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Wit and Wisdom of Gateway Church Athens GA

As we begin our new church life … so too a new blog!

Category Archives: Storms

Recently I read an article in the USA Today called: The game-changer: spirituality.  The article is an attempt to prove that in order to be “spiritual” you don’t have to be religious.

As I read the article I was struck by two specific thoughts.

The first thought was this is designed to confuse people and make them “feel” good about life without having to deal with God.  Dennis Dennet (so called “new atheist”)  was quoted in the article: “I have times when I am just transported with awe and joy and a sense of peace and wonder at, whether it’s music or art or just a child playing or some other wonderful thing off of my sailboat, being amazed at the beauty of the Ocean.  I think people make the mistake of thinking that spirituality, in that sense, has anything to do with either religious doctrines or with immateriality or the supernatural.”  Romans address this very thing in chapter 1:

Rom 1:19-22 For that which is known about God is evident to them {and} made plain in their inner consciousness, because God [Himself] has shown it to them. For ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature {and} attributes, that is, His eternal power and divinity, have been made intelligible {and} clearly discernible in {and} through the things that have been made (His handiworks). So [men] are without excuse [altogether without any defense or justification], Because when they knew {and} recognized Him as God, they did not honor {and} glorify Him as God or give Him thanks. But instead they became futile {and} godless in their thinking [with vain imaginings, foolish reasoning, and stupid speculations] and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools [professing to be smart, they made simpletons of themselves].

Mr. Dennet and his ilk miss the point so badly.  God is all around them and showing himself strong on their behalf, yet (as Jesus said concerning Jerusalem) “Ye would not!”  This is sad not only for Mr.  Dennet, but for those who WANT the truth, yet in searching for it are led astray by this “spiritual” type of thinking.  That leads me to the second thought.

This is exactly the position Gateway was designed for.  We can be that safe harbor for people that are desperately in need of finding God.  Our mission is to help people experience God.  People are in a mess and need to find help in the storms of life.  Gateway understands storms.  Gateway and the people that worship God as members of Gateway are storm tested veterans that know how to negotiate difficult waters.  Our position is unique among most churches.  Gateway is not the Church you go to “feel better” about yourself.  Gateway is a church you go to to meet with God, get healed and wrestle with life changing issues.  Gateway is a shelter in a time of storm.  The people of Gateway model John 13:34-35 I give you a new commandment: that you should love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too should love one another. By this shall all [men] know that you are My disciples, if you love one another [if you keep on showing love among yourselves].

As the storm rages and the winds of discouragement, doubt and unbelief blow with hurricane force, it is our assigned task to stand strong and be on the lookout for those who are caught in the ravages of sin and the worlds system.

Lord: Help us to keep our focus on you.  Help us to keep our eyes open for all who need shelter from the storms of life and welcome them with open arms!


While I wasn’t there to actually hear Joseph’s sermon Sunday, I’ve read it and my good friend did as he always has every since I met him: delivered the Word of God faithfully.

The plight of King Jehoshaphat and his response has always been a great encouragement to me.  A modern version of his prayer is “Lord, we don’t have a clue, but we look to you!”  I have to say that I’ve personally felt that way in the last couple of months.  More than once I’ve played the what if game.  You each know the game and you know the rules.  It’s an unusual game though because no one ever wins, yet we play it all the time.

But as Joseph asked us to do, let’s take a new perspective on this and let’s play “What if” going the other direction.

What if: We had not left the old building and Mision Latina did not have that building.  Would they have been able to minister as they have now?

What if: Jerry Varnado hadn’t heard the Lord concerning his retirement and would have stayed at Gateway.  Would Joseph and Becky have been able to get things worked out with the Lord?

I like Joseph’s emphasis on repenting, truly turning around and changing direction.  Lets take that advice and look at things from a bit different perspective.  Lets look at Mark 4:35-41 for a bit of guidance in negotiating storms.

Notice verse 35:  On that same day [when] evening had come, He said to them, Let us go over to the other side [of the lake].  They responded to the Lord’s direction and went over to the other side.  They did exactly as he directed them.

The next verse clearly states:  they took Him with them, [just] as He was, in the boat [in which He was sitting].  Jesus was with them.  Then all hell breaks loose:

And a furious storm of wind [of hurricane proportions] arose, and the waves kept beating into the boat, so that it was already becoming filled.

They did what they were told, Jesus was with them and they find themselves in a storm of hurricane proportions.  How many times have you said “Boy if only I could see Jesus physically.  Then I would be ok.”  Well not only could they see him physically, HE WAS ASLEEP IN THE BOAT!!!!!  The storm hit anyway.

Jesus response has been discussed many times, but I want to ask a question that is pertinent to our situation.  What is the appropriate response to a storm when you are in it and waiting?

Do you bail water waiting?  If you take this approach, you might see an Angel standing there and saying, “Why stand ye here bailing?”  (Sorry couldn’t resist.) 

Do you simply sit in the boat and wait for your wazoo to get wet?

It’s obvious these professional fisherman who made their living on the water were in a bad way.  Do you just let the thing sink?

These are questions I have about this story.  Jesus calmed the water and the wind and then asked them where there faith was.  I don’t know what they were supposed to do in that situation.

In our case, I take great encouragement and faith from Joseph’s word.  I think there is more good news coming.  I’m excited about  our upcoming study on Nehemiah and Jack Hayford’s book, Rebuilding the Real You.  I think there are timely words of encouragement there as well.  I think it fits well with the new direction Joseph has asked us to consider.

I encourage you to read the book of Nehemiah this week.