A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Dave's Deep Thoughts - Holy Directions

Here's Pastor Dave McDowell's weekly devotional that he sends out to members of his church. Dave is my brother and serves as the Music Minister at Stewartstown UMC in PA.

The movie said to “build it and they will come”
but could someone please explain the instruction manual?

I’ve built and assembled many things in my life.
I don’t consider myself a master builder by any means,
but I can hold my own.

Over the years,
I have built innumerable sets for plays,
and exterior decks for homes.
I have remodeled bathrooms.
Heck, with the help of many good friends,
I have even built my own home.

I have assembled gas grills, snow blowers,
outdoor furniture, and high pressure washers.

But this summer I met my match.

Perhaps the 99 degree temperatures that day affected my concentration,
but nothing could prepare me for the nightmare that was the assembly manual for….


Yes, you know THAT game…..
2 poles, a net, 4 rackets, and a shuttlecock.
Add some chips and dip
and you have yourself a pretty crazy party.

I had three hours till people were coming over for said party.
Plenty of time to assemble a badminton kit., right?
Maybe not…….

The assembly manual was 36 pages long
with instructions in English, Spanish, German, French, and Swahili.
Who knew they played badminton in Africa??

Now mind you, this was no $15.99 department store cheapo model.
This kit looked like something used by Olympians.
(Yes, badminton is an Olympic sport and baseball is not.
That’s a subject for another day.)

Under a shade tree, where it was a comfortable 95 degrees,
I laid out all the parts and hardware.

My gas grill had less parts than this badminton kit.
I did recognize the net however.

There were 4 separate parts for each pole assembly.
Each pole had 12 pre-drilled holes.
If I did my math correctly,
that allowed for 472 possible combinations for the holes to line up.

After 45 minutes, and on my 432nd try, I hit the jackpot with the poles.
By then, I had perspired enough to make my daily workout at the gym
seem like a walk in the park.

It was when I turned the manual to page 27 that I knew I was in even more trouble.
It was the cable attachment system for both the bottom and top of the net.

You might think that the net simply had two ropes that tied to the poles.
No sirreeee.

There were tension clips, pulley systems, locking net bolts, guide ropes,
connecting cord loops, score clips, and more guide ropes.

I don’t think the Wallenda Brothers had as much hardware in their rope systems
when they walked across the Grand Canyon on their tightrope.

Perhaps if I had had an engineering degree from a major university
this would have been easier.

The tension was supposed to be in the ropes
but I was feeling it in my body as I feverishly struggled to insert guide ropes
through appropriate holes, pulleys, and loops.

After 90 minutes,  37 stares at the assembly pictures, and a few choice words,
I did what any master builder would do.
I went to Plan B.

Let me say that there is no problem too big
that a roll of duct tape cannot solve.

So much for the engineering degree.
So much for the manual.

Sometimes manuals are not as helpful as they seem.
They can be complicated and frustrating.

Some people wish that there was a manual for life.
And some might say the Bible is that manual.

I would agree that the Bible is a great help to guide one through life.
It has been a great source of guidance and encouragement for me throughout the years.

But it doesn’t tell me what to have for breakfast
who to vote for in the upcoming election.

The Bible does not give us specific day to day instructions.
It is more general, it’s teachings often are broader,
its principals more comprehensive.

Consider the issue of abortion.

If we are honest,
there are very few Christians who believe abortion in all cases is right.
There are very few who believe that abortion in all circumstances is wrong.
Most of us are somewhere in the in between,
and yet we are reading the same Bible.

Adam Hamilton has said that when Christians differ about life decisions and issues,
“it’s not a matter of Biblical authority, but of Biblical interpretation.” **

We aren’t always going to agree on the specifics of life.

Get a group of Christians in a room and see if you can get them to all agree  on
the death penalty, euthanasia, separation of church and state, organic foods…….

Make your own list.

The manual is instructive, yes, but not always conclusive.
I do know this about my spiritual author…..
God will not speak a word to me that will ever contradict His written Word.

As you walk through this life that you have been given,
may your manual never be frustrating to you.
But may it be a light unto Your path.

And in those things where you don’t have all the answers,
may you know that you can trust in its Author to show you the way to the last page.

As for my badminton set,
the duct tape worked just fine.

Of course it was fine. It was so hot, nobody wanted to play…….

All Scripture is inspired by God
and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness,
that the person of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
                                                                                    2 Timothy 3:16-17

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