Small Hands

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1 Corinthians 1:26-29Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. (NIV 1984)

My Musings – Not many were wise, influential, or of noble birth.  Many were considered fools, weak and lowly.  Yet God chose shepherd boys, fishermen, tax collectors, harlots and the least of their clan for some of His greatest tasks. His Son’s birth was less than noble, His profession was “blue collar” at first, then an itinerant preacher with no home or place to lay His head.  He was so influential that they crucified Him, because they could not accept His wisdom.

We tend to think of the wise, influential and noble as the movers and the shakers.  But God can use even the foolish, weak and lowly.  Billy Graham perhaps led more people to the Lord than anyone else in all of history.  We admire him for this, as we should.  Yet just as important was the man who led Billy Graham to the Lord. One “man” influenced twelve “no accounts,” whose small hands moved the wheels of the world turning it upside down.  The eyes of the great were on Rome.  The eyes of the Greatest were on His Son and the ones He chose to carry out His task when He was gone.

“This quest may be attempted by the weak with as much hope as the strong. Yet such is oft the course of deeds that move the wheels of the world: small hands do them because they must, while the eyes of the great are elsewhere.” (The Council of Elrond, from The Lord of the Rings).

My Advice – Do not think because you are not the wisest person, or the most influential person or a person of noble birth that you cannot be used by God for wise, influential and noble tasks.  It may seem little to you and little to others.  But if it came from God it means a great deal.  It may seem little more than the gentle puff caused by a butterfly’s wings here and now, but it just might be this “butterfly effect” that figuratively “moves the wheels of the world.”  God may not call all of us to do great things, but He will call us to do essential things, that He Himself prepared in advance for us (just for us) to do.  We are not called to be famous (although we might be), but we are called to be faithful.  “Small hands do them because they must.”

Secrets of My Success

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1 Chronicles 22:11-13Now, my son, the LORD be with you, and may you have success and build the house of the LORD your God, as he said you would. May the LORD give you discretion and understanding when he puts you in command over Israel, so that you may keep the law of the LORD your God. Then you will have success if you are careful to observe the decrees and laws that the LORD gave Moses for Israel. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged. (NIV 1984)

Colin Powell – There are no secrets to success: Don’t waste time looking for them. Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty to those for whom you work, and persistence.

My Musings – Success without these milestones on the way is really no success at all. It is merely a destination, not an achievement.  But neither the destination nor the achievement will be worth it in the end if the LORD is not with you.  He will be if you are careful to observe His Word.

My Advice – There is no easy road to success. But if you conduct yourself in your job, as you have thus far, you will succeed.  So “be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or discouraged.”

Just Trust Me?

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1 Corinthians 4:2Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. (NIV 1984)

My Musings – Trust is the confident reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone.  Being trustworthy means that we are worthy or deserving of that trust. Finally, it is deserveed because of past actions or demonstrations of character, ability, strength or truth.  Actions and demonstrations are plural, and in the case of trust the actions and demonstrations are consistent enough to prove they can be counted on.  They are reliable.  In other words, you expect nothing different no matter the situation or the circumstance (through “thick and thin”).

  • We cannot tell people to trust us.  It is the result of feeling safe (Simon Sinek – Leaders Eat Last).  Feeling safe because dependability has already been proven.
  • We cannot buy trust. To paraphrase an old television advertisement, “we gain trust the old-fashioned way – we earn it” (E.F. Hutton).
  • We cannot sell trust. “Your words and deeds must match if you expect [people] to trust in [you] (Kevin Kruse).”  We cannot sell it with words, but people will buy it when it is backed up by deeds (e.g. keeping your word).
  • We cannot question trust.  “Trust, but verify,” (Russian proverb quoted by President Ronald Reagan).  This quote is backwards.  We trust because trustworthiness has already been demonstrated.  There is no trust before it has been verified (found worthy).  Then, if it is trustworthy, it needs no further verification.
  • Trust cannot be taken – “People follow leaders by choice. Without trust, at best you get compliance,” (Jesse Lyn Stoner, author of Full Steam Ahead).  People can choose to give trust, but it cannot be taken from them against their will.
  •  Trust can be lost – “Trust is the hardest thing to gain and the easiest to lose” (Alka Dimri Saklani, Beyond Secrets).

My Advice – You cannot only appear to be trustworthy.  You must be trustworthy.  It is what you would want from others and what others want from you.

Who Can We Trust?

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Jeremiah 17:7-9 – “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (NIV 1984)

My Musings – God is trustworthy.  Like a tree planted by a stream that provides a constant (never-failing) source of water.  The tree has no fear of the things it normally should fear (heat and drought), and that experience should have taught it to fear.  Why? Because the stream (our “Living Water”) has never failed it, even in such difficult times.

So if God is trustworthy, why are we so often incapable of trusting Him?  Not because of His failings, but because of our hearts.  This text states that “the heart [by nature] is deceitful above all things and beyond cure [absent God’s intervention, of course].”  Because it is in our nature to break trusts (deceive), we find it difficult to understand someone who by His very nature is incapable of deceit or of being untrustworthy.  Because of our nature we are very suspicious, wondering when He is going to pull that proverbial chair out from under us (because often enough, that is what we would do).

And we tend to think, because He has not always answered us in ways we think He should or when we think He should, that these are instances of when He has broken trust and failed us. It is easier for us to believe He failed us (was untrustworthy), than to believe that He has something better, or that the timing is not right, or that it was actually us who failed Him.  In so doing we are measuring Him by our standards, when His ways are higher than ours and His thoughts are higher than ours.

My Advice – “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known [trustworthy] God” ― Corrie ten Boom.  For the true measure of trust is to continue trusting, even when circumstances appear to indicate that the trust has been violated.  Don’t trust the circumstances.  Trust the God who you know will never break trust.

 

Remain True

Revelation 2:13 – “I know where you live-where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to My name.” (NIV 1978)

My Musings – No matter how unGodly our environment (where we live, where we work), we have the ability to remain true to God and be a reflection of His light in a dark world.

My Advice – Watch yourself in your job. There may be practices that are more consistent with the devil’s work than with God’s. Despite this, remain true to His name.

For This Reason

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Matthew 19:4-6“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” (NIV 1984)

My Musings – My parents couldn’t afford a carriage. Not even a bicycle built for two.  Yet their love and devotion for each other was something money could not buy. They spent 66 years together as husband and wife.  Today would have been 69.  God joined them together and only God was able to separate them.  But only for awhile.

“When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” – When Harry Met Sally

My mom and dad’s marriage was like this.  They married young (dad was 18 and mom was 16), many times a recipe for failure, but for them a smashing success.  The fact that it was a marriage of three (dad, mom and God) had more to do with it than anything else, I am sure.

“Michael and I had great role models. Though his father has passed away, his parents had an amazingly strong marriage, as do mine. Both weathered really tough times. For us it has been normal to stay together through difficulties. We grew up witnessing that firsthand.”  – Tracy Pollan

Life was not easy for them, scratching to make a living early on.  Working hard for life’s necessities, never getting a chance to enjoy life’s luxuries.  But they understood it was more about making a life than it was about making a living.  They were more concerned about providing a good home for their children than providing a nice house for them.  Weathering “really tough times” made for “an amazingly strong marriage.”  As such, they were great role models for my two brothers and me.

“I have learned that only two things are necessary to keep one’s wife happy. First, let her think she’s having her own way. And second, let her have it.”  – Lyndon B. Johnson

In marriage, a sense of humor helps.  In speaking about the “perfect balance” in marraige, my dad often joked “marriage is a 50/50 proposition – I give 50 and she takes 50.”  In reality, my mom and dad usually offered each other nearly 100%, demanding little for themselves.  Now that’s  “perfect balance.”  Sure they had their selfish moments, we all do, but to them marriage was mostly about the other person (and their three boys).

“Don’t marry the person you think you can live with; marry only the individual you think you can’t live without.”  – James Dobson

When my dad passed, my mom could hardly bear the thought of living without him.  When he entered the hospital that last time, never to return home again, it was one of the few times in 66 years of marriage they spent the night apart for more than a couple days.  Yet she still longed for more time together.  That’s real love.  Not what passes for love nowadays.

I like marriage. The idea.  – Toni Morrison

It was more than an idea to my parents.  It was more than an ideal to them.  It was real.

My Advice – If you are married, or are contemplating marriage – Be like my parents.