God has a way of molding our lives
Not so with the Lake Gibson Church I attend in Lakeland, Fla. Since Dr. Charles Kirby arrived 14 years ago to a small group of a divided church, this church continues to bring in the finest southern gospel singers and dynamic spirit filled preaching.
And the evangelist? He is a United Methodist pastor from Birmingham, Ala., a church of 1,200 members. His name: Dr. Kip Laxson, and could he preach! Without notes, in his rapid fire presentation, he preached about the message of Pentecost, following the resurrection of our Lord. The centrality of his message was how God comes to us refining us, preparing us for living our lives for Christ.
To those of you who know the story, "When the day was fully come ... suddenly a sound from heaven came like a mighty rushing wind ... and cloven tongues like as of fire, sat upon each of them, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:2,3 King James Version)
Space limits sharing the entire message, but what stood out to me was a parable he read by a retired minister in Texas. It goes like this: Once upon a time there was a piece of iron. Very strong and hard. Many were the attempts to break it, but all failed."
1. The Axe: "I'll master it"... and his blows fell heavily upon the piece of iron, but every blow made the axe's edge more blunt ... 'til it gave up in frustration.
2. The Saw: Leave it to me ... and it worked back and forth on the iron's surface until its jagged teeth were all worn and broken. In despair, the saw quit trying."
3. The Hammer: "Ah, I knew you could do it! I'll show you! At first blow, off flew the head and the piece of iron remained just as before, proud, hard and unchanged."
4. The Small Flame: "Forget it -- you have no strength! But the small flame curled around the iron, embraced it, and never left it until it melted!"
What a message from Pentecost. We need to learn that God's ways are not our ways. You've tried so hard to change your home of conflict into a loving family, straighten out that prodigal son or daughter.
If only we could understand that pounding, hammering, punishing with hateful words, just doesn't work to change behavior.
Maybe the message of Jesus of "loving and I have loved you" can be the soft flame of healing relationships in our homes and families. Began by affirming the positives as I've often written, "Affirming the positives, transforms relationships!"
In our churches, congregants don't need to be hammered by doctrines, "dos and don'ts; " they need messages of God's forgiving and transforming love that can lead to that "life more abundant" and happiness.
Let the song of your life and family be that which I used to lead as counselor around a camp fire: "Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me, melt me, mold me, fill me, use me. Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me."
Let's stop our hammering. Begin to feel the transforming, soft flames of God's love in our churches, homes, and lives.