Just musing on the future . . .
I am a pastor - and one who holds ultimate value in the Word of God and the Lordship of Jesus Christ in my life. As such I cannot compromise how I teach God's Word to fit how my culture views what God calls sin. I also cannot adopt how many in the church are altering the message of the Gospel to fit our culture's sexual revolution. (Just a note - that revolution began in the 60's when heterosexual immorality was embraced - not just in the 2000's with the most recent downward step into homosexual marriage and its legalization last summer by the courts). This places me squarely in the sites of those who at one time said all they wanted was tolerance - but who now have made it clear that they will not tolerate God's revelation on these matters.
I am writing this now because the day will come when such things cannot be spoken or written without censure, severe fines, and eventually arrest. That is where our culture is going - that is where our nation is going - and that is what I am viewing at present in my mind's eye. I am neither a prophet nor a son of a prophet. But I am a student of history - both secular and biblical. Therefore here is what I see as I muse on the future.
We are already living in a day when they will not put up with sound doctrine - but will gather to themselves teachers according to their own lusts. This will grow steadily worse - to the point where sexual immorality (especially "living together" and homosexuality) will rarely be mentioned. It will all be about love and tolerance and acceptance. There will be little mention of sin and how God points out exactly what sin is - and how He responds to it. Judgment will be a dirty word. In many ways the apostate church will be a tool in the hand of the enemy to attack the remnant on these matters. The statement will be something like this. "We need reasonable churches - not ones that dogmatically judge everyone according to 'their interpretation' of what the Bible means." This will be a rallying cry to shut down free speech not only in the public sector - but even within the walls of church itself.
There will be a growing list of laws that hem in Biblical believers so that they cannot express their views in public. Those that do will find themselves facing the wrath of a legal system that no longer protects religious freedom when it comes to holding Biblical beliefs dealing with sin. There will be fines, re-education, and for those who continue to resist arrests. Businesses will be forced to conform to a "way of doing business" that is inclusive, except for how they treat biblical believers.
Churches will be facing several changes that will soon be coming to us via the courts. There will be challenges to freedom of religion as the state forces itself into situations where the need for "thought conformity" is necessary. This will lead to first the church being told it can only preach within its walls - that internet access can be denied on the basis of hate speech (i.e. saying heterosexual and homosexual sin is wrong, gender is something assigned by God at birth). The air waves will slowly be shut down to churches as well, based on these same things. There will also be challenges to the tax exempt status of churches and gifts to them. Eventually tax exempt status and tax deductions for gifts will be either restricted (to government accepted churches) or done away with all together. The state will hold title to all benevolent giving - which will be based on their accepted guidelines (which will be politically motivated and doled out as reward for conformity to the state agenda). Eventually the psychiatric community will join the state in condemning outright those who hold to sexual immorality being sin. This will be seen as a mental disorder - making the way for some to be institutionalized for their beliefs. Pastor's sermons will become subject to law suits - if they are deemed by the state courts to contain the new definitions of hate speech. This will lead to bankruptcy for some churches - while others will accept court rulings to either fire their pastor or face serious fines and government backlash. Pastors who preach such things will be sent off to prison for "speech violations" or for re-education in some sort of internment camp. Many godly men will be detained, arrested, and will disappear in these situations.
The true church will go underground in America. Facing these things - facing the loss of their leader(s) - facing the loss of their facilities - and facing the specter of losing their freedom - many will show their true colors and become apostate. They will either flock to government sanctioned churches - or will leave the things of God altogether. The church will shrink back to a size that matches those who are truly born again. It will seem sad and discouraging - but it will be a much godlier church - given to intercessory prayer - and willing to suffer for Christ any cost. There will be a brokenness that will prevail with the true remnant - and will lead to churches underground who glorify God in all they do. Many will risk gave danger to witness to others of the gospel - but oh what a glorious church it will be!
Some may think I've lost my mind saying such things. Others may criticize for this sounding so defeatist. But I would only remind them that what I've described here is what has happened in the communist countries of the Soviet Union (now Russia), China, countries behind the former Iron and Bamboo curtain, and now is happening slowly in Europe and Canada. These countries are further down the road to Socialism than we are presently - but we seem to be gaining steam (Ominously so with the candidacy and success of Bernie Sanders at present). This actually is not any kind of prophecy - it is a history lesson. It is one that is NOT being taught to our children, because we've forgotten what sacrifices were made on our behalf to fight Communism and Socialism. As far as "negativism" or "defeatist" rhetoric - I can only answer that any true rallying cry needs to first swallow a cup full of realism first. I am about to issue a rallying cry - but it is one that will most likely be rejected - as it was throughout history - both biblical and secular.
Church awake! These are not days in which we should falter or get lost in the midst of what is going on around us. These are days much like those Paul spoke of when he said this in Romans 13:11-14,
"And this do, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is at hand. Let us therefore lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts." (NASB77)
Repent and return to Jesus Christ precious saints. The day is late - very late in our nation. The stakes are enormously high in an hour in which we must prepare our hearts to be "strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might." This should not shock us that the world hates us - because it hated Him and still does. It is a day to remember the height from which we have fallen, repent, and do the first works again. Works of seeking God's face - confession of sin - submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ - humbling ourselves and praying - and seeing our first love restored so that there is nothing - ABSOLUTELY NOTHING more precious to us than the Lord Jesus Christ. We are to remember that our battle is not against flesh and blood so violence is to be repudiated in our cause. We are to return to a white hot love for Jesus - a white hot love for one another in the church. We are to return to holiness, mortification of sin (our own), and a selfless, self-giving, gospel-centered, gospel-proclaiming life lived for the glory of God in all things.
Saints - I am in the same place as all of you. Such things shake me and cause me to tremble. May it be that we tremble in fear of God and not in fear of man. May it be that our trembling and fear bring us back to Him - back to seeking, loving, and knowing Him as the greatest of all things in our lives. I dearly love all of you and only hope to be found, along with you, faithful to Him in this hour. May God have mercy on the church in the United States. - PJ -
An Open Letter To Phil Robertson
Greetings in the name of Jesus, Mr. Robertson. Let me say as I begin this open letter that I have enjoyed Duck Dynasty. The primary reason I enjoy it is because of the values that are expressed regularly in between the antics of a family that truly deserves the title of “redneck.” What brings me back to your show again and again though, is the depiction of a family that loves the Lord and loves one another. That being said – please allow me to say a few things to you today.
First of all, Phil, you were set up from the start. Last time I took a good look at GQ magazine (which was probably back in college) it was not even remotely a magazine friendly to the type of Christian you are. The fact that they questioned you about homosexuality should have set off every alarm in you the Holy Spirit has. I am grateful that you expressed yourself according to what the Bible teaches. It may shock some that homosexuality is listed among the more horrific sexual perversions in the Scriptures – but it does not shock me - because I’ve read it numerous times. By the way, brother, I applaud you for not just speaking about the sin of homoseuxality, but also stating that heterosexual immorality is sinful too! What does shock me just a little is that you thought you’d be well-received by GQ or any other worldly publication for expressing Biblically conservative views on these things. I do not fault you at all for your comments, because I agree with you completely. Both homosexuality and any sex outside of marriage (i.e. heterosexual immorality) is called sin by God in His revelation to us. No one was born this way. These are sins people choose to do. They are also choices that continue to be embraced when confronted by God's Word that they are sin. That being said - it shouldn't shock us that the entertainment types and news media freak out when such things are said in any worldly open forum. You were set up, brother - and all this was probably intended to be the result.
Second of all, Phil, I just want to remind you of something Jesus Christ said in Luke 6:26. "Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way.” For about 4 years most have spoken well of you and your family. I realize that in the last year or so that has begun to change. That is because they will speak well when they think you represent rednecks who hunt and who act funny. They will no longer speak well of you when you have the audacity to speak openly of your faith in Jesus Christ. Your boldness, which is to be commended, has led you to express that you believe what the Bible says about moral issues. That, dear brother, is what led to the current situation – and the outcry about supposed hate speech toward homosexuality. You did not express hate - just truth. Remember though that the world, "can't handle the truth." Just wanted to remind you that we were not promised smooth sailing in a world that runs after sin and sexual immorality.
Third, I’d like to comment on A&E’s decision to remove you from the show. They have every right legally to do this – just as Christians have every right to boycott the network. BUT . . . let me say that I always chuckled a little that your show was on this network anyway. I would say that I am going to boycott A&E – except that if I no longer watch Duck Dynasty. the only time I will come across that network is when I click over it to get to something else on TV. Can we both agree that A&E has never been a bastion for godly or righteous programming. I actually hope that this leads to Duck Dynasty moving to another network where you will have greater freedom to be who you are as Christians. I honestly felt that this was eventually coming because if your family was true to who they truly were – more problems were on the horizon between you and the A&E network.
Fourth, I want to encourage you Phil. As I’ve heard you on the show and read of your statements elsewhere I have quickly learned that you are a man who is going to speak the truth regardless of the consequences. Brother, you are not exactly a wall-flower who shrinks from addressing the moral issuesof our day! I am not calling you a prophet – nor do I figure you fancy taking that title either - but – I do feel like the things you say are said in a prophetic manner. Do these things need to be said? Yes they do. But realize brother, that when you do say such things, you will receive a prophet’s welcome. You will not receive the welcome of a TV star and on-air personality. That is reserved for those who know their place as a TV star– and are willing to sacrifice everything to keep it. You, my brother, are not such a man (halleluijah!). So, do not be discouraged that this has happened. Let me remind you of the words of Jesus once again. "The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil. John 7:7 (NASB) When you choose to align yourself with Jesus – and with Biblical truth (especially when that truth speaks to sexual immorality of any kind – heterosexual or homosexual) you should NOT expect the world to embrace you or thank you for your comments.
Let me say one last thing to you – because I love you as my brother. In a way, I am glad this is happening. One of the most dangerous things that can happen to a Christian family is what has happened to yours. I am not referring to the current attacks that are being made on you and your beliefs. I think you will see that this will prove to eventually be a blessing. I am however referring to the dangers of being wildly successful in the public eye. Am I against success? No – but I do know that you will never face a greater trial than being successful - and still loving Jesus more than anything else in life. When I look at Jesus Christ and His disciples in that first generation of Acts – I see something much different. Although they were successful at times, they never embraced success - they embraced Jesus and gospel ministry. Every single one of them was persecuted for the gospel and for the truth. Except for John the apostle, every one of them was martyred for their faith – and for preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. For at least a year I’ve been concerned for you and your family. This is not because I’ve seen any kind of ungodliness of which I am aware. I am a head of a family much like you. That means I am watching my children and grandchildren navigate their way through a wicked and ungodly generation. My greatest joy is that they walk in the truth – and love the Lord Jesus Christ passionately. None of my family is famous – even remotely – and yet it is hard for them to walk in this world and remain faithful to God. I feared for your family only because of the pressures and pitfalls that come with fame and fortune. I did not want to see them fall prey to what worldliness and a desire to please the world could bring. It is my hope that all that is happening now will serve to refocus your family – and even you as well – upon eternal things.
May this trial draw you even closer to the Lord in your walk with Him. May this do the same for your family. Honestly, I hope that your entire family walks in unity on this matter, even if it means shutting down the show immediately. There are things far more valuable than “network ratings” and “pleasing advertisers.” There is the joy of knowing that we are walking with God – loving Him – and loving others by preaching and speaking the gospel to them. There is the reality that those who are involved in sexual sin need to be confronted, shown that their lifestyle IS a choice, and that as with all sin – it leads to death. There is also the reality that all sin can only be remedied by turning to Jesus Christ, Whose death on the cross is the ONLY way to pay the price that God demands for it. And there is the reality that even God's church needs to be reminded that standing for such things will cost us in the world's opinion polls. So, as reality shows go – there is a much greater reality men need to grasp. All the kingdoms of men, all governments, and yes – even all dynasties will one day answer to God. May your answer continue to be that you are not ashamed of the truth – not ashamed of the gospel – and not ashamed of being willing to suffer for the sake of His name!
God bless brother – and – I’ll be praying for you!
Apostasy and Pope Francis' Recent Theological Positions
One of the things that will be seen prior to and leading up to the return of Jesus Christ is called, "the apostasy." We read of it in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3. Paul spoke of it as he reassured Christians in his day that Jesus had not yet come back. One of the things associated with His return would be this apostasy. Here is what he said,
"Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction," (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3, NASB - emphasis mine)
Apostasy is defined this way at Dictionary.com - "a total departure from one's faith and the principles of it."
We, unfortunately, have been watching this apostasy take shape in this generation for years. The Christian church has walked away from many of its principles - and fundamental beliefs. The liberal theologians of the 20th century assaulted just about every fundamental of the faith, starting with the inerrancy of the Bible and ending with a rejection of things like the virgin birth of Christ, His substitutionary atoning death, and the exclusivity of Jesus Christ as the only way of salvation. All these things are clearly affirmed in Scripture - and yet they have been dumped by liberals for several generations.
As the sexual revolution has gained adherents in its rebellion against biblical morality, first heterosexual immorality was embraced (sex outside of a monogamous, heterosexual marriage relationship) then over time homosexuality was no longer considered sin. Now just about any kind of perversion is considered normal as our world devolves into its end-times rebellion against God.
One group that had stood with classic Christianity in many of these battles was the Roman Catholic Church and her various popes. But with the current pope, things are changing rapidly and radically. Recently Pope Francis wrote a long open letter to the founder of La Republica newpaper, Eugenio Scalfari, in which he has stated that non-believers would be forgiven by God if they followed their consciences. Here Pope Francis redefined sin as follows, "Sin, even for those who have no faith, exists when people disobey their conscience." Therefore - if an atheist follows his own conscience, he is not guilty of sin against God.
This redefinition of what God requires for us to be forgiven - and to enter heaven is nothing short of breathtaking! This most recent statement comes on the heels of Pope Francis' statement about homosexuality in July when he said, "If someone is gay and is looking for the Lord, who am I to judge him?"
One commentator on these radical statements by the Pope responded by saying, "Francis is still a conservative. But what this is all about is him seeking to have a more meaningful dialogue with the world." Mr. Scalfari said in a joyful response to the Pope's letter that his comments were, "further evidence of his ability and desire to overcome barriers in dialgue with all."
What we are watching is not a dialogue with the world - but a capitulation to its immorality and contrary positions to the Bible and what it says. One might think that the Pope may be in need of a dialogue with God - and some additional moments spent in Bible study. One wonders if he has recently read either Psalm 53:1 or Psalm 14:1 which reads, "The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God.'" It might serve him well also to re-read Romans 1:18-35 as well when it comes to the issue of immorality in the realms of human sexuality.
For years I've wondered about the Roman Catholic Church in the end times. The reason for this has been their staunch stance for biblical morality over the years. I've also wondered about how they would fare in regard to a stance about the place the person of Jesus Christ has in salvation (even though I disagree with what they teach on this matter). The recent statements of Pope Francis have put the Roman Catholic Church far more in line with "the apostasy" than ever before. Who would have envisioned that Catholicism would step away from their fundamental moral stance - or embrace a theology that gives atheists a place in heaven without repenting of their atheism? Certainly not me! But this only makes me more aware that all that God has said continues to come to pass right before my eyes.
How do these recent developments relate to the second coming of Jesus Christ? I only know that they continue to be preparation for the world at His coming. As far as where I stand on the timing of Christ's return - I continue to stand on the Bible's affirmation that no one knows the day or the hour. I also stand on the fact that the Bible teaches that Jesus Christ can return at any moment - and - that we should be ready to meet God right now. What we see with these kind of things is the "signs of the times." Just as someone would look and see gathering storm clouds and know that a storm is near - so we should see such events and know, just as the Bible affirms, that He is near - right at the door.
Are you ready to meet Him today?
NOTE: By the way, just in case there are those who read this who are confused on such issues - the atheist can receive God's mercy and forgiveness - but only if he repents of his foolishness in denying God's existance. When he has done this he will need to repent and put his faith in Jesus Christ and His death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead - which is the ONLY payment God accepts for sin. The sin of which I speak is the way the atheist has disobeyed God's laws and commandments (which, by the way, are found in His inerrant revelation to us, the Bible). Also, just in case there is confusion, both heterosexual sex outside of marriage as well as all homosexual sex is sin in God's sight, as affirmed by His Word in Romans 1:18-35. God affirms sex within a heterosexual marriage relationship only.
Just recently I've finished reading through the prophets in the Old Testament. I do this at least once a year as I read through the Bible. This year, however, their voice is reverberating in my mind and heart as I look at our nation and what God is currently doing. Let me share with you what I saw this year - and how it relates to our nation, our coming election, and the difficulties and disasters which I believe are in our future. Please also let me share why God, in His sovereign providence, is allowing them.
First, I need to comment on the state of the church leading up to this coming election. As the saints of God we are to get our marching orders from heaven. Those directives come to us through the Scriptures. I fear that too many in the conservative wing of the evangelical think that their marching orders are coming from the RNC or the Tea Party. There is an errant notion that by electing Governor Romney as president and a Republican majority in the House and Senate - our problems will be on the way to being solved in this nation. Even though I believe in voting in elections and seeking for political action toward things like abortion, homosexual marriage, racism, and matters of justice and righteousness - I do not see the United States government (even if it is the hands of conservatives) doing a whole lot to advance righteousness in America. They may use such things as election issues - but I've been burned to many times over 32 years of voting by their actual ruling looking little like their stump speeches. Also, I seem to notice in Matthew 28:18-19 that Jesus did not call us to go and make Republicans of all the nations. We are called to God's will in conduct, purpose, principle, and action. That won't fly in any political arena in present day politics. And I am not willing to cede the work of the gospel to those who are offended that the Bible presents truths that show that Muslims, Mormans, Hindus, Buddhists, and anyone else who does not repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ are lost and destined for God's judgment. Such things are not up for a vote.
As I've read the prophets this year I've been somewhat overwhelmed with the reality that God commands us to repent and return to Him. If we do not repent - if we continue to serve other gods - gods acceptable to our culture and acceptable to our flesh - God will begin bringing difficulties upon His people. The prophets thunder with God's unrelenting call to Himself. They do not apologize that God is sovereign. They do not apologize for His moral standards. They do not apologize that God authoritatively calls men to worship and serve Him only. And they certainly do not want to make adjustments so that the Baal worshippers, the Asherah-adherants, and the worshppers of other false gods can feel more comfortable and be a part of a "big-tent." The prophets say things very offensive to a multi-cultural world - not so much to the culture - but to anything driven by a culture's embrace of false deities. But God is not focused on the "lost" in the prophets. He is focused on His people - those who should know better. He is focused on calling His people to much needed repentance.
What happens in a society when its Christians refuse to return and to repent? According to the prophets, God begins to remove first His blessing and later His protection from them and from their nation. If you've ever read the prophets you know that over time this can get very rough. God will allow earthquakes, disasters, and military conquest to overtake His people. Israel and Judah experienced horrific consequences for their love of foreign gods and the lifestyles that came with them. Baal and Asherah embraced a lifestyle of sexual immorality. Marriage was denigrated as first men committed heterosexual immoralities - and eventually moved on to homosexuality as well. Those who think the 1960's ushered in free love, know little about how far Israel and Judah fell in their pursuit of these false deities. The worship of Molech led many to sacrifice their babies in a firey death. Those who see such a thing as disgusting should remember the modern day Molech - Planned Parenthood - who promote the sacrifice of babies for the sake of supposed greater sexual freedom. Actually what they are getting is greater sexual bondage in the guise of immorality without consequences. Then there is the immorality that disguises itself as free trade, or socialism, or communism, or any other "ism" that takes precedent over Scriptural principles of business or government. You see, our culture is not all that different from the days of the prophets. We have just named things with a more sophisticated name - hiding the hideousness of what they truly are. We've also got better at lying about the true nature of things while ignoring Scripture - and occasionally insulting God and the way that He needs to improve His own image by becoming far more "hip" and "culturally-sensitive."
The truth is, WE are Israel and Judah in the times of the prophets! WE have our modern day worship of Baal, Asherah, and Molech - along with calls for accepting the gods of Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and a host of cults embraced even by political candidates of our day (oops, did I say that out loud - nope, just wrote it). But the church is different, some may assert! But my question to you is to take a long look at her and answer the question, "Is it?" Do you see a movement of repentance and return in the church today? Do you see scores of people in broken repentance and prayer meetings where they are crying out for revival? Do you see the church expanding its evangelsitic outreach the point of being persecuted by groups whose numbers are being decimated by the number of people being saved? Do you see complaints by wicked businesses Who sell porn and other ungodly products that the church and her efforts in evangelism is hurting their bottom line? God calls us in 2 Chronicles 7:14 to "humble ourselves, pray, seek His face, and turn from our wicked ways. Read of the revivals that took place in the 1700-1800's. Read of what took place on a far wider scale in our country. Imagine what they would look like in our day - a revival driven by repentance, brokenness, and prayer. A revival with the aisles filled with repentant church members - and others being radically saved from sin.
What then am I trying to say through all this? After reading the prophets . . . honestly - I'm concerned - no - I'm scared. We are about to be ushered into MORE discipline as a nation - and that discipline is meant to wake-up God's people to repentance, prayer, and brokenness. I don't want to say this - but sense the need to do so for the sake of the saints who read this. We are about to experience events that will make 9-11 look like a picnic in the park. God tried to wake us up by allowing that disaster to come upon us. We didn't wake up though. Therefore - more is coming. Far worse is coming. Do I know what that will be? No, because I am not a prophet. But I can tell you that things like a devastating earthquake come to mind. Military disasters that involve the destruction of entire armies have happened to God's people. Drought and famine are also options for God. He has soereignly allowed the destruction of entire cities - whch is terrifying in our day of bombs that can do that in a matter of moments. With our current arrogance toward money - a complete financial collapse unlike anything we've ever seen is very possible. All these things and a dozen others are possible - even probable considering our currrent lack of response to God's call to pray and seek His face. I read recently where the Mississippi river is at historic lows. If the drought we are in continues, it is possible to see the Mississippi so low that no boat traffic is allowed. That will cut off over 300 million dollars of commerce a day. That is a monthly total of 9 billion dollars of our economy stifled. The prognosticators said that would throw our natin into depression within 2 months. Kind of sobering isn't it?
I can hear the comment, "Why are you writing stuff like this, pastor John?" Do you get some kind of sick thrill scaring people to death? NO! A thousand times NO! That is not my intent. My intent is to help wake up Christians to what is looming in our future. Do you really think God is going to continue to bless our nation as it is currently going? Do you really think that the church is not going to be affected by what happens in our nation? Do you really think that by maintaining a positive confession in the midst of such spiritual squallor that we will be delivered? God is going to continue allowing greater and greater disasters and troubles to come upon us until we repent, drop to our knees, and begin to cry out in desperate prayer for revival in the church and spiritual awakening in our land! This is not going to magically get better - neither is it going to be averted by electing a Morman as president and a group of Tea Party conservatives to the Congress - who have NO INTENT on addressing the moral and spiritual rot of the church and our country. We are currently as blind as Israel and Judah during the times of the prophets. The same situations and the same false prophets of health, wealth, prosperity, and "nothing bad is going to happen to us" exist today. The political leaders (kings in those days) who made a difference made it by leading the nation to repentance and a whole-hearted return to God. Such a leader who would start doing this in our day - would most likely be impeached for such actions.
This past Wednesday everyone held their breath awaiting the Supreme Court decision on the Health Care bill that has been dubbed, "Obamacare." There was a thought among conservatives that the court would strike down part or all of this law. The part most egregious to many was the so-called "mandate" for all Americans to buy health insurance. When the ruling came out there was a sigh of relief for some - and a sense of wide-eyed horror for others. I was among those horrified by the outcome because it forever fundamentally changes the relationship between the government and the citizens of the United States. It was only later, after I had turned to the Lord and sought Him in the midst of my anger and disgust that God showed me something in myself that I found even more disgusting.
Early in the week I was asked by some of the precious people I pastor what my reaction was to this ruling. Again, as stated above, my early reaction was anger and disgust. I was angry and disgusted that the Supreme Court basically allowed the existing administration to lie to the American people to get something passed - and then let the truth of the law come out only when interpreted by the courts. We were told repeatedly during the debate, however limited it was, that this was NOT A TAX! Over and over again this was asserted because, this bill would have gone down in flaming defeat if it was offered as the massive, regressive tax that it was later upheld as being. So we were told this was a "commerce" issue. As a commerce issue this was declared unconstitutional - but as a tax, it was upheld. Therefore one of the things that happened last Wednesday was that one branch of government could pass a law based on their version of the truth - while another could uphold it denying the first truth - and then making up another. Now, the fact that our government lies to us is not shocking. The fact that they have lied on this scale for the creation of a first time right to tax us for all we are worth - a little more shocking. One can only imagine the founders spinning in their graves at the way in which we are being taxed once again without representation - or at least truthful representation.
After I worked my way through my initial anger and disgust, I was leveled one day while praying with a couple of brothers for revival in our churches and awakening in our land. What floored me was a verse that I believe the Holy Spirit brought to my mind. Here is the verse:
"You are the salt of the earth ; but if the salt has become tasteless , how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything , except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men . (Matthew 5:13 , NASB)
As I meditated on this verse, God reminded me that throughout the entire health-care debate we continued to kill 4,000 babies a day through abortion. Nothing was mentioned, even by Christian conservatives, about this issue. Nothing was mentioned about heterosexual immorality in our nation which is rampant. No one made an issue of the flood of pornography that continues unabated on our airwaves and through the internet. (Actually the legal system did make a move in this area. It removed the fines imposed for the intentional wardrobe malfunction that happened during a Superbowl broadcast. Oh, and by the way, our highest court also made it easier to use foul language during prime time television - as if God recognizes times when it is OK to use perverse language - only prohibiting it from 6-9 weeknights!) Nothing was being said about gay marriage - which we were promised would NEVER happen only years ago by our elected liars - oh, sorry - that's supposed to be elected officials (same difference in most cases). We once again bought the lie that it is, "the economy stupid" that is the issue. Let me say in the strongest way I can, "It is not the economy - it is our lack of morals" that is the problem. Let me say even stronger, "It is a tasteless, unsalty church that is the worst of our problems in America."
The church has been losing its saltiness since the 1950's - when it became vogue to have an affair outside of marriage - the church did not respond by falling on her knees and crying for revival and repentance. In the 1960's we were introduced to "free love" - which is nothing more than fornication dressed up in groovy clothes - the church did not respond by falling on her knees and begging for restoration and revival. The 1970's and 80's were the me-generations - with live being lived for self and self alone. The immorality increased - and pornography began to explode with the advent of videotape - the church mulled over church growth strategies and spoke of dealing with the un-churched, rather than the ungodly. The 90's gave rise to a growing homosexual movement that became more and more radical. This was inevitable to anyone who has read Romans chapter 1. The rejection of God through heterosexual immorality inevitably leads to rampant homosexuality. Because the church was not cleaning her own house, rocked by one sexual scandal after another, she had little voice in society. One might call that a serious loss of saltiness. In the 2000's and now in the 2010's all these problems are converging as atheists are rising, God is openly mocked, and more and more oppressive laws are being passed limiting the freedom of the church.
I don't know if you see it yet - but the Supreme Court ruling should not have been such a shock to us. Neither should further rulings that allow us to be trodden under foot by men. The church has not been what she should be for generations now. The result of this is that freedom has been - and will continue to go away in our land. God is not pleased over the rampant innocent blood that is being shed - the rampant sexual immorality that is being advanced - and the rampant blasphemy and mocking of His name. He is also not pleased that the church is just kind of "treading water" in the midst of this. The church is more concerned with their creature comforts and comfortable living being taken away than they are with any moral decline that is happening in our land. How do I know this? I know it because we have yet to hit our knees in pray that inconveniences us on a daily basis.
My prediction is that November 5th, 2012 will make little if any difference in the moral trajectory of our nation. In all that is being argued leading up to this election - almost none of it even concerns the moral failings of our nation evidenced by heterosexual immorality, homosexuality, and abortion. They will barely even be blips on the political radar. The only difference that will happen in the Fall is that we will determine how fast we go down the toilet as a nation. Since none of the real causes are being addressed - I have little hope that they will be after the heat of the election is over.
What should we do in light of the Supreme Court decision on Obamacare? Honestly . . . if we do not come to the point where we fall to our knees in repentance and brokenness over sin - nothing we do politically will really matter in the end. The church should repent - over this decision - as well as any other that comes after it. Our problems do not ultimately rest on the greatly undermined Republic in which we live. They rest on the character and godliness of the people voting those who represent it into office. Our hope lies in the mercy of God moving in our hearts to drop us to our knees. Saints of God - we have only one chance - and that is that we see a coast to coast movement of broken-hearted, sin-confessing, God-honoring prayer. Our one chance is that the church will turn from sin and turn to God - then turn to intercessory prayer. Our one hope is that there will be a heaven-sent, world-shaking revival that will so stop sin in its tracks that we will once again see the church making inroads to sin - not the other way around. Oh to see hundreds of thousands - even millions coming to Christ, throwing off their sin and embracing Jesus with all their hearts. Oh to see churches overflowing their parking lots for prayer meetings - and for meetings where seekers hear the gospel of Jesus Christ preached without apology. This is our hope - this and this alone.
Bottom line - this ruling by the Supreme Court only shows me that the church continues in her faltering slouch toward saltlessness. It comes as no surprise that God is removing all protection so that the oppression of an ever-expanding government will continue to tread her underfoot. I am not shocked that a president who is acting more and more like a dictator is rising. It would not shock me if we even saw a takeover and martial law declared so that the November elections don't even happen. We are being stepped on, saints of God, and it is actually a biblical thing we are experiencing. The only way to stop the trampling is to repent, return, and fall to our knees in prayer. We have never needed the admonition of 2 Chronicles 7:14 more than we do in the shadows of this most recent decision.
"If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways , then I will hear from heaven , will forgive their sin and will heal their land ." (2 Chronicles 7:14 )
I want to begin by saying that I do not relish having to write what I am about to write – but feel that we need to be warned and aware of what is possibly lurking around the corner for our nation. Please read all of this post – because there is a message of hope and encouragement at the end of it.
In my mind’s eye I am watching a horrific scene – one that terrifies me the more I watch it. The scene is of a small child who is dancing along with mincing steps along an unguarded precipice that if stepped over will mean certain death for the child. The child, for his part, is totally unaware of what is going on around him. He is completely ignorant of what just a few steps can bring about for him and for his safety. But he is oblivious to any warning because he has chosen to turn a deaf ear to anything that is unpleasant to hear. Therefore he continues to dance, not grasping the seriousness of his situation – or the growing danger of stepping off the precipice the next time he draws near to it in his dance of joyous ignorance and bliss.
This is a picture of the United States in March of 2012. We are that child who is dancing on the precipice of disaster – and yet for the most part are ignorant and oblivious of how much danger we are in at the moment. Let me address this in a number of ways.
Scenario #1 – Israel, Iran, and Nuclear Hide and Go Seek.
For quite a while our leaders (at least in the White House) have pretty much ignored this growing threat. Iran IS moving toward a weaponized nuclear program – and it is clear from their own press statements that they intend to use these warheads on Israel soon after getting them.
We’ve danced around actually dealing with this situation to the point where Israel is going to have to act. I fully expect that some kind of response from Israel will happen before the coming election in November. When that happens – another blind dance of our leaders will be exposed. We currently have enough natural resources (and yes, I am referring to evil fossil fuels) to become energy independent. If we were to act NOW – we could stave off much of what is coming our way – but our leaders continue to stick their heads in the ground. The fact is that WHEN Israel has to defend themselves, the strait of Hormuz will be closed – war will ensue on oil tankers in the Middle Eastern waterways – and gas and oil exportation will be slowed to a bare minimum. When this happens – we will wish we could have 4-5 dollar gas prices again. Instead we will have probably 9-12 dollar gas prices for at least several months. This will send our economy into an immediate tail-spin of “great depression era” statistical proportions. We will watch inflation hit our economy to the tune of 15-20 percent almost overnight. Unfortunately, we may even have situations like the Weimar Republic had in pre-WWII Germany – where you had to pay for a cup of coffee before they made it – because the price would go up by the time they brought it to you later.
Unfortunately, I also see riots coming if this happens – as gas lines will return to our society. There will also be an explosion of gas thefts and robbery at stations nationwide. We may see gas stations become something akin to Fort Knox with the security that will be required to keep them – and their customers safe.
Scenario #2 – Terrorist Attack and Subsequent Cancelation of the November Elections
I can imagine at this point that many of you think I should be put away – or at least relegated to the trash heap of conspiracy theory mongers. This particular scenario would involve an attack that is “allowed” by some in our government – whose authority and power is threatened by upcoming elections. I write this with more than a little fear and trembling – because saying such things can get me in a tremendous amount of trouble. Yet this is what I see in my heart – and tremble over when I know that history will not be made – but repeated if this happens.
Such an attack – especially if it comes in the Fall of this year (2012) will be used to cancel our elections for the near future. We will be told that we need to establish order before an election can proceed. If you are thinking an attack of 9/11 proportions – think again. The Islamic radicals who are planning such things always seek something MORE spectacular than their last attack. This one will come close to shutting the nation down because of its intensity – and possible multiple locations.
You might want to be ready for such a thing especially if the election looks like it is radically turning toward those who respect and honor our constitution. If our current president is looking like he is going to lose power – I fear that this may even be more likely. Remember that the Reichstag fire was used as a ploy to shut down government opposition in Hitler’s day – and was quite effective as an impetus for the current government of that day to strike its enemies as they scapegoated them as responsible for the fire in the first place.
As we see the political discourse turning more vitriolic, we need to see that lines are being drawn – enemies are being named – and hatred is being fueled at multiple levels. What is truly frightening is how the News Networks are becoming more and more clear of who and what they want out of the upcoming elections. It is also somewhat disconcerting that conservatives and conservative news organizations are also being targeted for destruction – now by attacking their advertisers – and possibly in the future by attacking their very locations with violence and protest.
If this happens, the possibility of fair and free elections will be out the window. By the time order and the opportunity of a free election come around again – much of the opposition will have been removed from the equation. Our elections will pretty much look like those of any other puppet government in the world.
Scenario #3 – Riots Based on Race, Religion, and Socio-Economic Lines
This scenario has its genesis in the current political climate in our country. There are things being said and being reported (or said by commentators) that are pouring gas on the fire of already strained relationships between various polarized groups in America. The rich are being pitted against the poor. People of Color and different Nationality are being pitted against each other. Certain religious views are being openly denigrated and lied about on network news shows – as well as in print. There are very specific lines that are being drawn on the basis of race, religion, sexual preference, socio-economic views and politics. These things are being exacerbated more and more by the rhetoric being used in the lead-up to this election.
As this reaches a fever pitch – we may watch as election day turns into a day of rioting and rage at polling places. In the previous election – people were openly intimidated in Philadelphia by those who did not want them to vote against their chosen candidate. This time – with a greater possibility of their person being defeated – we are going to watch these intimidation tactics turn violent.
Occupy Wall Street and the shenanigans of some of our Unions have already broken new ground in the erection of political, religious, and socio-economic walls that are seriously dividing us in this nation. We are dancing around the precipice of serious rioting in the streets – and even more serious violence against those who dare vote against our current administration. This will not be pretty – but it will be violent – and will be used to intimidate people into compliance with politically correct views of our day.
When this happens – I also fear a backlash from those who are more conservative – if out of nothing more than years of pent-up frustration. The danger is that such reactions to existing violence will most likely be used to “outlaw” certain views as well as certain groups. The South and the mid-states of our union will be particularly hit by such reactionary anger to the prevailing tyranny. This will ultimately be to harden the lines that have tried to be drawn for many years. Again – races, religions, and classes will be turned upon each other – as they are painted as more extreme and reactionary to others. I fear that literally thousands will die in these clashes.
OK, Let’s Breathe – and Listen for a Moment for Some Hope
Yes . . . I know . . . either I am crazy – too reactionary – or just plain scary in what I’ve just written. But I want you to know that there is hope. What I have written, by the way, is really not too terribly different than what Old Testament prophets wrote to Israel and Judah. Please understand, though, that I do not for one minute claim to be a prophet in any way shape or form. If you must know – I write these things for a couple of reasons. First, because I am a historian. What we are seeing is nothing terribly new – it is simply a repeat of Biblical history – and the history of the past hundred or more years. Second, I am a Bible nerd. What we are seeing is not the fault of Democrats or Republicans - of Obama-care or Liberal politics. What we are experiencing is not the fault of atheists or pornographers or abortionists. Dear precious saints - these are symptoms only - they are judgments released upon us for what has happened in the church - long before the world manifested these things. What we are seeing is the inevitable consequences of a nation that once served God – turning from Him to serve other gods. When this happens – God removes His hand of blessing and begins to oppose that nation – in hope that the nation (or the church within such a nation) will repent and return to Him. Third, I am a pastor – who loves my congregation, my city, and my nation – and wants to see it return to God in nation-shaking revival – so – that these things DON’T happen in our future. I know that God is angry with our nation for how we have turned away from Him – from His Word – from His gospel – and from His warnings. I also know that our God is also MERCIFUL – and if we repent, return, pray, humble ourselves, and cry out for Him to restore our land – He has been faithful to do this – not just in Biblical times – but in something called the first and second great awakening – and the prayer revival of the mid 1850’s!
Is there hope for us? YES! Please read such things I have written prior to this point as a warning from a loving – yet holy God who desires for us to repent of our pride, our immoralities, and our sinful rebellion against His Word – and return to a life of fearing and honoring and obeying Him.
What can we do therefore to avert such things as these? Well, first off – I cannot guarantee that these things can be averted completely. You must remember that we’ve murdered over 40 million innocent babies through abortion. You must remember that we’ve chosen sexual immorality first with the sexual revolution against God in the 60’s with rampant heterosexual immorality – and then in the 80’s to the present with homosexual immorality as well as a host of other perversions that involve pornography, child sexual abuse, and every kind of perversion imaginable as we’ve thrown God’s Word to the side – not only in the world – but far too often even in the church.
Our hope is in falling to our knees – in repentance and restoration to God – and then in heart-felt intercession for God to move first in revival in the church – and then second, in spiritual awakening of the lost to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ for salvation from their sin and the wrath of God that rightfully falls upon unrepentant sinners in the day of judgment. My concern, if there is a primary one, is that too few see the desperation of our days – and are unwilling to give themselves to extra-ordinary prayer. This is NOT the time for a few words of perfunctory prayer – it is the time for us to don the proverbial sack-cloth and ashes – and cry out to God with weeping between the porch and the altar of God! If we will not turn to Him this way – I see little or no hope for our situation. I will vote in primaries and even in the general election if allowed – but these are not the answer for our current situation. Even if conservatives win in a landslide – that will NOT be the remedy. We MUST return to God, crying out for mercy – confessing our sins and the sins of our fathers – calling for God to rescue us – and committing to live afresh under His sovereign Lordship. That is the ONLY ANSWER for where we are and what is coming. May He have mercy upon us – may He sovereignly pour out His Spirit upon us – and may we be granted the most wonderful gift called “broken-hearted repentance” as we call upon the ONLY ONE WHO CAN DELIVER US IN THIS HOUR – OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST!
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