Last week my wife and I were at our national conference in Minneapolis. It was a good conference, a chance to catch up on what is going on in the AFLC at large, and an opportunity to touch base with old friends and make a few new ones. We drive to the conferences because flying became such a hassle–long lines, TSA searches, 3 inches of leg room–that the time savings isn’t worth it to me anymore.
Unfortunately, driving has its own issues. We got a flat tire going around Chicago which I managed to keep inflated by stopping frequently on the way to South Bend. That’s when I had to stop and buy a new tire.
Right now you’re probably asking, So what? We all have problems every day. And that is most certainly true. But sometimes those problems seem to have a cause that isn’t necessarily random acts of irritation–and my flat tire might be one of those.
Sven Oftedal, one of the founders of the Lutheran Free Church wrote that our annual conference is “the great powerhouse of the LFC.” In other words, the conference is where those who attend get recharged and ready to go for another year. It does have that effect on me quite often. So I’m driving back to Maryland thinking about all we could do here at St. Paul’s and the possibilities ahead of us and suddenly those thoughts are driven out of my head by this irritation. It is possible that Satan did that, for our enemy hates the Church and any thoughts of making it better. It’s also possible that the problem was satanic in origin but simply another event in life. I don’t know.
But what I do know is that for a short time, I took my eye off the ball and stuffed all the good things from the conference into the back drawer of my mind and focused on the bad thing in front of me.
I think we do that all the time and it is not good for us. Yes, of course we have to solve our problems and deal with the irritating things in life. But too often we let those things take over and create grumpiness. Too often we lose sight of the big picture and focus on the little smudge in the corner. It would be far better for us to look at all we have and all we are and all that God is doing around us and save our mental energy for the things of eternal importance.
My wife read something really cool last week as we were driving. Someone wrote, if you woke up tomorrow and all you had were those things you thanked God for today–what would you have? Think about that a bit.
My readings this morning included Psalm 2. The psalmist touches on something that is important for Christians to remember–God will always have His way, no matter the vigor with which people oppose Him. I thought I’d share some thoughts about this psalm.
The Western world is a mess. If you don’t believe that, then you haven’t been looking. Of course the great problem with the world is sin–believing that we can do a better job than God in the ordering of creation. Mocking the Lord will always get a laugh on television and holding His people up to ridicule will always find its way into the editorial pages of our major newspapers (and not a few minor ones too).
But look how God responds to those who despise Him and His people. “He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.” (v.4) The mighty of this world, the powerful men and women, the cultural leaders, the haters of all things holy–God does not try to make excuses to them or explain His will. He does not call on His people to alter what has been taught amongst them from time immemorial, He does not bend to the fashions of the world and seek to seem relevant in the eyes of secularists. No friends, God laughs at them for He knows who is in control of the universe.
The next time someone attacks your faith or attempts to tell you God is simply a myth we have created to make ourselves feel safer–well, you can just smile at them because you know exactly what God thinks of them and what that will mean in the long run.
Oh, and in case you’re unsure about God’s victory, you can believe it because I looked in the back of the Book, and He wins.
What makes you get out of bed in the morning? (please don’t say the alarm clock, you know what I mean). Seriously, why bother to get up and face this world we live in? Well, I think there are some pretty good reasons.
First, we get up because God exists. Simple as that sounds, it’s profoundly true. If God didn’t exist, neither would we. But for any agnostics out there, if God didn’t exist there would be no reason to get up and go out into a world which would so very often give us pain. If God didn’t exist, why would we want to go through all the terrible things that happen in our lives, knowing that we were just animated carbon on our way to being inanimate carbon and that ultimately there was no meaning to life? If I didn’t believe in God I would have killed myself long ago.
Second, we get up because God has given us a new day. It’s unfortunate that we so seldom recognize that important fact. God, who holds all existence in the palm of His hand, who wills everything’s existence, has chosen to give us another day here on the 3rd planet from a minor star in a corner of the universe (okay, so the universe doesn’t have corners–you still know what I mean) We are here today because God wants us to be here. And with the new day come new opportunities to do the work He prepared for us before the beginning of time.
Third, we get up in the morning because we have sure and certain hope in our future and we have that hope because Jesus Christ died upon the Cross, enduring the punishment we deserve for the sin that clings so stubbornly to us, and He rose from the dead on the 3rd day that death might be forever defeated for His chosen people.
Finally, we get up in the morning because we just might meet someone today who needs to hear the Gospel and that there might be joy in heaven.
Go in peace and serve the Lord.