I thought she was the cutest little thing in junior high. She didn't think I was the cutest little thing in junior high, though. See, I decided to make an all-or-nothing play for her. I went downtown and I spent all my allowance money on this necklace for her; the finest rhinestones you have ever seen. Then I wrote this eloquently mushy note to go with it and I sealed them both in an envelope which I proceeded to hand her one day as she passed by my desk in study hall. The next day, she passed by my desk again, and I looked down and there was a familiar looking envelope with the note and the necklace in it. Ouch!
It's a battle every mother has fought in every generation. That three-word charge that can mean the difference between getting sick or being well - "Wash your hands." Of course, it would be OK with most kids if washing their hands was a monthly thing, or at most maybe once a week. Our kids did it. I suppose you know at least one other who has done it. They come in from doing who knows what with those hands and they say, "They're not dirty." Now there may not be any brown slime dripping from those little hands, but you can be sure they're carrying a lot of nasty little critters. And it's amazing what happens when you get some soap and water on those hands - the sink is suddenly covered with some pretty yucky-looking stuff coming off those hands. Surprise, kid - you couldn't see it, but your hands were dirty. You just didn't realize how dirty!
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Dirty Hands Detector."
Our word for today from the Word of God comes from 2 Chronicles 30:15, where some folks who thought they were clean found out about some dirt they didn't know they were carrying. It's the time of King Hezekiah, one of the greatest of Judah's rulers. When he takes the throne, the nation is a moral and spiritual sewer, with idolatrous altars literally on every street corner. But Hezekiah turns his entire culture around and leads the people into a powerful, national revival.
But it started with the spiritual leaders. You know what, it still does today. After cleaning out the neglected and defiled temple of God, Hezekiah calls the people together for a national Passover celebration. It's been a long time since the people of God have observed this holy remembrance of God's deliverance. Listen to what happens to the spiritual leaders, the priests and the Levites, as they begin to prepare for this holy moment. "They slaughtered the Passover lamb...The priests and the Levites were ashamed and consecrated themselves and brought burnt offerings to the temple of the Lord. Then they took up their regular positions." Here the leaders are, in the middle of preparing for a service, and suddenly they stop what they're doing. They're ashamed. Suddenly, they are deeply aware of their sin, their compromise, their failures. What do they do to get over the shame? They consecrate themselves to God...they get rid of the garbage.
There's something pretty powerful here - something that any of us who have been given any spiritual leadership needs to absorb. Like these priests and Levites, Maybe you've been entrusted with some spiritual responsibility. You're teaching or you're leading, you're broadcasting, or parenting, or preaching, counseling, organizing or administering God's work. Look what happened to the spiritual leaders in Hezekiah's day. As they began to handle the holy, they realized they were not holy enough to handle it! They didn't realize what dirt there was on their hands until they began to handle holy things.
That's exactly what should be happening to you and me as we do the work God has given us - seeing the dirt we need to deal with before we handle the holy. First, we need to always remember we are handling the very things of God - our holy, holy, holy God. Do not ever let your work for Him become careless, or mechanical, or self-serving. It's a solemn - even dangerous - mistake to handle the holy without clean hands. That's why God says in Isaiah 52:11, "Touch no unclean thing! Come out from it and be pure, you who carry the vessels of the Lord."
Serving Christ is not fun-and-games or just some little spiritual exercise. It requires a holy life behind it. It produces a holy life, if you let it sink in what an incredible honor it is to be asked by a thrice-holy God to handle what is His. Like a child, you may look at what people can see of you and say, "My hands aren't dirty." But let your Savior begin to show you what you're doing that He can't bless - let Him cleanse your hands before you touch the sacred.
No child should handle food without clean hands. No child of God should handle the holy work of God without hands, without a heart, that God would call clean.
I couldn't just sit down and start using your personal computer. If you work in an office, chances are they make sure that they can have access to the company computer that you use. Your computer, my computer, your company's computer – obviously they're all protected from any funny business by something we call a password. I can't get into my computer without typing in my password. Would you like to know what it is? Nope!
As a New York Knicks basketball fan, I've had some victories and some play-off games to cheer for. But, oh yeah, I've had my share of disappointments. And too many of them came at the hands of one particular opponent some years ago when we were living in the New York area. It was a player named Reggie Miller. He had done more to stop my team than just about anybody I could think of because something happened to this man in a close game, when there was suddenly just a minute or two left. He was like on fire! He may or may not have had lots of points earlier in the game, but somehow – boom! - save your best for last. With time running out, Reggie suddenly became a scoring machine, making fantastic shots, often scoring enough points to send my team home for the season. Any player is a powerful force when he knows the end is near and lights up to make a difference!
I haven't bought a baseball bat for a while, but I know you can buy one that's cheap and may not last long or one that costs a little more and last longer. But a million-dollar baseball bat? That's a little out of my price range. And lest you think I've lost it, not long ago a massive 46-ounce Louisville Slugger bat sold at auction for $1.26 million dollars! What in the world could possibly make a simple baseball bat worth that much to anyone? Who used it. It was the bat used by Babe Ruth in the first baseball game in the new Yankee Stadium in 1923. In the third inning, the Babe blasted a home run right into the right field bleachers, and somebody just laid down over a million bucks for the bat he used.
When you see how cute our granddaughter is, it's hard to believe she's actually related to me. But she really is our little princess. I started calling my daughter "Princess" when she was just a baby, and I've never stopped. But I can't help calling our granddaughter that, as well, and when she was little she loved princesses. In fact, she had a princess skirt and top and tiara that she liked to wear around the house sometimes. She looked like Cinderella at the ball. When she'd answer the phone, I'd say, "Hi, Princess." And sometimes she'd say, "I'm not a princess!" Then, I have been told, she actually ran the phone like a scanner over the jeans and the shirt that she was wearing. When I asked her why she was not a princess, she let me know her clear-cut reason, "I'm not wearing my princess clothes."
There's a high fence around my friend Mel's garden. And he's got the most incredible fruit and vegetable garden I've ever seen. When Mel or his wife are at the grocery store, they can pretty much sail right past the produce department-they own a produce department. Their garden produces bumper crops of fresh tomatoes, corn, berries-you name it. I have always enjoyed taking a walk with him through what really feels like "God's little acre." But you don't just stroll from the yard right into the soil of the garden. You see, you have to open a gate and then go in. Every inch of that garden is surrounded by this sturdy fence. Now why does Mel have that big old fence around his garden? I suppose someone might say, "Oh, he just doesn't want anyone in there enjoying it." No. He has a fence there, not to limit your enjoyment of the garden, but to protect your enjoyment of the garden. It's not about keeping people from the beauty. It's about protecting the beauty from the things that could destroy it.
I think there was a time when people thought workers were demonstrating loyalty and nobility if they showed up for their job even if they felt sicker than a dog. More and more, people think you're not very smart if you do that! You may be one of those who drags yourself into work no matter how sick you are. You're there, all right, but so are your coughs, your sneezes, and your "cooties." Strangely, over the next few days, one co-worker after another comes down with symptoms that look suspiciously like what you brought to work with you. The poet was right, "no man is an island!" You're contagious!
It was one of those winter nights that chills you to the bone – cold temperatures, a brisk north wind, a freezing rain, some snow. Our friends were inside their house, and their horses were inside their barn. Well, actually, three out of four of their horses were inside the barn. Cassie, their Shetland, was standing outside for some strange reason. So as our friends looked out their window, they saw this pitiful scene: one lone horse under a barn light, standing there with the freezing rain and snow pounding down on her, forming ice on her mane. Now, her horse friends were all smart enough to be in their nice warm stalls, but, oh no, not Cassie.
"They had to use the paddles on him." Now that sounds like something we might say about an exasperated parent's response to an out-of-control child. But the paddles we're talking about here were the ones they used on our neighbor when he was rushed to the hospital with a heart attack. His wife said they saved his life by using the "paddles" on him. Actually, what they used was a device called a defibrillator. (You see why most people call them the paddles.) The defibrillator has two paddles that, after they are placed on the patient's chest, generate this strong electric jolt to restart the heart. More and more ambulances are carrying them, more and more emergency medical technicians are being trained to use them, and they are in more and more public places. When the heart stops, something has to be done to get it going again - even if it takes a big jolt.