Moral Bankruptcy [v54]

AUGUST 2003

WHOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA: Arielle, Tyler and myself just got back from riding the biggest and baddest roller coasters and thrill rides on the planet! —well, that’s what their marketing says—we went to Cedar Point and Six Flags in Ohio.

First we were off to Cedar Point—wondering if we were going to be able to get up enough ‘guts’ to ride the “Top Thrill Dragster” (we thought the 2+ hour drive should give us enough time!). It reaches a speed of 120 mph within the first four seconds (horizontally), then zooms straight up the 42-storey tall hill on track that rotates 90 degrees on the way up, crests the coaster’s ‘apex’ and then free-falls back to Earth, rotating 270 degrees and reaching a speed of 120 mph for the second time! Whooaaa, what a rush that would be!

But even after the ‘preparation’, when we got there, the kids thought it might be “a bit too much so early in the day” (we were one of the first in line as the front gates opened so we could be one of the first in line for the ride!). And since we were going to be there for two days, they thought we could come back a bit later that day… or even the next day! [Truthfully, it looked pretty ominous even for a ‘seasoned’ thrill seeker like me!]

They wanted to “build up” to it—get ‘used to’ some of the smaller “easy” rides, and then, gradually, ‘take on’ the more “radical” ones. Like a professional “sharpshooter,” they successfully ‘picked off’, one by one, increasingly more radical rides—raising their ‘tolerance’ level.

Sometime at the end of the second day, it occurred to me that what my kids were going through on the rides within a few days, was analogous to what our American culture has gone through in the past 4 to 5 decades in regards to moral decline—the gradual acceptance and tolerance of it.

It reminds me of the scientist who placed a frog in a pan of room temperature water and raised the temperature two degrees every few hours. The increase in heat was so gradual that, by the time the frog ‘realized’ what was happening, it was too late. It already had been boiled alive!

What is it that is sorely lacking and almost lost in our nation today? What is it that has given birth in our most recent days to everything from executions on our country’s high school campuses to flat-out fabrications and lies in our nation’s journals and newspapers? What is at the heart of the fraud in the world of business and the “illness” in society? What is at the very root of teen pregnancy, assisted suicide, drug usage, abortion, pornography, Medicare fraud, and every other ill of our day?

It is what some call moral confusion, others moral decline. I believe it is MORAL BANKRUPTCY that stems from a complete disregard for Biblical absolutes. As a nation, we are just about emptied out when it comes to the moral base on which alone civilized and free men and women once lived.

I believe that, so onerous is our present situation, that it is beginning to look like we need to study the decline and fall of other great civilizations to gain some insight into what may be in store for our country. A quick comparison made me really nervous!

Arnold Toynbee gives considerable space in his 12 volume “A Study of History,” to a study into why civilizations disintegrate. He speaks of the emergence of patterns of behavior that amplified “the schism of the soul.”

In Jim Nelson Black’s book, “When Nations Die: Ten Warning Signs of a Culture in Crisis,” he lists the “symptoms” he feels are crucial: SOCIAL: (1) General increase in lawlessness, (2) The loss of economic discipline and self-restraint, (3) Rising bureaucracy, government regulation and taxes, (4) Decline in the quality and relevance of education; CULTURAL: (5) Weakening of the foundational principles that contributed to the greatness of the nation, (6) Loss of respect for established religions, (7) Increase in materialism; SPIRITUAL: (8) Rise in immorality, (9) Lure of alien gods, (10) Decline in the value of human life.

Do you think this describes America today? Consider the following behaviors that, 50 years ago, most Americans opposed and today most approve of:

– Abortion is morally acceptable and should be legal in all cases
– Having and affair, a sexual “fantasy” and co-habitation are morally acceptable, and divorce for any reason other than adultery is not a sin
– A sexual relationship with someone of the same gender is morally acceptable, and sexual relations between consenting adults of the same gender should be legal
– Using marijuana for non-medicinal purposes and getting drunk are morally acceptable
– Lying about personal achievements on a resume, using profanity, and breaking the speed limit are morally acceptable
– Watching a movie with explicit sexual behavior or reading a magazine with nudity or explicit sexual pictures are morally acceptable [Barna Research – May 2001].

George Barna stated that comparing the current data with past surveys uncovered a handful of issues that have been abandoned by the public. He said, “Perhaps the overwhelming impact of pop culture has infiltrated our views and perceived needs to the point that we are a relatively homogenous society differentiated mostly by the means and rapidity with which we want our personal challenges addressed.”

And it’s not like we haven’t been warned before. John Adams said in 1798, “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our constitution was made only for moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

James Madison, the architect of our Constitution, wrote, “We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all of our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government; 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.”

Traditionally, moral conduct has been discussed under the guise of virtues, and moral conduct was seen to be the outcome of character which was inward and personal but which was exercised in the society or community in which a person lived.

I have based this discussion from what the Bible itself reveals about the truth about men and women —who we are and how God has ‘wired’ up the world to work. It begins with the character of God who is holy in all of his attributes and proceeds to an understanding of man created in the image of God. Then comes the “fall”, when that image is not obliterated, but was damaged when man was alienated from God by a sinful nature.

Though I have come from a Scriptural basis, there are others that have a similar viewpoint. Bill Bennett, the author of the “Book of Virtues” says, “Today, we speak about values and how it is important to ‘have them’ as if they were beads on a string or marbles in a pouch. But morality and virtues are not something to be possessed, but are the central part of human nature, not as something to have, but as something to be, the most important thing to be.”

In 1832, Alexis de Tocqueville, a young, aristocratic Frenchman wrote about what he saw in the morals, work ethic, and government structure of the United States. It led him to accurately predict many of the ways in which the U.S. would lead and has led the world. His infamous quote is the perfect explanation of why, on a daily basis, people continue to risk their lives to gain the freedom that only the United States of America offers:

“I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers —and it was not there…in her fertile fields and boundless forests and it was not there…in her rich mines and her vast world commerce—and it was not there…in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution—and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.”

Again theologically, a Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary professor David Wells puts it this way: “The character of which we speak here is not simply the cultivation of natural virtue but the intensely conscious sense of living morally before God.”

NOTE: If you would like to investigate thoughts on absolutes, visit the following link:
http://www.4VIS.com/sfm/sfm_pres/sp_q6_d2_1of10.html

It seems to me that we are ‘CROSSROADS’ of ceasing to be great—and need to turn back to God, ask for forgiveness, and return to the Biblical absolutes that have historically been the principles that have undergirded most of the basic assumptions about life. They are the underlying foundations of common sense, the standards by which we determine the difference between right and wrong, truth and falsehood, essential and trivial. They form the bedrock of our civility. The absolutes are the fixed points on the horizon by which we navigate the ‘river’ of life.

Nineteenth-century historian and philosopher Robert Goguet argues that the genius of the Constitution was that it took the necessity of the absolutes fully into account:

“The more [the founders] meditated on the Biblical standards for civil morality, the more they perceived their wisdom and inspiration. Those standards alone have the inestimable advantage never to have undergone any of the revolutions common to all human laws, which have always demanded frequent amendments; sometimes changes; sometimes additions; sometimes the retrenching of superfluities. There has been nothing changed, nothing added, nothing retrenched from Biblical morality for above three thousand years.”

The founders recognized the futility of creating and implementing a system of laws without a foundation of absolute principles. Constitutional provisions such as the separation of powers, mixed government, checks and balances, jury trials, and civil rights were all predicated on the notion that people are bent toward chaos if left to their own devices. Laws were designed with the understanding that in a fallen world both sin and sinners must be restrained if justice is to prevail. For a system of law and order to succeed, the difference between right and wrong must not only be defined, it must also be accounted for in the very fabric of our relationships.

I submit that history has shown that we have been ‘blessed’ as a nation because of our desire to live according to Biblical absolutes. If our nation does not begin to move back toward absolute truth, I predict we will repeatedly experience firsthand the pain of unrestrained evil, with its many horrors. Our decisions regarding the absolutes and our attitude toward God, the source of life and true liberty, will determine the extent to which the horrors of evil will be felt within our borders. The forces of evil will certainly affect us, but whether or not they will destroy our way of life has yet to be determined. Apart from a miraculous move of God, however, producing expressions of mercy and grace, I predict we will witness the most extreme attempts ever in human history—by terrorists and others—to destroy our freedom and our lives.

My prayer is that all freedom-loving Americans to rise up without fear and stand for truth—then I think we will begin to witness extreme expressions of love, compassion, self-sacrifice, courage, strength of character, and unshakable resolve in our nation—which, I believe, can only result from a genuine commitment to moral absolutes and the truth of Scripture.

God has promised that if we repent He will restore fellowship with us and forgive our sins: “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 will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” [2 Chronicles 7:14].

Might I encourage you to search your heart to honestly determine if you have a personal relationship with Jesus and truly desire to do His will—if so, please pray fervently for God to help each one of us, to stem the ‘moral erosion’ in our own lives and to be an encouragement to those around us.

Just remember, a tiny little spark ignites a raging bonfire!

[Excerpts from: Richard G. Wolling; Charles Colson; James Robison]

P.S. Though the kids were originally ‘apprehensive’ about going on the Top Thrill Dragster ride, they actually wanted to ride it at the end of the second day—they had enlarged their risk ‘muscle’. But, as it turned out, the ride never did open while we were there, so click on this link to ‘experience’ it for yourself: http://www.cedarpoint.com/public/park/rides/coasters/top_thrill_dragster/index.cfm

Blessings…Mark

LIFE’S DEEP THOUGHTS (v54) for AUGUST 2003.
If you have a ‘neat’ story or some thoughts about an issue or current event that you would like me to try to respond to, I would be glad to give it a try…so, send them to me at: mbesh@ameritech.net

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CREED
We believe in Marxfreudanddarwin.
We believe everything is OK
as long as you don’t hurt anyone,
to the best of your definition of hurt,
and to the best of your knowledge.

We believe in sex before, during and after marriage.
We believe in the therapy of sin.
We believe that adultery is fun.
We believe that sodomy’s OK.
We believe that taboos are taboo.

We believe that everything’s getting better
despite evidence to the contrary.
The evidence must be investigated
And you can prove anything with evidence.

We believe there’s something in horoscopes,
UFO’s and bent spoons;
Jesus was a good man just like Buddha,
Mohammed, and ourselves.
He was a good moral teacher although we think
His good morals were bad.

We believe that all religions are basically the same –
at least the one that we read was.
They all believe in love and goodness.
They only differ on matters of creation,
sin, heaven, hell, God, and salvation.

We believe that after death comes the Nothing
Because when you ask the dead what happens
they say nothing.
If death is not the end, if the dead have lied, then it’s compulsory heaven for all
excepting perhaps
Hitler, Stalin, and Genghis Khan.

We believe in Masters and Johnson.
What’s selected is average.
What’s average is normal.
What’s normal is good.

We believe in total disarmament.
We believe there are direct links between warfare and bloodshed.
Americans should beat their guns into tractors
and the Russians would be sure to follow.

We believe that man is essentially good.
It’s only his behaviour that lets him down.
This is the fault of society.
Society is the fault of conditions.
Conditions are the fault of society.

We believe that each man must find the truth that is right for him.
Reality will adapt accordingly.
The universe will readjust.
History will alter.
We believe that there is no absolute truth
excepting the truth
that there is no absolute truth.

We believe in the rejection of creeds,
and the flowering of individual thought.

[Steve Turner, from “Up To Date”]

There is a postscript to this poem in Ravi Zacharias’ excellent book “Can Man Live Without God.”

CHANCE
If chance be
the Father of all flesh,
disaster is his rainbow in the sky,
and when you hear

State of Emergency!
Sniper Kills Ten!
Troops on Rampage!
Whites go Looting!
Bomb Blasts School!

It is but the sound of man
worshipping his maker.

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A man in a hot air balloon realized he was lost. He reduced altitude and spotted a woman below. He descended a bit more and shouted “Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don’t know where I am.”

The woman below replied, “You’re in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You’re between 40 and 41 degrees north latitude and between 59 and 60 degrees west longitude.”

“You must be an engineer,” said the balloonist.

“I am,” replied the woman, “how did you know?”

“Well,” answered the balloonist “everything you told me is technically correct, but I’ve no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is I’m still lost. Frankly, you’ve not been much help at all. If anything, you’ve delayed my trip.”

The woman below responded, “You must be in management.”

“I am,” replied the balloonist, “but how did you know?”

“Well,” said the woman, “you don’t know where you are or where you’re going. You have risen to where you are, due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise which you’ve no idea how to keep, and you expect people beneath you to solve your problems. The fact is you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but now, somehow, it’s my fault.”
[Received from Dennis Pysz]

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SIMPLICITY
Did Jesus use a modem,
when preaching on the Mount?
Or fax the unbelievers
To get His message out?
Disciples take their pagers
When travelling round about?
Did Jesus use a modem,
when preaching on the Mount?

Did Paul acquire a laptop,
To send his letters from –
RSVP requested
To paul@rome.com?
Did the man from Macedonia,
Send email saying “Come?”
Did Paul acquire a laptop,
To send his letters from?

Did Moses use a mobile,
When parting the Red Sea?
A GPS receiver,
To show him where to be?
Inscribe the law on tablets,
Or burn them on CD?
Did Moses use a mobile,
When parting the Red Sea?

Did Jesus die to save us,
That day upon the tree?
Or was it holographic –
some techno-wizardry?
Can you download the MPEG
To play on your PC?
Did Jesus die to save us,
That day upon the tree?

Has innovation left you
Not knowing what is true?
How that poor, humble preacher
Could offer life anew?
How sinless life and cruel death
Then glorious life again,
Could offer more to our world
Than all the works of men?

If, in your life, the Lord’s voice
Is sometimes hard to hear –
With other voices calling,
His doesn’t touch your ear.
Then set aside your laptop,
And all your fancy gear,
And open up your Bible
To let your God draw near.
[Author unknown]

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The Moral Law tells us the tune we have to play, our instincts are merely the keys  [C. S. Lewis]

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I think this is the quintessential expression of what our “pleasure-mad” culture today needs to read—especially since it comes from the pen of Oscar Wilde—just before his death.

BALLAD OF READING GAOL
And every human heart
that breaks
In prison-cell or yard,
Is as that broken box
that gave
Its treasure to the Lord,
And filled the unclean
leper’s house
With the scent of
costliest nard.

Ah! happy day they whose hearts can break
And peace of pardon win!
How else may man make straight his plan
And cleanse his soul from Sin?
How else but through a broken heart
May Lord Christ enter in?
[Oscar Wilde]

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Minister Joe Wright was asked to open the new session of the Kansas Senate, everyone was expecting the usual generalities, but this is what they heard:

“Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance.  We know Your Word says, “Woe to those who call evil good,” but that is exactly what we have done.

We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values.  We confess that we have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your Word and called it Pluralism.

We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery; We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare;

We have killed our unborn and called it choice; We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable;

We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem; We have abused power and called it politics;

We have coveted our neighbor’s possessions and called it ambition; We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of statement.

We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment. Search us, Oh, God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and set us free. Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent to direct us to the center of Your will and to openly ask these things in the name of Your Son, the living Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen!”

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DEEP THOUGHT:
If a firefighter fights fire, and a crime fighter fights crime, then what does a freedom fighter fight?
[Mikey Atkinson]

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Hope you enjoyed some of these insights—share them with your friends and colleagues—so we can have a larger ‘pool’ to receive from, and more to share with!  Also, remember to include your name as the “source,” if some of this wisdom is of your doing—I would like to give credit where credit is due!

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”  [Psalm 139:23-24].

Mark

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Disclaimer: All the above jokes & inspirations are obtained from various sources and copyright are used when known. Other than our name and headers, we do not own the copyright to any of the materials sent to this list. We just want to spread the ministry of God’s love and cheerfulness throughout the world.

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