Serving

sandals in sand

Sandals!

Our Inside Joke

Our family has an “inside” joke. Anytime we’re supposed to be surprised at something we already know, we yell, “Sandals!” The genesis of this inside joke comes from a birthday party we held for our twins when they were just little tykes.

When the twins’ birthday was getting close, my wife took them shopping. She found some sandals, had them try them on, and when they fit, she bought them. I don’t remember how, but all of our kids knew that the twins were getting sandals as part of the birthday.

My wife admonished all of the kids to act surprised so that I would believe that it really was a surprise. It was one of the few times when all the planning went perfectly. The twins tore open the wrapped sandals and, in unison, yelled, “Sandals!”

The Mystery of Sandals

When Jesus prepared His apostles to go into Israel, two by two, to proclaim the kingdom of God and perform miracles, He gave them detailed instructions as to how they were to go and minister.

Don’t carry a traveler’s bag with a change of clothes and sandals or even a walking stick. Don’t hesitate to accept hospitality, because those who work deserve to be fed.

Matthew 10:10

This account is also found in Mark and Luke. Jesus was not telling His apostles to go on their journey barefooted. His apostles understood that Jesus was telling them to travel without a safety net. They could not take any extra things. They would go with the sandals already on their feet, but they could not take an extra pair. The apostles would be traveling without even the comforts common for poor travelers.

Go!

When we recall Jesus declaring to His apostles, and through them to us, the “Great Commission” in Matthew 28:16-20, we should remind ourselves: “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:19

The Queen of England never carries money, except on Sunday, when she places an ironed, folded, £5 or £10 note in the collection plate. It would be silly for her to carry money. She’s the Queen and has riches beyond belief. Now, consider, again, Philippians 4:19. I may not have a dollar in my wallet, but I have enough for every need I’ll ever have.

Live in Your Calling

Jesus wants us to be wise, but even more so, He wants us to walk by faith and trust that He will provide for our physical needs and for whatever we need to minister to others. We were saved for a purpose. Live in your calling, and God will provide.

Image by straw from Pixabay


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man doing woodwork

The Luthier

We are God’s workmanship

For those of us that have received Jesus, and in Him, we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28), I’ve got good news!

I read the following verse for the umpteenth time. I love God’s message to us in this brief verse. However, as the Holy Spirit so often does when we read God’s Word, a little question popped into my mind. “Gary, did you catch that?” Catch what, Lord? I know this verse forwards and backward (despite my lack of ability to remember the book, chapter, and verse😉 ) Hmmm. Perhaps I should reread the verse.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:10

So here’s a metaphor to communicate what I found in this verse.

A pile of good is not a guitar

When a luthier (a maker of stringed instruments such as violins or guitars) gathers wood to begin making a guitar, he has already decided what he will craft and all the characteristics it will have to fulfill the luthier’s purpose for it. He knows what he’s doing. He knows that when it’s finished, it will not just look like the guitar he envisioned; its form and function will be what he expected.

The Luthier knows the tone it will possess. The guitar won’t strive to have that tone; the beauty will be in and of his guitar. All the qualities of his guitar are no surprises but are the outcome of the luthier’s skill. The guitar’s resonance, range, and responsiveness are all imparted as the luthier crafts his one-of-a-kind guitar.

The guitar has no characteristics that enable it to do anything other than what the luthier intended. The guitar simply is. How foolish it would be for a guitar to wish it were a violin (1 Corinthians 12:15-26). And how ridiculous it would be for a marvelously hand-crafted guitar to remain in a display case; never played.

God is the luthier of people

God is the Luthier of people. Before God spoke anything into existence, He selected a purpose for each of His children. Then God crafted His intent into us. And He made us like spiritual epoxy glue. We can’t be what God hand-crafted until we come in contact with Jesus. Only when Jesus enters us are we complete and become who God made us to be.

We don’t need anything except to be used

As Christians, it is foolish to ask God to make us into something; He already did that before He made heaven and earth. It’s silly for us to ask God to enable us to use His gifts in us. His gifts are crafted into us. Let me state that differently. God’s gifts are in us through the spiritual keys, frets, bridge, arch-top woodwork, and so forth God used to make us. I don’t need to ask God to give me “frets.”

We need to pray for us to get our foolish selves out of the way (Matthew 10:38). We need to ask God to help us throw off the sin that so easily entangles us (Hebrews 12:1). And we need to ask God to give us the boldness to be used by Him as the instruments He created (2 Corinthians 3:12).

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

 Galatians 2:20

Photo by Austin Ramsey on Unsplash


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folding ruler

An Improver

When I look at this image, I quickly picture Dad’s hands pulling it from a pocket and measuring whatever it was that he was going to improve. Dad was an improver. That was his calling.

Improving soldiers in WWII

While a young man, Dad learned to be an electrician at Coyne Electrical School in Chicago – it’s still in business. Later, he became an instructor there, improving the lives of his students; teaching them a trade that was in high demand.  While in the army, during WWII, Dad taught soldiers how to use the newest technology, the teletype. He improved the military’s ability to communicate critical information and imparted to his students’ skills that they carried into the post-war economic boom.

Still later he became a professor, earned his doctorate, eventually becoming the chairperson of the School of Technology, at Indiana State University. His mission was to improve how to teach technology; and he always taught. Professors and students alike gained technical skills and life skills through his work. Eventually, a scholarship was created in his and my mother’s names.

Improving houses

Being an educator was never enough. Dad always improved whatever he touched. Growing up, as a family, we moved at least fifteen times, and Dad never stopped. Before he passed, he had remodeled more than twenty homes. At age eighty-four, improving the last house he would own, he built an entire bathroom which successfully passed the city’s building inspection.

Anyone that knew Dad, knew Dad. He was the same person, whether participating in the faculty senate, teaching in a classroom, or handing me this folding ruler. I remember who Dad was when I was young. Now that I’m old, I realize that few people are the same, always and in all settings. And in all his roles he found ways to improve the lives of those around him. My wife also has this rare gift.

Improving the people around him

Now Dad loved Jesus with all his heart. So, everyone knew that Dad was completely dedicated to serving Jesus, his Lord and Savior. There were no dirty jokes or crude words used around Dad, not because he forbade them, but people just felt guilty, sullied when they tried these worldly actions in Dad’s presence – I witnessed this first-hand, many times. Dad’s walk with Christ improved those around him

It’s true, this rickety old tool holds no value to anyone but me, and someday it will get tossed in a trash can. But, for now, when I want to see Dad’s hands, I reach for this folding ruler out and let my memories get the best of me.

Jesus the Creator

Though Dad was an improver, our Savior, Jesus, doesn’t improve things, He creates things. There’s an adage that says, “Jesus didn’t come to make bad people good. He came to make the dead alive!” This adage is true. None of us needed Jesus to help us be better. We all needed to be born again, born as a child of God, born with the Holy Spirit within us. (Romans 3:23) Better just isn’t good enough for God’s children.

This old, folding ruler helps me to see the hands of my dad, and someday, I’ll again see his hands because both he and I are true believers in Jesus. But before I seek to see Dad’s hands, I will seek to see Christ’s hands. I long to see His nail-scarred hands, to see the One who decided that better wasn’t good enough. Jesus “bought me” from death to life. He is the One I want to first see, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)

I pray that each of us are improvers in whatever role God calls us to. But more than that, I pray that you have given your life to Jesus. Amen.

Photo by me 😀


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project

Are You A Project Person?

My wife is a project person. At any one time, she always has two or three projects that she’s doing, and that doesn’t count the people-projects that God gives her. We’ve been married a long time, and she’s never run out of projects.

Project People

Nehemiah was also a project person. One day he heard about the distress of his fellow Jews in Jerusalem as well as the condition of the city itself. When he heard this news, God called him at risk his own life to tackle the restoration of the people and the city.

As soon as Nehemiah hears the need, we see Nehemiah fasting and praying “for days” for God’s guidance (Nehemiah 1:4). Next, when Nehemiah understands that God has laid this work upon him, we read, “…And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ graves, that I may rebuild it.” Nehemiah 2:5

God gave Nehemiah a project. For Nehemiah, it was a massive project, and one larger than he probably understood, at first. Nehemiah’s assignment is how God works. And if you have placed your faith in Jesus, then God will have projects for you, too. How do you know when God has a project for you? It usually starts in your heart.

A Burden from the Lord

Old-timers call it a burden from the Lord. It’s a heaviness in your heart and a reoccurring thought in your mind. When you become aware of it, you begin to take it to the Lord in prayer, and you find an unusual receptiveness; access to God that may not be typical for you.

When you receive an assignment from God, you should keep at least two things in mind. First, God shares His glory with no one (Isaiah 42:8). All the honor and praise for your work belongs to God, alone. Secondly, where God guides, He provides. This second statement can promptly be confirmed by reading the books of Nehemiah, Ezra, and Esther.

Will you be a Project Person?

As you go about your daily life, keep your spiritual ears open. I do not doubt that our Lord Jesus will speak to you by the Holy Spirit and give you projects to advance the kingdom of God.

Photo credit: VFS Digital Design on VisualHunt.com / CC BY

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Airmen during Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

Colossians 3:15-17 The Message (MSG)
15-17 Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.

As long as I’ve been a Christian, Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday. Shouldn’t Christmas be it since I am a Christian? Good question. Yes, it SHOULD, but the intention of this Holy Day is more soiled, shredded, and mutilated than the items people hold in their avaricious hands as they stand in line at Walmart. Why not Easter? Same story. The Easter egg hunt reigns supreme on this intended Holy Day to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ our Savior.

Conspicuous Consumption

No, for most of my Christian life the best that conspicuous consumption could stir up against Thanksgiving was a turkey and pumpkin pie. Both good but not able to overshadow the 800-pound gorilla in the room; to whom do you give thanks?

Giving thanks implies a Giver and places the Giver above the receiver unless you can give back as much, and in kind. A one-shot, day of giving stuff at Christmas pales in comparison to receiving every breath you take for every second or every day for the whole year. – My mother suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for, to me, too many years. But I won’t know until I get to heaven what was gained in God’s kingdom from her battle.

Well, I am still grasping on to Thanksgiving despite its slow, maniacal disassembly. We have Black Friday, Shop Local Saturday, and Cyber Monday. We have Christmas commercials that overlap Halloween. Commercialism is in a no-holds-barred battle against Thanksgiving, and it’s winning.

Friendsgiving 🙁

Just last week I saw a commercial that called Thanksgiving “Friendsgiving”; they’ve tossed the gorilla out of the window. My guess is that the Thanksgiving Holy Day will fall in line with the other three-day weekend holidays: FaceTime a few friends and family, pop some popcorn and watch football. Yes, I think that is the future of my beloved Holy Day. But not for me. Not in this house. “… as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15 NIV).

Take A Little Time

In closing, I’d like to leave you with Andrae Crouch’s song, “Take A Little Time”. You will be blessed.

Photo credit: Official U.S. Air Force on VisualHunt

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woman carrying a stack of sweaters

Would You Get Me My Sweater?

When it comes to serving one another, a friend of mine used the following example: Brother, I’m willing to die for you, but don’t ask me to get your sweater!

It seems easy for us to make grand sacrifices, like “I’ll sell all I have and move to Outer Mongolia.” Apostle John wrote, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” – 1 John 3:16 NIV

It’s the laying down of our lives for small things that so easily trips us up, like fetching someone’s sweater or emptying the church’s dishwasher. 


By the way, – Did you know that our English word mogul, meaning an important or influential person, comes from the mispronunciation of Mongol, as in a person from Mongolia?

Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

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