My pastor, Josh Lipscomb, preached a very good sermon this past weekend, and I thought I would post the main theme here. I’ll start off with the main passage that the pastor used.
To the Chief Musician. To Jeduthun. A Psalm of Asaph.
1 I cried out to God with my voice—
To God with my voice;
And He gave ear to me.
2 In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord;
My hand was stretched out in the night without ceasing;
My soul refused to be comforted.
3 I remembered God, and was troubled;
I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah
4 You hold my eyelids open;
I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
5 I have considered the days of old,
The years of ancient times.
6 I call to remembrance my song in the night;
I meditate within my heart,
And my spirit makes diligent search.
7 Will the Lord cast off forever?
And will He be favorable no more?
8 Has His mercy ceased forever?
Has His promise failed forevermore?
9 Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has He in anger shut up His tender mercies? Selah
10 And I said, “This is my anguish;
But I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High.”
11 I will remember the works of the LORD;
Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.
12 I will also meditate on all Your work,
And talk of Your deeds.
13 Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary;
Who is so great a God as our God?
14 You are the God who does wonders;
You have declared Your strength among the peoples.
15 You have with Your arm redeemed Your people,
The sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah
When things are darkest, and when the future looks bleakest, remember what God has already done for you. And trust that if he did that for you, he will be faithful to you in the future. Be grateful for everything he has already done. Believe that he will guide and protect you as he has done in the past.
Too often we (me included) forget to be grateful for what we have already been given. And we don’t trust God to bring us what is best for us.
We get depressed when things don’t go the way we think they should. A depression that, as the author of the psalm says, can bring us sleepless nights and crushing worry. But like the author, we can look at the wonders that God has already done and know that he can and will provide in the future.
I was driving to work this morning and something happened that just struck me. It was an act of thoughtfulness and consideration from someone who had no need to do so and gained nothing tangible from doing it.
My drive is kind of long (about an hour) and I end up taking some back roads along the way. The speed limits (with the exception of one small town) are pretty high. So traffic usually moves along at a good speed. But every once in a while I will hit the road at just the wrong time and get stuck behind a school bus.
Now I don’t know how it is in other nations, but here in the US we have some specific traffic rules that apply to school buses. When a school bus stops to pick up a child, all traffic on the road going both directions must stop. The reasoning being that the child will be entering, and possibly crossing, the road to board the bus. So traffic should stop to ensure the safety of the child. And it really is a good rule.
The problem is that if you get stuck behind one of these school buses on your way to work, or wherever you are going, you will be stopping every few minutes until either you or the bus turns off the road. So it can get very annoying. And I had pretty much resigned myself to the fact that it was going to take me a lot longer to get to work than I had planned.
But then something happened. The school bus turned off the road. Which at first I didn’t think anything of. That is nothing other than relief that I was not going to have to spend the next 45 minutes to an hour behind it. But then I noticed that the bus had turned off, only to get back on. That is, the bus driver had deliberately turned off the road to allow the cars that were backed up behind it to get past. The driver had realized that there was a long line of cars behind the bus and was going out of his way to let that line past.
And he didn’t have to let us past. He was perfectly within his rights to simply continue along his route and let the line back up. The driver only did it out of consideration for those of us behind him.
Which really made me think about how often I could have been more considerate of others around me. How often have I blissfully continued along with whatever I was doing and gave no thought to others around me?
I read a rather interesting article on the blog, Stuff Christians Like. It was kind of tongue in cheek, but also serious at the the same time.
How often are we just listening to a sermon so that we can find ways to critique it? So that we can find “Spiritual” things to say about the sermon to our friends later?
The article listed a bunch of common phrases people use to criticize a sermon, along with a rather sarcastic definition of what the phrase means.
- I’m just not being fed.
What a fantastic way to look as if you’re more spiritual than the pastor himself.
- That message was not meant for me.
You are so generous to have sat there patiently while someone else that needed that sermon was able to receive it. What kindness.
- That didn’t feel like church.
What a perfect smokescreen of vagueness. How can anyone argue with your feeling? What does that even mean? More organ? Less organ? Better lasers? No lasers?
- There wasn’t enough Bible in that for me. That felt like a business leadership book.
What’s enough? No one knows, which is why this is such a gem.
- I’m not sure that sermon works in a postmodern world.
I’m not even sure I know what the word “postmodern” means, but it’s fun to say. Few things make you look smarter than repeating this word. Repeatedly.
From the article: Critiquing the sermon at lunch.
by Prodigal John
The truth is that I’ve heard almost all of these phrases before, and sadly I think I may have even used one or two. Which made me think about how often I’ve criticized a sermon for no real reason other than that it made me sound more knowledgeable or more spiritual.
There is always a need for examining what is said and studying it for yourself. And you should never just assume that because the pastor said it, it has to be true. But if you are just critiquing and criticizing so that you can avoid having to deal with your own issues, or so that you can appear more spiritual than others, you need to get a handle on why you are in church in the first place.
We don’t go to church to look good, or to make ourselves feel good. We go to church to worship God and to learn about Him what He would have us do.
[Edit]Due to lies being told about me and what I said in this post, I have had to remove the post from this blog. For those who read this post before the edit, the persons I referred to who were completely unrepentant and actually happy with the damage they caused have now decided to use my post on this blog as a new way to attack me and separate me from my loved ones.
My words on this post have been twisted and altered by them to say and mean things that were not my intent or my meaning. So the entire post has been removed to keep them from being able to use it against me.
Kind of ironic that a post about forgiveness and my struggles and need to forgive them has been turned into an attack on me by the same people I was trying to forgive.
I read the following quote today.
"The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good." – Samuel Johnson
Which made me think about my life. Do I treat people who can’t do anything for me the same way I treat people who can do something for me? Or how about those people I don’t really like? Do I treat them the way I should?
The truth is, I don’t. Especially people I don’t like. I’m not talking about people who have given me reason to be cautious about, or people who have mistreated me. I’m talking about the people who have never given me a reason to not like them, and yet I just don’t.
You know the type. The nerd at the party, or the odd person who is just a bit annoying. They are nice people, but not people I like. I have no reason to treat them badly,and yet I find myself avoiding them or ignoring them when they talk to me. It’s not right, and yet I end up doing it anyway.
It’s something I need to work on. Treating others the way I want to be treated is a biblical command. Not just a good idea.
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
I read an article the other day that was talking about the war and the reasons for it. The article claimed that the war was not a religious war and that religion was only being used by both sides to sensationalize and justify the war.
Specifically it claimed those on our side are trying to make this war out to be a Christians Vs Muslims war and that this isn’t true. And in a way, I agreed with the author. It’s not a Christians Vs Muslims war. Though I’m not sure that, despite the article’s claim, all that many people on our side are pushing that idea. From what I’ve seen, most people on our side simply believe that the other side is blinded by corrupt leaders and a lack of education. But that aside, I did agree with the author that it wasn’t a Christians Vs Muslims issue. And that got me thinking.
If you read anything that people in the middle east are writing, it becomes very obvious that the other side believes this to be a religious war. And yet, we have no interest in pushing our religions on them. So if we aren’t out there forcing our religions on them, then why do Muslims in these countries feel like their religion is under attack?
They clearly believe their religion is under attack by the West(specifically the US, but also Europe). And yet, we are making no efforts to impose our dominant religion(Christianity) on these Muslim nations. Not even on the ones we have occupied.
So what are we attempting to impose on them? What is the West actively pushing in every nation in the world? The answer is Secular Materialism. The thing we truly worship in this country and in most of the Western world, is secularism. And we are actively attempting to push that on every nation in the world.
In the West, the mainstream thought is that Religion should be tolerated as a basic human right, but is not considered to be important. In our world, religion is no longer central to society. Secular thought processes and ideas are what our society and culture embrace and follow. But since it isn’t a religion, we don’t see it as such. But outsiders(in this case non-Western Muslims) do. And so to them, this is a religious war. A war to protect their society from the religion of the West.