Stand Still and Watch

by Kevin Litchfield

Lord impressed me to share 2 Chronicles 20 with you. King Jehoshaphat is facing an impossible challenge. As he prays, he says these words at the end of his prayer:

“We are powerless against this mighty army (your situation). We do not know what to do, but we are looking top you, Lord for help.

Later this was the Lords reply… DO NOT BE AFRAID! DO NOT BE DISCOURAGED BY THIS MIGHTY ARMY (your challenge), FOR THE BATTLE IS NOT YOURS, BUT GOD’S.

YOU WILL NOT EVEN NEED TO FIGHT. TAKE YOUR POSITIONS; THEN STAND STILL AND WATCH THE LORD’S VICTORY. HE IS WITH YOU.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible No Good, Very Bad Sunday…

With Apologies to Judith Viorst:

 I woke this morning with an empty feeling in my stomach and my head hurting.  I tripped over my shoes in the middle of the floor and couldn’t find my toothpaste so I had to brush my teeth with baking soda.  I got in the shower, and just when I got shampoo in my hair, the hot water cut off.  I hate cold showers.  I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad Sunday.

I went by Starbucks on my way to church.  The drive-through line was long, but I waited anyway.  I ordered a caramel latte with whipped cream.  I got an iced mocha frappuccino.  I hate iced mocha frappuccino.  It was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad Sunday.

I pulled into the church parking lot and looked for a space.  All the good spaces by the door were gone.  There were guest parking spaces, but there were also people there hanging out like vultures.  I hate vultures.  So I pulled around back and found an empty piece of grass.  I hate parking on grass.  It was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad Sunday.

I went to the nearest door.  It was locked.    I went to another door.  It was locked, too.  I hate locked doors. The third door was open.  When I went in, I didn’t know where I was.  I looked for a sign.  All l saw was a poster encouraging me to “Win a Million More in ’54.”  It was old.  Something smelled bad.  I hate things that smell bad.  It was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad Sunday.

A man walked by in a hurry.  I hurried after him, asking, “Where is the worship service?”  He gave me a dirty look.  I hate dirty looks.  He said, “It’s that way.”  I wasn’t sure which way he pointed, so I just followed him.  He went through a door marked “Men.”  I found what smelled bad.  It was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad Sunday.

I heard music.  I followed the sound.  I found a door with light shining under it.  The music was on the other side of the door.  I opened the door and walked in – right in front of the congregation.  Everyone stared at me.  I hate being stared at.  I tried to duck into the first pew I saw.  Someone tapped me on the shoulder and pointed.  I turned and saw the sign “Reserved.”  I hate reserved seats.  It was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad Sunday.

I moved to another pew.  The music leader talked on and on and on about the next song we were going to sing.  I hate music leaders who talk instead of sing.  Finally, we started to sing.  Then he paused and said, “If you love Jesus, raise your hands high.”  I hate raising my hands. I’ll bet they don’t make you raise your hands if you love Jesus in Australia.  It was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad Sunday.

We were told to greet our neighbors.  I turned around only to find everyone behind me had turned around and were laughing and talking with the people sitting behind them. I stood there like a dummy.  I hate standing like a dummy.  Then a man told us to sit down.  He told us about a trip, a meeting, and something called “Women’s Auxiliary.”  It sounded like a place you keep spare women.  I was bored. I hate being bored.  It was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad Sunday.

The preacher got up.  He told us about his burden.  He told us how he had asked God to not make him deliver this message.  Then he started to yell.  He yelled for 45 minutes.  I hate being yelled at.  He kept telling us to “repent”, but he never told us what it meant to repent.  I hate it when I don’t know what things mean.  It was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad Sunday.

Then came the offering.  The usher came and stood by me with a plate.  I didn’t have any cash so I shrugged my shoulders.  He gave me a dirty look.  I hate dirty looks.  I’ll bet they don’t take up offerings in Australia.  It was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad Sunday.

The service ended.  I waited for someone to say something to me.  No one did.  I waited a little longer.  I saw my neighbors from across the street.  I thought they would come over and say they were glad to see me.  They ignored me.  I hate being ignored.  It was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad Sunday.

I found my way back to the smelly bathroom and out the back door.  I drove off.  It had been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad Sunday.

I thought church was supposed to be about “Good News?”

I sure could use some.  I don’t want any more terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days.  I especially don’t want any more terrible, horrible, no good, very bad Sundays.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Squash Die.. by Pastor Clay Smith

In a fit of confidence, I set out tomatoes and squash this year.  My tomatoes have done great.  Nothing like home-grown tomatoes.

My squash, however, died.  I got two squash off four plants.  Not a good return on investment.

Most gardeners I know grow boat loads of squash.  In one community where we lived, bags of squash and zucchini would appear on our door step over night.  People weren’t being kind.  They just wanted to get rid of the stuff.  Zucchini bread multiplied.  I seriously thought we could add a room onto the house if we got just a few more loaves of zucchini bread.

If the stuff is so easy to grow, why did mine die?  I watered the plants.  I made sure they got fertilizer.  I did everything I needed to do.  Right?

There is a disease called “bacterial wilt.”  A cucumber caterpillar feeds on the plants and injects a bacteria which causes wilt.  Once wilt starts, nothing can be done.

The best way to fight bacteria wilt is to never let it start.  You get rid of the cucumber caterpillar.  I should have sprayed to kill it.  But I didn’t.  Being a lazy gardener, I thought maybe the cucumber caterpillars would leave me alone.  Maybe God would understand I was a busy pastor and didn’t have time to spray.  My excuses didn’t matter.  The squash still died.

Your soul can wilt too.

There is an infection that can wilt your ability to make decisions.  It can weaken your thoughts; it can destroy your feelings.  This infection can incapacitate your body.  It can ruin relationships.

The scripture calls this infection “sin.”  Before you dismiss the idea of sin as being old-fashioned, haven’t you seen its realities?  Haven’t you seen people with wilted souls?

The hard truth: you have wilted soul.  How do I know?  Because we’ve all invited sin into our lives.  We’ve all known the right thing to do and done the wrong thing.  Those choices – thousands of them – wilt our souls.

When souls wilt, people protest they fed their souls with art, pleasure, and intellectual stimulation.  Church people, bewildered, protest they fed their souls by going to church, studying scripture, and praying.  Protesting doesn’t change reality.

Your soul can wilt until you are left with a dried up life.  A dried up life produces no fruit.  A dried up life just takes up space.

Unlike my squash plants, there is hope for our wilted souls.  Our hope is the power of Jesus.

Jesus’ death and resurrection does not merely mean we go to heaven.  He entered our world.  He died to defeat the sin that infects us.  His resurrection means he conquered everything that wilts our souls.

Inviting Jesus into our souls brings healing.  He drives out the infection of sin.  He strengthens our weakness.  He rights our skewed feelings and thoughts.  He puts our relationships on a firm foundation.  That’s what the line in the old hymn means: “He makes the sinner whole…”

Let Jesus not only forgive your sin, but heal your wilted soul.  Then prepare to be amazed at the fruit that grows from your life.

If only Jesus would heal my squash.

 

Grace,

Clay