So, so much to write about. It’s been a few weeks since writing my last musings and I’ve preached 2 sermons since my last post. Here are some random thoughts that have been rolling around in my head:
The need for a personal relationship:
It is simply astonishing to me the amount information that we have in our time. I mentioned Sunday about the amount of average words spoken in our a lifetime being 830-860 million words. Just think about how many extra words we text, email, or post? That’s a lot of words.
But what’s odd about our time, is that while communication might be at its height, deep, intimate relationships seem to be at their lowest point. We “talk” a lot, but we don’t connect much. We “share” lots of things, but we don’t share at the deepest levels.
I found this interesting over the last week of research for Sunday. For the first time in human history, most people below 30 years old will do more communication electronically rather than in-person. For a child of the 80’s, when we would meet at Mr. Pickard’s store for a Coke and a Snickers, then head off to the baseball field for an afternoon of ball, that thought shocked me. It is really an anomaly for our children to know how to interact with people, shake their hands, greet them warmly, and have personal interactions.
And the COVID year has only exacerbated this. Isolation, depression, social anxieties have only gotten worse. And screen friends or social media friendships continue to rise. All the while, no one knows how to personally interact with one another on the deepest levels.
Now, where this really effects us spiritually is in 2 places: 1) we don’t recognize that our screens, electronics, are pulling us away from human interaction. This hurts us because God made us to be in community with one another and He made us to have personal connections. The depression we feel from the isolation, is real, but can be remedied. 2) Because we don’t see a need for personal relationships, we don’t see a need for a personal relationship with God. This is where it really hurts us. God made us for Himself. God made us for a relationship with Him. And when we think isolation is normal, we can intrinsically begin to think that isolation from God is normal. But this is not how God made us, therefore, we struggle internally, until we “find ourselves in Him.” As Augustine wrote, ““Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.” So true.
The need to hear God’s final Word:
When we recognize that Jesus is God’s final revelation about His character and how to be right with Him, we can stop wrestling in our souls. Here’s what I mean: so often, we feel like we need to be in the “center” of God’s will. We need to have some clear, discernible, ‘word’ from God about our lives. And if we don’t, we’re missing out on “God’s best”.
But let me offer something a little different…what if, we learned that loving God and trusting Him to make us more like Jesus, was the direct bulls-eye of the “will of God” target? What if, rather than waiting on the clouds to point arrows for us, we tried to see everything as connected to Christ, His glory and His gospel? Our marriages? Our singleness? Our jobs? Our homes? Our schooling? Our possessions?
Here’s my point: often I find Christians confused about what God wants from them. They want a ‘word’ from God. They won’t move or do anything without that word. Or they want God to somehow prove Himself to them once again…prove He loves them by providing for their financial needs; prove His mercy by not holding their sins over their heads; or prove His faithfulness to them by doing something they ask of Him. But in Christ, we find that God has already spoken about all of these things. There is simply no need for another ‘word’ from God. It’s the most encouraging, edifying, challenging, powerful word every spoken.
So, rather than looking for a new word, I wonder if we should spend more time learning about the Final Word. Growing deeper in love with Jesus; by His power trying to be more like Him; and by His grace trying to serve others like He did.
Several years ago, this truth hit me harder than it ever had before. I became more relaxed in my dealings with others; I stopped worrying about my future; I stopped wrestling with God over the ‘why’s’ of life and started believing that He was at work all the time. This is why I’m a big fan of reminding myself of gospel truths, regularly. It’s easy to forget and I’m prone to forgetting. I need Christ, daily!
Faith in the storms:
Two Sundays ago, I preached from Mark 4:35-41. That story has always amazed me. But let remind you of something that bears repeating. When Jesus calmed the storm, He did it in response to the disciples’ questioning of His care for them. In a very real sense, Jesus’s calming of the storm answered this question: Jesus, do you care about us? And his reply is, ‘yes, I do’. The faith that Jesus challenging the disciples about was not faith to calm the storm, it was faith that Jesus would care for them. This is a very important distinction.
Many in Christian circles think that our faith must be in Jesus’s ability to calm the storms of life, in order for Him to calm those storms. So, if cancer hit us, we must believe He can heal our cancer, IF we want Him to stop the cancer. If COVID hits us hard, we must believe that He can heal us, IF we want Him to stop COVID. You get the point.
But Mark 4 is fascinating because Jesus calms the storm to tell the disciples, I care for you. He calmed the storm, as a sign of His care and He called His disciples to trust that He cared for them. Notice, He never once called them to trust that He could calm the storm. He challenged them to trust that He cared for them.
Here’s why this is important: storms of life are going to come and go. Some will be stilled by the hand of God, some will be allowed by the hand of God. But God’s care…never changes. He will care for us in the storm and through the storm. Our faith must never waver that He cares. His cross proves this.
From the Cheap Seats:
- As many of you know, I’ve had the privilege of helping with Roseburg American Legion Baseball this summer as the Director of Player Development. It’s been great seeing all 4 of our teams get better as the summer as gone along. As of this time, our combined records are: 69-33. That’s pretty good. And the Docs and Pepsi have both qualified for their respective state tournaments. Docs begins this weekend (July 25-28) and Pepsi begins August 4-8. Exciting times and grateful to play a small part.
- The All-Blacks are off to a great start; Premier League teams start pre-season; and NFL training camp begins. What a great month!
Have a great week!