‘Providence? What’s That?’ Belief in it Necessary for Thanksgiving
By Dr. Mark Creech
Christian Action League
November 20, 2018
A millennial, she introduced herself to me as my server at one of my favorite restaurants where I’m a regular. I asked her a few questions about her background to get acquainted, one of which was: “Where are you from?” She said she was from Upstate New York, an answer that prompted my follow-up question: “What precipitated your move to North Carolina?” She replied, “Well, you might find this hard to believe, but I was eager to move away and experience the world. So I closed my eyes, randomly pointed to a place on the map and it turned out to be Raleigh.” “Wow,” I replied, “That was a gutsy thing to do.” I then welcomed her to the Tar Heel state and said, “I’m glad providence led you here.”
“Providence?” she said, “What’s that?” As I was trying to explain the meaning of Providence, she interrupted me, saying, “Oh, now I know what you mean. You’re talking about fate.” I wanted to tell her that providence is more than just impersonal fate, something much more, but the conversation was cut short by her need to serve other customers.
“Providence? What’s that?” Her question was a disturbing reminder of the biblical illiteracy of our times. Providence is such an invaluable concept to know and understand. Merrill F. Unger wrote, “Belief in the providence of God, according to the whole purport of Scriptures, is of the highest importance, because of its connection with a life of trust and gratitude and patience and hope.”
The Thanksgiving holiday is upon us. How can anyone understand this celebratory time aside from gorging themselves on a traditional Turkey dinner, and gathering with friends and family, without apprehending the unceasing activity of a benevolent Creator God? It is from His bounty and goodwill towards us that he upholds and sustains us in an ordered existence, guiding all of life’s events, great and small, directing each to its appointed goal, for his own glory and the good of those who trust and believe in Him. This is providence.
Our lives are not simply the result of chance and unintentional forces. There is meaning behind it all. God categorically rules over everything natural and the human race does only that which He has ordained; yet we are truly free agents, in the sense that our decisions are our own, and we are morally responsible for them. Nevertheless, a good God in his sovereignty is never complicit with evil, but superintends over the whole lot and uses it to accomplish his own gracious and perfect ends.
This is the space we live in – a world of providence – something of which most are completely unaware. J. Wallace Hamilton has brilliantly described our unfortunate common condition, saying:
“Actually we are in the midst of a providential arrangement all the time; every moment is sustained by providence, whether we recognize it as such or not.
‘Oh, where is the sea?’ the fishes cried,
As they swam the Atlantic waters through;
‘We’ve heard of the sea and the ocean tide.
And we long to gaze on its waters blue.’
“All around us are little fishes looking for the sea; people living, moving, having their being in an ocean of God’s providence, but who can’t see the ocean for the water. Maybe it is because we call it by another name. The ancient Hebrews from whom the Bible came were a religious people. They thought in religious patterns, they spoke in religious phrases, they saw in every event the direct activity of God. If it rained, it was God who sent the rain. When crops were good, it was God who yielded the increase. But that is not our language, nor the pattern of our thought. We think in terms of law – chemical, natural law. When it rains, we know that it is the natural condensation of vapor. When the crops are good, we credit it to the fertilizer. An amazing thing has happened in our way of thinking. In a world that could not for one moment exist without the activity of God, we have conditioned our minds to a way of thinking that leaves no room for Him. So many of our wants are provided by what seems natural and impersonal forces that we have lost sight of the great Provider in the midst of providence…thus our sophistication steals away our sense.”
What is behind this prideful sophistication that diminishes our sensitivity to God and his providential ways? It is our unrighteousness. In our rejection of his absolute rule over us, our consciousness of his endless graces becomes dull. Hamilton also notes that “the unrighteousness of men is the bottleneck of providence.” In other words, if we set ourselves against God’s order, then we only work against ourselves. God will overrule our sin to accomplish His purposes in the earth. Nonetheless, we will tragically impede and obstruct the way God’s divine decrees were meant to function for our eternal joy.
True thankfulness depends entirely upon our view of God. As is our God, then so is our gratitude. If we embrace the evolutionary, naturalistic, and secularistic understanding of life, then everything that comes our way is just the luck of the draw, and there is no reason to be grateful. If we think of God as a cold and distant spirit in the cosmos and not actively engaged with a personal interest in our lives, then all we can do is hope for the best and prepare for the worst. If we see ourselves as the sole arbiter of our present and future, then we are as limited as human reason and resolve, which more often than not leaves little or no reason for which to be thankful.
But it is the Gospel of Christ which informs us that there is a big God of amazing grace that has always remained upon his throne. His kindness and generosity stooped from His majestic place of holiness and unequivocal power to the humility of the Cross of Jesus Christ. He did this to save us from our sins and harmonize our lives with a destiny of spiritual fortune and eternal bliss.
Whenever we repent of our rebellion to God’s sovereignty, then we are awakened to see His providential mercies in the common and everyday experiences of life, His doting intentions in the dark hours, and His redemptive reign in everything. We see that we belong to Him and He is perfect love. And from this soil of the heart, the truest and deepest gratitude springs.
Unger has also written, “Broad observation and right reason preclude the idea of a government of the world by chance or blind force, and sustains the belief that ‘there is a power in the world that makes for righteousness.’” This power is indeed unlimited and includes everything that takes place in the universe, every natural event, every creature, every person, and every nation. This power can never be defeated and justice and godliness will prevail in the end forever and ever.
This is providence! Belief in it is essential to even the most basic attitudes of virtue and goodness, none of which are more important than Thanksgiving.
Happy Thanksgiving! God is good all the time. All the time God is good.
Legalization of Vice Doesn’t End the Black Market
By Hunter Hines
August 3, 2018
ELIZABETHTOWN, N.C. - This week, WECT News reported a Columbus County man, Jeremy Clark Powell, of Whiteville, was arrested after undercover officers caught him selling illegal alcohol in a Walmart parking lot in Elizabethtown. Authorities say the man also had a liquor still that he was running from his backyard.
Bladen County Sheriff James A. Vicker told WECT the arrest was made after his department partnered with the state’s Alcohol Law Enforcement (ALE) to investigate the traffic of illegal alcohol in Elizabethtown.
Back in June, WNCN News reported that ALE officers had shut down several moonshine operations. Agents seized setups in Newton Grove, Henderson, Roxboro, Robbins, and Benson. The bust in Newton Grove shut down a 560-gallon liquor still.
Israel Morrow, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the ALE, said, “A lot of people don’t think it’s as prevalent today as it used to be, but it is. We’re seeing a spike of violence at these types of locations where we are finding non-tax-paid liquor.”
A common argument used through the years by those who favor the approval of alcohol referendums in North Carolina is that it will stop bootlegging. The Christian Action League has argued this isn’t true. The evidence vindicates the League’s long-standing position that the legalization of vice never halts its black market, it only makes the vice more accessible. Illegal manufacturing and sales will continue.
This principle is also applicable to claims that the legalization of recreational marijuana will put an end to the Mexican cartels and drug trafficking. Neither has this assertion been proven to be true in states where marijuana is now legal.
NBC News reported in May that “Federal officials allege that legal recreational marijuana in states like California, Colorado, and Washington, where enforcement of growing regulations is hit or miss, have been providing cover for transitional criminal organizations willing to invest big money to buy or rent property to achieve even bigger returns. Chinese, Cuban and Mexican drug rings have purchased or rented hundreds of homes and use human trafficking to bring experienced growers to the United States to tend them, federal and local officials say.”
Mike Hartman, executive director of the Colorado Department of Revenue, told NBC News that authorities have increasingly seen what is called “home grow” operations since the legalization of pot in Colorado. “The suspects are targeting states that have already legalized marijuana ‘in an attempt to shroud their operations in our legal environment here and then take the marijuana outside of the state,’” he told NBC News.
Sheriff Bill Elder of El Paso County in Colorado added that Cuban and Mexican-led cartels have “found it easier to grow and process marijuana in Colorado, ship it through the United States than it is to bring it from Mexico or Cuba.” These operations are massive, and authorities believe the seizures they’ve made “only scratch the surface,” reported NBC News.
Bill Bennet, former drug czar to President George H.W. Bush, along with co-author Robert A. White, in Going to Pot: Why the Rush to Legalize Marijuana is Harming America; argue that contrary to common thought legalization does not eliminate black markets.
Bennet and White contend: “As a recent report from the Tax Foundation has found, over 55 percent of the cigarette market in New York, over 50 percent of the cigarette market in Arizona, and nearly 50 percent of the cigarette markets in New Mexico and Washington are black market or smuggled cigarettes from other states. What constitutes the black market smuggling of cigarettes? ‘Counterfeit state tax stamps, counterfeit versions of legitimate brands, hijacked trucks, or officials turning a blind eye.’ The argument that legalizing and ‘taxing the heck’ out of a product – as many legalizers argue for - will end the black market is simply not true.”
Bennet and White also note that recreational marijuana is subject to a tax of 27.9 percent in Colorado. But the tax itself is a strong incentive for marijuana purchasers to get it from the black market.
Kevin A. Sabet, a drug policy advisor to three Presidents, Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama, argues in his book, Reefer Sanity that, if marijuana is legalized, the financial incentive to avoid paying the marijuana taxes would be so great, the black market would likely equal or possibly dwarf the underground economy.
“Both alcohol and cigarettes already kill ten times the number of people than all the illegal drugs combined. Vice is progressive and driven by big money. Regardless of what proponents of legalization tell you it isn’t harmless. Once we turn it loose and it’s commercialized, thousands upon thousands of more people will be seriously and permanently injured, while thousands of others will die,” said Dr. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “Legalizing won’t end the bootlegging of it. It will only make it more accessible, alongside a criminal element.”
Creech added that he thought pastors and key lay leaders needed to take up this subject with their congregants, as well as get engaged politically on the subject. “I remind my pastor friends, efforts to reach people for Christ are significantly diminished when they are inebriated or under the influence, whether in a lesser or greater degree.”
Click here for a printable copy of this article.
Support for Total Abstinence Projects
The Pennsylvania Prohibition Committee has money available to support total abstinence projects in Pennsylvania. Proposals are invited, from anyone. Some possibilities include: developing teaching materials, campaigning for local option elections, and historical preservation. Grants will be in the range of $5000.
Interested persons and organizations should submit a brief outline of the intended work, the name and qualifications of the project director, and an estimate of cost to the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Prohibition Committee, James Hedges, Box 212, Needmore, Pennsylvania 17238 (or to firstname.lastname@example.org). www.prohibitionists.org
The Foundation for Alcohol Education has funding available for organizations that educate young people about the dangers of alcohol and drugs. Click here for information.
Foundation for Alcohol Education (Massachusetts)
Stephen Walsh, Secretary-Treasurer for the Foundation for Alcohol Education, noted the following articles in his report at the 2013 Annual Board meeting of ACAP.
Foundation for Alcohol Education (Massachusetts) Funds the "Improbable Players" who present performances on the subject of Substance Abuse:
Kentucky League on Alcohol & Gambling Problems
Rev. Donald Cole, Executive Director, presented the following alcohol fact sheet at the 2013 Annual Board meeting. Click here for the report Rev. Cole gave to the Kentucky Baptist Convention.
Illinois Church Action on Alcohol and Addiction Problems (ILCAAAP)
Click here for the ILCAAAP report given by Anita Bedell, Executive Director. Mrs. Bedell also gave out the following brochure, Pray for the Children.
ALCAP (Alabama Citizens Action Program)
Dr. Joe Godfrey, Executive Director, gave a report on the 2013 Alabama Legislative Session. Click here for a copy of Dr. Godfrey's report. Click here to be directed to the ALCAP website.
Christian Action League of North Carolina
Dr. Mark Creech, Executive Director, gave a report on the 2013 North Carolina State Assembly. Click here to be directed to the Christian Action League website for a report.