Is any human debacle more disruptive than idolatry – that of spending a lifetime, or even one day, with the wrong god?
This world is full of exceptional people. There are great numbers around us who have heard the GOOD NEWS of the Savior JESUS and have even read the Holy Scriptures for themselves, yet they remain unconvinced of its promises, uncertain of its purpose, and unchanged by its power. Yes, these are exceptional individuals – women and men with exceptionally closed minds and exceptionally calloused hearts – who refuse to believe there is any need outside of which human ingenuity and intellect has the wherewithal to meet.
There is no such thing as a “used to be” believer – only never to be believers, now believers, and not yet believers.
There is nothing more lonely, more empty, and more meaningless than a Christ-less moment, a Christ-less life, and a Christ-less eternity.
I have found that life outside is so much better when the sun is shining. Even a frigid, windy, winter day is quite pleasant when the added warmth and brightness of the sun shining down on me.
I have also noticed that life inside is much better when the Son is shining. My outlook and attitude toward the challenges, frustrations, and irritations of life are more bearable when I begin the day in the clarity of His Word and invite Him lead the way.
I don’t believe it is any coincidence how the words – sun and Son are pronounced the same and how similar their affects are upon life – life outside and life inside. In life outside, the closer the relationship in proximity to the sun (nearer to the equator), the more abundant is the life to be found; in life inside, the closer the relationship in proximity to the Son (nearer to the Savior JESUS) the more abundant is the life to be found.
This is the testimony in essence: God gave us eternal life; the life is in his Son. So, whoever has the Son, has life; whoever rejects the Son, rejects life. 1 John 5:12
In 1998 Tom Brokaw released a book titled The Greatest Generation, that tells us about the generation of Americans who grew up during the Great Depression, and then fought in and/or contributed from the home front, in World War II. Though I haven’t yet read this book, I agree with Mr. Brokaw that this was (and is) a great generation which accomplished much. What stands out most to me is at the core of who these men and women were (and still are for those living today) was a true willingness to make sacrifices and go without, to share and direct resources where they were most needed, and to voluntarily serve one’s country and community for the greater good of all. Sacrifice, sharing, and service – three characteristics best expressed in the life of Jesus Christ.
But, by enduring so much through an era of depression and then war, these men and women from The Greatest Generation didn’t do the rest of us any favors in one aspect – for they vowed that their children and grandchildren “will have it better than I did” – and this declaration, I believe, is where many of our problems today stem from. Though it sounds wonderful in theory, the results have been disastrous, because “better” has erroneously equated to mean “easier,” and as we now see, “easier” doesn’t turn out “better”. For in wanting their children and grandchildren “to have it better than I did,” each succeeding generation has had more and more given to it, with less and less expected from it. Thus, every subsequent generation has received a lesser degree of parenting as well.
Here are four different versions of two verses from The Bible on the topic of parenting:
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6 (King James Version)
Teach children how they should live, and they will remember it all their life. Proverbs 22:6 (Good News Translation)
Point your kids in the right direction— when they’re old they won’t be lost. Proverbs 22:6 (The Message)
Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it. Proverbs 22:6 (New Living Translation)
He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes. Proverbs 13:24 (King James Version)
Those who don’t correct their children hate them. But those who love them are careful to correct them. Proverbs 13:24 (New International Reader’s Version)
If you love your children, you will correct them; if you don’t love them, you won’t correct them. Proverbs 13:24 (Common English Version)
A refusal to correct is a refusal to love; love your children by disciplining them. Proverbs 13:24 (The Message)
Effective parenting requires training, teaching, pointing, and directing; it also includes lots of correction through loving discipline. Unfortunately, when parents decide that their children and grandchildren “will have it better than I did” it often ends up like this:
Not saying “No”, “Don’t”, “Stop It”, “Knock It Off”, “Quit That”, “Cut It Out”, “Wait”, etc…
Giving in to all wants (which soon turn into demands);
Rewarding all “participants” as well as not keeping score to determine the winners and losers in anything;
Excusing inappropriate behavior;
Ignoring a lack of manners;
Foregoing common social courtesies.
As Proverbs 30:15 (The Message) states:
A leech has twin daughters named “Gimme” and “Gimme more.” Three things are never satisfied, no, there are four that never say, “That’s enough, thank you!”— hell, a barren womb, a parched land, a forest fire.
Since WWII, we have produced multiple generations of children who cry out “Gimme” and “Gimme more.” Thus we have millions of spoiled brats and crybabies in our society who have entered into adulthood and run into roadblocks, because they have never had to wait for or work toward anything in their lives, nor have they developed the ability to think and speak intelligently for themselves. Now, as adults, they are unable to discuss and debate important life issues, so instead they call foul, cry victim, and play the “hate” card. They accuse, attack, and attempt to silence those who disagree with them, and continually jump from bandwagon to bandwagon in their support of popular causes endorsed by celebrities and perceived “social victims.”
Compounding this has been the ever increasing divorce rate over past decades, that is now around fifty percent. Think about it – at least half of all men, women, and children in the United States are products of at least one broken family unit, which carries varying levels of emotional and relational baggage. Parenting is difficult enough in homes which have never experienced a divorce, but after divorce occurs everything becomes more complicated for an infinite number of reasons. This isn’t to place blame, just to state the facts of a situation that has greatly contributed to our current state of affairs, as divorce is usually accompanied by things like guilt, fear, confusion, misunderstanding, struggle, bitterness, pain, etc…, and often leads parents to give more and expect less from their children.
Of course, at the root of this is our broken human nature. The more we have handed to us, the less we appreciate it, the less we care about it, and less gratitude we show for it. Getting something for nothing breeds contempt. It produces disrespect for ourselves, as well as for those who give us what we know we don’t deserve and haven’t earned. Deep inside we realize there is something wrong in not having any of our own “skin in the game”, but we are too under-developed and undisciplined to do anything about it.
Having it “better” (easier) has cut short the critical character-building required to produce offspring who are as honest, hardworking, committed, disciplined, and responsible as those from The Greatest Generation were (and are). By having it “better” (easier), most of us have no clear concept of what sacrifice, sharing, and service even mean.
Today, so much of American culture is centered around “self” – self-expression, self-indulgence, self-promotion, self-satisfaction – it’s all Me, Myself, and I (along with my Homies, of course). But what made The Greatest Generation so great was that for a brief period in our history, the notion of “self” was removed, because the survival of our nation demanded it to be that way. Life became an all-encompassing matter of country and community with everyone making sacrifices, sharing resources, and serving in whatever way they could.
How do we get that back? Will it require another depression or recession? Will it take another world war to unite us again? I hope not, but with so much self-interest, self-love, and attention seeking taking place, it will take something significant to wake us up, to shake us up. Perhaps this is why GOD allows us to wallow around in our sin sometimes; why we endure suffering, and experience pain. We need to get to a place where we can actually understand what true mercy, grace, and love really are. Even though The Greatest Generation may never be duplicated, we can certainly turn out Better Generations in our future if we start teaching, training, correcting, and disciplining our children and grandchildren in ways that create greatness, since we are living proof of what doesn’t, since “easier” hasn’t turned out “better”.
How blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, Psalm 33:12a
Who are we and what are we all about? Can anyone answer this with even a smidgen of confidence?
We used to know. Not anymore.
We used to share a united purpose birthed from a united passion. Not anymore. Our currency still says “In GOD We Trust” and our Pledge of Allegiance still states we are “one nation under GOD” yet His Word is mocked and His ways ignored by most of our citizens.
We used to adhere to a few critical, common, core values of faith, freedom, and fairness which provided the foundation for our lives and relationships. Not anymore.
We used to be a nation where men are men, and women are women. Not anymore.
We used to expect quality products and services delivered by expert craftsmen and professionals. Not anymore.
We used to be a country where character, courtesy, modesty, and manners mattered. Not anymore.
Our nation, the United States of America, no longer has an identity by which she is known, and thus, no longer has any measure of unity amongst her inhabitants.
Today we are a mishmash of “ism’s”, ideologies, agendas, and lifestyles that are incompatible with one another and have produced our current state of division, confusion, and conflict.
Today in our country everything is a disposable commodity – homes, automobiles, appliances, babies, marriages, and families.
Today we live in a society that demands instant gratification. There is no longer any waiting for or working toward obtaining things, rather, everything is expected right now! Advertisements bombard us each day, telling us to purchase things we really don’t need in order to impress people we will never meet.
Today we are a nation of takers and talkers with an economy driven by consuming whatever we can get our hands and lips on; coveting what everyone else has that we don’t; and then communicating all of this via some form of media to the rest of the world.
Today we are a rude, arrogant, inpatient, self-absorbed population, living in an era of mediocrity and compromise, with everything being quick, convenient, and cheap, which also means most things are faux and inferior.
Today we live in a land of plastic, pretend, and over-portioned – money, body parts, food, etc… Personas and pictures are “doctored” in order to present and imply false images. Very little is real anymore, and somehow we are okay with this?
Today we import huge amounts of shoddy merchandise (junk) from other places around the world that is produced by abused and neglected (sweat shop) labor forces. Why?
All in all, we are a weakening and darkening nation and we will eventually crash if we continue as we are. History describes how all other dominant civilizations have fallen and so will ours – for we are not an exception to the rule. We have sold our integrity – trading our once GOD-fearing, adventurous, risk-taking, hard-working, no-quitting, united spirit for nothing more than a façade that attempts to hide our vast debt, deceit, and depravity. This should make it obvious to us that all ideologies and agendas are not equal. Some are neither good nor beneficial to our nation nor any other. All roads, religions, and regimes do not lead the same good, right, true, and healthy place. We must have an irrefutable, unshakable starting point – a baseline from which to build and grow from.
So return to your God. Show kindness and do what is fair, and wait for your God all the time. Hosea 12:6
The inability for our government to agree on anything is a direct reflection upon who we are and what we are – we no longer know. We are in the midst of a total system failure and in extreme need of an upgrade in order to regain our identity. We need to turn back – to reform our thinking and align ourselves with GOD. We need to re-install Biblical truth into our nation and then reboot our lives upon it; for we have picked up a number of viruses which currently impair our senses and keep us distracted by insignificant, secondary matters. We have lost our way.
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6
JESUS is the way. JESUS is the truth. JESUS is the life.
Instead of arguing over this, we need to accept it – trust it, teach it, and move forward. Who in their right mind can look at the happenings throughout the world and within our nation and deny the fact that we desperately need saving – that we absolutely need a Savior? We need to fill our minds with the truth found in GOD’s Word, as nothing else has the power to restore us.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:11
No greater identity exists than what is found in Almighty GOD through His Christ. If our nation is to endure, our identity and unity must be found in the Savior JESUS. May our nation unite, one and all, in Him.
MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY NEW YEAR!