Tag Archives: Community

One seed planted

Last Saturday I preached at a Men’s Breakfast for a church with which I work on an informal basis.

Lately, I have been wrestling with the idea of how one Christians idea can create change… real change… change that can move the world.

So, I wrote a sermon about how one could do such a thing…. kind of an audacious thing to do at 8 am on a Saturday morning to church members who have just feasted on bacon, eggs, biscuits, sausage, grits, gravy and plenty of coffee…. a sermon designed to rouse and inspire men who were comfortable, relaxed, happy… good men who do good things….

And so I started “Today I want to talk to you about changing the world”…. they gave me their attention politely… and listened….  I just wanted to plant an idea that one man can do something that can catch fire and change the world or at least your little end of it for Jesus Christ. 

Wonderful people, good Christian men all… and women…they were invited to this breakfast too…. listened contentedly….. around the room I saw a few furrowed brows… I hoped that meant thinking instead of dissatisfaction. 

I spoke for about 15 minutes…. good response… the pats on the back… then hand shakes… “good job Pastor”… “great message”….”you did good”…. I was pleased and disappointed.  Somehow I had allowed myself to think that i was gong to change the world that morning..  We stood around enjoying a great visit, good laughter, good prayer… then we went out separate ways….

“Father?  Was that really what you wanted me to talk about?  Was that message useful to you…. pleasing to you?  I left full of doubts…

Sunday morning…..

I walk into the sanctuary running a bit late because of another obligation I had at another church.  And when I walked in I heard my name. 

One of my good friends, a great man in the church was telling the church about my message and how it had moved him… I would never have guessed. 

We talked a bit later about some ideas he had…. he thought about the message and became more and more excited….

Father… maybe that was the right one… maybe I did say the right words…. how often inspiration seems so hollow until later…

Thank you Father for using that little 15 minute message to do something that may turn out to be wonderful…

One seed planted…. watered with the pure water of the Holy Spirit….

We plant the seeds, we sow the word…. and He waters them and raises them.  I am anxious to see what God grows from this one little seed.

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Thoughts on the influence of one person…..

So many people believe they have lived lives of little influence.  But they are often so wrong.  One person or a small group of people can change the world.   And human hands can work miracles when serving Jesus Christ.

 

 

Look at the first Christian church in the world.  It was not made up of the rich, the famous, those of influence, those of importance… No… it was made of you and me… fishermen, tax collectors, woodworkers, potters, sales people, crafts people… young, old, beautiful, not so much…

But from that first church has grown the Christian movement… the effort to bring the gospel to the whole world…. because the first Christians had passion.. had an abundant and excited love for Jesus Christ.   They wanted everyone to know about him… these were not just people to whom miracles had been done… these were common everyday folks who went out and told the world about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

I am thinking of a few friends who got together some time back.  They thought it would be a good idea to just set up a little booth with food, information, offered prayer, balloons for kids and a message.  They asked an apartment manager if they could set up in his apartment project where the demographic was quite poor… a place where many would say they were in danger.  But they decided to do it anyway…. the first time they set up they were amazed at the turn out… and the spiritual response… The Lord blessed their idea… So they continued… Now when they set up it is a production… lives are changed, souls are saved, medical care is given, counseling is provided and the world is changing because of their influence… just a few men and an idea….

I am thinking of a woman with a beautiful spirit, who decided that if she knew about it there would be no child who didn’t have school supplies… so she set out to get donations of school supplies for the local elementary and middle school… Again, she was shocked at the response of the community and the businesses… First, her local two schools benefited… then the abundance of the Lord started pouring in.. so that every Tuesday she and several other devoted women receive and divide school supplies… soon they had all their local schools needed.  Other schools heard of this and asked for help from the women.  So they branched out… now thousands of kids in many different places receive school supplies…

I am thinking of another person who took it upon himself to supply blankets to the homeless during the cold nights of the Houston winter….  the difference here is that this is a boy only 12 years old… he felt he had heard Gods word and decided to ask his parents to go to a local store and purchase basic blankets…  When they went to distribute the blankets they found that there were not enough to do around at all… the boy then started asking companies for blankets and friends for volunteer help… God blessed his work… now he distributes thousands of blankets every winter… lives are saved… lives are changed through the reality of the love of a little boy…

I am thinking of a person who decided that every senior citizen deserved at least a call a day… to break their loneliness… to insure their safety…. to insure they knew they were loved and cared for in their infirmity… he soon found he couldn’t do it alone because soon others suggested elderly who couldn’t go to church… now nearly one hundred volunteers work out of a church building with a phone bank built with donations calling to check on many, many senior citizens each day… the world has changed because of his good work….

I am thinking of a retired teacher who thought that the kids in her local school could use some math tutoring in the afternoon… Her first afternoon in the library was lonely… but soon one shy little boy came in… he needed help on his fractions…. the next day he brought a friend… then another and another …. The program now serves hundreds of kids in many schools and has raised test scores of students as well as the self-esteem of the kids because one woman cared.

These are all the products of one person’s hands…. one persons heart… one persons Holy idea that the Lord blessed immensely because all of them were done in His name and for the least of His children…

Never doubt how you can influence the lives around you..   God has given you all the power and ability you need… he equips those he calls….

Answer the call…. find something that moves you deeply… something that calls out to your heart… something that calls from within your soul… if you look into your heart, your soul and listen to the quiet prompting of the Holy Spirit your work will be blessed and will truly change the world…

Visions of Service … Power in choosing a ministry for everyone

Be Thou My Vision…  in a couple of days I am going to give a short sermon on “changing the world” to a Men’s Ministry Breakfast…

Yes, changing the world… can one man.. one woman… or one child to that… certainly…

Can “common” people do that… can you do that without million of dollars, without abundant and immense resources? … Yes, definately…

Look at the first Christian church in the world.  It was not made up of the rich, the famous, those of influence, those of importance… No… it was made of of you and me… fishermen, tax collectors, woodworkers, potters, sales people, crafts people… young, old, beautiful, not so much…

But from that first church has grown the Christian movement… the effort to bring the gospel to the whole world…. because the first Christians had passion.. had an abundant and excited love for Jesus Christ.   They wanted everyone to know about him… these were not just people to whom miracles had been done… these were common everyday folks who went out and told the word….

I am think of a few friends who got together some time back.  They thought it would be a good idea to just set up a little booth with food, information, offered prayer, balloons for kids and a message.  They asked an apartment manager if they could set up in his apartment project where the demographic was quite poor… a place where many would say they were in danger.  But they decided to do it anyway….  the first time they set up they were amazed at the turn out… and the spiritual response… The Lord blessed their idea… So they continued… Now when they set up it is a production… lives are changed, souls are saved, medical care is given, counseling is provided and the world is changing because of their influence… a few men and an idea….

I am thinking of a woman with a beautiful spirit, who decided that if she knew about it there would be no child who didn’t have school supplies… so she set out to get donations of school supplies at the local elementary and middle school… Again, she was shocked at the response of the community and the businesses… First, her local two schools benefited… then the abundance of the Lord started pouring in.. so that every Tuesday she and several other devoted women receive and divide school supplies…  soon they had all their schools needed so they branched out… now thousands of kids receive school supplies…

I am thinking of another person who took it upon himself to supply blankets to the homeless on the cold nights of the Houston winter….  the difference here is that this is a boy of 12… he felt he had heard Gods word and decided to ask his parents to go to a local store and purchase basic blankets…  When they went to distribute the blankets they found that there were not enough to do around at all… the boy then started asking companies for blankets and friends for volunteer help… God blessed his work… now he destributes thousands of blankets every winter… lives saved… lives changed through the reality of the love of a little boy…

I am thinking of a person who decided that every senior citizen deserved at least a call a day… to break their loneliness… to insure their safety…. to insure they knew they were loved and cared for in there infirmity… he soon found he couldn’t do it alone because soon others suggested elderly who couldn’t go to church… now nearly one hundred volunteers work out of a church building with a phone bank built with donations calling to check on many, many senior citizens each day… the world has changed because of his good work….

I am thinking of a retired teacher who thought that the kids in her local school could use some math tutoring in the afternoon… Her first afternoon in the library was lonely… but soon one shy little boy came in… he needed help on his fractions…. the next day he brought a friend… then another and another …. the program now serves hundreds of kids in many schools and has raised test scores of students as well as the self-esteem of the kids because one woman cared.

These are all the products of one persons hands…. one persons heart… one persons Holy idea that the Lord blessed immensely because all of them were done in His name and for the least of His children…

Never doubt how you can influence the lives around you..   God has given you all the power and ability you need… he equips those he calls….

Answer the call…. find something that moves you deeply… something that calls out to your heart… something that calls from within your soul… if you look into your heart, soul and listening to the prompting of the Holy Spirit your work will be blessed and will truly change the world…

Feed my Flock…faithful hands….

These are the hands of God… because these hands are following his commandments… that the beautiful things we know about God can be made manifest…  that the true radical faith can be shown to be true… that we feel his pleasure when we are helping his least… when a thirsty child receives a cool glass of water… when an elderly widow doesn’t have to worry about rain leaking into her house… when a child lost in the world can find a place of love and safety….. Yes, these are the hands of God….
 
Because he put us here that through our hands his work can be done….
And these hands are doing just that….
 
 

Faithful hands

Is it the grand things that we would like to do?    Is it building the giant cathedrals and beautiful architectural masterpieces that is important to Jesus Christ?  What is radical Christianity?   If Christ were given the choice between a giant cathedral of marble and crystal… what would he choose?  I know what God would choose….  

Since 1974 I have been a youth worker in some way… some of that time was spent as a conductor working with young musicians…. some of it was spent as a teacher working way out of the mainstream and under the radar with kids who just didn’t fit in…  the vast majority of it has been spent in some kind of youth ministry…

In that time I have seen kids who could not study because they were hungry…. I have seen kids who were left alone in homes while their only parent was hospitalized… kids who were not reared at all… who did not now how to be …. in any sense… lost… without guidance… with no compass… Today even in America there will be hungry kids who needn’t be hungry… who needn’t be without good clothing… who needn’t be in dark, dank housing…   fatherless, motherless…  

    

   

 Thank you Lord there will always be people of faith….the radical Christians who truly imitate you…  like the ones of this church… who in imitation of you will get up in the middle of the night… to work.. to cook… to be sure that there are no hungry mouths if they can find them.. no children without food, without clothing…. without decent housing…To be sure that the elderly in the place the Lord has given them to minister have care… someone to check on them… someone to know if they have fallen… to know if they need food, or medicine, if they have a cool or warm place to live…. to be sure they have a roof that doesn’t leak…  

Christians who practice radical faith… real faith… the faith that insures that all those around them believers or not will be full of both food and the Holy Spirit… that those around them will know the mission of Jesus Christ… that those who may not know you will know that they are looking at people who love their neighbors as well as themselves… and who act on it…. that as far as it is in their power hunger will be banished, abuse will be stopped, loneliness with be destroyed, medicines will be delivered, love will be given…  

 The thing that young Christians want is a radical faith… that fulfils the real gospel as this church is doing… to help those who are weak, to feed those who are hungry… to stop pain when they can, to be sure that tears of sadness are replaced with tears of joy… that loneliness is replaced with love…  they have grown beyond the mindless activities that so many think kids want… what so many young men and women want is a real working faith… a faith that puts it on the line… that risks… that  

makes sure that the gospel has real meaning… these are young people who mean it… who take what God said seriously… who want to live a real life of faith… not an artificial, routine “religion” but radical Christianity focused on the  

Person of Jesus Christ and his true Mission… to bring souls to God.. and to take care or the Earthly needs of the people around them…  

to fulfil the two greatest commandments of the Lord God… To love the Lord with all your heart and because of that……….To love your neighbor as much as you love yourself….  

   

so that the love of God can be known… and felt… and real….

not sure how this goes…..

Are we ever sure how this goes…. as I listen to Calling all Angels…I am so moved by the line “Are we ever sure how this goes”….

Walk me through this ….  Don’t leave me Lord….

They are leaves in a powerful stream…. kids…. just as I was….

What saved me … a mother who loved me beyond all reason… a father who had to leave far too early…  powerful men who led me when I needed a strong lead to follow….

  How do I help save them…. lost kids…. who have no idea they are lost…. or how lost they are…..

How do I communicate love to someone who hasn’t known love…. the true love that builds strong walls against the tide of darkness coming in so fast…. How can I know when I am right…. is it peace?   Is it logic?  Is it my own human reason…

Their youth is slipping away like a flower fading… the time when they might be malleable…. when change can happen… before habits are to hardened…. to much of their “person”…..

How do I tell them that the right choices will solve their problems when they don’t want to hear about the right choices…..

How do you learn to make the right choices about the small things…. and the eternal things when you have no real home…. no one who can really show you how to live? 

How do you instil vision?  How do you instil beauty?  How to you show what honor is? 

The greatest desire of my heart right now it to find the ways…..

So I think, and I pray and I listen…

I look to His example, how would He have done this?   What words would He have said to the kids in my classes…. and in my ministry….. Lord I need your guidance, your example and your wisdom… I cannot do this myself….

 

What He did was to courageously step into the teeth of the storm…. which is what I will do tomorrow…. and the next day….

To teach as best I can…. by example….. by love…. by building impenitrable walls when I have to… 

But, to follow his example I must…. because all these kids need Him….. Let him fill me…. 

Because I’m not sure how this goes…..

I’m not sure how this gods…..

Just more thankfulness

for cool mornings with fog making the air so still

for small towns where people talk to you on the sidewalk

for time to rest to get your fill of restorative sleep

for the motivation to learn something new each day

for the desire to be drawn closer to Jesus Christ

for good food

for the internet

for computers

for technology of all types that connects our world to other Christian worlds

for the students I teach at school

for the courage to meet them each day

for challenging students who teach me how to reach them

for home school kids who are outrageously independent

for parents who have the courage to home school.

for tutors who care

for volunteers who care

for doctors

for health care that is the best in the world.

for the laughter of running boys

for the giggles of girls playing games

for backwaters where alligators float

for beautiful trapped oxbows that form lakes

for beautiful rivers. 

for quiet in the house

for the knowledge that anything can be done a little at the time

Thankfulness and grace

I turn into the driveway…. all is dark, quiet… the world at peace…. I turn off the engine…. silence

No sound of war… or of crying… no sound of gunfire… of violence… of death…   I look at my home… now going on 15 years being my home…  and I love it… and I am thankful for it… it is there before me in the peace of night…

And I think of the grace that allows me to have it…  the phrase that goes through my mind on this Thanksgiving eve is how did I come to this home… this life… all the blessings in the last year when it seemed that I would sink below the waves at any moment… that a hand reached out to me every last-minute… often unexpected… every time unasked… but a hand came. 

Tomorrow I will feast… too well… in the warmth of family, in love, in joy… what did I do to deserve this wonderful life… a home, more than enough, wonderful and meaningful work, a soft bed, warmth when I need it, cool when I need it… in a moment I will open the door and a little bird will screech its welcome… a loving, devoted dog will jump with joy…

There will be music if I want it…. silence if I want it…. sound if I want it… water when I want it… food when I want it… presently because life continues as it does… with life… and with death… I will be alone for a time… the one I took care of for so long is gone… out of pain, out of sadness… living in a home God created for her where she is living in perfect joy… 

But there are others… a loving family around the world… electrons away from me…  all I must do to hear their voices is cause electrons to move along wires… invisible signals through the air… and they are with me… 

Good friends invite me to join their family celebrations… members of my family call me to come offer thanks with them… I am not alone… I am surrounded with love… with friendship… with caring… so I will be with my family because I need to be with them… what a blessing to be able to choose between offerings from those who love me…

Then I have been given two great churches in which to worship and to serve… to minister… one small… one large… one in the country… one in the city…  both places where I meet God… Both places of great joy and friendship…

When I drove into my driveway… I was 30 minutes from the place I have been given by grace to work… where I have friends I have known for greater than half my life with whom I work… with whom I teach….

The building in which I work is new… state of the art really…  and I think of something else….

That I am one who has in a world where so many have not…. so many will not lie down on soft bedding tonight… millions will not be able to eat their fill… more than there fill tomorrow… millions who could not walk in a miracle where we have ever kind of food to choose from brought from every part of the world… 

And I have to ask why?   ….   Why was I born here in this most magnificent of countries?… Why was I born to the parents I was given?  …. Why do I have friends who are actually friends, who care, who would mourn, who did mourn with me a year ago when my mother slipped away into eternity with the Lord…

Why was I born here and named John?   Why was I not born in another country to parents who would beat me, where I would not have had enough to eat, not enough water to drink, nothing to learn or to hope for and named John?

I was given grace.. it was amazing grace… I was given all of this… why?  Just so I can be thankful?  Just so I can celebrate as across the world 18 children will die each minute as I will laugh tomorrow with my family….

And I think that I was given this so that I could give it away…  to those who are given much, much is expected… 

Father am I giving much as I have been given much… As I give Thanks am I pleasing you?  Do I love my neighbor as myself?   Do I really?  Will you be able to say to me “Well done my good and faithful servant”?  Will you say it?  Will I deserve it?   Oh, Father why am I not the child in the pictures with the swollen stomach whose equally weak mother brushes away flies from my near lifeless eyes….

So how do I thank you father?  Do I thank you in eating myself so full I must rest?  Am I honoring you?  And are there ways I can still honor you?  Father, what can I do? 

When I thank you for the food I will eat tomorrow will I be really pleasing you Father?  Will you look down on us and say well done? 

Oh Father in this season that starts tomorrow help me find some way each day to help someone…  so I can thank you for the opportunity… help me to feed the hungry… help me to clothe the naked…. help me find homes for the homeless…. Help me to find a way each day to do something that will help someone…. to love them as I love myself… for in that is true Thanksgiving…. giving with thanks for what we have been given.  

I lay here on the couch with the little dog laying on my chest feeling so blessed but also feeling that I have been given much and so I must give much… as I’ve done before to find that there was great joy in giving freely and without reservation.  

Please dear Father give me a thankful heart filled with

thankfulness and grace…..