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Alabama football and Iran’s ‘big atomic bomb’

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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Alabama head coach Nick Saban celebrates with his team after the BCS National Championship college football game against LSU Monday, Jan. 9, 2012, in New Orleans (Credit: Gerald Herbert)

Seven of the 10 most-searched items on Google this morning are related to college football, especially last night’s championship game won by Alabama 21-0.  In first and fifth place are the Coachella arts festival in Southern California.  Rounding out the top ten is a British soccer player.

I don’t blame us for seeking diversions.  If you’re looking for encouragement this morning, you might want to avoid the day’s headlines.  For example, Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez met yesterday and joked about a “big atomic bomb”.  On Sunday, Tehran announced that it has begun to enrich uranium at a second site; Iran recently threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz to vital oil shipments.  Oil has risen towards $113 a barrel as a result of these tensions.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, left, greets Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at Miraflores Palace in Caracas, Venezuela, on Monday, January 9, 2012 (Venezuelan Presidency via EPA)Closer to home, an Islamic extremist was arrested in Tampa, Florida over the weekend.  He had been plotting a bombing and shooting rampage at a popular Florida bar.  But the news isn’t all bad: three men missing in a West Virginia cave complex since Sunday were rescued alive and unhurt last night.

There’s tonight’s New Hampshire primary to think about as you begin your day.  Or you can follow the media circus surrounding Blue Ivy Carter, the baby daughter of Beyonce and Jay-Z.  Did the couple spend $1.3 million to rent their hospital’s fourth floor, as some have claimed?  Or did they pay standard rates for an “executive suite,” as the hospital maintains?

Now that you’re caught up on the day’s headlines, let’s ask ourselves why there’s such a disconnect between what’s popular online and what’s going on in the rest of the world.  I’m like most people–I’d rather not think about the hard parts of life unless I must.  (Would you have preferred that I write on lighter news items this morning?  I would.)  But ignoring the paper cut on my finger doesn’t make it go away–it helps it get infected.

There’s a better way.  I have discovered 58 Scriptures where God tells us to “fear not.”  The first is in Genesis 26, where the Philistines are threatening Isaac’s future and life.  God says to him, “Fear not, for I am with you” (v. 24).  The result?  Isaac’s family is preserved; through his descendants God gives us the Messiah and Savior of the world.

The last “fear not” is in Revelation 1.  Here we find John on the prison island of Patmos, where he’s been exiled to die.  Jesus comes to him and says, “Fear not.  I am the First and the Last.  I am the Living One; I was dead and behold I am alive for ever and ever!  And I hold the keys of Death and Hades” (vs. 17-18).  The result?  John begins a church on Patmos that still worships God 20 centuries later and writes Revelation, a book of hope that still inspires us today.

What fears would you rather ignore this morning?  Your Father invites you to name them and put them in his omnipotent hands.  Is he waiting on you?