn’t trust either one.

As I watched the candidates debate, my stomach soured and my faith in this nation dwindled. Meanwhile, news stories about “too much nationalism” came out. Our own president almost acts embarrassed by our country. Whatever happened to national pride? Since when is it wrong to feel happy about where you are from?

Yesterday I cast my early ballot, but walked away wondering if I should have asked for a paper copy after reading some polls were rigged. We can’t even trust the voting stations anymore.

This morning I was praying for America – begging God to heal our broken nation. I asked Him to help both Hillary and Trump to recognize Truth and be changed by it. And as I prayed, a story from the Bible came to mind. You can call it what you will – but I know the Lord placed it there.

It was the story of Jesus predicting His death to His disciples. He laid out the entire event before it happened. Jesus told them He would go Jerusalem, and once there, He would suffer at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law. Then Christ explained He would be killed but would come back to life on the third day.

Imagine your close friend, your mentor, just told you something like that. How would you respond? I’m sure I would’ve responded the same way Peter did.

Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” Matthew 16:22 NIV

Jesus didn’t say, “It’s okay buddy. God has a plan in all of this.” No. He reply was much stronger!

Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” Matthew 16:23 NIV

That’s pretty harsh. But, you see, Christ’s death and resurrection was God’s greatest gift to humanity. Through that death and new life, we – you and me – can have eternal life. So, when Peter suggested to Jesus that it wasn’t going to happen, Jesus wasn’t having any part of that. He was saying, “You are just concerned about yourself. This is a God thing. Don’t get in my way.”

So as I was praying for America today, God brought this story to mind and how it relates to our situation. You see, if the worst happens – if Hillary gets in office and inadvertently shares state secrets and continues the gut-wrenching horror of late term abortions – or if Trump gets into office and mouths off to Vladimir Putin and causes Russia to drop an atomic bomb – the end result is people will be looking for hope. And the only Hope to be found is in Christ. You see, our only purpose here is to bring Christ glory. So if it takes the world getting more wicked and vile to make people turn to God, then that is what He will allow.

If that seems cruel to you, remember He allowed His only Son to die for the same reason – to bring you life. God desperately wants this world to know Him and experience His saving grace. So while I’ve been praying for things to get better when the election is over – for the newly elected president to make positive change – things are going to get worse. There may be some positive change. I’m not trying to be doom and gloom. But God is pointing out that things have to get bad, really bad, for people to turn from their wicked ways and come to know Him.

So, fellow Christian, the time is now. First, we have to stop getting so distracted over things that divide us – political parties, movements, the need to weigh in on things where we need to keep our mouths shut. Satan is using those things to destroy us.

We also need to be plugged in to God’s Word, and then let the power of the Holy Spirit that fills us change those around us. In other words, stop being so shy about sharing your faith. Let Christ empower you.

For those of you who don’t know God, or you know of Him but you don’t talk to Him and you really aren’t sure where you are going when you die, the time is now. The same God who created this entire universe is all knowing and all-powerful. He has the power to save you if you just admit you are a sinner who desperately needs Him. Ask Him to save you. He will fill you with hope you never thought possible.

So friends, America may get worse before it gets better. But do not fear. You may weep and wail. You will see things you never thought would happen. But don’t lose hope – Jesus will return. So if our worst fears come to reality, have hope and know that God is and forever will be on the throne.

Psalm 47

1 Clap your hands, all you nations;
shout to God with cries of joy.

2 For the Lord Most High is awesome,
the great King over all the earth.
3 He subdued nations under us,
peoples under our feet.
4 He chose our inheritance for us,
the pride of Jacob, whom he loved.

5 God has ascended amid shouts of joy,
the Lord amid the sounding of trumpets.
6 Sing praises to God, sing praises;
sing praises to our King, sing praises.
7 For God is the King of all the earth;
sing to him a psalm of praise.

8 God reigns over the nations;
God is seated on his holy throne.
9 The nobles of the nations assemble
as the people of the God of Abraham,
for the kings of the earth belong to God;
he is greatly exalted.

Carol

Let My People Go – An End to Modern Day Slavery

 

I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. Exodus 20:2 NIV

God has a plan for everything.

Let me repeat that because I want that to sink in with you.

God has a plan for everything.

When the Israelites were in captivity for hundreds of years in Egypt, God had a plan for their deliverance. He used Moses, with the help of Aaron, as a mouthpiece for freedom.

“Let my people go.”

Moses delivered God’s message again and again until the miraculous release of His chosen people.

While this story is ancient, the practice of buying and selling individuals into slavery is as modern as you and me. There are an estimated 27 million slaves in the world today, and every 60 seconds a child is sold into slavery.

I think I’ve mentioned before when people start talking statistics about human trafficking and children being sold for prostitution, I’d like to close my eyes, stick my fingers in my ears and sing, “La-la-la-la…”

But as much as it hurts, it’s time to open my eyes and ears. But even more so, it’s time to open my mouth. I am excited (and scared to death) to tell you I’ve joined with an incredible non-profit organization called Exodus Road.

Like Moses, I will be the mouthpiece and deliver God’s message, “Let my people go.”

The guys at Exodus Road are on the front lines of fighting human trafficking.

They work to collect evidence on where children are being sold into prostitution and they work with authorities to conduct raids to rescue these young people and prosecute those responsible. As of now, their work is mainly in SE Asia.

My job is to share the stories.

Meet Sarah.

Laura Leigh Parker, the Director of Communications for Exodus Road, tells Sarah’s story.

“We met Sarah in a brothel in Cambodia.”

There was a line of prostitutes behind a glass wall, a fishbowl they call it. They were sitting on high bar stools, with heavy make-up and short skirts, numbers pinned to their shoulders, displayed for the customers on the other side of the glass.

And then, they brought in Sarah. She was “fresh,” the pimp had told our lead investigator over the phone. Sarah was dressed in street clothes, head down, hands fiddling nervously with a napkin. She was 15 and had been sold by her mother in a neighboring country several days before to work off a debt which her mother owed. Sarah’s virginity had been sold three days prior for $600 USD.

Sarah could not speak the local language, was kept under close watch daily, and had no access to a cell phone or any communication from the outside world. She had been slipped illegally across borders by a system of traffickers that has become a global highway of modern day slaves.

With covert cameras, our investigators were able to record the sale of Sarah for the night, capturing valuable evidence that could be passed on to the trusted authorities in hopes of the pimp’s prosecution. Later, behind a closed door, our operative was able to call a social worker who spoke Sarah’s language. He explained that he was there to help her, not to hurt her, and that he could aid her escape if she wanted.

Unfortunately, Sarah was too scared to run, too scared to trust a stranger, understandably.

The following day, our investigator returned to visit Sarah in the brothel, just blocks away from a crowded local market. She scribbled a note, “Please Rescue Me,” on a bill and slipped it to him.

She wanted out, but didn’t know the way.

Immediately, our investigator gave his testimony and video evidence to the authorities and asked the government to conduct a raid on Sarah’s behalf. It was believed that 10 or more girls were also being held against their wills at the same brothel where we found Sarah.

And so she waits. And suffers.

But what Sarah doesn’t know is that rescue is coming.”


Here’s the thing I love about Exodus Road. You can literally fund a raid, and they will share with you who you have helped escape slavery. One raid is $1,400. Sounds like a lot, right? But can you put a price on freedom?

So here’s what I’d like to do. What if Sheep to the Right readers funded a raid? And I could tell you the story of our raid? It’s mind boggling to think of.

Exodus Road is actually having a little contest between those on the blogging team. For two people who either raise the most money or have the most people donate, those bloggers will travel to SE Asia this January to see what’s going on first hand. Would you like to see me go to SE Asia and blog from there?

Will you help me free children from slavery? Every donation counts. $10, $15, $50… you name it. Please give, and share this post with anyone else you think has a heart for helping others.

Online fundraising for Carol Hatcher fundraising for The Exodus Road

Together we can make a difference.

Connect with Exodus Road on Twitter and Facebook.

Carol

When the Puzzle Doesn’t Fit

“Hmmm,” my little girl mused as she stared at a picture of Big Bird and wondered where her piece of the puzzle would fit.

I watched from a short distance away as my three-year-old daughter pushed and smacked the pieces of her puzzle. She had just graduated from the wooden ones, where each piece has a separate place, to the puzzles whose pieces work together to create a picture.

The longer she slid that one piece around on the table looking for its spot, the more frustrated she became. Finally, after selecting where she thought it went, she began the work of fitting the shapes together. She pushed and grunted, until finally she screamed…

Join me at the Internet Cafe today. Click HERE to read the rest of my devotion.

 

Carol

When You Find Grace

 

Grace at her 3-year-old birthday party.

The most popular member of my family is the youngest.

Posts about her on Facebook get the most “Likes.” When I visit my older two children at school, students in the hall and the classrooms call her by name. At field day last year, the students in my daughter’s class weren’t jumping and cheering their teammates. They were crowded around Miss Grace.

I have to admit; I think she is the cutest thing since the teddy bear.

But I forget from time to time that some of you haven’t been long time readers and you don’t know her story. So grab a cup of coffee and let me tell you…

After having two children, a boy and a girl, Alan and I decided we were done. We discussed this at length, wondering if we wanted a third child, but finally decided that two was a gracious plenty.

So, being the “spiritual” person I was, I prayed and told God we were done. (Note the sarcasm. Most spiritual people don’t TELL God what their plans are. They ask.) “God, Alan and I are done having kids. We think two is enough. I just wanted to let you know. But if you want us to have another one, we will. But it will have to come from you Lord, because I’m doing all that’s in my power to prevent it.” (Read: I was on the birth control pill.)

(*FREE marriage tip: Let your spouse know in advance if you are going to pray a prayer like this. Trust me in this.)

I imagine God having to slap his holy knee from laughing so hard when he heard this prayer. You see five weeks later, I found out I was pregnant. Two months pregnant!

A few weeks before Grace was born.

So I knew for a fact that God had a special plan for Grace. God planned this pregnancy. Everything went smoothly right up to the end when I went into labor – four weeks early. I wasn’t overly concerned, because Grace was measuring big. I kept thinking they must be off on my days since I wasn’t really sure when I had gotten pregnant.

But as soon as she was born, she was whisked away to the NICU. She was super floppy and purple. They let me kiss her tiny face before scooting away. I was told it would probably only be for a few hours. Heartbroken, I asked immediately for my best friend, Allison. She is a Respiratory Therapist in the NICU.

Me listening to the nurse explain why Grace needed to go to the NICU. You can see my fear.

Don’t you love how God works? Grace was taken to the NICU for breathing problems and it just so happened my best friend was an expert in that. That first moment she saw me, I think all her training fell away, and she was in best friend mode. I’ll never forget the tiny smile she tried to hold in place as she turned the door and saw me lying there – hopeless. She fell into my arms and cried with me. Pulling back enough to look me in the eyes, she said, “It’s going to be okay.”

But I wasn’t so sure. How could God have planned THIS?

Grace getting oxygen.

Read Part 2 HERE.

Meanwhile, you may want to read these posts from my pregnancy.

Headed to Macedonia

God’s Grace

Carol

When You Can’t Find Your Way

My hubby and I were almost lost in the abyss of the Georgia backwoods never to be heard from again because of Google.

Okay, I may be exaggerating just a little.

When traveling, Alan and I frequently use our smart phones with Google maps to find our way to places. So we were following the directions last weekend to find our way to a hotel for our 15th anniversary get-away. We were driving down a dark, lonely road looking for our turn. According to the phone, we were quickly approaching the street where we were to turn right.

But when we got to the street to turn, it looked more like a dead-end or a driveway. It was a dirt road. And we weren’t in a great part of town. But we turned anyway, apprehensive.

We bumped down this gravel road deep in the woods with thick lush close by on either side of the car. It was late and the headlights illuminated just what was ahead of us. There were no streetlights anywhere. We drove past a cast-away mattress and some other trash. My heart raced. The road was so narrow we probably could have reached out and touched limbs on either side of the car. Nervous, I held my breath hoping not to run into another car or the boogieman or South Georgia’s Big Foot.

Finally, we came out of the woods to a paved road. We were supposed to go straight across, but there were large barricades keeping us from going the way my phone directed. Thankfully, we were able to navigate another route and found our way to the hotel.

I tell you all this to tell you one important thing. Maps aren’t all that.

During a time in my life where I had drawn close to God, many doors opened (lots to do with writing). I caught a glimpse at where God was taking me and I ran with open arms through the doors.

There was just one problem. I became focused on the map, asking God, “Where do You want me to go? Which direction should I go in?” My focus was on asking God to show me the right way.

But recently I read this verse: I am the way and the truth and the life. John 14:6 NIV

And I realized Jesus doesn’t point me in the right direction; He IS the right direction. The first time I caught a glimpse of what God was doing with my life, it was because I was looking for God, not because I was looking for the life map.

It’s easy to get focused on what God wants to do in our lives – which doesn’t really seem like a bad thing a first glance. But the problem is this – the focus is on us, not Him. When we realize that Jesus IS the way. The focus is put back on Him.

It’s not about what I can do for God. It’s about what God can do through me. See the difference?

So if you are bumping up and down on a backwoods road and are feeling lost, don’t focus on the map so much. Stop and look up instead.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6 NIV

Carol