Wednesday, February 24, 2016

More than Scraps

Sometimes I am amazed at the thoughts that come to my head in the midst of teaching or preaching. Good thoughts, I mean. Or shall I say, God thoughts. I want to be faithful to the text (the Bible), and to present God's Word in a manner that is not only well-studied, but in a manner it can be understood, and thus applied. Honestly, sometimes I think I do this ok, other times not. This past Sunday, I think I did it well, but as it always is, it was because He showed up. I wish I could effectively capture all of what happened that day on this blog, but I will at least try to present the moment that began to set up all that took place. The day was truly a "But God" kind of day.

The current series is on our need to Engage! The primary text continues to be Jesus' response to Peter's great confession that Jesus was the Messiah. The statement, "I will build my church" (from Matthew 16.18) has taken on a life of its own in my personal life, and I am trying to share it with others. So, this series is about isolating those five words (and then two others from later in the sentence), one week at a time. This week's word was BUILD. The main premise is that Jesus is the I whom we can trust to build, His will is to build, so we should let Him, and this week, we found out what the "I" "will" do. He will build! But an effective building campaign needs the right person, the right plans, and the right materials. (You can listen to the sermon here. Or read the related post on the church's site, here.) The amazing thing is that WE are the materials He has chosen to use to build His Church (capital C because I am talking about the universal church - all places for all time).

As an illustration for the sermon, I had pulled a couple of pieces of small wood scraps to use. But I also had recently been given a nice and solid piece of wood that served as part of an entertainment center that my uncle was discarding. He knew the piece was nice and could be re-used by someone with skill, but did not have the time or space to deal with it. So he gave it to me - not that I could use it because I have no skill in that area (something my uncle knows all too well), but so someone with skill could use it. (By definition, the piece of wood, pictured here, is a scrap because it was leftover from something else. But the comments below show a different perspective!)

Before our services started for the day, I mentioned that piece of wood was available to two gentlemen. One of them commented, "That isn't a scrap!" The other said, "The small pieces aren't scraps either. If the wood is more than six inches, it still has some good use to it."

Well, that is true IF...IF you know what you are doing. I don't. So to me, they are scraps. But not to these two individuals or to many others. And especially not to someone who might be responsible for creating the material in the first place. Like God created us. And that is where God showed up. A small illustration that I had intended, fed by the comments of my two friends earlier, turned into a major focal point of the message. How? Or why? Because, too often, we consider ourselves worthless to God and the work He is doing. We feel like scraps that should be thrown on a pile to be destroyed (burned?) because it is worthless. But not Jesus! Jesus doesn't cast aside others even when we do. And Jesus doesn't give up on us, even when we are quick to give up on ourselves. He not only can use our scraps, but legitimately, knew all we could give Him in the first place was a sin-tainted life, and He chose to purchase us with His blood anyway.

So, Jesus has a plan to build His church. He has been for some 2000 years, and continues to do so through people like us. But we must make ourselves available. We must realize He can do more with us than we can imagine. And He wants to IF...IF we will just let Him.

After the service, another friend stuffed a small piece of paper in my shirt pocket with a note about what he had written during this portion of the message. His words capture much of the essence of this God-inspired service so well. I conclude with his words (and permission) to post what he wrote that morning.

"Everything built - blocks, lincoln logs, legos, lumber, nails, bricks & mortar, even our bodies - can be torn down. What can't be torn down is our spirit, which God built. He has built us a place...who are we to decide who He uses as the building blocks for that space? With Him, His house is eternal...we need to share that so others can be building blocks."


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