What in the world is going on? More specifically, what in the world is going on in America?

Our president and Congress are fighting. The members of Congress can't seem to be able to make any progress with our government. Financial problems continue to grow with no agreement on what to do about it. We continue having problems with immigration. And we can go on and on with many other problems.

There is general agreement the values of our country are being attacked. Our education system is not as strong as it was. When the Supreme Court ruled there no longer could be Bible reading or prayer in schools, our violent crimes grew, unwed pregnancies escalated, divorce rates grew rapidly and scholastic Aptitude Test Scores dropped rapidly. That was in 1962.

There are many other things happening in our country and the world that are difficult to understand. I am not a historian and make no claims to predict what is happening. But from several sources, I learn the average time for the world's greatest civilizations to survive is approximately 200 years. As we all know, we are past that time. Historians also tell us each of these nations have passed through the following sequence: from bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to complacency; from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependence; and from dependence to bondage. If these stages are applicable, where do we stand?

In a book titled "A Nation Under God?" edited by C.E. Gallivan is a chapter written by an experienced pastor titled "How a Nation Dies." I will share with you a number of his thoughts for your consideration. His name is Ray C. Stedman.

He begins the chapter by quoting Benjamin Franklin, who addresses George Washington during the Constitutional Convention with these words: "I have lived, sir, a long time and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, that God governs in the affairs of men. If a sparrow cannot fall to the ground unseen by him, is it possible that an empire could arise without his aid?"

He then quotes Napoleon's cynical answer to someone who asked him whether God was on the side of France by saying, "God is on the side of the heaviest artillery."

We know Napoleon lost the battle of Waterloo and Napoleon then humbly said, "Man proposes; God disposes."

Stedman quotes an "unknown" writer who said this: "If a man does not believe in God, his own ego becomes the ruler of his life. Since there are no standards of right and wrong existing apart from himself, right becomes that which pleases him, and wrong that which does not minister to his own ego. Since he himself is the supreme consideration, he is restrained by nothing but his own wishes and easily reaches the conclusion the best possible world is one in which his will is supreme. He, therefore, enforces it upon others to the limit of his ability. The denial of God thus becomes that from which totalitarianism develops. Freedom is possible only if men believe in God and seek to do his will. William Penn was right when he said if men wil1 not be governed by God, they must be governed by tyrants."

Stedman Quotes Abraham Lincoln, who termed the Bible as "God's best gift to men," and then points out the "impact of its pages upon his thinking is apparent in many of his speeches and writings as president."

Stedman writes, "The Bible's view of nations seems to group them in two major classifications: those who are moving toward darkness or those who are moving toward increasing light." He then describes the harmful aspects of darkness.

Stedman at the closing of his pages says, "Nations live by pursuing truth and love; they die by self-deceit, by bigotry and injustice, by ungodliness, pride and self-sufficiency."

We are all aware of strong influences in today's world to deny God. We want to get rid of "In God We Trust," the Ten Commandments, and Christmas decorations. Some time ago, after the fall of Russia, Solzhenitsyn was asked by a British broadcast reporter why the Russian people had lost their freedom. He said, "It was because we forgot God."

My belief is we are in great trouble.

I offer the above for you to consider our situation and choose your beliefs.

Arris Johnson is a member of the Generations Advisory Committee.