Happy New Year to you all, in the year of our Lord 2017.
Scientists/theologians now speculate that Jesus Christ was born sometime between 4-6 BC. That means it’s actually been 2021-23 years since His incarnation, and roughly 1988-91 years since Jesus’ death and resurrection changed the world (the focus of my previous blogs).
So what is my view of the world in 2017?
I hope it encourages you.
I usually spend significant time in December praying over the coming year. Long ago I noticed a pattern of “seven years” in my work and ministry. I view those periods as chapters in God’s plan for my life.
Last year I turned sixty-three, so nine chapters are finished and a new one begins. If God allows me seven more years, how does He want me to use it? What are my heavenly assignments? How can I be a part of what God is doing on earth?
Let’s take a 30,000 mile view on a number of topics. What’s your perspective?
The Trump Administration
Some of my optimism for 2017 is due to God working a miracle in the 2016 US presidential election to allow an unusual candidate to bring a screeching halt to the secular progressive tide in America.
Donald Trump is a very unique messenger, but not different from others God has used to give leadership to nations (Moses was a murderer, David an adulterer, Samson struggled with lust, and Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus were outsiders God appointed.)
From the look of Trump’s campaign promises and cabinet appointments, it appears that 1) Faith will soon be encouraged once again in the public square, 2) We are going to fight pro-actively against evil in the world, 3) Our borders will become secured and respected, 3) An economic renewal may be launched, and 4) Big government and globalism will at least be held at bay.
George Barna believes this is a critical moment for the church:
“We need strong back-boned visionary leadership from our spiritual leaders so that we can put together our spiritual truths and principles and understand how God wants us to move forward…Many people, myself included, would say it was a miraculous move of God that put Mr. Trump in the White House. He is not our savior, but he may give us a chance to make things right in the culture.”
The New Congress
The 115th US Congress was sworn in this week. The “fake news” media tried to describe it as a political circus with echoes of infighting and gridlock. Don’t believe them.
Here’s an interesting statistic: A whopping 91 percent of the 115th Congress describe themselves as Christians, which is higher than the general population — and almost the same number as when these stats were first collected in 1961. Of the 293 Republicans who began the new session this week, all but two are Christians (the others are Jewish).
And the faith factor isn’t just a conservative phenomenon. Eighty percent of Democrats also call themselves Christians — in addition to the 28 Jews, three Buddhists, three Hindus, two Muslims, and a single atheist.
The group that is most notably underrepresented is the “religiously unaffiliated.” Pew Research points out that this group — also known as the religious ‘nones’–now accounts for 23 percent of the general public but just 0.2 percent of Congress… Only Krysten Sinema (D-Ariz.) describes herself as religiously unaffiliated.
Aleksandra Sandstrom, who authored the Pew report, is surprised by the findings. “[This] really is telling,” she told reporters, “especially with the changing U.S. population and the very big change in the presidency. Congress is really, at least religiously, staying very, very steady.”
Let’s pray that God uses them to do their part in cultural reform.
The Middle East
After years of strain between the US and Israel, the new administration is poised to rebirth our strongest friendship in the Middle East based on our common faith roots and democratic principles. We may even move our embassy to Jerusalem–the true Jewish capital.
This renewed friendship will bring much needed stability to the geographical center of the world, and hopefully encourage an even greater turning of Israel back to God and His Son, Yeshua. We must pray for “all Israel to be saved” (Romans 11:26).
Now to pass on some “wise humor” on what 2017 holds for secular-progressives.
Suggestions for Liberals by Susan Stamper Brown
“Understand that political correctness and despotism go hand-in-hand.”
“The First Amendment makes America a politically-incorrect zone, so deal with it. That means everyone gets to voice their opinion, not just those with whom you happen to agree. Political correctness is just another word for control. As Voltaire said, “To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.” Hale-and-hardy debate helps make America great, so try joining the conversation. After all, a conversation only works if it’s more than just you-sided.”
“Use a dictionary.”
“Dictionaries are cheap. Look up the difference between racism and prejudice. You’ll quickly come to understand that everyone is prejudiced…biased…predisposed in one way or another. Some people prefer city life and designer clothes while others enjoy small towns and jeans. In the same way, a person’s life experiences might motivate him to cross the street if he sees a light-skinned person on a dark night or maybe a dark-skinned person in the daylight…That’s prejudice. Conversely, racism is when someone believes their race is superior to others. Racism is abhorrent. It’s also rare. What’s not rare, however, is how often liberals hurl accusations of racism to silence their opposition.”
“It would be wise to forgo labeling Republicans as ‘intolerant’ until you deal with your own intolerance. Remember the black church burning in Mississippi that had “Vote Trump” spray painted on it? A black member of the congregation did it. And the Muslim University of Michigan student who said a man threatened to light her on fire if she didn’t remove her hijab was lying and the swastikas and KKK graffiti at New York’s Nassau Community College was done by a student, Jasskirat Saini, not a skinhead.”
“The Thin Blue Line is under attack and in large part, it’s your party’s fault. As the executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations, William Johnson, said last July: The Obama administration’s ‘continued appeasement at the federal level with the Department of Justice, their appeasement of violent criminals, their refusal to condemn movements like Black Lives Matter…all the while blaming police for the problems in this country has led directly to the climate that has made [cop assassinations] possible. In 2016 law enforcement fatalities nationwide rose to their highest level in five years…Deplorable.”
“Understand Jesus was not a Democrat.”
“Jesus wasn’t into politics, but if he was, he wouldn’t be a Democrat. Here’s why: Jesus wouldn’t be an environmentalist because that would break his first commandment. And Hollywood idol worship would break his second. The Third Commandment would’ve stopped him from booing at the DNC Convention. And being pro-choice would break the sixth. You get my point. Implying that Jesus was a liberal is what happens when you contort the Bible to fit your politics rather than form your politics based on Biblical values.”
We can all learn from those insightful words.
Russia and China
The story of Russian influence in the presidential election (all Wikileaks did was tell the truth about the Clinton campaign) obscures a critical unreported Trump strategy: His desire to “triangulate” a better relationship with Russia to hold China at bay. It’s the reverse of the Nixon-Kissinger tactic of another generation–forging a US-Chinese partnership in the 1970s against the old Soviet Union.
It’s a wise move. China is the emerging giant to be worried about. It’s also a place where the Church is mushrooming and could bring great awakening to the Middle Kingdom. Don’t worry about Vladimir Putin and his 800K army. The greater threat is China’s 2.3 million soldiers. Let’s pray for Donald Trump and Secretary of State designate Rex Tillerson to lower world tensions and keep evil in check.
Europe and the Refugee Crisis
The British vote to leave the European Union (Brexit) and now the Trump election might set off a series of electoral dominoes in European politics which could impact Italy, France, Germany, and a number of other nations. At the center of European angst and insecurity is the massive, primarily Muslim invasion of refugees dfrom the Middle East. If we defeat ISIS, defend Israel, and Keep Iran from getting nuclear weapons, then the flow can be stopped and European nations revived.
Let’s pray for a new reformation and renaissance in Europe.
The Debt Time Bomb
A lingering problem we must still address is the 20 trillion dollar debt that the US has piled up and massive debt insolvency in other nations. This is not going away and must be addressed by some fearless political leaders. With major positives on the horizon, we must not fool ourselves into believing that a day of reckoning is not coming. It is. And it can come in a moment (Revelation 18:9-20) and affect many people.
Be personally prepared (food and essentials?). Get out of debt yourself. And support courageous leaders who will lead us back to fiscal sanity.
We must never forget that the goal of history is introducing the Savior to every person on earth–whereupon history as we know it will be finished (Matthew 24:14). Many missionary organizations are rightly focusing on the plight of global refugees and the completion of the Great Commission. Groups like Finishing the Task are helping believers adopt the remaining unreached peoples; Projects like End Bible Povery Now are committed to getting the Bible translated into every language as a birthday present to Jesus by 2020.
Be encouraged as we enter this new calendar year that God is on the move. He has a plan for your life, and maybe some new assignments to give you in 2017.
So, watch, pray, and act as He leads you.
Maybe you, too, were born for “such a time as this” (Esther 4:14).