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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN

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THE HEART OF THE PROBLEM

Let's say you have a car. And let's say that car is running poorly. Rather than having the purr of a kitten, it has the cough of a three pack a day smoker. Rather than gliding down the road like a luxury liner, it yanks and jerks like a bull in a rodeo. So you take your car to a mechanic. You describe your problem and the mechanic confidently tells you to wait while he goes to get "just the thing" to fix your car.

He returns carrying – not pliers or gauges or any tools – but a can of car wax. "What your car needs is a good wax job!" he exclaims. "let me have her for an hour and she'll be shining like new." That sounds a bit odd, but who are you to question? So, you leave your car to the polishing mechanic. An hour later you return. True to the mechanic's word, your car boasts a brilliant shine that it hasn't had in years. Enthused, you hop in. "now this car is gonna go," you think.

But go it doesn't. It shines, but it's still sluggish. It sparkles, but it's still slow. The well-meaning mechanic doesn't give up! He's got all kinds of solutions to your car problems. New roof Whitewall tires. Fender guards. Fog lights. All add zest to the outside, but nothing puts zip on the inside.

Do all these solutions sound crazy? Consider this:

  • -- A housewife battles with depression. Suggested solution by some misguided mechanic? Buy a new dress.
    -- A husband seeks advice for his marriage that is riding on the crest of a wave about to be slammed into the rocks. Suggested solution? Bail out?
    -- A dying church flounders like a fish on a beach. What can be done to bring this congregation back to life? "Let's change the way we've been doing things," some mechanic calls out.
  • Case after case of treating the outside while ignoring the inside. We polish the chrome and neglect the engine. The housewife gets a new dress and her depression disappears!...for a few days. Then the shadow returns. The husband trades his wife for a new model. The result? Happiness!...for a while, then the same personality traits that got him in trouble the first time go to work again. The church begins doing things differently and the numbers increase with enthusiasm!...for a few months. Then the flame flickers and dies, leaving a cold church shaking its head.

Perhaps that's why Jesus and the religious leaders were always in disagreement. The religious leaders thought an outside reformation would be sufficient. Jesus, however, took them to the heart of the problem, which was, and still is today, the problem of the heart.

Remember the point: The next time your spiritual walk sputters and spews, don't polish or paint. Instead, penetrate. Go to the "Master Mechanic." It may very well be time for an overhaul!

For His Cause,
Tim Woodward