URGENT: PLEASE pray for our dear friends Pastors Pitts and Mary Evans and their family, who just lost their town home to a fire. The great news is they are fine. You might remember I accompanied Pitts on a very strategic assignment to Sierra Leone earlier this year. He has been working towards a similar nation-reaching ministry tour of Madagascar set to begin a few weeks from now. Please cover them in strategic-level prayer at this time!
Prayer Call Wednesday! 9PM EST. Conference call number: 805-399-1200 access code 552-690. Use *6 to mute/unmute. Invite your friends to join us!
FERGUSON—OBAMA’S PERFECT STORM
“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you” (Matt. 7:1-3)
“Great job, Brownie.”
I was a contractor for FEMA when Hurricane Katrina hit, and FEMA director Michael Brown led the disastrous relief efforts for submerged, lawless New Orleans. In the midst of this clear failure of crisis response, Bush’s backslapping approval of Brown came to define the moment when he lost the hearts of America, and his presidency began an unyielding decline.
My colleagues and I were watching these events unfold from the National Emergency Training Center, one of FEMA’s primary training hubs. Fresh in all of our minds was President Bush’s response to the 911 terrorist strike. Standing on top of the rubble from the toppled World Trade Center, megaphone in hand, he was proactive, protective, compassionate, competent, engaged. He was heroic—a father to our nation in our time of greatest need.
Which is why Katrina hurt so bad. When our nation again needed a heroic response, President Bush appeared to us as disengaged, reluctant, self-protective, uncaring, incompetent, failing to lead. In fact he was criticized for taking a vacation while America’s most vulnerable were perishing—while lawlessness overtook a city.
And in the eyes of most Americans, our nation lost a father.
History Repeats Itself
It’s amazing how history is now repeating itself. A perfect storm has again hit a city along the Mississippi River—this time a suburb of St. Louis called Ferguson. And once again, a man named Michael Brown is coming to define a turning point in the legacy of our President.
Michael Brown. Isn’t it a weird coincidence that two men both bearing the same name have become plumb lines for two successive Presidents?
I believe there’s a message from the Lord in this. Michael is known as the angelic guardian, protector of Israel and God’s covenant people. The very meaning, “Who is like the Lord,” compels us to honor our Father. And their common last name points to the plight of a people group wrestling with justice, truth, identity and freedom as the world watches and prays.
Ferguson is perhaps President Obama’s perfect storm. Will he lead and bring peace, becoming a true father to our land, or will he succumb to the same failures of the very President he so harshly judged in his own ascendency to America’s highest office?
Right now, things don’t look so good—either for our President or for us. Liberals and conservatives both are decrying the militarized response to the protests surrounding Michael Brown’s death. Amidst the tear gas, flash-bangs, and armored vehicles rolling down Main Street, we are flooded with images of President Obama golfing on Martha’s Vineyard with his buddies.
And Americans everywhere are becoming increasingly disheartened. Even the press is now using the same verbiage they once projected upon Bush to describe Obama’s presidency. Disengaged, reluctant, self-protective, uncaring… even incompetent.
My personal admonition is that the President choose to live up to his own rhetoric of being a more worthy leader than his predecessors. He must choose authentically to be a father at this time—or he will lose the very hearts of the people who voted him in.
Israel and the Perfect Storm
Let me close with one more stunning way in which history might be repeating itself. Please note these observations are unequivocally subjective.
Under President Bush, America strongly pushed for Israel to cede the Gaza Strip to the Palestinians. Hurricane Katrina, the perfect storm, came immediately afterwards. To the extent that news cycles featuring Israeli settlers evacuating their homes were directly replaced by images of our own people being forced to evacuate their flooded homes in New Orleans.
Check out today’s news cycles. Earlier this summer, the killing of three Jewish teenagers by Hamas provoked Israel to action. Though we supported Israel, we also condemned the nation for being heavy-handed against Hamas, to the extent we even shut down American arms exports to their military.
Now, protests surrounding the killing of Michael Brown have brought militarized police to Main Street America. Isn’t it weird that, as we condemned Israel for such a strong response to Hamas, we now face international criticism for such a strong response to protests in the the heartland of our Nation?
Do Not Judge
Here’s a primary message we can all glean from these tragic events. By judging and condemning others, we inevitably open ourselves to enter into the very same cycle we say we despise. “Do not judge so that you will not be judged,” Jesus warned. “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you” (Matt. 7:1-3).
Friends, it’s time we finally pass this test, both individually and as a nation, and break this cycle. Lets allow the Lord to expose and heal the hidden pockets of anger in our hearts that compel us to judge, and then invariably to be judged. Lets glean from the example of the Jewish carpenter whose cross of injustice was fashioned by each one of us, whatever race or creed we identify with.
Through Jesus, the world was redeemed and a window was opened by which this terrible cycle can come to an end. The perfect storm can be abated. And the trauma and tragedy embedded within our history no longer has to repeat itself.