Last night, I received an autographed copy of No Middle Ground: The Church in a Compromising Position. The book is written by Woodward Park member Gary Villamor.
After a cursory glance last night, I can tell I'm going to be blessed by Gary's writing. He hits on some key themes -- the balance of grace and truth, the need to develop disciples -- that are central in my ministry.
In the days ahead, as I work my way through Gary's book, I'll be sharing insights with you. In the meantime, I encourage you to grab a copy for yourself. I know you will be blessed by doing so.
A few years ago a group of salesmen went to a regional sales convention in Chicago. They has assured their wives that they would be home in plenty of time for Friday night's dinner. In their rush, with tickets and briefcases, one of these salesmen inadvertently kicked over a table which held a display of apples.
Apples flew everywhere.
Without stopping or looking back, they all managed to reach the plane in time for their nearly missed boarding. All but one. He paused, took a deep breath, and experienced a twinge of compassion for the girl whose apple stand had been overturned. He told his buddies to go on without him, waved good-bye, and asked one of his friends to call his wife when they arrived at their home destination and explain to her why he was taking a later flight.
He returned to the terminal and the place of the overturned apple stand to find apples littering the terminal floor. And once there, he was incredibly glad he'd chosen to return.
The 16 year-old girl who operated the apple stand was totally blind. She was softly crying, tears running down her cheeks in frustration, while at the same time helplessly groping for her spilled produce as the crowd swirled about her. The salesman knelt to the floor with her, gathered up the apples, put them back on the table and helped reorganize her display. As he helped, he noticed that many of the apples had become battered and bruised; these he set aside in another basket.
When he had finished, he pulled out his wallet and said to the girl, "Here, please take this $40 for the damage we did. Are you okay?"
She nodded through her tears. He continued, "I hope we didn't spoil your day too badly."
As the saleman started to walk away, the bewildered blind girl called out to him, "Mister..." He paused and turned to look back into those blind eyes.
She continued, "Are you Jesus?"
Her question stopped him in mid-stride and stayed with him, burning and bouncing around in his soul, throughout the remainder of his journey home.
Do people mistake you for Jesus? That is our destiny: to be so much like Jesus that people cannot tell the difference as we live and interact with a world that is blind to his love, life and grace. If we claim to know him, we should live, walk and act as he would.
Knowing him is more than simply quoting Scripture and going to church. It's actually living the Word as life unfolds day-to-day.
You are the apple of his eye even though we, too, have been bruised by a fall. He stopped what he was doing and picked us up on a hill called Calvary and paid in full for our damage.
Let us live today like we are worth the price he paid.