Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Power of Bumper Stickers?

I want to start this post with an apology framed in a set of excuses. The last few weeks have been among the most chaotic in my life. I have come to the end of my first three projects in my new job, and have had 70+ hour work weeks. At the same time my wife and I have been dealing with a somewhat messy purchase of a new home. We had all of the normal issues associated with closing on a home loan compounded by the fact that this is a bank-owned property which means that all decisions take at least a week, and a mortgage broker who “missed” a couple of critical but obscure VA related documents each of which threatened to delay or submarine the purchase. Needless to say free time to blog has been nonexistent. So I do apologize, and ask your understanding given the circumstances.

So what does this have to do with bumper stickers? Well – I am not one to cover my car in stickers. In fact – the only stickers that you will find on any of my vehicles is a “Len Munsil for Governor" sticker that I used to cover the “In the event of the rapture this vehicle will be unoccupied” sticker that came on the truck when I bought it. They are still there primarily because they seem to come off in small chunks and I have been too lazy to get out there with a heat gun and remove them. I guess you can say that I am not a “bumper sticker guy.” On top of them messing up the look of a perfectly good bumper, they have never struck me as a particularly effective communication mechanism – until last week.

You see, I was driving through San Bernardino on a Wednesday evening. I had just finished my third consecutive 17 hour day and I was a notch or two short of panic at the prospect that my first project was going to fail, and I’d be summarily fired leaving me, my family, and our shiny new mortgage all sitting in a room contemplating the decisions that I had made in the last months (can you tell that I tend to worry?). I notice something on the window of a car in front of me and when I read it I see:

Matthew 19:26

I said to myself, “W.G.A.T.P.? What can that mean?” Well, now I am curious – and the car is pulling away. I am sitting at a red arrow in the left turn lane and I know I have 30 seconds so I yank my bible out of my computer bag and start flipping pages. The light turns green; I turn through the intersection and find a place to park – I HAVE TO KNOW what W.G.A.T.P. means. I flip to the verse and read:

“Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’”

Of course! – W.G.A.T.P means “With God All Things Are Possible.” Even my projects? No way… Now I will tell you that I had turned my work over to God; I had prayed for his glorification through my efforts, and his hand on my work, and his protection and provision for my family. I had done this earnestly but did I really turn this over? In the moments immediately before I saw that car I was certainly not focused on his sovereignty. I was focused on the dire condition of the first project, I was doubting that I could make it happen on the prescribed timetable. I was afraid. What a blessing this little verse was to me in that moment. I do not know that there could have been a better verse on a car window for me at that time. I thanked God for providing such extraordinary encouragement through that medium. I hope that somehow the young lady driving that car comes to know what a wonderful thing that verse is – I hope someone tells her – but I suppose she already knows.

Early this week, thinking back on the Matthew verse, I looked out my window and saw in bold letters on the back window of a car. It read simply:

Romans 10.

Well now - I have read Romans 10 a few times, but this spurred me to read it again and in the context of the earlier sticker there were a few things that really stood out to me. The first is at the heart of what ACWI and other Christian Worldview organizations truly understand. Verse 10:3:

“For not knowing about God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.”

Now I am not sure if this is the accepted meaning, but I immediatly went to the loss of the respect for God's law in this nation - and the substitution of "personal morality" for God's morality. Ideas have consequences and when we abandon, ignore, or have never heard God’s righteousness we attempt to build our own – and this does not work. How do we advance the ideas found in God's word? What can we do that brings his word into the public domain? Surely bumper stickers have no place in this plan - let's get serious about this - God wouldn't stoop to using bumper stickers - would he? I mean those are really just for other believers - these are just preaching to the choir - right?

Secondly, verse 10:17&20:

“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing the word of God.” - “And as Isaiah is very bold and says ‘I was found by those who sought Me not, I became manifest to those who did not ask for Me.” So – the power of bumper stickers – is not in the bumper sticker - it is in the proclamation of the truth of God’s word, even to those who are not seeking it (either in total or in that moment). It is the power of HIS use of words, of cleverly placed acronyms, of bumper stickers, to draw those He chooses to Him. It is He that makes use of these things, even of bumper stickers, and today I am grateful that He does.

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