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Is God still Important in our Lives

Do we need God as much these days as folks once seemed to? In this 21st century world is He as necessary as many thought He was, say, in Paul’s time? When Paul walked or rode a donkey across the countryside, spreading the story of Jesus, the world was a vastly different place than it is now, obviously. At a time when just finding something to eat on a regular basis was difficult, Paul’s message must have seemed incredible and wonderful! Their lives were often filled with the kind of sorrow and danger and suffering that we Americans can’t begin to understand today. So, when Paul came to town, it had to have been a miraculous occasion for many of them. He promised a future that was glorious beyond anything they could imagine.

Are we still in awe of God’s glory like that? I wonder. We can do so many incredible things now that were undreamed of when Paul rode that donkey across the Middle East (although we still haven’t solved all of the problems in that part of the world, have we?), and we are so rich in terms of material possessions. But have we become too proud of ourselves? We’re so full of that pride that we just don’t always have room for God or acknowledge His greatness. Our lives seem to revolve around so much busy activity that is simply selfish or self-serving. How much money we have has become more important than how much faith we have. We work hard during the week so that we can make more money to spend on the weekends, doing all of those incredible things that we think we need to do. The “stuff” we own (or that we make payments on) seems to mean more to us than spreading the Gospel like Paul did.

My wife and I now have two computers in our house, and I suspect that just about everyone has one now. Just one of those computers is able to do more than a room full of equipment back when I graduated from college and began teaching. Not many people had access to them back then either – now I have one beside my desk at school that does our attendance and averages grades. I don’t even have to use a calculator anymore! Through the internet, we have access to information and research beyond anything ever imagined before. We can set up our own websites, send and receive email, buy and sell all kinds of things on eBay and other online auction sites, check out the latest sports and weather, invest in the stock market, and download music and movies to be enjoyed later. My wife makes our vacation reservations and orders airline tickets over the Web. When my son flies home from California, we can follow the progress of his airplane on the computer! I can download pictures from my digital camera to my laptop, edit out the ones I don’t want, burn CD’s of the ones I want copies of (or print my own if I don’t want to make the long drive to Walmart!), and send special ones to friends and family members by email. My two brothers are commercial artists, and they do artwork with computer programs. They don’t even have to actually draw anything anymore! Many folks work out of their homes using a computer, while others select and buy their groceries, read the newspaper, work the latest NY Times crossword puzzle, and play chess with somebody in India – all on the computer. And…don’t get me started on MySpace and Facebook!

Why would we need God, when we have Bill Gates and Michael Dell?!?

Yep…we are certainly capable of accomplishing great things, aren’t we? Why…we can talk to anyone we want, anywhere we want – using a phone that is smaller than our hand! We don’t need wires anymore, because we have satellites and cell towers. We can talk to Mama while riding down the road sipping coffee, listening to music on a CD, and watching “Finding Nemo” on our flip-down DVD player! Some so-called “smart” phones, like the iPhone. give us even greater power and flexibility. I have a Blackberry and used it to keep up with Tiger Woods’ victory in the US Open last year. Was that really necessary? No…but it seemed to be at the time. Most cell phones have cameras, and some have GPS systems, too! (Who decided that we needed all of that stuff on our phones?!?)

Who needs God when we have Apple, AT&T and Verizon?

I once read a story about some mountain climbers who ran into bad weather. Several of them unfortunately died, including a guide. When he realized he was in trouble he called his wife by satellite phone and told her goodbye. As he was talking to her he died. He was on Mt. Everest. She was in the United States. All of that marvelous technology could not save him. His body is still sitting there, not far from the summit.

Yeah…we’re pretty incredible, aren’t we?

We certainly don’t need donkeys to get around anymore, though. Now we have the automobile. Our cars are so technologically advanced that we have to have computers to tell us what’s wrong with them. I have a friend who drives a car that tells him the temperature inside and outside the car, gives him distances and directions to his destination, as well as his gas mileage at whatever speed he’s driving. He can listen to Rush Limbaugh spout off or tune in to countless music stations on his satellite radio. The seats automatically adjust themselves to whoever is driving, according to preset requirements, and they are heated as well as cooled! There are air conditioners in front and back so that everyone is comfortable.Wouldn’t Paul have enjoyed making his church-building trips in such a vehicle?!? Listening to Billy Graham on his XM!

Well…who needs God? We have Toyota, Nissan, Cadillac, Ford, and Mitsubishi!

I once went with my brother to a place called Fry’s Electronics – a technogeek’s Mecca! As we wandered around, mouths watering at the sight of all of the wondrous sights, we noticed a small crowd of men gathered down at the end of one incredibly long aisle. As we approached them, we saw that they were watching Tiger Woods attempting a 25-foot putt (he made it, too!) on an 84-inch projection screen, HDTV set! Get your mind around that bit of information! 84-inches.7 feet. It was so big that it wouldn’t fit in my house – I couldn’t even get it through the door! My brother wanted to buy it, but he wasn’t sure his wife would approve of the $10000 price tag. He and I both later bought slightly smaller sets with glorious picture and incredible sound that make our living rooms seem like a movie theater.

Why would we need God – we have Sony and Panasonic and Toshiba?

Have you been to the movies lately? Isn’t it incredible what they can do with special digital graphics these days? It seems like that they don’t even need actual people playing the various characters anymore – they can just create anything they can dream up with a computer. The various “Spiderman” and “Harry Potter” movies are among the highest grossing movies of all time, and “Titanic” out-earned them all. Movies like those couldn’t have been made when I was a boy – the technology wasn’t invented yet. When the first “King Kong” was made, the ape was a small doll, and the creators had to shoot the film in tedious stop-action. When Peter Jackson made his version not long ago, he spent over $200 million on it, and most of it was computer-generated! It’s exciting and fun, I suppose, but the first one still has a certain quaint charm.

That disaster on Mt. Everest I mentioned before was filmed by a National Geographic crew, and the movie was shown on a screen that is 50 feet tall. They climbed up to the top of the tallest mountain in the world, carrying cameras and other equipment!

Yep…who needs God, when we have Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson, and IMAX?!?

I can give you another example of man’s greatness. Drive west on I 70 from Denver, Colorado to Glenwood Springs. In doing so, you’ll travel along the last and perhaps prettiest stretch of interstate highway that was built. For about 16 miles you’ll go through Glenwood Canyon, and engineers have created a masterpiece there. The road runs alongside the Colorado River, and sometimes the opposing lanes are stacked on top of one another to accommodate the river and the canyon walls and to be less of a burden on the environment. There is a pretty little bike trail that runs beside the highway, too, and I’ve had the privilege of riding on it, as it followed the river. The highway goes through several tunnels, and there are places where one can pull off and just admire the scenery.

I’ve crossed Hoover Dam on that same Colorado River, and it is a truly magnificent engineering feat! It has created Lake Mead and makes Las Vegas one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States. The Chinese have built a dam called the Three Gorges that will eventually create a lake that will be as long as Arizona is wide. That dam is so heavy that it can cause earthquakes! Scientists have predicted that its massive size and weight will actually alter the earth’s rotation on its axis just enough to lengthen the day!

Nope…we don’t really need God, do we? We’ve got huge building machines and the Army Corps of Engineers.

Yep…I’d say we humans are pretty-darned talented alright. And…I haven’t even mentioned the Golden Gate Bridge, Empire State Building, Eiffel Tower, Great Wall of China, the Pyramids, and Disney World. And there are the great cities – New York and Chicago, Paris and London (and the Chunnel), Beijing and Hong Kong. And we can brag about great works of art, too – like the Mona Lisa or Rachmaninoff’s 3rd Piano Concerto or the writings of Shakespeare or Thomas Jefferson (and J.K. Rowling). Let’s face it – we are good! We even wrote the Bible itself – in numerous different versions, translations, and paraphrases.

So…that brings me back to my original questions. Do we still need God? Is he still important to us?

Here’s the thing: when I rode that bike trail through Glenwood Canyon, what really made it truly magnificent was the gorgeous river and the majesty of the surrounding mountains.

And…man didn’t make any of that. If you follow that same river a little further down, you’ll come to the Grand Canyon – one of the scenic wonders of the world. It literally takes your breath away the first time you step up the edge and gaze in awe at its greatness. Man had nothing to do with any of that beauty except discover it.

When my wife and I visit our son in Los Angeles, we often stay in a hotel on the beach – cooled by breezes from the Pacific Ocean. Man’s contribution to all of that lovely scenery usually amounts to building something that pollutes it or gets in the way of the view.

I’ve taken pictures of beautiful flowers growing next to a snow bank at the top of Ophir Pass in Colorado – in July. All man did was build the road, and it’s crumbling in some places. The mountains, snow, flowers, the aspen grove at the foot of the pass, and the hawk circling overhead all came as gifts from God. Yeah…we built the road, but we couldn’t even come close to all of that stuff that God made.

I’ve watched kids after sporting events gather in the middle of the field or gym and say a prayer together. They still think that’s important, and they put aside their differences for a moment, hold hands, and pray. Many folks still say a blessing before a meal, even out in public. We say the Pledge of Allegiance each morning at school, and the phrase “…one nation under God…” is still there. People still go to church, and I don’t think it’s just because they like the music or the youth minister or the preacher’s jokes.

Let’s face it: no matter how great the things are that we humans accomplish, we’re still lost without the love of God. We can’t even solve our own problems, and there isn’t always a pill we can take to ease the pain. My father was an alcoholic, and he could never drink enough to make him forget his troubles. And we all know Michael Jackson’ sad and tragic story.

Ever since Adam and Eve left the Garden, humans have been doing all they can to mess up the world God created for us. We don’t even deserve all the gifts He’s given us and have just about wasted them all. Our air and water are dirty because we’re too stupid or selfish or greedy to take care of them. Natural resources are dwindling at an alarming rate, because it seems to be too much trouble to practice conservation or develop new energy sources.

And…in far too many instances, we are constantly at each other’s throats, fighting and killing and conquering instead of negotiating and compromising – and praying. I don’t know when the horrible mess in the Middle East will ever be straightened out, because nobody likes anybody over there. Right there where it all began, they’re still killing each other, and now Americans are involved, too.

So, I’ll answer my own questions: Do we still need God anymore? Of course we do – more than ever! Is He necessary in our lives? Absolutely. We can build all of the magnificent structures we want, but we can’t build peace and harmony without God. We can invent all of the most incredible machines, but we can’t fake our way through the mess we’ve made. God has to be a part of it all……and we can’t be too proud to ask for His help.