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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Gospel in a Greasy Spoon

Over the years, I have trained myself to look for inspiration. And I find it in the most amazing spaces and people.

This morning I stopped at my favorite breakfast spot – 96 Truck Stop. Yep, it’s a “greasy spoon” kind of place, but the food is incredible. Home fries (fried potatoes) with cheese, bacon, two eggs (over-medium), and wheat toast. All of it cooked on a big griddle by Mary, a tough, no-nonsense woman who hides her generous heart well behind a grumpy facade, then ruins it all by doling out giant portions of food to hungry truckers, night-shift workers, and an occasional incognito pastor :).

I finished my feast, and sidled up to the counter to pay. The TV was on, and something about the program that was playing caught my ear. I turned and watched a short testimonial about addiction and alcoholism, and how a current country star is now on the mend and in recovery, after losing his marriage and family; finally admitting he was an alcoholic. He said, “I can’t ever have another drink, for as long as I live. That tells you how bad my addiction is”.

The guy behind me, waiting to pay his bill, spoke up suddenly … “Man, that stuff will get you”. I said, “Yeah, man, it sure will”. Then he smiled and said, “I’m sure glad I got free from it when I did!” Then he paid the cashier and walked out to his truck.

And I came home, unable to get away from the look of happiness on his face. I have several friends who have battled alcoholism, and it’s been so great to see them find freedom in Christ and from this addiction, and to see the positive impact it’s had on their marriage and families has been powerful! When you decide to seek freedom, it affects generations of people, and could literally change the world.

Once I mentioned to one of them that sometimes I see the Church like I see an AA meeting. We are all born addicted to Self, and sin preys on this in so many forms and vices. “Hello, my name is ___________, and I’m a sin-a-holic.” Maybe we should start Sunday morning service this way? It would definitely help rid us of our pious pretense!

We live in a world where the status quo is BONDAGE. From the beginning, sin puts its heel on our necks. That’s its design, to bind us in a vicious cycle of defeat, shame, and hopelessness. I think of a verse of a song from the rock star Slash, talking about sin:

It’s like a new religion
Speak in tongues, come see the light
Do not trip on inhibitions that will only waste my time
Let me tempt you with the evils of the flesh and so much more
Like a Babylon redeemer
Like a pusher, like a whore

Just try it
You’ll like it
I’ll give you more…

That’s the message, in its most basic form. Our enemy speaks one language, over and over to you and me. Just try it. You’ll like it. I’ll give you more…

This is why freedom is such a big deal. That’s why a 10-second conversation can be so inspiring. It reminds you that freedom is the design. God never designs us to fail! Think this today: God has designed you to win the battle you are facing right now. Today, in Christ, you are more than a conqueror. Take a moment to read another verse, from Romans 8:

If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.

35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 …. 37 No, despite all these things, we are more than conquerors through Christ, who loved us.

I like this verse better than the song Slash plays! What this is saying is that when Christ is in you, you are in Christ. No longer do you fight your battles from your own reservoir of strength, but from THE RESOURCES OF HEAVEN. The God of Heaven’s Armies is in your corner. This means that you aren’t just designed to not fail. God has designed you to be free. To be more than a conqueror.

Chew on that today. Be inspired, like I am. Dare to believe it. Dare to ask for help. Dare to become accountable to people who want what’s best for you. Dare to be who you are in Jesus. Dare to be free from the label your enemy try to stick on your life.

Sometimes the Gospel shows up in a Greasy Spoon!