Thursday, August 20, 2009

Jim Denison--Worried About Your Swiss Account?

The following is from Jim Denison's daily email, "God Issues." Jim was born here in Houston, and some of our members know him personally. For many years, he was pastor of Park Cities Baptist in Dallas. He resigned last year to become Theologian in Residence for the BGCT, and to start a new ministry venture, The Center for Informed Faith. His daily email looks at current events with a biblical--and often humorous--view, helping Christians know how to respond to the world around us in a Christ-like way. I thought today's email was especially helpful, so I have reproduced it below. If you like what you see and would like to subscribe, go visit his website at Here's what Jim had to say today:

One of Switzerland's largest banks has agreed to turn over information on American clients suspected by the IRS of tax evasion, according to today's New York Times. At first I was worried about the secrecy of my Swiss bank account, then I remembered that I don't have one. I read that the IRS is interested only in the biggest accounts, and remembered that I don't have one of those, either. I'm not sure how much our account contains, since Janet is the banker in our family. But I'm pretty sure it's less than the hundreds of millions of dollars in the accounts which the IRS is investigating.

However, while the IRS doesn't seem interested in my net worth, I am. The cares and worries of the world are with us all. The good news is that God has a health care plan for our souls. This week Jesus has taught us to fast periodically, abstaining from the physical for the sake of the spiritual. We each need time away from the distractions and duties of our daily lives.
Now, what do we do when we make this time to be still with God? Here we need a second spiritual discipline: the ancient art of meditation.

Bill Hybels, the founding pastor of Willow Creek Community Church, tells of a time when he nearly "crashed." He was watching the physical gauge on his personal dashboard, eating and exercising, and all was well. He was watching the spiritual gauge, spending time in prayer and Bible study, and all was well. But he wasn't watching the emotional gauge which records our souls, our inner selves, and had to experience depression and come near to burn out before he realized the problem. The same can happen to any of us.

Biblical meditation is very different from Eastern mysticism, with its focus on our inner selves. Biblical meditation focuses the mind and spirit specifically on God. There are three methods which can help.

First, meditate on God's word. Find one verse or a small passage, and focus your heart and soul on it. Put all your senses into it—see it, hear it, smell it, feel it. Dwell in it with God, asking his Spirit to speak from his word to your spirit.

Second, meditate on God's creation. Find just one thing God has made and study it. I remember studying a leaf one day, amazed at its intricacy, detail, and design. If God devoted such attention to a leaf, how much more has he been engaged in the details of my life?

Third, meditate on a life issue or world event. Consider a problem for which you need God's help, or a good thing which has happened to you. Ask God to give you his mind on the subject, and listen for the prompting and insight of his Spirit in your heart.Make time for your soul to meditate on God's word and creation, your life, your world, and God will give you his power and the tranquility of his presence. When was the last time you gave the Holy Spirit an opportunity to speak in these ways to your soul? When will be the next? Let's finish our series tomorrow.

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