Hope in the storm

Hurricane Irma is scheduled to start her run Sunday up the spine of Florida–a State I have many ties to.  It’s a unique display of the destructive chaos of a fallen universe.  I don’t put much stock in leaders who often jump to declare individual disasters as specific judgments from God for specific failures of a group of people.  The Bible certainly confirms He has done so in the past.  And we live in an age literally hell-bent on thumbing our nose at God.  But I believe in this age of Grace we now live since the sacrifice of Christ, these “acts of God” are less often conscious action on His part than they are inaction to stop the built-in consequences of a creation frustrated under the weight of sin.

There are two things to consider here from God’s view.  First, the world increasingly rejects anything to do with Him.  Second, times of catastrophe focus us on what’s truly important and necessary far more than do times of calm and comfort.  So rather than seeing God as a cosmic killjoy looking for excuses to hurl lightning bolts at wrongdoers, I believe the better analogy is one of a rejected Lover who has sadly granted our world’s desire to leave His presence and prescriptions, and as a consequence lose His protection as well.

But that’s the “big picture,” so to speak.  The wondrous part of all this is that God doesn’t just deal with humanity.  Or a specific nation.  Or a specific city.  He treats with each of us individually, desiring a personal relationship based on reciprocal love.  This is unlike any “religious” conception on earth: the Creator desiring individual communion with His created.  Despite humanity’s sinful nature He cares for us and hears us — our needs, wants, fears, and confessions.  Just this week a family I know was stranded far from home with a broken car well after business hours.  Yet God answered their pleas for help with an amazing turn of events that brought the right people (including an off-duty mechanic) and provided the resources to get them safely on their way again.

So in the midst of the storm; in the midst of the effects of the rule of this present darkness, we all have the privilege to seek shelter through prayer in the love of the Father, made possible by His Son, Jesus Christ.  It’s not simply a “get out of jail free” card, or some kind of magic spell to ward off tragedy.  No, this presence He offers provides comfort, perspective, and strength regardless of what happens physically:

(King) Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good.  But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?”

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

That is the comfort and strength I’m talking about: the confidence to trust God, obey Him, and let Him work all things for the good of those who love HimIt may not be the “good” we think we want.  “Unfair” things will happen.  We may lose our jobs.  Our earthly possessions.  Even our life.  But for those who love God and trust Him, any and all of that pales in comparison to the eternal joy that awaits us when we see Him face to face.

Everyone reading this is facing storms.  It may not be a Category 4 hurricane, but we each have pressures that threaten to crush us.  Know there is a God who cares for you, who is far more powerful than any storm you could face, and who desires what He knows is the best for you.  Ask Him for peace.  For calm in the midst of the storm.  And    *Even If*    it seems the storm has taken everything away from you, know that if your trust is in God you already have everything you need.  There is nothing that can take that away from you.

Nothing.

May the Lord bless and keep us all, according to His good will.

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Leaders literally with no future

As we celebrate motherhood today, there is a significant trend worth noting.  We often hear “think of the children” when an unpopular or unwise piece of legislation is being proposed.  And yet, few of our leaders have “skin in the game” when it comes to their nation’s future:

Emmanuel Macron founded a new party, and his election as France’s president is said to herald the “revival of Europe.” Interestingly, Macron has no children.

This is not that notable in itself. After all, George Washington had no biological children. But across the continent Macron wants to bind closer together, there’s a stark pattern:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel also has no children. British prime minister Theresa May has no children. Italian prime minister Paolo Gentiloni has no children. Holland’s Mark Rutte has no children. Sweden’s Stefan Loumlfven has no biological children. Luxembourg’s Xavier Bettel has no children. Scotland’s Nicola Sturgeon has no children. Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, has no children.

This is too remarkable to ignore. While Macron is young—39 years old—the rest of Europe is being governed by childless Baby Boomers

It’s clear which side has political power now. But the demographics point to a different future. In 2009 Phillip Longman noted that in France (for example) a tiny minority of women are giving birth to over 50% of the children every year. These women are either practicing Catholics or immigrant Muslims.

Contemporary childless leaders, however ascendant they feel today, may be the last gasp of secularism. The future is won by those who show up, and only the religiously orthodox are having children.

Those still swimming in the ancient streams of Faith and Culture in France will have the observant offspring of two rival religions living within the borders of one nation. The second Battle of Tours, (or Vienna, or Lepanto) might be extra bloody due to the policies of today, but the authors of those policies will not be around because they will be dead, and their offspring will not be around, because they do not exist.

Surely Macron, Merkel, Juncker, and the rest would argue that they can do their crucial jobs better because they don’t have children to distract them. C.S. Lewis provides the rebuttal: “Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work.”

The elite have long been insulated from the effects of their piously pie-in-the-sky policies by doing such things as living in gated communities and sending their children to high-priced private schools.  As this article points out, they have even less reason today to worry about the effects of their futile utopianism.  This is probably a key reason why our leadership seems so out of touch with the people they allegedly lead, especially in the area of immigration.  It won’t be their children suffering from the resurgence of long-controlled diseases like measles and whooping cough.  It won’t be their children who will either have to fight or conform to alien ideologies that were allowed in through millions of adherents’ migration.   It won’t be their children who face falling wages due to competition from cheaper labor overseas and immigrant labor at home.  They can afford to wear utopian blinders in a way no parent can.

While I’ve excerpted a good bit, read the entire piece for yourself here.

The reign of the ‘god of this world’

“In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”  2 Cor 4:4

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!”  Isaiah 5:20

From Thursday’s New York Times (caution: difficult reading ahead):

QADIYA, Iraq — In the moments before he raped the 12-year-old girl, the Islamic State fighter took the time to explain that what he was about to do was not a sin. Because the preteen girl practiced a religion other than Islam, the Quran not only gave him the right to rape her — it condoned and encouraged it, he insisted.

He bound her hands and gagged her. Then he knelt beside the bed and prostrated himself in prayer before getting on top of her.

When it was over, he knelt to pray again, bookending the rape with acts of religious devotion.

“I kept telling him it hurts — please stop,” said the girl, whose body is so small an adult could circle her waist with two hands. “He told me that according to Islam he is allowed to rape an unbeliever. He said that by raping me, he is drawing closer to God…”

Tragically, it is — drawing him closer to the ‘god (lower-case “g”) of this world,’ who is running amok in our day.  Anyone who can look upon the atrocities of ISIS, or the holocaust of unborn children in the West, and state that evil doesn’t really exist–that the term is merely a social convention based on outmoded religious beliefs–is indeed “blinded.”  Fatally so.

There are many who look upon ISIS and others, like the Westboro Baptist Church, and conclude the problem is faith itself.  Sadly, they too lack discernment.  The Enemy is shrewd — whether you serve him directly or become spiritually indifferent as a result of those who do, either way he draws souls away from the salvation Christ came to offer.  Those who believe the elimination of ‘religion’ is the path to peace don’t realize that the evils of the linked article is the default setting of a world that is enslaved by sin.  They literally risk throwing out the baby–the Christ child, the only hope of redemption–with the bathwater.

But for those of us with “eyes to see” and “ears to hear,” we know there is only One solution for this.  While it may eventually involve physical confrontation, far above the mere dabbling with airstrikes and symbolic but ineffective gestures, the real solution involves seeking to draw near to Jehovah, our creator, sustainer and savior.  It involves praying for the Spirit to bring revival — and not just in America.

The battle lines are being drawn, both abroad and at home.  May the God (uniquely capital “G”) of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Peter and Paul watch over us.  Our nation does not deserve it, but unlike those who serve hellish spirit the Times unwittingly wrote about, we serve a God of love, mercy and grace.

And the battle ultimately belongs to Him.

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.”    Ephesians 6:12-13

The true love that wins

All of us who believe in the Biblical worldview need to learn how to express our beliefs like this.  It’s the latest example of why this web comic made my site’s link list not long ago.

Don’t think for a moment the challenging need to express God’s word boldly but lovingly is limited to this current topic du jour, either.  “Gay marriage” is but the latest and most blatant manifestation of the prevalent worldview that there’s really no such thing as sin.  We need to push back against that, while acknowledging humbly and clearly that we, too, continue to wrestle with the temptations of this fallen world.  In that, as the comic points out, there is common ground between believer and non-believer.

The difference is that we’ve met the Overcomer — the One who ‘delivers us from this body of death’ — and long to introduce everyone else to Him because we know what He’s done in our lives.  We are not superior, and it’s not about us.  As a Christian leader once said, “I’m just a poor beggar trying to show the other beggars where I found food.”

We’re told there is no greater love than one who lays down his life for his friends.  In that context, indeed, #lovewins.

Farewell to the Fox

I’ve been a Firefox browser for several years, but no longer.  This neatly sums up the reasons why I’ve switched to Pale Moon (a derivative of the Mozilla platform, and a temporary selection until I have time to research something even further removed).

Many on the Left are revealing their true colors, now that social attitudes have been successfully shifted (this having been their active agenda for some time).  The treatment of Eich by OK Cupid and Mozilla is just the latest anecdote confirming the underlying illiberal nature of ‘liberals.’

True tolerance involves a ‘live and let live’ approach.  This is the basis for the oft-highlighted increased support in America for so-called ‘marriage equality.’  But it would seem evil demands ‘tolerance’ only until it is in a position to rule, at which point the means to an end is easily discarded and critics treated in they way the former underdogs labelled inappropriate when applied to them.

Two, however, can play that game.  Time to call out the ‘tolerance police’ for what they are: intolerant purgers of the Western, Christian traditions of the recent past.  It’s not tolerance they want: it’s affirmation and compliance.  They may soon find that in shooting for the later they end up losing what they gained of the former.

Rather than let recent events spur similar campaigns against others, “Mozilla delenda est.”