Dealing with Normality, Psychics and Ouija Boards, Oh My!

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In our sermon yesterday we discussed the span of the Israelite United Monarchy (1050-930BC). This is when Saul reigned as King, then David reigned, then Solomon reigned. We found out Saul (Wolverine), David (Lion, Elvis or James Bond?) and Solomon (N.T. Wright + Donald Trump) all failed in the quest of "being IN the world but not OF the world." At some point, they all lost their distinctiveness. In a desire to be more "normal" they compromised and Israel plunged into disaster.

We discovered looking back helps us to look forward. As it turns out, the secret answer to the question of "How do I be IN the world and not OF the world?" is not so secret after all. It is actually pretty simple - the answer can be found in Mark 1:15. When we REPENT and BELIEVE - only then will we see how listening to God makes so much sense. We ended on this note and communion was the perfect conclusion. We were reminded of not only the Israelites' failures, but our own. Thank God for His mercy and grace as He still invites us to the table! Thanks be to a God who died for us. Thanks be to God that we have a perfect High king who intercedes for His people because of His love for us! 

In this post I want to specifically highlight two questions I received yesterday. One from Twitter and the other from the congregation:

@Elizabeth_home We always turn to the Lord when we have trouble. ..The problem I have is turning to him in the normal course of daily life. #hcpreach

YES! Join the club! I think this is why being IN the world and not OF the world is so challenging. We live our every moments IN the world. We are surrounded by it. We can't escape it (Nor should we try). And as we walk daily in this world, much of our life is dedicated to the routine, to the monotaneous, to the normal. In every moment we have at least something on our minds - how do we not get distracted from God? How can we keep Christ in our purview on a daily basis? Is it possible to turn to God in the normal dailyness of life? Yes, I think it is...

The best book I know on this topic is called, The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence who worked for most of his life as a monastery cook. He defines the Christian life as the art of "practicing the presence of God in one single act that does not end." He talks about how he happened to realize that washing dishes, for example, was an opportunity for Him to experience God daily. I highly, highly, highly recommend it. It will inspire you and give you a refreshed vision for what living for God on a daily basis can look like. Another classic on this topic (a bit more weighty) is J.I. Packers' Knowing God. Also highly recommended. 

Without giving my own answer - I'd love to hear other thoughts on this topic. Does anyone have any insights on what it means to look to God in the dailyness of life? Please comment and share. 

Question from the Congregation: The "Witch at Endor": Are Horoscopes, Psychics and Ouija boards really THAT bad? What can we expect? 

Great question! This was evoked from the sermon where we learned in I Kings 28:4-8 that Solomon inquired of someone from the Occult rather than listening to Yahweh God. As a result, Solomon lost a major battle and this led to the civil war which then broke up the Kingdom of Israel for the next few hundred years. Disastrous consequences indeed...

Certainly there are different ways of answering this question. Does the questioner believe in spiritual realities - demons, angels, etc.? We at Holden Chapel believe that there are such things as demons and angels and spiritual realities that we can't see all the time. So my answer takes that into account. Does yours? Your answer to this question will help you to know how to answer the bigger question for yourself. 

Personally, I think one of the worst things about going to a psychic vs. going to God (besides the fact that psychis are much less powerful and knowledgable than God thus I have to question the strategic merit of that move) is that psychics, horoscopes and ouija boards, etc. satisfy our immediate desire for an answer but it's hard to know if that answer is actually true. Don't you want to know if the answer is actually true? As well, another problem of going to the occult is that the occult eliminates the need for sustained prayer or trust in God or use of wisdom in trying to make a decision. This is not actually a minor point...

God's word always stresses the value and need of patience, endurance, and humility when trying to discern the will of God or when trying to understand deeply the truth of a situation. Going to a medium bypasses this whole process. It is a public exhibition of someone trying to cheat the system. It is also a relation-less move which I think also highlights the limited value of such an action. As well, if you believe in the existence of demons then you can argue that going to psychics is not only not as strategic a move as you could make - but it is also potentially dangerous. Personally, I do believe it is dangerous - but I'll leave it at that b/c that conversation requires a lot of discussion about spiritual metaphysics - and it's just too early in the morning to get into all of that. :) 

Suffice it to say - the easy way out is often times not the best way out - despite our constant hopes for the contrary. Because I'm a Christian I'd say, "We've got a better way...pray to the God of the universe who also loves you more than you've ever been loved by anyone else." See what He has to say first... everything else is second best, at best. Any thoughts? 

- Pastor Mike 

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