OnFire #183 Broken Lawnmower Faith
OnFire Encouragement Letter
I found my cell phone. It fell into a snow bank outside the church and was picked up by a local man walking his dog. At about the same time as he left a message on my home phone, we were trying the phone and he answered.
Mark is fundraising for Denver this week at the Dieppe Market from 8am - 1pm. Drop by if you live nearby and he’ll give you a demonstration. He and Jan fly out on April 16.
I got taken by an April fool’s joke. My senior pastor left a message for me that Mr Lyon had called. When I dialed the number it turned out to be the local zoo. He got me! We all had a good chuckle over that one.
After last week’s letter, an OnFire reader wrote to tell me about how a pastor she knows handles criticism. "Thank you for pointing this out to me. I don't see it at this moment but I certainly know my potential to be blind to my own problems in my character, so I will go to the Lord with this and ask Him about it. And, by the way, is there anything else you would like to point out to me?" I thought this was well-said, so I pass it along to you.
Finally, I send condolences to my friend Paul who lost his mother this week. We’re praying God’s comfort for you.
Blessings for your week.
In one of my summer jobs I broke the blade on a lawn mower. This is not an experience I would recommend to anyone. When it snapped, half of it struck a wheel, tearing it off the machine. Another quarter-turn and the broken piece would have flown out the back toward my legs.
A lawn mower with only half a blade isn’t very useful. We might think that it would still work because half the blade is there, but the engine is not balanced. The machine would shake worse than a shopping cart wheel.
That’s a picture of faith without deeds. It makes a lot of noise, but it is unbalanced and shaky. Practically useless. James says that faith without deeds is dead. (James 2:26)
Someone will ask, "What about my salvation? Do I lose it without deeds?" This is really the wrong question. The issue James wants us to address is "What am I doing with my faith?"
Faith for the sake of having faith doesn’t do much. Faith needs to result in action. James illustrates this for us with three examples. In v. 16, he uses the example of blessing the poor. "Keep warm and well fed." As he points out (rather uncomfortably), how can we say this and yet do nothing? If we believe God will provide, why do we not also trust God to provide for us, too, by sharing what we have?
Abraham is the father of our faith. He believed God would provide a proper sacrifice, even if it meant waiting until the last possible moment. And so he prepared his own son for sacrifice (2: 20-24). This always leaves me with the haunting question of what I would be willing to give up to follow Jesus? Faith demands action.
Rahab’s reputation wasn’t as solid as Abraham’s (2:25), but this shows us that faith and action also go hand in hand for people who aren’t like him. This is why I think James chose her as the next example. She believed the spies were from God and so she risked her own life to protect them. Again, that’s faith in action.
James reminds us that faith is not just something we have. It also needs to be something we do. Faith is both attitude and action. Not to prove to the world how holy we are - Jesus had harsh words for people like that. Rather, our actions ought to demonstrate that we have faith, in the same way that breathing indicates that we have life.
I hope this helps. Be on fire.
OnFire is a weekly letter on faith and character written by Troy Dennis. Troy is the Pastor of Family Ministries at Highfield Baptist Church, Moncton NB Canada. This letter published April 1, 2009. *Bible references taken from the New International Version. To subscribe or reply, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Archives are located at www.onfireletter.com Blog located at http://onfireletter.blogspot.com/