How’s Your Eyesight?

So if the kingdom of Heaven is so valuable, why doesn’t everybody do everything they can to be a part of it?  I think it’s because value is often in the eye of the beholder.  What has value and what doesn’t is really up to personal interpretation.  What some people think are valuable have no value at all to others.

Take for instance, the way my parents heated their house.  My mom and dad use to heat our house with wood.  Every fall they would go out and cut wood.  By the time winter would roll around, there was a huge pile on wood stored on the back porch.  Now to someone who heats their house with electric or gas, that pile of wood may not carry too much value.  But for our family, it meant having a warm winter.  Without it, we would be cold, but with it, it was warm and cozy.

Value is often in the eye of the beholder.  In Matthew Jesus tells the story of the different kinds of soil.  And I always feel sorry for the people that are compared to the path.  To me, they just don’t seem to get it.  Perhaps they don’t understand, or maybe, just maybe they don’t see value in God’s word.  Remember, value is often in the eye of the beholder.

Anyway, shortly after Jesus tells that story about different kinds of soils, He told a couple stories in about people that found a treasure of great value to them.  And realizing the value, they go and sell everything they have, just to get this one treasure.  Listen to how Jesus tells the story, He’s a much better story teller than me.

Matthew 13:44-46, “The kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field.  When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.  Again, the kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.  When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”

In this story, it’s interesting, because one man wasn’t even looking for this treasure, but when he stumbled across it, he realized just how valuable it was.  He then sells everything he has, and he buys that field.  The other man, he is a merchant looking for fine pearls.  So he is actually seeking the treasure.  And we are told that when he finds one of great value, he too goes and sells all he has so that he can buy this one thing that is of value to him.

Now, the man who found the hidden treasure, and the merchant that found that pearl, those guys realized the great value in what they had found.  Do you?  Can you see the value?  How is your eyesight?

In Christ,

Josh

The Great “Balloon Stomp”

How well do we do at elevating others, and serving others while humbling ourselves.  This thought crossed my mind this week as we prepare for our Community Thanksgiving Dinner.  And as I thought about it, I was reminded of a game the kids play at church camp called, “Balloon Stomp.”

Here is the objective to this game.  A balloon is tied to every child’s leg, and the object of the game is to run about and pop everyone else’s balloon while protecting your own.  The last person with an intact balloon is the winner.  While at camp, I watched our kids ferociously attack other kids, corner them, use strategy against them, and ultimately remove the competition from the game.  The opponent’s balloons were relentlessly targeted and destroyed.  Even those kids that clung to the sidelines were doomed just the same.  The entire battle only lasts a matter of minutes as kids chase each other around in an open field, leaving only one balloon inflated.  Now, it’s difficult to win at a game like balloon stomp.  In order to complete your mission, you have to be pushy, rude, offensive, and willing to take anyone down that stands in your way.  The game must be played with an “it’s all about me” attitude.

I read an article though, about this game being played with a group of mentally handicapped children.  They were given the same explanation about the objective of the game, and the signal to begin was given.  But the game proceeded very differently with this group of kids.  Perhaps the instructions were given too quickly for children with learning disabilities to grasp them.  The one idea that got through was that the balloons were supposed to be popped.  So it was the balloons, not the other players, that were viewed as enemies.  Instead of fighting each other, they began helping each other pop balloons.  One little girl knelt down and held her balloon carefully in place, like a holder for a field goal kicker.  A little boy came over and stomped it flat.  Then he knelt down and held his balloon for her pop.  It went on like this for several minutes until all the balloons were destroyed, and everybody cheered.  Everybody won.

So, who got the game right, and who got the game wrong?  In our world, we tend to think of another person’s success as one less opportunity for us to succeed.  There can only be one top dog, one big kahuna.  If we ever find ourselves in that position, we will fight like mad to maintain our hold on it.  A lot of companies fail to enjoy prolonged success because the people in charge have this “balloon stomp” mentality.  But in the church, the rules change.  Jesus takes the rightful seat as top dog.  And we’re just here to serve His purposes.  And we do that most effectively by elevating others and humbling ourselves.  And that’s what service is all about.

So as we take part in this Community Thanksgiving Dinner this week, don’t look at it as though we are any better than those we are serving.  Don’t consider it our way of elevating self over everyone else.  Instead, view it as an opportunity to elevate others, while humbling ourselves.  Do that, and it will be a true service to the community around us.  And who knows, it might make a lasting impact for God in someone’s life.

In Christ,

Josh