| CHAPTER 1 |
THE RISING TIDE
The Danger in Failing to Recognize the Storms
Over the years, I have been privileged to see and walk along some of the most magnificent beaches in the world. Not long ago, I was at a Hawaiian seashore known for its tremendous waves—ones worthy of surfing excursions—and I was acutely aware of the rise and fall of the tides.
On several occasions in the past, this particular coastline has had waves that rose more than twenty feet high. A man at the hotel called those times “an extreme surfer’s paradise.”
While the unfurling and crashing of breakers of that magnitude may excite avid surfers, the rest of us, however, are frightened by such an overpowering crush of water—fantastic to look at, perhaps, but only from a distance.
As I gazed out at the ocean, knowing the potential danger for great waves, my thoughts turned to the painful reality of the tsunami that crashed into Japan in 2011. The devastation in terms of lives and property loss was enormous.
I then began to think about the riptides that can periodically make a beach too dangerous for swimming. Although these tides can be identified by lifeguards and experts as they watch from elevated perches, they are not as easily recognized by beachgoers on the shore or those already in the water. Once an innocent swimmer has been caught in the clutches of such a powerful current, escape is extremely difficult. Rescue is often perilous for those who seek to help. Death is frequently the result.
I considered the rising floodwaters that have devastated many areas in our nation. We live in an age where it is not at all unusual to hear a newscaster report, “Nothing of this magnitude has ever been experienced here before.”
I asked myself, What makes tides go from beautiful to dangerous? What causes the sea to swell and produce a wave that washes away beaches and cities? What creates those waves?
The answer in many cases is storms.
Some of the squalls pound on the surface of the waters, while others occur far away, causing a ripple effect throughout the ocean.
Some tempests involve fierce winds; and others, a seemingly endless amount of heavy rain.
Regardless of how these whirlwinds and downpours occur or where they originate, they cause seismic shifts in the waters—and the tides rise with immensely destructive power.
These observations of nature started me thinking about the issues I will discuss in this book—tempests that occur in our nation and also in our personal lives. These storms don’t necessarily have anything to do with weather. They are situations in our lives that devastate us just like a category-five hurricane that ravages a coastal village. They may arise due to our finances, a broken relationship, a lost job, a crippling illness, or any number of distressing circumstances. The dark, threatening clouds roll in—large, turbulent, and overwhelming. They destroy our peace and security, and we cannot escape their fury. We don’t know what to do or where to go.
I am convinced that our country is facing just such a storm. We are experiencing a destructive, man-made tide that is deteriorating our country at a frightening pace. And as an American citizen, father, grandfather, and preacher of the Word, I feel the responsibility to speak up about the issues in our country and in our personal lives that require our attention and intercession as believers.
RISING TIDES ON MANY FRONTS
The storms of life cause tides to mount—even to the point of overwhelming us with tragedy, turmoil, and deeply rooted fears.
We experience catastrophic times, not just natural, everyday problems but also man-made disasters. Sadly, if we don’t come to grip with our crises and learn how to manage effectively through them, we will continue to find ourselves in increasingly desperate times.
As An American citizen, father, grandfather, and preacher of the word, I feel the responsibility to speak up about the issues in our country and in our personal lives that require our attention and intercession as believers.
Just as our personal tempests can devastate our lives if we do not respond to them appropriately, cataclysmic storms can drastically affect our nation as well. So, after my experience on that Hawaiian beach, I sat down to make a list of the storms our country is currently undergoing. I came up with twenty concerns that I truly believe warrant prayer and godly action.
Not all of the items on my list are equal in weight, nor are they presented here in order of priority. However, I believe they are all important in terms of our nation’s health and spiritual welfare. If we fail to properly address these storms, they will eventually become an insurmountable tide that will erode our freedoms as citizens of the United States of America.
Below are the issues and conditions I believe are impacting our country negatively:
1. Mortgage problems: many people are unable to pay their mortgages and are losing their homes. This not only affects the families that become homeless but also impacts their neighborhoods, communities, and all of us as a nation.
2. Increasing unemployment: Millions of people have lost their jobs and even more families suffer because they cannot pay their bills or afford their necessities.
3. Banking issues: Our nation is facing an overwhelming financial crisis, which includes the insolvency of many banks, tremendous losses for depositors and investors, escalating costs, an excessive national debt, and the weakening of our currency on the international market.
4. Corrupt leaders: Our nation is plagued with cowardice, confusion, and corruption in its leadership—on both sides of the aisle. We are in desperate need of godly legislators who will acknowledge the Lord and obey Him.
5. Ongoing warfare: As warring continues, the death and wounding of our young men and women escalates. We often send brave soldiers into battle without adequate protective gear, which is absolutely unthinkable.
6. Terrorism: The ever-present threat of terrorism erodes our national confidence, endangers our citizens, and jeopardizes our economy.
7. Natural disasters: Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and other natural disasters are occurring in record-breaking numbers and strengths.
8. Abortion: The problem of abortion is ongoing. More than 55 million unborn babies have been killed—and that number is still rising.
9. Divorce: The percentage of marriages that end in divorce continues to escalate.
10. Single-parent families: Millions of single parents are struggling to raise their children, and the number of kids who are unable to experience a stable home life continues to rise.
11. Escalating crime: Our country is experiencing a greater incidence of criminal offenses and lack of justice for victims. Law enforcement officials are frequently unable to protect citizens because of bureaucracy and legal challenges.
12. America’s standing in the world: Around the world is a rising hatred of Americans that includes the threat of nuclear proliferation by our enemies against our nation and allies.
13. Diminishing support of Israel: A desire to appease political rivals has resulted in the deterioration of our national support of Israel.
14. Challenges to our Judeo-Christian values: Our freedoms of religion and expression are sometimes denied—especially when it comes to Christians who openly profess Jesus Christ as the only way to the Father.
15. Fuel availability and pricing: Even though we are a nation with vast energy resources, the availability of gasoline is not assured and prices are often unpredictable.
16. Redefining of marriage: Attempts to redefine marriage undermine our nation’s morality.
17. Illegal immigration: The problem of illegal immigration not only impacts our economy and safety but also creates an invisible underclass of many who may genuinely wish to be a vital and productive part of our society.
18. Toleration of immorality: An increasing number of religious denominations tolerate immorality as well as accept and support sinful lifestyles even among the clergy.
19. False prophets: Because of a lack of biblical literacy in our nation, more and more false prophets have arisen with heretical teachings and counterfeit “gospels.”
20. Need for revival: One of our country’s greatest needs is for true revival and spiritual awakening. Our nation has drifted away from God, and the name of Jesus is openly opposed by many Americans. We must return to a humble, godly reverence of our Sovereign Lord.
It is no wonder that I feel a burden for my nation and an urgency to pray. I have absolutely no doubt that…
• The tides are rising.
• Our nation is under serious threat.
• If we don’t act decisively and quickly, we will suffer loss and persecution as you and I have never experienced before.
A CALL TO REVERSE THE TRENDS
In ancient times, before there were radars or any of the technological advancements that we’re accustomed to today, sailors had almost no warning of incoming storms. Seafarers would set sail on open waters and take their chances in their primitive fishing vessels, with only their skills and faith to protect them. When tempests approached, churning the oceans and tossing about the ships, there was not much the sailors could do. So they would take rope and lash themselves to the mast of the boat. That way, when the wind and the waves hit the hull and thrashed against the deck, they wouldn’t be washed overboard.
I believe this is an example of what God wants us to do in the midst of this devastating storm. We are to lash ourselves to the Lord. We are to be in unity and oneness with Him—securely tied to the Father because He can get us safely through this tempest.
If we fail to properly address these storms, they will eventually become an insurmountable tide that will erode our freedoms as citizens of the united States of america.
Right from the beginning of this book, I want to make it clear that I am calling for serious change in our nation. There are crucial issues we absolutely must address if we hope to preserve the values and principles that have made our land great. Some may believe it is impossible to change the course of our country—that it is too immense a ship to turn around in a storm that is too difficult to survive. I agree; it is. But I also know that “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God” (Mark 10:27). We can change our nation if we turn back to the Lord, lashing ourselves to Him and walking in oneness with Him.
With that said, I would like to state for the record that I am a citizen of the United States of America and I love my country. It is also important to understand that I am not against government—I believe it plays an essential role in any civilized society. For any group to be successful, it must have rules and protocols that guide how it conducts its business. This is true whether the organization is a corporation, a church, or a nation.
Likewise, I am not trying to convince any American to become part of either a political party or the Christian denomination to which I belong. Rather, my approach has been to speak with people from all walks of life, to meet with leaders, and to do everything I can to support and defend the foundational values and principles that form the indispensible framework of our Constitution. As a Christian in the United States, I have the right—as well as the duty—to speak openly about matters of government, leadership, and societal trends.
Through this book, I hope to encourage every citizen to stand up for the freedoms he or she enjoys as an American and to ensure that this liberty continues for future generations. I especially make a personal appeal to you as a Christian. I firmly believe that it is not only the privilege but the responsibility of every believer to become actively involved in the preservation of godly principles in whatever nation he or she calls home.
Therefore, consider this book a clarion call for you to speak up, stand up, and pray as never before. If you desire the ungodly trends in our nation to be reversed, understand that it will happen only if you and I and others who believe as we do fight this battle on our knees before the Father and obey Him wholeheartedly. We must lash ourselves to the lord and walk in oneness with Him.
I hope to encourage every citizen to stand up for the freedoms he or she enjoys as an American and to ensure that this liberty continues for future generations.
A CALL TO PUR SUE GOD’S HIGHEST AND BEST
As a Christian, you have the unique challenge of simultaneously living in two worlds. You live in this natural world, where you have responsibilities to your community and nation. You are also a citizen of the kingdom of God and are accountable to the Lord Almighty (see Philippians 3:20–21).
Jesus readily acknowledged this duality in our lives (see Matthew 22:15–22), but He also made these two things very clear:
1. Our primary allegiance and responsibility is always to the Father.
2. Our existence should impact the earth—including our government—by the way we live out our heavenly values. Jesus said we are to be like salt and light to this world (see Matthew 5:13–16). We are to preserve all that is good and be obedient, godly agents of change for the Lord’s glory and so others may be saved.
In the vast majority of cases, we will most likely find that the choices we make concerning the current national atmosphere and the everlasting kingdom of God are not merely a matter of “one or the other.” We are not called to disengage from our communities to serve the Father or vice versa. Rather, God calls us to look beyond “good” to “best”—to pursue the very highest principles and goals, whether we are here on earth influencing our leaders or enjoying eternity in heaven with Him. His desire is for us to experience life at its very best—both in this world and the one to come.
God’s desire is for us to experience life at its very best—both in this world and the one to come.
A CALL TO ACT NOW
In view of the storm that is assailing our nation and the rising tide that threatens to destroy the land we know and love, we have no time to spare, waste, or hesitate. The time for action is now.
Throughout scripture, we find warnings from God—given to us because He cares for and loves us. He told Israel in deuteronomy 32:46–47, “Take to your heart all the words with which I am warning you today, which you shall command your sons to observe carefully, even all the words of this law. For it is not an idle word for you; indeed it is your life. And by this word you will prolong your days.”
His admonitions are for our good, not to hurt us or impede our progress. On the contrary, the Lord wants to protect us from harm and place us in the best possible position to receive His tremendous blessings and rewards. Therefore, the Father’s warnings for us should be heard and obeyed with a sense of urgency.
Likewise, we must never assume that God’s cautions and rebukes are for somebody else or merely for a people who live in another time and place. Such an assumption is always a great mistake. The Bible is clear that those who fail to heed the Lord’s discipline—whether nations, cities, or individuals—suffer devastating consequences. Rather, we must examine our hearts and make sure they are clean—confessing and repenting of our sins whenever He reveals their presence to us.
The core of what we wrestle with is, of course, the free will that God has given to all human beings. This gift allows us to make choices about whether we will obey or disobey the Father. We have the ability to decide whether we will accept the Savior’s invitation of mercy, forgiveness, and relationship—or refuse it. We can consciously choose whether to have faith in God and follow the daily directives He gives us through the Holy Spirit or to reject Him—trusting in ourselves and following our own impulses and desires.
This means that for us to truly heed the Lord’s warnings, we must make a conscious choice to align our will with His.
The Consequences of Disobedience
We see this truth from the opening pages of the Bible. Adam and Eve lived in paradise. All the Garden of Eden was theirs to enjoy, with only one caveat: “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:16–17).
You would think they would have been wise enough to say, “We have everything we could ever want—why risk it all for one bite of fruit?” Nevertheless, the couple refused to heed God’s warning and took the destructive path of disobedience. They ate of the tree and suffered the consequences, and the course of history was changed in an instant.
Throughout the centuries, we see the same mistake repeated: individuals, cities, and nations hear the truth; ignore it; choose their own way rather than God’s; and endure the terrible outcome of their short-sighted defiance. This is why Hebrews 12:25 cautions, “See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven.”
We are in a similar situation today spiritually as a nation. We willfully drift away from the Father’s life-giving commands and refuse to heed His rebuke. And unless this tide of disobedience is reversed, we too—like many civilizations before us—will suffer disastrous consequences. This is not speculation—it is the truth as evidenced throughout history. What the Lord says will come to pass.
What the lord says will come to pass.
HOW YOU CAN HELP TURN THE TIDE
At the end of each chapter, you will find a few questions based on the concepts shared in this book. The focus of these questions is on what you can do as a Christian and as a citizen of the United States to make a difference in our country. I challenge you to pray about these questions and answer them in the manner that the Father directs you. It is my prayer that these questions will help you discover who God wants you to become so you can carry out the mission He has for you.
Open our eyes, Lord, to see our nation
as you see it. Give us sorrow for those
things that sadden your heart.
Give us the resolve to confess and repent of our sinful
ways that we might draw closer to you
and experience more of your presence,
provision, and protection.
HOW YOU CAN HELP TURN THE TIDE
1. “We are to lash ourselves to the Lord. We are to be in unity and oneness with Him—securely tied to the Father because He can get us safely through this tempest.”
The above statement by Dr. Stanley is one of the core principles that will help us weather our country’s storms, having made important contributions to our nation’s well-being. What does it mean for you, personally, to lash yourself to the Lord? What would it mean for our country? Think about it this way: when you’re “lashed” to something or someone, you are forced to abandon your own efforts and rely solely on the one you are lashed to. What do you—and our nation—need to abandon in order to be lashed to the Lord?
2. Dr. Stanley says that the ungodly trends in our nation will be reversed only “if you and I and others who believe as we do fight this battle on our knees before the Father and obey Him wholeheartedly.”
Will you commit to fighting this battle on your knees before the Father and obeying Him wholeheartedly? Think about what this means on a practical level: What part of your day can you set aside for prayer? What in your life do you need to change in order to obey God without reservation or hesitation? Only by beginning with personal transformation can we help to turn the tide of our nation.
3. Dr. Stanley reminds us that “our primary allegiance and responsibility is always to the Father. Our existence should impact the earth—including our government—by the way we live out our heavenly values.”
How can you, personally, impact the earth and our government by the way you live out your heavenly values? Be as specific as you can.
4. In this chapter, Dr. Stanley says: “We must never assume that God’s cautions and rebukes are for somebody else…. We must examine our hearts and make sure they are clean—confessing and repenting of our sins whenever He reveals their presence to us.”
What cautions from God have you pointed toward others before examining your own heart? Will you spend some time in prayer with God, asking Him to reveal the sins that you need to confess and repent of? The more pure our own hearts become, the more useful we will be in helping our nation become what it needs to be.
© 2011 Charles Stanley