Are you awake enough to deal with today’s curve ball.
Being aware is an essential ingredient in everyday living.
On a recent visit to New Zealand I was taken with the serenity of the pictured landscape.
This is a view taken in New Zealand looking across Lake Taupo towards the Tongariro National Park. Three active volcanic mountains are pictured, concical Ruapehu (left), Ngauruhoe (centre) and flat-domed Tongariro (right).
As one looks at the serenity of this very scenic presentation it’s hard to imagine the turmoil lying below the surface. These mountains are at the southern end of long range of volcanoes associated with the rift where the tectonic plates of Indo-Australia and the Pacific meet. This rift causes magna to rise and permeate through the weaker sections of the Earth’s crust resulting in volcanic action. According to the geologists, it’s this volcanic process that has caused the uplift of the mountains over millions of years.
Ruapehu is fascinating for it has a lake in its crater. The following is an excerpt from the NZ Herald as reported earlier this year (5/4/11)
GNS Science volcanologists said today high water temperatures, currently about 38degC-39degC, were being experienced in the lake.
GeoNet duty volcanologist Agnes Mazot said changes had also recently occurred in volcanic gas output, seismic activity and Crater Lake water chemistry.
“These changes show that Ruapehu is experiencing signs of elevated unrest above known background levels.
The article concludes with
While there were currently no indications an eruption was imminent, Ruapehu remained an active volcano and future eruptions may occur with little or no warning, she said.
So sitting above the snowline on Ruapehu we have a lake of warm water. What happens from here?- well mostly nothing but read on.
Ruapehu is one of the world’s most frequently active volcanoes and it erupts on average every couple of years.
Over the last one hundred years the Crater Lake was completely emptied, by volcanic action, on two occasions (1945 and 1995). During these eruptions quite some damage occurred to infrastructure like bridges.
Then there was the occasion on Christmas Eve in 1953 when the Lake partially emptied and washed away a railway bridge causing the death of 151 of the 285 passengers and crew aboard an express train.
So the lake may now be only lukewarm but it will get hotter and there will be another eruption.
All of this reminded me of a book published by George Barna over twenty years ago. This book entitled “The Frog in the Kettle” has proven to be very accurate in its revelation of community attitudes, then and now.
Thematically the book is around this quote from its opening chapter.
The signs we need to perceive are not vague predictions about the future—many are present realities. The trouble is that they occur so gradually that we often do not notice them. It’s like the familiar story of the frog and the kettle of water. Place a frog in boiling water and it will jump out immediately because it can tell that it’s in a hostile environment. But place a frog in a kettle of room-temperature water and it will stay there, content with those surroundings. Slowly, very slowly, increase the temperature of the water. This time, the frog doesn’t leap out, but just stays there, unaware that the environment is changing. Continue to turn up the burner until the water is boiling. Our poor frog will be boiled, too—quite content, perhaps, but nevertheless dead.
When speaking particularly of our Christian insensitivity Barna says
This insensitivity is all the more remarkable because we have an opportunity to observe the very process that threatens us. It has occurred in recent times almost on our doorstep. Many Christians in England warn that we are undergoing in this country a rise in the “temperature” of our spiritual environment much like they experienced in their own land.
These observers recall when England was a nation in which the Church was the central institution of society. Moral values, social behavior, cultural activities, family development, lifestyles and even political decision-making all revolved around the nation’s religious perspective and spiritual sensitivity. Ingrained in the nation’s thinking was the belief that the highest goal in life is to worship and serve God.
More recently these values have been undermined by the encroachment of secularism. There is more concern now for the material than for the spiritual. God is no longer at the center of the nation’s agenda. Its Christian community has all but disappeared. Once representing the vast majority of that great nation’s population, true believers are estimated now to be only about 2 percent of the population.
There are striking similarities between the spiritual decline of England and the current spiritual condition of the United States. A thoughtful evaluation of modern America—our social, political, spiritual, moral and economic condition—shows how insidiously our own spiritual foundations are deteriorating. We, too, are a materialistic society, more concerned about the physical comforts of today than the spiritual needs of the future. It is very hard to persuade us to think seriously about the effects of cultural change on the nation’s religious beliefs and behavior.
What is it that will persuade us to become more sensitive so that we think seriously about the effects of cultural change?
Barna’s closing remarks in his book are telling.
In an era of change and turbulence…. there is little hope that the Church….. will make a difference unless each of us initiates an unbreakable covenant with God that we will serve Him with all of our heart, mind and soul, for His glory.
So Barna is saying we need to switch off to our situation and switch on to God.
The great writer the apostle Paul struggled with a similar problem. He wrote to the church at Galatia and asked
Galatians 5:7 You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth?
The truth he was promulgating was highlighted in the previous verse
Galatians 5:6b The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
The accusation he was levelling is covered in these verses
Galatians 1:6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel–
Galatians 5:4 You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.
Around the same time he also wrote to the Romans about this need for God’s grace to be pre-eminent.
In writing to Rome, what he asserted about God’s grace to the Galatians was more argument based when he wrote to the Romans, but nevertheless it was absolute truth.
Look how he talks about the magnificence of God’s Grace in the following verse.
Romans 5:17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.
You see Paul did not want his followers to be people captive in a warming kettle. He wished them, by their own individual choice, to reign in life through God’s grace.
Barna concluded we need to be turned onto God.
Paul tells us that this comes through an awareness of God’s grace.
Our opening question posed the need of awareness to enable us to deal with today and as we close out we have come to the point where the suggestion is that we need to become more aware of God’s grace.
To behold the beautiful scene pictured above we had to travel many miles, first over the ocean to New Zealand and then across the land mass of the North Island. We had to come to somewhere adjacent to the foot of the mountain, so to speak. The better our vantage point the more splendid the view.
If our God is full of grace, absolutely loving, totally knowing and all powerful through time and eternity; how do we get to take in that view. Let’s truncate Romans 5:17 as mentioned above to gain the clues.
receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.
Even if we find God a little hard to comprehend the fact that historically Christ died for us is where we begin. Even for the mature Christian it is important to keep coming back to that point. God in his grace and love so much wants us to be part of His economy that he made provision for that in Christ’s death. An agonising, excruciating, death for me. So intense was the suffering that Scripture talks about the cross being a place of separation, scorn, abuse, suffering, sorrow, nailing, enduring and an agonising death
We all know how we feel when someone dear to us really extends themselves and on our behalf does something nice. Imagine how we should feel if we really believed that the Almighty Creator extended himself, by crucifixion, to deliver the possibility of an everlasting blessing. Wow! Wouldn’t that change our attitude?
This is something we all should think about for according to Paul, when we become fully aware of God’s grace, then we are able to reign in life, even whilst our world, in cauldron style, injuriously bubbles on.