The National Enquirer? Really? #TraditionallySouthside

What a mess! No, I am not talking about the weather even though it is raining cats and dogs, and yes, I did step in a poodle this morning as I left the house. Okay, bad joke. Overused joke, but that’s okay, right? Because I’m a Baptist preacher, and at times like this, even a bad joke is better than watching the news. Before I left to go to Monroe, Louisiana on a Disaster Relief trip, I promised to continue along the lines of what it’s going to take for us to get out of this mess that we find ourselves in: as families, churches, cities, states, and a nation. Over the passed two weeks, the mess has become messier and the situation more depressing. I started this series of blog posts because of our political candidates acting like a bunch of idiots, and that has not improved. In the last two weeks, political groups have posted nude pictures of one candidate’s wife, and in turn, that candidate posted a less than flattering picture of the other. Stories have been planted about one candidate having multiple affairs when the other candidate has bragged about his multiple affairs. Oh, and by the way, when did the National Enquirer become a respected news source? I mean, are JFK and Elvis still alive? Do aliens really exist? How have we gotten into this mess? I truly believe it is because we have come to the point where God has sent a spirit of delusion and confusion upon the nation, and this thought causes me deep concern for the future of the USA.

But the mess doesn’t stop there. In the past weeks, the news from Alabama has been just as depressing. Our governor, a once-proud Baptist and member of a Southern Baptist Church, has been caught in an immoral relationship (and yes, even if there was never any physical intimacy involved, the tapes prove that this was an immoral relationship) that no doubt has ethical implications regarding his use of state resources. How can a man that was obviously a committed Christian based on the word of his former pastor, a man for whom I have a great deal of respect, have descended into the depths of depravity that we are now witnessing? Could it be this same spirit of delusion that has convinced our governor as well as millions of people in this state that morals don’t matter, that ethics are optional, that sin is an irrelevant concept?

Folks, we can point our fingers at the Donald, the Ted, the Governor, and even the increasing number of teachers being arrested for having sexual relationships with students (which by the way disgusts me to no end and should disgust every Christian, every parent, and ever decent educator out there), but remember what happens when we point fingers. We have three more pointing back at us. Ministers leaving the ministry has almost become an epidemic. Why? Because they can’t take it any more? They are burned out? They are depressed? The ministry is tougher than it has ever been, but God has promised to “renew our strength” if we will just wait on Him, but that spirit of delusion has gripped ministers, too. Too many have been deluded into believing there is no hope, and so even some of these have turned to immoral behaviors that have stained the reputation of the Church. On top of this, we have Christians who can’t get along with each other, fussing and fighting over nonsensical things, and sending the lost running away from us because they see nothing about the Church that can help improve their lives. And before any of you take offense at this, let me be clear. The church has never changed any heart, never saved a single soul, never healed a marriage, and never set the captives free. Only God can do that, but if our actions are pushing people away from Jesus rather than drawing them to Him, then I fear that Jesus’ words are applicable: it would be better for us to tie a millstone around our necks and cast it into the depths of the oceans.

What a mess! But it isn’t the first time the church has been in a mess. It isn’t the first time our nation has been in trouble. It isn’t the first time that the situation has been this depressing. Yes, there have been other times when it seemed like the darkness was about to take over, but then God’s people recognized that there is only one hope – only one way out. When the Israelites were suffering in Egypt, they finally came to their senses and cried out to God. When their nation was threatened by the superpowers of their day and defeat was imminent, they cried out to God. And in their cries to a Heavenly Father, there was godly sorrow over sin that led them to true repentance. Their hearts were broken because God’s heart was broken, and they truly repented of their sins. That means they turned from their sinful ways and turned to God. When they did, their sins were forgiven, their enemies were defeated, and their nation was exalted, blessed by God just as He promised. And I believe that is what it is going to take for our families, churches, cities, states, and nation.

Now before you begin cheering and saying something like, “Yeah, Preacher, you’re right. Those heathen need to get saved,” that’s not how it works. Lost people are going to act like lost people and do lost people things. It is the church that must repent. It is Christians like you and me who must return wholeheartedly to God. We must once again become the salt and the light that preserves, flavors, and illuminates this sin-darkened and sin-doomed world. That’s our only hope.

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