A few weeks ago a good friend passed away. Nancy Gauntlett made life beautiful. Her profession was an interior decorator, but her life’s work was creating beauty. Every event Nancy had her hand on was a work of art, the interiors for the homes she designed were gorgeous and she generally just made things look good. As I was sitting through her memorial service I was struck with the thought that she was an active participant in the mission of God. I don’t know that people always see or appreciate beauty as a spiritual way of life. What Nancy did was to take a run down home and renovate it. She would take broken things and fix them. In the process the main thrust of her life seemed to be inviting others into relationship with their creator.
When God said, “Behold, I am making all things new,” I think Nancy got that in a deep way. She exemplified this verse by taking the broken and run down and breathing new life into it. It was more than a job; it was the most natural thing for her to do. I look back at her life in awe of the way that God wired her. I wish I could see potential in things the way Nancy could, the way that God does. Whether she was aware of it or not, the way Nancy looked at an old sofa that deserved to be thrown in the trash is the same way that God looks at us. I would just throw the sofa away, but Nancy would have re-imagined it and given new life to the once broken sofa.
The way she lived illustrated God’s grace, I’m not kidding I broke her jet ski one time and she and her husband Todd just laughed about it. I still owe them a throttle. The kid who should have paid for the Jet Ski part, the sofa that should have seen the trash, have an element of new life because of Nancy.
Will you epitomize the gospel with your life? Will people say, she/he lived and breathed redemption? When all is said and done will others have felt the warmth of God’s grace because of the grace that you have extended to them?
I was at a Dallas Willard lunch and lecture a few days ago. Dallas was signing books afterwards and he asked my name, he though for a few seconds and then he wrote: “For Dave Johnson- Matt 11:11-12, Dallas.” For those of you who have read a little bit of Dr. Willard’s work you know that he is a deep individual. In the moment I was too busy getting my picture taken with Dr. Willard to see what he wrote. So later that day I looked at the book and noticed the way that he signed it. He has a very modest way about him and he writes humbly. The verse he wrote was obscure to me, I couldn’t immediately recall the verse.
This is what it says:
“I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.”
Who has that verse on the tip of their brain?
When you look at this verse in its context, the disciples of John the Baptist came to Jesus and wanted to really make sure that he was the Messiah. Jesus’ answer was that he is the messiah but blessed is the person who doesn’t fall away on account of him. (Only Jesus cited the scriptures to prove that he was the messiah) Then Jesus says this verse that Dr. Willard cited. It is as if Jesus was saying that God’s revolution has been moving forward for some time, people are grasping hold of it and it is moving forward. I wonder if it was a way to comfort and encourage his disciples. A way to say, Just because John the Baptist is going to die, doesn’t mean that the kingdom will die with it. Because the kingdom is advancing, and when you really get a firm grasp of what that means, you will advance it even further.
I love that Dr. Willard cited a Bible verse than needs context in order to understand it. Maybe this is the verse he puts in every book, I don’t know. But I wonder if it is a way for Willard to say, the Kingdom is moving forward, forcefully lay hold of it.
The first sunday of every month is communion at my church. Since I am a pastor there I will often lead in prayer over the elements. We have a group of people who come that we call the oakbank gang. These folks are precious people who are mentally handicapt.
While I was talking about the blood of Christ one of the people from the oakbank gang took his hat off and started waving it in the air. It was weird because he was staring right at me. Then another person from the same crew saw her friend waving her hat. She decided to join in the action and she started the wave.
No one joined in. But how cool would that have been if people started to do the wave in church?
What if someone smuggled in a beach ball and blew it up and started hitting it around mid sermon?
What’s wrong with a little fun in church? There is something about that child like spirit that makes church a little more fun.
One time in 2004 there were some big fires in the San Gabriel Mountains. There was a pastor visiting who used to pastor our church. Durring the prayer time he stood up and said we just need to be praying like children. These fires are out of control, let’s pray for rain.
Les Blank stood there and prayed for rain. Two days later there was such a heavy marine layer that it began to mist and these fires started to go out.
I love the way that kids pray.
They are honest.
I wonder how many times we have convoluted prayer with big words and fancy request, when what you really need is one sentence or one word long.
A second chance.
A new story.
Thanks oakbank gang for doing the wave in church.