The Cybersalt Shaker features devotionals and commentary written by Pastor Tim.
Y2 Ho Hum
By the time you read this, we will all know whether or not great catastrophe will have come upon the world at the stroke of midnight on New Years Eve. Sound familiar? It should. It seems like a century ago that many in the world fretted about the millennium bug known as Y2K. Do you remember the concern and worry that gripped so many as the clocked ticked its way toward the year 2000? Planes were going to crash, phone systems were going to cease to work, electricity was going to fizzle out and ball point pens were going to leak in shirt pockets. Sure it's easy enough to look back and laugh now, but the possibilities were serious, and the potential consequences did loom larger than life at times. However, as I reflect upon last year, this year scares me even more. Why? The emptiness of plenty.
You see, I've noticed that some of the most dangerous times in the lives of God's children seem to be those times when all seems safe and secure. There is nothing like hard times to remind you of your need for God just as there is also nothing like good times to tempt you away from Him. So at the beginning of a new year - one without a palpable sense of doom upon the world - let's be vigilant to give Jesus the first and best part of our lives.
Compared to the Y2K threat, 2001's beginning will probably be "ho hum". May our devotion to God never be so.
Endless Government - No More Elections
(I wrote this for my denomination's national prayer guide in mid November for publication in December. Therefore, I have left the text as is for effect. I know there have not been 8 recounts.) As I write this, it is mid-November. By the time most of you read this, Canadians will know who their next government will be and Floridians will probably be finishing their 8th manual recount of presidential ballots. (Florida legislators are considering changing all bingo cards in their state from the "dab" to "punch" method in training for the 2004 presidential elections.)
The process of changing governments at regular intervals is a complex, detailed task of mammoth proportions that must take place. It must take place because the finite humans that lead us eventually get either worn out or out of date. Wouldn't it be great if we could just elect one government forever that would serve well and uphold unchanging principles as the times we live in change. Just imagine it: endless government.
The Christmas season reminds us that God has a plan for endless government. His plan for the end of governmental change was expressed through Isaiah:
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:6&7 - NIV)
Just think about it! No more polls, no more lawn signs, no more rhetoric, no more debates, no more politics. Just Jesus ruling for eternity over all!
Endless Government. I'll vote for that.
Two Times Zero Is Still Empty
Victoria, British Columbia, where I live, is the only city in Canada using double-decker buses in regular transit service. That's right; true to it's claim of being the most British city in Canada, I can ride to town on a double-decker bus. I must admit that I like seeing these buses on the road. To me, as a child, they were oddities that existed in a far away place where the people drove on the wrong side of the road. Around town, they are new, clean, shiny, tall machines. Oh yes, they are also twice as empty as the "single decker" buses they replaced.
Our walk with God can easily be just like that. Each day we are constantly bombarded by all kinds of neat and wonderful things to get involved in and spend our lives at. Regularly, programs and seminars, speakers and books, beckon Christians to new experiences and exciting pursuits in the name of Jesus.
Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against experiencing or pursuing Jesus. The only problem is that many of the new programs, books, and teachings that we believers are being plied with, buffet style, are twice as empty as the void they claim to fill once you get on board,.
I'm not against change. And I'm open to learning how to better communicate God's truth to our current culture. I just think that when it comes to experiencing Jesus, there is no substitute for talking to Him. Saying that may not be shiny and new but that's Ok.
Two times zero is still empty.
As I write this, I am at the tail end of a wonderful vacation in the place I grew up. I've been enjoying seeing and catching up with family and friends. I've also been driving around to old haunts I frequented as a youth. The urge to go back to places we have been is an interesting one. I don't doubt that part of it stems from the desire to have some things in life that do not change. However, in going back to familiar places, I also find within me an urge to measure who I am as compared to who I was years ago.
For instance, one place I returned to is a little spot by a large lake. Located at the footings of a bridge over the entrance to a canal, it's a place I almost always went to to pray as a young believer. It was there that I awed at the power of God's creation as spring storms pushed winter ice ashore in massive, scraping, overlapping sheets. On quiet summer evenings the stillness of the lake's water would evoke a quietness within me that spawned a more concentrated communion with God. Though some people fished from that spot, and others just played and left the odd bit of litter, that area of concrete by the water became a holy place to me because I paid attention to God there regularly.
My vacation return to this sacred meeting place was a profitable one for me. Externally, except for some cracks in the cement and unusually high water, all was the same. Internally, however, I noticed busyness and overload that seemed to fight off the calm that was there in my early Christian life. This vacation was just in time and the order of the day was for some re-ordering for everyday. Eternally, of course, God was the same – ready to meet there or anywhere I would pay attention to Him.
Maybe you don't have a sacred place to go back to as I do. Maybe you did but it has changed. Whatever the reality of your past, what is important to remember – and act on – is that we can connect or reconnect with God just by turning our attention and focus on Him. To accomplish this we may have to step back from the busyness of ministry or our hectic lives. Perhaps some goals we have been pursuing for some time are off target for us as God's children.
It may not feel like progress but sometimes the best step ahead you can make is the step you take back.
As I write this, Westside Bible Church, where I pastor, is about to celebrate her 10th anniversary. In preparing for our celebrations, I was profoundly moved as I learned more about the pre-history of our church and viewed photographs of the individuals who were part of it. You see, even though we are celebrating 10 years as a congregation, our origin dates back to 1913 when Methodists started a church in Victoria. When they joined the United Church their building was used as a Sunday school. This work eventually grew into another church that, after some years, joined the AGC. With the passing of time that church ebbed and flowed until the time came for it to be closed, it's building sold, and the proceeds held in trust to begin another AGC work in Victoria. That work was and is Westside Bible Church.
While viewing the photographs of those Methodists of 1913, I couldn't help but wonder if they ever imagined or thought their service for the Lord would continue on for so long or in the way that it did. Did they labour, pray, and study with an eye to our present? Were they moved to sacrifice for generations that would follow one that wasn't even born yet?
What about you? Have you ever stopped to think that what you do this day may be looked back upon by future generations? Did you know that what you do today with an eye for tomorrow may in fact shape the lives of those who will not take their first breath for another 10, 50 or 100 years? With that possibility, what importance and significance even the most mundane of tasks, or smallest of thoughts, takes on! The small choice we choose for today may carve a canyon of praise to God in the future. One small drop of obedience in the next minute may flow into an ocean of salvation amongst future generations of souls.
Let us pray that it may be so, that we may all be somebody's history.
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