Teamwork

It is such a joy
     to work with this team.
I pray that it’s real,
     and not just a dream.
Yes, there are times
     that I work the day through.
But times I take Susan
     and go to the zoo.
The freedom I have
     is all built on trust.
It’s not just important,
     it’s really a must.

As I look around
     at these gals and guys.
To have a great team
     should be no surprise.
They all are quite gifted
     in doing their part.
The thing that is special,
     is they serve from the heart.
No idea’s better
     just because of a name.
We want to be servants
     not seeking our fame.

The thing that’s surprising
     and really quite sad.
This type of teamwork
     is rare, like a fad.
If you think it’s passing,
     as fads often do.
Consider the value
     of this team to you.
We do our best work,
     or so it would seem.
When we work together
     and act like a team.

To seek good for others
     above all our own.
Is the life of a servant
     that Jesus has shown.
To not be afraid
     to do what it takes.
Whether lofty or low,
     no difference it makes.
It is such a blessing
     when help I can give.
The joy is compounded
     when this way we live.
©

As I was finishing up the cleaning of the church building tonight and thinking about all the people who help and encourage me, God gave me this poem. I share it in honor of the Deer Run team who have made me feel like a valuable part of what God is doing through each of us. I pray that God continues to pour out His blessing on the work that He is doing through Deer Run.

In prayer,
Tom

The Greatest!

They say life’s about
     just how high you can reach.
At least that is what
     many do like to teach.
We claw and we scrape,
     climb our way to the top.
There’s no way on earth
     that we ever will stop.
The fittest survive,
     the strong beat the weak.
Top place in this order
     is all that we seek.

We collect many people
     for what we can use.
When they ask for our help
     we do quickly refuse.
I’d like to help you,
     really, I would.
But I’m very sorry,
     this is all for my good.
A method exists
     to our madness you see.
You can be my friend
     if it’s all about me.

We pick and we choose
     who’s deserving, who’s not.
All the while looking
     at what all they’ve got.
People are equal
     according to law.
Yet our favoritism
     creates a huge flaw.
Justice is blind,
     at least that they say.
But somehow it sees
     just how much you can pay.

To the Good Book I go
     to see about this.
I look and I look
     because something’s amiss.
To use up good people
     so I get my way.
Is so set against
     the way Jesus did pray.
He asked of the Father
     to help all of us.
To spend our life serving
     and quit all the fuss.

To treat people fairly,
     the way that we should.
And look out for others
     above our own good.
To treat no one special
     because of their name.
But to honor each other
     for we are the same.
To lift up and carry
     all who are weak.
As we grasp the importance
     of living as meek.

Jesus did tell us
     as He sat on a mount.
The overlooked people,
     they really do count.
Instead of the fighting
     as we stand up tall.
Be more like Jesus,
     be a servant to all.
So when you do wonder
     just where you do rate.
Take a lesson from Jesus,
     it’s the servant who’s great!
©

I had a chance to relax and just spend some quiet time with God as I head into the weekend. As I did so, yet another poem appeared in my mind so I collected it to share. I pray that God uses this, and each of these poems He has given me, for His glory and for the benefit of His people and His kingdom.

In prayer,
Tom

You Want ME To Do WHAT!?

I imagine the silence was deafening.  The meal was prepared.  The table was set.  The food was spread before them.  Yet everyone knew one thing was not yet done.  One thing so simple, yet no one wanted to do it.  No volunteer stepped forward and said, “Let me.” 

You’ve been there, right?  In the middle of a group, surrounded by awkward silence because everyone is avoiding the one thing that needs done and no one wants to do it.  To bring it up seems so trivial because all eyes become focused on you with one question, “If it is so important to you, why don’t you do it yourself?” 

And so the waiting game begins.  Who will break first?  Will anyone break at all?  Will we finish what we gathered for and leave — with the one obvious task left unaddressed and undone?  Don’t look at me, I brought the drinks!  . . . Well, I made arrangements for the banquet room!  . . . Is that right?  Well, I’m actually comfortable the way I am so I don’t care if we leave this whole matter undone!

Is it possible for deafening silence to get even more silent?  If so, what happens next had to silence not only the words, but the very inner-most part of this gathering.  Let’s listen in:

“Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.  After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.”  (John 13:3-5)

What!  This can’t be!  Someone needed to do this task, but not Him!  I mean, this is Jesus . . . Son of God . . . Messiah!  The one person in the room that I acknowledge as above me and better in every way.  Why is He doing this?  He should have picked someone, I mean, I would have even done this if He had asked and I knew I was doing it for Him!  But do it Himself?  This can’t be right!  Why?

Why?  It had to be the question in each person’s mind around the table that night in the upper room.  In the midst of the silence and questioning, Jesus points that out as He concludes washing their feet and asks the disciples, “Do you understand what I have done for you?”  He evidently knows that they don’t understand, and without an explanation we wouldn’t get it either.  So He explains.

“You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am.  Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.  I have set you an example that you should do a I have done for you.  Very truly I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them.  Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”  (John 13:13-17)

Jesus wanted His disciples, and us, to understand that living the life of a servant was mandatory for His followers.  If Jesus would humble Himself and become obedient, even to death on a cross — and to serving His disciples — how willingly should we imitate His example and serve others?  We’re not greater than our master, are we?  We’re not above the one who sent us, are we?  As workers for God, how much more should we adopt the attitude of Christ who came not to be served, but to serve? 

I pray that the next time that you or I are in the midst of a group, or even by our self, avoiding something because no one wants to do it, we would remember the example of Jesus and step forward to serve!

Climbing the Ladder to Greatness

Ahh . . . Christmas.  That time of year when “peace on earth, goodwill toward men” prevailsFrom the streets to the malls . . . from the department stores to the supercenters . . . from the check-out lines to the parking lots . . . from office parties to family gatherings — wherever you turn, mankind is at its finest.

Okay, you may be thinking, “Where is this guy from?”.  While there are bright spots that can be found among people in the midst of the Christmas hustle and bustle — more often than not, the public response of people to one another is far less than ideal. 

While the result is far from ideal, it really shouldn’t be a surprise.  Much of the confrontation and tension of the season has its root in an age-old pursuit — the pursuit of greatness.  We don’t want to wait in line, we want to be first.  Wherever we are, it becomes all about seeking our place — a place that we are not willing to step back from to benefit another.  We need to move forward, not backward.  We get caught up in the clamor to determine “pecking order” in all of our Christmas gatherings.  We go to work parties, church functions, and family gatherings and try to figure out where we belong and how to “move up the ladder” to greatness.

As I mentioned earlier, this is an age-old problem.  A problem that we find existing throughout scripture and addressed by Jesus.  One of those times is recorded in Matthew 20 when the mother of James and John want special status for her sons.  Jesus responds by telling her it is not His place to grant her specific request.  The real response comes from Jesus as the other 10 disciples get word of this “special request”.  The Bible says the other disciples are “indignant”.  Their response does raise the question, “Why?”.  The response of Jesus indicates to me that they were probably “indignant” because they each wanted to be in a “top” position.  Matthew writes about it with these words in Matthew 20:24-28:

“When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers.  Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.  Not so with you.  Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave — just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.'”

You see, there is a ladder to greatness.  The only problem is that the vast majority of us get it wrong.  We are taught and believe that we obtain greatness by climbing to the top of the ladder.  Jesus teaches quite the opposite — we obtain greatness by climbing to the bottom of the ladder.  It is a ladder we climb down to serve others.  Not just any others, all others!

How Christmas would change if all Christians remembered this as they drove about this time of year.  If they thought of others and served them as they do business in the stores and as they attend various work, church, and family gatherings.  If each of us would climb down the ladder of success to reach greatness as defined by Jesus.

I pray that you and I would commit to climbing the ladder to greatness.  May we learn to truly serve this Christmas season.  May others know of Jesus and His great love because we are becoming great in the kingdom of God — great because we are learning to wholeheartedly serve God and the “least of these His brethren”.