Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg just completed his second day of questioning before Senate and House Committees regarding Facebook's role in our society and issues related to the possible manipulation of our liberties under the Constitution. If you have a chance to listen to the interviews, I would encourage you to do so and share them with others. The interviews are chilling to say the last and are a prophetic picture of the technology nightmare coming our way. It is already here! These interviews have to be one of the most important and scary interviews in American history regarding the future of our Nation, Constitution and the loss of freedoms in our Nation, the Church and our world today.
What started out as an initially innocent social networking company, designed to help people stay in touch and share their lives with their family and friends, has seemingly turned into a sophisticated web of manipulation and control for profit and political gain. In today's hearing before a Congressional Committee, Mr. Zuckerberg allowed the public to get a measured glimpse of what is going on behind closed doors at Facebook. Today's hearing made it abundantly clear that Facebook is engaged in political activism and has been using the data from its almost 3 billion users in an attempt to shape reality, control free speech, brainwash its users, manipulate their thinking, influence people's buying and selling, attack the Christian Faith and even determine political outcomes. And all most of us wanted to do was to share our latest vacation pictures with the people we love and care about.
We live in fascinating times. Do you agree? One of the great pictures of that fact is the recent emergence of the term "Deep State" into our culture. Have you heard about it? That term, which is now being used frequently, has just come into our vernacular during the last Presidential election cycle. The term has been used to describe officials in the government that are working behind the scenes to sabotage and subvert the constitutionally elected leadership of the Nation. In other words, the "Deep State" refers to people that are breaking the laws they are put in charge of upholding. This lawless behavior may include revealing classified materials, violating the Constitution, manipulating and destroying people's lives without due process and even attempting to remove the President from office through a legally manipulated impeachment. There is no question that our Nation has moved into a very scary time when the rule of law is not being upheld by those appointed to do so. So, when the police become the criminals you have reached a turning point in any society.
As Christians and students of the Bible, the lawless patterns underway in the "Deep State" are not new. The story of the Bible is about another "Deep State" going on against the Kingdom of God from the beginning. The Bible's view of the world is that a group of individuals under the influence of demonic power are working against the Lord and His legal and righteous authority and purposes in the world. The entire course of human history can be explained using this storyline...including the current drama in Washington. This lawless spirit, that refuses to submit to the Lord's authority, is embodied in the spirit of the antichrist, a spirit that is the enemy and counterfeit of the Lord Jesus Christ and His rightful authority over our world. The Bible tells us in I John 4:1-3 that this spirit is at work right now.
Few issues have so polarized America recently as the idea of building a border wall to keep illegal immigrants from entering our Nation. All you have to do today is just raise the issue of illegal immigration and building a border wall and you have created a firestorm. We saw that drama come to a head this past Tuesday as President Trump gave his "State of the Union" speech, outlining his plan to build a wall to help stop illegal immigration. And while a strong majority supported the plan, others have resorted to soaring rhetoric that condemns all such walls as a reflection of white privilege, racism and mean-spirited politics that are not reflective of America's greatness for all people. For some, the building of such a wall is something that even God Almighty would not do, so how could we think of it? After all, many people strongly believe that God would only unite people and never divide them with walls or unfair laws.
At the heart of this great battle and debate is the idea that our common humanity with others overrules any immigration laws. As a result, increasing numbers of people are beginning to call for "open borders" where people are seen as citizens of the world, not any particular nation. This growing belief has even led to the formation and growth of what are called "Sanctuary Cities" that see themselves being raised up to protect vulnerable immigrants from laws and regulations that are unfair and ignore the needs of our fellow human beings. This sanctuary movement has recently grown to the place where the State of California has now become a "sanctuary state," the first in America's history. Right now, this showdown between our laws and the politics over immigration policy is perhaps one of the greatest dangers to our Nation as a whole, since its outcome will dramatically shape America one way or another for the future.
In what must be the #1 Biblical story of 2017, we see the astonishing announcement that the Israeli government is seriously considering naming a future new train station near Jerusalem's Old City after President Donald Trump. As you may recall, President Trump just acknowledged Jerusalem as Israel's capital on December 6, and vowed to move the United States embassy there from Tel Aviv in the near future.
As we shared in a previous edition of the Carlson Report on December 7, Jerusalem has always been the center of the Lord's purposes for us through our creation and redemption and so Jerusalem is not only the eternal capital of Israel, but of the world. Because the prophetic things under way are so spectacular, we need to catch our breath and take a moment to reflect on exactly what is going on because the events are momentous for the entire world.
One of the saddest, but most insightful events going on today is the explosion of sexually exploitive behavior against women. Lately, it seems there is not a day that goes by without some new national figure being caught for sexually inappropriate behavior. The most recent case of NBC anchor and icon Matt Lauer being fired for such behavior is part of a shocking tsunami of sexual abuse that has been going on for years. Sadly, what we are hearing about is probably just the "tip of the iceberg" and we can be sure that in the days ahead other women will be coming forward to challenge those in power and the public eye with new allegations of sexual wrongdoing.
Did you ever stop and ask, "How did we get here as a nation?" How did America end up spending much of its news and media time covering the sexual excesses and abuses of its leaders? Surely the issues underway now have been building for over a generation. And while all of this tells us a lot about our society and politics, it ultimately tells us much more about human nature and what the Lord is trying to say to us.
If there was one principle that is at the heart of showing us the depth of the spiritual battle we are in today, it would be the attempt by certain groups and individuals to "divide and conquer" our nation. So, whenever you see a spirit that moves people away from truth and turns them against one another, you can be sure you are dealing with a spirit that is opposed to the Lord and His purposes. That is true because the Lord Himself is a unity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Our Lord's own nature and work in redemption is designed to bring people together by uniting people in the truth of the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the way, the truth and the life.
For the last 50 years or so we have seen a spirit of division attacking America and our institutions at every level. That divisive spirit has attacked the family, marriage, the Ten Commandments, the Church, the Constitution, our legal system and the nation itself. The way it works is simple. Find a "supposed injustice" or "victim," protest it loudly with the media, take it to court and turn people against each other. This pattern of finding new "victims of injustice" has polarized the entire nation and it is getting worse every week. In just a few short years our country has been turned against itself and our future as one nation under God is surely in doubt. Only the Lord knows how long this pattern can and will continue.
How could I ever forget the day when someone called me on the phone the morning of September 11, 2001 and told me to turn on the TV right away? Something incredible was unfolding in New York that would forever change our view of the world......maybe. Most of us remember watching the horrors of the 9-11 plots to bring down this Nation and possibly trigger a world war. We watched in unbelief and horror as the World Trade Center fell into a pile of ash, dust and debris in a matter of seconds, as though a nuclear bomb had fallen on it. We saw numerous people jumping to their deaths to escape the inferno of the flames. We grieved as we began to hear the endless, tragic stories of almost 3000 people that had been murdered in cold blood in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania on that Day. We also began to learn over the next few days about how the 19 hijackers, from a radical Islamic group inspired by Osama Bin Ladin, had carefully planned this diabolical plot of evil for years. It was as if Hell showed up and let the world see its ugly face, if but for a few hours.
In the wake of that tragedy, the Nation came together for a season. People bought and displayed American flags by the millions, held prayer meetings and memorial services. Our Nation and its leadership began to ask hard questions about the nature of Islam, good, evil, right, wrong and how all of this could happen. The Nation began a soul searching on many levels of how to respond. People wanted to know how we could all work together so something like this would never happen again. All of this eventually led to a war in Afghanistan and Iraq, new surveillance measures by our government over our lives and deeper questions about our national security. Without a doubt, 9-11 forever changed America and the world....maybe.
One of the most deadly and destructive forms of public discourse today is rooted and grounded in accusation. Accusation is the idea that someone has done something wrong, sinned or broken the rules without any clear and verifiable evidence, facts or truth to establish it. In a way, accusation has become the new public courtroom in America where everyone is on trial for something that goes against what the cultural agenda has established by the media and those in power. If someone dares to stand up for anything these days they are often torn apart under a torrent of media attacks, fake news and accusations by nameless sources with unproven facts. These personal attacks have changed the world as we know it, and the worst is yet to come.
Media attacks and accusations are all based on the premise that there is something "right" and something "wrong." Since the Lord has hardwired us for morality through the Law and our conscience, it is impossible to move totally away from morality on some level, however it might be manipulated. The goal of all accusation is to declare that someone is guilty in order to bring about public shame and destroy their voice in the public square.
Every election, including this coming one, is ultimately about a choice that people make regarding the rule of law over their lives. So when America goes to vote this coming Tuesday in the presidential election, people will NOT just be voting for a candidate. In the end, people will be voting for whether or not the rule of law will be upheld. This is true because the next President will be deciding what happens to the Supreme Court through their nomination of a judge to replace Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. America's entire Supreme Court and the rule of law hangs in the balance.
Our Constitution gives the president the power to nominate judges to the Supreme Court in Article II Section II. These nominations are evaluated, reviewed and either ratified or rejected by the Senate. Every president appoints justices to the Court that either sees the Constitution as a fixed body of unchanging law OR something that changes with the culture and needs of the people. Sadly, because several justices on the Supreme Court over the years have seen the Constitution as a culturally conditioned document, our nation has increasingly become lawless. After all, how does the Constitution ever provide legal cover to justify abortion/infanticide or gay marriage as an example? Both of these current Supreme Court "laws" never had any basis in the original intent of Founders when the Constitution was written.
If there is one spiritual principle in play during this year's Presidential election cycle it is the power of the media to corrupt the truth. Simply put, the media and the press are now defining the "truth" and creating reality for most people. They have the ability to make anyone into a sinner or a saint and to get the public to believe just about anything, whether it is true or not. What everyone needs to understand in this hour is that the patterns we are seeing rapidly emerging in our nation have a prophetic fulfillment in the Bible.
Every person makes decisions based on the information they have been given. Whether we fully understand it or not, we usually end up doing what we have been conditioned to do. As an example, if people hear stories that drinking water in plastic bottles causes cancer, people will drink less water in plastic bottles, even if there is no data or research to prove it. In a similar way, when people hear that one candidate is "good" or another candidate is "bad" they vote accordingly. Few people seem to realize that these decisions are often not entirely "free," but have been carefully influenced by others with a hidden agenda. As a result, independent and objective thinking by the public is an increasingly rare phenomenon.
In what has to be one of the most astonishing cases of moral hypocrisy in political history, Democratic Candidate for President, Hillary Clinton has asked the voters of America to abandon Republican candidate Donald Trump over a recently released video/audio tape. The tape in question shows Mr. Trump engaging in a sexually explicit and degrading conversation about women with a reporter that was recorded over 10 years ago while he was a private citizen.
Response to the tape has been strong from both Democrats and Republics alike. Some are publicly distancing themselves from Mr. Trump, while others have called for him to drop out of the race altogether. And while Mr. Trump has apologized for his behavior and comments to the nation in Sunday's Presidential Debate, the controversy will continue in the minds of many and may even affect the results of the election.
What is simply amazing about this recent turn of events is that Candidate Clinton and her husband, former President Clinton, seem to expect the nation to support them in their moral outrage regarding Mr. Trump's behavior regarding some comments about women. Somehow their personal behavior, the last 50 years of a liberal, progressive agenda in government and the moral collapse of the nation under their direct influence seems to be conveniently forgotten in their quest to gain power and return to office again.
While Americans are living in a brave new world of political correctness, almost no one understands what is going on or why. Our society is being totally transformed by a group of "PC Police" that want to control everything in life from where we go to the bathroom to how we refer to God. Universities, once a haven for the First Amendment, are being transformed into havens for fragile students and faculty that need to create "safe zones" on campus where no one will be offended by a different idea. Even America's pulpits are being shaped by politically correct Bible translations and sermons that might find it hostile to use non inclusive gender language or refer to the Lord as a "Him" or "He."
If the truth be told, most of us would be shocked how fast this new world ethic of political correctness is sweeping the globe. As an example, some of the schools in Sweden will not even refer to boys and girls anymore as "boys" and "girls" lest a person's gender be socially conditioned, instead of a "free" choice. Our businesses and companies are spending millions of dollars on "sensitivity training" to make sure no one is offended in the work place with an inappropriate comment about gender, race, sexuality or the latest "PC Issue" that changes every week. Few doubt that this explosion of politically correctness will stop. Sadly, many Americans are beginning to live in fear about how to behave in a world where the slightest misstatement in our schools, work places or public institutions may have serious repercussions for our personal and professional lives.
What would you do today if your government told you that you needed to wear an orange shirt or you would have to pay a large fine? And upon further investigation, you found that the reason you were asked to wear that orange shirt was simply because a politician in Washington liked orange shirts. You might think this was some sort of bad movie. After all, this is America, the land of the free and home of the brave. Right?
Well, that scenario is not just a bad movie because it just happened last week. Did you miss the news? Instead of forcing people to wear an orange shirt, every school district in America was just technically forced to comply with President Obama's executive order through the Department of Education to wear an orange shirt. That directive said that every school in America receiving federal funding must create a bathroom policy that allows transgendered individuals to choose their own bathroom, regardless of the due process of law through Congress. If school systems do not comply with this directive, they stand to lose millions of dollars in government funding.
It's been an amazing week in politics. As of Tuesday, it looks like controversial businessman Donald Trump is going to be the Republican nominee for President after his main rival, Senator Ted Cruz dropped out of the race. Many of Senator Cruz's supporters and other Republicans don't feel Mr. Trump is a true conservative or conservative enough, triggering deep division within the Republican world. A similar battle is going on in the Democratic Party between Senator Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. However, on the Democratic side, people seem to be fighting over who is more "liberal" and what it means to be a true "liberal." Invariably, all of this leads to an obvious question on whether or not people have the slightest idea of what the words "conservative" and "liberal" really mean.
If you spend a moment and think about it, the words "conservative" and "liberal" are just words that change with the shifting winds of culture and politics. They are just words with subjective definitions that literally mean something different to every person. As a result, it is impossible to have a civil discourse today about these terms because virtually everyone starts from a different place. The same problem is also true in the Church world as well. After all, what is a "conservative" or "liberal" Christian? The Bible never uses these terms. The Church has turned to these labels because Christianity has become so confused in our culture today with a hundred counterfeits all around us of what it means to be a Christian.
If you ever wanted a barometer to measure how much trouble our society was in today you need look no further than people fighting over "who" can go to "what" bathroom. How much worse can it get? That, of course, is the lastest battle going on in America today regarding where transgendered individuals can go to the bathroom. This issue has now even begun to be talked about by presidential candidates and the media on a regular basis. There surely is no end in sight to this fight, as it has started to involve the federal government and our legal system. One day soon it may even move to the Supreme Court, with people being eventually told where they can and can't go to the bathroom.
Now, we surely didn't arrive at this sad and chaotic place overnight. This recent "bathroom battle" has been building for a generation or so. It started when people lost the basic understanding of "male" and "female" back in the 1960's to accommodate people's changing roles in the workplace, gender politics and sexual behaviors. Back then, our culture also started to move away from the Biblical concept of sex within marriage and drifted toward an open sexuality defined by the individual. As our society started to be controlled by the "rights" of these individuals, our collective responsibility to one another started to vanish. The individual started to have the ultimate right to decide how they wanted to define sex and ultimately what was "male" or "female." Once individual rights defined "reality" and became as "god," it was only a matter of time until nothing was right or wrong and the concepts of sexuality, marriage and gender were completely destroyed as we see today.
America is angry tonight. Have you noticed? If you are not sure about that, all you have to do is watch the recent debates and rancor going on within the Republican Party. These debates are a good barometer of how many people are feeling......angry. Many Americans are surprised, shocked and troubled by what is going on and are fearful for the future.
Right now the 24/7 news cycle is filled with political pundits trying to figure out what is happening to the Country and why a candidate like Donald Trump has captured the hearts and minds of many Americans from every political point of view. While it may be obvious to some, Donald Trump has little to do with the recent anger and conflict in the Presidential race. Donald Trump is a symptom, not a cause. The issues behind his candidacy and popularity stem from unaddressed issues that have been going on for a generation. Donald Trump is simply a tool of protest for many Americans to express their anger toward the ruling class of this Country, both Democratic and Republic, that have caused a dramatic decline of the Nation most of us once knew.
One of the things that have recently emerged in American politics is the rise of Socialism. Before the election of President Obama in 2008, almost no one in the Nation even used the word. Socialism and its more radical cousin, Communism, were systems of government in places like Europe and Asia, but surely NOT in America.
Recent polls have suggested that larger numbers of people are beginning to embrace Socialistic ideas, especially the young. A recent 2015 Gallup poll showed that 35 percent of the American public view Socialism favorably. What most Americans have missed is that this journey toward Socialism has been going on for a long time. Ever since President Roosevelt's New Deal in the 1930's, America has been moving in this direction with programs such as Social Security, Medicare and most recently Obamacare. So we can't be totally surprised when a candidate like Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont is running for President as a Socialist and embraced by millions. Socialism is slowly becoming American.
All over the world tonight there seems to be a HUGE leadership vacuum that is building toward some sort of emerging crisis. In Europe, for example, the recent flood of unwanted immigrants from the Middle East, the growth of Islamic terrorism and a variety of unsolved political and economic problems with the European Union have created a great cry for new and decisive leadership. Few seem to have a clue about how to solve these growing problems and the failure to address them has spawned a variety of reactionary groups from ultranationalists to neo Nazis. Europe is in a deep leadership crisis it hasn't seen since the 1920's and 30's before World War II.
Here in America, the race for the White House in 2016 has created the most polarizing political dialogue in memory. A variety of polls seem to say that a majority of Americans are angry, fed up and desperately searching for strong leadership to fill the vacuum of failed government leadership created by both Democrats and Republicans. Like Europe, America is in the midst of a political crisis that is demanding some sort of strong and clear leadership to reverse the growth of progressivism, the malaise of political correctness and a sense that the establishment is corrupt and broken.
The greatest, single objection to the Christian Faith is its' exclusivity. That exclusivity is best defined by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself in John 14:6, where our Lord says, "I am the way, and the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me." That verse is either greatly misunderstood to mean a variety of things OR it means that Jesus is the only Savior and way to Heaven. There really are no other options. IF Jesus is the only Savior of the world, then all other faiths and belief systems are false and cannot save their followers in this life or the next.
On the face of it, that statement by our Lord seems simply outrageous in an age of tolerance and multiculturalism. As a matter of fact, the sharing of that belief in almost any public setting today can bring about an angry response of rejection and vilification. If you're not sure about that...just try it. If we are honest about it, many Christians struggle with this core belief because most of us just want to "get along" with everyone. Few Christians are looking to stir up things and get into fights with neighbors, friends or the media.
Every January the President has given the traditional "State of the Union" message to the Nation. Historically speaking, it is a chance to look back over the past year and offer inspiring reflections of where the Nation has been and where it is going in the New Year. Instead of carefully reviewing the President's speech, as the media has done this week, it be might be a good time to reflect on the "State of the World" from the Lord's perspective. Have you recently asked yourself how things are going from the Lord's viewpoint? Can anyone really know?
As we look at our nation and world tonight, politics and the media have made understanding things very complicated. Few can discern what is going on between the many sound bites and speeches given to please voters and win elections. As a result, it tends to be very hard to sort out the real issues that are meaningful to the Lord and His purposes.
One of the most interesting movies ever made was One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest. It premiered in 1975, starring Jack Nicholson, and won 5 Academy Awards, including Best Picture. The movie is a story about power, truth and control over people's lives. The movie is set in a mental institution and features a battle between the staff and patients over who is really "crazy." In the end, Jack Nicholson's character is deemed too "mentally ill" and given a lobotomy by the staff, thereby ending his functioning life and the threat he posed to the leadership. The movie leaves you with deep sadness over how power can be used and abused by those in authority.
Jump ahead to this past week and the executive action President Obama has taken regarding the 2nd Amendment and how our gun laws are enforced. Under the President's directive, physicians can report individuals to the government that might be "mentally ill" as a check on their right to be a gun owner. Not only is this action a usurpation of Congress's authority to change any laws according the Constitution, but it is a profound intrusion into the "Doctor-Patient" relationship that has been sacred.
As soon as Wall Street began its' New Year on Monday, January 4, the market fell about 450 points due to fears that stemmed from economic troubles in China. This opening day market loss cost the world's five richest people to lose 8.7 billion dollars of net worth in one day. The markets eventually "settled down," but the rapid rise and fall of the Stock Market in a day shows the vulnerability we are facing right now as we head into a New Year. Few seem to remember the most famous crash of the markets on October 29, 1929... known as "Black Tuesday" that triggered what is referred to as the Great Depression. Sadly, we are moving toward the same sort of economic unwinding of the country and few seem to have a clue and even fewer are doing much about it.
And while this economic decline of the country and world is fast approaching, the denial of its eventual arrival by our leadership is stupefying to say the least. Our Congress just finished passing a budget busting spending bill at the end of 2015 that seemed to show no awareness of the exploding National Debt that is approaching 20 trillion dollars. Couple this out of control spending with over 100 trillion dollars of unfunded liabilities from our entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security, along with pension issues, and you have the making of a true financial reshaping of America as we know it.
Its' been hard getting into the Christmas spirit these days when there is an Islamic terrorist event going on almost every week like we saw in the San Bernardino, California and Paris massacres. It's difficult to focus on what gifts to get my loved ones when people are turning our wonderful country and world into a Jihad Zone for their religious extremism.
Maybe the hardest part of watching this is trying to understand the mindset of the terrorists. In the case of the terrorists in San Bernardino, we saw a young married couple, with their whole life ahead of them, coldly and with calculation drop off their infant daughter with family before murdering 14 Americans at a Christmas party. Right now, it seems everyone is trying to figure out the "why" of this tragic event. What would motivate people to act in such a way that makes absolutely no sense to anyone with a rational thought in their mind?