Saturday, July 28, 2012


One of the things I love to write about is God's goodness. Sometimes God's blessings don't appear to be blessings at first, but God has never once dropped the ball when it comes to His promise to cause all things work together for the good of those that love Him. The promise is to those that love Him. I fail Him often... I fail to love Him often... but by His grace, I do love Him. This enables me to see all of life from a different perspective--I know that whatever God does, it is for His glory, and it is for my good. This means that any kind of disappointment in life just means that God, in His infinite wisdom, has either withheld something from me for my good, or has something much better in store. Remember that this is the God who can do far more abundantly beyond all we could ask or think.

I'd like to tell you about some of the blessings of the day... but first, some history. We used to go to a place called Summit Ministries every summer. Dad would speak in the topics of Creation and Evolution... the rest of us would have an absolute blast. One of the blessings of that time is that there was a man there who decided to invest in this little kid named Daniel. Why he chose to invest in me, I don't know. He is one of the least techy people you will ever meet... but I loved him. He was a real man. He wasn't afraid to tear anything apart knowing that he could put it back together. He was gracious and not only let me watch... but let me help doing things like replace car doors... engines... lay wood floor or tile... put in counter-tops... fix and/or replace toilets... put in doors... lay sprinkler systems... lay cement... fix electrical outlets without turning off the power (hehe)... etc. Ben could have done all of these things by himself so much faster (and better) than I could have, but he invested in me and taught me so many things.

So, now to the blessings of the day. God used Ben in my life to give me some courage in attempting bigger tasks that I don't necessarily know how to do. Years ago, our passenger seat in the van decided to stop laying back... the lever would pull up but the seat refused to move. We lived with it in kind of an awkward position for quite a while because the dealership wanted $850 to fix it... and it was never worth THAT much to us. Well, it happened to the drivers seat this week... and even in a more awkward position! So, today was the day to work on the van, so I went ahead and started taking out screws and such. I eventually got the whole seat out without losing screws. After analyzing it for quite a while, I found that a little plastic part (actually, the only plastic part in the whole thing) was stripped due to years of use. I called around to several car repair places and dealerships and of course they couldn't give just that part, they had to give the whole side... $120ish just for one side. Anyway, I ended up checking out the junk yard. I have never been to a junk yard (sad I know)... but it's never too late for a new "first". I started walking around the junk yard and located a van that was similar to ours. It was a sobering sight--glass everywhere, half torn clothes that were left from what very well could have been a fatal accident, etc. It was a good reminder that life is short and our days are numbered by the Lord. It also reminded me to be thankful for the blessing of life... and eternal life! Well, this van had both seats... and to my amazement, both seats still could lay back, so I knew the part was good. I quickly busted out my tools and went to work... and 15 minutes later, I had both of these little plastic parts out of the car and I (yes, probably with a proud grin on my face) half walked, half bounced my way up to the cashier. I was thrilled. I waited in line for several gentlemen who were paying for random things from different cars... and I placed my two prize pieces of plastic on the counter. I had all kinds of thoughts racing through my head... would the man would want to know where I got the pieces from? And what now doesn't work in the van I just took it out of? Does this make it so they can't sell the seat and so do I have to pay for the whole seat? ... etc. The man looked at me and said, "Get out of here." I glanced up at him with that questionable look and said, "Seriously?" He said, "Yeah, don't even worry about it!" I walked over to the exit where they had the "check your receipt" station and let him know what the nice man at the counter said and I don't remember what he said exactly, but I think he could tell how thrilled I was and said something nice and sent me on my way.

I paid two dollars to get into the junk yard... and left with two small plastic things that fixed two chairs. The same two chairs that the dealership would have charged $1,700 to fix. Two dollars!!! I am just overwhelmed by God's goodness! First of all, I wouldn't have even known that the little plastic things were the issue unless Ben had invested in me for many many summers growing up... and then God gave the gift of two small plastic things that fixed two very important things in our van. Thank You, Lord!

Perhaps the Lord allowed this seat to stop laying back so that I could see yet another instance of His goodness. Perhaps the Lord allowed me to see this instance of His goodness so that I would love Him more and trust Him more with the bigger things of life. He owns it all! If He wants two $850 seats to be fixed for $2, He is able. That doesn't even began to compare with His infinite riches! The best thing of all is that His riches go beyond two seats in a van that will probably be crushed by some machine someday... His true riches are found in Christ who gives the ability to live, move and breathe. May we glorify Him with all the blessings that He pours out on us, both physical and spiritual.

As we prepare to worship tomorrow morning, let us remember that phrase from Romans 1:12... that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other’s faith, both yours and mine. May Christ be honored by our fellowship tomorrow. May it be more than a social gathering where we talk about weather, work, and sports... and let's use the infinite riches of Christ that have been poured out on us for His glory in the lives of others as we fellowship with them tomorrow.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Humbling Associations

For July 4th, our church got together with another church to help them do an outreach to their community. Basically, we made balloon animals, several people did face painting, and we gave out gospel tracts, etc. God gave this church a unique opportunity to be right across the street from a minor league baseball stadium. They got to be the only booth outside the stadium (free) and even were able to use some tents and chairs and such that the city provided! It was such a blessing to be able to serve the community in a practical and simple way and hopefully make an eternal impact in the lives of some.

One of the young ladies that I made a pink and green flower balloon for was 12 years old in a wheel chair. She was with her mom getting her face painted and mom brought me over there to make a balloon for her. She had recently had surgery to remove tumors off the bones in her legs. Your heart just aches for people like her... young and potentially has so much life in front of her and yet she is wheel-chair bound at least for quite a while. This morning, I was reading in Romans 12 and verse 16 caught my attention in light of yesterday's outreach. Here are verses 14-16 for context.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.
Someone encouraged me (whether they know it or not) to look into what the word "lowly" meant here. It has two other usages in the New Testament... James 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5 which talk about how God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble. The word humble there is the same word as lowly in Romans 12:16. Those verses appear to be quoting from Proverbs 3:34. The word carries the idea of humble, meek, poor, oppressed, and needy people.

What was fascinating to me is that there are so many passages in Proverbs that talk about who we associate with. For example... do not associate with a gossip (Prov. 20:19), do not associate with a man given to anger (Prov. 22:24), do not be with heavy drinkers of wine or gluttonous eaters of meat (Prov. 23:20), do not be envious of evil men nor desire to be with them (Prov 24:1), do not associate with those who are given to change (Prov. 24:21), etc. Here in Romans 12:16, we are commanded to associate with the lowly, or the humble... and that same word is used for those that God gives grace to! In humbling ourselves and associating with the lowly when it may not feel like the "cool thing" to do, we are actually placing ourselves in a position to receive the grace of the Lord. God is opposed to the proud!

I am thankful that the Lord used that young lady last night in conjunction with His Word this morning to encourage me to associate with those that I ought to associate with. I don't need to be the "cool guy". I need to be gracious to those to whom He is gracious.

I think of a song that I listen to fairly often called, "The Mind of Christ".

To receive when others reject,
To treat each one with true respect,
To shield when others throw stones,
To be with one whos all alone,
To think and choose to see the very best,
To live like this is nothing less than to possess:

The mind of Christ, my highest goal,
The Lord's delight, the desire of my soul,
The Father's heart will always guide my life,
If I will have in me the mind of Christ.

To build up when others tear down,
To see the lost until they're found,
To give grace where it's needed most,
Rejecting pride when others boast,
To sacrifice my all without regret,
To live like this is nothing less than to possess:

The mind of Christ, my highest goal,
The Lord's delight, the desire of my soul,
The Father's heart will always guide my life,
If I will have in me the mind of Christ.