Tag Archives: power

Faulty Connections

Recently I shared a bit about my experience in replacing the alternator in my wife’s vehicle. While I believe my initial post got across the idea that I am a far better English teacher than mechanic, I didn’t include one slightly embarrassing part of the endeavor.

After completing the installation, including attaching the two electrical connections, I re-charged the battery and took the newly powered vehicle for a test drive. All went well as I drove around the neighborhood. I pulled back into my driveway, switched off the ignition, and then started it up again. Still no problem. With my triumph nearly confirmed, I asked Penny to take a ride with me. We started up the vehicle again, although I noticed a bit of sluggishness this time. Pulling out of the driveway and putting the beast into drive, I saw matters go wonky. The gas and temp gauges started to rock as lights dimmed. After pulling back into the driveway, I grumbled. Apparently the alternator wasn’t the problem after all.

As I reflected on my wasted afternoon and the money I’d dropped on the new alternator, it occurred to me that the car was behaving in exactly the way it had before and that we had previously done the test to assign the blame to the alternator.

“Wait . . . ,” I said, startling my dog. “What if I didn’t get those wires connected properly.” One wire screwed on securely, but the other was a plastic plug with several smaller wires trailing from it. That plug had been a chore to disconnect. Walking out to the car, I raised the hood and reached down to the suspected culprit. When I pulled it to the right, it slid out easily. Pushing it back in, with some force, I felt it click into place. There was my problem.

Now, several weeks later, the car is operating perfectly. Like I said, I’m a better English teacher.

Before I made that connection, the new alternator had been sitting in the engine compartment, spinning under the power of the serpentine belt, and generating electricity. It was doing its job, but my failure to connect it to the devices that wanted to use that electricity made it useless.

In Philippians 4:13, Paul offers one of his best quotable nuggets: “I am able to do all things through him who strengthens me. ” How does God strengthen me? He strengthens me through the Holy Spirit. In fact, in Acts 1:8 we learn that the Holy Spirit will give us power–electricity, if you will allow me some latitude.

As a believer, I have the Holy Spirit and its power within me, but sometimes I don’t have the wires connected properly to make use of that power. Sometimes, the power just goes wasted within me.

Fixing that bad connection to tap the new alternator’s power was pretty simple. It’s slightly harder to restore my connection to the Holy Spirit when I’ve allowed it to shake loose. However, unlike in my driveway mechanic work, I have the master mechanic ready to assist me in making good that connection.

Amazing Stories–Mark 1:27

The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.”

 When was the last time you were amazed by God? I’ve heard people talk about God’s power through prayer for years. I’ve experienced it myself at times, but I have to admit that some of those examples of power can be explained without resorting to God. I’m reminded of the skeptic who, seeing the abandoned crutches and canes, supposedly left by those healed at the Marian shrine at Lourdes, said, “I’ll believe when I see a wooden leg left behind.”

I can claim to be amazed that God has granted me all the provision I need, but could as easily say it was my hard work that allowed that to happen. Since I haven’t received a check directly from God, there’s a limit to my amazement.

When the people in Capernaum watched Jesus heal that possessed man, they saw the people of God going from a defensive posture to an offensive posture. The whole Mosaic Law had not been established as a means of taking the world for God. It stands as more of a hedge against ruin. Yes, there were some moments of offense in the Old Testament. Joshua’s move into Canaan springs to mind, but largely the watchword of the people in the Old Testament was “Don’t mess it up!”

That changed on a Saturday in Capernaum, leading to the people being amazed. And we should continue to be amazed. No, we don’t have Jesus physically present with us, but he has promised to be with us. As we read through the book of Acts, we find amazing things following Peter and Stephen and Paul and Philip. We should be experiencing amazement within the church, at least now and then.

But are we? When was the last time you were amazed by God? And if you’re not being amazed by God, then why do you think that’s happened? From my own experience, I know that when I don’t feel God close, it’s because I’ve drawn away. When I don’t find myself amazed by God, it’s probably because I’ve tried to do so much for myself that I remove many opportunities for amazement.

Perhaps we’re not amazed by God because we need to be the vehicles through which the amazing deed takes place. Perhaps we can, enlivened by the Spirit, change the world, heal the sick, cast out demons, and even raise the dead (Matthew 10:7-8) Can we have faith and still be amazed? Give it a try. You might be amazed at what happens.

Lock Your Doors (Psalm 8:2)

Through the praise of children and infants
you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger. (Psalm 8:2)

Olivia went out of the QuikTrip store last night, dashing ahead of me. As she neared the car, I turned to the clerk. “I’m not sure where she’s rushing off to. The car’s locked.” Then she opened the door.  Normally I don’t fret excessively about leaving my car unlocked for a quick stop, but my computer lay in the back set last night. That’s rather careless.

How many locks do we use in the course of a day? This morning, already, I’ve used that car lock for both the door and the ignition. I used my password to access campus wireless in a classroom. I had to supply a password to log in and add this post. The classroom door was locked, but someone had beaten me to that, and Nathan had already unlocked the office door. By the time the day is over, I’ll probably employ several other locks of various sorts.

When it comes to passwords, various computer systems evaluate our attempts, rating them from “weak” to “very strong.” I tend to prefer “very easy to remember,” but I realize that such security is rather illusive.

The purpose of locks is to keep the wrong people out and to protect the people and property within. Whether they be cyber security or metal deadbolts, car alarms or The Club, stronger inevitably appears to be better.

How strange then, that David, a military man, should talk about building a stronghold–a fortress, essentially–out of the praises of children. How exactly does that work? I suppose it works a little like sending an unarmored shepherd boy, armed with a sling and some rocks, to fight the Philistine giant. When the big man goes down at the hands of the boy, how much greater is the praise of God?

I tend to look at this verse in this manner. If God can create security out of the praise of children, then he must be a very powerful God indeed. My car is locked right now, but my real trust is in the Lord God.