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Help support the vision of Woodland Hills Community Church!
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Wednesday, September 16

Today’s Readings: Proverbs 29:1-27; John 7:25-36; Psalm 73:21-28

I spent a good deal of the 1980’s – that would be the time between the ages of 13 and 23 - as an angry cynic. Wherever I looked, it seemed, I found hypocrisy. I looked at the world of religion and saw a succession of scandals involving televangelists ranging from Oral Roberts to Jim and Tammy Bakker to Jimmy Swaggart. I looked at the world of politics and saw things like the Iran-Contra deal and the United State’s decision to ignore the World Court decision regarding the mining of the waters of Nicaragua; and I looked to the realm of entertainment and saw the industry putting out movies like Wall Street that proclaimed messages like “Greed is good”. I used all of these things to justify my anger and to allow me to wallow in my cynicism. Gradually things began to shift for me over the course of the 1990’s. My anger dissipated and my cynicism actually began to give way to optimism. So what changed? Did all of the hypocrisy with which I had been confronted go away? Absolutely not! I suppose what changed within me was where I began to put my focus. Instead of focusing on televangelists who abused their wealth and power, I began to notice dedicated pastors of local churches who lovingly served their flocks. Instead of focusing on politicians who betrayed the values they professed during campaigns, I began to meet courageous elected officials who took seriously the public’s trust. Instead of looking at examples of movies that reinforced the narcissistic qualities of the day, I began to find films that showed the triumph of the human will (i.e. Rudy). I wish I could say that that shift was brought about exclusively because of the strength of my will. I can’t, however. That shift was brought about by a series of occurrences that were much larger than myself. I was reminded of what really lay behind that shift as I read today’s psalm in which the psalmist said: “When I was beleaguered and bitter, totally consumed by envy, I was totally ignorant, a dumb ox in your very presence. I’m still in your presence,” the psalmist noted, “but you’ve taken me by my hand. You wisely and tenderly lead me, and then you blessed me” (Psalm 73:21-24 from The Message). Given the challenges we face these days ranging from environmental challenges to economic challenges to political challenges, it would be easy to allow ourselves to become like the psalmist: totally beleaguered and bitter. There are certainly thousands of reasons for being that way. Today, I would invite you to ignore those reasons and allow God to take you by your hand and lead you to another place – to another way of seeing things. If you open yourself to that experience, you might be shocked at how the world around you might seem to change overnight. Of course it won’t be the world that will have changed. It will be the lens through which you look. Til next time…

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