Of red pills and memes

In 1999’s ‘The Matrix’ from Warner Bros. (yes, the movie is that old) the idea of the mind waking up to truth is presented as a choice between a blue pill and a red pill.

 

As we know from the movie, Neo chooses the red pill and escapes the matrix. More recently, the idea has entered our lexicon and those who leave the Democrat party and extreme liberalism behind are said to have been red-pilled, invariably via the influence of a conservative on social media, be it YouTube, Twitter or some other platform.

 

https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=red%20pill

I thought of this as we were going to church this morning and drove past a Landrover Defender. It brought back memories and although white in this case, I was transported back to 1997 and the Ambassadors programme, a year-of-your-life intake training young people in ministry for missions in Africa.

 

We travelled in Southern Africa, as far north as Zambia, taking the gospel…you might say a red Landy red-pilling the unsaved and extending the kingdom.

 

The human mind is an awesome aspect of creation: imagine a creature able to partially comprehend an incomprehensible Creator and even interact with Him. We all know the story, the fall and a move from the mind being Adamic, to unregenerate and through faith to regenerate: technical theological terms describing the difference between an unbeliever unable to understand and accept Biblical truth and a Christian.

 

https://carm.org/what-is-the-noetic-effect-of-sin

 

Being exposed to social media regularly and people who use it, I pondered the question of whether it is becoming more difficult in the age of mass media to convince people of the need to be saved.

 

From a short essay on line examining mass media, the writer made two observations:

 

  1. Mass media “form[s] consciousness and public opinions in different problems and issues.”
  2. The “Media are so influential and powerful that people instantly believe what they hear or watch…”

 

http://essaynparagraph.com/mass-media/

 

In Paul’s day, pagans were exposed to ideas, read about them, discussed them and either adopted or discarded them. Knowledge (or the search for truth) was worked through with no hurry. Ideas were tested over the course of time, in the context of daily living.

 

Mass media provides too much information too fast for the average person to filter correctly. In the age of mass media, facts and opinions reached blizzard proportions: truth was hard to discern. In the age of social media, mass media is in the background and to the foreground is added emotions and activism.

 

Modern man has to traverse facts and opinions (of no eternal significance) as well as the added barriers of emotions and activism before truth is even presented for consideration.

 

Which means that in my humble opinion, the modern generation is the most disadvantaged when it comes to being balanced and spiritual.

The first and primary sin is the sin of not believing in Christ. This is the starting point for anyone who searches for salvation.

 

“There is only one sin of which the Spirit convicts the unbeliever, and that sin is failure to believe in Christ. This one sin sends the unbeliever to a Christ-less eternity (John 3:36). This is the very sin that the Spirit strives to bring to the unbeliever’s attention. Rather than seeking to morally reform the unsaved, the Spirit seeks to make them aware of their failure to believe in Christ. After a person comes to Christ, then the Spirit will convict them of other sins. But such sanctification cannot transpire until the unbeliever first becomes a Christian.”

 

http://www.spiritandtruth.org/teaching/documents/articles/66/66.htm?x=x

 

Mass media, especially mainstream tends to focus on worldly issues. The Christian is to focus on Christ and the world to come.

 

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your[a] life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” (1- 4, NIV).

 

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Colossians+3&version=NIV

 

In my opinion, mass media and social media is a barrier.

Knowledge takes time and is integrated, forming a logical field that intersects with every part of life; mass social media is imparted in electronic ‘bumper sticker’ sized portions, GIFs, short clips and memes that tell consumers what to think. The Gospel becomes the last thing on anybody’s minds.

 

It becomes a privilege to be used by the Spirit to do what we could never do on our own. And its a mystery how He accomplishes it. And as I remember from my experience in 1997 with the Ambassadors program, it’s pretty cool when you’re there to see it happen.

Under the bridges of Paris

Dino Paul Crocetti was born 7 June 1917 and died 25 December 1995, his life intersecting with mine for around 21 years, much of it until now only distantly aware of this Italian kid who made a mark on the world of music along with Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr and other members of the ‘rat pack’.

 

Suddenly, 100 years after he was born in Steubenville, Ohio, I discovered this musical genius and marvel that people could speak breathlessly of the talents of Lady Gaga and RiRi. Many modern musicians and singers have talent but are completely missing the charm of Dean Martin.

 

I know a few things about Dean Martin: he had charm, he could really sing, he was an Italian-American, wonderfully and completely embracing both cultures, and he loved the ladies, eventually marrying three of them at different times.

 

He couldn’t speak English until the age of 5 when he first attended school and was mercilessly mocked for that fact. Personally, I think Italian is rightly called a romantic language and being an Italian-American, Dino rightly sang ‘That’s Amore’, ‘Mambo Italiano’, ‘On an evening in Roma’ and ‘Volare’. And in the middle of all this talk of paisano’s and goombah’s, his repertoire includes a song, ‘Under the bridges of Paris’.

 

 

Paris is usually thought of in terms of romance, intimacy, bistros and couples enjoying wine in the summer, boats on the Seine. Who knows how many men and women have romanced and been romanced under the bridges of Paris on the Seine?

 

What Paris is perhaps not generally known for are catacombs. There may be romance under the bridges of Paris, but there are tombs and tunnels under the streets of Paris. The tunnels were created by mining for stone with which to build and in turn, after cemeteries became full, bones were packed in crypts along subterranean passageways. The city of Rome also has a network of catacombs used for the same purpose.

 

I can see a picture in my mind’s eye from an Indiana Jones movie, of Jones raiding a catacomb beneath Venice to find a clue to the location of the Holy Grail.

 

It’s intriguing what lies beneath the streets of cities. There’s as much history below ground as there is above it, because catacombs don’t just house bones, but paintings and information related to those who lived and died hundreds of years ago.

 

A world below ground reminds me that there is more to anything than can be observed on the surface; this is true for social movements and people.

 

Catacombs, like regular cemeteries above ground provide an insight into a previous generation and their eccentricities, including jokes, humorous stories and even a recipe:

 

http://mentalfloss.com/article/66298/29-unforgettable-epitaphs

 

Humor is great, and singing talent is very pleasant, but the best legacy any of us can leave behind is to point the way to Him.

Episodic

Listening to music this morning by Tim Timmons, a track titled ‘You Remain’ and I know exactly what he’s signing about.

 

I’m a Believer and I’m supposed to press in to mysteries in Scripture, supposed to enter freely into worship whether singing in the car or amongst my brethren at church, supposed to listen for the still, small voice, supposed to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.

 

But then…

 

“…I take the wheel and everything starts falling apart. I start to wonder off the road that leads to your heart. Still there you are.”

 

https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/timtimmons/youremain.html

 

How many times has He seen any of us – when He is in control – wrest the wheel from Him and go on a mess of a ride?

 

My thinking is like season 117 of an NCIS spinoff series, not counting the original.

 

I’m episodic: I fall apart in the middle of the episode, but He writes a satisfying ending to it where He has the wheel again. Until the next episode.

 

Such enduring grace on His part. As Tim Timmons titles his song in speaking about God: ‘You Remain’.

 

He remains, ready to take the wheel, ready to be God, ready to do it all over again with us.

Comfort, not comfortable

If you listen, the world is full of people’s stories and how their lives move in a given direction and how they process things that happened to them.

 

I listened to an interview on CCFM this week and the particulars of the story are for another time perhaps, but the point was the interviewee, one Katharine Wolf, experienced a major medical setback and was thoughtful and deliberate – and what’s more, full of faith – in the way she responded to it.

 

Being thoughtful and deliberate and seeking God in the midst of a situation seems like a very rare quality in today’s world. At least if I understand the Zeitgeist (the spirit of the times in which we live). I read too much news, and regularly browse through Twitter and it strikes me that too many people are too comfortable with sin.

 

Tragedy and setback don’t cause them to put sin on hold and seek God; instead many double down and seek the so-called truth of feelings instead of logic, to say nothing of the Truth of Scripture.

 

Being uncomfortable isn’t pleasant but it should make the average person consider things.

Serenity

In reading through Isaiah 40 this week, I was struck by the emphasis on comfort by the Lord as He is speaking to Israel.

 

1Comfort, comfort my people,
says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins.” (Isaiah 40, NIV)

 

The context is the previous chapter, 39, where it was announced that Babylon would invade and Israel would be exiled. Why was this so? Because Israel was too comfortable with sin and too unfamiliar with God.

 

“Isaiah is a book in three sections. Chapters 1-35 are prophetic, with the theme of condemnation. Chapters 36-39 are historic, and the theme is confiscation. Chapters 40-66 are messianic, and the theme is consolation.”

 

https://enduringword.com/bible-commentary/isaiah-40/

 

God is a good father and He deals with the sin of his people, both theirs personally and nationally. However in chapter 40 He is speaking comfort to them. This reminds me a lot of after a father or mother has disciplined a child and the Regimental Sergeant Major is done with the verbal tongue lashing and the hug restores the relationship. The mother or father can’t just leave the discipline hanging between them and the child. You have to move back in and remind the child that they are disciplined but loved. So is our Father in heaven. We may have made our own bed with our sin and our relationship with him has strained to the point of correction, yet He loves us and desires to comfort us.

 

God is mighty and Isaiah 40 explores this but before it does, verse 11 reminds us:

 

11 He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.” (Isaiah 40, NIV)

 

In reading through John 14 this week, I came across the idea of comfort again. Jesus comforts his disciples. From the context of chapter 13, Jesus had told his disciples that one of them would betray him and that he, Jesus, would be taken away from them that night. In distinction from Isaiah 1 through 39, the disciples were not being disciplined by God, or corrected. It’s just life that happens, and in the midst of that Jesus comforts them.

 

““1 Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God[a]; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14, NIV)

 

I like the way this website frames the idea of comfort and why we need it:

 

“…we humans suffer distress in a unique “three-dimensional” way—past, present and future. We remember previous distresses and are filled with grief or regrets (Genesis 37:35Matthew 26:75). We face each day’s troubles and worry (Matthew 6:25–32). We reflect on these things and dread what may come next (verse 34). And beyond these worldly matters is that most distressing sensation of all, the guilt for having deeply, inexcusably offended our good and righteous Creator and Judge (James 2:10–11Revelation 6:16).

Believers in Christ have a comfort from God that includes a true freedom from guilt.”

 

https://www.gotquestions.org/God-of-all-comfort.html

 

When I’m uncomfortable – which happens regularly on a Monday, but can really be anytime – I call out to Him. My discomfort doesn’t magically disappear (ask Paul about that thorn in the flesh; 2 Corinthians 12), but I’m going through the experience with the Holy Spirit.

 

I think of Isaiah 40 and John 14 and am reminded that he tends His flock, gathers the lambs and carries them to Him, leads those that have young and is preparing a place for me.

Eleven rules

Inspired by Chris Pratt (a rarity in Hollywood – an actor who advocates for morality) and Jordan B. Peterson, I came up with my own short, anecdotal list of rules that have been of help to me and have been developed from years of living.

 

https://www.etonline.com/chris-pratt-offers-9-hilarious-inspiring-life-rules-while-accepting-mtv-generation-award-104428

 

Not as profound as Solomon, but I humbly present the following:

 

Rule 1

Try to remember to be compassionate. If you fail, try again. You never know what someone else is going through and we all need as much grace as we can get.

 

Rule 2

Don’t forget that social media isn’t real life. Not even close.

 

Rule 3

Try to be humorous, but remember that comedy is mostly about timing. Not every time is appropriate for cracking a joke. Even sarcasm and sardonic wit have their place. But yes, humour goes a long way.

 

Rule 4

Stay away from stupid (people). John Wayne was heard to have said that ‘Life is hard. It’s harder if you’re stupid’. More cowboy wisdom: Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear or a fool from any direction.

 

Rule 5

There is only one way to be saved; be single minded in your pursuit of working out your salvation with fear and trembling.

 

Rule 6

Be mindful of your Audience of One and live accordingly; repent often but sincerely.

 

Rule 7

Put a lot of thought into your opinions and stand up for them. Remember too that many issues are complex, and know that you could have only part of the story. Be open to amendments to that opinion. However if you’re certain you’re right, don’t wimp out. Base your thinking on authoritative sources and appeal to those when voicing your opinion. Remember that most people are closed minded and are predisposed to not hearing or seeing contrary evidence, so it’s hard not to get frustrated. However that has no bearing on the appropriateness of rightness of standing up for well developed opinion.

 

Rule 8

If you’re a man, live with honour. If you don’t know what that is, watch the movies of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood; study the ethos of the United States Marine Corps. If you’re a woman, I’ll have to get back to you on that, but remember that at his core a man wants to do the right thing and a subtle encouragement is better than a makeover sustained by many words (I wanted to say try not to nag, but that would come across as too unkind).

 

Rule 9

Be wary of blindly trusting people in authority. One of the greatest epiphanies of adulthood is that everyone is winging it. Everyone’s human, everyone has an angle and its puddysticks to end up abusing authority.

 

Rule 10

Treat all media reporting with a large grain of salt. If the mainstream media in the Trump age has taught me anything is that the media are more enthralled by their ability to manipulate the public with emotion rather than the pursuit of truth or fact. When you make an error of fact, admit to it. We should all be better than CNN.

 

Rule 11

Read Scripture. It’s the opposite of fake news, and is in fact good news. Being Biblically literate is a rare commodity in today’s world.

A future hope

The story has been told and retold countless times: a young hero discovers that he or she – while living a mundane life – is part of a grand story of resistance to evil, and our hero embraces the discovery of their place in the fight and goes on to win the first battle with the war just starting.

 

A series of movies is thus born and 40 years after the release of ‘Star Wars: A New Hope’, we have 10 movies in the franchise with who knows how many more on the way? As many as the House of Mouse (Disney) can manage to squeeze revenue out of. Will the commercial imperative to do a thing to death destroy the artistry of George Lucas’ vision? We’ll soon find out.

 

Along with Luke Skywalker’s discovery of his purpose and the hope of establishing emancipation from the stomping Empire, we journey to seeming hopelessness when ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ and all seems lost. ‘The Return of the Jedi’ completes the trilogy and by the end the Death Star is destroyed along with the Empire and Luke has managed to redeem the soul of Anakin Skywalker who forsakes his Darth Vader persona.

 

The idea of hope isn’t merely a device, a hook on which to hang a story. For the Christian, hope is substantive, meat and potatoes, albeit future meat and potatoes.

 

There is a genuine idea that the Christian has a hope, a kind that is audacious to believe in, stunningly naive to the mind of an atheist, but that nonetheless exists. Its not something like fingers-crossed and whimsical, like discovering that fairies live in the bottom of your garden.

 

The hope for the Christian is an end to suffering, but that the suffering we endure has a purpose.

 

The hope of the Christian is a glorified body where there is no entropy, no decay, astigmatism, cancer, slow metabolism or anything of the sort; no susceptibility to colds or flu, communion with our Maker as it was meant to be.

 

“18 Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. 19 For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. 20 Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, 21 the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. 22 For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children,* including the new bodies he has promised us. 24 We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope* for it. 25 But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)” (Romans 8, NLT)

 

How can we trust that this hope isn’t just a sham?

 

When I purchase a burger at Burger King, I shell out money and receive a ticket or receipt with a number and I wait for word from the counter that my meal is ready. The principle is the same operational idea of our hope. While we wait, we get a promise in writing, something to hold onto.

 

As Believers, we have the Holy Spirit as a promise of our future hope. The analogy of course is very basic and inadequate. More than merely a flimsy receipt, the Holy Spirit dwells in the Believer and gives us hope in our otherwise hopelessness.

 

A receipt for goods is one thing, that’s a contract; God’s way is covenant, much stronger and in a whole different class than a contract.

 

When we think sin is going to drag us down, all of a sudden He puts our feet back on the narrow path. He helps us to read the promises of Scripture and see that they will be fulfilled, no matter our present circumstances.

 

The Holy Spirit helps us in our weaknesses. This week I listened over and over again to Tim Timmons’ song: Cast My Cares:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RpY_xDaFhvE

 

I have brought my cares to Him and will continue to do so, but sometimes in my weakness, in the midst of a desperate situation, I have no idea what to pray and how it can glorify Him. The Holy Spirit intercedes for us and expresses to the Father the things that we can’t even understand.

 

https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/the-spirit-helps-us-in-our-weakness-part-1

 

That’s a present help and a future hope.

Meet-cute

A meet-cute is saccharine plot device that sets up a meeting of the romantic leads in your typical Hollywood film. Not that I would know, but I suspect Bollywood and Nollywood have the same neat tricks, perhaps because it appeals to our romantic notions.

 

https://www.silverpetticoatreview.com/2016/02/24/the-meet-cute-10-memorable-first-meetings-in-film/

 

It would be a very brave film-maker who went through with making a movie based on a true story: like Lale Sokolov’s. Lale Sokolov was a prisoner and tattooist in Auschwitz concentration camp, whose job it was to tattoo the prisoner number on the arms of incoming captives.

 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5247399/The-incredible-love-story-Tattooist-Auschwitz.html

 

It so happened that he met a young lady whose name was Gita and the two soon fell in love. In the midst of trying to survive from day to day in a concentration camp. A romantic treatment of this story would be about as awkward as the fictional musical ‘Spring time for Hitler’ in the 2005 movie, ‘The Producers’:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fsql523bSj4

 

Romanticism is for the movies. Real life is seldom filled with such serendipity, coincidences and background music when two people meet. Or indeed when anything of consequence happens.

Pure schmaltz

Recently I heard a new song by Steven Curtis Chapman called ‘Remember to remember’:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJz_rv5qC4s

 

Looking back at what God has done, and where he has brought a person should be devoid of romanticism and silly notions of perfection. Mountain tops and valleys, successes and failures. Reality and Grace like a combination of concrete and rebar in a construction that is durable, a bridge or building that can be used for as long as we live, standing in testament to how He has been a part of our lives and how our lives are a part of His kingdom and rule.

 

It’s good to remember the encounters that we have with God, each one memorable and profound and particular to whatever situation we find ourselves in.

 

11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
12 I will consider all your works
and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”” (Psalm 77, NIV).

 

I remember the circumstances of meeting my future wife. It was no meet-cute. I remember the circumstances of meeting God (ironically in a re-purposed movie theatre), and I remember the times of meeting in good times and bad.

 

No Hollywood. No cheesy lines, no schmaltzy endings, as real as pavement. And I’m still here because He has sustained me, and that’s what I hear when a maestro like Steven Curtis Chapman who pours his heartache and triumphs into a song like this. As much as life has put the lines on his face, it also produces art that we can hear with our ears, art that reminds us to remember.

Tales of Winter

In Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing (pretty much my favourite play), Leonato of Messina remarks to his Beatrice – who resists the idea of being paired with Signor Benedick – “you will never run made, niece”. To which she replies, “No, not till a hot January.” (Act 1, Scene 1)

 

It’s a delicious irony as before the play is through she does run mad (with love for Benedick). Another part of her statement strikes me as amusing, since in South Africa, it would be rare not to have a hot January.

 

While the weather is warming in northern Europe, on the toe of Africa, it’s getting colder.

 

Winter approaches. We do indeed have a hot January but a freezing June thanks to a 23-degree tilt of the planet as it orbits around the sun.

Cold and dark with detritus

The late Myles Munroe, a preacher from the Bahamas, once related to his audience the lack of logic shown by some Christians, who in the midst of a cold snap opted to rebuke the frost – in the name of Jesus – when it was clearly obvious that frost had a right to be present, being a part of winter’s arsenal.

 

I recently came across a poem by Christina Rosetti. It was used by Chris Tomlin in the lyrics for a song about Christmas:

 

“In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago…

 

… What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.”

 

https://interestingliterature.com/2016/12/23/a-short-analysis-of-christina-rossettis-in-the-bleak-midwinter/

 

The idea of the wind moaning evokes for me Paul’s letter to the Romans where he talks of all creation groaning.

 

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans+8%3A22+-+25&version=NIV

Winter winds blow

In the midst of Winter and cold, we wait for the redemption of our bodies, and creation waits for that redemption too, as keenly as we await Spring and the thaw that takes place on the way to Summer.

 

Most of us don’t like Winter and I’m certainly not going to try convince you otherwise. But it is God’s will for there to be seasons and cold, seemingly with all the difficulties attended to that: colds, flu, worse traffic.

 

There is an interesting side to winter:

 

It provides a picture of the cleanness of snow and a landscape that has been washed white with forgiveness.

 

The cold of snow is a reminder of the value of being rebuked from time to time.

 

The woman whose household is prepared for winter where everyone is kitted out for the cold offers an illustration of value of mothers to a family.

 

http://thefederalist.com/2014/02/13/the-six-best-bible-verses-about-snow/

 

Winter is fascinating for the records that it sets or breaks:

 

The average Winter temperature for Cape Town seems to hover around the 15-degree mark however when we compare that with the temperature recorded at a Russian research station in Antarctica in 1983: -89.2 degrees. So cold that if you needed an electric device to heat up your room, you could leave the freezer door open.

 

The temperatures in Russia itself are slightly warmer; The remote village of Oymyakon averages temperatures on the order of -50 degrees.

 

According to the authorities at Guinness World Records, the largest snowflakes ever recorded measured a width in excess of the length of a typical ruler here in South Africa.

 

http://justfunfacts.com/interesting-facts-about-winter/

 

Winter is a time when I look at the power of nature as God created it. Nature can simply sweep us aside in a random storm. It puts into perspective for me the One who created it.

Prayer before Bedfordshire

When it comes to time for a person to go to Bedforsdhire, and time to sign off for the evening, my mind hearkens back to a curiosity of the 1990’s which has stood the test of time when it comes to cheese, but also longevity in terms of being memorable: MC Hammer’s song (but does a rap performance count as a song?) “We need to pray”.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S1ikaMK_De8

 

More appropriately – and more Biblically – Paul urges Believers to pray instead of being anxious:

 

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” Philippians 4:6 (NLT)

 

What follows is a prayer concerning my anxious thoughts:

 

Heavenly Father

 

I come to you in Jesus’ Name

 

Please undertake for those who are oppressed and your children all over the world who face persecution for your name, in Syria and wherever Islam opposes you, in the West wherever ministers of State oppose your rule;

 

Please bless my loved ones and guide their lives, keep them safe from harm and heal their diseases and bless them with long life;

 

Please save those who don’t know you: those living in sin, or ignorance; those who follow false ideas and comforting lies, those who don’t want to give up pleasure to walk the narrow path;

 

Please comfort those who face all kinds of loss, and those who mourn and those who know that the years have flown by and seem to be wasted and they cannot go back in time and fix a mistake or a regret;

 

Strengthen those who are weak and don’t know how they stumble from morning till evening and make it through a day;

 

Help us Christians to be in unity, to demonstrate to the world that Yours is the way to follow; help us to stand for truth and to tell the truth in love, and to never stop telling your truth even though we see the angry teeth of those who hate you;

 

Plead the case of those who have been falsely or maliciously accused and face imprisonment or harassment by agents of law abusing their authority (I think particularly of Stephen Yaxley-Lennon and Donald Trump);

 

Please help us Believers to seek you at all times and to draw closer to you in the good times and the bad;

 

Please strengthen the marriages of those I know and love, and keep them safe in this wicked world;

 

Amen

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem

There is a Muslimah that I encounter on a regular basis who typifies precisely the gulf in thinking between the typical Muslim and the typical Christian.

 

I have an unfashionable affinity for Israel and Jerusalem. Unfashionable, because most of the mainstream media and opinion leaders in the Twitterverse back the Palestinians in their conflict with Israel. As does pretty much the entire Muslim world.

 

The narrative is as follows: The Israelis stole Palestinian land and the Palestinians are firmly under their boot, so the caring thing to do is embrace the cause of the oppressed and oppose Israel. As with all of human history of course, no conflict is as simple as that.

 

If you point out the statistical abundance of Palestinian terrorism, why the narrative has an answer for that too: they have no other way to fight back, you see. Those mean Israelis have all the military hardware to oppress them indefinitely.

 

This Muslimah that I know is perhaps not entirely representative of Muslim thinking in general however in my exposure to the marketplace of ideas it cannot be emphasised too much that the adherents of Islam cannot generally tolerate Jews. At least not where they are in an increasing minority in Western countries, or in outright Muslim countries.

 

Anwar Sadat, the Egyptian president, was assassinated in 1981 for daring to makes move of peace with Israel. Yasser Arafat – were he so inclined – would never have dared make peace with Israel for the same reason. The violence of course is not only on one side. Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by an ultra-nationalist Jew for contemplating the Oslo accords, ceding Jewish land to a Palestinian state.

 

The Middle East conflict can be seen in terms of a geo-political conflict where enemies must be eliminated. Paul reminds the Ephesians that the battle for the Christian is not against flesh and blood.

 

People are not enemies, but ideas are, especially sinful ideas.

 

People are either living according to the flesh or living according to the Spirit. In the Christian context, there are only two types of people:

 

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans+8%3A5+-+9&version=NIV

 

If my thinking is governed by the Spirit and not by the flesh, I see my Jewish brothers as needing to come to Christ, and the following verses suggesting a large scale awakening somewhere in the end times that moves me:

 

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Zechariah+12%3A8+-+10&version=NIV

 

God has plans for people and his ultimate will is that as many as possible come to knowledge of the truth. Muslims have a need for Christ, much more so than they could ever realise. And I pray for this Muslimah and others that she would know the truth, because behind the zeal for Muslim things, I see a soul who wants to know God, but the only way she knows is through Mohammed.

 

There’s plenty that I don’t know, but one thing I do is that Mohammed didn’t have the answer and didn’t know the way. He took as good a guess as perhaps he could. I look at Muslims and see desperate human beings walking in the flesh who need God.

 

https://www.challies.com/articles/how-to-pray-for-unbelievers/

 

Scripture urges us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6). Tomorrow, 14 May 2018 will be 70 years since the establishment of the modern State of Israel. President Trump has directed that the U.S. embassy be moved from Tel Aviv to the eternal capital of Israel, Jerusalem.

There’s something interesting about the timing of this move, and of the respect that Trump gives to Jerusalem. He’s perhaps not quite in line with living a moral life, at least in the past or recent past, however Jerusalem is a city that God is concerned about and notices.

 

It’s where Christ died, and it’s the city to which He will return. And therefore

 

“May those who love you be secure.
May there be peace within your walls
and security within your citadels.”
For the sake of my family and friends,
I will say, “Peace be within you.”
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
I will seek your prosperity.    (Psalm 122:7 – 9) NIV