Saturday, April 12, 2014

Deception Locuts in America

 I have spent way too much time trying to figure out when the book of Joel was written and who was Joel. Eventually I realized that those details did not matter and they did not for a specific reason.
If we knew exactly the time the book was written and the life of Joel, we could draw conclusion about the writing and tie it all to that time and place. The truth about this book is that it is for here and today.

Hear this, you elders;
    give ear, all inhabitants of the land!
Has such a thing happened in your days,
    or in the days of your fathers?
Tell your children of it,
    and let your children tell their children,
    and their children to another generation.
What the cutting locust left,
    the swarming locust has eaten.
What the swarming locust left,
    the hopping locust has eaten,
and what the hopping locust left,
    the destroying locust has eaten.
Joel 1:2-4

Joel starts with this horrible picture of locusts invading the land. Locusts were a common bedtime story during the Passover as the Israelites would recall the Exodus stories.
Locusts are still alive and well today. They still swarm in Africa and destroy everything in their pass. It is now possible to predict the pass of locusts and prevent the destruction with pesticides. Yet they still come and destroy. In revelation you can read how in the last days we will be plagued with locusts. On the day of judgement we will face the locusts.

Then from the smoke came locusts on the earth, and they were given power like the power of scorpions of the earth. Revelation 9:3

The battle of Armageddon will be fought after the return of Christ our Lord. The time and day are and will always be unknown. Where we stand today is the valley of decision. Today you have to decide where you are standing. In the valley of decision there is no gray just black and white. We have been misled into thinking that God’s laws offer room for interpretation and options. I will call this living in the gray.

The truth is that God’s laws are black and white. The gray is sin. Sin that entered the world with a simple question “Did God really say…” You can read all about this in Genesis 3.

This gray is what I call the locusts of deception and this is why the prophesy of Joel is applicable to you and me today.

 Let me walk you through a few examples of locusts in our daily lives:
  • Prostitution: 
Did God really say......
 "Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body." 1 Corinthians 6:15-20 (emphasis mine)
We have slowly and surely accepted prostitution as a fact of life. Each deception locusts pushing us farther and farther into the gray. Simple thoughts such as "it is the oldest job in the world" or "it does not affect me" turn the white from God's law into gray. Here are some facts about prostitution:
The average age of entry into prostitution is 13 years (M.H. Silbert and A.M. Pines, 1982, "Victimization of street prostitutes, Victimology: An International Journal, 7: 122-133) or 14 years (D.Kelly Weisberg, 1985, Children of the Night: A Study of Adolescent Prostitution, Lexington, Mass, Toronto). Most of these 13 or 14 year old girls were recruited or coerced into prostitution. Others were "traditional wives" without job skills who escaped from or were abandoned by abusive husbands and went into prostitution to support themselves and their children. (Denise Gamache and Evelina Giobbe, Prostitution: Oppression Disguised as Liberation, National Coalition against Domestic Violence, 1990)
Estimates of the prevalence of incest among prostitutes range from 65% to 90%. The Council for Prostitution Alternatives, Portland, Oregon Annual Report in 1991 stated that: 85% of prostitute/clients reported history of sexual abuse in childhood; 70% reported incest.  

Does it still not affect you?

Most of us either watch the Superbowl or know someone who does. At that time of the year it is nearly impossible not to hear about the Superbowl.  Urban legend has it that sex trafficking is increased during the Superbowl and that an influx of prostitutes arrive in the city where the Superbowl is held. There are no real evidence that this is true. However those observations might be tainted by the gray lenses we are looking at those facts. What constitutes prostitution? What is acceptable and what is not? Here is another fact for you to consider.

Law enforcement in New Jersey has worked for years to battle forced prostitution. The state strengthened its human trafficking law in early 2013, but it hit a roadblock in August when a federal judge ruled that a portion of the law that pertains to commercial sex ads posted online may conflict with federal legislation. The state is appealing. []

  • Pornography:
 Did God really say...
"But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Matthew 5:28 (emphasis mine)
 Pornography is a plague that is affected all of us. What you and I consider pornography might not be what God would call pornography. That is the first gray area that we have allowed. What is lustful intent? Lusting after any man or woman that you are not married to is pornography in God's eyes. Accepting anything else is stepping into the gray. We have slowly but surely allowed darker gray to invade this truth by saying "I am a Christian and immune" or "I am a woman and not affected" or "there is no harm in just looking". Here are some facts.
Seventy percent of American men ages 18–34 view Internet pornography once a month. This shocking fact is one of many that CT consulting editor John W. Kennedy found during his research for this month's cover story, "Help for the Sexually Desperate" (page 28).

Don't assume that porn isn't a problem in the church. One evangelical leader was skeptical of survey findings that said 50 percent of Christian men have looked at porn recently. So he surveyed his own congregation. He found that 60 percent had done so within the past year, and 25 percent within the past 30 days. Other surveys reveal that one in three visitors to adult websites are women.

Porn is gaining a stranglehold on mainstream American culture. One reason is the false message that porn viewing is harmless and socially acceptable for the sexually frustrated. One reason it is not harmless is the number of casual porn viewers who end up sexually addicted. The term sexual addiction is only 25 years old. But it describes the very real problem of extreme sexual behavior that is destructive to self and others. [source: Christianity Today 2008]

  • Slavery:
Did God really say...
Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
    whose hope is in the Lord his God,
who made heaven and earth,
    the sea, and all that is in them,
who keeps faith forever;
who executes justice for the oppressed,
    who gives food to the hungry. Psalm 146:5-7

Slavery was abolished in the United States after the Civil War. Abraham Lincoln was a key person in this movement. Here are some of his thoughts about the topic in 1858:

I have always hated slavery, I think as much as any Abolitionist. I have been an Old Line Whig. I have always hated it, but I have always been quiet about it until this new era of the introduction of the Nebraska Bill began. I always believed that everybody was against it, and that it was in course of ultimate extinction.
The topic of slavery is a tricky one and we could spend hours discussing what we think God says about slavery. After all we are all slaves. Romans 6:16 states that we are slaves to the one we obey. Either slaves to God or slaves to sin. So for the sake of argument I will replace here the term slave with the term oppressed. You might argue that you do not own any slaves and therefore are not responsible for this epidemic. Read the following story:
Antonio was taken to a run-down trailer where 28 workers slept on mattresses on the floor and shared one bathroom. "In the morning when I woke up and wanted to go outside I realized the door was locked. We were told we could not leave until the debt was paid off."

He subsequently worked for 10-12 hours a day, seven days a week. "It was hard work, very hot and we had to work constantly squatting down and carrying the heavy buckets of tomatoes. The first week I thought I'd earned good money. But from the wages I received he took out money for the driver, the rent, the water- everything."

Antonio was kept under 24 hour surveillance, was not allowed to make phone-calls, and faced constant threats of violence to himself and his family back home. "What made me most scared was when I heard about the people who had tried to escape. One of them had been beaten very badly.”

Antonio is not a slave in South America, or Asia or Africa. Antonio is a slave in a tomato farm in Florida. You very likely bought a tomato picked by Antonio.

The first gray about this deception locust is to believe that slavery is not our fault and that we do not oppress anybody. Through the Freedom Commons you can take a survey called the Slavery Footprint Survey. I took it and found out that I have 66 slaves working for me. I cannot pretend any longer that it does not affect me. I can no longer stay in the gray. I want to stand in the light and apply God's truth to my life - executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry -

There are many more areas where the deception locust has invaded our lives. Hear the trumpet and make a change to day.

“Yet even now,” declares the Lord,
    “return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
and rend your hearts and not your garments.”
Return to the Lord your God,
    for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;
    and he relents over disaster. Joel 2:12-13

I am extremely grateful for a God that is merciful and abounding in steadfast love. All He wants is for us to return to Him with all our hearts. Remove the grays in your lives and step in the light.