Coming along side Pat Fenton and her Husband John

Barnabas, son of encouragement. He stepped out of his comfort zone to encourage his Christian brother, Paul. He came along beside him and built him up.

This note is a rally cry to you, as believers, for my mom and dad.

A couple months ago, Mom had a cancerous tumor removed. She had a time of recovery from surgery before beginning treatment. Treatment involves 6 weeks of radiation to the jaw/neck area.

This treatment is like a marathon she’s been made to participate in.

As with most races, the beginning is ok and you have the stamina to keep going. However, the wear and tear, ups and downs and the constant pressure begins to weigh on you. You wonder, “Is this worth it?, I’m tired, I’m sore, Can I do this…..?”

My dad is doing the best to encourage her yet he too is worn. Watching your dear friend in pain and discouragement creates burdens that can be overwhelming.

Yet, even in the midst of this trial, they are taking these things to our Heavenly Father as they continue. I am encouraged!

Now, the doctor had said that this would happen….. That this would make her tired. We knew that tiredness was not what we wanted for mom because she has been through quite a bit in the past several years. Knowing that she has been riding her inside bike for exercising during this process…… Well, it has been good to see her stamina coming back. With the tiredness this raises our concerns.

The radiation didn’t seem to be “kicking” mom very bad…. though mom was finding food to be less and less appealing, however, on September 15, Mom and dad told me the treatment and process was hitting her harder. Her pain is increased, she is feeling weak and she’s discouraged.

Pat, Mom, has about 18 days of radiation to go through still.

I believe that it continues through Oct 12. Of course, after that, it continues to be a time that is very critical. Everyone knows it as “recovering time”….which can be slow and arduous.

As she runs this race, she is thinking about the other things she wants to be doing….Like for dad and stuff around the house. No one likes to feel sick and being cared for …..that can sometimes make you feel worse.

As one who has done some Half Marathons, I found that when I ran there were people who were spectators along the way…. And usually the amount of them increased toward the end… They cheered and gave words of encouragement and sometimes ran along side us runners.

We might be ready to quit and stop but someone would say just the right thing at the right time or give us some snack or water and it gave us the ability to focus on continuing.

Will you choose some days along Pat and John’s journey to give each of them something that encourages them? We don’t want them to feel overwhelmed, so it is very important to spread this activity out across time and when a good number of us.

I am working on a calendar so we can do this over the next couple months. Please let me know if you would be interested in being part of this and I can share the calendar with you. We would love to have you be Pat and John’s (Mom and Dad’s) support team.

What are some ways can we support them? What can we do for encouragement?

Pray and let them know. Share a beautiful picture with them. Share a joke. 😄 Don’t give solutions! Share Bible verses that encourage you. Write a prayer out to our Heavenly Father. Send a card. Send a post card. Make a video. Make a voice recording. Record yourself or group singing a song. Call them….. Do other things that you know help you feel encouraged. They are on Facebook.

As you consider God’s love for you, thank you for sharing that love with my parents.

A Trip for Making Our Shower Look Better

Have you ever changed the walls and controls for your tub or shower?

Lots of details to consider and it requires getting the parts to do it.

Yesterday, Tina and I went down to Glens Falls first and then on to Latham to get a new tub surround and parts for the faucet and shower controls.

Talk about a learning curve!

Anyhow, the costs all add up.

I got to use one of my reward apps, twice yesterday, for additional cash back, for what I purchased.

This is a learning process and a new way of shopping for me because when I know I will be buying something now, I am looking it up in my rewards program and seeing if there is any way of savings or getting cash back from this upcoming purchase I am going to make.

Even when I went to Martha’s Ice cream with Tina I pulled out my phone and looked to see if there was any deals for that place.

One of the other apps Tin and I both use is one where we scan our receipts from everyplace we shop and it gives us points for purchases like Amazon, Texas Road house and others.

I think, what we nickname “The Gas App”, is one of the more “fun apps” we like because of the immediate gratification when we get to use it.

Last week we were traveling back from Maine and needed gas for the truck. (We had gone camping with Brandon and his family and then had a couple birthday parties at Eric’s place and the car would not have carried all we needed to get there and back.) So, both of us were looking on the app and found a place that we got $.24/gal cash back. That added up to $4.80 back to us! Always looking for bargains, it was nice to get that along with the lower price of gas in Maine.

When I experience these small rewards (Call me weird if you want. But…) I feel hopeful and grateful.

If this had not been referred to me I might have stayed discouraged and frustrated because my side energy business was taken away from us this summer because the backing company chose to leave New York State. For us, that is a loss of free energy we were getting each month. The prospect of having to pay another $500 or more each year for our electricity…..Yeh! That is disappointing.

Why do these side gig, hustles, home based businesses when I have and electrical business I can concentrate on? You ask.

I am burnt out! The prospect of working harder, longer and spending more time with the electrical work knowing that it, like most jobs, are just getting me by. I have not got ahead and I value the time I have ahead of me.

Family and God are important to me and I want to place more value into helping and encouraging others. The angst I feel when I know my time can be spent better elsewhere…..well yeh! That deflates me.

I am not even in a position to hire out the work that needs to be done around my home….. so when it comes to things… like this bathroom work….I will be doing it ….sacrificing time from earning income (so I can have time) ….and the circle of frustration continues.

The ability to find more workers and have work available for them is very challenging right now. It would be a way to leverage my time through their efforts but it requires managing that takes up even more time.

So why do I want to promote referral marketing?

Well, most people are doing it already. We find something great and we tell others about us. It’s just good sense that if two parties can benefit from a referral by being rewarded then why not pursue that?

When you can use a program that extends to many people and rewards you for those extensions then you are at a point where you are leveraging your time and efforts by helping other people get what they want.

If this can free up your time and give you resources beyond your daily needs, don’t you think that it is wise to find something on the side that does this? I do!

Even when we in the military, Tina found a side hustle (I was the runner…literally) where we delivered magazine subscriptions in Omaha NE area. She would prep the bags of them and then I would run from van to home delivering them while the kids rode on the van…..(Great way to do day care! Right?) Another couple times we were delivering phone books…Some of you will have to ask someone over 25 what that is. LOL.

That was not a dumb way to make extra income and it is like the “gig workers” today.

On the same note, Marketing through networks we have already and those we produce along the way ……It’s a good idea to do as well.

It bugs me, the amount of people who ignorantly choose not to participate in a program just because it has something to do with Network Marketing! When they are struggling and complaining about how much something cost and yet they let their preconceived ideas reject a benefit that is standing in front of them.

I can’t fix this and some won’t change but I move on and share anyway.

Anyways! I am happy to find good deals and share them with others. I look forward to helping others in this similar way so they can have the things that are important to them.

Enjoy the Day….An if you are one of my family….Blessings on you!

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THE TRAIL THAT LEAD UP TO CALVARY-a Valentine poem by Dan Fenton

My Savior, my Lord, the Creator of all there is

Was asked numerous times for a “sign”

To validate who Jesus claimed to be…….

But His blood, when it spilt, said it all …..

“”I Am your Valentine.”

The beating He took on His back and His sides

As the claws of nine tails tore holes in His skin

Droplets dripped down and fell to the ground

As He was prepared to die for my sin.

Amongst mocking, jesting, smirking and taunts

Slapping and spitting with pulling of hair

My Jesus, My Lord! He endured this for me

“I Am your Valentine……I Care.”

The red of my Valentine did flow that day

As the points pierced his head

From the thorns made into a crown

That night my Valentine would be dead.

From judgment….Of an innocent man

They lead Jesus up to Calvary

They placed a cross on His back

That should have been for me.

I’m sure my Savior left a trail of red

As His blood poured from His wounds.

Along the trail to Golgotha.

The place, they thought He was doomed.

Forming the Cross and laying Him down

They spread out His arms and laid point to the skin

Blood again poured from my Valentine….. when

Down came the mallet as they drove the nails in.

They lifted Jesus up

And the cross fell into place.

His blood dropped to the ground

There was a grimace on His Face.

My Valentine did this

To save the Human Race.

Jesus, my Lord, my sacrifice

Died as a lamb that day.

The blood He spilt

Washed all my sins away.

They took Him down and place my Valentine in a grave

Then, they sealed it with a stone.

As all who had ever died till then….

“Hope is gone”

His friends would moan

Then three days later my Valentine’s Father

Had that big stone rolled away so Salvation could arrive,

“This is My Son, Your Valentine

He’s very much alive!”

The word “valentine”, derived in the Roman language

Means, strong, vigorous and healthy

Jesus showed Himself as this in His living, death and resurrection

And that he’s done this for you and me.

Accept His gift that He gave that day

Your life, He will define.

Acknowledge you sin and call out to Him,

“For with the mouth confession is made……

“Jesus, will you be my Valentine?”

“At the name of Jesus every knee is going to bow….”

“Confessing that Jesus Christ is Lord…”

Those who made him their Valentine

Will be in one accord.

So, I thank you God, the Father

For the salvation that now is mine

For the Son of God Named, Jesus.

He’s my Bestest Valentine!

What’s Important Today

A friend of ours died a couple weeks ago. Earlier this year she had been given the diagnosis to her third time around with cancer.

One of the last things she mentioned to my wife and I was that she had the will to live…..But her body was so week she felt at a loss. Within a week, Pat had passed away.

Last night, my wife and I were watching a tv show, where in the story line a bomb went off killing a number of individuals. Most times and for most people, to watch that ….it’s just entertainment…. but when the reality of life…..or more so….the reality of the “end of life” as we know it hits…..This is something that we shy away from considering.

I think two perspectives are important as we consider our “Todays”.

  1. Am I ready for what is coming after I die?
  2. What is it that I can do today that’s valuable?

Many have beliefs and speculations as to what is happening to them when their soul is separated from their bodies.

For me, I know that I will be present with Jesus, the Son of God. He is Lord over all and He is my lord.

I will bow in worship to Him and be in His presence waiting to be united again with my new body in the sky when Jesus comes to bring His children home.

I am so glad I was bought back and adopted by God. When I was a teenager, I was afraid.

Many have panic attacks as they consider danger or immediate threats upon their lives. People with cancer can be more prone to these. With the way your body gets all messed up with chemicals, hormones, and what ever junk it is having to process, I imagine your emotional makeup is quite off. Its uncertain what triggers the attack but I am certain our thoughts have a great deal to do with it.

We wonder, we doubt, we are questioned by others and ourselves as to what is true.

About 14 years of age, I knelt and asked God to save me for sure. I believed in Him for the gift of salvation that He promised and provides through his Son, Jesus.

You see. With no fault of my own I was already going in the wrong direction. Because of Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the Garden…way back when… This nature of sin has been passed from generation to generation. Sin prevents a relationship with God, therefore I was in a state of condemnation, headed for an eternity in Hell.

I knew it and was scared of being left behind when Jesus came back. (left behind when Jesus came back for his own.)

Believing was/is my saving grace!

I got up from my knees and knew that I was God’s child. Sin would not condemn me. I was fully forgiven. I had no debt because Jesus had satisfied it all. I am free.

Do I sin? Yes, but it is covered, paid for and forgiven by Jesus because He became a blood sacrifice on the cross. (Blood sacrifices were required for a “covering” of sin in God’s eyes.) And my sin no longer prevents my relationship with God because He sees me through His son.

I don’t fully understand this but it’s true. I am reminded that I belong to Him and it is a comfort to my soul.

So….today! What’s important?

Work! It is a blessing to work. I can go out and do things that help me, my family and my society plus environment.

Encouraging words. I can share things that uplift others and motivate them in positive ways.

Play. I can enjoy the life I have today and move my mind and my body in designed pleasure.

Record. I can place in my memory the funny, happy, thoughtful and proper things for my mind to think about.

Share. I have great things to share. Peace from what I know. Knowledge from my skills. Love from what has been given to me…It says, “we love God because He first loved us”. Also, it says, “God is Love”. Opportunity from the things I do….Like my electrical business (Hiring People) and my Saving Program business (Giving better options for their purchasing).

Bless. I can bless others….My wife, my children , my grand children, my friends and my enemies.

Forgive. The same as with those I bless.

Don’t pass the Importance of Today for the trivial that wants to get in the way!

The Girl and Her Ca Ching

Once upon a Time, Beth and John got married.

Prior to this they had both attended Washington State University and landed corporate jobs in leading companies within their state.

For most of their twenties, they worked the driven life and were quite successful.

However, being driven so hard and wanting more of purpose in life, Beth wanted to be married and start a family.

She’d grown up in a big family herself and just knew the joys of having siblings and family time.  She longed to be a mom.

Beth had known John from the childhood because they grew up in the same subdivision of their town.

Throughout their careers they’d stayed in touch and were fond of each other.  

Romantically, they had no feelings for each other…. Until the day that Beth mentioned to John that she was going to leave the corporate world and find a husband.

John had three sisters and each of them had two kids.  He understood, as an uncle, that he found the most enjoyment in life was when he was hanging around his little nephews and nieces.

The thought of Beth taking such a bold step flipped the switch in his mind and he had feelings for her that he never experienced before.  Soon, instead of having just “friend visits,” they were dating each other.

Marriage came, so did the children…Becky, Alicia and Jonathan.

John was a hard worker and did well in his company providing for Beth and the family.

Even while the kids were little, Beth always had a desire to provide an income source from home so John could spend more time with her and the kids too.

She thought she would make jewelry and also sell clothes online but the drawback for her was the fact that it started taking time away from being a mom like she wanted to be.

Her friend Claire video chatted with her on Messenger and asked her how John and her were doing, especially with the economy “kind of tanking”.  

Beth replied that she was hanging in there and that things should turn around shortly.

Claire asked Beth, “Are you getting 15 cents a gallon or more cash back on the gas you’re buying?”

“Huh?” Beth replied.  

Claire responded, “Yeh! Pete and I, if we don’t get cash back on what we buy, we ask if it’s really worth it.”

“I’m confused???” Beth shared.

“I’m sorry, Beth.  I’m just that typical airhead.  Jumping in and sharing something with you without giving any context is kind of weird, huh?  Let me tell you what we just found out.”

“Lots of places want your business right?”

Beth nodded.

“”So, by changing their advertising, a lot of them have gone to apps…. you know what I mean?  Cash back apps that is.

Stores don’t use places like NBC, CBS and ABC …. The TV networks…to advertise much anymore because so many people are on the internet searching for where they can shop.

They hope by incentivizing us with cash back, they can get us into their stores.

So…… there’s this company that works with those stores, helping to drive traffic to them by providing the cash back incentives for us to use their apps.

“I see the confused look on your face!” Claire said to her friend.

“Beth”, said Claire,” let me start with gas first.  You need to hear this story.

Our friend Harold told Pete about this ‘gas app’ he was using.  He told my husband that if you signed up to use the app, you get 15 cents off a gallon for each gallon of gas he’d get the first time he used it.

Why not Pete thought? 

Pete used it to fill up our pickup truck and put 20 gallons.  Coming home he told me about how he was getting $3.00 cash back because of the 15 cents for each gallons he put in. We both were very excited and thrilled!”

The thing is is that Harold called him in a couple days later to thank him for using the app….because now with the three people he shared the app with and because they bought gas with the app, now he was able to buy gas and get 45 cents off each of his gallons. I think he saved close to Seven Dollars.

Really? Pete had questioned. 

Absolutely! Harold replied.

Well how do you do that? Pete wanted to know.

Just ask others to use your app Pete and have them sign up with your special code and you can do the same.

Pete ask Harold how he got this app to begin with.

Harold told Pete that it came with a bundle of apps that he was using with the new rewards program he had just started and it was a business venture.

Pete was curious.  You’re not working at Whalers Sports anymore, Harold?

Oh, I’m still there but I’ve always believed that a person should have a side hustle or two.  You know, kind of like, having more than one egg in your basket? Harold replied.

Yeah! I guess that makes sense. Pete said.  

And Claire added to her friend Beth, “It made sense to me too.”

“Gas app is one of the free apps,”  Beth.

“What excites Pete and I the most is the premium members apps.

The savings we found with insurance and prescriptions and things for our pets in our household with the shopping app and the benefits hub…. Well they take this program to a super great level.”

Claire smiled.

Beth questioned, “cash back with that part too?”

“Yeah, it’s a paid membership but it’s well worth it…”Claire drew out the word well slowly to add emphasis.

“But Pete told John that it was a new business? What do you mean by that Claire?”

“Oh yeah …. And there’s a way to make money with it too!”

And? Beth as well, said the word “and” slowly.  “Make money” was echoing in Beth’s mind.

“Sorry”,  Clare giggled. “Well, as a premium member we paid a $10 startup fee and it just cost us about $22 a month for our membership.  When other people join us as premium numbers because they like the deals that they can get then the company pays us $10 for each of those people each month.

We’ve already signed up seven different couples…. You know Sharon and Craig?

They just joined about 2 weeks ago and just like us because of people they’re helping save money they get cash back and they’ve signed up five people themselves.

I see that big question mark on your face, Beth” said Claire.

“The first three people that sign up with us…..as they pay their monthly fee that pays for our fee….. anything beyond that is another stream of income for our family.

Businesses don’t have to be complicated” Claire smiled.  “It’s fun and even if I am a ditz at times, it’s nice knowing that we have an extra source of income for a household.”

Beth smiled. “I think this is what I might have been looking for, Claire.  I wanted to supplement John’s income and have a little extra spending money myself.

So how do I become a member…. I mean a premium member that is.  I don’t want to miss out on any benefits Claire.”

Claire smiled and said “Congratulations!  Let’s get started right now.”

Claire sent Beth to her Rewards Member site and in a few minutes Beth was started.  

Claire then walked Beth through the process of adding the program’s apps to her phone and computer.  She reminded Beth, “it’s always important to have and be engaged in a program in order to be able to share it with others.”

Soon she was surprising John with cash back rewards on her spending and the income her new home business was making.

The first time Beth used her cash back apps and then each time after that, she heard a little sound.  Almost like a bell.

Beth asked Claire about it.   “It only happens when I use the apps.  I keep hearing this little bell sound.”

Claire began to giggle.  Her smile spread all over her face as she told her friend, Beth.

Beth began laughing too as her friend told her…

“That, my dear girl, is the sound of “Ca Ching!”

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The Parade of the Unicorns

The beginning of most people’s network marketing begins with the marriage of a dream and a system.

At least that is what happened with me.

I was 27 years old and in the Air Force.

Marriage was my motivation to have a career there… because I knew that you need a good job in order to support having a wife and raising a family. I entered at 19 and we married at 20.

We had five children while serving over the 9 year, three month period. It was great and I loved being a husband and a daddy.

What we learned in the early years was that it is not so easy having a one income family in a two income society.

Moms sacrifice plenty if they leave their children under the care of others to go off to work…. But by staying home, often you begin to live without the things others around you are enjoying.

My wife found ways to make some extra income but it typically these included my efforts. It was kind of like other part time job for me after performing my shift for the day with the military.

One such “job” was delivering subscription magazines to be hung on the doors of those customers within our community. (I guess it was cost effective compared to them using the postal service to deliver them.)

She would pick up the bundles, sort, label and bag them and then I would hunker down by the sliding door of the mini van to pop out and run them to each of the homes as she drove us around the neighborhood. Oh yes! Our children were strapped in their car seats as we went on these weekly adventures.

A friend on mine in our church casually told me one day he wanted to show me something that he and his wife were doing for extra income. I had him over and he pulled out a piece of paper and began to draw circles.

Connecting the round marks with lines and then showing business volumes and point values with level income amounts….Well, my mind was mesmerized.

I had never seen this thing called network marketing and wondered why it had eluded me to that point.

Money was tight and it took about $100 to join and get started. So, I devised a plan to fix up a bamboo encased glass salt water fish tank that I had acquired and sell it in exchange for this new adventure. I was excited and jumped in!

Everyone knows and everyone says that these types of businesses are “Event Driven.” So, off to weekly meetings I started to do.

Then we were told that the group we were a part of was having a huge conference in Anchorage, Alaska. I had not earned the income but I did have money from a small inheritance from my Aunt have left me. With that, I spent it on tickets to go to this event and flew alone to Alaska.

It was amazing! Speaker after speaker told their stories of how they had achieved financial freedom for their families and they talk about the great benefits of the products. One speaker was gifted with special camping gear because he enjoyed the great outdoors and wanted to spend more time doing that. He had earned it.

The evening came to a close and I was walking back to the motel when I happened upon one of the speakers. I greeted him and mentioned some things on my mind. I’m not sure what I said or if I created a misunderstanding but he got brash with me and was not kind.

Exposure to my first Unicorn!

Since that first Conference, I have spent a lifetime of being exposed to the “Parade of the Unicorns”.

I can not go further without crediting this idea to Richard Brooke, a network marketer, trainer and coach who mentioned the term “unicorn” in some of his literature. He has over forty years experience with this and he is not a unicorn.


These unicorns are the people that our in our network marketing businesses that are “super stars with a twist”. They are the ones, who by virtue of their gifts, training, backgrounds, natural influence and previous experience have great followings. They know and teach “what to do” but they don’t really know “why it works for them.”….At least they are not sharing that part!

As some would explain, “they are already and naturally the people to whom good things are attracted.” How they became that person is not important to them. They revile in their ability to inspire others “to perform the motions” that they did but for them it works and for most of us….well, we find it doesn’t.

Maybe it is because we have not yet become the “person” they are? Where are we to learn? The Unicorn can’t teach it.

But, there are successful individuals out there, who humbly know where they came from and can clearly encourage and show others how to become the one of the “successful ones”.

Richard Brooke often reminds people that there is a great need in our industry of network marketing to be authentic. I agree whole heartedly.

I am glad he mentioned Unicorns. Because, since then, it has made me realize that there are those from whom I can find ways to be a better me and change.

The Parade of the Unicorns will continue to happen but I know that I can look for authentic leaders who still love people and strive for their best.

When the Unicorn can put away the horn, see the me that I can be and remember the place they once may have been, then they will be to one from whom I will enjoy learning the journey.

Follow whom you wish but as for me, I choose to follow true leaders!



Body Part Sends Message to Rest of Its Body

https://youtu.be/ShwUMFlLAzQ Open Letter to the Local Church

Composed from Oct 18 to Dec 6, 2020

Dear Church,

My name is Daniel Fenton and I am a Church Body Part.

When I was in my teens I wondered if I had truly been saved from my sins as I had done what my brothers had done as a five year old and prayed a prayer with my Sunday School Teacher. My uncertainty drove me to settle the matter and I made sure of my acceptance of the gift God gives in Jesus Christ. From that day forward I have been a member of Christ’s body, the church.

Like so many others, the concept of what church is was dimly understood by me. Assembly and participation was clear but what we are wasn’t.

Circumstances have caused me to dig deeper and gain a better knowledge about this and if it can help you, I share thoughts and situations and helps with you, my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Let me ask these two questions first:

1. Do we know who we are?

  1. Do we really understand the concept of being a church?

The Bible uses three words more often than any other to describe us.

We are described as “ a flock of sheep to be cared for”.

We are also labeled “The Body of Christ”.

We are His “Bride”. Here’s a side question to ponder…..As His bride, how are we to be, act, behave and appear?

Let’s discuss the body. Please consider some things about this body, He has made us. The Word says, We are a body ‘built up together and fitted together by Him”(Jesus).

Just as Paul the Apostle reminds us in I Corinthians 12, we all make up different parts of the body.

WHY? So that we can function wholly for God.

There are feet for moving, hands for helping, abdomens for feeling and some of us make up parts of the head in this body. Paul mentioned this part of the body by using the analogy of “eyes for seeing” and “noses for smelling” and “ears for hearing.”

I can hear some of you now…..”Whoa, whoa,whoa! Jesus is the Head”. I know….many times I too had that same thought. But the meaning is different than that of a body part. With each instance where Jesus is referenced as “Head”, note,that it is emphasizes “Position of Authority”….not a body part with a significant function.

Just to reiterate….Some people have the picture of the spiritual body of Christ being like Jesus is the part on top of the shoulders and we, the church make up everything else below that point. This is not the case,

The reason Paul uses body parts is because he’s making a simple way for us to understand ,that each one of us serves a special part in God’s work and plan . But this can only happen in conjunction with the other body parts.

Through the Holy Spirit, God provided a way for us to function as a body functions for the purpose of glorifying Christ and displaying His bride. The church often today becomes the “Church of I” but We were designed to be “The Church of We”. Only in unity can the world see who we are.

Why is this important, Church? Because without this foundational understanding, we miss out on living our lives in ways that supports and builds up Christ’s bride.

Not only is it important to know our own individual functions within the body but we need to have an understanding of the other body parts that are reflecting God’s message to the world of His grace and gospel. Yes, without properly functioning as God intended, the effectiveness of the body of Christ to share the gospel will greatly be hampered.

Why am I addressing this and trying to help you understand our body and it’s function for God?

More and more, a scattering of “body parts” or “sheep” occurs with God’s church.

There needs to be a starting point of reconciliation (a gathering in or uniting, if you will) today, of believers who are meant to be included and functioning within our body for it to be whole. I would dare say we have fallen to pieces and this saddens me greatly.

You know that verse in II Cor. 5:19 where Paul says, “….God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself…..entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.”?

Everyone knows that we, Believers, are commanded to share this message but…..We also know that it is God who brings people to salvation. We, by doing this, are acting in obedience , therefore giving us joy when we see God perform His saving grace. We participate in reconciling people to God.

However, just as there is reconciliation for salvation, there is reconciliation commanded for those who make up the church. The Scripture tells us to be unified as a body for the sake of edification ……..so that we build up the church. Things like: Forgiving one another. .. Restoring back to the church…Removing fellowship from someone to create a desire for them to return. Things like that are just a few.

It also needs to be emphasised that the parts of the body, mentioned by Paul, were not “positions of authority within the church” but were “functions” empowered by the Spirit of God for the express purpose of developing a growing church, a unified church and one that demonstrated a bride in her glory before her future husband, Jesus Christ. She is to be an attractive in this world, noted as special, who, with a great attitude and poise, is worthy to be married to the Creator of all.

So, who makes up the church? Is it Believers or members? Are they one and the same?

Two terms are readily thought of today when that question arises.

Universal Church?

Or

Local Church?

What is the meaning of these two terms?…..And what conclussions might be drawn from this part of our discussion?

Most people would agree that The Universal Church is all those believers, living and dead, who have received God’s gift of eternal salvation through Jesus Christ, God’s Son, from the time He established the Church till we meet Him in the air. We all make up the Bride of Christ. Agreed?

So that leaves us to define the The Local Church . Really it is “A practical localized organization” God designed for His Body to function in a manner, so that areas all over the world could have a place where the Church can grow, be managed and flourish in an atmosphere of loving leadership and guidance. In essence, each local church should be a reflection of the beautiful bride that Christ purchased for Himself on the cross. Does the world see this in us?

It’s interesting that marriage between a husband and wife is a picture of the way things should be between Christ and His Bride. Paul shares this in Eph.5:25-27

God is placing great importance on what we display.

So, are we functioning as Christ intended, Church Family?

What responsibilities do we have in this Body and what are our responsibilities to others within our local church? This leads us into the topic of membership.

That last question….who are the “others” in the church? Does “membership” determine the answer to this question? I apologize up front because this requires examination which might feel uncomfortable but by all means is necessary.

Membership

We all like to belong, be a part of, feel connected……”Membership has it’s privileges” is a saying most people like.

However, for our church, I’m afraid, that instead of “membership” unifying us as a body for His glory, it has unintentionally become a means of separation. The consequences are tragic to all of us and to our effectiveness within our body and the picture we display to the world around us.

I believe it has caused us to lose some of our friends and family to the world and the evil one because of the “loose connections” it develops as a side effect.

“Membership” today has become the “legal word” we use. It defines the right or ability for someone within an organization to make decisions or vote upon matters that have physical ramifications in regard to property and expenses.

Unfortunately, this kind of membership places significance upon position…. and not upon function within Christ’s body.

James, the Apostle, spoke against this in chapter 2, where preference is given to one who is “rich” versus one who is “poor”. Most people find that “position” bring “status” and status determines “richness or poorness”.

Where “membership” aught to be about the unifying aspect of our local body of believers, it has become more about the place of assembly, the property and assets associated with it.

Of course, the problem arises that “a form of membership” within a group of people, so named for an organization, for the above necessities, is needed.

Can a balance of sorts be determined…. that can unify the church while meeting the requirements of the law regarding church property and finances? Yes, it’s possible.

Church Family, Before speaking of this, let me address a more pressing concern.

Though the membership issue is problematic and may lend itself to almost an excuse for which to separate ourselves, I believe a deeper root problem causes the division we are experiencing in many of our churches today.

This is “A lack of love”.

Remember the words of Jesus, when asked what the greatest commandment was? “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

You may be thinking…….Neighbor? People?

Why did Jesus say “neighbor” versus using the word “people”? Because neighbors are those individuals with whom we have a common interest or bond. As in the Good Samaritan Story…..It is also those individuals who share kindness with us. Not all people meet those qualifications.

How does love and Neighbor apply to us in the church?

Distorted teachings of the great LOVE chapter in the Bible have left many Christians believing it is mainly for couples and marriage. But please understand, Church, The love spoken of in Corinthians 13 by Paul needs to be expressed in an attitude of compassion and care as we exercise the gifts or functions toward others in the body of Christ. Our motivation needs to stem from the love we have for God and others as we interact and accomplish life together as Christ’s bride.

Consider this beautiful passage written for the church, Church Family.

Galatians 6:1-9 Gives us these instruction, “6 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression,you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. 5 or each will have to bear his own load. 6 Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. 7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Church,

Demonstrating our love to each other is vital for us to be in unity and perform the mission God has given us.

Now most people when they identify a problem want to fix it pretty quickly. But I want to connect with you and see if you experience feelings that would make a “Fix” more meaningful. So, before I suggest my thoughts on meaningful membership within the church today, let me express observations that have been made over the past 10 months that magnified my conclusions about membership.

In light of the Covid 19 Pandemic, changes have taken place to most areas of life including that of the church. We, having the Spirit of God, are not immune to the adversity that He may gift us with but we are empowered to magnify Him in the midst of our struggles.

I am afraid, that to the detriment of each other and of Christ’s church, we have failed to operate as a unified body that Christ intended for us.

How many people have not been able to attend services because of the current conditions that have plagued us these past months?

I have not attended services mainly because as someone who is self employed, when I have to stop working, I do not get paid. The risk of having someone in the assemble “Test positive” and those who might have come in contact with the individual be mandated to quarantine for two weeks is not something I am ready to adhere to.

Other may have compromised health issues and this is keeping them away too.

Can we name these people who are not attending besides me and my wife? Who are they?

Do we know why they have not attended?

Are they members or just attendees? Are these questions important? Of course they are. If we care for those in our church, we will seek out the answers from them and be an encouragement to them.

I often get the impression that there seems to be an expressed importance on “Being there for the church” …….but are we “the Church” there for our member(each other)?”

The Pandemic has helped me make some observations regarding our church of things that ,with change and adjustment, may bring unity to the church despite the circumstances we share.

Please Church Family,

Understand that my observations (and sometimes the reactions to them) are making me feel left out, discouraged and unwanted. However, in thankfulness to God for the abilities He’s given me to express myself in words, each area of concern will be balanced with an option for change. May God’s will be accomplished in our Local Church. Others may feel the same way. Let this be a time of reflection, prayerfulness ……and perhaps a call to action.

Let’ me take you through a “Covid Time Line” if you will.

  1. Prior to the shut downs, I had been pursuing membership again at our church. I had been a “member” for 17 years up to 2010 when concerns caused me to ask to be removed. Over the 10 year period, I have come to the conclusion that there is an importance to be a part of a local assembly. The importance of being able to function and build up God’s church, as each one of us have that responsibility, has been greatly impressed on me. I spoke with the leadership and moved in that direction. Membership classes were supposed to begin but then Covid showed up. I asked within the first couple months of Covid, if membership classes could be conducted via the internet. I looked forward to this. I was told we would “Wait till this was over”….. Who knew? “Zoom Video conferencing” or similur venues can be used for membership classes and other important gatherings where discussion is essential. Seeing others and participating together while maintaining safe distances can be quite beneficial. Side note: I don’t know why it is…. but there seems to be an unwritten rule within the church today, that if one wants to seek membership, then they themselves have the responsibility to pursue it. Membership classes may be announced from the pulpit but no one is asking regular attendees for the commitment to become a member. I want to challenge your thoughts on this. I believe all members within the church (not just leadership) should engage with others within the church and encourage them to make a public commitment of their membership to our local body.
  2. “A LITTLE PIECE OF PAPER EACH SUNDAY” Routine is good and helps create a stable environment with the church but when the “shut downs” occurred, so did the regular sharing of information by means of the weekly bulletin. Even when you could not make it to church before the pandemic, that small piece of paper connected us in a major way. As a child needs to hear from their parents, as an employee needs to hear from his boss, a church needs to hear regularly from their leadership. Restart the “Weekly Bulletins” which were part of the norm before Covid interrupted our lives. Include a digitized version and shared again on a weekly basis….Publish them on Sunday mornings so that those attending and those attending from a distance can receive it about the same time and have something in common. (It is unifying.) It was good to know what deacon was on call for the week and to have a small list of people to pray for. …… Plus, upcoming events helped us all stay better engaged, informed and connected. You’d be surprised how this weekly document makes people feel more like they are included.
  3. I know that connecting with others voice to voice was greatly reduced. We have heard very little from others in the church. If we are a body that is living in unity with each other, then it is important to talk with each other. How can we pray for each other, as we are instructed ,if we are not talking to one another? Call each other regularly…..or more-so! Great lengths went to putting a “Church Directory” together. Let’s encourage it’s “designer”(Thank you Linda N-E) by using it to bring us together. Nothing shows you care much more than when you are willing to take and share your time by calling or stopping by to speak with someone………. “Running into others and chatting is nice and ok but I am asking you to be proactive with those God has placed you with as a body.” Most people will agree…..Deliberate time spent is most meaningful.
  4. We have heard it said, “A church that prays together, stays together.” Cliche? Is a midweek service important to the Bride of Christ? A reminder to pray is good but who do we pray for? What do we pray for? Who in our body needs encouragement? What praises are there to be thanking God for? An email here, an email there, for one request or another…. but what about engaging together and developing a large list…a great list? One that has requests and praises. A body of 100 or more people certainly has at least 100 prayer requests needed each week…..At best I have noted maybe five requests in a week besides forwards of missionary letters. Do we really believe in Prayer? God loves to hear from us…..He wants us to be imitators of Him and Jesus took time to pray. There in scripture is a major emphasis on being together with other believers in this activity. How can this take place given the mandated separations that exist? We can be known as the church that prays together. The flock may be scattered and can’t make it to the church to attend because of Covid but it can be brought together. First way would be by sharing a list of prayer requests with the flock. Then add ways of joining with each other in groups either digitally or by voice. Include ……..don’t just make this available to only those who can attend.
  5. “The calm before the storm.”—– That time of great quietness that gives a person a sense of nervousness that bad things will soon follow. Through much of the first five months of the pandemic, the lack of information being passed through to the congregation, regarding what the leadership within the church is/was doing……whether they were planning together/working together on things for the church…..this silence was difficult for some. It is like a child who wakes up at 6AM, listens for mom and dad but only hears silence for several hours. It’s not lack of faith but a lack of feeling secure that sets in. Church Family—-You leaders, The church has ears…..Speak peace and security into them. Distance and separation does not have to be an obstacle to providing security to the flock. Frightened flocks scatter and do not reproduce. Secure flocks provide an abundance. Imagine being a military member overseas with your family back home. You may not be there but you will make every effort to encourage them and fill them with hope and security.
  6. We need to be careful that we place priority on the Bride versus the Building where we assemble. The building is important because it is a place to be together but is it more important than the body? Are those “body parts”, (other members of your flock) that can’t make it to the services, less important than the ones who attend? How often do the members of Christ body feel unwanted and like a person on the outside looking in? Should these things be? How can we make everyone feel part of the service or the body in whole? a. We can make sure, that for those who can attend on line, that it will be an inclusive experience for them. How? Make sure the video is clear and audio is good. For announcements, pass a mike or make sure to repeat clearly what is said from the floor. Many things not spoken into a mike are hardly heard in a broadcast. Imagine a very deaf person in your audience trying to hear the announcements and they can only listen through a headset. They are experiencing exactly what your virtual audience is. b. Acknowledge your virtual audience. Find ways they can share with the rest of the church during announcement time. The analogy about the body can be useful hear because I want you to think for a moment about your internal organs. You can see them, right? But they are still a part of you and help you do what you need to do. Just like you can’t see your organs within your own body, still let those people you can’t see in your church know your appreciation by sharing with them. These suggestions are for you, Church body…..Not just the leadership. They are body parts too. We have the responsibility toward our brothers and sisters in Christ for the sake of edifying each other. Just as God reconciles the world to Himself, we believers can show the world that we reconcile one another back into fellowship together. Send the message that God’s people clearly are more important than our buildings of worship.

These are some of the ways we can restore relationships again in our church and move toward maturity within our body. You, Church, have been blessed with other ideas too and God is pleased when we work together to build up His Bride.

Returning to the area of membership, let me offer these thoughts.

But first listen to this analogy.

You know how, when you were born, you were included as a citizen in your country?

Rights that came with being a citizen gave you a place in this world. A place where you have representation, privileges and benefits that outsiders do not have.

Most countries have a document called a constitution like that of the United States which includes a list of rights given to the citizens of the country and it lays out rules and responsibilities to support the rights we have.

It is clearly understood, that even though someone is a citizen, certain privileges may not be exercised unless the citizens have met some or maintained some qualifications.

For Example: Our children are citizens too …..but until they’re eighteen, they are not allowed to participate in the electoral process. Also, some citizens have lost this privilege because of illegal activities they’ve been a part of. Some do not have the mental means to be part of this process any longer. And of course, there are others who choose not to participate in the decision parts of our societies but that does not make them a “non-citizen”.

Our citizenship, no matter what our state of mind, age or condition we are in, does not change.

In like fashion, when we were Born Again into God’s family we became citizens of Heaven. We became children of God. And again I remind you, Church…….we became the “Bride of Christ”.

Comparing Christ’s church to a country, where we believers are all a part and are like citizens within, we can make an application to membership and decision making.

First (Like Citizenship) let’s consider General Membership:

  1. There are Three Critical Parts of Membership. A. Repentance with Acceptance
      B. Testifying
        C. Being Baptized by Immersion

        From the youngest who can understand, to the oldest who may not be able to communicate but others can attest to them as part of Christ’s bride……These are those who can be general members making up the General Assembly of Church Members. By meeting these general conditions “Members of the Local Church” will have a common connection with each other. It will encourage spending time with one another and unify our body. Age and ability to attend services need not be requirements for these members to call our local church, “Home”, Their Spiritual Family…..”Their Church.

        When we stipulate this membership beyond these three areas, people often will not fully engaged, feel accepted or wanted nor will they feel included. Like a sheep that is away from the flock these individuals are in danger from the Devil and the World to attack, harm, discouragement and withdrawal from fellow believers. They’re spiritual growth often is stunted. Maturity does not occur. Reproducing new believers will seldom happen. And many times they are caught away to false beliefs and become enemies to the Church.

        Take a few moments. Do you know anyone to whom this has happened in your circles? Most people can think of one or two.

        Church Family, This is happening and has happened to our friends and our own families. With the wisdom of God and the Power of Christ we can change this. Are we ready to be reconciled to each other?

        Change, to the extent mentioned above, may not be something to be accomplished immediately or may not happen at all with your local church but it can be considered.

        Can we stimulate membership and unity despite some of the negative effects of standard membership standards? Sure.

        Starting with the core members (those meeting regularly and the leadership within the local church), work can begin from edifying from within and encourage and be an example to those individuals so they can reach out to those previous attenders encouraging them to join together, be a part and share their gifts.

        Encourage the members and remind them of their position in Christ and His love for His Bride. Allow humility to do it’s work and be thankful for the reconciling God has given you. Pray for one another.

        Get to know each other in a deeper way so that you can carry and share burdens. Encourage membership among those you see in church and those meant to be part of our church.

        How?

        Who do you talk with at church on a regular basis before and after church. Are they a member? If not, do you know why they have not made the commitment to join? Are they waiting to be invited? Most people like an invitation. Some people don’t even know that membership is important. I hope that what I shared at the beginning of this message helps you understand that the part you are in the body is very important and is needed……Just as what the other parts of the body do too!

        Just a word of Caution or insight….Remember, if you are spending time with and talking to someone, you will both be influencing each other negatively or positively. If they are influencing you one way or the other, would it be ok to influence them toward obedience and maturity? In light of this, it is OK to bring up the topic and encourage them toward being a member versus just being an attender. When they are connected with the Local Body, then they are able to exercise the gifts God has given them for it’s completeness.

        Exercising our gifts is important and matches God’s design for the Church. Jesus did His work as a servant and we are to follow His example.

        If we are called servants of God, should we not be serving? Have you ever heard the term, “sittants” of God? I don’t think it even in the Scrabble dictionary and I know God didn’t design us to sit and absorb sermons.

        There is Joy in Serving Jesus and that other old song says, “Trust and Obey, for there is no other way, To be Happy in Jesus, But to Trust and Obey”….We are to acknowledge God in everything and obedience to His Word brings about actions that bring us favor with God. When we are in favor with God, then happiness occurs, making His Bride very attractive.

        Paul says the mystery of God is Christ and the Church. It is a story of we……not me. Individually we can accomplish some but designed us as body parts, so that in unity, together, we will fulfill God’s will.

        Let’s not let an independent spirit keep us from this task.

        Let me close out my discussion regarding membership structure with a couple conclusions:

        1. I believe, that when it comes to making decisions (voting included) and leadership positions within the church, that special qualifications should be attained by qualifying general members. Qualifications for members with voting and leadership privileges, within a congregation, can be established, meeting legal requirements. Therefore, not jeopardizing the unity within the body gained by inclusion with the general membership. Think again of citizen and voter in a country.
        2. I believe we should earnestly and immediately seek to create an “Environment of Inclusion” to help our junior members and senior members remain functioning parts of the body, thus building up of the church. I will emphasize this once more. If a person is not a member until they can vote or no longer a member if they can’t vote by reason of separation, then they are indeed in a dangerous position……..For who is there to walk alongside them and encourage them as brothers and sisters in Christ? If they (our children and our loved ones) are captured away by the evil one, may it not be on the part of our neglect, through the systems we have allowed in place, to be the reason for their departure from the Faith, Christ and His Bride.

        The constitution is a document designed to express the belief system and to be an object or reference for the stability of and for an organization, so that it can continue or complete it’s mission. Amendments can be made to clarify or make improvements.

        Church,

        Most people get up in the morning and go through a ritual of putting on cloths. Some call this “getting dressed”. We do this to be found acceptable and inviting when we go about our days. In my regular reading of scripture there are two to three passages that talk of a type of “Spiritual Dressing”. How we are to cloth ourselves spiritually if you will. Collosians is a wonderful book in the Bible for the Church.

        Let’s look together at a portion of Colossians Chapter 3

        Colossians 3: Starting in verse 12….””12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

        Please note what the Apostle Paul includes for us in this passage about our attitudes, our connections with others, our feelings to be peaceful and how we are to communicate with each other.

        Now, go back to verse 14. See the three words, “put on love”? Centered in the activities of our lives and the interactions with others, we are to actively “dress” ourselves with love.

        Brothers and Sisters,

        I remember a Pastor friend of mime preaching once how, “Love many times is messy.” Folks, it does takes more time. Love takes a conscious effort to include it into our motives and activities. But it is Beautiful and shows the character of God. The tail end of verse 8 in I John Chapter 4 tells us, ”…God is Love.”

        Out of concern for the well being of the local church, along with my own spiritual needs, I have taken considerable time to compose this message for you. I hope that the words, thoughts, concerns and suggestions will be a means to encourage and build up our Local Church. I love you and care that we be unified and that the Glory of God is expressed in a manner so “The Bride of Christ” honors our Lord Jesus and displays His love to the world. By this, be reminded to actively exercise love.

        VOTING FOR THE LESSER OF TWO EVILS–CAN A BAD PHRASE STEAL THE ELECTION?

        “Most people have heard the phrase. But does it spill from my lips?”

        “What stirs within me at the very thought? Disgust? Pain? A going against my conscious or religious beliefs? Sadness? Frustration? Anger?”

        These very feelings cause many people to forfeit their voice at election time. They loose their choices because they reject a person. Could we be promoting the theft of someone’s vote by sharing this phrase?

        Is there still hope for the election process? I think so. It’s time for a new understanding. A different point of view. A perspective that makes sense.

        Will the right words spoken stop the “Vote Thief” in it’s tracks?

        Everyone knows that a vote is an expression of your choice……your opinion on display …….but the weight it carries, can possibly bring about the change you want.

        You know how the importance of “having a choice” has been instilled in our personal philosophies? For women it was called “Freedom of Choice”, promoted years ago by the media. This resonates with most people because they care about those things that affect their personal lives.

        Whether politics or personal matters, if you have a choice about the things that affect you directly, you want to express your input.

        For example, Dr. George tells your mom that you have cancer. The treatment he recommends means an operation, radiation and chemo treatments. 76% are likely to recover and the cancer stays in remission.

        “There has got to be a better way”, you think. So, you ask mom to seek out a second opinion.

        Dr. Schylur reviews your case and tells her about another option. Only 5% of the cases survive. But in two days you’ll feel your old self again and you can live your remaining time to the fullest.

        Now your mom has a choice: Vote for Dr George or Vote for Dr. Schylur . No! She’s not choosing one or the other…..Hey Wait! You have a voice in the matter too, don’t you? Of course you have input…..Your voice shares your vote. Based on your vote, along with her’s, a decision will be made.

        You may like one doctor more than the other but what are the votes choosing? Hopefully , it’s going with the long term health, even if in the short term you have to be very sick. The overall and long term effect of your decision is what really matters. In the end who cares if one doctor is overbearing and abrasive or that the other one has the best bedside manners ever…….The choice to live as you desire is what will be your overriding vote.

        So today, in America, many would have us quit thinking and focus on the elected person. Not even consider the standards, policies and overall health of the country that can remain intact or be uprooted and altered if they are elected.

        This is the evil twist conjured up the phrase, “Voting for the lesser of two evils”…… taking a situation and making people, who have the right and responsibility to vote regarding the direction of proper living and good social practices, and making them feel guilty because the person that best represents their ideals is less than perfect and might even be quite repulsive.

        A vote in our type of government matters less about style of the person and more about where their leadership will take us.

        Look beyond that elected official and consider what the future holds. Consider their accomplishments ….not just the ideals they speak. Do they and the people they promote keep their word? Do they have a record of getting things done or is their record that of “promise, after promise, after promise”?

        Thing about this,—-for those who believe in a Good God, “Unless you can also vote for God, you will always be voting for the lesser of two evils. ”

        Let’s throw that thinking and phrase away!

        GET RID OF THE GUILT AND VOTE!

        We do not have to feel guilty because the person we are voting for is not like us in every aspect. Ask. Will a vote for this person, if they win, bring us closer to good ideals we believe in or further away?

        The outcome is what you are voting on. Voting can be but does not have to be an endorsement of the candidate. You can dislike the person you are voting for but for the overall good of the country, feel proud to make your choice heard with that person’s name

        Someday, we may hear, “Vote….For your life depends on it!”

        The Names on the ballot are equal to the Yeses or Noes in the life you want. Whose names will you say “Yes” with this year?

        .

        Doing Business Normal….Not Weird

        You know those feelings you get when you start a new venture and things are different?  There’s excitement and nervousness all balled into one.  That’s normal and I get it.

        However. there’s a number of businesses out there that go way beyond leaving those feelings and force someone like me into becoming “one of those guys.” 

        You know the type  The Man with an Agenda and you’re the target…. I mean…..Somehow I have got the job now to convince you to my way of thinking and join my venture….. because there’s nothing like it.  If you don’t agree with me, I’m supposed to say, “Next!”

        Yuk!  I don’t like it.  I don’t mind lists but now I feel like I have to force myself to make one, with the express purpose of getting you to say yes or no……You know? To partner or move on.

        Something about this process just seems to give me the willies and I’ve gotten so uncomfortable with the whole approach that I just stop doing it. Have I quit? Mentally no, but if you judged me by me activity it would sure look that way.

        I WANT “NORMAL!”   NO, I don’t want to stay the same but I do want to grow better in many areas of my life.

        The benefits of these businesses are great and the residual potential is highly possible. The ones with influence do it really well. I want what they are achieving but I am not a man of influence……at least not yet.

        So, how do I conduct business in a normal fashion that makes a win win for those I share my business with and me, to create the position of freedom in my life that I so long to have?

        Should I stop here and let us both wonder if that is even possible or should I share my thoughts?

        What Does God Want From Me? A lesson From Nicaragua

        HPIM5243

        The Church—-An open structure with a new foundation laid for an enclosed place of Worship.

        All of our lives are built on a foundation.  The question that must be asked is, “Is my foundation that I’ve built upon, one of truth or one which will deteriorate over time?”

        The foundation for the Church we build in Los Hernandez, Nicaragua was in place before we arrived and began to build the rest.  This is like our lives.  God has already made a firm foundation for us to build upon but He also gives us the choice to do so or not.  Some will choose to build upon things they believe are sufficient.  However, if it is not from God they will suffer loss.  It is so important to accept Jesus as God’s Gift of Salvation.  Jesus is the only foundation that will last and His words are secure.

        Jesus said that those who built upon the words he gave would have a firm foundation so that when the storms come they will remain.  Storms always come.

        KIMG0726

        If they did not build upon His words, then they were doomed to disaster when the storms arrived.

        The foundations built in these locations of Niaragua would typically be build to stand a couple feet above ground level.  This allows the water to not hurt the building when the rains come and flood the plains.

        This is the Church we built for the small community.  The Pastor oversees two churches in the area and travels miles on his bicycle with his wife riding on the cross bar so he can serve his people.  KIMG0841Part of our team went to the town of Tempelon and built a small home for the pastor.  Understand, when I say small we are talking about a structure about 10 X 15 feet.  The chapel was about 20 x 30 feet.

        Being a person who is in construction,this was hard not to build like I wanted to.  It was different to have to do things differently than we would do back in the states.  I learned to respect the “Nicaraguan way” of construction and allowing them to make the choices how their building was to be constructed.  I learned to follow the direction of those in charge.

        So, where is the lesson?  The Lesson is one word.

        Obedience.

        When I set aside “My way” that is Obedience.  This shows humility.  God says that He resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.  Following the direction of those leading the project and doing what was needed gave me the confidence that I was in the center of God’s will.

        I am an analyzer in life.  When approached about “what my purpose is”…..I WANT to answer that.  I want to run after my desires…..BUT what does God want from me?  OBEDIENCE!

        When I Obey I please God.  In Ecclesiastes 12: 13+14  it says,  “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.

        It has been said that the Bible is open up for interpretation but some, things are very clear that interpretation is not needed.  God requires obedience and humility.

        I remember the story of King Saul in the  Book of 1 Samuel 15:22 (NASB)  22 Samuel said,  “Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,  And to heed than the fat of rams.HPIM5256

        Saul was given specific instructions and he chose to go against God’s requirement so, he retained what he thought was the best of things he had been instructed to destroy.  I have often done this too.  I go ahead with something that is important to me and yet God does not want me to do it.  I reason that I can just give some of it to Him and He will be pleased.  I have even said, “Sometimes it is easier to ask forgiveness than to ask permission.   But……Does this please God?  Anytime forgiveness is given there has been a sacrifice on someone’s part for it.  I love God for His forgiveness but I don’t need to keep “dipping into the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross” to enjoy it.  Here I learn God shows that Obedience is His plan and desire for my best in life.

        Obedience is a great act of Worship.  KIMG0866KIMG0869When I obey God, I am trusting Him that He knows best.

        Being in Nicaragua with the team (including my wife, Tina) from my church was a great experience but the best part was to learn the importance of Obedience.

         HPIM5378  The Theme verse we had for our Team was Ephesians 6:6,  “ not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.”  (NASB)  We wore it on the sleeve of our shirts but I pray we will wear it continually on our hearts.

        I obeyed by going,  I obeyed in my service.

        I thank God for His way, His Word and the trip to Nicaragua.  God is Good!

        My Path to a better me starts with and leads to God.