As I sit here today, I cannot get away from a simple statement made by my daughter Keila: ‘Dad, I finally figured out why people have rough edges, so we can fit the pieces together”
Got to thinking about all the people I know that have rough edges, and how well we get along as we do life and serve Jesus together.
Today, I want to honor one of them in this blog, someone who has become a brother in battle, one of the few I honestly call friend.
His name is Harry Hayes. In the eyes of many, he is simply a crotchety old veteran, got a few aches and pains along life’s rough road, had to put in the hospital couple weeks back, when he blacked out in men’s prayer. Sometimes he gets angry, frustrated with the pain, and the new-fangled technology generation that has neat toys that he does not yet fully know how to use. Yet, don’t be fooled by the outward appearance of this humble 74 year old man, Harry is a warrior. He’s the real deal.
He served 23 years in the United States army, a combat veteran doing tours of duty in Viet Nam, Germany, Desert Storm, to name a few battle grounds. Places where they had to ‘stack bodies like cordwood.’ Where fear tried to clutch lives as surely as bullets on night watches on enemy lines….
Yet, Harry loves Jesus. He knows Him, and serves Him, and my Jesus has seen this warrior through the trials of life faithfully, protecting and delivering him from certain death many, many times.
Couple years back, Harry and I were eating breakfast after the death of Joanne, his wife and love of 30 years.
He asked me what to do, Joanne and he did everything together, going to prisons to visit inmates, teaching Sunday school for 15 years, travelling and going to church together, so our lives were about to become inextricatly intertwined.
I said to him, ‘Harry, the way I see it, you only have two choices. You can go home, and get yourself a rocking chair on the porch, and wait for death to come get you, and Jesus to take you home, or, in a couple of months, you need to get in the back of the van, and we need to go to Mexico for Christmas, and do something for Jesus with a friend of mine, Daniel King. You seek Harry, missions are the heart of God, and Daniel is organizing a missions trip to make Christmas happen for a bunch of children in Juarez, that because of the atrocities of the drug cartel, are not going to have one.’
The rest is history. On Christmas day of 2012, we hit the road at 4AM in a brutal snowstorm, and drove to El Paso, Texas.
That Christmas, 17 of us got to serve with Daniel and Jessica, handing out 1300 Teddy Bears to children, candy canes, and 2 tons of beans and rice to their moms. One afternoon as 700 children gathered to hear about Jesus, sing Christmas carols, and receive gifts, we all found purpose in living for Jesus, that there is joy in the battle, when we love those who could never pay us back…
Now, 2 years later, Harry has been on five trips with our family, and he is now ‘uncle’ Harry in our house. This gruff old man, has proven to be a warrior, born for battle, one you want in the hard places of life. As we have slept on church floors, and done some long, exhausting stretches of highway, he never complains, but worships Jesus as we go, as God takes us, the weak and the foolish things of this world, to confound the wise, and great, great exploits have been wrought for the kingdom of God.
I have learned these verses to be true….
5 [Come] and, like living stones, be yourselves built [into] a spiritual house, for a holy (dedicated, consecrated) priesthood, to offer up [those] spiritual sacrifices [that are] acceptable and pleasing to God through Jesus Christ.
4-8 Welcome to the living Stone, the source of life. The workmen took one look and threw it out; God set it in the place of honor. Present yourselves as building stones for the construction of a sanctuary vibrant with life, in which you’ll serve as holy priests offering Christ-approved lives up to God. The Scriptures provide precedent:
Look! I’m setting a stone in Zion, a cornerstone in the place of honor. Whoever trusts in this stone as a foundation will never have cause to regret it.
To you who trust him, he’s a Stone to be proud of, but to those who refuse to trust him,
The stone the workmen threw out is now the chief foundation stone.
For the untrusting it’s . . . a stone to trip over, a boulder blocking the way.
They trip and fall because they refuse to obey, just as predicted
That stones with rough edges can be carefully fit together by the hand of a master craftsman named Jesus, and that He Himself raises us up, master builders in Him, to apply morter, to knock off rough edges, and to carefully fit His people together, to form something greater than any one of us individually, could ever become, the church of the living God!
18 And I tell you, you are Peter [Greek, Petros—a large piece of rock], and on this rock [Greek, petra—a huge rock like Gibraltar] I will build My church, and the gates of Hades (the powers of the infernal region) shall not overpower it [or be strong to its detriment or hold out against it].
17-18 Jesus came back, “God bless you, Simon, son of Jonah! You didn’t get that answer out of books or from teachers. My Father in heaven, God himself, let you in on this secret of who I really am. And now I’m going to tell you who you are, really are. You are Peter, a rock. This is the rock on which I will put together my church, a church so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out.
Jesus is building His church, and as I read this article by C.H. Spurgeon today, I am encouraged!
“Then should our souls in Zion dwell, Nor fear the rage of Rome or hell.”
The church is not in danger, and she never can be. Let her enemies come on, she can resist. Her passive majesty, her silent rocky strength, bids them defiance now. Let them come on and break themselves in pieces, let them dash themselves against her, and learn the ready road to their own destruction. She is safe, and she must be safe even unto the end. Thus much then we can say of the structure; it is built by infinite wisdom, and it is impregnably secure. (http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0267.htm)”
We are living stones! Born-again in Him! Alive with the life of God! Church will never be about buildings, bricks and mortar, rather about the incredible work of Jesus building our lives, our relationships, strong in Him, together with His Body.
“There are too many churches that are nothing but a mass of dull, dead formality; there is no life of God there. You might go to worship with such a people, day after day, and your heart would never beat more quickly, your blood would never leap in its veins, your soul would never be refreshed, for it is an empty house. Fair may be the architecture of the structure, but empty is its storehouse, there is no table spread, there is no rejoicing, no killing of the fatted calf, no dancing, no singing for joy. Beloved, let us take heed, lest our churches become the same, lest we be combinations of men without spiritual life, and consequently houses uninhabited, because God is not there. But a true church, that is visited by the Spirit of God, where conversion, instruction, devotion, and the like, are carried on by the Spirit’s own living influences—such a church has God for its inhabitant.”
God in the midst of us is mighty, and truly the sum of the total far surpasses the combined sum of all the parts, because the infinite Creator of the universe lives within us!”
“Now, God calls the church his habitation—his home. See him abroad; he is hurling the thunderbolt and lifting up his voice upon the waters. Hearken to him; his voice breaks the cedars of Lebanon and makes the hinds to calve. See him when he makes war, riding the chariot of his might, he drives the rebellious angels over the battlements of heaven down to the depth of hell. Behold him as he lifteth himself in the majesty of his strength! Who is this that is glorious? It is God, most high and terrible. But see he lays aside his glittering sword; his spear he bears no longer. He cometh back to his home. His children are about him. He taketh his solace and his rest. Yes, think not I venture too far—he shall rest in his lover and he doth do it. He resteth in his church. He is no longer a consuming fire, a terror, and a flame. Now, is he love and kindness and sweetness, ready to hear the prattle of his children’s prayer, and the disjointed notes of his children’s song. Oh how beautiful is the picture of the church as God’s house, the place in which he takes his solace! “For the Lord hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation. This is my rest for ever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it.”
Why those wars and tempests, and then again this stillness and calm? It is for his church. Not an angel divides the ether who hath not a mission for the church…
The storehouses of God are for his church. The depths beneath of hidden treasure, of God’s unutterable riches—all these are for his people. There is nothing which he hath from his blazing crown to the darkness that is beneath his throne, that is not for his redeemed.
You are being built, and you’re a temple of the living God!
20 You are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus Himself the chief Cornerstone
Used to hear the joke doing ministry among First Nations people that we could follow Jesus, because He is the great chief of all the tribes, ‘Chief Cornerstone’, chief of all chief’s! Yet, this saying is true, He is the head of the church, commander in chief of heaven and earth, for all authority in heaven and earth has been given to Him, when He rose victoriously from the dead, awarded the keys to death and hell, having ascended to the right hand of the throne of God, watching while we make His enemies, His footstool.
19-22 That’s plain enough, isn’t it? You’re no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home
Yes, we go to church, but it is what we are becoming at the feet of Jesus that is greater, and of eternal worth.
So, my counsel to you is simple: Go to Church, Be the Church, Be part of seeing the gates of hell fall before us in this generation – Grow the church.
‘Father, fit me into Your church, Your body, where I am supposed to be. Knock off my rough edges, pour your mortar over and around me, and set me in my place, impregnable against the storms of life, machinations of devils, and plots of wicked men. I ask this, knowing I am heard, for I ask in Your name Lord Jesus, Amen!’
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Give in faith!
1 Corinthians 9:11 If we have sown [the seed of] spiritual good among you, [is it too] much if we reap from your material benefits?
1 Corinthians 9:14 [On the same principle] the Lord directed that those who publish the good news (the Gospel) should live (get their maintenance) by the Gospel.
Paul goes on to say, that he did not use his position as a minister of the gospel to take up offerings, rather he worked, making tents, to support himself. You might notice here, that Paul was not married, nor did he have children. Family responsibilities take time, and just as you bust a move on your job to provide for your family, I work every bit as hard, doing this, faithful to the Lord in prayer and the ministry of His Word, to you.
I will never charge for this: it my responsibility to God, my calling. Freely I have been given, now, I freely give…
As you give, hear Holy Spirit what to give, and honestly expect God to reward you for your giving. I know I am in aggressive prayer for you and your family, daily!
Matt 10: 41 He who receives and welcomes and accepts a prophet because he is a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward, and he who receives and welcomes and accepts a righteous man because he is a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. 42 And whoever gives to one of these little ones [in rank or influence] even a cup of cold water because he is My disciple, surely I declare to you, he shall not lose his reward.
I have ‘see through’ faith for you, in this: Gal 3: 9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.
I believe I have a responsibility before God to be like Jesus, in every offering I receive. I receive it with thanksgiving, just like Jesus did the little boys lunch.
Then, because I walk and live by faith according to the blessing of Abraham, I believe that God will take your seed sown, and multiply it, according to what the blessing of Abraham promises:
Genesis 22:17 In blessing I will bless you and in multiplying I will multiply your descendants like the stars of the heavens and like the sand on the seashore. And your Seed (Heir) will possess the gate of His enemies
It has been a joy to me, to see the hand of the living God act in the lives of those of you who have supported us this year!
Many have seen tremendous blessing come into your households, and for this we give thanks, and give Jesus all the glory!