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Dane Skelton is the Pastor of Faith Community Church and the author of Jungle Flight: Spiritual Adventures at the Ends of the Earth, a book of true stories from the ministry of JAARS (formerly Jungle Aviation and Radio Service). His second book, Papua Pilot: Flying the Bible to the Last Lost Peoples, co-authored with the late Paul Westlund, is now available on Amazon.com and Christianbook.com.
Can you feel it? Change is in the air. Oh the days are still pretty long and the temperatures high and the official, astronomical end of summer is still over a month away. But for most of us, the summer ends when school begins and that is less than two weeks hence. We’ve already had the “tax free” school re-supply weekend. (What? You missed it? Me too!) And all of the fall sports leagues are spooling up. Before you know it, Wal-Mart will have Halloween items on display and local choirs will start rehearsing their Christmas programs.
Humanly speaking, it’s like standing on the flight line at the big airshow in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, listening to a WWII B 24 bomber fire up its huge, turbo-compound radial engines, (yeah, you knew I would squeeze that in there, didn’t you), and bring the throttles up to maneuver into take-off position. Everything gets louder. Everything is more dynamic. Everyone is poised to launch into the new season.
As we all line up for take-off, I want to encourage you to spiritually gear up for the new season as well. The reason is that over the years I’ve noticed, as the pace of life steps up, the spiritual demands on us increase too. We frazzle and fray at the edges, and sometimes crack right down the middle, when we fail to feed our spirits in the high-speed seasons of life.
Here then are just a few reminders of how to keep your spirit strong as the days get short and the demands get tall.
Stay in the Book – Romans 12:2 reminds us of the importance of a transformed mind. An up-tempo life requires up-tempo decision making. We usually don’t have time to try to sort out the values by which we will make daily decisions. The world’s values press in on us every hour. It is hard not to conform to them unless our minds are constantly being transformed, renewed by the Spirit of God as we daily absorb his Word. When our minds have been transformed – when we have learned to think with a Biblical World View, with a Biblical system of ethics, with the values of the Kingdom of God – a whole host of life choices become clear. We “will be able to test (assess, try, investigate, sift out) and approve (support, agree with, accept) what God’s will is.”
When we are looking for God’s guidance we often forget, or just neglect, to look for the direction he’s already given. We forget to read the Book. Stay in the Book!
Stand in the Stream – In 1 Kings 19:11, the prophet Elijah was able to hear “the still, small voice of God.” Are you able to hear the Spirit of God? We learn to listen for the voice of the Spirit within us the way a fly-fisher learns to “listen” for the fish. He stands in the stream, patiently, attentively, actively listening with all of his senses to the flow of life around him. In time he comes to understand the various currents, the movements of the fish, when they are hungry, and what they want. We should be like the fisherman, or if you prefer, like Elijah, who kept on listening through the roaring wind, the earthquake, and the fire, to hear the quiet voice of God. Stand in the stream!
Celebrate the Sabbath – I am a Romans 14:5 kind of guy. I don’t believe one day of the week is more sacred than another. But I do believe deeply in the concept of Sabbath keeping, especially as it impacts the spiritual health of our frenetic lives. “The Sabbath was made for man, not the other way around,” said Jesus. (My paraphrase) Few things contribute more to the maintenance of spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being in our hyper lifestyles than intentionally pulling the throttles back to idle for at least eight hours once a week. Sit on the porch, sip some tea, read a book, take a nap, or do whatever it may be that separates you from your regular “work,” thanking God for his many gifts and that in reality, the world won’t come apart if you aren’t working. Keep a Sabbath and keep your sanity!
It’s exciting to anticipate all that God is going to do as we move out of laid-back summer time and into a new season of opportunities. Stay in the Book, Stand in the Stream, and Celebrate the Sabbath and in that way you will stay strong in the Spirit, able to meet the challenges ahead.