Thursday, January 26, 2017

Watch those Barriers

By Rev. Tom Tuura
Pastor of Christ Lutheran Church

Proverbs 3:5,6 tells us (Lets say it together...) “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not on thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths.”
We skip over the middle part, “Lean not on thine own understanding”.
As in the Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carol”, lets take a ride with the “angel of Christmas present” to visit a few church attending people's situations. (Nothing to do with Christmas season, just using the metaphor.) All, except the last, have one thing in common, a barrier to which they won't allow God to cross.
This first person is a church member, who attends ocasionally but lives like she wants during the week. This woman never considered the Bible or her pastor's counsel. Like many, she's had a very tough marriage, husband is a real loser. Although married in the church, by a pastor, never talked to him when things got out of hand. And probably never followed her church's biblical guidance when they met and married. Just went straight to the lawyer's office to end it.
This second person is the church organist. The church organist is the superintendent in one of the local public schools--is also a fixture at the local Eagle's club sitting at the bar with a stack of pull tabs all around.
We continue our journey now to visit a young unmarried woman who is sitting in church, as a baby grows inside her. Even though she has gone to youth group, and Sunday School, she has made up her mind and will be aborting this pregnancy this coming week.
The fourth person we visit, is dedicated choir member and Sunday School teacher who is really struggling to sort out part of their private life. This isn't something to bring up in church, but where does one bring it up? Are they normal? She's wanted to talk to a “professional” but has been “Googling” the subject online. She has joined an online community who is advising her. She has decided on following that advice because they understand.
Fifth a Christian husband who has a good opposite sex friend through work. They call this a “work spouse”. They actually spend more time together over the course of the work week than either of them have at home with their own spouses because of various activities. He has compartmentalized this relationship so much that he doesn't even realize what is coming. They both have a business trip coming up on Monday.
The last one we visit is well known in the church and community for their faith. This person is in private, very weak, and a little insecure. In secret, struggles with temptation; and more often than they want to admit--lose. In public sometimes pridefully over-does-it in word or deed. Life is not easy, but day after day they open up their Bible, read, weep, confess and pray. They have to apologize sometimes to more than one person for a careless word, or misunderstanding. Fearing hypocrisy, ever mindful that they are not perfect, they still serve sometimes seen and sometimes unseen. Week after week he/she shows up at church. They worship listen and learn.
The fact is, all these people are sitting in church, battling and struggling, with demons, decisions, consequences, that are in some cases controlling them. And in the end, all too often not giving consideration to God in one key area. Sometimes its immaturity and ignorance that protects these barriers. And more and more, particularly with the growth of the internet, outside voices and influences are allowed to become way more important barriers to good, godly counsel. We all have barriers of some sort. We have to let the Holy Spirit tear them down.
We all mix a little Bible with our own concoction of selfish decision making. We put up limits on how far God can come in our life. And the result is stories like these.
The bad news is there are consequences to these decisions that can't be blamed on God or the church, or church people.
The good news is our Lord Jesus welcomes sinners who have made bad decisions—sometimes one after the other. In repentance He cleanses and makes us whole giving us a second chance.
There is nothing too bad, too deep, too personal, too gross, for God to forgive and deliver.
Be aware of these barriers, either ones that are preexisting, or ones we create, that are the cause of disastrous decisions. Beware also of the voices you listen to.
That's what “lean not on your own understanding” means. Instead, “Acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths.

That’s my view from the Blackberry Patch Pulpit
Pastor Tom

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