OK, I will speak English. My name is Dylan Mathias, and as most of you know I lead the church in Cyprus.. where Greek is the normal language spoken…
To be honest I thought everybody here spoke Greek……. As I was told that Lansing was the home of the Spartans, who of course were Greek!
I know what you’re thinking, but I am just doing what I was asked to do, you know what I’m saying?
Mmmm. Let me come back to that……
But firstly, our favourite saying in Cyprus is “siga, siga” which means “slowly, slowly”. And I will try and speak slowly, as I have a habit of speaking fast, especially when I get excited.
You would hold your arms to the side like so, and then they would fly to your right arm when you held up your arm like so.
Unfortunately I was asking a question to the zookeeper and raised my arms as I did so, and so the falcon started to fly. I saw his motion out of the side of my eye,and quickly dropped my arm, but by then the falcon had nowhere to land and so landed on my face.
I got two cuts and was bleeding.
Obviously the zookeeper was concerned, and said we have never had this happen before. I thought they probably had no one as stupid as me before!
Actually I then wanted two scars, as when people would ask how I got them I could say it was the day I had a conflict with a falcon, and won!!!
But they healed after two days.
Still, I learnt my lesson. Siga, siga!!
Cyprus is of course famous in the Bible. The first church ever planted was in Salamis in Cyprus in 46AD. Read Acts 13.
It was the first stop on Paul’s First Missionary Journey. Barnabas was of course Cypriot.
I rather imagine when they decided where to go first Barnabas simply said “look my mum’s house is in Salamis, and she makes the best kebab this said of Jerusalem, lets go there and decide what to do first……and of course get our laundry done!”
They they converted the first ruler in the Bible, Sergius Paulus, the Roman Proconsul, by blinding Elymas his advisor.
That would be like converting President Obama today……imagine with all the trouble he is having with his current health care plan, he simply said forget it, I would rather focus on spiritual health, which lasts forever and costs nothing!!! Not Obamacare but Jesuscare!
Imagine this was by Joel blinding his political advisors…….how amazing that would be!
Of course I know there are some who might say his advisors are blind already!
Before we get started I would like to show a short video of the Cyprus church we shot a little while ago to show the churches in Europe.
I apologise that this was shot in December and we were having an outdoor service in the park……. It is slightly warmer in Cyprus than it is here!
Certainly mildew is a problem we have in Cyprus, and apparently you have too here in Michigan.
These are some photos I took in Doug’s house a week ago while we were staying there………
Now I can understand why Christa wants a new kitchen!
Even I was shocked…!!
We have moved rented properties many times in our last 13 years in Cyprus.
One of them had a damp problem due to no ventilation from the bathroom. No window to open, and no extraction fan. After a hot shower the steam would simply float around the bedroom and settle. You could feel it in your lungs, and the damp sheets when you went to bed. When we did move out we discovered the backs of all our wall pictures had green mildew on them.
As a landlord it is tempting and easy just to paint over the walls. Everything looks good for the new tenant who then moves in. However eventually the tenant will notice and will move out, like us. Maybe the walls are painted over again. But the cycle will just keep repeating forever.
The only real permanent solution is to strip down, treat and rebuild the walls or plaster completely.
Not surprisingly the Bible has similar advice on treating mildew.
The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “When you enter the land of Canaan, which I am giving you as your possession, and I put a spreading mildew in a house in that land, the owner of the house must go and tell the priest, ‘I have seen something that looks like mildew in my house. ’ The priest is to order the house to be emptied before he goes in to examine the mildew, so that nothing in the house will be pronounced unclean.
After this the priest is to go in and inspect the house. He is to examine the mildew on the walls, and if it has greenish or reddish depressions that appear to be deeper than the surface of the wall, the priest shall go out the doorway of the house and close it up for seven days.
On the seventh day the priest shall return to inspect the house.
If the mildew has spread on the walls, he is to order that the contaminated stones be torn out and thrown into an unclean place outside the town.
He must have all the inside walls of the house scraped and the material that is scraped off dumped into an unclean place outside the town.
Then they are to take other stones to replace these and take new clay and plaster the house.
If the mildew reappears in the house after the stones have been torn out and the house scraped and plastered, the priest is to go and examine it and, if the mildew has spread in the house, it is a destructive mildew; the house is unclean. It must be torn down–its stones, timbers and all the plaster–and taken out of the town to an unclean place.
Anyone who goes into the house while it is closed up will be unclean till evening.
Anyone who sleeps or eats in the house must wash his clothes.
But if the priest comes to examine it and the mildew has not spread after the house has been plastered, he shall pronounce the house clean, because the mildew is gone
It is practical advice. It is very useful information for the builders and DIY’ers here….
But I don’t think this was the reason it was left in the Bible for Christians today!
In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 it says
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”
Mildew can easily form in our spiritual lives, slowly at first, but with disastrous consequences if untreated.
We will not even notice it at first. Can you see mildew spores? No! They are too small to see….. like here!
You need a special instrument….a microscope to see them.. You need the eyes of God!
But once they grow and spread they become a large, destructive and easily visible problem. They cause problems. They can even make us sick and threaten our life!
Is that not like sin? Ungodliness? Small problems…. Which grow into big problems, which we didn’t even see them coming????
The temptation is to paint over it. To ensure we look good on the outside. To say we are ok and doing fine, when really inside we are lonely, distant and hurting.
Leviticus 14 teaches if we suspect we have a mildew problem we are to approach the priest first.
It is NOT waiting for the priest or another mature brother or sister or friend to approach us first.
Let’s be honest, that doesn’t always happen.
It teaches we are to take the initiative!
“Hey….can we talk…….have you got a few minutes….time afterwards….can we grab a coffee? A Biggby? A Tim Horton’s? We don’t have those in Cyprus…… A Starbucks? A cup of good old fashioned English tea…… everything is solved over a cup of English tea.
Maybe its saying “Can we grab a Golden Harvest breakfast..?” Certainly I don’t think Joel needs any encouragement to go….
Even I must admit it is probably the best breakfast I have ever tasted!!!
But its saying “There’s really a few things I need to talk through. I’’m really not feeling good…”
Maybe it will take a while to talk through…. Here it says the priest has seven days if he thinks the problem is serious….
That’s some serious coffee!!
That’s seven Golden Harvest breakfasts!!! I am sure Joel would be very happy!
Maybe we will then have to wait…. and listen to see if the problem is declared serious.
A bit like if we had a building inspector come visit our home. ….We don’t really want to hear the bad news. What will the impact be on me? We dread the cost…. how big will the bill be?
We want them to say everything is ok and we don’t need any treatment at all. That we can just paint over it!
Yet really in our hearts we know that doesn’t solve the problem.
Really we want the problem totally eradicated for good. Really, we want to hear the truth, no matter how much it hurts! Certainly we don’t want to think there is any risk to our health!
We are certainly willing to pay the cost if we think our lives or health are at risk, no matter how much it may cost or hurt our wallet!
But if the mildew depressions are deep then severe reconstruction or treatment will be required.
We cannot just paint over the cracks, or only offer superficial covering that everything will be ok, and one should just pray more, and God loves you, and of course just keep coming to church, and it will all be alright in the end….
I’m afraid that will just not work!
The mildew will only get worse, until the house is eventually destroyed completely.
Reconstruction requires the knocking down of our assumptions, habits and pride.
It requires us to CHANGE some things we are maybe doing wrong…..
It requires us to CHANGE some ways we maybe think about things…
Most of all it requires deep relationships. It requires a master builder!!
It requires the walls to be built properly!
Whitewash after all is like wearing a mask!
Often at Halloween we wear masks. Joel talked about monsters last week…… maybe if we are showing our true selves we don’t need to wear masks at Halloween!
But often don’t we wear one?
We want to pretend everything is good, and we are feeling wonderful, and life is good, and we don’t want people to know how we are really like….
We keep smiling when we feel sad…….
Or here is a worse and maybe more dangerous one…… more dangerous than vampire and zombie masks……
We like to appear religious and holy and a good person…….
We are maybe afraid to show our true selves?
It’s a dangerous one because it is human nature to want to appear to look good….in church…in society
But is that how we are really like?
Let me show a short video…
Don’t we often try to do this? Let me something that happened in Cyprus just three or four weeks ago.
The point is, if we are all like family shouldn’t we be seeing and showing our real selves?
Actually as a family aren’t we here to help each other?
I am no different to you! I’m here to help you, and you’re here to help me!
Do we really want to wear our masks?
Now ok, that doesn’t mean have tantrums every week! I can imagine the fellowship next week……. Doug here trying to put another hole in the wall….. ! Hey, Joel,, Dylan said we could have tantrums, and here I am having one!!!!
But I think you get the point?
Let’s be real. Lets get rid of any mildew of superficiality…..
The best way to keep mildew out, is to have open and dry rooms with lots of movement of air… if we are moving……if the spirit of God is moving…. If the doors of our hearts are left open…….then there will be no mildew of superficiality!
There will be no risk to our spiritual health……only the light fresh air of an open and honest life! Wow. I tell ya, that’s the type of life I want…..
I’m happy to take off my mask….. The question is, are you?