“God who gave us life, gave us Liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever.” —Thomas Jefferson (1781) 

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, The people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance.” – Psalm 33:12

On this Independence Day 2024, may we offer humble gratitude to Jehovah God, who is the Giver of all Liberty, with great appreciation and utmost respect for our Founding Fathers.

This week, I revisited the classic movie, “Niagara” (1953), starring Marilyn Monroe, Joseph Cotten, and Jean Peters. The setting is Niagara Falls.

The Marilyn Monroe character, for whatever reason, had married an average, somewhat boring man (Joseph Cotten). Well, as you might imagine, with all her beauty and energy, she was continually flirtatious with other men, leading to an affair with a man who was much more vibrant and attractive.

Without spoiling the movie, the boring husband, in attempting to escape the tragic situation that he had just created for himself, stole a boat – apparently to commit suicide by aiming it toward the cliff of the Falls. However, another tourist (Jean Peters) who took an interest in the troubled couple had followed him onto the boat to plead with him to turn back. On the way toward the deadly Falls, he manages to steer the boat toward a large rock where she was able to crawl out and cling to it until the Coast Guard arrived to rescue her. The boat is then pulled toward the Falls where the hopeless husband goes over the precipice to his death.

Unless one chooses to be in denial, it is obvious, even to the casual observer, that our society is headed at breakneck speed toward such a devastating precipice. The morality of our current society is broken. A book could be written (many already have been) to prove this is true, but I will mention only a few examples.

1. Crime is rampant.

One of our church members recently had a car stolen. If you do the research, you will see that over one million cars per year are stolen in the U.S. You will also find that California leads the way for car thefts. According to Yahoo Finance, California remains the state with the most vehicles stolen in 2023 (208,668). Another church member had not one, but two, catalytic converters stolen from the same car within a very short period of time.

Large box stores are permanently closing their doors where more merchandise is going out the door in theft than in transacted sales. Could this be because criminals know that they won’t be prosecuted as severely (or at all) in the state of California?

Jesus told us in Matthew 24:12 that in the end-times, “lawlessness shall abound.”

2. Our children are being robbed of any semblance of innocence.

The Wall Street (June 20, 2024) reported that Instagram (owned by Meta, AKA Facebook) is recommending sexual videos on accounts registered to 13-year-olds. We know that children much younger than that are being exposed to unthinkable content on the internet.

Last week, I was sitting in a restaurant with a friend, trying to enjoy dinner and conversation. The TV monitors in the restaurant were tuned to channel 5. Even if I tried my best to avoid watching the content, my peripheral vision would not allow me to escape the trash that was on display. Any children whom may have been in the restaurant would have to be blindfolded not to see it: actual nudity with only a sliver of covering on the most private parts of a woman.

I have also observed that passengers on planes now unabashedly have such inappropriate content playing on their video devices where others, including children, can see it as they walk up and down the aisle.

3. As predicted by Scripture, before the Lord’s return bold demonic activity is now increasing.

Movies and music are now replete with content that glorifies Satan and demons. And recently, one of our church members was in a coffee shop in Orange County, where in front of him was a man with a tee shirt emblazoned with the large block letters, “TEACH YOUR CHILDREN TO WORSHIP SATAN.”

These are only a few examples of what I have observed recently with regard to the rapid decay of common decency in our society.

This shift in society to Godless secularism is evidenced by the fact that corporate worship has either been abandoned, reduced to entertainment, or stripped down to feel-good religiosity.

As Christians, what are we to do? I would like to quote from the “Life Application Study Bible” in its Introduction to the book of 2 Kings:

“Sparkling as it crashes against boulders along its banks, the river swiftly cascades toward the sea. The current grabs, pushes, and tugs at leaves and logs, carrying them along for the ride. Here and there a kayak or a canoe is spotted, going with the flow. Gravity pulls the water, and the river pulls the rest downward. Suddenly, a silver missile breaks the surface and darts the other direction, and then another appears. Oblivious to this swirling opposition, the shining salmon swim against the stream. They must go upstream, and nothing will stop them from reaching their destination. The current of society’s river is flowing fast and furious, pulling downward everything it can. It would be easy to flow with the current. But God calls us to swim against the flow. It will not be easy, and we may sometimes feel like we’re alone, but it will be the right thing to do.” (The Life Application Study Bible, Third Edition, Tyndale House Publishers, 2019.)

One of the things that caught my attention when watching the movie was just how calm the waters were when yet distant from the precipice of the Falls. But as the boat got closer and closer to that precipice, it became less and less controllable and the pull toward death became much more violent – until there was no more hope of turning it around.

I want to encourage you to be like the salmon who are smart enough to swim against the tide – against the suction of moral decay – that so many are allowing themselves to be “caught up” in. Instead, with the help of the same Holy Spirit of God who created salmon to be so able and determined, let us go in the opposite direction of this pull and head back to our destination who is God so that we may experience the best He has in store for us, and which the world can never provide!

In the “Niagara” movie, the woman who was on the boat was saved by exiting the boat to cling to the large rock. In our lives, this Rock is Jesus. If we cling to Him each day, we will be saved from the inevitable death that will come when those who “went with the flow” go over the precipice.

As the Life Application Study Bible pointed out, “It will not be easy, and we may sometimes feel like we are alone, but it will be the right thing to do.”

It’s not too late to turn yourself around and go against the current tide. The place to begin is by getting yourself back in the House of God on Sunday mornings.

With love for your soul,
Past Mark

“Some people are like owls. The more light you shine on them, the less they see.”

I love western movies. Some of the most pithy and practical sayings I ever heard came from a western. I can’t remember which movie this line came from, but I’ve never forgotten it.  It reminded me of what God said through the prophet in Isaiah 6:9: “Keep on seeing, but do not perceive.”

Seven hundred years later, the Apostle Paul quoted this verse while he was on trial (Acts 28:26). His crime? He was being accused of breaking the law of Moses with all its heavy burdens by preaching the message of salvation by grace through faith in the resurrection of Christ Jesus. His accusers were legalistic religious people who were convinced that they were doing God service by judging and condemning others. They were determined to shut him up or eliminate him.

Without forgetting that the owl in itself is a beautiful and perfect member of God’s creation, we can say that both Isaiah and Paul knew that religious people can be “like owls…The more light you shine on them, the less they see.”

Knowing that religious leaders can be so much like owls who cannot see well in the light, don’t let them stand between the Lord Jesus Christ and yourself. Know without a doubt that the Lord loves you, that He saves you simply by your heartfelt confession of His name, and that according that confession of faith, He does not condemn you!

Never let religious legalists make you feel ashamed of who you are.

“If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame…for WHOSOEVER calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 6:9-13).

You are a “WHOSOEVER!”

United States Flag-A Memorial Day Salute

Open Door Worship Center Offers a Memorial Day Tribute

This Memorial Day 2024, Open Door Worship Center offers a tribute to all the soldiers who sacrificed their lives for our freedoms — especially our freedom to assemble in our churches to worship our God.

Let us not take our freedom for granted.,

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”  – Ronald Reagan