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A Stranger Among Us

It is that time of the year again! It is the "tomorrow" that we talked about all year. Remember the days you said you would stop this tomorrow or start this tomorrow, or even "I'll stop or start this next year." Well, guess what, next year is here. Tomorrow has collided with the New Year, and it's time for us to commit to those resolutions.

I have decided this year I will eat a balanced diet, which means a Snickers in each hand. Or maybe I will eat more vegetables. Ketchup is a veggie, isn't it?

Actually, I think I will give up something that will not only help me but will be a tremendous relief to those around me. Most New Year's resolutions involve symptoms. This year I have decided to go to the root of the problem instead of the fruit of the problem. You have to get to the root to get to the cure for psychological or spiritual problems. We inherited most of our difficulties from the Adams family. I, like you, have an earth suit handed down from Uncle Adam filled with self-centeredness and the need to control.

I'm writing this article from Albany, Georgia. I have been invited to the set of Sherwood Baptist's new movie Fireproof. You have probably seen their other movies, Flywheel and Facing the Giants. Their pastor and now famous movie producer, Michael Catt, is a long-time buddy of mine, so he asked me to play a part in the movie. My part is preaching on Sunday while he takes a break. OK, my part has nothing to do with the movie, but I am invited to the set.

The scene I watched is one in which they are burning a house down. It's pretty cool — or should I say hot. It's a real house with real fire. I'm thinking these are the special effects for a sermon on hell. You can imagine the stress and tension that goes into a scene in which the lead actor rescues a small girl from a burning house. There are people everywhere — real firemen to keep the fire from spreading to other houses that are not supposed to be in the movie; there are actors that are fireman that are in the movie; there are producers, actors, directors, stage hands, cameramen, and soundmen. There are even Bible Study classes that have brought food for the people on the set. And, of course, there are a lot of people like me standing around doing nothing. It's a lot like church.

In the middle of all of this tension and turmoil I meet Kirk Cameron, who is playing the lead in the movie. He appears more relaxed than anyone. We talk and even have some goofing-off time. Being a psychologist — and considering the fact that there don't appear to be any pyromaniacs to help and the fact that I have an article due — I think that this is a great life lesson. Since our basic problem is self-centeredness and the need to control, picture the scene if the lead actor was trying to direct, produce, design the costumes, handle the pyrotechnics, and a million other details required to make a movie. What would we call that person? We might call him nuts, or we might call him a pastor. Contrast that with Kirk just relaxing, hanging out, waiting to play his part.

Our problem is that we not only want to be the star, we want to produce, direct, and even write the script. Consider the movie of our own lives. In a sense, it is a movie because someone is always watching. Of course in the real life movie you have to do your own makeup. In your life movie are you relaxed, learning your lines, waiting on your part? Or are you trying to control and direct it all? The freedom that comes from playing your part and not being responsible for controlling it all allows you time to sit on the sofa and eat some popcorn — maybe even watch a real movie. Many times, in the movie of life, in our desire to control, we miss the presence of God Himself.

A fishing village on the coastline of Maine was suffering great financial difficulties, and the dire future was bankruptcy for the little town. People lived in fear of starvation and death. The people gathered at a town meeting to discuss the problem and search for a solution. A stranger appeared at the meeting and offered advice and solutions, but the hardheaded townspeople rejected each idea. They didn't take too kindly to strangers. They wanted to control their own destiny. The meeting concluded with no good answers. As the people dispersed, a townsman arrived late and passed the stranger as he left. This man asked one of the town leaders if the stranger had attended the meeting. The response was that yes he had been there. "Did he say anything, did he offer any advice?" Again the answer was yes, but his advice had not been accepted. In fact, they had put down everything he had offered. The man was astounded. He had been out on his boat and saw an enormous ship docked. The man was John D. Rockefeller, Sr. who had all the resources and all the power the little town needed to get back on track. The townsman told them that Mr. Rockefeller was the only one that could help and they had sent him away.

The Bible teaches us that there is a Stranger among us who has power and resources the likes of which you have never dreamed. Actually, He has written the script of life and He has a part for you to play. Give up control and let Him direct. Why? Because I know you love movies with happy endings.

P.S. Now that you are relaxed and I've completed this article, one more piece of advice: If your life is a movie, hire a costume designer or at least ask your wife before you go out. Remember, people are always watching.

Charles Lowery is founder and president of LIFE, Inc. and is in a fulltime speaking ministry. You may contact LIFE, Inc. at 903-881-9422 or


January 2008 Edition
Volume 16, Issue 4
January 2008