Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Signs, Signs, Everywhere there's Signs

One of the really neat aspects of ministry at Woodward Park is our Deaf Ministry. We have three wonderful ladies (Cindy, Jamie and Myrna) who interpret all of our assemblies for the deaf. Additionally, a deaf class is offered on Sundays and Wednesdays and on Tuesdays as a part of our Prime Time Tuesday.
Yesterday, Mandy, Trae and I took our first class to learn ASL (American Sign Language). Our teacher is one of the deaf members at Woodward Park, Judy Eberwein. To help us immerse ourselves into ASL, we attended the deaf class on Tuesday night, taught by Lee Dial from the Hanford church. Lee is a dynamo signer and is unparalleled in his expressiveness while signing.

We are excited about learning ASL and I am especially excited about reaching a point of proficiency in order to incorporate ASL into my ministry. We (Mandy and I) are also thrilled that Trae is so excited about learning ASL in the hopes it will provide an avenue of service for her as she grows.
Alright, I'm coming clean.
The worst kept secret at last night's Prime Time dinner was the fact that I received a traffic citation on Tuesday morning from a Fresno cop.
My crime?
Failing to use my turn signal at a four-way stop when no other cars were stopped at the intersection.
I pleaded my case before the no avail. "Do you guys not give warnings?" I asked.
"No sir, we don't."
Something tells me the city of Fresno is suffering a revenue shortage.
Something else tells me this story will be told again during my Sunday evening sermon series on Paul's letter to the Galatians.
Dealing with the traffic citation yesterday reminded me of something my friend, Gregg Worthey, once pointed out to me. While preaching in Selmer, Tennessee, Gregg often made the trek back home across the Tennessee-Mississippi state line to his hometown of Amory, Mississippi. During his travels, Gregg noticed a stark difference in the way Tennessee and Mississippi portrayed their seat belt laws on signs near the state line.
The Mississippi sign declared, "Buckle Up! It's the LAW!"
The Tennessee sign implored, "Buckle Up because Tennessee cares."
Do you sense the difference between the two signs admonishing the same aim? Whereas Mississippi's sign boldly declared their law for the driver and his/her passengers, Tennessee gently urged the same appeal with a spirit of goodwill and grace.
Throughout Galatians, Paul draws a similar distinction between "those who have faith" (The Tennessee approach, see Galatians 3.9) and "those who rely on observing the law" (The Mississippi approach, see Galatians 3.10). Those who have faith are blessed the same way Abraham was blessed -- on the basis of faith. Those who rely on observing the law are, in the words of Paul reaching back to the very foundation of the Old Covenant, under a curse.
As I admonished the Woodward Park family last Sunday night, let's never settle for second fiddle (the Mississippi approach -- the law that brings cursing) when first chair is available (the Tennessee approach -- the faith that brings blessing).