My TV could be diagnosed with a split-personality disorder.

The dichotomy between the news and the advertising spots on news shows these days has me simultaneously scratching my head and rolling my eyes. In fact, it’s pretty funny.

Next up: how terrible the economy is, how we are losing life as we know it, watching Wall Street flop around and foam at the mouth.  Then they cut to commercials.  The commercial then spends 30 seconds trying to convince me that I should go out and buy things.  My life as I know it will not be the same if I don’t get this gadget or that shampoo, for the low price of 19.99 plus shipping.  Now back to the news.  We should churn our own butter and stock up on canned goods to prepare for the apocolypse, right after this break.  During the break they convince me that I should go on a cruise with Royal Carribean.  Indulge.  Treat yourself, you deserve it.  Now back to the financial news.  The Dow Jones Average is down more than it has been in your grandparent’s lifetime.  You should prepare the emergency bunker and invest in a ham radio that you probably wouldn’t know how to use, just in case TV signal goes dark.

And on it goes.

Bottom line, I’m gonna invest in a cruise where they have complimentary shampoo and gadgets, they teach you how to churn your own butter, and there’s a really large bomb-proof life boat.  It’ll make everybody happy.

Your god is Dying.

The financial news is crazy these days.  From what seems like an incessant train of bailouts and legislation to rising unemployment to insurance companies turning folks away, the news is rarely good.

People are in a state of panic.

What better time, as Christians, to show the watching world what we really trust in!?

I confess, this is a pep talk for myself that you are welcomed to listen in on, but I am discouraged as I step back from my situation and evaluate how I am handling things.  Our financial support has suffered recently, and if I am honest, I tend toward panic more than trusting Christ.  Which is exactly the opposite of how the gospel ought to affect me.

The reason so many people in the financial sector are breaking apart at the seams is because their god is dying.  They have trusted in money, or the economy, or their 401-K, or the American dream.  And now that thing in which they have placed their trust is dying.  Their god is dying.

Our God rose from death.  And he promises in his word that he takes care of his own.  Jesus is LORD.  Not just a king or a president.  The King of kings.  The Lord of lords.  He alone is in control.

So instead of freaking out when finances are tight, I am going to rejoice that my God is alive, and still in control.  I am going to trust.  But let’s take it another step.  How about instead of clamming up and “taking care of our own” with no regard for others, we model the generousity and others-focus that Jesus would have for us during this time.  Our generousity in the face of uncertainty will serve as God’s hands and feet drawing people who are otherwise totally disinterested and turned off by Christians.

Give sacrificially (no, this is not just a plug for you to support us.  Give to people who need to know that money won’t save them.)  Pray as to who God would have you minister to with your wallet.  Is there a single mom or a widow that needs a meal or a tank of gas?  Give to your church, so that they don’t have to lay off people. Give to the local food bank.  Just… GIVE.

I’ll start.  I haven’t taken it before the Lord with my wife yet, so I am not sure how we are going to give, but I assure you that this month, even in spite of a significant loss in our support, we will give more than we did last month.

Because my God is not dead, or dying.

Hope-Accosted Waiting.

Can I be honest?

The past week has been a struggle.  We are facing an elephant-sized amount of financial support to raise, and despite having been off campus working full-time on developing additional support, we have a net gain of around (negative) 100 bucks per month this month.  It has felt insurmountable at times, and we have struggled with trusting God.

But as I was driving back from Fall Getaway (the only on-campus activity of the semester), I was confronted—no, accosted—by a strong sense of hope.  See, I’m more sure than ever that I am called to be on staff with this organization.  I am so excited about what God is doing on campus, and how He is continually, relentlessly, mercifully taking me to the gospel.  I have a clear vision for where we are going, just not how we are getting there.

These economic times (a phrase I wish were retired, or at least made past tense) have meant a sense of panic in America.  To compound that, the predominantly fiscally conservative culture in which I have most of my doings has reached fever pitch over the national transfer of power to the left-minded.  People are terrified, if that’s a strong enough word.  And the news media is loving it.  The more they stir up the blood pressure, the more their advertisers pay to put their logo just to the left of the “Meltdown” graphic.  (This segment of panicked rhetoric and over-dramatization is brought to you by Sears.  “Come experience the softer side of Sears.”)

Listening to conservative talk radio is baffling to the point of humorous, as you’ll hear minor-key melodramatic advertisements urging investors to buy gold, or seed packets, or underground bunkers.

What drives the panic?  Lack of perspective.

When I panic over how we are going to stay on staff in light of our current financial support, it means I’ve lost perspective on who is in charge.

When you panic because you fear the ramifications of a liberal policy (or a conservative policy), or because your 401(k) is looking more like a 200.5(k), it means the same thing: you’ve lost perspective on who is in charge.

Despite what some politicians (or marketers) might have you believe, the office of the presidency was never designed to save you.  Free market capitalism governed by personal moral restraint, though I think it’s biblical, is not designed to save you.

A full bank account, and a surplus of money coming in each month is not designed to save me.  As soon as we give saving power to anyone or anything in our lives, we’ve missed the gospel.

Let me be clear and say I am not suggesting a carefree, naive approach to what are certainly weighty issues.  I am not suggesting that I should stop aggressively pursuing raising support, or that you should ignore the politicians and what’s going on in the country.  Issues like public healthcare are worth discussing and debating.  They are just not worth panicking over.  Panic indicates that you are trusting in that subject to be your salvation.

As Christians, we should only panic if God is in danger of no longer being sovereign.  Hope, for the believer, is not some wishful thinking where we cross our fingers and think positive thoughts.  Hope (that force that accosted me on the road back from Lake Wylie) is based on who God is, and what he has done.  Jesus didn’t say “it is almost finished, except for that part that will be finished once _____________ happens” (fill in the blank with things like a full bank account, your particular brand of legislation making it through congress, your kid turning out to be a preacher, or doctor, or fisherman…)  He said “It is finished.”  As believers, we can be assured that, no matter what happens in the meantime, it is all going to be all right in the end.  This life is as close to hell as we will ever get.

When we have weeks that are a struggle to latch onto God, we can rest assured that it wasn’t his grip that loosened.  He’s never let go.  And praise the Lord his saving me isn’t based on my ability to keep my grasp on it.

I’m anxious enough to sing.

I was driving today, listening to conservative talk radio (because it’s as funny as Jon Stewart during the Bush years) and all the flailing and panicking and minor-key interludes that accompany advertisements for reseeding packets and buying gold.  Then, I turned off the radio, and looked over the tops of the brilliantly colored red and yellow leaves to notice a hawk flying high on a background of white, wispy clouds.

Despite what is clearly an attack on our way of life, and the worst economic meltdown of the century, and the rise of fascist dictatorships, and eminent inflation, and the end of life as we have known it, and the rolling over of the founding fathers in their graves (according to the show I had just turned off), it was strangely peaceful.

Almost as if God is not worried.

Almost as if the designer of the beautiful leaves and amazing blue sky didn’t stop painting and creating long enough to fret about his kids worrying and thinking he’d left the throne.

God is so worried that he started painting.  Maybe we should take that hint.  We Christians ought to be so vexed and perplexed that we start singing.  The tomb is empty.