Friday, November 09, 2012

Matt 24 watch, 177e: The two tidal waves challenge in light of Franklin Graham's "Path of Destruction" comment on the Isaiah 5:20 - 21 problem of the USA and our wider civilisation -- how do we prepare to stand in the face of the de-Christianisation and IslamIST tidal waves?

We in the Caribbean -- given how if the Americans sneeze we tend to get flu with pneumonia a likely complication -- are right back at the two tidal waves challenge:

The two geo-strategic spiritual tidal waves that are now pounding on Caribbean shores: (1) from the North, de-Christianisation driven by evolutionary materialist secular humanism, modernist apostasy and neo-paganism, and (2) radical IslamISM. Our challenge is to withstand the surges hitting on our shores, and to then rise up as another wave, fulfilling our potential in the global mission and mandate of the Church through the gospel under the Great Commission, in the purifying and enabling power of the Spirit

The just completed US election is highly relevant to these concerns.

For instance, as the online news source, Christian Post, informs us:
The Rev. Franklin Graham, son of the famous evangelist the Rev. Billy Graham, has stated that he believes that America is on a "path of destruction" due to yesterday's election results.

In an interview with CNN last night, Graham explained that the path he was referring to involved, among other things, the legalization of same-sex marriage.

"If we are allowed to go down this road in the path that this president wants us to go down, I think it will be to our peril and to the destruction of this nation," Graham said.

Yesterday, after years of successes at the ballot box, supporters of marriage as defined between one man and one woman were handed four defeats in four states. The people of Maryland and Washington states voted in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage, reaffirming legislation passed earlier in each state.

Voters in Minnesota stopped a constitutional amendment from being added to the state's constitution; same-sex marriage does, however, remain illegal in the North Star State. And voters in Maine approved a referendum legalizing same-sex marriage, several years after a similar measure failed.

During the 2012 election campaign season, the Grahams were heavily involved in socially conservative causes and the presidential race. The Rev. Billy Graham had endorsed Republican challenger Mitt Romney after meeting with the former Massachusetts Governor. Graham also endorsed Minnesota's marriage amendment.
In another Christian Post article, op ed writer David Jesse highlights other linked developments that speak to a much wider pattern:

. . . for those who seek to live according to the Word of God by the power of the Holy Spirit, these astonishing election results should cause us to fall to our knees and grieve for our nation. Colorado has legalized recreational use of marijuana, while Massachusetts, Maryland, and Oregon have approved it for medical usage. Maine, Maryland, and Washington have legalized homosexual marriage. And Massachusetts has also joined Oregon and Washington in allowing euthanasia. It has become clear that in every instance where Biblical values were up for a vote, the American people have chosen to reject them. This election goes so much deeper than just who was elected president for the next four years. This election was a barometer of the soul of America, and America is in critical condition . . . .
While I'm disappointed in these results, I wish I could say that I'm surprised. I'm not. I've believed for some time now that we will continue to see less and less of the grey area, and more of a clear distinction between black and white. Sin will become more and more acceptable and celebrated. Those vices and immoral practices that we have so long treated as taboo will no longer be seen as such. We will continue to become a nation that more closely resembles Sodom and Gomorrah, rather than the "City on a Hill" that was dreamed about by men like John Winthrop and William Bradford.
This brings the warning by Isaiah to the fore:
Isa 5:18 ​​​​​​​​Woe to those who draw iniquity with cords of falsehood,
        who draw sin as with cart ropes,
      19 ​​​​​​​​who say: “Let him be quick,
        let him speed his work
        that we may see it;
        let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw near,
        and let it come, that we may know it!” 

      20 ​​​​​​​​Woe to those who call evil good
        and good evil,
        who put darkness for light
        and light for darkness,
        who put bitter for sweet
        and sweet for bitter!
      21 ​​​​​​​​Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,
        and shrewd in their own sight! 
      22 ​​​​​​​​Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine,
        and valiant men in mixing strong drink,
      23 ​​​​​​​​who acquit the guilty for a bribe,
        and deprive the innocent of his right! 
      24 ​​​​​​​​Therefore, as the tongue of fire devours the stubble,
        and as dry grass sinks down in the flame,
        so their root will be as rottenness,
        and their blossom go up like dust;
        for they have rejected the law of the LORD of hosts,
        and have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. 
      25 ​​​​​​​​Therefore the anger of the LORD was kindled against his people,
        and he stretched out his hand against them and struck them,
        and the mountains quaked;
        and their corpses were as refuse
        in the midst of the streets.
        For all this his anger has not turned away,
        and his hand is stretched out still. 
      26 ​​​​​​​​He will raise a signal for nations far away,
        and whistle for them from the ends of the earth;
        and behold, quickly, speedily they come!       
27 ​​​​​​​​None is weary, none stumbles,
        none slumbers or sleeps,
        not a waistband is loose,
        not a sandal strap broken;
      28 ​​​​​​​​their arrows are sharp,
        all their bows bent,
        their horses' hoofs seem like flint,
        and their wheels like the whirlwind. 
      29 ​​​​​​​​Their roaring is like a lion,
        like young lions they roar;
        they growl and seize their prey;
        they carry it off, and none can rescue.
      30 ​​​​​​​​They will growl over it on that day,
        like the growling of the sea.
        And if one looks to the land,
        behold, darkness and distress;
        and the light is darkened by its clouds.
In short, as was noted here at KF on Wednesday morning, the vultures are circling, and others are coming.

Let us read on, together in Jesse's apt commentary.

Jesse responds to the challenge, drawing our attention to how God has chosen to work through us:
Throughout history, God has always chosen to work through weak, frail, inadequate human beings who are willing to give Him whatever they have, and allow Him to use that for His glory and purposes. But for too long now, the Church in America has sat back and made excuses for our laziness and apathy by saying, "God's in control." And while I fully believe that God  IS  in control, I realize that He has chosen to limit Himself to a great extent by what He can do through His people. We can no longer afford to bury our heads in the sand, hoping for things to get better. It's time for God's people to rise up.
As one consequence, in a world where we have abundant means to stand up and count [not least, by failure to consistently speak and teach the truth and the right from the pulpit, and to simply be willing to stand in line and register to vote and then stand in another line and vote for the right in numbers that can make a difference . . . ], judgement must begin with the house of God.

Jesse continues:
We need revival. And revival never comes to an apathetic people. In fact, revival most often comes to a people suffering from persecution. It is during persecution that God's people take their eyes off of their own frivolous desires and petty differences, and return to simple faith in God based upon hearing and obeying His Word. And let me assure you, persecution is coming. 
Persecution? Yes: 
The virtual prison of political correctness, tolerance, and celebrating diversity, will soon move into a radical agenda that attempts to silence the voices of those who speak out against sin and the evil that dwells in the hearts of men. Those who refuse to be silenced will be branded as religious extremists and relegated to the fringes of society. Two of our most sacred rights as Americans – Freedom of Religion, and Freedom of Speech – will be chipped away at until we will no longer recognize the country that we were born in.

If -- by and large -- we refused to stand in a day when it was relatively easy, we will  now have to face the challenge to stand in a day when it will be harder and harder.

However, there is more:
But in that persecution is the hope that awaits America. As the persecution grows, the Church will be forced to return to God's principles of love, obedience, justice, holiness, compassion, truth, and faithfulness. The Church in America will once again become the salt and light that Jesus told us we are supposed to be. And when all is said and done, I believe that revival will come to America. And that revival can spread to the world.
There is truth in the cliché, "It's always darkest before the dawn." So, again, I will not curse the darkness. I will thank God for the mercy and grace He has shown us in allowing us to see this darkness and shine His Light to the world. As the Apostle John wrote, "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." (John 1:5 ESV)
 I add, at least, the remnant.

 Now, this raises another issue: readiness.

Thence, getting ready.

Yes. For, plainly, by and large we are NOT ready for such a hard day. 

That is so, whether I speak of Christians in America who in too many cases could not even spot a neo-Marxist would be political messiah and see the likely consequences of his intended path, or for us in the Caribbean who are often in a worse predicament.

Pardon, but I think I am going to have to give a few details below.

So, the onward challenge is whether we are willing to even make the relatively small effort to read that which took much more effort to learn and to organise in a way that just may help us understand.

Please, take time and read. Then reflect and pray. Then, let us have the courage to stand up and do what we are called upon to do in the face of an evil day.

Let us remember, what Paul counsels for such a day as this:
 Eph 5:8 . . . at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.
11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,  
         “Awake, O sleeper,
        and arise from the dead,
        and Christ will shine on you.” 
 15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. [ESV]
In context, we are specifically called on to repudiate "sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness," filthiness [i.e. obscenity], foolish talk, crude joking, and of course the like. Going a bit above, we can read the operational form of the church's mandate in Eph 4: 9 - 24:
 Eph 4:9 (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth?1  10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) 

11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds  and teachers,  12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood,  to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 

15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

 17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 

They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 

20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!- 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self,  which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. [ESV]
In short, the very fact of our lack of discernment and determination to do the right, living by the truth in love, and our vulnerability to the futile thought of those in endarkened rebellion against God, indicts us. For had the leadership been equipping the saints adequately, we would not be vulnerable to the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful schemes, nor would we spend good money to imbibe the poison, deception, decadence and addiction to conscience-numbing sensual indulgence that so haunt our whole civilisation.

We have to build a godly alternative, and we have to do so now.

That brings me to how, in beginning the first unit of the proposed AACCS's sampler course, a street level survey of systematic theology guided by the Nicene Creed, I had to observe as follows:
Today, however, many are losing confidence in [the gospel] foundation.

Such are being led to incorrectly see the gospel as backward bondage to discredited and destructive "right-wing nuts," who are following a long since outdated "morally monstrous" "Bronze Age war god" from 3,000 years ago, and who are perceived and dismissed as dangerous, potentially terroristic or tyrannical anti-freedom, anti-progress "theocratic, fundamentalist religious extremists" or the like. Under false flags of "liberation," "choice" and "progress," ever so many are instead being misled to be poisoned and hardened in heart against, reject and walk away from the gospel of truth, right and genuine liberty under the true God our Creator and loving redeemer. 

So bad is this, that many are being cleverly manipulated and warped in heart and mind so that they come to reject and dismiss the very concept of truth and our duties of care and wisdom to seek and live by its light. 

For such, there is little or nothing more to truth than perception or strongly held opinion: my truth

(Just so, we will shortly have to start our work in this course from -- literally -- the battle for truth. And, for the sufficient know-ability of truth to have the candle-light we need to see our way forward, step by step.) aptly sums up some of the reason and context for that, by reference to North America. (Where, what is happening to our neighbour to our North, of course is highly relevant to us in the Caribbean; given that, proverbially, if the Americans sneeze, we all too soon come down with flu, usually with pneumonia as complication.) Clipping:

We have a problem in America
  • 70-75% of Christian youth leave the church after high school (see survey data at Barna and USA Today).
  • Intellectual skepticism is one of the major reasons they walk away.
  • Most Christian students are not equipped to resist rabidly anti-Christian college professors who are intent on converting their students to atheism.
  • College professors are five times more likely to identify themselves as atheists than the general public.[--> i.e. about 75%; yes, three out of four professors in the USA are explicitly atheistical]
  • More than half of all college professors view evangelical Christian students unfavorably (see article
    at Free Republic).
  • The “new atheists” — Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens — are writing books and are growing in popularity.
The reason for this exodus is that Christian youth in America are not being taught to cross examine the skeptical and atheistic views they encounter when they leave home.

We are in a civilisation-wide desperate battle for hearts, minds, views, values and souls. But, it seems that too often we who lead, teach and shape opinions and values in the church and community here in the Caribbean are not paying adequate attention to it, or don't really  understand it, or don't take it seriously enough and/or lack capacity to respond effectively.

That is a serious failure . . .
Plainly, the first order of business is repentance, and renewal of hearts, minds and lives through godly equipping education and training, leading on to renewed prophetic intellectual and cultural leadership in the teeth of an endarkened, sin-besotted, conscience benumbed day that imagines itself to be ever so enlightened.

That brings back to mind Jesus' words in the Sermon on the Mount as he warns against the demonic power, Mammon -- money as ultimate loyalty:
Matt 6: 19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust5  destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

 22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

 24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. [ESV]
Indeed, we face the issue Plato highlighted in his famous parable of the cave, wherein cleverly projected shadow shows are confused for reality. Video version:

Plainly, it is time to stand, and it is time to make the sacrifice to invest time, effort, resources, talent and money in creating a godly alternative that can counterbalance the indoctrination in endarkening worldliness and skepticism that so often passes for education, sophistication, hipness and enlightenment in our day.

Which brings me back to the pivotal issue of the need for an online based, micro-campus delivered Associate level education programme that can be embedded in churches and community centres, with an integral component that addresses second chance secondary studies for the 80% who do not have adequate CXCs and for a broader bridging base. Such a programme will need three foci: (i) discipleship, Bible and Theology including issues, (ii) Godly service and leadership int eh Caribbean context, and (iii) tentmaking skills that make us relatively independent and pr4oductive citizens who can set up small busineses and co-ops.

So, we have come back, full circle to the pivotal issue of the AACCS:
The proposed Associate in Arts, Concentration in Caribbean Christian Service programme. This allows us to counter the hijacking of education in service to radical de-Christianising evolutionary materialist, modernist and neo-pagan agendas, as well as to radical IslamISM. Such a programme is suitable for part-time evening delivery or other similar formats. It can be a main programme of study for those who need to bridge to tertiary studies and get something that equips them to function in a high tech world, or it can supplement other courses of study, providing needed balance and correction to the all too commonly encountered secularist indoctrination. (But I would counsel picking your College very carefully indeed, and frankly the creation of an alternative system that is not in ideological captivity to evolutionary materialism.) The challenge in front of us is to move to put such a programme on the ground, making advantageous use of the emerging tablet PC revolution, which allows us to make powerful educational materials instantly accessible at moderate cost. For instance, within months a reasonable educational tablet will easily cost US$ 120 - 150, there are some in that range already. College textbooks routinely cost US$ 80 - 200 each. Course readers can be developed at modest cost and distributed as part of a programme. A modest existing facility can easily be turned into a multimedia equipped micro-campus centre. Similarly, the potential of creating a digital library that goes with such tablets, is another can-do. So, it is time to act, now.

Which brings us right back to the Mordecai challenge to Queeen Esther in an evil day, in Esther ch 4.

Let us paraphrase: If not now, then when? If not us, then who? If not here, then where? END