It was budget time at the Bible school where I was Executive Director, and that meant about 2 million dollars had to be worked through in detail, especially since the pastor and financial officer had asked all Department heads to cut 10% - I was determined to do that without eliminating jobs.
Being a Bible school there were always students rushing into the office between classes wanting to see John. But my Assistant wasn't someone to be tangled with. She viewed herself as a Doberman Pinscher watch dog and me the thing she was guarding. She confronted everyone, and from the way some students put it, with a bark, bared teeth, and a snarl.
I wanted to see each student because it was more fun and fulfilling to help students than it was to crunch budget numbers. But then, it is always more fun to operate in your gifts, but I had learned it is those who learn to do what does not come naturally in business who are successful.
My Assistant told me, "John, your heart is as big as all outdoors, and all these students think they have something urgent only you can solve. But the budget is important and if you don't get that done Pastor will really be angry, so I'm going to turn these students over to other staff." I realized wisdom when I saw it.
I learned that day to discern between the urgent and the important
There are times we have to deal with the urgent don't get me wrong, because sometimes the urgent is also the important. If you cut your toe off with a chain saw that is both urgent AND important.
But very often we can choose to deal with the urgent later so we can stay focused on the larger, important thing because it is the important that charts our course for the next year or more. The students were urgent, but the budget was important. Without a budget there would be no students!
The urgent is the thing that is screaming at you for attention. The important determines your future, lies quietly in the background, and is often not fun to deal with. It requires purposeful attention.
It is the important that leads us to maturity as human beings and in Christ. The urgent is that desire to yell and scream at the person who wronged you. The important is that you grow in Christ and handle it as He would. The urgent is the knee-jerk reaction the important is seeing the larger perspective.
The urgent is all the voices screaming there may be a rapture and aren't we all excited; the important is growing in the areas Christ is asking of you today. The important is the internal voice of the Shepherd. The urgent are all the other voices vying for our attention.
The important that is happening all over the earth
Paul said in Acts 14:16 and 17:29-31 of God, "...in times past He allowed all nations to walk in their own ways..." and "...the times of this ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent because He has appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man He has ordained. And He gives assurance to all people in that He raised Him from the dead."
He is still allowing nations to walk in their own ways, the difference now being He "commands all men everywhere to repent". And herein is the difficulty: Individuals and nations don't want to repent and follow God and His ways. The urgent is the commotion and activities involved with nations walking in their own ways, continually at war with Christ. The urgent is also believers running around looking for the latest sign of His coming, when the important is the spread of the gospel which is THE sign the end of the age is near.
At the same time the nations are walking in their own ways the gospel is advancing from within these nations, causing one person after another to repent and come to God, in a grass roots ground swell across the world. In the same way the Roman Empire was changed from the bottom up over the course of 300 years by Christianity - meeting in homes, one home at a time upward and outward to their culture - so too is God moving in individuals, homes and families in a relationship based faith (not a program or building based faith), all over the globe.
That is why Jesus said in Matthew 24:14 this gospel will being preached in all the world with a witness and THEN the end will come. As the gospel is preached throughout the world all people and all nations must decide to follow Him - or not. He is letting nations go their own way, but He is advancing in the hearts of millions anyway.
If you attend an auditorium church you've heard for years about the 'revival' that is coming to the world. In an auditorium pastor's mind that means more services, a larger sanctuary, and growing budget as these people come to his church.
But the reality is that the 'revival' is already happening, it is just that most pastors are outside the loop of what God is doing outside their 4 walls so they are only vaguely aware, if at all. Check your sources, but several say that China and India are vying for the title of the largest predominantly Christian nation. China by 2025, India by 2030 at current levels of growth. I heard a house church leader in China say 1,000,000 (1 million) Chinese come to the Lord every month. Here is just one article in secular media from last year: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/22/china-largest-christian-country_n_5191910.html
Here we go
A clash of cultures is therefore inevitable - Christians and conservatives rising from within nations to embrace the things of God, while the political system which has rejected God's rule does all it can to suppress the Spirit of God in citizen believers and its culture.
The mildest form of judgement is to allow a person or nation to experience the ramifications of their decisions and actions. As with Israel in the wilderness who insisted 10 times God was only making their life miserable and they wished they could die in the wilderness, He finally let them have what they said they wanted.
THAT is what is happening in the earth. If anyone missed it predicting the rapture, it is because God is allowing all nations to walk in their own ways, for they have rejected Him at every step. For nations who refuse God's ways politically, economically, socially, culturally, it means eventual collapse because God's ways work and men's ways if allowed to their final end, don't.
And yet within the nations are a remnant who ARE following God and His ways, watching with horror what is happening around them. For those who walk with Him, there is always grace and provision and purpose.
Consider this on a small scale
What if you have a family in your neighborhood and they make it clear they don't want your God. You observe them sink into greater levels of dysfunction over time; Maybe substance abuse, marital affairs, children who are unruly and in trouble at school, maybe he can't hold a job, and so on. Those are urgent needs in their lives, but they haven't a clue what is important, of how to chart their larger course. That family is a snapshot of a larger national dysfunction.
If they were a nation some Christians would say God is judging them, or maybe the black cat that ran across the street in front of their car last night was a sign of a collapse to come. But they are just a family walking in their own ways, and because they don't want God, He allows them to experience the consequences of their decision - He isn't doing it to them, it was their choice. Technically He isn't judging them, He is just letting them be accountable to their actions, which is fair and right.
At some point that family comes to the end of its ways, and one of them, let us say the wife, opens up to you seeking answers, and you share the Lord with her. She and you begin praying for her family, and over the course of time her husband comes to the Lord, then the kids, and the family is transformed.
THAT is our hope for our nations. The government of man is going its own way while the answers are in their midst. At some point things will collapse under their own weight of dysfunction as the family in my example. Can we get our eyes off the skies (urgent) to focus on the collapsing people around us, because changing families means we are changing our nation (important). The church has to get small, family size, to become large enough to change a nation.
New series next week with a story about a cheeseburger and selfishness,
until then, blessings,