The author of Psalm 139 (likely King David) speaks of God’s deep knowledge of the writer. Basically he says, “God you know me. You know my beginning and you know my end. In fact, you knew me before I was made!” This is deep, intimate language about a relationship with the God who made the universe.
It would be very easy for me to understand if someone said, “Really?” Does God really want us to have a deeper journey with him? God is not into experience for the sake of, well, experience! Look, there are many, many, wonderful components of American culture, but we are not experts at authentic relationships; depth and connectedness are not our strongest features. Sometimes we grab onto a trend or experience just to fill the void. So, is a deeper journey just something I jaw about because it appeals to some culturally driven desire for another exotic experience to make me feel alive?
No. Psalm 139, among others, indicates that God wants us deeply connected to Him. “Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls”, from Psalm 42:7, doesn’t sound like someone wanting God to be a casual acquaintance. Our faith is just not meant to be shallow.
Fortunately, very fortunately, we have a lot have help. We now have the Holy Spirit; not just a text message away, but living in us. The Spirit can be counted on to prompt us to “a closer walk with God”. The Spirit is good at using our hurts, our disappointments, and despair to draw us deeper into God’s heart. The Spirit also has the Word of God as a key tool in His box to accomplish His work. The community of Christ, the church, seems to be his favorite worksite.
A deeper walk with God is the only walk with God that will satisfy in the 21st century. If our environment becomes more secular, it will be more shallow. That is what secularism does: it removes God from the center of things. Our cultural atmosphere will be less conducive to the presence of the living God, and the spiritual oxygen we need to fill our longings for purpose, love, and meaning. That is the stuff He has, that is the stuff He gives through the Spirit working Christ in us. That is the deeper journey we want!
~Pastor Arlan Koppendrayer
“If you came on a bus, they will wait”. I remember that line distinctly. When he said it, the importance, the gravity of the moment was obvious. Hundreds were moving down the steps of the state fair grandstand. Some were crying, some smiling, all shuffling forward to stand before the stage and receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. And somewhere amid that shuffling and gravity we sang “Just As I Am”. At that time, late 60’s or early 70’s, I already considered myself a Christian, saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. I was deeply moved but I did not go forward.
Billy Graham has died. God gave him 99 years of life and an astonishing amount of ministry influence. I have met a number of people who became Christians at Billy Graham Crusades. I have had students whose parents became believers through his ministry .
We need to remember, from this life that was lived so well and used so greatly, some basic truths.
First, Jesus Christ wants people to put their faith in him. He wants to forgive their sins and grant them everlasting life. Graham was passionate about this truth and he was right. To see someone move from unbelief to belief, from death to life is about the most moving thing we will ever witness.
Second, we need to give thanks. God uses flesh and blood to bring His good news to others. You and I may not have the influence and skills of Billy Graham but he would no doubt tell us that we should never let that stop us from explaining to at least one person that Jesus Christ loves them and wants to forgive their sins and give them eternal life!
I am thankful for Billy Graham, for his message, and for the God who called and equipped him.
~Pastor Arlan Koppendrayer
This Sunday we are beginning a series on the “I Am” statements in the gospel of John. One of the most well known “I am” statements is: “I am the bread of life”. It’s a short phrase with a bushel of meaning.
• The phrase is an allusion to the manna the Israelites ate in the wilderness. That manna came from God. The Israelites knew that. When Jesus says I am the bread of life, he really is saying I have come from God like the manna did.
• The phrase also represents the normal expectation of bread. We feed on it. It sustains us and gives us energy and life. This is true of Jesus. He is essential to the life God wants to give us.
• The point of the statement finally is to reinforce in us our awareness of the union we have with Christ by believing in him. By His Holy Spirit He is in us and we are with him.
It is true that the early Christians were sometimes accused of cannibalism because they spoke of feeding on the body and blood of Jesus. But they were willing to endure that accusation because they were so serious about their salvation, about the truth that they were, to use Paul’s phrase, “in Christ.”
I respect the fact that different Christian denominations have varying views of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper (Communion). I delight in the fact that so many take it so very seriously .
At Trinity Hill we discuss how often we should take communion and I am glad we have. For now, we have decided to do so once a month. No matter how often and in what format we take it, we must always be reminded that the one who said, “I am the bread of life” is urging us to understand Him as vital and basic to eternal life, a life of meaning, joy, and depth, with the Father, now and forever.
~Pastor Arlan Koppendrayer