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Popeye Theology: A New Year's Meditation

  • Michael Ireland ASSIST News Service
  • 2007 1 Jan
  • COMMENTS
Popeye Theology: A New Year's Meditation

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA -- I admit it, I stole this idea from my pastor's New Year's Eve sermon this morning. But it's a great idea and needs to be shared.

How many of you remember the Popeye the Sailor Man cartoons? Well, my pastor preached on the topic of "Popeye Theology" this morning and I thought it worth sharing with a wider audience.

He started his message with a clip from the popular TV cartoon. Then he asked the question, How many of you feel like Popeye in the cartoon when he reaches for his can of spinach and says, "That's all I can stands, coz I can't stands no more!"?

Pastor Joel told the story of Bob Pierce, founder of World Vision, who in 1947 went to visit a school in China and was confronted with a young, battered and bruised child. That experience prompted Pierce to start his ministry, "coz I can't stands it no more!"

Pierce said that he prayed: "Dear Lord, let me be broken by the things that break the heart of God."

My pastor then illustrated the same principle from the life of Moses, where he couldn't stand the sound of the mistreated Hebrew slaves in Egypt anymore; by the example of Fern Nichols who founded Moms In Touch in 1984; from the life of Nehemiah and his sorrow over the broken walls of Jerusalem; and from the story of David, who couldn't stand Goliath's ungodly taunts anymore.

Pastor Joel asked us: "Where in your world and daily life do you see what breaks the heart of God?" and: "Are you ready to say, 'That's all I can stands, coz I can’t stands no more!' " ?

Let me interject a personal example here. Last year in June I attended the annual D.A.R.T (Disaster Assistance Response Team) training held by Strategic World Impact (SWI) in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. My heart already being tender from several years of writing about the Persecuted Church, I was ready to 'jump ship' at ASSIST and follow a different entrepreneurial leader. I wanted to go where I felt the Lord needed me most, get stuck in, and get my hands dirty for Him, wherever and whenever.

Now Pastor Joel very wisely said that some people are stirred to action all the time, while others are like mountains and do not move at any of God's promptings. I identified with the former, and on Labor Day this year I formally started working with SWI. My Life Coach was very helpful in helping me to identify and answer the most relevant questions I needed to face in making this move, and I gave it my best shot.

However, it didn't take long for me to realize that while I may have had the passion, I didn't necessarily have the right skill-set or workstyle to do the job. In Pastor Joel's words, I had gotten my toes wet, but the water was too hot for the rest of my foot!

So, here I am back with ASSIST, though never really having left entirely -- you could say I backed off some of my work here -- and we come to the lessons learned.

As Pastor Joel put it, there are some warnings to be heeded here.

They are:

  1. Not every heart stirring is a call or an invitation from God;
  2. Don't give up if Holy Discontent takes a while to build up within you;
  3. When you discover your Holy Discontent from God, FEED IT!
  4. Don't let yourself get so beaten up that you lose your hope.

I would add a fifth: Don't get discouraged if you make a move that you believed was a 'Call from God' and it doesn't work out. God believes in failures and is willing to work with them! The Bible is full of examples of such people, including Rahab the Prostitute and Jacob the Cheater!

As Kevin Turner, President of SWI, has shown me recently in letting me return to ANS, there is yet more grace at the Mercy Seat of God. So, Kevin, thank you for being used as an instrument of God in my life. And, thank you Dan Wooding, for being willing to continue letting me use the skills I do have.

Yet, for some of you reading this, there is a Holy Discontent brewing in your life and you may need to heed the prompting of the Holy Spirit to step out into the deeper waters.

So, when you feel the Heavy Hand of God pushing you in a direction you are not comfortable with, ask Him to show you the things that break His heart.

Just because I stepped out in faith and found out it was working for me, doesn't mean that I have missed the Will of God. I feel like Thomas Edison who said that he found out a thousand ways a light bulb doesn't light up. In this process, I have found out where I fit and can best serve the Lord.

I am thankful that God uses failures, and that I am one of His success stories! Happy New Year!


Michael Ireland is an international British freelance journalist. A former reporter with a London newspaper, Michael is the Chief Correspondent for ASSIST News Service of Lake Forest, California. Michael immigrated to the United States in 1982 and became a US citizen in September, 1995. He is married with two children. Michael has also been a frequent contributor to UCB Europe, a British Christian radio station.

© 2007 ASSIST News Service, used with permission