Oklahoma Baptist University

Dilbeck Challenges Students to ‘Be Present’

Dr. Hance Dilbeck addressed OBU students about the “essential connection” between humans and God, noting that technological advances may be more distracting than people realize. He discussed the presence of subtle spiritual and relational issues as a result of spending too much time plugged into technology and posed the question, “How is continuous connection affecting our daily lives?”

The senior pastor at Quail Springs Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, Dilbeck spoke during a weekly chapel service at OBU on Wednesday, Feb. 15. His message, “Discovering the Heart of Man’s Nature,” follows OBU’s current chapel theme, “The Purpose of Man: Designed to Worship,” based on the book by Christian author A.W. Tozer. The message was part of OBU’s Focus Week, a week dedicated to helping members of the OBU community strengthen relationships.

By spending a large amount of time engulfed in technology -– whether a cell phone, video games or a computer -– people open themselves to subtle deficiencies and danger, Dilbeck said. People have an insatiable need to feel connected. Technology allows people to be “everywhere, anywhere, elsewhere and nowhere,” according to Dilbeck. He challenged students to “work to be present,” instead of merely physically filling a seat.

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“If we’re not careful, we find ourselves fascinated by information but avoiding intimacy,” Dilbeck warned. “If we’re not careful, we pursue wide exposure, but neglect depth. We get caught up in fame – a lot of people reading about us, hearing about us or connecting to us, but neglect fruit. If we’re not careful, we’ll get more interested in fantasy and lose an appetite for reality. We’ll embrace the global, which is good, but neglect the local. We’ll have this abundance of awareness, but an utter lack of focus.”

Dilbeck referenced John 15:1-5, a Scripture about being a disciple of Jesus, explaining that ultimately the “essential connection,” as he called it, is “our connection at the core.” He used the biblical example of the branch abiding in the vine as a parallel to the vital connection between humans and God, their source of life. The reason people are so attracted to new technologies, he said, is because humans were created for connection by God. But while many connections may be important, not all connections are essential.

Reading from Mark 1, Dilbeck also used Jesus himself as an example, describing Jesus’ process of establishing discipline within himself, creating “boundaries of time and place,” he said, to resist the “push and pull” of society and maintain a strong connection with God. New technologies, on the other hand, do not respect boundaries of time and place because the access is unlimited. Dilbeck encouraged students to set boundaries for themselves to keep technology from pushing them through life and away from vital connections.

To conclude his message, Dilbeck told the story of the disciples recognizing Jesus from their boat after he had risen from the dead, and rushing in from the water to be at his side. Dilbeck asked students to imagine themselves there with Jesus, eating breakfast with the disciples.

“Jesus has prepared a feast for them, and they are there, enjoying the very presence of the risen Lord Himself,” Dilbeck described. “Imagine you’re there. Think about it. And now, standing there in presence of Jesus, your phone buzzes in your pocket. Are you going to answer it?”

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