We will be heading from winter into springtime, when traditionally at least, homes get an extra-special clean-up.  Much of the old is thrown out, and sometimes something new will be brought in.  It might simply be a redecoration of rooms, giving a fresh new look.  I don’t know how much that tradition is still held to, but it is something that was done in times past.

Bringing in the new can be a good thing.  We look for new beginnings in each new year, that the problems of the past will be left behind, as we grasp the new opportunities that arise.  A new MP, making his maiden speech in the House of Commons, used the opportunity to defend Christianity.  Danny Kruger, MP for Devizes in Wiltshire argued that a return to our Christian heritage can help to shape Britain for the better.  He rightly argued that many of today’s problems could be solved by restoration of Christianity to the public arena.  He said that “our liberties derive from the Christian idea of absolute human dignity”, and said further that the notion of identity would be one which would be discussed many times during this parliamentary term.  He said that “traditionally”, British people had had a sense that we are all capable of both great wrong and great virtue.  And even for those who didn’t believe in God, there was a sense that our country is rooted in Christianity.  And today these ideas are losing their purchase.  So we are trying to find a new set of values to guide us, a new language of rights and wrongs, and a new idea of identity, based not on our universal inner value, or on our membership of a common culture, but on our particular differences.”  The sense of sarcasm and disbelief is strong.  A well-known word game host, whose catchphrase is, “Join us then, same time same place, you be sure of it!”, wants us to believe his word, while He rejects God’s Word.  During one of the programmes in January he ridiculed those that believe in creationism.  God is slow to anger as we see in Genesis and throughout Scripture, but the time did come when He sent the Flood.

In bringing his speech to a conclusion, Kruger said: “As we advance at speed into a bewildering world where we are forced to ask the most profound questions about the limits of autonomy and what it means to be human, we may have reasons to look about for the old ways and seek wisdom in the old ideas which are in my view entirely timeless.”  Noah tried to warn his generation.  The prophets, including Jeremiah and Isaiah, the prophet of righteousness and justice, tried to turn the hearts of the people back to the Lord their God.  Isaiah never gave up on his people, even when he tried to shatter the illusion of financial security and peace, still he believed in his city and his people.  According to his worldview, the state of Israel must be governed by God.  His word is still valid and powerful today, particularly for Israel: “For the Lord is our Judge, the Lord is our lawmaker, the Lord is our King – He will save us” (Isaiah 33:22).  Britain would do well to observe and to obey Isaiah’s word.  It is God that saves, not leaving the EU; not our cleverness, ingenuity and smugness; not our morality or immorality; not our rejection of the God who saves.

Britain has a so-called special relationship with the USA.  We had a special relationship with God in times past.  It was God that gave us riches, prosperity, power and security amongst the nations.  Let us not believe it was all due to our efforts; instead give due thanks to God.  Sir Kim Darroch somewhat upset the special relationship applecart when he described the Trump administration as being ‘inept’ and ‘incompetent’.  He had to resign his post, and has been replaced by the experienced Karen Pierce.  She is the new ambassador to the UN in New York and Permanent Representative at the UN Security Council.  Hopefully there will be peace in our time between Britain and the USA, but if we turn our back on God and rely on this alliance with a powerful ally, we will repeat the mistakes of Israel in times past; and will undoubtedly suffer the consequences for such arrogance.

Disease

In their attempt to be loving, some Christians have tried to redefine sin.  They ignore God’s design for our bodies and our sexuality, and not only embrace sin themselves, but refuse to call it out in others.  Their actions simply confirm, and entrench the world in the belief that there is no God for them to answer to.  The Church is doctrinally-fluid, changing according to societies whims, and the nation is increasingly gender-fluid, with people believing they can choose to be whatever they want to be.  They believe the fake news that true freedom is found in embracing the identity they want and living exactly as they want to live, with no restrictions.  We are in a state of dis-ease as a result of ignoring God’s word.  Godless China is responsible for the latest outbreak of disease, but the UK has its problems too.

The Scottish scandal has revealed cracks in the self-righteous Scotland government.  This is a country that seeks to control all kinds and aspects of society, depriving people of various freedoms, and wanting to regulate eating, drinking and driving and so forth, but they don’t want to regulate the sex-drive.  The recent Derek Mackay is but one scandal to touch the SNP.  Others were MP Angus MacNeil, and MP Stewart Hosie.  Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP, which she holds up as a beacon of light to the nations, is quickly fading into darkness.

While there is great emphasis placed on the new Coronavirus, known as 2019-nCoV, and which is poised to become more deadly than SARS, we have our own growth in venereal disease in this country.  The Department for Education introduced statutory Sex Education in 1993.  Since then STI rates amongst teenagers from rose from almost zero, to accounting now for almost half of all new infections.  A report recently issued by the Terrence Higgins Trust and the British Association for Sexual Health & HIV (BASHH), in 2018 records there were nearly half a million STI diagnoses in the UK.  But, “Over the last decade,’ they reported, ‘cases of gonorrhoea have risen by 249%, while rates of syphilis have increased by 165%.”  And most of these new infections – what are called a disproportionate number – are, they said, among young people and gay and bisexual men.[i]  You can sign a petition calling for all sex education in the UK to carry full and comprehensive warning of the health risks attaching to non-monogamous sex.[ii]

Scientists around the world are trying to figure out what must be done to end the global health emergency unleashed by the new coronavirus.  The new coronavirus is a close cousin of viruses that infect bats. It appears to have jumped from an unconfirmed wild source (most likely bats) to an intermediate host, possibly pangolins or other small mammals, being sold as food at a market in Wuhan, a transportation and commercial hub in central China. The infected people unknowingly spread it to others, setting off the outbreak’s deadly journey.  As the outbreak accelerates and spreads, dozens of countries have deployed increasingly stringent measures to try to contain the epidemic.  An international network of researchers at data and wet laboratories are gathering and analysing data in their efforts to unmask and disarm this perplexing new disease.  On Monday 10th February 2020, China reported its largest single-day death toll, 97, pushing the total reported dead worldwide to 910, with more than 40,500 people infected on four continents.

In 2003, during the early days of the SARS outbreak, the medical community believed that case fatality hovered between 2 percent and 3 percent.  The actual case fatality for Hong Kong was a staggering 17 percent!  They got their maths wrong.  Does this outbreak resemble seasonal flu, SARS or one of the largest plagues in human history, the 1918-19 “Spanish flu” pandemic?  We are about to found out, possibly in the next few weeks.

Perhaps this is a harbinger to cause humans to stop and think.  The world is not heeding the Word of God, so perhaps action, not words, is needed in the attempt to cause people to consider their vulnerability, and to turn to God for mercy.  During the plagues and “Global Warming” combined in Revelation 16:9, the people refused to repent and glorify God.  The outbreak of Coronavirus originated in godless China.  The Godless world described in the Book of Revelation, is even worse than we are today.  The world, not heeding God’s warnings, and not repenting and glorifying God will end up facing God’s wrath.

The Power of God – and the chain gangs chain reaction

Reminding me of the days of David Wilkerson and Nicky Cruz, and the gang members and fights of that era, Charisma News reports on 600 male inmates at a prison in Izalco, El Salvador.  All the men were members of violent gangs when they were incarcerated. About 20% of them were affiliated with the MS-13 gang—a group known for horrific attacks on women, children and police officers.  The report states: “I felt no fear as I looked out over the crowd and shared a message from Luke 15 about the prodigal son. Most of the men were carrying Bibles, and when I announced my text, they immediately turned to the passage. I could hear them yell, "Amen," or "Gloria a Dios," when I stressed an important point. And they clapped and cheered when I reminded them that the kosher Jewish father in the story welcomed his wayward son home even though the boy smelled like pigs.

Almost every prisoner in this huge group became a Christian after arriving at the Izalco prison. Two churches now operate inside the facility, pastored by men who were once tough criminals. All the men now gather for Bible study every day, they hold prayer and fasting vigils, and they are helping each other to grow spiritually.

When the men worshipped on Monday, six guys used plastic paint tubs for drums while an inmate with a huge smile led the praise choruses. The men sang louder and with more passion than I've witnessed in most churches in the outside world.

Faith was never forced on anyone, but more and more men began to find Jesus in a chain reaction of grace. The new converts changed dramatically. They were no longer angry and depressed. They became cooperative and friendly. Their frowns turned to smiles.

“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13)

Blessings and shalom

Malcolm [11.02.2020]

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