Wake up - and be joyful.
This last weekend had rather a lot happening.  On Saturday I was at a wedding taking place in a meadow under an English sky.  On Sunday I caught up with the papers - grim reading in the main.  The horror of Iraq, Christian communities, thousands of years old, obliterated in a moment; children beheaded; terrified refugees desperately seeking shelter in the mountains.  The ongoing raging dilemma of Israel and Gaza, locked in their seemingly unstoppable conflict of defence for the one, implacable hatred for the other.  In the Ukraine the growing numbers of Russian troops massed on the borders takes us back to the fears of our parents - Cold War paranoia suddenly all too real.
The economic headlines stood out with their own downbeat warnings - “Lacklustre productivity growth lies behind Britain’s stagnating wages”; “Toxic debt fears hit Standard Chartered”; “Germany running out of steam as eurozone’s woes intensify”; “Trade gap widens to £9.4bn as exports fall”; “Fears of US bombing in Iraq sends oil soaring”.  It was not hard to find reporting that increasingly looks pessimistically at the economic future coming towards us.
Fact is, our world is being shaken all around us.  Fact is, much of what the Bible describes as the conditions that will exist before the return of Jesus seems to be becoming all too real, right now.  Fact is, the certainties that have underpinned my sixty or so years of life are all, suddenly, becoming all too uncertain.  Fact is, if you are a Christian in Iraq or Syria right now, the Tribulation is all too real.  Puts some of our cosy pre-Tribulation Rapture speculations into sharp perspective.  Tim Montgomerie, the Conservative radical communicator, writing in Saturday’s Times, concluded a powerful call for Western nations to war decisively against militant Islam with this warning:
“Mr Obama may, belatedly, have understood his responsibility.  I hope Britain will too.  If we won’t intervene militarily we should do as Britain’s churchleaders have pleaded, and give Christian and other persecuted Iraqis refuge.  And we shouldn’t for one minute think that Isis will stop when they’ve conquered Baghdad or Kurdistan.  Jordan would probably be next.  And one day don’t think that they, if given the chance, won’t come for us.”
Fact is, most of us need to wake up.  And start listening very carefully to what God is saying to us.  And asking us to do.  We all, as men and women of faith, have a place on the battleground.  Do we understand that?  Are we preparing for that?  Are we praying for those who have gone early into the Tribulation?  Are we praying that we will be shown how to prepare ourselves, and our businesses, so that we can answer His call to be generous providers of the resources that will be needed?  If nothing else at this time, let us turn to pray, as King Jehoshaphat did, when he heard of the great multitude that was coming against him.  I have been reading 2 Chronicles 20 this morning - it’s a pretty good set of instructions for us at this time.  Let us be in faith that, as we turn to the Lord, we will receive the same promise that He will fight the battle.
Back to that wedding.  The summer sun shone on Lizzy, the youngest daughter of John and Marie Manwell, as she married Matthew and they became one.   It was a wonderful ceremony, full of spiritual meaning and depth as these two young people pledged their love and their lives to each other and to the service of their Lord.  A moment of great joy and great hope for their future - and all our futures.  Remember, we are on the winning side, we are called to live Kingdom life here and now.  Which is exactly what Lizzy and Matthew promised to do on Saturday.  They are an example to us all.

Christopher Gibaud
12th August 2014

Lynda Cooper, 14/08/2014