Thursday, May 05, 2022

A Culture in Crisis and An Early First Step: Athletics and Mental Health- Day 3


“So the final conclusion would surely be that whereas other civilizations have been brought down by attacks of barbarians from without, ours had the unique distinction of training its own destroyers at its own educational institutions, and then providing them with facilities for propagating their destructive ideology far and wide, all at the public expense. Thus did Western Man decide to abolish himself, creating his own boredom out of his own affluence, his own vulnerability out of his own strength, his own impotence out of his own erotomania, himself blowing the trumpet that brought the walls of his own city tumbling down, and having convinced himself that he was too numerous, labored with pill and scalpel and syringe to make himself fewer. Until at last, having educated himself into imbecility, and polluted and drugged himself into stupefaction, he keeled over--a weary, battered old brontosaurus--and became extinct.”

Malcolm Muggeridge, Vintage Muggeridge: Religion and Society

We live in times of great conflict. Understatement of 2022. And we can't address mental health awareness without evaluating the culture that we are in and how it impacts our life.

Is there more conflict now than in the past? Or are we simply reaping the rotting fruit of mass communication technology? The speed and shallowness of most information coming our way has interrupted and changed our pattern of life- and this frenzied pace of life has concerning consequences.

As communication and informational technologies (CITs) explode; a big casualty is TIME.  David Lyon, in his book, Jesus in Disneyland, gives a remarkable summary of what sociologists are seeing in the compression of space and time for over four decades.

The speed of life has passed warp dimensions. Instant communication, insatiable consumer appetites, and the extended present of cyberspace has put us in a world more liquid than solid. A rolling stone may gather no moss, but our culture’s tread is fractured without any signs of slowing down. 

There is no long lasting stability. No life long careers or marriages. And change comes so fast, we don't have time to evaluate truth through logic and discourse.

 “To disrupt time is to generate uncertainties, to loosen anchors, to dissolve meanings.” Life becomes more disposable. 

Is it any wonder that stress and exhaustion is at an all time high? 

This destabilization of our warp speed world of consumption has put an incredible strain on our society and it is paying horrible dividends to our youth. 

Can anyone but me hear the creaking of broken foundations and fear the weight of sin about to cave in on itself? 

I there any hope for long term success?

I still believe there is... and though there are a lot of things that need to happen, I can think of one fast fix and that is a return to a corporate commitment to the local, Bible-believing church including regular Sunday morning attendance.

One important aspect of God’s Sabbath command is a need for pace. God set the pattern- 6 days work and a PAUSE. That pause is to reflect and gear our minds toward Him. To have our souls cleaned and missions adjusted. It helps us to see eternity. 

Is there anyone left who remember what we called the blue laws?   

I lived for 7 years in Nashville and in an NFL town and Sabbath ends at kickoff (or 2 hours before if you tailgate). 

Travel youth sports jump right in to this rapid stream of the rapidly mobile information, activity, and achievement overload.

 The stereotypical 10 year old is being molded by his parents for success by meals on the go, the chalice of college scholarships, credit card swipes, motel bills, and virtual headsets to fill in the down times. 

Any wonder why a 55-minute worship service is “boring”? We have squeezed minutes into seconds and pushed God out in the process. 

I’m sorry – but when I drive to church on Sunday morning and see athletics fields buzzing with activity at 9:15 A.M., I get really discouraged. I’m not afraid of getting behind. I worry about what happens when we leave God behind.

How does church participation help? When you wake up on Sunday morning, what keeps this activity from being just another block on our already overloaded schedules? Actually, it is crucial at every point- regular church attendance cancels out and corrects much of what society is blasting us with 24/7.

Worship helps us- even if at times we feel like it is only a ritual or routine... the discipline of it allows authenticity and perspective to find us when we most need it.


It is easy to slide through a day with little acknowledgement of God. "Many hours for the world and few minutes for Christ" There are times at the end of a day I come to a disappointing realization that I rarely addressed the Lord, if at all. There are times I realize I have gone a short season with little prayer, thought. no Bible reading.

But there are other times where I have had that 'prayer without ceasing' time of a day long conversation with the Lord. Usually spurred on by Scripture, or listening to a good sermon or devotional, Christian music.

I wish I INITIATED this invitation more often and I realize without the Holy Spirit prompting me, I likely would not do it. But I am slowly improving in my practice of asking the Lord to be with and engage in whatever I am doing

 "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."                     I Corinthians 10:31


Jesus: God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth. John 4:24
Part of my journey in understanding the nature of acceptable worship is the process of learning from God's Word the truth...who God is, the grand narrative of history, the covenant promise, the act of redemption, the growth and function of God's church.

The craziest aspect of this is that no matter how well I know the Word, I must keep re-visiting it over and over- because it is a dynamic and living Word. Without worship, we shrink and without God's Word, we starve.

Prayers and petitions, supplications... the discipline of prayer- prostrating before the King in submission, yet pleading with Him at the same time.


Philippians 4 says "with thanksgiving" let our requests be made known to God. When I count my blessings it keeps me in a positive frame of mind. Observing/experiencing life positively allows me to love better, to hope better, to bear better, to overlook more.

When I get weighed down with how unfair and hard life is- I see things more negatively and I become more cynical and sarcastic. It is hard to grow a tree of worship in such foul soil.


The message of God's grace has to be central in this quest for worship. We don't worship to somehow earn a merit badge. We don't do it because we are good. We don't do it in our strength. We have to be aware that worship could become an idol. We have to be suspicious of our on sinful hearts to slide... prone to wander.


We can effectively worship God alone. But God has designed us to fellowship with one another. My best friends deepen my thirst for God. I can play golf alone. But it is always better with a friend. Even better with 3 friends. And even better when we all commune with God-glorifying talk in the process.
Life goes better when I learn to enjoy it with others and focus on them more than me.


Finally, as much as we would like for it to happen- a powerful worship experience will not always take place. And it is good that it doesn't, because our expectations spoil reality. We are still swimming upstream in a now but not yet existence.

I have learned to not be so cynical at religious routine. It is a dress rehearsal that points to future fulfillment. God gives shadows and hints of this in this life.

C.S. Lewis makes an astute point in Mere Christianity:

     Why? What is the good of pretending to be what you are not? Well, even on the human level, you know, there are two kinds of pretending. There is a bad kind, where the pretense is there instead of the real thing; as when a man pretends he is going to help you instead of really helping you. But there is also a good kind, where the pretense leads up to the real thing. When you are not feeling particularly friendly but know you ought to be, the best thing you can do, very often, is to put on a friendly manner and behave as if you were a nicer person than you actually are. And in a few minutes, as we have all noticed, you will be really feeling friendlier than you were. Very often the only way to get a quality in reality is to start behaving as if you had it already. That is why children’s games are so important. They are always pretending to be grownups—playing soldiers, playing shop. But all the time, they are hardening their muscles and sharpening their wits so that the pretence of being grown-up helps them to grow up in earnest    Now, the moment you realise ‘Here I am, dressing up as Christ,’ it is extremely likely that you will see at once some way in which at that very moment the pretense could be made less of a pretence and more of a reality. 
I think Covid isolation and worship wars and highly mobile lifestyles has made us attend church with less regularity than any previous generation.... and it doesn't help us counter the poison darts that riddle our souls.

We often wring our hands and wonder if there is any escape from being worn down and worn out... full of anxiety and defeat.

An early (and easy) first step is to recommit your participation in a Bible believing and teaching church.

So try this- for 3 months, make it a priority to attend a corporate worship service on a Sunday. See if you don't feel more invigorated....

You will discover living water that you didn't know you were missing!

No comments: