Skip to content

AN INCLUSIVE STORY

What a wonderful, inclusive story surrounds the birth of Jesus.  We happily celebrate it at Christmas.  Its inclusiveness adds another dimension to the biblical statement: “the Word made flesh to dwell among us.”

– There is the young couple, Mary and Joseph, submissive to God and supportive of each other.  To them, in miraculous ways, a baby is born and a family is established.  What a critical lesson that simple fact brings to our confused and lost society.  A man, a woman and a child, a family, is center stage.  Interestingly, a family was part of creation and  now, again, at the incarnation.   Make that fact a vital aspect of your family’s Christmas celebrations.

– The celestial choir, God’s angelic host, filling the heavens with a song of praise, a word of hope and a promise of peace.  Seldom has such a message been more important to our encouragement for these troubled times.  So much is going wrong, morally, spiritually and politically.  Two thousand years later our world remains in shambles as fear lurks in the shadows wanting to leap into center stage.  But God’s purposes and promises are always sure: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”  He is coming again and He will bring that promised peace!

– The first humans to witness the stunning sight of holy angels in concert, and to receive the incredible, transforming message of God’s gift of His Son in human form, were some lowly shepherds.  They were the commoners, poor, hard-working, struggling for a living, doing the night shift.   They were societies’ forgotten and neglected.  How fitting, how godly, that they should not only be included, but among the first to know about the greatest event of human history!

– Ah, but God is no respecter of persons, for along with the shepherds were the wise men.  They were the rich and famous, the upper class, the world travelers.  God had tweeked their interest with an astronomical anomally – a special star, moving to a special place for a special reason.   They could not resist the invitation, nor its implications, so with keen interest and rich gifts, essential to their status and a new family’s needs, they came to a barn and a cradle – and worshiped!

– Then, there was Herod.  He was a ruler, a cruel, conniving despot.  Jealousy and fear made him a mass murderer –  of babies!   This wicked destroyer of families, at their most vulnerable stage, would countenance no potential rival to his authority or status.  The heartless slaughter of infants must speak volumes to hundreds of thousands of Canadians today.

– Is it not interesting that the story also includes a star, a barn and a variety of animals?  God’s full creation, His creatures, even darkness and light, were all part of the scene with its wonder, mystery and purpose.  It serves to remind us, it all belongs to God,  and comes under His authority and protection.  Whatever we think or do about ecology, it must start with God’s role, work and purpose.

– Last, but not the least, it tickles me to observe that vital to the story of inclusiveness is a couple of really old people, actually named, Simeon and Anna.  Probably both widowed, but fully informed and alert as to what was really happening.  They lived in the presence of God, listening carefully, speaking readily, praying correctly and adoring wisely the little child they knew was Christ, the Lord.  They spoke prophetic truth to the little family – warning, encouraging and instructing, doing what old people do best, given half a chance!

Yes indeed, it is a wonderfully inclusive story.  Every social strata, each with its needs and strengths, is carefully included in the amazing drama we call, Christmas.  A holy God, Master of the universe, took on our likeness in our world for all people for one magnificent reason – to save us from our sins and to direct our pathway to His heaven.

Have a truly wonderful, meaningful and happy Christmas.

A fellow pilgrim,  Arnold Reimer

 

 

Advertisements

A MORAL DILEMNA

In the name of common sense when will we learn that it is neither possible or prudent to dredge up the grievances of the past and to buy our way out of them?  How will the present government reasonably find, verify, justify and re-construct with integrity what was done to homosexuals, (or by them) thirty to fifty years ago?  Were those acts (at least most of them) not governed by the laws of that time, in accordance with its moral standards and the best interests of society?

What makes the present government so superior and arrogant as to think that its ideas trump the past, or has the right to use the people’s money, already in the red beyond reason, to compensate some according to the new morality?  Has there not been a myriad of such issues almost from the beginning of time?  Is it not wiser to simply acknowledge imperfection and to make the changes necessary to improve the present and the future if and as we can?

After sixty years in ministry, sometimes dealing with serious abuses from the past, I have learned that apologies and/or compensation rarely work to truly heal a wounded mind, body or spirit.  Difficult, but more effective, is the decision and effort of the offended person to forgive, to lay down the offense and to draw on God’s grace to do it wisely and well.  Without that, bitterness becomes rooted in the soul, lingers in the mind, hurts the body and defiles many.  No amount of apology can heal and no amount of compensation satisfies without that.  Surely this nation should have learned that by now with all our expensive but fruitless efforts to heal past hurts!

But, that is not the real issue surrounding the homosexual dilemma.   This is an issue of  godly and biblical import.  Homosexuality is prohibited by God and is an abomination to Him.  Sin, in all its forms has crippled our world into the moral chaos we all observe.  Millions of Christians in Canada cannot, and will not, accept homosexuality and its by-products as anything less than sin.  We are not homophobic, and for the most part, far from it.  We are people seeking to be obedient to a command of the Lord of the Universe.

All of us are vulnerable to sin which drives us in humility to God, controls our appetites, teaches us to acknowledge and name sin so we can discipline our thoughts and actions according to the divine will.  We stand before a holy God needing forgiveness and strength to resist evil.  We do, and must, love and accept all persons, but not sinful behaviour.  The decision as to what is sin, is not ours to make for God has spoken, and no amount of pressure, threat or disagreement can change the mind of a committed follower of Jesus Christ.  The God Who created us made us male and female.  He ordained marriage to be the union of one man and one woman with the family to be the essential continuum of life.  Our duty is to accept His will and work, and to fulfill His unique purposes for life.

Homosexuality is especially egregious in that it thwarts the creative purposes of God.  It destroys all future possibilities of whatever family heritage has been established.  Whatever our tendencies or feelings might be, we do not get to choose our gender, nor our sexual behaviour, nor any act of sin without the consequences of social disorder or judgement.   The devil (a liar and a destroyer) and sin have corrupted our desires and twisted our minds into acts of rebellion, lust and self-centeredness.  That explains the mess we are in and the moral confusion that reigns almost everywhere.   It is also the reason for Christmas – the response of a loving God to mankind’s desperate need!

Under the guidance of our government and even the opposition parties we are headed down a very dark, dismal and hopeless path.  It behoves every follower of Christ to put on the whole armour of God so that we may be able to stand, and having done all, to still  stand.   Only then will we be able to shine as lights in this dark place and, hopefully. to fulfill our destiny and happily thrive as human beings to the glory of God and our own wellbeing.

A fellow pilgrim,  Arnold Reimer

BLESSED

My darling wife (of 63 happy years) and I live in a vibrant community of seniors.  A word commonly heard describing life here, is “blessed”.  It is also regularly used to describe the privilege of living in this country.  Indeed, Canadians are a highly blessed people above and beyond any place on earth to my knowledge.  But, it is not something to be taken for granted.  Like many valuable things our hold on it is tenuous.  By nature blessing is conditional and perishable.

Our God has told us how to nurture and protect His blessing.  It is first of all a gift to those who believe in Him through the saving work of His Son, Jesus Christ.  It also requires obedience to His Word which states: “To sum up, let all be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil, or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.  For, ‘Let him who means to love life and see good days refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking guile.  And let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.  For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and His ears attend to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil’.”   Jesus came to make these attributes and deeds available to us.

That important admonition is widely disregarded in Canada these days, which should concern all who care.  Successive governments have deliberately chosen to reject or disobey God’s rules, and to set up their own.  A deviant list needs to be remembered and repentantly considered:  liberalized divorce, disregard of the Sabbath,  approval of abortion killing millions, acceptance of homosexuality and same-sex marriage, the whole transgender issue flaunting commonsense and the creative purposes of a holy God, the weird, ignorant and greed-driven legalization of marijuana usage beyond medical necessity, and the massive, growing and crippling national debt.  The appalling inability of Canadians to discern when unconscionable politicians bribe the populace for a vote with taxes all of us must pay for years to come, is irrational, sad and delusional.

The Judeo-Christian values that once built the strong foundation of this country are being undermined and abandoned.  The push for multiculturalism, diversity and unbridled civil rights is destroying the essential principles and qualities that make true freedoms work, and the blessing of God possible.   The kindness of religious freedom cannot be interpreted as equality for all, or open-ended inclusion.  Anyone who has travelled widely and thought rationally knows, and has seen, the hurtful, social consequences of most religions where they dominate.  It is a reason Christianity is committed to missionary endeavour worldwide.  It is also the reason why others seek refuge here.

It is a blessing for our freedoms and values to be generous and inclusive.  But it is a curse if they become the pathway to our assimilation.   This nation was built upon a common standard of biblical righteousness.  To deny it, or to try to equalize it with all other forms of thought, is to lose it and its benefits.  History repeatedly warns of the kind of collapse that weakened faith in a holy God, and the foolish acceptance of idolatry, inevitably invites.  The secularization of society is a first step to our demise.  We are well on the way as we try to accommodate anything and everything at the expense of our Judeo-Christian values!

There is reason to read again the words of the second paragraph and “to seek the Lord while He may be found, for the night comes when no man can work.”  He, and our obedience to Him, is the reason for our blessings.  Unfortunately, the lessons of history,  the direction of our government and the state of the church are not encouraging.

A fellow pilgrim,  Arnold Reimer

DEMOCRACY SPIRALING DOWNWARD

Someone once described democracy as a bad form of government, except that it is better than all the alternatives.  Most reasonable people would agree.  The Russian author, Solzhenitsyn, persecuted for his criticism of atheistic Communism, made an interesting observation on democracy years ago while living in exile in the United States.

“The strength and weakness of a society depends more on the level of its spiritual life than on its level of industrialization.  Neither a market economy nor even general abundance constitutes the crowning achievement of humanity.  If a nation’s spiritual energies have been exhausted, it will not be saved from collapse by the most perfect government structure or by any industrial development; a tree with a rotten core cannot stand.”  (National Review, September 1991)

This blog has repeatedly quoted the Bible’s similar observation: “Righteousness exalts a nation; sin is a reproach to any people.”  Again, “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?”

The democracies of the Western World are in free-fall because its leaders and most of the common people have lost their spiritual life and moral anchor.   Nominalism, drift and downright rebellion have exhausted spiritual energy.   Critical to a stable, thriving democracy is a confident trust in a leadership that has integrity from top to bottom.   Look where you will.  Examine what you can.    It is gone!   Listening to any daily news program for half an hour is more than enough to convince one that lies, immorality, slander, selfishness, rebellion, anger, disrespect, ungodliness, violence, fear and distrust are common in government and societal behaviour.  No society can long survive when such conditions prevail without the corrective of penalty or meaningful rebuke.  The weight of its sins eventually causes implosion.

When the standards and disciplines of righteousness no longer matter, rules become increasingly relative and truth has little value.   Then freedom loses its essential meaning and boundaries.  Such people end up doing “what is right in their own eyes”, and mindlessly wander into oblivion.  Heed history!   Europe and North America are well on the way!

Is there any hope?   Only if the church humbly cries out to God in sincere repentance for its complicity of silence.   Where, oh where, is the faithful, daring prophet who has heard from God so he can speak to our society with authority, discernment and passion?  Where is the word that begins with a “Thus says the Lord!”; and carries an anointing of the Holy Spirit and the power of truth verifying it?  Given that, there must also be a people who listen, repent and obey.  Short of any of that, prepare for judgment!  Surely, the night is coming.

Sadly, I see and hear little that encourages me.  Nevertheless, “If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

A fellow pilgrim,     Arnold Reimer

 

SHAMELESS!

Ravi Zacharias, an apologist for the Christian faith, recently described North America’s social condition as shameless.   One cannot hear of the state of affairs in Hollywood, the circumstances and comments about its moral degeneracy, and not agree with his assessment.  Apparently, for many decades, not just one, but many from top to bottom, male and female, wallow in a moral cesspool.

One should not wonder at the prevalence of sexual misconduct when almost every movie contains vulgar language and sexual scenes where both men and women participate willingly.  Why simulated sex for public viewing is considered worthy while the real thing is counted dirty is not only a conundrum, it is shameless.  The moral values of many movie stars seem bottomless!  And, not to dismiss public guilt in all of this, many  “stars” are given broad public hearing, approval and adulation.  The whole thing is sick, evil and depraved.

But, who of us can stand tall and pure when measured by God’s standards of morality?  Jesus’ words on the matter shatter arrogance and self-righteousness:  “You have heard it said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you, that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.”  OUCH!  Jesus’ words do not make the act less wicked; but they do bring some humbling heart-searching to mere thoughts.  It reminds us “that the heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?”  Even more frightening is its following statement: “I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds.”  Help! Help!  HELP!

And, thank God, there is help.  We are not left to our feeble, failing efforts.  God sent His Son, Jesus, to bear the guilt and punishment of our sins.   He died on a criminal’s cross in our place and for our sins.   That substitutionary act offers to all who believe on Him cleansing, forgiveness and a way to holiness/purity!   All who will yield to His control, disciplines and enablement can find victory over the power of sin.   Christ gladly promises His pure life, indwelling Spirit and abounding grace to all who believe.  Accepting that would revolutionize, if not destroy, Hollywood in a divine minute!!!  It is the transforming power of the Gospel that makes every believer in Jesus new – and accountable!  Confronted with sexual sin He clearly said, “Go and sin no more!”

The news media and countless voices loudly and rightly condemn the evil behaviour of  sexual predators.  Unfortunately, it seems to only happen when it becomes public, political or “excessive.”  Little is said about the every day wickedness of all kinds of men who thrive on sexual innuendo in multiple places of business, etc.    Just as inexcusable is the foolishness of naïve, immodestly dressed women seeking success at any cost.   What excuse can a woman have whose demeanour, speech and dress invite lurid thoughts and carnal reaction?   Some of it may be just up-to-date fashion, but it is heartless temptation to others.

If anyone ever doubted the detrimental consequences of secularism and its godlessness in our society, think again!  The half has not yet been told!

Once again, if only we would listen to, and understand God’s Word, “Righteousness exalts a nation; sin is a reproach to any people.”

A fellow pilgrim   –   Arnold Reimer

 

BE THANKFUL!

An attitude of gratitude must mark every faithful follower of Christ Jesus.  Anything less than that tarnishes and even undermines our testimony.  We live in a world where greed and covetousness abound as public and personal debt and attitude indicate.  Some business men boast that greed is an essential motive for success.   Such thinking must never characterize the believer in Jesus.  We march to a different drummer and a different code of ethics.  The biblical mandate is: “In EVERYTHING give thanks for this is the will of God concerning you.”

Pastor/poet, Martin Rinkart, 1586-1649, wrote a delightful hymn that became famous in Germany during a time of great tragedy.  The Thirty Years War was devastating parts of Europe.  Waves of deadly pestilence and famine swept the area where he served God.  At one point he was conducting funerals for 40 to 50 persons daily.  The people were impoverished and destitute.  He wrote sixty-six hymns to encourage his people in song and word during that dreadful time.  One became very famous throughout Germany and beyond, entitled, “Now Thank We All our God.”

                      Now thank we all our God with hearts and hands and voices,                                                   Who wondrous things hath done, in whom His world rejoices;                                                      Who from our mothers’ arms hath blessed us on our way                                With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

                           O may this bounteous God thru all our life be near us,                                                                 With ever joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us;                                                                And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed,                             And free us from all ills in this world and the next.

                                 All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given,                                                            The Son and Him who reigns with them in highest heaven –                                                             The one eternal God whom earth and heaven adore –                                         For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.

For all the blessings showered upon us in this good land in which we are privileged to live, things seem to be changing.  Uncertainty, threats, disasters, violence, storms, earthquakes, anger, rebellion, moral collapse seem to be the order of the day.  Are we experiencing the consequences of our sins?  Is God shaking everything so that which cannot be shaken will remain?   It behooves us to watch and pray, and to do it with sincere thanksgiving, lest we enter into temptation.  Our Sovereign God is in control and calling us out of darkness into His marvelous light.  Be thankful, faithful and vigilante.

A fellow pilgrim,  Arnold Reimer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE COMING OF CHRIST

Once again someone has tried to set a date for the second coming of Christ Jesus.  Wrong, of course!  Mind you, he did retract his prediction a day or two before the supposed event.  But, that does not excuse the effort.  Is it ego, ignorance, misunderstanding, delusion, one-up-man-ship, or anxious longing that causes some people to try so hard to pinpoint the time of Jesus’ return?   Whatever, it undermines the veracity of God’s Word, and detracts from the real issue:  Jesus is coming again.   We do not know either the day nor the hour.  It is the Person, not the timing, that is most important.

Biblical prophecy about the end-times has been discredited over and over again by self appointed “prophets” who claim special insight or revelation as to Jesus’ coming.  It seems to be part of the deception Jesus warned about in Matthew 24 and II Peter 3.   The god of this world, the devil, seems determined to muddle our minds by confusing our understanding and the seriousness of the event for believers and unbelievers alike.  He seems to find people enough to swallow “hook, line and sinker” anyone who will bite on the idea someone has discovered the key to unlock future events.

The Bible makes very plain and simple what we need to know about Jesus’ coming again – He is coming again!  Just as He left, fifty days after His resurrection, taken up into the clouds, so He will come again.  His coming will be sudden, like a thief, but accompanied by horrendous judgments in “which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.”  Out of such chaos He will take up His own, dead and alive, to meet Him in the air. And so we shall ever be with the Lord.  It is called the rapture.  The momentous events surrounding it are beyond imagination, but clear, “the heavens (Satan’s domain) will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!  According to His promise we look for a  new heaven and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.”  A defeated Satan with his angels will be cast into a bottomless pit, disarmed, dethroned, and later to be eternally banned to a lake of fire.  Christ will rule in truth and righteousness, making all things new.

Once here Jesus will rule unchallenged and victorious.  We will bask in the glory of His presence, power and provision, joyfully fulfilling our roles as servants doing His will.   He will rule with a rod of iron and we who believe will love every minute of it!  But that is not our real issue today!

Until Jesus comes our task as followers of  Jesus is critical here on earth.  The biblical list is clear.  We are to be holy in conduct and godliness.  We must be “diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, regarding the patience of our Lord to be salvation.  We must be on our guard lest, being carried away by the error of unprincipled men, we fall away fom our own steadfastness.  We must do all we can to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”  We must reach all we can, while we can, with the message of His saving grace, loving forgiveness and divine enabling.   For all of this He has given His Holy Spirit to live, teach, guide, protect and to empower us.

Jesus is coming again.  We do not know when, but we do know that almost every day end-times events are happening increasingly, warning us that it could be soon.  He told us to watch and pray lest we enter into the temptation to disregard the signs, to become entangled in the affairs of this world, to sleep when we should be alert, to pick daises when we should be sounding the alarm.

A fellow pilgrim,  Arnold Reimer

Danger! DANGER!

These are dangerous times for North America and for all the Western World.  It is especially true for the Church of Jesus Christ.   For the most part, the church has abdicated its critical role as God’s “Watchman” over an increasingly decadent society.  The church has been pushed to the sidelines of the public arena, where it stands silent and disengaged as society “slides into hell in a hand basket”, to put it crassly.

Gone is the authority of God, His Word and His Church!   Authority is now in the hands of scientists, psychologists, politicians, educators, secularists, news anchors, sport players, actors and deviant, sexual minorities.  Strange bed-fellows, indeed!  Unfortunately, they have been given a free run to propagate godless values that undermine truth and morality.   They have become the quasi-arbitrators of truth and error, right and wrong, good and evil.  Tragically, the church, its theologians, leaders, pastors and many of their followers seem reluctant or unwilling to challenge what is happening.   Is this what Scripture means when it says, “The fear of man brings a snare?”  Does it not also say, “Let God be true and every man a liar?”

Surely, the Bible is clear enough in its teachings about creation (Genesis 1 and 2).  There is no ambivalence there about issues of gender identity.   Marriage, too, is clearly defined as between a man and a woman.  (Genesis 3)   Thousands of years ago God set the standards of truth and error, ordering their verbalization and documentation.   The Bible repeatedly lists the sins of the flesh by clear declarations and multiple illustrations.  Its prohibitions include fornication, adultery, prostitution, homosexuality, all of which corrupt a society, destroy order and bring judgment, both self afflicted and divine!  (Genesis 6, Leviticus 18, Romans 1, Galatians 5, etc.)  Deviation from the plan and purpose of God offends Him.   To play games with the facts, as we are obviously doing,  is an affront to God who made us, and will be a curse to those who allow it, or are involved in it.

For the record, God’s instructions go way beyond moral issues, and much of it is ill considered by most people.  In direct reference, or by principle, and often in illustration, God has spoken to government, economics, management, labour, education, health, social wellbeing, science, environment, and much more.  All of it needs our attentive consideration for it is the basis of either His blessing or judgment.  The Prophet Isaiah is clear in his warning of godlessness: “And the Lord will cause His voice of authority to be heard.  And the descending of His arm to be seen in fierce anger, and in the flame of consuming fire, in cloudburst, downpour, and hailstones.”

Let it be clearly understood the biblical position is not man-made wisdom.  God, the Sovereign Lord of the universe, has set the standard.  It is to Him all of us are accountable.  Nor is there any room for arrogance or abuse, for we are all vulnerable beings.  Apart from the grace of God and His boundless love in Christ Jesus, none of us has a hope!   The Bible’s message is one of forgiveness, cleansing, release and victory over sin – all sin.

Are these teachings of the Bible acceptable to the culture in which we live?   No!  Will everyone thank us for warning them of divine prohibitions?  Absolutely not!  Is it better to let “sleeping dogs lie?”  Perhaps sometimes, but all sin must be dealt with!   Hear an Apostle:  “Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers shall inherit the kingdom of God.”

Hear also the word of a Prophet:  “Son of man I have appointed you a watchman to the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from My mouth warn them from Me.  When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die’; and you do not warn him or speak out to warn the wicked from his wicked way that he may live, that wicked man will die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand.  Yet if you have warned the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered yourself.”

These are very dangerous times indeed.  If the Church is to be “salt and light” to an increasingly decadent world, it had better step up to the plate and declare itself.  The night is coming when we shall not be able to work!

A fellow pilgrim,  Arnold Reimer

 

 

 

KINDNESS

The world has surely watched in amazement as Americans respond to those who are suffering from the destruction of Hurricane Harvey.   This unprecedented storm (now threatened to be unseated by Irma!) has left hundreds of thousands of homes and many businesses destroyed.    50 inches of unrelenting rain, polluted water and violent winds devastated a vast, heavily populated area.   Texas, that state known for its independence, bravado and wealth, has been brought to its knees by an unleashed natural phenomena.

Not that long ago a President, quoting the United Nations, publicly proclaimed the U. S. A. to no longer be a “Christian” nation.   Canada was next.  Personal preference, the growth of foreign religions fed by immigration,  the rise of atheism and the obvious abandonment by many of Judeo-Christian values, formed the basis for such a statement.  As sad as that is for us who cherish our history and the Christian principles that once shaped many of the basic tenants of our democracy, a ray of hope is shining through.  Kindness!

A crucial value of Christian faith and discipline is the attribute of kindness.  It is a vital part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit, who indwells the heart and mind of every true believer in Jesus Christ.  The theology of Christianity may be dwindling in our increasingly paganized society, but some of it is obviously hanging on, to the glory of God and the amazement of the watching world.  Truth has a way of permeating a society so that it rises to the surface in trying times – at least for a while!

We are seeing remarkable acts of kindness as hundreds, perhaps thousands, of volunteers rush to the aid of suffering Texans.  They bring tireless efforts, open wallets and helpful equipment, like boats, big trucks, fishing gear, etc.   Cruising up and down the streets, turned rivers, to help people in whatever community they may be, poor or rich and all between, they are doing their best to alleviate the suffering.  There is no barrier of class, colour, creed, cash or tongue – just need!

How encouraging it must be to weary first-responders, police, firemen, and civil servants who have faced the overwhelming task of answering emergency calls and saving those in crisis situations.  For all of their tireless efforts and essential roles, they are paid and protected by job benefits – and rightly so.  But the volunteers are just kind, caring people who have seen a huge need and jumped to it with heart, soul and hand.  It is a blessing to behold.  A wonderful, wonderful demonstration of selfless, sacrificial kindness.   It is especially comforting when in other places angry, violent thugs march the streets in response to divisive political opinions and lawless attitudes.

It is the nature of God to be kind.  He is in essence love, which is a great mercy to all of us.  It is because of love He sent His Son, Jesus, to die in payment of our sins and thus to fit us for His heaven.  Out of that great love, the effects of which still linger in some, comes the kindness we see so evident and impressive in Texas.  It seems dangerous things, like Irma, and perhaps war, are ahead.  The concept of doing to others what we want done to us, remains valid.  Let us learn to be kind to one another and to teach our children what it means.  When we cannot  lend our hand to help others, let us give what we can, prayer, thanks or money, to meet desperate need.  There seems to be plenty of opportunity all around us.

A fellow pilgrim,   Arnold Reimer

DISASTERS

Throughout the history of mankind there has been no end of disasters.  For the last fifteen to twenty years, like no previous age,  television has bombarded our senses.   Instantaneous, visual media has brought into our homes horrific scenes of every kind of worldwide disaster imaginable.   The list is long, disruptive and deadly: catastrophic earthquakes, starving babies from drought-ridden countries, tsunamis, deadly plagues, mutilated bodies from genocidal wars and terrorist incidents, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, bombings, vicious attacks using cars, guns, knives, clubs, brutal street violence and deadly drugs!   Nightly, we see it with emotionally numbing effect.

A fore-runner of Jesus once proclaimed, “Who warned you to flee from the wrath which is to come?”   Has the “wrath which is to come,” come?   Is an angry God, weary of His erring, created beings, now warning saints and sinners alike that He will not always strive with us, nor keep His anger forever?  Who dares to disregard His mercy, grace, sovereignty and authority?   Never has the prophet’s word been more applicable, “Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near.  Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteousness man his thoughts; and let Him return to the Lord, and He will have compassion on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.”

Do not think I am over-stating things, or being unnecessarily alarmist –  world affairs are alarming!   God, in His Word, has clearly and repeatedly warned us about devastating, disastrous situations.   We have been told how His children should react in such a time.   Hear the Psalmist’s admonition: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.  There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy dwelling place of the Most High.  God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved; God will help her when the morning dawns . . . Come, behold the works of the Lord, who has wrought desolations in the earth . . . Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.  The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold.”

The Apostle Peter wrote, describing the judgments of the day of the Lord,  “the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and it works will be burned up.”  He then admonished the believer with these heart-searching words: “Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming day of God, . . .  Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord to be salvation.”

One tragedy after another seems to be happening so quickly it is easy to be distracted by the incidents themselves.  We need to consider seriously and more deeply the root cause and meaning of it all.   Surely, God is endeavouring to get our attention!  Is He speaking, loud and clear to the moral decay we carelessly allow?  Is He calling us to repentance and to renewed obedience to Him and to His Word?  Is a word to the wise, sufficient?

A fellow pilgrim,   Arnold Reimer