Five Things Christians Should Always Celebrate Even in the Darkest of Times-

Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, Lord. They rejoice in your name all day long; they celebrate your righteousness. For you are their glory and strength, and by your favor you exalt our horn- Psalm 89:15-17 NIV

There is not a whole to celebrate right now.  

Everything feels kind of dark and hard right now. 2021 seems to be determined to follow in the footsteps of 2020.  Destructive philosophies have taken root and many western countries seem intent on committing cultural suicide. The thin veneer of civilization is getting thinner every day and governments all over the globe are struggling to get a grip on the growing chaos.  Even people who don’t worry all that much are anxious, depressed and fearful on some level.  

Furthermore.

There is lot of spiritual fruit for Christians to grieve right now.  The western church has sinned by majoring on spiritual minors for far too long. Church leaders have focused on the number of butts in the seats and bucks in the offering plate rather than on making disciples and the state of people’s souls.  We have sought the applause of the unbelieving world, watered-down truth and exhibited contempt rather than love to sinners.   As a result, legions of people are so morally confused they literally believe right is wrong and wrong is right (Isaiah 5:20). Christians should grieve all sin because God looks on those who mourn sin with favor. (1st Kings 8:46-48, 2nd Chronicles 32:26, Ezekiel 6:9, Proverbs 1:23).

All that being said.

God’s people are called to celebrate God and His greatness no matter their circumstances (Leviticus, 23:40-42, Psalm 100, 2nd Samuel 6:21, 1st Corinthians 5:8). Hezekiah became King of Judah during some of the darkest days of Israel’s history. The nation was deeply divided. Both the North and the South were in a state of profound moral, spiritual and economic decline. The nation was weak militarily and threatened by powerful enemies on all sides. However, in the middle of all that gloom and doom Hezekiah issued a decree that the whole nation should come together and celebrate the Passover like they had never celebrated it before. The result of their choice to celebrate God’s goodness in the midst of their pain and grief was their prayers were heard and revival resulted (2nd Chronicles chapters 30-31). Despite all the ugliness in the world there are five things Christians can and should celebrate right now: 

Our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed- 

Every day we draw breath brings us that much closer to the day when our earthly problems and struggles will be nothing more than a distant memory (Revelation 21:3-5). That’s something to celebrate. 

Jesus is not missing in action- 

True story. It might appear that this sin-weary world is completely out of control and teetering on the edge of madness. However, the chaos we are experiencing is not without purpose. I do not know where all of this will end but I do know God sees our hearts and will ultimately lead those who remain joyful in affliction (Romans 12:12) into a reward that is infinitely better than anything our feeble minds can imagine (Revelation 21:1-27). 

Everyone will eventually answer to God for their choices- 

Okay, so, I get that this feels like a weirdly dark thing to celebrate. However, sometimes life is hard.  The Bible teaches there will come a time when all Christians everywhere will suffer at the hands of evil people who will refuse to repent of their sin (Daniel 7:21, Matthew 24:9-12, Revelation 6:9-11). It will appear for a season that those people are getting away with their evil treatment God’s people.  Nothing will be further from the truth. God wants His people to be comforted by the truth He will reward the righteous for their good deeds and punish the wicked for their evil deeds (2nd Thessalonians 1:5-10).  We must not allow the sinful choices of others to erode our belief that God is good. Rather, we should pray for the salvation of our enemies and trust God to bring justice in His timing.  

God is still in the business of transforming people- 

The good thing about bad times is that God frequently uses personal pain to draw people closer to Himself and into His Kingdom. This taking place right now. I have observed that God has used this very painful season to reveal the idols and worldly desires that have taken root in the lives of God’s people. As result, many Christians are experiencing a renewed obedience and a desire to serve God with their whole being. In the past this has always been a clear sign revival (unsaved people coming to faith in Jesus) is always just around the corner. 

And finally, 

Christians can celebrate God even in the darkest places because for Christians life really is good even when it’s bad. Christians experience things no one else can. Christians experience joy even in the darkest valleys and community in the midst of personal and shared crisis. We experience peace in chaos and get to see God bring hope and transformation to those who trust in Him. 

That is worth celebrating. 

How Christian Atheists are Killing the Church –

  Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching- John 14:23-24 NIV

A couple of things: First of all, dear reader, I really do appreciate you. The fact that anyone would read what I write every week is honor and privilege God has allowed me to have that never ceases to blow my mind. Second, many Christians are, for obvious reasons, leaving social media sites. If you are considering making an exit from the social media site where you found A Wise Life, or even if you are not, please consider subscribing. All you have to do is scroll down to the bottom of the page and type in your email address. A Wise Life will be delivered to your in-box every week for as long as the Lord allows me to continue this ministry or until you unsubscribe. I promise to never sell or give your email address to any other business, blog or ministry. 

Lisa

Now for this week’s post: 

A while back someone asked me if I thought Christianity was losing its power. The person asking was not a hater or a jerk, nor were they attempting to throw shade on Jesus or the church. On the contrary, the person asking is a believer who is genuinely concerned that the Christian faith appears to losing its ability to change people and transform the chaotic situations that are becoming increasingly more common in our world. The Christian faith has made massive inroads into the world in the last century but at the same time the people are becoming more evil, more creative in spreading evil and far less interested in learning what God has to say about much of anything.  

Sigh.

I will not lie. The question shook me. Seriously. It forced me think about the how and the why of where we have landed. After some thought I decided that I simply cannot accept the notion that Jesus has somehow lost His ability to transform people or heal situations. If Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever and I believe He is then problem can’t be with God (Hebrews 13:8). 

The problem is with us. 

Too many Christians have become what I call “functional atheists” or Christian atheists. Functional atheists are people who believe in God and attend church, many functional atheists even routinely read their Bibles and pray. However, in their day-to-day lives they don’t live like they believe God is real.  Functional atheists have come into the kingdom of God but have never had the deepest areas of their lives touched by God’s transformational power. They make Christianity weak because most of the time God chooses to do His most powerful work through people. Therefore, if Christians are spiritually weak then God’s power will be limited in certain situations. Not because God lacks power but because He will only work through those who are faithful and obedient (Mark 6:4-6).   

Following are five signs you might just be a functional atheist. 

You have ongoing struggles with sexual immorality- 

Fear of God is a clear indicator that a person is in the process of being spiritually transformed. Fearing God is not about being afraid of God (1st John 4:18). Someone who fears God genuinely believes God is who He says He is and that He will do what He says He will do. God has nothing good to say about sexual immorality or those who make a practice of it (Romans 1:18-28, 1st Corinthians 5:9-11, 1st Corinthians 6:9-10, Galatians 5:19). Because God is so clear about how He feels about this issue, sexual sin is an indicator that person does not really fear God. When a person doesn’t fear God they inevitably end up living like an atheist. 

Misplaced faith-

Christians are commanded to put their faith and trust in God alone (Proverbs 3:5-6, Nahum 1:7). Too often, as believers we do trust God but we trust other things just a little bit more. We trust things like political figures, education, our finances, our social standing and jobs to protect us, give us peace and provide comfort in times of trouble. When we put our trust in anything but God to give us comfort, protection and peace those things inevitably end up functioning as idols in our lives. Idols never deliver what God can and trusting them causes us to live like the atheists around us.  

You feel contempt rather than compassion for most people-  

This world is full of sin and hate. Christians are called to hate sin and cast-off  foolish and sinful behavior (Matthew 7:24, 2nd Corinthians 6:14). It is all too easy to allow our hatred of sin and desire to be free from worldly ties to morph into contempt for sinners and their stupidity. The problem with this is we are never called to feel hate or contempt for anyone and when we do we look more like our atheist neighbor than Jesus. 

There are places in your life that are unknown to others and untouched by God- 

Becoming a Christian is supposed to be a comprehensive, life transforming event. The only catch is that God will only change the parts of our lives we give Him access to. We give God access to our lives when we make regular practices of Bible reading, self-examination and prayer. This is how it works: When we read the Bible, we learn how God wants us to think and live. When we make a regular practice of examining ourselves to see if our lives match up with Scripture God will then tell us when we pray what needs to be changed in our lives in order for us to grow into the people He has called us to be. If we aren’t constantly seeking to grow we will go backwards in our spiritual maturity and eventually our lives will look more and more like the atheists around us. 

Because the world is so broken it is more important than ever that Christians live lives that embrace the truth of Scripture because it is only way people will see the power of God in this world.  

How Christians can Survive and Thrive in the Dumpster Fire that is 2021-

A couple of things: first of all, dear reader, I really do appreciate you. The fact that anyone would read what I write every week is honor and privilege God has allowed in my life that never ceases to blows my mind. Second, many Christians are, for obvious reasons, leaving social media sites. If you are considering making an exit from the social media site where you found A Wise Life, please considering subscribing. All you have to do is scroll down to the bottom of the page and type in your email address. A Wise Life will be delivered to your in-box on a weekly basis for as long as the Lord allows me to continue this ministry or until you unsubscribe. I promise to never sell or give your email address to any other business, blog or ministry. 

Lisa 

Now, this week’s post:

And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” So He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.”- Mark 9:28-29 NKJV

So far 2021 has been a massive dumpster-fire.  

 Wednesday afternoon, protesters entered the capitol building in Washington D.C. They were tear-gassed by police and forcibly removed from the building. Five were killed. 

The progressives on my social media feed were beyond elated by this turn of events. To them it was proof-positive conservatives and conservative Christians (who they tend to lump together) are no better than anyone else.  Any moral authority conservatives may have had pointing to the riots this summer evaporated into thin air. I have had a heavy heart all week.  It is agonizing to watch a perfectly good civilization crumble before your very eyes. 

Thankfully, none of this has taken our God by surprise. He knew it was coming and it is a part of His overall plan for this world. I do not know where all of this is heading or what the future holds. That said, there are a couple of things I do know for absolute certain, first, this is not a time for “what about ism” where we point our fingers at all the moral failings of the other side, rather than looking at our own sin and stupidity.  I also know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is a time for Christians everywhere to commit to becoming a Jesus presence in a sin-weary world (Matthew 5:9, Ephesians 4:3, Ephesians 6:15). Jesus and Jesus alone can transform the hearts of men and women and there are a lot of hearts that need transforming. In order to do that we must commit to a lifestyle of growth and maturity with the following five practices. 

First:

Become “strong in the Lord”- 

In Ephesians 6:10 Christians are told “to be strong in the Lord and His mighty power”. It is a prerequisite for effectively putting on the armor of God and strength in the Lord seems to ensure we will remain steadfast in our commitment to Jesus.  We are strong in the Lord when we are seeking the Lord and His wisdom, rather than worldly sources for direction and wisdom in living life. No one has ever become strong in anything on accident. Becoming strong in the Lord happens through a regular rhythm of self-examination, personal repentance, church attendance, Bible reading, fasting and prayer. 

Building Christian community- 

It probably will not get any easier to be a Christian anytime soon.  God wants all of us to have people in our lives who we can build up in the faith and who will build us up in the faith (Hebrews 3:13, Hebrews 10:24-25, 1st Thessalonians 5:11).  Building healthy community is hard work. It means making a commitment to emotional transparency, kindness, generosity, selflessness and forgiveness.  Community means we don’t get to be fake or exclusive or hold a grudge when we feel like holding a grudge.  It means we love people where they’re at and fight like crazy for them to become a better version of themselves.  

Commit to a regular routine of prayer and fasting for our world- 

In Mark nine the disciples wanted to know why they couldn’t extract a demon from a boy. They had done everything they had done before and none of those things had gotten the job done. Jesus’ heart for humanity bleeds through the pages of scripture when He says: “this kind only comes out with prayer and fasting”. Here’s the thing: we live in a world riddled with demonic strongholds because people have turned their back on God and embraced every kind of evil and moral absurdity. As Christians we cannot continue to do what we have done in the past and expect those spiritual strongholds to be broken. Instead we must commit to a regular pattern of prayer and fasting for the people we love and the situations in our world that appear to be immovable. Nothing else is going to get the job done. 

Engage wisely- 

Engaging people wisely begins with understanding that nowhere in Scripture are Christians called to convert people to a particular political ideology. Instead, we are called to make disciples of Jesus (Matthew 28:19) and trust the Lord to work on everything else in their lives AFTER they come to know Jesus. Engaging wisely means we choose our battles with unbelievers carefully especially on social media.

Resist the urge to view those who think differently with contempt-

Jon Tyson points out in his book Beautiful ResistanceThe Joy of Conviction in a Culture of Compromise that it has become normal for people, even Christians to show open contempt for anyone who thinks differently from them. Contempt is an ugly and divisive form of hate. We will never reach anyone with the love of Jesus if our hearts are filled with any kind of hate. We must pray that our contempt will be replaced with compassion for the lost and morally confused.

The best thing about the time we live in is that it easy for God’s love and goodness to shine in a dark place. It is up to us to adopt daily practices that allow His light shine through us (Matthew 5:16) 

Satan’s Last Diary Entry of 2020


The Lord said to Satan, 
From where have you come? Satan answered the Lord and said, From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” Job 1:7 ESV

Dearest Diary, 

I just received year-end reports from all regions. What a year! 

2020 for the win! I literally do not know if I have ever been more pleased with the state of the human race. 

Life is beautiful. 

Seriously.

That whole stupid planet is one great big beautiful ball of chaos.  I adore chaos. Chaos makes it possible for me to slip in, create confusion and bring about changes that further my agenda to turn people away from God and enslave them to their own idiotic passions. Truth-be-told I owe much of the success of this past year to COVID-19.  I simply adore that nasty little microbe.  Seriously, Between the fear, the conflict and the government’s response to COVID-19 I could not have orchestrated a better outcome to the pandemic if I had planned the whole thing out myself. 

Half the humans are terrified out of their minds. I adore fear. It’s is such a wonderfully productive emotion for me. It’s odd, but for creatures with such ridiculously limited lifespans most humans do very little thinking about death or what will happen to them after they die. Instead this generation chooses to stick their heads in the sand and pretend they will live forever. Coronavirus has forced those idiots to at least acknowledge that life is uncertain and sometimes shorter than expected which, honestly, could have had some truly terrible consequences for me. However, as luck would have it very few people are dealing with their fear by turning to God and asking him for wisdom and help. Instead most of those idiots have given themselves over to fear. I love fear almost as much as I love chaos. Fear keeps people from thinking clearly about the things that really matter. When people are fearful they become stupid. As is the case today. People have turned to distractions like Netflix, political activism, drugs and alcohol and porn to help them forget everything that is wrong with the world.  These distractions have led many even deeper into spiritual bondage. I haven’t seen this many people enslaved to idolatry and fear since the age of paganism. (those were the days J)  No one wants to ask God for help because that would mean repenting of their sins. So, their fear has turned them into fools and most are actually trusting government officials to make all the decisions and save them from the scary germ.

Ha Ha! As if! 

In the beginning government officials were just as fearful as everyone else. They locked things down without a thought as to how they would open things back up again.  Once government officials got past their own personal fear of the virus they began taking full advantage and using it as an excuse to do what they’ve been dying to do for years. Countries all over the world have suspended the civil rights of ordinary people in the name of keeping everyone “safe”. Seriously, what kind of an idiot would argue with safety? “Safety” is the perfect excuse to strip people of civil rights. I simply despise civil rights. They keep dictators at bay and I adore dictators.  Dictators forbid religious expression and demand that the state become their God. 

That stupid world is much closer to being ruled by dictators than most of those fools realize. It’s because human freedom is entirely dependent on human goodness to make a democracy work. Few people want to practice the self-restraint and virtue necessary to make self-government work. They use their freedom for evil and then wonder why the government feels the need to step in and control every aspect of their lives. 

Idiots! They’re all idiots! 

Because people have turned from God and insisted on the normalization of every kind of evil, suicide is on the upswing, as is addiction, spousal abuse, divorce and child molestation. This suits my purposes perfectly. Addiction, abuse and sin hardens the human heart toward God and keeps stupid humans looking to human wisdom for help and healing. As if human wisdom was actually a thing. 

Ha!

Thankfully, most Christians don’t seem to know what to do. Very few pray, they say they have faith but truth-be-told most of them don’t live like they believe God is real. They spend more time demanding their rights be respected than they do praying for God’s will to be done. Some young, healthy people at little risk of dying from Coronavirus have stopped attending church. Those fools have voluntarily separated themselves from other Christians! Seriously. It won’t be long before they quit reading their Bibles and praying. Before you know it they will stop thinking about God altogether. When that happens, I will see to it that they don’t do anything that will lead anyone else to Jesus!

2020 was a banner year and as long as those idiotic Christians stay apathetic and don’t start praying 2021 looks like it will be even better! 

Still Winning!

Satan 

Clear Evidence we Have Entered a Season of Judgment-

There is an evil I have seen under the sun, as an error proceeding from the ruler: Folly is set in great dignity– Ecclesiastes 10:5-6a NKJV

 The city of Seattle is currently debating and is expected to pass a “poverty defense” law.  If the proposal is passed, offenses such as harassment, sexual exploitation, trespassing and unlawful use of weapons will no longer be crimes if the defendant has symptoms of mental illness, is poor and/or homeless. This proposal would effectively legalize stealing as long as the stolen property is sold to pay for rent, food or other “basic needs”. 

 Seriously. This is a real thing. Google it. 

Seattle, Washington is not the only city or state that has enacted or is considering enacting a law that shows zero insight concerning human behavior or compassion for victims of crime. San Francisco, California and Baltimore, Maryland have defunded their police departments despite rising crime. The state of Oregon has legalized the use and sale of all drugs including highly addictive drugs such as cocaine and heroin. In Berkley, California a person can be heavily fined simply for calling someone by a “non-preferred pronoun” (Job 34:17, Amos 5:15).  

Here’s the thing:

In every one of the above-mentioned cities, a group of leaders (who we can assume are at least marginally intelligent) got together in an official capacity and discussed the issues at hand in length. It is likely they debated the pros and cons, looked at data and consulted experts in the field.  After all that these “smart people” then decided these particular laws were the most prudent and just course of action. Sadly, the fact that some of these laws were even given consideration is irrefutable proof we are being ruled over by fools (Proverbs 1:22, Proverbs 3:35, Proverbs 12:23). 

Being ruled over by a fool is a sign a people is under judgment. 

Judgment is not a popular topic. The whole issue is kind of icky and makes everyone feel very awkward. Most people prefer to focus their attention on the love, grace and mercy of God (2nd Timothy 4:2-4). It’s just nicer. However, God makes it clear in His word that He does judge men and women immediately following their death (Hebrews 9:27). It’s also clear there will come a day when God is done with showing mercy and grace to an unrepentant world and bring judgment to all people for their willful sin and the deliberate testing of God (1st Peter 4:7, 2nd Peter 3:7, Revelation 14:7, Revelation 19:1-2). 

 I do not know everything about everything and I certainly don’t have any inside information on God’s eschatological (end times) timetable (Matthew 24:36). That being said, I do believe the whole world has entered a period of judgment. 

Here’s why:

Throughout history human beings have had access to knowledge about right and wrong. God writes truth about right and wrong on the hearts of all people (Romans 2:14-16). This alone leaves men and women without a valid excuse for their sinful behavior. However, we live in a truly unique and blessed time where the vast majority of people alive have access to the Bible and Christian teaching. Most have heard the good news of the gospel and know that trusting in Jesus and repenting of their sin is the only way to be saved (Acts 17:24-31, Romans 10:9-12, Hebrews 4:3). Nevertheless, most have flat refused to repent of their sins even in light of exposure to biblical truth. Instead somewhere in the neighborhood of seventy percent of the population take great pleasure in doing the exact opposite of what God says is right and true (Exodus 20:1-10, 1st Corinthians 6:8-10, 1st Timothy 1:9-11). Many are not content simply to sin themselves instead they intentionally seek to lead others (including children) into what they themselves KNOW to be sin, showing zero fear of God in their behavior. 

Christians are not much better. 

Some do not know the Bible well enough to live their lives based on biblical principles. Many Christians choose churches based on their readiness to soften what the Bible says about issues pertaining to righteousness, the sanctity of life, marriage and gender (Micah 6:8, Malachi 2:13-16, Matthew 19:1-9, 1stCorinthians 6:8-10, Hebrews 13:4).  Other Christians choose churches for their entertainment platforms rather than their willingness to share the gospel message clearly. Too many Christians have chosen to vote for political leaders based on their ability to deliver economic security rather than their willingness to fight for the good of all people (Isaiah 10:1, Ezekiel 22:12). 

Those are the basic reasons why the world is the way it is right now. We are being judged. It’s not nice but it is true. The world is being judged for spiritual complacency, sexual deviancy, murder, and witchcraft (among other things).   The only way out of any kind of biblical judgment is through repentance. Repentance begins with the people of God examining their own hearts and lives and searching for areas that need transformation. Then we must ask God to give us the wisdom we need to reach our friends and neighbors with the gospel. 

The Real Evil Behind COVID-19-

For man also does not know his time: Like fish taken in a cruel net, Like birds caught in a snare, So the sons of men are snared in an evil time, When it falls suddenly upon them– Ecclesiastes 9:12 NKJV 

Words are powerful. 

Because words are powerful there are words I don’t use lightly or often. 

Evil is one of those words. 

Human beings are absolutely capable of great evil (Genesis 6:5, Matthew 12:34-35, John 3:19), but most are not intentionally evil. Most of the time, most people are just misguided, deceived or acting out of their fallenness. All of that inevitably results in folly. Foolishness often leads to evil but it is rarely the intended result.  Conversely, things are neither good nor bad, they just are. 

That being said. 

Humans sometimes do stupid stuff with things and evil results. Such is the case with coronavirus. COVID-19 is neither good or evil. It just is. Viruses are incapable of being evil. They are just germs. Mindless, soulless, microorganism’s completely incapable of any kind of evil machinations or wicked deeds.  However, our foolish, fear-filled human response to this virus has resulted in all kinds of weirdness and evil. 

Beginning with: 

Coronavirus is causing us to voluntarily destroy a crucial aspect of our humanness –

Human beings were literally made to live in community. People were made in the image of a God who exists in a perpetual state of community and we were made to be like Him (Genesis 1:26, Matthew 28:19, John 10:30). Because community is an essential piece of what makes us human, without community people either become peculiar or despairing or both. Coronavirus has become evil because we have allowed it to isolate the people who need people the most.  Drug and alcohol abuse is up and suicide rates have skyrocketed all due to a lack of community. It is critical Churches lead the way in forming safe community for those who are lacking it. This might mean making regular phone calls to people who live alone and work in isolation. It might mean encouraging small groups to get together on a regular basis for prayer and fellowship. If the group is kept small and is made up of people who see each other regularly it is safer than people being left alone without any kind of healthy interaction in their lives.

COVID is making too many Christians spiritually slothful-  

Church attendance really is one of the most basic manifestations of Christian obedience. Church attendance is clearly commanded in Scripture (Hebrews 10:24-25). If a follower of Jesus does not take the time to attend some sort of church service it is highly doubtful they will spend significant time in prayer or Bible study. Period.  Both online and in person church attendance is down in recent months. This indicates that all healthy spiritual activity is on a decline at least among some Christians. 

COVID is breeding distrust and division-

It is no longer socially acceptable to say two things can be true about COVID at the same time. For example: it’s not okay to say the social and spiritual isolation created by COVID is dangerous and unhealthy. Neither is it okay to say the virus is dangerous (especially for some groups). Try it. I dare you. Get on a social media website and say those two things. You will be attacked on every side and called out as a numbskull and a heretic. Unless we can get to a place where we can talk about this issue rationally, with both sides conceding that the virus and the way our society is handling the virus (lockdowns, school closures, forced unemployment) are both dangerous we will never move forward in a healthy, life-affirming way.  We will continue to view people with alternative views as the enemy and if we continue down that path we are finished as a civilization. We will devolve into a dystopic dark age.  

Coronavirus has become a driver of corruption- 

In many places around the globe politicians have made rules without placing an end date on them or without putting in place a fixed set of measurable standards for lifting the restrictions. Because absolute power corrupts absolutely anytime politicians are allowed to make all-powerful decisions there is a pretty good chance they will never willingly retract the decisions that have given them absolute power. This creates a problem that must be solved by savvy voters who are willing to work at the grassroots level to get unreasonable or unnecessary rules changed or lifted. 

We are not learning what we are supposed to learn-  

Typically, a benefit of a disaster like a pandemic is that silly humans learn that no one—no matter how significant or influential gets off this planet alive.  Being reminded of this crucial truth helps us remember that the principal task of every person born is to prepare wisely for their inevitable demise. At least a million people have died from COVID and rather than having conversations about death and how to prepare for death (Acts 3:19) our culture has neatly avoided the subject of death by turning to lockdowns as a way to attempt to cheat death. In the process our culture has robbed itself of the one positive thing that might come out of this whole ugly muddle. Sigh. 

Most of the problems created by coronavirus are a direct result of living in a post-Christian culture. Because our culture has lost touch with Christian truth many in our culture have become isolated. Others have become corrupt fools who think they can cheat death. God made the Church for times exactly like the ones we live in. Being the people, our world needs us to be means being diligent, brave, faithful and willing to have hard conversations with a confused and hurting world (Deuteronomy 31:6, Colossians 3:23, Ephesians 4:15-25). 

How our Beliefs About the End-times can Actually Shake our Faith-

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths– Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV 

Theology is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as:

The study of the nature of God and religious belief.

I am an unapologetic fan of theology. I have spent the better part of my life studying God and attempting to understand Him better. I firmly believe most of the problems and struggles of this life would evaporate if people simply understood who God is and applied His principles and wisdom to all of life. 

That being said. 

There are times in life when tightly held theological beliefs can actually get in the way of seeing what God is up to in the world. Christians can become so rigidly fixated on a single theological perspective they actually miss what God says or does not say in His word. Such was the situation with many first-century Jews. Their rigid belief the Messiah would be a military leader after the pattern of King David caused them to disregard the suffering servant right in front of them (Isaiah 42:1-2, Isaiah 53:4-6, Acts 4:11, 1st Peter 2:4-7). 

I am convinced some twenty-first century Christians are falling into the same trap with the second coming of Jesus first-century Jews did with first coming of Jesus. Too many Christians on all ends of the eschatological (end time) spectrum have embraced such a rigid perspective of what the return of Jesus will look like that they are rapidly losing faith in the goodness of God because events are not shaking out exactly the way they thought they would. 

Most American Christians fall into one of two categories when it comes to eschatological beliefs. Premillennialism and amillennialism. Premillennialists believe Jesus will return visibly to the earth after a period of evil and unrest known as the tribulation. There are two popular variations on this view:

The premillennial pretribulation rapture of the church-  

This is the most popular American position on end time events. Those who hold to this view believe Christians (those who have repented of their sins and trusted Jesus as savior) will one day be taken from the earth all at once and go straight into the presence of God (1st Thessalonians 4;13-18). This event known as the rapture signals the beginning of a seven-year period of evil and chaos called the tribulation (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Revelation 2:10). The tribulation will be followed by a thousand-year (millennial) reign of Christ on the earth. 

Post or mid-tribulation rapture of the church- 

This is a variation on the first view. Those who believe this version of end time events agree with almost everything their pre-tribulation premillennialist counterparts believe except they believe the rapture will take place after or at some point during the great tribulation. The pre-tribulation rapture theory means that the return of Jesus will be an entirely separate event from the rapture while the post-tribulation theory assumes these two events will take place at more or less the same time.   

Post or mid-rapture Christians believe the church will suffer but grow before the return of Jesus. Pre-tribulation rapture Christians believe Christians who are saved prior to the rapture will be spared the intense suffering that will take place during the tribulation. This view holds fast to the idea there will be a huge spiritual revival that takes place during the tribulation and most of those who become Christians during the tribulation will be martyred for their faith   

 Amillennialism 

Amillennialists do not believe in a tribulation or a rapture per se.  Instead they believe that Christians are called to live in such a way that their actions bring about righteousness and justice on the earth. As people become more righteous and justice becomes more pervasive the reign of Christ will manifest itself over time. Amillennialists do not believe in a literal thousand-year reign of Christ rather, they believe the earthly reign of Christ will be strictly figurative. 

It’s just a fact that adherents to each end-time perspective feel equally strongly their interpretation of Scripture is correct and the interpretation best supported by Scripture.  However, in my experience all end-time views can lead to practical theological and/or spiritual problems of one kind or another. Premillennial, pre-tribulation Christians tend to become troubled at the idea there will come a time when the church will universally suffer extreme persecution. This is despite the fact Christians have suffered persecution since the beginning and there are a myriad of Bible verses promising Christians will experience suffering and persecution (John 16:23, Matthew 13:21, Matthew 24, Acts 14:21-22, 1st Peter 1:6, James 1:2, 1st Thessalonians 3:1-4). The post-tribulation rapture theory tends to lead to anxiety and an emphasis on making physical preparations for the tribulation (prepping) rather than on reaching the lost for Jesus or being spiritually ready for the return of Jesus. Amillennialism trusts sinful humans to do things only God’s spirit can do, such as bring about righteousness and justice.  

Our world is getting weirder and scarier everyday it is critical we focus on what we do know.   We know Jesus IS coming back and it appears He will return after a period of moral decline, persecution and apostasy (2nd Timothy 3:1-5, Matthew 24, 2nd Peter 3:3). It is critical we be spiritually and morally prepared for and enthusiastically await the return of Jesus even in the face of ongoing evil and unrest (1stCorinthians 1:7, Hebrews 9:27-28). It is every bit as critical we not allow our own rigid ideas of what the end should look like to shake our faith in the goodness of God. 

Some Words to A Worried Church-

Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. He held fast to the Lord and did not stop following him- 2nd Kings 18:5-6a NIV

Most church people would probably agree the outcome of the latest election was not exactly a win. At best, it was a colossal disappointment, at worst it could indicate some tough times ahead. The whole messy mess was kicked to the courts and it’s possible mandated recounts could result in a surprise turn in the election results. In the unlikely event that happens, no one will be more joyful than this girl. 

In the meantime. 

Believers should do a little soul searching and self-examination. Self-examination empowers the Church to move forward from disappointments and setbacks in a way that better equips us for whatever happens to be next on God’s agenda. Christians have historically believed God is ultimately sovereign over the affairs of men and women (Ecclesiastes 3:11, Isaiah 46:10, Revelation 22:13). We believe nothing on earth happens without God’s foreknowledge and the only thing that takes place without His explicit consent is sin. 

Therefore.

The results of this election are no accident. We cannot blame the outcome entirely on cheating and other shenanigans. Cheating is not outside of God’s purview. Therefore, if there was cheating involved then God allowed the cheating to take place. If we believe in the sovereignty of God then we also have to believe the outcome of the election is in the will of God. Like it or not  

Sigh. 

 This turn of events does beg some questions, like: what now? What are we supposed to conclude from this outcome? Does it mean God is on the side of abortion, censorship and a castration of the U.S constitution? Did this occur because God loves socialism or because He thinks court-packing is a good idea or because He wants churches shut down? 

Nothing I have learned about God from Scripture or personal experience would indicate any of those things are true. 

However, sometimes God wants His people to get hold of truth so badly He will bring difficulty into our lives to get us to turn to Him for wisdom and help rather than looking to the world for insight, wisdom or help. There are at least three takeaways God wants His people to glean from the current political situation. If we don’t come to understand these truths quickly we could be stuck in this uncomfortable place longer than any of us would like.  

The first is: 

We cannot depend on government to be our source of security-

 I do not think of myself as a person who places an inordinate amount of hope or faith in the authorities, documents or institutions of this world. If someone had asked me a month ago how much faith I put in the constitution or the president to make me feel safe and secure, I would have smugly replied that my faith is in God alone. Thank you very much. However, after some serious post-election prayer I realized that I felt significantly safer and more secure as a Christian last month than I do this month. There is nothing wrong with wanting a leader who protects our values and way of life. However, it is categorially un-wise to expect real security of any kind in a world broken by sin. It is even more foolish to trust anyone or anything more than we trust God. If you felt safer last month than you do this month it means you’ve put your trust in something or someone besides God. God wants us to ask ourselves what would happen to our faith in God if America ceased to exist. If that would cause your faith to disappear your faith is not really in God it’s in America and the security America provides. 

Even if everything is not okay it will still be okay- 

We all want everything to be okay and for good reason. No one in their right mind actually LIKES difficulties, pain and suffering. That said, knowing Jesus as our Lord and savior means that even if the worst happens we will be okay because to be absent from the body means we will be present with Jesus (2nd Corinthians 5:7-9). It is critical we remember this truth the next time our anxiety about the current situation starts to get the better of us (Isaiah 35:4) Matthew 6:25-34, Philippians 4:6).  

This world is not all there is- 

 This generation is overrun with modern conveniences that provide regular people with luxury and comfort previous generations never could have imagined.   The problem with all this ease and comfort is it’s made life on earth a little too agreeable and most Christians are a lot fonder of this world than our spiritual ancestors were (1st John 2:15, John 12:25). As a result, many Christians love the world more than is spiritually healthy or wise.  I suspect God is using the discomfort and fear many of us feel over our current political situation to remind Christians we are to long for heaven rather than look for a political leader who will create a utopia here on earth.

Barring some sort of a miracle life will not be getting any easier for the body of Christ anytime soon. That does not mean life won’t be good. Life will be good because our God is good. If our faith is in Him, and only Him there is no way we will be shaken.     

What to do When too Much Becomes too Much-


Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test  yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? 2nd Corinthians 13:5 NIV 

2020 has been a bumpy year for everyone and it’s not getting any smoother. A contentious election, endless social strife, race riots, job losses, censorship, lockdowns, school closures and the weirdest pandemic in history have made for a season unlike any anyone has ever experienced.  No one has come out of this crazy-town year without a story to tell and few of them are amusing. Lamentably, there’s almost two months left to go before the stupid thing is finally over. God in His sovereignty is the only one who knows what will happen between now and then.  

Sigh. 

Times like the ones we live in take a toll, psychologically, emotionally and financially. All that can affect us spiritually if the tough times drag on for too long (like say ten solid months). It’s not always easy to know when stress has become too much for us and we have stepped over the line into a place of spiritual unhealth. In 2nd Corinthians 13:5 the Apostle Paul encourages Christians to “examine themselves” frequently. Times like ours demand frequent self-checks. Following are five indicators all is not well on a spiritual level. 

Beginning with:  

Prayer is a struggle or worse yet you gave up long ago-

Christians are commanded to pray continually about every issue under the sun (Romans 12:12, 1st Thessalonians 5:17, 1st Timothy 2:1-3). This is not because God needs our prayers. God has no needs (Acts 17:24-25). Christians do need to pray because prayer builds connection with God. Ongoing connection with God transforms how we think, feel and behave over time. Prayer also empowers fallible human beings to see people and events the way God sees those things. Without a regular prayer life spiritual health becomes nothing more than a pipedream. A weak or non-existent prayer life is proof positive a spiritual realignment is needed.   

You have morphed into worst version of yourself-

Everyone has a unique worst version of themselves. Mine is introverted, distrustful, and weirdly obsessed with minor details. Yours might be dramatic, braggy and fixated on personal pleasure. Another person might be critical, unforgiving, and intolerant of differences of opinion when they are at their worst. Someone else might be fearful and closed off to new experiences.  It’s vital we know who we are, and have a firm grasp on what our “normal” looks like. When our normal morphs into something different and less than healthy than our best selves it’s a sure sign we need a spiritual readjustment. Pronto.  

Politics take precedent-

Politics are not trivial. There is little in this life not touched in some way by politics. Furthermore, one facet of being a good Christian is being an involved citizen, which means taking our civic responsibilities seriously, that cannot be done without some understanding of politics. (1st Peter 2:13). That said, earthly kingdoms will all pass away eventually. Politics are strictly an earthly issue.  (Philippians 3:20).  God calls you and I to adopt an eternal perspective and remember it is only what we do in and for the Kingdom of God that truly has an impact. If you find your attention is entirely focused on the political realm God wants you to change your focus. 

You’re afraid all the time-

Fear and anxiety are a little bit like the check engine light in a car. Feelings of fear and anxiety are not the real problem. They are just an indicator there is another problem that needs to be found and addressed. Sometimes Christians get far too focused on the emotions of fear and anxiety and don’t stop to ask God why to reveal to us the real reason those volatile emotions are out of control. Fear and anxiety are almost always a sign there is an area of our lives we haven’t completely surrendered to God. 

Spiritual community is not a priority- 

Spiritual community is mandatory for followers of Jesus (2nd Thessalonians 1:3, Hebrews 3:13, Hebrews 10:25). Christians are called to meet together regularly, care for each other in times of trouble and love one another other deeply and sacrificially. The only way to do those things effectively is in spiritual community. Community is about more than church attendance although church is the place to begin building spiritual community. Spiritual community forms when a group of Jesus followers commit themselves to the good and growth of the rest of the group. There are layers to community. Every Christian should attend a local church. Christians should also have a group of fifteen to thirty Christian friends they routinely fellowship with. Christians also need a smaller group of three to five people we can go deep with and be real with on a regular basis. If any of those layers of community are lacking, there is a problem. 

Any one of the above is a sure sign of spiritual sickness. All have the same simple solution: a shift of priorities to make more time for the things that God says matter most. This might mean disconnecting from 24/7 news or social media for a while. It will likely mean cutting activity to make space for spiritual community. It definitely takes more prayer, more reflection and more repentance. It takes more of what feeds our souls and less of the things that leave us feeling spiritually tired.  

How we Got Here and What Will Bring Change-

My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins– James 5:19-21 NASB 

Sometimes writing about one thing will cause me to think more deeply about another thing. 

Such was the case this past week. 

Last week’s post was all about “the new normal” and my own stubborn resistance not just to the expression “the new normal” but also to all the changes the “new normal” has brought to everyday life. It has been tough for me to accept that the way we do life has changed dramatically all because of a stupid germ and our weird response to that germ.  However, over the course of time I have come to accept the reality that life will be different for a while, perhaps even forever. 

I do not believe the “new normal” is an accident of fate. It is the direct result of God’s judgment and rebuke. We are where we are due to the moral rebellion of those outside the church as well as the complacency and disobedience of those inside the church. Much of the “new normal” including the fear, political division, confusion and loss of freedom is simply the result of a loving God working overtime to get our attention before we destroy our stupid selves. It’s time we started paying a little closer attention.   

The world is a mess:

 We live in a time and a place where basic knowledge concerning God and morality is still very much part of the Western cultural norm. Thanks to the internet there has never been a time when more people had more access to the Bible and Christian teaching. Sadly, all this access to information has had little impact on how most people approach life (Romans 1:18-21, 2nd Timothy 3:5). 

Most non-Christians view themselves as free moral agents who are unaccountable to anyone or anything. The mere suggestion of God’s existence raises the hackles of some. The God our culture does embrace bears little resemblance to the God of the Bible. He is weak, tolerant, unfailingly nonjudgmental and very kind. As a result, most non-Christians have literally cast off all restraint. They fight against the notion that anyone, including God has the right to tell them what to do or how to run their lives.  It is routinely argued by politicians, thought leaders and “average Joes” that anything God has declared to be true and good is actually wrong, stupid and repressive. The mere suggestion there should be moral limitations in any area but especially in the area of sexuality is met with open outrage and hostility (Romans 1:21-32). 

The church has its own set of issues. 

For the better part of the last century the church has behaved much like Adam did in the garden (Genesis 3). Christians (including me) have been passive as their friends, neighbors and family members have played around with ideas and behaviors that we were fully aware would lead to their eventual destruction.  We watched the public schools teach our children the lie that Western civilization is evil and unredeemable, and did little, if anything to stop the madness.  We allowed the entertainment industry to lead our families into a hellish upside-down morality that calls evil good and good evil.  We passively watched our culture fall down the rabbit hole on nearly every issue from drug use to the break-down of the family to gender issues.  

Our reluctance to confront these and other issues was been born out of fear (Isaiah 41:10-13). We were afraid of being labeled as “hateful”, “backward”, “anti-science” or “mean-spirited” by our peers (John 15:18).   On the rare occasions when Christians have boldly confronted these and other issues it has rarely been done the way God designed it to be done. It hasn’t been a parent challenging their child or one neighbor or friend gently confronting the sin of someone they care about. Instead Christians have outsourced hard conversations to pastors, books, big Christian organizations and ministries who have had the discussions concerning virtue and morality that individual Christians should have been having one-on-one with their friends and family.   As a result, many in our culture are convinced Christians have no real interest in individual people but only care about righteousness in a nationalistic sense. 

All that being said.

Because God is good and unfailingly merciful all is not lost. We have hope.  God is eager to forgive those who are quick to repent. He will send revival, He will heal our land but first church people must make changes (2nd Chronicles (7:14). The church must do some serious soul searching. It’s time to ruthlessly root out the sin in our own lives and repent. If we don’t we will never have the moral authority necessary to confront sin and have hard conversations with others. It’s way past time to let go of any discomfort we feel about discussing moral issues with our children, friends and neighbors. And lastly, it is imperative we stop expecting pastors and ministry organizations to do the job of making disciples and confronting sin. It’s not their responsibility, it’s ours (Ephesians 4:10-12). If we lean into that responsibility we will see the culture change and our churches grow into something healthy and strong.