MInTheGap

Standing in the Gap in a Society that's Warring with God.

Fired From the CIA

June 22nd, 2007 Viewed 1087 times

The axeIt is the classic tale, but not anything like you would imagine.  Here I am, sitting on my bed wondering what could have happened…  Well, best start at the beginning.

It was a usual day.  I had awakened early, as usual, and was getting for the day ahead.  The forecast was cloudy– as if the weather knew something that I didn’t.  I picked up the morning paper outside my apartment before riding the elevator to the parking garage and getting in the car.

It was a quick drive to the CIA office.  I showed the guard at the door my badge.  “Michael Weston.  You’re cleared to enter, Mr. Weston.”  I nodded and walked inside and took a place at my desk.

“Weston,” someone called from behind me.  It was a colleague in my division, “That’s some pretty interesting stuff you have on your blog.”

“What blog?”

“You know– your girlfriend’s blog.  She has written all sorts of things about you.”  It was at this point that I wish I could have said something– but it was too late.

It was at this point that I heard the clip clopping of shoes headed toward my desk, as two men in suits approached me.  They asked for me to follow, and I did not refuse.  I was taken in to the director’s office, and asked to sit down.  I complied and the men left.

“It appears,” said the director, “that you have some pretty interesting after hours activities, Michael.”

“How so, sir.”

“Well, this blog that we’ve found says that you’re actively involved in a local church.  It says here that you’ve actually been out in the area passing out literature and going door to door telling people about your religion.”

To this I was not sure what to say.  Surely these activities would not be a problem.

“Unfortunately, this means that you’ve drawn way too much attention to yourself.”

“How so?”

“Well, your pictures and name are all over this blog.  See,” he said, turning around his laptop, “here you are at a social gathering.  Here’s another on a church van.  This just won’t do.  We can’t have one of our operatives being so exposed, so I’m afraid that we can’t have that kind of activity.  So, you’re either going to have to dispose of these pictures and stop attending church functions, or I’m afraid that we’ll have to ask you to leave.”

Of course we all know what happened next.

And here I am.

Of course, this story I, MInTheGap, made up to justify why I would want to be fired– for taking a stand for Christ.  To find out why the character Michael Weston of the CIA gets fired in USA Network’s Burn Notice, you’ll have to follow the link.

Story of Love

November 4th, 2006 Viewed 3579 times

While doing some sermon prep for a chapel message, I came across some great illustrations of love. This is one of them I would like to share with you:

It’s very human to begin looking for something and then forget what you’re looking for. Tennessee Williams tells a story of someone who forgot — the story of Jacob Brodzky, a shy Russian Jew whose father owned a bookstore. The older Brodzky wanted his son to go to college.

Does Your Love Cost Enough?

November 3rd, 2006 Viewed 4033 times

While doing some sermon prep for a chapel message, I came across some great illustrations of love.  This is one of them I would like to share with you:

She was lying on the ground. In her arms she held a tiny baby girl. As I put a cooked sweet potato into her outstretched hand, I wondered if she would live until morning. Her strength was almost gone, but her tired eyes acknowledged my gift. The sweet potato could help so little — but it was all I had.

Taking a bite she chewed it carefully. Then, placing her mouth over her baby’s mouth, she forced the soft warm food into the tiny throat. Although the mother was starving, she used the entire potato to keep her baby alive. Exhausted from her effort, she dropped her head on the ground and closed her eyes. In a few minutes the baby was asleep. I later learned that during the night the mother’s heart stopped, but her little girl lived.

Love is a costly thing. God in His love for us (and for a lost world) “spared not His own Son” to tell the world of His love. Love is costly, but we must tell the world at any cost. Such love is costly. It costs parents and sons and daughters. It costs the missionary life itself. In his love for Christ the missionary often must give up all to make the Savior known. If you will let your love for Christ, cost you something, the great advance will be made together.

Remember, love is a costly thing. Do you love enough?

Dick Hills, Love is a Costly Thing.

A Valentine Story

August 26th, 2006 Viewed 1314 times, 2 so far today

“Just a little lower,” cried a man standing on a stage below. “That’s it. Now, the other side.” The giant “Cupid” figure came to rest in what would be it’s final resting spot. A scrawny boy of twelve climbed down a ladder, wiped his hands off on his jeans, and walked over to the man. “That’s a very good job, Jimmy,” the man commented.

“Thanks, Mr. Smith,” replied Jimmy, just as he was bumped into by a kid walking backward.

“Hey! Watch where you’re going!” The boy cried.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to–”

“Look. Just stay out of my way, okay?!”

“John? What’s going on up there?” A voice called.

“Oh. It’s just the stage crew getting in the way again. Nothing to worry about,” replied John.

“Let’s take it again with your scene with Sarah,” said the voice. Giving Jimmy a little push, John took his place next to Sarah.

“Don’t let him get to you Jimmy. He’s not–”

“It’s okay Mr. Smith. I don’t mind. Let’s see if we can get some paint on that set.”

 

“All right, class. It’s time to vote for class representative. I’ve looked over the qualifications, and only three people in this class fit: Harry, Jimmy, and Helen.” The class turned and looked toward Harry, who grinned. “Everybody get out half a sheet of paper and vote for the two people that you think should represent the class this semester.” Getting out sheets of paper, the class began to write.

“Hey, Jimmy,” a friend whispered.

“Yeah, Cody?”

“Do you really think that you can win?”

“I don’t know, why?”

“Well, I’d– Never mind. I hope you win.”

“Thanks.” The class passed in their ballots, and the teacher took them outside.

“I think that I’ll go to the bathroom,” Cody stated, with a grin. He took off, and then returned to report on the counting. “It appears as though it will be you and Harry.”

“Wow! Me. Our class representative. Oh, here she comes now!”

“Class, the winners of the election are Harry and Helen. Congratulations.”

 

“Hey, Jimmy. This is the best peanut butter and jelly sandwich I’ve had this semester,” stated Cody.

“That’s great Cody. Hey, let’s go do something tonight.”

“I’m sorry, Jimmy, but I’ve got to go to my Aunt’s house and help them move in. It’s my dad’s idea of family bonding.”

“Cody, you know there are sometimes… Oh, never mind. I’ve got a lot of work to do tonight myself.”

“Hey, Jimmy. Thanks for coming tonight, we sure could use the help.”

“Not a problem, Pastor Chris. I like working on stage.”

“Well, I don’t know what we’d do without you. These props and sets are going to be great for our play.”

“Well, I can’t say that it’s the best set–”

“It’s great. Let’s go downstairs and see if your mother needs any help cleaning up.”

 

Driving home in the car, Jimmy’s mom turned to him and said, “You got some mail this morning, and I put it on your desk.”

“Thanks Mom.”

“How was your day?”

“A rough one, but I’m just happy that I can go home and get to bed.”

“Well, if you need anything–”

“That’s okay. I’m just tired.”

Walking in the house, Jimmy and his mother carried in the groceries. Jimmy headed up to his room to go to bed, when he noticed the letter on his desk. Reaching over to open it, he looked at the address. There was no name on it, just a return address. He ripped open the letter and took out its contents. There was a sheet of folded notebook paper, and a piece of construction paper cut into a heart.

Looking first at the construction paper, he unfolded it, and looked at it for a second. All it said on it was “Happy Valentines Day.” Opening it up, he read, “Thank you for making my day brighter and happier. You’re a good guy, and good guys are hard to find. Hope this day sees you well and happy too. Love, A friend.” Then it stopped.

He looked all over it trying to find a name, but found nothing. He looked at the paper and read its brief contents. There wasn’t much on it, for it was a flier for the play he was working on. Written on the bottom were the words: “With special thanks to Jimmy Russell for all his hard work and good spirit.” He placed the two things on his desk, and got ready for bed. Climbing inside his covers, he turned out the light. As he sat in bed, a tear trickled down his eye, for someone stopped to take notice of him, more than thanks for coming, or you’re doing a good job.

 

More special to a person is someone who shows that he cares by going above and beyond to minister in little ways that seem so small at the time, yet make such a difference in a soul that just wants someone to take a little notice of the little things. It is small things that make a difference, and small people that can be used mightily. Take time to do something unexpected for someone sometime, for that is what encourages the most.

His Will

August 20th, 2006 Viewed 1294 times

Finding that I could no longer stare as many around me seemed to disappear, I decided that it was finally time to see where these people were all going. I mean, it didn’t make sense that someone standing right next to me seemed to disappear right before my eyes without a trace. I had been walking this way for a long time, for as long as I can remember. No, I’m not quite sure where it leads, but I think that it’s about time I find out.

“Excuse me?” I turned to the guy on my left. “Just where does this path go?”

“I don’t know, I’ve been going this way for a long time! I hope to find out where it leads soon.” The man answered.

“I’ve just been wondering where all these people have been disappearing to. I mean, just yesterday there was this girl to my right. She looked healthy and all–”

“Sorry, don’t have a clue. Perhaps you could try that guy over there.” The man pointed across the way to another man. I thanked him, and decided to go over to the man.

“Excuse me, sir?”

“Yes, lad?”

“Do you know where we are headed?”

“Well, some say that it’s a great party that we’re going to. Others say that it’s really hot. Still others don’t think that we ever quite get there.”

“Really?! What about all these people that keep disappearing? I mean, there was this girl on my right–”

“No one really likes to talk about the disappearances. Some think that they are taken back to the beginning of the road. Some think that they get taken to the party, or whatever is at the end. Some just think that they vanish from existence.”

“Oh. Is that why no one talks about it?”

“No one knows, son.”

The Endless Quest

August 17th, 2006 Viewed 1108 times

It’s been three days since the plane crash, and I still don’t know what to do. Girding on the last pack of rations from my plane, I know that I’m a long way from civilization. I’ve started to head North-east in hope that I might come upon some water, for I fear that my supply will run out fairly quickly in this dry desert.

It’s been an interesting day. Opening my map, it told me that I could find an oasis west of my position. Still, I don’t see an oasis, and I’m sure that if I continue on my present course I will find water soon. It’s really dry and barren out here. It’s about 100 degrees in the shade, if I could find some. There are no trees that I can see. I think I recall a large rock on my way here. I think that I will try to find it before day break.

Today I found a caravan of people moving west. One of them stopped for a second and came back to me. He chatted with me and told me something about water to the west and an oasis. He pulled out a map similar to my own, yet I told him that I knew my way, and that I could find water on my own. He’s crazy. I mean, why would I want to give up my home to follow him and his band of tunic-wearing friends. Some people just don’t understand that they’re not the only ones with the right way home. I need to make my own choice, not be bossed around by another.

It’s getting rather hot out here. My water will soon run out. That, and my rations are slowly thinning. Well, at least I’m getting thin. I wonder when I’ll get home. Boy, I’ll sure be glad to see my nice bed. I had the weirdest dream this morning. I dreamed that my children were gone when I got back. My ex-wife had taken them and I would never see them again. I don’t understand it. I mean, it just didn’t work out, that’s all. Then, my new wife left me for the next door neighbor. I woke up and looked at the map. It pointed westward once again, yet I know that home is North-east.

I saw some guys in a dune buggy today. That must mean that I’m getting close. They were nice guys and all, but they wanted to take me west. I told them, “I’ve heard about that place in the west. They don’t tolerate people like me. In fact…” I listed some things that I had heard. They begged me to go with them, but I refused. It’s my choice. It’s my life. I have the right to do with it as I chose, and no one’s going to tell me how to run my own affairs.

There are many signs the Christian has along the road of life. God is not in the business of saying “Ha, Ha, Ha. They’ll never guess what my will is!” He is in the business, however, of developing a personal relationship with those that believe Him. His word shows us the way, and we must be willing to follow. Our friends that are around us try to exhort us, but we must listen. We must not look at who we are, but who He is and what He has done for us.

The Parable of the Candle

November 11th, 2005 Viewed 1098 times

The Parable of the Candle

Garth Wiebe

Chris and Lucy entered a building looking for Manuel. In a room they found a note and a lighted candle. Chris looked at the note and read it aloud:

An almost burnt-down lit candle on a candle ho...

An almost burnt-down lit candle on a candle holder. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

‘Hi! It’s 2:30, and I’m leaving to run some errands. I’ll be back in a couple of hours. BTW, the electricity is out, so I lit a candle for you. — Manuel.’

Then Lucy said, ‘I know how we can find out how long it’s been since he left! Look, the candle has been burning since he lit it and has a significant amount of wax that’s melted and dripped down. If we figure out what the rate is which the wax is melting and measure the amount of wax that has thus far dripped, we can work backwards to find out how long it has been since he left.’

Chris said, ‘Why waste your time? The note says he left at 2:30.’ Lucy said, ‘Don’t believe everything you read.’ Chris replied, ‘Look, I’ve known Manuel for a long time, and this is his handwriting. Don’t be ridiculous.’

Lucy replied, ‘Ah yes, but what does he mean by “2:30”? A note like that is subject to interpretation. Suppose he was talking about another time zone or something.’ And so a short philosophical argument ensued about the note. However, Lucy prevailed and insisted on performing the measurement and calculations.

A few minutes later, Lucy announced: ‘Well, I’ve got bad news for us. Based on the amount of wax that has melted and the rate at which the wax is melting, I can confidently tell you that it has been at least one whole day since this guy left. He was probably talking about 2:30 yesterday. And since he said that he’d be back “in a couple of hours”, we can assume that something happened to him and he’s not coming back at all. So much for your “note”.’

Just then, Manuel walked in. Lucy said, ‘Are you this guy “Manuel”? What took you so long?’ Manuel replied, ‘What are you talking about? I left you guys a note saying I’d be back in a couple of hours. It hasn’t even been that long.’ Lucy said, ‘Never mind the note. I measured the amount of wax that has dripped off your candle, and the rate which the wax was melting. I know you’ve been gone since yesterday.’

Manuel replied, ‘First of all, that candle isn’t burning anywhere near as brightly as when I first lit it. Second of all, I didn’t light a new candle, but a used one. And thirdly, I used another candle to light this candle and in the process the wax from that candle spilled all over this one.’

Lucy said, ‘So you set up that candle to deceive us, to make it look like you left the room over a day ago, when in fact it’s been less than a couple of hours.’ Manuel replied, ‘Look, I left you a note telling you when I left. I never intended for you to conduct some silly experiment measuring wax dripping off of a candle to figure out when I left. I put the candle there so you guys would have some light.’

Learning to Float

November 5th, 2004 Viewed 1081 times

“Can you get into the pool?” Kate asked.

“Of course I can get into the pool,” the boy replied. He proceeded to get climb down the ladder into the water below. “See?”
“Good.  Now come over here to me,” she instructed. The boy made his way over to her. It was an experience that the boy hadn’t had in years. To have that much water surrounding his body was a curious sensation. Something that he would take some time getting used to.

“So, how does it feel?”

“Different. I haven’t done this in a long time!”

“Well, here. Let me show you some strokes.” She swims to the right and starts to demonstrate different strokes as the boy watches on. She goes back and forth with seemingly effortless motion.

“You expect me to do that?!”

“Well, not right at first. Let’s try this. Hold on to this,” she instructs, as they both turn to grab onto a piece of metal bar that is on the side of the pool, “and see if you can float.” He held onto the bar, and his feet went up.

The night continued on, as Kate tried to teach the boy how to at least tread water. His insecurity about the whole thing made it difficult, as he didn’t want to trust the water below him.

“Can you stick your head under water?”

“I think so. Let’s see.” He quickly stuck his head under and brought it back up. “That was weird. I was scared.”

“Why? I wouldn’t let you drown.”

“I know that, but still…”

At one point, she tried to get him to do the back float while he held on to two bars. “Okay, now all you have to do is to keep your belly button pointed to the sky. Can you let go with one hand. I’ll keep my hand on your back.” So he let go with one hand, but didn’t know what to do with it. The floating feeling was strange, and he felt he had no control. He placed his hand on her back, to get support, just as the life guard called for everyone out of the water.

As Christians, we must trust God with all of our heart. It is not an easy thing, yet with practice, turning one’s life over to Him can result in a wonder of how we ever lived without Him. Of all people, He is the One that loves us the most, and gave us His Son to die for us. Like the boy in the story, we can trust Him with our lives, yet, too often we need to have control of the situation ourselves. To give Him all things is to secure all things, so why is it so difficult? We must learn to deny ourselves if we want to be fit for His service.

Casting Every Burden

October 4th, 2004 Viewed 1133 times

Walking down the long road, from where he was to where he was going, a lone slave made his journey. He was determined to finish the course, to make his way home. He had been a pilgrim in this weary land for far too long. It seemed like many years, more than he could remember, that he was placed here, under the care of a ruthless master who had no care for him– even whether he lived or died. He wasn’t mistreated too badly. In fact, many would say that he had it well off. He was provided for, it seemed, but much was missing from his life.

It was at that point in time that a woman stepped into his life which pointed him to a kind, gentle master, who had his eye on him the whole time. That master was gracious and had prepared the way for the servant to join him, all he had to do was believe.

So, the servant was now following where his faith led. It was to a destination that he’d only heard stories about when people passed his way. Few had ever been there and returned, and who blamed them! From what the servant heard, you’d be crazy to want to come back. The path was difficult, the journey tough. There were many pitfalls, and it was impossible to tell if he was making any progress toward home or not, or when he would get there.
This one day, another servant of his former master caught up with him, and started to talk to him about what had transpired.

“So, you’re on your way to your new home.”

“That’s right.”

“You know, I hear that it’s a long way off. Are you sure that you wouldn’t like to take a break and get a drink of water or something?”

“Well, I am kinda thirsty.” With that, the servant stops. He goes totake a glass of water, but as he nears it, and brings it to his lips, he throws the water down. “I can’t drink this! I’m on a mission!”

A little further down the road, there is a great gulf that seems to go for miles. It’s right in the way of the path. The servant isn’t sure if he can climb down the cliff or even go the distance. The former servant returns to his side. “So, how come your new master leads you to cliffs that you cannot cross. You’d think that He’d at least have a swinging bridge here or something!”

“That is a little strange. It seems that this whole path is difficult!”

“Well, no need to hurry, you can just sit here for a while– there’s a nice tree over here,” points out the other servant.

“That does look nice and cool.” He starts to head over to the tree, but realizes that he has to conquer the gap, and it’s still going to be there when he gets up. It has to be now. So, he gets up and starts to cross.

A few miles later, the former servant appears with a big truck. “Are you here to offer me a ride?”

“Nope,” grins the former servant, “you forgot a few things.” Getting out of the truck, the other servant takes the tarp off of the truck to reveal a bunch of items, pictures, tokens, and things that remind the servant of who he was, of the mistakes he made. In fact, there’s even a picture there of the water and the gap.

“What’s this?”

“These are things that you left behind. You have to take these with you!”

“No! I have all I need.” Yet he finds himself, one by one, taking things from the truck and examining them. Before he puts them in his bag and continues, he looks up. Thinking of his master, he drops them to the ground, pulls out a piece of paper, and writes something to remember– about his master, where he was, and the deceitful ways of a by gone time.

Christian, you’re on a mission. Don’t let yourself get distracted. Don’t let the things of this world tempt you. And, most importantly, don’t let Satan have you take back upon yourself the burden of sins confessed. They were laid on Christ. “Take my yoke upon you… for m yoke is easy and my burden is light.” This is what Christ says, happy are we if we do it!

Where is Your Treasure?

September 29th, 2004 Viewed 821 times, 1 so far today

Slipping through the narrow street, the young man scampered over the things in the alleyway until he reached an old, broken-down shack that lie at the end. He carefully walked up, turned around to see if anyone had followed, and then opened the creaky old door. It squeaked as it opened, and he looked to see if anyone had heard. No one was there. Not a sound. He carefully walked into the shack, and closed the door slightly behind.

A cat jumped off it’s perch, and nearly scared the boy to death as he swerved away from it. Panting, he held his hand to his chest, feeling his heart pounding inside. A few minutes later and the boy caught his breath and continued inside. Like he was the builder of the shack, he made his way to the back and to an old trunk. Being careful that no one was watching, he lifted the latch and lifted the lid. A smile warmed over his face as he gazed at the trunk’s contents. Inside, laying in a bed of sawdust, was a rock. Not just any rock, but the most precious treasure to this young man for in the corner of the rock shined a sparkling gem, of which he was sure was the prettiest diamond he’d ever seen. He dared not tell anyone about it, for they would surely want his gem.

After a little while gazing at his treasure, he closed the lid, put back the latch, and walked back outside, once again making sure that no one had seen or heard a thing, for no one must have his treasure.

Back at his house, his family all gathered around the table for dinner. The father, a farmer by trade from many generations of farmers, sat at the head of the table, as the mother, arms resting on the counter, seemed like she was going to break into tears. “I don’t understand it Charles,” his mother said.

“It’s just that way, May. This has been a bad season, and old Joe Crane down at the bank said that if we didn’t get the money for the latest loan I took out for the feed, that they were going to come out and have to take some of the livestock or something of value from the farm. I can’t think of what we can give him,” replied the father.

But Dad,” the boy said, “If you sell your animals won’t that make it harder for you to make money to pay it off?”

“It would, son, but I don’t see any other choice.” The son had never disclosed any information about his treasure. Any time he was asked about it, the response was that he was off doing something personal or doing something that he thought was fun. No one ever pressed him to find out what took so much of his time, and he never volunteered that information.

It was about a month later, the father had sold some of the livestock, and the family was still in financial trouble. To make matters worse, his little sister caught a dreadful disease, and the father was forced to sell some more of the animals to
cover the fee of the doctor. “It’s all I have, do you understand that?” The father told the banker. “I have nothing but the farm left.”

“I’m sorry, sir. I just cannot give you a loan. You have no collateral or any previous credit rating. I’m afraid that there is nothing that I can do for you.” Disappointed and disheartened, the father turned around and headed for the door. He
walked out, and back to the house.

That day, the boy visited his treasure again, thinking of how he would never have to face the problems that his dad was facing. A twinge of guilt sprung up inside him as he viewed the gem. Maybe I should let my father know about the gem, he thought. He felt for his sister, and knew how the family was in trouble, yet, at the same time, wondered if the gem were enough or whether his treasure would be worth anything. Even if it was, his dad would probably never listen to him tell of a diamond he had– he would think it was a dream or that he was just a child.

Another month passes. The farm has been sold to a wealthy city man.  The family is allowed to stay on it, with pay, out of the rich man’s generosity. The daughter is getting better, though still not out of the hospital. The rent on the place is coming due, and the young boy decides to tell his father about the treasure.

“Dad. I need to tell you something.”

“Not now, son. I’m kinda busy.”

“But Dad, it is important.”

“So is what I am doing.”

“But Dad–”

“No buts. Now, run along and check to see if your mother has anything for you to do.” The boy hangs his head and walks away. After he is done helping his mother, he walks back to his treasure, takes it out of the box, and works his way to a jeweler. “Let’s see what you have here, son.” The man said. He eyed the rock and the gem in the top. “It’s a diamond all right, but let’s see just how big it is.” The jeweler carried the rock into the back, where he had a hammer and chisel. Carefully, the jeweler banged at the rock to reveal a whole lot bigger diamond than he had ever imagined.

“I’m sorry son, but I don’t have enough money to pay for this diamond. There is a jeweler in the city that could buy it from you.” He gave the young man the address, and with that, the young man headed out to his farm house with the diamond in a bag for safe keeping. But, it was too late. His father had already taken matters into his own hands and had stolen from the city man and was thrown into prison. His mother, desperate for money or work, had left the house to who knows where.

So, the young man went to his sister, showing her the diamond, and telling her all about how an old man had showed him the trunk and gave him the diamond– a real treasure to him. And how he kept it, and never thought that it was as big as it really was, and how much it was worth. How he thought that no one would believe him, and so, he kept it hidden. The sister, tears in her eyes, asked, “But why? Why didn’t you tell us sooner? Why did you wait all this time to share with us
something so valuable?”

“I don’t know.”


Christian, your salvation, your very life from God, is a treasure given to you freely from Christ Jesus Himself. Precious beyond measure was the blood that was shed for you. He gave His life, and commands us to go share the message, give the witness, spread the faith! Why is it that this most precious treasure, far greater than anything we could ever imagine, lies locked up inside ourselves or in our churches. Why isn’t it everywhere– on our tongue continuously?

MInTheGap

Standing in the Gap in a Society that's Warring with God.