Light for the Last Days

Signs of the Times – March 2019

World will run out of food and water according to UN report.

GLOBAL food and water supplies are under threat because of the way the planet’s natural riches are in stark decline, according to a landmark UN-backed report.

The alarming threats to food and water security are one of several quality of life impacts highlighted in the report produced by 550 scientists over the past three years under the auspices of the United Nations recognised Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).  Its experts focused on declining biodiversity, now and in the future, across four continents, illustrating present threats and making stark warnings for the future as climate change and human activity have increasingly damaging effects.

Among its major warnings are fish stocks could run out in Asia while also highlighting how the Americas have witnessed a 50 per cent decrease in renewable freshwater available per person since the 1960s. It also states that a quarter of the population of sub-Saharan Africa have faced hunger and malnutrition in recent years while huge areas of land have been degraded by deforestation, poor agricultural practices and overgrazing.

The regional assessments demonstrate once again that biodiversity is among the earth’s most important resources. Biodiversity is also key to food security and nutrition.

The alarming threats to food and water security are one of several quality of life impacts highlighted in the report produced by 550 scientists over the past three years under the auspices of the United Nations recognised Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).  Its experts focused on declining biodiversity, now and in the future, across four continents, illustrating present threats and making stark warnings for the future as climate change and human activity have increasingly damaging effects.

Across Africa, the report says approximately 500,000 square kilometres of African land is already estimated to have been degraded by overexploitation of natural resources, erosion, salinisation and pollution, resulting in significant loss of nature’s contributions to people.  Even greater pressure will be placed on the continent’s biodiversity as the current African population of 1.25 billion people is set to double to 2.5 billion by 2050.

The Asia-Pacific region is witnessing unsustainable aquaculture practices, overfishing and destructive harvesting, threatening coastal and marine ecosystems, with projections that, if current fishing practices continue, there will be no exploitable fish stocks in the region by 2048.

In Europe, people are consuming more renewable natural resources than the region produces.

The experts say further economic growth can allow sustainable development only if “decoupled” from the degradation of biodiversity and nature’s capacity to contribute to people.  Such separation has not yet happened, and would require far-reaching change in policies and tax reforms at global and national levels.

Jesus said, ‘There will be famines, [b]pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.’  Matthew 24.7-8.

Floods all over the world.

Cyclone Idai has been described as the worst natural disaster to hit the southern hemisphere bringing devastation to Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi.  Around 2 million people in Mozambique are affected by the cyclone, in Malawi 900,000 were displaced while in Zimbabwe around 200,000 will need food assistance.  A huge area of Mozambique is under water with homes destroyed, roads and bridges washed away and crops and cattle lost in flooded agricultural areas. 90% of the port city of Beira with 500,000 residents has been damaged or destroyed with roadways to the city under water.  Disease is rife as people are without food and clean water.

The disaster follows massive flooding in Philippines in January and in Queensland, Australia in February.  The Queensland flooding followed two weeks of incessant rain after a period of prolonged drought in the area.  It resulted in death of cattle and snakes and crocodiles being released into inhabited areas. Then in March two huge cyclones hit northern and western Australia, bringing torrential rains, flooding and winds up to 155 mph. The sea temperature is about one degree above average which added to the strength of the storm.  

Historic flooding has hit the Mid West of the USA after a cyclone in the second week in March dropped heavy rain and triggered massive snowmelt, which led to an excess of runoff into rivers and waterways.  This is the worst agricultural disaster in US history leading to over $1 billion in damage. Millions of acres of farmland are under water and farmers are facing ruin as they will not be able to plant crops at all this year.  Iran, which has suffered years of drought, was hit by unusual torrential rains in March, causing widespread flooding damaging infrastructure and destroying agricultural land, causing losses estimated at $180 million in food production. Floods also affected neighbouring Afghanistan.

Climate change is being linked to this increase in destructive storms. This may be so, but it also ties in with prophetic passages in the scriptures warning of disorder in the natural world in the days before the return of Jesus. In Romans 8 Paul speaks of the creation that ‘groans and labours with birth pangs’ as it awaits ‘the revealing of the sons of God’ (by which he means the second coming of Jesus Christ). Drought and floods affect food production and contribute to the problem of famine which is prophesied for the end times (Matthew 24.7, Revelation 6.5-6). Jesus prophesied conditions on the earth in the days before His return: ‘distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.’  Luke 21.25-26.

More signs of the soon coming of Jesus the Messiah.

Plummeting insect numbers ‘threaten collapse of nature’

The world’s insects are hurtling down the path to extinction, threatening a “catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems”, according to the first global scientific review.  More than 40% of insect species are declining and a third are endangered, the analysis found. The rate of extinction is eight times faster than that of mammals, birds and reptiles. The total mass of insects is falling by a precipitous 2.5% a year, according to the best data available, suggesting they could vanish within a century.

Insect population collapses have recently been reported in Germany and Puerto Rico, but the review strongly indicates the crisis is global.  “Unless we change our ways of producing food, insects as a whole will go down the path of extinction in a few decades,” they write. “The repercussions this will have for the planet’s ecosystems are catastrophic to say the least.”

The analysis, published in the journal Biological Conservation, says intensive agriculture is the main driver of the declines, particularly the heavy use of pesticides. Urbanisation and climate change are also significant factors.  One of the biggest impacts of insect loss is on the many birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish that eat insects. “If this food source is taken away, all these animals starve to death,” he said. Such cascading effects have already been seen in Puerto Rico, where a recent study revealed a 98% fall in ground insects over 35 years.

“The main cause of the decline is agricultural intensification,” Sánchez-Bayo said. “That means the elimination of all trees and shrubs that normally surround the fields, so there are plain, bare fields that are treated with synthetic fertilisers and pesticides.”  Other scientists agree that it is becoming clear that insect losses are now a serious global problem. “The evidence all points in the same direction,” said Prof Dave Goulson at the University of Sussex in the UK. “It should be of huge concern to all of us, for insects are at the heart of every food web, they pollinate the large majority of plant species, keep the soil healthy, recycle nutrients, control pests, and much more. Love them or loathe them, we humans cannot survive without insects.”

What are we doing to our children?

The harmful effect of social media on teenagers has been highlighted by the tragic case of 14 year old Molly Russell who killed herself after viewing posts on Instagram that glamorised self-harm and suicide.  However it is not just extreme cases like this which are causing concern.

Children have become such screen addicts they are abandoning their friends and hobbies.  Even under fives are spending hours online. 90% of teenagers spend an average of 20 hours a week online.  Many take their phones to bed with them and wake up in the night to check their posts. All of this is having a harmful effect on their mental and physical development.  

A report by the Prince’s Trust revealed that the number of young people in the UK who say they do not believe that life is worth living has doubled in the last decade, amid a sense of overwhelming pressure from social media which is driving feelings of inadequacy.  It found that just under half of young people who use social media now feel more anxious about their future when they compare themselves to others. Social media makes them feel “inadequate”. More than half (57%) think social media creates “overwhelming pressure” to succeed.  Girls particularly are affected, by comparing their bodies to perfect bodies they see on social media. This makes them feel not good enough and they end up depressed.

Added to the stress and confusion caused by all this, we have the educational system, which is promoting all kinds of anti-Christian material in our schools.  The LGBT agenda is promoting homosexuality and transsexuality even to primary school children. Children are being confused by the lie that gender is fluid as transgender propaganda encourages boys to identify as girls and girls as boys.  

In America children who identify as transgender are being offered hormone blocking drugs before puberty and parent’s rights to stop this is being taken away.  These drugs can cause permanent physical damage, rendering the children sterile, with irreversible effects on the pituitary gland, which prevent patients from developing healthy adult bone density.  This is a form of state sponsored child abuse backed by liberal leftists who want to destroy Christianity, biblical family values and reconstruct society in antichrist lines. They also want to abandon reason and basic biology like the education authority in Brighton which has approved LGBT guidelines requiring schools to teach that “menstruation must be inclusive of all genders,” or ‘boys can have periods too.’  Signs of collective insanity taking over.

In order to help with the stress all this is causing, educationalists have now come up with the idea of introducing ‘Mindfulness’ into schools to help calm children down and help them concentrate in their lessons.  Conservative MP Edward Timpson, Minister for Vulnerable Children and Families, told MPs that mandatory lessons in mindfulness should become a “normal part of the school day”.  So is this a good idea?

Writing for Christian Concern for our Nation, Dr Joe Boot, Director of the Wilberforce Academy, has defined mindfulness as “a Buddhist meditative technique rooted in the thoughts and practices of Buddhism.  … At bottom, this practice cultivates the realisation of an experience described as ‘cessation’ in which mental afflictions are removed because the illusion of the ‘self’ is uprooted. In his recent book, Beyond Religion’ the Dalai Lama asserts that the human problem is inner dissatisfaction and the negative emotions that arise from this, spilling over into social relationships. Mindfulness, he claims, enables us ‘to gain a measure of control over our emotions as a step toward developing a calm mind’ (p. 127).

Dr Peter Jones of truthXchange has described this as “brain-washing the rising generation into adopting as normal the pagan belief that all is one and that distinctions like good and evil, male and female are no longer useful in the global culture of the future.”

Joe Boot concludes: “The challenge society faces when Christ’s gospel is rejected is, how are man’s fears and anxieties, evil thoughts, desires and destructive impulses to be addressed and overcome? In keeping with the overall direction of Western cultural life in this century, our social order has been turning back to paganism for answers. A conspicuous example of this is the sweeping popularity, in every stratum of society, of Mindfulness meditation.”

Freedom, in this view, is found in a realisation that pure consciousness is all that is (i.e. you are consciousness), and the way to escape the human condition is to realise that subject-object dualism is an illusion, and all your anxiety is merely a transitory appearance of consciousness. Moreover, there is no true “I”, and this realisation liberates us from any sense of sin, shame, fear or even desire.

The biblical view of salvation could not be more removed from this pagan quackery. In biblical faith, God is not pure consciousness, but a divine being with personality to whom we relate through repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  A human being, made in God’s image, is a person, a real individual, and this individuality is the basis for true community, bringing the experience of unity within real diversity. Our minds are not fragments of pure consciousness, but each an individual aspect of created spiritual reality, embodied in the human person. Our problems are not only metaphysical – that we are alienated from pure consciousness. The human problem is moral. Our problem is sin.

The cure for our anxiety, fears and evil desires is not the cessation of self. The cure is in facing ourselves and our sins, and by repentance and faith being reconciled to God. In fellowship with God through Jesus Christ, the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, where perfect love casts out fear. The rule of God in our lives is productive of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, who is with us forever.”

Enter the Thought Police

A Catholic mother of five has been asked to attend a police interview after being accused of using the wrong pronoun to describe a transgender person.  Caroline Farrow was contacted by the Surrey force to inform her they were investigating an allegation that she made a transphobic comment on Twitter. Mrs Farrow is being investigated for a possible hate crime under the Malicious Communications Act, an offence that carries a prison sentence of up to two years.  

Last September she appeared on ITV’s Good Morning Britain with Susie Green, a transgender rights campaigner to discuss the Girl Guide’s policy of not telling parents if a transgender child joins the guides.  Following a heated on air debate Mrs Farrow was accused of using the wrong pronoun in an exchange over Ms Green’s transgender daughter. Mrs Farrow said ‘I have pointed out to the police that I am a Catholic journalist and it is my religious belief that a person cannot change their sex.  I now need to tell my children that Mummy is in trouble with the police because there was this girl who was born in a boy’s body whom I might have inadvertently referred to as a boy.

Ms Green has now dropped the charge because of the negative publicity it has aroused towards her transgender cause, but the fact that the police could have been involved at all is a disturbing sign of the insanity that is taking over the people in power in our society.

Further signs of this insanity were seen in the case of the parents of a boy who suffers from autism who were threatened that their son would be placed in foster care if they refused to put him through a sex change procedure.  The family was threatened with separation by authorities after a clinic told them their 14-year-old boy was transgender and needed to be put on “hormone blocker” drugs after he reportedly told doctors he thought he might be a girl. After refusing, the British taxpayer-funded clinic reported the parents to child protective services for “emotional abuse” over their refusal to facilitate a gender transition for their autistic son. Reliving their horrific ordeal, the couple, who wish to remain anonymous to protect their child, said their son’s autism played a role in being diagnosed with gender confusion.

The parents refused to cooperate with the “transition,” particularly since the hormone blockers can cause irreversible harm.  In the USA the first person in America to be legally recognised as transgender now says he regrets transitioning from his born gender and is campaigning against sex change surgeries, laws, and drugs. Now the former Army sergeant Jamie Shupe says that he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from his military service and was encouraged to switch gender by medical professionals and liberal campaigners, who incorrectly led him to believe he was the “wrong” gender. Shupe told Fox News’s Laura Ingraham that he took estrogen and progesterone and now has “irreversible breast growth.  I have a number of health problems — bone density, kidney problems,” Shupe said. “At one point my mental health was so destabilised by the hormones that I had two stays in a psychiatric ward because of it.”

Muslims protest at school’s promotion of homosexuality.

Around 200 Muslim parents held a protest outside Parkfield Community School in Birmingham against the school’s promotion of homosexuality. The parents at the overwhelmingly Muslim majority school are calling for the “No Outsiders” programme – which promotes homosexuality to children as young as 4 – to be scrapped.  They say that the No Outsiders programme, which was devised by gay assistant head teacher Andrew Moffat, expects children to affirm, verbally and in writing, that “being gay is OK.”

The Parkfield Parents’ Community Group said the school had not consulted parents about the programme and that its attitude is “clearly an imposition of belief, which undermines the faith, beliefs and values espoused by the parents and community that the school serves.”  In a statement they added: “The school is promoting Mr Moffat’s personal beliefs and convictions about the universal acceptability of homosexuality as being normal and morally correct.”

Parkfield School and four more schools in Birmingham have now stopped teaching the ‘No Outsiders’ programme following complaints by parents who claim the classes are inappropriate for young children and the schools’ LGBT message contradicts Islam.  A spokesperson for Parkfield Community School said: “No Outsiders is all about tolerance, accepting difference and respect, which are all key aspects of community cohesion and our fundamental British values.”

Representatives from Christian Voice also took part in the protests, opposing the indoctrination of children by homosexual activists under the banner of ‘tolerance’ and ‘British values.’

New Bible translation technology

New technology has emerged that will enable quicker translation of the Bible and faster spread of the Gospel, accelerated by indigenous people doing the work of translation.  Wycliffe Bible Translators has recently adapted their translation software, “ParaText,” for smartphones, dubbing it “ParaText Lite,” and has described it as a game-changer in several ways.  ParaText Lite is a version of the ParaText technology that can run on a digital tablet or phone.

Doug Hennum, Wycliffe’s chief innovation and information officer, explained in a phone interview with The Christian Post that this new technology fundamentally changes the role of Westerners coming into foreign lands to do Bible translation. Instead, the natives are increasingly able to take part in the process.

Hennum has travelled to parts of Africa and Papua New Guinea where some of this work is being done. On a recent trip to the western part of the Serengeti they were looking at a Masai warrior in full traditional dress, complete with a loin skin with a spear in one hand and a smartphone in the other hand.  He said, “It blew me away that everywhere we’ve travelled — we were just in the middle of the Congo — same thing. They’ve all got a smartphone. They know how to use that technology. But if you put a computer in front of them they’re almost lost,” he told Christian Post.

“So when we have introduced these tablet-based drafting tools, they pick it up so quickly. It’s having a tremendous impact on them being able to do a lot of that up front work in translation.”  He believes a move of the Holy Spirit is afoot as more previously unreached people groups are able to receive God’s Word in their native tongue, translated by people who think and speak like them.

Wycliffe just celebrated their 1,000th translation of the Bible. It took 67 years to complete the first 500, and the second 500 took only 17 years. And the speed at which they are able to translate continues to grow.

Tony Pearce

Tony Pearce

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