In December of 2018, I talked about the fact that “We are Legos.” The idea here was that all of us come with a limited amount of connection points. We have connections with family, work, friends, etc. When all of those connecting points are full, we struggle to find room for more relationships.
Here’s another thought about how we are Legos: As Christians Jesus calls us to get connected to God. He even cleared the way so that we can, truly, connect to God. We are called to become a piece of the Body of Christ. We are called to do our part in the workings of the Church. We are Legos in that we come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. God calls us as we are, where we are, and how we are. Each one of us connects to the Body of believers with our own uniqueness, experiences, personalities, flaws, quirkiness, backgrounds, struggles, likes, dislikes, ugliness, and beauty. None of us are saints. None of us are more worthy of playing a role in Gods house than anyone else. The building labeled “church” is just a place to gather and worship. We are the church. In my mind, I see a multi-colored, Lego church where everyone is welcome, and everyone plays a part. Unity and Diversity in the Body 1 Corinthians 13: 12-14 (NIV) 12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
The image here is a 65-foot tall church-shaped public pavilion for the 2011 Grenswerk Art Festival in Enschede, The Netherlands.
Several years ago, I owned an ornamental iron and sculpture company. We created lots of unusual things. (Click the button below and see the giant bugs in the Downing Children’s Garden at Botanica, Wichita, KS) We painted most of the pieces we created with specialty finishes and very concentrated enamel paint. Many times, I would get the paint on my hands and found that, even though it washed off my skin easily, sometimes it really stuck to my fingernails. One day, in a grocery store, I realized that the paint on my nails made people a little uncomfortable. I thought to myself, “Hmm. This could be fun…” Over the years I’ve had lots of fun making people wonder. Today, I call them my “Jesus nails” and here’s why: When was the last time you talked to someone you didn’t know about Jesus? Opening a conversation about our Savior can be a pretty hard thing to do. We don’t want to offend. We don’t want people to think “Oh, here we go with the “Jesus” thing again.” Talking about Christ can really put us on-the-spot and may even cause us to have to follow up with that person. When people ask me or make a comment about my nails, I say this, “These are my Jesus nails. They remind me to treat you with respect, love, and kindness just like Jesus tells me to do; with no judgment, no condemnation. Jesus loves and takes you just as you are, how you are and where you are.” Research has shown over and over again that non-believers see Christians as condemning, judgmental and intolerant. That is terribly sad. This world is hurting, fractured and fighting and needs to see our Savior for what He really is; love, hope, forgiveness and open to everyone!
My thought for your week: Find your own way to start a conversation about Jesus this week. Turn your “Jesus switch” on and be ready to share the most important thing you can – Jesus loves everyone just as they are.
I know that most churches have some form of youth ministry, but I just wanted to talk about ours briefly. I am proud of what this small church has done with its Awana program over the years. It’s a ministry which started long before I arrived. Every Wednesday night of the school year, for 12 years, our Awana “Commander,” Kelly C. Boylan and the many dedicated volunteers have helped loads of children make new friends, learn about life and all about Christ. They study the Bible, play games, eat hamburgers and hot dogs and grow. They grow so quickly! There are usually 20-30 kids and 20+ volunteers! This year the middle school and high school kids have formed a new youth group called “Revolution Youth.” We did a little remodeling of a couple of classrooms, and the kids picked out the name for the program. The preschool and elementary school children are still rolling as Awana, and it’s still pretty noisy here on Wednesday nights! Hamburgers and hot dogs for everyone! A lot of people here have put loads of time and energy into this ministry. I’m excited to see what the next 12 years will bring!
Last week I gave you a question to think about. The main thought in the question was this: Could you take the place of Judas? If you missed the scenario, there is a link to last week’s article at the beginning of this discussion. So, if you could go back in time and Jesus asked you to follow Him as Judas you would have loads of things to consider. I think this question could lead into a very long book…but I’m not going that deep. Obviously, not here. First off, in this scenario, both of you know where this is heading. You know as much as Jesus as to how this story is going to play out! In the original story, Jesus knew what was going to take place; Judas did not. I’ve asked several people this question over the last week and here are some of the thoughts we’ve come up with:
If you say to Jesus, “I will not!” then you might be just flat out refusing to walk with Christ.
You may not even fully understand why Jesus was here, to begin with.
I’ve had people say, “No. Because he betrayed Jesus and I would NEVER betray Jesus!”
OK…But, If Judas hadn’t betrayed his teacher Jesus would not have gone to the cross. Or, at least when He did.
I’ve had someone say, “I would make sure He was not crucified…Oh, no that doesn’t work either does it...”
I’ve had people say, “If I say yes then the world will despise me forever.”
As we read in Matthew 27:3-10, Judas repented and took back the thirty silver coins. He was so remorseful that “He went off and hanged himself.” As Christians, we forget that Judas loved Jesus and he repented. As sinful people we leave out the thought of forgiveness; we want Judas punishedfor what he did. We also don’t think about the fact Jesus called Judas and knew what was about to happen. He knew that His crucifixion was the plan all along. The whole world could not have salvation without it.
Judas played a major role in the events leading up to the world’s salvation. We say, easily, that we will go to our death for Jesus! I say that’s an easy thing to say because Jesus laid down His life for us. He has the ability to reward us with everlasting life. If we could take the place of Judas, knowing what we know now, we would be laying down our lives for the world. And, it would come without any acknowledgment from that world which doesn’t deserve salvation and doesn’t have any way to repay it. In the end, all of the Apostles died terrible deaths. They gave their lives for the world, in Jesus’ name, so that the world would know Christ.
So here is a question I came up with last night. It goes like this: Say you are a scientist/engineer and you have invented a time machine. And, the time machine actually works. The very first place you decide to go is back to the time of Jesus. You are a faithful believer and follower today and are excited to go back to actually hear Christ and see Him in person. And, when you arrive you land at the very beginnings of His ministry. You find Him, follow Him and are listening to Him teach with all the other people. Suddenly, Jesus stops talking to the people and He turns to you and says, “Judas Iscariot, I am very glad you could be here today. Follow me.” You say, “Lord, you are mistaken I am not Judas…” To which He replies, “I am not mistaken. Follow me.” Would you do it? Would you follow Jesus as Judas Iscariot? Knowing how the story unfolds, would you take the place of Judas? Think about how things will wind up for you. Think about how things wind up for Christ. Think about how things wind up for the rest of the world. Think about your answer and what it says about your perspective, presumptions and understanding of what it means to “follow” Christ. How does this question effect how you think about Judas? I’m going to let you think about that and then we’ll discuss more next week.
I grew up listening to country music back in the day. I could tell you about all the original Grand Ole Opry stars; most of them long gone by the time I was in my teens. In my album collection, I even had a few old Johnny Cash records. I picked up several of them from West High School where my mother taught English. They were getting rid of some of the duplicates in their library collection.
I, obviously, never met Johnny Cash and what I know of him is from his book, TV, a 1970’s documentary, interviews and the most recent movie about his life.
What I see appears to be a man truly walking with God and in a continual struggle to keep his personal life in check. He battled with addictions and many other issues we will never know. I see what I believe is a real, “open book” life of a Christian. All of his successes and failures were out there for the world to see. I see a common man, just like me, trying to do his best to stay upright.
In my own life, I follow Jesus. My mind is set on Him most of the time. I can see the “right” path and I’m on it…and then I stumble. I take my eyes off Christ, and I fall…And Jesus waits for me. He gives me strength and stands me back up, forgives me…and we continue the journey.
Ephesians 1: 6-8 6 Let us praise God for his glorious grace, for the free gift he gave us in his dear Son! 7 For by the blood of Christ[c] we are set free, that is, our sins are forgiven. How great is the grace of God, 8 which he gave to us in such large measure!
My Thought For Your Week: Be real. God knows your heart. Open it up and give it to Him everyday.
I know you’ve all heard the saying, “A rut is a grave with the ends knocked out.” I’ve heard it many times and think about it often when going over my daily routine. The life we have created for ourselves binds us to a path that becomes that rut. – A DEEP rut. And, it can be a monumental challenge for us to pull ourselves up and out of it. Then when we actually do climb out, there’s a mighty force and gravitational tide that pulls us back in.
Throughout Christ’s time here on earth, he talked about moving from where we sit to actively changing our lives, the lives of those around us and intern change the world.
He asks us to pick up our cross and follow Him. What a powerful, life-altering request that is! It is absolutely impossible to “take up our cross” and stay in the rut. It takes movement! It requires you and ME to step out in faith, climb out in faith for Christ! It requires us to fully submit ourselves to the will of God. – That does not include doing your time in Sunday morning church service.
Are you doing something today for God that requires you to walk on faith in Him? If so, I would LOVE to hear about it! If not, I would LOVE to help you walk closer to God and be there when you do take that leap! I cannot think of a higher, scarier, more exciting purpose for anyone’s life than actively working for Him.
My thought for your week: If you feel God calling you to take up your cross and follow Him and haven’t done it, why not? Have you felt like you’ve been called into some form of ministry for God and think that…it’s just too risky? Maybe, too much to lose? Maybe…new cultures and new situations are…a little scary?
I put Him off for many, many years. He called me for a long time…I finally surrendered, and I am more than glad I did! I’d love to tell you about it.
I’m going to ask you this question even though I, more than likely, know the answer. Have you ever thought about “out-giving God?”
My guess is that your answer is, “No.”
When we think about God’s unending ability to forgive, His incredible ability to love, His unfathomable power to create, His…We’ll, we all know that we could never stand a chance. We could never come close to out-giving Him.
As Christians, we struggle daily, just to keep up with life. In the overall scheme of things, we have a difficult time giving much to Him or others. Giving time and love to family and friends doesn’t seem to add up too much here. In talking about love for others, including your enemies, Jesus said:
46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? (Matt. 5:46-47)
In our current history, one of the greatest examples of “all-in” love of God and generosity to others is Mother Teresa. She founded the Missionaries of Charity in India which has over 4,500 nuns and is active in 133 countries around the world. Thousands, if not millions have received aid in some form or another because of this mission.
Yet she would have told you that she and the people working with her are nothing compared to God’s ability to give, and love.
Here’s a thought for your week. (Not mine this time.) "We cannot do great things on this Earth, only small things with great love." —Mother Teresa
On January 20th, 1961 John F. Kennedy said during his inaugural address, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.
In this great American society, everything a person could ever need is incredibly easy to get. If we have the income and means, all we have to do is wheel the car into the fast-food drive-thru, and 5-10 minutes later we’re eating. Everything in our world is geared to getting us what we want when we want it!
The business world has learned that if we are expected to jump thru a hoop before we buy a product, we won’t. The company that doesn’t charge shipping gets the sale. We don’t even have to get out of bed to buy…just about anything.
We have become a “consumer culture, and I believe we need to fight that culture flowing into our churches. Just believing in Christ and thinking that’s enough can lead us to become “Consumer Christians.” Just believing doesn’t require action but following Christ does!
We cannot followChrist and remain a consumer Christian. Following requires movement. Movement in Christ requires service for God and others. Service for God and others means getting up from the pew and asking God, “What can I do for you today?”
There are 1,000’s of small, struggling churches in this country of our who need you. They need you to be an “on-fire” follower of Christ! My thought for your week: Mathew 20: 26[b]-28 (NIV) [Jesus said] whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” If we are to reallyfollow Christ, we’ve got to follow His lead.
I have found, the older we get the less we get into the “new year’s resolution” thing. When we were younger, we would really dive into it and say, “This year I’m going to get down to my ideal weight!” Or, “I’m going to start working on my book!” Or, “I’m going to save more and spend less!” Or, “I’m going to get in shape and run a 5K!” Or, “I’m finally going to conquer that addiction………”
And, then we fail…Over and over.
When we’re older, we don’t even try. We put it behind us because we know we won’t succeed.
We do the very same thing when it comes to following God’s will for our lives. We fail Him over and over. And the older we get, the more complacent we become. We say to ourselves, “Why do I even try. I’m going to continue to sin. I’m going to continue to fall short of who God wants me to be…”
Amazingly and fortunately for us, God continues loves us with His incredible grace. We fail Him over and over and He takes us back over and over.
God is incredibly full of love for us! He is unbelievably forgiving! Why? Because He know us better than we know ourselves. He knows our weaknesses better than we do. He knows our every flaw…and He STILL loves us.
This year, I believe you and I really need to resolve to walk closer to God. We need to make plans to pray more, read the Bible more, go to church more, light our faith on fire and get active in His church more!
My Thought for your week: Go to church! Get involved! Put your love for God into action! Why?Because 2,000 years ago He put His love for you into action!