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Customs Trouble

By Pastor Phillip Howle
web posted October 15, 2014

RELIGION – I got a bit of a record with US Customs. When I was in college, I tried to order (smuggle) a Cuban Cigar from Great Britain and have it shipped to my house. Well, the website guaranteed delivery or your money back. I was a young student of legal cigar smoking age at a Baptist college. My only rebellion was smoking cigars with buddies at the tops of mountains when we went hiking. Discussing theology in creation with fine tobacco seemed so sophisticated.

The hacking cough and stinky clothes did not occur to us at the time. It was also illegal to use tobacco on our campus so we would have to take Febreeze showers before we drove back to school. Those were rough years; thankful God’s grace carried me though!

The allure of the illegal cigar was great, so I placed my order. I waited for a few weeks, when my very angry mother called to inform me of the letter she received addressed to me officially delivered to her home from yes, the US Customs! My cigar had been seized and I was now going to be subjected to being physically inspected at my every border crossing! She was upset, not so much at the cigar, but at my stupidity! I have since crossed the border numerous times successfully and I think my case has gone cold! Please don’t be the reason they turn the heat back up on me!
Smuggling can be pretty intense. I read this week about a Canadian man who taped 51 live turtles to his legs and groin and tried to hide them under sweatpants in an attempt to smuggle the reptiles over the Detroit border crossing into Canada. He was caught because they noticed “irregularly shaped bulges under the man’s sweatpants on both legs”.

The man was captured as part of a surveillance operation conducted by US Fish and Wildlife Service agents. An official with the service said there has been an increase in turtle smuggling in the last year, which they attribute to demand in Asian food and collector markets.“These turtles, by the time they get to the end-collector, they can be worth anywhere from $1,300 to $1,500 a turtle,” said Ed Grace, deputy chief law enforcement officer with the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Why do I tell you these stories? Besides the obvious cautionary warning to any Baptist 19 year old that enjoys talking the Bible over while smoking tobacco! Don’t do it! I tell you this to show that when someone wants to accomplish something, they will try anything! Even if taping turtles to your crotch is involved.
When it comes to praying, we could learn a little bit from the turtle man. Jesus gives us great assurance in Matthew 7:7-8 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. (8) For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”
Notice Jesus promises that persistence in prayer will be heard and honored. So what have you given up on praying about? A child who is not walking with Jesus, A broken relationship that you miss and want reconciled, or a new career opportunity that you would enjoy? Maybe a nation you love, but are frustrated with or maybe for the health and revitalization of your church?

Whatever it may be, if you persist in asking, seeking, and knocking, the door will be opened. It may not be the door you thought it would be, but God will open the door He wants you to walk through. Even if there are grumpy customs agents about to pat you down!

Pastor Phillip

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