I was a sophomore in college when Billy Joel came out with the song We Didn’t Start the Fire. The song lists various major events in the second half of the 20th century, from scientific and societal advances to political events.


Harry Truman, Doris Day, Red China, Johnnie Ray

South Pacific, Walter Winchell, Joe DiMaggio

Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Studebaker, television

North Korea, South Korea, Marilyn Monroe…


We didn’t start the fire

It was always burning

Since the world’s been turning

We didn’t start the fire

No, we didn’t light it

But we tried to fight it


The song comes in rapid fire. It reminds me of other songs that chronicle world and cultural events like It’s the End of the World As We Know It by REM. You get a sense of the rush of life with songs like these. You can also feel a bit like the society is rushing at such a pace that it’s hard to keep up. 


The Easter season with First Baptist held so many blessings. We had lots of opportunities to gather, learn, worship, and have fun together. I have enjoyed the more regular schedule during the month of April, but I’m mindful that some busy days are ahead — graduations, senior adult events, celebrating our new children’s space, and so on. 


When you add to that what people feel day-to-day with all of life’s pressing and anxious elements, it’s enough to make your head spin. 


In the middle of life’s storm, we hear God’s words that always bring a sense of calm: “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10, NIV).


Be Still


It’s not easy to be still. Everything around us seems to encourage us to keep moving. There’s also wisdom that suggests our bodies need to keep moving in order to maintain health and energy. 


On the other hand, we need times to be still and simply remember that God is over all the earth. None of the events of history escape God’s notice — and none of them cause God to be perplexed. However, we can feel so overwhelmed by life’s changes and challenges that we lose sight of God’s goodness and grace.


James 4:8a (NLT) says, “Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you.” 


God also says in Jeremiah 15:19, “If you return to me, I will restore you so you can continue to serve me” (Jeremiah 15:19, NLT). 


I encourage you today to take time to be still. Turn of the television. Step away from the computer and shut down your other devices. Sit on. The porch or take a walk in the woods. 


In the stillness, God meets us. Isaiah 30:15 (ESV) says, “Thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, ‘In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.’”




The enemy wants to keep you worried, busy, and distracted all the time. When that happens, you’ll soon forget who God is and fail to see what God is doing in your life. You’ll lose your capacity to “know” God.


How will you know Him if you don’t spend time with Him, and how can you learn about Him if when you do go to pray, you’re distracted and scattered? 


In Johann Hari’s book called Stolen Focus, Hari describes how his nine-year- old godson, Adam, developed a fascination with Elvis. He would sing Jailhouse Rock all the time and dance like Elvis. One day Adam said, “Johann, can we go to Graceland one day?” 


Without thinking, he agreed. But it didn’t happen.


A few years later, Adam having trouble. He dropped out of school when he was 15. He spent almost all his waking hours alternating between screens – a blur of YouTube, WhatsApp, and other social media. Hari said, “Adam was lost.” Hari also noticed that as his career developed, he also found himself distracted and consumed by screen time. 


One evening they were sitting together, both on their devices, when Hari remembered his promise, He turned to Adam and said, “Let’s go to Graceland.” Adam was excited, but Johann said, “There’s one condition. You have to switch off the phone during the day on the trip.” 


When they got to Graceland, they were surprised that the tour was digital. They each got an iPad and put on little earbuds. The iPad told them where to go and they joined lots of people all walking around staring at screens. 


When they got to the jungle room — Elvis’ favorite place — Hari was standing next to a man who was holding the iPad up while talking to his wife. “Honey,” he said, “this is amazing! Look! If you swipe left, you can see the jungle room to the left. If you swipe right, you can see the jungle room to the right.” 


Hari couldn’t help himself. He said, “Sir, there’s an old-fashioned form of swiping you can do. It’s called turning your head. Because we’re here. We’re in the jungle room. There’s no need for a screen.” He waved my hand all around. They stared at him a moment and then looked at the screens again. Hari looked at Adam, ready to laugh, but Adam was in the corner, looking at his phone. 


Hari suddenly snapped and tried to wrestle Adam’s phone from his grasp. Adam stomped away. Hari realized that he was really mad at himself —he had lost his ability to focus and to be present. He hated it. Later Adam said, “I know something’s wrong,” holding his phone tightly in his hand, “but I have no idea how to fix it.” 


Could it be that our quest to “know” more and more through our devices actually takes us away from knowing what matters most? 


I confess that I struggle with this, too. With God’s help, I’m working on better patterns for not checking my phone and email for messages too much. I’m trying to set aside other concerns when it’s time to sit with God. 


That I Am God


I’ve been reading the biography of Oswald Chambers called Abandoned to God. Chambers is famous for his classic devotional My Utmost for His Highest. He also wrote many other books and spoke across several continents before dying at the age of 43.


He would often have such a busy schedule of preaching and teaching that he couldn’t find good rest and time to refresh with God. He looked forward to time on the ship when he was going back and forward from Great Britain to America — at least 10 days of time to read and commune with God.


Chambers discovered a great metaphor in the tumultuous sea. Sometimes storms would come to toss the ship to and fro, but Chambers remembered the depths below that were undisturbed. He counseled that every believer needed to be constantly connected to the deep waters of God in order to survive the storms above. 


I’m praying this week that you know how deep and long and high and wide is the love of God for you. I’m asking God to give you the grace of stillness.