June 28, 2016
This past Sunday in our Bible Heroes Sermon Series we examined the amazing story of Joseph. Life definitely hands Joseph some lemons (he’s sold into slavery, lied about and falsely imprisoned, forgotten for over 2 years by a man he helped). Yet in the end it all works for good. God uses Joseph to save his family and provides the protection needed to turn a small family into a great nation.
Perhaps our problem is that we fail to see the bigger picture. The disaster of the moment may not be that big a deal ten years from now. Robert Fulghum, one of my favorite writers, tells a story that illustrates how we can celebrate even in the midst of seeming disaster.
Fulghum tells of a wedding where the character he refers to as MOTB (mother of the bride) was driving everyone crazy. This wedding was of epic proportions. From an 18 piece brass and wind ensemble to 24 bridesmaids, groomsmen, flower girls and ring bearers. Everything was happening with military precision until the moment of the processional. Let me let Robert Fulghum tell the story in his own words...
Ah, the bride. She had been dressed for hours if not days. No adrenaline was left in her body. Left alone with her father in the reception hall of the church while the march of the maidens went on and on, she walked along the tables laden with gourmet goodies and absentmindedly sampled first the little pink and yellow mints. Then she picked through the silver bowls of mixed nuts and ate the pecans. Followed by a cheese ball or two, some black olives, a handful of glazed almonds, a little sausage with a frilly toothpick stuck in it, a couple of shrimps blanketed in bacon, and a cracker piled with liver pate. To wash this down – a glass of pink champagne. Her father gave it to her. To calm her nerves.
What you noticed as the bride stood in the doorway was not her dress, but her face. White. For what was coming down the aisle was a living grenade with the pin pulled out.
The bride threw up. Just as she walked by her mother.
And by “threw up,” I don’t mean a polite ladylike urp into her handkerchief. She puked. There’s just no nice word for it. I mean, she hosed the front of the chancel – hitting two bridesmaids, the groom, a ring bearer and me...
Only two people were seen smiling. One was the mother of the groom. And the other was the father of the bride.
Fulghum explains how they pulled themselves together for a much quieter, gentler ceremony in the reception hall. People still cried like you’re supposed to at weddings. The groom held his bride in his arms for the entire ceremony and his kiss was one of heart wrenching tenderness.
But the best part of the story is that 10 years later they had another party to celebrate the disaster complete with video footage of the first celebration. Interestingly, it was all planned and coordinated by the MOTB.
Why celebrate such a fiasco? Because in the end the bride still got the groom! Two people in love got married and began a life together! Isn’t that what counts?
Right now you might be in the midst of a disaster. Your life might be filled with pain and disappointment. But know this – there’s a better day coming. Revelation 19:7 says “Let us rejoice... Heaven’s groom is getting a bride.” And we get to live with Him forever. That’s something to celebrate!
Have a great week!
June 14, 2016
Pastor John Ortberg writes that a spiritual mentor once gave him this sage advice for spiritual growth. His friend told him “if you want to be spiritually healthy you must eliminate hurry from your life.” Ortberg goes on to say that he has found his mentor’s words to be true.
Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. Hurry can destroy our souls. Hurry can keep us from living well. As Carl Jung wrote, “Hurry is not of the devil; hurry is the devil.”
I've noticed in my own life that when I get in a hurry stress levels increases. I’m not as kind as I should be. I’m impatient. I’m short-tempered. My wife says I drive aggressively. Hurry is an enemy of spiritual growth.
One of the amazing things about Jesus is that he never seems to be in a hurry. No matter how demanding his schedule he moves at an unhurried pace. He has time to bless children. He has time to heal a woman who touches the hem of his garment. He stops to eat with a tax collector like Zacheus or to heal a blind man on the Jericho road.
In Mark 6 we are told that life for Jesus had become quiet hectic. Mark 6:31 says, “because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat.
Jesus response is not to work harder – instead he says Mark 6-31 “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
The truth is if we are too busy to pray ... too busy to spend time with Jesus, then we are just “too busy”. We need to slow down and as the old gospel song says, “HAVE A LITTLE TALK WITH JESUS.”
If we are going to follow Jesus we need to match our steps with His. He’s not sprinting to his next appointment, and neither should we. Take some time to enjoy the journey. If you want to be spiritually healthy “eliminate hurry from your life.”
Have a great slow week!
A small congregation in the foothills of the Great Smokies built a new sanctuary on a piece of land willed to them by a church member. Ten days before the new church was to open, the local building inspector informed the pastor that the parking lot was inadequate for the size of the building. Until the church doubled the size of the parking lot, they would not be able to use the new sanctuary. Unfortunately, the church with its undersized parking lot had used every inch of their land except for the mountain against which it had been built. In order to build more parking spaces, they would have to move the mountain out of the back yard.
Undaunted, the pastor announced the next Sunday morning that he would meet that evening with all members who had “mountain moving faith”. They would hold a prayer session asking God to remove the mountain from the backyard and to somehow provide enough money to have it paved and painted before the scheduled opening dedication service the following week.
At the appointed time, 24 of the congregation’s 300 members assembled for prayer. They prayed for nearly three hours. At ten o’clock the pastor said the final “Amen”. “We’ll open next Sunday as scheduled, “he assured everyone. “God has never let us down before, and I believe He will be faithful this time too.”
The next morning, as he was working in his study, there came a loud knock at the pastor’s door.
When he called, “Come in,” a rough looking construction foreman appeared, removing his hard hat as he entered.
“Excuse me, Reverend. I’m from Acme Construction Company over in the next county. We’re building a huge new shopping mall over there and we need some fill dirt. Would you be willing to sell us a chunk of that mountain behind the church? We’ll pay you for the dirt we remove and pave all the exposed area free of charge, if we can have it right away. We can’t do anything else until we get the dirt in and allow it to settle properly.”
The little church was dedicated the next Sunday as originally planned and there were far more members with “mountain moving faith” on opening Sunday than there had been the previous week! Jesus says, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20) Do you have a mountain that needs moving? Our God is in the mountain moving business. Why not go to him today with a bold request.
Have a great week!
Tuesday Morning on the Run
Inspirational thoughts from Pastor Barry Lawson