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Remember to be Grateful

There’s an old Chinese Proverb that says, “When you drink from the stream, remember the spring.”

We live in a country abounding in resources, prosperity, and freedom. And yet we also experience political divisiveness, violence, economic fluctuations, and natural disasters such as the horrific fires in California leaving a wake of death and destruction.

What causes us to rise above the chaos and celebrate the blessings is to “remember the spring” from which we drink. We are a nation divided politically but united under one Constitution. We see the erosion of Judeo-Christian values, which can also bring a wake-up call to the Church to live out our faith in Christ-like ways. We drink from the stream of freedom, and thus we need to remember the spring of love, sacrifice, and honor that granted us freedom at the founding of our nation.

Likewise, this Advent season let us remember the spring of Christ’s love, sacrifice, and honor that granted us freedom from sin. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1, NIV).

“But whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14, NIV).

If you drink the water of life, remember the spring of His love that never runs dry. As has been said many times, “Freedom is never free.” Our national freedom came at the cost of many lives. Our spiritual freedom came at the cost of the life of One.

“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him” (Colossians 2:13-15, ESV).

Let us be grateful for the freedom we have as a nation and let us be grateful for the freedom we have in Christ. And if we drink from the stream of freedom, let us remember the spring from which that freedom flows.

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

Balance and Boundaries in a World of On-Demand Communications

Laura and I were in a restaurant the other day, and I noticed that almost everyone was looking at their smartphones and not at the person across the table. I experienced this first hand with our family over the Thanksgiving holiday. One evening, Laura, the kids and I were sitting in our living room, and all of us had pulled out our phones and were engaged with texting, messaging or emailing and not engaged with one another.

Bummer.

We live in a culture more connected than ever, yet more disconnected at the same time. We have hundreds of “friends” through social media but very few friends face-to-face. We wind up focusing more on conversations with people online than with people in the room. We pay more attention to someone we knew in college than those closest to us now.

Our phones buzz, beep, and ring reminding us (and others) how important we are that people would try to contact us at all hours. The incessant chimes interrupt vacations, family moments, and even taking a walk.

Don’t get me wrong. There are upsides to on-demand communication. I love being able to stay in touch with friends and family who live thousands of miles away. I love being able to communicate with pastors all over the world via Zoom or Skype. And that “Find Friends” app has definitely given me a lot of peace when I wonder where my kids are (and no I’m not spying on them).

What we need are balance and boundaries. We need to teach our children to live a balanced life where technology does not become an addiction and where we should never sacrifice relationships with people we can hug, touch or see face to face.

My oldest son, Will, showed me how he and his wife use a screen time app on their phones to help them discipline their social networking and app usage. They actually have locked each other’s phones after 8:00 pm, so that they have no interruptions for their time together. Newlyweds. But a good lesson for us all.

Balance and boundaries. Pretty good words for many life applications, including those on your smartphone.

Let’s model for our children how to look someone in the eye and have a healthy conversation. Learn to ask questions and listen, and don’t limit the discussion to 122 characters. Too much texting leads to too much disconnecting from those sitting across the table. Isolation is possible even in a public place. As Carey Nieuwhof reminds us, “Solitude is a gift from God. Isolation is not—it’s a tool of the Enemy” (Didn’t See It Coming, 65).

“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends” (Jesus, John 15:15).

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

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