Infinitely More!

Infinitely More!

The bills piled on the desk in two stacks, need paid, and pay later. The money wasn’t flowing in like it once did and the realization that they were living above their means was becoming more and more apparent; but how to break the cycle wasn’t coming to mind.  Jim and Amanda, had been married for eight years, both once had great paying jobs but when the economy turned down so did their employers. Amanda was laid off first and could only fined part time work in a cafe. Although she loved her job it barely kept food on their table. Jim was a bit more lucky in his employment.

Simon’s, was a local appliance store, Jim sold refrigerators. Although, the business had downsized its employee’s Jim had been spared thus far but sales were down and therefore so was his commission. He brought home enough to pay the mortgage so at least they had a home but the decision was do they keep the heat and electricity or keep the car, the only car they had between the two. Jim mostly drove the car to and from work, Amanda took the bus. The discussion went back and forth, there were times Jim worked a later shift and the buses stopped running at 7. He could walk home but that was 7 miles. He could ask a co worker but there were times he closed the store and would lock up alone. It seemed everything they could think of had its down side and things were only looking worse. Recently, Jim found out that Simon’s would be letting another sales associate go at the end of the month if sales didn’t significantly improve.

Rick lived across the street and had been pretty much unfazed by the down turn in the economy as he was the leading marquee name at the Law Offices of Brown & Marquez. Rick would see Jim and Amanda work in the yard, walking their dog ‘Digger’ and they always seemed friendly and welcoming. He saw them one other place each week and that was church. Faithfully every Sunday, Jim and Amanda sat just in front of Rick. Rick was struck by their joy in worship, even though he knew some of their struggle. Not because Jim and Amanda complained but through conversations of life.

Amanda mentioned one morning when she was out with “Digger” that she had been laid off by the advertising agency where she had worked. However, she was so thankful that Cups was hiring and that they hired her.  He had just had a conversation the night before with Jim’s boss, Mr. Simon’s. Mr. Simon’s shared of the difficult decisions he was faced with when Rick was in buying a new washer and dryer.

On this particular Sunday the Pastor presented a message out of Ephesians on the Church and the provision of God. He read from Chapter 3:14-21:

14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

That was when it became clear to Rick that God was going to provide for Jim and Amanda. Jesus, speaking directly to Rick’s heart through His Word. Rick heard Jesus say, “‘Rick, today you will invite Jim and Amanda out to dinner. You will share with them how God has been working in you mightily and how I have directed you in ‘love’ to help them financially.’ Rick,” the Lord continued, “Pay off their car releasing them from that burden allowing them to put their money to better use supplying their needs. Also, offer Amanda the receptionist position you are about to post.”

That day Jesus did more than Jim and Amanda could ever ask or think and Jim felt the mighty hand of God at work in him.

What is the Lord calling you to do? Or how is He calling you to trust Him?

You are loved,

cj

Part Two

Part Two

i have been thinking about this for weeks now.  How to exactly followup because as i wrote my heart was being stretched. i want to start by expressing the point i briefly stated in my previous post, Jesus has placed the same value on all humanity because He paid the same price for every soul that would choose Him, His life. i am not talking about self worth, i am talking about individual talent, individual gifts, individual ability, individual lives; lived out however, in one body, with one objective, one goal, one purpose, one mission, one calling.

Let’s look again at the story Jesus told of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30: (full Text Here)

(The Message) Matt. 25:14-18 “It’s also like a man going off on an extended trip. He called his servants together and delegated responsibilities. To one he gave five thousand dollars, to another two thousand, to a third one thousand, depending on their abilities. Then he left. Right off, the first servant went to work and doubled his master’s investment. The second did the same. But the man with the single thousand dug a hole and carefully buried his master’s money.”

Here is what i see, two guys were blessed to do the work they were called to; two guys were unfazed by amounts because they were focused on the goal. One guy was frozen, fearful, lazy, unaccepting and judgmental. Here are the take aways, first, do not compare yourself to anyone. Second, don’t sit idly by while time and the world pass you by. Third, If you are busy with your talent, gift, ability, basically your life and you do so in the context of the Body with its objective, goal, purpose, mission…basically its calling; you will not return void that which you have been given.

Life doesn’t make sense. Why one is given more and another less with the same mission, doesn’t seem fair. However, the one in the middle didn’t think himself less than the first. He went to work with what he had and doubled the amount, still less than the first guy. Yet his reward was the same acclaim, the same prize. It was the one who refused to be about the master’s business who in the end lacked reward but faced a tragic judgement.

Here is the third servant…

24-25 “The servant given one thousand said, ‘Master, I know you have high standards and hate careless ways, that you demand the best and make no allowances for error. I was afraid I might disappoint you, so I found a good hiding place and secured your money. Here it is, safe and sound down to the last cent.’

26-27 “The master was furious. ‘That’s a terrible way to live! It’s criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest.”

Before we get to the judgment lets look at this conversation. The servant knew the expectation of the master, yet he refused to take risks, refused to live on the edge, refused to take serious the mission. Did he doubt his talent? Did he feel slighted by the amount he was given? Did he feel he couldn’t do anything because he didn’t have enough?

There are a lot of Pastors and Churches that are much like this third servant. They live cautious lives, they wonder why they aren’t bigger, why they have no growth; they feel stuck and restricted while they look out the window and think if we only had the money, the talent, the people, the resources, the….fill in the blank. It is they that have taken the talent, the gift given them and have hid it in a safe place securing it for themselves until the master returns; it is they that i fear will hear what the third servant heard.

28-30 “‘Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this “play-it-safe” who won’t go out on a limb. Throw him out into utter darkness.’”

Jesus didn’t just talk for the sake of conversation, His words were measured, chosen, and spoken with authority for the purpose of instructing. You are right life isn’t fair. It may appear some have more breaks than you, others may appear to be better equipped; but you are not tasked with being like everyone else…you are tasked with increasing that which you have been given. Sometimes, things need to be stripped away before real growth can occur. Sometimes, things need to be broken before they can be mended. Sometimes,  the foundation needs to be firmed up before a structure can be built.

We need to understand that we won’t ever understand everything…but what we do understand is that we don’t need to understand everything for Jesus to do what He does. He is only looking for the willing heart. The one who says, i don’t get it but yes Lord i will do it. He is looking for the Noah’s, the Daniels, the Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah’s, the David’s, the Ananias’, the Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, and Paul’s…He is looking for servants who don’t look at what they don’t have but look at the goal and say, “With God all things are possible.”

Let me close with this, it is a simple verse, about a simple idea that is also complex and complicated. It is a charge to do, to be, to not give up, to seek, to love…

1 Corinthians 13:12The Message (MSG)

12 “We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!”

you are loved,

cj

Stinky Projects

Stinky Projects

This week my wife finally had it with the odor that was coming from under the sink. i have to admit that all though i often don’t smell all that she can, she has a very sensitive nose, but i did smell that and it was bad! Jen called the landlord and asked if she could pull out the shelving under the sink, it had sever water damage, thinking that would be the solution. They agreed and she wasted no time. When she started tearing it out she began to uncover an even bigger mess, black mold! Another call to the landlord and i was called in to take out the sink, and cut out the molded drywall. i did.

That project spurred other projects and as we were taking out and putting in the work was hard and i often wondered, “there has to be an easier way”. This morning i finished the plumbing of the new sink after finishing the drywall yesterday and Jen painted last night. i started on laying the new floor while the sink was out, so the new floor is half in and the project continues…there is an end insight but i hesitate in saying that because as we have progressed new projects have popped up. The good news in all this is that the landlord is paying for the renovation and taking rent off for our labor, a pretty good deal if you ask me.

Life is like this project. We often don’t see a need to change until there is an odor. That thing that just begins to stink in our life that makes us say, “I can’t take this anymore, something has to change!” Its at this point that we start tearing into the problem, only to find, more often than not, a bigger problem. The task becomes daunting and our minds wander to, “there has to be an easier way!” Most times there isn’t. Change is hard especially when there is something that stinks.

Here are some truths i have rediscovered as i progress through this project:

1. Change is hard but when its necessary, its worth it!
2. Chances are the more you discover about the “stink” the more “stink” you will find!
3. Tackle one project at a time…it is ok however, to put one aside if it makes sense to do another thing first…like for me and the floor, it was easier while the sink was out to do that part of the floor down, then i finished the sink, now i will finish the floor.
4. Think, Ask Question, and Seek help from those that know or have experience with what you are facing.
5. Set small goals along the way…there is satisfaction in accomplishing parts of the main goal.
Paul writes to the Philippians:
12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. (Philippians 3:12-14) Read the whole chapter here.

What “stink” are you working on this summer?

You are loved,

cj