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.



We interrupt the end of the world for this news bulletin…

Have you been receiving some of the same emails I have?

You’d recognize them if you saw them. They come from Christian parachurch ministries. They come from ministry leaders who are not yet somebody on the national stage but who hope to be some day. They come from friends you’ve known for years.

What they all have in common is their begging. Not for money, but for you to do the right thing come Election Day.

When you lean into those emails and take a whiff, can you smell it? The fear? It’s all over them.

In fact, it seems to be all over everything nowadays. The Christian blogosphere reeks of fear. The media. Your neighbors. Maybe even you.

But it’s about more than just the election. People seem to be panicking everywhere I look over any old thing. Seems like someone called a run on the national storehouse of pins and needles. And that panic results in ramblings and ravings that make no sense to those who fit this truth:

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
—2 Timothy 1:7

Many of the most revved up writings I see lately are coming from people entrenched in the modern prophetic movement. Though I consider myself a charismatic, I have yet to see any fruit coming from the self-appointed prophets who litter the charismatic landscape.

Lately, much of the prophetic talk has centered around a particular vice-presidential candidate. Or it’s a rant about Supreme Court judges. Soon to be standard issue...Or the need for us to kowtow to what the national Christian “leaders” say we believers MUST DO—OR ELSE. Most of it contradicts itself. And sadly, it contradicts the Bible more than anything else.

I could reproduce some of the “words” going around out there, but you can see an example in one of my previous posts: “Only One True Kingdom.” Truth is, that “word” is tame compared with some of what is making the rounds.

Here’s my word for the state of things today: Unhinged.

Recently, I read a book that discusses how people react during disasters. A quick look around shows all the signs:

  • Numbness
  • Denial
  • Hysteria
  • Depresssion
  • Rationalization
  • Obedience to small, daily routines despite emergency conditions
  • Sudden onset of blindness

While that final one may not be literal in this case (though it does happen in disasters), it sure satisfies the figurative element for what is going on in our country at the end of The Year of Our Lord 2008.

But it shouldn’t. The Church, especially, should be calmer, wiser, and more discerning than this. That same disaster book discusses how it’s the small people who step up (such as the busboy who saved hundreds during the Beverly Hill Supper Club disaster that occurred in my community), the nobodies, the normally powerless, who can make all the difference. Isn’t the Church supposed to be filled with small, powerless (by the world’s standards) nobodies who end up leading others to safety?

The world doesn’t need a Church that has gone nuts. It needs levelheaded people who stay true to the Word and Spirit.

So if you’re one of those folks sending me emails featuring the kind of stuff I’ve mentioned here, I have a not-so-prophetic “word” for you: Stop.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled apocalypse, already in progress…

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.