I want to emphasize the overwhelming message revealed in the Psalms, embodied in Jesus, and championed by Paul. Living life through self-will and with ourselves as the center of the universe is a dead-end. There might be short-term gains, but it falls far short of God’s hopes and dreams for us as people loved by God. Jesus reveals what a God-centered life looks like, and it is a life that flows from a deep soul-connection with the Spirit and produces loving connections in all the arenas of life. Rather than living splintered, disjointed lives, the result of a God-centered life is not more busyness, but meaningful and connected lives that reflect a basic integrity.
Last week we reflected on the simple guidance Psalm 40:6 offers:
Our God is not looking for genius; He does not require great talents.
He is not charmed by our panic-ridden activity. He simply asks for our faith and obedience.
Meditating on my panic-ridden activity, and my tendency to neglect the really important stuff of life that isn’t clamoring for my attention as “URGENT,” I thought of Paul’s wise counsel in Galatians 5:22-23:
But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.
This is particularly true of Psalm 46, which starts with these words:
God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling. (Psalm 46:1-3, 10 NKJV)
Do not fear. Fear is the primal instinct that both keeps us alive and robs us of life. Fear resides in what has been dubbed our “lizard brain,” the oldest part of our brain that is hungry, scared, angry, and horny. For a lizard, that’s as good as it gets, and if left unquestioned and unchallenged, that will be as good as it gets for us. But God intended more for us as human beings, for we have the God-given capacity to play and love…to dance and sing.
Do not fear? Fear has been my constant companion. Sure, there are a few times when fear is appropriate, but when fear has the steering wheel of my life, I’m no longer able to truly be present and connected to God, and if I’m not connected with God, I’m not going to be present and connected to myself or the people around me. I’m either in “fight, flight, or freeze” mode. There’s a reason every time God’s Spirit or an angel shows up, the first thing said is, “Don’t be afraid.” Instead, the guidance the Psalmist offers is to, “Be still and know that I AM GOD.” (Psalm 46:10 New King James Version) Or as Psalms Now reads, Hear God speaking: “Relax, stop fretting, and remember that I am still your God; I still hold the reins of this world of yours.”
How would we live if we didn’t just say we believe God is good, loving, and ultimately holding the reins of our lives and this world, but practiced that truth? It turns out practicing “as if” changes our brains. I know my life is looking a lot different the last few weeks as I practice being still, and listening to God’s presence and heartbeat in my life.
Hope to see you Sunday…This is what I found on my desk…
BERGEN/MARTIN AND HAZEL BURNETT SCHOLARSHIP NEWS
Applications for the spring 2018 Semester are now being accepted for the Hazel Burnett and Bergen/Martin scholarships. The deadline for applications is THIS SUNDAY, January 28, 2018. Forms can be emailed to email@example.com
THIS SUNDAY, JANUARY 28TH—JUNIOR HIGH ANNUAL CHILI COOK-OFF!
Our Junior High youth have made their best homemade chili for our annual contest!!! Join us in the Fellowship Hall after services for the opportunity to taste all chili entries ($3 to taste all) and pick your favorite chili! Winner will receive a prize!
Congregational Town Hall Meeting and Lunch Sunday March 4th at noon. Watch for more in the coming weeks.