It breaks my heart to see misunderstanding and mistrust cause unrest in this strong city I live in.   But it is no surprise as Charlotte’s strength and ability to anchor down is under attack from every angle.  My belief is the attack is deeper than any of us realize.  It provides a heart opening opportunity through these attacks to strengthen not just Charlotte, but the entire nation.   It is time for Charlotte to live up to its deeper calling as a city of strength and be the anchor to bring America back together.* Note – portions of this document were updated 2/23/19 due to some links no longer in publication, and to run it thru a new grammar checker 🙂 

Common core teachings probably do not mention the American Revolution so for those who missed it; the British were none too happy when our original colonies became tired of the British rule.   The Boston Tea party (which had nothing to do with Sarah Palin) was one of the famous moments in the Paul Revere era that ultimately led to what July 4th represents.

Charlotte’s tenacity became famous in those days as General Cornwallis, and the British Army once fled from the city of Charlotte stating they could not defeat this city of ‘Hornets.’       If you have ever had the misfortune of stirring up a hornet’s nest you know that when they are aroused, they defend endlessly, stinging the predator multiple times,  to protect their domain.  They refuse to give up their ground and will chase away their ‘attacker’ in such a way that they will not come back.

To be sure I am not understood: I am by no means suggesting Charlottonian’s start a physical war or revolution. Read on for a better solution.

The second relatively unknown facet of Charlotte, NC; it is known as the City of Churches. Charlotte is being unfairly labeled as an intolerant city against diversity.  In reality, it is the exact opposite.   If you read the history of Charlotte, you will notice it was founded with a variety of denominations as its spiritual base.  That is not a traditional church history for most areas, and thus Charlotte became a place welcoming multiple denominations.   Its friendliness and diversity helped establish a very strong foundation, or as many of us believe, a central anchor for the United States to build upon.

Charlotte is the birthplace of Billy Graham and his family.  Graham’s evangelical gift spread nationwide and worldwide and continues to have its Evangelical Association filled with the blessings of God surrounding it.  Charlotte today is home to one of the fastest growing non-denominational followings via Elevation Church with an estimated 30,000 multicultural members.  It is home to St. Mathews Catholic Church with 34,000 member and others.

Charlotte has been splashed across the headlines the past few months for the stance taken by Governor Pat McCrory known as the bathroom bill.  Although 28 other states have similar laws protecting the rights of women and children,  North Carolina has been singled out as a state of ultra discrimination for minimizing a law that was passed by a Charlotte board.  The state law titled HB2 over-rode a Charlotte bill that was passed forcing businesses to allow free access to restrooms to gender challenged individuals, regardless of what they had between their legs.  Charlotte’s church community rebelled like hornets and quickly resolved the issue by asking the former mayor of Charlotte, who had become the overwhelming majority governor, to overturn the Charlotte law.

Right or wrong, Charlotte and the state of North Carolina have received unprecedented attacks from businesses, other governments, and entertainment entities.   Several states have banned travel to the state, the NBA has pulled the NBA all-star game for 2017 from Charlotte, the NCAA has pulled tournaments from the state, and several well-known artists canceled concerts scheduled in NC.  The economic impact of these punitive decisions is in the $millions.

This week Charlotte is under physical rioting attacks over another media frenzy that has stretched the truth; labeling the city as racist.  A black man was shot and killed on September 20th by a black police officer.  The black police chief has gone on record to state videos show the victim was carrying a gun and was commanded to drop his weapon.   Even if the facts are off slightly, the media has chosen to say that most likely the black police chief was lying about who did the shooting and ‘probably’ the gun was planted on the victim.   It is always possible police can make an error in the heat of potentially dangerous situations, but to label them as racist in every situation is unfair both to the police and the victims.

As of this writing, 18 police officers have been injured in protests, stores looted, fires started, and actions planned to continue attacking this peaceful community being accused of being racist.   The children of the man have gone as far as saying all white people are devils.   I kid you not if you want to hear it on video.

Even the least of those who do not believe in God surely must see there is much more to what is happening in this city than meets the eye!

If powerful entities like the entertainment industry demanded the opposite how would we react?  Imagine the uproar it would create if they demanded that all people must go to church weekly. Otherwise, they would pull all events from the state.  Certainly, no one would consider that to be an acceptable thing to do.  Why is it ok for them to hang economic punishments on a state that passed a law, it believed was needed, to protect women and children from child abusers, noting North Carolina is one of the top states in America with abduction and sex trafficking issues?

This Average Joe believes it is all much deeper and there is an immediate need for hornets to protect this city and hold fast the anchor.   Enter through Joe’s Portico if you care to see and hear what I see and hear.

If this is your first time visiting Average Joe’s Portico, every post is written in two parts. You have just read the portion challenging the mind, body, and soul.  In The Portico I seek to tap into your spiritual side, but only IF YOU DARE.  Tap the Red Line Below  to hear the Spiritual side of the story.  (For more info – read the ‘Do You Dare’ Tab)

If You Dare, Click to Enter Into Joe's Portico (To See Part II of This Story)

A few months ago at a service at one of Charlotte’s churches (CrossRoads Church), this picture was drawn in an hour via a data pen (live) by none other than my own son.

Aside from it being an interesting drawing, we all knew it had a deeper meaning. The Anchor holding down a tossed and worn ship represented a stronghold that God has established in this city of churches.

My belief is God is not dead but is surely alive and established a stronghold for spiritual stability in Charlotte, long ago. But we His people are allowing it to be loosened. The picture provides a view of strength with a hint of warning.

This past Friday I was spending what I had personally hoped would be an encouraging and invigorating time with my God. Normally I read His word and walk away knowing that He loves me beyond all that I can comprehend. This past week I felt pain and concern instead. Pain and concern for a nation that we all see are in decline and at a high stage of disunity. I read in the book of Joel of a time that will eventually come. Someday justice will have to be served towards those who have chosen to reject God completely. In just a sentence or two from Joel 2:

“The LORD is at the head of the column. He leads them with a shout. This is his mighty army, and they follow his orders. The day of the LORD is an awesome, terrible thing. Who can possibly survive?

A big description of what can and ultimately will happen is not needed.  Why doesn’t God just get it over with?   I believe it is because He wants to call us to fasten down the anchor.   God’s concern for Charlotte and people being united was heavy on my heart as it is on God’s.  But God does not force His will on anyone.  Unlike the NBA, NCAA, and the entertainment industry, He doesn’t force a bunch of demands on anyone with do it or else threats.  He does make strong recommendations though as doing dumb things creates bad consequences.    Defy authority and point a gun at an assigned authority like a group of police officers, produces bad consequences.   Allow pedophiles free reign in women’s restrooms, and there will be bad consequences to innocent victims.

God’s way is, however, one where if we ask for help, He will provide it, but only if we show our heart for mankind is like His.  It is time Charlotte church-goers.  It is time North Carolina churchgoers.  It is time United States churchgoers for us to ask God to secure the anchor that we in our complacency, fears, and disunity has allowed to be loosened.

Joel 2 (read the whole chapter for full context)    brings the call to repentance of the complacent sleeping city of churches.  Charlotte’s spiritual reign is under attack which affects this nation of churches.  Our unity in sync with one another, regardless of race or color, needs re-alignment with the One we call our God.   As the evildoers seek to create havoc, Charlotte has an opportunity to show grace, love, and unity amidst our entire community.

“That is why the LORD says, “Turn to me now, while there is time.   Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the LORD your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish. 

Who knows? Perhaps he will give you a reprieve, sending you a blessing instead of this curse. Perhaps you will be able to offer grain and wine to the LORD your God as before. Blow the ram’s horn in Jerusalem!”

And it is for all, not just ‘prayer teams’!

“Announce a time of fasting; call the people together for a solemn meeting. Gather all the people— the elders, the children, and even the babies. Call the bridegroom from his quarters and the bride from her private room. Let the priests, who minister in the LORD’s presence, stand and weep between the entry room to the Temple and the altar.

Let them pray, “Spare your people, LORD! Don’t let your special possession become an object of mockery. Don’t let them become a joke for unbelieving foreigners who say, ‘Has the God of Israel left them?’” Then the LORD will pity his people and jealously guard the honor of his land. The LORD will reply, “Look! I am sending you grain and new wine and olive oil, enough to satisfy your needs. You will no longer be an object of mockery among the surrounding nations.”

Yes, God did do all that for us before and has blessed us so much in this nation.  He provided all the tools and all the blessings, what have we done with this that He gave us?:

“Then, after doing all those things, I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on servants—men and women alike. And I will cause wonders in the heavens and on the earth— blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun will become dark, and the moon will turn blood red before that great and terrible day of the LORD arrives. But everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved, for some on Mount Zion in Jerusalem will escape, just as the LORD has said. These will be among the survivors whom the LORD has called.”

I trembled this past Sunday as I read some of the words above in front of the attendees.  I don’t dare consider myself a prophet.  I am no more than an average Joe whose name is Joe and who got a verse from the book of Joel (interestingly).  So it was as weird as could be to get up and read those very passages as I did.  And somewhere out of my mouth came more words ‘The city of Charlotte is under attack. (note – the shooting and protests events happened 2 days later!)  It is up to us to get on our knees and pray for God to intervene.  He will not unless we humble ourselves and ask’.

Weird or not, our city, state, and nation are under attack to remove the stronghold of the Spirit of God that has allowed our nation to be great.  It is up to us to fight in the Spiritual battle like hornets fighting to save our nation.

Surely I thought, there must be more than praying, I asked, how and what else do we do?   He said, oh yes, of course, there is, you know what else,

‘are My people showing love and concern or just sitting and watching the ship float away hoping I stop it?’

Jesus set the tone not with a sword, not with a gun, and not with protests, but with love.  I was reminded of what He did to show His disciples how to love, He washed their feet, putting Himself below even His pupils.  Not equal, not discriminatory,  but below, by washing their feet as an example of ‘how’:

“After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right because that’s what I am. And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.”  John 13:12-17 NLT

Later He summed it all up:

“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”   John 13:34-35 NLT

Charlotte has a deeper destiny in our nation.  If we allow the anchor to be loosened by the dollars of the sports entertainment and media world, I believe the implications will release much more across the world.   If we do not unite with our fellow believers of all races and colors, our fragmented body will lose its strength.  We must join together in prayer and in love for one another to secure the anchor before it is too late.

My prayer is that Charlotte will show what peace and unity are about.  May God show us together how to put an end to the racist division that plagues our nation.  Let healing come to the hearts that have been damaged by the unseen enemy and the actions of a few.  May God use our hearts of concern for all men and women of all races and colors to bring unity here in our community, state, nation, and the world.  It begins with ourselves as we work  hand-in-hand and heart-in-heart to secure the anchor of God in our own lives, and pass it on to those around us.