free counters



Greetings All,

This week's 'thought' comes from a book of reflections on the 42nd Psalm. It was given to me as a gift by a friend who attended my former church in Westport, MA, during the summers (whom I've since lost contact with), and I did find it quite helpful. It is called "A Thirst For God" and the author is Sherwood Elliot Wirt.

One of the reasons I enjoyed the book was because of its many quotes by numerous saints from the past. The same is true for most of Wirt's books, including his book, "Spiritual Awakening" which was awarded the Evangelical Christian Publisher's Association's Gold Medallion Award for 1987.

Today's thought, in keeping with the opening line of Psalm 42, deals with humanities consumate need and desire, and is summed up best in a quote he shares from Blaise Pascal's, "Pensees" (Thoughts). Pascal, the brilliant French physicist who lived between 1623 and 1662, wrote: "There was once in man a true emptiness, of which there now remains to him only an empty trace which he vainly tries to fill with things from his environment. Yet all these efforts are inadequate, because the infinite abyss (in the human soul) can only be filled by an infinite and immutable object, that is, by God himself." The human soul, we could say, is like a "black hole." It consumes all but that which is inconsumable -- the infinite God of the Bible. This thought has to do with that universal yearning to fill the gnawing emptiness in the human soul that will not even begin to be filled until the Spirit of God enters into us at the time of the new birth. Enjoy.

"Every human being would like to be more than he is. That is what makes him a human being. Dogs are content with their dogginess and sheep with their sheepiness, but not people. Whatever you may think about the question of origins, animals and humans can be said to have this difference: animals as a rule are satisfied to be what they are, humans are not...

In his Confessions, written about 400 A.D., Augustine cried out, 'Who will give me what it takes to rest in you? Who will make it so you come into my heart and captivate it, so I can forget my rottenness and take hold of you, the one good thing in my life?' A thousand years later Lady Julian of Norwich asked, 'God, of your goodness give me yourself, for you are enough for me. If I ask for anything less I know I shall continue to want. Only in you I have everything.' The Puritan movement that shaped the character of North America was in the same tradition. We are familiar with the lampooning of the Puritan stereotype by essayists, historians, and cartoonists. Yet no one can study the great Puritan writers of three centuries ago without sensing that they were after more than proper behavior and social morality. Thomas Hooker, a Puritan preacher, who according to Perry Miller (of Harvard University), 'could put a king in his pocket,' declared to the early settlers at Hartford, 'The soul was made for an end, and good, and therefore for a better than itself, therefore for God, therefore to enjoy union with him...'

Hooker would have rejected the current 'human potential' movement. He was not interested in self-actualization, self-realization, self-fulfillment, or self-satisfaction. Moonshots, health spas, and Bali Ha'i would have reaped his scorn along with the pursuit of happiness. His goals were not those of Epicurus (the pleasure seeker) or secular humanism. He wanted God.

Today it seems the Christian church is ready to cry out to God. But not for 'union' with him -- it hardly knows what that means. The church senses uneasily that it is being choked by its club life. It is drowning in decaffeinated coffee. It knows something is wrong, that there is more to life in the Spirit than what it has been getting. But it hasn't yet isolated the problem.

In January, 1940, I read an editorial in Fortune magazine, of all places, which has haunted me ever since. It said in part: "So long as the church pretends or assumes to preach absolute values, but actually preaches relative values, it will merely hasten the process of disintegration. We are asked to turn to the church for our enlightenment, but when we do so we find that the voice of the church is not inspired. The voice of the church today, we find, is the echo of our own voices. When we consult the chuch we hear only what we ourselves have said. There is only one way out of the spiral and the way out is the sound of a voice -- not our voice, but a voice coming from something beyond ourselves, in the existence of which we cannot disbelieve. It is the duty of the pastors to hear this voice, to cause us to hear it, and to tell us what it says."

May we all (and not just pastors) rise to his challenge. That last thing people need is a Church that mimics the voice of the world around us, and for the sake of trying to fit in, or gain members, simply says what everyone else is saying. We must ever be re-evaluating our methods, but we must never change or compromise our message. For to do so is to concede that the message we have is inadequate, and does not possess the power of God that brings salvation to all who believe (Rom. 1:16-17).

In His Service, Pastor Jeff