“Spaghetti Ice”

They called it “spaghetti ice.” I called it heaven on earth. When Judy and I were married I was in the Air Force. About a year later we received orders to serve in Sembach, Germany. Let me just say it was an amazing time. We were newlyweds living in a beautiful country of hills and mountains, lush valleys, incredible evergreen forests and fairy tale castles. Like I said, it was pretty amazing. And it got better when I bumped into spaghetti ice.

We discovered spaghetti ice cream with some friends from church. “It” lived in a small town called Landstuhl. It was about a 15-mile drive to the place that sold this small piece of heaven. It was worth every mile. “What is spaghetti ice?” you say. Well, let me try and describe it to you.

First, imagine (I’m already drooling) a rich vanilla ice cream, pressed through a mold. It goes in looking like ice cream and comes out looking like a four or five-inch mound of spaghetti. Then right in the middle of the ice cream sat a big dollop of incredible whipped cream. Can someone say “amen?” But wait, I’m just getting started.

After its journey through the press they would lavishly cover the ice cream with a strawberry berry sauce. The crowning jewel was an ample sprinkling of finely ground coconut. I’m about to shout “hallelujah!”

Ready to buy your ticket to Landstuhl? The thing that amazed Judy and me was the fact that something so not spaghetti could look like spaghetti. It’s like your eyes were seeing one thing and your tongue was tasting another. The way they pressed it and dressed it make it look like something that it was not. Wait, I think that is what the world wants to do to us.

You see, regardless of the circumstances, there is a constant pressure from the world to press us and dress us like them. We are pressured to think like the world, dress like the world, do business like the world. Shortly after that we start being bitter like the world, hating like the world and fearing like the world. That could be why so many believers are fearful in these corona virus days. They are seeing life and circumstances through the eyes of the world.

But the deal is God says we are different. While He was praying for us, and how cool is that, Jesus said, “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” Check it out. It’s recorded in John 17:16-17.

That word sanctify is a word that simply means “to be set apart.” When we became one of God’s kids He set us apart from the world. We live differently, speak differently, and do life differently. Now wait. That doesn’t mean we are better than anyone but we are to be different. And that different is to be the magnet that draws others to Jesus.

So, like the ice cream is pressed and dressed to look like spaghetti we will be pressured to be like everyone else. And when we are like everyone else we lose the ability and privilege to share the hope of Jesus. That’s why Paul writes in Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

Don’t let the world put you through the press rather let God’s Word renew you to look like Jesus. People need hope today. People need Jesus. If that is going to happen we have to resist the urge to become “spaghetti ice” in a world that needs truth–that needs the real deal. Don’t be afraid to be different. Whether the fear comes from the corona virus or being different–we can rest in Him. After all, He’s got this.

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Telling God No…

It was breaking news. “According to local sources a 5.8 magnitude earthquake rocked Southern Illinois yesterday, April 23, at approximately 2:49 pm. Authorities say it was the strongest earthquake to hit the area in decades. The epicenter of the strong quake was traced to Harrisburg, Illinois. In an unusual move, the Center for Seismic Activities was able to trace the center of the quake to 1300 South Feazel Street. More details will follow later.”

Later is now. It was me. I was sitting in one of the offices at Dorrisville Baptist Church solving all the world’s problems (and it was a long list) with two of my friends. In the midst of the conversation it came. My “Dick Tracy” Apple watch vibrated letting me know a message had arrived. It was from our Financial Secretary. She was watching the news.

Governor Pritizker had just announced he was extending the stay at home order until at least May 30th. I stomped my foot and the ground shook. That would mean for five more weeks we couldn’t meet as a church family in our building. It got worse. I then learned I would be required to wear a mask if I went out in public unless I was medically hindered. If stubbornness is a medical condition–I won’t be wearing a mask. Regardless, I stomped my foot and the ground shook.

Never in my wildest dreams could I foresee a time when our church campus would be closed for 10 (pull off your shoes cause you’re gonna need your fingers and toes to count them) weeks. Never. Never could I imagine a time when so many businesses would be closed, so many jobs would be temporarily or permanently lost. Never could I imagine such fear and devastation from an enemy so small I can’t see it. Never.

But God did. God saw it all coming. In fact, we can’t see the end of this and yet He sees it with crystal clarity. I’ve been writing now for weeks that He has “this.” And He does. He has allowed this brokenness in our broken world that will ultimately bring glory to His name and somehow–somehow–bring some sense of good for me–and you. No, no, no–this is not good. He just promised to bring good.

But I stomped my foot and I said “no.” Telling God “no” is never a good idea. I mean, He is God and I am not. He is smarter, wiser, bigger and better than any of us. He never, and I mean, never messes up. He never has an oops–never is caught by surprise. But I stomped my foot anyway. Why?

I stomped my foot out of frustration. I stomped my foot because I want normal. I stomped my foot because I didn’t trust…didn’t trust…didn’t trust God. I stomped my foot because I want my life back…now. You see it is one thing to say I trust the sovereignty of God in your life but quite another to trust it in mine. Isn’t that true for all of us? I don’t mind if God messes with your life as long as He doesn’t mess with mine?

Psalm 14:1 is a really powerful verse. It says, “The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” God is saying it is a foolish thing to deny His existence. Take a look around. This world is way too incredible to be an accident. It has “God” written all over it. But there is something else here you need to see.

In that same verse, the words “there is” are in italics. That means they are not in the original language. So, it could read, maybe should read, “The fool has said in his heart, “No God.” It is not only foolish to deny the existence of God it is a foolish to tell Him “no.”You see, He really is smarter, wiser, bigger and better than us. He really does love us–a lot. He really does care for us–a lot. He’s got a plan, a good plan, a perfect plan–I promise you. So, Dewayne, quit stomping and start trusting. Rest in Him. He’s got this. He really does.