The Gospel and Cheers

gospel

(After some misunderstandings I’ve found I need to say “please read it this to the end. It’s not about how a bar is as good as a church”)
Life can be mighty tough and sometimes it takes all we’ve got just to make it through the day. Sometimes we just want to get away from our worries – you know, go somewhere to be with friends, be where they’re glad to see you and be where everybody knows your name.

You can do that by going to church…or going to the bar down the street. I’m sure many of you recognized the paraphrase above of the Cheers TV show theme song from years ago. Cheers was the bar down the street. “You want to be where you can see, the troubles are all the same, you want to be where everybody knows your name.”

I’m reading the book “The Gospel Driven Church” by Jared Wilson. At one point he             emphasizes a statement by James Gilmore – “The only thing of value the church has to offer is the Gospel.”

When I read that, I felt like telling Mr. Gilmore that the church can also offer, in fact we’re told in the Bible to offer, love for one another, bearing one another’s burdens, laughing and crying together. Then the Cheers theme song started running through my head. And I imagined Mr.        Gilmore agreeing that the people in the church can, and should, provide love, and fellowship and support for each other, but without the Gospel to go with it, those actions might as well be found at a bar down the street, or in a bowling league, or the Kiwanis club – take your pick.

So, as we strive to love one another, laugh and cry together, and bear one another’s burdens, let’s make sure we remember the main reason the church is here – to proclaim the Gospel (the Good News) that Jesus Christ came to earth as a man and died and rose again to save His people from their sins.

“And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.”  Matthew 1:21

 

The Spirit in the Car Wash

car wash

(Written last Spring)
I had never been inside a drive-through car wash (outside the vehicle) until yesterday. With all the  pollen on the truck, I decided to stop by Enmark and get a wash during my usual Friday afternoon grocery run. There were several vehicles in line so I pulled in to wait.
After a minute, the door of the car ahead of me opened and an elderly woman got out and slowly walked toward me. I rolled down the window and in a strong Indian accent she haltingly said she had never been through a car wash before, didn’t know what to do, and was scared. I told her not to be scared and said I’d walk up to the machine and get her started. When we got there, I saw the taped-on sign saying the machine couldn’t take payments so you had to go to the kiosk to get a ticket.
So, after a bit of cajoling and explanation, I convinced her to drive through the car wash (“yes, without a ticket, and without getting a wash this round”) and go to the cashier and get a ticket. I needed gas, so I went to a pump and paid for the car wash with the gas, but got the notice to “see cashier for receipt”.
I went over and told the cashier I needed my receipt. The lady was still standing by her car by the kiosk so I asked the cashier to get her a car wash. The lady handed me her credit card, so I bought the wash, gave her the ticket and told her to go back to the car wash and I’d be right there. As I walked toward my truck, I saw I had the wrong receipt so went back to the cashier. She couldn’t find mine in the system, so I asked her to look while I hurried to help the lady, who by this time was parked at the machine by the car wash.
I entered her code and thought I explained OK to go forward until the green light turned red. But, she continued slowly through as the light turned red and then back to green. So, I walked in the car wash and after several times of her backing up and creeping forward, got her stopped at the right position and the car wash started. I waved as I quickly headed out to avoid getting soaked. I went back and got my receipt (the cashier had found it by then), got my truck and got back in line. I realized the lady hadn’t come out, so, I walked in the car wash again and told her it was finished and it was OK to leave. She waved, thanked me and headed out.
The incident was funny in some ways, but not really in the important ones. I wrote this because just before it happened, I was stuck in a drive through lane at a bank across the street getting aggravated and impatient (mostly     calling myself stupid for not paying attention and going to a bank at lunch time on a Friday afternoon.) And, once you’re in the line, especially if a car pulls up behind you, you are stuck.
I was still grumbling at myself as I pulled in the car wash line. But, thankfully, when the lady got out of her car, God’s Holy Spirit took over. C. H. Spurgeon once wrote of the Holy Spirit, that “There is no spiritual good in all the world of which He is not the author and sustainer.” I’d have to say Amen to that, Brother Spurgeon!

 

Four Things I Discovered in a Year of Blogging

Sunflower and Butterfly Bush

Since I’m approaching the one year anniversary of my blog, and this month’s theme for the ChristianWriters.com blogchain is “Discovery”, I’m taking the opportunity to note a few things I’ve discovered along the way. They’re in no particular order, and presented as relating to life, not just blogging.

One blogging tip often given is to include a photograph. Over time, I noticed that blogs with photos do tend to get your attention quickly. Although I don’t think I have a special talent, I adopted the advice. When I did, I discovered I paid more attention to the intricacies and wonders of God’s creation. So, don’t just follow the cliche and stop and smell the roses:

1. We should stop and view the world around us as if looking for a great photograph that says: “Look what our God created and blessed me with!”

 “Views” are good – meaning someone at least stopped by your blog – but, you don’t know if they read it or just moved on. “Likes” are better and actually pretty neat. I take all that I get (naively, for a few I realize) as meaning someone did read the post, liked it and took the time to click the button.

But, I’ve discovered that the best of all are the real (non-spam) comments. The commenter read the post and thought about it enough to reply with an additional aspect, a word of thanks or a question. It also means they opened themselves up to possibly get a reply back – ie: open communication.

2. We build relationships by communicating. We should take the time and effort to do just that – with others around us and with God – that’s the best of all.

Some blogs have thousands of followers, and get thousands of “likes”. I’m nowhere near that level. At times, the low numbers of views, likes and comments can be discouraging and make me wonder if it’s worth it. Then, I get a comment to the effect of “Thank you, Bill. That’s just what I needed to read today”. And, then I can thank God, and rediscover that He has a purpose for me, and that day it was to write those specific words.

3. We should look for opportunities God gives us to write or say just the right words for someone each day. And, on the other side, when someone writes or says the right words for us, we need to let them know and encourage them.

4. In most things in life, especially relationships, it’s not how much or how many, but how deep.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. Psalms 19:14 ESV

Please check out the other “discovery” blogs on the appropriate dates in the list on the right.