Priorities Amid Darkness


Found asleep...I am perpetually amazed when the Church in America sounds an alarm on an issue only to do nothing practical to address it.

The End Times rhetoric among many Christians in light of the financial meltdown and looming “election to end all elections” has never reached a greater fever pitch, yet the most godly responses, our reactions to the very things God would be calling us to do in such circumstances, are completely ignored.

Here’s a quick gut check question: If we suspect that the Second Coming of Christ will occur in our lifetimes, how are we living so as to be found faithful at His return?

This is what the Bible says:

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

—Ephesians 5:15-17

It’s a very simple verse with powerful ramifications.

Just how are we making best use of the time God has given us?

If we truly believed that we are in the last of the Last Days, why are we spending so much time glued to the TV? What is American Idol, an NFL game, Lost, the World Series, or 24 in light of eternity? When the unsaved will spend eternity in agonizing torment, how in the (excuse me) *hell* can anyone justify such wastefulness of the limited time we have?

If eternal life is knowing Christ, then why are we ignorant of the amount of prayer it requires for us to know Him? If we can’t spend at least an hour a day in prayer, how will we be assured that He won’t say to us, “Depart from me—I never knew you”?

If we think the end is coming soon, why isn’t every Church in this country filled with people travailing before the throne of God? In dark times, do we Christians think we will be able to stand on a tossed-off prayer? Do we think the power we’ll need to confront the age will be bought with a fluffy “Bless us, Lord” now and then? And why are our churches’ intercessory prayer nights filled with nothing but gray-haired widows? Where are the men of our churches at a time like this? The truth: You can tell nearly everything you need to know about a church by watching the corporate prayer lives of its men.

Even if the Lord should tarry for another 1000 years, His Bride cannot keep on acting as if that day will never come. Yet this is how we live.

Frankly, I’m ashamed. I’m ashamed of myself. I’m ashamed of many of us. Our priorities are whacked. Or perhaps I should say, Our priorities are wicked.

If this isn’t the time to get serious about getting serious, then I wonder what it will take to rouse us from our self-induced comas.

29 thoughts on “Priorities Amid Darkness

  1. I have that same question, Dan. What’s it going to take to wake up the sleepy Christians? Will it take a 1929 world wide depression to get our attention? Are we prepared to take in our neighboring families who’ve lost their home?
    I’ll have to admit that my own prayer life is changing. I’m spending a lot more time listening than speaking. And what I’m hearing during those times is to not be afraid to speak up when presented with an opportunity.

    I’d like to know what you are doing differently, Dan. And I know you have a lot of readers so I’d really like to know if they are doing anything different.


  2. Brandon

    Excellent post! Why do we live like we do? Why does the church look like it does? Because the church in america is fat dumb and happy…or maybe not so happy. My view of end times is not popular among American Christians, because I believe that it’s going to get worse, much worse before it gets better. This may the beginning of birth pains, but if it is, it’s only the beginning. We need to be shaken from our comfort zones and God is starting to do just that. Once the church faces real persecution it will rise up and walk in power, until then, we’ll stay fat, dumb and pretend to be happy.

    Oh, and I’m now starting to reach out to the local Muslim community with the Truth.


  3. Getting There

    The time could be today, tomorrow, a hundred years a thousand years. I remember a pastor asking if anyone was ready and not many could honestly lift up their hands.. to be honest with myself..I lean on the grace of God in this because I am not ready as I should be.. I fall short in many areas.. I don’t have it all together.. I just know that I need to constantly walk in love. Love is what I rely on.. Watching movies is one of my biggest threats as I love Tv. I cannot lie. I love it. to me, sitting in front of the box is wonderful for me.. so I have a long way to go.. You are right, we need to spend more time crying out to God. Praying for salvation of family and friends.. if these are the last days, we should definitely be on the look out, warning people, loving people and running the race full speed ahead!

  4. In Australia we are often bemused by the last days mania that is sprouted over there on our USA cousins’ shores.
    A verse like Revelation 16:15 seems to be very telling indeed. Here in view of the Armageddon we are told exactly what to keeps our eyes and what to be doing…ie looking to Jesus, being found faithful and not fearful and/or driven to saddle up and join to fight against those who would oppose God.
    We are to fear and long for the great day of Jesus return who will return like a thief. I suspect this last days encouragement/warning was relevant to John’s first readers too….not just to us…

  5. Other than being thankful that neither my salvation, nor anyone else’s, is dependent upon spending an hour in prayer a day, it’s hard to argue with much else that you say, Dan.

  6. Well, you have hit the nail on the head.

    We are not serious about this God project, or being faithful to Christ Jesus.

    But He is serious about us. So much so that He sent Jesus to hang on a bloody splinterous wood, to bleed and suffocate unto death…for us.

    We are not serious. We are self-obsessed idolators who pay lip service to the living God.

    But He knows this about us. He knows we are in bondage to sin and do not want to be freed from it. So He had to do it (everything!) for us.

    What a gracious and wonderful God we have. What a Savior we have in our dear Lord jesus Christ!

    Thanks very much.

    • Steve,

      I dunno. People who are saved aren’t supposed to be in bondage to sin. The more I read the NT, the more I understand that bondage to sin is a condition of the lost, not the saved.

  7. you might want to get serious
    about being more focused
    in listening to the Holy Spirit
    but please
    do not lose your sense of humor in the process
    for it does no good pointing out other people’s flaws
    we can not make the changes that you seek
    when we should be following the Holy Spirit and
    treating others with the Love of God

    calm down and follow the Spirit
    and the Spirit will work through you

    if you want to change the habits of others
    it will not be done by pointing fingers at them
    by pointing the way to Jesus in the Spirit

    • Nancy,

      People CAN make the changes. Jesus routinely told people to stop sinning or else. If we have the Holy Spirit, then we can change. And sometimes it takes a biblical word of warning to get people to wise up.

  8. LizG

    I have to say, after living on the coast of Florida for the past 28 years, that you can answer this question by looking at how people reach to a hurricane warning.
    The weather channel tracks the hurricane from South Africa through the oceans, across the Carribean and Cuba and the Islands. As it grows stronger and stronger, the waves wash over everything in its track, and there is devastation. Yet their are many people in Florida that won’t evacuate to higher ground or safety even though they can see it coming across all the news stations. They think that they know better – they’ve lived here long enough to know.
    Does this sound familiar? People both in and out of the church have heard that Jesus is coming back – but how many really believe it and live like it?? Something to think about. I guess they’ll believe when He gets Here! In the meantime……the rest of us will occupy till He comes!

  9. I know of no Christians that have stopped sinning.

    By your criteria, no one will get into Heaven.

    Trust in Jesus is what He’s after. Jesus will take care of the rest.

    To all that are under the false assumption that one need stop sinning, my question is, “how are you doing?”

    Well, you’d better get busy. And you might as well become a Jew, or a Mormon.

    • Steve,

      Sanctification is the process by which we become more like Jesus. It moves us away from bondage and into life.

      No, no one stops sinning this side of heaven. But being born again means that we are no longer slaves to sin. Therefore, there is no more bondage.

  10. Getting There

    I keep thinking of that verse somewhere when 2 people come to Jesus one say, Lord I have tithed, done all the good works, done everything and the other one says, Lord, I am a sinner in need of your mercy and grace.. Jesus chooses the second one..

    There is a clear difference of grace and law… the thing however is not to abuse that grace given to us.

    Love Is the most important comandment.. focus on that one and Jesus and the rest will come… we have all fallen short, not one is without sin, however we are to love people more than anything and try to be like Him..

    • Actually, Getting There, the passages in the Scriptures that you cite say the opposite in many cases. The differences between the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25 were that the sheep did what the Lord said and the goats didn’t.

      Jesus said that the person who does what He says is the one who truly loves Him and is loved by Him, and that is the person He reveals Himself to (John 14:21). Since knowing Christ is eternal life and is dependent on His personal revelation of Himself to us, then we better be doing what He says or else we will not have eternal life.

      If we aren’t doing what the Lord commands, then we can believe in Him and still not know Him. As Paul wrote, even the demons believe. The difference is that demons don’t do the will of the Lord.

  11. Getting There

    Dan, you are shifting onto works… works will not get me to heaven or close to Jesus. The goal is to love oneanother… Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind. Love others as you do yourself. I have nothing to offer Jesus except who I am.. there is nothing I can physically offer God but in His grace as I follow Him, He helps me achieve things I would never be able to do without Him. It is only through the work of Christ and Christ in me that I can be what He wants me to be. WE cannot boast because we are saved through grace.. it is not what we have done for Him but what He has done for us. but… because He has saved us through His mercy and love and grace and majesty and awesomeness.. we are not to abuse grace or use it as an excuse to sin. Be careful not to lean onto works because the law condemns but grace in Christ and His blood saves.. He did not come to condemn the world but to save it. I have nothing and do nothing that cleans myself. I am an utter piece of dust and my ‘goodness’ is filth in comparrison to God’s holiness! I cannot be righteous enough for God and I never will be on this earth, if I lean on the law, I am in serious trouble and so is every single Christian out there!!!!. It is God who sanctifies us through Christ.

    • Getting There,

      Many people who talk grace use it as an excuse to lay down and go to sleep. In fact, in the United States, that’s how grace is practiced. That may not be what we preach, but it sure is the way we live.

      I grew up Lutheran. Martin Luther had his problems with that “right strawy epistle” of James. The truth remains, though, that faith without works is dead. That’s right there in the Scriptures (as are the verses I quoted previously). And if you want dead, look around at the Western Church, especially in America.

      We simply are not doing the Lord’s work. We are not making disciples; nothing could be more obvious.

      What then remains?

      The word of Jesus from his own mouth in Matthew 25 had both the sheep and the goats calling Him Lord.

      Fact is, if our faith, the one we supposedly believe is by faith alone through Christ alone, is not producing fruit through character change and through evidence of working for the Kingdom, then are we truly saved?

      More people who consider themselves Christians should be asking that question. In other words, if only our mommas know we’re Christians, we probably aren’t.

    • One other point, Getting There.

      You say that the we must love. Well, that’s a work. That’s something God requires of us. We have to do it. If we don’t love others, then how can we say we are born again? Likewise, if we do not forgive, we will not be forgiven. Forgiving is a work. We must do it.

      Yes, our works are as filthy rags if we think that is what gets us to heaven. But that’s not how God views the work of a justified believer. The justification comes from the Lord alone, but we have to agree with God concerning the works we later do or else we are in rebellion against the working of His Spirit within us. And God will not tolerate rebellion.

      So you are incorrect about doing the work and getting close to Jesus. Not doing the work will definitely distance us from the Lord, while keeping his commands and doing the work will draw us closer to Him. I quote the Lord Himself on this:

      Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.
      —John 14:21-24

      He reveals Himself to those who keep His words. And those words are works related: Love your neighbor. Forgive your enemies. Feed the hungry. Clothe the naked. Visit the prisoner. Make disciples of all nations.

      My faith is in Christ, not my works. But woe to me if I do not do what He tells me to do.

  12. I agree with Getting There.

    It is very important to distinguish between the law and the gospel in preaching and teaching. This is what St. Paul does very effectively in Romans and Galatians.

    The law (what we should, ought, and must be doing) always accuses us and condemns us. It’s meant to kill us off to any righteousness we can muster up in ourselves (our own goodness).

    The gospel forgives us, and brings us back to life. The gospel raises us from that condition of death that the law has wrought.

    Preach the law and preach it hard! But never as a means to life…always as a means to death. But then always follow it up with the promise of forgiveness and salvation and life that only comes from Jesus Christ and what He has done…for us.

    Thanks very much! Great post!

    – Steve Martin

  13. Getting There

    Dan, in some weird way I understand what you are saying but in the same sentence, it is love that draws people closer to God. I am no saint.. I tell it like it is.. I am garbage in my own eyes. I am far far far from perfect yet I want to be perfect.. It is only through being honest with myself and to God that reformation can truly take place. What people need to do is wake up and see how fallen we are without Jesus. We need to be in a broken state in order for Christ to work in and through us. the person who thinks they have it all ‘together’ is probably in more danger than the person who knows that they are ‘sinners saved by grace’

    The whole entire church needs a wake up call, I agree BUT in the same breathe, we need to be allowing God to reveal to us the truth about ourselves before we can be anything that truly represents Christ. We are but dust… nothing.. The church is unaware that doctrine and mixture is holding us back. It’s false teaching that is leaving the church blinded and unfruitful.. Bring in the true doctrine and the saving work of the cross and things will happen but in this world.. it gets worse and worse and many people are claiming to be ‘spiritual’ yet they are not. So I see to an extent what you are saying. I do, trust me.. but love covers a multitude of sins.. and love first draws people, then direction.

  14. Dan,

    The Holy Spirit will inspire the believer to ‘do good works’.

    We cannot even know if what we ‘are doing’ is a good work or not.

    To the observer of the crucifixtion, it looked like a terrible thing…an innocent man being murdered…but in reality it was good.

    If we concentrate on our performance, we become despairing, or self-righteous, or a phoney. Those are the only outcomes of focus on the self.

    If, on the other hand, we focus outward (in freedom) on the neighbor, God will use us (even our sin!) for His purposes.

    This, I believe, happens out of greatfulness to the forgiveness that He’s given to us and out of inspiration from the Holy Spirit.
    Aside from that…our works really are “filthy rags”.

    Thanks very much.

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