I remember listening to the radio for hours planning a mixtape to listen to while I mowed the lawn. I remember spending an hour in the library on Friday. I needed 3 or 4 books for the weekend, and I was going to be stuck reading whatever I picked. They would need to be good! Going to my cousin’s house was different than going anywhere after I could drive. I had to bring whatever I wanted, because I couldn’t just run back home to get it. Grocery lists were harder before text messaging. Buying stuff for a project was different before you could take pictures to bring with you. And calling people… let’s not even go into how difficult it was to call people before cell phones!
I realized this week that I don’t plan for the future like I used to. Not in the big ways—eternity, life insurance, or car maintenance, for example. I mean in the mundane ways. I don’t carry a Bible much—it’s right on my phone. Buying gifts is easier with free 2-day shipping (Remember 6-8 week shipping!). 24-hour pharmacies (they used to close at 5!), video streaming (instead of movie rentals!), and email (instead of overnight-mailing a form!) have made us futuristically lazy.
All of these things are great for productivity. We don’t have to pay for mistakes like we used to. And we can make decisions faster than ever before. But we must be careful to remember that there are some ways technology can’t replace planning. This is especially true with our spiritual growth. Even with fantastic tools, spiritual growth still takes time, effort, planning, and execution. You need to know where you need to grow, how you can work toward that growth, what growth looks like, and who can help you get there.
If you forgot to record the latest episode of your favorite show 20 years ago, you were just out of luck. We have options now. So we can be more casual.
If we “forget” to spend the time in prayer, planned Bible study, mentoring, fellowship and worship, there is no going back. There’s no rush order on spiritual growth.
Hebrews 5:12—By this time you ought to be teachers,
you have need again for someone to teach you
the elementary principles of the oracles of God
Floridians were glued to their televisions and their iPhones as Hurricane Irma swirled relentlessly through the Atlantic. We all watched Steve Weagle live on Facebook giving the weather report. We all prayed the storm might pivot out to sea or lose steam in the mountains of Cuba. We watched the Cone of Uncertainty encompass all of Florida from the Keys to the panhandle. And we were horrified. Some of us evacuated. Some of us hunkered down. I’m sure all of us were frightened. Lea and I evacuated, knowing our home to be unprepared for the ravages of a Category 4 or 5 and especially wanting Windsor out of a risky situation where electricity and medical care might be inaccessible.
Once the storm passed, those who stayed emerged and those who left began trekking back. We began to clean up our debris and take down some of our shutters. We were glued to the FPL website for updates on when power might return to our neighborhoods. But we were thankful our houses and our neighborhoods still stood… especially when the chilling images began to filter through. Island homes and businesses destroyed. Their streets flooded. Casualties. Injuries. I read there is not a single person left on the island of Barbuda. Most of its residents evacuated to Antigua… but the 80 who remained on Barbuda are gone. 95% of the homes there are destroyed. Some speculate the island will never recover. For the first time in 300 years, that island is empty.
It’s so very difficult to imagine an entire island population displaced or dead and the buildings destroyed. Life is precarious and precious. This storm has reminded me not take a single day or a single moment for granted. Hug your family tightly. Serve humankind compassionately. Love and worship God with an unwavering heart.
How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog–it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.
Sunday is going to be a weird day. I’m not going to get up early. I won’t be getting to church early, getting things set up, teaching or preaching. We won’t be having services on Sunday – and that’s rare by itself! But that doesn’t mean we won’t be able to worship God. It may be days like today where we can worship most appropriately. We can see and hear the power of God’s creation. We can understand our weakness and limitations. We like to imagine ourselves in control, but during the storms, we understand how feeble that belief is. Continue reading “Post-Hurricane Devotional”
I’m sure we’ve all been watching the news this week, horrified by conditions in Texas as they deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Neighborhoods flooded, homes destroyed, people injured, trapped, dead. Towns without electricity. Chemical plants burning. Water systems failing. When I see images of devastation like that it is hard to get the images of Katrina, Andrew, Frances and Jeanne out of my head. As I tuck my child into bed at night, warm and safe and dry, it’s hard to think of families whose children no longer have a bed to crawl into. We become desensitized sometimes to disaster and to suffering. Remember the real people who will need real help for a very long time.
We know that Jesus’ primary mission on earth was to die as the sacrifice for our sins. He came to heal us in the most profound and important ways – to help us when we couldn’t. As a way to make this healing more apparent, he spent his life helping people heal in many other ways. Healing the sick. Feeding the hungry. Comforting the bereaved. When we make compassion and service a central part of our Christian life, we are mirroring a defining characteristic of Jesus’ life.
Many times, we aren’t near enough to be the hands and feet of Christ in a disaster like the one that hit Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and even Tennessee, yet we can help those Christians who are. Groups like Church of Christ Disaster Relief deployed a team of volunteer Christians on Friday – the same group who came to Stuart for Hurricane Jeanne.
Equally important is remembering we are the hands and feet of Christ in our own community. Our faith doesn’t live inside this building. When we collect supplies for underprivileged students, give help and food to the homeless, and provide opportunities to connect with our community, we are living out Christ’s compassion in our local area.