Cleaning with a dirty rag

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I’ve been blessed these last five years to have a Window Washing business that provides my family with a little extra well-needed cash throughout the year. I’ve cleaned a lot of different types of filth off of windows during that time. You’d be amazed at what people allow their windows to look like…During one window job I had an epiphany. I know what you’re thinking: how enlightening can washing windows really be. Well on this occasion it happened to be very inspiring so I’d like to share it with you.

On this day I happened to be doing the windows on this gigantic house. If I lived in a house this size I wouldn’t want to clean my windows either. We’re talking like a 5-6 hour job here with professional equipment. So as the job went on I noticed that it was becoming more and more difficult to get the windows streak and smudge free. I would clean out my gear fairly regularly to ensure that I wasn’t transposing dirt from one window to the next, but after a while that didn’t seem to help. It began to be frustrating. I was getting so close to the end of the job but I wanted to make sure my last window got as clean as my first. It was starting to take a long time just to complete each window.

Then it hit me. I had a super stubborn smudge that would not come out no matter which part of the shammy I used. Each wipe just spread the smudge in a different direction. I just cleaned this shammy too so why wasn’t it doing the job it was designed for? Then a spiritual bomb got dropped on me. “A dirty and used rag, no matter how clean I try to get it, will never be good enough. The rag has to be new.” If you’re familiar with the teaching of Christ you probably have an idea of where this is going.

If you’ve ever used a shammy to clean before you know that no matter how much you clean it, there is still residue from previous uses. There are stains that won’t come out no matter the method of cleaning. Shammies are designed to suck up moisture and clean better than most anything else. They work so well that this can be their downfall as well. My point is, that people and shammies are very similar. We have been designed by our Creator to be so efficient, creative, intelligent, strong, funny, and so much more. Psalm 139:14 says that we have been fearfully and wonderfully made by God and Ephesians 2:10 tells us that we are God’s workmanship (handiwork/masterpiece). God made each of us for a purpose and equipped us to carry out that purpose way more so than a shammy. But the similarities continue. We are all stained from life…from choices…from sin. And no matter how much we try to clean ourselves, those stains remain. Many of those stains are outwardly obvious and others are below the surface just like the ‘stuff’ held in the fibers of the shammy. We try to purify ourselves by being good, following lists, avoiding bad things, believing in ourselves, reading self help books, listening to motivational speakers, achieving high accomplishments, making money, buying nice things, keeping a smile on our faces, and so much more. All of these things are simply a facade without heart surgery. No matter how good we are in life, our goodness is like a filthy rag compared to the pure holiness of God. Our scars/stains will always affect those around us as well just like my dirty shammy was just smearing the glass. The only way for me to get those windows clean…the only way to be clean ourselves…is to be made new.

Second Corinthians 5:17 tells us that everyone who is in Christ is a new creation. Jesus Christ removes the deepest stains in anyone’s lives. God promises to erase any stain and purify anyone who calls on His name and receives forgiveness through Christ. Just check out Isaiah 1:18. God goes on to tell us in 2 Corinthians 5:21 that Christ, the Holy and Perfect One, died so that we might have the righteousness of God. So our filthy rag becomes a spotless garment pure as the driven snow. So my plea to anyone reading this, who battles with deep seeded scars, struggling to mask pain and hurts from life, if you don’t know Jesus Christ, today is your day. In Him is healing…in Him all things become new…in Him is rest and peace. No formula in life will ever work outside of Christ. Everything else is just cleaning with a dirty rag. And lets be honest, every day we get our shammy dirty in some way and Jesus is the only way to remove it.

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV)

 

 

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A Refuge for Refugees

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This is one of the most heavily debated topics in US politics at the moment. As the crisis worsens in the Middle East and more and more people try and flee the region, nations are faced with the question of whether or not to allow them in. Not only is this dividing politicians but it’s also dividing society.

There seems to be a pretty clear division in terms of party opinion. The House of Representatives, dominated by Republicans, voted a measure to limit Syrian refugees into the states. Governors have voiced their opinions as well. Thirty one state governors have openly objected the idea of allowing refugees into their states, all but one is Republican.

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The main arguments for closing our borders to refugees is safety. Many believe that letting refugees in could open the door to terrorists slipping through our borders. Even some involved in the information gathering business for our government (names to remain anonymous) believe that it would too difficult to monitor those coming in who cannot be traced and have no records.

While this is a valid concern, I cannot get over the fact that these people need help. I have talked with some who think that most of the refugees are Muslim men who share extremist views and pose a threat to our nation. If that were the case I would have a heightened level of concern myself. The problem is that most of the people affected by this displacement are women and children. Take a look at the data below:

#1-The problem is getting worse as people in our nation debate:

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#2-Women and Children are by far the largest population hurt by the conflicts in Syria:

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The arguments against allowing the refugees into our nation sound all too familiar. They are far too similar to what our media was voicing in the 1930’s over the issue of allowing the flood of European Jews into the US due to persecution by the Nazi and Fascist regimes. The main concerns were that the Jews posed a safety risk to our nation and that we had no way to support the large numbers of refugees. Sound like anything you’ve heard on the news lately? I’m convinced that the root concern then, as is the root concern now, is prejudice. However, Jews have never been a threat to the world, quite the opposite actually. Islamic Extremism is perhaps the greatest threat our world has faced ever since Muhammad began his bloody campaigns well over a thousand years ago.

James 1:27 states, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

As a follower of Christ I find myself at a crossroads. On one hand I have no doubt that allowing anyone into the United States who could promote Islamic Extremism poses a major threat to our country and i’m sure some ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing’ WOULD find their way in. On the other hand I feel it is our responsibility to look after the millions of women and children (and yes the men too) who are in distress. Actually I don’t even think distress is a sufficient word to use. In addition Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:44 to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.

There’s no doubt that this is a hard topic but as a follower of Christ I cannot deny His call on our lives. The call of compassion, love, action, mercy, service, etc…We are also called to be wise and discerning so it’s not as clear cut as it may seem. However, millions need a home, a bed, food, clothing…hope. Who better to offer that than those who proclaim the God of hope? The God who is our refuge and strength.

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No matter which side of the debate you are on, please join with me in praying for these millions who’s lives have been shattered. And if you can, do  your part to extend a loving hand and speak hope.