"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

We're Promised Peace in Chaos, Never From Chaos

In 1969 Paul Simon wrote a song entitled Bridge Over Troubled Waters. The closing words of that are "Like a bridge over troubled waters, I will ease your mind." Pop culture often weeds its way into the garden of truth. In my thirty years of pastoral ministry, I've seen more than a few Christians create a Jesus who becomes their "bridge over troubled waters." A typical prayer meeting is proof. Most requests are for Jesus to remove troubles such as illness, poverty, conflict, etc... It's as if Christians believe the world around them is peaceful by nature, and intrusions of trouble and turmoil are unnatural.

Not so.

That the world evolves peacefully, gradually, and uniformly toward better and better outcomes is a lie of those who whose sole hope is mankind. It is an unscientific belief-- unscientific because it is neither observable,  measurable or verifiable -- and it has led people to believe that this world is naturally evolving toward better outcomes. Mankind, it is said, is a microcosm of Mother Universe and her progression toward stability and peace.

Not so.

Mankind, apart from God, is always devolving -- like the universe -- toward worse and worse outcomes. The brilliant Immanuel Velikovsky, a close friend of Albert Einstein, shook the scientific world with his 1950's book Worlds in Collision, where Velikovsky proved the earth's human population has almost been destroyed three times throughout history by natural, cosmic disasters. Velikovsky, a Jew, was deemed a heretic for his postulations that the sun used to rise in the west and set in the east, that the ancients wrote in great detail how destructive forces from the skies totally destroyed the world as it was then known, and that the Old Testament accounts of "the sun standing still" and "great stones from heaven" crushing the earth are nothing more than the destructive gravity forces of near collisions with stellar objects, including the newest planet Venus.  The world, wrote Velikovsky, is a world in chaos.

Jesus agrees.

Jesus told us that we will "always have the poor among us" (Matt. 26:11).The Apostle Paul, assuming everyone knew the world is in chaos, wrote "the whole creation is groaning, waiting the day of redemption" (Romans 8:22). He further wrote, "Don't be shaken by the troubles you are going through. You know that we are destined for such troubles" (I Thess. 3:3). The writer of Hebrews commends those with faith in God who were "tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Others faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground" (Hebrews 11:35-38).  Jesus wasn't a bridge over troubled waters for these people. He brought them peace in the midst of their troubles.

Application:

There is a growing sense among scientists that great natural disasters are coming. The evil of ISIS is spreading. The world economies - built on the lies of human governments and fiat currencies - is ready to collapse in an inescapable downward spiral.

It's coming.

But here's the thing worth remembering. Throughout the history of the world, these events have always come. The world is in chaos. This isn't nothing new, nor does it necessarily indicate the end of the world and the second coming of Jesus Christ. Nobody knows if God's plans for this earth are coming to a close or will continue indefinitely.

What we do know is Jesus promised His followers a "peace that passes all understanding." Unless your theology of Jesus and His Kingdom transcends your temporal desire for life, health and happiness, you will always be shaken by chaos in this life. But if you know the God whose "Kingdom never ends" and believe that this life is only a step into the next, then you will not clutch to the absence of chaos as evidence of Christ's love for you.

Jesus is not our bridge over troubled waters; He's the stability of our souls and the Rock of our hope right smack dab in the middle of the turmoil around us.

Historical Ignorance May Be Our Greatest Enemy

The following words come from the closing portions of the Presidential Inaugural Prayers given during the Oath of Office Ceremony for the President of the United States of America.

 "Bless abundantly our Chief Magistrate. Inspire his leadership. Grant him, O God of infinite wisdom and power, the light and the strength to carry through the great work that he has so well begun, and to pursue untiringly his magnificent vision of social peace and social justice. Through Christ, Our Lord. Amen."  - The 1937 Inaugural for Franklin D. Roosevelt.

"In the name of Him who is the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Our Lord. Amen.”  - The 1941 Inaugural for Franklin D. Roosevelt.
 
"In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the  Holy Ghost … Through Jesus Christ our Lord.” - The 1945 Inaugural for Franklin D. Roosevelt.
 
"Send forth Thy Holy Spirit in the fullness of his gifts to bless us with wisdom to perceive the ways of Thy Holy Will." - The 1949 Inaugural for Harry S. Truman.

"May Thy Holy Spirit descend upon him with the gift of wisdom, to lead, and understanding to know Thy holy will." - The 1953 Inaugural of Dwight D. Eisenhower.

"...bless our nation ... through Jesus Christ, our Lord." - The 1957 Inaugural of Dwight D. Eisenhower.

 "On this twentieth day of January — 1,961 years after the birth of Christ — on occasion of the inauguration of John Fitzgerald Kennedy as President of the United States of America — do Thou, oh Almighty God, give him, his Cabinet, the Congress and courts of the United States — and all of us — Thy grace." - The 1961 Inaugural of John F. Kennedy.

 "We ask this in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, the lifegiving Trinity, for the benefit of our Nation and all nations believing or aspiring for freedom, justice, dignity, and peace. Amen." - The 1965 Inaugural of Lyndon B. Johnson.

"We pray this humbly in the Name of the Prince of Peace who shed His blood on the Cross that men might have eternal life. Amen" - The 1969 Inaugural of Richard M. Nixon

"All this we ask in the name of Jesus Christ, Thy son and our savior. Amen." - The 1977 Inaugural of James E. Carter.

"We pray in the name of the Lord of Lords and King of Kings, even Jesus Christ. Amen.” - The 1981 Inaugural of Ronald W. Reagan.

"May the President and the Vice-President of these United States and all who stand with him in his desire for peace receive first the peace of Christ and in all things seek first not the kingdom of plenty or the kingdom of political superiority, but may they seek humbly first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. In the name of the King even Jesus Christ our Lord we pray. Amen." - The 1985 Inaugural for Ronald W. Reagan

"In Thy sovereignty Thou hast permitted George Bush to lead us at this momentous hour of our history for the next four years. As he today places his hand upon the Bible and solemnly swears before Thee to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, give him the wisdom, integrity and courage to help this become a nation that is gentle and kind." - The 1989 Inaugural for George H.W. Bush

"I pray this in the name of the one that’s called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, the Everlasting Father and the Prince of Peace. Amen." - The 1993 Inaugural for William Jefferson Clinton.

"This we pray in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen." - The 1997 Inaugural of William Jefferson Clinton.

"We respectfully submit this humble prayer in the name that’s above all other names, Jesus the Christ. Let all who agree say ‘Amen.'” - The 2001 Inaugural of George W. Bush.

"Now, unto You, O God, the One who always has been and always will be, the one King of kings and the true power broker, we glorify and honor You.  Respecting persons of all faiths, I humbly submit this prayer in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen." - The 2005 Inaugural of George W. Bush.

"I humbly ask this in the name of the One who changed my life - Yeshua, Isa, Jesus - who taught us how to pray, "Our Father who are in heaven..." - The 2009 Inaugural of Barak Obama

Source and Source

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For those who think it inappropriate to mention the name of Jesus Christ during Oath of Office Ceremony for the President of the United States -- believing that it places one religion above another -- it would be wise to consider the words of our Founding Fathers on the matter.

The Father of American Jurisprudence, Joseph Story, clarified the meaning of the First Amendment with regard to the priority of Christianity in America:
At the time of the adoption of the constitution, and of the amendment to it, now under consideration, the general, if not the universal, sentiment in America was, that Christianity ought to receive encouragement from the state, so far as was not incompatible with the private rights of conscience, and the freedom of religious worship. An attempt to level all religions, and to make it a matter of state policy to hold all in utter indifference, would have created universal disapprobation, if not universal indignation (1833, 44.723-726.3.3.1865-1868, emp. added).
The First Amendment was never intended to “level all religions” (i.e. Islam, by it's very name means "submission" not “liberty”). The Father of American Jurisprudence further explained:
The real object of the [First] amendment was not to countenance, much less to advance Mahometanism, or Judaism, or infidelity by prostrating Christianity; but to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects and to prevent any national ecclesiastical establishment which should give to a hierarchy the exclusive patronage of the national government(1833, 3:728, emp. added).
Jesus Christ is the King of Kings. Every Christian owes his or her allegiance to Him before any allegiance to America. However, Christians who believe that a state should have no preference of religion only opens itself up to being overtaken from without. Being an American is not the same thing as being Christian, nor is being a Christian the same thing as being an American.
 
However, being an American in the truest sense means you believe that the principles of freedom, liberty and justice - both individually and nationally - are built on the principles of God's Word (thus the President places his hand on the Bible). As Andrew Jackson, the founder of the Democratic Party and the 7th President of the United States, once said of the Bible:
"That book, sir, is the Rock upon which this Republic rests."
Application:

Emmanuel Enid is doing some great work in Africa among the Muslim people. We are drilling for water, providing hospitals, teaching men how to farm, giving free medicine, etc... We are doing this work through African nationals, in the name of Jesus Christ.

Do you know what our biggest hindrance is in our mission work within Africa? It's Muslims who equate American drones, bombs, and military might on their continent with "Christianity." How unfortunate.

(1). America ought to withdraw from wars around the globe and let Europe, Africa and other continents fight it out. There will always be wars among us; but unless our national security is at stake, we should not fight other peoples' wars for them.
(2). The money we save from withdrawing from foreign countries should be put into securing our borders. New immigrants who cannot accept that Christianity is the preferred religion of the United States should not be allowed to enter. That doesn't mean new immigrants cannot worship as they please - the First Amendment guarantees their freedom to do so - but it does mean that any new immigrant who believes America should follow Sharia Law or any other Law contrary to the principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness - the very principles taught by Jesus Christ and the founding documents of the United States - should not be allowed citizenship.
(3). Any aid the American government gives to foreign countries should be only humanitarian in nature (food, water, medical, housing, etc...).
(4). America should get it's fiscal house in order, removing any politician who approves spending more than our country receives in taxes.
Not everyone will agree with this post, especially my fellow Christians who live in America and find themselves loving the modern progressivism movement. While it may be impossible for me to change your mind about Christianity and America, it may not be too late to convince you that what America needs is a great revival of true religion.

Christianity is not the same thing as American politics, but it may be that what has caused the decline of our republic is the loss of true Christian character among her people.

"Ich Kaan Nigt Mehr" - I Can Go No Further

The mountain peak over my left shoulder is the Eiger Mountain in Switzerland. The shadow portion on the left side of the Eiger is the infamous north face. In 1936 Adolph Hitler challenged German climbers to climb the Eiger's north face, a feat never before accomplished in human history, in a desire to spread publicity regarding the upcoming 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Two Germans and two Austrians, led by German mountaineer Toni Kurz, took Hitler up on his challenge and attempted to climb the north face of the Eiger. All four moutain climbers died in the process. Toni Kurz was the last one to die, and the story of his death is gutwrenching. After losing all three of his companions to either rock slides or roping accidents, Toni Kurz found himself trapped on the end of a long rope, dangling for two days from the sheer mountain side. He dropped his left glove, and his hand froze in the frigid air. A rescue team was sent up the mountain to rescue Toni, but because the team also lost a rope, they had not enough rope to facilitate the rescue, falling two meters short of being able to reach Toni. Seeing his rescuers could advance no further, Toni worked for five hours with his one hand,  attempting to tie together two ropes to lower himself to the rescues, but after his painful and unfruitful attempt to lower himself a mere six feet, Toni Kurz looked at his rescuers and uttered in German:
"Ich kann nigt mehr." 
Translated, those four German words mean "I can go no further."  At that very moment Toni Kurz died. It would be two weeks later that another Austrian rescue team reclaimed the body of Toni Kurz.

The story of Tony Kurz and the unsuccessful 1936 attempt to conquer Eiger is grippingly retold in the 1960 classic book The White Spider (reprinted in 1998). Most people know of the Eiger because of Clint Eastwood's movie The Eiger Sanction, but for drama and edge-of-your-seat suspense, nothing tops the 2008 German movie (with English subtitles) North Face, which recreates the true story  of Toni Kurz and his failed attempt at climbing the Eiger.

We are staying at the Eiger Hotel, directly across from Eiger mountain, and as I thought of Tony Kurz's last words - "Ich kann nigt mehr" - I can go no further - I couldn't help but think about how similar physically death is to spiritual rebirth.

The moment a person comes to the end of himself, an event Jesus calls "dying to self," which is in essence a person giving up and dying to self-effort, self-will, and self-love - what Paul Tripp calls "The Kingdom of Self" - then Jesus Christ takes over.

So death and hope go hand in hand in the Kingdom of God. I die to self that I might really live, empowered by God, for His kingdom and not my own.

I can go no further. But God can do through me what I never dreamed possible.