You Do Matter

Do you ever feel as though you don’t have resources that enable you to be a contributor? 

Small things can ultimately have large results. For example, consider how few musical notes there are in a scale. There are only eight. Yet, all the music in the world comes from them. Consider all the symphonies, concertos, oratorios, hymns, and popular secular music. It all comes from only eight notes.

All the profound words in libraries filled with volumes written in English have their origin in only twenty-six letters of the English alphabet.

You are not accountable for anything not in your control. You are responsible for the most constructive use of things in your reservoir of resources. 

Jesus told the story of the mustard seed. Not knowing the nature of the mustard of which He spoke robs us of its fuller meaning. I have brought back from Israel literally hundreds of thousands of these seeds. Upon planting one it takes on the nature of the Oriental mustard and grows to become a ten foot tree. Small though the seed was, it produced a tree large enough for a bird to build its nest in it. It was small, but its nature was large. We all produce according to our nature something larger than ourselves. If you have the heart, you can do the same. 

Be all you were created with the ability to be. That is all you should expect of yourself. However, that is what you should demand of yourself. 

Examples of this are students. A “C” student should be the best “C” student they have the ability to be. A “B” student should be the best “B” they have the ability to be. An “A” student should be the best “A” student they have the capacity of being. Neither should be concerned about not being what they don’t have the capacity of being. All should aspire to be the best they were born with the capacity to be.

The dedication of each should be to being their best they can be and not fretting over not being one they are not capable of being. Stretch yourself within your being.

A worthy aspiration and commitment is: Jesus, I want to be all for you that I have the capacity of being.

James the Lesser is proof there is room for lessers in the service of our Lord. He is an example of the fact you can’t have a greater without a lesser. You can’t have a book without a chapter, you can’t have a chapter without a paragraph, you can’t have a paragraph without a sentence, you can’t have a sentence without a word, and you can’t have a word without the letters of the alphabet. You can’t have a greater without a lesser. Whatever he did it was essential to the role of the apostles. He walked with giants, and was a companion of Jesus.

If you feel like you are a nobody, get over it. In reality there are no nobodies in the cause of Christ. Nobody? There stands the cross proving you really are somebody. Now get out there and fulfill the cause for which you were called. May you find fulfillment in your calling. You really do matter.

Where Is Your Treasure

We drove out of the little Montana town of Melrose through the abandoned remains of the once viable little town of Hecla that boasted a population of 1,000 citizens. It was the mining and smelting site for the gold, silver, and copper mined nearby. The 30 foot beehive shaped charcoal ovens were all that remains. 

From there we drove the lonely mountain trail up to an elevation of 8,000 feet to Vipond, another formerly prosperous gold rush community built around the Mewonitoc Load in 1868. A lone cowboy and his two cattle dogs, working in isolation, were moving a herd of about 200 cattle down from this expansive plateau to the lower plains for the winter. All of this is way off the tourist route.

Faint remains are all that exist of these once bustling mountain towns. They are a reminder that physical things seldom last. Therefore, don’t put your trust in gold and silver, physical things. For this reason Scripture urges that we establish our proper priorities.

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”  (I John 2:15-17 ESV)

Once a person invests their faith for life in Jesus, eternal life is assured. With that set and maintained, abundant life can be enjoyed to the fullest.

Residual benefits are plentiful and joyous.

An effective prayer life is resultant. “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (James 5: 16) The word “righteous” means to live right-wise with God. When in fellowship with Him heaven is open to you. This entitles you to talk to the Father about such matters as, but not exclusively, health, guidance in decision making, finances, home life, friendships, business, and the list goes on.

A major bonus is “peace that passes understanding for Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14: 27) Think about it, that is a priceless promise. Abnormal fear and anxiety are controlled.

At the end of life awaits the foremost of blessings. 

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” 

Tough Times

Duke women’s basketball coach, Kara Lawson, made a statement recently we all need to apply. It was spoken to her team but is practical for all. It follows.

“We all wait in life for things to get better.”

“It will never get easier. What happens is you handle it better. That’s a mental shift that has to occur in your brain.”

“And the second we see you handling stuff, handling hard better, What are we going to do?” We are going to make it harder because we’re preparing you for when you leave here.”

“So make yourself a person who handles hard well. Not somebody who’s waiting for the easy.”

“Because if you have a meaningful pursuit in life, any meaningful pursuit in life if you want to be successful, it’s going to be the people who handle hard well.”

“Those are going to be the people who get the stuff they want.”

“Don’t get discouraged through this time if it’s hard. Don’t be discouraged. It is supposed to be and don’t wait for it to be easy.”

“So make yourself someone who handles hard well and then whatever comes to you, you’re going to be great.”

In effect, the coach is saying that each tough issue toughens us for tougher ones to come. When you handle a tough issue, pause and thank God. It is show and tell time for Him.

Jesus lived a perfect life and it was not easy for Him. Don’t expect it to be for you. Keep in mind the God who knows your load limit, limits your load. He will never give you more than he gives you the ability to handle. With the understanding the word “temptation” in the following Scripture can be understood to also mean trials. Take it as being relevant to you.

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (I Corinthians 10:13)

What you face is not new. It is common to people, others face the same things. Claim the offering by which the Scripture concludes: “….He will provide a way….” Then comes the high note of hope, “….that you can endure….”

With that assurance you can stomp the head of your problem.  Be assured that no matter what is to come the Lord will graciously see you through it. It might not be easy, but it won’t be any tougher than you are tough.

Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.

As God said to and through Isaiah: “do not fear for I am with you, do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41: 10)  

Friendship Is Rewarding

Historically the best teachers have taught best by example. Socrates never wrote anything. He was a peripatetic teacher. That is, he taught while walking. One young man who walked with him was Plato. Plato was the teacher of  Aristotle. Aristotle influenced young Alexander whose exploits resulted in his being called “the Great.” Those best at exhortation have by their example leaped across generations to influence lives.

Augustine held high the torch of faith amid the ruins of a collapsing civilization. The flicker of that torch was seen years later by Martin Luther. Luther dared the authorities of both church and state with his faithful, “Here I stand.”

Balthasar Hubmaier refused to compromise his convictions and carried the banner of truth as an example to those of his day. By his example a little band of Anabaptists pushed the Reformation beyond the Reformers.

These were show-and-tell Christians. Now it is our turn.

“A man starts to grow old,” wrote Sir William Osler, “when he stops making new friends.” How rapidly are you aging?

A common thread runs through friendships of all types: openness. People like friends who are human. They are comfortable around persons who feel and share. To be such a person heed this advice of Ben Franklin said, “Speak ill of no man, but speak all the good you know of everybody.”

“A perverse man sows strife, And a whisperer separates the best of friends.” (Proverbs 16:28)

Our speech is one direct method of communication, but by no means the only one. Authorities in the field conclude the following. Seven percent  is communicated  by the  particular words we utter. Twenty-eight per cent is transmitted by how we say those words (tone and inflection of voice). Fifty-five per cent is conveyed by non-verbal cues (facial expressions, gestures, etc.).

For a better understanding of why tone and inflection are more than five times as influential as the actual word chosen, try this. Try saying, “I love you.” Say it first with warm sincerity. Repeat it as though it is a question. Now say it with force and anger.

Words referring to speech appear over 150 times in the Book of Proverbs. The book is worth reading one time just to observe references to the tongue, lips, mouth, and words.  

Improper speech does not simply involve four-letter words. It includes deceit, slander, boasting, and inordinate argument. The “Talmud” contains this comment: “The slanderous tongue kills three: the slanderer, the slandered, and him who listens to the slander.”

A key to friendships is found in Proverbs 18: 22: “A man who has friends must himself be friendly…”

The greatest friendship of all was shown at Calvary. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

Love Rekindled

On the eve of the arrest of Christ a young man follows the procession leading Christ from Gethsemane. It is Mark’s story, let’s let him tell it. 

“Then they all forsook Him and fled. Now a certain young man followed Him, having a linen cloth thrown around his naked body. And the young men laid hold of him, and he left the linen cloth and fled from them naked.” (Mark 14:50 – 52)

Mark was one of the last to abandon Christ on the night of His betrayal. Nevertheless, his fleeing left him with something to overcome. 

Most people have had moments they would like to forget. These moments of failure color our lives, but we choose the colors.

Mark was the son of Mary, a well-to-do Jerusalem widow. Her home was a favorite meeting place for followers of Christ. Mary, the mother of Mark, had a wealthy friend from Cyprus named Barnabas. His name means “son of encouragement.” Mary saw to it that he became a positive influence in young Mark’s life. 

Mark started out with Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey. They were venturing out to carry the good news of Jesus’ life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension to the world. They were to be the first heralds of the good news on the continent of Europe.

Mark made what Paul thought for the longest was an unforgivable mistake. Mark went back home to Jerusalem. He quit the team. This traumatic triangulation resulted in a painful estrangement. 

It is not as though followers don’t ever waver. It isn’t that they are immune to fear.  Believers often have to stare down fear.

Just as Paul contracted a painful illness Mark walked out on him. His unfaithfulness to his mission caused pain for Paul and Barnabas. It caused a rift between the three and alienation between Paul and Mark. It broke their fellowship. That break, however, gives a good illustration of how Christians reconcile.

The breach of relationships was deep and long lasting. The next time there was a missionary journey Paul and Barnabas planned to go together. Barnabas insisted on Mark going. Paul was adamant that his failure on their first trip disqualified him. Paul went on alone and Barnabas took Mark and they set out on a different mission. Mark was about to begin an admirable spiritual recovery.

While in prison in Rome Paul wrote a letter of encouragement to the church in Colossi. 

Therein is this greeting: “Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, with Mark the cousin of Barnabas (about whom you received instructions: if he comes to you, welcome him).” (Colossians 4:10).

Right there at the prison with Paul was Mark. The breach restored, the fellowship renewed, the bond of love apparent.

The initial influences of Barnabas on young Mark paid off.