Friday, January 01, 2010

The climate is changing

The following is an editorial from Brian Pickering of the Australian Prayer Network. I've posted it here because it reminds me to persevere in prayer, because God does hear and answer our prayers, even if the answers we receive are not always the ones we want.

The commencement of a New Year is always an exciting time providing as it does an opportunity for a measure of new beginnings. Will 2010 however bring anything new or will it be simply more of the same? As Christians our hope is not in what we can see, hear or touch, but our hope is in a realm that cannot be seen but which nevertheless is overwhelmingly real. Whilst the focus of the whole world in recent weeks has been on whether the physical climate is warming, and why, quietly, almost imperceptably, God has been increasing the spiritual temperature of the world.

That temperature change is not easily discernable on a day by day assessment but there are in the terminology of the global financial crisis of the past year, "green shoots" of hope emerging for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear what the Spirit is doing across the world today. I believe there is a change occuring in the spiritual temperature in Australia, and across the world. Intercessors are beginning to pick up this change, which is not dramatic as in a "change of season", but nevertheless still very significant. 

A change of season is like a transformation from winter to summer or reverse. We are in the midst of such a change of season that began around 3/4 years ago and which is continuing. A change in the spiritual temperature however is like experiencing a welcome warm burst in the midst of a prolonged cold spell.

So what are the signs evidencing this change. Firstly I believe there is a developing disillusionment that promised and hoped for change in recent years has not born the fruit many were expecting. The lack of a meaningful outcome from the Copenhagen Conference, the current unrest in a number of Islamic countries such as Iran, Pakistan and Iraq, and the re-emergence of the terrorism threat to international air travel are all evidence that man does not have the answers to the worlds major problems. 

Philosophies such as secularism have similarly failed to provide a new dawn of enlightenment.  Political leaders across the world who promised change and answers for their people, have also been unable to deliver anything of real significance and the hope that many invested in them is beginning to wane. In this climate of lost hope many are looking for alternative sources for the answers. As Christians of course we know that there is only one answer to the problems of humanity and He is Jesus. But is the world ready yet to listen to such a proposition.

This change has great significance for the Christian church although it will not automatically be converted into "unqualified advance".  It will require great sensitivity and wisdom on the part of Christian leaders to harness this change, with it just as easily passing us by as another lost opportunity. People have already rejected religion as having any answers. There is however increasing evidence of renewed interest in Kingdom Christianity which allows people to experience Jesus without necessarily having to embrace "religion".

There is also a detectable increase in the faith level of many committed Christians. New ministries with a Kingdom focus, are emerging at a rapid rate and having great influence in areas that are at present away from the public eye.  Many of these ministries are springing up in areas where Christianity has not had previous influence and people who were previously antagonistic to things "religious" are now becoming inquisitive and open to a practical expression of the Gospel not tainted with "religion".

This change in the spiritual climate is resulting in fresh winds of the Spirit emerging. Whereas the winds of change have in recent years been headwinds blowing against the Christian faith, the "wind change" is now resulting in decisions and trends beginning to turn around and go the way of upholding Christian values and virtues. There will always be a mixture of victories and defeat as the battle continues to rage but it is the level of the spiritual temperature that determines which side of the "balance" the most victories fall on.

Have you noticed the increasing number of positive stories emanating across the world that have populated our recent newsletters both at the national and international level. Here are some recent examples:

The enemy's plans are being exposed in many different areas of life, with resultant change occurring in both political and social aspects of the life of a number of nations across the world.

A huge Christian gathering has taken place in Vietnam against the wishes of the atheistic Government.

The House of Lords has upheld free speech by defeating attempts to muzzle Christian critique of Islam and homosexuality in Britain.

The ACT Government banned Focus on the Family from their schools and then had to reverse the decision when accusations against them were proven false.

The Victorian Government upheld the right of the Church to discriminate in employment against those holding opposing views to Christianity.

The YMCA in parts of America has moved to reclaim its Christian heritage.

Unravelling of Sharia finance deals in Dubai have caste doubts on Islamic teaching and laws on matters of finance.

A former Dutch Parliamentarian has admitted legalizing euthanasia was a mistake.

A Canadian pastor has been exonerated of hate speech crime for speaking out against homosexuality.

British Christians have won their case after being accused of insulting a Muslim customer.

Euthanasia has been rejected in the South Australian Parliament

Euthanasia has been defeated in the Tasmanian Parliament.

Residents of Wichita in Kansas have run adult businesses out of town.

Iranian Christian women who refused to deny their faith have been freed from prison in Iran.

Steps have been taken in both Australia, and just recently in India, to limit access to internet pornography.

These are just a few examples of how the spiritual climate is changing. Maybe small signs in the bigger world picture, and it does not mean the war has been won but the battle has certainly not been lost. Even though we may continue to lose some battles in the short term let us be encouraged to believe that God is still very much at work in His world and His unmerited favour still rests with His people if we will but be available and obedient, holding firm to His teachings and His ways.

Now is the time for genuine faith, not religious rhetoric, to emerge. A new day is dawning. The Kingdom of God is advancing. The enemies plans are unravelling. New expressions of Christianity are emerging. Will 2010 be a year when we, the people of God, rise above our fears and negativity as our faith in Christ rises to where our trust in Him outweighs our fear of what the enemy is doing?  I believe it will be and that we can approach 2010 with renewed faith and hope.

Territory taken from us as a result of our past fear and lethagy will be restored to those who choose to walk by faith, walking humbly and obediently in the revealed will of God. Watch what God is doing in the nations. Watch for new emerging leaders who will come forth, not promising a world from which God is banished, but a return to a recognition that the "ancient paths" of righteousness and justice remain our only hope of making our world a better place to live.

Watch for emerging cracks in the facade of other world religions as disunity and infighting reveals their inability to provide hope of a new future. Watch as secularism continues to implode, its ideas being increasingly seen as irrelevant in a world looking for real answers and hope. Watch as the world rejects "religion" in all its forms but increasingly is drawn to the teachings of Jesus with new expressions of Kingdom living emerging in the most unlikely places. Let us move into 2010 therefore with renewed confidence and hope, not in our ability to overcome, but in His ability to open the way forward for us to advance behind Him.


Kitty Cheng said...

This is such an encouragng post Ross! Yes just as the physical climate is changing, so is the spiritual climate. Like you, I also pray that we as the children of God will rise above the storms in 2010 with renewed faith and hope.

His Lordship The Gun-Toting Atheist said...

Happy New Year Ross!

Just a quick comment before I go shovel snow outside;

you write:

"Philosophies such as secularism have similarly failed to provide a new dawn of enlightenment."

To which I am tempted to reply that secularism does not promise enlightenment. It is it not its goal. Therefore, how can it fail at providing it?

Secularism, (from the latin word seclorum, which means 'worldly'), is simply a worldview that puts the emphasis on dealing with the physical reality at hand. It does not pretend to offer any religious answers, nor does it have to.

Saying that secularism has failed to provide a new dawn of enlightenment would be akin to saying that the internal combustion engine has failed to give us an appreciation of Leonardo Da Vinci's paintings - two completely unrelated realms.

So what does this mean? Simply that secularism does not attempt to offer answers to existential or spiritual questions, which it leaves to other philosophies.

feeno said...

I agree with Cheng.

And I shoveled snow this morning like his Lordship.

Later Boss, feeno