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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

America: One Nation Under God's Judgment?

By: Carl Holland
Carls Words of Inspiration

Is it just me, or does anyone else sense something odd is occurring with all the natural disasters that have been taking place in the US in the last year? Stop and think about it for a minute and put it all together. Back in the winter we had record amounts of snow, especially in the Deep South. There was very heavy snowfall in a very large area stretching from Texas to North Carolina and south nearly to the Florida state line. There was even an accumulation of snow in Orlando! I remember this quite well since I live in southeast Georgia. Later on in the spring, we had record breaking flooding all along the Mississippi River. The Army Corps of Engineers was blowing up levies and sacrificing farmland and smaller rural communities to save the more heavily populated areas. We saw similar things happening in Louisiana with floodgates to spillways being opened in an extremely rare move to ease the flooding in other areas. Also in the spring we saw one of the worst tornado outbreaks in history. Entire towns in Missouri, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia were wiped off the map. Hundreds of people were killed. The summer brought on its share of misery, as well. Much of Texas and Oklahoma are experiencing very extreme drought. Record high temperatures have been broken all over the place. Many records for the most consecutive days over 100 degrees have fallen, as well. Entire bodies of water are drying up. The record heat wasn’t confined to just Oklahoma and Texas, either. Record highs were shattered in Arkansas, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Tennessee, and Louisiana, as well. In fact, I looked at the weather in west Tennessee where my dad lives one day and the current temperature at the time was 109 degrees with a heat index of 134! Many areas of the South are experiencing drought conditions, as well. Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona have also had major wildfire problems. Hundreds of thousands of acres have burned up by the Southwest wildfires. Recently we’ve had a very rare 5.8 earthquake not far from Washington, DC. I’m sure many in California are laughing at the East Coasters, who are freaking out over an earthquake that was “only” 5.8, but the geology is a little different on the Right Coast, and it was a very rare event, indeed. Now we’ve had Hurricane Irene skirt up the Mid-Atlantic and New England coasts, affecting a record number of people, 65 million by one estimate I heard, and causing record-breaking power outages and shattering rainfall records in some areas. Record flash-flooding has occurred in many areas, washing out roads and bridges and leaving some entire towns cut off from the rest of the world. The winds may not have been enough to be labeled a “major hurricane,” but Irene was very large, well-formed, and packed a powerful punch. She may have been a tropical storm when she made a direct hit on New York City, but was just barely shy of hurricane strength after being weakened just enough by skirting the shore of New Jersey. If she had stayed a hurricane, it would have been the first one to directly hit NYC since 1893. Just the first half of 2011 made this year the costliest on record for natural disasters. On top of it all, we’re in the midst of the worst economic meltdown most of us can remember, with no signs of it getting better any time soon. Obviously, it’s been a pretty tough year so far for the US.

But when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be troubled;
for such things must happen, but the end is not yet.
For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
And there will be earthquakes in various places,
and there will be famines and troubles.
These are the beginnings of sorrows.
- Mark 13:7-8

Let’s look a little farther in America’s recent past, and outside the US, too. On March 11, 2011 Japan experienced a massive 9.0 magnitude earthquake, with a resulting tsunami that inundated a large swath of the coast of Japan, killing some 15,000 people and causing extensive damage on top of what the earthquake had already done, and even caused damage to ports all the way across the Pacific Ocean in Washington, Oregon, and California. This double whammy of a natural disaster also resulted in Japan's worst nuclear disaster in history at its Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, nearly on a par with the Chernobyl accident in Russia in 1986. Radioactive contamination was released into the air and actually reached American soil, although at much lower levels, but contamination nonetheless. This earthquake even shifted the main island of Japan by 8 feet, shifted the Earth’s axis by 6-1/2 inches, and shortened the length of the day by 1.8 microseconds. On January 12, 2010 Haiti was hit with a magnitude 7.0 earthquake that caused massive damage, killed over 300,000 people, and left about 1 million homeless. In the aftermath, disease and starvation continues to take its toll on the survivors. Also in 2010, Eyjafjallajokull Volcano in Iceland erupted violently, spewing a massive ash cloud that drifted over Europe, grounding air travel for days. A year later, Iceland’s Grímsvötn Volcano underwent the nation’s largest eruption in 50 years, though it didn’t cause the air travel nightmare that Eyjafjallajokull did. On August 29, 2005 Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, breaching the levies and flooding the city. A total of 1836 people lost their lives to Katrina, among the top most devastating hurricanes in US history. In 2004, for the first time ever, four hurricanes crisscrossed Florida, leaving massive destruction in their wakes. Also in 2004, on the day after Christmas, a magnitude 9.2 earthquake struck the floor of the Indian Ocean, triggering a massive tsunami throughout the Southeast Asia area which killed over 230,000 people in 14 countries, slamming some coastal areas with waves as much as 100 feet high. The earthquake was so powerful it caused the entire planet to vibrate and also made the Earth’s axis shift a measureable amount. It sure seems to me that worldwide disasters have been steadily increasing in frequency and intensity, as trend charts of natural disasters clearly show.

O LORD, are not Your eyes on the truth?
You have stricken them, but they have not grieved;
You have consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction.
They have made their faces harder than rock; they have refused to return.
- Jeremiah 5:3

Al Gore would tell you this is all the effects of global warming he’s been warning us about, even in the wake of the British email scandal that proved scientists were manipulating the data to fit a political agenda. It’s kind of hard to take someone serious about living a “carbon-neutral” lifestyle when they have a $30,000 electric bill for their 10,000 square-foot mansion and fly around in a private jet to spread their message. But this isn’t about global warming or Al Gore. Could it be, I mean, could it just possibly be that God is trying to get our attention and that He is starting to pour out judgment on America? How long can we go on pushing God out of everything? The year 1962 marked the beginning of a downhill slide for America when prayer was taken out of our public schools. Rates of teen pregnancy, abortion, sexually transmitted diseases, and violent crime increased dramatically after that. Student SAT scores plummeted while the divorce rate skyrocketed. Charts of these statistics strikingly bear this out. We live in a culture where it is politically incorrect to mention anything about God or Jesus except in some generic, multi-cultural, all-inclusive sense that diminishes the truth, but bashing Christians and saying things against God or Jesus are considered “free speech,” no matter how vile. The TV show South Park went so far as to air an episode where Jesus defecated on President George W. Bush and the American flag, but showed Mohammed behind a censor bar and in a bear suit so that his image would not be seen, offending Muslims. Military chaplains are being limited on what they can say, and we are now well on the way to allowing homosexuals to openly serve in the military. There are many people who have the twisted idea that it’s ok to kill a baby because the mother doesn’t want it, but will put their own life on the line to save a Spotted Owl, or eat a vegan diet because they don't believe animals should be killed for food. Activist judges are overruling the will of the people and forcing gay marriage on America. This issue, in particular, is causing whole Christian denominations to fracture right down the middle. I wonder where those churches that support gay marriage get their theology from, because it’s certainly not the Bible. We’re about to reach the 10-year anniversary of the 9-11 attacks, and Mayor Bloomberg of New York City will not allow any religious leaders to publicly pray at the official memorial service in the name of political correctness and to keep from offending anyone. How can atheists be “offended” by a God they don’t believe in? Of all times and places, this is one where we all need to beg of God to continue to protect us from another such attack. We live in a day and age where the truth is considered relative. Nothing could be farther from the truth! No pun intended… well… maybe. But the fact of the matter is that relative truth is a lie straight from the pit of Hell. There is good and evil. There is an eternal and absolute Truth, and that is the Word of God, personified in the God-man Jesus the Christ, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
- 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12

When Christians try to point out how these things run contrary to God’s Word, many people, believers and non-believers alike, will point the finger and quote “judge not, lest ye be judged.” This is where a little Scripture, taken out of context, can be dangerous, and many believers are deceived when it is twisted in this manner to fit an agenda and don’t know how to respond. What we are not to judge is someone’s salvation. That power belongs to God alone. To do so would be putting ourselves in the place of God, which is idolatry. We are, however, supposed to exercise a righteous judgment in accordance with God’s Word and proclaim the Truth, always in love and with a goal of drawing people into a closer walk with God and away from self-destruction. There are many things that God is very clear about being wrong, some even an “abomination” to Him. That is not to say that we are to make Christianity about a list of right and wrong, do and don’t do. That’s not it at all. It’s all about having a true personal relationship with the Living God, who gave His own life in substitution for us to pay the debt for our sin that we couldn’t pay ourselves, and that He didn’t deserve to have to pay. When you are growing in that relationship, and the Holy Spirit is living in you, there becomes an increasing desire to move away from things God detests and toward those things that please Him out of your love for Him. We are to be the salt and light of the Earth, and sometimes that means a little tough love, calling out sin for what it is; rebellion against God.

Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts,
to dishonor their bodies among themselves,
who exchanged the truth of God for the lie,
and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator,
who is blessed forever.
- Romans 1:24-25

We live in a broken and dying world, and America is no exception to that. As it was in the days of Noah, we live in a society where blatant sin is rampant and openly tolerated. All norms of morality seem to have been thrown out the window. This flat-out rejection of God leads to a lifestyle of fulfilling the desires of the flesh, trying to fill an emptiness that only God can fill, but pride of self won’t allow them to admit it, leading to their own destruction. After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, one of their priorities was getting the French Quarter ready in time that Mardi Gras could still go on. That’s like sticking their collective finger in God’s eye and saying, “the open sin and debauchery must go on because we make a ton of money off of it.” Did they ever stop to consider that maybe God was trying to get their attention? We now have a Commander-in-Chief, who, I have no doubt, would throw Israel under the bus. Woe to us when he does! Israel has tried the “land for peace” route before, and it doesn’t work. Her enemies don’t want a “peaceful coexistence.” They want all or nothing and continually call for the complete destruction of Israel. Iran’s President Ahmadinejad recently said that there would be no room for Israel in the Middle East after the formation of a Palestinian state. In 2005 he openly called for Israel to be “wiped off the map,” and this is a country pursuing nuclear weapons. Yet Israel is called the bad guy by the world when she defends herself and retaliates against indiscriminate rocket fire by Hamas coming out of the Gaza Strip, or Hezbollah in Lebanon. God will not allow His Holy Land to be carved up. God has stated that He will bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse Israel. Honestly, does the current US Administration show any signs of being friendly to Israel, or are they distancing our nation from Israel and joining the rest of the world in condemning Israel? Could it just be that the recent earthquake to the west of Washington, DC, followed by a hurricane just to the east, is God trying to get our attention before the upcoming vote on Palestinian statehood in the UN; located, by the way, in New York City where Irene hit; which would try to force Israel to give up land and return to her pre-1967 borders? Would Americans stand for the UN trying to force us to give the Southwest back to Mexico? Three of the four hurricanes that hit Florida in 2004 directly hit Orlando. Is it a coincidence that Orlando is the home to Disney World which is famous for its "gay days," and the Walt Disney Company was one of the first large companies to offer benefits for same-sex domestic partners? America was clearly founded on Judeo-Christian principles. Our Founding Fathers cited 27 violations of Biblical principles by the King of England in writing the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration even states that all men are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” In other words, our rights are given by God, not the government. We, as a nation, have rejected God and pushed Him out of everything, as though we don’t need Him anymore. Our politicians will give speeches and end them with “God bless America,” trying to cater to the "Christian vote," while their actions are rejecting God and pushing him farther and farther out of the picture, giving Him no reason to bless us. Are Americans so arrogant to think there’s no way God will bring judgment on us? That He’ll continue to “shed His grace on thee?” Or perhaps it is even far bigger than America. Could it just be that all of Creation is groaning in birth pangs, crying out for Messiah to return to cleanse the Earth of evil forever? Then there are those who say there is no judgment because there is no God. One day they will find themselves standing before the Throne of God only to find out they were wrong, but then it will be too late. America was birthed as an exceptional nation, with freedom to worship God in spirit and in truth and pursue what is right, but we have strayed way off course, and we are not immune to God’s judgment to try to steer us back on course.

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.
- 2 Chronicles 7:14

It is not too late, however, for our great nation. God’s word is full of promises, and He is holy and righteous and always keeps his promises. Sometimes those promises involve judgment, and He would not be righteous if He did not dole out judgment on the wicked. His desire is that none should suffer judgment, but leaves it up to us to choose. If we reject Him, we are choosing judgment and condemnation. He made it so simple to choose by offering His Only Son in our place and simply desiring that we trust Him, that He did enough. He has made promises to nations, as well; perhaps the most often quoted being 2 Chronicles 7:14. If we, as a nation, will humble ourselves and submit to God’s authority and call on Him for forgiveness, then He promises He will come and heal our land. Could it just be that God is using these things to try to get our attention and say “Hey, remember Me?” “Turn back to me while you still can.” Open acceptance of sin and rejection of God is the problem. Embracing God and rejecting sin is the solution. Only when we turn to God in obedience to Him, and seek to do His will and stand for what is right in HIS eyes, can we rightfully proclaim, “God bless America.”

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