In a move that appears to be leading toward Russian annexation, Crimea’s pro-Russian administration announced that a referendum would be held March 16 to determine whether Crimea should become part of Russia. A member of the Crimean legislature told the AP that the decision to hold the vote was their response to “lawlessness in Kiev.”
The Ukrainian government offered no immediate response, though Ukraine’s prime minister communicated Wednesday that Crimea would remain part of the country. Ultimately, the Crimean referendum will decide whether Crimea will join Russia or remain part of the Ukraine, receiving an even greater degree of autonomy and latitude.
There have been a total of eight questionable deaths in the financial sector already this year. The latest is Autumn Ratke, a 28-year-old American who served as the CEO for First Meta. First Meta, a bitcoin exchange firm, is only one of many firms feeling the pinch after hackers stole a massive amount of the digital currency earlier this week.
The authorities in Singapore, where Ratke was residing at the time of her death, are indicating that her death was a suicide, though they are still waiting on the toxicology report.
Sadly, it is easy to become so consumed with financial and material success that any inversion of circumstances can lead to disaster. The god of this world (2 Cor 4:4) can be a cruel taskmaster. The constant fluctuation of financial markets should remind us to focus on things that are eternal (2 Cor 4:18).
Barry C. Black, the chaplain for the US Senate has the unique responsibility of inviting religious figures to lead the prayer commencing each session of the Senate. Today, the Dalai Lama will lead the prayer before the Senate before meeting with leaders of congress throughout the day.
Though the Dalai Lama has been well received by US officials, his relationship with Chinese authorities are far from cordial. Since fleeing his homeland in 1959, the Dalai Lama has engaged in what China has called “gross interference.” The Dalai Lama, a Nobel Peace Prize winner (for what that is worth), has claimed to accept China’s rule while attempting to achieve greater autonomy for his Himalayan homeland. China has described the Dalai Lama as a “wolf in monk’s clothing.”
Of more importance in light of recent circumstances is China’s sympathy toward recent Russian expansion. US leaders are sure to realize that a coalition of Russian and Chinese forces would represent a huge political hurdle for American interests.
As the Dalai Lama leads prayer before the Senate today, Christians need to be reminded that prayer is only effective when it is offered by those who are in Christ, the location from where all spiritual blessings can be enjoyed (Eph 1:3).
Since 2010, denominational pastors and preachers all over the country have been participating in Ashes to Go, a movement that attempts to take the sacraments associated with Lent to those whose schedules are too busy for worship or devotion. On Wednesday, the pastor of St. John’s United Methodist Church in West Nashville imposed ashes upon the foreheads of pedestrians and drivers who stopped. In downtown Franklin, those looking for a religious “quick fix” received the sacrament from the clergy of St. Paul’s Episcopal.
The Bible, though silent regarding the observance of Lent, is not silent about the place that religion holds in the lives of those who claim to follow Christ. Popular cultural has marginalized religious devotion and has turned many worship services into a production that more closely resembles an assembly line or fast-food drive thru than it does spiritual communion with God (John 4:24).
It’s often the case that the sins to which we are the most strongly opposed publicly are those we struggle the most with privately. After spending years and insurmountable amounts of money to block internet pornography in the UK, it has come to light that Patrick Rock has been arrested on suspicion of possessing child pornography. Tragically, Rock helped to draw up the proposals and details surrounding Britain’s internet porn filters.
These unfortunate circumstances only emphasize the depravity of the human heart, the strength of lust and temptation, and our inability to create walls to protect ourselves from sin without God. The human heart serves as the beginning for all human evil (Matt 15:19). When sin has so taken grasp of a man, no amount of internet software or filters can keep him from sin. The only true solution to sin is reformation of the heart through the Gospel of Christ.