Posts Tagged ‘Carpenters for Christ’

Verses 10-12: “And in this I give advice: It is to your advantage not only to be doing what you began and were desiring to do a year ago; but now you also must complete the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to desire it, so there also may be a completion out of what you have. For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have.”

Our Carpenters for Christ mission trips of recent have been able to go home early, as the work was completed early. This year was different, however. We (as the mission group) stayed the full two weeks. True, the majority of the major work was done in the first week, but due to varying circumstances, responsibilities, and reasons, we had members of the team leave early for home. Even members of the host church had to go back to jobs after the first week. During the second week, only a small handful of the team remained, working on touch-up work and framing. By the end of the week, the team was down to about 5 people…but we had finished the mission God had laid before us, and we left feeling like the job was complete.

Paul here is speaking on the sensitive subject of financial giving to support the church. Money can be a touchy subject, but Paul approached it with God-led authority on its importance. That is true of any giving we give to support God’s church. Whether it is money or, in the Carpenters’ case, time and work, we need to finish what we do to the best of our ability and under the direction of the Lord.

Leonardo da Vinci, the famous Italian polymath, was very famous for all his works and inventions. However, “da Vinci was notorious for never finishing his work. His wide range of interests often distracted him and his perfectionism discouraged him from declaring a painting officially finished. Often accused of being a helpless procrastinator, the problem wasn’t that da Vinci wouldn’t start works, it was that he was constantly starting works and neglecting to finish the ones he had already begun. ”

Let it not be said of you, O Christian, that we never finish what the Lord has tasked us to do. We need to try. We might fail to finish, but never let it be from a lack of trying or a lack of determination. When Jesus’s work was done on the cross, remember what He said: “It is finished.” And to echo that, remember what Paul said in Philippians 1:6: “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;” https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Philippians%201%3A6&version=NKJV

Something to think about.


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Verse 9: “For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building.”

The first time our Carpenters for Christ group had heard of the Church of the Brethren, it was on a mission trip to help a COTB church in Erwin, TN. One of the church members was telling us about the history of the church, and said something that struck me interesting. Whereas a lot of us call the building we worship in “the church”, the congregation up there called it “the meeting house”. The church member said it is because the congregation is the church…and he is right.

We may worship in a building, but God’s people are the church. The day after the deadly tornadoes that struck North Alabama some years back, one of our CFC “churches” was worshipping on a slab that was the only thing left of their “meeting house”. But they worshipped and praised God; as I recall, there were even some baptisms that day that had to take place in a church member’s pool!

In Matthew 18:20, Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” Sometimes it’s good to bring a visitor to the meeting house, but if you can’t bring them to the house, take the church to them! The church is to serve God! We are to be God’s tools to deliver the Gospel and to minister and serve others.

I close today with a good quote from our pastor, Bro. M. R. Hamilton: “if you don’t like the lot in your life…build a service station on it!”

Something to think about.

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Mark 6:3 [“]Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?” so they were offended at Him.”

My oldest son is about to embark on his first post-graduate job in his chosen field. Up to now, he had a job at a concrete fabrication plant. It was hard work, but it demonstrated his work ethic and provided a decent paycheck. He knew God had a carpenter’s job for him, though…it was what he wanted to do. He has good gifts for it, and graduated from our local technical school with a degree in it. Now he’ll get to fulfill his love of carpentry. I always told him that, among other benefits, carpentry is one occupation that can’t be “offshored” to a foreign country. Whenever I take that 2 week break to travel with our Carpenters for Christ, even though I’m primarily a videographer, I do pitch in and help where I can. It’s such a sense of fulfillment to see a building rise from an empty foundation, and by the time we leave, a structure for a church body is sitting on that site. You get a great sense of accomplishment.

Jesus is a builder. Of course, in the verse today, the scoffers were referencing the fact that Jesus was a carpenter, having learned the trade from his human father, Joseph, also a carpenter. That is why they couldn’t understand the wisdom and teachings he was preaching. “But, he’s just a carpenter”, they said. No, Jesus is THE Carpenter. He is the Master Builder who can take destroyed lives and fix them. He is in the business of building up, not tearing down.

Have you put your life in the hands of the Carpenter today?

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Verse 51: “But they shook off the dust from their feet, against them, and came to Iconium.”

We recently completed a Carpenters for Christ mission trip to south Alabama. It was a good trip, and like many a trip, it had its share of rewards and challenges. One challenge I will not soon forget was an overabundance of…gnats! Man, from what the locals told us, we were smack in the middle of what is called the Gnat Line. Gnats are drawn to the plethora of chicken houses (and thus the chicken litter used on farms). It was no small feat to have them swarming around your head when you were working outside. Worse yet, if you didn’t close a door behind you, they’d come right behind you into whatever building you were in. I know that several of us, as we left the mission site at the mission’s conclusion, had all our truck windows rolled down so we could be sure those gnats were blown out of our vehicles…we wanted to make sure none of those gnats came north with us! We wanted no part of them!

The Jews stirred up trouble for Paul and Barnabas in the region of Antioch. They didn’t like the fact that the two delivered the Good News to the Gentiles also, and were determined to “run them out of town”. Following Jesus’s own instructions in Luke 10:11, they symbolically “shook the dust from their feet” as they departed. a footnote in my Bible states that historically, this is seen as a sign of judgment on the area that persecuted them for the Message. I’m sort of reminded of the gnats above; Paul and Barnabas, I believe, were figuratively saying, “we don’t even want the dust of your town on us as we leave!”

Be careful how you treat the Good News and the messengers who deliver it…you don’t want to be seen as a gnat, now, do you?

Something to think about.

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Verses 29-31: “Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go near and overtake this chariot.” So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him.”

A few years ago, we were on a Carpenters mission trip to help a church in Dublin, GA, put up a new sanctuary. The church was predominantly African-American; I only mention this due to what God called me to share on this particular trip. I gave the devotional sermon on Carpenter Sunday, and God pointed me to this Scripture and led me to share some thoughts that I wasn’t sure how they were going to be received! As a “fleece” to verify God’s leading, I consulted with the pastor, Bro. Carlos, about what God was leading me to say. He gave me a reassuring smile and said, “I’ll back you all the way, brother.” So I shared this passage and shared some “comments” that might be said today in the same situation by those of less faith, juxtaposed to those statements from the passage. It went something like this:

“Now, did Philip say, “ But God, he’s a government official…I’m not sure I should approach him.” “Go near and overtake this chariot.”
“But God, he’s an educated man, I’m not…will he listen to me?” “Go near and overtake this chariot.”
“But God, he’s black.” What do you think God said? “Go near and overtake this chariot.”

Philip said none of these things; he followed God’s will and joined a man he didn’t know.

By the way, did that Ethiopian eunuch say, “Am I going to let this white stranger in my chariot?” No, he said, “How can I [understand], unless someone guides me?”

Jesus came to die and rise again for ALL men! His gift of salvation is for everyone!”

By the way, that message I was nervous about sharing? It was greeted by “Amen!”, from church members and Carpenters alike.

Jesus wants us to go in His name…He’ll do the rest!

Something to think about.

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Verses 32-35: “Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.”

The wonderful thing about our Carpenters for Christ group working with the Kansas church to build a new structure is the spirit of cooperation and sharing. Within the Carpenters ourselves, we share and take care of our tools, whether it’s a Carpenter tool or someone’s personal tool. The members of the church were eager to help in ways that we needed. Six of the ladies did our laundry, using their own homes. Snacks and drinks were provided. There was always a nurse present on duty, in case we needed her services (and we did at times!) Some of these, of course, were requests on the CFC’s part, but the church seemed to go above and beyond this. There was the first Sunday, when a man from the congregation volunteered to pay each of our bills at a local buffet restaurant; that was a pleasant surprise. It just seemed like everyone came together for the good of the body.

This is what the early church did. They took care of their own; they contributed to the common needs of the flock. God blessed their efforts. That’s also what churches today need to do. If you have a talent or skill, or simply a possession like a car, use it to glorify God. Use it in His service. Like we pray during these mission trips, we are all just tools in God’s Hands…and there is no better feeling than when God uses you to help others.

Have a blessed day in the Lord!

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Verse 29: “Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word,”

We just recently came back from a Carpenters for Christ mission trip to Salina, KS. We helped a church erect a new sanctuary building since they have outgrown the space they are now using (a donated trailer). As I interviewed church members for our documentary video, I was struck by their passion for the lost in the area where they are building their new sanctuary. God has been removing barriers that the devil has thrown up, and the fields are ripe with harvest. These folk seem always ready to take action, whether it’s to visit someone in need or even just pray over someone. I had a gout flare-up one morning during the mission; no sooner had I told one of the ladies who was serving us refreshments about it, that she stopped what she was doing and prayed over me. I was moved, touched, and humbled.

Peter, John, and the followers were praying for that same boldness. They, too, were in a field ripe for harvest. Despite the run-in with the religious authorities and the prospect of more trouble from them, they prayed to God for deliverance and for the boldness they knew they would need to spread the Good News. We should all read that passage in Acts; we should all be moved, touched, and humbled.

Something to think about today.

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Verses 8-12: “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone. Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

A fellow Carpenter for Christ told our group this story once, about how he was building a small rustic building on his property in his spare time. One day he went to put the door frame on the building and went to choose the sturdy beam that would be the main door post. He had several milled posts to choose from; among them was a sturdy post, but it had some knots in it, so he rejected it. He later found what he thought would be the perfect selection— straight, clean, and aesthetically pleasing. He ran out of time for that day, so he placed that post to the side to work on it later. He was delayed returning to the building work by some rain that came into the area. By the time he could get back to the construction, he discovered that this “perfect” post had warped in the rain and the sunshine which followed the storm. No longer good and straight, he couldn’t use it. He searched through the other planks of wood, but they, too, had warped and twisted in the elements. Finally, he came back to the rejected, knotty post. To his amazement, he discovered it was still just as firm and straight—it had not warped under the pressure of the elements. Turned out it made the perfect corner post for his door after all.

Isn’t that just what Peter was telling the elders and rulers who had brought John and him before them? The source of the miracle of the healing of the lame man was none other than Jesus Christ, who those leaders had rejected. What’s more, Peter went on to inform them that this Savior who the leaders had rejected was not just the Source of the healing, but the very foundation, the very anchor, the very cornerstone of the church…and that there was no other Source of salvation but Him! Oh, they could pick someone else, but they’d be wrong. What better message to share during these days leading up to the celebration of His resurrection.

Happy Easter! He is risen!

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Verses 19-20: “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before,”

Ever been just slap worn out? That you are spent physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually? I remember times on Carpenters’ mission trips, when we’ve had an especially hard day (real hot and humid, work being more difficult). Even though we got stuff accomplished, everyone was just dragging and tired. Most of the time, all it took was to go back to where we were staying, grab a good hot shower, eat a good supper and hear a good devotion, and get a good night’s sleep, and we’d be ready to get up before sunrise on the next day, ready to continue the Lord’s work on the job site. God knows we need refreshing from doing our daily work.

Peter knew the crowd needed to be reminded of that news as well. Also, that they needed to repent and accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. He reiterated that they need to be pray for God to send Jesus again; this is reference to the prophecy of His second coming, which many a believer remembers and clings to for hope in those days when you feel worn down.

“Even so, come, Lord Jesus, come!”

Something to think about.

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1 Peter 4:11: “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

As we were finishing our next-to-last Christmas cantata practice tonight at church, the young lady who is in charge of the drama portions (she teaches drama at the high school) reminded us to be careful not to claim credit for ourselves if all goes well in practice…it’s better if there are things to work on, because we then turn that over to God in prayer to help us come the performance time.

She was right. We tend to forget to thank God for all He does for us. When we speak in His name, or do works in His name, we should rely on the God-given gifts He has bestowed upon us. It is God who should get the glory, not us. In our Carpenters for Christ mission trips, we see His mighty hand throughout the building process. It’s when we look back at the end of the trip, and see what God got done through us, that we are grateful to be tools in His hands. To claim the glory ourselves selfishly and sinfully results in the Tower of Babel syndrome. Look up that story in the Old Testament and refresh your memory with how that turned out!

Something to think about.

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