Tuesday, June 4, 2002

God's View of You

by Blake Cromwell

Everyone is loved and valued by Father God. This is a bold statement when you consider how bad you and I can act at times. Yet, the Bible says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son.”

There is a word in the Bible that declares God’s love for man. It is the word, “Beloved.” It literally means, “One who is worthy of attention and affection.” It describes the visionary eyes of God that see the potential in every person. He sees what He can make out of the raw material of our lives if we only surrender to His will.

Not too long ago, we were throwing out old office equipment and furniture here at the church. One of the items marked for disposal was an old rickety desk with a formaica top. One of the pastors on staff began to rave about how nice the old desk was, and how it was a rare find. All I saw was an old desk, but he saw something I couldn’t see. He saw potential in what I saw as a problem.

I have to confess that I had a hard time envisioning the desk in any other state then what it was. I don’t do yard sales, go junk shopping, or buy un-restored items. In art classes I tend to stare at the blank sheet of paper and see a blank sheet of paper. In pottery class all I saw was a lump of clay while others saw pieces of art.

One of my favorite stories is about a married couple out one day for a drive. Suddenly, the husband spots a 57 Ford T-Bird sitting behind an old barn. He tracks the owner down and offers a sum of money so large his wife thinks he has lost his mind. What she sees is an old car with peeling paint, no tires, dented doors, no fenders, and broken windows that have allowed rain to ruin the inside of the vehicle. Before she can protest the two men are shaking hands and the deal has been made.

The husband hauls the wrecked and rusted car to the clean garage of their home. His wife is so frustrated, she refuses to visit the garage at all. Meanwhile, he disappears into the garage every evening like clockwork. Finally, he walks in and announces he has finished the car. She tells him, “Good, now I can have my garage back and you can get our money back!” He smiles and invites her to come and see.

As he opens the garage doors and the light shines on the new paint she is speechless at its beauty. He invites her to be the first one to drive it. She sinks down into the refinished bucket seat, places the car in reverse and takes it for a spin. She falls so deeply in love with the classic, her husband seldom gets to drive the car.

What is wonderful about this story is that the husband saw the potential of the car when no one else could. He had visionary eyes that saw beyond the rusted hulk of metal.

Many times I have felt like an old car that has been wrecked and had turned down the wrong streets. My failures threaten to paralyze me until I remember that God loves me and looks at me with visionary eyes. He calls me “beloved” and finds me worthy of attention and affection.

Last week I saw that old desk that had been rescued from a trip to the dump and barely recognized it. It had been so transformed into a thing of beauty that I offered to buy it back. The pastor wouldn’t hear of it, he loves the desk too much to let it go. He is one of those rare individuals who sees with visionary eyes.

This week in the churches in the Kings County there are Pastors who long to tell you how Beloved you are to God and how He can take your life and transform it into His masterpiece.

Sunday, June 2, 2002

Keeping What's Yours

by Blake Cromwell

It is distressing to constantly hear that we are still losing the war against drugs, especially among our children. Reports indicate that, as a nation, we have suffered a severe setback in recent years. What progress we made in the 90s now seems to be lost.

It seems the moral landslide is all around us — higher divorce, children being abused, gambling addictions, teen suicide, are only a few of the signs of decay. In the 50s the main reasons high school students reported to the principal’s office were for talking back to the teacher or not throwing trash in the waste basket.

We have much ground to recover, and losing ground once in our possession is always discouraging. But it is far from unusual.

The Old Testament recounts an occasion when David and his warriors returned from battle to find that while they were away, another enemy had invaded their unguarded camp and made off with everything —wives, children, and livestock.

Understandably distraught over their great loss, David prayed and God said He would help. But David and his men would be required to fight for the return of their loved ones. Ultimately, the enemy, and all of David’s possessions were located. A battle ensued that lasted all day and all night. When it was over, the people of God were completely victorious.

I like that story. Satan has come to rob, kill and destroy, but it is always encouraging to see how God comes to the rescue for His people.

But there is also a certain sadness to the story. After all, did David really gain anything? In real terms, we would have to say “no.” Yes, he and his men got their wives, children and possessions back. But think of all the energy expended to simply get back what was already theirs. All because they failed to protect that which was already theirs while they focused on other conquests.

We now face the same dilemma with the war on drugs. Having made progress, suddenly we have lost ground, and will now as a country presume to spend substantial energy and money to recover our recent losses.

In all of this, though, there is a good life lesson.

Think of someone you know (it may be yourself) who lost his or her health because they wouldn’t pay attention to good nutrition or who smoked or damaged themselves with alcohol or drugs. Now they must endure pain and costly medical payments while attempting to recover the good health they once had.

Or think of the good child that goes bad because of neglect. Certainly he can make a turn around, but it usually takes a lot of tears and major sacrifices to return him to the place he once was.

You may recall an old FRAM Filter commercial that demonstrated the costly affects of an abused engine. The spokesperson reminded us, “You can pay a little now, or a lot later.”

This is that way it is with the spiritual training of our children. Isn’t it easier to take them to Sunday school now, than visit them in jail later? Isn’t it easier to read the Bible with your children now, than reading the 12 Steps to alcohol and drug recovery with them later? Isn’t it easier to pray with them now, than to have to pray for their return after they’ve run away?

Think about it. Regaining lost ground takes more energy and work then a little preventative maintenance. The Pastors in the Kings County would love to see you in church this weekend and help you to hold onto what you already have.