May 2012 Newsletter

Empty Boxes

In this issue:

Empty Boxes

I just spent the last two days cleaning out my garage. I could no longer navigate through the maze of clutter in that space. It was really bad. Like, up to my armpits bad. There was a small goat path leading to the washer and dryer in the far corner of the room. Other than that, it was completely loaded with stuff. I am working on remodeling my house in my spare time. The projects are endless. The problem is, I have a tendency to finish a particular task and then move on to the next project before I have completely taken care of tools and the mess I made on the previous job. So the garage was in complete disarray. I finally decided to thoroughly clean out and organize it before moving forward.

Ten years ago I bought a five-piece set of Ryobi cordless power tools. The set had a circular saw, a reciprocating saw, a drill, a vacuum, and a light. It even came with a hard shell carrying case in which to store all the stuff. But I haven’t used the storage case for some time. It has been sitting on the top shelf collecting dust for a long time. I store all the tools, batteries, and chargers in a cabinet now. There was no way I was going to use the plastic storage case again. Why was I keeping it when it was just taking up space?

So I set the empty case out by the road, next to a pile of debris from the garage, ready for garbage collection on Thursday. Then a funny thing happened.

It is common for folks to dumpster dive in my area. Dumpster diving is when you see something in someone’s trash pile and you snatch it for yourself. And, I have to confess, I do it all the time. One person’s trash is another’s treasure. I am shameless. I’ve hauled away chairs, dressers, bed frames, brand new kitchen gear, and countless antiques. Almost anything imaginable can be found for free if you are willing to paw through the pile. If it can fit in my trunk, I am taking it home. If it can’t fit, then I borrow the neighbor’s truck.

Now, I was in the house and saw through the living room window a truck pull up out front. An older guy steps out of the truck and meanders over to the pile. He picks up the case by the handle and gives it a shake. I can tell he is checking to see if there is anything in there. Of course, I had completely cleared it out before discarding it. There was nothing but dust in there. Realizing it was empty, he set it back down next to the pile and walked away.

This was repeated over and over. It became comical to watch. One guy pulled up while I was still working in the garage, rolled down his window, and asked if there was anything in the case. “No,” I replied, “it is empty.”

The power tools were gone. It was just an empty shell. It looked good and even had a good name stamped on the side of the case. But it was still just an empty container. Many folks checked it out to see if there was anything inside. But when they found out it was empty they just walked away. There were no power tools in there that could help them with any project they were working on.

And that’s when it occurred to me that the storage container was a lot like the church in North America. Without the Holy Spirit, the power tools are gone. It is just an empty shell. It looks good and may even have a nice name on the marquee outside. But it is still an empty shell. Many folks check it out to see if there is anything inside. But when they find out there is no power there, they just walk away.

One of my great concerns regarding most churches in North America is the seeming absence of the work and presence of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the power driving all aspects of the New Testament Church. It is the role of the Holy Spirit to transform lives. The Holy Spirit provides the gifts we use within the body to minister to one another. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to draw an individual into a personal relationship with God. The work of the Holy Spirit is absolutely critical to the work of the church.

But most churches in North America rely upon programming instead of the Holy Spirit. When that happens, when the power is removed, all you have left is an empty box. No matter how you dress it up, it is still empty. No matter how good your music is, no matter whether you project all the lyrics and sermon outlines on the wall, no matter how good your programming is for toddlers, teens, and seniors, without the work of the Holy Spirit you have nothing. It is just an empty box. Meanwhile, we live in a culture that is desperately searching for answers in their lives, answers that only come through the power of God. They visit our churches once, maybe twice, and then move on because they don’t find any power to help them with the issues they face in their lives.

Take 9/11 for example. Who can forget where they were on that terrible day. Before the dust had even settled from the collapse of the towers, folks from every walk of life began to fill our churches across the United States. I believe there was an instinctive reaction in people to turn to the one thing they thought could give them answers to this tragedy. In some churches, it was standing room only. People of every color and financial status held hands and prayed.

I remember it well. I also remember kind of cringing in my spirit when I saw all these searching people flooding our churches. I wondered what these desperate people would find when they attended our services. Would they find an amazing, all-powerful God who could transform their lives and bring sense to the senseless loss of life we had all just witnessed? Or would they find nothing but programming without any demonstration of the power of God? And if they found nothing, would they bother to come back the next time they faced a trial or tragedy in their lives?

In fact, within just a few weeks church attendance was back to where it had been before the tragedy. In some cases, it became even lower than before. Folks just walked away when they realized it was just an empty box. There was nothing there but a nice box with a nice name on the outside. Without the Holy Spirit, that is what you have. It’s a box completely empty of tools. They came to our churches, gave it a look, realized it was empty, and walked away.

Does your church demonstrate the power of God? How? Are there transformed lives in every pew or chair? Paul said that “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17, ESV). Does this look like you? What will folks find when they visit your church this weekend? Will they find God? Will they see the power of the Holy Spirit demonstrated? Will they see it through your life? Or will they just witness a group of people going through the motions of being good, moral, and religious?

I pray that we would return to the Biblical emphasis on the work and presence of the Holy Spirit in the church. Without it, we have nothing to offer.

Without the Holy Spirit, it’s all just an empty box.

Till next month,

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Upcoming Ministry Events

Come hear Timothy live at one of these upcoming events and mention you heard about it through the newsletter. For details, click here to view Current Schedule.

  • May 4 – Abottsford, British Columbia
  • May 6 – Prince George, British Columbia
  • May 7 – Prince George, British Columbia
  • May 27 – Venice, Florida
  • June 25-29 – Sierra Vista, Arizona
  • July 15-20 – Weston, Maine
  • July 21 – Gorham, Maine
  • July 22 – S. Waterboro, Maine

Interested In Hosting a Timothy Mark Ministry Event for your Organization?

We are actively scheduling preaching and music ministry events for the next two years. God has blessed abundantly with multiplied opportunities for ministry. If you are interested in hosting Timothy for a conference, concert, or preaching ministry event, please let us know as soon as possible so we can accommodate you. It would be a privilege. As always, all of the ministry events are booked on a simple love offering basis. If the church or organization is able to help with travel expenses it is appreciated but never required. You can use the online booking request form through the link below Call 941-445-3288 or email today at timothy@timothymark.com.

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