In Dark Times: why I'm not freaking out on facebook

We are truly in dark times right now. This I understand and am not naive to. But alas there are some ways I do not find myself reacting with the larger population when I see the realities of our world playing out. There are a couple things I keep hold of in my heart and mind. 1. I do not place my faith, trust, or confidence (or lack thereof) in what I see on the news or in the world. 2. I have to clamor for more of the important dependence of life instead of living in fear of what I see outside.

First, truth is not anchored in my feelings or my circumstances. I believe truth is anchored in God's Word, and I will align all my confidence there. The Christian life is one of faith lead by Scripture (Jn. 15:7). In all parts of life it is critical that I have the Word of God and always ask, "God, what are YOU saying?" My ears need to be far more in tune to His voice than to the world around us (Ps. 28:1-2, 7). I am not moved by what I see, I am moved by what God says (2 Cor. 5:7). So is it does not matter what I see on the news; I do not pray what I see on the news, I pray what God says.

Secondly, a German philosopher said, "the more a man has in his own heart the less he will require from the outside; excessive need for support from without is proof of the bankruptcy of the inner man." In times that are truly dark, I am more frustrated by own and others' dependency on what they see outside themselves. My level of worry reveals the emptiness of my heart; it reveals how little I trust God. AW Tozer wrote, "Is it not a strange thing that in an hour when mature saints are so desperately needed vast numbers of believers should revert to spiritual childhood...?" We are in a dark time, yes, but I fear more for the faint of heart Christians with eyes dimmed.

We have come to be affected far more by what we see around us, and this is because we have not spent inordinately more time taking care of our inner lives. We ought to be clamoring to hear from God far more than we hear from FOXNews and facebook posts.

We cannot, and I do not propose here, we avoid reality by sticking our heads in the sand like an ostrich, but we also cannot run around like another bird with its head cut off. As my pastor, Banning said, "We are so impressed by darkness, we have all the statistics about it. My prayer life is not based on statistics."

Lonely listening

All the things we wrestle with in life are moments when we are truly alone in our hearts and minds. God gets you alone in those moments, and when we are finally alone in those moments, God can meet you and speak to you. I notice this in several of the most stressful and painful moments of my life, when I have no idea what will happen or how anything can happen. In those moments I come to God and hear Him most. Why is this the case?

Because the noisiest parts of our hearts and lives are our stubbornness and pride. Our self-confidence is terribly noisy.

This is why moments of heartbreak, disappointment, sickness, and brokenness are the times we hear God clearest. It is in those times our noisy self-confidence is shut off, and we have no choice but to hear the only One worthy of our confidence.

On Silva and Following Jesus

silva Peter's denial of his impending denial in Matthew 26 is a reminder to every follower of Jesus that over-confidence is the first step toward falling. The more confident we are in our own dedication, devotion, and ability to withstand temptation the further down we have let our guard.

We are like a fighter who gets so confident in our ability, we start to let down our guard to a point when our formidable foe takes the chance we gave him in our over-confidence to knock us out.

When Jesus tells his disciples [us] that we will fall away, it ought to be a sobering reminder to take this seriously and realize we are not as strong as we think we are. We ought to humbly keep our guard up.

I am a spy, but so are you

I found this old journal entry, and identified with it a lot today: I am at a point right now where I feel like the 12 spies in Numbers chapter 13 and 14. I am looking ahead at possibilities and new places of ministry and living. I am determining what response I will have as I look ahead into those lands of possibility.

Like all of the spies together, I look ahead and I can see the good things. I can see the milk and honey; I can see the fruit in the land of future opportunity. I can see myself in these positions and opportunities with my enlivened passions and gifts. I can see the fruits.


Also like the spies, I can see the parts I would not be strong in. I can see the giants and the possible defeat. I can see the areas I would not excel in, and I begin to wonder whether or not I would really be destined for this land of opportunity.

So I arrive at an inner-decision. I am one of the 12 spies at this point, but the question becomes which will I be?

Will I sit and sulk and say, "I don't know about this; I am not strong in this area or that." Will I stay back and say, "If I go after this, my weaknesses will get the best of me."


Will I be Caleb or Joshua the spy and say, "This land of opportunity is exceedingly good. If God is pleased with me he will lead me along and give to me what I need. Do not be afraid of the giants of your weaknesses because with God, I will swallow them up."

Will I know, then, the blessing of God onto Caleb?

"But because my servant has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to."

Will I be confident or cowardly!


* This was written not long before I came to First Covenant

My Inept Ministry Degree

Undergrad Graduation Day
Many pastors and ministers to be are thrilled to "go unto the world and preach the gospel". Chalk full of theology, exegesis, and confidence, and we are ready to reach the world for Jesus Christ.

Year Following Graduation
Work the backroom at American Eagle or make lattes for Starbucks while you apply for grad school or seminary.

Graduate School/Seminary Graduation
The joke that theologians are just people answering questions nobody is asking is not funny. More and more confidence abounds to will-be-pastors and ministers.

I was ready and prepared to do ministry now. I am pretty solid on where I stand doctrinally, theologically, and most importantly, I know where I fall on the T.U.L.I.P. scale.

First Month of Pastoral Ministry
I have no idea what to tell a student who comes to me fearing she may have contracted AIDS while doing missions work in Africa.

Where was THAT class?

Second Month of Pastoral Ministry
Random jibberish terms like: ministry budget, proposed budget, faith budget, overdrawn, fleeting resources, income not meeting spending, church mortgage, pay roll, etc.

"It was my understanding there would be no math."

Third Month of Pastoral Ministry
A call is made of an elderly man in the ICU who is not expected to live through the weekend. All he wants is to speak to a pastor.

You're a pastor! Your nicely framed diploma says so.

It turns out a man who has owned more cars than years you've been alive does not want to hear much from a young ministry graduate as he's preparing to meet Jesus face to face.

He asks nothing about total depravity. Too bad, I was prepared for that question.

Fourth Month of Pastoral Ministry
Another homeless addict has made his way through the doors wanting to speak to a pastor. Maybe he's in dire need! Maybe he's manipulating you for things he does not need that you do not have.

I don't remember learning about this anywhere.

Fifth Month of Pastoral Ministry
The congregation is already a bit upset with changes you have made when God continues to inspire you to new things. One person wants to talk about it WITH YOU (if you're lucky).


And it is not conflict about whether baptism should be sprinkle or immersion.

Conflict = YOU! You are the problem...always!

Where was my class about that?

Sixth Month of Pastoral Ministry
Start to wonder if your pastoral ministry degree and classes really gave you everything needed to be a pastor.