Paul says to his young friend Timothy, a young seminarian intern, that a time will come in his ministry when people will not listen to reason; folks will become tired of the old and want something new. Even the good and faithful will give into the narcissistic and self-centered theology that's out there.
The time has come. That is my personal prediction.
But then, don't worry; this kind of thing happens a lot. Like the ebb and flow of the ocean, so are these "itching ears" of the people. Not all people, mind you, but just enough to throw all the faithful off their course from time-to-time. And, like the pendulum of an old grandfather clock, it'll eventually swing back to where it was and everything will go "back to kilter" - at least for part of a generation or so.
What in the world are "itching ears" any way? Is it some kind of spiritual dandruff that needs some extra special interpretive shampoo to get rid of the itch? Is it from standing in the summer sun too long and their ears have been burnt and their brains have been fried?
Maybe, just maybe, their ears itch because they have been hungrily (and ignorantly) scratching their heads so long that they now itch all over. Spiritual hives-that's it!....maybe.
Their ears are like bumble bees flitting from one flower to the next just trying to find the nectar of knowledge that will help them through all these new-fangled problems we are facing. They're just itching to find the right answers.
Problem is they're tired of looking and they have succumbed to the loudest and most entertaining preacher they can find. I used to be louder in my youth, but I've never been very entertaining-so, someday, when I do come back to the pulpit, I hope I'll be able to foot this "itching ears" bill. I'll try; I'll give it my best.
The reason I say such a thing is because I use a very basic foundation for preaching: A compassionate Christ is at the center of what needs to be said and our call is to share that love that is freely given to us with others. It's the best way to show our love of God.
That's what I was taught; that's how I try to teach.
And, I'm hopin' that ol' pendulum starts swinging back pretty soon!
In the meantime, I've ceased from following Face Book for a while. I'm trying to step away from all of the rhetoric of all sides of life because to me most of what comes across FB is worthless, untrue, or egotistical. Yep - there you go - I said it. It just simply tires me out, and, it takes me away from more important things.
Like, I'm trying to read more - of course with my Bible and a few favorite spiritual authors. I'm trying to find more moments for prayer which helps clear my heart and mind with so much going on in the world today. I find it very helpful. It helps take the sting away from the heartache I'm sensing in this world as well as that irritating itch of my own ears. I'm using the time I usually use on social media and focusing on more productive and uplifting things.
Stop flitting like bees, world! Stop scratching your heads, humanity! Jesus of Nazareth - the Messiah of the world - has only been in our midst for over 2,000 years! It's time to stop scratching and wake up to the truth. Turn back to God's Word; pray more than you ever had. Relearn and feel the truth that....
God loves you and so do we!
Update on Ashley Nipper:
Ashley actually got a reprieve this week. She didn't have that next breast procedure after all. Her final procedure was moved to next week so she could relax a little longer. She was relieved and so were we.
We've tried to take advantage of the cooler temperatures and get outside as much as possible. But, with little ones, (and one older one) they tire much quicker than others and have to rest. It's been very helpful to be able to get out in the fresh air when it's not so unbelievably hot. We're still loving connecting with this part of our family in Nashville, and the cooler weather makes another way to do just that!
Mary Alice and I were able to take this past Sunday afternoon to go and spend with her mother, Alice Barnett, whose 89th birthday was this week. We had a wonderful dinner with the family-my first time to see Mary Alice's brother, Robin Barnett, since his heart transplant surgery this winter. He looks great. He's a walking miracle!
Thanks again, everyone, for your prayers. We certainly appreciate them and know that we are all benefitting from them. Your constant love is felt every day; your patience with me being gone is amazing. Again, we thank you.
It's hard for Mary Alice and I to be away from you and our work. But, this is our mission for the moment, one that we will complete before returning to you. It's hard to believe that we are just approaching the half-way point on this task, but we step forward with each day, keeping you all in our prayers until the day we return.
Peace be with us all.
God bless you!
Pastor Jim & Mary Alice