It was an honor to be included in The Family Leadership Summit in Des Moines, Iowa this past weekend. Most of the speakers were governors, senators, or members of Congress and they focused primarily on public policy and politics. I was invited to provide a spiritual perspective and explain the research I did for Implosion and the conclusions I have drawn in writing the book.
While I didn’t use a prepared text, here is the essence of the two major points I tried to make:
First, the threat of implosion that America faces is bigger than the next President can solve alone. Americans are deeply worried about the future of our country. They fear the ice is cracking under our feet. They increasingly fear we might not simply be in a period of decline, but rather may be facing the collapse of our economy and society. And they are right to be concerned. The federal government is spending $41,210 every second more than it receives in revenue. We already have a $15.9 trillion debt. We’re facing about $60 trillion in unfunded liabilities coming at us that we cannot afford, all related to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Our ship of state is heading for a debt iceberg of enormous proportions that will sink us if we hit it. Yet the current administration has accelerated the pace by which we are accumulating more debt. The White House, thus far, refuses to slow down or change course. Add to that fiscal threat the moral threat. We have murdered more than 53 million babies and are rapidly approaching 60 million abortions. We are guilty of rampant pornography, horrific levels of violent crime, and our families are melting down as a result of adultery, separation, and divorce. We are rapidly approaching a point of no return. The problems we now face are so profound that the next President — no matter who he is — will be overwhelmed. The right person can stop spending $41,000 more per second than we have. He could appoint pro-life judges and make other positive moves. But we need more than an election. We need a Third Great Awakening. We need a series of game-changing, sweeping, transformative spiritual revivals in this country — revivals in which so many Christians wake up and get serious about their walks with Christ, and so many non-believers to receive Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord — that are even more dramatic that the first Great Awakening of the early 1700s, and the Second Great Awakening of the early to mid-1800s. Bottom line: if America doesn’t experience a Third Great Awakening soon, I believe we will implode.
Second, we must all ask ourselves a critically imporant question: “Is America at a Jonah moment or a Nahum moment?” As you’ll recall, this was the question I raised at a dinner with Protestant and Catholic leaders in Washington, D.C. in July. I decided to share this message in the heartland, as well. The Hebrew prophet Jonah preached the Word of God to the people of the city of Ninevah, the sinful capital of the ancient Assyrian empire. Surprisingly, when the people heard God’s Word and realized their own wickedness, they believed the Lord, they truly and sincerely repented of their sins — even the king repented — and God saw their changed hearts and decided not to judge them after all. However, about 150 years later, the next generation of Ninevites again turned away from the Lord and became wicked again. The Lord sent the Hebrew prophet Nahum to preach a message of imminent judgment, but though the Ninevites heard the word of the Lord, they did not repent, and in 612 B.C. the city of Ninevah was destroyed. (read more here) The question now is this: Will America receive God’s Word with open hearts and repent, or will we reject God’s Word with closed hearts and be judged? What’s more, will pastors throughout America be faithful to preach the Word of God from the Bible will love, compassion, firmness and authority, or will we/they run from this mission the way Jonah initially ran?
I must say that I was deeply encouraged by the response of those who attended the Summit to my remarks to the general session, as well as the executive summary of my remarks that I made during a private session with several dozen Iowa pastors. People came up to me with excellent questions, and many seemed eager to share these points with family, friends and their congregations.
I was also surprised but encouraged by some of the local media coverage of my talk. One article described my remarks as the “most interesting speech” of the Summit — “Most Interesting Speech: I thought best-selling author Joel C. Rosenberg delivered a fascinating speech. It was funny, intriguing and thought-provoking. To hear how this man of Jewish ancestry became an evangelical Christian was extremely interesting. Rosenberg’s speech made me want to go buy some of his books, which was probably part of his goal.”
As I understand it, the videos of each message at the Summit including mine will soon be available. I’ll publish a link when that happens and let you know. In the meantime, please join me in praying 2 Chronicles 7:14 for America, and praying that pastors all over the country will begin asking their congregations, “Is America at a Jonah moment, or a Nahum moment?” Thanks.
The Family Leader organization held its inaugural “Family Leadership Summit” over the weekend and by all accounts, the event was a rousing success. Luring 2012 Iowa Caucus winner Rick Santorum, 2008 Iowa Caucus winner Mike Huckabee, and Texas Governor Rick Perry to the event was quite a coup. Their presence resulted in a sellout crowd.
Perhaps even more surprising to me was the presence of Iowa Congressman Steve King and U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley. Although they appeal to a lot of the same people, King is not exactly bosom buddies with Bob Vander Plaats, the CEO of The Family Leader. Grassley, often dismissed by the BVP crowd as an “establishment” Republican, delivered one of the strongest speeches of the entire event.
The Family Leadership Summit received another boost when Fox News made a late decision to air part Mike Huckabee’s weekly Saturday night program live from the event. That was due to Saturday morning’s announcement of Paul Ryan being chosen as Mitt Romney’s running mate. The nationwide publicity was another nice benefit for Vander Plaats’ group.
Here are some of my thoughts on the event…..
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