Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Wanted: Busted up and broken believers ... apply through prayer

The first time I bought my own used car I wrecked it on night one. That is correct. Yes, I collaborated with my dad (he paid for the car and I paid him back.) We lived in Tinley Park, Illinois on beautiful 177th St. The car was a 1970 Ford Galaxy. It was a lovely turd brown. It was an ugly Monday night and I got in it to go to the store and then drive to a youth group bible study at my church. That's right. My first trip in my first personally owned car was to church. And I wrecked the car before I could even get there. It was raining and I was not used to the brakes so when a pick-up truck stopped in front of me I slid into his tailgate. It cost my dad $200 to buy him a new one. Me? I was left to pay monthly payments for several years on a car that I never got fixed because my insurance deductable was too high. And do you know what the worst part was? The accident slid the left front quarter panel (the sheet metal part in front of the drivers door that goes all the way to the front of the car) backward about half an inch. That was just enough to make the door and the quarter panel overlap so that everytime I would open my door it sounded as if a shot gun was going off. Everytime I opened the door to get in or out ... I remembered the accident. The mistake. The wreck. I never escaped it until I finally sold the car several years later to a police woman. (Two weeks later the transmission fell out. I drove very carefully when she was on duty.)

Busted stuff has a way of teaching important but painful lessons. I have come to believe that it is supposed to be that way.

It has come to my attention that God gets great delight in allowing that same lesson to be learned by His children. This is going to sound crazy but trust me, it is true. God loves to use busted up and broken people. Actually, He seems to be able to use them much more effectively than He can use trophy Christians who give shining testimonies before large audiences that listen in wonderous awe. I don't have anything against Christian athletes or Christian movie stars or Christian singers or any Christian that has had their years easy and never gotten knocked around by life for insisting on turning the light on in the darkness. I just think they have a handicap. They are all spiffy and shiny. Trophy Christian's are my brothers and sisters. They are (in theory) squeaky clean and great examples of what God can do through a yielded soul. There is just one problem.

I do not trust them.

When the heat gets turned up they just may turn back on you and double cross you. They may shoot at you and say that they are doing it "in Jesus name." You know what I say to that? I'll water my terminology down for family consumption. I say poppycock. Believers in Jesus Christ do not shoot at believers in Jesus Christ. Ever. E-V-E-R. They take the bullet themselves. Who was it that said, "Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." Answer? Jesus. The Son of God said that. So let me just tell you a little secret. If you have drawn a target on a brother or sister in Christ ... shame on you. I do not give a rip what your reasons are. Your are wrong, wrong, wrong. Children of God do what Jesus did. They take the hit themselves and they do not complain about it.

Give me a busted up and broken believer anyday. One who has walked the miles and has the blisters on his feet to prove it. One who has been attacked by the world, ambushed by his "friends," whooped-up on by Satan and come out the other side bloodied, broken and bruised with the scars that tell stories of the battles fought. These are the believers you can count on. They know the sound of the enemies drum beat. They have seen the pointed end of his fiery darts blazing in their direction. They are my sisters and my brothers that have stood in the face of the heat without melting. They are my sisters and my brothers who have invaded the enemy camp in the dead of night just when the enemy was about to claim victory. And when they got to the camp ... they danced. Oh, they danced in pain but the most assuredly did dance. It was a victory dance. And the enemy looked foolish. Because, you see, you cannot stop a busted up and broken believer. He has laid it all on the line before and he is willing to do it again. He has already learned to consider himself "dead" to the goodies of the world. And you just cannot kill a dead man.

It is always nice to have trophy Christian's around. They make great diversions. They give the world and the enemy some body to admire while the scarred warriors slip around their flank and share the good news of freedom behind enemy lines. It is the busted up and broken believers that do damage for (and not TO) the family of God. When God wants to run a major play He doesn't call on the trophies. He calls on the warriors. The trophy Christians get out the book ... no, not "THAT" book ... the book of tradition. It's called the "Programs and Policies To Win The World To Christ" book. "THAT" book ... the bible ... is theory to them. If you take it too literally you will mess up your corporate policy. Your church IS incorporated, isn't it? Good luck winning the world with a corporation strategy. It ain't happening.

So shut up and put your dog tags on. Get in the battle or go polish your trophy stand, crawl up on it and wait for the applause that will surely come. As for me and my house ... get the bandages and first aid kits ready. I'm watching my kids and I'm watching my wife and they are living behind enemy lines. King Jesus has issued some of us orders. It is official that Scott is a permanent "on staff" fixture at Willow Creek now. (He may hang me for writing that here. But dad's have a right to be proud of their kids and I am. Not so much because of where he's serving but simply because he is serving.) Christopher leaves in less than a month for another long and hot summer on staff at Centrifuge. (He is my Mega-Relay hero. And I have reason to believe that kids will get saved through his leadership this summer. His dad ... me ... always dreamed of working at 'Fuge and he is doing it.) Kelli and Joe are both still on the front lines of serving in West County at a large, Christ honoring church. They amaze me with their passion!) I cannot wait to see all of them fight the good fight. All three of my kids are living out my dreams ... doing great damage to the enemies efforts on planet earth. And while that only leaves two of us we will be back in the game soon. Got a few cuts and bruises that are still healing. But it won't be long. I hear the drumbeat in the enemy camp. My blood begins to stir. And I can't wait ... as John Wesley said, "Some people want to live within the sound of chapel bells, but I want to run a mission a yard from the gates of hell."

Been there before. It's familiar territory. Getting ready to go again. You have not fully served until you have gotten close enough to the gates to smell the sulfar ...