"If My people, which are called by My name, shall humble themselves,
and seek My face,
and turn from their wicked ways;
then will I hear from heaven,
and will forgive their sin,
and will heal their land."
2 Chronicles 7:14
Oh, dear friends!
I hardly know where to start this post.
I think I will take the advice of the old Proverb,
"Do not look where you fell, but where you slipped."
We always slip before we fall, right?
"Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall."
We are a proud people...prone to think we can handle things on our own...
prone to feel self-sufficient in times of prosperity.
God has prospered our nation greatly.
As a whole, we want for very little.
We live pampered lives.
We are spoiled.
Yes, that includes us, God's church, first and foremost.
Our pride has cost us...dearly.
We have distorted and blurred the lines to the point that we,
"have put no difference between the holy and profane,
neither have shewed difference between the unclean and the clean..."
We call evil good, and we call good evil.
"If My people...shall...pray."
Can you sense the longing of our Father,
as He uttered these words?
As He repeats them now...to us...His people?
Are you able to discern His anguish?
The pain in His great, loving heart?
How anxiously He waits?
Hoping with all His Father heart that we will do the right thing?
Every day, we hear more news to confirm the continuation of our moral decline.
Things so appalling that we have to recoil...stop reading...and watching...and listening.
Because the atrocities are too grotesque.
We find that we can bear no more.
Dear Lord, how did we get here?
How did we fall so far?
I hear His answer.
It takes me directly back to where we slipped.
53 years, one month, and 4 days ago, the U.S. Supreme Court passed a ruling
that children were no longer allowed to pray to God in our public school classrooms.
Measures to remove prayer from schools started a few years before that in 1958 when a man named Steven Engel, his wife, and seven other parents brought a law suit against the state of New York,
over their dislike of their children praying the following prayer,
"Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee,
and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers, and our country."
This initial lawsuit was lost, but an appeal was made, and on June 25, 1962,
the highest court of our land, doled out a decision to make it unlawful for children to pray in school.
This, my friends, was where we slipped.
Though, there were disturbing signs before this,
this was the conspicuous beginning of the "slip" that has steadily and increasingly picked up steam and momentum,
and landed us in this fallen place.
The first step downward is always the hardest to take.
Moral restraint and a keen sense of conscience makes taking that initial plunge repressive and uncomfortable.
But, once the first step has been taken, the 2nd step seems a little easier,
the 3rd a little more so, the 4th even less anxious.
On and on we go, until we get to a point that we no longer listen to that still, small voice inside of us...at all.
Did you know it is possible for a conscience to become seared?
I Timothy 4:2 says,
"Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron..."
Seared in this passage means cauterized.
It means that the spiritual nerve endings have been destroyed.
It means that the nerves are deadened to the point that the person no longer feels obvious impulses.
They are rendered insensitive to the dealings of the Holy Spirit.
They feel their conscience no more.
Do you know how dangerous it is to walk through life without a working conscience?
I'll be honest.
I can't think of too many things more terrifying than to think of running wide-open, full-speed
in the wrong direction, and not even knowing it.
To imagine living life void of the restraint of a keen moral compass literally makes me shudder.
Because our conscience is placed within us by God for the specific purpose of our own protection.
To think that we hold within our grasp the capability and potential of searing that precious, inherent moral sense is beyond frightening to me.
This deadening does not take place overnight.
Cauterization of the conscience does not happen the first time the conscience is overridden.
But, if you give it time, and if you continue to override and silence it's voice,
there will come a day that you can do absolutely any wild, outlandish thing you want to do,
and you will feel nothing.
No fear of repercussions.
No sting of guilt.
No fear of Almighty God or of facing His justice or thought of any form of retribution.
What a dangerous, horrifying condition in which to find one's self!
So, our supreme court passed a ruling on June 25, 1962 that said it was unconstitutional for
our children to pray in public schools.
That was a huge step....in the wrong direction.
There was reluctance in 1958, when it was first suggested, but by 1962,
senses had been numbed to the daring and audacity factor.
The idea had been toyed with long enough to take the edge off its signification.
So, the ruling was passed, and we, regardless of whether we liked it or not,
as a nation, had to comply and succumb to the law.
Our children could no longer legally pray in school.
Sadly, oh, so sadly, it didn't stop there.
Does it ever?
A downward spiral is an extremely slippery slope.
In 1963, just one year after prayer was banned, came the next plunge of our descent.
The founder of American Atheists, Madalyn Murray O'Hair, along with Edward Schempp,
consolidated their lawsuits with the intent of putting an end to Bible reading in the public classroom.
Alas to say, the suit was won, when the Supreme Court ruled in her (their) favor,
banning Bible reading in public schools.
That same year, the supreme court took another downward plummet when they overturned the state law that banned the teaching of evolution.
Do you see how this works?
Need I say more?
Little by little, we have veered so far from the ways of our founding fathers,
and with each descending step, we have drifted farther and farther from God.
Steven Engel (died February 6, 2008), Madalyn Murray O'Hair (died September 29, 1995), and Edward Schempp (died November 8, 2003)....
all three of their souls are now in eternity in the hands of a just God.
They are now giving an account for every deed done in this life,
just as you and I will do one day.
Did they really comprehend the immensity of their actions?
Had they any idea how far-reaching and devastating the repercussions would be?
If you pull the foundation out from under a standing building,
what options are left but for the building to fall...collapse...crumble?
If you remove the moral compass from a nation,
what options are left but for the nation to aimlessly wander...drift...self-destruct?
If you sear the conscience of a soul, how can you even measure or predict the consequences?
“Sin will take you farther than you want to go,
keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.”
I don't know who to attribute that quote to, but they, obviously were endowed with wisdom.
When that first tragic decision was made over 50 years ago to remove prayer from the public school arena, could we have ever predicted the extent of such ensuing moral decline?
If someone had told us where we would be today, would we have even believed them?
The very thing we were told our children could no longer do in school,
is the very thing we are going to have to do now.
Let's return to where we were when we slipped...
the place that caused the beginning of our fall.
And let's do the opposite, shall we?
We cannot go back and undo that dreadful decision.
And we are paying the price for it...dearly.
We can't undo what has been done, but can we not do what we need to do now?
It is the 2nd step God laid out in the redemption plan of 2 Chronicles 7:14.
""If My people, which are called by My name,
shall humble themselves,
Have you taken the first step?
Have you humbled yourself?
"But He giveth more grace.
Wherefore He saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
Submit yourselves therefore to God.
Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you.
Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep:
let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.
Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up."
"Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder.
Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility:
for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time..."
I Peter 5:5-6
Have you truly humbled yourself?
Is there anything else you need to do to complete step one?
Humbling ourselves low before God sets the tone for Him to receive our prayers...
it sets us up and readies us for step two.
We must approach God with humility.
Total acknowledgement that we are wrong...
and He is right.
"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit:
a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise."
Is your spirit broken?
Do you weep over the conditions?
Are you sorry?
Have you embraced your own personal responsibility?
Are you willing to pay God's price?
"The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit."
Have you felt the sense of dread Josiah felt?
Do you tremble at God's Word?
At His impending judgment for our sins?
"For all those things hath Mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD:
but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit,
and trembleth at My word."
There are no words for me to accentuate how vitally imperative it is that we PRAY.
After humbling ourselves, isn't this the next natural step?
Prayer is not complicated.
Just talk to Him.
Tell Him how sorry you are.
Beg for His mercy.
"Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts:
and let him return unto the LORD, and He will have mercy upon him;
and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon."
There is hope.
It is abundant.
But, we have to do this God's way.
We must forsake our own way, we must forsake our own thoughts, ideas, and opinions.
We can no longer afford to take our own path.
God is a holy God.
He demands that we be the same.
"For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy;
I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit,
to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones."
"To revive the spirit of the humble"!!!!
I don't know about you, but I could sure stand some reviving right now.
My heart is so burdened and grieved.
I am ready for revival.
This is where it starts, my friend.
We must return...to where we slipped.
We must bow.
Low, down at His feet.
On our knees.
In earnest, sincere, fervent prayer.
Here, we will find His pity.
His great Father heart will be moved.
"Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear Him."
You and I, we must meet His conditions.
We must humble ourselves....and pray.
Like never before.
Just imagine what our country would be like now,
had the children of the last 53 years been permitted to pray!
Think where we will be in another 53 years without prayer!
Oh, dear Lord...I cannot type this without streaming tears.
My heart is broken.
Can you sense the urgency?
Are you willing to help me turn this thing around?
Will you please pray?
As I said in "A Spoiled Church - Part Three",
what we do now will directly affect what God does next.
God help us to do the right thing.
Stay tuned for Part Seven of "A Spoiled Church"!!!
Coming soon, Lord willing!!!