You don’t use a hammer to make a souffle…

God uses people in different ways. If I could draw an analogy, I would liken us all to tools. Some of us are hammers, some of us are rachets and wrenches. Some of us are pry bars and others are drills or screwdrivers. Some of us are kitchen implements like skillets and cups and knives. All these things are tools or implements to be useful in a particular situation.

I can’t and wouldn’t use a hammer to make a souffle, I would use a wire whisk and a bowl though. I would have no use for a spatula when my tire was flat and needed to be changed, but I could definitely use a tire iron that fits the lugs on my wheel so I could loosen and tighten lug nuts. Every tool has a place and a use.

I love television shows where they are renovating an old house or better yet, taking a car that has been in the woods for 20 years and restoring it back to use. It is such an appropriate analogy for God wanting to rehab lives that have been broken down and in need of repair to make them useful. I watch as the person restoring the car takes a tool called a “clutch puller” to pull the clutch out of a car. This is a specialized tool. You don’t need a clutch puller everyday…in fact, I’ve never needed one. But the fact remains that when you find a clutch that needs pulling, don’t look to a skillet to do the job…you need a clutch puller!

Okay, so…here it is. As tools in God’s tool belt, we will be called upon at times to do something that we have been particularly designed to do. None of us can do EVERY job that comes along. When the Lord needs a drill, to drill into someone’s life to get to some deep issues, he isn’t going to use a hair dryer. A hair dryer is useful but not to drill with! Yet, I think sometimes we feel a bit helpless and maybe even despise our own gift when we see people who need help and our particular gift doesn’t fit the need. This is why the church is important.

Each of us have gifts and abilities different from one another in a church. There are some people who have a gift of helps that they use to help other people with. I had a friend named Dwayne Isenberg who one time drove to Indianapolis when my little Honda Civic threw a piston rod. He hooked up my car, towed it to his house and by golly, he put a new engine in that thing! Not everyone would do that! But someone with a gift of helps would! I didn’t need a fiery preacher that day teaching on repentance…I needed someone who knew how to help fix my car. Thanks Dwayne…your act of kindness it permanently etched on my heart. It would have done me no good to have someone who is an evangelist standing there on the side of the road with me…evangelists are effective in winning souls to Jesus, but that evangelist would have done me no good at all at that moment.

There are some people who have very specialized gifts…like a clutch puller. These people have a gift of “giving”. They have been blessed with money and they give to people…they may finance a new car for someone or donate large sums to a missionary. That gift of giving comes most often with the blessing of anonymity. Other specialized gifts are intercession, mercy and prophecy. What is interesting about these gifts or “tools” to continue my analogy, is that they are useful more than most of us know, but they too are clothed; most of the time in anonymity. Everyone needs mercy, all have a need for intercession. It shouldn’t just be used in the church.

Here, finally is my point. Maybe you don’t feel you are very useful to the Lord. Maybe you don’t feel that you get used much at all! So; here’s a thought…instead of waiting for a clutch to be pulled, go to a transmission shop!  If you are a wrench, go hang out in a car garage! If you are a hammer, go hang out on construction sites. I mean if you know that you have this precious gift of mercy, then it is quite honestly a very good thing to volunteer at the hospice down the street or counsel people who need a listening ear!

If you have a lot of discernment, which basically is the ability to judge well and see beyond the surface of things, you may want to become a judge or an attorney or again, a counselor! People with discernment are like hammers…they nail the key issue, or see the true problem and call it out for what it is.

My wife tells me a humorous story of how one of her relatives used a hammer to try and fix everything! I laugh about this because of the old saying, “to a hammer, everything looks like a nail!” Swiss watches don’t respond well to hammers, meaning, don’t try to use your gifting in places where it is not needed or where delicate care is the order of the day.

The one thing you shouldn’t do when you don’t feel your gift is being used to it’s fullest is to jump out of the tool box! “To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.” Eccl 3:1-8. God will use you as you make yourself available to him…and let’s face it, if you are only available for one hour on Sunday morning, then chances are you won’t be used very much!

God has designed you with purpose and gifts in your life to be useful not just to the church…but to the society! And the great thing about it is, that if  you have been slow to use your gifting it isn’t too late! “The gifts and calling of God are irrevocable!” Romans 11:29. Another version says, “the gifts and calling of God can never be withdrawn!” Start now and make a difference.

Today, don’t run away like Jonah did when God called him to go to Ninevah. God needs you to function the way that only YOU can function. He needs his hammers and drills; he needs his clutch pullers and His diamond cutters too. The church is in the earth to show the glory of God to the nations.

“When I was a child”…

Daily routines are what I’m all about…and that is different from when I was younger. When I was young, there WAS no plan for the day. I didn’t really have a planned time to wake up, or shower, or dress for the day. I had no real routines at all except that when my stomach said “feed me”, I ate, and when my body said “sleep”, I slept. “Instinctual living”; if that’s a term, ruled my life.
When you live like that, you inwardly know that you’re a slug. I’m not being mean here…but, anyone who has a brain cell knows that when you do what you want….WHEN you want to do it, they are being directed by their herd instincts and NOT by purpose-driven living. When you have a purpose, you plan, and you discipline yourself for that purpose. When you live in such a way so as to go where “the weather suits your clothes”, you need no purpose…only a suitcase.

I will go a bit further on this rant. When I slept until I wasn’t tired and ate whenever the urge moved me… it did not bother me (nor did it ever occur to me in all honesty) that it may have inconvenienced other people. I had no thought in my head that others had already had breakfast, cleaned the kitchen and were now well along in their days work. I would get up and eat, dirty some dishes and leave them for someone else to clean. Same with the bathroom, I would shower, leave the toothpaste out, throw my towels on the ground and move on out when I was good and ready. I was studying for a Ph.D. in hedonism when Jesus came along and changed my major.

Perhaps, you were not as much of a sluggard as I as a young 14 or 15-year-old. But I want to tell you that when you live that way for a long time, it takes a pretty strong jolt to get you to change your behavior. I don’t want you to misunderstand me …I didn’t have a mean or ugly heart. It wasn’t like I was saying, “Who cares that they cleaned the kitchen!…I’ll eat when I want to…and they can just deal with it!” No, I was a 14-year-old child. I still had the idea that the world revolved around me and my desires, much as a baby thinks the world revolves around them. In other words, I still thought like a child.

“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. “ “I Corinthians 13:11

I am eternally grateful that in some ways, my gymnastics coach had given to me a sense of purpose and direction concerning self-discipline and self-control. By the time 16 and 17 years of age rolled around, John Hinds had drilled into me, that TEAM was more important than self. He had instilled into all of his young charges, “You don’t stay out late, because you owe others on the team a good nights sleep to be your best in tomorrows gymnastics meet!” He wasn’t kidding. There were times at 8:30 at night, he would call my parents to make sure I was home and in bed, and not just me…all of the gymnasts on our team!. Hinds had a purpose and his purpose had to become MY purpose.

By the time I was a senior in High School, getting up at 5 am, waiting for my buddy Jeff Nasby to pick me up at 5:30 in order to be at the gym by 5:45…BEFORE SCHOOL, to meet our coach and do an early workout…was just a routine part of my day. After the workout, we would shower and then go to classes, only to return to the gym at 3:20 to perfect our routines until 7 pm. Life revolved around that purpose.

What has stayed with me over the 40+ years since those days as a student and gymnast, has been that; absent of a motivational purpose, without a meaningful reason for self-discipline, it is easy to lapse back into a life that does not recognize a higher calling. In other words, without living for a higher purpose, I will regress back into a life of self-centered living.

As far as my motivation today, I don’t have to struggle to get out of bed or clean up after myself…(Ok Mary Ann, maybe cleaning up after myself is still a bit of a struggle… but I’m getting better! lol). I have an appointment every morning. It is an appointment to meet the Creator of the Universe at coffee. He doesn’t necessarily care what I look like when we get together, but what He has to say makes the world go around. His motivation is nothing artificial. When He speaks, He conveys words and concepts that are of imminent importance to me and to the world. He challenges me to show Him to the world in any and every way I can.

Now, I am not personally an articulate or motivating speaker. I have always been a person who was a bit embarrassed to speak publicly about my faith to be perfectly honest. I guess I was more concerned what people thought about my phony baloney image, and figured Jesus didn’t fit that debonair look I was trying to convey. However, after having failed in life in many areas, the only thing I can now brag about is how Jesus rescued me. And God has given me particular gifts that I can use in order to show people His goodness and how much he loves them. I don’t have to wait for a manufactured evangelistic event to show and share the life-changing effects of the Gospel on my life. The everyday opportunities are where we can all use our talents to draw others into a relationship with Jesus.

In the fresh fruit section of the grocery store or at the gas pump. In our day to day activities at our jobs or in the course of our days doing the repetitive, monotonous duties of living. These are the pulpit, and in these activities is the potential power of reaching the world with a word of kindness, an act of love, a consolation to a broken heart. Offering a coupon to a person at Kroger can be the portal through which others can glimpse Jesus through the ever-thinning veil that separates heaven and earth.

God will not require of you or of me, anything that he has not equipped us for. He will not ask you, as you stand before His Throne, “why did you not end world hunger?” or “How did you not know the cure for Cancer?” God’s justice would be injustice should he require of you something for which you were not prepared. But I wonder how we will answer the questions that He HAS equipped us for? How will we answer concerning the talents he has given to each of us? Have we continued to discipline ourselves to use them or have we returned to idleness? Have you excelled still more by using your God-given talents to show god’s love and mercy or have you forgotten your former championship status and gone back to sleeping late in the day of harvest?

The Parable of the Talents Matthew 25:14-30

“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, TO EACH ACCORDING TO HIS ABILITY. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more.
So also he who had the two talents made two talents more.

But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’
And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’

He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’
But his master answered him, ‘YOU WICKED AND SLOTHFUL SERVANT! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed?
Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming, I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
The lack of development of any of God’s gifts on our lives is called both “wicked AND lazy.”
I exhort you, my friends, that the world is in greater need of your “talents” than ever before. You are playing for “the team”. God, has given you gifts unlike those of any other person. They were not intended for you to use on yourself and for your own pleasure only. They were meant to be used for the championship! They were entrusted to you to grow and to use as God has given you the ability and grace to use them. And the time is coming when God WILL require the fruits of those gifts from your hands…
It is time to wake from your sleep. It is time to put away childish things, habits, and anything that keeps you from running with endurance, the race that is set before you. There is still time to get back in shape so that your discipline may be seen by all.

“ For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” I Corinthians 13:12