Use Me

Tree

“Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all.  When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human!”  Philippians 2:5-7 The Message Bible

                “A beautiful tree stood among many others on a lovely hillside, its stem dark and glossy, its beautiful feathery branches gently quivering in the evening breeze.

                As we admired it we became conscious of a gentle rustling of the leaves and a low murmur was heard: ‘ You think me beautiful and admire my graceful branches, but I have nothing of which to boast; all I have I owe to the loving care of the Master.  He planted me in this fruitful hill where my roots, reaching down and dwelling in hidden springs, continually drink of their life-giving water, receiving nourishment, beauty and strength for my whole being.

                ‘The characters on my stem are cut into my very being. The process was painful, but it was my Master’s own hand that used the knife, and when the work was finished, with joy I recognized His own name on my stem! Then I knew that He loved me and wanted the world to know I belonged to Him!’

                Even as the tree was speaking, the Master Himself stood there. In His hand He held a sharp axe. ‘I have need of thee.’ He said. ‘Art thou willing to give thyself to Me?’

                ‘Master,’ replied the tree, ‘I am all Thine own but what use can such as I be to thee?’

                ‘I need thee,’ said the Master, to take My living water to some dry, parched places where there is none.’

                ‘But Master, how can I do this? What have I to give to others?’

                The Master’s voice grew wondrously tender as He replied. ‘ I can use thee if thou are willing.  I would fain cut thee down and lop off all thy branches, leaving thee naked and bare; then I would take thee right away from this thy home and carry thee out alone on the far hillside where there will be none to whisper lovingly to thee – only grass and a tangled growth of briers and weeds.  Yes and I would use the painful knife to cut away within thy heart all barriers till there is a free channel for My living water to flow through thee. Thy beauty will be gone; henceforth no one will look on thee and admire thy freshness and grace, but many, many thirsty souls will stoop and drink of the life-giving stream which will reach them so freely through thee. They may give thee no thought, but will they not bless thy Master who has given them His water of life through thee?  Art thou willing for this my tree?’

                And the tree replied, ‘Take and use me as Thou wilt, my Master, if only Thou canst  thus bring living water to thirsty souls!’

                — Adapted from B.E. Newcombe’s, “Use Me”



The Leadership of Jesus

Jesus on Leadership

“Like the horizons for breath and the ocean for depth, the understanding of a good leader is broad and deep.”  Proverbs 25:3  The Message Bible

                Mark Twain once said, “Many people are troubled about the Scriptures which are mysterious and hard to understand.  I am most troubled about those which I can understand.”  It is often the things that we do understand that causes us the most problems.

                Much is being said in the church world about developing leadership.  There are multiple volumes being written, tape series that are being recorded , video instruction for sale and countless seminars and workshops being conducted.  This is not bad since many of us have never had the opportunity to develop and be developed in this area of our ministries.

                Recently, I was introduced to a book by C. Gene Wilkes entitled, “Jesus on Leadership: Discovering the secrets of servant leadership from the life of Christ”.  The titles of the chapters alone give a great idea of the seven key principles of leadership in the life of Christ: 1. Humble Your Heart, 2. First be a Follower, 3. Find Greatness in service, 4. Take Risks, 5. Take up the Towel, 6. Share responsibility and 7. Build a Team.  But the opening chapter reminds us that if we are to be Christlike in our leadership, we must “come down from the head table.”

                Another book that we are using in our Wednesday night discipleship class is “People Sharing Jesus” by Darrell W. Robinson.  It has helped me to understand that leadership principles, such as the ones mentioned above, are just as valuable in “leading” someone to know Jesus Christ in a personal relationship.

                Understanding the people around us.  Hearing their cries for help. Seeing their suffering and pain. These are the keys for us to lead others to know Him. We are called on, as believers, to lead others to the Savior.  Are we doing that effectively?

                As Mark Twain said, “…it is the things that we do understand that causes us the most problems.”  It is the understanding that we are called to witness and yet miss opportunity after opportunity that causes us the problems.

                Just last week one of our new Christians was telling about his job as service manager for a car dealership.  He remarked that he had had a very rough week with one man in particular.  The man had complained about everything and verbally abused this young Christian.  He said he had to pray extra hard to gain victory over this individual. But after the victory came, he was filled with joy, until he later found out that this abusive man was the pastor of a local church.  What kind of leading are we doing?

                Let our role of leading others to Christ be as broad as the horizon and as deep as the ocean. Never lose sight of the fact that the first role of a Christian leader is to lead others to Christ.

                Pastor Don



Where is God?

apples

“A Crescendo of voices in Heaven sang out, ‘The kingdom of the world is now the Kingdom of our God and his Messiah! He will rule forever and ever!'”  Revelation 11:15 The Message Bible.

                Most of us agree that the time for the fulfillment of this scripture is now very far away. The time of God’s Kingdom on earth is approaching fast.  But we also recognize that we are already citizens of that Godly Kingdom while we live on this earth ruled earth.  But let us not forget the fact that God is still in place. I read this illustration that says it well.

                “A theological school instructor shared a seat with a small boy on a shuttle train.  The boy was holding a Sunday School book.

                ‘Do you go to Sunday school, my boy?’ asked the man in a friendly way.

                ‘Yes sir.’

                ‘Tell me, my boy,’ continued the man, thinking to have some fun with the lad, ‘tell me where God is, and I’ll give you an apple.’

                The boy looked up sharply at the man and promptly replied, ‘I will give you a whole barrel of apples if you tell me where He is not.’

                Out of the mouths of babes, the truth is learned. Let us be as simple in our explanation of God’s rulership in this life.  Let our lives reflect the fact that we are not waiting for the end millennium reign, but that Christ rules in our hearts and lives right now.

                He was born in a stable, but was still recognized as the King.  He had no trappings of greatness, but no one has ever been greater.  He demanded no allegiance, yet men sought out ways to serve him.  He denounced regality, but is crowned with humility and grace.

                Bill Gaither’s song is just as real today as it was the day he wrote it, “The King is Coming”.

                Be Blessed

                Pastor Don



My Future

family hug

“While waiting to pick up a friend at the airport in Portland, Oregon, I had one of those life-changing experiences that you hear other people talk about — the kind that sneaks up on you unexpectedly. This one occurred a mere two feet away from me. Straining to locate my friend among the passengers deplaning through the jet way, I noticed a man coming toward me carrying two light bags. He stopped right next to me to greet his family.

First he motioned to his youngest son (maybe six years old) as he laid down his bags. They gave each other a long, loving hug. As they separated enough to look in each other’s face, I heard the father say, “It’s so good to see you, son. I missed you so much!” His son smiled somewhat shyly, averted his eyes and replied softly, “Me, too, Dad!”

Then the man stood up, gazed in the eyes of his oldest son (maybe nine or ten) and while cupping his son’s face in his hands said, “You’re already quite the young man. I love you very much, Zach!” They too hugged a most loving, tender hug. While this was happening, a baby girl (perhaps one or one-and-a-half) was squirming excitedly in her mother’s arms, never once taking her little eyes off the wonderful sight of her returning father. The man said, “Hi, baby girl!” as he gently took the child from her mother. He quickly kissed her face all over and then held her close to his chest while rocking her from side to side. The little girl instantly relaxed and simply laid her head on his shoulder, motionless in pure contentment.

After several moments, he handed his daughter to his oldest son and declared, “I’ve saved the best for last!” and proceeded to give his wife the longest, most passionate kiss I ever remember seeing. He gazed into her eyes for several seconds and then silently mouthed. “I love you so much!” They stared at each other’s eyes, beaming big smiles at one another, while holding both hands. For an instant they reminded me of newlyweds, but I knew by the age of their kids that they couldn’t possibly be. I puzzled about it for a moment then realized how totally engrossed I was in the wonderful display of unconditional love not more than an arm’s length away from me. I suddenly felt uncomfortable, as if I was invading something sacred, but was amazed to hear my own voice nervously ask, “Wow! How long have you two been married? “Been together fourteen years total, married twelve of those.” he replied, without breaking his gaze from his lovely wife’s face. “Well then, how long have you been away?” I asked. The man finally turned and looked at me, still beaming his joyous smile. “Two whole days!” Two days? I was stunned. By the intensity of the greeting, I had assumed he’d been gone for at least several weeks – if not months.  I know my expression betrayed me. I said almost offhandedly, hoping to end my intrusion with some semblance of grace (and to get back to searching for my friend), “I hope my marriage is still that passionate after twelve years!” The man suddenly stopped smiling. He looked me straight in the eye, and with forcefulness that burned right into my soul, he told me something that left me a different person. He told me, “Don’t hope, friend… decide!”  Then he flashed me his wonderful smile again, shook my hand and said, “God bless!”

With that, he and his family turned and strode away together. I was still watching that exceptional man and his special family walk just out of sight when my friend came up to me and asked, “What’cha looking at?” Without hesitating, and with a curious sense of certainty, I replied, “My future!”



Walk the Talk !

walk the talk

“Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?…. You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works.  Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove… Faith expresses itself in works.”   James 2:17-18, 22  The Message Bible.

                Someone has said that, “the only Bible some people will ever read, is the one shown in the life that you live.”  All around us every day are people who’s first impression of God and Christ are the way we live.  It does not do any good to TALK God, if we’re not going to LIVE God. 

                Perhaps the greatest trick ever devised by Satan to turn people from God is the use of “hypocrites”. The number one excuse for people not turning to God are the hypocrisy that they see in so called Christians.  When someone uses this excuse, I usually say, “Well where do you think hypocrites are?  There are very few believers who call themselves Sinners. But that would be what they have to do to be labeled hypocrites.”

                I realize that in most cases that is just a poor excuse for someone fail to accept Christ, but it shows the power of Walkless TALK.  Let us be more careful that our Walk further amplifies our Talk.

                Pastor Don



Give Thanks

Give thanks

Our Lord is great, with limitless strength; we’ll never comprehend what he knows and does…  Sing to God a thanksgiving hymn, play music on your instruments to God.”  Psalm 147:5,7  The Message Bible

Isn’t everything you have and everything you are sheer gifts from God?    You already have all you need.  1 Corinthians 4:7-8 The Message Bible.

Everything God created is good, and to be received with thanks… God’s Word and our prayers make every item in creation holy.”  1 Timothy 4:4-5  The Message Bible

“The blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving, The honor and power and strength, To our God forever and ever and ever!”  Rev. 7:12  The Message Bible

There is no better time to stop and count our blessings than today. It is an excellent time to remind our world around us that God’s Blessing are real and wonderful.

The Scriptures are full of exhortations to give God thanks for all that He IS , All He HAS DONE, and all that HE IS DOING, both now and hereafter.  I’ve shared just a few reminders to stop and give thanks.

The Classic Worship Song says it so simply:

                Give Thanks with a grateful heart.

                Give Thanks to the Holy One

                Give Thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ His Son.

Yes Give thanks for what you have.  Give thanks for family, friends and foods.  Give thanks for the provisions of life. But most of all Give thanks for God’s Love who gives us Daily Blessings

                Pastor Don



Write a Note today !

note writing

“This is an exercise that has helped me to change many lives, assisting people in becoming more peaceful and loving.  Taking a few minutes each week to write a heartfelt letter does many things for you.  Picking up a pen or typing on a keyboard slows you down long enough to remember the beautiful people in your life.  The act of sitting down to write helps to fill your life with gratitude.

                Once you decide to try this, you’ll probably be amazed at how many people appear on your list.  I had one client who said, “I probably don’t have enough weeks left in my life to write everyone on my list.” This may or may not be true for you, but chances are, there are a number of people in your life, or from your past, who are quite deserving of a friendly, heartfelt letter.  Even if you don’t have people in your life to whom you feel you can write, go ahead and write the letter to someone you don’t know instead – perhaps to an author who may not even be living, whose works you admire.  Or to a great inventor or thinker from the past or present.  Part of the value of the letter is to gear your thinking toward gratitude.  Writing the letter, even if it isn’t sent, would do just that.

                The purpose of your letter is very simple: to express love and gratitude.  Don’t worry if you’re awkward at writing letters.  This isn’t a contest from the head but a gift from the heart.  If you can’t think of much to say, start with short little notes like, ‘Dear Jasmine. I woke up this morning thinking of how lucky I am to have people like you in my life. Thank you so much for being my friend.  I am truly blessed, and I wish for you all the happiness and joy that life can bring.  Love, Richard.’

                Not only does writing and sending a note like this focus your attention on what’s right in your life, but the person receiving it will, in all likelihood, be extremely touched and grateful.  Often, this simple action starts a spiral of loving actions whereby the person receiving your letter may decide to do the same thing to someone else, or perhaps will act and feel more loving toward others.  Write your first letter this week. I’ll bet you’ll be glad you did.”



Do All the Good You Can

do all the good you can

“If you continue to do what’s right, what’s wrong will eventually leave your life.” David Blunt”

                “A businessman had personalized letterhead that read: ‘Right is right even if everyone is against it, and wrong is wrong even if everyone is for it.’  James 1:12 says, ‘Happy is the man who doesn’t give in and do wrong when he is tempted, for afterward he will get as his reward the crown of life that God has promised those who love Him.” (LB)

                Spend less time worrying about who’s right and take charge of deciding what’s right in your life.  Don’t let someone else choose it for you.   Your failures may be planned by hell, but your victory is planned by heaven.  ‘And remember when someone wants to do wrong it is never God who is tempting him, for God never wants to do wrong and never tempts anyone else to do it.”  (James 1:13 LB)

                You cannot do the right thing too soon, for you never know when it will be too late.  You can always find the time to do what you really want to do.

                Successful people understand that no one makes it to the top in a single bound.  What sets them apart is their willingness to keep putting one right step in front of the other, no matter how rough the terrain.  We are what we repeatedly do.

                Consider the words of John Wesley:

                Do all the good you can.

                In all the ways you can,

                In all the places you can,

                At all times you can.

                To all the people you can.,

                As long as ever you can.

                You draw nothing out of the bank of life except what you deposit in it. The height of a man’s potential is in proportion to his surrender to what is right.  People who live right never get left.  Any act of disobedience lengthens the distance between you and your dreams.  Likewise, the realization of your dreams is accomplished by sustained prayer and right action.”

                Pastor Don



How do we see the people around us?

1 Timothy 3 16

“This Christian life is a great mystery, far exceeding our understanding, but some things are quite clear enough: He appeared in a human body, was proved right by the invisible Spirit, was seen by angels.  He was proclaimed among all kinds of peoples, believed in all over the world, taken up into heavenly glory.”   1 Timothy 3:16  The Message Bible

                What a story to tell!  What a promise to hold onto!  What an opportunity to lift someone out of their circumstances!

                The new millennium is already shaping up as the most wonderful time of our century to share our faith in Christ.  It is pregnant with opportunities to share our knowledge of Him in our circles of influence. 

                Recently, my heart has nearly exploded as I hear the same old call, in a bright and shining ray of hope.  Jesus said, “go into all the world and preach…”.  Never has the harvest been more ready for this commission.  But what will it take to change our “tunnel vision” of life?  What will it take to move us out into those Harvest fields?

                Darrell W. Robinson has written an excellent book on the subject,

People Sharing Jesus

.  It is reminding us of truths already known, but buried in our religious activities.  I share a few of Dr. Robinson’s ideas today.

                “Taking the initiative to see people, hear people and love people will help you build a bridge of understanding to reach them for Christ.”

                “In this impersonal world with its explosive increase of population, we need to take the time to see people as God sees them.  With our busy schedules, it is easy to pass people, speak to them, sit by them, or do business with them without ever seeing them.”

                “The trend of a materialistic, self-centered society is to view them as objects to be exploited for selfish purposes….. some see people as things to be used………. Some see people as objects to be manipulated……… Some view people as dollars to be gained……  Some see people as numbers to be counted.”

                How do we see the people around us?  Are your close associates expendable when they are of no more use to you?  Is your family there for you to control and run roughshod over?  Do we see new converts as the way to pay the bills?  Are we trying to add more notches to our spiritual guns?  

                Jesus saw people with love and compassion.  He truly reached out to them, despite their unloveliness.  Even the leper who had to stay 20 feet away from a “clean” person, Jesus reached out and “TOUCHED” him.  Lord, who will you have me to touch today?

                Pastor Don



God Never Quits

God never quits

“You’ve always been great toward me – what love!  You snatched me from the brink of disaster!…  You, O God, are both tender and kind,  not easily angered, immense in love, and you never, never quit.”  Psalm 86:13,15  The Message Bible

                Most of us have had times when we were on the brink of disaster and God had to come to our rescue.  It is amazing that we often say, “I couldn’t do anything else, so I prayed.”  It is a shame that when the most powerful weapon of our spiritual warfare, prayer, gets relegated to the “last” resort.  But God in his Omnipotent Patience is always still there to aid and rescue us.

                Has there ever been a time in your life when God did not extend His love to you?  Notice I didn’t say, has there ever been a time when God didn’t give you YOUR way?…. God’s love reaches us with what James Dodson has often referred to as “Tough Love”.  Not granting us what we want, but giving us what we need.  It is His tough love that keeps on giving and giving and giving.

                And the Psalmist recognized another truth about God’s love.  “He is not easily angered..”  In a day when sports figures fight at the drop of a hat, and most of the time don’t even have to drop a hat, and when violence rules our schools and businesses,  God is not easily angered with our careless acts of disobedience.   If we were to have this same kind of patience, what a different world we would live in.

                Jesus told Peter to forgive “seventy times seven times.”  In other words, you can’t forgive enough times.  But we barely are able to forgive a small injustice, let alone one that hurts or affects us greatly.  God, “immense in love” reaches arms around all of the affected parties and draws them to himself first and then to each other.  No greater love has anyone ever shared.

                And finally, God never quits.  A statement made about one of our pastors touched me yesterday.  It was said that this pastor never quits.  When a member made a mistake, the pastor would be there to restore such him to the kingdom.  The comment was that no matter how many times that member “backslid” that pastor would be at his doorstep.  Today, there are many active Christians, heading for Heaven because that pastor would not quit.  I wonder if there is someone that we have given up on?.. God hasn’t quit, why should we?

                Pastor Don




 

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