Sunset through the apricot trees - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Sometimes darkness clings

If you’ve followed Christ for any amount of time, you have probably encountered some aspects of spiritual warfare. As children of God, we have an enemy who hates us and wants to cause us pain, who wants to make us walk away from the plans God has for our lives. And there are times when we are more open and vulnerable to attack, but in those times God shows His strength through us, kind of like what I blogged about yesterday.

And while it is quite exciting to think that we have access to that kind of strength, we need to remember beyond anything else that we can’t beat the darkness by ourselves.

Sunset through the apricot trees - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Sunset through the apricot trees – Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Romans 13:12.

The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living.

This is one of my favorite verses in Scripture. It doesn’t sound as dashing in the New Living Translation as it does in the New King James, honestly; the New King James makes it sound epic … like something out of Lord of the Rings. But this is probably more practical in actually understanding what Paul is talking about.

But even this translation is full of metaphor. Removing our dark deeds like dirty clothes? Putting on an armor? Sorry. I don’t think I have one of those lying around. If I did, I think I’d know about it, no matter how dirty my house might be.

So what on Earth is Paul saying? For the most practical explanation, though, I think the Message says it clearest:

Romans 13:11-14 (The Message)

But make sure that you don’t get so absorbed and exhausted in taking care of all your day-by-day obligations that you lose track of the time and doze off, oblivious to God. The night is about over, dawn is about to break. Be up and awake to what God is doing! God is putting the finishing touches on the salvation work he began when we first believed. We can’t afford to waste a minute, must not squander these precious daylight hours in frivolity and indulgence, in sleeping around and dissipation, in bickering and grabbing everything in sight. Get out of bed and get dressed! Don’t loiter and linger, waiting until the very last minute. Dress yourselves in Christ, and be up and about!

Here’s the deal, Christians. We don’t have a lot of time left. God has been patient for a very long time and has extended chance after chance for the world to turn to Him. Even America. We have had countless chances to give up our futile pursuits of personal pleasure and self-entitlement. God’s patience will wear out soon.

But remember, Romans is written to Christians. Paul is talking to believers in this passage. Christians, we need to wake up. We need to pay attention to what God is doing around us. And we need to get rid of the darkness in our lives, no matter what form it takes. If it’s negativity, get rid of it. If it’s complaining or griping, get rid of it. If it’s impure thinking (the full range from sex to gossip), get rid of it.

Like every other morning, I’m talking to myself. I struggle when I’m exhausted. I can get easily discouraged by the darkness I see all around me, by people who should know better, by people who don’t know better, and by people who don’t care either way. And sometimes it feels like the darkness of our world is like a sticky black tar that clings to us, and nothing we do can get it to release us.

That’s where the metaphor comes in. I don’t have an armor lying around my house, but God has given me a metaphorical armor when He sent His Holy Spirit to live in me. When the darkness in this world gets to be too much, remember that we’re not fighting this battle alone. Stop focusing on the ground you’re losing and focus on the truth – God’s already won and you don’t have to give in to the darkness. If you’re a Christian, you’re already wearing an armor of light; you just may not be using it.

So … use it.

We don’t have any light in us without Christ. So how can we push the darkness back without Him? We can’t. So why are we trying? Why are we throwing Bible verses at people when our lives don’t match what Scripture says? Why are we doing good works when our hearts aren’t motivated by our faith?  Why are we trying to make a difference in the world on our own? It doesn’t work.

Stop trying to fight the darkness in your own strength. You will lose. And when you accept that, you can accept help. That’s how you use your armor of light. You ask God for help.

God gives us strength, not just to endure, not just to keep going, but to live and to live right. We don’t have to be negative. We don’t have to be discouraged. We don’t have to complain or gripe. We don’t have to subsist on impure thoughts and gossip and whatever else slows us down. God’s Spirit — our Armor — gives us the strength and the power to stand up against all that.

When the darkness clings to you, remember you have an armor of light. So start using it. And pay attention. Stop wasting time chasing things that don’t matter; stop wasting time focusing on what you don’t have or what you don’t know or what you can’t control. Plug in. Get busy. There’s lots to do and not much time left to do it, and it doesn’t matter where you are because the workers are few and there’s a lot of field to harvest.

So if you don’t have an armor, get one. And if you’ve got one, start using it before it’s too late.

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Lion at the Sedgwick County Zoo - Wichita, KS

God gives His people strength

Tired yet? It’s only Tuesday, and my feet are already dragging.  Judgement House, the outreach drama my church puts on every October, is an amazing ministry. There is no other ministry I love being a part of more; however, I can tell you there’s no other ministry that exhausts me more.

We finished on Sunday, and now I’m trying to remember how to live a normal life again, without spending every waking moment ensuring that tour groups have a guide to lead them every ten minutes.

Like so many other people who volunteer for Judgement House, I work a full-time job. And it’s not just a job; it’s a very stressful job. I love it, and I’m thankful for it. But it’s fast paced, high tension, and 100 percent necessary to be able to think on my toes. All of the above are difficult when I’m physically, mentally, and emotionally worn out.

So where do I get the strength to make it through the week? How can I get the strength I need to do not only what is necessary but also what God expects of me? How do I accomplish that, and how do I stop worrying about it?

Lion at the Sedgwick County Zoo - Wichita, KS

Lion at the Sedgwick County Zoo – Wichita, KS

Today’s verse is Psalm 29:11.

The Lord gives his people strength.
    The Lord blesses them with peace.

I love the Bible. Seriously, any question you have, it has an answer. Like this. Where do you get strength? Ask God.

God strengthens His people.

Think about that. If you follow Christ, you are one of God’s people. And God will give his people strength when they need it.

I will admit: I almost didn’t use this verse today. Why? Well, it’s obvious. Isn’t it? Of course, we get our strength from God. Of course, God gives us peace. Where else would we get it from? Granted, we can look for it elsewhere, but we won’t find it. And if you’ve been following Christ for any amount of time, you’ll know that nothing else satisfies like He does.

Honestly, this verse didn’t grab me until I read the whole Psalm. Yes, God gives his people strength. But what does that mean? How can we wrap our minds around the kind of strength that God is offering to us? That’s what the rest of the Psalm is about. This is a wonderful verse, but it’s impossible to grasp the immensity of this promise until you read the rest of it.

Psalm 29

Honor the Lord, you heavenly beings;
honor the Lord for his glory and strength.
Honor the Lord for the glory of his name.
Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.

The voice of the Lord echoes above the sea.
The God of glory thunders.
The Lord thunders over the mighty sea.
The voice of the Lord is powerful;
the voice of the Lord is majestic.
The voice of the Lord splits the mighty cedars;
the Lord shatters the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes Lebanon’s mountains skip like a calf;
he makes Mount Hermon leap like a young wild ox.
The voice of the Lord strikes
with bolts of lightning.
The voice of the Lord makes the barren wilderness quake;
the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
The voice of the Lord twists mighty oaks
and strips the forests bare.
In his Temple everyone shouts, “Glory!”

The Lord rules over the floodwaters.
The Lord reigns as king forever.
The Lord gives his people strength.
The Lord blesses them with peace.

Do you see? Do you get it? God’s voice alone can split the sky, tear massive trees apart, and cause mighty mountains to tremble. Literally. That’s just His voice.  Imagine what the rest of Him can do. And He offers that strength to us.

So if you’re tired today, whether you volunteered at NewSpring’s Judgement House or not, know that it’s all right to be tired. We’re all human. We all run out of steam. But we don’t have to stay exhausted. God is standing by waiting for us to ask for His help.

God has offered His strength to us. And I, for one, intend to take Him up on it. Because coffee, though wonderful, can only accomplish so much. To get through a day when I’m tired to my soul, I need strength that doesn’t come from me. And thanks to Jesus, all I have to do to get it is ask for it.

Iris at Glen Eyrie - Colorado Springs, CO

Miracles

What is a miracle? People always talk about wanting to see miracles, or that they’ve seen miracles in certain places. But what are they? How do you define a miracle? Is it something impossible that happens? Or is it just a truly unlikely situation that comes to pass?

I will admit, I probably use the term too loosely. Kind of like awesome. But when I get excited about things, I like to identify them for how they make me feel. And awesome always seems to fit. Just like miraculous seems to fit the things that happen that I don’t expect.

But what is a miracle exactly?

According to Dictionary.com, a miracle is “an effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause.”

Which is basically a fancy way to say that it’s something only God could do. By that definition, how frequently do you identify something as a miracle when it’s really just something you brought to pass?

But on the other side of that coin, we have to remember that there are many things that happen in our world that only God can accomplish. He hung the stars in place. He holds the universe together. He can change a person’s heart.

Iris at Glen Eyrie - Colorado Springs, CO

Iris at Glen Eyrie – Colorado Springs, CO

Today’s verse is John 14:12.

“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.”

When Jesus walked the Earth, He did miracles. He helped the blind to see. He helped the deaf to hear. He helped the lame walk. But more than that, He extended a free offer of salvation to every person in the world — not just Jews but everyone. Jesus did miracles.

When He was addressing the disciples, Jesus said what is in today’s verse, and even now it still shocks me. I mean, think about it. Us. Doing the same miracles that Jesus did? That’s ridiculous. Because I don’t know about you, but I’ve never spit in the dirt and rubbed it on some poor blind guys’ face, only to have him be healed.

Jesus did that. I can’t.

So how can Jesus tell us that we will do greater things than He ever could have? Where is the truth in that statement? Jesus is God. How could we accomplish something greater than He?

Look at the verse again.

“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.”

It’s not that we will do greater things than Jesus because we’re so impressive. The truth is that the only reason we can do anything great is because God does it through us. Anyone who believes in Christ will do the same works that He did — and greater.

It’s not about doing miracles. It’s about believing that God can do them, that the impossible becomes possible with God.

One of the most amazing miracles God can do is to change someone’s heart. There’s nothing like it. And you know what? It happens more often than you might think.

So if you are ever tempted to complain that you’ve never seen a miracle before, maybe you ought to ask God to show you one. Because I’d bet there are more happening under your nose than you think — and they’re being done by people who just want to better themselves and their families. And you’ll find that the people who experience the most miracles are the ones who get out of the way and let God do the work instead of trying to control Him.

Glen Eyrie Castle - Colorado Springs, CO

God is a God who finishes

If you know anyone who writes or who fancies themselves a writer, you will know that one of the hallmarks of either is that they have a hard time finishing their stories. To write a story is a marvelous thing. To build a universe inside your head, to craft characters who are like real people to you, to weave a complicated plot line–all of that takes time and effort. A lot of time and effort, mixed with concentration, dedication and much gnashing of teeth.

Writing is frustrating. And I’m not even talking about the publishing process. Just the act of writing is difficult, and it takes a lot of sacrifice to finish a manuscript. Even if writer starts a new book, you don’t really know if they’ll finish it.

Fortunately for us, God is the kind of author who always finishes what He starts; it just might not happen when we think it will.

Glen Eyrie Castle - Colorado Springs, CO

Glen Eyrie Castle – Colorado Springs, CO

Today’s verse is Philippians 1:6.

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

I like to finish things. It doesn’t matter what I’m working on; finishing projects makes me feel accomplished. Maybe it’s my performance-based mentality, but that’s just the way I am.

The trouble with finishing is that it takes a lot out of you. And that’s just finishing, not finishing strong. Finishing strong? That’s something else entirely.

Paul, who wrote most of the New Testament, including Philippians, was an athlete. He loved sports, or if he didn’t, he just talked about them all the time. But one of the most common sports Paul talks about is racing.

I don’t run. My office puts on a Fun Run every year; I don’t think those two words should ever go opposite each other. The only time I run is when there’s a skunk in my yard, and that has nothing to do with fun.

But many people do like to run. If you’re one of them, good for you. And I’ve watched enough Olympic track sports to know that the quick, fast speed of the sprinters is impressive but what really requires the discipline and endurance of a champion is the long races. The 1,000 meter races. The marathons.

Those little sprinters who can run flat out and set ridiculous records are awesome. But have you seen someone in a 1,000 meter race cross the finish line without difficulty? Have you seen someone running a marathon cross the finish line and not be tired?

Maybe it’s happened. I haven’t seen it. Run for any great distance, and you’re going to get tired. And you’ll be tempted to quit. I mean, why not? It’s only a race. Right?

But that’s not the case at all. Anyone who runs competitively knows that there’s more to racing than just “the race.” It’s the thrill. It’s the challenge. It’s the title and the medal and the recognition. It’s the achievement. Even people who don’t race competitively but who still participate in marathons look at it like something to be accomplished. Even if they don’t win medals or endorsement contracts, they want to finish … because it means they’ve finished.

Finishing matters. Anything else is giving up.

People give up all the time. We drop the ball. We walk away from opportunities. We stall out just in sight of the finish line. That’s people. But God isn’t people. God is God. And He always finishes what He starts.

He has started something awesome in all of us. Each of us is a masterpiece He’s painting, a beautiful symphony He’s composing, a complicated novel He’s weaving, a design He’s engineering. Whatever the metaphor, God is working on us. He’s perfecting us every day.

God wants to finish strong in our lives. On the day He brings us home, whether it be by death or by rapture, can we say that we let Him? Yes, God will do what He wants to do; that’s part of being God. But He never forces anything on any of us. We can choose to let Him work in our lives. But we have to choose it.

Don’t kid yourself, though. Letting God work in your life can hurt. He has to strip away the parts of us that aren’t like Him. He has to put us through difficult circumstances so that we let go of whatever we’re holding on to that is slowing us down. He has to remind us that this life isn’t all there is. But through it all, He’s there. He never leaves us. And even when it doesn’t feel like He’s working, you can trust that He is because God is a God who finishes.

So let Him do His thing. But don’t be surprised if your life blows up. And don’t give up when it does. Just hold on to the promise that He never abandons us and remember that He’s writing a story of His own, and He has some editing to do. And if you can hold on, your life will be beautiful, not only to you but to Him and to everyone you know.

Hippos working on their tans - Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Walking on porcupines

Have you ever tried to get a picture of a porcupine? Well, if you do, good for you. I’ve never seen a real one. So I have no photographs of porcupines, but I do have hippos. And that will work for today, because I’m not talking about real porcupines anyway. I’m actually talking about friendship.

I don’t think I post enough about friendships. I don’t even know where to start most of the time because I am so overwhelmed and so thankful to be friends with such amazing people.

Our friends determine so much in our lives. And if you have awesome friends — and I mean truly awesome friends and not just popular ones — you should count yourself fortunate.

Hippos working on their tans - Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Hippos working on their tans – Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Today’s verse is Proverbs 18:24.

There are “friends” who destroy each other,
but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.

Who are your friends? Do your friends ask more from you than they expect of themselves? Do your friends treat you the way you treat them? Do your friends love God? Do your friends speak truth? Do your friends give you sound advice based in Scripture and tempered with the love of God?

If you have friends like that, you are richer than the richest man in the universe. Because there are “friends” out there who will hang out with you just because they want something from you. There are “friends” out there who need a prop. And even though they may be your “friends” when they feel like it, the day will eventually come when they won’t have time for you. And they’ll drop you like a rock.

I always told myself that I didn’t really need friends, that I could get along just fine without them. And, if we’re being honest here, that’s probably true. But how lonely would life be? How empty would life be? And, truthfully, how much more difficult would life be? If I didn’t have my friends to rely on and blow up on and cry on, life would be much harder than it is now.

Today’s verse just made me think about friendship and what it really is. Because true friendship goes beyond blood. It stretches deeper than DNA and further than a family name. Because we don’t get to choose our families; we choose our friends. And, what’s more important, our friends choose us. And what’s more, true friends keep choosing us even when we have a bad day, even when we’re struggling at work or at home, even when we snap, even when we don’t feel good.

Can you imagine what it would be like to walk through a field of porcupines? Just think about that. It wouldn’t be pleasant at all. They’re volatile and unpredictable, and they’re covered in needles. All it would take is one wrong move, and they’ll let loose a volley of needles that will leave you wincing.

But no one walks on porcupines. I’m sure there’s some kind of fee or fine you have to pay for that. But even though we don’t actually walk on porcupines, we do have to walk through life. And life can have its needles and touchy spots. And so many times through Scripture, God talks about friends and walking. It’s not unusual to see the concept of friendship lined right up with the concept of walking through life.

Why? Well, think about it. What else do friends do but walk with you, even through the most difficult times in your life? That’s what friends are for.

I got to thinking about this verse because of a birthday present one of my friends gave me. Silly socks covered in porcupines! They’re adorable! And they’re bright, and they’re fun! I love them! (So far, I have encountered two things that turn me girly: Bath & Body Works hand soaps and funny, silly socks.)

But beyond the fun of the socks, they just made me think about friendship. Because friendships aren’t forged in the good times. Maybe they start in good times. Maybe they start over a fun conversation or a good cup of coffee. But they don’t get very deep there. To grow a deep friendship, you have to walk through some porcupines, and you have to do it together. And somewhere between needles, you’ll make a choice to either keep walking or turn back.

Don’t get me wrong. You need to determine if the friendship is one that’s worth pursuing. Sometimes turning back is the best decision you can make. But if you turn back on every friendship the moment the going gets tough, you’ll never understand what it really means to have a real friend.

I guess, what I’m saying this morning, is that the closest friendships in my life have come through some amount of difficulty — whether it was through a difficult situation we tackled together or through a difficult conversation we had to have to straighten things out between us. The best friendships you have aren’t just going to happen. Like any relationship, you have to work at them.

So if you have a friend (or friends) in your life who you have walked on porcupines with, be thankful for them. And tell them that you’re thankful for them. You never know when you might not have the opportunity to thank them anymore.

And if you’ve never walked through porcupines, you will. So it might not be a bad idea to find someone who won’t mind walking with you. Just remember that true friendship is a two-way street. And if you’re walking through a field of porcupines with a friend, you’ll both take hits, but you’ll both be there to keep each other going.

Sunflower at Safe Haven Farm - Haven, KS

Superabundant

Are you facing a task that’s too big for you? Maybe work is too stressful. Maybe you have a baby on the way. Maybe the finances just aren’t coming. Maybe you’re in a position where you are the person who will lead someone to Christ or push them away from Him. Whatever it is, the responsibility just feels overwhelming, like you can’t ever get ahead, like every day is just another opportunity to get run over.

It’s moments like those, the stressful, overwhelming, agonizing moments, where we need to remember that we’re not on our own down here. And though we have responsibilities, God never has expected us to face them by ourselves or in our own power.

Sunflower at Safe Haven Farm - Haven, KS

Sunflower at Safe Haven Farm – Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Ephesians 3:20.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

I know I have more responsibility now than I ever did when I was younger. I have more on my shoulders now than I ever dreamed I could have. And at first, it was exciting. I mean, wow! To be my age (for all my grouching, I know I’m not old) and to have the responsibilities I do? That’s awesome! A real honor.

But once the newness wears off, once the wonder and the excitement fades away, responsibilities can become a weight around your neck. And there are days when it’s just too heavy. The weight of it pulls me down and makes my feet drag, and before I know it, I want nothing more than for these responsibilities to go away. What I once rejoiced about, now I loathe.

Is that the way it’s supposed to be? Talk to other Christians, and that seems to be the case. But is it right?

I believe that if you’re called to do something, you should do it. But it’s rare that God is going to ask you to do something that is outside your gift. So if you know 100% that you aren’t gifted with facts and figures, it’s unlikely that God is going to call you to be an accountant. Not unheard of, and if He does, He’ll have a reason for it and He’ll give you what you need to succeed. But generally speaking, He won’t ask you to serve Him outside what He has gifted you for.

But whether you are serving within your gift our outside of it, we all need to remember that doing things on our own will wear us out. Carrying the load by ourselves will exhaust us and discourage us. Because it is too much to carry on our own.

That’s why we have God. If you believe in Christ, you have the Holy Spirit inside you. God is with you, in you, working in your heart, working in your life, helping you grow closer to God every day that you seek Him.

Do you feel like giving up? And it’s a responsibility that God has given you? Don’t give up. Just ask God to help you carry it. If you feel like giving up the task that God has given you, maybe you’re trying to carry it by yourself too much. Because even if the task He’s given you is exactly what you were created to do, you still can’t do it all by yourself. You need to ask Him for help.

This is where I get caught. I’m not good at asking for help. I trudge along under my heavy burden of responsibility and refuse to ask anyone for help. I don’t want to seem weak. I don’t want to seem as though I don’t have enough faith. And that is nothing but pride.

We all need help, and God can do anything. He still does miracles, even today.

Today’s verse says that He is able to do anything, to accomplish “infinitely more” than anyone alive can imagine. This is the NLT version, but I love how the Amplified Version puts this. The Amplified Version says that He is able to do “superabundantly far over and above” what we can dream. Superabundantly.

Abundant isn’t good enough. It has to be superabundant.

Do we realize that? Do we comprehend the power we have at our fingertips? The strength? The endurance? The miracles that God can do through us? It’s so easy to forget because we get trapped in our day-to-day grind, but God is above all of that.

God has given each of us a goal to accomplish. And while we might be able to do some of it on our own, we won’t be able to do it “superabundantly” until we ask Him to help us. So if you’re discouraged this morning with a load that’s weighed you down, let it go. Ask God to help carry it, and He will. And not only will you find that it weighs less, you’ll find the joy you had when you first picked it up.

Water Boy for the Marion Warriors football team - Hutchinson, KS

Well-oiled machines don’t have squeaky wheels

I got to go to another football game the other night. I haven’t been to many, and the ones I’ve gone to have only been high school. My lack of a competitive nature has really caused me to stay away from sports for most of my life, but my best friend is a sports editor/photographer for her town paper, and she had a game close to my house the other night. So I dropped by to chill on the sidelines with her … literally because the temperatures dropped into the 30s as we stood there.

But throughout the game, I noticed this one kid, whom I took a picture of. He was smaller than all the other players. He wasn’t treated very well; they all yelled at him. And for all the abuse he took, he had to run around–not on the field where he could get any glory for his hard work–but on the sidelines making sure the players stayed hydrated.

And it got me thinking about the Church.

Water Boy for the Marion Warriors football team - Hutchinson, KS

Water Boy for the Marion Warriors football team – Hutchinson, KS

Today’s verses are 1 Corinthians 12:12-26.

The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.

Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?

But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”

In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.

I love my liver. It’s pretty important, if you didn’t know. Kind of like my pancreas is important, even though it probably doesn’t function the way it’s supposed to all the time. And if I didn’t have my gallbladder, whew! No more greasy foods for me. There are parts of our bodies that we can’t live without, even though no one gets to see them.

When was the last time you walked up to someone and told them they had a lovely colon? Never? Well, maybe their intestines aren’t visible, but if they didn’t have a functioning colon, they wouldn’t be standing upright talking to you.

Like a little finger. Or a big toe. They’re small parts of your body, but try walking without a big toe. Try picking stuff up without a little finger. It’s just as impossible to function on the outside without those two parts as it is to try to function on the inside without a colon or a liver or a pancreas.

People get to thinking that their mouths are the most important (anybody see the debate?). Or they get to thinking that their eyes are the most important or their ears or their hair or their arms or legs or whatever our culture deems as beautiful or intellectual or attractive. But what good is a head without a neck? What good is a mouth without a nose or ears? Most of your sense of taste comes from your sense of smell. Most of your ability to speak comes from your sense of hearing.

There’s no part of the human body that’s unimportant. Yes, pieces and parts can be removed, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have lasting effects from their absence. And just as that is true of the human body, it is true of the Church.

No one is minor. No one is most important. Everyone has a function. Everyone has a design. And we are all designed to work together for one purpose: drawing people to Christ.

So if you’re a big bad Christian and everyone knows you and you walk into your church next Sunday and some little teenager holds a door open for you with a smile and a bulletin, and you think you’re more important than he is? … You’re wrong.

If you’re a children’s Sunday School teacher full of knowledge about the Bible and in possession of a carefully categorized flannelgraph collection, and you think you’re more important than the little kids you’re teaching? … You’re wrong.

Even if you’re a pastor, even if you’re a deacon or a trustee or an elder, even if you’re a worship leader or an actor or an usher … none of you are more important than the little old lady who cleans the bathrooms. You all matter, and you all are important, and you all have a job to do. And while you could probably do your job without the little old lady who cleans the bathrooms, you would feel her absence decidedly if she weren’t there.

So the next time you’re tempted to feel important at church, think about how difficult it would be to walk without a big toe. Remember that Church was designed to be a unit of many small parts, a well-oiled machine with a specific goal and purpose. So don’t be the squeaky wheel.