On God and Country

It’s the 4th of July weekend, that extended celebration of Independence Day and our nation’s 243rd birthday. Usually that means barbecue and fireworks and time at the lake or beach or pool. And there’s usually a wave of patriotism, with flags flying and reminders that we live in the “land of the free, and the home of the brave.”

I will admit, without apology, that I am a very patriotic American. I had instilled in me from an early age a love for these United States of America, and nothing I have experienced has diminished my love for country, however imperfect it may be. 

I believe that citizenship in this great nation is both a right and a privilege, and that we all need to carry our weight as citizens to make this country all that it can be. In this day and age in particular, I think that means less finger-pointing at others, less partisan politicking and political posturing, less angry rhetoric, and more responsibility for doing right, being right, and making our country right. That includes voting, serving, helping, loving others as ourselves.

Now, let me say, as a Christ-follower and a pastor, I am first and foremost a citizen of Christ’s Kingdom, and there is never to be a doubt where my true allegiance lies. Quite honestly, I am surprised at how many fellow Christians seem to get those things mixed up. The Bible says that we are “aliens and strangers,” pilgrims here who are just passing through. Our citizenship is in heaven, not on earth, and we must never confuse the two or wed God and country so closely that we get confused who we are serving.

And so, we don’t spend a lot of time baptizing our flag and celebrating America in our worship services at Shelby Crossings, though that doesn’t mean we don’t love our country. I can’t imagine the apostle Paul advocating “God ‘n country” in first-century Rome, even as he called on Christians to pray for their leaders. But that doesn’t mean we don’t recognize our nation’s godly heritage, and seek to make our nation all that He would want it to be.

The Puritan John Winthrop suggested almost 400 years ago in the early days of the American colonies that God had sovereignly led to her founding as a “city on a hill.” Whether that suggests an “American exceptionalism” or not, I cannot say. But over the last four centuries God has surely “shed His grace” on our nation, has blessed America, and has used her to be a blessing to the world.

It was the French diplomat and historian Alexis de Toqueville who wrote in the mid-19th century what was long considered a moral imperative for our country, but has since become a controversial statement (though I still believe it to be true). He said:  “America is great, because America is good. And if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.”

America has never been perfect, not in its founding, nor “back in the good ol’ days” of any generation. But this nation was founded with a moral vision grounded in God’s will, revealed through the Scriptures. And we must never shrink away from seeking to be a people who “do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God.” (Micah 6:8)

Ultimately, we as a nation are accountable to God. Hear the words of one of our founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson, which are inscribed on the walls of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C.:  “God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever.”

And so, on this Independence Day weekend, let us pray for America, that God would humble us, unite us, draw us to Himself, and bring revival in our land. God bless America….please.

I look forward to seeing you on Sunday. 

 –Pastor Ken

One More Night…

The past two weeks in our summer sermon series through Exodus we have looked at the plagues, which is not exactly the most uplifting section of the Bible. God brought the plagues on Egypt to demonstrate His power and, ultimately, to soften Pharaoh’s heart so that he would let the Israelites go. Eventually, after the tenth plague–the death of the first-born son–it worked.

It is interesting if you read the pattern of the plagues:  God would smite the land with locusts or gnats or boils or hail or whatever, and then the Egyptian magicians would prove they could do the same, thus adding to the problem. Pharaoh would ask Moses to make it stop–to call off the proverbial dogs–and as the plagues went on, he started making promises of what he would do if only Moses made the plague disappear. Of course, after God removed the plague, Pharaoh would renege on his promise and refuse to let God’s people leave Egypt after all. And on and on it went until the death angel made his visit and the Egyptians could take it no longer.

As Jonathan Arnold mentioned in his message on the plagues a few Sundays ago, there is a little bit of Pharaoh in all of us. We are all prone to make promises of what we will do if God will just get us out of a mess–“foxhole commitments,” as someone has called them–only to back off and go back to our apathy when the problem goes away. 

But the example in the narrative about the plagues that most reveals our tendency to act like Pharaoh came after the second plague, when God sent frogs upon the land. There were frogs everywhere; Exodus 8 describes that they were in their homes, in their bedrooms, on their beds, in their ovens, and “on them.” I suspect this was where Mrs. Pharaoh stepped in and said, “Honey”–I’m guessing that’s what she called her husband–“tell the man to get the frogs out of here, and do whatever it takes to make it happen.”

And so Pharaoh did. Exodus 8:8 says that Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Pray to the LORD to take the frogs away from me and my people, and I will let your people go to offer sacrifices to the LORD.”  But this is where the story takes an interesting twist and reminds me more of me than I would like to admit.

Moses said to Pharaoh, “I leave to you the honor of setting the time for me to pray for you and your officials and your people that you and your houses may be rid of the frogs…” (v. 9).

Pharaoh’s answer is one of the all-time classics in all the Bible:  “Tomorrow.”

There was a famous sermon that used to circulate around, though I do not remember who wrote it or preached it. It was the title, and simple application, that was most memorable. It was called “One More Night with the Frogs.” It came from this passage where, when given the choice of ridding his palace and his people of those nasty frogs whenever he wanted, Pharaoh chose tomorrow, or “one more night with the frogs.”

Pharaoh’s answer seems pretty ridiculous, if not downright dumb. Until I look at my own life of the things I know the Lord wants me to do that will be a blessing in my life and in the life of others, and I put them off until another day. “How about tomorrow, Lord? For now, I think I’ll have another night with my slimy amphibian friends.”

I wonder what it is in your life that you need to be rid of, and a simple decision is all that awaits you moving from bondage to freedom, from shame to relief and joy. Or what decision do you need to make in your life that you have been putting off until the tomorrow that never comes? It’s time to make the call, get rid of the frogs, and move on with your life. Don’t delay; don’t spend one more night with the frogs.

I am praying for each of you, for God’s work in your lives, as I hope you are praying likewise for me. I look forward to seeing you on Sunday. 

   –Pastor Ken     

A Team Effort

As I write this on Thursday, we are exactly one month from the 50th anniversary of one of the most momentous events of my lifetime. I was just a kid on July 20, 1969, when Neil Armstrong first walked on the moon. If you are a young adult that’s probably not that significant for you, but for my generation, it was a really big deal.

I still remember vividly the excitement of that historic night when we got to stay up late and hear Armstrong say, “One small step for man…” as he took that first step onto the surface of the moon. Even after a half a century and all the hundreds of astronauts that have made it into space since then, it’s the name Neil Armstrong that is still most associated with the NASA voyages.

 In reality, Armstrong was one of 218,000 people involved in making that first lunar landing happen. He may have gotten most of the recognition, but he would have been the first to tell you that it was a team effort. He never would have made it to the moon had it not been for a team of thousands of committed individuals who had worked day and night for years to make it happen.

I came across another story recently that illustrates the same point in a different way. It was about a horse-pulling contest held at a county fair–that is, the horses competed against each other pulling different amounts of weight.  The second place winner pulled a sled of 1,000 pounds. The first place winner pulled a sled of 1,500 pounds. But when the two horses were teamed up, together they pulled 4,000 pounds of weight. That’s the difference teamwork makes. 

Our walk as believers–and the ministry we carry out as the church–is likewise a “team sport.” God intends for us to work together to do what we could never do by ourselves. As our church’s core values state–and the outdated signs on our warehouse walls remind us–“every member is a a minister,” and “what we do, we do together.”

That is never truer than when we as a church join together for a wonderful ministry effort like this week’s Vacation Bible School. The theme has been “InTents” and the week has been “intense,” and loads of fun. So many of you have worked tirelessly to plan and prepare for our VBS, and we’ve had more than eighty youth and adults come together to give of yourselves as partners in ministry this week. Truly, the Lord has been honored, and I’m excited to see the fruit that He is bearing in the lives of the children, as well as the adult and youth workers. 

A great big “Thanks” to each of you for your sacrifice and service, and thanks be to God for the eternal things He has been doing in the lives of boys and girls this week. Please continue to pray that “He who began a good work…will continue to complete it in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 1:6)

I’m sure glad we’re on the same team, and what a joy it is to be your pastor. I’m praying for you, and I look forward to seeing you on Sunday. 

 –Pastor Ken

According to His Purpose

We are only two weeks into our summer study through the book of Exodus and it’s not hard to pick up on a familiar theme already, that of God’s providential hand at work behind the scenes to bring about His will in the lives of His people. We don’t always see it on the surface, but often when we look back, we can see His fingerprints all over our situation. He has a purpose.

I was reminded this past week of a story I used a few years back in a sermon. It was about a farmer who owned a horse. One day the horse ran away. His friends came to console him because of the loss. “I don’t know,” said the farmer, “maybe it’s a bad thing and maybe it’s not.” 

The following week, the horse returned to the farm, accompanied by 20 other horses, who had been roaming wild in the countryside. His friends came to congratulate him: “Now you have a full stable!” The farmer just said, “I don’t know. Maybe it’s a good thing and maybe it’s not.” 

The following week, the farmer’s son was out riding one of the new horses. The horse began to buck and threw him off, breaking the son’s leg. His friends came to console the farmer because of the accident. “I don’t know,” said the farmer, “maybe it’s a bad thing and maybe it’s not.” 

The following week, the government declared war and called all able-bodied young men to join the fight. They came to the town and rounded up hundreds of young men, except for the farmer’s son who had a broken leg. The farmer said, “Now I can say that it was a good thing my horse ran away.” 

The “moral” of the story?  Life is a series of events, and until we’ve reached the end of the series, it’s hard to know exactly why things are happening.  When you’re in the middle of something, it’s especially difficult to get a proper perspective. Of course, we who are Christ-followers have a bit of an advantage.

Even though we may not know the significance of any life event at the time, we can trust the One who walks with us all the way, understanding that He loves us, He is in control, and He has a plan. And in the end, that plan is always for our good. Hear again those familiar words from the apostle Paul: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28).

May we each live out His purpose, on purpose, this week. I am praying for you, and I 
hope to see you Sunday. 

–Pastor Ken

Fight the Good Fight

As I’m sure have seen on the news and on social media this week that yesterday was the 75th anniversary of D-Day. On June 6, 1944, the Allies launched the largest amphibious invasion in human history on the northern coast of German-occupied France. It was one of the bloodiest battles ever for the Allied forces, with tens of thousands killed and injured. For our generation, the horrific realities of that battle were brought to life in the opening scenes of the movie Saving Private Ryan.

It was quite a courageous assault by those soldiers from “the greatest generation,” as they have been called. And it’s not hard to do the math to realize that those brave men who stormed the beaches of France (and also in the South Pacific)–and survived to come home–are well up in their years 75 years later. In fact, I heard this week that 400 World War II veterans die every day in America.

For our parents and grandparents, D-Day was one of the most significant days of their lifetime. More than anything, it marked the beginning of the end, and was the turning point of the European war against Hitler’s forces. In fact, many considered D-Day “where the war was won.” The problem was, it took another 337 days of fighting, and thousands more lives lost, before Germany finally surrendered on May 7, 1945. The next day, May 8, was declared V-E Day, to celebrate the victory in Europe.

I remember reading in seminary a book by Oscar Cullmann–Christ and Time–where the author used the analogy of World War II to illustrate the Christian life. Cullmann proposed that we as Christ-followers are living “between D-Day and V-Day.” I didn’t really understand it then, both because I wasn’t that familiar with the military history of World War II and because I didn’t have a grasp of the warfare that comes in living the Christian life. I understand both a little better now.

Cullmann’s point was surely more familiar to those of his generation who lived the agony, and the victory, of a world war. But with yesterday’s momentous anniversary of the famous Normandy invasion, I  am reminded of the truth he stated all the more.

So, what’s the point for us as Christians? Jesus Christ “decided” our final outcome 2,000 years ago on the cross. That victory is assured, and secured for us, because of His sacrifice on that “D-Day” at Calvary. Yet, we still must face our share of spiritual battles–many of which we lose–as we await V-Day, when our Lord will return and receive us into Himself, forever to live in His peace.

So, hang in there as you faithfully “fight the good fight.” We already know the outcome, even if sometimes the battle gets fierce. We win! 

I’m praying for you, as I hope you are for me, and I look forward to seeing you Sunday. 

–Pastor Ken

First Impressions

I came across a funny story this week about a little boy who had reached the age of four and, much to his parents’ frustration, still had not given up his habit of sucking his thumb. His mother had tried everything from bribery to reasoning to painting his thumb with lemon juice to discourage the habit, but all to no avail. 

Finally, in her desperation, she tried threats, warning her son that, “If you don’t stop sucking your thumb, your stomach is going to blow up like a balloon.”

Later that day, walking in the park, mother and son saw a pregnant woman sitting on a bench. The 4-year-old considered her gravely for a minute, then walked up to her and said loud enough for all around to hear, “Uh oh!  I know what you’ve been doing!”

My guess is there was a red-faced mom trying to explain to the expectant mother-to-be that her son was a little more innocent than his words may have suggested. Still, the story illustrates something that I have been reminded of on a couple of occasions this week.

Often, first impressions are not what they seem. With our limited information and understanding, we make judgments of others based purely on what we are able to see from the outside.  It is only when we hear what Paul Harvey would call “the rest of the story” that we determine that things are usually a little more complicated. That’s not to say that sometimes things aren’t self-evident, but that we would all do well not to “judge a book by its cover”–or people either. 

More importantly, the implications for us as the church as we seek to demonstrate the compassion of Jesus to a hurting world around us, are that we must see the needs behind the problems, and to minister His grace accordingly.  It’s easy for us to get on our high horses and look at the broken people around us with condescension, as if somehow we can feel better about ourselves as we look down on others. But when we see people as Jesus saw them, and love them as He did, we are often surprised at what we are able to see below the surface. And quite honestly, seeing and loving like that will rock your world. 

My hope and prayer for The Church at Shelby Crossings is that we will be a constant reflection of the love of Jesus Christ to our community. That is quite a daunting challenge, but one for which He will empower us if we only ask.  Who knows the difference He’ll make in us, and through us, as we allow Him to do just that?

I’m praying for you, as I hope you are for me, and I look forward to seeing you Sunday.

–Pastor Ken

A Tribute to a Friend

He called me “the pope.” I sometimes jokingly called him “Reverend,” but usually just referred to him as “Mick.” He was my mentor, my adviser, my brother, my friend.

Howard “Mickey” Park was the spiritual father I never had. My own dad was a good man, but did not know the Lord until the last weeks of his life and I never really knew him as a Christian. He certainly had a big influence on me, but not a spiritual influence. Mickey did.

Mickey passed away last Friday at Shelby Hospital. He was 86 years old.

I first began to hear the name Mickey Park when I worked as a counselor at Lake Forest Ranch in Mississippi during my college years. Mickey had been a counselor there himself the first summer the camp opened back in 1950, and had come back often over the years since he had been a pastor to be the camp speaker for a week. He didn’t speak either summer I was there, but he was a legend, and when anyone heard I was from Birmingham they would immediately ask me if I knew him or went to his church.

Fast forward a decade. I was pastoring a church we had just begun in Hoover, and Mickey was pastor at Shades Mountain Bible Church, not too far down the road. Focus on the Family was beginning a new ministry for pastors–Pastor to Pastor, it was called–and H.B. London came to Birmingham to introduce it to our area. They had an event at Briarwood Church, with free breakfast and the promise of free books, so I went, not knowing how impactful that day would be for the rest of my life. During the presentation, H.B. said that every pastor needs a pastor, and especially for us young pastors, we needed to find ourselves a mentor that we could confide in and get advice and counsel from.

Somewhere during the event, I saw on his name tag that Mickey Park was there, so I went up afterwards and introduced myself to him, and connected the dots of our common relationships from Lake Forest. I also mentioned what H.B. had said, about young pastors in particular needing a mentor and adviser, and asked if he would consider maybe getting together sometime with me. He asked me what my plans were for lunch that day, and before I knew it we were sitting across a table from each other. And that began a friendship of 27 years.

Mickey agreed to meet with me regularly–to the point that he came to my office every Thursday morning at 7 a.m. for several years. He gave me biblical counsel, was a listening ear, spoke the truth to me in love, and encouraged me to no end. A year or so into our meeting he told me he would only continue to meet with me if I stopped calling him a mentor, and said our time meant as much to him as it did to me. I was humbled and honored, but knew that couldn’t really be true. I agreed, but I will admit, I still told others he was my mentor, for that was what he was.

A few years later, Mickey was considering transitioning out of his pastorate at SMBC, and sought my counsel and prayer through the process. We talked candidly each week about the frustrations and difficulties of pastoring a local church. He felt the Lord leading him to start a new ministry that would allow him to be a pastor to pastors and missionaries, to “serve the servants of Christ around the world.” And he would go on to do just that, opening up his home, and traveling the globe–well into his 80’s–to visit and encourage those who were taking the gospel to the ends of the earth but found themselves burned out and depressed in the process.

Mickey and I did a daily Christian radio show talk show for a while on WDJC-AM. We called it “Real Life,” and it wasn’t bad for a couple of amateurs, though not many folks listened. And later, after we stopped meeting as regularly, he would call me often to check on me, take me to lunch to encourage me, as a father and pastor. When I went through a rough patch, for several years not pastoring, it was Mickey who was a lifeline to the ministry for me, and kept me from giving up. He may be the biggest reason why I am still in ministry today.

Over the years, he came to worship with us at Shelby Crossings a few times, where he knew many of you from having served as your pastor before also. I was like a proud son when Mickey would come, and he always bragged on my preaching and my family, and made me feel like a million bucks. He checked on me when I was sick, challenged and encouraged me just when I seemed to need it, and graciously loved me and put up with me. And as recently as last spring he and his wife Martha drove all the way to Montgomery on a crazy Saturday of spring break traffic to see my son play college baseball.

Mickey Park was humble and real and transparent and authentic, before it was cool. He was a kind, gentle man, who loved Jesus more than just about anyone I’ve ever known. He also loved people, and when Mickey loved you you knew you were loved. We laughed together, and we cried together. He taught me about grace and truth and faithfulness and family, and so many other things, and my life is so much richer because I knew him.

I will certainly miss him, but I couldn’t be happier for him that he is home with Jesus.

Thanks for allowing me to give tribute to this wonderful friend, who honored the Lord with his life in so many different ways. I can only hope I can scratch the surface of the impact he had on this world, for Jesus’ sake.

Have a blessed Memorial Day weekend. I hope to see you Sunday

–Pastor Ken

Laid Up to Look Up

I hope you don’t mind some particularly personal words this week, if only to let me process a few things.

It seems like I have been ill more in the past twelve months than I have in all my previous life put together. I was rolling along just fine last June when I ended up in the ER on my anniversary with diverticulitis. Two days later I found out I had prostate cancer to boot. The summer of 2018 was a rough one, recovering from one disease so I could have surgery for another, then the difficult process of healing from that one too. 

But all in all, I came through last summer and fall okay, and very grateful for God’s faithfulness through the process. To be honest, I didn’t learn any great spiritual lessons through my sickness–which was a little disappointing–but I did come out the other side with little more than a few scars, a couple of leftover side effects, and a lot of gratitude. 

The new year began wonderfully for me, with the Lord doing such a fresh work in my life, taking me “deeper” and bringing more healing in me in the process, this time not on the physical level. By His grace, He has drawn me to Himself and taken me to the next level in my love for Him and His word, and once again, the thing that has stood out for me has been an overwhelming since of gratitude.

Which brings me to last week. I woke up with the same kind of symptoms that I had on my anniversary last year, just not as bad, and because there have been some stomach viruses going around, I just assumed that may have been the culprit. I was pretty sick, but went anyway to my quarterly follow-up with my urologist on Friday, where I found out, by the way, that I am still cancer free! While I was there I mentioned that I was feeling bad, with some hints of diverticulitis again, and he sent me for a CT scan. And the radiologist confirmed our suspicions, that it was indeed back.

I went ahead and preached on Sunday, which probably wasn’t a wise move for me or for those who had to endure listening to the sermon. And the days since have been rough. Not only have I struggled physically, eventually it really started to get the best of me mentally and emotionally. I have gotten depressed and frustrated and restless. I don’t know another way of saying it, but I’m just sick of being sick.

And then I got some words of encouragement from a friend, and it was just what the doctor ordered. I was reminded of the pastoral advice I have given several folks in our congregation over the past few years who have gone through tough times with illness; that God is still on the throne, that He is allowing me to walk this road for a reason, and that He probably wants to get my attention. I was reminded of the good work He has been doing in me this year, and told not to ignore this as part of that process. And I was reminded that we have a wonderful body of believers at Shelby Crossings who can “hold my arms up” like Aaron and Hur did Moses and that it’s okay to lean on my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Good words, all. God is at work, even in the midst of sickness and discouragement. His power is perfected in my weakness, and His sufficient grace shines through my insufficiencies. He has a plan, and it might not be for my comfort, but it always has to do with my being conformed to the image of Christ. He is in control, He is good, and He can be trusted.

And let’s face it, there’s enough whining in the world today, and there’s no use me adding my complaints to the chorus of the belly-achers–even if my belly aches. I will be grateful, knowing that He who has begun a good work in me will continue to complete it. I don’t like being sick–not one bit–but sometimes you have to get laid up to look up.

One last thing. There have been several “theme” verses the Lord has been grounding me in in 2019, but none more so than Psalm 62:1-2:  “My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation. He is my fortress; I will not be shaken.”

So, I think I’ll get some rest, in Him, for my body, and for my soul. And if you happen to face some hard times, don’t miss the opportunity to look up. Thanks for your prayers for me. I hope to see you Sunday.

 –Pastor Ken

A Proposal to Serve

Our message this past Sunday was on servanthood, and we looked at the example of Jesus when He washed His disciples feet. In the sermon, I told a story about my son-in-law washing my daughter’s feet as part of his marriage proposal to her at the ladies’ beach retreat. If you don’t mind a “re-run,” I wanted to share what I wrote about it in this space four years ago this week:

As you may have heard, my youngest daughter got herself betrothed this past Sunday afternoon, on the last afternoon of the ladies beach retreat in Panama City. There’s nothing like a romantic proposal on the beach to make all the ladies weepy and cap off an estrogen-laden weekend.

My future son-in-law had been planning the big day for more than a month, since we had our sit-down conversation the day before Easter. He made the drive down to Panama City on Sunday to surprise her, and had the help of the mother-of-the-bride-to-be, and a few of her accomplices, who participated in a ruse aimed at deceiving the unsuspecting proposée to get her to the right place at the right time on the beach.

There, he set up a chair on the edge of the surf, sat her down in it, and washed her feet. Then, he led her to drier ground, where he knelt before her, dried off her feet, and then presented her a ring and popped the question. (I think she said “Yes.”)

Our Shelby Crossings ladies, watching from across the beach, applauded, and apparently there were several bystanders on the beach who witnessed the whole event as well. One stranger video’d the proposal, which will probably show up on YouTube soon, while another came up immediately afterward to try to sell them on having their wedding at his beach venue nearby. A third couple was the most intriguing to me; they offered their congratulations, mentioned how special it was to be there for the proposal, but then asked about that thing he was doing to her feet. The two new fiancés were then able to explain.

In case that part of the story was foreign to you too, I will explain. The washing of the feet was a symbolic gesture of sevanthood, invoking the picture of what Jesus did for His disciples when He washed their feet (John 13). It is not a real common scene in today’s society–either the foot-washing, or the servanthood–but it was a wonderful expression of Christ-like love, and I pray it will serve as a solid foundation on which to build their upcoming marriage.

One thing is for certain, when we practice selfless service in our selfie-centered world, people take notice. They may not fully understand–they may even think we’re weird–but they will probably ask questions, which will open the doors for up to explain to them about the Jesus that we follow. He “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)

That’s our calling as well, whether in marriage or just in life in general: to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, to love as He loved and to serve as He served, even when the world doesn’t always get it. I pray that each of our lives reflect the servant’s heart of our Master this week, as we serve Him by serving others.

I do hope you’ve had an opportunity to serve someone this week in the name of Jesus.  I am praying for you, and I look forward to seeing you Sunday. 

–Pastor Ken

A Revolution of the Soul

We all need a Copernican revolution of the soul.

You may remember the name Nicolaus Copernicus from middle school science classes. He lived during the Renaissance in the late 15th and early 16th centuries in Prussia (modern day Poland) and was educated in canon law. He was also a mathematician, astronomer, physician, economist and even a governor. 

Copernicus is mainly known for a model of the universe he formulated that placed the sun rather than the earth at the center of the universe. We assume its truth in our modern day world, but such a theory was pretty radical in his day. His publication of that model in 1543 was a major event in the history of science and triggered what is called the “Copernican Revolution.”

What’s that got to do with the soul? I’m glad you asked.

One of the hardest discoveries for all of us is that we are not the center of the universe. From the time we are born, somehow we get the idea that the world revolves around us. But one day, reality kicks in and we realize that is not the case. As Rick Warren states in the opening words of his best-selling book The Purpose Driven Life: “It’s not about you.”

The Psalmist reminded us that “the fool says in his heart that there is no God.” As John Ortberg points out, perhaps the bigger fool is the one who looks in the mirror and says, “There is a god!” for the oldest temptation is that we “will be like God.” But we must all let go of the false god that is me.

Of course none of us would ever claim to be a god, but sometimes we act like we’re the ones in charge, like we are the axis around which the world spins. All of us must at some point come to grips with this important truth: There is a God, and I’m not him.

As hard as it may be for our stubborn wills to grasp, one of the most freeing things any of us can ever do is surrender our lives to the God who is the center of the universe, the Creator of the very heavens and the earth. It takes the pressure off when you realize you don’t have to keep the planet spinning, and that everything does not depend on you.
This is a Copernican revolution of the soul.

So exhale. Take a load off. Realize it’s not about you, that you’re not in control now nor were you ever intended to be. But the good news is that you can have a relationship with the God who is in charge, and He can be trusted. And even better, He loves you more than you could ever imagine.

May He bless you this week as you put Him first in your life. I am praying for you, as I hope you are for me, and I look forward to seeing you Sunday. 

–Pastor Ken