Faithfully yours - No thanks. I’ll take the stairs


Neil Strohschein
Neepawa Banner & Press

As I get older, I find that it takes considerably longer to write a column, prepare a sermon, write a letter or decide what to say in a greeting card. I spend much more time thinking before I ever sit down at my desk and actually begin to put words on paper. My goal is simple—I want my writing to be easily understood and my sermons to be given in ways that reflect the love, acceptance and forgiveness God offers to all who believe in Him. I would like to think that this is a sign of wisdom that comes with age; but I am sure there will be some who might want to question that. One thing is certain—I am becoming more critical and increasingly skeptical when it comes to the claims some preachers make in their sermons.

For example—what’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear a preacher begin a sermon with the words: “I am going to say whatever I feel like saying tonight and then, at the end of the day, I’ll ask God to forgive me because I know it’s a lot easier to be forgiven than it is to get permission.” My first reaction—“What if God says ‘No?’”

Or, how do you react when you hear someone say: “I don’t believe in going to see doctors or taking medicine. If I get sick, I will pray, ask God to heal me and expect that he will.” My first reaction—“What if God wants to use the skills of a doctor as part of the healing process?”

The two scenarios I’ve just described are identical to the second challenge that Jesus faced at the end of his 40 days of temptation. The Devil took him to the highest point on the roof of the temple in Jerusalem and said: “If you’re the son of God, jump down. He will send an angel to rescue you before you land.” Jesus reply was simple: “It is written—don’t put God to the test.”

That’s another way of saying: “Don’t force God’s hand. Don’t back him into a corner and force him to do something that he doesn’t want to do.” If you suddenly find yourself in a situation where you need his help, ask for it and it will come. But don’t put yourself in harm’s way and then cry out to God and expect him to save you; because chances are, he won’t.

So, when you speak to others, speak with respect using words that you know will please God. Speaking respectfully to everyone in all circumstances saves you the embarrassment of having to accept responsibility and apologize for inappropriate or offensive remarks. What you said will come back to haunt you long after you said it. Your apology will be forgotten the next day. So take heed when you speak, and do so with respect.

If you’re sick, go to the doctor, follow the advice you receive and take the treatment the doctor prescribes. God has gifted doctors, nurses, technicians and other medical personnel with the necessary knowledge, wisdom and skills to diagnose illnesses and prescribe treatment. He will, most often, use them to point us in the direction that will lead to healing and wholeness.

And if you ever find yourself on top of a high building and hear a mysterious voice telling you to jump, do what Jesus did. Turn to the voice and say: “No thanks. I’ll take the stairs.”