Wednesday, May 30, 2012


This last weekend I had a fun thing happen to me - I put the batteries in the microphone for church. Isn't that funny? Well, it isn't. What was funny is the bell started to ring and I did exactly what I do each service when the bell rings - I turned the microphone on. When I turn it on the light turns green. That means it is ready to go! When it is yellow, it means it is muted but on. So I held the button down and waited for the light to come on. It didn't. I held it down again. It didn't. I pulled it out of my pocket and held it down - nothing! What? It is time for the mic to work. I put the batteries in. They were charged. What is going on?

Now before I go on with the story let me ask you, "What do you do to help yourself to grow in your faith?" Read a devotion? Read the Bible? Attend worship? Receive the Lord's Supper? Nothing at all? You are a child of God, a believer in Jesus Christ, a person who follows the Lord with your heart and life each and every day. You know the power that the Lord gives to you. You are certain that you are doing things "just right" to make your faith grow.

And what happens, it seems that nothing happens. No matter what you do it seems that your faith is just what it is - not growing at all.Why not? You do all that you are supposed to do but nothing happens. You are sure the problem is with God.

The microphone was broken. Something was wrong with it. I was sure of it. I held the button down, no light came on, no sound came out of it. I did everything I was supposed to do to make it work so the problem is with the microphone. One last ditch effort to see if I could get it working before the bell quit ringing was to check one last thing - were the batteries in correctly? I opened up the mic and found that I had put the batteries in correctly! What was wrong? Then I looked closer. Wait a minute. That doesn't look right. Both batteries were in the same direction. That isn't supposed to be that way. They are supposed to be put in opposite directions. Who put them in wrong? Can't "they" get them right? Wait a minute, no one else put those batteries in - I did. I was the one to blame. It wasn't the mics fault. It wasn't the fault of someone else. I had to accept the blame. It was my fault there was no power for my mic.

Think about your spiritual life. Are you just going through the motions in your life? Is worship something that you go through without any thought at all? Are you "doing" devotions but not actually letting the devotion mold or shape your spiritual life? Do you have a Bible but never use it to feed your walk of faith? And when nothing happens, are you quick to blame God?

Now I am not making judgments here. I just am wanting you to take time to reflect upon your walk of faith. The Holy Spirit does amazing things through those Means of Grace. He is the power of our lives. When we mess things up (like putting the batteries in wrong), we can't blame Him. Reflection - how does your spiritual walk? I pray it is going well through the power of the Holy Spirit, His power!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Be still

I was getting the tire on the van fixed this morning (one of those fun tasks that need to happen before the tire goes completely flat while driving miles from home). It had a screw in it that I picked up somewhere, who knows where. It doesn't have to be from the construction out on the interstate exchange here at Troy (which, BTW, is said to be done by the end of June! WooHoo!). There is construction in various places. It could have even fallen off a truck or from a garbage truck and been laying in the road, just waiting for my van to go by so that it can attack my tire and cause me to wonder what happened. Getting in the van, having it ding at me and tell me that the tire is going flat is such a wonderful thing to have happen when you want to go somewhere. but at least the van lets me know when a tire is needing air. Saves me from the trouble of calling a tow truck while sitting on a dark desert highway, cool wind my hair, warm smell of...wait a minute. I have digressed into an Eagles song. sorry. In fact, this whole paragraph is a digression. I wasn't wanting to talk about the tire, the van or the warm air at all.

So anyway, there I sat at M & M (not the candies, unfortunately) in Troy, as they worked on my tire. I sat on the bench and thought, "I'm bored." Really? You are bored after sitting on this bench for 5 minutes? Take out your cell phone. So I did. Called a few folks. Texted a couple more. And sat there some more. Minutes seemed like hours. I watched the traffic on 40 go by, people on their way to work, people going hither and yon. I wondered where they were going. Then I thought again, "I am really, really bored. Should have brought a book to read. Maybe I should walk over to the Casey's and get a soda." You don't need a soda. You don't need a book. Sit and enjoy the time with nothing to do. "No way! I need to do something. I can't just sit here."

Then I thought (after arguing with myself for a few more minutes), "What is wrong with you? Why can't you just sit and enjoy doing nothing? Why can't you just sit and talk with God instead of arguing with yourself?" Because I am sitting here on a bench at M & M and have nothing to do. "What about that person who is ill? Don't you think they need your prayers?" Well, yeah. "And that person who is struggling in their lives with..." OK, OK. I get it.

Then I thought, "Isn't that the problem we have in our lives today? We cannot be still. We cannot just allow God to wrap us in His arms and let Him enfold us in the moment, the time, the feeling of the day." Then it came to me, "Be still and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10 ESV) We are so busy in our lives, we don't have time to be still and know God. Stillness is not something that we are able to do. We might desire it, but when we receive the gift of stillness (and it is a gift) we don't know what to do with it. We must act. We must do something. We must...I guess that is the struggle we face with salvation, forgiveness and the will of God.

We struggle with salvation because we want to do something to help God save us. "Don't I still need to do something to be saved?" No. You don't. God does it all. He saves you by faith and then He gives you the faith whereby you are saved. You are the beggar at the table of God. "But don't I still need to eat? Isn't that the action in which I work with God in order t be saved?" NO! You do nothing. God does it. Be still and know that He saves you.

Shouldn't I do something for forgiveness? No. Jesus did it all on the cross. But don't I need to do something to make His blood work in my life? Be still and know that He is God. He doesn't need your help. He is strong to save, mighty to forgive!

Then I thought (all of this while sitting on a bench wanting to do something - knowing that this was not from my wonderful mind but from the power of the Holy Spirit as I contemplated this Sunday, Pentecost Sunday), "That is the real problem we have, isn't it? It isn't so much about salvation that we struggle. We struggle with the fact that we must sit still, waiting for God to act in our lives - when we are ill, when we are weak, when we have problems, etc. We must wait for God to act and we don't like the fact that we are not the ones who are in control." Be still and know that He is God!

"Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; for You I wait all day long." (Psalm 25:5 ESV) I wait for the Lord all day long. No I don't. I pursue the Lord. I dog the Lord. I tell Him what needs to be done, when it needs to be done and how it needs to be done. That is not right. Be still. Wait for Him to act. He knows. Take it to Him in prayer, yet He knows. He tells you to pray. Why? In order to teach you to wait for Him all the day long. To trust in Him. To pour out yourself to Him. To set your will aside and let His will be done.

Then it came to me, "Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord." (Psalm 27:14 ESV) Be still. Wait for the Lord. Be courageous. The Lord will act. The Lord is the King of kings, Lord of lords, almighty God, Prince of Peace, Alpha and Omega and whatever other name you can come up with as you think of the Lord. He doesn't need us to hound Him. In fact, if anything, we need Him to hound us, to continue to be after us because of how easy it is to be so busy, so active, that we don't have time for the Lord, for the stillness of faith, for waiting for Him.

Lord, thanks for giving me a screw in my tire. For today, sitting on that bench, waiting, I learned a lesson You have taught me before but that I needed again today. I learned to be still. To wait. To trust. To pray. And to know, You have it all under control.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Lessons from the dishwasher

I was putting the dishes away this morning (part of the morning routine) and began to think. The forks go here and the knives go there. The plates are stacked at this place and the bowls are there. The platter goes here, under this bowl which has these bowls in it. Everything has it's place.

But what if I didn't want to put the things where they belong. What if I decided to randomly put one bowl in this cabinet and one bowl in another cabinet. What if I mixed the knives with the forks and put the spoons in another drawer all together. Bwahahaha! The wildness of it all was intoxicating. I could do what I wanted. No one could stop me! I was the master of my destiny, the master of my world! It didn't matter what anyone else thought, wanted or expected. It was all me! All me, I tell you! I could put things where I want them and...

Then I stopped to think. Isn't that the way that we, as sinners, live our lives? We don't want anyone to tell us what to do or to think. We want to act in the way we want to act, when we want to act and we don't want anyone - a God, a Christian, another person - telling us what to do. And when they do tell us what to do, we get ticked off. When someone points out that they think what we are doing is wrong, we get upset, throw a fit and tell them to mind their own business. We remind them about how unloving they are being by not allowing us to live our lives as we want, doing the things we want, when we want and how we want.

I think about the whole same-sex marriage debate that is going on. Someone says, "I want to be gay. I want to live the life of a homosexual. I want to be in a same-sex relationship." When someone (namely a Christian because most non-Christians could care less about what is right or wrong unless it directly impacts them in their lives) says, "But that is wrong." They are told, "You are a terrible person for telling me that. You cannot and should not tell me that what I am doing is wrong. And if that "god" that you follow is saying that same-sex relations is wrong, then "it" is a terrible, unloving thing that shouldn't be listened to and what is more, you are just a rotten person for even thinking of condemning me and my actions. Go crawl in your ancient hole and don't ever come out again. Good bye!" (All right, maybe that is a little dramatic but isn't that really the gist of what is being said in response to the Christian stating what is right and wrong?)

Then I go back to the dishes. I put them away where I want, when I want, how I want. The family gets up and goes to get a glass. But low and behold, instead of glasses in the cabinet, there are the forks, a few bowls and box a cereal. What? OK. try another cabinet. Nope, not there either. "Hey Mitch! What did you do with glasses?" "What difference does it make?" I respond. "They belong in this cabinet." "So, I wanted to put them elsewhere. I can do what I want, can't I? " "Are you nuts? Just put the glasses in this cabinet, the forks in the drawer and the bowls in their place. And how did you figure that the cereal went in this one?" "I dunno. I just wanted it to be my way today." "Well forget it. Come in here and put it all where it belongs." "No way! You can't tell me where things go. It is up to me."

(Later that same day.) Looking for my shoes, I call out, "Penny, where are my shoes? They are always right here in the closet." "I moved them." "Why?" "Because I felt like I wanted them somewhere else instead of in the closet." "Where did you put them?" "I dunno. Just moved them as I wanted and could care less if they are where they should be or not." "That is crazy...wait a minute, does this have to do with the dishes this morning?" "Now you are getting it, sunshine! Think it through." Going to the cabinet, I open it, expecting my shoes and all I find is a note that says, "Not here. That would be too easy." I sigh, and realize, life is not about my wishes but is about what is right and wrong, about others, about fitting in with others and doing (ready for this) what is right in God's eyes and not just what I want.

So it is in all things. Lessons from the dishwasher. Just because I think I want to do something, doesn't make it right. Just because someone tells me what I did or want to do is wrong, doesn't make them judgmental. It is the way of the world. It is the way that God intended it. And that is a hard lesson to learn. I don't think society has learned it yet, and the farther they go from God, the less likely it will be learned.

More on this later...I think.