Sunday, August 28, 2011

Who is Blessed?

Psalm 1:1

I can't think of anything more practical than having the Lord's blessing in my life. But, sometimes when I look at what I'm going through I start to wonder aloud, "What am I doing wrong?" The usual answer in my case is frustratingly simple--I've lost sight of one of the basics again.

Psalm 1 offers us foolproof advice that's often read, but poorly practiced. Have you ever sought out advice from the wrong people? I have, and I'm not proud of it. But what we may miss here is the difference between our world and the world of the Psalmist's day. The difference? Technology.

We don't have to do anything to solicit advice in our day. All we have to do is lace up and walk out the door or swipe the screen of our smart phones. In so doing we enter Aldous Huxley's Brave New World so full of noise that we can hardly think a thought for ourselves without the influence of some voice somewhere. To grasp this fully just try to imagine navigating a whole day without any media or advertising influences. Music, billboards, radio, TV, newspapers, computers, books...the list is quite long.

You may not intentionally sit down for coffee with the worst person on your block for advice, but is that the only vehicle for advice today? I think not. We can just as easily forfeit the Lord's blessing in our lives by mentally buying what the world is selling as we sit at a bus stop, watch the evening news, or squint at the skywriting at the beach. Mark it down, there isn't an issue or topic you can raise for which the world doesn't have wicked counsel .

What's the solution? Awareness! Don't be caught off guard. You must be able to train yourself to find the lies in the messages around you. Oh yeah, there's some good stuff in verse two as well. But, that's for next time.

Sensing Spiritual Moments

Sometimes we find ourselves in a moment where everything around us seems to shout the presence of God. They may come often for some, but as rare as a comet for others. I'm in one as I write this out in my back yard by the fire on perhaps the most beautiful evening of the year. The kids are in bed and I've dimmed my screen to avoid spoiling the starlit sky.

Sensing Spiritual Moments requires something intangible of us, and in my experience, they come when I least expect them. We cannot manufacture them and they cannot be scheduled in our planners--thought we can plan time to be alone in nature with His word, or in communion with close believing friends.

I was reminded by our missions trip teens on Sunday evening about a memory forged en route from New Mexico to New Jersey. We were returning from two weeks of ministry and travel and were experiencing the tension of events beyond our control. We became aggravated by our slow progress at rest stops compounded by vehicle trouble and allowed an open door for Satan to stir up strife. One of our students recognized the danger and soon Bible verses were beating back the darkness and we fought frustration with worship music.

I am certainly not known as a mystic, but I cannot explain to those who were not there how intense this season of praise became. The Spirit of God descended on that van like Sinai and we all spoke about it afterward. Perhaps you have experienced this too?

Sound theology reminds us that God is always with us. But, if we are honest, we spend the majority of our days thirsting for a sense of the divine that seems just out of reach. I think Paul knew what I mean when he wrote, "now we see in a mirror dimly." Our spiritual senses are not near what they ought to be, they are dull to the point of regularly missing our Father's omnipresence.

Is there anything we can do to cure this deficiency? I mostly encounter these "spiritual moments" when I sense that I have been a part of something that God is or has been doing. When we are battling darkness and cling to the Lord, or when he comes through for us in power, these are the times of spiritual exhilaration. For a biblical example, consider Miriam's dance and song after being delivered from Pharaoh's death chase in Exodus 15.