Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Overcast with 'thundering' activity

So, here's the weather forecast for the day: It's overcast with no visible signs of relief for the forseeable future, and there'll be lots of 'thundering' activity! No I'm not talking about the actual weather silly, I'm talking about the bleak financial outlook of our nation. What with congresses rejection of the $700 billion-tax-payer-dollar-bailout-plan (phew! That was a mouthful), there seems little that can be done to avert the inevitable. Finer, more astute minds than mine, have spent sleepless nights pondering the best way to resolve the current financial climate that threatens to derail global economies. All the indeces of the major stockmarkets in the world are dropping, as fears of an imminent collapse of the US financial market become more justified. I have had numerous conversations with friends who have vested interests (to varying degrees) for wanting to keep a close eye on the situation. Sadly, many of the reasons are fear based. How will this affect my family? How much do I stand to lose if it all goes belly-up? Will all my money still be worth what it's worth today? These, among many others, are some of the questions I hear bandied about regularly. I'm blissfully unaware of the right answers to all these questions (no, I don't need you to write back and educate me. I meant it when I said I am blissfully unaware).

I am however, quite aware of what my response should be in the midst of this looming crisis. David, by revelation of the Holy Spirit, writes:
"When all that is good falls apart, what can good people do? The Lord is in His holy temple; the Lord sits on His throne (stately seat of power and authority) in heaven."
Psalm 1: 3-4 (New Century Version)

Wow! Do you see it? Hidden between those verses is the most profound and revealing approach to any crisis. When our world seems to be falling apart around us, David asks a relevant question: "What can good people do?" Amazingly, his answer is not an answer at all, but a statement. David boldly declares: "The Lord is in His holy temple; the Lord sits on His throne in heaven." Evidently our crisis did not take God by surprise. His power and authority are not diminished by the seriousness of our circumstance. He is not incapacitated by the severity of our situation. Our focus as Christians must be on God's greater purpose (which, believe it or not is often accomplished through hardship and suffering). In our world we avoid pain and seek peace and prosperity. In Gods, He uses pain to bring peace and prosperity. In our world we might say, "I'm going to live before I die!" In His He says, "Die so that you might live!" There is no confusing the facts. "Take up your cross and die daily" are His explicit instructions. We must die to our frivolous ideas of self-preservation, and trust that "He who has begun a good work in us will be faithful to complete it.... " How's the weather where you are?


Nike A said...

Pastor Joseph, you are so right. The weather where I am is pretty downcast. To make matters worse, we have a fuel shortage and no longer worry about how much gas costs but how do I find gas.
I had the great opportunity of listening to an awesome message from my Pastor this weekend 'Walking through the valleys of life' with a focus on the 23rd Psalm. I now have peace and even remembered the lyrics to a song, not sure by whom, but it goes 'It may be winter outside, but in my mind, it is spring'.
I no longer see the dreary weather but beautiful spring flowers. Trust me, I did get worried and scared but not any more. I listen to bouts of CNN and then turn it off. I stay away from negative chatter at work and remind myself that although I am a Washington Mutual customer, my money is safe because I fall below the $100,00 limit. How about that!
There you go! My two cents from ATL and possibly my longest comment to date.
On a lighter note, you just HAVE to love teenagers and their approach to life. As we were driving around searching for gas, with our gas flashing level dangerously flashing 7 miles left, my 14 year old daughter said,"I just have a question, if we run out of gas, will the air still work? Because I dont want to sweat and mess up my hair."
I tried hard to remain saved and be a good mother as I looked out of the window and responded with absolute silence!
As always, hugs and blessings!

Joseph said...

Nike, Isn't it amazing how we can make problems loom larger than they actually are, until something larger actually does overwhelm us. A few weeks ago, we were griping about the price of gas. I imagine now, that if people in the ATL found fuel at $5.00 gallon, they'd gratefully fill their tanks. It's all a matter of perspective and what you're focusing on.
BTW, that's something my almost 15-yr old daughter might have asked, so we're in good company!

Jason said...

Pastor, I have been giving some serious thought to this same issue/discussion and I agree with what you are saying, but I also don't believe that just b/c someone is concerned and paying very close attention to things that are going on in the world means that they don't know God sits on the thrown and that he is in total control.I find it hard to believe that if anyone thought that it could hurt their kids or their faith, etc. that they would stand back with that approach.The truth is God sits on the throne over everything and I don't think that as a body we take that same stance on everything.Hopefully this conversation can give me a better understanding.

Joseph said...

Jason, be careful not to compare apples to oranges. Being concerned and paying close attention to what is happening in our world is not the same thing as living in fear and responding to circumstances out of fear. Fear suggests that the wellbeing of your family is dependent on the rise and fall of the stock market and the value of the dollar, as opposed to the sovereign will of God. May I suggest that, God is bigger than your abilities or your circumstances. If it is His sovereign will to put you through the 'fire' in much the same way He did Joseph, Moses, and many others, I don't care how much you try to 'protect' your 'interests', His sovereign will will prevail. Remember this: you don't love your family as much as He does, and you can't want, or provide for their wellbeing nearly as well as He can.

Jason said...

In all sincerity, I am really trying to get an understanding about this b/c I think it deals with other areas as well, not just this one.But, doesn't the wellbeing of our family here on earth have something to do with things that are going on here, outside of a miracle or mercy from God. What is the difference from this and heeding a warning about natural disasters?I know that I am nothing and can't do anything without God putting the increase to it.And he is sovereign and perfect in all His ways.

Joseph said...

Jason, again your comparison is an apples to oranges comparison. Heeding the warning to flee a natural disaster is a common sense response to something that is within your power to control. It in no way negates the need for faith and a fervent trust in God's ability to protect you, your family and your property. It's no different than putting safety plugs on the power outlets in your home when you have toddlers.

On the other hand, fear, under any circumstance, is never an appropriate response because the Bible says, "Perfect love casts out fear." Fear is the diametric opposite of faith, and "Without faith it is impossible to please God." One's fear at the potential crash of the global stock markets cannot change the outcome. Obviously then, in this case, prayer and a steadfast belief in the knowledge that God is "still" in control and not 'blindsided' by the circumstance is the only appropriate response, no matter how it impacts you or your family.

Joey said...

Good word Joseph, I touched on it this AM and entitled it "The Sky is Falling, the Sky is Falling!"
;0) Really, this is so big worrying does absoulutely nothing to change it! Like our leaders are actually going to let our $$ collapse? Anyways, talk to you later! Sunday was interesting!

Jason said...

I agree with that whole heartedly, I am not in fear, I just believe that there are some things that I can do or should have done to help my situation and the people around me.I believe that this is man made and I trust that He will make a way out of no way, if He does GLORY BE TO GOD if He doesn't GLORY BE TO GOD.Maybe I am wrong about that and that's why it sounds like I am comparing apples to oranges, but I've enjoyed our conversation.Thanks.

Joseph said...

Joey, I hear you. Reality is, our leaders can only do so much. If it is within the framework of God's larger plan to allow a repeat of the "Great Depression" of the 1930's on order to call America's attention back to Him, then nothing our leaders do will avert the collapse of the dollar. I guess my larger point is, God is Sovereign all by Himself, and His ways are past our understanding.

Jason, finally it seems you and I are on the same page. Whatever happens, God is still God, and He is not taken unawares by our circumstances. This does not negate the fact that we do what we must to protect our family within the context of what is righteous, as long as we are not operating from fear, which, in a sense will cloud our ability to 'hear' God's voice.

Teresa Ost said...