Is it the End of the World?

In a complex and increasingly unsure world, stories of genuine human compassion and innovation for the common good are balm for the soul. We hear too many stories of self-absorbed types who take but give nothing in return. A narcissistic world was even foretold by the Apostle Paul.

And yet…

If living life teaches us nothing else, it is that everything cycles and good ultimately triumphs over evil. That includes the ravages of a world in which physical ailments harass people regardless of ethnic, geographical, and class factors. I recently have come across a story that inspires like no other I’ve heard. It is a story that helps us press-on with hope.

This story is particularly glorious, because it involves helping children who have done nothing to deserve the physical setbacks they have been beset with.

The birth of a child is a sublime moment for any family. A premium is put on the health of the child and so the mother makes every effort to ensure that outcome.

Unfortunately, clubfoot occurs in one-to-two of every thousand children. Fortunately, Ignacio Ponseti would not rest until he had developed an innovative, non-surgical method for correcting clubfoot. Ponseti, who died at 95, utilized a device that, given time and proper procedure, came to achieve a 95-percent success rate. The device itself was created by John Mitchell, and launched in 2003 by MD Orthopaedics.

Dr. Ponseti, left, and John Mitchell.

Dr. Ponseti, left, and John Mitchell.

It is an astonishing fact that clubfoot—the turning of feet inward—affects over 100,000 children annually. The condition can alter a person’s future in myriad ways.

Enter MD Orthopaedics, John Mitchell, and Ignacio Ponseti. In 2003, MD Orthopaedics “married” Ponseti’s famed non-surgical procedure with Mitchell’s life-changing device.

In short, the Ponseti Method (or Technique) begins soon after birth, when it’s easier to manipulate the feet. Ponseti’s series of four-to-five casts provide a step-by-step timeline for correcting clubfoot. It is at this point that Mitchell’s AFO (ankle/foot orthosis) brace is attached to the patient’s foot; over a period of four years, the casts and AFO braces maintain the manipulation process, also ensuring the initial condition does not return.

The overall procedure and the devices developed by Ponseti (originally a Spaniard who fled the Spanish Civil War) and Mitchell (an Iowa-based designer) have revolutionized orthopedics, and more importantly, drastically improved the lives of tens of thousands of people.

For more than a dozen years now, the Ponseti Method at the University of Iowa has partnered with MD Orthopaedics.

When Ignacio Ponseti passed away in 2009, he died knowing that his procedure for correcting clubfoot rested in good hands.

Dr. Robert Cady is a leading member of this wonderful community that has brought remarkable relief to many.

“The Ponseti Revolution began to occur about 20 years ago, and the standard of care for clubfeet, in probably from 1970 to about 1990 was in most places a surgical treatment,” he recalls. “The thing that really ended the surgical treatment was that the kids that had surgery…their feet really looked pretty good. The parents loved them, and they looked good and functioned very well…when they were little kids.

“But as they got older, and became adolescents and teenagers, that scar tissue from the surgery would begin to restrict their motion, and their feet would become stiff. And when they tried to participate, in high-level activities like sports, their feet would start to hurt. They’d get up in the morning and they were stiff and they’d limp a little bit. So around that time, people were beginning to become less excited about surgery. With Dr. Ponseti’s technique, they were beginning to publish their long-term results. The Ponseti Technique is now the standard around the world.”

When asked why John Mitchell’s “Ponseti Brace” is the best AFO on the market, Cady said:

“Well, I think for me the two big things are comfort, because instead of a shoe it’s a soft silicone with felt, and the child is much more comfortable. But then the other thing is the fact that the AFO is detachable. You have the same advantage that the Horton click-bar had, it’s just that if the child wakes up and he’s uncomfortable, Mo or Dad can come in and un-click the AFO, leave it on, the child goes back to sleep and they can come back and just click it back on. It’s really simple.”

This innovation, produced by MD Orthopaedics, in conjunction with the Ponseti Method, is as wonderful a solution as other techniques that profoundly improve children’s lives around the world, including the treatment of cleft palate and other maladies. To date, an astonishing 231,991 children have been served by these clubfoot breakthroughs.

We salute the folks at MD Orthopaedics, for their commitment to the simple human choice of bringing relief to the best and most innocent among us: our children.

In the Bible’s book of John, chapter 16 and verse 33, Jesus Himself tells us that humans live in a world of trouble. But then, He says, Be of good cheer, because He has overcome the world!

It is one of the most beautiful passages in all of Scripture, but sometimes I’m afraid, even Christians forget it. Today, with so much geopolitical turmoil in the world, believers take their eyes of the Word and begin to sink into despair.

Morningside, the ministry headquarters of Jim Bakker in Branson, Missouri.

Morningside, the ministry headquarters of Jim Bakker in Branson, Missouri.

That’s dissipated to some degree with the election of Donald J. Trump as President of the United States, but there are still too many living in fear.

Some Bible prophecy teachers (or those who emphasize it, such as Jim Bakker) routinely warn of impending doom. Some of them make a handsome living off that fear, encouraging the stockpiling of food and guns. Yet today, as we head to Christmastime 2016, there is renewed optimism in America. While we know that no political leader will ever be the real Messiah, we can still enjoy any reprieve the Lord sees fit to give us.

So with that in mind, please enjoy the holidays and expect to meet the Future with optimism and gladness of heart.

The American Church, specifically Evangelicalism, is now in a place no one could have imagined in days gone by. For the longest, biblical teaching was at least available in plenty of venues. Where Bible prophecy teachers once taught that a “one-world religion” would be ushered-in, they assumed it would be a coalition of the Catholic Church and the New Age.

No one expected such an entity to include American evangelicals.

The Bible’s book of Jude speaks of this. This short letter was a warning from its author to the Church of the last days. Jude was telling people that certain men would infiltrate the Church and teach falsehoods.

That day has arrived in the West.

Celebrity pastor Andy Stanley for some time has been sounding-off about his views of the Church’s need for new pr; he wishes to see it marketed in a way that will attract unbelievers. This very premise, this model for “doing church,” is flawed and unworkable. The Bible doesn’t teach that unbelievers will be attracted to gatherings of believers. In fact, the Bible teaches that the Gospel itself is hateful to the world.

But Andy Stanley has taken pragmatism to new heights. From his admission that he jettisoned belief in the creation accounts in college, to his latest declarations that we must avoid encouraging people to believe the Bible as it’s written, Stanley had departed from biblical Christianity. Instead, he wishes to fashion a new spirituality.

To say such a thing in public is even now not popular. So far as I know, only Albert Mohler has had the courage to challenge Stanley publicly. Most celebrity pastors and ministries stand silent, staring at the floor.

Let me be clear: it is outrageous for a modern pastor to denigrate Scripture. Yet that is precisely what Stanley is doing. He has his defenders, naturally. There are pensions, and salaries, and perks at stake, and many modern ministry leaders circle the wagons—even when heresy and apostasy abound.

Andy Stanley signing books at a Catalyst One Day event at Cross Church in Rogers, Arkansas.

Andy Stanley signing books at a Catalyst One Day event at Cross Church in Rogers, Arkansas.

Stanley claims to want to make “the faith” acceptable for unbelievers. In fact, if this is true, he is still creating conditions for wholesale unbelief in the Bible. Remember Jesus’ words in Luke 18:7-8—

And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?

I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

Stanley’s pragmatic approach sounds so good, even to legions of modern evangelicals, many of whom flock to seeker-sensitive churches. Yet the Bible does not point to a future Church that is great in number. It does point to Apostasy.

That is a Church pastors like Andy Stanley are building brick-by-brick.

With the passing of Israel’s legendary Shimon Peres, an unusually high number of accolades is streaming into the Jewish state. Even President Obama ordered flags lowered to half-mast at federal buildings in the U.S. Montages of Peres meeting world leaders play on social media.

Peres, 93, served Israel in a variety of capacities, and his spearheading of the Olso Accords has invited both criticisms and bouquets. Once known more as a hawk (Peres was defense minister at the time of the Entebbe rescue), the urbane politician had moved to the left in the previous decades, being part of both the Labor and Kadima parties.

Even his critics are largely silent for a few days, out of respect.

Not so the Palestinians. Hamas has called for a “Day of Rage” during Peres’ funeral. Meanwhile, the rival to Hamas, the Palestinian Authority, is silent.

An honest person will admit that the Palestinians, for a quarter-century, have squandered opportunities by the bushel-full. The leadership owes its wealth to the Peres Crowd, which worked tirelessly to prop-up a failing PLO and Yasser Arafat in 1990.

The Palestinian snub of Shimon Peres is one more reminder that the Palestinians are nowhere near ready for a state. The PLO/PA is a primitive, crude entity mired in seventh-century dogma.

It will be a cold day in Gaza before they’re ready for Palestine.