Happy New Year!

Happy New Year. Just a few random ramblings for the year to get us started. Thanks for your patience, or, if you are not patient, feel free to move right along.
1. First off, don’t place too much hope in the flip of a calendar page. Man makes calendars, but God made time. He is not following our calendar.
2. If you are behind in your 2020 Bible reading, just stay with the plan you’re on and continue. Otherwise, at the end of your time on earth, you may have read Genesis 60 times but never make it through the Prophets. Maybe your 2020 New Year’s resolution to read the Bible through will actually be an 18- or 24-month plan. So what? The goal is the reading—just do that.
3. Let’s agree to stop saying that a current event may “usher in the antichrist.” This is often said with great seriousness, emphasizing that we are now in the last days.
But . . .
Remember the millennium meltdown of 2000? I do. Books, sermon series, and videos were all produced with great certainty that the turning of the calendar meant the antichrist would arrive and bring in the seven-year tribulation. Depending upon your eschatology, the rapture would occur sometime before, middle of, or after the Great Tribulation.
I don’t need to remind anyone that none of that happened as predicted. In fact, the change to 2000 did not usher in anything other than a change of calendars which required some computer coding. The reality is that Jesus was likely born between 6-4 BC (our calendars are 4-6 years off), the actual millennium began sometime in 1994-96! We were late to that party.
God does not live by our time.
The antichrist has always been with us. All the passages referring to the antichrist occur in John’s letters (not the Revelation): 1 John 2:18; 1 John 2:22; 1 John 4:3; 2 John 7. The idea of antichrist is that it is the spirit that will replace and be against Christ. This has been the struggle between God’s people and Satan’s forces since the beginning. It has been present against Christians since the beginning.
Let’s learn from this: God’s acts are not determined by our news-feed.
4. Consider the world in which we live. Chaos seems to reign, and the entire world is focused on the US election—indeed elections in many countries are viewed by many as the salvation or damnation of a nation.
Elections are serious matters, but not ultimate ones. It is true they change the course of history, but God determines history in the first place. An election may be used of God for national salvation or national judgement. I’m inclined that in recent times it is for the latter. We are not witnessing the end of the world, but the end of Western civilization, and that does not mean the end of the church or the end of Christ’s rule on earth. No nation that destroys its young, disabled, frail and elders can hope to avoid judgement. This statement should be entirely unremarkable. We should expect national judgement as much as we expect the sun to rise in the morning. It is the most predictable event we have. Christians should read up on this–it’s in the Bible.
Will Communism prevail? Will climate change fanatics win? Possibly, but untrue systems cannot go on if they are false to reality as established in Creation, by a Creator, who has told us other things that cancel the mischief planned by the planners. God laughs at them, actually (Psalm 2).
Any man or woman, or collection of them (a nation, society, or culture) that chooses to abandon what God has decreed will fail, and that failing is brutal to watch (Job 21:5).
So it follows that the outcome of elections, run as they are by unregenerate people, will have unregenerate results:
“We are not seeing terrible things in our culture because we vote the wrong way. We are seeing terrible things in our culture because men love darkness rather than light.” –Voddie Baucham.
We are a confused people, and that itself is a sign of God’s judgement. See Romans 1:18-32, Genesis 11:1-9; Exodus 14:24; Leviticus 26:16; Isaiah 22:5, etc. 1 Corinthians 14:33 tells us that “God is not a God of confusion, but of peace.” We need to come to grips with the fact that all the contradictions of policy, laws and solutions are the signs of a confused people. Our rulers and governors are demonstrating, before God and His church, that they do not know what they are doing, and Christians need to pray 1) for repentance in the hearts of those who rule and 2) that their plans for evil will be completely frustrated and defeated.
5. In light of the above, Christians must stop being surprised when unredeemed people act like unredeemed people who insist we follow the fruits of un-redemption, all the while openly displaying total confusion.
6. As our society thrashes and rages like a wounded animal caught in a trap, we should, short of a real interruption brought on by repentance or God’s judgement, expect violence. Repentance will quell the violence. Judgement will too.
7. On a final note, Christians must reject and abandoned the pietism that has so damaged the church’s witness for nearly 200 years. This is the notion that faith is entirely private and does not enter the world outside the church or family. This is the opinion that the faith has little or nothing to do with the world between Sundays, and to insist on cultural change is somehow to only “rearrange deck-chairs on the Titanic.”
God is the Creator, Christ is the King, and we are His subjects. We cannot abandon the world to Satan.
It is a new year on my calendar. There is, in Christ, much to celebrated daily.
Happy New Year! Just remember, God created time–He is not bound to it.

A Government Overreach and Fumble. Posted on 30 December 2020

If the government hadn’t bungled this from the beginning, by playing favourites with businesses that are large and destroying small businesses and shuttering restaurants, we might not be here. This doesn’t seem related to churches, but it shows either incompetence or hypocrisy on the part of the Ford government, that leaves churches wondering how they allowed themselves to be declared “non-essential” when so many entities, with much larger crowds, are.
Setting aside the very questionable value of lockdowns and masks, the government has overstepped its God-given authority by declaring churches, in person, to be declared non-essential. This is not their place. But governments have been declaring themselves an absolute authority over family and church for years:
Abortion is legal and financed by the government–an attack on the family.
Same-sex marriage is legal and acceptance is demanded by government–an attack on family and marriage.
Ideologically driven LGBTQP+ indoctrination in public schools–an attack on the family.
The isolation of the elderly to their deaths these past months, almost a year–an attack on the family.
The forced unemployment of parents–attack on the family.
There are certainly more.
We are to obey and submit to the government as Paul and Peter instruct, but this is not an absolute, no-matter-what-they-decide submission. If it was that, the book of Acts would be much shorter as would be the existence of the church. The early years of the faith was that of defying tyrants.
I don’t know much about the Aylmer situation, but I do know that the only reason the showdown is happening is because so few churches are choosing to obey man rather than God.
Unless we form some sort of Gnostic Christianity, we cannot be a church (assembly) unless we assemble. We cannot celebrate the Lord’s Supper weekly from home.
The idea of civil disobedience is novel and frightening to many but must be carefully considered and not dismissed out-of-hand. We are fools to think that someday our civic leaders will say, “Ok, it’s all over, go back to things as they were.”
We need to think how this conversation will sound in three years or more when our larger meetings are still denied.

On Panic. 29 November 2020

When I was in high school, I was a lifeguard and a swimming teacher. During training, we were taught that a drowning swimmer could easily kill you if they were panicked. They would grab onto you and try to get on top of you as they fought to get out of the water. This is why we sometimes hear of someone drowning as they try to save someone else.
So as lifeguards, we were trained to swim out to the person, preferably with a floatation device that they could hold if they were in the right frame of mind. We were also trained to rescue without any assistance.
The first step is to come just out of their reach and tread water as they exhaust themselves in panic. While not waiting too long, when the victim begins to give up, we were to dive under the water, grab their legs, and turn them facing away from us.
We would then “walk” up their body with our hands until we could reach under their chin with one hand and raise their face out of the water. We would wrap the other arm around their chest and hold tight. We had control, and the person could breathe. A rescuer would need to be a strong enough swimmer to side-stroke with legs only until the person was brought to safety. If the person became calm enough, the chin could be released, and that arm used for swimming to safety.
When a person is drowning, the panic is real. He did not think that day that it would be his last. He will do anything to save himself, no matter how useless or irrational. For the rescuer, panic fatigue is useful.
We are, as a culture, in this kind of panic. Irrational, draconian, and useless measures are being imposed, and even worse, are being called for by large numbers of people. Some of these are merely useless, but others are positively evil—denying the ability for family heads to earn a decent living or shutting the elderly away from almost all human contact, and certainly from human contact of loved ones.
For the most part, authorities are trying to stay ahead of what they deem as popular opinion, which is bringing out their worst instincts. Civil liberties are suspended illegally to the applause of many.
Swimmers get into trouble because they are not strong swimmers, they are fatigued, a leg or stomach cramp set in, or fear grips them in a tide or current. Part of the panic is that they are unprepared for the situation they are in.
Culturally, it seems that the idea of death is new to many people as if we might all live forever. We are certainly unprepared for death because we think that is what happens to old people. The very idea that hundreds of thousands (millions?) of younger people might be dead by the end of Covid-19, even if it is very unlikely, has struck a terror into our collective hearts.
Responding to this, health officials have closed hospitals to cardio and cancer patients who are actually in peril in expectation of massive numbers of projected Covid-19 victims. This has caused more unnecessary deaths, and these can’t even be counted yet because undiagnosed and untreated conditions will cause a multi-year backlog. Without scientific evidence, small businesses are shuttered while large corporations are encouraged to remain open; liquor and marijuana stores, casinos, bingo halls are open while churches are restricted or closed. Aside from the comfort of compliance, masks do little to stem the spread of Covid-19 and may cause harm to the long-term wearer. The borders are closed to some, but not to all. The residents of Long Term Care facilities die of a broken heart and loneliness long before they die of Covid-19.
This is the irrational behaviour of panic.
To complete the analogy to the swimmer: with the very high recovery rate, even among the elderly, it is as if the drowning victim is in the wading pool.