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United Church of Christ
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Newark, Ohio 43055
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Pastor's message

2017 July message

Fifty years ago, on my last vacation before high school, I spent some of the summer on one of two backyard swings, listening to Cleveland Indians ballgames. To further date myself, Bob Neal and Jimmy Dudley were doing the play by play.

There were only a few things that got me off of those swings - a pickup ballgame with neighborhood kids, playing golf with my dad, cutting the grass, and an approaching storm.

Fifty years later, I am spending some of the summer preaching from the patio at our drive-in services. There are only a few things that get me off of the patio. Lightning, hail and wind. Wind seems to cause as much static on worshipper’s car radios as thunderstorms did on my transistor radio.

One recent sunny Sunday morning, I was chased inside by a gust that blew my notes off the pulpit and envelopes out of the offering plate. As much as I don’t like preaching “behind the glass” it helped our worshippers to hear me and participate in worship.

This got me to thinking about “static” that makes it hard for us to hear the voice of God. The website livingforjesus.com identifies things that distract us from God.

1. Media - “It is easy to get caught up in the internet, TV, movies, music, videogames, newspapers and magazines, and get consumed by it. Let’s be wise in what we watch, read, play, etc. and how much time is spent with it.

2. Religion - It can also be easy to pursue church but forget to pursue God. To keep church from becoming a distraction, put God before beliefs and doctrine. Church should be more about relationships than religion - coming together with fellow believers to worship and meditate on God, and loving our brothers and sisters.

3. Routine - this is a common thing we allow ourselves to get distracted by. Far too often, we just squeeze God in when we have down time. Make sure God is a part of your routine.

4. Work - what a distraction this can be and not just our jobs. The most important thing is that we do these to glorify God and not ourselves. Don’t let work become more important than listening to Jesus.

5. Ourselves - We are, by nature, sinful. That is why we need to die to ourselves and live in Christ (Romans 6:11). We need to constantly allow God to search our hearts (Psalm 139:23-24). The first step to overcoming ourselves is being aware.

And the first step to knowing the One who has known us since before we were formed in the womb (Jeremiah 1:5) is to become less “distracted by the passing concerns and things of this world,” and “be more aware of what can and does interfere with our walks with God.”

Rev. Mark Katrick