A Barrel Or A Pipeline

I don’t own a house, a car, land, food, or money. God owns them and I’m merely His manager of those things. If I try to treat these things like possessions, they will really begin to possess me, because those items will become my focus instead of God.

I am a blessed man. But I am blessed to be a blessing.

The more I bless others with the blessings that have been placed under my management, two things happen: (1) God is exalted, and (2) I’m available to receive more blessings.

God doesn’t want to fill my barrel.

  • Barrels run out of room.
  • Things stored in barrels for too long spoil.
  • It’s hard to see everything stored up in a barrel.

God does want to fill my pipeline.

  • Pipelines – if they are free-flowing – never get full.
  • Everything flowing through the pipeline stays fresh.
  • Pipelines can deliver faster than barrels can.

I can LIMIT God’s blessings by HOARDING them in my barrel.

I can INCREASE God’s blessings by SHARING them through my pipeline.

How can you make your life God’s pipeline of blessing to others?

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A Voice Behind Me

In our series on Building Blocks I’ve been talking about the basics of a relationship with Jesus Christ. An obvious foundation for any relationship is meaningful conversation.

If you think about any close relationship you have, the closeness was developed through conversation. Gradually you began to know their voice and know their heart. Our meaningful conversation with God produces the same increased intimacy. We talk with Him through reading His Word and through prayer.

The more you read the Bible and the more you pray, the clearer His voice becomes. Isaiah said it this way –

Your own ears will hear Him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left. (Isaiah 30:21)

Earlier this week I was on a long road trip, so I took our dog Grace with me. After grabbing some lunch, I wanted to find a place for Grace to run around and stretch her legs, but I was in a town I didn’t know. As I came to the end of the driveway, my next appointment would have been right, but I felt I should turn left instead.

I did, and two blocks away was a huge, grassy park where I could sit and eat my lunch and Grace could frolic to her heart’s content.

Did I actually hear a Voice? No, but I felt a Voice. His Voice. Yes, I believe God even cares about helping me find a place for my lunch and for my dog to run. He cares that much about me. And you too.

He’s speaking to you all the time. Are you listening to the Voice behind you?

Stopping More Than Enough

There’s a well-known line from the movie Wall Street in which the up-and-coming Bud Fox asks his rich mentor Gordon Gekko, “How much is enough?” By his words and actions Gordon answers, “It’s never enough, pal!”

The pursuit of More Than Enough is beyond greed. It’s what both the Bible and the Greeks called Mammon: the relentless pursuit of More. It’s an easy trap in which anyone – young or old, rich or poor – can get caught. But God gave us a way out

When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God.

God wants us to acknowledge that He is Provider by deliberately leaving something behind.

Let me state that another way: He provides our daily bread. If I have anything that is More Than Enough, it’s not for me… it’s for others.

So this is yet another work-in-progress for my life. How do I deliberately leave the More Than Enough behind for someone else? I have a couple of thoughts, but would love you to expand on this list –

  • Leave a larger tip for my server at the restaurant.
  • Pay for the people in the car behind me in line at the drive-thru.
  • Continue to be a proud member of the Junky Car Club, so I can use my car payment money to help others.
  • Find out what one day of work really earns me, and then give up just one day a month to help others (see One Day’s Wages).
  • Order less food at McDonald’s and giving a donation to The Ronald McDonald House.
  • When I have a buy-one-get-one-free coupon, give the free one away to someone in need.

That’s just the start of my list. I want to honor God and I want to defeat the More Than Enough monster. I can do both by deliberately leaving something behind. Will you join me?

And feel free to continue to add to the list of ways we can all deliberately leave something behind.

Get A Better Story

My friend Chuck and I run through a silly routine to make a point about the superficial conversations that many people have. It goes something like this –

Chuck: Hi! How are you?

Craig: I’m good. And you?

Chuck: Good. I’m good.

Craig: How’s work going?

Chuck: It’s good. How about for you?

Craig: Good.

Chuck: How’s your family?

Craig: They’re good. And yours?

Chuck: Good.

You get the idea. At the end of this conversation have I learned anything new about Chuck? Of course not. Has he learned anything new about me? Nope. Do you think either one of us are telling the truth? No, because we don’t want to really open up what’s going on inside us.

Last week I had several great sit-down meetings with some people that I already knew, but I wanted to get to know better. In order to get to know them better, I have to get them to tell me a better story about who they really are and what they’re really feeling.

This requires two things:

  1. I have to ask better questions. Not questions that can just be answered with a simple “good” or “fine” or “yes” or “no.”
  2. I have to be willing to tell the other person a real story about me, one that reveals who I really am and how I’m really feeling.

Sometimes asking these questions or telling these stories may seem awkward. But you have to pass through awkward if you truly want to get to know someone better. Don’t just settle for “good.” Take a risk to go deeper.

Please let me know ways you have found to get others to tell you a better story.

Helping

A friend once told me that the greatest thing a church can do is find a need in the community and then help address it. I agree wholeheartedly.

Our church is helping address two needs in our community. We are hosting a benefit show called Rockin’ For Smiles to raise money for neuroblastoma cancer research. We became involved in this through our participation in PROJECT:Smile! (I wrote about that earlier, and you can read more here and here). I’m so proud of all of the people at Calvary who have rolled up their sleeves to help with this one. And it’s been amazing to see all of these bands that are willing to waive their appearance fee to help us.

We’re also collecting donations of diapers for our Bottom Blessing day on Mother’s Day. Alpha Family Center is a crisis pregnancy resource center. Many of the state aid that single Moms receive do not cover the purchase of diapers, so we want to help Alpha help these young Moms.

If you’d like to help with either of these events, please email me.

Learning To Distinguish

In Moses’ instructions to the priests he said, “You must distinguish between the holy and common, between the unclean and the clean.”

Why? Because these men were to be leaders. He went on to say, “You must teach the Israelites all the decrees.”

If I’m going to be a leader, I must be able to distinguish. Here’s where the Holy Spirit is challenging me. I am working on distinguishing between…

Good and Best

Acceptable and Excellent

Common and Holy

Ordinary and Extraordinary

Want and Need

Present and Participant

Quantity and Quality

That’s just my list. Feel free to share any distinguishing traits you’re working on.

Apathy Is Not An Option

The old joke goes like this –

Q: What’s the difference between ignorance and apathy?

A: I don’t know and I don’t care.

Corny, I know, but it does make a point.

For followers of Jesus Christ, sometimes ignorance of a situation is acceptable. But apathy is never an option. In other words, you may not know what’s happening around you, but once you know, you’re on the hook. You cannot do nothing. Especially when people need help.

Nowhere in Scripture will you ever see something like this –

  • “If you feel like helping the poor, go for it. If you don’t feel like it, that’s okay.”
  • “It’s okay to look away from the hurting.”
  • “If you’re too busy to get involved, God will understand.”
  • “If it makes you uncomfortable to see that, just pretend you didn’t see it.”

Nope. I cannot do that and call myself a follower of Jesus.

Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins. (James 4:17, NIV)

The consistently righteous man knows and cares for the rights of the poor…. (Proverbs 29:7, AMP)

The godly care about the rights of the poor; the wicked don’t care at all. (Proverbs 29:7, CEV)

Get informed and then get involved.

I‘d love to hear where have you gotten involved.

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