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The Weekly Word for October 26-November 1, 2014


The Word:

 

Psalm 46

1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; 3 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult. 4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. 5 God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved; God will help it when the morning dawns. 6 The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. 7 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.  8 Come, behold the works of the Lord; see what desolations he has brought on the earth. 9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire. 10 “Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.” 11 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.

 

The Sermon:

 

It was September 4th, 2009, when Kristen and I became homeowners. And it was a wonderful moment for the both of us.

And I will always remember one of the first things she said to me as we left the bank after signing the papers.

She said, “You finally get your own mancave.”

And she was right!

For those of you who do not know what a mancave is, it’s actually a pretty recent phenomenon.

There was an article back in March of 1992 in the Toronto Star written by Mike Yost, a retired U.S. Army intelligence officer, that contained the first known use of the term “man cave.’

The very next month, a little book called “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus” hit shelves across the U.S. and it would go on to sell almost 50 million copies worldwide.

In one chapter, author John Gray explains the male need to retreat — as if into a cave — as a way of dealing with stress.

 

Since then us men from all around the world have claimed a room as off limits to other people.

We men get to decorate the room as we see fit.

We can put in that ugly looking recliner (the one your wife is embarrassed you own), and put in that giant HD television that we have been coveting for years.

We men can finally have a room that we call … our own.

But what it really is in our eyes is a REFUGE.

A place that we can be ourselves, and a place that we feel safe.

Today at our church and in Protestant churches around the world, we celebrate the birth of the Reformation.

And it was in the Reformation that Martin Luther helped the world return to a very old concept that had been lost for many years.

That concept revolved around the word “Refuge.”

If you have a hymnal in front of you, I want you to open up to our Psalms section and look up Psalm 46.

Let’s read it together, please.

Psalm 46 is the basis for Luther’s famous hymn “A Mighty Fortress.”

The words in that hymn echo the theme that we hear in Psalm 46.

And one of the first words that jump out is “refuge.”

What does “refuge” mean?

Literally it means to seek shelter from bad weather or to look for a protected space from enemies.

That is the literal definition.

But when it comes to the book of Psalms, “refuge” has a very specific meaning.

In the Psalms, one of if not THE central concept is that humans can take refuge in God during times of danger.

“Refuge” is defined not literally, but metaphorically.

Now as a metaphor, it is a word about “trust.”

To take “refuge” in God is to:

  • Cling to God in times of trouble
  • Trust in the protection of God,
  • Seek to follow God’s way.

 

This morning I invite you to take on a very important mission.

It something things I want you to add to your “To Do” Lists:

 

 

When you are in times of troubles,

Let God be your refuge.

 

Let me jump back into the Metaphors:

When your earth, your world, changes (lose a job, lose a relationship, lose a loved one)

When your mountains shake (you lose hope, you lose direction)

When your world…crumbles.

Go to God.

 

When you fall, let God catch you.

When you cry, let God dry your tears.

When your heart breaks, let God mend you.

When you feel captured by the world’s troubles, let God free you.

 

And that is probably the biggest gift we get when we go to God as our refuge.

We get freedom.

Not just any freedom.

Jesus talks about this kind of freedom in our Gospel today.

And in the Gospel of John, freedom is a relational term.

In God, in Christ Jesus, we are free to be in a relationship with the one who created us, saves us, and loves us.

And this is what Martin Luther came to realize.

 

Let me give you another image of this:

Today we baptize Colten Muschlitz.

And this week I went to visit Kurt, Jennifer, Jan-Marie, and Tom to talk about today’s worship.

I watched Colten doing such a great job at sitting up and pulling himself up.

Paul is just starting to do this.

It is not an easy feat for a young child.

And this pulling up is the image that stuck with me.

Martin Luther felt like he had to pull himself up to receive God’s love and forgiveness.

He believe that in order to find refuge in God, he had to climb up to God.

But then Martin discovered had it all wrong.

Luther did not have to climb up to God.

God came to him.

 

As our Psalm says, “The Lord of hosts is with us.”

God is not away from us.

God is right here.

 

I enjoyed my mancave for a good while.

But then it became the family cave where Kristen and I would watch tv and movies together.

And now it is now longer my cave, it is Paul’s Play Palace.

 

And that is more than okay with me.

 

We can spend so much of our lives trying to build our own man caves.

Our woman-caves.

Places that will only give us a temporary peace.

 

Today I say to you stop it.

 

Stop working on the temporary.

And look to the permanent.

 

Look away from yourself and look to the One who has been with us our entire lives.

Look away.

And be still.

And know that God is here.

And He is OUR God.

And is our’s forever.

 

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