Separation of Church and State Law

        See McGee, Isaiah, p. 54. The sin of Israel was covetousness. Covetousness is idolatry. “Colossians 3:5  Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:”

        April 2007 Berean Call p. 8.

        Exodus 20.2-5: “2 I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me. 4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;”

Exodus 23.24: “Exodus 23:24  Thou shalt not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do after their works: but thou shalt utterly overthrow them, and quite break down their images.”

Exodus 23.32-33: “32 Thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor with their gods. 33 They shall not dwell in thy land, lest they make thee sin against me: for if thou serve their gods, it will surely be a snare unto thee.”

Exodus 34.10-17: “10 And he said, Behold, I make a covenant. * * * 13 But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves: For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: 15 Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and thy go a whoring * * *.”

Deut. 4.15-19, 23-28: “15 Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the LORD spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire: 16 Lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female, 17 The likeness of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air, 18 The likeness of any thing that creepeth on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth: 19 And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven tgo worship them, and serve them, which the LORD thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven. * * *.”

Deut. 6:14-15 “Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you; (For the LORD thy God is a jealous God among you) lest the anger of the LORD thy God be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth.”

Deut. 7:1-5 “1When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou; 2 And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them: 3 Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. 4 For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly. 5 But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire.”

Deuteronomy 7:25-26  The graven images of their gods shall ye burn with fire: thou shalt not desire the silver or gold that is on them, nor take it unto thee, lest thou be snared therein: for it is an abomination to the LORD thy God. 26 Neither shalt thou bring an abomination into thine house, lest thou be a cursed thing like it: but thou shalt utterly detest it, and thou shalt utterly abhor it; for it is a cursed thing.

Deuteronomy 11:16-17 “16 Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them; 17 And then the LORD’S wrath be kindled against you, and he shut up the heaven, that there be no rain, and that the land yield not her fruit; and lest ye perish quickly from off the good land which the LORD giveth you.”

Deuteronomy 11:26-28 “26 Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; 27 A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day: 28 And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.”

Deuteronomy 12:1-3 “1 These are the statutes and judgments, which ye shall observe to do in the land, which the LORD God of thy fathers giveth thee to possess it, all the days that ye live upon the earth. 2 Ye shall utterly destroy all the places, wherein the nations which ye shall possess served their gods, upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every green tree: 3 And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place.”

Deuteronomy 12:30-31 “30 Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. 31 Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods.”

Deuteronomy 13:1-18 “… 3 Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him…. 6 If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; 7 Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth; 8 Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: 9 But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people….”

Deut. 16.21-22: “21 Thou shalt not plant thee a grove of any trees near unto the altar of the LORD thy God, which thou shalt make thee. 22 Neither shall thou set thee up any image; which the LORD thy God hateth.”

Deut. 17.2-7: [Idolaters to be stoned.]. “2 If there be found among you, within any of thy gates which the LORD thy God giveth thee, man or woman, that hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the LORD thy God, in transgressing his covenant, 3 And hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded; 4 And it be told thee, and thou hast heard of it, and enquired diligently, and, behold, it be true, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought in Israel: 5 Then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, which have committed that wicked thing, unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die. 6 At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death. 7 The hands of the witnesses shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people. So thou shalt put the evil away from among you.”

Deut. 18.9-14; 20-22: [Idolatrous practices named & forbidden: making son or daughter pass through the fire, using divination, observance of times, or an enchanter or witch, or charmer, or consulter w/familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer bc these are an abomination unto the LORD. * * *].

Deuteronomy 20:17-18 “17 But thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee: 18 That they teach you not to do after all their abominations, which they have done unto their gods; so should ye sin against the LORD your God.”

Deut. 27.15 “Cursed be the man that maketh any graven or molten image, an abomination unto the LORD, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and putteth it in a secret place. * * *.”

Deuteronomy 29:16-18 “16 (For ye know how we have dwelt in the land of Egypt; and how we came through the nations which ye passed by; 17 And ye have seen their abominations, and their idols, wood and stone, silver and gold, which were among them:) 18 Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations; lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood;”

Deuteronomy 29:24-29 “24 Even all nations shall say, Wherefore hath the LORD done thus unto this land? what meaneth the heat of this great anger? 25 Then men shall say, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the LORD God of their fathers, which he made with them when he brought them forth out of the land of Egypt: 26 For they went and served other gods, and worshipped them, gods whom they knew not, and whom he had not given unto them: 27 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against this land, to bring upon it all the curses that are written in this book: 28 And the LORD rooted them out of their land in anger, and in wrath, and in great indignation, and cast them into another land, as it is this day. 29 The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.”

Judges 2:10-14 “10 And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel. 11 And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim: 12 And they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the LORD to anger. 13 And they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth. 14 And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies.”

Judges 2:16-19 “16 Nevertheless the LORD raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them. 17 And yet they would not hearken unto their judges, but they went a whoring after other gods, and bowed themselves unto them: they turned quickly out of the way which their fathers walked in, obeying the commandments of the LORD; but they did not so. 18 And when the LORD raised them up judges, then the LORD was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge: for it repented the LORD because of their groanings by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them. 19 And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they returned, and corrupted themselves more than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down unto them; they ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way.”

Judges 3:5-7 “5 And the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, Hittites, and Amorites, and Perizzites, and Hivites, and Jebusites: 6 And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served their gods. 7 And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgat the LORD their God, and served Baalim and the groves.”

N1 p290 to Judges 3.7: “Groves, like high places, have been associated with idolatrous worship from time immemorial. The Heb. asherah, trans. grove means also the idol enshrined there. De 16:21. This idol seems often to have been a sacred tree, the figure of which is constantly found on Assyrian monuments. In apostate Israel, however, such groves were associated with every form of idolatry, e.g. 2Ki 17:16-17. Cmt. on 1Ki 3:2 and Ashtaroth Cmt. on Jg 2:13.”

Judges 6:10 “And I said unto you, I am the LORD your God; fear not the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but ye have not obeyed my voice.” Judges 6:25-32 “25 And it came to pass the same night, that the LORD said unto him, Take thy father’s young bullock, even the second bullock of seven years old, and throw down the altar of Baal that thy father hath, and cut down the grove that is by it: 26 And build an altar unto the LORD thy God upon the top of this rock, in the ordered place, and take the second bullock, and offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the grove which thou shalt cut down. 27 Then Gideon took ten men of his servants, and did as the LORD had said unto him: and so it was, because he feared his father’s household, and the men of the city, that he could not do it by day, that he did it by night. 28 And when the men of the city arose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was cast down, and the grove was cut down that was by it, and the second bullock was offered upon the altar that was built. 29 And they said one to another, Who hath done this thing? And when they enquired and asked, they said, Gideon the son of Joash hath done this thing. 30 Then the men of the city said unto Joash, Bring out thy son, that he may die: because he hath cast down the altar of Baal, and because he hath cut down the grove that was by it. 31 And Joash said unto all that stood against him, Will ye plead for Baal? will ye save him? he that will plead for him, let him be put to death whilst it is yet morning: if he be a god, let him plead for himself, because one hath cast down his altar. 32 Therefore on that day he called him Jerubbaal, saying, Let Baal plead against him, because he hath thrown down his altar.”

Judges 8:33-34 “33 And it came to pass, as soon as Gideon was dead, that the children of Israel turned again, and went a whoring after Baalim, and made Baalberith their god. 34 And the children of Israel remembered not the LORD their God, who had delivered them out of the hands of all their enemies on every side:”

Judges 10:6-7 “6 And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim, and Ashtaroth, and the gods of Syria, and the gods of Zidon, and the gods of Moab, and the gods of the children of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines, and forsook the LORD, and served not him. 7 And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he sold them into the hands of the Philistines, and into the hands of the children of Ammon.” Judges 10:10-16 “10 And the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, saying, We have sinned against thee, both because we have forsaken our God, and also served Baalim. 11 And the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Did not I deliver you from the Egyptians, and from the Amorites, from the children of Ammon, and from the Philistines? 12 The Zidonians also, and the Amalekites, and the Maonites, did oppress you; and ye cried to me, and I delivered you out of their hand. 13 Yet ye have forsaken me, and served other gods: wherefore I will deliver you no more. 14 Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation. 15 And the children of Israel said unto the LORD, We have sinned: do thou unto us whatsoever seemeth good unto thee; deliver us only, we pray thee, this day. 16 And they put away the strange gods from among them, and served the LORD: and his soul was grieved for the misery of Israel.”

N1 p389 to I Kings 3.2 “1 Kings 3:2-4 “2 Only the people sacrificed in high places, because there was no house built unto the name of the LORD, until those days. 3And Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of David his father: only he sacrificed and burnt incense in high places. 4 And the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there; for that was the great high place: a thousand burnt offerings did Solomon offer upon that altar.” “Cf. Le 26:30; De 12:11-14. The use of commanding elevations for altars seems to have been immemorial and universal. In itself the practice was not evil Ge 12:7; 22:2-4; 31:54; Jg 6:25; 13:16-23. After the establishment of Mount Moriah and the temple as the centre of divine worship De 12:5; 2Ch 7:12 the pentateuchal prohibition of the use of high places De 12:11-14 which had looked forward to the setting up of such a centre, came into effect, and high places became identified with idolatrous practices. The constant recurrence to the use of high places, even for Jehovistic worship Cmt. on 1Ki 15:14 and after the building of the temple, proves how deeply rooted the custom was. See 2Ki 18:4-22; 23:1-37; 2Ch 33:3,17,19 Note below refers to “Groves.” Cmt. on Jg 3:7.”

1 Kings 9:7-9 “7 Then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house, which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people: 8 And at this house, which is high, every one that passeth by it shall be astonished, and shall hiss; and they shall say, Why hath the LORD done thus unto this land, and to this house? 9 And they shall answer, Because they forsook the LORD their God, who brought forth their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and have taken hold upon other gods, and have worshipped them, and served them: therefore hath the LORD brought upon them all this evil.”

I Kings 11: Solomon’s heart turned away from God & he goes after other gods. God’s reaction.

2 Kings 19:14-19 “14 And Hezekiah received the letter of the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up into the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD. 15 And Hezekiah prayed before the LORD, and said, O LORD God of Israel, which dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven and earth. LORD, bow down thine ear, and hear: open, 16 LORD, thine eyes, and see: and hear the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent him to reproach the living God. 17 Of a truth, LORD, the kings of Assyria have destroyed the nations and their lands, 18 And have cast their gods into the fire: for they were no gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone: therefore they have destroyed them. 19 Now therefore, O LORD our God, I beseech thee, save thou us out of his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the LORD God, even thou only.”

N1 p408 to I Kings 15:14 “But the high places were not removed: nevertheless Asa’s heart was perfect with the LORD all his days.” “Cf. 2Ch 14:3. It appears that local sacrifices to Jehovah (though not according to the divine order) were offered in the times of the kings upon “high places” (cf) 1Sa 9:12. Apparently Asa’s mother had defiled one of these with an idol, 1Ki 15:13. Asa destroyed the idol and the idolatrous (but not the Jehovistic) “high places.” But see “high places,” Cmt. on 1Ki 3:2.”

II Ch. 31.1. Idols destroyed (II Ki. 18.4).

Psm. 96.5.  “Confounded be all they that serve graven images, that boast themselves of idols: worship him, all ye gods.

        Psm. 97.7For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the LORD made the heavens.”

Psm. 115.4-8: “Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands.  They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not: They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat. They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.”

Psm. 135.15-18: “The idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands.  They have mouths, but they speak not; eyes have they, but they see not; They have ears but they hear not; neither is there any breath in their mouths. They that make them are like unto them: so is every one that trusteth in them.”

N1 to Is. 41.2, p748. “Who raised up the righteous man from the east, called him to his foot, gave the nations before him, and made him rule over kings? he gave them as the dust to his sword, and as driven stubble to his bow.” (The reference here seems to be to Cyrus, whose victories and rapid growth in power are here ascribed to the providence of God. Isa 41:5-7 describe the effect upon the nations of the rise of the Persian power. They heartened each other, and made (Isa 41:7) 7) new idols. At verse 8 the prophet addresses Israel. Since it was their God who raised up Cyrus, they should expect good, not evil, from him (Isa 41:8-20). Isa 41:21-24 form a contemptuous challenge to the idols in whom the nations are trusting.).

Isa. 42.13-25 (Israel chastened for idolatry, etc.)

Isa. 44. The promise of the Spirit: the folly of idolatry.

Isa. 44.6-20 (There is no other God. The folly of idolatry—making & worshiping gods. Man cuts down a tree, w/part he makes a fire to cook w/from it, he eats w/part of it, w/part he makes an idol.)

Isa. 45. Israel reminded that safety and salvation are to be found only in Jehovah.

In Isa. 45, we are told that God created all, that “[the nations] pray unto a god that cannot save them,” (v20), that “there is no go else beside me; a just God and a Saviour, there is none beside me.” (v.21, 22 and also C46 v9).). In Isa. 46, Israel is exhorted to remember the power of Jehovah, and the powerlessness of idols.

Isa. 45.5-25: “I am the LORD, and there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me. * * *.”

Isa. 46: the power of Jehovah & the powerlessness of idols (made of gold & silver). Isaiah 46:9  “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,”

Jere. 2.11: “Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? * * * ”

Jere. 2 “27 Saying to a stock, Thou art my father; and to a stone, Thou hast brought me forth: for they have turned their back unto me, and not their face: but in the time of their trouble they will say, Arise, and save us. 28 But where are thy gods that hast made thee? let them arise.  If they can save thee in the time of their trouble they will say, Arise, and save us.”

(Committing adultery w/stones and with stocks.) Jere. 3.

Jere.7.9-; Jere. 8.2-;

Hosea 8.4-6: “* * * 6 For from Israel was it also: the workman made it: therefore it is not God: but the calf of Samaria shall be broken in pieces.”

Habakkuk 2.18-20: “What profiteth the graven image that the maker thereof hath graven it; the molten image, and a teacher of lies, that the maker of his work trusteth therein, to make dumb idols: Woe to him that sayeth to the wood, Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise, it shall teach? Behold, it is laid over with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in the midst of it.  But the LORD is in his  holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.”

1 Cor. 8.4-13: “[W]e know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. * * *.”

        1 Cor. 10.19-21: “* * * 20 But I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. * * *.”

        Acts 19.23-41. “26 Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands: 27 So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth.”

The Wake-Up Herald

And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. Romans 13:11-14

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Robert McCurry, Editor & Publisher

August 6, 2008

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America’s most popular idol

Part 1

by Robert McCurry

Idol \I”dol\, n. That on which the affections are strongly (often excessively) set; an object of passionate devotion; a person or thing greatly loved or adored.

I·dol·a·try  (ī-dŏl’ə-trē)  n. Worship of idols. Blind or excessive devotion to something.

Today there are religions that bow before statues and icons, a practice forbidden by God’s Word. The significance He places upon it is reflected in the fact that the first of the Ten Commandments refers to idolatry: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; (Exodus 20:3-5).

But idolatry extends beyond the worship of idols and images and false gods. Our modern idols are many and varied. Even for those who do not bow physically before a statute, idolatry is a matter of the heart—pride, self-centeredness, greed, gluttony, a love for possessions, riches, success, fame, popularity, recreation, sports, religion, and a multitude of other things can easily become our idols. An idol is any thought or object to which we render our devotion, which steals the love, devotion, time, and dedication that belongs to the true God and Savior Jesus Christ.

But today nothing can compare to the passion, fervency, and zeal that Americans, including Christians, have for the idol of sports.

Americans are obsessed with sports. Its mesmerizing, captivating influence extends to every segment of society. Radio, television, the printed page, and the news are consumed with the sports industry and its personalities. Sports is a major topic of conversation at work, school, and, alas! even at church.

Let us discard the notion, from the very beginning, that sports and recreation are neutral. We must take every thought captive as we strive to obey Christ (II Corinthians 10:5), and this certainly applies to sports. God’s Word is our authoritative, sufficient standard — our starting point and final court of appeal in every matter of life and thought. As we participate in sports, if we choose to do this, we must strive to glorify God and obey His commands.

To be sure there are no Scriptural prohibitions against the wholesome recreation and exercise involved in playing ball. But with very rare exceptions, our society has gone far beyond wholesome recreation and exercise and have made an idol of everything from Little League sports to Professional sports. Sports have become America ’s most popular idol.

But God’s Word is clear on the subject of idolatry. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). “Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen” (I John 5:21).

Modern Sports is a Religion

“A new religion comes to Dallas .” In 1982, the famous sports announcer Howard Cosell, while viewing the largest Sunday football game attendance in Texas history, said, “The Cowboys are more than a football team in Dallas ; they are a religion.” He exclaimed, “Look at the loyalty of those people! Look at the signs [of devotion] they [the fans] have made. Truly, the Cowboys are a religion in Dallas .” He was right. Professional football has become a trans-American religion.

Of course, Cossell was only partially correct. Sports of every description has become the religion of the American people.

One Sunday (December 27, 1987), 75,000 Denver Broncos football fans braved blizzard conditions to reach Mile High Stadium by the 2 p.m. kickoff. The Denver airport had already closed at 12:30 p.m. (and remained closed until 6 a.m. Monday). Thousands were stranded at the airport, but the blizzard couldn’t deter that football-mad crowd of Bronco fans.

Commenting on the amazing sports frenzy that grips America, sports psychologist Dr. Alan Goldberg of the University of Connecticut says,: “Sports [is] like a religion, and the god of that religion that we all worship is the god of winning” (CNSNews.com, August 31, 2001).

The rites of this religion are performed “In vast outdoor churches in which services are held every Saturday (and many week nights) in every town and city, also every Sunday in the greater centers of population where the advanced priesthood performs. These enormous roofless churches dominate every college (and many a high school) campus; no other edifice compares in size with them, and they bear witness to the high spiritual development of the culture that produced them. Literally millions of worshippers attend the Saturday and Sunday services in these open-air churches.” (Thomas Hornsby Ferril, Rocky Mountain Herald, 12/28/57) Millions of others worship the idol god of sports faithfully at the more conveniently located shrines of television and radio.

An extensive survey commissioned in 1983 found that seven in every ten Americans watch, read, or talk about sports every day. The study, the most comprehensive ever undertaken of America’s attachment to sports, found that almost 35 million people are “ardent sports fans” who watch sports events on television at least once a week, and in some cases, every day. I am confident the statistic would be higher today. It was also in 1983 that World Almanac and Book of Facts polled 2,000 eighth-grade students to see which persons they most admired. There was not a single name on the list who was not an entertainer or a sports figure.

The Super Bowl Goes to Church

Super-Bowl Sunday has become an American tradition. Despite the fact that the game itself usually turns out to be lopsided and lackluster, it seems as if the whole world stops each year for the game. Many churches cancel their Sunday evening services so the members can stay home and an increasing number of churches host a Super Bowl Sunday service.

Blackshear Place Baptist Church in Oakwood/Flowery Branch, Georgia, is the county’s largest Baptist congregation. A billboard outside the church building announced the 2002 Super-Bowl Sunday program. “There will be a 15-ft. x 20-ft. screen showing the game. Pizza will be provided, and you will have a chance to win $10,000.”

We’ve come a long way since Christ said, “I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (John 17:14).

Persecution has been traded for popularity. Christianity has become representative of the comfortable life–the American way. The world applauds. The Holy Spirit is grieved. And sinners stumble leaderless in the darkness of sin and plunge into hell while Christians have fun with and carefully pamper their idol of sports.

Bible preaching, the Holy Spirit, prayer, holiness, and making disciples for the Lord Jesus Christ have all had to take a back seat to the idol of sports. It has successfully ensnared, captivated, and enslaved many churches. The “spirit” of the idol of sports permeates all of society, including the Christian community. This sports “spirit” beckons all to come and partake of its excitement, glamour and frivolity. It is a hypnotic and infectious spirit. Few do not come under its persuasive influence and control.

The Apostle Paul warns that Satan would subtly deceive many with “another spirit” (II Cor 11:4). “Another spirit” is any spirit that displaces and becomes a substitute for the Holy Spirit in the Lord’s Church. But without the Holy Spirit the Lord’s Church and her ministries are powerless. Without the Holy Spirit the Lord’s Church is like a blinded and enslaved Samson making sport for a sneering, mocking, and unbelieving world. The idol of sports may make a church popular with the world, but it renders it useless to Jesus Christ and His Kingdom.

God has never authorized His Church to either entertain sinners on their way to hell or to entertain Christians on their way to heaven. He has ordained that His Church preach the Gospel, that the Lord Jesus Christ be exalted, that God be glorified, that sinners be commanded to repent, that the saints be edified, and that Christians be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

Such a calling is out of step with the world and even, sadly, with much of professing “Christianity.” But it is in step with God. It will not win the world’s applause, but it will enjoy the approval of God. It is not popular with man, but it is pleasing to God.

Remember. The sovereign Lord God abides no rivals. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me . . . for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God” (Exodus 20:3, 5).

~Continuing in part 2~

Wake-up, Pastors! Wake-up, Christians!

__________________________________________________ 

The Wake-Up Herald is published by Robert McCurry. The publication is designed to exalt the true God of the Bible, the Lord Jesus Christ, and inform, inspire, and challenge its readers regarding biblical truth and real-life issues. The contents are the sole responsibility of Robert McCurry and do not represent or speak for or on behalf of any other person or group. There is no subscription charge. The publication is a ministry of faith and dependent on the contributions of its readers. Contributions are not tax-deductible. Send all correspondence to: Robert McCurry, 605 Moore Rd  • Newnan , GA 30263 or herbap@aol

The Wake-Up Herald

And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. Romans 13:11-14

________________________________________________________________

Robert McCurry, Editor & Publisher

August 15, 2008

________________________________________________________________

America’s most popular idol

Part 2

by Robert McCurry

Idol \I”dol\, n. That on which the affections are strongly (often excessively) set; an object of passionate devotion; a person or thing greatly loved or adored.

I·dol·a·try  (ī-dŏl’ə-trē)  n. Worship of idols. Blind or excessive devotion to something.

A preacher should not speak of idols without mentioning sports. This is one of the great sacred cows of postmodern Christianity. It is one of our winking idols, a small god who constantly reassures us that he’s on our side. “I am pure! I build strong bodies and lucid minds! I am an antidote to laziness and video game addictions! I offer clean family entertainment and amusement!” Who would scold such a useful collaborator? Who would dare bring a charge against this god? If you listen, you can hear the chorus of groans: “Please don’t make us choose between church and sports.” Or, more correctly, “Please don’t make us choose between God and god.”

Make no mistake, sports is no small idol among today’s pantheon of idols! “Sports is America ’s newest and fastest growing religion, far outdistancing whatever is in second place,” says Charles S. Prebish, associate professor of religious studies at Pennsylvania State University . Researcher Robin Gunston describes the situation this way: “The loss of core values in society due to the waning influence of the church creates a spiritual vacuum into which sports may move. ‘Religionsport’ could develop as major sports replace conventional religion. Religionsport will have its shrines (stadiums), costumes (uniforms), services (games and events), rituals (chants and songs), high priests (star athletes), and piety (fan loyalty).”

Modern Sports and the Idolization of Man

Professional sports figures are modern-day heroes and are often referred to by their fans as “idols.” “Athletes are gods, icons, objects of worship – people who are judged by their athletic abilities and achievements alone and nothing more. This is not an opinion or a guess. It is a fact. This is what the professional sports world has become.”

Ted Dunnam, Assistant Sports Editor, The Abilene Reporter News, June 30, 1996.

Sports display man’s strength, skill, and ability. These physical qualities become the standards by which men and women are measured. They are the essential qualities for popularity and success. Godliness, holiness, and spiritual maturity become eclipsed by physical prowess. “The glory of the incorruptible God has been changed into an image made like to corruptible man” (Romans 1:23).

This idolization of man not only becomes the false and fatal doctrine of  youth, but all too often even parents and grandparents attempt to relive the excitement of bygone days  vicariously through their children on the playing field. Many reluctant children are coaxed, prodded, and coerced into “going out” for a sport at school or in community leagues at ever earlier ages.

Alas! The greatest ambition and highest goal of many parents–including Christians–is for their children to become successful in sports while the family Bible collects dust and the family devotions are neglected. Woe! Woe! Woe!

In a recent issue of Sky Magazine dedicated to “The Magnitude of Sport,” Pulitzer Prize winning author Jonathan Yardley wrote, “There is much to be learned about a culture from those persons whom it places upon pedestals, whom it admires and emulates, whom it calls heroes.”

“Professional athletes are powerful role models for American youth. Many authorities have looked to sports programs as a way of reducing juvenile delinquency. Youth sports are deeply rooted in our social and cultural heritage. A recent study estimated that almost half of the 40 million American adolescents participated in non-school sports. In terms of attendance at sports events, corporate sponsorship of athletics, licensed sports product sales, and media coverage on television and radio, the magnitude of sports in our society has never been so dominant and pervasive–and its impact is growing”

Dr. John Walker, Texas Youth Commission. April 1999 issue Texas Medicine, Volume 95, Number 4, Pages 66-69.

Professional Sports Idols and Morality

Each week millions avidly watch sports “heroes” hitting home runs, slam dunking basketballs, swinging golf clubs, kicking soccer balls, swatting hockey pucks, or beating each other senseless. And these “heroes” demand enormous salaries for their performances, and they expect us to keep admiring their incredible athletic prowess, their cheating notwithstanding. Sadly, morality and sports are now completely separated in the minds of most people.

Whatever happened to fair play? The purity of the game?

Cheating, in one way or another, has dominated sports headlines for the past few years. From steroids to spying, professional sports have been tainted by dishonesty. Cheating has always gone on, but maybe it has just become more prevalent. Recently, baseball and football have been on the forefront of scandal.

Baseball has led the way in illegalities that threaten the good of the game. Steroids have become synonymous with baseball. Barry Bonds, arguably the best current player in baseball, has taken steroids. In 2001 he hit 73 home runs in a single season giving him the top spot in the record books. Then in 2007 he beat out Hank Aaron for the all-time home run record. Barry Bonds very well may be a great player, but without the help of steroids he would never be where he is today.

It is true that Bonds is not the only one. Many players like Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Jose Canseco have been linked to steroid use. Do such players deserve to be in the same league as Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron? An era of baseball has been clouded by cheating and the game may never be the same.

Football has also seen its share of cheating this year (2007). In the season opener against the New York Jets, the Patriots were caught filming the sidelines. By filming the sidelines, they can pick up on hand signals of the coach and play calling. The Patriots and their coach, Bill Belichick, were heavily fined, but that still did not satisfy the numerous people who knew that this was probably not the first time they cheated.

Katharine Krekeler, 11/15/07, The Herald of Arkansas University .

The topic of cheating is indeed prevalent in today’s news, not as much with the aforementioned aspects of society, but with professional athletes at center stage. Look at the following recent examples:

• In spring of 2005, several MLB players, retired and active, testified in a congressional hearing concerning the use of illegal performance enhancers in the sport. Players Mark McGuire, Jose Conseco, Rafael Palmeiro and Sammy Sosa answered a barrage of questions— “answered” may be too strong a word. Several of the players bounced around the questions and gave shoddy responses that revealed nothing.

• This summer, 2007, scandal hit the National Basketball Association as Tim Donaghy, one of the NBA’s referees, was accused of betting on several contests—some of which he officiated. Donaghy was promptly dismissed from his job and has pleaded guilty to several felony charges. The news raised questions as to whether or not certain games in which Donaghy was involved were officiated correctly and what effect they had on regular season and postseason results.

This September, 2007, has been a troubling month for sports scandals:

• Earlier this month, Eric Mangini, the head coach of the National Football League’s New York Jets, caught individuals connected to the New England Patriots organization stealing defensive signals from the Jets’ sideline. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell acted swiftly on the situation, fining Patriots head coach Bill Belichick $500,000 and the Patriots organization $250,000. Goodell also demanded that the Patriots turn over all materials related to the scandal and had them promptly destroyed. Rumors have circulated among sports analysts as to whether or not Belichick used the illegal measures in the past, and what effect they have had on his near impeccable record with New England.

One wonders what causes Americans, and the media for that matter, to lambaste these characters for their follies on and off the field. It is safe to assume that average individuals cheat one another every day—we do not hear about it because they are not in the public eye. So, why do we do it? Is it because of our search for truth, or a desire for goodness in our world? No. The answer is one word: money.

Indeed, money is the cause of cheating in professional sports. To enhance one’s physical ability is to enhance one’s paycheck. To steal signals from an opponent is to increase one’s number of wins, get to the postseason and ‘earn’ that so-desired pay raise. And to complete the vicious cycle, money is the source for our resentment of crooked athletes. We resent their large salaries and, as a result, go on the offensive. Not that we do not have the right to, or that our goals of a cheating-free world are not sound, but one questions if our priorities are in the right place. What exactly do we value?

Outside of money, the acute reader can notice other trends in the aforementioned stories. One such trend is the fact that those who analyzed the scandals wondered if the crimes committed would tarnish records and championships. What do we criticize these individuals for? For abusing their huge salaries by cheating? For raising the ticket prices and inconveniencing avid fans? Or for compromising the integrity of their sports and filling their fans with doubt as to the legitimacy of their accomplishments? Yes, these questions go far beyond the playing field—they encompass every aspect of our daily lives. Joe Skurzewski, The Daily Cardinal, September 28, 2007

“How to Cheat in Sports”

Did you know that cheating in professional sports is commonplace and mostly accepted? With the hullabaloo over steroids, one would think that other forms of cheating would also be frowned upon. But according to veteran sports journalist and San Francisco Chronicle columnist Scot Ostler, “Cheating is everywhere…I do not find a sport free of cheating.” In his book How to Cheat in Sports he exposes the ways that pro players have used unfair advantages in football, basketball, baseball, hockey, soccer, golf, and even kickball. Kickball!

Some of the cheats that Scott exposes are simple: Bill Romanowski used non-stick cooking spray to slip from the clutches of opposing players; Don Nelson encouraged his Warriors to practice screaming to trick referees into calling a foul. Some are more involved, such as how to adjust a basketball hoop for advantage, or cork a baseball bat (for which Scott provides step-by-step directions and an explanation of the physics of why it works).

While I was surprised to see the variety of cheats in the book, I was even more surprised by the number of pro players that actually spoke to Scott about cheating. Big names, icons of their respective sports, guys that many fans grew up idolizing. You may think that pros have achieved a status where they have no need to cheat. But Scott, who has been rubbing elbows and chatting with these guys for years, has another take on it. He says that unless they are a superstar player, many pro players are marginally holding on to their jobs. An injury or bad season could get them cut. For you or me, cheating in an after-work pick-up game may be petty, but for some pro players it can help them keep their jobs. April Whitney, There’s Cheating in Sports?!, June 10, 2008.

How many athletes are God-fearing, God-honoring people? Very few. How many athletes are guilty of immoral activities described above? Many, many, many. “But we don’t associate with them, we’re just spectators and fans” some will respond. But isn’t it your admission price that pays their salaries? To help pay their salaries is to “have pleasure in them” that are guilty of the immoral activities described herein (Rom 1:32). “Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God (3 John 11).

To an unsuspecting and spiritually negligent generation, modern day sports and sporting events provide the avenue by which we expose our souls to the fleshly and unfruitful ways of the world.

“They mingled themselves among the [idolatrous] heathen nations and learned their ways and their works” (Psalms 106:35).

The Crisis of Youth Sports

More than 40 million young athletes participate in youth sports. Four million unpaid and untrained volunteers coach them. The prevailing youth sports system in the U.S. has been organized and run by well-meaning parents using a business model which focuses on “products, results, and the bottom line,” instead of one that places the needs and wants of children first.

It is a system that is rife with ugly political agendas that harm kids and polarize adults. John Gerdy, in his recent book, Sports: The All-American Addiction says: “Our expectations regarding sportsmanship have become so low as to be virtually nonexistent.” The belief that organized sports build character, contribute in positive ways toward education, and improve the health of the general population is completely unfounded. Hardly anyone believes that sports teach integrity, respect, ethics, and fair play. In fact, everywhere we look, we see just the opposite.

Youth sports have failed us all! Over 40 years of research confirms that sport has failed miserably in building character and teaching valuable life lessons in moral decision making and personal responsibility. The belief that sport promotes a spirit of fair play, respect for one’s opponents, honesty and fairness has also been debunked as purely myth.

Research by Sharon Stoll and Jennifer Bell proves that the way we conduct youth sports in America does little to promote educational ideals, character development or healthy personal development. Stoll and Bell have found that the longer an athlete remains in a competitive sport, the more “masked” their moral decision making becomes. The older an athlete gets, the easier it is to “justify” their behavior, believing that “you do whatever you have to, to win,” or “if you don’t get caught, it’s ok.”

Proof of this can be found in the widespread cheating that takes place at all levels; a win-at-all-costs mentality; steroid use by high school students; deliberate attempts to injure an opponent; and even lying about one’s age. (Danny Almonte, 2001 Little League World Series)

Regis Tremblay, The Center For Kids FIRST in Sports®

Remember. God abides no rivals. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). “Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen” (I John 5:21).

~Continuing~

Wake-up, Pastors! Wake-up, Christians!

__________________________________________________ 

The Wake-Up Herald is published by Robert McCurry. The publication is designed to exalt the true God of the Bible, the Lord Jesus Christ, and inform, inspire, and challenge its readers regarding biblical truth and real-life issues. The contents are the sole responsibility of Robert McCurry and do not represent or speak for or on behalf of any other person or group. There is no subscription charge. The publication is a ministry of faith and dependent on the contributions of its readers. Contributions are not tax-deductible. Send all correspondence to: Robert McCurry, 605 Moore Rd  • Newnan , GA 30263 or herbap@aol

The Wake-Up Herald

And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. Romans 13:11-14

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Robert McCurry, Editor & Publisher

August 21, 2008

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

America’s most popular idol

Part 3

by Robert McCurry

Idol \I”dol\, n. That on which the affections are strongly (often excessively) set; an object of passionate devotion; a person or thing greatly loved or adored.

I·dol·a·try  (ī-dŏl’ə-trē)  n. Worship of idols. Blind or excessive devotion to something.

“They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil” (II Timothy 6:9, 10).

Modern sports and the love of money

In March 1979, Tony Velocci said in Nations Business, “The golden age of sports is now, and the American passion to participate, view, and bask in the glory of athletics has created a sports culture which generates billions of dollars annually. Professional athletes are modern-day heroes.” Velocci continues, “Annual sports salaries equal–and in some cases surpass–those of top business executives, and that doesn’t include the megabucks star athletes can earn through testimonials, product endorsements, and public appearances.”

In 1976 the average salary in professional baseball was $51,000. In 1979 the minimum professional baseball salary was $21,000. The average salary was $113,558. The highest salary was $121,900. What would Velocci say today in light of the following astronomical professional sports salaries.

In 2008, Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees will be paid $28 million. The average Yankees annual salary is $6,744,567. The annual Atlanta Braves salary is $3,414,134. For the first time in baseball history, the average salary topped the $3 million mark. The 855 players on Opening Day rosters and the DL averaged $3.15 million, up 7.1 percent from last year’s (2007) starting average of $2.94 million. In 2008 there are 434 baseball players earning $1 million annually or more.

The 2008 NBA average annual salary is $5,356,000. With an average annual salary of more than $5 million, NBA players are the highest-paid athletes in professional sports.

Forbes magazine put LeBron James at the top of its list of 20 under age 25 Top-Earning Sports Superstars in 2007. “James, who will turn 23 on December 30, 2007, earned $27 million between June 2006 and June 2007. That could be the low-end of James’ earning potential,” Forbes pointed out. “James is primed to outpace Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant, 29, as the highest-paid player in the NBA this year because of his new four-year $60 million contract. The Cavs will pay him $13 million his first year. Endorsement deals with Nike, Coca-Cola and Upper Deck, among others, easily eclipse his on-court salary, Forbes said. The average annual NBA player salary is $5.6 million.

The highest paid NFL Players in 2007 were: Dwight Freeney, $30,750,000; Marc Bulger, $17,502,040; Leonard Davis, $17,006,240. In 2008 the highest paid NFL players make roughly $10 million per year.

Tiger Woods, pro golfer, is on target to become the first person on the planet to accumulate $1 billion through sporting prowess alone.

Forbes magazine, which annually ranks the world’s richest people in its Sports Celebrity 100 list, suggests that the endorsement-friendly golfer will pass through the $1 billion mark in 2010. The magazine reports that Woods earned $115 million in 2007 alone, almost twice the earnings of the second-placed sportsman on the list: model and soccer player David Beckham, who banked $65 million.

Jim Fain, former editorial columnist for The Atlanta Journal writes:

“Organized sports in this country are little more than a giant rip-off. The money in pro sports is now so astronomical that the games played with television contracts are a lot more brutal and cynical than anything happening on the field, though what’s happening there is cynical enough.

“The players finally have cashed into the big time, largely by setting up super unions and hiring sharp lawyers,” says Fain. “What’s important is to recognize and acknowledge what this industry is all about–and what its feeder industries of collegiate sports are all about. What they are all about is money and nothing else on earth. They have absolutely nothing to do with the simple virtues in which sports promoters try to wrap themselves.

“Pro sports are a brutal, cynical but highly profitable business. Collegiate sports follow not far behind, once they get into the big time.

“OK, so no God, flag, and mother, please fellows. No apple pie with the baseball,” Fain continues. “You’re in the mass entertainment business, along with the manufacturers of slot machines, porn films and rock bands. Admit it, please, and knock off the bunk about building character, patriotism or anything spiritual.

“When you smile into the camera, instead of saying, ‘Hi, Mom,’ try the candor of Tex Guinan’s ‘Hello, Sucker.’

“If all we’re doing is honoring the deeply human emotion of raw greed, at least let’s be honest about it.”

Strong words indeed, but not likely to be refuted with any evidence to the contrary.

Think, too, of the unknown, but surely astronomical, amount of money involved in amateur and professional gambling associated with sports. An “illegal,” but popular practice.

Money tree dies for most players

According to former NBA player Roy Hinson, a representative for the Players’ Association, “60 percent of former players go broke within five years of retiring.” Hinson said that the “60 percent of  former players who go broke is a ballpark, but we’ve seen a lot of guys who’ve come into hard times five years after they leave the league.” Toronto Star sports writer David Feschuk, January 31, 2008.

An example: Back in October (2007), Jason Caffey, who made an estimated $29 million during his eight-year NBA career, was in bankruptcy court seeking protection from his creditors, among them the seven women with whom he fathered eight children. February 18, 2008. MediaTakeOut.com

Sports and violence

An increase in both the frequency and the seriousness of acts of sports-related violence has been well documented. While most occurrences of violence emanate from players, others, including coaches, parents, fans, and the media, also contribute to what has been described as an epidemic of violence in the sports of today. The sports arena has become a place of gladiatorial combat. An Atlanta Journal editorial states that “Violence in professional sports has grown to alarming proportions.”

One of the most disturbing trends in American sports is the increasing frequency and severity of violence. Many authorities in the field of violence prevention believe that the increasing acceptance of violence in sports creates a cultural climate that “spills over” and translates into greater violence in society.

Dr. John Walker, Texas Youth Commission. April 1999 issue of Texas Medicine, Volume 95, Number 4, Pages 66-69.

Sports violence not limited to professional sports

A 36-year-old assistant baseball coach with the Hollywood , Florida , Police Athletic League, was charged with aggravated battery when he broke an umpire’s jaw during a game. Both teams were comprised of top high school players. This arrest came a week after a coach in Massachusetts was fatally beaten by a father during a youth hockey game. Officials, parents, and sports administrators say the cases highlight a nationwide increase in youth sports violence, particularly against game officials.

A church league basketball referee was treated for injuries to his larynx after he was choked unconscious during a game by a player who had been ejected after being assessed technical fouls. The game involved two church teams.

“There’s a definite trend toward more violence and more pressure on the game officials,” said Ron Allen, an assistant commissioner with the Florida High School Activities Association. “I’m talking about players, I’m talking about parents and spectators.”

~Continuing in part 4~

“Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth:

unite my heart to fear thy name.” Ps 86:11

Wake-up, Pastors! Wake-up, Christians!

__________________________________________________ 

The Wake-Up Herald is published by Robert McCurry. The publication is designed to exalt the true God of the Bible, the Lord Jesus Christ, and inform, inspire, and challenge its readers regarding biblical truth and real-life issues. The contents are the sole responsibility of Robert McCurry and do not represent or speak for or on behalf of any other person or group. There is no subscription charge. The publication is a ministry of faith and dependent on the contributions of its readers. Contributions are not tax-deductible. Send all correspondence to: Robert McCurry, 605 Moore Rd  • Newnan , GA 30263 or herbap@aol.com

The Wake-Up Herald

And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. Romans 13:11-14

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Robert McCurry, Editor & Publisher

August 27, 2008

________________________________________________________________________

America’s most popular idol

Part 4

by Robert McCurry

Idol \I”dol\, n. That on which the affections are strongly (often excessively) set; an object of passionate devotion; a person or thing greatly loved or adored.

I·dol·a·try  (ī-dŏl’ə-trē)  n. Worship of idols. Blind or excessive devotion to something.

Sports are America ’s most popular idol. Although many have attempted to “Christianize” sports, “Christian sports” is a misnomer. Sports have no biblical basis or authority. It is not a requirement or evidence of salvation nor is it a requirement for being an obedient, spirit-filled, or victorious Christian. It is not one of the gifts or fruits of the Holy Spirit. It is not a responsibility, function, mission, or ministry of the Lord’s Church.

Is it possible that sports meet the definition of “cult” used by many “cult experts”?

Any competent expert on cults will tell you that typical cults display one or more of the following warning signs:

  • A close-knit organization with strict rules and requirements for membership
  • Dynamic leaders who exercise control and influence over members’ lives
  • Numerous activities which take up significant amounts of time
  • Ritualistic activities, possibly including the wearing of special clothing
  • Training and other activities which may be physically and emotionally draining
  • Strong peer pressure in the group to achieve specific goals and obey the leader
  • Requirements to make sacrifices for the good of the group
  • Active recruiting efforts
  • Promises of rewards, fame, and other benefits for complying with the demands of the group

Only the most extreme and dangerous cults display all of the above warning signs – but one such extreme cult has infiltrated thousands of high schools and colleges across the country.

Many parents have been deceived into thinking that their son or daughter has become involved in a healthy school activity, when in fact they have been recruited by one of the most sophisticated and dangerous cults ever.

This cult takes up many hours of student time, imposes physically grueling demands, requires total obedience to shadowy authority figures who exert control over many aspects of the child’s life, subjects them to extreme peer pressure to perform and achieve goals for the group, demands that the child obey strict rules of behavior and diet, and even forces the child to wear special ritualistic clothing.

The cult I speak of is actually a network of several related organizations, all of which focus on the same cultic specialty: competitive sports.

Posing as intercollegiate or high school athletic teams, these cults dominate a young person’s life. Whether it’s basketball, football, baseball, soccer, wrestling, track and field, hockey, or lacrosse, your child is being pulled into the web of a giant cult conspiracy.

The lure of these sports cults draws thousands of young people every year, who then become trained for intense, warlike pagan rituals with “opponent teams.”

All “competitors” wear ritualistic clothing with specific colors and symbols pertaining to their branch of the cult. Parents often feel proud of their son or daughter in their attractive “uniform,” not recognizing the occult nature of the garb that shrouds their child.

Rigid rules of conduct govern the rituals, and those who fail to comply may be ejected or otherwise humiliated. All must obey the supreme cult authority figure, the “coach,” whose iron will govern the child’s life both during and after competitive rituals. All must please the coach and achieve goals for the good of the cult. Shockingly, child involvement in the sports cults often happens with the encouragement and support of gullible parents who have no idea how sinister competitive sports really are.

Once a youth has been conditioned and trained by a sports cult, the victim tends to have a mindless addiction to competitive sports rituals throughout adulthood, often persisting right into senility and beyond.

Many victims become evangelists for their cult, often wearing sweaters and jackets displaying the occult logos or symbols of their particular “team,” and sometimes paying large amounts of money and waiting hours in line just for a chance to observe a competitive ritual involving their branch of the cult. Sometimes entire student bodies rally to support the cause of a cult, though only an elite and exclusive minority are allowed to actually join and participate.

All this occurs in public schools, in spite of public pronouncements about the separation of Church and State. The sports cults receive millions of dollars of public funds and almost unlimited support from public schools, often at the expense of real education.

In recent years the sports cult has pervaded many Christian schools and churches. The “sports spirit” has become the dominate spirit of these schools and churches. The sports cult has become the popular idol that is loved and exalted above all other activities.

Lives are ruined, souls are entangled in darkness, and thousands of debilitating injuries are suffered as human sacrifices before the altars of the sports cults. Yet Americans, blind and gullible, are unable to see the evil that lurks before their eyes and that has entangled their own children. Parents, your child may belong to a dangerous cult – and you may be the one who encouraged him or her to join!

~Jeff Lindsay

When Ball Becomes Baal

by Jim Elliff

It’s rare to see kids playing sports in the neighborhood anymore. We’re now organized and “professionalized”—including uniforms, state-of-the-art facilities, endless trips to the field, competitive coaches, equally competitive parents, and the after-season tournaments designed to give parents “bleacher bottom.” In addition, you’ve got to pay to play—and when you’ve paid that much, you’ll be sure to play.

It is also fun, and it can be instructive. I love to watch my kids play sports. In fact, they need to play—some. But, it’s not so easy as handing over seventy bucks and saying, “Sign up Johnny and Susie this year.” Making that decision means that you may be out four to five times each week during the season. Soon sports becomes all about calendarization and control of your life—especially if you have more than one kid. Perhaps nothing outside of a change in your job has so much potential to turn the family schedule upside down.

“This man understands,” you say.

Now comes the part you won’t like: “Behold, I say unto you, you have made sports the household god.” Too strong? OK, not all of you. But the deification of sports is happening to many.

How does ball become Baal? Answer: When it controls you, and you give it devoted worship. It is around your god that you order your life—and you can almost never say “no” to it.

Like “athlete’s foot” on the hygienically-challenged teenager, sports has taken over more and more of the life of believers. Almost overnight we have awakened to the sad fact that, in many communities, sports has even usurped the hours believers meet on the Lord’s Day. All too often members are saying to church leaders, “We’ll be gone next Sunday because of the soccer tournament.” In turn, leaders are supposed to acquiesce humbly. After all, we can’t afford to appear “legalistic;” everyone knows that the greatest crime a church can commit is to demand something of someone.

You’ll hear, “But the team needs all the players. We can’t let the team down.” It never occurs to them that the church Body is being deprived of a necessary body part, or that God is marginalized and disobeyed. We are not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together, states God in Hebrews 10:25.

Devotion is the operative word. When the team says, “We need you,” we sacrifice to do it. But when it crosses the time allotted to spiritual edification and worship, the Ruler of the universe is often sent to the bench. In the process, we teach our children that devotion to sports is more important than both devotion to God and loyalty to our spiritual family. Have you considered that you may be teaching your kids to worship sports?

Here are some ways to put sports in the proper place:

First, decide beforehand that there will be no contest between the church’s essential activities designed for your family’s spiritual growth and what the team plans for your lives. If you will talk this over ahead of time with your child and then the coach, there will be no confusion. Through the years I’ve found that many coaches respect that decision. But, it must be a prior decision, not one made on a case by case basis. When sports conflicts with Sunday worship or youth camp or a special spiritual activity, the decision has already been made.

Secondly, determine that your children cannot play every sport. There is a sanctity to the home life that must be protected. You need quiet evenings at home. You need meals together. Just let your children know that you are excited about sports, but there are limits. You then determine what those limits are. For us, we attempt to have only one sport per year for each child.

Finally, think about some creative choices. One of my sons played basketball, but the season was interminably long. I was also traveling. So, I would be gone speaking over the weekend, then, when I was home, I was out two or more nights sitting on the sidelines watching my son practice. It was not really “time together.” This wasn’t going to work.

The solution came to me after prayer. I asked him if he would be willing to learn golf in the place of basketball. We could play together, along with his brother, and we could do it whenever we wanted. We could enjoy this for the rest of our lives. I’ve paid some extra money, but I’ve bought back some time with my sons and some good exercise for me also. It’s a bargain.

God Himself uses sports language in the New Testament. He’s not against it, unless it steals the devotion belonging to Him. All other gods have to go!

Copyright © 2004 Jim Elliff, Baptist Press

Remember. God abides no rivals. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). “Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen” (I John 5:21).

Wake-up, Pastors! Wake-up, Christians!

__________________________________________________ 

The Wake-Up Herald is published by Robert McCurry. The publication is designed to exalt the true God of the Bible, the Lord Jesus Christ, and inform, inspire, and challenge its readers regarding biblical truth and real-life issues. The contents are the sole responsibility of Robert McCurry and do not represent or speak for or on behalf of any other person or group. There is no subscription charge. The publication is a ministry of faith and dependent on the contributions of its readers. Contributions are not tax-deductible. Send all correspondence to: Robert McCurry, 605 Moore Rd  • Newnan , GA 30263 or herbap@aol.com


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