Friday, March 21, 2008

The Nail

As usual, Joseph was up much earlier than everyone else was. Joseph loved his work, and just couldn’t wait to go back to it each day. Jesus could hear the pounding of the hammer from his bedroom. It often woke him.

He walked to the window and watched as Joseph worked on the broken cart of Widow Jonas. A wheel had fallen off, and had to be replaced. Feeling a need to help his earthly Father, he walked out to Joseph.

“Jesus, I must have a new nail for the wheel. The old one is weak. Go see the blacksmith and bring back a strong nail.”

Jesus quickly walked through the neighborhood to the blacksmith’s shop. The lack of rain had made the streets very dusty, and as he walked he could feel the dust rising up and collecting on his ankles. The rocks pushed against the soles of his feet. He began to wish he’d taken time to strap on his sandals.

As he neared the blacksmith’s shop he could hear a different pounding. It was the sharp sound of metal against metal, as the blacksmith would beat the hot iron into shape. The smell was sulfuric and strong. As Jesus entered the shop he saw the fire as it bellowed within the oven. He couldn’t help but to watch the flames as they flickered from red to blue to green to yellow. His thoughts became deep as he watched the fire.

“Jesus! Where are you son?” The blacksmith must have been trying to get his attention for a while.

“Sir, my father needs a spike for Widow Jonas’ cart. The old one is weak and worn.” Jesus explained.

The blacksmith shuffled through a wooden box, and found the spike. As he handed it to Jesus the weight of it was almost unbearable for the small boy. As he walked back to Joseph’s shop, the metal and the thought of the spike caused his hand to ache. Jesus realized the significance of this size nail, and as he walked, his thoughts once again turned to the fire in the oven, and he prayed for strength.

He looked at the nail and thought about how important it was to the cart repair. Without it, the cart would remain broken. Without the nail in his hand, mankind would also be broken. His countenance began to rise as he though about the repair he would one day make.

“Here is the nail, Father!” Jesus said with a smile.

Mary appeared at the door, smiling at her son helping his father. As their eyes met, he saw the love in her heart, and knew God’s plan was perfect.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Gifting of the Body

“As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” – 1 Peter 4:10-11

“Bird-Brained”. Just another one of those childhood taunts that we would use to pick on other kids. It came to mind recently when I was watching a bird outside my kitchen window. This little bird was picking up grass, flying into the tree, and making a nest. I watched it do this for some time, diligent in its pursuit. Nothing but tiny little twigs of grass - molded into a bed that will cradle delicate little eggs in the roughest storms, and safely hold high above the ground these fragile little creatures. Grass and twigs - and yet, rarely do you ever see a bird nest on the ground.

Now, have YOU ever tried to build a bird nest out of twigs and grass? Have you ever tried to do it with only your mouth and feet? (Please tell me you haven’t!) God has given this ability to birds to sustain them. It’s a talent all their own. Much like their songs and sounds, it is completely unique to them. We really don’t think twice about it, but it is a gift from God. We couldn’t do it for them, and neither could the other animals.

We individually have certain talents and gifts given by God. But sometimes they go as unnoticed as the construction talents of birds!

Teachers are a prime example. Often they’re overlooked, or treated as college degreed babysitters. But their gifting is as unique as nest building! Consider spending 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, maintaining the attention of 20 small children. Above making them all behave, in spite of their diverse home lives and disciplinary backgrounds, you must teach each one to read, write, compute mathematical equations, make friends, be kind, eat their lunch, and remember their coats and backpacks. Teacher friends, I know that just scratches the surface. Indeed, teaching is a God given talent!

God gives us many talents. The talents and desires given for the earthly marketplace are often the same as our talents and gifting for ministry. It works that way because God wants us to enjoy our Christian walk with him. Is it any wonder why birds sing so sweetly? Their will for their life meets right up with God’s will for their lives!

I thank God that the things He has asked of me are things I enjoy tremendously. There’s a good reason He doesn’t ask me to tend to the sick, clean the Church, lead the singing, care for the grieving, or take care of the nursery. As wonderful as these talents are, they are not my abilities, nor my desires. God created me with a place in the Body of Christ and it’s work specifically for me, and He did the same for you! Each of us has a part, a unique part that makes the Body of Christ work. But without all those parts functioning, the Body of Christ becomes sick and crippled.

It’s easy for us to sit on the sidelines and complain about the tasks that others are performing, and how they should be done. But the only place for a tongue in the Body of Christ is the Head, which is Jesus Christ. His tongue is the only one worth listening to.

Often, it’s only the dedicated few that fill the many functions in the body. Could this be why the Body isn’t performing at 100%? No easier than we could build a mother bird a nest can we fill a position that’s meant for someone else in the Body of Christ. We all must take up the mantle and become an active member of the Body. As a 20 year veteran pew warmer, I can speak from experience in saying that you’ll only experience full joy and peace when you’re following God’s will for your life, and being active in the Body of Christ.

Satan has several skills of his own to counteract the Body of Christ. The first way he will try to disable the Church is to lie to its members about what God can do with them. He’ll tell you that you have no gifting. Remember Moses? He couldn’t speak well in his own eyes, but with God’s help, he became the leader of his people. God doesn’t need your ability – your availability will do fine! He’ll give you the abilities you need. 1 Peter 4:11 tells us that “…If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies…”

The Body of Christ isn’t to reside only in the Church building. Christ ministered inside a Church or Temple only a few times. He was found with those who needed him most – the world.

So what’s your talent? Can you cook? Then cook for the sick or hungry. Can you paint? Help your neighbor paint his house. Are you good with cars? Help a youth learn to take care of his/her own. Are you a spic-and-span cleaner? Help the widows in your neighborhood. Can you mow a yard? Mow the lawns of the elderly. If you can do nothing else, you can visit those who are homebound and offer your friendship.

In short, it’s all about how you can show the love that God shares with us to the people around you and especially those outside the Church. Think about the things you enjoy and what you can do for Christ. Find a way to become an active part of the Body of Christ doing the things God has gifted you to do, and your spirit will be singing like a bird!