Revive! Are you ready to come back to life? Reflect!
I will show you a couple of pictures and tell you one story. They all have something in common. Here’s picture #1. Please don’t feel bad if you don’t recognize what this is. I didn’t. Here is one of 18 cryogenic tanks used to store the oxygen and hydrogen that provided electrical power to the space shuttle Columbia. You might recall that the Columbia disintegrated during re-entry in 2003, killing all seven astronauts on board. NASA has located 17 of the 18 tanks. One is still missing. Picture #2! Here is one of many marble tombstones dating back to the late 1800’s. As you can see this tombstone was for a child – Johnny D. Parks - born on October 17, 1881 only to die less than a year later on October 15, 1882. Those were the two pictures, now here’s the one story. 55 year old Brenda Kay Oliver went missing in July of 2008. Family and friends weren’t sure what to make of this but they knew she was hurting. She wasn’t recovering well from the trauma of losing her 19 year old son. He drowned himself in a nearby lake. Jack Mewbourn did not live far from Brenda’s sister, Donna McWilliams. One Saturday Jack and his grandson’s noticed what they thought was a barrel bobbing in his seven acre lake, so they hopped in a boat only discover it was not a barrel. What they saw peeking out of the water was the top of a 1999 Chevy Monte Carlo driven by Brenda Kay Oliver. Brenda decided to take her life just like her son did. And that certainly is tragic!
Now what do these two pictures and this one sad story have in common? I’ll tell you what! They are depressing. Death, death and more death. If your goal Greg was to bum me you, you get an A! No that was not my goal. As a matter of fact I want to see a smile on your face. Adam and Eve were having an argument. Adam went out alone for two nights. Eve asked him, what have you been doing? Nothing. Just walking. Are you seeing another woman? There are no other women. You are the only woman. Raise up your arms. Why? I want to count your ribs.[i]
Again what did these three have in common? They were all found in lakes across the state of Texas and the only reason they were discovered is because Texas has been suffering from a nearly 2 year long drought. BUT, what was submerged has come to light. Lake Nacogdoches in East Texas dropped 12 feet a year ago last July and sitting in the mud at the lake’s edge was the aluminum tank NASA was looking for. Lake Buchanan and the Richland-Chambers Reservoir both revealed their secrets – a 19th century cemetery where the tombstones surfaced including the tombstone of Johnny D. Parks and then there’s Brenda Kay Oliver’s car. It’s been in Jack Mewbourn’s lake since 2008. Her sister, Donna McWilliams is so thankful for the drought. She can now stop wondering what happened to her sister.[ii]
The United States is experiencing an unprecedented drought. Look at this map.[iii] All the RED areas are considered drought. But the deepest reds are considered extreme and exceptional drought!
A drought is defined as “a lengthy and serious lack of something.” And that something is typically is water. I took this picture at Hoover Reservoir last Thursday Night. But droughts aren’t limited to precipitation only. Writers experience droughts. The screen is blank. So do artists. No creativity today! So do sports teams – do I even need to give an example! So do teachers and parents and marriages! “Greg, when it comes to my marriage I am parched for affection!” Droughts can also be spiritual. Christ followers often go through dry seasons. Sometimes it’s no fault of our own and at other times it is our fault because we’ve chosen NOT to take God at his word.
Let me take you to one of the all-time worst droughts recorded in human history. Open your Bibles to 1st Kings 17. Do you need a Bible? (P & P) The prophet Elijah is about to make a major proclamation! But before we dig into chapter 17 let’s make sure we are all on the same page when it comes to the book of kings! I am a student of Dr. James Smith. I love his research. Dr. Smith helped me to see that 1st & 2nd Kings were originally one Hebrew book in the Bible. When this one book was translated from Hebrew into Greek - one book became two. And the reason for the name Kings is that the first Hebrew word in 1st Kings 1:1 is KING![iv] I offer you a challenge. Someone summarize all of 1st & 2nd Kings into one word! The answer is GOD of course, but there is another word. KINGS! Some KINGS led people to God while other KINGS led people away from God! David is the first KING to be mentioned! But David is old and fading in health. David soon dies and his son Solomon becomes king. When Solomon dies that’s when life unravels. The kingdom goes from (one – united) to (two – divided.) The Twelve tribes become two kingdoms – Israel in the north and Judah in the south. Two kings David and Solomon reign for 80 years. 30 kings will rule in the next 210 years[v] and many of them lead God’s people away from God! Let’s meet one! His name is Ahab! Read 1st Kings 17:1a! Here’s an Ahab summary! (Ray Stevens) Read 1st Kings 16: 30-33. The “A” in Ahab stand for all time evil-king! Ahab did not fear God. He actually worshipped the storm god Baal![vi] God is going to use Elijah to get his attention! Read 1st Kings 1:1 again! Go to 18:1. Look at what James said in James 5:17? Do you remember my snapshot of the Hoover Reservoir? What would the reservoir look like after 3 ½ years of drought? This drought is bad, but it’s going to get even worse. God prepares Elijah for what’s about to happen! Find 1st Kings 17:2. (Read 2-4) Do you remember Tantor on Disney’s version of Tarzan? I think he has the all-time greatest line of the movie! ”Mom, Is this water sanitary? It looks questionable to me!” What about bacteria? I wonder if Elijah is concerned about bacteria. God, did I hear you right? You want me to walk 15 miles. Hang out alone in some gorge and eat food from the beak of a bird! Seems questionable to me!
Do you know of anyone who invades your personal space? Maybe they are a close talker? Right in your face! “Dude, back up. A mint couldn’t hurt either!” Right now, God is invading your personal space. You see it in verse 1, 2 and 5. Please write out this outline – vs. 1, 2, 5. Acknowledge reality. Accept the word. Accomplish the assignment. Go back to verse 1. Are you in a spiritual drought? Do you want out? Here’s how! Acknowledge reality! Why is this drought happening? Does God create droughts because he likes making us miserable? The drought is not HIS fault. The people of God under Ahab’s leadership have broken covenant with God. Don’t worship any graven image! What is this? It’s an archaeological find. A Canaanite deity unearthed. Just another idol named Baal![vii] “Greg, how could people be so stupid or so gullible to worship a statue?” And we don’t!?! Paul Kobylarz is the Sports Pastor at Traders Point Christian Church in Indianapolis and he’s currently serving as one of the lead chaplains inside Olympic Village in London. He said this, “A lot of athletes come here and have their hopes built on their dreams to perform well here and win a gold medal, and it they don’t they don’t know where to turn. Some of them are depressed. Some of them might even be suicidal. Many athletes have their identity wrapped up in their performance.”[viii] The idol I most worship is ME! Let’s be honest! Sometimes droughts come because I’ve taken my eyes off Jesus and fixed them on me!
Do you want to get out of this spiritual funk? Do you want to be revived? I do! Accept the Word of God. Go to verse 2. David calls the word of the Lord in Psalm 19 the law of the Lord, the statues of the Lord, the precepts of the Lord and the commands of the Lord. God gave Elijah a command, and not a suggestion. You walked into this building today and the Word of the Lord has come to you! Embrace it because you will never overcome a drought physical or spiritual without food and water!
I often think that people think preachers like me are giant FYI’s! What does FYI stand for? FOR YOUR INFORMATION! “Boy Greg that was some great information. I loved the history. The research. The pictures! The occasionally funny joke! NEWS FLASH! My goal is not information, but life transformation. Here’s when transformation starts to happen. Find verse 5. Again are you in a spiritual drought? Do you want out? Here’s how! Accomplish the assignment. How do I know my assignment? Reflect on the Word of God! James tells us that Elijah was just like us! Elijah won’t survive without food and water! And we won’t either. As you can see I do not have a problem finding food or water. Some people do! (CONTAINER PRAYER!)
My drought is spiritual, not physical! Last January I challenged this church to read the Bible in 90 days. Some of you took up that challenge and did just that! I now have a 2nd challenge. Once you’ve read the Bible, read it again and this time reflect on what you’ve read. Jesus said this in John 8:31. "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.” Paul said this to Timothy in 2 Tim. 2:7: Reflect on what I am saying… (That is soldiers please their commanding officers. Athletes compete according to the rules. Farmers get a share of their crops.) …for the Lord will give you insight into all this.
Have we become dry or dull spiritually because somewhere down the line we stopped taking God at his word? A friend of mine, Mark Atteberry, has a blog for ministers. He wrote recently about a British Hotel owner named Jonathan Denby who removed all Gideon Bibles from his hotel’s 40 rooms and replaced them with copies of E.L. James’ erotic thriller called Fifty Shades of Grey. And here’s why. “I haven't read the book yet -- I'm not in the target audience -- but I'm told it's a ripping good yarn and everyone who's in the target audience loves it. This made me wonder about the sense of providing a book, the Gideon Bible which no-one reads, and many dislike, in the bedside cabinet of our hotel bedrooms, instead of a book which everyone wants to read, such as 'Fifty Shades of Grey.'”[ix]
I read the Bible. It’s living water. Fifty Shades of Grey is not. We went to Delaware Vineyard Church last Sunday. My son Sam wrote this after hearing the sermon. He did that because he knew his Mom was going to ask him and his sister. Jeanna, in your 14 year old world what does this mean to you? Sam, in your 11 year old world, what does this mean to you? Now it’s my turn. In my 50 year old world what does 1st Kings 17: 1-6 mean to me today! I can’t overcome a spiritual drought without food and water. Jesus calls his word – fresh bread and living water! There’s nothing quite like a sip of water. Come get yours and never drink water the same again!
Here’s one of 50 Sharpie markers.
[i] Good Clean Funnies.com
[iv] Dr. James E. Smith, The Old Testament Books Made Simple, 86
[v] Dr. James E. Smith, The Old Testament Books Made Simple, 88
[vi] John MacArthur Commentary of the Bible,
[vii] The Baker Illustrated Bible Handbook, 195
[viii] Christian Standard Magazine, August 9, 2012