Every age has its own thoughts, ideas, and values that influence the culture, the “spirit of the age.” It is the kind of growing consensus that morally lulls us to sleep, gradually causing us to accept society’s latest values.
Before the electronic gadgets and distractions of today, the long summer days of my boyhood were brightened each week when the bookmobile arrived. It was a bus lined with book-filled shelves that were transported from the regional library to neighborhoods so that those without transportation could access them. Because of the bookmobile, I spent many a happy summer day reading books that would otherwise have been inaccessible. To this day, I am thankful for the love of books that the bookmobile fostered in me.
A popular song from years ago titled “From a Distance” envisions a world of harmony and peace. It says, “God is watching us from a distance.” Indeed God is watching us, but not from a distance. He is present, in the room with you, right in front of you, gazing at you with unbounded love in His eyes.
I met a man who was absolutely convinced that God couldn’t forgive him for the things he’d done. An older man took him under his wing, and a year later, I was delighted that the younger man had not only accepted Jesus as his Savior but was also consuming Scripture ravenously. Three years later, though, when I talked with him, I noticed that his enthusiasm had been replaced by grumbling: “I just don’t understand how God can let evil people prosper while so many of His children (including himself, he might have added) are struggling to make ends meet.” The grumbling ate at the joy of his faith.
One day when I was in downtown Chicago, I hailed a taxi. Once inside, I noticed several advertisements for a New Age guru posted on the seat in front of me. The driver claimed that this mystic was the “divine one” for our day. He believed that God appointed various leaders throughout the ages, and that Jesus had merely been the appointee for His time.
Not long ago my wife’s car needed to be towed. When I explained to the man at the towing company how to find our home, I instructed him to tell the driver not to follow his global positioning system (GPS). Because another street with the same name as ours was separated from our home address by a field, special instructions were necessary. He assured me he would pass on my directions.
I’m fascinated with history, so I eagerly watched a television special on England’s great King Arthur. A theme surfaced as each historian acknowledged that there were no eyewitness accounts nor historical evidence to support the story of King Arthur, his knights, and their Round Table. Repeatedly, the story was referred to as “legend” or “mythology.” It appears that the story is merely a legend woven together over centuries from fragments of other stories.
Ed Dobson, my former pastor, often said that he disliked preaching about financial giving to the church. He said his previous job required fundraising, so he didn’t like putting any unnecessary pressure on people. But when he was teaching through 2 Corinthians, and he came to chapters 8 and 9, he couldn’t avoid the topic of giving. What I remember most about his sermon was the illustration he used. He placed an offering plate on the floor, stepped into it, and stood there as he talked about the importance of giving our whole selves to the Lord, not just our wallets.
In June 2011, when disastrous flood- waters chased residents of Minot, North Dakota, from their homes, the people of that community did what seemed to come naturally to them—they helped others who were in need. People from more than an hour away, without being asked, showed up to help. Some loaned their campers to those who lost their homes and others allowed their garages to be used for temporary storage. The people of North Dakota were showing what it means to be good neighbors.
When I was a child, someone close to me thought they could motivate me to do better by frequently asking me, “Why are you so stupid?” I didn’t know how much this had affected me until I was a teenager and heard someone behind me say, “Stupid!” At the word, I quickly turned around, thinking he was talking to me.