Faith • Leadership • Life

Yellow Brick Road

YellowBrickRoad



The Wizard of Oz is one of our culture’s most revered stories and movies. Generations of children and adults have enjoyed this fantastic tale of a young girl’s journey through the land of Oz in search of “home”. I personally grew up watching it once a year when it was aired on TV. The flying monkey’s always freaked me out!! In the story, the young girl Dorothy is blown to the strange but amazing land of Oz by a Kansas twister. She is told that there is only one road that will lead her home. This yellow brick road would be the path that Dorothy and her dog would take to get to the destination at which she so desperately wished to arrive.

Along the road she encountered several characters who all wanted and needed something. A scarecrow needed a brain, the tin man a heart, and the lion desired courage and strength. The great wizard in the Emerald City had a false identity making him essentially nothing more than a fake. The yellow brick road also took the girl down some dark and scary turns, and the entire journey was made treacherous because of the evil force of the witch who wanted nothing more than to destroy Dorothy.

Isn’t it interesting that the greatest stories actually mirror truth? Our lives are very much like Dorothy’s. We can feel like strangers in a foreign land as we walk through this life. Most of us yearn for direction and purpose. We often take paths in our lives that bring immense hardship and pain as we try to find our way home. We meet people along the way who are walking through life with similar stories and needs, all missing things that they deeply desire. A burning question often surfaces in the hearts and minds of those living this life. What is the way? How do I get “home”? Many of you ask this question daily. Even those who consider themselves Christians find themselves wrestling with this problem.

In the New Testament, the disciple Thomas asked Jesus this same question. The night before the crucifixion and death of Christ, He was with his men and began telling them that He was going to go away. Thomas asked a question that we’ve all been asking for 2000 years. What is the way Jesus? We don’t know the way? Thomas loved Jesus and truly wanted to know the way to where He was going! Jesus gave Thomas a powerful answer, and His answer hasn’t changed in 2000 years.

In John 14:6, Jesus said “I am the way and the truth and the life.” Jesus said that HE was the WAY!! The Yellow Brick Road of our lives that will lead us home is not bricks and mortar but instead it is a person!! Jesus is the ROAD. Jesus is the WAY. And He made it clear that He’s the ONLY way. There isn’t multiple paths in this life that will lead you home. There’s many roads you can take, but only one right one. Jesus is the way. Getting on the right road in life begins with Jesus and loving Him.

AW Tozer wrote that the most important thing about us is what we think about God. Proverbs says the beginning of all wisdom is the FEAR of the Lord. Mark 12:30 records Jesus saying that we are to LOVE the Lord our God. This is the beginning and the end of the right road of life. It all comes back to Jesus. He is the Alpha and Omega. He’s the first step of your right journey and He’s the destination. Follow Him and you’ll never regret it. It will be dark at times, hard at times, and you’ll want to give up at times, but keep following. He’s the ONLY way. I’d rather walk in the dark with Jesus than be in the light on my own!!

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The Aquarium

The Acquarium

Growing up on the Gulf Coast, I have always loved water.  My childhood was full of visits to beaches, bays, rivers and creeks.  My grandfather’s catfish pond was within walking distance from my home, so as you can imagine, I’ve spent considerable time with fish and water!  This early passion of mine led to my family having an aquarium in our house.  As a young care taker of an aquarium, I learned a great deal about what this little glass enclosed environment should be, and how to create it and protect it.

Today, as an adult and pastor, I find that too many churches have become aquariums.  Here’s the way this often works.  The pastor and leaders of the church become the aquarium caretakers.  They make sure the fish they allow into the tank are for the most part quite similar.  The last thing you want to do is rock the boat!!  The next thing to pay careful attention to is the environment for the fish.  The rocks, plastic trees, water temperature……..it must be perfect for the fish in the tank.  The caretaker must also learn to feed the fish exactly the way the desire to be fed.  The type, frequency, and  amount of food are all key factors that must be kept in mind.  All of this effort and attention is given to taking care of the fish already in the tank.

As I read and seek to obey God’s Word, it becomes clear to me that CHURCH IS NOT AN AQUARIUM.  God never intended our churches to become comfy environments for the found to the exclusion of those who are still lost.  Jesus said in Matthew 4:19 that we should FOLLOW Him and He would make us fish for PEOPLE.  I couldn’t agree more with Pastor Andy Stanley’s recent book that the mission of the church must be both deep and wide.  The problem is that many churches take the easy road to turn completely inward and forget the other half of the mission which is to reach those far from God.

I think we should break down the glass walls of our aquariums and become churches where found people can grow deeper while lost people can be found.  It’s the tension I believe we are called to live in as the body of Christ.  We must allow fish in that are different……the diversity will only enrich the beauty of our local bodies.  While the anchor of our churches must be Jesus and His Word as we guard our theology and doctrines, we must be more open to diverse methodologies and expressions within.  Very simply, we must grow and go.  Aquariums are great for growing fish but terrible for “going” fish.  That’s why the church is NOT an aquarium.

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