Did you ever stop to wonder why in an age where the entire world is quite literally at our fingertips through the internet and other digital media that we (I’m extrapolating from my own experience here) spend so much time being bored? We have so many choices that we can’t possibly decide what to do in any given situation without a nagging doubt that we’re missing out on something better. The end result is a something of a shutdown of our ability to make decisions and our desire to act–just look at the proliferation of devices whose appeal is based on randomization. We set our music players to “shuffle” because we have so many songs we can’t possibly decide what to listen to; we have iPhone apps that will select a restaurant for us; Wikipedia will pull up random articles for those craving information without direction; “Can’t make up your mind? Let us do it for you.”
We tend to view the inevitable dissatisfaction and boredom that our way of life brings as something that plagues us, something external to be removed (by what, more choices?) rather than something deeply wrong within ourselves. Are we bored because there truly is nothing exciting or meaningful to do, or because we know what to do and we know that it places demands on our lives that we are unwilling to accept? Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop in more ways than one. Boredom can open our hearts to sin, sure, but the boredom itself can be just as effective a tool for Satan to keep us from obedience to the Lord.
Perhaps boredom is God’s way of calling us back to Himself and reminding us that nothing of this world can satisfy our souls. Perhaps He is using boredom to open up an empty space within our souls to be filled with prayer and meditation on His Word. Are we listening when that still small voice creeps into the void (in spite of our best efforts to squeeze it out with entertainment and the noise of life) or do we run from what it calls us to in pursuit of ever more unfulfilling “pleasures”?
Maybe you found this post because you’re surfing the internet out of boredom, no shame there, but I’d encourage us all to listen when the Lord is trying to get our attention. When those “lulls in the action” of your day come, take it as a cue to take your soul off “shuffle” and bow your heart to God in prayer. Take time to read and re-read His Word. Spend a moment reflecting on the magnitude of His blessing and sincerely ask Him what He would have you do with your time, talent, and treasure. You may just find that boredom only exists when you actively ignore God’s presence, and that there is nothing in life quite so exciting and consuming as prayerful obedience to Him.
Posted by Justin Lonas
A friend of mine blogged this morning about the real tragedy of Haiti, which experienced a massive earthquake yesterday evening. She pointed out that when people are tempted to doubt God’s goodness in the face of such horrific natural disasters, we should remember that 1) all such suffering is ultimately a consequence of human sin, and 2) we should be as quick to doubt our own goodness for allowing the poverty which magnifies the disaster (through food shortages, unstable construction, inadequate communication of danger, etc.) to go unchecked. She asked how we can process something like this theologically and practically. The following was my answer to that question:
It’s always tough to process natural disasters–especially when they’re coupled with unnatural disasters like the pillage of Haiti which has been going on since the Spanish first landed there in the 1500s and the French turned it into a massive sugar plantation in the 1700s. For me, this particular disaster creates a struggle on a personal, emotional level too–I’ve been to Haiti; I have Haitian friends; I love Haiti.
At the theological level, I am praying that the Hatian church (particularly my friends) can rise to the occasion and be the love of God to their countrymen through this crisis. I am praying that the people of Haiti, as everything crumbles around them, will place their trust in the unshakable God. I am praying that the thousands of Americans (believers and unbelievers) who have for decades given graciously to the people of Haiti from the resources entrusted to them will continue to do so with renewed passion, and begin to invest in the lives of those people with Christlike care for the whole person rather than simply pouring money into the black hole of corruption that foreign aid to Haiti has become.
At a practical level, the quake has renewed my commitment to the work the Lord has brought in partnership with Haiti through child sponsorship and our church’s long-term commitment to one small community in Nord-Est Department. We have a natural avenue of ministry there, and though the community was not destroyed by the quake, and we want to help the church there be a help to areas harder hit. I’m sure that we’ll redouble our efforts to bring hope to that community through the preaching of the Gospel, the building of schools and medical centers, providing clean water, training in business & agriculture, and microfinance.
In short, processing theologically cannot be separated from processing practically. God has placed each of us in a sphere of influence for a reason, and we cannot believe one thing and do another–we use what He’s given where He’s placed us for His greatest glory (i.e. – people finding His salvation and the love, mercy, & justice of His character). A disaster should, if anything, strengthen our faith in God by shaking us out of the belief that we control things and redirecting our focus to obedience.
To find out more about how to partner with AMG International (our parent organization) to provide assistance to their partners in Haiti, click HERE.
“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven–
A time to give birth and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.
A time to kill and a time to heal;
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to laugh and a time to weep;
A time to mourn and a time to dance.
A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.
A time to search and a time to give up as lost;
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
A time to be silent and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate;
A time for war and a time for peace.
What profit is there to the worker from that in which he toils? I have seen the task which God has given the sons of men with which to occupy themselves. He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end. I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good in one’s lifetime; moreover, that every man who eats and drinks sees good in all his labor–it is the gift of God” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-13).
“œIf we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another. Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restre such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. For each one will bear his own load“ (Gal. 5:25 – 6:1-5).
I heard this passage faithfully exposited by Dan Wilson from Harvest USA (www.harvestusa.org) in the context of several sessions on biblical masculinity and the call to fight the fight of faith at our church’s men’s retreat earlier this year.
I have to confess that I’ve often glossed over this passage, reading it (through the lens of our cultural feminism that is so hard to escape) as a “œwarm fuzzy” reminder that we’re not in this alone, that we should support each other in the faith. It’s so much more than that, however. A little contextual reading and a little Greek exegesis can help us see what Paul is really saying here.
Galatians, it has been said, is “œRomans written while Paul was angry.” He covers many of the same themes as are addressed in Romans (i.e. – justification by faith, struggle against sin, etc.) in a much more terse fashion, punctuated with refrains of ”do you not know“ or “œbut you know“œ”“this was material they had already covered, and Paul is firmly reminding them that these truths should have a hold on their lives. The immediate context of this passage is a discourse on circumcision (more specifically, the spreading heresy that it was necessary to follow the Jewish law to attain salvation), the bondage to sin that comes from the rejection of grace, and the freedom that comes when we crucify our flesh with Christ. Paul here reminds the Galatians how to flesh out grace-filled living in a Christian community”“he tells them to take sin seriously and contend for one another’s spiritual health.
The word translated “œwalk” in 5:25 is the verb stÅichÄ•Å, which speaks of marching in cadence and conformity to a leader. The NIV’s translation of this phrase as “œkeep in step with the Spirit“ is a more correct rendering of the meaning. Often Paul uses the verb pÄ•ripatÄ•Å to refer to our spiritual walk, but his use of a different verb here sets a military tone to let us know that we should listen to the Spirit as soldiers listen to a commander”“that failure to hear and obey quickly and accurately can have disastrous results. Therefore, as we listen to the Spirit’s leading, we should be alert to the dangers of sin and contend for those who succumb to temptation, lovingly but firmly restoring them to right relationship with God and the Church.
The “œburdens” that we are to bear together (6:2) are the Greek word baros, which always has the connotation of weight pressing down upon someone or something. Temptation and sin are a crushing load that individual believers should not have to (and indeed, are not able to) deal with alone. There is a definite call to brotherhood and mutual accountability among believers in dealing with sin in the Body. The command is a two-way street: brothers are not to let an individual struggle alone, nor is an individual to attempt to. If he thinks he can handle sin on his own, he is deceiving himself (6:3).
The apparent contradiction of the statement that “œeach one shall bear his own load“ (6:5) so soon after we are told to “œbear one another’s burdens“ is resolved in the Greek. The word for “œload” is phÅrtiÅn, meaning “œsomething carried”. The idea of weight and struggle is not attached to this term”“it is the word Christ used when saying that His “œburden is light.” The concept here is that while a body of believers is necessary to confront the baros of sin, each individual is responsible for his own phÅrtiÅn of the spiritual disciplines (prayer, study, and meditation on God’s Word); phÅrtiÅn is like a soldier’s pack that contains his provisions, ammunition, and everything he needs to participate in battle and neglects at his own peril. Other believers are not accountable for our personal devotion”“that’s between us and the Lord”“but they are called to rescue us from the pits we fall into when we neglect our responsiblity.
Living this out is tough (we don’t like confronting our fellow men about their sins, and we like it even less when the shoe is on the other foot), but it is an absolutely crucial command for the Church. We cannot live for Christ in a vacuum”“without brothers to encourage us and chastise us, our witness is shot full of holes by “œthe sin which so easily entangles us“ (Heb. 12:1). I pray that more men of the valiant faith that Paul describes will be raised up in our churches to rescue them from the mire of irrelevance, cowardice, and unfaithfulness that so often characterizes them today.