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"An Inside Perspective"

March 2013


                           


My Dear Family in Christ,

Ever precious greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ! Last month I wrote about my brother and friend Eddie and how the Lord had recently used him to teach me afresh about godly repentance. Well, that is not the only lesson the Lord has used Eddie to teach me.

Years ago when I was in Trenton State Prison I had met a certain man that used to eat pretzels with his sandwiches for lunch. To me that was odd, but really I had just never tried it. I studied him over the process of time as is our norm in prison because believe me, everyone that you associate with in here needs to be double-checked. Make no mistake, ulterior motives are behind every proverbial bush in the big house!

Anyway, I like pretzels a little bit but to me they are kind of like eating sawdust taste-wise, very bland to say the least. Might I say that cardboard comes to mind? They are sort of like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do but doesn’t get you anywhere. I personally would much prefer a few chips, of any type, with my sandwich. One day I asked the man why he ate pretzels with his sandwiches and he said, “I love the crunch and they are healthy too.”

I didn’t think much of it. Over the years though I, as do we all, had to learn to eat wiser because my weight was not so easily lost anymore. I also love a sandwich or two for lunch and so one day I decided to launch out in faith and experiment with the so-called pretzel doctrine. I was quite pleasantly surprised that I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was converted instantly and from that moment on, I espoused said pretzel doctrine; love at first crunch!

We are allowed to go to the store twice a month here to get our cosmetics and food, etc. On those store orders I always order my pretzels for the month. For years and years now I have not been able to enjoy my sandwiches completely without my pretzels. Much to my dismay, recently the store was out of stock on pretzels and my supply ran critically low. Then, when it came time for me to order again, I was rushing and forgot to order them!

My stars! I went into pretzel panic mode and lost all hope! My emotions took over and my ability to see myself eating sandwiches with pretzels was severely diminished. I whined to Carlos that I would never make it until the next store. Thankfully, he was raised solidly in the faith. He promptly exhorted me, tongue in cheek, not to be discouraged but to walk by faith and practice what I preach. Wisenhiemmer!

Honestly though, I found myself whining in my heart, “Oh, how could I have forgotten to order my pretzels? It is going to be a whole month before I can order again.” You know, the “poor me” stuff. Talk about a worldly focus!

Anyway, I had done Eddie a favor a while ago and he owed me a few dollars because of it. We had not gotten a chance to talk before he put his store order in so he didn’t know what I wanted him to get for me. He just took a guess, or so he thought. He knew nothing about my curious pretzel doctrine, nor could he have. When I saw him later, I asked him what he had ordered for me and he very nonchalantly said, “Pretzels!”

I almost fell off my chair and was immediately smitten, if not pricked in my heart. I was quickly reminded of my whinny little murmuring self. Trying to make sense of it all I said, “Eddie, why in the world would you ever have ordered me pretzels?” I wanted to know the reason. He thought, though, that I was upset with him because I had wanted something else. He very humbly said, “Philip, I felt like that is what the Lord put on my heart to order for you.” I thought, “Here is a man that hears from the Lord!!!” I simply bowed my head and worshipped.

I know this whole thing with the pretzels sounds crazy, right? You may be asking yourself, “What’s the big deal, has Philip finally gone mad?” Do you know what I learned? It’s that I always look to the Lord to provide the bigger things in my life, but I had lost sight of the truth that He provides “all” things both big and small, even the pretzels!

I was reminded of the parables and how often the Lord used the smallest of earthly things, practical stuff to teach His disciples. It’s the normal, if not the small seemingly mundane, things of our lives that the Lord uses to make His point. Through them He brings home to our hearts a particular spiritual lesson that He has crafted just for us.

No one but me understood the place of the pretzel doctrine in my heart nor of my love for them. I was admonished afresh that the Lord is indeed my only provider. He is Jehovah-Jirah even down to the very last pretzel.

Elijah, after a spectacular display of biblical faith on Mt. Carmel, was found in spiritual dismay with the fear of Jezebel. God used a raven, a very common familiar bird to Elijah, to revive and refocus him. Beloved, is there something very small and ordinary that the Lord is teaching you with? I know there is. Precious one...

“WHAT’S YOUR PRETZEL DOCTRINE?”

JOYFULLY IN JESUS,
LOVE, PHILIP