Look Around

New couples engaged - what a great time. I think back to that time in me. Did I have eyes to see it?

The quality of your life is determined by your ability to notice the beautiful things that are happening all around you.

Disclaimer: This is probably the most dad sermon I’ve ever preached. I feel like being a Dad is making me a huge softie. And I’ve always been a bit of a softie, but I feel like I’m entering into Mr. Roger territory here.

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. (Colossians 4:2)

(Pray)

The word ‘devote’ means to commit to something.

And this verse says 3 things we’re supposed to commit to - Prayer (communicating with God), being watchful, and being thankful.

And so we’re supposed to commit ourselves (which means to make an intentional commitment) to these 3 things.

I feel like we’ve talked about prayer a little before, maybe not as much as we should, but I want to focus on the 2nd and 3rd there.


So being watchful and thankful.

Talk about : Seeing the things that if we’re not intentional, we won’t see. Seeing not just what’s on the surface, but looking deeper at your life and the world.

To actually notice what God is doing.

People who are completely secular, ALL they see if the natural, surface level world.

But followers of Jesus are called to see more than that.

A theme we see over and over in the Bible is that God is always active.

… “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” (John 5:17)

I would say it like this: God is always everywhere, and he’s always active. Always at work bringing about good.

We’ve talking A LOT in here about the Kingdom of God, you could say the government of God, which is a new way of rearranging the world. God is always working to bring that about.

Always at work fighting evil.

We still have free-will, and there’s a lot of things that happen in a broken world, but God IS always at work fighting evil.

There has never been a nano-second of your life where God was not there.

Think back in your life to the time when you felt the most alone, the most lost. You weren’t alone.

Even in moments of incredible pain and loss, God is there bringing healing, and restoration, and peace.

God is always on the side of good and he’s always against evil.

So to be watchful means to become aware of the fact that God is around you.

And to not take God for granted.

The Christian faith teaches that there’s an enemy that’s always at work to bring about death, and God is always at work to bring about life.

And so the job of the Christian being watchful is to recognize and resist the evil, and to recognize and participate in the good.

And then, the 2nd part, to be thankful for the good.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17)

Of course there’s people who participate with God to bring about good in the world, but without God at the root, there would be no good and this life would be one continuous nightmare.


The fact that Paul has to tell us to be devoted to being watchful and thankful shows us that we don’t do this naturally. It takes commitment, it takes intentionality to do it.

If we’re not intentional about it, what happens is we fall asleep. And we stop noticing what God is doing, and if you don’t realize what God is doing, you of course can’t be thankful to him for it.

And I see a LOT of people who start out the Christian faith excited, and passionate, and grateful, and the world is so beautiful, and God is so good. And then time passes and it’s obvious that they’ve fallen asleep.

And I see a lot of people who just fall into this secular, worldly way of seeing the world, where yeah they may believe a few different things than an atheist, but if we’re being honest, their way of seeing the world is pretty much the same.

And if you think that might be you, here’s a couple tests I made up:

  • You used to talk about God with your friends, but now you never do.
  • You used to think about God, or even pray occasionally during the day, but now you never do.
  • You used to give God credit for the good things in your life but now you never do.

And again, you still BELIEVE in God, but the emotion, the passion of it is gone.


Marriages.

This happens all the time in marriages.

Of course collectively, Christians are referred to in the Bible as ‘the bride of Christ'. But think about a marriage.

My wife and I have been together for going on 16 years. We’ll celebrate our 10 year anniversary this September. Pretty exciting. But think about a marriage when it first starts. It’s absolutely engrossing. The love you have for your husband or wife is absolutely overpowering.


How to ruin a marriage

1. Don’t communicate

If the lines of communication don’t stay open, then a married couple will drift apart. Not MIGHT, WILL. It’s real simple.

Without communication, a relationship dries up and withers away.

2. Don’t notice each other.

I think as a brainy-dude I think I’m probably the worst at this.

The guy comes home from a long day of work and his wife says ‘Well? What do you think?’ Oh crap… She’s changed her hair, and you didn’t even notice.

Of course some guys sometimes aren’t as aware as women, if I were to stereotype.

But a lot of men USED to notice their wife’s hair, but after 10 years, yeah I pretty much stopped looking.

3. Take each other for granted.

Sometimes I’ll come home and sit in my chair, open a drink, and Jordan will say ‘How does the house look?’ And I think ‘Uhhhh.h…. And I start panicking and looking around. “Good?”’ She’s like rearranged the furniture and spent all day cleaning the house, I don’t even notice.

Not a great habit to get into.

So think of those:

  • Don’t communicate
  • Don’t notice
  • Don’t be thankful.

Now think about the scripture:

(No slide)

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. (Colossians 4:2)


A great pastor friend of mine says this: “Life is a river, not a pond.”

What he means, is like isn’t stagnant. It’s always moving, it’s always changing.

And that’s how relationships are.

Me and Jordan aren’t the same people we were when we started dating 16 years ago. But we grew together. Not apart.

And so if you don’t communicate, and notice each other, and be grateful for each other, when you change, you’re gonna grow apart not together.

That’s how it works with God too.

If we’re not communicating, and noticing, and being thankful. - Eventually we grow apart.

Yeah you still “believe” but he stops being a part of who you are at the deepest level.

To where the way you see the world is not much different than an atheist, really.

And you find that your affection for him is just kinda dry. Praying is like ‘ugh!’, reading your bible is like ‘ugh!’, volunteering at church is like ‘Ugh!’ - You know what I mean?

Like your relationship with God is still there, but it starts feeling like an obligation. And our ‘get to’s’ become our ‘oughts’ you know?

Churches needing - scare / guilt Something about harsh churches needing to scare people and guilt people.


And so for a lot of you, I bet you’d be willing to say: “Yeah that’s totally me.” Or maybe “I used to be there.” Of course some of you may be heading there and you don’t know it.

There’s always a downward pull in a fallen world.

And if you don’t fight against it, that’s the direction most everything goes.

Think about your body.

When you hit 40, you start to lose between 0.5 and 2% of your muscle every year.

Can you stop that? Of course. With exercise.

When you hit 24, you start losing about 7000 brain cells a day.

Your brain starts to slow down at 24.

Can you grow more? Yes you can. Being healthy, and THINKING

Your body and your brain are both ‘use it or lose it’.

Your relationship with God is the same way.

I’m not talking about your salvation, I’m talking about your intimacy, and I’m talking about your ability to SEE him in the world and in your life.

God is the ever present, always active God. He’s here right now. - He’s always here. There’s never been a moment when he wasn’t here. But you’re ability to see him and recognize him is in a constant state of flux.

And I really believe that if we were to reconnect with being able to hear God, we’d hear him saying “Come back to me. I haven ’t left you, you’ve left me.”


And so if you ARE at the place where you’re feeling ‘Yeah, that’s me. I’ve lost that awareness. I’ve lost my ability to see.;

The answer is in the scripture we read:

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. (Colossians 4:2)

  • PRAYER - Start talking to God, start communicating with God, and deliberately trying to listen.
  • BE WATCHFUL - Start deliberately noticing the beauty in your life and the world around you. Beauty is everywhere. And it all comes from God.
  • BE THANKFUL - This is something that I’ve been trying to do, I’ve been trying to notice beauty in my own life and just sometimes one sentence ‘Thank you for your my family. Thank you for this friendship. Thank you for this amazing day.’ Whatever it is.

And you just do that for a short time, and you’ll start seeing that awareness of God, and that closeness to God start to come back.


Play : “Our Town”

Who in here has ever seen or read the play : “Our Town” ??

It’s by a man named Thornton Wilder. Written in 1938.

It was a huge success on broadway. And it won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

And they still do it in high-schools and stuff.

It’s all about death.

There’s this girl named Emily, she dies at 26 giving birth. And in the play, the dead to go this graveyard type place, where she gets to exist alongside the other spirits of people of the town who have died.

Emily learns that if she chooses, she’s able to go back to earth to relive 1 day of her life.

The rest of the spirits urge her to not do it. - They say it’s too painful, and you’ll regret it.

But she goes anyway, and she chooses to go back to relive her 12th birthday, 14 years earlier.

And immediately she noticed how the living don’t really live. - They don’t appreciate their life. They don’t look at each other. They’re just too busy with their own concerns.

So she’s watching her 12th birthday like a movie playing. And her mom is cooking 12 year old Emily breakfast and she’s just talking on and on to herself and 12 year old Emily is trying to get her attention but she can’t. The mom is just too busy.

At one point Emily says this:

Mama, I'm here. I'm grown up. I love you all, everything. - I cant look at everything hard enough.
Oh, Mama, just look at me one minute as though you really saw me.
Mama, fourteen years have gone by. I'm dead. You're a grandmother, Mama.
But, just for a moment now we're all together.

Mama, just for a moment we're happy. Let's look at one another.
I can't. I can't go on. It goes so fast. We don't have time to look at one another.
I didn't realize. All that was going on in life and we never noticed.

Take me back - up the hill - to my grave. But first: Wait! One more look. Good-by, Good-by, world. Good-by, Grover's Corners. Mama and Papa. Good-bye to clocks ticking. And Mama's sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new-ironed dresses and hot baths, and sleeping and waking up.

Oh, earth, you're too wonderful for anybody to realize you.
Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? Every, every minute.

The point of the play is this: Wake Up. Don’t sleepwalk through life.

To wake up to the beauty of every moment.

Grab on to your life. Because you never know how much of this you have left.

I’m still not even sure if I do this. I mean my baby Grace is going to turn 8 months old this month.


Talked - great friend (Erica) I talked to a great friend of mine about a week ago about this season of her life that’s coming to a close. And we were talking about seasons in life come really fast, but they end faster. And you never know when it’s your last time to do anything.

Jordan together 16 years Jordan and I have been together for 16 years. We started dating when Jordan was 17 years old. And there’s so much life that happens in 16 years, so many seasons and I just think that we can be so blind and consumed that seasons blow past us and we can miss so much of it.

The solution is to WAKE UP.

Sometimes I get these little glimpses of Jordan, my amazing wife and I’m just shocked by the beauty of it.

Are there things that bug me about Jordan? TOTALLY. Are there things that bug Jordan about me? TOTALLY. But those are the things that you have to NOT notice.

But find the beauty in your life and cling onto it like dear life.

The quality of your life is determined by your ability to notice the beautiful things that are happening all around you.


Applies - almost everything:

And this applies to almost everything:

Married People

Don’t take your spouse for granted. Notice the beauty there. They know almost everything about you and they still love you and they still want to live with you. That’s AMAZING. The small little nice things they do.

Make TIME for them.

Communicate that you appreciate them.

I truly believe that re-sparking a marriage ultimately comes down to noticing them.

Kids

Oh my God, don’t get me started.

It goes SO FAST.

Grace - discover voice. - Shopping

Grace is starting to discover her voice. We were at target on Friday, and Grace was perfectly happy but she was just yelling for fun. Some parents would just find that embarrassing or frustrating, but me and Jordan were just tickled silly. Those moments, they don’t last forever.

Playing Chess with Evan

Friends

These moments you to spend with people who don’t HAVE to love you but they CHOOSE to love you.

Just these moments of being silly, and laughing, and being completely stupid together, that’s totally beautiful.

Just all of life.

Rain or snow, can get irritating, but if you have eyes to see it, there’s so much beauty in those ordinary things.

Bird (Pics)

We have this bird (Pic) at our house that has decided he wants to sleep every night on our front porch. And it’s been cold so I bought it a bird house. He has not used it. - One night he slept ON TOP of it. So we’re still holding out faith. Although we learned that not all birds will go in to a bird house, I didn’t know that.


Yes there’s war and violence and pain and ugliness, that’s obviously true. But there’s a lot of beauty too, if we have eyes to see it.

Most of all: Our relationship with God

How important it is, to be awake to it, and to see that ALL that other beautiful stuff, ultimately comes from Him.

  • God is the beautiful in all beauty
  • God is the goodness in all that’s good
  • God is the life in all that’s living
  • God is the joy in all that’s joyful

But that only helps you in your relationship with Him if you identify him as the source of all that. And not just in a mental way, but deep in your heart, you’re grateful to him for all that stuff.

If that becomes how you process the world, no matter how far you’ve fallen away from him, that awareness will restart to rekindle that love and that passion for God. - It’s stops being just something you ‘BELIEVE’ but it’s something that you feel and experience.


Prepare - Communion

You can only find God in the ‘now’.

What happens is that when people become familiar with the presence of God is they start to be aware of the present moment and the beauty that is happening in even really ordinary moments.

This is what happens to the wise men, because they're aware of the beauty that's happening, it leads them to Jesus.

It's amazing how the world starts to open up to you, when you start to realize that everything that's beautiful in the world comes from God. When you start seeing just how often God shows up.

Question: What in your life, right now, is beautiful?

Maybe: WHO

When you can't find Jesus anywhere, just find that thing that's beautiful, and just start walking. And follow up wherever it takes you.