Living urgently, alertly and appropriately replete in the 21st Century has been the focus of this blog series so far. Thomas, Andy and Joshua have kindly helped us to honestly consider our Christian lifestyles, provoked by Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, and to what extent we’re living with urgency or lethargy, with alertness or sleepiness and with souls well-fed or deficient in even basic, Bible nutrition.
A Complete Waste of Time
My concern has been that all of these words have been a complete waste of time. What’s the point in writing a blog series about the end of the world, the return of Christ, the chosen lifestyles of believers and the intimate connection between these realities, if it isn’t changing us? If it isn’t changing me and it isn’t changing you and it isn’t glorifying God, then we should just go home, start a new box set and re-paint our white picket fences.
However, perhaps this isn’t the case; perhaps what is happening is that God is moving among us. Could it be that, via this strange little blogging initiative, the Almighty Gardener is sowing seed and cultivating the soil of our hearts for the storms that are ahead?
The Coming Storms
Over the last few years and particularly since March 2014 when the UK ‘redefined marriage’*, I have felt a growing sense of urgency in my heart to completely forsake everything that is not of His Kingdom, not of His heart and not in His book. (This has led me into direct disagreement with a lot of what is called ‘church’, as journalled in my Into The Pray series). I have come to understand that Jesus has allowed me to feel a degree of sickness in my spirit, like Hosea, due to the spiritual adultery in the world and in the church – a storm in my spirit, you could say.
I have no doubt that other believers are also buffeted by this internal storm and that many more will also in time to come.
But there is another storm.
The storms on Planet Earth that we see on TV every single day, in every single news broadcast, are all a spill-over of another storm that we don’t see with our eyes – the transcendent storm that Dr Barnhouse teaches about in his book The Invisible War.
This is a storm in the heavenlies between the forces of good and the forces of evil.
In his book End Times Simplified, David Sliker takes us through a simple (yet profound) study of what the Bible has to say about the end of the age, this war that’s unfolding and the role that we are called to have as ‘believing believers’ (see 2 Pet. 3:12).
The book can be summed up by this tweet:
We can not continue to live our lives as if He is not returning and, as Sliker concludes by saying, most of us do not live our lives as though He is.
Don’t be offended. We simply don’t. Hardly anyone.
Through choices of commission or omission, most of us have lifestyles that seem to deny the spiritual storm that’s raging and the gospel light that’s shining. We’ll say we believe that these are the ultimate realities of our lives but then spend hours and hours on Netflix, Facebook and FIFA, giving only cursory glances to the Bible. We invest hours and hours prioritising lots of things in life but only give brief times drawing near to God, rarely, if ever, willing to cross the street (or the room) to speak to a stranger.
Who knows what stage this war is at but surely it is culminating?
Filling Your Home
At the core of my hope within this blog series is that a new Christian lifestyle of radical prayer, worship & outreach would spring up in all of the homes represented by this small blog subscription. Not a heart for prayer that only gets a church together to pray for an hour before a big conference, but the kind of prayer that every weekend says no to Graham Norton and yes to creating space for the King.
BT’s current advertising slogan talks about “filling your home with the UK’s most powerful broadband…” causing me to think about what it is I’m filling my home with.
In recent weeks as we’ve seen yet more terrorism unleashed, (and then dramatised by the BBC), I have been reminded that
– therefore, if we’re to live ready for the King’s burglary, as it were, we need to cultivate new lifestyles that genuinely move beyond a few days of momentary unsettling and passing grief into brand new lifestyles that more accurately reflect what we say we believe.
It will be a wrench.
How Can I?
Have you stopped and tried to just think and pray and listen for an hour?
Sleepiness rears its foppish head.
But as a practical take-away this week, I’d really, really encourage you to prayerfully do this and ask God to show you how you can change your lifestyle to be more in line with Jesus’ second coming. Don’t rule anything out but speak with your best friend about what comes to mind.
Then make some decisions!
Still To Come
I can’t wait to post the articles from Dave Bish and Dominic Muir as this series draws to a close.
But first, next week, I’ll be writing about one of the most significant features of discipleship that I’m convinced should mark all of us in these last days.