Live Present

The True Meaning of Living in the Present Moment

During the past week, several things have come together to have me thinking about some deeper things of life. I have spent most of the last week alone…Allyson has been in the east, visiting our daughters and their families. Last Sunday I preached on the book of Revelation…”The End is Near!” On top of that, in my community and in my state there have been two horriffic and unexpected tragedies. 

All of those circumstances have intersected to have me thinking about the life have been given and how we live that life each day.

You see, I am a firm believer that each of our lives is a gift from God. We are created in God’s image and a reflection of God’s creative grace. What we do with these lives God gives us is an act of worship and thanksgiving that we return to him. However, the event of the past week have reminded me of how transient and brief these lives often are. We have no guarantee of our next breath, let alone next week, next month, or next year. 

Now, I am not meaning to sound or become maudlin or gloomy. You see the awareness of the transience of our earthly existence should motivate us to live life differently. To treasure the experiences wee have in this life. If we lived as if this moment was the only ting of which we are guaranteed, the moment and the people in it become a treasure and a gift of God’s grace. If we really were not sure that we would be here tomorrow, so many things that we take for granted, we would no longer take for granted; and some things that, in the moment we deem of ultimate importance, suddenly seem insignificant. 

I wonder how differently we would live our lives if we made a commitment to live present in each moment, to cherish each interpersonal encounter as something of eternal significance, and each person someone of inestimable value. I wonder what things we might decide NOT to do or say and what kinds of things we might joyfully embrace and cherish.

I invite you to make a commitment today to live mindfully and be totally present in each experience, in every conversation and each moment. After all, this breath, this moment, this day is a gift from the creator savior God who lives in each moment with us. 

Anyway, that is just my meanderings today.

An Interesting Confluence of Events

This week I had two completely unrelated events converge to get me thinking about some things. The first of those events happened in Phoenix. On Tuesday evening, Allyson and I, Kyle, Sara, and the Kids, and a family from the Church went to a Diamondbacks Game at Chase Field (D-backs playing my Pittsburgh Pirates). While I was waiting for the couple from my church, just outside the ticket office, there was a “street preacher” shouting his message into a megaphone the message of sin, judgment, and how much God hates sin…as well as how hot hell will be, and that they had better get ready for the heat. He had other choice things to say about Covid, politics, and so forth. But the message was pretty clear…and aimed (literally) right at people as they entered the stadium.

5 Weird Ways to Do Evangelism | The Christian Post
Megaphone evangelism…

On Wednesday, I came across a tweet from an author who I value greatly, who speaks to the mission of the Church and difficulties the western church has in reaching the current culture with the message of the gospel. Alan Hirsch, author of The Forgotten Ways, and 5Q: Reactivating the Original Intelligence and Capacity of the Body of Christ, offered this observation in a tweet:

All factors point to signs that Christianity is in decline in the West. We must own the fact that the way we live out our faith is culpable, at least in some part. A domesticated, tamed version of Christianity that is mired in the same wants, desires, and traps of the watching world yields no appeal. Missional movements flourish because a group of people have been changed by Jesus, and the change is made abundantly clear through living in an alternative Jesus-like society of love, grace, and generosity. For most of us, this means we must simply begin to step out beyond our self-imposed barriers of safety and security and risk, joining the Holy Spirit in what God is doing in our neighborhoods and cities.

As I juxtaposed these two experiences, I can’t help but think how the “Church” relates to the culture and society in which we live. We are great at telling people what we are against, what is evil, how sinful they are and how much God hates what they are doing. We are great at separating ourselves from the lost, the derelict, the lonely, the underclass, the addict, the immigrant, those opposed to us… We create a greater and greater gap telling them how much God hates what they are doing.

We are HORRIBLE at practicing incarnational witness…the very practice of Jesus. Jesus came seeking out the lost. Jesus entered into the lives of the lost, the hurting, the untouchable, the marginalized. With love in his eyes, and no hint of condemnation, Jesus entered into their journey and spoke the healing words of the gospel that “God is Love” and has provided the means for wholeness in Jesus.

As I sat on the hot slab of concrete outside Chase Field, I watched the people’s reactions to the “Preacher.” Some shook their heads. Some laughed. Some blew him off. Others looked pained. I wondered what Jesus they might be meeting in that moment. I wondered who would share the Jesus of the Gospels with them. I wondered what barrier that experience might create for those people to encounter the loving, healing, restoring embrace of the Savior.

I wonder if we might not take a lesson from Jesus. I challenge those who call themselves followers to leave their padded pews and holy huddles…and go into the world. Enter into the lives of the people around you. Love them with Jesus love…share the Savior who embraces sinners, who loves, who has compassion. Introduce them to the Savior.

Maybe, just maybe…we can stop being the barrier to Jesus…

Anyway, just my ruminations this week.

Smoke

Breathing wildfire smoke may raise risk of cardiac arrest | American Heart  Association
Smoke can cloud our vision and confuse our sense of direction

Recently, the Verde Valley, where I live, has been filled with smoke. There have been a number of wildfires in the surrounding area that have burned over 100,000 acres. Due to the topography of our area and the direction of the wind, smoke from those fires will literally fill our valley. At one and the same time, it has been terrifying and impressive.

As I was driving into my study one morning, I became aware that I could not see the Red Rocks of Sedona, just 18 miles away because of the heavy smoke. Now, understand, each day this is a treasured part of my journey, admiring the beauty and the grandeur of the area in which I live and thanking God for God’s creative handiwork. Not being able to see the Rocks was mildly disorienting.

As I drove northeast on Route 89A, I meditated on not being able to see my destination. I was reminded, that although I could not SEE where I was going, my destination lie on the route provided for me. The smoke that obscured my vision did not change the objective fact that the Red Rocks were there. While my vision was blocked, the objective reality of where I was going remained the same.

So many times circumstances of our life obscure our vision, disorient our senses and cause us consternation. We may even wonder if God is there. The reality is that even thought the circumstances would confuse us, the reality of God’s presence does not change. During those times when our vision is clouded, our task is to remain on the course charted for us. We must not deviate either left or right. Stay the course.

I don’t know what challenges you are facing today. Let me assure you that God cares, God is there, and God will guide your paths. Stay the course!