Road Signs and Arrows

Posted on 06/22/2014 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

AUDIO: dialup - broadband - podcast

TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)

*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***


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I LOVE TO BE IN YOUR PRESENCE

I love to be in Your presence
with Your people singing praises
I love to stand and rejoice
lift my hands and raise my voice

You set my feet to dancing
You fill my heart with song
You give me reason to rejoice


BLESS THE LORD O MY SOUL

Bless the Lord O my soul
and all that is within me
bless his holy name

For he has done great things
he has done great things
he has done great things
He's so good to me

He saved my soul
he saved my soul
he saved my soul
He's so good to me

He is coming soon
he is coming soon
he is coming soon
Bless his holy name


STILL

Hide me now, under Your wings
Cover me, within Your mighty hand

When the oceans rise and thunders roar
I will soar with You, above the storm
Father, You are King over the flood
I will be still, know You are God

Find rest my soul, in Christ alone
Know His power, in quietness and trust

When the oceans rise and thunders roar
I will soar with You, above the storm
Father, You are King over the flood
I will be still, know You are God


*** listen to the audio to hear the introduction ***


Well, I had a message picked out to share today, and I had worked for a good amount of time on it, but the peace of God just wasn't underlying it, not for today. And as I finally stopped striving to finish writing it, I asked God what He had for today, and took some time to be still and listen.

"It must be nice to have a quiet place to be still and listen for God's voice, I'd do that if I had an environment that allowed me to do so."

Actually, the bass from the neighbor's loud music was rattling my brain, and kids were outside making a fair amount of noise. And it seemed as if those things were even worse than usual, as if they were sticks poking at a sunburn. It's interesting what striving with the mind to generate a word from the Lord will do to you. It took me out of peace, and made me more susceptible to being distracted from the presence of God by outside circumstances.

That happens only when my mind takes control. When I forget that I'm not my mind, and I start resisting what's happening here and now. I knew I wasn't going to ask the neighbor to turn down his music, and I certainly wasn't going to try to stop the children from playing. But my mind still wanted to sit there resisting, fighting against those things anyway.

And you know what? That's just another form of complaining. "God, the place you've put me, right here, and the time you're giving me, right now, aren't good enough. They'll only be good enough if there aren't things going on around me that my mind thinks should be some other way."

When we do that, we curse ourselves. We start experiencing stress, and we completely lose touch with the peace of God. And if I'm not speaking to you out of a spirit of God's peace, then I would better point you to Him by simply shutting my mouth and staying quiet.


So I closed my note pad. I acknowledged that my mind was generating stress and negative feelings as it fought against what is. And that it was okay, because it was what was happening right then and there in the time and place with which God was blessing me. And I put my attention on God -- not on analyzing Him or thinking about facts I've learned about Him, but like you would put your attention on a person you love, as you just touch their hand, look into their eyes, and you just "be" with them.

And I entered back into His peace. The kids were still playing, and the music was still vibrating, but it was okay.


Imagine sitting on a cool night by a fire, where you are warm. Someone else is sitting away from the fire, cold and shivering. You tell them that they'll no longer be cold and shiver, and they'll be warm, if they go sit by the fire. Imagine if they asked you, "How do you know I'll be warm if I sit by the fire?" And you say, "Because I've done it." And then they become offended and say to you, "You think you're so much better than me, don't you?! No thanks, I'm fine where I am."

You weren't thinking yourself super spiritual just because you were sitting by the fire, nor were you thinking them inferior to you just because they were shivering in the cold. And yet, when it comes to the things of God, we form so many warped images around things. Perhaps it's because it's the fleshly mind that creates these godless perceptions, and it does that because it cannot understand God or His ways. And it responds by creating feelings of superiority, or by imagining the other person has such feelings and motivations.

But all these things are passing away. Your self image will fade away. Your imperfect human body will be no more. There are very few things in our lives today that will still be here even 50 years from now, much less in 100 or 1000 or 1 million years from today. But YOU, the REAL you underneath your body and your mind, YOU will still be here, and it will still be now.


What did Jesus say in Luke 21:33? "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will (last forever)." Did He mean the actual word forms He was speaking? We're not even sure in what language He spoke those words. Hebrew? Perhaps. Aramaic? Some say that's probable. Greek? That's possible. But did every single word Jesus spoke end up in the Bible, or was it even written anywhere at all?

Here's something we should remember: words in themselves are just a combination of letters and sounds. The idea that there are magical words which, when spoken, can do supernatural feats, is well-supported by many television and book authors. But any words which have power have power, not because of a certain combination of sounds, but because of that to which they point. And it is THAT, not the words themselves, that have the power.

Imagine you're driving down the highway. And you see a sign that tells you that exit 123 will take you to the place you want to go. In a few minutes, you pass another sign with an arrow to an off ramp, and the words "Exit 123." So you take that exit. After following a few more signs, you find the building which is your destination for this trip. It's a nice hotel where you'll be meeting with dear old friends.

And as you sit with your friends talking over a wonderful meal, you tell them that the green signs on the highway have the power to give people peace, joy, sustinance, and to reunite them with those they hold dear.


Then your friends ask you about your mental health.


The signs were just arrows, pointing you to where you wanted to go. But they were not the hotel, or your friends, or the meal and precious fellowship you shared.

So it is with the Words of God. The human words used to convey them to us are simply arrows. Arrows can pass away. Human language is only a form, and it is temporary. The languages used to write the books of the Bible have changed. The Scriptures have been translated into thousands of different languages, and many of those languages have, even over just the past few hundred years, changed. And yet the WORD to which they point has not.

John 1:1 says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Was God a series of letters? Was He just a combination of sounds? And let's go a step further than that: Is the Bible, are the holy Scriptures, God?

Lots of Christians would say "yes." And perhaps some would label me a heretic for saying this, but I would say that the words in the Bible are NOT God. The words that make up the Scriptures are not even the Word of God.

Instead, I would say the words of Scripture, in whatever language is being used, are arrows that POINT to God; they are sign posts that POINT to the Word of God. I realize that would make some King-James-Only folks angry. But that's okay. Speaking from a foundation of Godly Peace doesn't mean one has to make everyone happy or make sure no one becomes angry or offended.

I do believe that everything contained within the Scriptures is true, in that it points to the truth.

Let me explain a little further. You probably recognize the name George Washington. And if you were to write that name on a piece of paper and set it in front of you, you would see George Washington. The name. But if you then sat that piece of paper in the seat beside you, could you share your supper with George Washington?

Of course we both realize that's silly. But we get offended if someone says believing the Bible is God or the Bible is God's word is silly. And that's okay, because I didn't say it was. But I hope you see my point.

The Scriptures have tremendous authority, and they should be used to direct your life. If you do not heed the Scriptures, you will head for trouble, that's guaranteed. And it is because of the Word to which they point, that they have such power. Does that make sense?

Okay, so what does it matter? Isn't this just semantics? Perhaps. But it's all I have to share at the moment.

The Word of God goes far beyond human language. Just because we use the word "Word," and we understand the word "Word" as meaning a combination of letters and sounds, doesn't mean Jesus is letters and sounds, any more than the Word of God is the combination of letters and sounds God has delivered to and preserved for us in the collection of books called the Bible.

All this might seem pointless, but my point is this: We strive to bring God down to our level. Even if we intellectually exalt Him, all too often we are, usually without our knowing it, exalting our own minds by showing how clever they are in making our limiting of God look glorious. But God is greater than our minds can imagine. He is exalted far above even the most perfect arrows that point to Him. And the arrows are good. Filling our human minds with them is also very good. As long as we realize those arrows are floating around in our minds so that our attention is pointed by those arrows to the One who cannot be captured within a mere concept in our fragile human minds. He cannot be adequately defined in our human tongue. He cannot be contained by words on a page. All these can, at best, only point to the One who is far beyond them all.


In closing, let's read from the Psalms. And let us look in the direction these word arrows are pointing. The words are beautiful, but the One to whom they are pointing is beautiful beyond description, too marvelous for words.

Psalm 19 (NKJV)

1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament shows His handiwork.
2 Day unto day utters speech,
And night unto night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech nor language
Where their voice is not heard.
4 Their line has gone out through all the earth,
And their words to the end of the world.
In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun,
5 Which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
And rejoices like a strong man to run its race.
6 Its rising is from one end of heaven,
And its circuit to the other end;
And there is nothing hidden from its heat.

7 The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
8 The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
9 The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
Yea, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
11 Moreover by them Your servant is warned,
And in keeping them there is great reward.

12 Who can understand his errors?
Cleanse me from secret faults.
13 Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins;
Let them not have dominion over me.
Then I shall be blameless,
And I shall be innocent of great transgression.

14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.


The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork. As much as we cannot put the glorious creation of God into words, and we can truly experience it only when the mind is still and we experience it with our presence, even more is the One whose glory they declare, as they point our souls to Him.


Let's close today's service with a time of prayer, worship, and ministry.

Whenever you need to leave, you're dismissed, and if you can stay until after this time at the altar, you're invited to make your way up the stairs into the room to your left when you're ready, and we'll have a time of fellowship there.

If you'd like someone to talk or pray with you, you're invited to instant message one of us, or if you're listening outside of Second Life, or anywhere at some other time, you can go to almcyberchurch.org, click the Pastors' Offices link, and contact us there.

You're all invited to get out of your seat and make your way to the front, as we put our attention completely upon Jesus, the Living Word of God, the breath of the great I Am.


*** listen to the audio for closing prayer ***