Beliefnet
Safe Place with Ruth Graham

I have a news service on my computer  where I read the news. You may remember I turned my television off. Good decision. It just spewed negative information all the time. Now I can pick and choose what I want to see and view in a more deliberate way.

Anyway, this news service gives me a rundown of the day’s top stories. Today it is: Hurricane  Maria making a direct hit on the Island of Puerto Rico, the death toll estimated at 200 – so far – in Mexico City after the earthquake, in the UK you can now use your finger print to buy groceries, a former POTUS is making speeches to the tune of $400K, terrorists are using FaceBook to spew their extremism, anger fuels the political climate (apparently we are angry about everything), a witch is casting spells, a drug raid in NYC found enough to kill 32 million people, a suicide bridge was added to a NYC bridge, there are multiple investigations going on and the world is running out of antibiotics.

Wow!

When you see all that together it makes you wonder how much longer we can go on. I  worry about the next generation and what they will face. I am sure Daniel’s mother worried as he was sent off to Babylon or Hannah as she left Samuel at the temple under the influence of Eli’s wicked sons. Or my mother worried about Franklin as he drove across Europe to deliver a Land Rover to a hospital in Jordan. All three women, and countless others, trusted God through the millennia, to protect and provide for His own.

But people ask me if all the things going on indicate Jesus’ return. He told us in Matthew chapter 24 to be aware of the signs of His coming. Things like wars and rumors of wars, false teachers, nations against nations, famines, earthquakes, persecution of Christians, betrayal of each other, lawlessness will increase, the powers of the heavens will be shaken… Things will get so bad that He will cut the days short for the sake of His own. And He warned us that people would make predictions but no one knows the time of day – only the Father knows. But there will be signs…

Be aware of the signs. Personally, I don’t think it will be much longer. But I know my grandparents felt that way, too. Each generation has thought, prayed and longed to be the ones to see Jesus come in the clouds. I remember overhearing such a conversation and think, “Not until I get married.” The young desire to live a fulfilled life before Jesus comes and the older generation realizes Jesus is the fulfilled life!

Jesus tells us to be ready. Are you?

I like the title of my book: Fear Not Tomorrow, God is Already There!

 

As a nation we have watched two major, devastating storms hit our land causing destruction, fear, anxiety, death and loss beyond comprehension. How are we to pray? I think Job gives us a close when he said, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” Brennan Manning once wrote that God would rather hear us tell Him we trust him we love Him. He wants us to trust in His love and care. Trust is evidence of our love for Him and an understanding of His character.

In the light of terrible destruction, Habakkuk wrote, “Though the fig tree should not blossom, and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail, and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold, and there be no cattle in the stalls, (sounds like the aftermath of a huge storm) yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places.”

I believe those kinds of prayers in the midst of loss, pain and suffering bring joy to the heart of God. When we affirm our trust in Him and our dependance on Him, not our circumstances, we are drilling down to the bedrock of His almighty character.

I know the days, weeks, months, years of rebuilding will test every fiber of our society. For now adrenaline carries the day…but weariness will set in. A good look at the situation will overwhelm us. We have to keep our focus on God. He is still on His throne.

If He is in control why didn’t He stop it or lessen the storm? We live in a fallen world. Bad things happen. Horrible things happen. But none of these things can separate us from His love. “Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril or sword…I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” That is security, folks! True security.

This was written by a dear friend, Victor Morris, from a ministry I am involved in: Advancing Native Missions. It is worth sharing with a wider audience. Like Victor, I live close to Charlottesville. We have been deeply affected by the events in Charlottesville. One of the members of my church was on the mall during the “ugliness” doing work for one of our local TV channels. He told me the anger on both sides was palpable.

I must admit I am confused by all the anger. Can we not have decent, reasonable dialogue where we can hear each other? Perhaps that train has left the station. I do have a friends that are in a bi-racial marriage and she gives me clues about their reality. It makes me so sad.

From Victor: I live in small town only about 10 miles from Charlottesville, VA.  Like everyone else, I was horrified and angered by the events occurring in our community on August 12.  I also was left with a deep concern because there is a growing focus on racial division in this country.  Racism is a hot topic.  And one that needs to be addressed, especially by the Christian community.  

According to the Scriptural account, there is actually only one human race.  Biblically all humans are part of one family.  We are all descended from Adam and Eve.  This is plainly taught in the Scriptures.  Indeed, Eve’s very name means “mother of all living” (Genesis 3:20), thus indicating her as the primal ancestor of all men.  We are also all descended from Noah.  During the Flood, all human beings were destroyed on the earth, leaving only Noah and his family (see Genesis 7:21-23 and 1 Peter 3:20).  This is why the New Testament says that God has made all the peoples of the earth from one blood, one human stock (see Acts 17:26).

But what about the concept of race?  Again, from a biblical perspective there are concerns with the very concept of there being different human “races.”  As a biological term, we must reject it.  It refers to a subspecies, and implies the possibility of a new, different race being formed.  This we categorically reject!  Skin color also is not a good definition.  For example, if we take the usual three “races”:  Mongoloid, Caucasoid, and Negroid; we have wide variation. There are light complexioned brown peoples in sections of Africa, there Caucasians in India with very dark skin, and both light and dark complexions among the Chinese and Japanese.  Besides…  What is skin color?  Nothing more than a little more, or a little less of skin pigment, which we all have.  Except for albinos, there are no truly “white” people.  All of us have some “darkness.”

To discuss the distinctions found among various groups of the human family a better word than race can be used.  The Bible speaks of the nations or peoples or ethnoi, that is ethnic groups.  Terms such a “people group” or “ethnic group” give a better picture of the biblical understanding of the distinctions within humanity.

Where then did the various people groups of the earth come from.  It is understood that everyone is descended from Adam through Noah.  The various ethnic divisions may be traced to the spread of Noah’s descendants just after the Flood.  This process is ethnic diversification is described in the Table of the Nations in Genesis 10.  This remarkable ancient document traces the broad, general distribution of the various nations, and traces their family origins.  Of course, through the millennia there has been much intermingling among the various peoples groups of the earth, so there are probably few (or possibly no) groups that are completely are of one ethnic origin.  Based on the Table of the Nations, the breakdown of the ethnic groups of the earth is as follows, in very broad terms.

First there are the descendants of Noah’s son Ham.  The ancient Hamitic peoples included the Canaanites, Philistines, Phoenicians, ancient Egyptians and Libyans, Hittites, Amorites, Sinites, Jebusites, Cushites and Sabaeans.  Modern ethnic groups that are Hamitic in origin include the various peoples of Africa, and possibly the Chinese and other Asiatic groups.

Secondly, there are descendants of Shem.  The ancient Semitic peoples included the Elamites, Assyrians, Hebrews, Lydians, Arameans, Yemenites, Ishmaelites.  Modern ethnic groups that are Semitic in origin include the Jews, Arabs, and possibly other Middle Eastern peoples.

Then there are the descendants of Noah’s son Japheth.  The ancient Japthetic peoples included the Celts, Greeks, Armenians, Medes, Romans, Germanic tribes, Aryans, Scythians, Etruscans, etc.  Modern Japthetic peoples are found mainly in the Indo-Europeans, including the various European peoples, Iranians and Indians.

Another question that arises from this topic is where did all the different languages come from? This is an important question in regard to the nations of the earth.  For the most important cultural distinctive between various peoples is their language.  More than anything else, language determines the culture of a people.

The Scriptures are plain that after the Flood mankind had only one language (Genesis 11:1).  This unity of language caused the people to have a unity of culture, society and government.  The people desired to remain unified (Genesis 11:4).  For this purpose, they decided to erect a tower for occult worship and to solidify their union.  However, God was not pleased with their arrogant, independent spirit (11:6).  So the Lord confused their speech, and caused them to speak a number of different languages (11:7-9).  As a result, the people were scattered and dispersed across the earth (Genesis 11:8).

This confusion of languages is the reason for there being a multitude of languages on the earth.  It does not mean that the people immediately spoke French, German, Swahili, Chinese, etc.  These are modern languages.  It does probably mean that God created the various primal language families that we now recognize as being the root languages of the earth.

One final thought must be emphasized.  The biblical portrayal of the origins of mankind teaches us that we are all one family, just one human race.  The differences between the various people groups of the earth are secondary to our unity as one human family.  There is no particular “race” or ethnic group that is superior to another.  We are all the creation of God, with one common blood and one common origin.  God loves all nations, ethnic groups, equally.  Christ died for all men, no matter the color of their skin or their national origin.  Any born-again believer in Jesus Christ is a member of the family of God.  We are one in His spirit, and one through His blood.

It is evident from the above that there is no place for racism or racial discrimination in the Christian faith.  Anyone who claims to be a Christian and has hatred for any person, much less any group of people, is by that very hatred denying the Christian faith he espouses (see 1 John 2:9-11 and 4:20).  To manifest racism and racial hatred is to deny Christ and the Gospel… plain and simple.

 

 

The massive flooding in Houston is on everyone’s mind and heart. The threats of North Korea are concerning everyone. The unprecedented divisiveness in our country is affecting everyone. There was the total eclipse of the sun for the United States. Blood moons last year. Stars aligning in an unusual ways this week.

Nothing seems to be at rest – all is in turmoil. There is no peace anywhere.

What are we to make of it? I know there are those who seem to think they know exactly what is going on and make definite predictions. But not me.

The only thing I KNOW FOR SURE is that God is still on His throne! Last year I studied the book of Revelation. It is not an easy book to understand and yet, there are those who want us to think they know it all. The two things I came away with from my study was that God is in control of all things and, in the end, He wins!

I’ve been told that the very first book of the Bible is the book of Job. A book about terrible suffering and the question of “Why?”. Job had four friends who tried to tell him exactly why he was suffering – they were no help at all. The very first thing God wanted us to know about Himself is that He is in control, He is far more than we can truly understand and He is with us in the storms. He is present with us.

Does that all sound too simple? Maybe. There are great minds, great scholars, great theologians that deal with these things regularly. Someone once asked Carl Barth, the Swiss theologian, what was the greatest truth he knew. He replied, “Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.”

Simple. So simple we can all understand it.