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Summary: With so much uncertainty and crises facing at the beginning of the New Year, we’ll examine some of the basics of following Jesus that help us get through turbulent times.

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Trudging Through Turbulent Times

Matthew 24:1-8

January 4, 2009

Happy New Year everyone! To begin the New Year, I thought that we might address a relevant topic for our times right now, “Trudging Through Turbulent Times.” Times are so uncertain. Many of us are facing some devastating situations: some financial while others might health-related or relational. The economy, jobs, health care, mortgage crisis, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, wars in other countries, genocide, starvation, lack of clean water, the environment. It certainly seems as if the world is unraveling right before our eyes. These are turbulent times. And we are all feeling it. We are feeling the stresses in our homes, our families, our businesses, and our church.

Sometimes life gets so difficult. Sometimes it seems like it might be easier to give up. Sometimes it seems like it might be easier to slack off. Sometimes it seems like it could be simpler if we just relax especially on our worship and devotional practices. Sometimes it seems like going to worship is too much. Sometimes we find that spending time reading God’s Word, reflecting and praying, and other disciplines are just burdensome. This can especially be true when life seems so overwhelming.

So to start off this New Year I want to remind us of some fundamentals as we trudge through turbulent times.

In Bill Gates’ new book Business @ The Speed of Thought, he lays out 11 rules that students do not learn in high school or college, but should. He argues that our feel-good, politically correct teachings have created a generation of kids with no concept of reality who are set up for failure in the real world. RULE 1 - Life is not fair; get used to it. RULE 2 - The world won’t care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself. RULE 3 - You will NOT make 40 thousand dollars a year right out of high school. You won’t be a vice-president with a car phone, until you earn both a high school and college degree. RULE 4 - If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss. He doesn’t have tenure. RULE 5- Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping, they called it opportunity. RULE 6 - If you mess up, it’s not your parents’ fault, so don’t whine about your mistakes, learn from them. RULE 7 - Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills; cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you are. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parents’ generation, try "delousing" the clothes in your own room. RULE 8 - Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not. In some schools they have abolished failing grades; they will let you try as many times as you want to get the right answer. This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life. RULE 9 - Life is not divided into semesters. You don’t get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you find yourself. Do that on your own time. RULE 10 - Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop to go to their jobs. RULE 11 - Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.

The word trudge gives us a definite picture. We trudge through snow. It is laborious walk. It is tiring. It takes work. It seems to me to be rather unmotivated. Sometimes doing what is right seems like trudging. Sometimes doing what we need to do is not glamorous and exciting. Sometimes doing what needs to be done is wrestling match where we wonder, “Why bother?”

But trudging can also imply walking with purpose and walking with intention. It often has a connotation of having a firm and important destination in mind. Often trudging is used in situations that are life and death, which is something a lot of people who just “go to church” do not really feel. How many of us feel that our walk with God and how we live out God’s ways and how we follow Jesus is really a matter of life or death? Many of us intellectually might know this but not all of us are truly that desperate. But we should be. And it is always that important for each and every one of us.

In Matthew 24, Jesus is addressing the world of the disciples. And in many ways, their world resembles ours. They were living in extremely turbulent times. There were a lot of social problems. There was a lot of unrest. And the religious institution of that time, The Temple, was not really living up to biblical expectations. Certainly not Jesus’ expectations.

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