Greg Laurie — Hope for America
You may have heard the story of a woman. She was walking down the beach. She saw a little bottle embedded in the sand. Or a lamp. She couldn't tell what it was. She reached down and picked it up and rubbed the sand off. A genie appeared. This is a true story. And the genie said, "I will grant to you one wish". She said, "One wish. I thought genies granted three wishes". He said, "I don't know. The economy is tough right now. We have had to cut back to just one wish". This girl happened to have a map with her. A map with the Middle East. She pulls it out. She says "Genie look at this map of the Middle East. My wish is that these countries will stop fighting and start getting along. In fact I want peace and harmony in all of the world".
She probably was a hippie chick. The genie said, "Now lady look. Even genies have their limitations. This simply cannot be done. These countries have been fighting for hundreds of years. I can't get them to sign a peace treaty. I am sorry. I cannot grant you the wish. Come up with something else". She thought about it for a moment and said, "Well you know what genie? I have never found the right man. If you could bring a man to me that is considerate and likes to cook and will help with the house cleaning and pick up after himself and get along with my family and won't sit on the couch and watch sports all day long. One that will smother me with love and affection for all of my life. That is what I want genie. One good man". The genie said, "Get that map out again". Thank you.
Some things just seem impossible don't they? But with God nothing is impossible. I want to talk about our country a little bit. I still happen to believe the United States of America is the greatest country on the face of the earth. You may not agree. But I believe that. But we have lost our way in recent days. Here is a question. Is there any hope to turn America around? I believe there is hope for America. In many ways our country is facing a moral and spiritual crisis. Back here on the home front the family is disintegrating. It is under attack. People want to redefine it. They want to blow it apart. It is almost like culture has declared war on the family. If you dare to stand up and make the controversial statement that a family is made up of a man and a woman you are accused of being bigoted that is called hate speech.
If you get down and look at the stats you will find that the breakdown of the family of a man and a woman married and raising their children that family unit that we built this country on as we see it falling apart you will find that most of the social ills can be related directly to the breakdown of the family. In other words fatherless children who are incarcerated. Turning to drugs. Girls getting pregnant outside of wedlock. You name the problem and it is almost always traced back to the breakdown of the family. Meanwhile abroad things are unraveling.
If you are watching the news right now Islamic terrorism has gone into high gear with Al-Qaeda in Iraq now. A whole new group has formed. They call themselves ISIS. This is a combination of the states of Iraq and Syria. Right now ISIS controls 30% of Iraq and they are Marching to Baghdad. No. The war on terrorism is not over folks. Then there is this Russian aggression in the Ukraine. Not to even mention the powder kegs called Iran and North Korea. I would classify all of this as a warning to America. We could say America this is your wake up call.
Years ago I was in Alaska speaking there. I was joined by my friend Richie Furay who was singing. We started playing pranks on each other. I often do that when I travel because I get a little bored. I was going to bed at night at our hotel. I noticed some room service trays in front of rooms. I took about four of them and put them in front of Richie's room so he would see them when he came out. So then the next night he takes and entire picture off of the wall and puts it in front. He used to be a rock star so you don't mess with rock stars in hotel rooms. They are crazy. Anyway he put a this picture in front of my door where I couldn't even see out of my door. I thought, "I am going to the next level".
I knew I was leaving the next morning. He was going to stay. I called down to the front desk and said, "Hi. I need a wakeup call for room number". And I gave his room number. I need one at 4:00 in the morning and then I need a backup call at 5:00. Make sure this guy gets up. They didn't even question it. I didn't say it was me. I said, "Good. I didn't even have to lie. It is wonderful". I wouldn't have by the way. Then I flew home. Richie calls me the next day and says, "Do you know what happened to me"? I said, "No. What"? He says, they called me up at like 4:00 in the morning and wake me up. This is your wake up call. I said right. He knew what happened. Fine. Thank you very much. Went back to sleep. Someone came up to my room, unlocked the door, came over to my bed and started shaking me. Because they didn't want me to miss my wakeup call. I said, "Yes".
Is that what it is going to take to wake up America? Do we need someone to just shake us? Is it happening already? I believe America has two choices before us. It is revival or judgment. Look. We know judgment is coming to our country and to every country ultimately. But my prayer for America is that we will have at least one more spiritual awakening before that judgment comes. Peter Marshall, former chaplain to the U.S. Senate once said, "The choice before us is plain. It is Christ or chaos. Conviction or compromise. Discipline or disintegration". Well put. Christ or chaos. How are we to live as Christians in America? Shall we just throw up our hands and give up? What difference could one person possibly make anyway? The answer is actually a very big difference. Here are the words of Jesus given to us in how we are to live as his followers in this world.
Matthew 5:13. Jesus says, "You are the salt of the earth: but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven". Salt and light. Why did Jesus use these two word pictures? Because the world is dark and corrupt. The world needs salt because it is corrupt and it needs light because it is dark.
The biblical worldview of this culture is it is dark and it is getting darker. By its very nature it cannot get anything but worse. That is because there is no inherent goodness to build on. Man is not basically good as some would say. Man is basically bad. He is bad to the bone actually. In fact, the Bible says, "The heart is deceitfully wicked. Who can know it"? Man has increased in scientific, medical, historical, educational, psychological, and technological knowledge to an astounding degree. But he has not changed his basic nature. He has not improved society.
I am reminded of the statement of general Omar Bradley in an armistice speech he gave clear back in 1948. Here is what he said, "We have grasped the mystery of the atom and we have rejected the sermon on the mount. The world has achieved brilliance without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants". Well said. We are a nation of nuclear giants and ethical infants. Instead of getting better we have only gotten worse. We have just found ways to make things even worse than they already are. We go from war to greater war. From crime to greater crime. From immorality to greater immorality. From perversion to greater perversion. The spiral is not upward. It is downward. That is the course we are taking today. This world is a very dark place in need of some light. A little light would help. The Bible does tell us it is going to get worse before it gets better ultimately before Christ comes back.
2 Timothy says, "Evil men and imposters will proceed from bad to worse deceiving and being deceived". Any person who knows the history of mankind and the history of the past 100 years and thinks that man is evolving upward is deceiving and being deceived just as Paul said. What do we do? Some would say let's just withdraw. Let's build a Christian city. We will live in Christian homes. We will shop in Christian stores and drive Christian cars. We will have Christian food. We will have Christian dogs. No Christian cats. That is impossible. Actually to be technical Christian dogs are impossible too. Except that one cat that was on a video that went viral on Youtube that saved the life of a little boy. I am giving that cat a pass. You want to talk about a cool cat, that cat was.
Some think the answer is to evade the culture. Avoid the culture. They think we should isolate. That is virtually impossible. We can remove ourselves and our children from our culture, but culture will find us. If you retreat into a Christian subculture you are missing the point because Jesus has not called us to isolate. He has called to infiltrate. He has not called us to evade. He has called us to invade. It is possible to impact culture without being compromised by it. Listen to what Jesus says in John 17 in a prayer to his Father, "I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. They are not part of this world any more than I am. You sent me into the world. I am sending them into the world".
Did you hear that? Jesus said he is sending us into the world. You say, "But Greg doesn't the Bible say, 'love not the world, neither the things that are in the world, for if you love the world, the love of the Father is not in you.'" Yes it says that. It is possible to be sent into the culture without loving the culture. It is possible to invade the culture without having the culture mold you into its own image. 1 Corinthians 5 Paul writes, "I told you not to associate with people who indulge in sexual sin. But I wasn't talking about unbelievers who indulge in sexual sin or those who are greedy or swindlers or idol worshippers. You would have to leave this world to avoid people like that". The point Paul is making is don't leave the world. How are we ever going to see people to come to Christ if we are not in their world and relating to them and connecting to them and speaking to them. To the point our commander in chief Jesus Christ has sent us into the world. He said, "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel". In many ways as believers we are behind enemy lines.
I was watching a world war II program the other day. This was a dramatic true story they were telling. Dramatized. There is a scene where the commanding officer is speaking to the commander of the paratroopers from easy company. They had been put behind enemy lines. This commanding officer says, "The panzer division is about to cut the road south. It looks like you guys are going to be surrounded". The commander of easy company says, "We are paratroopers, lieutenant. We are "Supposed to be surrounded". I heard him say that and I thought, "That is what it is to be a Christian too". We are supposed to be surrounded. We are behind enemy lines and are surrounded by people that do not support our worldview. We have been dropped in there by God himself just like a paratrooper drops in.
I read a story from the Korean war that illustrates the kind of attitude we ought to have as Christians. As enemy forces were advancing baker company was cut off from the rest of the regiment. For several hours no word was heard even through headquarters though they tried to communicate with the missing unit. Finally a faint signal was received. There was static. Straining to hear each word a corpsman asked, "Baker company do you hear me"? There was the reply. "This is baker company". "What is your situation"? Baker company replies, "The enemy is to the east of us. The enemy is to the south of us. They are to the north of us. They are to the west of us". Then there was a pause. The sergeant from Baker company said, "And we are not going to let them escape this time". Maybe you feel that way sometimes. You see the enemy at work. How are we going to make it? Listen. We are going to do more than make it. We are going to invade culture.
Others will embrace all culture and just be conformed to it. Right now we are going through a huge culture shift in the United States of America. I want you to know something. Our country was built on a Judeo-Christian foundation. I am not saying that all of our founding fathers were Christians, though many of them were. I am saying there was a respect for God. There was a respect for the Bible. That is changing today. There are people that want to erase that heritage and even place our country on a new foundation. Consider this statement from our first president George Washington. He said, "To the distinguished character of patriot it should be our highest glory to have the more distinguished character of Christian". I would like to hear a president say that today. I would like to hear somebody running for the presidency say that upfront.
James Madison the fourth U. S. President made this statement. This is mind blowing. "Cursed be all the learning that is contrary to the cross of Christ". Can you imagine a president saying that in one of our universities? Others will say America was not founded on Christian principles. Really? Patrick henry, ratifier of the U. S. Constitution said, "It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists but by Christians. Not on religions but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason people of other faiths have been offered asylum, prosperity, and the freedom to worship here". In fact it is this very freedom that comes from our faith in God though Jesus Christ that gives our opponents the freedom if you will to oppose us.
We don't oppose them opposing us. We embrace dialogue. We are allowed to express ourselves. Free speech is encouraged in our country. But not today. In our politically charged atmosphere we are told not to speak up. Not to state our opinion. President George Washington in his farewell address in 1776 said, "Reason and experience both forbid us that national morality cannot prevail in exclusion of religious principle". In other words Washington is saying, "You can't have "This freedom without this foundation. You remove this foundation and the freedom comes apart". It is that very foundation of faith that supports the freedom.
What is happening? We have a civil religion that is really taking control. It is even different than the civil religion if you will of the 50s and 60s. Back when I was a kid it was a lot different. I was from a divorced home. I was the exception not the rule. Most of my friends all came from homes that were intact. Nowadays my goodness to come from an intact home with an actual living breathing mother and father raising you that is unheard of. Back when I was a kid there was a basic belief in culture that there is evil in the world. A basic belief that Jesus was the Son of God. That the Ten Commandments were true. They were even posted on the classroom wall. The Bible would be referenced. At least then there was some biblical literacy. Nowadays in the attempt to not have any influence of faith the Bible isn't even taught as literature. It is not taught as history much less as the Word of God.
Back in the day when I was a kid there were TV programs that supported the family. Shows that some of you may remember. Father knows best. Leave it to Beaver. The Donna Reed show. Dad was wise. He was a good stable person. Mom was always waiting at home with cookies for you when you came home from school. She was wearing her pearls. Her hair was perfectly done. I know it was a fictitious show. But it supported a basic civil quasi biblical worldview. I am not saying it was Christianity but I am saying at least it wasn't opposing Christianity. Nowadays everything has changed. The Ten Commandments are passé. Family is being redefined. The Bible is being described as a book of myths. We also have rampant divorce, drug and alcohol abuse at an all-time high. Epidemic violent crime, and suicide at record levels. The Bible says, "You sow the wind, you will reap the whirlwind".
This is what is happening in our country today. What are we supposed to do? 1. If you are taking down notes, write this down. We must stand for the truth whether it is popular not. What is that truth? That truth is the Bible is the Word of God. Period. This is the authority. Not what we all agree on. Not what we reach consensus about. Not what you feel or what you think. Our beliefs are based on what the scripture teaches on every topic. The Bible says, "Let God be true and every man a liar".