To The Point for April 29 2020

A Word about the Word and Close to Home 

Hearing Pastor Ty challenge us last Sunday not just to hear Christ’s words but to do them got me thinking—about another Scripture passage and about our responsibility as we move into the future as a post–COVID-19 people and church:

 “We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.

 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Therefore, let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity.” [Hebrews 5:11–6:1]

Strong words, I know. But they are essentially a call for each of us to strive for maturity. Who doesn’t want that? And the writer tells us how to move toward maturity: It’s not by constant Bible study or constant sermon-hearing. Maturity comes by intentionally and regularly applying what we are hearing and learning. By being able “to distinguish good from evil.” By hearing God’s Word AND doing it.

According to this passage, then, if you are regularly doing what you are hearing, then it’s time for you to start teaching and leading others. This is how to grow in spiritual maturity. You don’t need to be a biblical know-it-all. You just need to be available and willing.

Let me challenge you with 3 things:

  1. Open up your Bible. Start reading it at least 15 minutes a day. Begin with the Gospel of John. That’s where Trinity will be this summer.
  2. Receive the Scriptures that you are reading as authoritative in your life. Start doing what they say. Maturity comes through obeying and making right choices.
  3. Prayerfully consider joining and/or leading a small group in the future (it can be for adults, teens, or kids). Text LETSGO to 97000 to start the process. The future will be here soon.

As you begin this, you will experience the maturity and joy of Christ’s words: Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

The World as It Is

Just some random numbers and thoughts and quotes in our new world:

More Americans have died of COVID-19 than in the Vietnam War.

Here’s a question about Mother’s Day (coming up on May 10): In a world where hugs and in-person visits are presently ill-advised, how are you planning on celebrating the mom(s) in your life?

“We should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return: We will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again.” [Queen Elizabeth, speaking recently to the British people]

I learned a new phrase that is connected to these pandemic days: ”excarnational living.” It’s obviously the opposite of incarnational living that Christ modeled and called us to. The world of Zoom meetings and quarantine has necessarily spawned “excarnational” living. But I must say that I am getting a bit tired of this “defleshing” of life. We are all longing for incarnational interaction and relationships again.

”Face coverings will be needed at large gatherings after states reopen.” [Dr. Birx]

#CultureNerd

During this season, many of us are watching movies, going on long nature hikes, listening to our favorite music, and taking pictures of beautiful skies and sunsets over the lake. Innately, we have a longing to interact with God’s creation, with beauty, and with art.

Especially at a time like this, when so much is out of our control and irregular, the need for a transcendent experience—one that is not utilitarian or contributing to the “bottom line”—is truly vital. When our minds can take no more of the juggling and uncertainty, when our psyches are on overload with stress and concerns, we need to turn to that which feeds the “soul” and pleases the eye.

Augustine put it this way: “Please do not be ungrateful to the one who made you able to see; this is why you are able to believe what you are not yet able to see. God gave you eyes in your head, reason in your heart. Arouse the reason in your heart, get the inner inhabitant behind your inner eyes on his feet, let him take to his windows, let him inspect God’s creation.”

Here is a splendid article that expounds on this thought. https://tifwe.org/works-of-art-tangible-evidence-of-gods-beauty-glory/

And Then There’s This…

The other day, my iPod (am I old?) was on shuffle and lyrics by that great theologian, Elton John, came on: “Sorry seems to be the hardest word.” Why is it that most people, even Christian people, find it so hard to put up their hands and simply say, “Sorry, I blew that”?

Especially in this time of potential relational tensions, “sorry” is a must in our vocabularies and hearts! I am not sure why Sir Elton is so right, but he is spot on, isn’t he? Is it simply old-fashioned pride? Having to admit that I am wrong puts a knot in my stomach. It hurts. And yet, better to swallow my pride and say “sorry” than the devilish alternative. It was pride, after all, that reduced God’s glorious angel to the prince of demons.

So, as hard a word as it is to say, let it be part of our vocabulary: “Sorry.”

I’ll see you on Sunday (virtually).
Pastor Paul