Connecting: Faith and Mondays - March 12, 2023
Pastor Mike (00:00):
And if we’re really honest with ourselves, if you, if, if mission, living on mission, being missional in words, being a part of, of God’s mission, if it scares you, then chances are you gotta do a heart check, because that usually means that we’re doing it our own strength, our own power.
Hannah Hunter (00:17):
Hey, beautiful people. Welcome back to Sons with the Gathering. I’m Hannah Hunter, the director of Digital Reach here at The Gathering Place in Palm Beach Gardens. This week, pastor Mike brings us a message on what it looks like to express your faith and how our faith is ultimately an expression of God’s love and grace poured out on us.
Pastor Mike (00:35):
Yeah, I just wanna thank, uh, Connor for, for sharing God’s word last week. Um, I, I felt this so encouraged and I was just like, listen, I was like, Lord, thank you for raising up people in our congregation to, to do, to, to do the work of the ministry. Um, and so I appreciate the challenges on, on Sabbath there. And, and now we’re gonna, we’re gonna transition. Um, first of all I want to ask you is like, you know, how is the Sabbath thing going? Are you starting to try to live into it? Um, are there any kind of hiccups and struggles? I, I’ll be honest, like for me, it, it, it, it sets the bar high. You know, like I, you know, when I first became a believer, I thought it was all about, you know, all the dos and don’ts, you know, and it’s very easy to get legalistic in that, and, and you kind of feel like, Hey, I’m spiritually mature.
But when I started encountering this Sabbath stuff, I started realizing like, God, like I’m really immature. You know, like, I think I’m really close to you, but, but I can’t even, I can’t even be still and, and, and put into your rest. Well, today, um, we’re gonna move a little bit past Sabbath, but it relates to it. And that is, how do we transition from Sabbath, which I know for a lot of people Sunday is their Sabbath, but how do we transition from Sunday to Monday? You know, going from, you know, I have my rest, I have my God time, my, my, my spiritual time in church. Um, how do I transition all of that into Monday? Because when I speak to a lot of people, and even I look at in my life, um, you know, it’s like when I try to make that transition, it usually goes well until like, I don’t know, like mid-morning <laugh>, um, you know, like, like, you know, I had my rest, I had my god time, I had some time with my family, and then next thing you know, um, I have my devotion, you know, I, I get my devotion and, and I’m just like, with God, I’m like, okay, God, I’m just gonna continue this over.
And um, and then all of a sudden, like, it feels like this life just really hits because, um, a lot of us, um, if we’re really honest, um, we’re overtired. We’re, we’re overworked, we’re overscheduled, we are over committed to a lot of things. There’s a lot of good things out there. And we, and we say yes to a lot of things, and, and we say more yes than we do know if we’re honest with ourselves, um, we’re distracted. Um, it’s so easy to get distracted. We’re flooded with information. And then we have a lot of connections. I mean, and I’m talking about connections with our, with our phones, our emails, our, our text messages, um, productivity software, social media. And then also we have to deal with a thing called Real People. You know, we forget about that. We actually have to deal with real people.
We have to deal with our, our coworkers, our neighbors, our friends, our our small group come in, and then our family. And so how do we, you know, you know, we spoke about this, um, work from a place of rest. You know, how do we begin our work or live from a place of rest when still the dominant culture for a lot of us is, I hate Mondays. You know, how, how, how do we go from that Sabbath rest? That, that, that touch of eternity and a touch of paradise to, to being, you know, going into Mondays. You know, um, I say this a lot and I really believe that that part of the, the mission of, of the Gathering Place, um, in addition to extending God’s redeeming love is to connect, you know, Sunday’s faith with Monday’s work. And I wonder as a, as a church, can we ever get to a place where we say like, I dunno, could this be like the Gathering Place tagline?
We loved Mondays, you know, like, I mean, could we actually say, Hey, we love Mondays because, you know, we believe that this is our opportunity to live out our faith. I believe we can. I’m gonna give you a little context of today’s scripture. Today’s scripture, um, we’re, we’re going into Exodus and, and I think it’s important to understand kind of what was going on. This is after the Israelites were, were delivered from Egypt, and, and they’re, you know, they’re, they’re trying to figure out what their new identity is. Who are they, what does it mean to be a, the people of God who are called to live free? And you know what, they really struggled with this. Um, they were so used to slave life, slave mentality that freedom was so foreign to them. And so what they would do is they would always just go back to their old ways.
Like all the time. They would, they would just keep on reverting back to the old habits. They, they even try to go back to their old gods, or they would try to adorn themselves in their old ways. And, and sometimes it would just really tick off God. I mean, you, this is like the case where you see like, what ticks off God. There, there’s some things that God’s, like, Moses, I’m, I’m aggravated, you know? And I was like, wow, God’s like totally in touch with his emotions. I mean, like, this is amazing, you know, cuz it gives us permission to say, you know, what if God could be aggravated and frustrated about things, so can I, but what we see is that, you know, the Israelites desire to be in the Promised Land, but they have a lot of disobedience issues. And so Moses wants to be in God’s presence.
So, so Moses like, you know, like every human being, you know, like, we need little helpers, you know, because we can’t, um, we have a hard time just embracing that God is everywhere and in all things, and through all things. So we create these little helpers. And so Moses created a tent, you know, and God’s like, okay, I’ll work with you. I’ll work with this tent concept. And Moses puts up this tent and he, and he meets God in the tent, and the cloud comes in. And that’s when God would always talk to Moses. And, and it kind of reminds me a lot like us, how we need these little helpers, but we come so dependent on our little tents or our sanctuaries or our buildings because, um, you know, we, we, we feel like we can’t do it on our own. We feel like we can’t just dive into God that God’s with us.
So we create all these little, little handles that to hold onto. And that’s what Moses was doing. But the problem with that is that it creates like this duality in life, you know, because we have our, our secular life, you know, like the, the life that we live most of the time. And then we have our spiritual life, the life that we live in, in our small group and, and the life that we live in church. And, and let’s be really honest with ourselves, there is a disconnect with a lot of us between our secular life and our spiritual life. And, and I’ll just be the example if like, you know, if there’s something that you would or wouldn’t do in one of those lives and the other, that means that there’s a disconnect that exists. And I really believe that God wants to integrate those things instead of making them competing like Sunday life versus real life.
We need to integrate those things together. So that’s the context of our scripture that we’re gonna jump into, and that’s Exodus chapter 33, verses 12 to 19. And we’re gonna kind of just go over a, a couple of few verses here. So Moses said to the Lord, you have been telling me, leave these people, but you have not let me know whom you’ll send with me. In other words, Moses like, you know, God, you tell me to leave these people in the promised land, but where’s my helper? You know, I got this tent, I got all this stuff, but, but where’s my helper? God, don’t we do that a lot? Like, God, I wanna trust you, uh, I wanna follow you, but man, I just need some help. So he says, you haven’t told me, you know who you’ll send with me. You have said, I know you by name and you have found favor with me. And then Moses says, if you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.
Let’s just sit on that for a moment. Just, just pause there. When I’m hearing the cry of Moses’ heart, I, I hear my cry, and maybe you cry that out too. Sometimes it’s like, God, I want something more than just a religious mountaintop experience. I want something more than just, um, a, a, a good church service on Sunday. I want something more than just a touch once in a while of your grace. God, I really want to know that I’m your people like I belong to. And God, the only way that, that I can do this is if you can just really show me how to live, like how to experience you, not just in the 10th of the meeting place. But how do I experience you on every area of my life? God, how do I know that, that, that I, that you’re pleased with me? I want to know that, that your favor or your goodness will always go with me. God, I want more than just these little moments.
Basically, I hear Moses saying, God, I want you to be with me on my Mondays, like the whole Monday, not just when I do my devotion, but actually by the time I get in my car, I want you to know that you are there. Verse 14, the Lord replied, my presence will go with you and I will give you rest. What I, let’s just pause there, because what I like about that, that my presence will go with you. So, so Moses, God’s speaking to Moses, he’s speaking to Israelite saying, yes, you know what? There is that promised land. Yes, there’s gonna be some work that you’re gonna have to enter into, but you know what, I’m gonna make that connection of bringing what you experienced in Sabbath. We’re gonna bring my presence and my rest as you are going. So not just when you’re sitting and being in this stagnant place of just being at still and at a place of rest, but no, I will be with you and I will go with you and give you rest.
Wouldn’t that be amazing to have just the, like this, uh, over flood of as of assurance to know that tomorrow, whatever you’re gonna face, whatever, whatever meeting, whatever task that’s in front of you, whatever thing that you are dreading, that you have this, this overwhelming confidence that God is like, we got this, we got this together. I i am with you. And you know what? You’re gonna have rest. Verse 15, then Moses said to him, if your presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and, and with your people, unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the people on the face of the earth? So Moses really got this. He’s like, man, God, you just waved this, this bone right in front of me, okay?
And he’s like, and he’s like, God, this is what I’ve been longing for. This is what I want. And he’s like, God, you know what? If you are not going with me, if you are not walking with me on this journey, then please don’t even send me out because I don’t want to go about this alone. I am tired of being by myself. I am tired of having the weight of the world on my shoulders. God, I need you to go away. Go with me, but not only go with me, but God, I need you to demonstrate your goodness, your favor and love in such way that distinguishes me from other people. That actually points to your freedom, that points to your goodness, that points to your life. Does anybody connect with what I’m saying to you? Does anybody kind of feel that once in a while that we’re like, God, I want, I want to experience that life.
I want to experience that goodness. And the, the link, the link that, that makes us all a reality that makes us from like theoretical talk or a bunch of spiritual pie in the sky stuff to actually bring in on the ground is a, is a thing that p that that people call the practicing the presence of God is a term that Brother Lawrence, uh, that, that he uses in one of his writings. But, but what is practicing the presence of God? Practicing the presence of God is being attuned or to be present to God’s omni presence. You know, remember you, we know that God is everywhere, always with us. Jesus said that I’ll never leave you or nor or nor forsake you. It’s being like fully aware of this in such a way that it, it’s not like a, a theory, but it’s, it’s a reality.
And, and I believe that if this can be the grounding of our lives, if this could be some of our spiritual roots and heritage, this will will change things for us because, um, it’ll affect many different areas of our lives. If we can get this part, like get this down, make this like a part of our soul. Um, first of all, you know, why do we need this? First of all, personally, each and every one of us, and I’m, and I’m speaking for myself too, we need this, we need the presence of God more in our lives, more than we want to oit because, you know, fundamentally we need to remember that we are not alone. You are not alone. So when you’re facing your stuff, when you’re facing your family challenges, when you’re facing your work stuff, when you’re, when you’re facing something that you feel like God, like this is too much that I can bear, this is way, I mean, it’s, it’s beyond my skillset and it’s just out of my box.
God, I feel inadequate. I, I I just, I feel so small. It’s okay. Because if we know that we are not alone and that God is with us, this speaks a message to our heart. And I think this is something that, that we need to get deep inside of us, is that God says, don’t be afraid. And a lot of us are carrying burdens, like I says, our own personal burdens. We’re carrying burdens for our family. We’re carrying burdens for close friends or, or worker coworkers. And you know, we see a lot of stuff in the world and our hearts are heavy. And a lot of times we, we want to do good. We wanna make a difference, but we’re just afraid. If we’re really honest, you know, we’re afraid to screw it up. We’re afraid to say the wrong thing. We’re afraid to offend somebody.
We’re afraid of all these things. Maybe we will be misinterpreted. And, and what we know is that when you are living in a place of fear, you cannot walk in love. If you’re worried about like what people are gonna think, what people are gonna say, whether you know, you’re gonna be judged and all that stuff. You, you are operating from this place of fear. And what we know from, from scripture is that God’s perfect love cast out all fear. And a lot of us have not been perfected in that love. A lot of us struggle to receive God’s goodness, to receive God’s love, to trust in it, and to not be afraid. And then we wonder why it’s so hard for us to be open and available for what God has for us or, or for what God has called us to do, because we’re so damn afraid.
You know, we’re afraid that, okay, if I give that, you know, maybe my needs won’t be met, maybe, and there’s gonna be some kind of loss. If I, if I go and invite someone to the church, maybe they won’t show up, or, or if I go and, and, and try to be someone’s friend, maybe they won’t like me. And we have all these things going on in our head, and it’s, and it gets down to this rootedness that we forget that God is with us. We’re not alone, we’re not, we have not been abandoned. We are not orphaned. God is with us. That’s one of the, the, the primary drivers of why we need to understand and practice the presence of God. The other thing that, that once we can get attuned to this, attuned to like start the practicing presence, you’ll start to learn how to be present in other areas of your lives.
And, and, and it will, it will have a positive impact on all your relationships. Because you know what, you’re gonna find meaningful connections with the people that matter most to you. Because you know what, when you are with them and when you are, you know, attuned to God and you’re practicing the presence of God and you’re starting to learn how to practice presence, you’re gonna learn how to be present with others. And you’re gonna send the message to the people that you are sitting with that are near and dear to you, that they matter to you. And when people know that they, that, that you value them and that you care about them, it changes the connection, it changes the relationship drastically. It’s not some kind of transactional thing. You’re not seeing people as objects. You’re seeing ’em as people. And, and it changes just the, the total quality of the relationship.
So again, we, we need to practice presence. Cause it’ll affect us personally. It affects our relationships. And here’s the third thing. God’s mission, God’s mission to, to redeem this entire world that this, this work that God is doing. I mean, this is God’s, God’s mission. God’s personal mission is actually dependent upon this because, you know, you know, we, we’ve just kind of, you know, crystallized this and we said that, you know, like our mission as a church is to align with God’s mission, which is to extend God’s redeeming love. But but you know what? It sounds so simple, but we’re still paralyzed. I mean, I’m talking about us as a congregation. I’m talking about people that are even listening to this. You know, we know. I mean, it’s very, it’s not rocket science that I need to extend God’s redeeming love. You know, I, I need to, to, to just allow God’s life to flow and be this life given presence.
But yet we’re still stuck. And why is this, why are we so stuck all the time? Why, why do we have a hard time being on mission? Why do we have a hard time thinking always about ourselves and not about, you know, just being a blessing to our world? Why do we get into this scarcity mentality? Why do we worry about our own security? And then we’re so afraid? I think it boils down to that we forget about the presence of God and we forget that God is with us and going before us. And if we can embrace that, you know what happens? It takes the pressure off of you, <laugh>, it takes the pressure off of you because you know what? We know that God is working in ways that we cannot possibly be even a aware of. We know that God is working ahead of us, that God is in these places that we haven’t even gone to.
So yet you’re like, oh, wow, I had this supernatural revelation to go pray or talk to this person. And God’s like, you know what? They’ve, they’ve already been in my heart. That person’s been crying and every tear they’ve cried. I’ve been right there alongside the, I’ve been with them and I’ve been waiting for you to catch up. You know? And, and, and, and that’s a hard thing for us to, I mean, it hits at our pride cuz you know, we think it’s all about us. We had these great ideas, but no, this is the heart of God. And if we’re really honest with ourselves, if you, if if mission, living on mission, being missional in words, being a part of, of God’s mission, if it scares you, then chances are you gotta do a heart check because that usually means that we’re doing it on our own strength, our own power.
We’re relying on our own preparations. And, um, and you know what? We need to be willing to take a risk and also take a risk with other people and, and God will do this. So, so anyways, remember Moses said back to our scripture, um, where I read, you know, 14 to 16, you know, Moses like, God, how will anybody know that, that you, that we’ve been called by you? How do we know what make us different from everybody else? How can we be the, the people that love Mondays and and, and embrace this world and, and, and, and, and live life countercultural and different, you know, just by this, this joy, this love, this goodness. And, and verse 17, and the Lord said, the Moses, I will do the very thing you have asked because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.
Then Moses said, now, show me your glory. And the Lord said, I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I’ll proclaim my name, the Lord in your presence. I’ll have mercy on whom I’ll have mercy and I’ll have compassion on whom I’ll have compassion. Man, this is Old Testament stuff, but it reeks with grace. And, and it’s like, can we get a hold of this church? Can the, the, the the present day church of Jesus Christ get a hold of this truth? That God says that, you know what, I am pleased with you. Can you hear that for yourself? Can you hear God speaking that I am pleased with you? Because remember, God doesn’t see our merits, our righteous, he sees the, the atoning work of Jesus Christ. He sees what Jesus did in and threw us at what Jesus did on our behalf, what Jesus did for us that we couldn’t do for ourselves.
God says, I am pleased with you and I know you by name. I I love this because, because sometimes we, we, we speak about the US language a lot. We use the we language a lot. But actually, you know, when it comes to God, God is also very, very personal. And I think we need to remember that. So those little things that you and I are carrying, that, that, that we’re just like, oh man, does anybody see what I’m going through? Does anybody see the struggles? Yes, God sees, God knows that God knows those hearts. God, God knows our desires. And you know what? God delights to be with you. And, and for some reason, man, I don’t know why, but our message has gotten as skewed where people think that, that that’s not the heart of God. That, that God doesn’t know us, that God doesn’t see us, that God doesn’t like us.
I mean, this is what people hear all the time, but the heart of God, even from like these early, I mean second book in the Bible right here says something different. It says that God’s like, Hey, you know what? I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you. So, you know, when we think like we’re going at, we’re really extending God’s redeeming love, God’s already hyperextended it. You know what I mean? We just gotta just say, Hey, live into it and trust us. Say this is what reality is, and stop living this reserved, hold backed uncomfortable lives. Now I know we all had a lot of stuff happen to us. You know, we’ve all been let down. We’ve had people disappoint us. Um, we’ve been hurt by people. And it, and it is scary. It it is, it is really scary. And when you’ve been hurt, you know, like you know, you, you cover that hurt.
You know, like, you know, if you, if you, if you have a, if you have a wound, you don’t want no one to touch it. And, and even like in a physical sense, sometimes, you know, when someone goes a huggy and you’re not a hugger, you know, there’s a reason why, you know, and I’m not saying every person’s not a hugger has been hurt or any of that, but I’m just saying that, that, you know, we are guarded sometimes. But if we could somehow, you know, move into this, move, into this way of saying, okay, I really believe this. I really believe that God’s presence, which is good, is a part of my life. It’s a part of my world and is working in front of me, then I can go anywhere where God will be leading me and not be afraid. And I can trust that God will be there to provide, God will be prepared there to do the work.
God will already have people or persons of peace already out there. And all I have to do is walk into this. So we need to learn to be present. And it, and it begins by being attuned to God’s presence in our lives. That that’s the whole thing, is that, you know, how do we take Sabbath? This, the Sabbath rest into Monday’s work is being aware of God’s presence in our lives. Um, you know, just in very simple form, I mean, you know, the scripture talks a lot about table fellowship, about, you know, building relationships, why we eat together. In fact, I mean that’s the, the basis of holy communion. But if you think about this, and I’m trying to, you know, if we can start practicing the real life, like in our normal with people, maybe we can make the connections of the practicing with God.
But how many times does our table presence just with individuals gets interrupted? And I’m ta I’m talking about myself, you know, like gets interrupted by the phone calls, the text messages, this social media. I mean, I’ve been in places, I, I’ve been guilty myself, and I, and I see it even in like in restaurants, cafes, where people are all sitting together. And yet we’re not together. We’re, we’re in, we’re in, we’re in a whole nother world, communicating on our phones, doing all these, on these different things. And then let’s take it one step further. What about like, when you’re alone, a lot of people are not comfortable being alone with their own thoughts. Like, we’re, we’re afraid to just kind of just be still and we have to, you know, make ourselves busy. And, and so, you know, when I say we’ve gotta practice the presence of God, it’s really hard to practice the presence of God if you don’t know how to be still.
And I’m not talking about like a physical still, I’m talking about like a mental stillness. Um, because I mean, there, there are moments and, and, and again, I have to have some mindfulness in my own life. So when I find myself just being alone and present, like when everybody like walks outta the room, and if my knee jerk reaction is to say, okay, hey, what’s going on on the phone? What’s going on here? What that means is that’s a, that’s a message that that’s coming through that’s saying, I have a hard time just being alone with whatever’s going inside of me. Cuz I wanna be scrolling, I wanna be busy, I wanna be active, I don’t wanna be attentive to what’s going on in my soul. And so for me, God has challenged me to say, Hey, let’s just stop and, and be mindful of what’s going on in our lives.
You see, our goal is to have God so integrated in our lives, you know, not to have these holy and secular, you know, lifestyle, but to realize that God is in and through all things. And we welcome that in our lives. That we can be like David the Psalmist when he invites us to, to recognize that God is there always. Um, for homework, I wanna invite you to read Psalm 1 39, but I’m just going to, um, extract verses seven to 12. But, but listen to this, this is the, the relationship, you know, it’s like, where can I go from your spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go to the heavens, you are there. If I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on wings of dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me.
Your right hand will hold me fast. If I say surely the darkness will hide me and the light becomes night around me. Even the darkness will not be dark to you and night will shine. Light day for darkness is as light to you. I I love that you know, that that’s the kind of intimacy that my soul craves. And and I wanna invite you to consider how this could be good for your life. You know, not be like, I mean, Kylie, have you ever you ever been around those people that are kinda like creepy stalkers in our lives? You know what I mean? It’s like, where can I go, you know, from your spirit, you know, you’re always there. You know, you’re always as agitating and bugging me. No, that’s not what David’s talking about. He’s saying that the presence of God is good. So when God starts ringing on my phone or coming up, it’s like, ah, it’s like refreshing.
It is good. And we need to develop this, this creative ways of practice in the presence of God. I don’t want you to fall into this like religious mode or feel like you have to, um, withdraw from the entire world and be some kind of spiritual recluse or something like that. But, um, but we also have to, um, find ways to become aware of God in the common business of life. So what it calls for us to do is being present and grounded in the here and now. In other words, really be attuned about what is happening. And so what it’s gonna require for us to do is to take off the mask that a lot of us like wear all the time and be real with God and trust that, that God won’t get offended or mad at you for being real. And, and, and, and in my experience, when we do this, God will show up.
Um, one experience I had, and it was, it was, I mean, it’s almost embarrassing saying this, but it was my first trip to the holy land and I was at the whaling wall. And mind you, for 10 days I was on an academic trip, okay? And so I was not on like a spiritual pilgrimage mode, okay? I was on an academic mode. I was hyper critical to everything in Israel and Palestine to the people, the traditions, all these things. And my soul was just in a weird place and I was just kind of like, oh my gosh, I’m this tired of this. I mean, I was like aggravated with like their Shabbat, um, Sabbath at that time. And then I remember I went to the whaling wall and everybody’s like, oh, we’re gonna go to the whaling wall, the western wall and all this stuff.
And, and you have all these, like, people just go in there and they’re making this whole big deal about like, hey, you know, write your prayers so that we can like, you know, wad ’em up in a little ball and stuff them into the wall and something magical is gonna happen and all this stuff. And I’m like, man, I’m just done with this. I mean, that’s where I was. I was like, done. They’re like, oh, but cuz you’re a man, you have to wear a little cap. And I’m like, dang, I have to wear a little cap too, you know, I don’t have a little cap. And they’re like, well, and we have like borrowed caps and I gotta like borrow white little cap and everything. And, and so you have this like, whole crowd. So you have like Hasidic, um, Jewish people there, and then, and then you have like, and then you have like, the Christians like that are, that are all like, ooh, everything, you know, everything Israel’s great and everything’s great, and they’re, and they’re all going there.
And, and then everyone’s like writing their little magic wishes on their little thing. And, and you know, it’s just like, oh my gosh, this is like worse than fortune cookies. You know what I mean? And they’re, and and like, like it was, it’s gonna put it in the wall and God’s gives us the lottery numbers come out, you know? And so, so I go there and, and then they’re like, no pictures either. You can’t take any pictures, all that cuz it’s, you know, it’s a holy place. And, and I’m, I’m just saying this is what my attitude was. And, and I finally like, so I walk up to the wall and I’m, and I’m just like, all right, God, you know, I know all the academic stuff, you know, like there’s one theory that made the arc of the covenants like hidden right in, in the, in the dirt beneath the wall and all this stuff.
And I’m just like, God, I don’t even know why I’m here. I mean, I, I just get, honestly, God, I don’t even know why you’re here, why I’m here. And I’m just, I’m just like exhausted from all this religious stuff. And I was just like very real with God. And I said, but God, if there’s something special or whatever, or if there’s something you want me to know, show me. And I touched the wall, and when I touched the wall, I encountered the holiness of God. That’s, I don’t even have words to explained, but I was like, like I felt, and I was like, what the heck just happened? I mean like, like all of a sudden, like I was spiritually awakened, I was spiritually attuned. And, and I’m like, and, and it, and my whole perspective just was like, whoa, this is actually real <laugh>.
You know? And, and all of a sudden I went from this like, you know, academic pilgrimage or tour of the Holy land to became a, um, a spiritual pilgrimage that where I encountered the holy, I’m not asking you to to be y’all sack religious when you go to the holy land or any of that. But what I am saying is that what God is asking us to do, and I find it in my life, if we could just be real, take off the mask, tell God how you feel, um, God will show up and you’ll experience the presence of God. You know, um, we’ve been, we’ve been trained in conditions so much to be so detached from ourselves that sometimes we don’t even know what’s going on inside and then we’re detached from other people and, and we wonder why we feel so detached from God.
Um, you know, we live in our, our Christian bubbles. A lot of us do still, even though I’m trying to, you know, myself live out to say, get out of that and, and try to model that. But it’s, it’s, when you think about it, it’s like, no wonder we have such a hard time being on mission or living mission missionally. Um, and what I mean is that, you know, sometimes we, we live without a purpose, you know, and we forget that, you know, there’s a reason why we say that we exist to extend God’s redeeming love because that is important. So here’s just some things that to, to be present, and I want you to invite you to practice this like in, in your relationship with God, but also other people, you know, one, be intentional to use your phones and social media less. Okay?
And what I’m saying is like, I mean, there’s a lot of great things out there and, and there’s, there’s great resources that I love, but you know what? You gotta put some limits on it. That’s all, that’s all I’m saying. You know, you gotta put some limits and, or set aside some times and, and maybe just make it your goal to say, you know what? I’m gonna lower my weekly screen time, whatever that is. You know, just start from there because mindless, mindless scrolling is the opposite of mi of, of mindfulness. Um, and you know what, it is not helpful for you. It’s not helpful for your soul to be constantly inundated with all these targeted apps, um, ads, you know what I mean? And, and that’s what happens a lot of the time. We are just, we’re we’re, we’re, we’re flooded with advertisements. And you know what that means?
You know, cuz when you’re mindful, when you’re mindful, that means like you’re intentional about how you’re living and you’re intentional about like your actions and are you living a faithful life and all that. And so when you’re mindless and you’re allowing yourself to be flooded by advertisements and all these things, when you’re mindless, that means that the advertisement agencies are more concerned about your actions than you are. And that’s a problem. So, so go ahead and try to figure out how to, to limit some of those things. Um, also, it’s really hard for you to be grateful with what you have in your life when you’re constantly looking at others and comparing yourself to other people. In fact, um, a lot of the majority of research is coming out. It’s starting to suggest that overuse of social media is being linked to mental health issues like anxiety and depression.
I mean, I’m sure this is on anything new. Um, number two, connect with your immediate surroundings. In other words, like try to be present where you are. Like, you know, see what’s going on outside. Actually go outside, you know, I mean like breathe air, like out there, you know, um, experience, you know, sunlight, put your sunscreen on or like, you know, we have to wear sleeves and all that kind of stuff. But, but learn to like, observe like nature. Learn to observe your community. Like see your, your neighborhood. See like what is actually going on, you know? Cause like when you’re driving through, you don’t see much at all, but when you’re walking, you know, things, you, you start to notice things, you know, try to cultivate, uh, this characteristic inside you to, to appreciate beauty and to have curiosity. And that might mean by just taking some time to look at this guy.
When was the last time you, you looked up at the clouds and did some cloud imagination work? You know, and started saying, Hey, what do those clouds look like? When’s the last time you were able to do something like that? Um, or, or to, to look at the flowers or just to smell the air and find out what’s going on. And if you smell something bad, then you, you know, that might be a tune to say, Hey, God, what’s going on in my community? But connect with your immediate surroundings. Number three, give your undivided attention to others. I, I cannot tell you, like, there’s been times where there’s people that I really wanted to, to connect with them or be in their presence and, and just when I thought I was getting a connection, all of a sudden, I mean, they, they went on their phone or they got distracted and they’re like, no, no, no, I’m with you. But then they’re like waiting for that reply of the text, you know what I mean? And, and, and just what would happen if you just really gave your undivided attention?
I know this might be counterintuitive to a lot of us, but try to avoid multitasking. Um, you know, there’s a danger that it increases your stress. It’s not as efficient as what you think. Um, some people say, some studies show that it leads to poor memory and we have a harder time regulating our emotions when we’re, when we’re multitasking. Um, and also when you’re multitasking, like all the science points to it reduces the satisfaction of your relationships. I wonder why, cuz you’re not giving your full self to the people that, that God has given to you. Number five, take more breaks and be willing to put a pause on stuff. You know, be willing to step away sometimes and say, you know what? I just need a pause. I need a break. You’re okay. And then number six, and I think we, religious people have a real hard time with number six, get out and play.
You hear me play delight, have fun. You know, like, when was the last time you went outside and played and just had fun and goofed around a little bit and laughed? You know, there’s a reason why Jesus said, come to him like a little child. And we, and we like, yeah, I gotta, I just gotta believe everything and trust him. But, but you’re, you’re undoing all that stuff with all your other like adult-like activities, play, play, you know, the Benedict Kings, um, you know, they, they try to seek the, the practice of, uh, seek God’s presence and work and play. And so what they try to do is they, they try to intentionally, um, interject contemplation in every action or work that they, that they do. And so, um, what they would do is, like, part of their regular disciplines is they have these little moments of pauses, you know, and, and so, you know, we can learn a lot from them.
And sometimes it’s just a matter of, you know, when you realize that you’re in the moment, you just, and, and something that says, Hey, just take a pause. Just take a pause and just do a breath prayer. Just say Jesus, or whatever, breath prayer, just God, or just pause in silence. If you start doing these things, this is how we start cultivating the presence of God in our lives. Because when we are present, I really believe that that’s when we experience God and others in more meaningful ways. And then we can really live into like Matthew 18, verse 20, when Jesus says, two or more are gathered in my name, there I am with you. You know, we, we, we, we take that for granted. We, we think this by being in the building together. That’s the gathering. But it’s when we are really one accord, when our minds and hearts are attuned to what is happening in, in, in our world and the place and what God is doing, that’s when we experience the presence of Jesus.
And I really believe that this practicing the presence of God is essential to being on mission, to extend God’s redeeming love. So there is a internal work that I’m talking about in this message, which is, you gotta be attuned to this. You gotta get the presence of God regularly in your lives. And, and, and, and sometimes it’s not about just the religious readings and doing things, it’s gotta be cultivated in everything we do. You know, that has to be integrated into our secular lives and we have to be on mission, we’re called. That is why the church exists to extend God’s redeeming love to, to extend God’s goodness, because that’s what God is already doing, and we gotta join God. So as I wrap things up, how do we find God in our community? Okay? Just think about that.
The scripture teaches us that wherever there are people that are hurting or broken, Jesus is with them. And so, while you’re doing this and connecting, you might need to ask yourself, you know, this question of like, where is the hurt? Where is the hurt in my neighborhood? Where is the hurt in Palm Beach County? Another question to ask is, where is the lack? You know, where, where is something missing? And then this other part of experience in Jesus, okay? So remember, like I said, you know, look, be look mindful of what’s going on in our community. Where’s the brokenness? Where’s the hurt? Where’s the lack? And then take this as a commander challenge this week. Go outside and play. Okay? And, and listen, you need to be around non-church people. Do you hear me? You need to make connections with people. It’s not for like, okay, so I could convert them or bring ’em the alpha.
No, it’s good for your soul to be in touch with reality. Okay? And, and so what does that mean? It means have fun with them. And you can say, well, you know what? I work with non-church people. No, that doesn’t count, okay? Because you have to do that to survive. Okay? But what I’m asking you to do is to be intentional. I’m asking you to, to say, okay, you know what, I, I wanna align my life with Jesus’ life. And so that means I have to know my community and that I have to have some fun with people who have a totally different belief system than mine. And, and just have fun with them. Because you know what? They’re creating God’s image too. And they’re not a project. They’re not someone to be fixed. There are people that are meant to be loved and enjoyed and experienced.
And if you could do that, I’m telling you what, it will change your whole life. So get out and play. Do you hear me? Get out and play. And I promise you this, uh, Perry, if you can go back to, to verse 17, that Exodus thing, the last part, God will fulfill the promise for you as he did with Moses and the Israelites. When he said, and the Lord said to Moses, I’ll do the very thing you have asked because I am pleased with you and I know you by name. Then Moses said, now show me your glory. And the Lord said, I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you and I’ll proclaim my name. See, God will proclaim his name. We don’t need to be, you know, defending God and all that stuff. God will do it. We just gotta be present in it, okay? The Lord, in your presence, I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I’ll have compassion on whom I have compassion.
Hannah Hunter (42:40):
Hey beautiful people, this is Hannah Hunter. I’m the director of Digital Reach here at The Gathering Place in Palm Beach Gardens. Thank you for joining us this week. We love getting to share our journey in Christ and community with you. And if you’re in the Palm Beach area, we’d love to get to connect with you in person at our Sunday worship service at 1115. For more information about our community and faith, check out our website at the gathering place fl.org. Thanks for listening.