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Tuesday Thoughts 6-26-18

I start most days by shuffling off, in robe and slippers, to the prayer room in the basement, starting coffee (a Bunn pot so really quick) and spending the first hour or more praying, listening and reading the Bible.  I always invest time in the presence of God before opening the Word and always do that first part in the dark (if the light is on, I’ll see something and get distracted!).  Even though I observe the same routine nearly every day and I know what’s coming, that first burst of light always comes as a searing, stabbing pain.  On the other hand, isn’t it amazing how blind we are when the lights are first turned off at night?  But wait just a bit and suddenly you can see all sorts of things in the room.  In both cases, it only takes exposure to the surrounding conditions for a little while before we become accustomed to it.  Both light and dark seem blinding at first, but after spending time on each we realize that light enables sight, and darkness allows rest.  In this natural occurrence we see demonstrated a powerful spiritual principle: Perception is shaped by proximity.  No matter how you look at the Bible, it makes some bold claims about our origin and destination, our brokenness and healing, and a way of living.  At a distance these things seem outrageous, impossible, and even undesirable.  But up close, with time spent in the presence of the Holy Spirit, his inspired Word and with the people of God, each one becomes an avenue of blessing, joy, and peace.  But I have seen (and experienced myself) the tragedy of folks who, at one time acclimated to the wonders of God and the life we have in Him through Jesus, drift away and lose confidence in His promises.  A generous giver comes to the conclusion that they cannot afford it anymore. Someone freed from the bondage of anxiety becomes fearful.  People once eager to serve begin to see it as an imposition.  This backward journey can lead so far that people begin to question if God is really there. It seems almost crazy to me that this kind of change is even possible, but I have experienced it myself.  Whether we are living in the glory of His presence or in futility (and anywhere on the continuum between the two) flows out of where we spend our time.  As the old saying goes, what you feed, grows.  So what are you feeding?  These two paths (with, or away from God) are vastly different.  You cannot feed both.  Listen to the way Paul put it in the New Testament book of Romans, “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.” Romans 8:5–6 (NIV84)

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