Friday, July 30, 2010

The Bowl

Last night, my son made chocolate chip cookies.  My, are they GOOD!!!  One of the best surprises was that he actually cleaned up after himself!

Ok, well, "cleaned-up" is relative.  To some people, there was still a bit more to clean.  But, for him - it was a huge step in the right direction.

This morning, as I was emptying the dish strainer, I came across the mixing bowl he had used.  The inside was clean enough, but the outside still had dried cookie dough and had that scummy look and feel to it.  Obviously, it had to be washed again.

While I was re-washing the mixing bowl, I began to think.  Why was I washing it?  The INSIDE was clean.  It was just the OUTSIDE that was dirty.  We don't use the outside, so I should only be concerned with what is on the inside of the bowl.  So, I stopped cleaning it and put the bowl away.  What a waste of time to be so picky.

You don't think I did that?  Why not?  Wouldn't you?  It's just the outside.  It's what's inside that counts and that was clean.

Isn't that how most Christians today think?  The oft quoted verse, "Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart" is often used to defend a person's "right" to dress and look anyway he/she wants to look.  It only matters what is in the heart.

Like the bowl, a Christian may have a pure heart that loves the Lord and desires to serve Him.  Yet, on the outside, he looks just like the unclean vessels around him.  The average person would not be able to pick him out of a crowd as he looks just like the crowd.  On closer inspection, one sees that he is clean and different...on the inside.  Can he be used? Of course.  But does God get that same sick feeling using him as we would get when using a bowl that's clean on the inside but still carrying last night's food remnants on the outside?

Why did I opt to clean the bowl?  Because I knew with the bowl clean on the inside AND the outside, I would get optimal results in my next batch of cookies.  I would not risk dirtying any other dish it touched.  In order for God to get optimal results from me, I must be clean inside and out.  I must stand out from the pile of dirty dishes and be sparkling clean.    If I am being used effectively by God, I AM touching other dirty vessels.  I must allow Him to wash me with the water of His Word daily if I am indeed being used daily.  And, I must keep my eyes open to make sure that my outside isn't being changed to look like those around me.  Why would a clean dish want to look like a dirty dish?  If I would not use the ungodly as a model for my inside, why would I use them for a model for my outward appearance?

The outside DOES matter to God.   Does he use us without hesitation or does he have to close His eyes when He reaches for us because of our dirty exterior?  Clean your vessel - inside and outside.

Oh, and I DID re-wash the bowl completely.  :)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Little Things... the Cleveland Browns and Winston Lights.

Neither are things that are spiritual.  I don't even care for football and I've never smoked cigarettes.  But, whenever I see the emblem of the Cleveland Browns or hear the name "Winston" (I don't think they even make Winston Lights anymore), I feel a tug on my heart.

Both bring my father a little closer to me.

My dad loved the Cleveland Browns.  No disrespect to the dead, but for his love of the game, he had absolutely no taste in teams.  As I've already stated, I don't follow football.  But, I do keep nominal track of the teams my loved ones follow.  Anyone who even owns a radio will know that the Cleveland Browns have not been a good football team in over 30 years.  But, they were the team my daddy loved.

My dad smoked Winston Lights for as long as I knew him.  Though I don't care for the smell of cigarette smoke, often, the smell will bring me fond recollections of times with my dad.  The memory of sitting around the table with my dad and his girlfriend's family at Christmas as they all smoked actually gives me a strangely happy nostalgic feeling.  Thankfully, there are no signs of second-hand smoke damage.

My dad was more than football teams and cigarettes.  He was jokes, belly laughs, and fun.  But, I will hear no voice that sounds like his telling jokes.  I will not hear another laugh like his.  Many people have many types of fun.  But, the sight of the Cleveland Browns emblem and the name of Winston makes my father seem closer.  I don't believe in signs or messages from the dead, but, in a way, when I see these things, I feel he's sending me a smile.

It's the little things.