Hi, this is Pastor Ken, I want to welcome you to my Thoughts on a Thursday Podcast where I take some regular occurrence or personal story from my life and connect it to a scriptural truth. So here are my thoughts on this Thursday, July 27th 2023…Longing for The Good Old Days
It is so easy to long for yesterday’s gone by. Sometimes we can wish we had time back so we could remedy some of the mistakes and missteps we have made along the way. It would be nice to be capable of going back in time and avoid the hurts we have caused …or the things that caused us to be hurt. Other times it might be a desire to have back something that time has taken away. I know that I wish I could have some of the strength again that is seemingly reserved for youth. I know that my wife would sometimes love to have our kids back home as children. Though we enjoy watching them be awesome adults, and we wouldn’t trade anything for our grandchildren, occasionally I know she wishes our kids were young again and that she had the opportunity to do the things for them that fulfilled her so as a mom. There are lots of reasons most, if not all of us like to think about what we would do…if we could have just a few yesterday’s back again.
There is another thing that sometimes calls wistfully to us from the past…a simpler time. The very neighborhood my wife and I currently live in regularly calls me back to days gone by. The homes were all built in the 1940’s and even with additions and remodels they still have that vintage Americana look. The streets have not been widened, and a sidewalk still connects each home…like yarn knitting the neighborhood together. The streetlights are the same ones that lit the path for those who took evening strolls along those very sidewalks back in 1945. I have had the thought many times as I stepped out my front door, that if it weren’t for the late model cars in the driveways, one would think they had stepped into a Norman Rockwell painting displayed on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post.
Why is it that we sometimes wish we could live in a simpler time? Why do we call them the Good Old Days? Life was slower for sure. The internet now offers us all the news any time of day and is capable of producing about 15,060,000,000 results in 0.53 seconds, and yes, that is an accurate figure, I just did a search for Today’s news headlines and those were Google’s stats on the results found. Back in the day, we had to wait until 7pm for one the 3 available television networks to tell us what took place during the day or wait for the early morning edition of the newspaper to be delivered to our front step. With those three T.V. networks being the only choices, families waited all week to see what would happen next in their favorite television series. If the episode ended with a cliff hanger (and they almost always did) it would be yet another week before you could rest easy knowing all had turned out well. Binge watching an entire season of a show was not even a thing and would have seemed preposterous. People were courteous (for the most part) at least to the extent that we didn’t watch everyone suspiciously trying to catch them doing something wrong like we do today. Yes, life was simpler back in the good old days and we often long for the Leave It to Beaver world that no longer exists.
Many would say that the advancements in technology have not been a good thing. A bank robber used to have to plan out his caper considering all kinds of contingencies, not the least of which might earn him a ride to the jailhouse or the coroner’s refrigerator if he was not-so-lucky. Today a person’s life savings can be wiped out in mere seconds from around the globe by a hacker with a computer. As a pastor and a counselor, I am all too aware of the electronic hiding places that social media offers to those who are tempted to use it that way. Our cell phones were meant to make connecting with other people easier, instead they serve to isolate us from the world around us as we retreat into the blue glow. Furthermore, the fast paced nature of our lives have caused many of us to look as though we were taught how to operate a car but never learned how to drive. We simply to find it too difficult to calmly share the road with others instead we are incredibly impatient thinking only of what we have to do and where we have to go.
I think all of that is actually a blessing…as crazy as that sounds, let me share why that is my view. If I feel as though I have something physically going on that isn’t right and I go to see the doctor, I don’t want him to walk into the examining room, quickly look at me from the door way and proclaim that I look healthy enough to him. If he were to do that and then dash from the room in haste to see the next patient, I would complain that he had not examined me thoroughly enough to know if there was anything to be concerned about. I might have to endure bloodwork or some uncomfortable tests, but if there is something seriously wrong going on in my body I want to know, so we can do something about it. In that situation I would not interested in being comfortable…I would be interested in being well. After all it might be a matter of life and death. At the time I was diagnosed with cancer a few years back, I didn’t even know I was sick. It was only with the results of a routine thorough physical that the indicators of the disease were discovered. Examination is often a good thing.
When life is too comfortable, we may not even notice that something has gone seriously awry. If the life we live too closely resembles a Leave It to Beaver world, we might not see the symptoms of sin-sickness that God is desperately trying to make us aware of. There were highly selfish people back in the good old days too, but the culture didn’t always permit them to show it as readily as it does today. When someone was “cut off” while driving in the 1950’s it wasn’t considered acceptable to honk the horn incessantly while cursing the offender and throwing obscene hand gestures in their direction. Today, that is not only accepted…it’s expected. It has become the anomaly to make a misstep while driving and NOT get cursed for doing it. And that is just one example, (though I chose it because of its prevalence). As a people and a society we illustrate just how selfish we are in a myriad of ways on any given day. I think that the “advancements and progression” that encourage our selfishness to rise to the top, are actually good for us. The more they make our sin-sick hearts evident, the easier it is for us to see something is seriously, seriously wrong.
In James 3:7-17 we are cautioned against allowing selfishness and pride to be the motivations behind our words and actions. In The Remedy, a paraphrase I enjoy reading, the author, Dr. Tim Jennings puts this way. Humans have tamed all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea, 8but no one can make their words harmless. The mouth speaks venomous words, expressing the chaos and evil within the heart. 9One moment we praise God our Father, and the very next moment we curse the very men and women created in his image. 10Think about it: Out of the same mouth come both praises and curses. My brothers and sisters, this is wrong, and it must stop. 11Does a spring bring forth fresh water one moment and sewage the next? 12 Can a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a sewer produce fresh water. 13Who of you is wise enough to understand God’s methods and principles? Then show it by living in harmony with God’s design for life–a life of love in action, giving in humility to bless and uplift others.14But to cherish self-centered, arrogant, mean-spirited, jealous motives in the heart misrepresents God and defames the truth.15Such principles do not originate in God, nor do they come from heaven, but are profane and destructive, and originate in Satan.16For selfishness, envy, and all violations of God’s law of love break his design for life and cause chaos, disease, suffering, and everything evil. 17Real wisdom originates in heaven and is always pure, healing, restorative, kind, compassionate, selfless, merciful, peaceful, transformational, unbiased, and sincere.
James said that as Christ followers we have to make sure that our words and actions look like those of the one we are supposed to be imitating. He points out that the things we say and do will illustrate if our selfishness and other violations of God’s law of love are truly being worked out of our lives or not. Our actions will help us to know if we are well or if there is still a lot of transformation that must take place. It is important that we examine ourselves regularly to see if we are acting in accordance with the faith in Jesus that we profess to have. James went on to write that if our faith doesn’t produce action that looks like Jesus then that kind of faith is essentially useless.
Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? Essentially Paul was agreeing with James, If Jesus Christ lives in us, what comes out of us should look like Him. Jesus is the ultimate expression of selflessness, and we are asked to reflect that kind of selflessness to the those we come in contact with every day.
So now, Allowing the selflessness of Christ dwelling in you to be openly illustrated by the way you speak to, and act toward the world around you…Go be Awesome!