From the Pastor’s Study – January 20th, 2017

27 below zero – that’s the lowest temperature I saw on our Suburban’s rearview mirror a few days ago at a friend’s house in Wasilla. That’s real cold, but thankfully we have Fairbanks to make us feel better. A friend who was up there for work said it was minus 43 one day. So it could always be worse. But still, as I look at the forecast for the next few days, I’m excited it’s “warming up” to the mid-teens.

Here’s a couple of items for this week’s “From the Pastor’s Study”:

Sunday Worship

I preached from Exodus 33 last Sunday, as we continued our march through the second book of the Bible. This chapter contains a lot of good material for several different sermon topics, but I struggled to find one overarching theme for the focus of my message. What hit home most to me, though, were the words of Moses to the Lord in v. 18: Please show me your glory.

I imagine Moses alone in the tent of meeting with God, struggling mightily in prayer for the “stiff-necked” Israelites whom he led. He prays that God would not withdraw his presence from the Israelites (the gist of his prayer in vs. 12 & 13). The Lord says, mercifully, My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest (v.14). Then Moses asks again that God would go with them on their journey to the Land of Promise (vs. 15 & 16), as though he wants every possible assurance of this promise. And again the Lord says he will do “the very thing” for which Moses pleads.

Then suddenly, as if the reality of being in the presence of God overwhelms Moses, he seemingly forgets that he is there to pray for the Israelites and instead he gives voice to the cry of his heart: Please show me your glory (v.18). More than anything, Moses longed for a fuller knowledge of the glory and greatness of God. Though the Lord speaks to Moses “face to face” (v.11), the sanctified heart of Moses that yearns for more and more of God is not satisfied. And so he simply cries out, “show me your glory.”

This should be the heart-cry of every Christian – to have a greater knowledge of the glory and goodness of Jesus Christ. Not the gifts he grants, not the provisions he gives, but our hearts should long for more and more of Christ himself.

The wonderful part of all this is that in Jesus we have seen more of God’s glory than even Moses did (John 1:14; 2 Corinthians 3:18). And our hope is that one day, when either Jesus comes to us on earth or we go to him in heaven, our life, joy and blessedness will be in seeing his glory in fullness. Moses could not see all of God’s glory in the way he wanted (v.20). And neither can we, not yet (1 Timothy 6:16). But one day we will (1 John 3:2), and when we do, what glory that will be!


Is fake news the problem, or is it just the news itself?

This article in First Things will make you think about something most of us consume on a daily, or even hourly, basis – the news. The author’s essential point is that the very nature of news tends to diminish our ability to think well, and to think on things that truly matter. He’s not saying we should ignore the news altogether like an ostrich with his head stuck in the sand. But if all, or the bulk, of our daily mental intake is the news of the hour, we impoverish ourselves intellectually and spiritually. Thus the title of the article, “Why the News Makes Us Dumb.”

Incredibly this article was first written in 1991, before social media took all that is inherently wrong with daily news and made it exponentially worse.

Here is just a sample to give you an idea of what the author’s getting at (and why I think Christians should take seriously his insights):

News and religion, then, are likely to be antagonists. For as we have seen, news only recognizes change, whereas religion tries to concentrate on eternal questions. This opposition, by the way, is one that non-Western religions insist upon even more than the Judeo-Christian tradition does. The idea that for every 24-hour period there is an hour’s worth of reports requiring our attention would be considered a sign of being spiritually lost in any of the world’s religions.

Of course, any historian will tell you that as far as real trends are concerned an hour would be sufficient to report any four years of human history. And any saint would understand that even abbreviated to that extent, this would be a distraction from an understanding of our being.

In all, I take his article as an encouragement to cultivate the life of the mind in a God-honoring way. Let’s take in less news and more of God’s Word. The biblical ideal is the blessed man of Psalm 1, who “meditates day and night” on God’s law and truth.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Pastor Scott