You know, I’m on kind of a rant this week. Because I have several pet peeves and I experienced one of them several days ago. For starters, I can’t stand it when a Walgreen’s moves in right next door to a CVS. Or when a Wal-Mart goes in next to a Target. Or, on a smaller scale, we have a small local entrepreneur who has built up a great cupcake business here in Carmel and just as things are starting to do very well, you guessed it, a large competitor moved in across the street and is trying to confuse the market by using a very similar name to the original store. Or how about when a Petsmart decides to open next to Petco?
I even remember when Janet and I had our staffing company, and we called the full-time staffing division AmeriStaff. Sure enough, the year that we make the cover of Inc. Magazine, as one of the 500 fastest growing privately held companies in America, I was in our office one day and discovered a man supposedly applying for work with us. Only he wasn’t being honest – he was the vice-president of a competitor and decided to rename his company CorpStaff to create confusion in the market and capitalize on the press we were getting. For a time, it really did hurt our business, but eventually, he couldn’t keep up with our quality and we were able to persevere.
It has always bothered me when a company is in a location, building it’s business and then, out of nowhere, a competitor moves in next door and tries to dominate the market. I just never cared for this. Maybe I was intolerant because I was always the little guy, but when a Lowes moves into a community, next to the local hardware store that has been serving the community for generations, I just have to root for the local team. No question about it.
So, back to the story at hand. Since last summer, I have been working with Jonathan Byrd’s Cafeteria, the local alternative, in Greenwood, IN. We have spent a tremendous amount of time, effort and money to re-introduce the restaurant into the community. The company is 23 years old and the Byrd family has owned it since day 1, Nov. 7, 1988. The community has changed dramatically throughout the years, but this staple of the southside has remained front and center in the public eye the entire time. It has withstood the death of its founder, recessions and just about every other thing that can happen to a company when it is almost a quarter of a century old. Last fall, in tribute to the 23rd anniversary, we reduced the price on one item each day for a month, to it’s opening day price back in 1988. People loved it…..
So, this year, we are running monthly specials for $5.99. That’s right – a complete dinner for $5.99. In January, it was our famous 2 piece chicken dinner, with 2 sides and bread. For February, we have taken our chicken and noodle dinner, advertised it as “Oodles of Noodles” and added 2 hot sides and bread, all for $5.99. We are selling it like crazy. We have bought billboards, added signage, produced coupons, joined Facebook and a number of other avenues to advertise these specials. So imagine my surprise when I drove to the cafeteria several days ago and saw the large sign at the Bob Evans next door – “chicken and noodles – quart to go – $5.oo.” It doesn’t mention that it’s not a dinner – just that its .99 cheaper than our price. We’ve done all the advertising, bought the banners, made the dish for the last 23 years, and here, in the eleventh hour, they are trying to capitalize on our work. And while I admit that I have been to Bob Evans once or twice for breakfast, they’re not my first choice when I think of chicken and noodles.
Now I know its a free market and that they can do whatever they want, but I just don’t understand why they can’t advertise their own stuff rather than trying to imitate what we are doing. And, seriously folks, we have the best chicken and noodles you have ever had. Period. So, like so many other of the above examples, pretenders often try to imitate but are never able to duplicate the original.
I can’t help but be reminded that this is the way it is with God. He is the original; Satan is the imitator, or said another way, the deceiver. Satan wants us to follow him rather than the real thing. He even says things that may have a hint of truth in them, but when you get up close and kick the tires, it is not the same at all. Only God is in control – Satan doesn’t have any power on his own and can’t even do things that God doesn’t allow him to do. Yet Satan keeps on trying to direct our attention to him when God has spent our whole lives pursuing us in the hopes of an eternal relationship with us in heaven.
Let’s face it – the deceiver just can’t pull it off. Maybe that’s why some people assign the number 7 to God. It’s the number of completion, of wholeness. So, following this line of thought, there are those among us who assign the number 777 to God; in honor of the Trinity, the godhead of three distinct but equal representations of God – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Know the number of Satan? In Revelation, we are told that it is 666. Can you guess why? Because Satan always falls short of God. He doesn’t, and can’t measure up… It’s as simple as that.
The verse for tonight comes from 2 John. The church had been experiencing problems with doctrine – that had come out of people who had originally been with the church. That’s what made it so insidious – you would never have expected it. But John tells us, in verse 7, “Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist.” So don’t be fooled.
My encouragement tonight is to let you know that Christ is the real deal. Often imitated, but never duplicated….. God reigns supreme on the throne and Satan doesn’t have a chance – even though he may try to move in next door. My prayer is that you will stay with the original, the real one, God. Don’t be fooled by the imitation. It’s not as good, and the price you pay won’t be cheaper – it will be much more expensive than you can imagine – eternal separation from God. So stick with God, and know that you have the best… Grace and peace….