Saturday, July 07, 2012

God Can See Us Through (from the Cutting Room Floor)

From this preacher's "cutting room," a paragraph that didn't make it into tomorrow's sermon on 2 Corinthians 12:2-10:
One of my favorite incidents in the Bible is that involving Gideon, a simple farmer God called to lead His people, Israel, in war against a people called the Midianites who were harassing Israel. 
Gideon had no experience as a soldier. But God called Gideon anyway. 
Then, God told Gideon to recruit an army. He did, a force of 32,000 meant to go up against Midianites 135,000 experienced fighting men. 
But look at what God tells Gideon to do next in Judges 7
In verse 2, God tells Gideon that he has too many soldiers. Gideon needs to demobilize his forces. 
In verse 3, God orders Gideon to say that whoever is afraid of going into battle (who wouldn't be?) should go back where it’s safe, to Mount Gilead. That left 22,000 troops. 
But then God says, that’s still too many to fight the 135,000 Midianites. So, God creates a strange test, detailed in verses 5 and 6, whittling Gideon’s force down to 300 men! 
Look at what God says in verse 7: “By the three hundred...I will save you, and deliver the Midianites into your hand. Let all the other people go, every man to their place.” 
Gideon and the people of Israel learned what Paul learned some 1200 years later, when God didn’t take away his "thorn in the flesh," a suffering that did not go away: Our power is finite and impotent; but God’s grace is always sufficient. God can see us through no matter what the circumstances of our lives!

Hot Kindness Outreach Fun!

Eleven Saint Matthew folks turned out today to give away 200 bottles of water to thirsty drivers and passengers for this week's Kindness Outreach.

Thanks to each one of them!

It was funny: As hot as it is today (we're at 93 degrees as I write this), a higher number of people than usual seemed to refuse the water today. The hot weather can make us all cranky, of course. It apparently can even cause sweaty people to turn down free cold water!

On the other hand, those who took our free gift were more enthusiastic in expressing their thanks than usually seems to be the case!

As I handed the free water to one man, he couldn't believe it. "Are you serious? This is great! Thanks a million!"

One woman, driving alone, told me, "We don't usually don't let water in the car. But I'll make an exception today. Thanks!"

Initially, one man, whose little girl was riding in her seat in the back of their vehicle, refused our offer. But a few moments later, he honked and lowered the front passenger window. "Did you have a change of heart?" I asked. Pointing to his little girl, he said with a smile, "She did." As I handed both of them bottles of water, he said, "Thanks!"

Sheila, a member of our Saint Matthew congregation, reported that one person said that she would just take the card and we could keep the water. Sheila gave the water to her anyway.

Despite the heat, we had fun sharing the love of Jesus Christ through this simple act of service to our neighbors.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

We Have Power

A few hours shy of six full days since the power outage began for us, power was restored to our home. At the time, we were with friends in Cincinnati celebrating the Fourth of July. There are still people here in our community and in other places without power and I'm keeping them in my prayers tonight. I'm also saying prayers of thanks for the utility workers who are working 16-hour shifts to restore power to a huge area that, just one week ago, was hit with hurricane-force winds.

Of the southern Ohio communities through which we traveled today, Wellston seemed to have been particularly hard-hit. Utility poles were pulled out by the winds and a portion of the downtown area was closed to traffic.

Keep all those hit by last week's storm in your prayers.

Please also pray for the Ohio farmers and farmers in other states facing this summer's drought.