In the game of poker, only one hand is greater than four of a kind, and that a straight flush. In today’s world, we are living in the middle of the poker game between good and evil. Evil just threw down four kings.
King number 1: Isis. This band of cutthroats and marauders are still dangerous and causing problems in the Middle East and by proxy with their sympathizer across the globe. There is a chance, albeit rather small, that anybody on the earth could be witness, victim or party to a terrorist activity initiated directly or indirectly by ISIS and the brand of radical Islam they sell. I think it’s important to note that the radical Islam is for sale, and many of the oil rich nations quietly fund those activities. With Iran on the cusp of coming back from isolation, the amount of funds available for terror will only increase. Isis is not the only evil terror group in the world, but they are doing a better job of marketing, and bringing the disenfranchised Islamic groups into their sphere of influence.
King number 2: Refugees. Europe is wilting under the weight of the largest refugee crisis since the Second World War. Millions of displaced people from the Middle East have converged in more than a dozen nations and the results are sadly predictable. Four million people from Syria alone have come to the European continent and are straining services, patience, and law enforcement. For example look at the trash that was left on one family farm after a group of refugees took it over, instead of continuing down the road as the homeowner requested. The rape gangs that terrorized Cologne, and the subsequent vigilance parties that are on the lookout for payback opportunities.
King number 3: Economics. As much as our political leaders want to talk about the resurgence of the United States economy, we are still coming out of the second Great Depression, and are not running on all cylinders yet. The participation rate in the workforce is the key statistic here. In the US, only 62% of the working age adults and children over 16 are employed. This is the lowest rate since December of 1977. In the late 1990’s that rate topped out at 67.3%. With our greater population, that means that more than 90 million people are not working, who could, and are being supported by family, friends or the welfare state. The sad fact is the United States is faring better than the rest of the world. Brazil is undergoing rampant inflation, Greece and Spain have high unemployment, and China’s mighty economic engine is not only sputtering, but is belching blue smoke.
King number 4: Division. The political spectrum hasn’t shifted left or right, but seems to be shifting to the corners. The politics of liberals are more liberal and less tolerant of centric mindsets. The politics of conservatives are more conservative and less tolerant of centric mindsets. This sets the state for rancor, division, and anger. As demonstrated by the popularity of Donald Trump, the electorate is angry and they want something new. I would remind them that the United States got something new 8 years ago. The Hope and Change of 2008 has turned sour in the mouths of most people. The division is not limited to the United States. France is seeing a resurgence of the far right. The UK is moving farther left. The problem with these moves is the inability to debate and find a way to compromise and move forward for the betterment of all.
Then we can take a look at what good is holding. Since I’m an unrepentant evangelistic Christian, we are going to call upon God to be our good.
Two of hearts. Christ is slated to come to the earth twice, the once to reconcile all of humanity, the second time to judge. His instructions were to love every other person as we love him.
Three of hearts. God the Father, Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We have the power of all three available to us through prayer and petition to make a difference in our lives and the lives of others.
Four of hearts. Look to Proverbs 30:28. It goes into four things that are small but wise. These animals have attributes that would do well for our society to mimic. The ants are creatures of little strength, much like the poor and downtrodden in our society, but store up their food in the summer. Maybe it’s time to do more saving rather than feasting. The hyraxes are creatures of little power, but make their home in the crags. That makes them hard to get to, hard to turn into a meal. Maybe we need to keep ourselves more humble, and not give evil a chance to get at us. The locusts have no king, yet they advance together in ranks. We as Christians have a king, and yet do little to stand in the way of evil. Maybe it is now time to take a stand. The lizard can be caught with a hand, yet is found in the king’s palace. Common sense and decency are easy to achieve, but not appreciated in the media. Maybe it’s time for some humility to become the norm.
Five of hearts. The fivefold ministry; Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers. We all have callings. Are we listening and walking in them? 2016 may be the year to start to turn down the noise of the world and walk the path the Father in Heaven has set forth for us.
Six and Seven of hearts. Proverbs comes to our rescue again, Proverbs 6:16-19 state: “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.” These are things we must avoid, things we must not give in to. Arrogance, deceit, abuse, manipulation, giving into temptation, false witness, and stirring up conflict. All of these are things we see rampant in society, or just on our facebook page.
So evil has been dealt four kings, while God gives his people a small straight flush. I’ve read the book to the end. We win. We just have to stay faithful, and persevere through the trials and tribulations that come in this world.
Heavenly Father, forgive me for my arrogance, the times I practice deceit, the times I seek to manipulate or give into temptation. Keep me from abusing others, or giving false witness. Help me be someone who provides hope and love, not conflict. I ask you to loose your power in the world to bring light into the darkness. Give hope to the hopeless, give rise to the righteous. May we live not for ourselves, but for Your glory. In Jesus’ mighty name, Amen!