Peaceful Souls During Noisy Times – John Stumbo Video Blog No. 84

July 12, 2020

12:40

Download High-res videoDownload Low-res video

This month John shares scriptural teaching relevant for our times.

Transcript

Alliance leaders, would you agree with me that it feels like more is being called out of us than ever before? We’re learning more, processing more, getting asked for more. The calls for action come like rapid fire. The cries for help intensify. And with them the complaints—that we did too little or too much or too late or too whatever. Do you feel it? In times when more is called out of us, more must happen within us.

Hello, Alliance family. You and I have the privilege and responsibility of listening for the whisper of God in the midst of the tumult of our time. As wind, earthquake, and fire unleash their noisy fury on Elijah’s mountainside with dust and smoke still filling the air, the whisper of God comes to the waiting prophet’s soul.

This is what we do, isn’t it, Christ follower? We can’t not see and hear the tumult around us. Elijah couldn’t ignore the blowing gale, the shaking earth, and the brush fires swiping across the slope. These are all loud, attention-getting, fear-producing scenes. But he was waiting for something louder, not in volume but in substance. Through the fury of the wind, quake, and flame, he was listening for the voice, even if it came almost imperceptibly in the form of a whisper. The prophet waits, the whisper comes, perspective arrives, direction received, intimacy deepened. This, my friend, is foundational for every God seeker.

Recent months have felt loud, haven’t they? We can’t completely ignore the noise of the day. We feel the need to stay at least somewhat current with the news. We seek to find the right interaction with social media. We try to not make every conversation about the latest COVID headline or a political leader’s response. We engage in some issues as we feel appropriate, but none of us have the capacity to address them all. We try to strike some balance, don’t we? Yet many of us also feel the tenacity of the noise of the news dominating our thinking, even as we lay our head on the pillow at night.
As saints of God and servants of Jesus, in submission to the Spirit, we seek to listen through the clattering chaos, the chattering commotion, and have our hearts returned to that place of peace, our minds settling on that place of rest, the churning of our soul stilled again in quiet, to listen for the whisper.

I move from Elijah to David. “My heart is not proud, O LORD, my eyes are not haughty,” the king says in Psalm 131 [vs 1, BSB]. I read that and think, How do you lift your eyes to heaven and make that claim? Psalm 131 is a song of assents. He’s on his way to worship; he’s coming before God in his temple. And David explains, “I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.” Really? He’s the king—of course there are times he must wrestle with great matters. He has a nation to run, international affairs to negotiate . . . battles and building projects, military, and economy. His life is complex. But evidently not now. Now is the time to worship. Now’s the time to be still and listen. It’s time not to solve, fix, rule, judge, command, instruct. It’s time . . . well, let’s use his words: “I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with his mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me” [vs 2, BSB].

Every God seeker will follow David up these steps into the temple, not to ask or demand, not to fix or solve, but to be still, to be content, to be fully present in His presence. Obviously, the picture of a weaned child on a mother’s lap is a picture of rest. The little girl is there not to ask for something; she’s there just because it’s safe and comforting, because there’s nurture and affection. Because every child, whether they realize it or not, needs moments to be still, almost as if they’re feeling the embrace of the womb all over again. And it’s here that David nestles.

This isn’t escape from the world—this is a decision to not be consumed by the world. This isn’t to say that the issues of the day aren’t important, but it is to say that we must have God’s mind about what we allow to have prominence. Without such a posture, the noise of the world finds its way into our souls, which isn’t healthy for anyone, especially leaders.

Leaders with noisy souls are reckless leaders. The anger they feel might seem empowering. The message they shout might seem stimulating. The churning of their souls might feel justified. But, I ask, what is the long-term impact of such leadership, both upon ourselves and those we oversee? You can answer that in many ways, but I feel prompted to remind us that Satan schemes to bring division within Jesus’ Church.

I don’t recall in my decades of ministry seeing so many people stirred up over so many issues as I do today. Our responses are snarkier. Our resilience, weaker. Our trust, low. Our suspicion, high. Our anger, right on the edge. I found myself yelling at the news anchor as if she could hear me. Again, I’m not saying that these issues before us are insignificant—global health concerns, justice issues, Supreme Court rulings, and more. These are tumultuous times that rarely stay out there somewhere but find their way in here. And we’re whiplashed by news headlines, sideswiped by social media comments, gut-punched by an email, undercut by a criticism. I feel it; I see it; I get it.

But I say to you, Alliance family, with the apostle Paul, we’re not unaware of his schemes, and the scheming one—the accuser who is always out to steal, kill, and destroy—loves to steal the believer’s peace and unity. He wants to rob you of your personal sense of peace and then use that as the “virus” to undermine the unity that already exists between us and the Body of Christ.

Remember, we aren’t called to create unity but to keep it. Unity is kept as we personally experience the peace of Christ and engage with other believers from a place of trust. Trust, assuming good intent: “I didn’t understand why you said that, but I’m assuming you meant something well by it, so please help me understand.” This is what good leaders have done through the centuries, and this is how good families have always operated. The peace that they have in relationship with others flows out of the peace they’re experiencing in their own souls. The family in the home and the family called the Church are healthier when the peace of Christ rules in our hearts. This is possible. This is real. Even in the summer of 2020.

As The Alliance, we self-describe as a Christ-centered, Acts 1:8 family focused on Jesus, devoted to Jesus, dependent upon Jesus, worshiping Jesus—the King, the Christ, the Lord—who empowers us by His Spirit to be on mission to every segment of society. And we have the privilege of doing this together in relationship. It’s not just a slogan, it’s real. It’s who we’ve been—over and over again.

Time after time, this family has rallied together. In times of economic crisis, of national turmoil, of international conflicts, in times of martyrdom, streams of encouragement have flowed from one church to another, waves of new workers have been mobilized, floods of prayers and finances have forwarded our mission. Yes, right in the midst of war, famine, hurricane, earthquake, rioting, epidemic, pandemic, you name it, the family, this family, The Alliance, relies upon the Spirit and rallies together to be the Church, to live the faith, to demonstrate to a bickering world what love looks like . . . walking in peace as individuals and with each other in community. Do we agree on every issue? Of course not; what family does? But as in any family, disagreements handled well lead to deeper relationship and bolder resolve to carry on together in what God has us to do and who He’s called us to be.

In the last weeks, Alliance family, you’ve done it again—this time financially. In spite of skyrocketed unemployment numbers and uncertain economic news, your faithful giving to the Great Commission Fund during the first wave of COVID allowed us to keep our international workers in place, bringing the gospel at a time when people are actually receptive to hearing it. Beyond this, your strong giving in June now allows us to release full salaries for July. It’s too early to know yet what we’ll be able to do regarding pro-rata in August and September; that’ll depend on summer giving. But for this moment—on behalf of the hundreds of families who receive support from the GCF—thank you! Thank you for your faithfulness. Thank you for partnering in our mission. Thank you for the heart for the world that your giving expresses.

So yes, once again, the Alliance family has done the beautiful, generous, and exceptional thing. We’re working together on mission for the glory of Jesus and the advancement of His name. And it’s evidence to me that, once again, that which unifies us is greater than that which tries to divide us. You won’t agree with everything that someone else in the Alliance family says or does, including me. But I know thousands of people in The Alliance—from dozens of cultures and every skin color, from every section of the nation, and I say with conviction: This is one of God’s end-times families that He has raised up to complete the Great Commission, and we’re on mission together.

This is no time to let the serpent slither in and incite us to undermine each other as if we’ve forgotten who our real enemy is. Instead, this is a time to enter into the peace provided for us—peace with God, peace within ourselves, and peace with our brothers and sisters who may disagree with us about the latest headline but are in full agreement on the bottom line: Jesus is King. He’s the one we serve. His Word is truth. His Kingdom, eternal. His plan, unfolding. His purposes, unwavering, and His return forthcoming. May God use these words to bring peace to your souls and among our relationships. I’m not talking about squelching emotion or a facade of cordiality—I’m talking about a peace that transcends all understanding that is available to us in Christ. Let’s walk in it.

And let’s end where we started, with Elijah on a mountain. The commotion of the mountainside mirrored the commotion of his own soul—850 prophets of Baal, a death threat from the queen, a very long journey, a desire to die. But the prophet lingers long enough to hear the voice and discovers he has more work to do, other assignments await. He discovers he’s not alone; God has a partner prepared. And I firmly believe that he walks down from that mountain with his soul in a different place than before he had heard the voice.

Deep peace will make the points of passion in our soul all the more powerful and pure. Instead of reckless leaders, we’ll be rested leaders—because the whisper has captured our attention more than the headline. Much more is being called out of us; hence, much more has to happen within us. Happily, the voice still speaks, the word still comes, the lap still awaits. The King is still on His throne. You’re invited.

Share

Get Involved...

Pray.

We cannot “Live the Call Together” unless prayer is central to all we do.
Pray with us »

Serve.

Is God calling you to service? We’re here to help you connect your passion with God’s purpose.
Serve with The Alliance »

Give.

Help build Christ’s Church by supporting the ministry and workers of The Alliance.
Give today »