Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

LIVING IN INSANE TIMES Part 4 By Rayola Kelley

For the last couple of months, I have been considering what it means to survive the times we live in. I do not think the question for a believer is how do I survive these times but how do I stand in these times, withstand them, and continue to stand. There is a difference between surviving something and standing in the tough, challenging times of our age.

Most who know us at Gentle Shepherd Ministries, know our heart towards God’s people and the unsaved. We want to see God’s people overcome and the unsaved be found in the loving arms of God. Right now, I am sharing the book of Jude and in my second message, YouTube took it off because it was considered offensive. Offensive has nothing to do with truth or with the destination of a soul, it has to do with what they consider to be hate that would cause others to rise up against certain groups of people. Of course, they are select about who they are protecting and I can tell you now, they have no problem with hate being spewed out against Christians or the white class of people.

As I was considering the unseen faces of media goons that hide behind hypocritical standards such as turning their blind eye to certain people who obviously abuse their standards, while trying to serve as a conscience and subdue the concerns of those who walk according to the standard of righteousness, I realize they are the ones who are hiding behind the greatest type of insidious hatred which is best described as murderous against truth and righteousness. They indict themselves as they accuse those who have no agenda of hatred behind them of being hateful. The only crime is that those who stand for what is right are not willing to remain quiet as the herds of people are driven into the insane abyss of hell.

Standing for truth can only happen if one is standing on The Truth as to who Jesus is (John 14:6; 1 Corinthians 3:11). The Word is clear that you can do nothing against the truth but only for it (2 Corinthians 13:8). Truth will offend because it will not adjust to the latest philosophies of the world. It will enrage because it will not change. It is maddening because it is the immovable standard which all will be held accountable to in the end.

However, God’s truth is love. At times it is a gentle invitation to come, and other times it shows itself in long-suffering towards those who are drowning in the cesspool of this world, and sometimes it expresses itself in loving correction or chastisement. Everything about God, from His truth, His holiness, His goodness, grace, mercy, compassion and etc. calls out of love, pleads because of love, contends in love, and at times is tough because its pure desire is to see the human race win in the end. In fact, God’s love is summarized in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Now that is love, sacrificial, pure, and true. It has no filters of race, color, or gender, but it will always stand distinct, it will call for excellence and what is right and honorable because it is that which is dishonorable that proves to be indifferent and hateful to the vulnerable, the lost, and those seeking what is true (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).

This brings us back to truth. Although it sets the captive free, it is rejected because it will not adjust, change, or fit into the times (John 8:32). Most people want their own idea of truth that will fit into their reality, adjust to their selfish preferences, cater to their fragile worlds, but in it all they sense the haunting reality that they are perishing because there is no lasting life in any of it. The world is like the Titanic—it is as a sinking ship and it is on a collision course with the great iceberg of judgment: God’s wrath.

However, most people are clueless about this pending collision. To the unsuspecting, they are simply hanging on until a particular crisis or situation passes. After all, we know there will be a tomorrow and the light of a new day will certainly cause the bad shadows of yesterday to flee, but what happens when the shadows do not flee but instead, they become darker? People have an uncanny way of surviving by adjusting even to darkness. It may dull them down and even put them into a spiritual slumber, but nevertheless they will somehow survive it. Such survival is mere existence but it is not living life to its fullest.

Life is more than an existence; rather, it is meant to be experienced, to be walked out, while learning to enjoy the blessings, learn from the challenges and become more pliable in the hands of God during times of adversity. Life experience will make you a bitter skeptic, or a morbid realistic individual that lives in the quagmire of the woes of being the victim of life instead of the overcomer and victor. Or, you truly learn the real secret of finding love, hope, and joy in the midst of the darkness and insanity of the times.

Admittedly, if you are realistically looking at the days we live in, it would be natural to live in a morbid reality where there is no hope, just the depressing reality of what is. Many people live in an altered reality through make-believe worlds, drugs, alcohol, and an assortment of various activities that can help them escape or find adventure, excitement, or causes that can give them some hope or expectation about tomorrow. But as Jesus made it clear in Matthew 6:34, “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

To look back leaves us hopeless because there can be no change. The past is what it is. However, if we allow the lessons of the past to become stepping stones of personal growth, it will not leave us in despair, but the key is do we want to learn them? We often avoid learning the lessons of the past because of unrealistic memories of what we refer to as the “glory” days of our youth or the “Pollyanna perspective” of the “good old days” where everything was pure and innocent in our minds, or to the other extreme of wrestling with terrible memories that still can haunt and mock us.

The other reality is that the expectation towards tomorrow can cause us to overlook the blessings of today. When you read James 4:13-15, he talks about those who spend too much time making plans for the tomorrows without regarding their inability to bring it about because their lives are nothing more than a vapor. They should be only concerned with leaving the tomorrows in God’s hand while making sure they are being faithful to occupy according to the day and life that has been entrusted to them.

There is no surety that tomorrow is going to be better, give us a new lease on life, or we will live to see it. It is true we can look forward to certain planned events, but even these events often never really pan out the way we hope or expect them to. I can’t begin to count the people who were disillusioned because expectations were never met. Many times, these people live in a state of victimhood, anger and eventually regret because they spend so much time looking back, they miss the opportunities of the present to experience the gift of life.

This brings me back to today. The question is what are you doing with today? What opportunities are before you that would enable you to make today count since yesterday has passed and there is no certainty when it comes to tomorrow. If you knew this was your last day on earth, what would you do? What would you wish to change or make right because of unresolved matters with past relationships?

The Bible makes reference to getting our houses in order. Although this can have a double meaning such as getting your affairs on earth in order, the most important aspect to get in order is your spiritual life, to make sure your relationship with God is right. I have learned from the past that I can’t walk out this Christian life except in light of eternity. This is the only arena that allows me to realistically look beyond today in order to adjust my life according to my future. I can’t honestly face the present or hope for a better future unless I get above the present world and begin walking in light of my high calling. I must get past this base world to consider how that which is unseen and eternal is what really enriches my life.

How do I survive these times: One day at a time. Each day I must embrace the life I have been entrusted with to fulfill my high calling and destiny. I must not put off what is in front of me today, because I will not pass this way again. I only have today and that is enough for when it comes to evil, today is sufficient enough to keep me realistic, and dependent on God to keep my focus on Jesus.

How do I walk through these times: One step of obedience at a time. In this race I am not required to be the fastest; rather, I am obligated to run the race before me to finish the course (Hebrews 12:1). Running requires steps, determination, and endurance. I must put off any kind of sin or mental and emotional hindrance to run it. Detours lead me away from the path, confusion keeps me from seeing the right path, fear causes me to stop in despair, and unbelief will throw me into rebellion where I will become aimless in a world that is already spinning out of control, making my life to spin even more so out of control.

How do I obtain my life in such a dying world: By following Jesus. The Christian life is about living the life of Jesus—it is the life of a disciple where I deny myself of rights to life on my terms according to my pride, goals, and the world. Once I deny myself of the sole right to live my life, I can mortify the old man, the fleshly man on the cross and as I leave the old behind, I can follow Jesus into the new life, the everlasting life, the life that will cause the world to become dim to me (Luke 9:22-26; Galatians 6:14).

How do I secure my life in Christ: With the Word of God. The Word is meant to discipline me but how many know how to use it. I have been reading a book about the persecuted church under Communist rule which, sadly, we are now tasting the grave bitterness of it. The oppression of Communism that leads up to persecution always begins with censorship of the truth. They use such terms as “hate speech,” “political correctness,” and the “Woke Agenda” to censor and silence people as they puff at you with false accusations, and blow at you with intimidating threats of legal, destructive and deadly repercussions as they strive to make you cower in fear of their injustice, insanity, and their demonic hatred.

The stories I read in a recent book of persecuted Christians gave me much to think about. In one incident a Russian Christian was asked how they could endure persecution for so long. He basically explained how the sun comes up in the east and goes down in the west so is persecution to them. It is part of their life and they do not think it unusual.

In another incident three Russian pastors felt that the Christian young people were too isolated due to the restraints and persecution and wanted to hold some type of conference in Moscow that would last seven days where they could bring them together. These pastors knew it would cost them but for the sake of the young people, they knew it was necessary. They decided to find out what these young people knew Scripturally because it would be the Word of God that would establish, enable, and prepared them to stand and endure the darkness (1 John 2:14). Many came to this conference in spite of the possible reprisals that could follow. The three pastors divided them into small groups to see how much they knew of the four Gospels and how many songs and hymns they knew. Remember these people do not have the freedom to have Bibles or to openly praise and worship God.

At the end of the conference, they compared and combined the efforts of these different groups. Together these young people had recreated all of the four Gospels, with only a half-dozen mistakes as well as the lyrics of more than 1200 songs, choruses, and hymns of their faith from memory. I wonder how many of our young people with all their different Bibles versions and the absence of hymns could recreate the four gospels and the sound doctrinal hymns of old from memory? For your information the three pastors spent three years in prison for their efforts.

In another conversation with a pastor who had suffered persecution, the author of the book asked him why had they not written books about their experiences to let other Christians know what was happening. The man looked at him and asked the author why had he not read the Bible. The author was a bit surprised and the man asked him again, why had he not read the Bible. It was then that the saint explained that their story of persecution is in the Bible.

The Church in America is being warned of persecution. The question is not how are we going to escape or survive such persecution, but will we stand in it? The truth is, the church from its day of inception has been warned about trouble, tribulation and persecution in and from this world (John 16:33; 2 Corinthians 4:8-9). Sadly, if we do not learn to stand when the trouble comes because we are founded on the Word, and withstand the tribulation when it is upon us because we know how to effectively use it, how will we continue to stand when the persecution comes when there is no real foundation established and the Word has no power in it because of unbelief?

The history of the church has been written, and many times it has been with the blood of the saints. It is time for those Christians who hold to the American version of Christianity to shed the foul, religious garments of playing Church and become acquainted with the history of the true church. The different versions of modern-day Christianity will not stand in great trouble, withstand in tribulation, and continue to stand in persecution because those who adhere to it feel they should be immune from it regardless of what such Scriptures as 2 Timothy 3:12 which says, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”

Again, I must reiterate. The challenge of the church is not to get by or survive the perilous, insane times we live in, but to be prepared to stand in them, established in the Word with it lifted up as a great sword to cause the enemy to stop, pause, and then flee.

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The Goal of Gentle Shepherd Ministries is to preach the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and to make disciples in compliance with the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19).

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