Sermons

Summary: How do we hear from the Lord?

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Has God lost His voice?

I called Ruth Rupprecht on Thursday afternoon. “I hear Dave’s heart is OK.” “That’s right,” she replied, “There were no obvious blockages discovered during the angioplasty. God healed him.” You might have thought my immediate thought would have been, “Praise God.” It was, but there was another parallel thought, also running though my head, “Perhaps the physicians were just mistaken the first time when they found blockages in the blood vessels on the back of his heart.”

Frequently as I meet with people, I am impressed in my thoughts to ask certain questions or to offer a specific kind of advice. Sometimes the thoughts I am having don’t even seem to be connected with the conversation I’m having. But when I ask the question, often it startles the individual. “How did you know about that?” they ask. One explanation is that the Holy Spirit is operating in me with His gifts so that I can be an effective minister but some would say I’ve just learned to be a good counselor who picks up well on emotional cues from people.

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Why do we have such a hard time believing God acts, that He speaks?

Largely it is because we are products of a rationalistic world view. We are trained to think without reference to the supernatural.

∙ Time is certain; eternity is possible.

∙ The physical body is certain; the soul is possible.

∙ I exist; of God’s existence I cannot be certain.

∙ Our reality is the material world, that which can be weighted, measured, touched, and seen; is real and can be trusted.

Our experience is bounded by time, explained by science, and given meaning only in self-expression. In schools of philosophy this is called Existentialism. That which EXISTS is that which gives life meaning.

Trained to be rationalistic, we have lost our sense that God is at work in the world. God, if He is, is far removed from us. There is nothing, no one higher that we can aspire to reach. This world is all there is. What does it matter that we are existentialists? It effects us in powerful, yet unseen ways.

Existentialism changes the rules of life. If we are soulless animals, living by the law of the survival of the fittest — if we are simply the highest rung on the evolutionary ladder — then there is no real reason for the most powerful person not to take from those who are weak. That is not cruel, it is natural! To the person who sees only this material world, whose only god is himself; power is real, love is not.

Existentialism brings us the idea of absolute freedom. Since there is no higher Person and no universal moral code, everyone becomes a law to himself. Sacrificing one’s self-interest for family, nation, or God is a ridiculous idea. Instead, the admired ideal is the courage to ‘do your own thing’ even if all are against you and even if it brings pain to others. After all, your needs are real and as such, demand expression.

If you begin to study the art, the music, and the movies that have been produced in the last 40 years, you will find a growing sense of despair, accompanied by increasing levels of violence and sensuality.

∙ John Wayne, playing an American hero, fighting for justice in a cruel world would be a quaint icon on the movie screen today. Instead, we have Pvt. Ryan, played by Tom Hanks. Pvt. Ryan does not see the cause for which he fights as noble and right. Instead is he overwhelmed by despair at the absurdity of death being forced on his men merely to implement the political aims of presidents, generals, and kings.

It is a sad re-interpretation of history that leaves us without the moral imperative that drove our nation to great sacrifice as we fought the horrible evil of Nazism.

It has been interesting to hear our President use language that reflects issues of good and evil, right and wrong in talking about the present crisis in our land. I thought that view may have been lost forever, but many Americans apparently still have the ability to recognize evil when it destroys thousands of innocents in a bizarre grab for power. Note the powerful effect of calling evil what it really is. Americans, in huge majorities, are supportive of military action, even long and protracted war, because they sense that there is a real reason to sacrifice.

∙ The orderly harmonies of Mozart and Bach which carried lyrics about the splendor of God to our ears reflected the sense of order and spirituality that characterized their time. Contrast that with the loud, abrasive, and enraged sounds of Marilyn Manson or the late Kurt Cobain. These young men are consumed by the hopelessness of existentialism, thrown into life without a clue about its meaning. And in the loss of meaning, they feel only rage.

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