Sinking sand, withering grass and fading flowers.
The ripening harvest.
And the authentic Christian lifestyle.
All around us is sinking sand.
However it was not always so.
Now that we are into the new millennium the speed of change has gathered momentum.
In the United Kingdom a new phrase has been coined. ABC “anything but Christian”
Likewise, the face of Europe is changing rapidly. The Daily Telegraph (August 8th 2009) carried an article entitled 'Muslim Europe: The demographic time bomb transforming our continent'.
Some demographic trend-watchers predict that Germany may well be on the way to becoming a Muslim state by 2050. This short video on Muslim demographics shows how the USA and Canada, and particularly Europe is rapidly changing in religion and culture.
Several days later the same paper carried an article by John Ingham, the Environment editor revealing that the abuse of animals dealt with by the RSPCA had increased by 60% to date.
Hospitals are almost over run with binge drinking related admissions. More than a million such people are being brought to hospital, a figure that has doubled since 2002.
Sinking sand, withering grass and fading flowers.
Our society’s moral compass has lost its bearing completely. It might be safe to say that the compass has been lost.
That plum line has gone, so one must now use the term amoral. No moral plum line.
Rather than inspiring a return to sexual morality the media continues to throw fuel on the issue.
Stable family life, the backbone of the nation, has broken down en masse.
Marriage - traditionally the means by which two people could raise the children they created, is being changed out of all recognition. Melanie Phillips, a long standing columnist with the Daily Mail wrote "Truly we are fast reaching the stage where upholding Biblical sexual standards will become the morality that dare not speak its name"
Family Division judge Mr. Justice Coleridge warned the breakdown of the family would, within 20 years, "be as marked and as destructive as global warming".
He said children born into broken homes were increasingly turning to drink, drugs and crime, and the results were affecting the mental health of parents and children across the country.
He added: "In some of the more heavily-populated urban areas of the country family life is, quite frankly, in meltdown or completely unrecognizable.
In some areas of the country, even including the more urban parts of the sleepy west in which I operate, family life in the old sense no longer exists. (Daily Mail April 4 2008)
School discipline in many schools has broken down completely as recent documentaries and reports have shown. The rod was spared and the children have been spoilt and now the teachers bear the rod instead. Four out of ten teachers in the UK quit within two years. In some schools ex-army men are being brought in to help curb 'feral children' On July 11th 2011 the Daily mail newspaper headline reported on 'Britain's broken schools' stating that 1000 pupils are excluded every day, assaults on teachers are are 5 year high and that 1 in 4 staff face false allegations from the pupils. Inside the paper there was a report on the 'rise of violent 'Little Emperors' reporting on the huge rise in violence at home where children as young as ten are beating up their mother when they do not get there way.
Once it was alcohol and gambling addiction that tore family life apart. Now drug addiction on a massive scale is demolishing lives families and communities, and bringing violence and gang wars in its wake.
Christians with long standing foster care records can no longer foster children because they cannot affirm homosexual lifestyle. Good people are being called evil.
Secular wisdom has failed on all fronts.
As Prime Minister David Cameron has repeatedly stated "our society is broken and we need to fix it"
All around us sinking sand. Withering grass and fading flowers.
When people ponder the eternal questions
The Sunday Times carried an article by Bill Bryson which stated
The paradox is that this media driven society relentlessly tells young people that they are descended from animals and that there is no such thing as accountability to God, yet is shocked and fearful when they behave like animals who believe there is no accountability to God.
Sinking sand, withering grass and faded flowers.
Suddenly other aspects of life, once thought solid, have become sinking sand.
The tsunami on boxing day 2004 seemed to signal a dramatic change in levels of dangerous weather patterns. Such was the magnitude of the earthquake (9.1 - 9.3) that it caused the entire planet to vibrate. Some 230,000 people died in fourteen countries.
In southern Australia floods hit the state of Victoria and state officials said the flood is set to be one of the worst ever seen in the state.
Just weeks after the great floods, Australia was hit by ‘Yasi’, the biggest tropical cyclone to hit the country in living memory.
Renowned climatologist Professor Stone said “more cyclones the size and scale witnessed in North Queensland last night is definitely a reality that we must face. Cyclone Yasi is one of the biggest and most intense weather patterns that has ever been seen anywhere in the world and we are in cyclone season so, combined with the intense La Nina, there is the definite risk that more will follow,”
Shortly after the cyclone in eastern Australia bush fires surrounded the city of Perth in western Australia, demolishing dozens of homes. One Australian told me "we have had cyclones before, and floods before and bush fires before, but never all at the same time!"
Earthquakes have increased numerically but experts are not sure whether it is just that sensors are more sensitive, but one definite measuring stick is counting the category seven or greater quakes which need no sensors to reveal their activity.
Just five months later, another devastating earthquake hits Christchurch New Zealand, many killed. Prime Minister speaks of New Zealand's darkest day. This was caused by a new fault line in the Earth’s crust that seismologists were previously unaware of.
Then on March 11th an earthquake of 8.9 magnitude, the sixth largest ever recorded occurred some 250 miles off the coast of Japan. This resulted in a tsunami of more than 20 feet in height striking Japan with devastating force. An ITV television news commentary said that the energy released was estimated to be between 8000 - 50,000 atomic bombs. Six immediate aftershocks were all greater or equal to the recent New Zealand earthquake mentioned above. This 8.9 event 8000 times more powerful than the New Zealand earthquake and the final death toll is expected to be in the region of 18-20,000
The last month in 2010 and the first month in 2011, saw something happening on an unprecedented scale.
Slowly more and more mysterious December / January animal deaths around the world surfaced. Buffalo, Pelicans, Octopuses, Seals, Penguins, Bats and Cows. (Google ‘mass animal deaths 2011' for more information)
Then on March 9th, 1,000,000 sardines washed up dead in King Harbor, near Los Angeles.
There is a Google map available showing the global scale.
Last May in Kazakhstan between 10-12,000 Saiga antelope, a quarter of the world population of this breed, were found dead.
In the background there is the ongoing mystery of why honey bees continue to disappear or be found dead in many parts of the world, prompting fears of food shortages if orchards cannot be naturally pollinated by this God given army of pollinators. (Google ‘disappearing honey bees’)
We can rightly ask "what on earth is going on?"
Global warming is having dramatic effects in parts of the world such as Russia and Pakistan. In July 2010 the average Moscow temperature was 14 degrees Fahrenheit above the norm, twice hitting 100 degrees Fahrenheit, a level Muscovites had never before experienced. This resulted in thousands of forest fires over a seven week period. Reports speak of Russia’s 140 million people being in shock, traumatized by what was happening to them and their country.
In Pakistan, May 26, 2010, the official temperature in south-central Pakistan reached 128 degrees Fahrenheit, a record for Asia. Snow and glaciers in the western Himalayas, where the tributaries of the Indus River originate, were melting fast. Combined with heavy rainfall the two extreme effects caused raging waters to cover one fifth of the country. Some 2 million homes were damaged or destroyed. More than 20 million people were affected by the flooding. Nearly 2,000 Pakistanis died. Some 6 million acres of crops were damaged or destroyed. Over a million livestock drowned. Roads and bridges were washed away.
Sea levels are rising but the debate is over how much and how fast. A television documentary (Sky History Channel February 6th 2011) spoke of the possibility of seas rising by 60 to 90 metres if global warming were to melt the polar ice caps.
Even a rise of ten metres would bring global chaos. Over 600 million people live in coastal areas that are less than 10 meters above sea level, and two-thirds of the world’s cities that have populations over five million are located in these at-risk areas.
Record droughts and freak weather around the globe are threatening to destroy harvests from Australia to Argentina, and there are more and more reports of the rapidly increasing levels of world hunger, with serious predictions being made for the coming years. All of which poses a serious risk for world peace and security.
On Tuesday June 21st the Independent headlined the news that the 'Oceans are on the brink of catastrophe' stating that marine life was facing mass extinction within one h
Government chief scientist John Beddington calls it 'the perfect storm'. Soaring world population, coupled with climate change, is set to create a world food crisis and leave billions starving. (The Mail on Sunday February 6th)
Everywhere, sinking sand.
Then there are the Banks.
Could anyone have ever imagined the state of California at one stage being unable to pay its creditors?
Or the euro itself being in danger?
Christopher Meyer, former British Ambassador to the U.S. wrote,
On the world stage we have the financial and military rise of China set against a weakening America. The increasing possibility of nuclear weapons in the hands of Iran and North Korea, or terrorists. Space missiles being developed.
All around is sinking sand, withering grass and fading flowers.
You get the picture!
Fashions come and fashions go.
Those who are fastened to The Rock can declare..
As the world’s stability is sinking, withering and fading one thing we can be sure of.
Despite the reassuring tones of various experts, people understand all too well that life as they and their parents knew it is changing fast, and not for the better.
Beneath their feet only sinking sand. All around them withering grass and fading flowers.
People will instinctively be looking for a Rock to cling to.
The authentic Christian lifestyle seems to be going, or gone.
A small gate and a narrow way, Jesus said, "and few find it" (Matthew 7:14)
That 'sense' of being anchored to The Rock is for many, only dry theology rather than LIFE.
In the first century plagues and epidemics were common in cities like Rome, Corinth and Philippi.
In the seventeenth century thousands of Scottish Christians died rather than confess that the King of England was the head of the church, as only Jesus could hold that honour.
The Covenanters, as they were known, had been fined, tortured, flogged, branded or executed without trial for failing to turn up to hear the "King's Curates" in the pulpit.
Daniel Defoe, the author of "Robinson Crusoe" estimated that 18,000 Covenanters died for their adherence to the Covenant.
In the eighteenth century during the years 1789-92 France boiled over into the French revolution when the monarchy was overthrown and many rich aristocrats were put to death or put to flight.
Across the water in Great Britain the same conditions had been ripe for a similar revolution, but the impact of John Wesley and 'the Christians' converted through his ministry changed the face of the nation.
Christians throughout many nations and over many centuries have stood fast for Christ and for truth and have often suffered, or died for it.
Tom White, the head of Voice of the Martyrs wrote this, "I was in the highlands in Vietnam when someone remarked about how the Christians suffered there. One Vietnamese Christian remarked, "Suffering is not the worst thing that can happen to us. Disobedience to God is the worst thing"
Even as I write this, a news report has just come through telling of an Afghan Christian about to be hung for converting from Islam.
In Acts chapter four we read of where the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law met in Jerusalem to question Peter and John. Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and others of the high priest’s family. All avowed enemies of the gospel. When they cross-examined them the Bible says ‘they took note that these men had been with Jesus’.
External events did not move them.
We don't like being hated - who does? - and so we are prone to compromise.
The churches’ traditional 'city walls' have broken down and the gates burnt. Instead of influencing the world around us, it has become the other way around.
We need the Nehemiahs to rebuild the walls and re-hang the gates.
God the Father believes every word in scripture.
As does Jesus.
He quoted from Genesis chapter one and two, and spoke of Noah, the ark and the great flood. He spoke of Sodom and Gomorrah, and Jonah and the great fish. He is The Word become flesh.
The Holy Spirit believes scripture. He inspired it.
Yet very few Christians now truly believe that every word of God is true.
The media often carries more authority and more influence than scripture.
What an insult to God.
The sinking sand has come into the church.
That's why Jesus went to the cross.
As Christians we agree with God in hating sin in all its life destroying shapes and forms, and we war against it daily, and will war against it daily until God calls us home. At rest and yet at war.
When men and women who take the Lord's Name upon their lives as 'Christian' and make friends with sin they take the Lord's Name in vain.
Jesus words to the Laodicea church have never been more relevant than today.
Today, outside of church walls, it can be difficult to tell the difference between Christian and non Christian in society and it is not because the non Christian has become more righteous in thought word or deed.
Here's how Paul speaks of grace in his letter to Titus.
And here's how Paul speaks of grace in his letter to the church in Rome.
One man, a married man, told me that he stopped off on the way home almost every day for extra marital sex. When I asked him how he thought God might feel about this, he raised his hands to heaven and said "Praise God for His grace"
The words of William Cowper's great hymn have never rung as true as now.
The sinking sand has come into the church.
And so we grieve The Spirit and we loose our discernment and we are vulnerable to all sorts of nonsense.
Paul called the true church to behave in such a way that we would be lights in the moral and spiritual darkness of this fallen world.
So here is the comfort.
Here is the opportunity.
The harvest is ripening.
Here is the challenge.
We have been born for such a time as this.
Will we have that deep desire to ask God to give us the strength to live the authentic Christian lifestyle and be living letters from The Rock of ages in a darkening world that is literally falling apart on every level?
I challenge myself with this question.