This post is not for the weak of heart. You have been warned.
Mentors have a way of telling you the things you need to hear. In recent days one of my mentors said something to me that might as well have been a kick to the groin. "If you are not using your God given talents and abilities to their full potential, you are being a disgrace to your Creator."
What would I be capable of doing if I was disciplined enough to use what I have been given to it's maximum potential? I cannot even remember the last time I put considerable amounts of engery and time towards honing and using what and who I am. I am not wasting my time and gifts. I have been wasting God's. Can you imagine making a feast for a man who is starving, and instead of eating it, he just plays with it or gives it to the pigs?
God has given me more than I deserve. I have not used those gifts to their potential. I know I'm not the only one. Rise up brothers and sisters. Do what you know you can, including keeping me accountable and let's use what God has given.
After a seven day trip to Joplin, Missouri, a place where nature took a turn for the worse, I see a great need for healing. It is clear through simple observation that the landscape in Joplin still needs work. But it was not buildings, landscape, or even my iPhone that took a plunge in the pool that broke my heart. It was the stories of the teens throughout the week that have had spiritual and emotional tornados wreaking havoc on the landscape of their hearts and minds.
The stories that were told were not uncommon. What hurt the most was the amount. They include teens caught in the middle of a messy divorce, fighting families, deep confusing faith questions, and even looming doctor appointments with testing for cancer. I have never so strongly felt what Paul talks about in I Corinthians 12:26 in reference to the Body of Christ, "If one part suffers, every part suffers with it;" as I did this past week. My heart is broken.
The story doesn't end there, in brokenness. The story didn't end for my iPhone when I went swimming with it. The best is yet to come. Healing is great, but it still leaves scars. He (Jesus) makes all things NEW. New houses, businesses and buildings were rising all around Joplin. Teenager's hearts were being renewed each night. And yes, I will be getting a new phone soon. But even better than that is the fact that one day we can have a new body, a new heaven, and a new earth. This earthly brokenness will come to an end. We won't need beams and constant construction to hold up our faith like the cross above. We are new in Christ, strong, and a force for good. Brokenness is merely an opportunity for something new. Who doesn't like getting something new?!
Today is my one year anniversary of being married to the best wife I could ask for: Elizabeth Bone. We took the time during dinner to reflect on the highs and lows of the first year. But it was the message my good friend Greg Martin gave that really made me think differently about the woman across from me. The theme he chose for our mission trip to Joplin, Missouri is iGetOne.
The life we live truly is a fragile thing. In the last few years I have seen the destruction of two sacred things: life and love. Each heartwrenching story I am sure could be matched by any of you reading this post. That is why the following challenge should hit home.
We have been given a sacred gift of life. Every second that passes by is a choice to act or sit. When Jesus was questioned on what the greatest commandments were he said "love God, love people" (my paraphrase). Using those precious moments of life to love people is the most respectable and righteous thing you can do. How many times have we wasted precious days of our lives (I don't mean the soap opera)?
Every day that I do not intentionally love my wife, or love on my family, or love on my friends or teens I waste. No life ever gets sustainably better without love. God IS love. I must use the two sacred gifst to their potential. I have been given one life to live. So have you. Are we living it intentionally?
In light of the coming release of one of my favorite movies, Ice Age, I found unique parallels to life. The biggest of which is the desire to be part of a group, a community. A notable quote from the first Ice Age movie is from Sid the Sloth: "This is the weirdest herd I've ever seen." And if we look closely at what we call the church today, we could say the same thing.
Church is a collection of people from many walks of life who are all united by one thing: Jesus Christ. We find old to young, introverts and extroverts, musicians, jocks, punks, artists, and everything else in between. One of the most beautiful things about the body of Christ (when it is functioning properly) is the acceptance of all.
There are three main principles of action in Christianity: Evangelism, Discipleship, and Missions. The simplified version of this is: Ask One, Teach One, Serve One. Of these three principles, only one gives people a bad feeling: Ask One (evangelism). The reality of what evangelism originally was meant to be is simply sharing the excitement. The apostles couldn't help but tell everything they possibly could about what they experienced in Jesus. It is not about hitting people over the head with a Bible, or going door to door, or even large conferences with big alter calls. The Ask One principle is about having something of great value, in a place with great value, while keeping good values. What we (should) have is love, an accepting church, and goodness. Do we?
If you have a great story, you find places to tell it. I talk about movies that I love like Ice Age all the time. I have been challenged lately to tell of the best story I know: my encounter with Jesus. Be looking for that story to come...
One of my favorite people in the Bible is King David. I could go on and on about all his accolades and the reasons he is my favorite, but I'm not going to talk about David today. I want to talk about his great-great grandmother. Her story is mentioned in the book of Joshua, but it wasn't until Rick Dake spoke today that I connected the dots. Her name was Rahab.
Rahab was famous for two big reasons: first she helped the Israelites conquer her own people and city, Jericho and second she was a woman prostitute. Foreigners were not spoken of highly in those days, let alone the fact that she was a woman! But God's plan and great mercy shows up yet again.
God can and does use anyone who is willing. Rahab heard about the wonderous things God did for the Israelites (exodus from Egypt) and was willing to do whatever it took to serve the one true God. All too often I realize how numb I have become to God's wonders. Rahab was not. Though her profession at the time was prostitution, she was still capable of helping God's plan. She was willing.
The Bible does not tell us we can only do great things for God after we become righteous and holy. Rahab shows us we can do it wherever we are at. Not only did she do that, but she went on to have some pretty famous descendants. Boaz was her son, who is mentioned in the funny picture above. There were also several kings who came from her line like David and Solomon. And from David's line came Jesus himself. Jesus was a descendant of Rahab. So let's let God use us right where we are at, smoothing out the rough spots as we go. You never know who might show up to ask a favor of you, in turn changing your life and saving your family...
"Where your treasure is, there your heart will follow."
This is a powerful statement. Considering all of us who live in the United States have more "treasures" than not only every other country, but every other generation who ever lived, we are going to struggle with a certain Biblical principle. The more things we seem to have, the more easily we are distracted from that which matters: people.
When I first got my car five years ago I would not let people eat in it. Now I throw my wrappers and empty bottles in the back when I'm done and hope there was nothing else on it. I struggle at times to remember that the things that I own are first of all not really mine (they are God's) and second of all they do not get me into heaven. I will take nothing with me. That being said, I should use everything, I say it again, EVERYTHING, for the glory of God and not myself.
The Bible says by doing good works you store up for yourselves treasures in heaven. Now remember, good works don't get you into heaven. Good works store up treasures in heaven if you make the choice to follow Christ and go there. He who dies with the most stuff is still dead. Let's use what we have been given to glorify God, and have a mindset for the biggest part of our existence: heaven.
The first emporer of the Qing Dynasty in China spent 40 years of his life building 8,000 Terra Cotta warriors so he could have them in the afterlife. He must have been pretty frustrated when he showed up there alone...
A great reference for this topic is "The Treasure Principle" by: Randy Alcorn.