Truth is Truth

"You, O LORD, will not withhold Your compassion from me; Your lovingkindness and Your truth will continually preserve me." - Psalm 40:11 This is a sometimes monthly column concerning the truth of Christ Jesus and the issues that face our world as published in various newspapers and journals by Pastor Dave Seaford. You can return to the home page of the church by going to:

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Location: Redway, California, United States

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Crisis and Priorities

It is interesting what crisis in life does to us. With all the tornado devastation we have seen over the last couple of weeks, it has become easier for many of us to focus in on what is really important. That meeting we judged as “critical” for our future, the appointment with a business associate, or the purchase of that new luxury item suddenly and with little warning was outranked by the one and only picture of Grandpa that we pray made it through the destructive winds and was some how miraculously preserved somewhere beneath the rubble that use to be our home.

In moments like these we learn that while time does not heal all wounds, that clear thinking and moral priorities are brought into focus and that genuine love is clearly more precious than gold. These moments of focus are often God’s prescriptive lenses designed to help us re-prioritize our lives and by so doing bring real purpose and meaning to the lives we lead.

This is really all about what we value and how we E-valuate success and failure with regard to our living daily. It has been through a series of destructive winds in my life that my value system has been formed and my relationship with God has been transformed (see Romans 12:1 & 2). We are all a product of our genetics and our environment. When God steps into our environment and either directly causes or allows destructive winds of any kind (not always actual physical wind), He has a purpose that without exception is for our ultimate good and His ultimate glory. I can tell you both as a student of theology and a product myself of many disasters, that there are no exceptions to this rule. Further it needs to be said that when I have not been able to see either the good or the glory, that it has been because I have been focused on what I value and not on what God has designed for my good and His glory, which is of the ultimate value.

In God’s value system things and homes and cars and even our comfort is of infinitely less value than our relationship with Him and others He has placed in our lives. When our focus becomes diverted and our purpose in living becomes acquisition, preservation and pride, we often find God’s hand directed at getting our attention and bringing us back to these primal issues of importance.

In the Beatitudes Christ gives a clear set of values that stretch our mental abilities to the extremes because of their paradoxical nature. In Matt. 5:4 He says: “blessed are those that mourn, for they shall be comforted.” The context of the message is on the one element that separates us from God and that removes us from relationship with God. That element is sin. The mourning He is speaking of here is a deep mourning over sin, first in our own lives and then over sin in others lives. This specifically shows us that God so highly values relationship with us that the pathway to genuine joy can only be found on the road of mourning that which is sinful to the point of our repentance. God Himself so mourned that which is sinful that He willingly gave His Son to die so that we can have relationship with Him now and forever.

The question that must be ask is: “if God who is Sovereign and Holy so values this relationship above all else, including the life of His Son, should we not place that value above all else?

So why would a good and loving God allow such devastation as some of us have experienced this past couple of weeks? …because His focus was never fogged by the bright shinny things that so easily captured our attentions, taking us away from what is genuinely of value.

It should be noted that not everyone will learn from these lessons. Some will even become more callous and rebellious from the experience. God knows this and has even given you the free will to make that decision for yourself. But some of us have seen and smelled and tasted enough in the weeks just past to experience His presence and to enjoy once again His priorities. I have seen some relationships restored and some who have gone out of their way to avoid God’s placement of them and God’s work to get their attention. Both kinds of people are experiencing exactly what they have chosen even in the midst of God’s clear work.

Has God gotten our attention? Are we listening? …as importantly, are we changing to adapt to His value system? My Grandfather use to say: “Boy, you can learn the hard way or the easy way, its your choice.” Smart man! …by the way, his picture is back in a prominent place in my office this week.