May 21st, 2015
If Paul’s telling us the truth that in the Gospel our storyline, for all its fits and starts, twists and turns, triumphs and travails, has been irrevocably ordered toward glory then, as we said near the end Sunday, every single thing you fear should take on a different character. Though it might seem like the boulder out for blood in Indiana Jones, in truth it’s more like a transparent vinyl inflatable that can do little more than give you a grass stain.
We tried to paint that picture for you in words Sunday. Here it is in living color.
But while that may be a bold claim with a vivid illustration, how does the “boulder” our fears resemble become the “inflatable” they really are, given what we’ve been promised?
Toward the end of Q&A, we encouraged everyone to have a gander at Psalm 77, which begins with the same sense of groaning we’ve heard Paul invoke the last two Sundays in Romans 8.
I cry aloud to God,
aloud to God, and he will hear me.
2 In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord;
in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying;
my soul refuses to be comforted.
3 When I remember God, I moan;
when I meditate, my spirit faints.
The Psalmist does not specify the cause for his lamentation–only that it is deep and burdensome. To the point where he entertains giving up hope that God might answer:
Will the Lord spurn forever,
and never again be favorable?
8 Has his steadfast love forever ceased?
Are his promises at an end for all time?
9 Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has he in anger shut up his compassion?
As things stood, that moment came at the Psalmist like our proverbial boulder. Whatever this fearful thing was, it had all the marks of being a fateful thing.
But then, a shift occurs. Not in his circumstances, but in the direction of his attention.
Then I said, “I will appeal to this,
to the years of the right hand of the Most High.”
11 I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
12 I will ponder all your work,
and meditate on your mighty deeds.
13 Your way, O God, is holy.
What god is great like our God?
14 You are the God who works wonders;
you have made known your might among the peoples.
15 You with your arm redeemed your people,
the children of Jacob and Joseph
What’s he doing there?
What allows what seemed like a boulder barreling down upon him to become, though maybe not as innocuous as an inflatable ball but at least far less menacing?
He’s doing what Mr. Puckett called during Q&A “taking hold” of God: putting the fulness of God before his own face, like staring at a painting, but by calling to mind what God had done previously, and what that reveals about the truth of God.
Another word for what the Psalmist was doing there is something we’ve discussed before recently: meditation. In contrast with the practice of “mindfulness” which seeks either to empty the mind of thoughts or focus on the mind on the smallest things, the meditation demonstrated by the Psalmist urges filling the mind with the largest and most fundamental of thoughts–in other words, thoughts of God.
Donald Whitney removes some of the mystery to meditation by offering some helpful guidelines in how to meditate. It’s not for meditation’s sake that we meditate, but for the sake of taking hold of God, whereby those things we fear too much might become things we fear less than the extent to which we trust the God who puts them in perspective.
In family there is both constancy and flux. It is our family that grounds us, shapes us, gives us a place of rootedness. It’s that same family that instructs us in the reality of change. This Sunday we will have that paradoxical sense of family renewed as we say goodbye to one part of our family, while we say an even deeper “hello” to another part.
Their true last Sunday with us is May 31, but this Sunday during 2nd hour, we’d like to say farewell to Dan and Kathy McCartney who will be moving back to Pennsylvania to be near family. We’ve been the beneficiaries of their wisdom and service in their time as members of CtK. Come have some cake and ice-cream in their honor in Fellowship Hall immediately following worship.
Then for the remainder of our 2nd hour we’d like to give the whole congregation an opportunity to learn a little bit more about the man who stands for election as ruling elder next month, Mark Kull. Mark will take a few moments to share a little of his own testimony, and then, as we did when electing our first class of officers, we’ll invite you to ask Mark anything you’d like about him and his wife Rachel, his family, and his sense of call to eldership within CtK. Our election is scheduled for June 14th during 2nd hour. Join us this Sunday for an opportunity to become even more acquainted with one who, in the words of the author of Hebrews, will be held accountable for keeping watch upon the souls of CtK (13:7).
A couple more family items of note:
1) We have two more newborns in our midst: Jack Martinez (Amy and Rico) and now Isabel Garmon (Anna and Ryan). And we know their parents could use just a little help with preparing some meals as they accustom themselves to this whole parenting thing.
As Liesl Raikes promised a few months back, we’ve devised a way to register online your willingness to provide these young families a meal in the coming month. Here are the details.
http://www.TakeThemAMeal.com/meals.php?t=FHJV3820Another way others can access your meal schedule is:
Recipient Last Name: Martinez Password: CtK
Anna and Ryan’s meal signupHere is a link to your new meal schedule:
http://www.TakeThemAMeal.com/meals.php?t=JXUE7218Another way others can access your meal schedule is:
Recipient Last Name: Garmon Password: CtK
2) With summer soon upon us, we’ll pause with providing 2nd hour nursery, starting June 7.
We’ve been at this Backstory thing going on almost two years now. We’re long overdue for getting some candid feedback from you about how to make it better. Might you take just a few moments to complete this three-question, anonymous, survey? Thanks!
Finally prayers are in order for
- Ryan and Anna Garmon, and their little girl Isabel (they call her “Izzy”), who’ve all had quite a week but who are all now home
- Horace Williams recovering from a hospital stay, and his beloved Wanda caring for him
- Karla Pollock now safely in Malawi for the next month