You can call me a pansy if you want to, but the whole blood and guts thing has never been my favorite part of guy-hood. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good action movie with a lot of explosions, etc. But it’s the real life, 3-dimensional, all 5 senses gore that I’m not fond of! It’s one thing to see it on a screen, but quite another to touch and hear its squishiness and smell the rancid rot.
I have tons of hunting and fishing relatives and the part of those sports that I never liked was the ‘cleaning’/’field dressing’ (or ‘gutting’ as we more often called it). While I was in college I went deer hunting – this was actually the only time I’ve been deer hunting as a hunter instead of the tag-a-long kid that can’t keep quiet (I was good at that role!). I gutted my own deer, but I didn’t like it. Actually, my shot was “less than immediately lethal” so I even had to cut Bambi’s throat before slicing her open and ‘cleaning’ her out. I did it – but I didn’t like it.
All that pales in comparison to the putrid pile of flesh I had to deal with today. It may have been just a temporary failure (I hope) but this morning we discovered that our large freezer was no longer freezing its contents. (What am I supposed to call a freezer that doesn’t freeze things?!) We’re not sure how long the thaw had been happening, but there was a 2 inch pool of blood underneath about 90 pounds of rotting bovine. Having cleaned out the meat, I have never been closer to becoming a vegetarian than I am right now. (I am seriously thanking God and the city of Scottsbluff–Gering that tomorrow is trash day!) I can’t even describe how disgusting this was for me at every level of my being – tactile, visual, financial, olfactorial (just made up that word I think, but I like it), aural – everything in me wanted to do whatever it could that is closest to vomiting.
As I was scooping up rotting meat and being as totally grossed out as I have ever been, God reminded me of Isaiah, where it’s written that “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;” Now, I have some shop rags in my garage that are covered with oil and dirt and auto-grime. That’s not the kind of filth He’s talking about. A less G-rated rendering of this phrase could be ‘bloody tampon’. Gross. (God is graphic!) I’ve always understood the way our sin sickens our Holy God – but this wasn’t the sin of His people, it was the ‘righteous acts’ they did alongside their sin, thinking they could cover it up or outweigh their guilt with their good. It makes God want to wretch.
I’m strongly reminded today that nothing I can do on my own can clean out the rot that I’ve allowed in my life. Nothing that I can do to make you or anybody else admire/approve/respect me will allow God to ignore the rancid stench of sin in my life. It is only by His mercy that I can present myself to Him as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to Him – only by His grace that I can enter into His presence – and only by the blood (ironically) of Jesus that I can be freed from continually having to breathe the smell of death.
It’s easy to deal with rotting meat – you throw it out! Maybe there’s something rotting in our lives that we need to throw out, too – ask God to take you deep into your heart and show you what needs taken to the curb. It’s trash day – take it out.
This summer schedule has killed my reading. Once camp season hit, I basically only read a chapter here and there. I did, however, manage to finish a literary youth ministry trifecta:
Youth Ministry 3.0 from Mark Oestreicher, Sustainable Youth Ministry from Mark Devries, and Simple Student Ministry from Eric Geiger and Jeff Borton. Each of the three had their merits, but the one I’d most recommend is Sustainable Youth Ministry. It addresses the church as much as the youth leader – every church looking to hire a new youth minister should require the search team to read this book before even taking resumes.
A few months ago, I posted a comment regarding running and age and marathons and determination (which prompted some finely crafted ‘encouragement’ from my brother). I’m not there yet, but I did take up a lesser challenge this month: 100 miles in 30 days. It seems like a lot, but it’s only about 3 miles a day – this forces me to run consistently.
Sweet trailer for Perry Noble‘s next sermon series, dealing with Satan’s lies. Willie just preached a couple weeks here at WestWay about the reality of Satan, so this seems like some timely exploration of the lies he uses. You can follow the series at NewSpring’s site. They post the video on Tuesdays, and also stream the service on Sunday evenings. The series starts this week.
I like it when something significant comes out of my mouth without my first formulating the thought into words. My thought editing process can distill my intended message so much that it’s castrated, robbed of any potency the message may have had. I don’t want to be a jerk about things, but sometimes, I try too hard to say things politely (thanks, mom!).
I get really skeptical when someone starts talking about secret codes in the Bible and the significance of numbers here and there, etc. I’m not the kind of person that ‘looks for signs’ all the time. But there were a number of things that we came across in the course of coldwater that some may call ‘coincidence’ and some may call God at work verifying what He was doing… Here’s a list, but I’ll leave it up to you to decide: God or coincidence?
Thinking of a few things that could be better next time we do coldwater…
Since I wasn’t able to post updates here too often last week, I thought I’d share some thoughts about the mission trip to start this week. I’ll start with a modified journal entry from Tuesday that sums up the first days of our trip.