Posted by: gmscan | August 31, 2010

Awakening

I started writing this blog post before the Glenn Beck Rally in Washington. Then Nancy and I went to the event and were amazed at how on-track it was with what we had been thinking anyway. It’s incredible how often this happens. In fact, the night before the rally I had been reading First Samuel, and the chapter about David and Goliath. Beck cited that story in his talk. I think that was the only specific part of Scripture he referenced. There’s something very strange and wonderful going on.

The rally itself was inspiring, but I hope there is follow-up. It is not enough to bring a million people together and leave us all hanging. Beck introduced a “black robed regiment” of 240 preachers. Let us hope they spread out to every corner of the country.

Anyway, this is what I was writing —

I want to reflect for a moment on the title of this blog – an American Awakening.  It is obviously a very personal awakening for me, but I think there is also a much bigger Awakening going on throughout our society.

I have been reading the Old Testament and am currently on First Samuel. God calls the people of Israel a “stubborn people,” and it is amazing how often they go through the same exercise, especially in Judges. Time and again they embrace other gods and leave the true God behind. This always results in their being conquered and enslaved by another nation. Then they call on God to rescue them, and He always does. He sends a leader to free them. They repent and prosper as long as they keep the covenant with God. But soon enough they are back at it worshipping other gods and becoming enslaved once again.

One is left to wonder – why can’t these people learn from their mistakes? But then I look in the mirror and realize that I am no better, and this nation is no better. Right now in America we are losing our freedoms and our heritage because we, too, are worshipping other gods. In our case they are the gods of self-gratification. That includes our obsession with sex, our spending money we don’t have, our whining over any mishaps that come our way. We want what we want and we want it now!

This is not the first time this has happened in America. We have often lost our way and suffered for it, and then we have a new spiritual Awakening. Things are set right and we prosper again. This happened in the mid-1700s with the First Awakening, that many believe inspired the American revolution. I don’t think there can be much doubt that our success in freeing ourselves from the greatest empire on the face of the earth was due to Devine intervention.

But we got arrogant after the Revolution (Manifest Destiny, the Louisiana Purchase, the Jackson presidency, the Eastern Indian wars) and had to go through a new Awakening in the early 1800s. This resulted in the abolition movement, which ultimately freed us from the curse of slavery. The post-war period was a time of fantastic growth and prosperity which once again led to excess (Robber Barons, Western Indian wars, Spanish-American War) and a new Awakening in the late 1800s (actually, 1880 – 1910). This version resulted in the temperance movement, women’s suffrage, and a new concern for the poor. Then we entered the “progressive era” and forgot about God, yet again. (I know this is a very poor history and I apologize for it, but I’m trying to be brief here.)

The pattern keeps repeating. We find God and follow Him. That leads to prosperity. Our prosperity leads to the arrogance of thinking we no longer need Him. We collapse. And it starts over again.

Today we are again on the verge of collapse, perhaps the worst yet. Too many of us have set aside the values that endure in favor of material wealth and gratification. It is an empty, hollow existence that we try to fill with entertainment and sex.

But our collapse is helping us rediscover the humility we lost. The Beatles once wrote “all you need is love” and it is true — love of God, love of family, love of country. Plus meaningful, constructive work and an appreciation for those who have gone before us and on whose shoulders we stand.

Call it an Awakening or just a renewal, but I feel it happening all around me.  I just finished reading, “The Language of God,” by Francis Collins. Dr. Collins is one of the most accomplished scientists of our generation. He headed the Human Genome Project and is now the director of the National Institute of Health. He is a committed believer and his book is a personal testimony of how God and science are not in conflict. Quite the opposite.  Science is a gift from God that enables us to better understand just how miraculous God’s creation is.

The Tea Party movement is an Awakening. The growth of evangelism is an Awakening. The introduction of Christian Rock is an Awakening. The popularity of family movies is an Awakening. These are all about restoring the fundamental values of God, family, and country, and doing it in a joyful way.  Compare these to the moral and spiritual bankruptcy of Hollywood, Linsdsay Lohen, Tiger Woods. Which are more appealing?

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Responses

  1. It sounds as if the Beck thing was most impressive and uplifting. I hope you are right Greg in terms of it being the start of bigger things.

  2. Beck’s focus has been on “Faith, Hope and Charity” and that these principals can unite America. I believe this is true.

    As Beck has pointed out, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. knew that all it would take is to simply stand up and let yourself be compared so others can see that for which you stand and that they will see the stark difference between the love, hope, charity, and faith that a peace desiring person will convey and that of a cynical, faithless, morally corrupt, or even violent person. Dr. King also knew that it wouldn’t be easy to stay the course as it would take time for the media to broadcast the images of the opposing sides and for the American people to decide for themselves what was right and what was wrong.

    I missed the rally. We enjoyed seeing dear friends of ours join hands in marriage that day. This was probably one of the few things that could have possibly kept me away from the event. My heart was at the wedding as we gathered around to witness the holy union and we felt truly blessed to have been invited and to have been able to share, if even in a small way, some of the love that was abound. I have to admit that on a few occasions, I did find myself thinking about the rally and I wondered how it was going. Then, upon my return, I turned on the television to find a mass of people gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial and I was simply delighted to see such a great turnout!

    During the news broadcast I saw a tee shirt depicting a quote of President George Washington which said “It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible”. I think the question one has to ask oneself is whether or not, when you rip off all the armor from around your soul, you feel God’s presence around you? Do you break down, tear up like a child and realize that all the stuff you thought had priority doesn’t really matter? Prioritizing your life in a way that puts God closer to the top of your important list sure makes you look at life differently. He has a way of making everything seem so clear even when it comes to the seemingly impossible task of governing a country.

    This rally was a call to restore good old fashioned American values. It didn’t come across as political. The crowd was peaceful and contained a diverse cross section of people with all the same common belief in God, country, freedom and an understanding that all they needed to do was stand and be compared.

    I think this is all just the beginning. Praise be to God.

  3. Believers are uniting, voting for candidates that share their values and support the concepts of limited govt and fiscal responsibility, not just for the candidate who is considered electable.

  4. Greg, as you know, I was there with you and Nancy. I was amazed. It was the most moving gathering I have seen since Pope John Paul came to Washington. I was there then as well. I looked around in wonder at our marvelous monuments, the overwhelming crowd and the wonderful weather we had. I think God had a hand there in the midst of us and I have a feeling that God is speaking to us through a man who has had to deal with his own trials and tribulations. Look what that man was able to accomplish. Young and old, black and white came together for prayer! What a miracle. Perhaps there is hope for us yet.

  5. An awakening of the choir is the start, but a national revival must proceed to turn the hearts of the sinners out in the city as well. This start, fortunately, is clearly laid out:
    2Ch 7:14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall 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.

  6. Greg, as I’ve told you before I’ve really enjoyed your blog and look forward to continuing to follow it.

    I found this post and the comments most interesting and wanted to put in my two cents.

    I hate to be the contrarian but I have been feeling vaguely unsettled by the wrapping of what is essentially a political/cultural movement (returning to core, constitutional principals & traditional American values) within the language of the Christian faith and the gospel – which stands in judgment of all human political and cultural systems in this fallen world. As much as I love the United States of America and have passionate political positions, I have to recognize that the U.S. is not and never can be synonymous with the Kingdom of God.

    I’ve been especially wary of many Christian’s enthusiasm for Glenn Beck’s calls for us to return to God since, the Mormon conception of God and Jesus Christ is very different from the Triune God protrayed in the Bible. As a practicing Mormon Beck is not a Christian in any historic and orthodox sense.

    I offer by way of continuing the conversation the following links I found helpful. The White Horse Inn had a brief article you find here: http://www.whitehorseinn.org/archives/586.html and in that post they link to a blog written by a professor at Southern Baptist Seminary on the rally last weekend which you can find here: http://www.russellmoore.com/2010/08/29/god-the-gospel-and-glenn-beck/

    I offer these thoughts humbly as a way of continuing the conversation. Many blessings!

  7. Greg, I believe we will see the beginning of an awaking on Nov. 3. It will not be perfect, because we will elect/reelect those who have not heard the message, are on their own plan and not His, and will not open their minds. It will take time, but He makes all things beautiful in its time.

    As to your reference to the coincidence of Samuel in your reading and Beck’s reference, coincidences are when God wants to remain anonymous. I suggest a good read with “When God Winks.” It will open you to daily miracles happening all around us that we usually fail to see.

  8. Brian:
    You make some excellent points.
    We should not tie in the Constitution with God’s word – they are 2 distinct entities.
    I would place God’s word above the constitution, in any important dilemmas.
    I think what we are discussing is that God will bless the righteous and curse the unrighteous (in general terms, of course). The blessing or curse is not directed to any people or country – it is one’s right relationship with God that gets rewarded – regardless of one’s nationality.
    And, the reward can be spiritual as well as material, for righteous living is rewarding in and of itself.
    It is interesting that the Jewish people were back to worshiping the golden calf only 40 days after receiving the 10 Commandments.
    Isn’t it ironic that when the Jews rerceived the 10 Commandments, when they were on a spiritual “high,” God reminds us of the basics – don’t steal, murder, etc.
    It is when we are on this spiritual high that we are susceptible to backsliding into our bad habits.
    That is why we need constant reminders, such as through this blog, who we truly are.
    Shalom,
    Don Levit

  9. Greg, I am watching your comments, and growth in the Lord, with great interest. There certainly is something going on in America today. As a recent immigrant, and as an active follower of Jesus, I see the challenge presented by Beck, among others, as a clear sign of spiritual life flowing back into the nation. You may not be aware of the millions of Christians who are moving back to simpler experience of their faith through house/simple church movements. A site such as http://www.house2house.com will give details. As each of us let’s our light shine, people will, in time, see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven.

  10. Brian,

    Thank you for the comment. I hope you are getting settled in North Carolina.

    I want to take a moment to reassure you about the August 28th event.

    The easiest concern to dispel is the one about Beck’s Mormonism. He is indeed a Mormon, but that is his concern, not mine. At no time did he try to influence people towards Mormonism at the rally, or at anytime on his TV show that I am aware of. In fact, he was very careful to keep the tone of the rally ecumenical. People of many faiths were at the rally. I saw Catholics, Jews, Mennonites, and a whole slew of Protestants. We were all united in the belief that God is in charge. I can’t imagine a thing wrong with that.

    The other concern, perhaps, is the mixing of politics and religion. I have political friends who were offended that religion should intrude on politics. And I guess I have religious friends who are equally offended that religion should be concerned about politics.

    But, actually, the issue at the rally wasn’t politics per se. There was almost no overt mention of politics. The concern was focused more on the whole secular culture, and the false gods of wealth, fame, and self-gratification it offers.

    You once gave a sermon about Babylon that has stuck with me. You asked how should Christians behave when they find they are living in Babylon? Should we accommodate ourselves to it? Go along to get along? Should we hide from it in safe enclaves? Fearfully ignore it? Or should we confront it? As I recall, that was your recommendation – stand up to it, speak out against it.

    That is what the people assembled on August 28th were doing. From where I was standing, I couldn’t see much of the program, but I could see the thousands of people around me. I can tell you that they – we – were filled with the Spirit of God. We prayed. We wept. We cheered. We loved our neighbors as ourselves. And we were fiercely determined to reclaim this land from the sins of Babylon.

    I wish you could have been there. I think you would have been inspired.

    Greg


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