Tuesday, September 27, 2016

“Red the Candy Man”

Submitted by Jim Garner

Growing up I had a father figure in my life that had a lot of life experience and wisdom. He was retired from the U.S. Air Force after serving almost thirty years and living all over the world.  He taught me manners, respect for others and authority, the importance of making smart decisions, “opportunity only knocks once”, and the value of reading my Bible. But there’s another thing he taught me as a boy that has never left my mind and I’m glad. It has helped me handle responsibilities through school and now into adulthood as a spouse, parent, and pastor. It was something he learned as a young airman while working at one of his military bases as he talked to an older man who was a vendor there. The vendor’s name was Red. My mentor called him Red the Candy Man.
One day Red and my friend were having a conversation at the vending stand. As they were talking something about my friend’s schedule and responsibilities that day came up which led to a bit of advice that impacted my friend and would one day help me. It was a simple piece of advice but when shared with the depth of poetic language has resonated deep in my mind all these years. Red told my friend this:
“The faintest pencil mark is more indelible than the most retentive human mind.”
In other words: WRITE IT DOWN. With everything going on in our busy lives and our minds being fed things off social media, radio/television, and people around us, it is so easy to be distracted and lose track of what we are supposed to remember or do. So now all these years later I still haven’t forgotten Red’s advice that he gave my friend. It’s something I’ve shared with my kids, co-workers, and interns.
You might think that this is practical but not very spiritual. It is very practical but I also think there is a spiritual parallel when it comes to having the Word of God in our lives – spiritual truth written across our minds and hearts. The Bible is one of God’s greatest gifts to us as His Word and revelation to us. It’s history but it’s also “His story” to us as we learn from His work through history in the lives of people known as Israel and now the Church.
So what does the Bible say about itself?
Psalm 119:9-11 > “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” (ESV)

Hebrews 4:12 > “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (ESV)
Jesus himself memorized Scripture having quoted from twenty-four Old Testament around 180 times. It was valuable in his ministry when it came to dealing with Satan’s temptations in Matthew 4:1-11 and when he was ministering or teaching others.
Colossians 3:16 > “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

2 Timothy 3:16-17 > “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

Having God’s word written on our hearts also assists us when we have to defend our faith in a challenging culture that seems opposed to Christianity at every turn.
I Peter 3:15 > “…but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.”

Going back to after the Ten Commandments were given and as a part of the Law the instructions to the people of Israel included this for parents raising children:
Deuteronomy 6:6-9 > “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

There’s no doubt that there’s value and actually command when it comes to “writing it (Scripture) down” on the tablets of our heart and lives. I guess Red the Candy Man knew what he was talking about it. Won’t you join me in writing down Scripture, reading Scripture, and memorizing Scripture in our spiritual journey? I can’t wait to see what God does with that in our life, our church, and in this culture in need of change.

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