Application

Floss

I had my six-month dental cleaning appointment this morning and am quite sure that my dental hygienist drank at least six cups of coffee before I arrived.  She was hyper and chatty!!!!  While I was reclined “comfortably” in the chair as she scraped away six months of yuck from teeth, she was updating me on all the things in her life.

She got new flooring but is not happy with it.  The cold front has left, but there is a new one coming through.  She is planning a trip to the beach with her friend.  Her daughter is doing fine and thinks it might be time to get a dog. 

In the midst of all the updates, she paused.  “You really need to floss”, she stated.  My first instinct was to deny the lack of flossing accusation, but instead, I just nodded my head in approval.  She suddenly switched from her life updates to describing a new study that has linked the bacteria in between our teeth to heart disease.  Not only was she concerned with my teeth, but she was also concerned with my heart.  

She made a statement that has stuck with me all day.  “It turns out that the mouth is connected to the heart.”  I had heard this statement in church before, but never at the dentist office. I kept repeating that sentence in my mind and God nudged me with a small, simple thought….

While I reclined “comfortably” in the chair, she wasn’t just saying “words.”  She was sharing her heart.  The things that were important to her.  Her daughter. Her home. A much-needed vacation.  Her life!!

We hear (or read) a lot of words all day long.  Today, I was challenged by God to actually listen to them. Listen to the people speaking around me.  And especially the people speaking to me.  Maybe, just maybe God will use our listening ear to minister to someone who has something to say that really needs to be heard.

“It turns out that the mouth is connected to the heart.”

Written by Pastor Mark Bedwell

"WASH YOUR HANDS"

So, there I stood at the sink in the Waffle House bathroom. As I reached up to get the soap, I noticed an instruction guide on how to wash your hands posted on the wall in front of me.  The guide even had clip-art illustrations in case simple words didn’t do justice to the quality of information that was being presented. While part of me thought it was pretty funny….part of me thought it was pretty sad.  “Did they really need to tell us step by step how to wash our hands?” Apparently, they thought so…and apparently I felt obliged to not only read through the steps…not only to walk through the steps as I washed my hands…. but to share the steps with you as well. 

 

Step One was turning on the water.  Step two was placing your hands under the running water.  Step three was the soap application phase.  Step four was the final rinse…..and step five was drying off of the hands with disposable paper towels.  There was no step six that reminded us to throw the paper towel away…so I will insert that here if it is okay with you.

 

I walked out of the bathroom and laughingly told my wife about the how to guide in the bathroom.  We spent several minutes thinking, laughing, and talking about the justification of such a sign.  “What steps were people forgetting?”, I thought.   Were they forgetting to turn on the water?  Were they using the disposable paper towel in step two instead of step five?  Were they skipping the pre-rinse phase and going straight into a gooey soap distribution onto their dirty….but dry…hands phase?  What part were people missing that caused some big executive in the cooperate office of Waffle House to decide  that they needed to put a how to wash hands guide in all of their restaurants?

 

Not only did I ask the question….but I also thought of the answer.  The reason they were putting these guides in restaurants were not because people were forgetting ONE of the steps……it was because people were forgetting ALL OF THEM.  People were simply not washing their hands…and Waffle House decided to do something about it.  Now, I am not quite sure how a company researches  something like this…..if they have a soap distribution to door opening and closing distribution ratio excel spreadsheet somewhere in those exec offices..…..but somehow they thought…if we could simply draw attention to washing hands…..maybe things would change.

 

I am pretty sure it worked.  I am pretty sure that I wasn’t the first Joe Schmo who walked in and thought the guide was funny.  I am pretty sure that I am not the first person who followed the guide word for word…..simply out of jest. I am pretty sure that I am not the first guy to walk out of the bathroom and laughingly tell his wife that …..”you won’t believe what they put up in the bathroom.”  By telling us to do something we already knew how to do…..Waffle House was reminding us…..simply to do it.

 

May you come clean. May you recognize the truths in your life that have no application and may you  let God take you back to the basics.  May you slow down and take the time to “do the basics” that lead to faith, trust, and joy in your relationship with your Father. May you find order.  May you examine daily, may you scrub even harder than ever before, and may you honestly and anxiously allow God to work in you and through you daily so that you may literally come clean with where you are, with where you have been, and with where you are going.   May you go back to the how to guide and may you be reminded that His Word is fresh and new every day.  And for goodness sakes…may you wash your hands….especially while eating at Waffle House. 

 Written by our Pastor Dr. Mark A Bedwell

"NOT YET OPEN"

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We were sitting at a red light.  My wife looked off to the right and noticed a Publix grocery store that was empty and closed.  She stated, “That’s strange, I have never seen a Publix that was closed before…..especially in such a good location.” As I drove past the Publix……I noticed movement on the inside of the store and quickly deduced that this movement wasn’t movement of “shutting down” or “going out of business”  but movement of “opening up.”  I made the statement that the store wasn’t closing, but rather...

it just had not opened yet.

 

It’s a peculiar thing..an empty store.  Our beginning thoughts were that this store (if it were closed) at some point had been placed in this specific location to reach a specific group of people by providing them with the necessities of life….and that at some point…whether due to competition, poor management, bad location, or simple lack of foot traffic… this specific store decided it could no longer operate and was forced to close its doors..throw in the towel….so to speak.  The end of this scenario is…… “failed hope.”

 

But upon further investigation..the complete opposite was true…THIS store was indeed not desolate (if not yet open), but FULL of potential.  The aisles were being built.  The floor was being buffed.  The orders were being made.  The staff was being hired, trained, and encouraged.  The community was being notified.  The parking lot was being filled with shopping carts. The signs were receiving light bulbs, and the shelves were being stocked with produce and goods that would benefit the lives of people for years to come. The end of this scenario is…. “fueled hope.”

 

One empty store…but two totally different reasons for being that way….and even more interesting…..two totally different outcomes. One ending in failed hope…the other ending in fueled hope.  You see…a normal passerby probably wouldn’t even bother to ask the question why the store was empty…but then again….I am not exactly normal.  “What does it matter?”  you might ask.  “What does it matter whether or not the store is empty because it is closed or empty because it has not yet been opened?” 

 

…..because I believe this is exactly why we don’t try.  I believe this is exactly why we don’t “change our world” and reach our friends with the truth of “life in Christ” and “eternity with God” and “abundant life” and “salvation of our souls….forever and ever.”  I honestly think we are walking around and seeing people live their lives with NO HOPE  in Christ and in some way….we just assume that ….they are CLOSED!!!  “We cry out “failed hope.”  We assume that because they’ve heard…because they’ve had opportunity…because they have seen Christ in action and done nothing about it…they they are simply not interested….and probably never will be.  We assume that they simply have made their choice to live their life without the loving knowledge of a Savior…and when we drive by their house, their office, their softball field, their desk, their bedroom, their living room, their chair right beside ours….we say to ourselves “they are closed”…..and we just keep on driving.  Our assumptions and our wrong perceptions need to be shaken.  It is my attempt to do that today.

 

May you see with new eyes this week.  May your friends whose hearts are not yet opened be barraged with God’s love, His care, and His desire simply to come into their lives and radically change it for the good.  May you be a part of that grand opening.  May you speak and live words of encouragement.  May you, not have eyes of pity and despair, but may you have eyes of hope and prayer. May you remember…..really remember…..that… God is big enough and strong enough to do THIS THING….no matter how desperate the circumstances may seem.  May you remember that He did it in your life…and that He did it in mine.  May you recognize that YOU yourself are open…because someone saw you through a “fueled hope” eyes and they cared enough to share and explain the work of God all around you.  May you do the same.  May you praise God that He is not in the business of closing down, but that He is in the business of opening up.  May one soul this week be spared the fire of hell because you took the time to care.

 Written by our Pastor Dr. Mark A Bedwell