The Times and Our Response


Munch's 'The Scream'

I can’t remember a time in my life when more people are on edge. Short fuses and strong emotions don’t mix. Everywhere I look, people are either ready to pop a vein in their heads or to bury those same heads in their hands out of fear or sorrow.

In the last few days, I have had numerous encounters with people who appear to be losing it. What’s even stranger is that I spent most of last week at home sick. That makes the percentage of tense encounters even higher.

While I’m not one for end times speculations, it sure seems to me that the time before the Lord returns is running out. Reading the biblical descriptions of what people will be like in those days reads like America 2010.

Which is why,  more than ever, the Church needs to be at its most humble, winsome, and loving. We cannot be the angry, fearful, hateful people. Because we are called to be like the Lord, and the Lord is a rock and sure foundation, we need to look like Him in the eyes of desperate, angry, fearful people. We must be solid, but humbly so. We must turn the other cheek more than ever before and refuse to dish back what is dished out to us. We must be willing to accept being called wrong even when we are right. We simply cannot afford to repay anger with anger and fear with fear.

How do we get the American Church to that point? The only answer is to die to self.

Fact is, dying to self is pretty much the answer to 90 percent of the questions and issues that face Christians living in these times. If we only live to preserve our material goods, our status, and our positions on negotiable issues, if we live only to ensure that we always look good in the world’s eyes, then we will fail to stake out the higher ground and only descend into the madness around us.

Finding the Good News in the Bad


Writing doesn’t come easily right now.

Normally, my brain swells with a million post ideas, but at this moment my cranium feels like a bomb went off inside, the reverberations wiping out anything resembling coherent thought. In the last twelve days I’ve spent most of each day standing around asking myself what I’m supposed to do next. Breathe, comes the standard reply.

Every minuscule aspect of life expands to capture your attention when the news is bad. The two days that marked the deaths of my parents remain vivid. I still remember the smothering silence of their house. My brothers and I sat, numbed, and talked minutia. “Too A light in the darknessmany cars in the driveway; the coroner can’t find a place to park.” “Is today Thursday? What day is it?”Other people arrived on the scene and roamed through the house we grew up in, strangers establishing a beachhead from which to do their jobs. And we sat, the world moving around us, pondering how nothing would ever be the same.

When it’s cancer, or the lifelong dream gone up in smoke, or the simple uncertainty of not knowing where the next paycheck will come from , the rest of the world shoots away like the round of a howitzer, leaving us, the empty shell casing, behind. Time distorts, and we’re left with the odd sensation of hours simultaneously passing too fast, yet too slow.

Yet even in the midst of Dali-like clocks melting, truth stands firm:

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
—Romans 5:3-6

At the right time Christ died for the ungodly. At the right time. At our moment of weakness. In the midst of our sin-sick suffering.

From across the cosmos, our infinite God reached down and yanked you and me out of the pit. Us, the ungodly ones. To Him, the pit resembles nothing more than the tiny depression between ridges of a fingerprint. To us, though, it’s the endless shaft left behind by a world set on full bore, a world with no time for laggards, no healing afforded those crushed in its wake.

Yet He was bruised for our iniquities. Therefore, He understands. More to the point, He holds the answers.

If you’re crushed, I’d like to pray for you. Please send me a private e-mail at the address at the top of the sidebar. Many of you know my family’s struggling to overcome some bad news of our own, but I believe that puts us in the perfect position to help others. As I wrote in a previous post, I don’t believe God wants us to waste our suffering. The Lord became like us to know our sorrows, so I believe the sorrowful are best equipped to help others like them.

Counterintuitive? Yes, but how else does the Lord works His greatest miracles?

Be blessed.