Saturday, May 09, 2009

How Can Christians Prepare for a Meltdown?

Note: This article is reposted by permission.

by Jonathan Stephens, Pastor of East Side Bible Church of Chicago.

On February 7, 2009 it was announced in the media that three more bank chains in the USA collapsed – that was nine chains in the first five weeks of 2009. Only three collapsed in the USA during the entire year of 2007. 500,000 jobs are disappearing each month in our country. Unemployment is pushing 8%. Our national leaders in mid-February debated and then passed completely along party lines an almost $800 billion “stimulus package.” Since most of our national leaders no longer seem to have much moral fiber anymore, they privately loaded this near trillion dollar “loan” from you, the taxpayer, with an estimated 40-60% in pork barrel spending. This world-wide economic earthquake’s epicenter was the USA, and what Congress has perpetrated with this bail-out is akin to Congress showing up at a 5-alarm fire where a factory is burning down, and yet proceeding to sell matches and lighters to the bystanders watching the building ablaze. And no one – and I mean no one that I have seen, on television or heard on the radio in our society, is even considering the idea of turning to God and repenting (haven’t heard much of anything along such a line even on our famous conservative radio talk shows). With millions claiming to be born-again Christians in this country, sadly it does seem that most function as practical atheists as a specter of fear and panic pervades our nation at this time.

Should not believers and the true Bible-believing Church of the Lord be beacons of light at this dark hour within our nation? Yes it should, but as unbelievers scan Christendom in America, what do they see when they look at us? Are they drawn to Christ through our powerful faith, testimonies, and heavenly orientation? Or do they see the same panic and materialistic mindset as are plaguing our culture? Three places one must look to see what is happening in our churches during such an uncertain time are: giving, prayer, and leadership acuity. Let us examine all three for just a moment. The picture is not pretty.

First of all, in reference to giving, born-again Christian contributions to charities are down by some estimates, as much as 25% from 2007. Many of our fine Christian para-church organizations (including IFCA International) are on the bubble of financial instability. Most local churches are seeing a roller coaster of giving by the people in their pews. As much as we leaders hate to admit it, giving by Christians in our churches is predominantly discretionary. It ranks right down there with pizza money on a Friday night.

Secondly, local church prayer meeting attendance is at an all-time low and church congregations are fighting more than ever (anyone in contact with church arbitration organizations, like our own Bible-Related Ministries, would be hearing the dire warnings of church meltdowns being in epidemic proportions these days across the land). Spiritual common sense would say that our prayer meetings would be slowly growing as believers come back to prayer with great concern for the welfare of society and Christianity in this country. My own church’s prayer meeting attendance has actually decreased the more urgent the society’s destabilization has become. American Christians have long-since been strong-holded by an unbiblical sense that corporate prayer meetings are inconsequential and that efforts in finding solutions to our problems are better spent focusing on good fiscal policy, than on prayer.

The third barometer of where the American Body of Christ is in these trying times is in the caliber of our church leadership. Biblically ignorant and carnal elder rule, combined with highly educated yet low-ethics-full-time pastors have created a fundamental incapacity in our church leaders to point society towards a biblical mindset. It has been almost an axiom for the last 30 years that as our full-time church leaders become more and more educated with Masters and Doctorates before going into the pastorate, there has been a commensurate decline in wisdom living and righteous passion among those same leaders. Education is never wrong, but we are finally observing that it will not produce a spiritual man. If a leader’s heart is not directed by holiness and love for Christ, no amount of higher education will stop the moral decay and leadership ineptitude.

Corporate giving, prayer, and leadership acumen have always been primary barometers on the body of Christ’s spiritual condition. Yet, where can this society turn to, for hope and answers, when what they see in “us” is just more of the same around them: Self-sufficiency, panic, secularism, moral failure, and materialism? What we have in our churches in the pews, across this country are: “on-the-edge” Christians who are prayer-less, desensitized-by-decadence, idolatrously oblivious to their own evil, panicking about the future, apathetic, bored, materialistic, lazy, addicted to escape-ism through entertainment, obsessed with positivism, and who are therefore spiritually unprepared for what lies ahead in this dark nation.

Why have I written all of this? Is my goal to berate our IFCA members to give more, attend more, do more? Heavens NO!! We do not need more “churchy” actions in our congregations. We need heart/spiritual renewal in our churches and only the Spirit can produce that in a prayerful people who seek after it. I am very, very concerned for the state of our churches in our country. It is not our size or lack of finances that make us vulnerable to a societal collapse, but rather it is our spiritual lethargy. We need to be warned severely that the spiritual foundations of the Body of Christ in America, by and large, have been severely weakened to such an extent that we do not have the moral strength to withstand the coming storm of potential collapse in our country. Financial security (a secular myth) is not what we need as believers in these perilous days. And we certainly do not need any more political conservatism.

Our country is doomed and its final collapse may very well happen before the Rapture. Romans one tells us that the final sign that judgment HAS ALREADY ARRIVED upon a nation is rampant legitimized sodomy. Therefore, based on that one biblical criterion alone, our nation is not heading for judgment – we have already been judged! Then we must also remember that prophetically the Antichrist will rule from a ten nation confederacy – and there is no one “big-toe” world superpower among those ten toes. It is evident throughout the Scriptures in reference to the last days that there will be no superpower running the show. The USA will most likely be gone or greatly diminished if prophecy is to be fulfilled as we believe it will. With our country already judged, economic and social collapse could happen any day.

This then raises the title of this article: “How Can Christians Prepare for a USA Meltdown?” We cannot see or know the specific future for our country, but it certainly is not an upstanding picture we receive when we observe both American society and American biblical Christianity. Affluence and financial security are ephemeral qualities at best. From the Scripture’s point of view, the only preparation that will stand firm in the face of the coming storm is spiritual renewal that produces a spiritual awakening among the believers in our churches to repent and get right with God NOW!! The only preparation that is of any value is a profound spiritual awakening which occurs in each of our hearts. We need spiritual fortitude, purity, maturity, stability, passion for Christ, profound prayer, and an all-out return to the supremacy of the Scriptures in our lives. God will only produce such spiritually necessary virtues in the soil of hearts deeply moved to get right with God as we abandon all self-sufficiency and idolatry.

We need to be gathering together in fervent prayer in our local churches NOW, asking the Lord to have mercy on our churches and see us through the spiritually dark days ahead. We need to pray together that we would be ready to share the light of Christ from a foundation of confidence in God and faith that He is completely in control, even if all around us collapses. Sadly, these are not the current passions of most churches, as a whole. In fact, our spiritual condition seems to be worsening with the deterioration of our economy, as idolatry, apathy, boredom, greed, and laziness strangle believers step by step, thus fulfilling the prophecies of 2 Timothy 3:1-5 within the Church! We believers are supposed to be the ones who give secular man hope in the face of imminent danger in our country. WE are the ones who know that the Bible says: God reigns over the nations, God sits on His holy throne (Ps. 47:8).

Are you afraid of the future dear believer? Do you behave like a fool who has no hope? Repent. Do you not know that the heathen rage, and yet God is in control? Our sovereign Lord expects us to “play the man!” We are to stand in the gap of societal break-down and direct the lost to the safe haven of Jesus Christ, as we demonstrate true faith, and cease from worrying about our own safety, and turn from trusting in financial trickery, our 401k’s, or governmental bail-outs. Our society is in the death throws of decadence having run amok. Decadence always cannibalizes a nation. There is no turning back for our country. But there is still hope for believers, that the Lord will have mercy on us and drive us to our knees, weeping over our own worldliness, and where we finally behave like we truly trust in our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ – not only for our salvation from hell, but for His divine guidance in the face of great turmoil.

Are you willing to cease striving? Is it not now time to stop your own spiritual meltdown? Then beseech Christ today and return to the Savior of your soul. Drop to your knees privately and at church, and recommit your life once again into the hands of your sovereign Lord. Then, no matter what comes our way in the USA, God’s will for each of us will be safe and secure.

From the rising of the sun to its setting the name of the Lord is to be praised. The Lord is high above all nations; His glory is above the heavens. Who is like the Lord our God, who is enthroned on high? Who humbles Himself to behold the things that are in heaven and in the earth. He raises the poor from the dust, and lifts the needy from the ash heap….praise the Lord (Psalm 113)!

Comment by Solameanie: This was a very sobering article, and Pastor Stephens graciously consented to allow me to post it here. I think it's important not to knee-jerk at his comment on political conservatism. I am as conservative as the day is long, but politics in and of itself will not accomplish the social change I think most Christians would like to see. Hearts, minds and lives changed by the power of the Gospel will accomplish that change. However, many well-meaning believers focus so much on the political that the Gospel gets short shrift.

2 comments:

Secret Rapture said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Solameanie said...

Secret Rapture,

You've been warned before about smart-aleck posts like this, but apparently you didn't get the message.

Now you're banned.