From the Pastor's Pen
Greg Asimakoupoulos tells the story of the grizzly bears in the Yellowstone National Park. There arent as many bears as there once was. Because the bears got lazy and started eating food the tourist gladly gave them, they got off their natural diet of nuts, berries, fish, and small animals. The resulting consequences were tragic.
During hibernation the fat buildup from "junk food" burned off much more rapidly than the normal animal fat created by a bear's natural diet. Throughout the cold winter months, scores of bears froze to death. The remaining bears have been trapped and relocated to the high country, away from the tourists. Two summers ago, my family was disappointed to not see one bear in the Yellowstone.
How many of us have gotten soft and fat on spiritual junk food? We no longer have a dynamic, personal, meaningful, life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ. We have allowed substitutes to replace our relationship with Jesus. Spiritual junk food has curbed our appetite for God himself. Maybe we have become couch-potatoes and we have snacked on feel-good religion. We have let someone else do our Bible study and our praying for us. We have relied too heavily on technique and technology. Watching Christian TV can be very inspirational, but if all we do is watch somebody else talk about their walk with the Lord, you are in danger of malnutrition. We give a few dollars so someone else to serve the Lord in our place. God-lite devotionals and popular Christian books may keep us from going to the source Himself.
We need to be relocated to the high country where we can again diet on food for our souls full of nutritional value. We need to remain healthy. We need to replace those empty spiritual calories of substitute religion with real "soul-food" nutrition.
We nourish our souls by personally relating to Jesus Christ, who saves us. In Jesus Christ, every day is a new beginning for us because Christ brings us in contact with the eternal. Every day is a fresh encounter with the Living God. Every day is to live better and differently because Jesus who has no beginnings offers us spiritual resources to cope and serve. No matter our failures, our trials, our fears, with him we can begin anew every day. Jesus did not come into this world to bring God to us. God was already here. No! Jesus came to bring you and me into a right relationship with the Heavenly Father.
Life is more than physical or having a good time. God has created us with a spiritual nature that desires him. St. Augustine verbalized it this way: "Lord, you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee."
You and I know how important our physical birth is for life. We would not be alive if we had not been born. We also know that we are all going to die. Scripture says, "...Man is destined to die once and then comes Judgment" (Heb 9:27). There is nothing you or I can do about this physical death that looms large on the horizon. We die because we are sinful and spiritually dead.
But the awesome news of Scripture is that while we will all die physically, we dont have to die spiritually. The Bible teaches a truth many people ignore. We have the possibility of two births and two deaths. The first birth is physical; the second birth is spiritual. The second birth is the free gift of eternal life from Jesus Christ for those who will accept it. Those who are only born once will die twice and those who are born twice will only die once. If you are physically born but not born again, you will die twice. Hell is the place of separation reserved for those who die twice. But if you are born twice, entering a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you will die only once.
Nurturing a growing relationship doesn't just happen. It requires taking the initiative. Nurturing any relationship, whether in marriage or friendship involves an investment of time, energy, and sensitivity. So it is with our relationship with the Lord we must talk to him, listen to him, and spend time with him, and spend time with his people, the church.
We must focus on the eternal if we are going to experience God. Christ must become our pursuit in life. It is not enough simply to be born again. We must live our lives for Jesus. We must commit ourselves to do the things that bring us into a closer and more intimate fellowship with Him. We must not let our spiritual diets be dominated by the spiritual junk food all around us. Some of it can be tasty and helpful but what we really need is solid food that will sustain and enrich us. Worship, Bible study, prayer, and service will re-calibrate our souls regularly. Lets do the things that will nourish and sustain us day by day. Christianity is not a religion. Christianity is a relationship with the living God through Jesus Christ. Lets nourish our souls on the One who can give us life.
Clarence E. Byerly, Pastor
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Updated November 14, 1999