Parable of the New Car and Salvage Yard

A certain man was walking through a salvage yard and discovered an expensive, one-of-a-kind car sitting in a field of broken, busted, and forgotten cars.

The salvage yard manager approached the man, who was now inspecting the new car with intrigue and delight. “What are you looking for?” quizzed the manager.

Still mesmerized by such a conspicuous diamond-in-the-rough, the man hardly even heard the question but responded, “I have been searching for this exact car for years! Imagine my shock and surprise when I stumbled upon it in the least likely of locations!”

“It’s a real beauty and it runs like no other,” the manager retorted with his hands in his pockets and his chest puffed out, “but we’re using her for parts.”

Incredulous, the man immediately broke his gaze and sneered at the manager in disbelief.

“You’re doing what?!”

The manager continued, “Look it son, we’re a salvage yard. Everything around here is wrecked and discarded. It’s junk. Just look around. Honestly, I was thinking that when people walk through this broken mess looking for parts, it might be a nice thing to help the people out and give them a shiny, new part that they could put on their damaged cars. Make them feel good about themselves, if you know what I mean. So if you need a part yourself…”

Reeling in disbelief, the man interjected in a fit of rage, “But you don’t use a one-of-a-kind car, that’s hard to find, mind you, for only the parts! You just don’t do that! The parts, by themselves, are worthless on other cars! They won’t even fit any other car and they certainly won’t fix anyone’s problems!”

The manager stood there, hands still in his pockets, but now not so puffed up. In fact, he was quite deflated. He had invested so much time and money into this plan, for what he believed would be a nice gesture and benefit to others.

Almost under his breath, the manager whispered, “I could tell you all about the parts of this car, if you like.”

But the man, unrelenting, continued, now even more animated and exasperated, “This is one of the most ridiculous, cockamamie plans I have ever seen in my entire life. Who in the world will benefit from windshield wipers that are customized only for this car? Who will benefit from brakes that are uniquely made for only this car? Please tell me, who will benefit from this engine, this engine that was made specifically to fit only this car?”

The manager was utterly speechless.

For all of his good intentions, he realized the folly, the foolishness, of his plan.

The value of the car is not in it’s individual parts, but rather, in how the individuals parts come together to comprise something incredibly unique that is extraordinarily beautiful and invaluable.

And it is for this diamond-in-the-rough that one would be willing to sell everything in order to attain, not the individual parts, but the extraordinarily beautiful and invaluable whole.

For the Good News of the Kingdom of God is like an expensive, one-of-a-kind car in the broken and busted salvage yard of the world. And while there are so many in the world who are seeking and searching, there are those, like the manager, who have reduced the beautiful and invaluable whole of the Kingdom of God into individual parts that have no value when apart from the larger Good News message of the Kingdom of God.

Some “managers” give a sermon about the muffler this week or the windshield wiper another week. And, just about every week one can hear the engine of salvation message. But, week after week, maybe even year after year, those seeking and searching fail to hear how the individual parts fit together to comprise the beautiful and invaluable Good News message of the Kingdom of God.

Rather, the focus is on the muffler message of relationships, which is very important and needs to be taught, but it is an individual component of something so much larger, something so much deeper.

The focus is on the windshield wipers of worship, a fantastic individual component in which one can learn and participate, but there is a larger narrative that it fits within.

And most importantly, the focus is on the engine of salvation that so many obsess over in our churches, which is, “You are a sinner and need a Savior. Give your life to Jesus so your sins can be forgiven.”

And while the engine of salvation is an essential part, no one is talking about the beautiful, invaluable car in which this engine runs.

The Good News of the Kingdom of God has been dismantled and used for parts.

Again, the engine is extraordinarily important and makes the entire car run quite well, but it is still only one part of the larger whole. And, if we only talk about, and fixate on, any one component, like the engine, we will never discover the beauty and value of the larger car.

For the beauty and value of the Kingdom of God is not in individual parts, but rather, in how the individuals parts are embodied and expressed that make it extraordinarily beautiful and valuable.

The Good News of the Kingdom of God is not one of the many things.  It is the thing.

The Kingdom of God is the thing through which all things come together- all things in heaven and earth- and through which all things flow and manifest, first in Christ and then through each of us.

And it is for the Good News of the Kingdom of God that one would be willing to sell everything in order to attain, not the individual parts, but the beautiful and invaluable whole.

“I must preach the Good News of the Kingdom of God in other towns, too, because that is why I was sent.” – Jesus

Seeking first the Kingdom…

Brandon

father…

There are valleys and hills in life.

The valleys are full of shadows.

The valleys are painful.

The valleys invite doubt.

We grow up believing that there is nothing redeemable in the valleys.

We prefer the hills.

But it is through both the hills and valleys where we learn perseverance and character.

It is where we find hope and where our faith is strengthened.

I first saw faith demonstrated in the valley- from my dad.

The Scriptures cry out to us, “If you have the faith of a mustard seed…the mountains will move.”

Our family was in the valley together… as my dad had just been told he could lose his eyesight.

The fear of not being able to see.

The fear of not being able to see his wife and children.

The fear of not being able to provide for his family.

The valley seemed so low.

The mountain seemed so high.

How could this impossible situation change?

How could the seemingly unmovable be moved?

His mustard seed faith stood in front of our church family and began to break forth through words and tears.

The roots of faith took hold and began to shake the mountain violently.

Prayers of faith and healing rained down on my dad and family.

Faith was no longer an empty idea.

It was a living example from my father.

It was Godly instruction, not from mere words, but from his life… his heart and soul.

The mountain was no longer a mountain.

It held no lasting or enduring obstacle.

By faith it was attainable.

The Father told my faithful father, “I will pick you up and put you on my shoulders.”

Faith is not a word. Faith is a life.

I saw the faith of my father through his life and by his example. As a child, I knew I wanted that kind of faith.

The seeds of faith had been sown from my father and into my own life.

Your father’s blessings are greater than the blessings of the ancient mountains… than the bounty of the age-old hills.

The great blessing of faith I received from my father was greater than the very foundations of the earth.

And as a father now myself, I must pass along this great blessing of faith to my children.

For a father, there is no greater responsibility.

The seeds that were sown into my life have taken root.

They have been watered by the pouring of the Spirit, and illuminated by the he radiance of the heavenly Father.

Now, the reproducing seeds of faith must be sown into my children.

May my blessings upon my children be greater than the blessings of the ancient mountains… than the bounty of the age-old hills.

Let me be a father who instructs his children in the way of the Lord.

Let me be a father who lives, not simply by words, but by how he is living his life.

Let me be a father who loves his wife and his children.

Let me be a father whose words and instructions are respected by his children, because they have learned he has their best interest in mind.

Let me be a father who guides, teaches, encourages, and molds his children in the way of Jesus by demonstrating love, forgiveness, mercy, and justice to everyone.

Let me be a father who lives life to the fullest and encourages his children to do the same.

Let me be a father who delights in his children and enjoys the richness of our relationship together.

Let me be a father who prays over his children and their endeavors by day and by night.

Let me be a father who lives by the example of honesty, hard-work, and trustworthiness so that his children will follow in these ways as well.

Let me be a father who extends the blessings of God to the lives of his children.

Let me be a father who will always stand by his family and demonstrate his faith through the highs and the lows, the mountaintops and the valleys.

Let me be a father who passes along the rich heritage of faith was given to me by the faith of my father.

Thanks dad… and Happy Father’s Day!

Brandon

a story for the skeptics…

I am going to share a story with you that I have only told a handful of people.  It’s one of those stories that is so unbelievable that you could potentially think I have completely lost it… and maybe that is why it has taken me two years to share it with you.

The way I figure it:  you either already believe I am completely out of my mind and have been for quite some time -OR- you believe that I am on the verge of being completely out of my mind at any moment.  Either way I have absolutely nothing to lose!

As I have previously written and to serve as some context:

I am a doubter, a cynic, and a skeptic and I confess to you that I have even been known to roll my eyes when people have told me that God spoke to them.  Not that my eye-rolling wasn’t justified a few times, but my cynicism and skepticism kept me from believing that God would, or could, actually speak in a way that a person today would really hear Him.  But God has a way of silencing the fools, and (again) I was about to be silenced.

About two years ago one of my best friends and I decided that we were going to spend seven days fasting from food so that we could spend our time praying and seeking God’s guidance for our individual lives and for our church.  This particular fast was different than others in which I have undertaken.  While I typically fast from food, I would also be abstaining from coffee as well.  If you don’t know me that well…I survive on coffee.  In fact…I am sitting at Starbucks right now drinking black coffee as I type this story.  I love this marvelous, beautiful liquid…and I knew what life was going to be like without it for seven days.

It was going to start off with headaches.  I could not function for the first two days.  Headaches.  Body aches.  And headaches.  Did I mention the headaches?  I began to wonder if it was even worth it as my heart pounded in my cranium.

But on the third day…I came back to life.  Did you like that?  Yeah…I found new life at the beginning of day three.  I could actually spend the remaining five days focused on something besides myself.  So I began to pray.

I think it may have been a Wednesday night.  I went upstairs and was preparing to go to bed.  I nestled into the sheets, read for a bit, and then turned off the light when I could no longer finish a sentence without dozing off.

I vividly remember my prayer after turning off the light.  It may seem an odd prayer to you…being that my writing may reflect a tremendous amount of faith…but I just remember repetitiously asking God several questions:

Why do you not reveal yourself and make things obvious?  Why do you not speak to me clearly so I know that you are there and understand what you want me to do?  Why do you make faith so difficult?

I don’t remember finishing my prayer that night as I faded into sleep mumbling the same words over and over.  I was sound asleep.  That is…until our home phone began to ring downstairs.

I immediately awoke and tried to collect my thoughts as I ran down the hallway and then downstairs- What time is it?  Who on earth is calling me at this hour?  Is there something wrong with my parents or Jenny’s parents?

I frantically lunged for the phone, “Hello?!”

On the other end of the phone someone was crying hysterically.  My heart began to race and more questions flew through my head- Are my kids ok?  Is Columbus, Indiana under attack?  Is my family in danger?

“Brandon, it’s Rebecca!  Are you alright?!”

A hundred more questions came to me all at once as time seemed to slow down- Why is Rebecca calling me?  Why is Rebecca calling me at 3:30AM?  Why is she crying hysterically?

Rebecca is my cousin’s wife, and to my knowledge, she had never previously called my house.  Even more…I don’t think I had ever spoken with her on the phone before…period.  When I call my cousin, who lives out of town, I always call his cell phone and talk directly to him.  She didn’t have my home phone number… so she had to look it up!  This early morning call was starting off very bizarre, to say the least.

“Yeah, I am fine…why?”

Sobbing, Rebecca continued, “Is your family alright?!”

Utterly confused and almost second-guessing myself I responded, “Yeah, everyone here is ok why?”

Her crying intensified, “Because I was having a dream and God told me that I had to call you!  As I hesitated in the dream to call you…God screamed at me, ‘IT IS A MATTER OF LIFE OR DEATH!!!’  At that point I didn’t have a choice…I knew that no matter how weird it may seem to you…I had to call you!”

I completely lost it.  Tears began streaming down my face as I recalled my intent prayers before falling asleep.  As best I could, I tried to explain to Rebecca how completely miraculous and profound this was.  We both agreed that it was more than coincidental. But as the conversation settled down and we said goodbye, neither of us knew how unbelievably coincidental this whole situation was about to become.

I went upstairs where my wife was intently waiting to hear what all the commotion was about.  I emotionally told her everything in detail about this extraordinary event.  We were both amazed at the unbelievable string of events.  Even though it was going to be hard to get back to sleep after such excitement, we turned off the lights and just laid there talking.

“Brandon, do you smell something?  It smells like a burning, electrical smell.”

I smelled the same thing and immediately got up to investigate.  I have an excellent sniffer so I made my way through the house like a hound dog on the hunt.  I went from room to room, upstairs to downstairs, downstairs to upstairs but couldn’t find anything suspicious.  Both Jenny and I could definitely smell this burning electrical but were perplexed as to where it was coming from and even more perplexed as to what to do about it.  But like any sane and overly cautious human being who just got spooked out of his mind by a crazy phone call only 30 minutes prior and who now smells something burning in his house…I called 911.

“Uh…I am calling because we have this burning electrical smell in our house but we can’t find where it is coming from and we are concerned that it may start a fire.  Would you please send the fire department to our house to investigate it…and please tell them to not turn on their sirens and wake the entire neighborhood?”

Jenny went up stairs to wake up our kids and I went out on the front porch to wait for the firefighters.  It wasn’t long before I could hear the sirens screaming from a mile away.  The concert tour bus sized fire engine came blazing around the corner onto our road and was calling for everyone in our neighborhood to get out of bed so they could see what the emergency was all about.

After explaining the burning smell to the fire chief, he and the volunteer firemen made their way through our house.  They moved from room to room, upstairs to downstairs, downstairs to upstairs but couldn’t find the culprit.  Perplexed, but trusting his intuition, the fire chief asked where our furnace was located.  I led him downstairs and he immediately began to investigate.  It wasn’t one minute before the chief made his professional determination.

“Well, it’s definitely your heater…and it’s a good thing you were awake and smelled it because the motor is all burnt up and the wires were catching on fire.  You were about 30 minutes from a fire in your house.”

 

Peace…

Brandon