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Delighting in His Presence- Part 2

David Shin

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David Shin

Dr. David Shin is the President of Ouachita Hills College.

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  • April 15, 2017
    11:30 AM
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Delighting in His Presence- Part 2

David Shin 

 

On the screen, I have a picture of my wife and I in Tokyo 2013. We had the privilege of visiting Japan. That was my first time to Asia. I'm a Korean, born in the States, never been to Korea. Hopefully, I'll get to go one day; but I went to Japan. And this is not at the peak of rush hour, surprisingly enough, and they have certain individuals that are commissioned and hired and employed by the subway management. They're called pushers or otherwise known as passenger arrangements staff. It really takes place. They have white gloves, and at the peak of rush hour, in order to get as many people on the plane as possible, and to prevent people from getting jammed in the doorways, they have pushers that push the individuals into the subway station. And they're able to do marvelous things by this technique and actually load the subway 200 percent beyond designed capacity. I had an acquaintance of mine that told me that he was on a subway train and it got so packed that he was actually off the ground in the subway as it was going during rush hour. And then some people get off and then he come back down and so this is what takes place.

 

Now, one thing that was uncomfortable for me growing up in the States was the personal space that was being infringed upon and there was a lot of inadvertent physical contact that was taking place. Had a big old backpack, and this gentleman kept on nudging me every few moments, and it was getting really annoying. So there's a lot of inadvertent contact that takes place within a crowd. It is not intentional nor is it meaningful contact.

 

And I want to invite you to open your Bibles with me to Mark chapter 5 verse 21 through 24 where JESUS is in the midst of a crowd, and the crowd is pressing up around HIM and there is a lot of inadvertent contact that is taking place; but there was one intentional touch - one intentional contact that resulted in the person's life being transformed. 

 

Pick it up in Mark 5: 21 – 24 –“Now when JESUS had crossed over again by boat to the other side, a great multitude gathered to HIM; and HE was by the sea. And behold, one of the rulers of the synagogue came, Jairus by name. And when he saw Him, he fell at HIS feet and begged Him earnestly, saying, "My little daughter lies at the point of death. Come and lay YOUR hands on her, that she may be healed, and she will live." So JESUS went with HIM, and a great multitude followed HIM and thronged HIM. 

 

Other translations say, “They pressed about HIM.” JESUS is at the height of HIS popularity. There is a horde of people around HIM and they are pressing up about HIM and then there is another story that takes place within the story. This is known as a Markan sandwich. It's a technique that is use of a story within a story. So you have JESUS going with Jarius to heal his daughter, and on the way there is another story that emerges. It is the story of the woman with an issue of blood. Now, we’re gonna focus in on the inner part of the Markan sandwich. 

 

Pick it up in verse 25 – Now a certain woman who had a flow of blood for 12 years, and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse.” Here was a woman who was desperate. She had tried every specialist. She had tried every physician. And they had even tried, perhaps, experimental procedures and she only got worse. She had no health care. She was broke. She was desperate. And when she heard about JESUS, she came behind HIM in the crowd. 

 

So JESUS is walking along and this woman nonchalantly. Have you ever tried to be inconspicuous? So this woman just comes up behind HIM in the crowd acting like nothing's going on and just reaches out and touches the hem of HIS garment. And in that moment, she feels a power rush through her veins. What an experience must that have been! Rejuvenated! I imagine that her face just glowed in that moment; blood flushed her cheeks, and she was transformed by that touch. Just walked up, touched, transformed. This disease, this ailment that had dogged her for years, she was healed in that moment. She could feel it in her body. She was made well and that she's like ‘oh it's time to go, walking off, I've got my blessing, now. I'm off.’ She's walking off and then JESUS stops. The whole crowd stops. And he asks this interesting question, who touched me? And the disciples say, “What do you mean, who touched you? Everybody is touching YOU. YOU're in a crowd, in contact.” But this touch was different. HE felt the power go from HIM and HE kept looking around. And in Luke's account, she comes up to JESUS trembling and tells her entire story. And JESUS says, “Daughter, your faith has made you well.” What a story of a transformation that took place because of a touch! 

 

There's a lot that we can draw out of this; but I want to hone in on the thesis of our presentation here today - the presence of GOD plus intentional contact, not inadvertent - The presence of God plus intentional contact equals Transformation.

 

How many of you want transformation in your life? How many of you want your life to be changed? The presence of GOD is everywhere. GOD is omnipresent. Then the question is why aren't more people or why isn't everyone being transformed? And you can see it in this story. There are a lot of people having inadvertent contact with JESUS, nothing's happening. They're touching JESUS the rubbing up against HIM there is a lot of physical contact that is not intentional but one woman walks up to JESUS and intentionally touches HIM in faith and is transformed. In this story, there's only one woman that walks away with the blessing, and it is the woman that had intentional contact and transformation. 

 

When we arrange our lives around habits of devotion, it enables us to connect with the presence of GOD and be transformed. This woman arranged her day around JESUS’ activity and as a result she was transformed. GOD is in the business of intentional transformation or transformation. Our role is to be transformed.

 

I want to read a statement here and parse it out a little bit. “There must be certain things that I will do at GOD's invitation and initiation in order that GOD can do.” I want to read that again, “There are certain things that I will do at GOD's invitation and initiation in order that GOD can do.” 

 

Now it is GOD-initiated. I believe JESUS knew about this woman. Amen. HE knew her story. I believe that JESUS intentionally walked where she was and slowed down perhaps just enough so that she could touch HIM. It was GOD's initiation. The woman’s role was to reach out and connect and be transformed as a result. 

 

Today, I want to talk a little bit about this intentional contact. Why is it so hard for us to intentionally connect with GOD? Is it a struggle? It's a challenge, isn't it? 

 

I have this book that I recently purchased in my library. I was perusing it the other day. It's a New York Times bestselling author Sherry Turkle. It's entitled Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in the Digital Age. And she says in her book that this is the first generation that we are watching from a sociological standpoint the influence of what the cell phone and the iPad and all these gadgets that we have in our hands are doing to our children socially. She says that this generation does not have the capacity or have not learned the capacity to engage in meaningful face to face dialogue. They cannot pick up social cues. They are surprisingly lacking in empathy. Now, this is not everybody; but this is a fascinating analysis that Sherry Turkle accounts for and it's estimated that the average American spends 608 hours a year on social media,1,608 hours on T.V. And if you spent that time reading you can actually read 1,000 books in a year. It's a lot of time. And she says that social media has become the emotional center of our lives - The emotional center. 

 

And I have this quote from the vice president of Fortune 500 Company. Notice what he says, “I wanted my email disabled. I asked her [his secretary] to take my cell phone away from me. I told her to let no calls through except for a family emergency. She did exactly as I wished; but 3 hours without connection were intolerable. I could barely concentrate on the presentation. I felt so anxious. I know this sounds crazy, but I felt panicky. I felt no one cared about me, no one loved me.” - Talking about an emotional center - A connection.

 

Here's another one from Anya, a 20 year old, “My phone gets to the red mark and I started freaking out like, “Oh no, it's about to die.” That anxious feeling; I really get anxious that my phone is about to die and then it dies. I'm not even joking when I tell you that I went around the entire hospital. I asked every worker, every nurse, every random person I could find if they had an iPhone charger. I finally found a random security guard. He took me to a back room so I could charge my phone. I will go at that length even invade people's privacy. 

 

It's interesting because they interviewed young people and they said, “You know young people say when they get together, they don't even talk to each other; they just sit around on their phones.” And it's not just young people. When the Black Berry was still on the market, they used to call it Crack Berry.

 

Vanessa, college junior, “As long as I have my phone, I would never just fill it sit alone and think. When I have a quiet moment I just think my phone is my safety mechanism from having to talk to new people or letting my mind wander. I know that this is very bad but texting to pass the time is my way of life.” 

 

In the chapters subtitled, I tweet therefore I am, Sherry Turkle says, in the book Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in the Digital Age, she says, “Social media [listen to this] can also inhibit inner dialogue, shifting our focus from reflection to self presentation.”

 

Reflection is valuable. Introspection is valuable. And what's happening is that social media is becoming the arena for venting emotionally. That's what people do. They get upset, they tweet, they Facebook. The issue is: it's different than sitting alone by yourself in journaling because what happens is that you are selective in what you are presenting. Furthermore, you are presenting in a way that will attract people to you and get more likes. Furthermore, you are presenting an image of someone that you want people to believe that you are. Now, she goes on to say that it's not bad to have an image of who you want to be, but the problem is - here you are presenting this image as if it is already who you are. It shifts from self reflection to self presentation and I would add narcissism.

 

Now, this is the challenge that we're facing in this digital age and I say, “Look, the cell phone - tremendous blessing. I don't even have to go to the bank anymore, take a picture of my check, and it's deposited. I mean awesome wonderful blessings.” It's a wonderful convenience; but sometimes I hate my phone, because I feel tethered to it. And so we need a way to use these tools in a positive way that can be productive in not destructive. It's a tool we can use it for GOD's glory, Amen. We can read the Bible on it. There are many things that you can do. 

 

And so I want to present today just a tool that has helped me because I'm a recovering internet addict, I'll admit, that has helped me to connect with GOD intentionally. And I pray that it's something that will help you as well. And it is something called journaling, devotional journaling. Now, I've gone through my different stages with this thing, and finally, by the grace of GOD, I stumbled across an approach that has worked for me. 

 

Now, journaling is not explicitly mentioned in the Bible, but it is implicitly modeled. When you read the Psalms, much of it is a journal specifically of David's spiritual journey. When you read Lamentations, it is Jeremiah lamenting for the destruction of Jerusalem. 

 

And I want to read this in regards to the significance of writing rather than typing. This is a fascinating study because less and less, they say that it used to be that they would spend 30 minutes a day in the classroom on average on handwriting, but now they are spending less and less time because it's shifting to digital 15 minutes. And there are fascinating studies with the neurological things that happen in the brain when you write instead of type. 

 

Now, before we read this, I want to cite this study from a peer reviewed scientific journal that was in the archives of the National Institutes of Health in the Journal entitled Trends in Neuroscience Education. Dr. Karen James showed that there was unique brain activation on children when they took their M.R.I. scans after they had written. Fascinating! 

 

This is from Virginia Berninger, a professor of educational psychology at the University of Washington, states that handwriting it differs from typing because it requires executing sequential strokes to form a letter. Pictures of the brain have illustrated that sequential finger movements activated massive regions of the brain involved in thinking, language and working memory. 

 

 

There was another study that was a co-partnership between Princeton University and the University of California. Dr. Mueller and Dr. Oppenheimer – “Students who took handwritten notes generally outperformed those who typed their notes via computer.” Researchers at Princeton University and University of California at Los Angeles found that compared with those who type their notes, people who wrote them out in longhand appear to learn better, retain information longer, and more readily grasp new ideas. 

 

Couple of other studies here - When we write, a unique neural circuit is automatically activated, said Dehaney, a psychologist at the College of France in Paris. There is a core recognition of the gesture in the written word, a sort of recognition by mental stimulation in your brain and it seems that this circuit is contributing in unique ways we did not realize. Learning is made easier. This is fascinating research that shows that when you write, there is a massive activation in the brain.

 

So I tried this. For my sermon preparation, I usually type out my entire manuscript. Now, I don’t bring it up here with me, but something about typing it out and going through it helps me crystallize it. But recently after reading these studies, I've written them by hand. Now it takes forever; but from a testimonial standpoint, when I write, it seems to engage not just my intellect but my emotions as well. There's something unique about the writing process and it also requires a lot of precision, especially when I try to write in cursive. I had to go online and pull up how to write some of these capital letters because it had been so long; but there's something significant about this.

 

I want to read this from Harvard University. Note taking by hand is a pretty dynamic process said cognitive psychologist Michael Friedman at Harvard University who studies note taking systems. You are transforming. [Listen to this] You are transforming what you hear in your mind, and researchers estimate that when you write by hand 10 times more neurons fire than when you type. 

 

So I want to encourage you to do this and this also helps us to avoid, if you are journaling or word journaling on your computer like me, because I used to do this, I get on Evernote open up my devotional Journal and start typing and you know what, when you're on that screen there are so many distractions –Face book, e-mail, someone tweets, all of these things are just popping up all over the place. And you just get distracted. But when you put those things away and you say, “LORD, it’s just me and YOU” and your pen and you have the Bible passage and you engage the Bible, there is something profound and unique that happens when you write versus type. 

 

So, I want to encourage you to do this. Go off by yourself; spend time with GOD, say, “LORD, just me and YOU” and your pen. This is a biblical example modeled by David, and write out your prayers. Write out your thoughts to GOD. Write out your reflections. We’re you are in your relationship with GOD. Devotional journaling helps connect our head and our heart. This is a quote from Maurice Roberts – “A spiritual diary will tend to deepen and sanctify the emotional life of a child. There is great value to all of us of becoming more deeply emotional over great issues of our faith. Biblical men are depicted as weeping copious tears as sighing and groaning, rejoicing. They were ravished by the very idea of GOD. They had a passion for JESUS CHRIST. It is a shame to be cold, unfeeling and unemotional in spite of all that GOD has done to us and for us in CHRIST.” 

 

The keeping of a diary might help us to write in this respect also. There's something unique that happens when you journal and you write these things out. It helps us to connect not only intellectually but emotionally as well. 

 

One author says, “One reason journaling is the way is how it blends Biblical doctrine into daily living.” Journaling helps us to slow down and think and feel more deeply and biblically about GOD. This is a tool that helps us to focus and the center. 

 

Another thing that journaling does is it helps us in meditation. Now there's a fundamental difference between Eastern meditation and biblical meditation. Eastern meditation, you empty your mind. Biblical meditation, you fill your mind with the Word of GOD. And I don't know if it's just me, but do you find that when you're praying or in your morning devotions, that your mind tends to wander, right? Our mind goes all over the place and I’m like, “Oh, I need to do this and I need to do this and I need to do this.” And what I found is, if I have a piece of paper there and every time something comes to my mind, I just write it down and say, “OK, I'm gonna come back to that;” but what journaling does is it helps you to keep your mind on task and prevent it from wandering all over the place. Because there are times when I'm trying to engage GOD and I'm not writing things down, my mind just goes and then I catch myself 20 minutes later and I'm like way off topic in some other tangent. 

 

Donna Whitney says this, “Without pen in hand, I get can so distracted in meditation that I begin tackling one unrelated thought to another until I'm shingling off into the fog of daydreams, instead of thinking in light of Scripture. The discipline of writing down my meditations in my journal helps me concentrate.” It's an exercise that that helps you. 

 

Another thing that journaling helps with is it helps us in self understanding. This is fundamental to the Christian experience. John Calvin says this, “Without knowledge of self, there is no knowledge of GOD. Without knowledge of self, there is no knowledge of GOD.” It is easy to become superficial in our relationship with GOD. But there is something about sitting down and writing your reflections that there is this element of vulnerability before GOD. There are many times in my journaling, when I'm writing things down and I'm like “LORD, this is an area that YOU're revealing to me that I need to work on in my life.” And the beauty of this experience is that it is safe to be vulnerable with GOD. Amen. HE's never going to exploit your vulnerability. And the Word of GOD is like a two-edged sword; it cuts, but it's not a butcher knife, it is surgical, it's for healing, it’s for restoration. The Word of GOD cuts and it also heal. So there's moments of all to bit vulnerability where it cuts into the intents and motives of the heart. And I'm saying, “LORD, this is where ‘I'm at, help me. This is my relationship with YOU. These are the motives and thoughts of my mind.” And as you write these things down, it builds a type of vulnerability and self reflection. 

 

Josiah Pret says this, “The workings of sin are not noticed as they should be and therefore grace is not sought against him and the genial emotions of grace are not tried and therefore not fostered and cultivated. Now, a diary would have tendency to raise the standard to such persons by exciting vigilance.” 

 

Now, you look at the major reformers - John Wesley, Wycliffe, Martin Luther, when you look at their spiritual journey, there is a common element and a theme that went through many of these individuals and it was this – journaling - their experience, their vulnerability with GOD.

 

Donna Whitney goes on by saying, “The journal can be a mirror in the hands of the Holy Spirit in which he reveals his perspective on our attitudes thoughts, words, and actions.”

 

And so as you sit down, here are some things that A.W. Tozer says helps us in our self discovery – Where are you at with GOD? Where are your priorities? Here are some things that you can think about. Rules for self discovery - what we want most? What we think about most? How we use our money? What we do with our leisure time, the company we enjoy? Who and what we admire? What we laugh at? So, it is a tool that helps us in self discovery. 

 

And here's a question that we can use in our self-reflection in our morning devotions: Are we prepared to allow GOD to reveal ourselves to ourselves in order that we may be open to transformation? So in your morning devotions, I want to just encourage you to try this because I have been on a spiritual journey, I have tried multiple things; many of them have been beneficial. I've tried reading the Bible through a year in my morning devotions. I read through multiple times with the Conflict of the Ages series. I want to encourage you to do that if you haven't done so; but I have gotten in the past in a spiritual rut where I've done things ritualistically. But it has been journaling that has brought together the analytical and the emotional for me in my Christian experience. And it's helped me to focus. And it's helped me to be real with GOD; ultimately vulnerable. It fosters a conversation with GOD.

 

 And here's a fundamental question you can ask in your devotions, get a text write it down and one question you can ask is: “FATHER, what are YOU trying to say to me today?” And you write down your reflections. Another question you can ask is, “Where is my relationship with YOU at? Where we at? And as you reflect, you will hear the voice of GOD to your soul. 

 

Going back to our original thesis here - the presence of GOD plus intentional contact equals Transformation. How many of you want transformation today? We need transformation. Amen. The presence of GOD is available. It is everywhere. GOD will meet with you any place, any time, that you curve out for HIM. And in this secret place, in these moments, as we reach out to HIM, and we cut out all the distractions, there is a supernatural transaction that takes place.

 

“The greatest thing we have to offer is not our education. It's not even our good ideas and our gifts and abilities. It is the fruit of the time we have spent with the SAVIOR, the utterly unique and unparalleled thing that happens to us when we are simply in HIS presence.”

 

 

I want to close with this quote from the book Education – “In the midst of this maddening rush, GOD is speaking. HE bids us come apart in commune with HIM, ‘Be still and know that I AM GOD.’ …They must give themselves time to think, to pray, to wait upon GOD for a renewal of physical, mental, and spiritual power. They need the uplifting influence of HIS Spirit. Receiving this, they will be quickened by fresh life. The wearied frame and tired brain will be refreshed, the burden heart will be lightened. Not a pause for a moment in HIS presence, but personal contact with CHRIST, to sit down with HIM in companionship with HIM, this is our need.” Everything in our Christian experience boils down to our sacred time with GOD. Amen.  GOD is calling and HE appeals to us – Be still and know that I AM GOD.” 

 

Let’s pray together. Our FATHER in heaven, we thank YOU for this story of this woman that intentionally connected with GOD and was transformed. And today, we are seeking transformation. LORD, perhaps there are things in our lives – addictions, habits, temperaments, that have dogged us. We have tried everything and we're desperate. FATHER, we thank YOU that YOU have all power in heaven and on earth, and YOU are initiating a response from us. It is YOUR power working in and through us, and LORD, I just want to make a simple appeal today, if there is someone today that wants to say ‘LORD, I have something in my life, specific that I need transformation,’ I wanna invite you to raise your hand to GOD today, something in my life that I need transformation. And FATHER, YOU see these hands, I believe, by raising our hands, we are like that woman reaching out to the cloak of JESUS. We thank YOU for the power to say, we thank YOU for transformation and we pray that in our individual lives, YOU would help us to carve out time alone with GOD, to be still and to know that GOD is GOD. For we ask these things in JESUS’ name.  Amen.

 

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