Help for Today — Hope for Tomorrow
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Jim was a great friend of mine in high school; a smart, trusting guy who was brought up in a Christian home. He had everything going for him. But he wasn't prepared for what would happen at college.In our very first semester, we ran into an atheist professor who taught our philosophy class. I will never forget the pride that teacher seemed to take in undermining students' beliefs.It wasn't long before doubt and distrust caused Jim to abandon his convictions. Eventually, he threw away everything he believed about God and the Bible. Our teacher thought it was good.Unfortunately Jim's story isn't that uncommon, but it's typical of a huge battle that's raging. It affects much more than just religion. It carries over into politics, entertainment, education and so many other aspects of life. That's why you need to stay tuned to Beyond Today as we combat the issue of “Calling Evil Good.”Coalmines are hazardous places to work. In one year alone, just over a century ago, over 32 hundred miners died working in them. As coal mines became deeper, so did the problems.Early coal miners didn't have the special equipment we have today. Toxic and explosive gases were a constant trouble. Without adequate oxygen, the miners would die. So back then it was impossible to tell if the gases were building up to dangerous levels. The Solution? Take a canary into the mine. One of coal mining's earliest systems of warning of the presence of toxic gas was the canary in the coal mine.Those little birds were an early coal miners' life insurance policy. They used them to test the air quality in the mines. You see, the canaries would chirp and they'd sing and they'd make noise all day long. But, because they have a very sensitive metabolism, if the gas levels became too high, the canaries reacted. They would have trouble breathing. They'd sway out of balance, noticeably and maybe even die.Even though it was low-tech solution, it was extremely effective and it was easy to recognize: If the bird died, the miners better get out of that mine fast.Well then they'd ventilate the mine, eliminate the gases, and start over. They'd get another canary and repeat the process until a bird survived. So if the canary died, it was unsafe. If the canary lived, it was safe to return to the mine. So that's how a canary acted as a warning system for miners.Now, what's the point? There's also a warning system in place today. When you look around, do you see any dying canaries? Are we being warned about the time in which we live?The researchers behind a new Gallup poll (May 2011) of Americans report that its results “tell much about the cultural climate of the country.” Well is it a toxic climate? Is the air of our culture clear? How is the health of our “culture” canary?You see this poll found that “Americans today are more positive in their overall perceptions of the state of moral values in the country (than they were in May 2010)…”Well that brings a question: Should Americans be proud of their morals? Are other nations any better?Well here's an interesting indicator of the toxicity, the poison, the danger that we see around us: This Gallup poll, instead of labeling behavior as right or wrong, good or evil, or sinful or righteous, their designation was either “morally objectionable” or “morally acceptable.” So does that tell us anything about our society?Isn't it showing us that morality is being redefined? You see today it's not good enough for everyone to just respect those with alternative views and different moral standards. It's not enough! It's not enough for others to live peacefully with them. You see this new kind of tolerance, it demands much more. It demands that you accept every lifestyle as good as any other. Isn't it true the absolute concept of right and wrong, good and evil, has been removed from our conscience?Example: What do you think that poll found out about people's perspective on divorce? Yes, morally acceptable. It was seen as morally acceptable by almost 7 out of 10 people (69%). Only 23% found it morally objectionable.Another topic. The poll asked about fornication—sex between unmarried men and women. What do you think Americans thought? 6 of 10 give it an A.O.K.So they also asked if it was objectionable to have a child out of wedlock—out of marriage. Over half of the people (54%) don't object; they think it is morally acceptable.So step back for a minute and think about it. Is the canary still singing? Is it staggering about or no longer breathing?You see when you really think about it, is there any doubt that the family, the family is the basic unit of society. So if you accept anything that damages the family, you're accepting damage to society. It also damages the plan of God. Divorce obviously damages the family, and tragically it hurts the kids, the children. What about those that are born outside of marriage? They experience the same effect. Sex without marriage certainly damages the people that are involved psychologically. It cheapens what is meant to be a sacred marriage covenant.So it becomes clear. It's obvious that we have a huge moral crisis on our hands—the canary's telling us, it's unsafe! But are we oblivious to the warning?The Bible alerts us to conditions that are going to exist just before the return of Jesus Christ. In the example I'm going to give, these aren't external conditions. You see they're not outside events. They're not natural disasters. But instead, the Bible also predicts signs that are going to happen in people's minds and in their hearts.The way that people think is going to change. Or maybe it has already. The Bible predicts that moral values will alter; they'll deteriorate the closer we get to the time of the end.In 2 Timothy 3:1This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.×, Paul writes to Timothy and he says, “You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, [they'll] be reckless, [they'll] be puffed up with pride, and [they'll] love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!” (NLT).These prophesied characteristics have to do with what's happening in people's hearts and in their minds. Their thinking is becoming degraded. People are not going to think the same way they did in the past. God says that people will harden their hearts and they'll have a twist in their thinking that results in a deviation in the right way to live.You know this is happening right before our eyes. It's just amazing to think that in our world, many would be hard-pressed to actually identity something as sinful.But how can you identify the influence that this culture has around you and how can you keep it from affecting your life? Is there anything more important than identify those things? Well we have something that will help. I want to tell you how you can get a free copy of our booklet, The Road to Eternal Life . This Bible study aid will help you discover what Scripture teaches about the moral crisis in our world, and perhaps more importantly, how you can find the way to steer clear of its affects in your life. You don't have to feel powerless.Now you can read this online or you can download it at BeyondToday.tv . Or you can request your free copy by calling: 1-888-886-8632. That's 1-888-886-8632.I would also like to invite you to something very special. Beyond Today and the United Church of God are conducting unique free seminars called the Kingdom of God Bible Seminars across the United States and around the world! These seminars are your opportunity to learn more about the return of Jesus Christ and what it means. So go to BeyondToday.tv . Look for the “Kingdom of God Bible Seminars ” link and find a seminar near you and register to attend.Now before that Kingdom of God is established on this earth, Jesus gave warning signs to watch for so you can be ready. As Christians, are we willing to see the canary in the coal mine? Yes, we should be tolerant of differences in people but there is something we must not accept. Do you know what it is?The politically correct world around us says that there are no moral values that are better than others—all lifestyles, all behaviors are just as good as any other.In other words: You have your values, I'll have my values. You live your life the way you want to live, I'll live my life the way I want. They're all equally good. We're all alike, no one way is better than any other way.Is that true? Are we to accept all behaviors as equal? As a Christian, should you agree that all ways of life are equally acceptable? Is every path morally acceptable before God? In fact, I wonder how God would answer those poll questions. The same way that we would?Now consider that canary. Why is it we don't seem to make the connections? Why is it we don't seem to take notice of what that dying bird is telling us?Now just the other day I was listening to a radio talk show. A sports announcer had cursed on live T.V. and it brought up on the radio discussion of whether using profanity on the air is acceptable or offensive.Now the host said that the curse words shouldn't be taken for what they actually mean, you know their profane meaning, the disrespect. He said instead, we should accept it just as “a harmless expression.” You see his line of reasoning went like this: Well swear words after all they're commonplace—just about everybody uses them. They should be accepted as a societal norm because so many people don't intend anything harmful when they use it.So here I was listening to this program and I was amazed at how many people expressed the same view. Caller after caller phoned in. Some even felt it was no big deal even if our kids use these words. They said well after all, times have changed. I thought, really? Profanity, disrespectful, derogatory words—that's what they used to be called—they should be accepted? Boy it became obvious that most of the callers don't even have a sense of right and wrong, good and evil. Now, am I being a fanatic? Is evil too strong a word?You see we get around the problem of evil by declaring it to be good, or at the very least it's acceptable or it's really not that bad. You see the danger in that? The danger is once you start down that road of transforming things that have always been considered wrong—They've always been bad. They're really unacceptable.—Once we change that to being okay, to being acceptable behavior, what's left out? What's exempt from being redefined? Nothing.God warns us about that in Isaiah 5:20Woe to them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!×. He tells us, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”Other translations say: “Cursed are those who give the name of good to evil,” (BBE) or “How terrible it will be for people who” do that (NCV). “Destruction is certain for those who say…evil is good” (NLT).I wonder, do we deserve those strong words from God?Have you seen what's been pasted on billboards recently? It's been on billboards, it's been on T.V., all around the world for the last couple of years. The billboard says: “Life is short—have an affair.” So millions of dollars have been spent on promoting the most hurtful betrayals that many people will face in their lifetime. It actually encourages, it endorses the fact that people should have an affair. They should break their commitment to God. They should break their commitment to their spouse, and somehow that disloyalty is supposed to be fun—that's the spice of life!See how is it labeled? It's progressive. It's a right that I have of freedom. It's a part of a cool lifestyle, a modern way to live. You see the ones who think this way, they're “enlightened.” But if you think differently, if you try to live by God's standards, well you're labeled as mean-spirited. You're prejudiced, judgmental. You're old-fashioned! You're intolerant. You're a fundamental wacko, or maybe even something worse.But you know, the fact of the matter is: There are some things that are right. There are some things that are wrong. Some things are good, but there are some things that are just plain evil.