America: The Church of Laodicea (Part 10)

TenCommandments

“…But we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.” Luke 24:21

Secure in prosperity and accepting of humanist philosophies such as separation of church and state, the 21st century Church has settled into a perpetual state of indifference and apathy toward the public affairs of our nation. Consequently, our government has incrementally and systematically proceeded to remove every ounce of God-fiber from public conscientiousness. Now for the first time in the history of our nation, the kingdom of darkness is unhindered by the constraining power of God’s Word or His Church.

At the same time as the soul of America is moving further away from God, Churches seem overly concerned with seminars, power conventions, expansion, meetings, fundraising and attracting financially secure families. Simple discipleship and evangelism are no longer supreme priorities in many churches. Even the smaller Community churches are aggressively competing with one another for new members through program offerings, added services such as child daycare and improved facilities. This polarizes community churches from one another and weakens their witness in the communities they serve. Most disturbing of all is that the pulpit messages being broadcast across America are distilled with popular man-made philosophies and ideas. When God’s standards are removed, then man is free to substitute his own standards of morality. Then there is no longer any need for God and His atoning grace. The moral compass then points to what is right in the eyes of each individual without respect to God’s standards. Is this what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they penned the Constitution?

Our nation’s heritage is firmly rooted in religious principles. This truth is clearly seen in our pledge of allegiance, our national anthem, our money, our unique form of government and in our founding fathers’ beliefs.

Our founding fathers believed that national prosperity and morality were inseparably linked to religious principles. This fact is evidenced by the following founding fathers quotes:

George Washington

“And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion…Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principles..” (1)

Noah Webster

“No truth is more evident to any mind than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people.” (2)

Benjamin Rush

“The only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be laid in religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments… Without religion, I believe that learning does much mischief to the morals and principles of mankind.” (3)

John Adams

“…it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand.” (4)

Also consider the following warnings from our founding fathers:

Thomas Jefferson

“And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever.” (7)

Patrick Henry

“The great pillars of all government and social life [are] virtue, morality and religion…If we loose these we are conquered indeed.”(8)

James Madison

“We have staked the whole future of American civilization not on the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future …upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God. ” (9)

John Adams

“Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” (10)

Apostle Paul found the Word of God on the road to Damascus. The 21st century Church lost the gospel message of Jesus Christ on the road to Denomination. Which is to say, the doors of the church may be open but the gospel of Christ is in foreclosure. And since spiritual life in America has been reduced to a Sunday morning church activity more and more Americans are turning away from God and opening the door to bow down and worship a New Age of spirituality. This ungodly tempest is raging throughout America and is destroying the lives of friends and families. It it causing many to feel isolated and alone with nowhere to turn. Many are tired and ready to give up. Many more feel like they’re in bondage, unable to break the hold of some problem or addiction in their lives. They simply don’t know what to do. God wants them to know they are not alone. He has already provided a safe haven in the only one capable of calming life’s storms.

“…But we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel (America).”

To America: the Church of Laodicea. . .

Exchange your Robes!
Exchange your Crowns!
Exchange your Weapons!

He has already counted the cost!

America: The Church of Laodicea (Part 9)

Sunrise7

. . . but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” Luke 24:21-24

Moral Decay

These were his devout followers. The women had returned with “Good News” and to the disciples their words were an idle tale. The men had gone back to their fishing boats and their former occupations, but gradually they came to believe that the power which Jesus had exhibited on the earth was still available to them. These were the men who walked shoulder to shoulder with Jesus daily. The very men who had cast demons out. The same men who had one of their brethren walk on water like Jesus. But now all would need the Spirit of God to descend on them like a mighty whirlwind (to violently trespass on their trepidation and dwindled faith). This is a metaphor for the 21st century church. The 21st century church was to be a mighty whirlwind which exhibited the power of the living Christ while concurrently ushering in the new dispensation of revelation knowledge. It was strategically placed on the earth to be a city on a hill. It was to light a spark, a revolutionary movement of the Kingdom of God which would unite all believers in struggle against the kingdom of darkness. But instead, the 21st century church became the Church of Laodicea, lukewarm (indifferent).

So what happens to a civilization when its own Government and its strategically implanted Church ignore the sufferings of the people who are crying out in its darkness?

One murder every 22 minutes, one rape every 5 minutes, one robbery every 49 seconds, and one burglary every 10 seconds. And the cost of crime continues to mount: $78 billion for the criminal justice system, $64 billion for private protection, $202 billion in loss of life and work, $120 billion in crimes against business, $60 billion in stolen goods and fraud, $40 billion from drug abuse, and $110 billion from drunk driving. When you add up all the costs, crime costs Americans a stunning $675 billion each year. In addition, health care spending ran $2.4 trillion in 2008 and will likely topple $3.1 trillion by 2012, which is 4.3 times the amount spent on national defense.

What happens to a nation that is blindsided by the subsequent spiritual Tsunami?

  • Removal of student prayer: “Prayer in its public school system breaches the constitutional wall of separation between Church and State.” Engel v. Vitale, 1962
  • Removal of Bible readings: “[N]o state law or school board may require that passages from the Bible be read or that the Lord’s Prayer be recited in public schools or a State at the beginning of each school day.” The court went on to say, “[I]f portions of the New Testament were read without explanation, they could be and …had been psychologically harmful to the [student]. Abington v. Schempp, 1963
  • Removal of the Ten Commandments from view: “If the posted copies of the Ten Commandments are to have any effects at all, it will be to induce the schoolchildren to read, meditate upon, perhaps to venerate and obey, the Commandments…this…is not a permissible state objective under the Establishment Clause.” Stone v. Graham, 1980
  • Removal of benedictions and invocations from school activities: “Religious invocation…in high school commencement exercise conveyed message that district had given its endorsement to prayer and religion, so that school district was properly [prohibited] from including invocation in commencement exercise.” Graham v. Central, 1985; Kay v. Douglas, 1986; Jager v. Douglas, 1989; Lee v. Weisman, 1992

What happens to the child who is left to navigate life without a moral compass?

Nationally, nearly one million young women under age 20 become pregnant each year. That means close to 2800 teens get pregnant each day. Teen childbearing alone costs U.S. taxpayers nearly $7 billion annually for social services and lost tax revenues.

According to the Justice Department, one in two rape victims is under age 18; one in six is under age 12.

Homicide is the second leading cause of death for persons 15-24 years of age and is the leading cause of death for African-American and Hispanic youths in this age-group.

Recently, teen violence has exploded (murder arrests of teens jumped 92 percent since 1985).

The perception that criminals are getting younger is backed up by statistics. In 1982, 390 teens ages 13-15 were arrested for murder. A decade later, this total jumped to 740.

. . . but we had hoped that He was the one who was going to redeem Israel (America)”.

To be continued…

America: The Church of Laodicea (Part 8)

megachurch_lakewood-church

Lakewood Church

Houston, Texas

Pastor: Joel Osteen
Average weekly attendance: 43,500
Annual budget: $70 million

To Laodicea

Write to Laodicea, to the Angel of the church. God’s Yes, the Faithful and Accurate Witness, the First of God’s creation, says: “I know you inside and out, and find little to my liking. You’re not cold, you’re not hot—far better to be either cold or hot! You’re stale. You’re stagnant. You make me want to vomit. You brag, ‘I’m rich, I’ve got it made, I need nothing from anyone,’ oblivious that in fact you’re a pitiful, blind beggar, threadbare and homeless. Book of Revelations 3:14-17 MSG

The Increase in Materialism

Lakewood Church is the largest mega-church in the country, pastor and televangelist Joel Osteen reaches some 7 million television viewers in the U.S. with his “Christian light” message, which is broadcast to more than 100 countries. Since his father, the church’s former pastor, died in 1999, Osteen has grown the nondenominational church seven times over, reflecting the demographics of its diverse home city. A third of mega-church attendants are single compared with 10% at a typical church, and the average age is 40 compared with 53. Twenty-six percent of families at mega-churches earn more than $100,000 a year, compared with 15% at typical churches, which tend to have slightly better regular attendance rates.

megachurch_second-baptist-church-houston

No. 2: Second Baptist Church of Houston

Houston, Texas

Pastor: Edwin Young
Average weekly attendance: 24,000
Annual budget: $53 million

Pastor Edwin Young, 73, started the congregation 30 years ago with 300 people. Today he has five campuses to work with. Young says he continues to grow by focusing on youth; the church baptized 668 teenagers at a recent beach retreat. “Only churches reaching kids are really growing,” he says. “All the rest of it is really fluff.”

“Fluff?” The bible puts it another way . . . You are stale. You are stagnant. You are lukewarm. Stale explains why America is losing her appeal in the eyes of the world. Stagnant explains why America has lost her “cloak of invincibility”. For there was a time when even mighty nations trembled at the feet of America’s power. Now much like the small Germanic tribes (Visigoths and Ostrogoth’s) who fearlessly attacked Rome near her decline small Islamic tribes like the Taliban threaten to play a major role in the political events they believe will inevitably lead to the destruction of America. Finally, lukewarm would explain why the mega-church much like the mega-mall attracts large numbers of people. However as is the case with the mega-mall most only go to socialize and window-shop.

American_Atheists_logo.svg

The American Atheists logo, based on the atomic model.

Type

Founded

Non–profit organization

1963, Austin, Texas, U.S.

Headquarters

Parsippany-Troy Hills, New Jersey

Key people

Ed Buckner, President

Industry

Education

Meanwhile. . .

In 1959, a woman by the name of Madalyn Murray O’Hair (founder and later president of the American Atheist from 1963-1995) filed a case on behalf of her son, William J. Murray, who was being forced to attend Bible readings in school and was being harassed by teachers and school administrators for refusing to participate.

The consolidated case, usually cited as Abington School District v. Schempp (although arguably Murray v. Curlettbecame the more famous of the two), was argued before the United States Supreme Court on February 27 and February 28, 1963. In her opening statement, Madalyn Murray said, in part,”An atheist loves himself and his fellow man instead of a god. An atheist thinks that heaven is something for which we should work for now — here on earth — for all men together to enjoy.”

The justices rendered their decision on June 17, 1963. It was in favor of the petitioners, 8-1. They ruled that state-mandated prayer and unison bible readings in public schools were a violation of the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Meanwhile. . .

Two Germanic tribes.

Bring decline to the Roman Empire.

A small desert tribe.

Brings terror to America.

One determined woman.

Brings a “None” violent movement to the church.

Lakewood Church: Average weekly attendance: 43,500

2nd Baptist Church of Houston: Average weekly attendance: 24,000

Versus. . .

One determined woman. Two small Germanic tribes. A small desert tribe. Unbelievably outnumbered. They too are pitiful, blind beggars, threadbare and homeless. Yet unlike their adversaries they are hot, not cold, or lukewarm. Unlike their adversaries they have strategically and wisely armed themselves with a much traveled age-old weapon called Faith.

To be continued…

America: The Church of Laodicea (Part 7)

Noreligion

In Germany, the Nazis first came for the Communists,
And I didn’t speak up
Because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
And I did not speak up
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists,
And I didn’t speak up
Because I wasn’t a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics,
And I was a Protestant
So I didn’t speak up.
Then they came for ME…
By that time
There was no one to speak up for anyone.
To make sure this doesn’t happen again, the injustice
To anyone
Anywhere
Must be the concern of
Everyone
Everywhere.

“The Declaration of Guilt,” Martin Neimoller

Loss of Respect for Tradition

The percentage of people who call themselves in some way Christian has dropped more than 11% in a generation. The faithful have scattered out of their traditional bases: The Bible Belt is less Baptist. The Rust Belt is less Catholic. And everywhere more people are exploring spiritual frontiers — or falling off the faith map completely.

So many Americans claim no religion at all (15%, up from 8% in 1990), that this category now outranks every other major U.S. religious group except Catholics and Baptists. In a nation that has long been mostly Christian, “the challenge to Christianity … does not come from other religions but from a rejection of all forms of organized religion,” one report concludes.

Where is the church in these dark perilous times particularly at a time when an increasing number of Americans are deciding not to believe in God at all? When asked a basic survey question, “what is your religious identity?” nearly 113, 000 identified their spiritual expression as “None” (meaning having no religion). This is a strategic departure from identifying themselves as “atheist” in part because of the negative stigma associated with the word atheism. The “None movement” is the fastest growing group in America significantly outnumbering most religious factions.

Meanwhile, nearly 2.8 million Americans now identify with dozens of new religious movements, calling themselves Wiccan, pagan or “Spiritualist.” Wicca” is a contemporary form of paganism that includes goddess worship and reverence for nature, has even made its way to Arlington National Cemetery, where the Pentagon now allows Wiccans’ five-pointed-star symbol to be used on veterans’ gravestones.

wiccanpentaclemeanings

The pentagram, a symbol of faith used by many Wiccans.

Has God become a “personal hobby” as one expert concluded? Mapping Americans belief patterns from state to state, one study found that 41% of Americans had switched their religion at some point in their life.

Diane Mueller, 43, of Austin, who grew up Methodist, says she’s simply “totally disengaged from the church and the Bible, too.” Sunday mornings for her family mean playing in a park, not praying in a pew.

Ex-Catholic Dylan Rossi, 21, a philosophy student in Boston and a Massachusetts native, is part of the sharp fall in the state’s percentage of Catholics — from 54% to 39% in his lifetime.

Rossi says he’s typical among his friends: “If religion comes up, everyone at the table will start mocking it. I don’t know anyone religious and hardly anyone ‘spiritual.’ “

With such an ominous portrayal of the 21st century church in America how does one begin to explain the emergence of the mega-church? For if God has lost His relevance to the average American then what is the significance of a mega-church? How many more souls will be lost before the church speaks up? Has God been reduced to a Sunday hobby? Twenty centuries have passed since Christ and what has the church produced? Why is the 21st century church spiritually asleep? Millions of Christians believe in God but the question remains do they really know God? Jesus seems like some mythological personality because nothing similar exists in the world today. And how can that be with 1/3 of the human population professing Christianity? In a country that describes itself as a “Christian Nation” how can there be a “None” movement or a Wiccan movement? Perhaps it is because Americans are willing to identify themselves as “Christians” on a survey but continue to live their lives like a “None”!

Then they came for ME…

By that time

There was no one to speak up for anyone.

To be continued…


America: The Church of Laodicea (Part 6)

*Top Ten Organized Religions of the World

*Statistics of the world’s religions are only very rough approximations.

Religion Members Percentage
Christianity 2.1 billion 33.0%
Islam 1.5 billion 21
Hinduism 900 million 14
Buddhism 376 million 6
Sikhism 23 million 0.36
Judaism 14 million 0.22
Bahaism 7 million 0.1
Confucianism 6.3 million 0.1
Jainism 4.2 million 0.1
Shintoism 4 million 0.0

“Then I looked again at all the acts of oppression, which were being done under the sun. And behold I saw the tears of the oppressed and that they had no one to comfort them; and on the side of their oppressors was power, but they had no one to comfort them. So I congratulated the dead who are already dead more than the living who are still living. But better off than both of them is the one who has never existed, who has never seen the evil activity that is done under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 4:1-3)

The Weakening of Cultural Foundations

Civilizations die! The pattern of birth, maturity, and decay would seem to be inescapable. For where is the glory of Babylon now? Or that of ancient Egypt, China, India, Greece, Rome? Gone—like a early morning mist or a distant dream, they are all gone—that is the historical record. So is America somehow so privileged that it constitutes a historical exception? For those seduced by noise, toys, and technology, the current seismic shift in American culture is nothing more than the transformative growing pains of a global “Superpower”. For those who place their values elsewhere, there is a paradox that at the very core of America’s success—and within its present transmutation as well as the ethereal hope (it represents)—gestates a darkness that is every bit as dark as the early Middle Ages, no matter what the surface appearances might indicate. Indeed, from an analytical standpoint, the problem is not that civilizations collapse—for that is the rule—but that some manage to last as long as they do.

In its three thousand years, for example, Egypt suffered periods of complete political disintegration and foreign domination that sometimes lasted more than a century, and it then bounced back. While its ultimate decline was inevitable, Egypt appeared to the ancient world to be as strong, dominant and viable as it always had been. But that was strictly on the merits of its surface appearance. At the zenith of Egypt’s gravitational appeal, its culture was dying—being absorbed into the Greco-Roman Empire.

“And behold I saw the tears of the oppressed and that they had no one to comfort them…”

Four factors are present when a civilization collapses:

(a) Accelerating social and economic inequality

(b) Declining marginal returns with regard to investment in organizational solutions to socioeconomic problems

(c) Rapidly dropping levels of literacy, critical understanding, and general intellectual awareness

(d) Spiritual death—that is, Spengler’s classicism: the emptying out of cultural content and the freezing (or repackaging) of it in formulas—kitsch, in short.

Kitsch (/kɪtʃ/) is a German word denoting art that is considered an inferior, tasteless copy of an extant style of art or a worthless imitation of art of recognized value.

Is this what the church is today? A worthless imitation of the art of Love? A tasteless copy of the art of caring? Has the world lost its recognized value of Christ because of the church in America? 1/3 of the human population professes to be Christian yet there is still war. 70% of Americans profess Christ yet 18% of all children ages 0-17 live in poverty in the United States and 1-in-every 100 adults is in prison. So are we simply inferior copies of Christ? Are we really Kitschians rather than Christians? Is this why American culture is dying? Is this why America like all the great civilizations before her is collapsing?

To be continued…

America: The Church of Laodicea (Part 5)

Megachurch4

“The commitment I seek is not to outworn views but to old values that will never wear out. Programs may sometimes become obsolete, but the ideal of fairness always endures. Circumstances may change, but the work of compassion must continue. It is surely correct that we cannot solve problems by throwing money at them, but it is also correct that we dare not throw out our national problems onto a scrap heap of inattention and indifference. The poor may be out of political fashion, but they are not without human needs. The middle class may be angry, but they have not lost the dream that all Americans can advance together.” Senator Ted Kennedy

America’s public education system is guilty of educational eugenics or at the very least social Darwinism. Why such a harsh indictment? Let’s take a closer look at education spending. The previous administration spent nearly $23.3 billion dollars on an education program called “No Child Left Behind.” According to the Department of Education, there are about 3 million public school teachers in the country. That means the $23.3 billion spent on No Child Left Behind would have been enough for a pay raise of more than $7,000 for every single public school teacher in the country. Alternatively, since the average public school teacher’s salary is about $47,700 per year, $23.3 billion could have hired about 490,000 new school teachers and reduced class sizes in America’s public schools from an average of 16 to 14 students. The $23.3 billion could have also been used to create new school choice options for disadvantaged kids.

With about 18 million economically disadvantaged children in America’s schools, the $23.3 billion could have given each of these students a scholarship worth about $1,300. These scholarships could have helped pay for private school tuition, one-on-one instruction from an after-school tutoring center, or a summer learning program. But very little of the $23.3 billion was spent for education. A portion went to eliminate the inheritance tax for the children of millionaires. Another portion went for education reform: “rigorous standardized testing” (the so-called “equity factor”) for every student beginning in the third grade. Ironically, any student who failed was doomed to repeat the same grade (was “Left Behind”). And any public school with repeated offenses (tested below standards) was penalized with a hostile takeover by the local state Government.

After funding the operations of the federal education department, the overwhelming majority of the $23.3 billion was allocated to dozens of independent federal programs, each with its own bureaucratic agenda. As the funds travelled from Washington, D.C., back to local school districts, most of the $23.3 billion dollars was absorbed by administrative costs and bureaucracy before a single dollar reached a school or a classroom.

Here’s how No Child Left Behind worked in the classrooms. Millions of 8 year olds were given a list of words and phrases. They would try to read the list. They would then try to rote-memorize the list. Then they were graded, like chattel. Some were prime, some were OK, but many failed.

Once the children were all stamped and sorted, the parents of the marked ones would look to the Government to fulfill its tantalizing promise to “make sure all children have better options when schools are not performing.” No Child Left Behind was a paper tiger with no teeth. There was never a system of accountability in place. And consequently millions of American children were again left behind.

Meanwhile. . .

A member of the local church is picking up their child from one of those “low-performing” schools. Her child is failing. His school has been seized by the state. She drives up to the school in a Mercedes Benz, the one she and her church corporately prayed for. She tells everybody Jesus blessed her with a Mercedes Benz. She eagerly shares her prosperity testimony with strangers. The gospel of Mercedes Benz. Her personalized license plate reads: 4HzGlrE!

To be continued…

America: The Church of Laodicea (Part 4)

Megachurch5

“It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.” Albert Einstein

By virtually every measure of achievement, American students lag far behind their counterparts in both Asia and Europe, especially in math and science. Moreover, the evidence suggests that they are falling farther and farther behind. As educational researcher Harold Stevenson notes, although “the U.S. is among the countries expending the highest proportion of their gross national product on education, our elementary school and secondary school students never place above the median in comparative studies of academic achievement.”

Part of the reason is that neither our schools nor our students spend very much time actually studying. The National Education Commission on Time and Learning found that most American students spend less than half their day actually studying academic subjects. The commission’s two-year study found that American students spent only about 41 percent of the school day on basic academics. Their schedules jammed with course work in self-esteem, personal safety, AIDS education, family life, consumer training, driver’s ed, holistic health, and gym, the typical American high school student spends only 1,460 hours on subjects like math, science, and history during their four years in high schools. Meanwhile, their counterparts in Japan will spend 3,170 hours on basic subjects, students in France will spend 3,280 hours on academics, while students in Germany will spend 3,528 hours studying such subjects – nearly three times the hours devoted in American schools.

By some estimates, teachers in Japan give elementary students three times as much homework as American children are given by their teachers, while teachers in Taipei give their students seven times as much homework as children in Minneapolis. By fifth grade, children in Minneapolis are getting slightly more than four hours a week in homework, while fifth graders in Japan get six hours and students in Taipei, thirteen hours.

Education is failing in the United States because the practices and theories it is based upon are incorrect, and effectively sabotage the students’ learning ability. “Even the best American schools were not competitive with their counterparts in Asia on mathematics achievement . . . The highest-scoring American school falls below the lowest-scoring Asian schools.”‘

Why is there such a disparity in education? Is it too expensive, too heavy a burden, to educate our children? Is there a “better option” other than testing? And what are we measuring? Incompetence? Indifference? Are our expectations for academic achievement also sub-standard? Have we simply accepted education standards that are so low that our children need colored-coded cash registers to work at McDonald’s? And speaking of color-coding. . .  Where’s the money for the students getting crushed in cash-poor districts? What is the point of having suburban campuses with big green lawns and highly-touted AP programs when American students have the test-scores and academic lucidity reminiscent of the mark of Cain?

To be continued…