You might have seen a particular insurance commercial where an employee of a progressive company discovered they had a huge number of insurance policy boxes around, so he made a castle out of them as well as a suit of armor, and a shield.
Another employee came by asking if someone had seen some particular policies and took the shield made from the policies he was looking for. The employee, now with out a shield, turns to queen Flo and reports his shield was stolen. Flo replied “These are troubling times in the kingdom, Sir James.”
These are troubling times in the kingdom.
Years ago, there was a church that had a pastor with a good following, a successful radio show and a large readership for his web ministry. One day, he announced to the church that God was calling him in another direction and he would be leaving the church.
He was given a large going-away party.
A couple of weeks after the pastor left, one of the church members spotted a divorce filing for that pastor. On the same day there also appeared another divorce filing: this one was for the church secretary.
The elders asked the secretary what was happening and she immediately tendered her resignation and left. It later came out that they were having an affair for several years and fooled everyone. Every except God, that is.
Yes, there was trouble in the kingdom. Sinful living, even by a pastor, displeases God and bears the rotten fruit that is quite recognizable.
The pastor’s radio show suddenly went dark and the web site shut down due to the lack of donations. There was trouble in the kingdom when the pastor gave in to the temptations of the flesh.
Tower Of Power example
Emilio Castillo is one of the founders of the Tower Of Power – a fantastic Funk band from Oakland. He has an interesting story:
From 1968 to 1978 they had a great following, a fantastic recording contract and recorded a seemingly uncountable number of records.
“And then like a lot of people in the San Francisco Bay area, we were indulging in all that stuff that brings people down. You know drugs, alcohol, just not living right, and we paid the price for it.
We found ourselves, around ’82, without a record deal and being viewed as a dinosaur. That’s what they actually wrote about us. They said, “These guys are dinosaurs and their music will never be popular again.”
There was trouble in the kingdom – big trouble. The Tower of Power members were dinosaurs with no record contracts and dwindling royalties.
No more successful road trips with followers and groupies. The lifestyles they adopted when they were flying high left them burned, abandoned and empty.
Despite this, Emilio continued living the bad lifestyle for another six years. He finally turned around in 1988.
Emilio actually looks at this turning point in his life as the best point in his career. He turned to God and “pursued a spiritual way of living
A year later Doc Kupka, another TOP founder, decided he was in danger, gave up drugs, alcohol and impure living, and joined Emilio.
In 1990 he was contacted by a long-time fan of the band. The guy actually started out working in the mail room of CBS, worked hard and was now the Vice President of Epic Records.
As soon as the fan heard that Emilio and Doc were sober for a couple of years, he signed them to a 7-album deal with Epic Records.
Emilio said “We just continued to grow in faith and our walk with God.”
Emilio and Doc repented, changed from their sinful ways and followed God. Guess what happened? They reaped the benefits of following God!
Rick Stevens wasn’t that fortunate. Rick was known for singing You’re Still a Young Man and that was the song that propelled the Tower of Power to stardom.
Like the others, he was involved in booze, sex, and drugs. But he managed to take this godless behavior to new lows.
He got into an argument with three dope dealers and shot one in a struggle. He then shot and killed two other drug dealers in cold blood and was given a mandatory death sentence in California’s gas chamber for the last two murders.
Rick had some very troubling times in his kingdom, but it could have been worse.
In 1977, the mandatory death penalty was outlawed in California. Rick has spent 36 years in prison with over 26 of those years in prayer asking God for forgiveness.
Last year Rick was paroled. He repented, asked God for forgiveness, started following God, and is now on track to living a productive life as a freelance singer.
Fred music lifestyle here
I was a much more fortunate; I didn’t become world-famous.
However, I did build up a local presence in the blues world and even managed to be in a band that won the best new blues band of 1989 by BAM magazine and Played for the 10th Annual Metro Fountain Blues Festival in 1990.
Right before this I was divorced for the second time, lost my job and was in the process of losing a house.
I had a bunch of musicians and followers living in my soon-to-be-sold home. Sex, Drugs, Booze and Blues was the modus operandi of the day.
Fortunately, I stayed away from the drugs. I had seen more people that I could remember who were permanently damaged from the drugs. In fact, this memory helped in the creation of Worship Jam 20 years later.
And another positive thing: I only got drunk when I didn’t have to drive. That has to count as a positive note, doesn’t it?
See, unlike a lot of the musicians from Tower Of Power, I only sinned enough to earn myself a First Class ticket to hell.
I could just about smell the burning brimstone, but ignored it.
God didn’t like my sinful ways and He made sure I was well ware of the trouble I was in.
I had let the temptations ruin my life.
I had troubling times in the kingdom.
Eventually, I also repented, asked for forgiveness and set myself on track to dedicate myself to serving God.Fred music lifestyle here
Yes, these are troubling times in the kingdom, even today. We see from the news that people are sinning and breaking God’s rules in addition to the rules of man and governments.
We see people killing each other. In fact, so far this year Chicago (the city, not the band) has had more deaths by gunfire than our military fighting overseas. So, if you have a choice of living in Chicago or Afghanistan, you might be safer in Afghanistan!
Even the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, has noticed our problems. He recently said that America Is Sodom and Gomorrah.
Vladimir grew up as an atheist. He ran into trouble in the kingdom and god let him know he was in trouble. After his wife’s car crash in 1993 and his house fire in 1996, he began to suspect there was a God and Jesus was his savior.
Right before a diplomatic meeting with Israel, Putin’s mother gave him a baptismal cross. (She had secretly baptized him when he was a baby.) Putin has told others “I did as she said and then put the cross around my neck. I have never taken it off since.”
Putin has since taken his belief in Jesus to new heights. He was quoted as saying “First and foremost we should be governed by common sense. But common sense should be based on moral principles first. And it is not possible today to have morality separated from religious values.”
Imagine hearing this from a former agent and head of the KGB!
Here in America, we have people committing every imaginable sin against God.
In these modern times, mankind has added a new twist to this monstrous sinning. You just have to listen or read the news as of late. Our governments and courts have sanctioned sinful behavior and declared it as acceptable.
Common sense and morality have seemingly been tossed out the window, and along with it, God’s laws.
Our government is also declaring some Christian acts as being illegal. A Christian pastor in the armed services may not invoke the name of Jesus! A pastor in Delaware cannot hold a service on the public beach, but Wiccans can hold their bonfires there to worship their idols.
These are indeed troubling times in the kingdom.
In the past few years, Christians in America have been referred to as domestic terrorists by those groups and individuals who wish to practice sin without interference.
Street preachers are being savagely beaten by groups who profess tolerance, but don’t practice it.
A street preacher was even arrested and charged with hate speech because a sinner didn’t like hearing the Word of God.
Troubling times in the kingdom indeed!
So, let’s explore what we need to do.
Let’s go back to basics. Turn to:
Deuteronomy 13:1-4 (NIV)
1 If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder,
2 and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, “Let us follow other gods” (gods you have not known) “and let us worship them,”
3 you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul.
4 It is the LORD your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him.
We have a lot of prophets and soothsayers around. They tell us God will help us earn more money and buy more things. Money is a god to many people and their love of money will lead them on to destruction when they worship it.
1 Timothy chapter 6 verse 10 warns us about this false god and tells us the worship of money is the root of all kinds of evil.
Fame can do the same thing. Emilio had both fame and money, and attracted all sorts of people who wanted to hang around the rich and famous. His fame had women literally throwing themselves at him.
He might as well have been living in Sodom or Gomorrah.
He failed God’s test. A lot of people in America are failing the test and are in jeopardy of earning a First Class ticket to hell.
To our youth, musicians, sports figures, Hollywood celebrities and even politicians are like the prophets and soothsayers of long ago. All of them shape our youth. Some of them lead our youth astray and entice them into sin. Even some adults are taken in by their gods they offer.
We have to make sure this does not happen. We need to follow God.
We need to keep His commands and obey Him. We need to serve Him.
I guarantee you that all of us will be tempted every day by something. Despite the temptations, we need to stay strong.
Remember that being tempted to sin is not a sin. We commit a sin when we give in and submit to that temptation.
Loving God with all of our hearts and souls will help prevent us from giving in to temptation.
When Jesus was tempted, He avoided submitting to that urge.
Imagine being without food for a month and seeing a large meal prepared by a 5-star chef being offered by Satan in exchange for our souls.
Jesus’ love for His Father and the knowledge of God’s Word protected Jesus from sinning.
We need to not only love and follow God, but we need to set an example for our families and our neighbors. And remember that Jesus told us everyone in the world is our neighbor.
Now Joshua was not a world-famous musician or Hollywood superstar, but he did carry a lot of weight amongst his people. Some of his people had troubles in their kingdom with sin, particularly worshiping false gods and idols.
Joshua had some great advice for the family and their values, and this extends to the church and our country too.
Turn to Joshua 24:14-15 (NIV)
14 “Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD.
15 But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
A lot of people around us have decided not to follow God’s rules and have turned away from serving Him. They may even tempt us with their ungodly ways.
They choose to give in to the temptations of booze, temptations of the flesh, drugs, fame, self-centeredness and many other gods and idols.
Some may believe they serve God, but reserve certain sins for their own enjoyment. Even pastors in churches can be tempted and give in to sinful behavior and some may even lead their flock astray.
We just need to stand firm and make a conscious decision to follow God faithfully.
I implore all heads of the households proclaim what Joshua did “But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
We need to serve the God faithfully and abide by his commands. We need to follow a righteous life.
The Elders are the heads of the churches’ household. Elders and leaders in all of our nation’s churches need to make such a commitment and say “But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
We also need to impress upon our elected leaders to follow God’s commands.
Even Vladimir Putin, the former head of the KGB and President of Russia recognizes America’s decline into becoming a Sodom and Gomorrah.
As Christians, we need to persuade our leaders to use true common sense based on morality which is based on our faith in Jesus and values that God has set for us.
We do not need to have a government based on sin.
But, when government sins, we need to stand firm on our faith and service to God.
I ask you to choose today whom you will serve. And then proclaim to all those around you whom you will serve.
Let us pray.