Tag Archives: darkness

When the lights go out

Derek Prince tells of a young Swedish woman named Barbara, who stayed with him and his wife Ruth for a period of three months to learn English. While staying with them, she told them a story.

Barbara was a pastor’s daughter and had lived a very sheltered life. But her friends at school had started telling her about some of the pleasures of life in the world, and she decided that she wanted to experience what she had been missing. She told her parents that she appreciated the way they had raised her, but that now she wanted to taste and see what the world had to offer.

Her parents wisely decided not to correct or criticize her. They simply told her that they would pray for her. And so they did.

That night, she had a powerful encounter with God in the form of a dream. In her dream, she saw two cities. One was a big, modern, beautiful city filled with flashing, glittering neon lights. Across the valley from the flashing city was another city of light, but this city did not flash and glitter. Its light was steady, calm and clear. As she considered the two cities a well-dressed, well-mannered and cultured man approached her and offered to show her the flashing, glittering city. She went with him, and he began to show her around. But the farther they went, the uglier he became. Soon she realized the man was the devil in disguise. As she considered this, horrified, she saw the lights in the flashing, glittering city begin to go out one by one, until it was in total darkness. She looked across the valley at the other city, and its light was as steady, pure and clear as ever.

At that moment she made her choice. She would pursue the city whose light never goes out.

It’s easy for us to think we are missing something if we don’t see the latest show, have the latest iPhone, go on every vacation trip imaginable, and so forth. And in themselves, many of the attractions of this world are innocent – though some are far from it. But if we let ourselves be enticed by what the world has to offer, we are walking a dangerous path. And once the lights begin to go out it’s too late to choose. We need to choose now.

Way back in 1979, Arlo Guthrie, son of the legendary Woody Guthrie, wrote a song with these compelling lyrics

Just one question still remains
To which we must respond
Two roads lead from where we are
Which side are you on?

Arlo Guthrie, Which Side, © 1979

Abraham, our father in the faith, was “looking for the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God“. That’s the city I am looking for as well, the one that is coming down out of heaven from God.

When the lights go out in the city of man, will you still have light to walk by? You can, if you have fixed your eyes on the City of God.


New Year’s Letter

What follows is a New Year’s letter to my children.  I decided to post it on my blog because I realized that the things I wanted to say to my children are really a message from the Father’s heart, things he wants everyone to hear. My prayer is that these words from my heart will be an encouragement to your faith. 

To my dear children, whom I love with all my heart.

As we enter a new year, there are three simple things that I want to say to you.

The first thing I want to tell you is how much the Father loves you.

As I get older, my faith is getting simpler and simpler. I have been wrong – or at least partly wrong – about some things that I was once sure of. That’s because I was sure of far too many things. But in his mercy, God has been at work in my life, shaking everything that can be shaken, so that what cannot be shaken may remain. We can have opinions and preferences about many things, but there are only a few things that really matter. God Himself – His goodness and holiness and love and trustworthiness – is the most important foundation stone of all.

Despite my best intentions, my own capacity to show you a true father’s love has been imperfect, limited and inconsistent, but His love never fails those who trust Him. Beyond the shadow of a doubt, no matter what happens to you, to those you love, and to the world, the Father is completely trustworthy. He is consistently faithful, merciful, kind and good to those who put their hope in Him and in His Son Jesus.

Yes, the Father loves you. He made you for love, He knows your name, He knows everything about you – even the worst parts – and still He loved you enough that He gave His Son to redeem you.  He loves you enough to pursue you until you have yielded fully and freely to His embrace – until you have surrendered every corner of your life to His transforming power.

The second thing I want to tell you is that in this world you will have trouble. I’m not just talking about the personal troubles of illness, grief, poverty, and other misfortunes that can afflict us. In a world that has been marred by the evil one, these things are real enough, but they will not endure forever.

No, I’m talking about something bigger. For reasons that would take too long to list here, I have come to believe that the final great crisis of history is drawing near. The age-old battle between dark and light is becoming more intense and more prominent.

I won’t get into the game of predicting details or dates, because there is nothing to be gained by speculating on things that Jesus has told us we cannot know. It only leads to fear and disillusionment. But Jesus does instruct us to pay attention to the signs of the times. All over the world the message of the Kingdom of God is spreading. At the same time, all over the world the powers of darkness are increasing their attacks on the people of the light.

In the midst of such a time, I want to plead with you not to let the Enemy lull you to sleep with apathy or false security, or blind you with despair or cynicism. Stay awake! The troubles of life – both your personal troubles, and the upheavals of a world in crisis – are not just things you have to endure helplessly. They are signposts to point you to Jesus.  God is able to provide for His people no matter what is going on around you. He has given you strength to stand – and not only to stand but to triumph.

The third thing I want to tell you is that as troubles increase, so will opportunities also increase. Marion and I have been experiencing the drawing of the Holy Spirit in recent months.  God has been opening doors of faith to us as we have become more watchful, more expectant and more attuned to the leading of the Holy Spirit. All around us there are people who are hungry to know the living God. All around us there are opportunities to serve, to do good, to bless others, to sow the seeds of the Kingdom of God – the Kingdom that will come openly on the earth when Jesus returns.

Creation is groaning with the birth pangs of the age to come.  Our final redemption is drawing near. This age is coming to an end, and the Lord is returning. The Holy Spirit is awakening the people of God, calling us to fresh faith and love, so that those who belong to Jesus will be ready for Him when He returns, as a bride who has made herself beautiful for her wedding day.

So be encouraged, be full of faith, be watchful. Don’t build your lives, your hopes, your expectations on things that will crumble.  Build on the one foundation that will stand secure when everything else falls apart.  He is changing everything. He is making everything new. He is shaking all things so that He may restore all things. Those who put their hope in Him, and do not waver or lose hope in the midst of the shaking, will see His glory.

That, and nothing less, is what you are called to.  Marion and I are believing for every one of you to shine like the sun in the Kingdom of your Father.  We love you and Jesus loves you.


What about the dark side?

First of all, for those who read my blogs semi-regularly, let me say that I am very flattered that some of you actually noticed that I hadn’t posted for over three weeks.   It has been a very busy stretch, what with company year-end bookkeeping, Marion being away for over a week, and the usual family, work and church commitments.  I’ve missed blogging and hope to resume posting on a roughly weekly schedule, although that depends partly on what topics suggest themselves – I don’t really plan these things very far in advance.   It’s nice to know that my blogs were missed by at least a few people!  Incidentally, two of my sons – Joe and Reuben – have recently started blogging and seem to be having fun with this new adventure.  Their blogs are very different from mine but I am enjoying them.

Much has happened in the world since I last posted.  In particular, there was a massive earthquake in Haiti on January 12.   Many of us probably know someone who was directly affected in some way.  Marion and I discovered that a friend from Russell — an Ottawa police officer with whom we had lost touch over the last few years — had been serving in Haiti for nine months as part of a peacekeeping mission and was there during the quake.  The leader of his mission was killed, and Martin (our friend) only escaped death because he had left his hotel a few minutes before the quake.   Although his scheduled time in Haiti had come to an end, he stayed on for several days to help with the relief effort and was profoundly moved by the experience.

How does one account for such devastation?  There’s no easy explanation as to why such things happen.  Jesus did warn his disciples that wars, famines and earthquakes would become regular occurrences in the years preceding his return, so if we are aware of the signs of the times we shouldn’t really be surprised by such things.  Yet our hearts cry out at the extent of the destruction, and we ask – if God is good, couldn’t He have prevented such misery?

This of course is a huge topic and I won’t attempt a complete answer, but let me say three things in response to this question.   First, from a Biblical perspective, the world as we see it today is not the perfect world that God created.  It has been marred by human sin and failure, and the Bible makes it clear that this disruption has had cosmic effects.   Secondly, God has not distanced Himself from our pain but has entered our broken world in the person of His Son Jesus, who willingly entered into our suffering as an innocent victim and bore it for us to purchase our freedom.   Thirdly, from the very beginning God’s good plan for the world has been opposed by an evil power, a liar and deceiver whose purpose from the beginning was to steal, kill and destroy, and the world will not experience lasting peace until he is finally overthrown and Jesus reigns on earth as undisputed Lord.

In the wake of the Haitian earthquake, American televangelist Pat Robertson made some very controversial comments linking the devastation in Haiti to an alleged pact with the devil made by Voodoo leaders in 1804.   The historicity of this particular claim is hard to establish, but whatever one thinks of Pat Robertson and his comments, there’s no denying that Vodou religion – a syncretistic mix of West African spiritism and Roman Catholicism – has had a big impact on Haiti.  There’s also no denying that Haiti has had a very dark history for many years, long before this latest earthquake.  My purpose is not to defend Pat Robertson, but whatever you think of his off-the-cuff ramblings, don’t be too quick to dismiss the idea that the spiritual choices and beliefs of a nation’s leaders will affect the destiny of that nation.  Haiti’s political leaders – themselves practitioners of Vodou – have done no favours for their people.   Despite hundreds of millions of dollars of aid to Haiti over the past few decades, poverty remains rampant.  Corruption and callous disregard for the needs of the poor have characterized Haiti’s leadership for many years.  The Biblical understanding is that all forms of evil – corruption, injustice, poverty, witchcraft, demon-worship – come from the same root.  Ultimately, they arise from humanity’s choice to turn away from the true and living God and serve other gods.  The only solution for such misery is for nations and individuals to turn back in humility to the healer of our souls and the restorer of nations.

I am a rational person who works in information technology.  I understand science and the materialistic world view.  I used to be an atheist and was raised in a climate of liberal humanism that was very skeptical about the supernatural.   Despite that background, I have come to believe in the reality of the supernatural – both good and evil.   I have found that most people – both Christian and non-Christian – have a high degree of respect for the person of Jesus Christ.  Many consider him to be a great spiritual teacher and a wise man.  Yet this great spiritual teacher presented himself as being the Son of God and the Saviour of the world, and he clearly believed in the reality of Satan and demons, although he was not in the least afraid of them or intimidated by them.  So at the very least, in the interests of intellectual honesty, if you are going to take Jesus seriously as a great spiritual teacher, you have to take his view of the world seriously as well.   If he claimed to be the Son of God and the Saviour of the world, he was either right or wrong in this claim.  If right, the only reasonable response is to worship Him.  If wrong, he was either deluded (insane) or a liar.   Reading the gospels has led me to the inescapable conclusion that he was neither insane nor a liar – and of course, if he were insane or a liar, he would not be a great spiritual teacher.  My conclusion is that he is who he said – the Son of God and the Saviour of the World.  Once I accepted that conclusion, believing in the reality of Satan was easy – and it made sense of a lot of things that otherwise made no sense (such as how an evidently good and beautiful world could at the same time contain such evil – or how people with such potential for creativity and goodness could produce so much darkness).

Does this mean that I blame the people of Haiti for their misery?  Not at all.  My heart is stirred with compassion for them, they have been often in my prayers, and Marion and I gave what we felt we could afford to help the relief effort almost immediately after hearing news of the earthquake.   My point is simply this.  Although short-term relief is clearly needed, money and human effort alone will not solve Haiti’s problems – or Canada’s, for that matter.  Ultimately, only Jesus can bring lasting blessing to any nation.  The true story of the world is of a people who were made in the image of  a good Creator and fell into darkness because of a choice to turn away from Him towards independence.  That choice was instigated by the ancient Serpent who leads the world astray.  One of the main ways he leads people astray is by concealing his existence and at the same time whispering in our ears that we are independent and fully capable of solving our own problems without God.  That belief is itself our main problem.  Yes, there is a dark side, and it does matter what you believe and who you serve.  Religion is not an answer – religious systems are the territory of the Dark Lord and only keep people in bondage – but a restored relationship with the Lover of our Souls brings true and lasting freedom.  The light shines on in the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out.  One day the light will rule completely and the darkness will be destroyed forever.   That being the case, I choose to walk in the light of the Son of God now, while I still have the choice.