Pastor's Corner
“Things Smart Folks Have Said”

       Every week I study certain verses of the Bible to bring a bit of God’s word to our church.  It is time consuming, sometimes joyful, sometimes maddening, but always very, very interesting and enlightening.
     On this journey of learning, I come across quotes from great books written by great men and women.  By now, I have a fairly good collection.  This month, I would like to share some of these quotes with you, in the hope that you, too will find them interesting and enlightening.
“Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.” (Winston Churchill)
     You could always count on Winston Churchill to get to the point.  He certainly has hit the mark with this line.  Truth is a funny thing, particularly in all things Christian.  Most Christians spend their time avoiding the central truth of Christianity:
   “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Mark 8:34)
     How many folks do you know who view Christ as someone to make their life happy; someone who holds the ticket to eternal life?  The actual number would probably stagger us.
     Most come to Christianity with this view.  Once committed to Bible study, it becomes clear that Christianity is a life of obedience to God, commitment to love and serve God and neighbor, and a life of action… truly following Jesus Christ.
      The realization of this truth drives many “name-only” Christians in other directions… “hurrying off as if nothing ever happened,” as Churchill said.
       Trust God.  Follow Christ.  Stick it out.  The best is yet to come…
     “As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on thing and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down you cannot see something that is above you.” (C.S. Lewis)
It was Jesus who told us, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.”  We all have a choice, serve God, or serve something or someone else.
The toughest part about it is that it is so very easy to serve ourselves first… God and others, second.
This is due to that overbearing nemesis, Pride.  Pride tells us it is important to always be right.  Pride tells us it is paramount to be first.  Pride tells us we deserve the best and without delay.  Pride tells us, in essence, we are 100 times better than we are.
Christ tells us differently.  He goes so far as to direct us to put aside our possessions, including our human pride, and follow Him.  As humans, that is extremely difficult, for pride is woven into our being.
But little by little, day by day, one serving act by one serving act… the Holy Spirit can work in us to conquer our pride.  In those blissful moments of clarity, we can feel that work and find ourselves looking up to God… and not down on others.
     “We did not come to remain whole. We came to lose our leaves like the trees, trees that start again, Drawing up from the great roots.” (Robert Bly)
Closely akin to the above is this line from a Robert Bly book.  Pride would tell us the goal is to be a “wholly integrated-self-fulfilled-spiritually at one” island, wherein we achieve “true happiness” and earthly “nirvana”!  (WOW! That sounds like a new wave diet infomercial, doesn’t it?)
But the truth is, God seeks to remake us, starting with our hearts.  He seeks to teach us a new, sacrificial love through the death and resurrection of His only Son, that we might move outside of ourselves, and into His realm; a realm of giving action, serving love and eternal light.
C.S. Lewis talked about this a great deal.  He said that God doesn’t want just some of us; He wants every last bit of us.  Out with the old and in with the new.  If we give ourselves, kit and caboodle, to Christ, He will make us something new, wonderful and unimaginably alive!
“Nothing you have not given away will ever really be yours,” said Lewis.  Now there’s something to think about the next time we claim to “own ourselves” and exercise “mastery over our destiny.” 
And finally, this:
     “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” (C.S. Lewis)
Here is an insight we can all use.  As humans, we often demand proof before we believe a matter.  God is not that way.  First of all, He’s not that way because He is God and He doesn’t have to be.  Secondly, He’s not that way because He put something in our hearts to make us reach for Him… an exciting and wondrous quest that makes life worth living!
Part of that quest for relationship with God is the opening of our eyes to that which is right here in our midst: the beauty of a sunrise, the changing of nature’s colors, the smile from a friend or even a stranger, the peace of a prayer, the energy of a puppy, the laughter of a child…
It is all around us, this evidence of God and His love.  If only we will open the eyes of our eyes!
So, there are a few of the quotes that have been on my heart as I do my weekly reading, studying and praying prior to drafting a sermon.  Give them some thought.  Enjoy them!
                                                                                                                                           Yours in Christ,                                                                                                                                                                                      Pastor John