Los Alamos Church of Christ

2016… Connections

Naturalist 3




I know that many of you naturalists are disappointed because we are not outside this morning.  But, you can be excited about our Camp May Service next week.  It will be at the same time; 10:30, no intellectual stuff for class time. Meet at the amphitheater just past the ski area.  We will park at the ski area and a shuttle will move folks up to the amphitheater.  I have a couple of naturalist lined up to speak… If you would like to…  Gerry Wood has volunteered to stay here and do communion with those who don’t get the memo or who would rather not go to Camp May.  That is next Sunday.  What kind of bunch are we that can go to the woods to have church? 


Before we do that, this morning I want to share the upsides and downsides of the Naturalist temperament.  Every temperament brings important gifts to the table. 

-- Intellectuals offer good theology.  A precious gift. Theology changes everything.

--Caregivers touch broken lives.  Arguably the most important gift. Touching Jesus through touching others.

--Traditionalists teach us to remember our Lord through symbols.  It is easy to forget.  We need to remember our LORD

--Enthusiasts celebrate with us in the expectancy of the mystery of the supernatural.  Wow, I want some of that. 

--Sensates connect beauty to God, bringing Him glory, while… flowing His power to create beauty.  I wish I was a sensate.

--Ascetics rejoice in a million boring little things… while in that solitude create a space for hearing God.


The Naturalists do not bring anything to the table… they bring their gifts to a… picnic.



Four Naturalist Picnic Gifts…


1) The Naturalist teaches us the attributes of God. 

We did this last week… The Naturalist’s favorite verse could very well be…


ESV Romans 1:20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.


The invisible qualities of God can be understood from the things that were made.  Last week I shared 4 of those invisible attributes which can be deduced from the things that are made…


#1 God Does Not Hurry.

The eternal God is rarely in a hurry.  To connect to that God we must slow down.  The Naturalist knows this.  No one who rushes into the presence of God is content to stay there long.  If we want to connect in worship of the Creator of the Universe we are gonna need to crank it down a bit.


#2 God loves variety

Over a million species of beetles.  There are more than 3,500 species of mosquitoes. About 175 of them are found in the United States.  We were bit by most of them on Trek.   Each human is a unique combination of diverse temperaments. Our challenge is to conform to God's will while we express our own uniqueness, because God loves variety.


#3 God is mysterious

Those who live their lives in the outdoors, live lives of amazement… lives of wonder.  Being a part of His ever changing drama, keeps us from the being… ho hum, because our God is mysterious.  The life of the naturalist temperament is one of constant mystery.


#4 God loves relationships

Biologists call them ecosystems.  Interwoven relationships nourishing and supporting and giving and sacrificing for each other… like a congregation. 

--There is help for each other in this body. 

--There is care for each other in the body.

--There is protection in the body.

--There is sacrifice for each other in the body.

--There is even love for the mosquitoes in the body. 

--This body is an ecosystem of nourishment.

God loves relationships.


That is picnic gift number one there are 3 others…




2) The Naturalist reminds us to be Humble.


Most of our lives are spent surrounded by manufactured stuff.  We work in climate controlled rooms.  We watch large HD TVs. At least I do.  We travel in comfort in our smarter than we are vehicles.  We cook with all kinds of appliances and eat in a nice dining room.  We surround ourselves with our stuff.  We watch million dollar movies on the Big Screen. This can lead us to believe that we are in fact quite clever.  And we are. The human race is an amazingly creative bunch.  So, it is easy to become a bit arrogant.  Look at all we have accomplished.  We can do most anything. 


The Naturalist brings a reminder to be humble.

--A clear starry night brings a reminder that we are insignificant specks in the universe.

--A ravaging tornado reminds us we are not all that powerful.

--A bear on the trail is something that is not controlled. 

--A mountain says… you are not.  


God tells Job…


Job 38:1-5 Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: "Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?  Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me.  Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.  Who determined its measurements- surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it?”



Job 38:22-24 "Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, or have you seen the storehouses of the hail, which I have reserved for the time of trouble, for the day of battle and war?  What is the way to the place where the light is distributed, or where the east wind is scattered upon the earth?”



Job 40:9-10 “Have you an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like his?  Adorn yourself with majesty and dignity; clothe yourself with glory and splendor.”


On and on God hammers Job’s arrogance with images of His creative power.  I would not have wanted to be Job at that moment… but on the other hand, Job heard the voice of God… loudly! 


The Naturalist says… go outside and you will be humbled.




3) The Naturalist Offers Healing.


A magazine article mysteriously appeared on my desk from a recent Time Magazine article entitled… “The healing power of nature”. Something clinically therapeutic happens when people spend time in nature.  In a Japanese research project…

--40 minutes walking in a cedar forest reduced the stress hormone cortisol.  Trees reduce stress.  Stress is mostly a bad thing… take a hike in the woods. 

--Trees emit an aromatic compound which spurs healthy biological changes.  The smell of trees is therapy. 

--It can even help with ADHD.  Instead of the hyper kid playing video games… send them on a hike. 

I don’t know about all this… I am a theologian not a research biologist, but certainly the rest and the exercise and the connections with the outdoors is healing.


Back to a theological picnic gift…




4) The Naturalist Reminds us of the first commandment… “Take care of the Garden.”


Genesis 2:15  The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.


It is interesting that one of the first commands given to humans is to care for the garden.  I suspect that command has not been rescinded.  We are still called upon to take care of the Garden.  The Naturalist reminds of this command.  We are to be environmentalists… at least a bit. 


This is an interesting theological division.  If you believe the coming of Jesus is eminent and when He gets here he is going to nuke the earth… then taking care of the garden is irrelevant.  But if you suspect that we still have thousands of years to live on this earth… we need to take care of it.   Or, if the Kingdom of Heaven is coming to the earth… Your Kingdom come to earth as it is in heaven… then we still need to care for the Garden.


Regardless, it seems, the first command is still in effect.


Those are the four gifts the Naturalist brings to the picnic. 


But there is also a dark-side to the Naturalist temperament.  Satan does not let any temperament go without seductions…




Let’s first recap the seductions of the other temperaments…


--Intellectuals struggle with arrogance which can lead to fudging what they really know because they have a need to be right.

--Caregivers can become people-pleasers.  Caring is done to please humans rather than connecting to Jesus. 

--Traditionalists are tempted to superstition.  Which leads to the rituals being what their religion is all about.

--Enthusiasts want good feelings over everything else which like adrenaline junkies must always be better.  Bigger more exciting, more mysterious, more miracles…

 --Sensates can idolize beauty to the point of materialism.

--Ascetics can have a hard time with grace for themselves or others. 


Let’s quickly look at three dangers the Naturalist faces…


1) They are tempted to love creation more than the creator.  If the naturalist loses the connection between nature and God they can easily become tree-huggers. Environmentalism over everything.  The environment is all that is important.  They can lose sight of the Creator amongst the woods.  Especially if they have any Activist temperament, saving whales is more important than saving souls.  This can be a dangerous theology. 


I know several people who give up their faith in God to turn to the environment to fill the void left there.  This is sad.  Those who should be drawn closely to their creator are drawn instead to the creation. 


2) Individualism can become Selfishness.  They tend to be drawn away from people.  If their connections are outside then they don’t need to be around people. With just a touch of asceticism they can just live in the outdoors without any concern for others… selfishness can be a problem for the naturalist. Their world is only their world… not good. 


3) No need for church.  Church does not connect strongly to them, so it is easy to not have the connections to the body of Christ.  Sidebar, we have not met their needs either.  We focus on intellectual and enthusiast but the naturalist is left out… except for next Sunday.   The naturalist can easily drift to outdoors every weekend and loose the power that is found in the body.  They lose all the protection of being with the church.


Loving creation not connected to the Creator; which leads to selfishness with no need for the body.  Those are the dangers. 




In keeping with our Naturalist theme… Here is the first showing of the Trek Video… https://youtu.be/kS5XeyMFUiU






NATURALIST Mark 12:29-30 “Hear, O Outdoor One: The Lord our God, the Lord is the Creator.

You shall love the Lord your God…

…with all your heart, without any hurry.

…with all your soul, in infinite varieties.

…with all your mind, discovery His mysteries.

…with all your strength, in holding on to his love.”


My temperament is God’s gift to me.

My temperament is my gift to God.

My temperament is my gift to the body.

My temperament is my gift to the world.


Tim Stidham

July 24, 2016

Los Alamos Church of Christ