Three things you probably never thought you'd see in the same sentence would be "Dying Motors, Red Flags and Ever Dirtying Kitchen Sinks".
And ten years ago you'd probably never have thought of Andy Berry, DingDash and Devotional Treasures in the same sentence either. But, God has a wonderful sense of purpose, and humour. And these three things led to this post.
My name is Andy Berry and, with my family we run www.berrybunch.family. And part of what my wife and I have frequently done is bring things that don't necessarily fit together, to help tell a story. It's our bread and butter - crowbarring unlikely situations and objects - into messages - to inspire and challenge us all to become more like Jesus Christ.
Perhaps this partly was inspired by wielding a 7 foot steel crowbar, as my first post-school job, drilling outlet pipes for methane into an Edinburgh domestic waste landfill site! Also, by being children's ministers for a long time and needing to think on your feet!
I'm also a full-time stay at home dad to three boys; we're blessed that they all love Jesus - and chose to do so when they each turned 4. Except Peter...He was still 3 years old!
But whether or not we all love Jesus, mess happens; life happens and motors eventually die.
We simply can not prevent the endless pull of moving towards or away from God. It is life and, much like the effects of the moon on the tides, it is something to embrace and use to our advantage because we can not prevent it happening.
On Monday two motors died in our home. One was the motor to our hoover, and the other was the motor for our 3 year old washing machine: Dyson hoover motors are pretty cheap...washing machine motors are not! Roll on nearly a week and we have a new washing machine and a working Dyson hoover.
One I fixed, one we replaced.
But, much like our faith journeys, we always want to rush to the end, or make assumptions about the order for something to happen, or timing...fitting a replacement filter, before fitting the motor, might have made sense in my head. But it also destroyed the filter I'd just replaced, when parts of the old motor left their casing and embedded themselves into the filter and surrounding bits of plastic...where they melted into place! I'd checked it was definitely broken.....not really sensible to fit the new filter first to find out...
With a little help from YouTube, I found a part and replaced the Dyson motor. 30 minutes of my time.
The washing machine motor with fitting, however, was more than the cost of a new washing machine. That was definitely outside of my skill levels!
Sometimes we can fix what is going wrong, sometimes we can't. But either way, we have a God who cares about details, and our particular need to clean our clothes and carpets!
And in our walks with Jesus Christ, sometimes He will take something of who we are and replace it with His far superior, God-standard-motor, perhaps even a brushless one - so we can find the energy we need, with minimum resistance to what He has called us to do, confident that when 'God guides, He provides'...just not necessarily in our timing or preferred method of delivery!!
Isaiah 40:30-31 (English Standard Version) Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
And sometimes, He'll look and skilfully (He is the master Craftsman after all) take something we thought of as a terrible part of our character - much like we see with Kintsugi pots from Japan - and adapt it with the hands of The Skilful Potter to make it into something even more beautiful and valuable.
Something broken and replaced.
Something broken and repaired.
Much like our Dyson (which is now pulling more dust than I consider possible) and much like the redeeming blood of Jesus Christ; renewing what was beyond use because He has a better handle on what is valuable, or not.
We were out and about a while ago, and came across a number of red flags. Partly due to a good friend being a range warden on the other side of those red flags, and partly because we'd prefer to not speed our journey to heaven, we stayed on the correct side of those flags having taken the time to learn about them before we got near them!
Because those particular flags created the boundary for a dangerous area - one where the Army fire live ammunition!
But how often do we see red flags and choose to ignore them? Perhaps skipping church because we can't be bothered. Perhaps skipping reading our bible or praying because there are better things to be doing.
Or perhaps we lean the other way - instead of doing something we just pray about it, or talk about praying about it...and pray some more, until, hopefully, said problem has resolved itself. Having been in full-time ministry, urging people to move past 'let's pray about it' to 'doing something' can be tough, even if that need is the person standing in front of you asking for something to drink...or needing money, or food...........
But when I see who Jesus was, He was definitely a 'roll His sleeves up kind of man'. That's a part of Him I do get.
Red Flags can be important, and we should usually obey them - much like bleeding gums, or the gut wrenching fear we have when we are at the zoo and hear the roar of a Lion from close quarters.
But, there is a tiny piece of scripture, that most people have never read, about an amazing chap called Benaiah which turns red flags as warnings, on their head.
2 Samuel 23:20 (New Living Translation) There was also Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant warrior from Kabzeel. He did many heroic deeds, which included killing two champions of Moab. Another time, on a snowy day, he chased a lion down into a pit and killed it.
This is a man who had red flags popping up everywhere but, just like for the military on the other side of those red flags my family encountered, while red flags denote danger, for some they denote opportunity and training!
Jesus was a man who ignored red flags, and so was Benaiah, who went on to do another act of biblically recorded bravery which was beyond ridiculous at a human level, and eventually became King David's bodyguard - a rather useful addition to his CV, no doubt, would be going out of his way to chase a lion, into a pit, on a snowy day, and kill it.
I wonder what lions God is asking you to chase down in to snowy pits - cheering you on, and urging you to ignore the red flags you're seeing, because these are red flags denoting opportunity for God's Kingdom...Corrie Ten Boom, Wilberforce, Brother Andrew - all saw red flags too, and ignored them.
Maybe I'll share one of our accounts of chasing a lion next time.
And, by the way, Mark Batterson wrote a whole book on that little verse from 2 Samuel...and I can certainly recommend that as an exciting read of God at work through people today! We were actually given a copy by a ministry friend who said we should have been used as one of the examples of lion chasers in the book. To be honest, we were just making tiny shuffles forwards, while trying not to scream at what was in front of us! I wonder if Benaiah was screaming that day too, in that snowy pit with that lion...
Ever Dirtying Kitchen Sinks
Our three boys are brilliant at cleaning. They don't leave mess everywhere, they cook meals from scratch and clean the house with us. Jo, my wife, is good at this too! They're both sons and brothers-in-Christ. But no matter what we do, our kitchen sink seems to be ever dirtying: it never stays clean!
I spent a good 10 minutes scrubbing it clean one morning, only to come back by lunchtime to see it was in a worse state than before I'd started cleaning it just hours earlier. But, how we choose to view situations, will determine what we are willing to do with them.
Because our kitchen is tiny, and so is the dishwasher. With 5 people, dirty dishes build up quickly, and that little space - the kitchen sink surface - is the only place to put things while they await the dishwasher.
It's always getting dirty, but a little effort gets it back to scratch again. And this is us isn't it! We get cleaned up by God. We get busy. Sin builds up. And we wonder how it happened - needing God to do His work again with us, to clean us up, brush the dust off and put us on the path He put us on, just seconds earlier 'before we decided we could take it from there'.
Perhaps a film we shouldn't have watched. Perhaps some gossip we should have challenged rather than eagerly listened to. Perhaps walking past the homeless guy because we had to get where we were going before the car park charge clicked on for another hour. Perhaps speeding to church so we wouldn't be late?!? Just me? No?
God is always willing to clean us up.
Sometimes we need a motor replacing, or perhaps just a bit of attention.
Sometimes we need to just get clean again and be grateful God doesn't keep score once we've come to Him to put ourselves right with Him.
Alan asked me to include a song in this guest post.
And as somebody who has been involved in musical worship in churches since he was 10 (34 years ago) this always makes me a little nervous. Like leading worship in a new church for the first time, you never know what people will know, or like, or dislike intensely. Music is such a personal thing, and I've moved from hymns with old English, to the most contemporary of worship music throughout the past 34 years. I'm also a children's worship leader, so love simpler songs too.
So I offer you this from a band called Skillet. This one makes me cry every. single. time.
John Cooper, the lead singer of Skillet, is a godly brother I have a lot of respect for too in his sphere of influence.
If you want mellow, Chris Tomlin may well be your man. But if you're about to chase a lion down into a snowy pit to kill it, Skillet might prove rather helpful too!
So I present for you a song by John and Korey Cooper with "Never Surrender".
And let that motto be ours too - let us Never Surrender to Ever Dirtying Kitchen Sinks (which demonstrates life in our home), Red Flags (especially if God is on the other side beckoning us in, let's raise a shout and run towards Him) or Dying Motors (God may well want to upgrade something in us, or simply replace something that really isn't working as well as we thought it was).
Yours in Him
Written by Andy B