Scooter, a seven-year-old hairless Chinese Crested pup, was born with back legs and joints that are backwards. When he was born, a breeder turned him in to animal control for euthanasia, but an animal rescue group saved him. He walks on his front legs and sits on his back legs like a tripod. According to the Today profile, “Because his feet are backwards, when he goes to the bathroom it lands on his feet, but Scooter just flings it up in the air.” (There’s your devotional image for the day.) Last Friday, Scooter won the 2023 World’s Ugliest Dog contest in Petaluma, California.
In other news, a newborn girl left in a Florida Safe Haven Baby Box has been adopted by the firefighter who found her. He and his wife had been trying for more than a decade to have a baby. “I picked her up and held her,” he said. “We locked eyes, and that was it. I’ve loved her ever since that moment.”
One more good news story: a man tried to return home from Oklahoma City to Charlotte, North Carolina, last Sunday, but his plane was delayed repeatedly and he had to wait in the airport for eighteen hours. He was rewarded by being the only person on the flight when it finally took off. He got a free pass into first class and a private party with the crew. His TikTok post was viewed more than three million times in less than a day.
Church buildings turned into nightclubs
When we read the news, we should always ask: Why are these stories in the news? Out of all the events that occur across a day, why are these being reported and others excluded? In the case of good news, the answer is obvious: you and I want to read such stories, so media outlets know they will be popular and will drive clicks and views.
Now to the negative side of the equation: we are seeing numerous stories in recent days about a reported decline in religiosity in our society. From empty church buildings being repurposed as hotels and nightclubs, to headlines like “US Church Attendance Still Lower Than Pre-Pandemic,” to articles on “Americans moving away from religion,” you would think that biblical faith is on life support in the US.
But pull back the curtain, and the story changes.
The repurposed church buildings are in Europe, where liberal denominations have denied the foundational tenets of Scripture for generations going back to Friedrich Schleiermacher and the advent of “liberalism.”
The decline in US church attendance is from 34 percent before the pandemic to 31 percent today, which means that a third of Americans are in worship on any given Sunday. This is three times higher than the percentage of Americans who watch sports on television and 50 percent higher than those who go to movies multiple times a month or engage in sports and exercise regularly.
And of the “Americans moving away from religion,” the New York Times writer notes that nearly half are Buddhists and Jews and “around 30 percent of most Christian denominations.” She does not specify between mainline and evangelical churches, but the former are seeing much higher rates of decline than the latter.
In fact, according to cultural commentator Glenn Stanton, church attendance is at an all-time high, both in raw numbers and as a percentage of the population, and “the number of Christians in the world today is larger than it has ever been in the history of the world.”
“Our citizenship is in heaven”
My point is this: we should expect secular media to normalize secularism. The more they predict the demise of our faith, the more they expect their predictions to become self-fulfilling. But don’t be deceived: God is still on his throne and one day, “At the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and . . . every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10–11 NASB).
But also don’t be complacent: even one person outside God’s kingdom is one too many. The psalmist said of those who turn to the Lord in faith, “Blessed are all who take refuge in him” (Psalm 2:12). The people you know who do not “take refuge” in him are missing his abundant life in this world (John 10:10) and his eternal joy in the next (Revelation 21:1–5). They deserve to know what you know and to meet the Savior who saved your soul.
And don’t be fearful: no matter what happens today, God has you. Jesus assured us, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:27–28).
For a true follower of Christ, the worst things are never the last things. This is because “our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself” (Philippians 3:20–21).
“Viewing a movie after you’ve read the book”
Max Lucado explains God’s omniscient providence this way: “It’s like viewing a movie after you’ve read the book. When something bad happens, everyone else gasps at the crisis on the screen. But not you. Why? You’ve read the book. You know how the good guy gets out of the tight spot.
“God views your life with the same confidence. He’s not only read your story, he wrote it.”
Why do you need to trust your story to his providence today?
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