It has been hard not to keep watching the news, but I have to take breaks because it can all get overwhelming. I have never felt anything this intense happening in America since 9/11. But this one seems very different for a lot of reasons.
Many have spoken since 9/11 that the church would be given another chance to shine. As we all know there was a marked rise in spirituality immediately after 9/11. Churches were filled, prayer meetings were filled. People were seeking. And then this interest in spiritual things it dropped dramatically.
This is another chance, but to do something different. I am amazed to watch at the level in which churches and Christian organizations have gotten involved on both a ground level, a financial level and a prayer level for the situation in Louisiana. This is obviously happening in Texas, but churches all over America have risen not just to raise financial and prayer support but are giving practical things and sending teams to help the poor in need. All over America, the attention is not just on the disaster, but on what to GIVE. People are flying planes, tools, medicine, bicycles, clothes, offering homes, jobs, safety and human touch. This is an abundant nation and now an abundance of practical needs are flowing forth.
One of the major things that God is causing to happen through this event is church unity. Sometimes it takes a disaster for churches to lay down their banners and differences and come together to help. This unity among Christians is greatly needed in our country, and this unity will lay the groundwork for what is going to be a real great awakening in America. Many, many people have prophesied a great revival over the U.S.A., a second real great awakening, and we feel that we are at the beginning of this amazing move of God.
The events of 9/11 mobilized the government and military like few events ever had. Obviously this disaster has been different, and our government has been and is being criticized strongly for its slow involvement and comment and confusing statements.
Since we know all things work together for GOOD, what is happening even in our government will have merciful and God-ordained results. There are a lot of demonic reasons why our governmental leadership has taken such perceived slow-moving action, but this is being allowed to happen so that other parts of America’s identity will stand. Had the government been at the forefront of relief and action, there would have been less mobilization on the part of average American people, on the part of the church, and even among the entertainment industry. In leadership studies, people have found that when there is a “vacuum of leadership” a mixture of confusion abounds, but new forms of leadership take action in that vacuum. This happened in World War II, toward the end of the war, when communication about the treaties and battle plans broke down, and Allied troops that had lost their leadership banded together in unusual ways to fight the German armies in France. It took the unknown soldiers who were willing to band together out of need to fight the last remaining strongholds.
In this case there was a definite vacuum of leadership. Some leaders are made for crisis management, while others are better at day to day operations. From the very beginning, George Bush has been a “crisis leader”–flourishing like a decisive general in crisis, but often floundering in normal interactions. Whether we agree with his politics or not, we all know that he is someone who speaks directly and unflinchingly. He is not a charismatic leader, not a type of guy you want to meet on the street and conversation with. With that in mind, since he is made to charge at things like crisis, there is a reason that it seemed he and those around him responded so seemingly awkwardly. Part of this is because there was a breakdown in communication between the leaders in Louisiana, and the federal government.
In America’s governmental system, there are certain boundaries of authority between federal and state governments. The federal military cannot override state law enforcement, unless martial law has been declared. The vacuum of communication between the government in Louisiana and our federal government went on for a few days, and part of this is that the leaders in Louisiana were rightfully emotionally wrecked and confused, but also because as leaders they are not as built for crisis, not anywhere near like New York mayor Rudy Gulliani’s leadership during 9/11. It took several days before even the governor vocalized that the state of chaos in New Orleans was as great as it was. This is not to disparage their leadership–the governor of Louisiana obviously has a very big and compassionate feminine heart and this too is important in leadership but “feelers” who are affected by the winds of trauma tend to fall apart in crises as decision-makers. (I am one of those feelers!) I write this because I do feel as if the expectations on our president went beyond what he was legally allowed to do when things were getting weird there. As well, because the communication lines were mixed, there were surely many things he was unaware of. All the same, there are spiritual reasons behind even the confusion at the federal level.
A large part of the reason that there was so much confusion in the media and government is due to a demonic spirit of witchcraft coming from the region around New Orleans. Even if you are not a “spiritual warfare” person, the level of supernatural activity in New Orleans has been very obvious to anyone that visits there. The first major sign of witchcraft is a spirit of confusion. Wherever witchcraft is present there is a lot of attempt to control through human means, and this control creates confusion and a lack of order. In this case, the spirit of confusion, which is demonic, was so great that it has affected even the highest levels of government and media. We can’t possibly expect our government or civil institutions to understand demonic confusion or know how to fight it. We know that the battle is not against flesh and blood. So for this reason Derek and I have been praying continually that God would release clarity and fresh thinking over our government, George Bush, and reporters. Please pray for him that regardless of how his own actions are being perceived or judged by media or entertainment that he would be able to sort through these events clearly. He is balancing many weighty decisions for our country, and he is just a man.
In the midst of this void, however, we are being given a great opportunity to rise as a nation. The most basic part of America’s DNA is that she has a mission to defend the oppressed and help the poor. This is part of the reason why she has been given so much power and resources. There is an essential part of America that wants to serve justice.
What we have noticed is that if you push her buttons hard enough, she will run to help the poor. Even among the most cynical entertainers, this event has caused so many people to reach out with compassion and give everything they have to help. I am amazed at the way entertainers–musicians, tv personalities, film stars–have pulled out all the stops to helping bring life into the area. I watched the news today as John Travolta flew his private jet into devastated areas with medicine and food. As Faith Hill sang “Amazing Grace” to a homeless family. Oprah Winfrey hugging people in the Astrodome in Houston. The amount of compassion and emotional stirring among entertainers is really beautiful.
While 9/11 had stirred a lot of nationalism on a nation-wide scale, this event is causing American pride in individuals. Every single entertainer I’ve seen on T.V. has responded to this event by saying, “I am appalled because I am American!” Even the most cynical are feeling a sense of rousing and pride and desire to help others. This is a not a bad pride, but a very basic part of who we are as Americans. This is a chance for individual hearts to feel something toward their country, and not depend on the government to be the identity. The identity of this nation is in individuals, and that is why it is individuals that are being given this sense of pride and compassion. On a ground-level, all kinds of things feel like they can, and MUST, get involved. Here in Austin, a quirky little city filled with artists, all kinds of unusual people have banded together to help. People from all over the city brought their bikes, thousands of bikes, to distribute around town to refugees and send to Houston for those stranded at the Astrodome. This is a beautiful example of people feeling empowered to serve in practical ways.
From the outside–outside of America–it looks to the world like America is falling apart. This is also some work of the enemy, creating smugness and mockery among the nations toward America. The way the international media has interpreted this event has been highly exaggerated and hyped. But as well, this is being allowed to happen so that America’s attention turns toward her own healing and bonds together as a nation. There is going to be a season when it will look to the rest of the world as if “America’s flag is down”–as Derek saw in a vision several months ago–but God is allowing to be lowered so that she stops overextending herself in things that are no longer her territory. Surely this event is going to put strains on our involvement in Iraq, and it will be awkward and trying for a time on our country, and we will get weak from this season. But this is only for a season–it may be months or years–but America will emerge from it a much stronger nation spiritually.
We see already see two of his purposes through this event is to unite and heal the divisions in the church, and to bring purpose, meaning and compassion to the entertainment industry. Spiritually, the church is the most powerful force in America and when she unites the rest of the country will find itself uniting in ways it has never dreamed. The entertainment industry is probably the most powerful symbolic force in America–our music, film, and arts travel the whole globe. It is a mighty thing to be giving entertainers the noble purpose for their gifts. Entertainers shine the brightest when they are using their gifts to bless the poor and disheartened. We saw this at Live8 and we are seeing it again. For once, even the most trashy entertainment programs on television are not focusing on so-and-so’s divorce, but on the relief efforts of movie stars. This is a cleansing and opportunity for the artists of our nation.
Another issue which has been triggered by this event and caused additional confusion is racism. During times of crisis, it is utterly essential that people put aside their differences to serve, and divisions make for even more devastating consequences. People are not mobilized by criticism, and the enemy knows this–so a spirit of racism came out very strongly at the worst possible moment. Even if the accusations of racism were true, the accusations served only to complicate and confuse things even more. There are many undealt-with racial issues that divide the American psyche. While much has changed in the last 50 years, there is still a remnant of racial unrest and distrust in America.
The spirit of racism is basically a distrust of other, and as a supernatural stronghold flows in places of great insecurity and hurting. Racism is not in actions, it is in the heart. It can happen on an international collective level or on an individual level. One of the greatest things about America is that she is a nation that havens many ethnos, if not almost every nation. This dynamism is part of her unique identity that God has given her. However, racism is one of the spirits that is seeking to divide her and crush her.
It is seeking to humiliate her from without–by triggering racism and mockery from other nations. And it is seeking to humiliate her within–by stirring up racial dischord that happens between blacks and whites. God is using both of these stirrings to cause her to heal within, so that she can be even stronger and more unified as a nation of diversity. It is obvious to me that the satan has had a hand in perpetrating the racist spirit during this crisis–even on the news when some well-known black ministers were going to be given an opportunity to speak on race from a spiritual and godly perspective, they were suddenly cut off for a news story that the media deemed more newsworthy.
At this moment our country is obviously focused on problems abroad, but God is using this event to help America heal her splitness. The black and white divide is probably the greatest racial issue in America, and the first place where this will be healed is within the church. Even now, the largest churches in America are multi-racial. The church is at present one of the very few institutions in America that is truly a community that brings together both peoples.
This is also one of the reasons that this event has become more about American people on a ground-level, and not just governmental charity and action. It is a really clever and strange way of bringing people together in crisis. The healing between races begins in conversations and true compassion, and then it will spread to our institutions. Racism is really hard to talk about without sounding judgmental, and so really the only way to speak about it is to acknowledge that it is demonic, and the only way to overcome it is with LOVE.
(Personally, on a side note, whenever I am around judgmental things, whether they are religious or racist, or just judgmental, I am learning to immediately look inside myself and ask for forgiveness for any judgment in my heart. When satan stirs accusation he knows our first tendency is to accuse back, and this continues to stoke the fires of judgment and suspicion toward each other. The second thing I do is bless the person who has judged, whether their judgment is right or wrong. The last year or so, I have spent a lot of time praying for all kinds of people who trigger my issues. I ask the Lord to bless them, to heal them, and to bring them into fuller things. When I do this, it always stirs up love in me for the person, which is much nicer to feel than judgment, which just tires our hearts out.)
If you are reading this and you are not American, please pray for us, that we would once again experience a renewal and revival and that we would heal in these areas. Your blessings from other nations mean so much to us. Derek and I travel so much and we very aware of what we bring to the table as Americans, but we also need the other nations. This is really a time when the people of God can avoid the racism within the media and choose to bless each other. We need your prayers!
Last night on TV I heard a guy say, “mercy triumphs over judgment” and I thought, “yes, that’s the essence of what is happening.” Even through the hard things, even through the things that the enemy is trying to do, God always uses judgments as refinements, and He is filled with love, always. His mercy will have the upperhand.
I really do pray through this that there will be a harvest of salvation from this–that all those displaced from their homes would have an opportunity to meet Jesus and be transformed through the love of others.
to be continued…