Joel Maust Posts

Days of Noah

A while ago I was reading the story of the crucifixion and I was struck by the words spoken by Christ as He made his way towards Golgotha (Luke 23:27-31). The multitude was following Him and as He heard some of the women mourning and lamenting, He asked them to divert their tears and sorrows to a future generation who would have it far worse off than they.

For indeed the days are coming in which they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, wombs that never bore, and breasts which never nursed!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!”’

He then spoke the words that really gripped me: “For if they do these things in the green wood, what will be done in the dry?”

Or in other words, if man crucifies the very Son of God when it is actually quite hard to do so (ever try starting a fire with green wood?), what evil will man be capable of when it is quite easy to be so (ever try starting a fire with dry wood? It’s simple!).

Rizzo’s “Found Faithful”

I’m being so blessed by Justin Rizzo’s Found Faithful album right now. It ministers the Word of God so powerfully and with such density. Nearly every word sung is scripture; the presence of God is just all over it.

In a major diversion from my comfort zone of writing very methodically and deliberately, I’m just going to blog my stream of consciousness as I listen to the album, much like someone would blog a political debate with on-the-fly commentary. Only this will be much more edifying.

So, hopefully you’ll be blessed by what the Spirit stirs in me as we fellowship.

“The Lord reigns; He is clothed in majesty… He’s mightier than the thunder, mightier than the waters of the sea. The Lord on high is mighty.” (Ps. 93)

If anyone has witnessed the sheer power of a stormy sea, or even water in general (check out the Grand Canyon!), this is quite the comparison. I was able to see some of Katrina’s damage first hand and it was quite sobering. Isn’t it comforting to know that if He is for us, nothing can be against us?!

“Your glory will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea…” (Hab. 2:14)

This is our hope. This is what we hang our hat on. Christ is returning and with Him a wave of glory will crash upon the earth like the world has never before witnessed. The early believers were constantly exhorted to not lose hope because of this promise: Jesus is returning and will set everything in order.

“This is reality: You’re coming to reign on the earth. And the increase of your government will know no end.”

I love these lines. We need to constantly remind ourselves of what is true reality. It’s not our faltering economy; it’s not the AIDS epidemic; it’s not poverty and hunger. Yes, these are real problems that require real resources and real attention. But they aren’t our most core reality. What is unseen is more real than what is seen. And reality is that the kingdom of God, which will manifest fully when Christ returns, is already within us and the hope and blessing of His kingdom can be released here and now. Our reality as sons and daughters of the King can override present, temporary circumstances we encounter.

“And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, ‘Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!’” (Rev. 19:6)

I’m so stirred with hope when I read passages like these from the book of Revelation. My love and passion for Revelation continues to grow as I realize what a story of overcoming it is. Jesus reigns! He’s the victor and we are His people! We will not be overcome but we will triumph and join in the celebration of the ages as we the Bride are betrothed to the Lamb. The reality of this still feels distant and a little out of my reach at this point, but the excitement and anticipation of it is there nonetheless.

“I want to be unmovable and unshakeable. So let my roots go down deep. And I will be like a tree planted by streams of living water.” (Ps. 1:3)

I remember New Year’s Day several years ago reading Psalm 1 and being transformed by it as 2 & 3 became my verses for the year. It became probably the most meaningful declaration over my life as I entered a whole new season of growth with the Lord. He’s been so faithful to do His part and birth the reality of these verses in my life as I’ve sought to honor Him and His Word

“As I see the height from which you reign and the depth to which you came. And as I see the height to which you brought me and the depth to which you save. I will praise you. I will love You with all of my heart. And I will thank you forever and ever.”

Profound. If I had just a thread more revelation about what Christ gave up to become the suffering servant and our savior, I’d never live the same.

“I want to be found faithful. I want to be found steady. I want to be found faithful to the end. I want to live before your eyes. I want to stay before your gaze. Just keep me steady.”

My heart’s cry. My longing. I’ve shared with a few people recently that the greatest fear I hold in life is not reaching my full potential in the Lord. In many ways this fear is rooted in pride, because I have the wrong perspective and think it’s mostly on me to walk this out. Thankfully it’s not all on me. It’s all about having our focus set upon Jesus.

“Indwelling spirit; I’m not alone. Indwelling spirit; I’m not my own… You have not left me here alone. But what you’ve done is given me the ability to choose you.”

I simply love this song. It’s wrecking me and is the reason I’ve gotten so hooked on this album.

“Come and strengthen us in righteousness. Come strengthen us with Christ within. Come, conform me, come transform me to the image of You.”

Christ in us, the hope of glory. We’re lost and hopeless without Him. We need him so bad. My heart just breaks for those who struggle to make it each day without Christ and His Holy Spirit at work in their lives. Break me more, Lord! Work in me the ability to will and do according to your purpose. Make me a living testimony of your faithfulness and goodness. Awaken in me more fully that I’ve found the pearl of great price and that you’re worth selling all for!

“If I try and save my life I will lose it but if I lose my life for Your sake I’ll find it in the end. (This is true life.)”

The day of our wedding, I gave Heather a custom engagement photo book that I made. On the cover, I had titled the book “I will waste my life.” Some found the title curious, because it could imply that I thought I was surrendering to a lesser life by marrying her. Though that book wasn’t inspired by this song (it was inspired by a similar Misty Edwards song), I’m finding Rizzo’s “This is True Life” relevant as well. When we willfully give up and lose (or waste) our lives for sake of Christ… that’s when we really experience the good life. Marrying Heather cost me a little (the freedom and autonomy of bachelorhood) but it was a very small surrender for all the goodness I get to experience doing life with her. And so too are the surrenders Christ asks of us. There really are no “sacrifices” when it comes to the Kingdom because it is impossible to out-give God.

“Eternally I’ve been bought with blood. There will never be another sacrifice.”

A good reality to meditate on. Sometimes, we try in vain to add to Christ’s once-and-for-all sacrifice by beating ourselves up over sins, feeling like we should suffer and wallow in our fallenness. But that attitude implies that Christ’s sacrifice wasn’t enough and that he hasn’t truly suffered enough for our sins—that we need to add a little more. And that’s wrong.

“I will not despise the sowing of seeds. For I know in due time, I will see the fruit of my labors for all eternity…  Nothing in this life will every truly satisfy the desires of your heart… See the weight, see the glory of what you’re doing. It is affecting you forever.”

That last stanza has really been going through my head these last few days. Like I said last week, we really, truly will sow what we reap, good and bad. We need to live soberly. As Maximus tells his soldiers in Gladiator: “What we do in life echoes in eternity.”

“I set my eyes on what I can not see. I set my eyes on the eternal. You are my great reward. Forever I will be with You. This momentary light affliction is working me an eternal weight of glory.” (2 Cor. 4)

My late friend Brian embraced these verses from 2 Cor. as he was dying of cancer. As his body was being ravaged by that fierce evil, he embraced eternity. He looked into his hopeful future and saw white shores Gandalf recalls in The Return of the King. Brian looked upon death and saw the victory that Christ had secured over it. Life would go one. He was just passing into a new dimension.

As Maximus says in Gladiator: “Death smiles upon us all. All a man can do is smile back.” It HAS NO VICTORY OVER US! IT HAS NO STING! We need to grow in revelation about death. Don’t get me wrong, I’m pissed Brian, as well as two other friends (Tim and Randy) were taken from us very prematurely. That’s wrong and it was completely from the devil. But still… we don’t have to carry prolonged sorrow over someone passing into the presence of the Lord. My friend Scott told me of a funeral he attended where his wife’s Godmother rebuked people for crying when they should be celebrating someone going to heaven. That might be a little strong, but it makes the point that we all lack revelation on what life is all about. Our life is but a vapor or a mist that disappears in a moment. Eternity is what we need to be living for. God, please work in me this truth! You hold the words of eternal life!

Sowing and reaping

Sow for yourselves righteousness;
Reap in mercy;
Break up your fallow ground,
For it is time to seek the LORD,
Till He comes and rains righteousness on you.
You have plowed wickedness;
You have reaped iniquity.
You have eaten the fruit of lies,
Because you trusted in your own way,
In the multitude of your mighty men.

— Hosea 10:12-13

Let’s clear the air about something: sowing and reaping is a major principle of God’s Word and one we must still recognize and live by. Just as Hosea warned Israel in the passage above, if we sow wickedness with our thoughts and actions, we’re going to reap iniquity—or the willful injustice of oppressors, as the Amplified Bible puts it. We won’t just reap an icky feeling of having lived wrongly; we’ll actually attract injustice and oppression from others.

Conversely, if we sow righteousness—or uprightness and right standing with God, as the Amplified translates—we’ll reap mercy and loving-kindness. When we break up our fallow ground, we are able to receive the soaking rain of God’s blessings. God can rain down righteousness all He wants, but if our hearts are hard, His rain will splash off us like flash floods upon Utah slickrock and not bring lasting change.

In this season where the love and affections of the Father are being reintroduced to the Church in new and powerful ways, it’s easy to lean too heavily upon God’s mercy and forget that our wrong actions still carry heavy consequences.

Paul warned the Galatians (6:7-8):

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.”

It’s a stern warning: Do not be deceived! Paul would only say that if there were legitimate reason to be concerned about deception. How are we living our lives? Do our actions reflect that we take this spiritual truth seriously? It’s a question I need to ask myself more often. For if I truly lived like this was absolute reality, I’d certainly live differently. And when we don’t live this way, we’re falling into the very deception that Paul warns against. And we’re (yikes!) mocking God—the pure opposite of living in the fear of the Lord. That is not where we want to be.

The Amplified paints a more complete picture of what this ugly, dismissive attitude look like to God:

Do not be deceived and deluded and misled; God will not allow Himself to be sneered at (scorned, disdained, or mocked by mere pretensions or professions, or by His precepts being set aside.)

We probably tell ourselves, “Lord, I would never scorn, disdain or mock you!” just as Peter told Jesus he would never betray Him. Yet, days, if not hours later, when we live as though we won’t reap what we sow, we’re doing it. God sees it as mockery.

When were stingy with our tithes and offerings and wonder why the budget never works out, we’re mocking God. When we consider God’s commandments to be trivial and wonder why things just don’t seem to be going our way, we’re mocking God. When we’re rare with complements and words of encouragement and wonder why people seldom notice or praise us, we’re mocking God. When we’re tight with tips at the restaurant or salon and wonder why people aren’t more generous with us, we’re mocking God. I could go on forever.

What it comes down to is this: Yes, God loves us all more than we can imagine. Yes, God is quick to show mercy and extend forgiveness. Yes, God works together all things for our good. But, yes, you will still reap what you sow. If you want the blessings of God to flow through your life like a mighty river, you have to commit to sowing into that stream of blessing with your thoughts, meditations, words and actions. God will not be mocked.

Running with God vs. Running from God

I’ve recently heard separate commentaries on two Biblical stories that have the common element of ships enduring violent storms: Rick Joyner referenced the story of Jonah in a recent word and Paul’s adventurous trip to Rome at the end of Acts was taught on by Lance Wallnau. In both teachings, the United States, battered by extreme circumstances, is prophetically represented by the ship and the church, full of truth and destiny, is represented by God’s messenger aboard.

Your Kingdom Come

But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him
and cause him grief.
Yet when his life is made an offering for sin,
he will have many descendants.
He will enjoy a long life,
and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in his hands.
When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish,
he will be satisfied.
And because of his experience,
my righteous servant will make it possible
for many to be counted righteous,
for he will bear all their sins.
I will give him the honors of a victorious soldier,
because he exposed himself to death.
He was counted among the rebels.
He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels.

— Isaiah 53:10-12

I sometimes forget that this thing is a done deal. Complete. Over. Not a matter of outcome, but only a matter of time. Christ has seen all that has been accomplished by His anguish and He is satisfied. It isn’t lacking in any way. Not a thread of regret over missed opportunities exists in Jesus’ mind, for “It is finished.”

And because of that, in the words of Pastor Garner, “We fight from victory, not for victory.” Sure, there’s an enormous amount of work to be done and there are still many battles to fight. But this story’s final chapter has already been written and shipped to the publisher. No edits, appendices or epilogues are being accepted.

147 years ago to this day, the Battle of Gettysburg broke out in Gettysburg, Penn. Many historians consider it the turning point of the Civil War. Leading up to July, the South was on a roll and marching north, hoping to take the war into enemy territory. When the Union and Confederate forces collided in Gettysburg July 1-3, 1863, the Union would turn the tide of the war and send the Rebels back to Virginia no longer feeling invincible under General Lee.

A similar battle was won for us on Calvary some 2,000 years ago with an even more decisive victory. Our enemy was not just pushed back feeling vulnerable and unsure of victory, but Jesus “disarmed principalities and powers, [and] made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it” (Col. 2:15). He then rose again and “ascended on high, leading a host of captives in [His] train and receiving gifts among men, even among the rebellious, that the LORD God may dwell there” (Psalm 68:18).

Probably the most effective strategy the enemy engages against me is to take my eyes off these truths laid out above: that because of the work of Jesus, everything has changed. We’ve won. And Satan’s head has been crushed.

An Age for the Ages

The age in which we’re living is the one foreseen by the prophets of old and is even a wonder to the angels themselves. This isn’t just “church”. This isn’t some religion.  This isn’t a feel-good, bedtime story. This is the very mystery of God that was sealed up for ages and has been released in our time to be made known to not just man, but to even rulers and authorities in heavenly places (Eph. 3:7-10).

Peter tells us (1 Peter 1:10-12):

Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

Isaiah, one of the most gifted prophets ever, with the most revelatory insight into the Messiah, gazed upon those wonders for YOU and I. And those heroes of the Hall of Faith, who “were stoned… sawn in two… killed with the sword… of whom the world was not worthy” (Heb. 11:37-38)? Though they are “commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect” (Heb. 11:39-40).

WE ARE PART OF SOMETHING HUGE… THE GREATEST STORY OF ALL TIME! There are literally millions of saints, Jews and Gentiles alike, who are tuning in to our very lives on a day-to-day basis to see this thing brought to a close. Able. Enoch. Noah. Abraham. Isaac. Jacob. Joseph. Moses. Joshua. Samuel. David. Daniel. Isaiah. Jeremiah. Esther. John. Paul. Peter. All of them. The inheritance for which they all labored was purchased by Jesus and is being secured by us. We’re part of it. We have roles to play. Their faith is in a sense incomplete until it bears the fruit of the Bride of Christ.

That’s why the author of Hebrews follows up chapter 11 by saying: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.” They’re banking on us to seal the victory and bring home the trophy. It’s a relay race and we’ve been handed the baton with the lead for the final leg of the race. We can’t get tripped up!

All of the created order—heaven and earth, angels and demons, animals and plants, ocean and desert—it all has a reverence and awe for mankind. While we rightly have our own reverence and awe for creation and its power, wonder and beauty, it’s actually designed to be the other way around. Creation is eagerly longing and groaning for us to fully realize who we are and secure our inheritance—creation itself! For when we do fill the earth and subdue it as God intended from the beginning, creation “will be set free form its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:21).

What does that even mean? Mankind is wasteful, greedy and destructive, right? What freedom can we actually offer creation? And what glory do we have that this world desires?

Those questions aren’t going to be addressed in this post, but they’re important to consider. For millennium, people have pondered the question, “What is the meaning of life?” And this is part of the answer. We were ultimately made to glorify God. And we glorify God as we fulfill the original intent for our existence, seen in God’s first directive to Adam and Eve: “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground” Gen. 1:28). Our purpose is to co-labor with Christ as God’s adopted sons and daughters, ruling the Earth as God rules creation.

His kingdom come, His will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. — Hebrews 12:1-2

Hope

I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.

— Psalm 27:13

Just this past week, I’ve finally started finding my way out of weeks of pessimistic—and nearly obsessive—observation and analysis of current events around our country and world. Things have been looking, and frankly still continue to look, pretty bleak. I still feel the US economy is as fragile as a house of cards. There are a concerning abundance of serious world events (the oil spill, situations in Israel and Iran, the EU debt crisis, Russian aggression, Iceland’s volcanoes…), any one of which could be the head domino that triggers a series of events leading to wide-scale war, famine and the collapse of economies and currencies. (Consider the following graphic as an example of the abundance of sober analysis).

But I’m coming to the conviction that dwelling in those ditches of despair is not the appropriate place for a Kingdom citizen. While there certainly is the place for what Mike Bickle refers to as “anointed observation” of what is unfolding in the world, which requires knowledge of sign events and trends that are predicted in Scripture, one must not allow this observing to transpire into hypnosis. And that’s what was starting to happen to me.

Having a level of calling to the arena of watchman and “anointed observer,” I feel I might be particularly vulnerable to cycles of hypnosis-inducing information overload and loss of hope while I learn to walk the line of observation while avoiding intoxication. I have an Issachar-type prophetic gifting that helps me sense the timing of coming events. And when I get these senses, I usually do my best to prepare for them and gather as much information about them as I can. So, sensing that things are emphatically not smooth sailing these next few years, I’ve pulled up my iGoogle home page each morning nearly expecting to read about the next stock market crash, the triggering event of World War III or a major currency failure. Let me tell you, it’s not a particularly fun way to live; it’s kind of burdensome, especially when handled wrong as I’ve been doing.

The Seed of Hope

But God is good and as I’ve shifted my gaze back upon the Lord these past few days, His peace and joy have been able to shift the balance of my perspective back where it belongs: in hope. Hope isn’t naïveté. It isn’t ignorance. It isn’t blind faith. Biblical hope is “favorable and confident expectation” and “happy anticipation of good” (Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary). No matter what circumstances suggest, Biblical hope is possible because of the ground upon which our hope rests: Christ himself.

The Holy Spirit said through Paul in Romans 5 that hope is birthed when tribulations produce perseverance and perseverance produces character and character produces hope. Therefore, the soil of the world stage right now is actually quite ideal for producing hope within those committed to persevering into Christlikeness amidst the tribulations. And the Holy Spirit promises that this “hope does not disappoint”!

This seed of hope that God buries in the midst of tribulations is why Jeremiah could prophesy to the Jewish captives in Babylon that the Lord had thoughts of peace and not of evil and that He would give them a hope and future. They would call upon Him and He would answer; they would seek Him and they would find Him (Jer. 29: 11). Thus, it made sense for them to “build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit. Take wives and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters—that you may be increased there, and not diminished. And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the LORD for it; for in its peace you will have peace” (5-7).

I’m not proposing prophesying peace and safety when there is no peace and safety. God was clear through Jeremiah that it would be 70 years before they would see the fruit of the hope-seed. There were many itching ears that wanted to believe it would be shorter and there were plenty of prophets who would tell them what they wanted to hear. And God would deal with them (21-32).

So, God was clear with proper expectations: they would remain in captivity, but in that place of captivity they ought to still operate in hope. Not false hope based on a false prophesy of a short trial, but true hope based on the true Word of the Lord that when their long trial was over, they would return to prosperity.

Daniel: A Model Life

What’s provoking to consider is that one Jewish who man committed to living out the exhortation of Jeremiah to fully engage in the Babylonian culture in which the Jews were enslaved—to increase there and not diminish and to seek its peace—played an absolutely vital role in seeing the captivity end. His name is Daniel and he is THE prophetic model life for the times we’re entering into.

Daniel was swept away into a deeply dark, pagan land of Babylon and forced for three years to prepare for service in the king’s court. Yet, while excelling in all the ways of the Chaldeans, including the pagan practices of magic and astrology, he maintained integrity in His commitment to the one true God. Like Jesus, Daniel grew in wisdom and stature and favor with God and man.

Daniel went on to serve in top governmental leadership roles for several Babylonian and Persian kings, spending the final 80-some years of his life in the foreign land. He helped end the Jewish captivity at the God-appointed 70-year mark by discerning God’s word of rebuke to the Jews and repenting on their behalf (Daniel 9). Carrying this insight of the appointed end of the captivity, Daniel was able to operate as an embedded intercessor for King Cyrus until the word of the Lord broke in and stirred up the king, whom Daniel advised, to establish the outrageously generous decree that allowed the Jews to return and rebuild the temple (Ezra 1).

A Superior Perspective

So, this all brings me around to the verse I lead with: David’s psalm of triumph and overcoming amidst undesirable circumstances. Had the Lord not been with him—had he not the hope of salvation and deliverance, David would have lost heart. He would have embraced hopelessness. But he didn’t. David was able to maintain proper perspective because when God said “Seek My face” the Lord’s face David sought. Thus David’s head was “lifted up above [his] enemies all around.” He was able to see with a different, and far superior, perspective.

There are plenty of reasons to have concern about the future of our country. For the most part, America is prideful, unrepentant and is being led by an opportunistic oligarchy. We are not residents of a righteous land, generally speaking. Evil is rampant and we need to be rebuked and heed correction quick and in a hurry. But. Buuut!

But God!

What if we maintain hope in a God that can call those things that do not exist in being? Righteousness could reign! What if we daily declared that He who began a good work in this country would bring it to completion until the day of Christ Jesus? We could finish our assignment! What if we were convinced that we would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living? We could witness revival and renewal. What if we believe that all things work together for good for those who love God? We could flourish in even the most evil, caustic environment! Why should we ever loose hope?

The purpose of Christianity is not to preach and prophesy doom and gloom until God rains judgment down upon the earth and its evil inhabitants. It’s to re-present Christ Jesus, the hope of glory, to a lost and dying world. It is to see His kingdom come, His will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Pop!

A few weeks back I DVR’d a documentary on CNBC titled Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room. The whole Enron scandal being a rather distant memory at this point, I thought it would at least offer some light entertainment. Turns out, when I watched it tonight, I found it more than entertaining; it was highly revelatory.

I don’t have enough authority of knowledge in these matters to make a strong, well-supported-with-charts-and-graphs case for the purpose of this blog. But I’ll just throw out my point: I’m very concerned our great country is one big, Enron. I’d like to think I’m wrong. I’d like to think we’re past our speed bumps and blue skies await. I pray for our prosperity and a return to our senses. But there are just so darn many red flags, I can’t reason otherwise.

Summed up, the Enron scandal was a case of smoke and mirrors. There was a grandiose appearance of wealth and prosperity, but hidden far beneath layers of accounting fraud, conspiracy among the elite, and marketing/PR propaganda was a business drowning in red ink. They had some amazing, creative, industry-changing ideas (none of which I really understood), but most of them didn’t end up actually being profitable. They worked in theory, but not in reality.

Year after year, Enron came up with new layers of smoke and new pieces of glass to cover their losses. They had to come up with next big thing to keep Wall St. happy with imaginary earnings. The hoax worked for a good, long while. As long as their stock price kept climbing, they were golden.

But the C-Suite leaders couldn’t sustain the illusion indefinitely. They were eventually exposed by a keen hedge-fund manager who dared to “Ask ‘Why?’” (Enron’s corporate mantra) of the company: “Why can’t you produce a balance sheet like all the other Fortune 500 companies?” The reason, of course, is because the real balance sheet would reveal quarterly losses rather than profits. And once Wall St. caught wind of the illusion and Enron’s stock started taking hits, the wheels started coming off.

Enron leadership, though, would have its employees and shareholders believe everything was fine—that they were “as strong as ever.” “Don’t sell our stock. Don’t reallocate your retirement. We’re coming back.” Of course, the sad truth is that they didn’t. And they damaged thousands of lives as a result.

Smoke and Mirrors

Beneath the smoke and mirrors of our country’s propaganda machines—the mainstream media, our government agencies, and our own delusional thinking that everything will just work itself out because it simply has to—is some serious, serious red ink. I understand that our economy is infinitely more complex than a single corporation, no matter how large. And it’s only a portion of our global economy. But to think this house of cards—even if it’s glued together by incredibly diverse industry—can endure much more is madness. The continual shaking of world crises (wars, natural disasters, financial crises, domestic and international political unrest, etc.) and the sheer weight of our debt and budget deficits are poised to topple us or crush us.

As long as the general public is kept fairly ignorant of the stark reality of our situation, the hoax may very well continue on for a time. People love hearing “Peace and Safety!” (1 Thes. 5:3) and that drum will be beaten all the louder. Sheer public will might keep things afloat for a while. But there’s also a groundswell of truth and reality emerging. People are manning up to the situation and readying themselves to see things as they are and make hard choices. And as that happens, I wouldn’t be surprised to witness and big, fat, Enron-like Pop! that will be the end of life-as-we’ve-wanted-it-to-be.

Sorry to be a voice of gloom and doom this fine, Memorial Day weekend. Let me wrap up by saying that things “getting bad” is a very relative idea, for it implies that things have been good. Don’t get me wrong—in many ways, things have been good. We’ve prospered. We’ve enjoyed relative peace. We’ve lived decent lives. But we’re also seeing appalling moral decline. Our freedoms are being pried away. The wealth and power of our country is being hoarded by fewer and fewer people—most of them with unrighteous motives. The church is drowsy, if not asleep.

So, the end of life-as-we’ve-wanted-it-to-be isn’t inherently bad. It will likely be hard, but it doesn’t have to be bad. I don’t think that it’s God best that we go through hard times in order to get our priorities straight. But it’s something He’s willing to see us through because He knows it’s better that we lose the whole world than to forfeit our souls (Matt. 16:26).

Hope

But personally, I’m full of hope of better days. God is on the move and He’s raising up righteous leaders who are going to champion the causes of the King in our post-American dream culture. People are going to dream of storing up treasure in heaven rather than constructing white-picket fences.

Wherever there’s massive transition, there’s massive opportunity. (As our president’s chief of staff Rahm Emanuel says, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste!”) But rather than using a time of crisis to jam through a pride-filled, secular humanistic solution to our problems, the bride of Christ, full of the power of the Holy Spirit, will rise up and exhibit the kingdom of God in ways never before witnessed by the world.

For even as “darkness covers the earth, and deep darkness the people; the Lord will arise over [us], and His glory will be seen upon [us]. The Gentiles shall come to [our] light and kings to the brightness of [our] rising” (Is. 60:2-3)!

We will know Him in a whole new way. And we will make Him known.