Revive Our Hearts Podcast

How to be Calm in Chaos

Leslie Basham: As news reports get more and more raunchy, do you ever relate to this feeling from Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth?

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Don’t let your kids even see the news headlines. I don’t want to see them!

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Holiness, for August 1, 2018. Nancy is starting a new series called “Living for the Age to Come.”

Nancy: Is it just me, or is there a lot of mind-boggling news these days? One thing after another, it seems! Let me just give you a recent sampling—and I’m a little hesitant to do this, because by the time we air this series, some of these examples will be dated and there will be all new ones that everybody is talking about, that I didn’t know about when we were recording this.

Some of these things . . . there’s a lot coming our direction. I think of natural disasters. Within the past year or so there’s been devastating hurricanes, the deadliest wildfires in the history of the State of California, an earthquake in Mexico, flooding and monsoons in south Asia, hurricanes and major earthquakes throughout North America, landslides and drought in Africa, tsunami threat to Central America.

There are a lot of these natural disasters that we see in the headlines of our news that don’t even take into account major disasters that take place in other parts of the world that we’re not so attuned to, where thousands and sometimes even millions of people are impacted by these natural disasters.

I read this headline not too long ago at a major news outlet: “Yellowstone Supervolcano Could Blow Faster Than Thought, Destroy All Mankind!” I did a kind of doubletake and I thought, Is this for real or is this a spoof?

I wasn’t sure, so I went back and read more about it, and sure enough, scientists are saying that there’s astounding activity taking place at Yellowstone that they didn’t know about, that could absolutely wipe out all of life all across the face of the earth sooner than anyone thought possible! But don’t worry, it’s just “maybe.” (laughter)

In fact, this headline was buried like, I don’t know, number eighteen on the list of headlines, and I thought, You might want to move that one up a little bit if there’s any truth to this! So, natural disasters.

Then there is the whole political environment. Now, what I say about this will not necessarily be true in any other country, but I said to Robert recently, “What words would we use to describe the current political environment here in the United States?”

Here are some of the words we came up with: “chaotic, polarized, vitriolic, angry, unstable, mudslinging, Twitter wars, unhinged.” And there are a few others that we could add to that list. Whatever your political perspective may be, these are words that would describe what we’re hearing on the news day after day after day.

In the geopolitical realm, we’re talking and hearing about nukes in the hands of madmen, violence unleashed, anger running rampant, violence in our cities, terrorist attacks, mass killings. This is becoming not just a rare happening, but the fare of every day news, not only in this country but around the world.

Then there’s this whole moral quagmire that we see all around us! Things that we would not have dreamed of just ten years ago or so, things too profane to repeat, things too raunchy to listen to that are now headlining our news!

You feel like, don’t let your kids even see the news headlines! I don’t want to see them! I don’t want to be scrolling through this stuff! I’m not like some prim person. I know these things go on, but it’s so “in your face,” a systematic rejection of any sense of biblical ethics or morality.

And you see this on so many fronts. Let me just mention two or three. . .

As we speak, there’s this flood of revelations of sexual assault perpetrated against countless—countless!—children and women by men who wielded influence and authority. The lid’s coming off of this in Hollywood, in government, Congress, the media, sports.

This week, as we’re recording this (and again, this will be past tense by the time we air this on Revive Our Hearts) we watched in the news the somber parade of about 160 young women who gave emotional testimony, heartbreaking testimony, against a sports medicine doctor that they had trusted who violated them in unspeakable ways when he treated them.

Some of them at the time were little girls as young as six or seven years of age. Unbelievable! Now the courts have done their thing, and the man has been sentenced. He’s already serving a many-decade sentence for child pornograpy-related offenses, so he will never see the light of day.

But there are the things these young women are having to process. And then there is the residual effects of all this—moms sending their kids to a gymnastics class or to a doctor and wondering, Is this same thing going to happen to my little girl? There’s a lot of fear.

Some of these girls were saying how they can’t even bear to hear and see stories that might trigger in them reminders of what happened to them ten, fifteen, twenty years ago at the hand of this doctor. We’re seeing that all around us. It’s tragic! It’s heartbreaking!

On another subject related to the moral morass, kindergartners (I’m reading an article I read last night) in a dozen elementary schools across Seattle are now being introduced to a book called Introducing Teddy. It’s about a teddy bear named “Thomas” who would rather be called “Tillie,” because it feels more like a girl teddy bear than a boy teddy bear!

A book review on Amazon.com reads, “Introducing Teddy introduces the youngest readers to understanding gender identity and transition in an accessible and heart-warming story about being true to yourself and how to be a good friend.” These are our kindergarten children!

Moving on to first-grade, this article says, “Students are exposed to books called My Princess Boy, while second-graders read Jacob’s New Dress, through which students explore examples of gender-diversity.”

I don’t want to sound like I’m ranting or angry. I’m angry at sin! I’m angry at the lies that the devil has passed into our culture and caused people to believe! I’m angry at the consequences of sin in people’s lives and what women and men alike are missing out on through not experiencing God’s created best for their lives.

I read another article this week about pansexuality, calling it “the new sexual orientation.” This is a term for people who can spiritually, sexually, and emotionally fall in love with people of all genders.

I saw something on my timeline on social media this morning, a new study suggesting that “open adultery can actually be good for your marriage.” It goes into terms that I’m like, “I’m not sure I even totally understand what this is talking about! I’m not sure I want to understand what some of this is talking about,” but this is the era—the world in which we’re living. And on and on. In this supposedly “enlightened age,” we are for sure descending into lunacy.

You can’t tell women from men any longer. If you think you can, you’re “bigoted, and you’ve got serious issues.” That’s what we’re told.

But I want to step back in to say, when you think about it, none of this is really new news. It feels like it’s much more frontal, much more “in your face,” much more pervasive, so much more of it, but all of this is foretold in the Scripture.

We’re told that there will be signs of the coming of the end of this age, that these are birth pangs, they’re labor pains. Those of you who have given birth to a child, you know you can be out shopping or home doing something or in your job, but you’re due to give birth. You didn’t know you were due quite yet, and those contractions start. (I’m going to talk about something I really don’t know anything about here!)

Those labor pains, birth pangs, they tell you that the life is about to be born. Something’s about to change, and you’d better be ready for it! The Scripture talks about the earth travailing like a woman in labor, travailing in pain—waiting for the redemption of our bodies and this broken, prodigal planet.

We’re told that these kinds of signs (and others that Scripture tells us about): signs in the heavens, signs in nature, signs in the sun and the moon and the stars, signs in world events and wars and all kinds of areas—just the proliferation of sinfulness and the exalting of calling “normal” what Scripture calls “abnormal”–all of these things depict the acceleration of God’s plan for the ages, a plan that involves the final judgment of the wicked and the eternal joy and blessing of the redeemed.

That’s what all this is moving toward! It’s not random. It’s not out of control. It’s not out of God’s control. He is causing all this to move together towards this final end of time, moving into the age to come where the wicked will be judged forever and the redeemed will be blessed forever in the presence of the Lord.

So for those who are redeemed, when watching all this happen we grieve, sometimes we weep. We’re perplexed; we say, “How can this be!?” But at the same time we can lift our heads up high in the midst of the craziness and know that our final redemption is nearer than it has ever been before.

And at that same time, we carry a burden for those who have not yet come to bow before Jesus Christ as Lord—those who live near us, live next door to us; those we work alongside; the moms you sit on the sidelines and watch your kids play sports with; the people who need the gospel that can redeem them from themselves, from Satan, from sin, and most importantly, from the wrath of a holy God!

So while we sit here and think about God’s great big, eternal, ultimate plan, we also realize we have work to do to share that good news of the redeeming love of God sending His Son Christ to be the Savior of this broken, mixed-up world.

As I’ve been reflecting on all of this in recent months, I’ve found myself asking some questions, things like: “What’s really going on here?” I’ve been asking the Lord to give me eyes to see what’s beneath or above or beyond the news that we scroll through on our social media feeds. What’s really going on?

Christians can see things in the perspective or the light of God’s Word that others can’t see. What’s really going on? And what are we to think, as God’s people, about the era in which we’re living? How are we to think as redeemed people in this kind of messed-up world? How are we to respond and live as God’s people in these kinds of times?

Are we supposed to just roll our eyes, wring our hands, scoff at the ungodly (“Boy, they just don’t get it!”)? Do we become fearful of how all this might impact our freedoms and our comforts in the days ahead? Do we barricade ourselves up in our religious fortresses and huddle up, just hoping we can outlast the siege?

Here are some of the other kinds of questions I ask myself: “What does the work we’re doing here at Revive Our Hearts have to do with all of this other stuff?” There’s a lot of talk about women in the news today. Women are going through a lot. Women are victims—and they are perpetrators—so are men, victims and perpetrators.

“What is our work that we’re doing to help women experience freedom and fullness and fruitfulness in Christ . . . how does it connect to what we see happening in women’s lives in these kinds of happenings?” Are these just two separate worlds, no intersection between what’s going on in our world and the things that a ministry like ours or your church or other individuals you may know are giving their lives to do?

Is there any connection between what we’re doing and what’s happening in this world? Is what we’re doing making any real difference?

Do you ever ask yourself this question? “Is our church just kind of stuck in a bygone era? Are we just like ostriches with our heads in the sand—we have no idea what’s going on, and whatever we’re trying to do really isn’t making any difference? Is what we’re doing just totally, utterly irrelevant to what’s really going on in our world?” (Which is what the world thinks about us, by the way, in case you hadn’t noticed.)

Many of you are aware that over the last several years I’ve spent a lot of time immersed in the book of Titus. It’s a short little book toward the end of the New Testament that’s just three chapters, forty-six verses.

I have soaked in this book. I’ve thought about it as I go to sleep. I’ve memorized it. I’ve wakened in the middle of the night (as I often do at this age!) many times, just reciting parts of Titus. I’ve just spent a lot of time living in this little book. My mind keeps going back to this epistle.

I’m so thankful, whether it’s Titus or other parts of the Scripture, that God has given to us in times such as these His very Word. God not only spoke in eras past. God has spoken to us and given us—today!—His Word that speaks in a timeless way into everything we’re experiencing in our culture.

His Word gives us perspective. It gives us Heaven’s perspective, which is what we really need! It gives us stability in earthshaking times. God’s Word sets our course when the rest of the world is totally confused. It gives us our mission when those around us have no idea who they are, what they’re doing here, where they’re going, or how they’re getting there.

In times like these, we can have clarity as the people of God and the people of the Book of God. We have purpose. We have a mission. And some pieces and parts of that are beautifully displayed for us in a way that could not be more contemporary than what we read in these three chapters (it takes just a little more than one page in my Bible) in the book of Titus.

Now, just a little background. Some of you have heard me teach on this before. I just want to summarize some of that now, because I want to go a little different direction with these brief reflections on Titus.

You remember that the book called Titus was not written by Titus, it was written by the apostle Paul to a man named Titus who was the pastor of a fledgling group of church plants on the island of Crete.

These churches in first-century Rome, the Roman Empire, were facing all kinds of threats. They were facing threats from without as they lived under the thumb of the ruthless Roman Empire, with Nero determined to stamp out Christianity. So that’s a threat.

They had threats from within. Already in this infant New Testament church there were false teachers promoting false teaching, philosophies that were contrary to the Word of God. These false teachers were leading individuals and whole families astray. They were leaving things in shambles wherever they went.

So for these little New Testament churches, “new” New Testament churches, there was confusion and there were threats within and without.

If you were a member of this church you might wonder, How in the world are we going to survive? How is Christianity going to survive—much less thrive?Jesus talked about the abundant life? How are we even going to live, much less have an abundant life? How are we going to to have any chance of fulfilling this Great Commission that Jesus gave us, to take the gospel to all the world? We don’t even know if we can live!

So they had to be grappling with difficult questions—some of the same kinds of question we might wonder today as we see what’s going on around us.

Talk about being underdogs—being outnumbered, being rejected by the culture, by the government, by everything and everyone around them. This was the church in Titus’ day. That’s why I think that these New Testament epistles—written to believers living in dangerous and difficult times—speak so powerfully into days such as our own.

Now right in the middle of this epistle, we find the heart of the message for the believers in Crete and for us today. The whole thing is wonderful. I wish we could take time to go verse by verse through the whole book, but I want to pick and choose just some pieces here over the next few days.

I want to point you in chapter 2, beginning at verse 11, to the core of Paul’s message for these believers. These words which I’m going to read in the next moment here, bring clarity in the midst of confusion. They bring sanity in the midst of craziness, and they bring stability in the midst of chaos.

Let me read Titus 2. After all the things I’ve described about what’s going on (we’ll talk more about what was going on in their day in the next session), Paul says in Titus 2, verse 11 (these are words that speak beautifully into our era!): “For the grace of God has appeared . . .”

Now, you could just stop right there and say, “Hallelujah! Thank you, I need that! I didn’t know if we were going to make it! It seems like God isn’t paying attention to what’s going on. Is He aware of what’s going on in the news now? We know He is, but is He really connected? Is He relevant, is He participating in what’s going on in this world? Has He really got the whole wide world in His hands?”

The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation [I love that word!] for all people,training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works (Titus 2:11–14).

Now just real quickly, and this is by way of introduction to the next couple of days, what does this passage tell us?

It tells us what God has done and what He is doing in our day. It tells us how we are to live in the here and now—that we’re to live lives that reflect His grace and reveal His salvation.

It tells us that we’re not supposed to be escape artists putting our heads in the sand, pretending like all this doesn’t exist or like just hoping it will all go away. It tells us that we are to face smack-dab into the reality that surrounds us in this present age. We are to renounce certain things that this world embraces: ungodliness and worldly passions. And we are to hold fast to things that this world rejects! We are to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives. Who’s interested in that today? Not very many people!

We’re to hold on to what the world rejects; we’re to renounce what the world embraces. That means we’re going to be odd. It means we are odd . . . and that’s okay! We’ll talk about how to do that in a way that is helpful.

This passage tells us that while we’re living in this present age, we’re not supposed to be depressed or overwhelmed, but we are to be people of hope. We are to be eagerly anticipating a new age that is coming, “waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.”

So if we’re waiting for all of that, does it mean we just have blinders on and we ignore everything that’s going on around us and we just kind of cordon ourselves off into our own little spiritual ghettos, waiting for that blessed hope?

No! We’re waiting for that blessed hope, but in the meantime we’re supposed to live as a redeemed people and not forget what that means and what that looks like. It means we’ve been freed from all lawlessness, purified to be a people who belong to Christ, and zealous for doing good works that give people around us a taste of His goodness.

So we have a purpose, we have a mission, we have a reason for being here. We have a perspective that’s different than the perspective of those around us. We’re not escapists. We’re not shielding ourselves from seeing what’s going on in the world. We’re not just people living in this “sweet by and by.”

We have a great hope, we cling to that, but our God is a very present help in time of trouble! (see Ps. 46:1). We live as His redeemed people, and we live in such a way that our lives are lights and our good works minister blessing and peace and help and grace to people who desperately need to experience the grace of God and the salvation of Jesus Christ in this present age so that they can be prepared for the age to come! And we’ll talk more about that tomorrow.

Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth will be right back to pray. She’s been giving us hope when it feels like the world is descending into lunacy. In times like these, it’s important that our belief system is solidly rooted in God’s Word. This takes discernment, a right understanding of the truth.

Nancy talks about this in the study she co-wrote with Mary Kassian called True Woman 201. Nancy and Mary explore Titus chapter 2 through this study. The apostle Paul designed this chapter as a curriculum for women, and the truth you’ll find there will light your path today. Nancy and Mary will help you understand this passage by asking questions and helping you dig for answers on your own.

We’d like to send you the True Woman 201 workbook when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount. Your gift will help us share the truth of God’s Word with even more women, and we’d like to say “thanks” by sending the workbook. Just call 1–800–569–5959 and ask for True Woman 201, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Nancy says we should think of this present age as a dot on a line. Find out what she means tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts. Now, she’s back to close our time in prayer.

Nancy: Thank You, Lord, for not leaving us helpless and hopeless, that life is not meaningless here, that sin is not the ultimate ruler of this world, that Satan is not the ultimate ruler of this world (he sure thinks he owns it!).

There is a lot of sin, but You’ve got the whole world in Your hands! And You are doing something to redeem this prodigal planet that the angels are in awe of, and we would be too if we’d stop and really think about it. So show us as redeemed people how to live in this present age with hope, great hope, of the age to come. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen!

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth gives you truth you can trust. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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