For God is not the author of confusion but of peace. . . -1 Corinthians 14:33a
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. -2 Timothy 1:7
He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. -1 John 2:6
The other night, I showed up to a prayer meeting late. It started at seven in the evening and was supposed to last until midnight. I planned on being there when it started, but my sister and her family ended up being in town. I ended up visiting with them instead of going to the prayer meeting. The whole time I was visiting with them, I felt a nudging that I was supposed to be at the prayer meeting. They ended up leaving around ten that night, and I headed over to the prayer meeting afterwards. I knew I was supposed to be there. I didn't really know why. If I were graded on my attendance at prayer meetings, I would be in trouble. But for some reason, I felt I was supposed to be at this one. When I got there, several prayer stations were set up for us to pray for children around the world--street children, handicapped children, unsaved children, uneducated children, wounded-hearted children, etc. After I had prayed at these stations, I sat down and prayed in the spirit. As I was thinking of the street children throughout the world, something struck me. It wasn't anything earth-shattering overall since we've all probably realized this truth at point or another, but it felt earth-shattering to me at that particular moment. The world around us is so often very far out of our own control. There's often nothing we can do to control our environments. But our faith and our walk with Christ aren't determined by how well we can control the world around us. Our faith and our walk with Christ are determined by how we respond to the world around us--the world that we cannot control. That was meaningful to me at that moment and I didn't exactly know why. I already knew that fact.
After the prayer for the children had passed, a friend in our church got up to speak about disaster. One of his interests is disaster preparedness and response. He often tolerates me as I share with him about the subjects in this blog. As he was speaking, a bomb dropped in my spirit. America is in a state of disaster right now and the Church is woefully unprepared for it. Before that bomb dropped on me, I always had issues with the subject of 'disaster preparedness.' I always associated it with the radicals that build bomb shelters expecting an imminent race war. But at that moment, I realized how intricately linked the message of this blog is with disaster preparedness. In America, the Church is quickly losing control, both politically and culturally. We're concerned about 'relevance.' We're concerned that liberal propagandists are eating up our children in colleges and universities. We're worried that liberal propagandists are brainwashing the nation from their thrones in Hollywood. We're fearful that liberal ideologues are destroying our nation from their seats in Washington, DC, with their nefarious agendas. The Church in America has taken up a defensive role and that is unfortunate. Unprepared for the crisis that has come up us, we are looking for someone to blame, someone to use as a scapegoat, someone to throw out. We're looking for someone to defend us against this perceived onslaught.
Of course, some of these things are happening to some degree. They aren't necessarily happening to the degree that our paranoia tells us they're happening. But there is truth in the view that the Church in America is losing or has lost it's societal influence in America--both politically and culturally. We're on the defensive. We're not prepared. And since we're not prepared, we're guilty of trying to do the same things we're blaming liberal propagandists for doing.
I believe that things are only going to get worse. I believe that we are living in the last days. I really believe that. It is such a belief that gives me cause to believe that things are only going to get worse. And things are getting worseprogressively, which means that we have time to wake up and prepare. But we need to wake up quickly. Sandford writes in The Prophetic Church,
Over time, a societal decision has been made that will not be unmade. Argument may continue, but the debate has ended.
In Intoxicated with Babylon,
Embedded in the lust-laden American lifestyle of the 21st century is an unseen enemy constantly appealing to their lower natures, persistently trying to seduce and deceive them, and viciously attacking anyone who doesn't conform.
A few pages earlier in the book, he shares a story:
Years ago when I was still an avid TV watcher, Star Trek reruns were the highlight of my life. I remember a particular episode involving the presence of Klingons aboard the Starship Enterprise. There was an uneasy alliance between them and the crewmen of the Enterprise. Unbeknownst to all, there was also another visitor aboard the spaceship. It was an invisible being that gained its nourishment and strength through the expended energy of hatred and violence of others.
This (evil) being would create scenarios that incited battles between the two opposing groups. Whenever they fought, it would grow in strength. Of course, Captain Kirk finally figured it out, and the show ended with the Klingons and the Federation members all laughing together and driving the intruder out with their camaraderie.
These excerpts all point towards something crucial. Sandford is speaking of the cultural conditions of America. While on a personal level it is difficult but not impossible, we've hit a point in America at which we're so polarized that honest discussion at a societal
level has become impossible. The Church is contributing to that societal polarization and that is an unfortunate fact. We're not prepared for this scenario. The bible has warned us about it all throughout, but we've still missed it. It is our responsibility, as the Church, to transcend that polarization. Unfortunately, as the first Gallagher quote could easily refer to (in part), the Church is just as guilty as the world of "viciously attacking anyone who doesn't conform." While it may not be so obvious at this moment, it was all over during the election season. That spirit is still infecting the Church; it's just a bit less active right now. A simple study of Christian articles and memes, commentary and opinion pieces during 2012 would easily show this assertion to be true. There were so many in the Church that were looking for a savior in a suit and tie.
The story Gallagher tells about the Star Trek episode is quite indicative of where America is now. There are "(evil) being[s]," spirits, trying to pit one against another ad infinitum, and it's working. We're caving to the hatred and the violence into which the spirits are luring us. As the Church, we need to lead the way out
of that trap. Instead, in our lack of preparedness, we've gotten stuck in the trap ourselves. The Church has become part of the disaster. But just as the antidote to the (evil) being on the Enterprise was camaraderie, the antidote to the spirits in America is the love of Christ. We are to walk as he walked. We are to be visitors here, ambassadors of Christ, showing those of the world the better way, the best way, the only way. Instead, we've made ourselves quite at home here and we've missed the point.
We certainly make war against what we perceive to be what is evil in the world. But when we're fighting against the temporal manifestations of the larger spiritual causes of that evil, we're not facing down the evil itself. We're merely facing down vessels of evil who quite probably have no clue what they're doing. As Christians, our weapons in this fight are not carnal. We're not meant to apply bandages on manifestations of evil. The world can do that itself if it so chose. There's nothing special about such a feat. We're meant to shine the light for the darkness to be exposed and uprooted by God. That is not a carnal battle. That is not facing down evil vessels or manifestations. That entails facing down evilitself
--in the spiritual realm. If we were to seriously take this into consideration, I can't help but think that we would all consider the politics of polarization in America to be destructive and deadly, and hence we would stop participating and wake up to the reality behind the manifestations. Our role is different. (2 Corinthians 10:3-4)
In the midst of the crisis for which we are woefully unprepared, we need to keep our eyes on Jesus. The fact that we are unprepared is evidence that we have not
kept our eyes firmly planted on him in all things. We have no cause to be afraid or paranoid or worried. God has allowed this disaster to occur, and he's allowing it occur progressively. He's allowing us time to wake up. He's merciful. He's graceful. But if we don't wake up soon, we're going to miss it. As the disaster deepens, our responsibility will grow greater and greater. The urgency of the alarm that God is sounding will grow greater and greater.
In late 2011, I had a sense that heavy judgment was going to fall upon America--not only as a result of the sins of the lost, but also as a result of the sins of the Church. That is part one of the sense I had. He chastises those he loves. He loves us. And he wants us to be where we're supposed to be. We need to remember the one who allowed this disaster to happen and we need to remember that he is still in control of this disaster. Part two of the sense was that in the midst of this heavy judgment, the Church in America would wake up and revival would pour out. I agree with Sandford in that I don't think it's going to be culture-sweeping. It's going to be underground and it's going to be fought by the world.
It's coming. It's already here, but worse is coming. We need to wake up and stop participating in the battle royale of the world. If we think what we're facing now is difficult, we don't stand a chance against what's coming. And if these are indeed the last days (and I believe they are), then there's no reason to believe that things are going to get better without getting much, much worse. We need to be the light. We need to lead others out of the disaster, for its effect on those of the world is devastating as well. The time is running short for us to 'get it.' My prayer is that we will get it, that more will speak out about it, and that we'll look for the coming revival in America to blow in by means of the Holy Spirit instead of a holiness in politics and culture. If we're holy, we're don't need revival. We're not holy. We need revival tobe
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