The cats in the cradle

Lukas Graham 7 years

Psalm 39:4-5 “LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered–how fleeting my life is. You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath.”

I am a craftsman, I work with my hands and I can make all kinds of things from wood or steel…

But I can’t make time.

Soon I’ll be 60 years old

Lord please help remind me to spend my time more wisely.

Unconditionally

 

1 John 4:8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

I was blessed this past Monday to receive a gentle reminder of something that was taken from me and has since been restored to me through Jesus Christ.

I attend a men’s bible study every Monday night. During the class our leader has been routinely asking for volunteers to serve in the children’s ministry for one night due to a shortage of help over the past several weeks. Let me be candid when I say I did my best to avoid the request, not out of fear (well maybe a little) it was more like I didn’t feel adequate to the task.

But that’s not what 2 timothy 3:17 says does it?

2 Timothy 3:17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

As it turned out my group leader called me Sunday evening to say that two of the guys scheduled to help the children’s ministry had to back out last minute and he wondered if I might consider stepping up to help out. I am fairly certain there was a voice in my head screaming NO! This isn’t something you can possibly do you are a freaking introvert! But another voice very confidently said “sure”, I hung the phone up slightly dumbfounded “where did that come from?”

1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

Monday evening arrived and I found myself somehow calm, I wasn’t sure if it derived from inner peace or resignation to what I had gotten myself into but mentally I was doing OK. All of us volunteers were lead to the building where the kids classes were and wouldn’t you know it I was assigned to the kindergarten and 1st grade class… (I’ve been told it’s like herding cats when dealing with a class of young kids)

Trepidation turned into celebration as I sat with the kids and watched their eagerness to share their memorized verses and homework questions. During the class I made friends with a little guy named Brayden, he had forgotten his bible so we were sharing mine, I sat and listened to him reading scripture to me pausing once in a while to ask the meaning of certain words. He asked me all sorts of questions that were on his thoughts; he was so full of curiosity! Just like me…

Just seeing the unconditional love in them, in that moment I thought “I have been thoroughly equipped”.

Jesus did so by restoring love in me.

We were given love when we first entered this world, our first experience was love. We loved everything, the rain, the bugs, other kids, it didn’t matter we loved just because.

Then somewhere along the way love became a reward and when we didn’t receive the reward?

We learned hate…

Love became conditional and hate became unconditional.

Matthew 5:43-48
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?

I was there…

Until Jesus restored what was taken from me and said, “It’s OK to love again, abide in me I am your reward”.

Romans 12:9-10 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

I am relearning how to love without reason and it is so intoxicating!

In remembrance of…

 

I’m standing in a desert watching a man stacking stones, placing one atop another until he had a respectable looking pillar of stone, I ask “what’s it for?” He turned and said “remember”.

Joshua 4:7 then you shall say to them, ‘Because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.’ So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever.” 8 Thus the sons of Israel did as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, just as the LORD spoke to Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Israel; and they carried them over with them to the lodging place and put them down there.…

We honor people with memorials, we dedicate parks, buildings and books in remembrance of some service or deed.

In the bible they set up and dedicated memorials to remind themselves of what God had done in their lives.

When was the last time you purposefully dedicated something to God in remembrance of what He has done for you?

I have been thinking lately about the statement “God wants to be with us”

Yes He does want to,

Take out “wants to be” though and you have “God with us” it’s how they viewed God in the bible as ever present in their lives.

I forget that sometimes…

He wants us to remember that He IS with us not “wants to be”

I worship, I praise I give thanks but what have I dedicated in remembrance?

Psalm 111: He has caused his wonders to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and compassionate.

Remember God He hasn’t ever forgotten you…

It’s all coming back to me..

 

Thinking about that post I made last night reminded me of something I had forgotten, let me share the story with you.

I usually do the grocery shopping for our family, and when I went to the store every once in a while there would be an old man sitting outside the store with his old dog and a clothes hanger full of something I couldn’t quite make out what it was. Curiosity finally got the better of me one day and I walked over to him after I exited the store to see what it was he had.

  The first thing I noticed was this old man was blind, the second thing was a donation sign and finally what made me curious in the first place was the hanger which I could now see was full of little yarn dolls that he apparently had made himself.

Well he had a tin cup in his hand for the donations so I said hi to him and put some money in his cup and petted his dog for a minute, he told me to pick out a doll and I thought “I’m not gonna take his stock I’ll leave it for him to sell again” so I rustled the hanger around so he would think I was taking one said thanks and left. Looking back on that interaction I felt a little bad about taking advantage of his blindness like that,

But I was about to feel much worse…

This exchange went on for months, he wasn’t there every week but when he was I would stop chat with him a minute, pet his dog, put some money in the tin cup and rustle the hanger, it almost became routine until one day as I put the money in the cup and was about to rustle the hanger he grabbed my hand and said ” son I’m not a beggar, I make these dolls and give them to folks kind enough to help me out so if you’re not going to take one then take your money back I don’t need hand outs”

He had been counting his dolls every time I left and he was on to me!

I was so ashamed, not for the deceit but because I was robbing this old man of his dignity. There’s not much left to the story, I started taking the dolls and gave them away to little girls in the store.

God bless that little old man,

Not everyone with their hand out is out to take advantage of you he reminded me of that.

So give it just a little extra thought before you say no..

Stainless

So… I had a dream last night which involved a conversation I had with a few of my new brothers back around the beginning of October it was about a thought I had which went something like this.

Stainless

Have you ever thought about how stainless steel is made? You take iron a soft and easily shaped and corrupted metal and to it you add in various elements and convert it to steel, now steel is much stronger, tools hold a sharp edge better but still it doesn’t resist corruption too well but take steel and introduce enough heat to burn off impurities and add chromium to it and it develops a coating that greatly increases its resistance to corruption, it’s not completely stain proof as the name implies but its a whole lot better than when it started. Right now I’m iron but I hope to be stainless some day.

I know, I know, it’s a silly notion but I thought,

If “I” could be stainless

Then “I” will be perfect!

If “I” can fix my flaws

Then “I” will be worthy!

all “I” have to do is..

There was a whole lot of “I’s” in that conversation, that’s how the dream started, with ME and MY game plan for MY life, and then God shows up.. and He says to me ” you have it all wrong you should be like copper”

COPPER!? you have got to be kidding me! are you serious?

“trust me” He says, but it tarnishes Lord! “I know” He says, and it’s so soft it dents and gets scratched easy Lord! “I know” He says, but Lord it’s one of the lowliest metals, we make pennies out of it, it’s even the smallest denomination of our currency! “I know” He says. I just don’t understand Lord why? then He says to me ” You base it’s worth on values set by man. He says “Copper SERVES to provide warmth for your home, Copper SERVES to provide electricity and run every electronic device on earth, Copper SERVES as a bonding agent to bring dissimilar metals together and Copper SERVES as an anti-bacterial anti-fungal agent to ward off disease, it does all of these great things hidden from view yet you call it lowly?” It sank in, I don’t even know why I thought I could out argue perfect logic but He is right, I don’t need to be perfect to be useful, I don’t need to be spotless to have value. I have thought about that dream and thought about it and I have come to the conclusion that I really do enjoy SERVING I am at my happiest when I feel useful, I receive joy from it which makes perfect sense because I now realize it’s how He shaped me,

the little Copper pot