Sunday, January 25, 2015

The News Alarms and the Good Transcends

Window view, NW Washington, DC, (c)2014 Jean P. Purcell
The Washington Post comes to our house every day. We know it is likely to be full of sad news front to back. 

Our TV brings in many news sources, all telling of dissension and disaster, threats and fright. They do this 24/7. 

News magazines in waiting rooms forecast the future of nations, climate, governance, militia, families, and more, often with dark predictions and falling hopes. 

Life and death, good and evil happen in human events. We are reminded of this every day. Some see or live within it daily.  

Christians today around the world realize that much of the world's news resembles in nature the Roman-ruled world of Jesus' years on earth. In earlier years, from Genesis to Malachi, it was much the same: the earth filled with turmoil, relatively few years of peace anywhere in their experience.  

“You took my sin and shame. Forever I will bless Your Holy Name.” These words run through my mind, from a song I cannot find. 

Good News is eternal, intended for all the world to know, all that Jesus taught by words and deeds.

Those who put their trust in God through His Son have the good news, the gospel, that over-rides and eclipses the distressing news of the day and the night. This good news brings hope to all nations: God made a way for all to come to him through his Son, and they shall not perish.

God’s Word goes forth in power in every language. “God spoke to me in my own language,” said a young man that had lain wounded from a self-inflicted gunshot, a failed attempt at a revenge-killing against the one who had killed his father.   

Someone took a Bible to the young man in hospital. The Bible was printed in a language different from his own, yet a language he knew. He read it, and then God spoke to him about his future.

“God spoke to me in my own language,” he said later. It was the language of his family, tribe, and tradition, not in English, the Bible he had been given.   

God told the young man that the effects of his wound would heal—against the most-assured medical predictions. Sure enough, the young man walked out on his own two feet from that hospital. He walked out a healed man with a transformed heart. The desire for revenge left him, replaced by God. I heard him speak of these things, “live” in his country, along with others with whom he serves the Lord today in Ethiopia and, as years have passed, possibly elsewhere, as well.

Isaiah wrote:

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;

To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;

To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.

And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations” (Isaiah 61:1-4).

Jesus read those words soon after his 40 days in the desert. This is the record in Luke’s gospel:

“And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.

And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place* where it was written, (*Esaias/Isaiah 61)

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,

To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”

And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.

And he began to say unto them, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears” (Luke 4:17-21).

Religions vary, “but the Word of the Lord stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8); 1 Peter 1:25) with power to save. Every soul that is in darkness, prison, sickness of the mind or body in which it dwells; every soul that despairs, without hope in this world, God knows perfectly: “…the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint” (Isaiah 1: 5).

John the Apostle wrote: 

And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne

and the beasts and the elders: 

and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands;saying with a loud voice, 

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength,and honour, and glory, and blessing.

And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, 

Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever 
(Revelation 5:11-13).


Scripture source: King James Version (KJV) of the Bible--public domain

Friday, January 09, 2015

I Was Afraid


Jesus said, "Cast your fear upon the Lord." Yet, in human circumstances I have had faith-freeze. Facing the idea of death as a Christian with the living hope of eternal life is very different from facing imminent possibility of dire events.

Something happened this morning that ended up being far less serious than what others now face. It happened at my house early today and proved enlightening regarding me and raw fear.

The recent terrorist-caused tragedies across the Atlantic, in Paris, have been close to the heart; and I went to bed with them on my mind last night.

For the majority of French people and tourists, the wolf is at the door, even through the door--a far, far different thing than being at the viewing end of a camera as are television-watchers.

This morning I awoke around 7 a.m. to the sound of loud pounding on the front door of our home. The doorbell had not been rung. Just the pounding in three equally strong and loud hits came upon my awakening awareness.

I remained still and silent, eyes closed, in those ticking moments; I heard my husband get up and go down the hall. I heard the door open and his voice saying, "Oh, alright." I did not hear the front door close. I did not hear any more movement. I thought I heard a car or truck motor idling outside.

This kind of pounding on the door never has happened early in the morning. Therefore, I knew that no one had been locked out or unsuccessful with doorbell attempts and thereby driven to beat hard against the door.

We have a very strong front door that requires very hard hits to make such loud sounds.

My husband got up and did not return to bed soon. I lay still. Listening. I did not make a move to get up. I felt fear, physically, in my upper arms and chest, which retained a tingly cold feeling of fright.

It was fear due to the happening of the never-before - the kind of harsh, loud awaking that has never happened.

After maybe three minutes that felt like 15 or more, I ventured out of the bedroom at the far end of the house. I met my husband coming toward me down the hall.

"It was the police," he said. "The garage door was left open." I leaned toward my husband and he hugged me, saying, "It's scary, isn't it?" He continued: "I thought it might be bad news."

He had seen, through the front window, police car lights flashing. He has no fear of police, and he opened the door, still uneasy. I wish he had not had that moment of dread of terribly bad news.

I returned to bed free of any "big bad wolf" thoughts but with thoughts of how this episode reminded me that I am a different person when faced with imminent unknowns that just might include danger.
A friend of mine once said, "I never say that I will never deny the Lord. I pray that I will never do so." I think more than ever that she is wise toward the inability she has--and most of us have, I think--to completely know ourselves in light of tempting times the likes of which we have never faced.

The experience of this morning will impel me to pray more for those in fear at this hour in the world, including in and beyond Paris, those who know that terrorists are near. They have killed even more people since their deadly and wounding attack on the offices of a magazine in Paris and on a policeman that offered no threat outside.

Other terrorists have taken hostages and killed two, goes the report, at a kosher deli, in days of preparation for Shabbat, in Paris. As yet, no terrorists that have been at large have been captured or killed. France at this moment is under a prolonged active anti-terror operation.

Are we now ready to face up to the fears of more terrorists'* targeting and planning against our respective nations? On our respective shores now, living among us--as the Boston marathon bombing most recently in the U.S.--are  radical Muslims making plans, waiting for opportunity for success each time.

Police and militia are trained to overcome their fears or to fight in spite of them. Most of us, however, would freeze in place if confronted.

I remember what I heard a local imam say, in effect, "We do not practice Sharia law here because this country does not allow it." Why did not one of us in the room think to ask, "Then why do you choose to remain in this country?"

I know that this imam's mosque five minutes away has converted former members of Christian churches. Do those converts realize the harsh punishments of Sharia* that their imam would enforce if ever allowed to do so?

Jesus said, "Be not afraid." We readjust ourselves, as needed and to the extent we are able, by renewing this trust: whatever happens and whatever the outcome for us, we are eternally living and safe in God's care.

In Corrie ten Boom's account of her fears of Nazi arrests in Holland, she wrote that her father assured her not to fear but to trust God. He reminded her that he, her father, always gave her her train tickets just before they boarded a train. So, too, would her heavenly Father give her the grace she would need when she most needed it.

Her survival story proved the truth of her earthly father's trust in God for her. Her fears were well-founded, for she and her sister were was put into a concentration camp, where her sister Betsy died, after having influenced hardened guards by her trust in God. 

Evening and Morning - sung via YouTube

*This article link "terrorists" is from an Internet link I cannot vouch for except that it appears to be genuine. There is much misinformation via Internet sources, so it seems right to post this disclaimer. In an effort of fairness toward the writer of the article, this disclaimer is not intended to say that it the article is not, on the other hand, a true account. One can only try to question everything, within reason, and compare accounts and their sources, especially in times of alarm or fear.

*Sharia law - many examples online. Various explanations and definitions online give various interpretations and some distortions.