Recently one of my facebook friends shared the familiar picture of Andy Taylor and Opie headed for the fishing pond, with the caption, “We need more of Mayberry and less of Jersey Shore.” Amen to that!
Over the last several decades, America has changed. Church on Sundays, Nativity displays at Christmas, and “decency” standards in broadcasting, used to be the norm. Not anymore. Since then, great efforts have been made to systematically remove God from our culture. Prayer is no longer allowed in public schools. The Ten Commandments are considered too offensive to be displayed in classrooms or courtrooms. Christian symbols have been scrubbed from City or county logos and crosses have been removed from public lands. Christians are routinely sued and businesses boycotted when they profess traditional Biblical values.
So what have we got to show for all of this progressive and liberal thinking? We only need to turn on the news or surf the internet to see how far we’ve fallen-rampant immorality, senseless violence, widespread corruption, greed, fraud, anarchy. Flash-mob theft is becoming common place. Student cheating is considered acceptable behavior, young people are disrespectful to parents and teachers, shallowness and selfishness are glamorized, applauded and rewarded, and the traditional definitions of right and wrong have been reversed. Those who hold a Biblical world view are marginalized, demonized and ridiculed. What has happened to America? And how in the world did we get here?
Since our nation has turned its back on God, he’s allowed us to go our own way, much as he did with ancient Israel when they too lost their moral compass. We’ve reaped our just rewards and many of us now find ourselves living in an America which is nothing like the nation our founding fathers envisioned and risked everything they possessed to form.
And it’s not just America who’s got problems. Our world is a mess—wars, terrorism, famine, natural disasters, ethnic cleansing, persecution, disease, poverty, crime, and communism. The area of the world Joel Rosenberg refers to as the Epicenter, appears to be poised right at the brink of Psalm 83 and Isaiah 17. He is just one of many discerning Christians who believe we are indeed living in the time period the Bible calls “the last days.” Christians should not be surprised as Jesus himself said that during this time, the society in which we live today would be the norm.
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God… 2 Timothy 3:1-4, NIV
Hmmm. From Main Street to Wall Street, that description seems pretty accurate. How depressing. Now that we find ourselves here, what can we do about it? Well, we can do what Israel did. When they strayed off course, they recognized they were going in the wrong direction, so they stopped and they turned around. They turned back to God.
One of my favorite verses describes a promise God made to Solomon. While it is specifically a call to repentance directed at Israel, it could be applied to any nation who followed God and then wandered away.
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 I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14, NIV
America can be turned around—one repentant heart at a time. The good news is that the work of Christ on the cross cleared the way for any and all of us to become children of God if we so choose.
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9, NIV
The bad news is that the time for deciding may be rapidly coming to a close.
Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door. Mark 13:29, NIV
There is great evidence that people all over the world are coming to faith in Jesus Christ, especially in countries where it is the most dangerous to do so. Many of us pray that the Lord with include America in his final harvest. Indeed he tells us that we should pray for people to partner with him in this task.
I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. John 4:35b, NIV
Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Matthew 9:37-38, NIV
The truth is all Christians are commanded to evangelize, not just pastors and teachers. As believers, we all have a role to play. Frequently, I watch the live stream from Harvest Christian Fellowship, where my sister attends. Last week she and I were talking about the weekly alter calls given by Pastor Greg Laurie, and marveling at the consistent response. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a service where no one came forward to accept Christ as their savior. Now Pastor Greg is an awesome teacher, but it is not his talent that brings people to Christ. It is the Holy Spirit that uses Pastor Greg to “bring them across the finish line” so to speak, generally after countless others have invested time, resources, encouragement, and prayer. Some of us sow the seeds, some of us water and nourish, some of us clear away the weeds, and some of us reap the harvest.
For several years, Greg Laurie has been doing just that at annual crusades. In 20 years, he has proclaimed the Gospel to over 4,000,000 people, offering the message of life-changing hope found only in Christ Jesus. This year, one particular night of the Anaheim crusade will be dedicated to a special presentation called Harvest America. On that night, over 1300 churches and other venues across the US will be partnering with the crusade to simulcast the event live at their own locations. Advanced technology will enable Harvest America to be the largest national crusade in history.
Harvest America is the second part of a two-night crusade on August 25-26, 2012 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, CA. A second crusade will take place two weeks later, September 8-9, 2012 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, CA. Both events will stream live on the internet. If you are interested in promoting Harvest America on your blog or web site, banners, videos and other resources are available. I will be tweeting live from Harvest America on August 26, if you’d like to follow me on Twitter! For those unfamiliar with these annual events, here is a sneak preview! One day, one church, one Message.
So, how can you be part of the harvest? First, you can be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and share your faith as he gives you the opportunity to do so. We are not all called to be Billy Grahams and Greg Lauries, but we can speak the truth in love to those in our own sphere who are open to hearing it. You can be attentive to those around you who might be hurting, and encourage them with a card, a book, or a kind word as the Lord leads. You can support, attend, invite and pray—for this event and others like it, designed to reach people for Christ with the hope of salvation we have in him.
The Lord is reaping a harvest. Choose to partner with him—for yourself, for those you love, and for our beloved country, America. May she be given the opportunity to turn back to God, while there is still time to do so.
…“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” Romans 10:13-15, NIV
On the journey toward Home,