Everything is a God thing.
APRIL 18, 2023
Everything is a God thing. Let’s talk about it, on Key Life.
This is Key Life with our host, author, and seminary professor Steve Brown. He’s nobody’s guru, he’s just one beggar telling other beggars where he found bread. If you’re hungry for God, the real God behind all the lies, you’ve come to the right place.
Thank you Matthew. We’re talking about control, the mother of all addictions. And you say, Steve, why don’t you just teach the Bible? I am teaching the Bible. I’m just doing it in a different way. I’ve given you hundreds of Bible verses to show that I got it from there, not from my own mind. And I expect you to memorize all those verses and you will be tested on this material. We’ve been talking about control and I’ve been saying that some things just can’t be fixed. I was telling Jeremy, who’s the producer of this broadcast, he’s sits across from me, but I have to look at him through a glass window, a big one. And he’s got all the controls and the equipment and I’m in the studio. And we recorded, we’re, I’m reading Scripture and I don’t know if it’s posted yet, but we finished the Gospel of John. And we got to the last chapter and I couldn’t get through, I couldn’t see it. And you know, I just preach this stuff, I don’t live it, I didn’t immediately praise God. I was really upset. And we, and I know what I was supposed to do, but I was trying to control this recording and I couldn’t do it cause I couldn’t see the text. And I thought, Lord, don’t do this to me. I’m going blind. And so, we finally got through it and Jeremy’s going to have to do about 800 edits on the last chapter in John. But I went to an ophthalmologist to get the bad news from the ophthalmologist and he examined me, put me through all kinds of tests, and then he came in, he was laughing. And he said, I love to give good news to my patients. And I said, well, is there bad news? He said, not a bit. I’ve got good news for you, you are in the top 1% of people your age with your eyesight. It hasn’t changed in five years. And not only that, I’m going to give you a prescription for new glasses, but don’t waste your money. It’s not going to change a thing cause you haven’t changed. Then he said, the reason you couldn’t see the last chapter of John is that you had been recording all day and your eyes were dry. Go to the drugstore and get teardrops, and when it happens the next time, then put the teardrops in and everything will be fine. I left that place dancing. You know what had been bad and that’s true often with God, turned out to be good. The lament turned to laughter, that’s why we praise God in all things because in some way, Romans 8:28 is working its way in our life.
All things word together for those who love God and are called according to his purpose.
Let me tell you something you need to remember, everything is a God thing. If you’re into control, and I am by the way, the only way to deal with it is to recognize and intentionally affirm that everything, and that does mean everything, is a God thing. Yesterday something went haywire in my computer. The one I use in my study at home. I was in fact writing this chapter that I’m teaching from, right now, when it went wrong in my computer. I called John Myers, he’s a technological wizard at Key Life, our IT director. And, I often tell him he’s demon possessed, you shouldn’t be able to do all the stuff he does. He has in the past tried to give me instructions on how to fix something that goes wrong in my computer. He gave up that a long term ago. Do you know what he did? He said, give me a minute. And I noticed I was no longer in control of my computer. John was in control, from his office to my home, and I watched the cursor going everywhere, and I wasn’t doing it. He controlled the mouse, the files, the clicks. I took my hands off the keyboard and watched, and within two minutes it was fixed and John said, okay, you’re good to go. I thanked him and decided to give him a raise. You can, I don’t, I don’t have to go into details on that explanation or that illustration because it says it all. It’s kind of, I don’t want to be flippant about pain cause I know. I don’t want to be flippant about the dark places you’re in right now. I don’t want to be flippant about the steps you’ve had to take that are painful. I know that. But let the God of the Universe, turn it over to him. Say, I can’t fix this, I can’t change it, I can’t make it better, so I ain’t doing anything, I’m just going to give it to you and I praise you for it even if I don’t understand it. And at that point, you’ll notice something happening in you that is so good. God would do with our lives, what John did with my computer. But we put up, as it were, firewalls and they keep us in control. Identifying the firewalls is the first step in removing them. It’s sort of like naming the demons, so they lose their power. So, let’s look at some of the firewalls, as it were, and examine how they prevent the freedom that God has promised for his people. Do you know that religion can be a firewall? Annie Dillard, the writer and Pulitzer Prize winner, had said that she grew up in a liturgical church where she said that the liturgy included memorized words that they repeated to keep God from destroying them. A lot of religion, including non liturgical religion, is an effort to do the same thing. I’ve taught seminary students for a whole lot of years, and I would often say to them, you believe you’re here because you think that God singled you out as the best of the bunch. Actually, God may have felt you were the worst of the bunch, and the only way to keep you from becoming even worse was to put you in front of God’s people, so they could keep an eye on you. Your friends and family are praying for your success, and just so you know, I’m praying for your failure. Failure so big that you can’t fix it, and in your weakness with nothing left to lose, you become free to sing and dance before the throne of the God who called you. Now, that’s semi-facetious, so don’t send me letters. But that comment recognized the firewall of theological and ministerial training and expertise that can so often become another effort at control. But just so you know, that tendency is in all of us, when we use religion as a firewall. We do that with devotions, church attendance, Bible reading, prayer, and ministry. We do it by trying to do at least one more good thing than we did yesterday, one less sinful thing than we did yesterday, so that the scales tilt in our direction. We do it by accepting a belief system that promises health and wealth, if we have enough faith. We do it by using our theology and doctrine to create a God to our liking. Or alternatively, one who will ultimately judge those who disagree with us. Yesterday my wife and I went to a restaurant where the parking lot was full. As we drove around the lot, looking for a place to park, a car parked directly in front of the main door to the restaurant, pulled out, leaving that space vacant. As we pulled into the space, I smiled and said to my wife, I had my devotions this morning, and God is rewarding me. After she stopped laughing, she said, honey, the system were based on rewards and punishments, you wouldn’t have a car. So often doing religious things like having devotions can be an effort to control what you can’t control. And I’m not just preaching at you, I do that too. We all do some of that sometimes. Oh God, don’t let this happen. Jesus had that proclivity himself. If possible, take this cup away from me, but not my will, but your will be done. That’s a great prayer. And he gave us a model, so pray it. You think about that. Amen.
And that was Steve Brown continuing to teach us from his latest book, Laughter and Lament. Love that metaphor of firewalls and how true it is that so many of our problems arise from us grasping for control. More good stuff from Steve on tap for tomorrow. Do join us, won’t you? Well, for the last few months we’ve been talking about Steve’s new book, Laughter and Lament. And if you haven’t gotten your copy yet, I have great news. We now have a Laughter and Lament booklet. It features several extensive excerpts directly from the book. Can we send you a copy of that, for free? If so, just call us right now at 1-800-KEY-LIFE that’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail [email protected] to ask for that booklet. Or to mail your request, go to KeyLife.org/contact to find our addresses for the U.S. and Canada. Just ask for your free copy of the Laughter and Lament booklet. And finally a question for you. Would you prayerfully consider partnering in the work of Key Life through your giving? Giving could not be easier. Just charge a gift on your credit card or include a gift in your envelope. Or you can now join the growing number of folks who give safely and securely by text. Just pick up your phone and text Key Life to 28950 that’s Key Life, one word, two words. It doesn’t matter. Just text that to 28950 and then follow the instructions. Key Life is a member of ECFA in the States and CCCC in Canada. Both of those organizations assure financial accountability. And as always, Key Life is a listener supported production of Key Life Network.