Please be sure to read all the way to the bottom of this e-mail to see important prayer requests and announcements, including resumption of Dr. Maria’s discipleship series at a neighboring church, and VBS prep meeting for our big week at the end of the month!
Anaheim SDA Church
Mid-week Pastor’s Update
June 8th, 2022
“The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up the light of his countenance upon you, and give you peace.” Numbers 4:24-26
It is incredible: sometimes I don’t know how society manages. I thought we were careening on the edge of breakdown before the pandemic, and then when it came, I thought “this must be the end-all, be-all of what society can handle.” But as the urgency of that crisis has waned, other crises (some inevitable, others manufactured), have come up in its place. Angst, turmoil, and potential chaos are everywhere. We’ve got serious concerns about financial crisis, mental health crisis, war crisis, ecological crisis, immigration crisis, political crisis, crises of drug use, gun violence, etc. I really wouldn’t blame someone for having a nervous breakdown in light of all these things.
And yet, into all that fray, Jesus speaks peace to us. “Peace I leave you. My peace I give unto you. I do not give it as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and be not afraid.” John 14:27
Upon hearing such words, we have two possible reactions. One is to angstily cry back to him “How can you expect us to calm down in the light of this, and that, and this other thing?!”, as we continue fretting, worrying, getting ourselves into a tizzy over all the stuff.
The other option, of course, is to believe, and trust, and shut the door to the panicked voices inside our heads, telling them “Jesus is the Lord of my head-space, and he has assured me it’s okay to trust and be at peace.”
In choosing which option we take, perhaps it’s helpful to remember that Jesus himself was at his highest level of crisis as he uttered this to his disciples. This was in the same time period in which he’d said “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.” (John 12:27) It was the same time he knew he’d be betrayed into the hands of sinful men (John 13:11). It was the same night he agonizingly prayed, to the extent that drops of blood emanated from his forehead (Luke 22:44).
So, if Jesus could assure his beloved friends of peace, and that God would see to their preservation, while in his own hour of ultimate crisis, how can we do any less than believe him? Jesus truly had every excuse/reason to disbelieve, as he could not supernaturally see beyond his tomb (Desire of Ages, p. 753). Yet he held firm, emerged victorious, and we are part of the subsequent movement of faith in Him who now has all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18).
As I reflect, and look out the window just now, I see that, simultaneously with all those problems listed above, we live in a nearly paradisiacal community of peace and prosperity. And I think: would it be such a crime if we just switched-off the perpetually panicked news cycle and lived locally? Just, interacted with people who came into our sphere of immediate contact, like people did (had no choice but to do) before the advent of technology?
And I remember that these news companies depend on viewers/listeners staying tuned-in & attentive. They need financial success like any other company, and advertisers pay more for more people tuning in. So that financial situation fosters a necessity of sensationalizing the news. Something in our psychology is more attuned to pay attention (and to consume/buy products) when we are scared/nervous than when we are at ease.
So, while I don’t want to wave away any of those crises listed above, as they are truly concerning and meritorious of attention, and while we should be aware of the ‘signs of the times’ as prophecy is being fulfilled, I perceive that we as Christians cannot let those things unseat our inner peace.
So I think it’s more crucial than ever that we take some quiet time with Jesus each day, let him orient our compasses as to what’s truly urgent and worthy of our attention & concern, and go forth with other things in light of that.
And I remember Jesus’ very profound (& likely perceived as very backwards by many) advice in the sermon on the mount: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
I think this, accompanied with Philippians 4:4-9 quoted below, is a heavenly prescription for peace that is so needed just now! Read this final passage, and pray God’s peace into your heart.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
May God bless you all this week and beyond.
Pr. Mark Tatum