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Acting Like Evil Is Normal
 

 

Righteous Living in a Desensitized Culture…
 

 

 
All of us have probably had the distasteful experience of overhearing someone cursing and using foul language. Sometimes, graffiti “artists” ply their illegal slogans and we’re the victims as we try to hurry our children or grandchildren past some freshly spray-painted wall, park bench, or boxcar. If you venture out very often to a mall or shopping area, then you have likely been subjected to foul language and unseemly activity at some point. If you lived much of your life without Christ in the world (as I did) then chances are that you remember the days when all of those off-color words were a part of your personal vocabulary. Praise the Lord that when He saved me He also cleansed me and, by the convicting power of the Spirit of God, He strengthens me to resist letting fly with a string of expletives in the manner that I once did. I’m not applauding myself here but just crediting the Lord for changing me and for continuing to refine His work in me day in and day out.
 
The fact is that our speech surely reflects what is going on in our soul. Jesus illustrates this in Matthew 12 as He makes the point that good men speak good things and evil men speak the opposite. He then states, “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned (Matthew 12:36-37). He visits the same line of thinking in Matthew 15 and again in Mark 7. It should go without saying that this is surely no trivial teaching. After all, the Bible succinctly proclaims that “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matthew 12:34b).
 
I’ve said all of that to say that, as repulsed as I am by the crude and filthy things that so effortlessly stream out of the mouths of so many around us these days, I am not shocked by them. Still, I was completely blindsided by such a display when I walked into a Starbucks coffee shop in the Seattle area recently. I wasn’t at all prepared for the blatant, in-your-face, vulgar proclamation spelled out in big block letters inside.
 
There in line in front of me – in the midst of a busy Saturday afternoon crowd – was an older teen with a brightly colored T-shirt which, on the back, displayed one of the most foul statements that one can make. In fact, I’m not even going to give you an idea of exactly what the shirt said so that your mind doesn’t participate in the guessing game as to what the words were. I lived in the perverted, anything goes world of professional rock music for two decades and I thought I had been around when it comes to what the world offers but, frankly, I stood there nearly dumbfounded, wondering, “Does that offend anyone else here?” As I looked around the busy shop, I took stock of the twenty or so patrons and the four baristas busy serving them. With the exception of one couple at a table in the corner, I may have been the oldest person present and, though I noticed others staring at the fellow whose shirt displayed the message, no one shook their head or seemed to act as though something was uncomfortably out of place. There was no outrage. No offense seemed to be taken. The fact is, I surmise that those present weren’t offended or shocked much at all. After all, it’s only words. Right? No, in reality, the people present, like the majority in our society (especially those under 40), have likely become accustomed to the particular phrase so boldly displayed on the shirt. They had become desensitized and hardened to the culture around them and probably had little if any problem with one of their peers displaying words that not long ago would have outraged the secular culture in a similar circumstance, let alone sorely offended us Christians.
 
As I stood waiting for my drink and watching the young man, a number of things crossed my mind. Should I ask for the manager? Should I make a scene and publicly call him out, exposing his uncouthness? (This was the response my flesh wanted to take.) Should I follow him outside and try to speak to him? Or should I just shrug my shoulders and be glad that my granddaughters hadn’t been with me to be subjected to the spectacle?
 
Once he exited the shop, I saw that the Lord had probably saved me a real, possibly dangerous, hassle, as he was obviously just one of several guys sitting around the tables outside. I couldn’t hear what they were saying but, by the looks of them, I can imagine that the text on his T-shirt might have been lightweight in comparison. Frankly, they had every appearance of thugs, young punks just waiting for a turn on “Cops” or a posting on “America’s Most Wanted.” I realize that today it is “cool” to repeatedly tattoo and pierce and display how tough you think you are, but this kid had decided to tell the whole world off in the foulest of words and his friends fit the sentiment displayed on his shirt!
 
Still angered in a way that simply does not come upon me often, I walked to my car, got in, and observed. Knowing it was fruitless, I decided to call the local sheriff precinct anyway, if only to vent my feelings. When I explained what the situation was to the officer who answered my call, he said, “Sir, I completely agree with you. It is gross and bad for the businesses, but the words on his shirt are constitutionally protected free speech and there is nothing we can do about it.” The officer again sympathized in agreement with me and we hung up.
 
THE “LOT” SYNDROME
 
Understand that I am obviously a huge fan of constitutionally protected free speech. However, the base level of which the courts have now ruled in favor does beg for an answer as to what might be protected next. Thanks to the efforts of the ACLU, Hustler’s Larry Flint, and liberal politicians, the courts have neutered nearly every existing obscenity law. It would appear that almost every vile ideal is now hunky-dory in America. We are surely calling evil good and good evil (Isaiah 5:20-21) and, sadly, biblically-literate folk know where it is all heading. As I sat observing the scene in front of the coffee shop, I thought to myself, “This is what the breakdown of truth, the loss of decency, and our new “liberal” interpretation of the words ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ have gotten us.” Now our kids take their lead from the pitiful role models and false heroes being turned out by Hollywood, MTV, and Comedy Central. Even the Christians – the real, authentic ones – have been conditioned and have lost much of their ability to blush.
 
I might add that Christians need to think twice before we condemn this kind of behavior and then shell out money at the box office or for DVD rentals to be fed the same by the growing number of misfits and social degenerates whose perceived talents have made billions while they advocate and validate the foul-mouthed, crude activities we are commonly subjected to.
 
It may be constitutionally protected free speech, but, until we Christians bring this stuff up and point out how prevalent and repulsive it is, we can expect only an escalation of the same. This is exactly the plight of Abraham’s nephew, Lot.
 
The Bible identifies him as a “righteous man” who was “vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked” (see II Peter 2:5-8). Yet, he had lived around such evil for so long that, when the two angels came to warn him of the pending destruction of Sodom (Genesis 19:1-11), he attempted dialoguing with demon-possessed men and even offered his virgin daughters to them in compromise! He had become used to living around the most evil attitudes and activities imaginable and, though disturbed by the foul “conversation of the wicked,” his sensibilities had been severely dulled and his judgment was skewed.
 
Though I wish somehow that I would have publicly confronted the young man, in retrospect, I should have asked for the manager of the coffee shop and complained that they had even served him. However, judging from what I saw, it would probably have done little good. I have learned since the incident that the corporate policy of Starbucks is to never refuse service to a customer due to offensive language or behavior. Frankly, though, I encourage store owners and even corporations such as Starbucks to institute a discrimination policy similar to “no shirt, no shoes, no service” when it comes to obscenity. Yes, this is America, and I thank God that our free speech – even that which offends – is protected. However, we also have the right to ostracize clientele who are in effect running customers off and whose presence works against the intended shopping experience that businesses count on giving customers, particularly in a social/leisure setting like a Starbucks store. As I was writing this, a friend told me of an instance when a teenager was actually thrown out of a Sam’s Club outlet because he was wearing a T-shirt similar to the one I’ve described here. Right on and Amen!
 
This is all a result of the culture’s creeping acceptability of offensive and down-right evil language, behavior, and attitudes. Moreover, the real core reason for this is often because of “freethinking” parenting that an 18- or 19-year-old could act out in this casual, laissez faire way. By the way, the young man walked away with a fellow easily in his 40’s. I wondered to myself, “Could that been his father???!!!” This is just a small reflection of what my generation has brought upon us with the hippies, free love, LSD, and the counterculture movement. Forty-five years ago we proclaimed, “If it feels good do it,” and “Do your own thing, man,” and the fruit of that thinking is now apparent in the teen culture of 2010.
 
SYMPTOMS OF THE END
 
But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
– Matthew 24:37-39
 
In 1 Samuel 15 we find that in God’s economy rebellion is equal to witchcraft. This is surely the spirit of our age today. Jesus, of course, had it pegged in the above passage from Matthew 24. Just as in the days of Noah, the world today is oblivious to its precarious spiritual plight and the judgment that is fast approaching – but wise followers of God’s Word do understand. The majority of those in the world around us seem to think nothing of what I’ve described above. The culture is careening headlong toward destruction and seems to be completely unaware of it. Here we are, condemning “free speech” and protected expression that would have horrified the world, let alone the Church, a short time ago. I feel certain that, instead of agreement, over time I’ll receive some anonymous mail telling me how prude-like and backward I am. Somebody – claiming to be “Christian” – is bound to repeat the tired old line continually voiced so often by the world: “Don’t shove your old-fashioned, outdated morality down my throat, Eric Barger!” Well, I’m not. If you are a defender of using dirty words and want to argue about it, take it up with God. After all, our now-extinct obscenity laws, which those hapless folks at the ACLU have managed to have stricken, were each reflections of biblical morality. Of course, though, who wants that now? Since we’re so “educated” and so enlightened and so very much ahead of every previous generation, then we surely don’t need to be concerned with the archaic rules that so restricted and repressed our thirst for immorality in times past, right?
 
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
– Ephesians 4:29
 
But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.
– Colossians 3:8
 
Let’s also remember that, in the midst of all of this, we have a genre of people manning Emergent Church pulpits who claim it’s kosher and oh so freeing to let fly with any and every profanity (including the one on the T-shirt that provoked this missive) and that these counterfeit Christians do so from behind the “sacred desk,” the pulpit! I cringe to think of what many claiming to be followers of Christ have accepted – all because they don’t bother to read or believe the Bible. There, my friends, is the root of the problem.
 
HOPE
 
I imagine a few reading this might have a clue as to the type of talk and activity secular (and some Christian) teens engage in today. Frankly, however, most of you would be shocked to know the things texted by teens to one another. Each week we hear increasingly troubling accounts of children as young as 8 and 9 engaging in sexual activity and, as prevalent as this stuff might be, this grandfather of four isn’t taking it lightly. I surely don’t want to stand idly by while some foolish kid, flaunting his lack of morality and couth on a mission to acquaint my kiddos with the crudest of words in the English language, does so without any interference.
 
So, is it a lost cause? Have we so lost our way that we should just expect our teens to be drawn into the gutter that produced the T-shirt I saw this week? Many popular bumper stickers display the same sorts of messages and with atheist groups now proclaiming on billboards around the world, “There is no God,” it makes me wonder if the same gross phrases will soon be visible for all to see along our nation’s highways, too.
 
The most pressing question for the majority of those who will read this is, “What hope do our Christian teens and children have?” The psalmist asked the same question in Psalm 119. Verse nine asks, “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way?” and then continues with the only answer – “By taking heed thereto according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” It is only a lost cause if we clam up and do nothing when we are faced with evil. It is only a lost cause when we fail to point the next generation to the truth Psalm 119 expresses in this passage.
 
The only hope for our children and grandchildren is a foundation rooted firmly in the Word of God and a solid and reverent relationship with the Savior, Jesus Christ. It may go without saying to some and may not fit the psychologically-bound mold that so many think can fix their problems, but resolving to follow God’s precious Word is simply the only antidote for what ails us and the only remedy that will stave off the judgment of God upon us.
 
I encourage you to be aware, yet not distraught, that we are watching as the end-times activities prophesied in the Bible are coming to pass all around us. Matthew 24 is a veritable checklist that alerts Bible-believers as to where we are on God’s sovereign, prophetic time table at present. It was just the kind of repugnant filth that I saw adorning the young man’s T-shirt inside the coffee shop that surely typified Noah’s day before the flood and the time of Lot just before fire fell from heaven. The orgies of ancient Rome were surely on par with the public acceptance of foul speech and perverse activities that we are watching become normal in this hour. We can be absolutely assured that, unless there is a dramatic acceptance of Jesus Christ accompanied by true repentance across our land, it will end the same way for America as it did for Egypt, Sodom and Rome. The question for us remains: will we stand and be counted, or will we just try to blend in with the perishing and act like evil is actually normal?

 

National Repentance

By Pastor Anton Bosch

It has become customary to speak of prayers of “national repentance”.

On May Day, this year – 2010, a large number of people met at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC to pray various prayers of repentance “on behalf of the American people.” I remember a number of times, when growing up in South Africa, that the Government called national days of prayer and repentance in the hope that God would send rain at times of drought. Shortly after the fall of Apartheid many churches, groups and individuals prayed prayers of repentance on behalf of the nation for the sins of the past. Many have prayed prayers of repentance because of the Holocaust under Hitler. And the list goes on.

But is this a Biblical idea?

The short answer is no – there are a bunch of problems with this notion. The first is that repentance is something that needs to be done, rather than prayed. Every day millions of prayers ascend to God in which people pray prayers of repentance. The vast majority of these are a waste of time since the person praying has no intention of changing their actions, lifestyles or habits. Repentance is about doing not talking. The word itself means a change of mind and of direction. You can be heading down the road and say a million times that you are going in the wrong direction, but until you actually make that U-turn and stop going in the wrong direction and start going in the right direction, nothing will happen. It’s as simple as that.

John the Baptist said that the Pharisees who had come to see him baptize must: “Bear fruits worthy of repentance” (Matthew 3:8). Paul, speaking of the mission to the Gentiles said: “That they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance” (Acts 26:20). Isaiah said: “Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:7). So, no prayer of repentance is worth anything unless it is accompanied by actions. In spite of the many prayers of repentance prayed on behalf of the nations, all nations are becoming more sinful and thus those prayers clearly do not work.

Secondly, there is no such thing as repentance “by proxy”. This means you cannot repent on behalf of other people, whether living or dead. No one except Hitler himself can repent of the things he did – and he cannot because he is dead and it is too late for him. You can repent on behalf of your family as much as you like, but until they individually and personally repent, nothing is going to happen. We cannot repent on behalf of our family, a church, and least of all, a nation.

Sin is personal. When we sin, each who has sinned is guilty of that sin and each one has to personally repent. One could argue that Israel sinned as a nation when they refused to cross the Jordan (Numbers 14), yet the two individuals that did not agree with the majority were saved and entered the Land. So, was God dealing with them as a nation or individually? Clearly, individually; since Joshua and Caleb would have had to perish with the rest of the nation if God was dealing with them as a group. When God destroyed the world in the Flood, righteous Noah and his family were saved. The same happened in Sodom. Thus, even in the Old Testament, God’s dealings were on an individual basis.

Thirdly, God does not deal with nations. He only deals with individuals. Jesus did not die for America or England – He died for each of us personally. The only nation God ever had a relationship with as a nation was Israel. Yet, Jesus did not even die for Israel. All the verses that are quoted as examples of God’s promises or dealings with a nation are directed at Israel, and they cannot be claimed for any other country. When Israel eventually returns to God (Romans 11:26, Zech. 12:10), each individual Jew will still have to make a personal decision. Israel will not be saved because of a decision of the government, but because of the cumulative effect of each Jew coming to personal repentance. We need to be clear the Jews in the end are saved, not because they are Jews, but because each of them has personally believed on the Lord Jesus Christ.

One of the favorite verses used by those who promote the idea of National Repentance is 2Chronicles 7:14: “if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” This promise is very specific – it is to “my people who are called by my name.” Is South Africa, or Germany, or America, God’s people? Obviously not. Which country is called by God’s name? None – except Israel. So this verse has nothing to do with any nation other than Israel. The only people who can claim both those conditions are Christians. They are the people of God (Romans 9:25, 1John 3:1-3, 1Peter 2:10). And they are called by His name (Acts 11:26, 1Corinthians 12:12).

But then you cannot apply this verse to Christians since their Land does not need to be healed. The Christian’s land is the New Jerusalem and that is perfect. Here we are but strangers and pilgrims. (Hebrews 11:13, 16):

“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of [them], and embraced [them], and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth…. But now they desire a better [country], that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

The often-recited verse in 2Chronicles 7:14 only applies to one nation, and that is to Israel, and even then the promise is suspended since Israel rejected the offer one time too many.

Should we not pray for nations? Yes, we can pray but there is only one valid prayer and that is that people, individually, will come to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and repent. Because we are often too lazy to name individuals before the Throne of Grace, we resort to those catch-all phrases: “Lord save the Chinese,” “Lord help the poor,” or “Lord be with those in prison.” What does that mean? I don’t want to be insensitive, but it means absolutely nothing.

As Christians we can make a difference, but it begins where you are. Pray for each of your unsaved family members; pray for others you know by name – your colleagues, neighbors, and others you have dealings with. First, pray that the Lord will help you to show them what it means to be a real Christian. Next, pray that the Lord will soften their hearts to the Gospel and bring them to repentance. Finally, pray that the Lord will open an opportunity for you to share your Hope with them and that He will give you the courage and wisdom to do it right. Do this until Jesus comes. Yes, that is a lot harder than “Lord save the lost,” but that is our duty; everything else is a copout.

This article was posted on May 10th at Herescope: http://herescope.blogspot.com/2010/05/national-repentance.html

Pastor Anton Bosch is a member of the Discernment Research Group and is a frequent contributor to Herescope. His book Building Blocks of the Church is a wonderful help to those who are trying to start a truly biblical New Testament church. It is well-organized and easy to read. Available from Discernment Ministries.

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AMERICANS FEEL CONNECTED TO JESUS  A new Barna study finds that most “Americans feel connected to Jesus.” Nearly seven in ten of those surveyed claim to have “a personal relationship” with Jesus that influences their lives (“Americans Feel Connected,” Barna.org, April 2010). These believe that Jesus communicates with them, and nearly 60% think that Jesus feels their pain and suffering. While it may sound encouraging that a majority of Americans feel connected to Jesus and are convinced that He speaks to them, we must ask, “What Jesus?” Since the Bible warns of “false christs” and “false spirits” (e.g., 2 Corinthians 11:3-4), this is an essential piece of information. The Barna report does mention that Americans have remade Jesus into their desired mold, but the study itself does not seek to ascertain the identity of the Jesus that is so popular in American imagination. I would make an educated guess and say that the most popular Jesus in America is “The Shack Jesus” portrayed in William Young’s hot-selling book. He is cool, non-judgmental, and loves rock & roll.

source: Way of Life, David Cloud

Noahs_Ark.jpg Noahs Ark image by popa14701

Question: “Would the discovery of Noah’s Ark be important?”

Answer: There have been numerous claimed discoveries of Noah’s Ark in recent years. The discoveries have been in various locations, ranging from Mount Ararat in Turkey, to a mountain range in Iran, to an entirely different location on Mount Ararat (with a visitors’ center). It is not the purpose of this article to evaluate whether or not the Noah’s Ark discovery claims are legitimate. Rather, the question at hand is: If Noah’s Ark was discovered, would that be significant? Would the discovery of Noah’s Ark cause people to turn to God in faith?

The discovery of a boat-like structure in the mountains of the Middle East, carbon dated to approximately the time of the biblical account of Noah’s Ark (2500 B.C), with evidence of animal life once having been aboard would surely be a tremendous discovery. For those who believe in God and trust in the Bible as His inspired Word, it would be powerful confirmation that the Bible is true and that early human history occurred precisely as the Bible describes it. A verified discovery of Noah’s Ark would likely cause many seekers and open-minded skeptics to at least re-evaluate their beliefs. For the close-minded critic and hardened atheist, however, the discovery of Noah’s Ark would not make one bit of a difference.

Romans 1:19-20 declares, “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse” (ESV). If a person is rejecting the clear evidence of God in the universe, no biblically-related discovery would change his/her mind. Similarly, in Luke 16:31, Jesus declared, “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.” No discovery, no argument, and no miracle will change the mind of a person who has been blinded by Satan (2 Corinthians 4:4) and is, with a hard heart and closed mind, rejecting the light of the Gospel.

Conversely, would it matter if Noah’s Ark is never discovered? No, it would not matter because the Christian faith is not built on every biblical account being explicitly/conclusively proven. The Christian faith is built on faith. “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). With that in mind, though, there are two primary explanations for why Noah’s Ark might never be discovered. First, the wood of the Ark would have been very valuable post-Flood. Noah and his family would have needed wood to build their homes. It is possible that Noah and his family, or their descendants, deconstructed the Ark and used its wood for other purposes. Second, even if Noah and his family left the Ark intact, approximately 4500 years have passed (if the biblical account is interpreted strictly literally). A wooden structure exposed to harsh elements for 4500 years would, for the most part, decompose/decay into virtual nothingness.

While the discovery of Noah’s Ark would be a tremendous and powerful archaeological find, it will never be something Christians should place their faith in. The discovery of Noah’s Ark, or the Ark of the Covenant, or the Garden of Eden, or any other biblical artifact will not prove the Christian faith and will not change the mind of anyone whom God is not drawing (John 6:44). “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

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