I've Got Your Number

The current teaching series at our church (THE 10) has fun by product. Almost everywhere I go people are shouting numbers at me.

You see, I taught about 1,400 people to memorize the 10 Commandments by using these weird mnemonic devices (or word pictures):

  • One –gun
  • Two – shoe
  • Three – tree
  • Four – door
  • Five – hive
  • Six – sticks
  • Seven – heaven
  • Eight – gate
  • Nine – spine
  • Ten – hen (you can learn this mnemonic pattern too, right here)

Walking into teach class at Sterling College last week a couple of students wryly smiled at me and hollered across the room, “Pastor Addis… one, gun!” and then waited for me to fill-in the blank.

At Wal-Mart I was browsing the produce section when a concerned member of our faith community thought it necessary to remind me with a gentle whisper from behind, “Don’t forget… 8, gate… do not steal.” Thankfully they were there and averted my crime spree before it ever began. Saving me from a life of wanton debauchery.

I have to admit, it has been a lot of fun to see how this little memorization game has affected our congregation. But, as a leader and a pastor it always begs the question: could we/should we be doing more?

It’s not just with the issue of the 10 Commandments, but with all of what we know about Scripture, are we using what we’ve got? Too often I think we’re satisfied with academic performance.

You know, a little head knowledge must mean we’re better people, right?

I don’t think so. It’s time we git’r done.

Oh, please… someone shoot me. I’m channeling an overweight redneck with bad grammar.

I will do my best to never say that again, ever. Anyway…

What I am getting at is the issue of application.

Long before the word application meant something you installed on your computer, or referred to a piece of paper you filled out to get a job, application is what you did when you knew what to do.

I looked up several definitions of application and this was my favorite:

application noun 1. the act of bringing something to bear; using it for a particular purpose.

Application really is the key to success in anything. In fact, you can have all the knowledge in the world and without application all you are is a book. (In case you missed it, that was the quote of the week… I was pretty proud of that one)

  • You can know she’s a pretty girl. With a little application she can become your wife.
  • You can know there is an opening. With a little application it can become your job.
  • You can know you’re out of shape. With a little application you can get healthy.
  • You can know our economy is in the toilet. With a little application you can worry about it.

Okay, maybe that last one wasn’t the best example, but 99.9% of the time… application is the key.

The book of James illustrates this well for us:

22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (Jas 1:22-25). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

You’ll be blessed if you simply apply what you see/know/have learned. I have a couple of little boys which I send into the bathroom every morning to get ready for school. They come back into the breakfast table and this is often the conversation:

“Hey bud, did you look at yourself in the mirror?’

“Yeah”

“Did you see the toothpaste in your hair?”

“Yeah”

“Did you try to get it out?”

“Yeah… I mean…did you say toothpaste in my hair, dad?”

Amazing, isn’t it? But, I really think this is how God often sees us coming to Him with a stomach full of His blessings, bloated on His Words and saturated in the Way; yet oblivious to our own need for any kind of lifestyle course correction or attitude adjustment that those same words have indicated.

Rick Warren, Pastor of Saddleback Community Church in Lake Forest California, said recently that 90% of all of Jesus’ teachings were application in their nature. I guess this make sense if His Great Commandment was to love God and serve people and His Great Commission was to go and tell.

Jesus was not really one for sitting around and pondering a lot. Once you know, it’s time to go, it ain’t no show, don’t be slow, so pull it back, and let it roll.

Ha, that’s funny right there, I don’t care who you are…

Oh no… he’s back… someone call a redneck exorcist… hhhhheeeeellllpppp mmmmmeeeeee.

Friends don’t let friends wear flannel.

Seriously though, I hope that personal spiritual application becomes the real thrust behind this series on the 10 Commandments, but more importantly I pray it becomes a pattern of behavior for me and other believers: learn it then live it.

Learning the 10 Commandments is significant and we should not make little of that accomplishment. Moving from a church in which the vast majority of us wouldn’t even know where they existed in the Scripture, to more than 1000 people being able to quote them in order… That’s beyond cool.

But, even more important, would be our commitment to live them out on a daily basis. God gave them to Moses so that they would impact lives, change culture and give direction for the future.

When we think about how we will spend our Sabbath, how we will honor our marriage vows, the integrity of the truthfulness of our statements, the thankfulness for what we have vs. the jealousy for what others get; we should be reminded by the 10 Commandments in a way that causes us to point our hearts, minds, soul and our strength to a loving God.

Remember He did say, “I am the Lord your God.”(Exodus 20:2)

May we apply what God has given, and may we be more like what He wants us to be, and not just know more of what he wants us to know.

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