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Newsletters

Have We Forgotten God

Posted on by Ken Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

Have We Forgotten God?

By John W. Whitehead
November 23, 2009

“Statesmenmay plan and speculate for Liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone,which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securelystand.”—John Adams, letter to Zabdiel Adams (21 June 1776)

Americansociety has succumbed to a rampant materialism. And now it has passed down toour young people. In fact, studies show that a large percentage of young peoplebetween the ages of 16 and 25 don’t see any meaning or purpose to life at all.Another study in 2009 showed that 15% of teenagers in grades 7 through 12 don’tthink they will live to the age of 35, which causes them to take part inadverse or risky behavior—drugs, wild parties, getting arrested by police, andeven suicide.

As we have lostour sense of meaning, morality and spirituality, the erosion of our freedoms onvirtually every front has accelerated. And, make no mistake about it, freedomin the true sense of the word is always undergirded by a common moral andreligious system. As John Adams opined: “Our Constitution was madeonly for a religious and moral people. It is wholly inadequate for thegovernment of any other.”

Increasingly,we are headed toward a spiritually dead-end society as our schools anduniversities, reluctant to teach values, avoid religion as if it were a plague.As a result, in the words of Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, “menhave forgotten God.” He knew of what he spoke. For a short time,Solzhenitsyn was exiled in the United States where he observed Western culturefirst hand. As a result, Solzhenitsyn tended to reject the Western emphasis onmaterialism based largely upon his belief in Christian values.

Solzhenitsynspent eight years in Russian prisons and labor camps for criticizing Joseph Stalin.After his release in 1956, he began to write, producing some of the mostintimate and detailed accounts of the inhumane treatment of the Russian peopleat the hands of the Communist government. His books have become classics: CancerWard (1968), August 1914 (1971), The Gulag Archipelago(1973), The Oak and the Calf (1980), among others.

In 1970,Solzhenitsyn was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. In 1983, Solzhenitsynwon the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion. In his London address upon acceptingthe prize, Solzhenitsyn summed up his belief that virtually every problem weface in the West can be reduced to a single premise: “men have forgottenGod.” Broadly, Solzhenitsyn’s point was that in our secularistic age, wehave overthrown spirituality for materialism but with far-reachingramifications—including the loss of freedom. We might pause for a moment andconsider Solzhenitsyn’s analysis of our state of being.

The followingare some excerpts from his Templeton address:

Imperceptibly,through decades of gradual erosion, the meaning of life in the West has ceasedto be seen as anything more lofty than the “pursuit of happiness,” agoal that has even been solemnly guaranteed by constitutions. The concepts ofgood and evil have been ridiculed for several centuries; banished from commonuse, they have been replaced by political or class considerations of shortlived value. It has become embarrassing to state that evil makes its home inthe individual human heart before it enters a political system. Yet it is notconsidered shameful to make daily concessions to an integral evil. Judging bythe continuing landslide of concessions made before the eyes of our very owngeneration, the West is ineluctably slipping toward the abyss. Westernsocieties are losing more and more of their religious essence as theythoughtlessly yield up their younger generation to atheism.

Atheistteachers in the West are bringing up a younger generation in a spirit of hatredof their own society. Amid all the vituperation we forget that the defects ofcapitalism represent the basic flaws of human nature, allowed unlimited freedomtogether with the various human rights; we forget that under Communism (andCommunism is breathing down the neck of all moderate forms of socialism, whichare unstable) the identical flaws run riot in any person with the least degreeof authority; while everyone else under that system does indeed attain”equality”—the equality of destitute slaves. This eager fanning ofthe flames of hatred is becoming the mark of today’s free world. Indeed, thebroader the personal freedoms are, the higher the level of prosperity or evenof abundance—the more vehement, paradoxically, does this blind hatred become.The contemporary developed West thus demonstrates by its own example that humansalvation can be found neither in the profusion of material goods nor in merelymaking money.

Here again wewitness the single outcome of a worldwide process, with East and West yieldingthe same results, and once again for the same reason: Men have forgotten God.

With suchglobal events looming over us like mountains, nay, like entire mountain ranges,it may seem incongruous and inappropriate to recall that the primary key to ourbeing or non-being resides in each individual human heart, in the heart’spreference for specific good or evil. Yet this remains true even today, and itis, in fact, the most reliable key we have. The social theories that promisedso much have demonstrated their bankruptcy, leaving us at a dead end. The freepeople of the West could reasonably have been expected to realize that they arebeset by numerous freely nurtured falsehoods, and not to allow lies to befoisted upon them so easily. All attempts to find a way out of the plight oftoday’s world are fruitless unless we redirect our consciousness, inrepentance, to the Creator of all: without this, no exit will be illumined, andwe shall seek it in vain.

Our lifeconsists not in the pursuit of material success but in the quest for worthyspiritual growth. Our entire earthly existence is but a transitional stage inthe movement toward something higher, and we must not stumble and fall, normust we linger fruitlessly on one rung of the ladder. Material laws alone donot explain our life or give it direction. The laws of physics and physiologywill never reveal the indisputable manner in which the Creator constantly, dayin and day out, participates in the life of each of us, unfailingly granting usthe energy of existence; when this assistance leaves us, we die. And in thelife of our entire planet, the Divine Spirit surely moves with no less force:this we must grasp in our dark and terrible hour.

To theill-considered hopes of the last two centuries, which have reduced us toinsignificance and brought us to the brink of nuclear and non-nuclear death, wecan propose only a determined quest for the warm hand of God, which we have sorashly and self-confidently spurned. Only in this way can our eyes be opened tothe errors of this unfortunate twentieth century and our bands be directed tosetting them right. There is nothing else to cling to in the landslide: thecombined vision of all the thinkers of the Enlightenment amounts to nothing.

Our fivecontinents are caught in a whirlwind. But it is during trials such as thesethat the highest gifts of the human spirit are manifested. If we perish andlose this world, the fault will be ours alone.

Re-printed from a commentary of John Whitehead,constitutional lawyer and founder of the Rutheford Institute. This commentary is available online atwww.rutherford.org

Promises, Promises

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Twenty years! Actually it started 23 years ago. It was in October of 1987 to be exact. For some very strong, but unexplainable reason, I had just told my employer that I would be leaving my position. I wasn’t sure where I would be going or what I would be doing, but I knew without a doubt that I was leaving my job. The only thing I really knew was that I was about to explode with something going on inside my heart. During that same month, a friend of Jane’s called and told her that during one of her prayer times she had seen my face, and that I needed to read Hebrews 10: 25-36. (‘Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward, for you have need of endurance so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised’) That had 1983 all over it! You see, in 1983 God, and I say this with all the respect to the Word and Spirit of God, spoke to me. I can’t say that about everything that I feel or anticipate, but in this case I can really say it was an unmistakable moment. It made no sense at the time. It was a promise that seemed could never take place in my life.

From 1983 through 1987, I made no attempt to fulfill or perform that promise. To be perfectly honest, I felt kind of weird about it. Then in October ’87 ‘things’ began to happen. You know ‘things!’ What had been penned up on the inside, things that only I was aware of, started coming to the outside. I was really being pursued by that ‘promise’ rather than pursuing it. I’d have to say that I was being pulled along rather than pushing anything. Because I was aware of all the changes going on in my life I almost did something foolish-something in my own ability. I recall walking down the hall to my employer’s office to resign. Just as I raised my hand to knock on the door, I immediately knew I could not go in. I went back to my office, closed the door and prayed. Prayed for a very short time but all the time remembering ‘endurance…so that you will receive the promise.’

On January 14th, 1988, a man walked into my office and asked ‘have you ever thought about doing a Christian radio station?’ Well the answer to that was absolutely not. The idea did not appeal to me at all. Too much debt, not enough security, no background in radio, I mean, I have a wife and three girls to think about! Not interested! Then amazingly, two weeks later someone handed me $5000 with no strings attached. Two days later the other fella was back in my office, asking again ‘have you ever thought about going into Christian radio?’ Amazingly, by the 15th day of March, 1987, we had an appointment to sign a contract for the purchase of an existing AM radio station. Like some crazy people, Jane and I had borrowed $140,000 and were ready to do something we had no idea about, had no interest in, just three months before. Just as amazingly, that very day the other party pulled out of the sale. They just ‘pulled the rug out from under us.’ Everything that had ‘pulled us along’, all the miracles of the past 90 days, just disappeared from our hands and also our hearts. Everything seemed to be going the other way. I had a loan and no radio station available for purchase. I was unemployed with three daughters and a wife. Was it the devil or the Father? Were we being attacked or preserved? There were a few tears and some amount of nerves. We became very quiet in our hearts. We listened. We waited for some direction in our lives.

Then, through a very unusual set of circumstances, six months later, on August 25th, 1988, we filed with the Federal Communications Commission for a new FM license. They told us it would be December 1989 before the ruling would be decided. Then just as suddenly we were being pulled along again, on April 21st, 1989, we had a construction permit. On January 8th, 1990, WBVN signed on the air!

That pulling along continues today. We still see things happen to us that just leave us amazed. The right things, the right people come along just at the right time to help keep this ministry going. We’ve seen so much happen that’s above our ability. We’re probably the last people you would choose to start a radio station. Weak in every way I can imagine for such a task. Yet here we are starting our 21st year on January 8th, 2010. People still financially give without any skill on our part to raise funds. Artists still line up for a chance to minister in front of WBVN listeners. We still believe the Spirit of God guides us along. Not everyone understands why we do what we do, or can see the vision the way we believe we were given it for this ministry. But God continues to deliver His ‘promise.’ We just completed our 40th fundraiser and in it, in these very tough economic times, our listeners broke five Celebration records for a Fall Celebration. While we have had our average gift amount reduced this year, we have had four exceptional gifts come to the station since May to pick up all the necessary budget needs so far this fall.

Just like the first day, we still rely on Contemporary Christian Music to encourage. We understood that to be our first mission twenty years ago and still believe it’s our first mission today. For us, it’s about God’s Grace, Love and Mercy. That was our initial emphasis and it’s still our understanding of what we have been given to share and guard as our purpose. By the end of 2009, we will have produced 128 concert events, closing in on 100,000 attendees over that period of time.

Now that’s a long story to tell. Twenty years into it I wish I had kept a daily journal to record all the miracles for us. Many of your names would be in that journal. Much of it has been so profound. We have always believed that the testimony of this ministry is ‘you.’ Your support, prayers, thoughtfulness and kindnesses have been the underlining to our story. It has been so interesting and pleasing to have been here for twenty. The friends we have formed, the relationships with our listeners, the worship we share at the concert events mean so much to us. Our weaknesses have been graciously received by so many of you. It’s been good, very, very good.

Now, we pause. I’ve been telling my friends for a few weeks that I feel like we are to listen for awhile. There are new things that we will be doing to serve our community of believers. We are listening to what touches our hearts. As I write this letter, we are preparing for our 5th free listener appreciation concert. We have given away all the tickets for Margaret Becker and we expect a wonderful night of praise and gathering of believers to take place. Every age group will be represented, many different denominations will be present and we will all enter into one heart of worship. That was the promise heard in 1983. I have never shared this with anyone before, but the promise was that I would gather believers together like a shepherd gathers his sheep. For me coming together each day, all of us listening to the Gospel of Christ in song each day, and gathering together in those 128 concerts, are very much like a shepherd gathering sheep to green pastures. That promise came true when I couldn’t have gathered two believers together let alone the thousands that have met with one heart just this week at FM 104.5. A promise from The Promise.

My Dog Wants To Talk To Me

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(This newsletter was originally written in April 2005. I’m just fresh out of doing the Mark Schultz/POG concert and after that event again had thoughts about how we so much want to communicate with and praise God, even though we have very limited ability to share that for the most part and are limited in our attempt to do so many of the times. So, I thought I’d revisit this note, reading it encouraged me once again, hope it encourages you as well… By the way, Ivy is still doing just fine!)

My Dog Wants To Talk to Me!

That’s true. I’ve seen it! But, that’s not the place to begin. Ivy is her name. She is our second Beagle. If you remember I did a newsletter a few years ago about our first Beagle, Jessie. I identified in that earlier letter how much Jessie meant to me. She was the first dog that had lived in our house and the first dog that, in some strange way, became a very real part of our family. She didn’t really do that much to be so “connected to us” but she “connected” just the same. As I recall, the whole purpose of that letter was to identify how much we all loved Jessie just because she was our dog. She certainly was not the only dog deserving of such love, but no other dog got the attention and the affection as much as Jessie did in our lives. I compared our love for Jessie dog to the Love of God for “His” own, His family. A family made up of believers. That Love for us is justified only because we are His. It’s not because we deserve it, or earn it; it’s just because we’re His! His Grace grants it to us. (Galatians Chapter 3)

I really loved writing that letter. As I wrote it I discovered how deep, how wide and how high the love of Christ is for all “His children” that have accepted being chosen by Him. Just as we chose Jessie at the kennel, so the Creator of the Universe chose you and picked you out to be a part of His family. All the things Jessie needed (shelter, food and love) we provided. Jessie loved us as much as we loved her. Now as dogs go, she was a great dog and a dog that taught me a great lesson about God’s Love for His children.

But, Ivy, the subject of this letter, is the one that wants to talk to me. It was this past evening. I was fooling ’round with Ivy. I began to talk to her in the usual manner. You know the kind of talking that people do to dogs, cats and babies. You could just see it in her eyes. Pretty soon her head cocked a little off center and she began to move her mouth in such a way that I could just tell she wanted to talk to me, wanted to tell me how much she loved this game. I think she wanted to tell me how much she loved having this relationship with someone. Of course all she could do was take off running and jumping and twisting and wagging her tail (what in Beagle language is called a flag) at me. But I could see that desire to talk to me just the same. Towering over her, a picture went off in my head about the Father and our attempt to “talk to Him” and strong desire to listen. I was almost brought to tears thinking about how sad it would actually be if Ivy wanted so much to talk to me and not have a language to communicate with me. I was aware of the sadness I felt by not being able to let her know how much I appreciated and loved her desire to “talk to me.” Just seeing her attempt to do the best she could pleased me as much as if we could actually talk to one another.

There’s a very rare simplicity in “dog and master love.” I really don’t do very much to cause Ivy to respond to me, to love me so. Oh, I feed her, give her water and take her outside. But, that’s about it. Actually, she could live without me, I suppose. It would be harder living without my love but she could do it. (We, too, can live without His love, but it’s not easy, not comfortable, not pleasant, and simply not the way it was meant to be.) For all the things I “don’t do” for Ivy, she still gets so excited when I get home each night. She’s devoted. Just like clockwork, Ivy meets me at the door each night and “just loves me to death.” It pleases me so to have that happen. It’s rare in this world that anyone is “unjustifiably happy” just to see someone else. It surely is the same way with the Father. I’m sure when we meet with Him he is overjoyed to have us so “giddy” to be with Him. What great pleasure He must get out of those moments.

Ivy’s “tickled” with any attention I give her; she goes “nuts” about it. She jumps high in the air, spins, twists and barks with an unusual vigor. Man-worship if you will! When you take the time to watch and notice her response, it almost brings tears to your eyes to be the benefactor of so much approval and love. How the Father must feel when we celebrate before Him.

My dog wants to talk to me! She really does. She wants to communicate so badly and be much more a part of the relationship. But you know the important thing? Ivy does all she can do to express her love for me. It’s an expression with limits. I’m sure in the scheme of all Creation, our expression to the Father is limited as well. However, just as I appreciate and recognize Ivy’s “limited” expression of love, the Father recognizes our expressions as well. My heart breaks observing her desire mixed with her minimum ability to interact with me. She can’t “say what she wants to say” but I love “the desire to talk to me” just the same.

Dog ownership is “strange” in so many ways. It seems like an ancient idea, perhaps from the loneliness of some earlier time. I know that people that have never owned a dog that’s been a part of the family (in the house, eats with you, sleeps at your feet, runs to the door to meet you, does all kinds of tricks for just a pat on the head: that kind of being a part of the family) can’t really understand. They can’t “feel or appreciate” that relationship because they have never experienced that kind of relationship “with an animal.” When you tell people about it, they just kind of shrug their shoulders and think maybe that’s over the top just a little bit. But, there’s something we can learn from that experience. Not surprisingly, people feel the same way when they are unaware of a relationship with God. I mean they just can’t get it. It’s just not imaginable for them until it’s real to them. I didn’t get it about Jessie and Ivy until I got it! I didn’t get it about the Father until I got it! When we first picked up Jessie, you could never have made me believe I could care so much for a dog; that I could have experienced so much from a dog. After she died, I couldn’t wait to experience that “unconditional love” again. Jessie left an impression on my heart. Ivy continues that today. Our experience with the Father is much the same. Once experienced, you never want to give His unconditional Love up. What was not imaginable before that experience is now commonplace, normal and consistent. I’m glad we got a Beagle. Jessie taught me so much about the Love of God toward us. Ivy has taught me about our love toward God. I’m more aware of my limited and simple communication with God and yet, how pleased He is to see that expression just the same. I understand that just because “my dog wants to talk to me!”

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