David C. Hughes, Writer

“For the LORD your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your JOY will be complete." –Deuteronomy 16:15

Archive for the tag “Scott Crenshaw”

The Epiphany of Joy, Chapter 11: Joy in Serving (2 of 3)

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” [Jesus] replied. “How do you read it?”  [The expert] answered, ”’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’”; and, “’Love your neighbor as yourself.’”  “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

–Luke 10:25-28 (NIV)

 

When God handed down the Law through Moses to the entire assembly of Israel, he commanded “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18 NIV).  When the law expert tested Jesus, Jesus turned the question back on the questioner by asking him how he read the law; his reply was accurate.  “Do this and you will live,” Jesus said.  Yes!  Your heart will be glad.  Your face will be radiant.  You’ll walk in God’s light, God’s energy, God’s communion.  You’ll walk in joy!

In John 13:34 (NIV), Jesus gave the disciples a new command: “Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  By His death, Jesus brought the Law to fulfillment, but loving one another transcends the Law as Jesus transcended death.  Jesus’ command–this new command–placed the Father’s imperative to love our neighbor as ourselves in the context of Jesus’ ministry among us: we love one another because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).

Jesus’ ministry cleared away the religiosity blinding us to the Father’s true nature.  Jesus walked the earth to demonstrate, in the flesh, God’s glory, meekness, power, love, and simplicity.  Jesus served, and time and again throughout the gospels, He clearly demonstrated that, while redemption of mankind was paramount to His mission, service was the context in which that redemption and salvation was wrapped.

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve,” He iterated in Mark 10:45 (NIV).  After He had washed the apostles’ feet the evening of His arrest, Jesus asked the Twelve “Do you understand what I have done for you?” (John 13:12 NIV).  The King of kings and Lord of lords–the Creator of the universe and everything in it–had just put on the role of servant, stooped down, and washed their dusty, stinky, calloused feet.  The teacher had lowered himself to serve the students.  Why?

“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 as I have done for you.  Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.  Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them” (John 13:13-17 NIV).  We will be blessed if we do them.  We will be blessed as we look up to our Savior and God and follow His example of service, love, and humility.

With both of us working, Mary and I sometimes struggle to keep the house in a relative semblance of order.  For two perfectionists living out our Spiritual gift of administration, being able to write “I Love You” in the dust covering the dresser, or watching the clumps of dog hair chase each other around the living room floor when we flip on the ceiling fans stretches our tolerance for disorganization to the edge.

One of my pet peeves is piles: unfolded laundry piled for days in the clothes baskets on the cedar chest; stacks of Hannah’s artwork perching on top of the jewelry case; mountains of unread mail heaped on the kitchen bar ready to slide into my quiet-time space like the slipping of a tectonic plate.

Mary has little tolerance for unwashed dishes, especially when the strata of plates, silverware, and cooking utensils leaning over the sink provides archeological clues to what we ate two days ago.  “I wish we had a kitchen fairy,” Mary once complained.  Unfortunately, neither Whirlpool nor GE manufactures those, but we discovered that we do indeed have one.

One morning after showering, I walked out of the bedroom into the kitchen to fix breakfast.  As I rounded the corner I saw Hannah standing on her blue plastic step stool in front of the sink, singing.  She scrubbed a plate with a soapy washcloth while cold water streamed from the faucet.  “Good morning,” I greeted, not wanting to startle her.

She turned and smiled at me, brown eyes bright with excitement.  “I’m the kitchen fairy, Daddy!” she declared.  “I’m washing dishes before Mom gets up.”  Talk about melting my heart!  Here stood my six-year-old with sleeves rolled up, dish in one hand, washcloth in the other, happily serving her Mom without being asked.  She saw a need and jumped in with no complaints, but with determination and birdsong and a happy smile.

Hannah loves serving with Mary and me on Sundays in the church nursery.  In the “Yellow Room,” we get to hang out with a dozen or more one and two-year-olds still in diapers.  Hannah proudly wears her “Leader” badge around her neck, and she enjoys reading to the kids, serving them Pepperidge Farm Goldfish at snack time, and supervising the wiggly children while they scribble on coloring sheets with drool-covered crayons.

“Why do you like to serve in the yellow room?” I asked Hannah one morning.

She thought for a moment, then replied “I like putting the drawing paper down, helping with the snack, putting the chairs down.  I like doing that.”

“Why do you like doing that?” I prodded.

“Because it’s fun!”

Yes!  Because it’s fun!

“Our kids are terrible about following our instruction,” declared Scott Crenshaw, Senior Pastor of New River Fellowship.  “But they’re great at following our example.”  Give a child an opportunity to serve, and you get to watch Jesus in action, real-time.  And, if you’re like me, you’ll end up learning from their example as much as they learn from yours.

(continued)

Copyright ©2014 by David C. Hughes

The Epiphany of Joy, Chapter 10: Joy in Our Calling (1 of 3)

We don’t do this for the money.  We do this because we love it.  The rest will follow.

–Amanda M. Thrasher, author and publisher

 

For the Lord your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete.

–Deuteronomy 16:15b (NIV)

 

One cool November evening Mary and I invited Pastors Scott and Renee Crenshaw over to the house for grilled steaks.  After we finished dinner and enjoyed our slices of homemade Granny Smith apple pie slathered with equally homemade vanilla ice cream, I asked Scott, Senior Pastor at New River Fellowship in Hudson Oaks, Texas, if he considered himself living out his calling.  To me it was a rhetorical question; it was pretty obvious by the joy he exudes.

“I think so,” he responded, smiling and stroking his goatee.  “I really do.”  I nodded.  You see, I’d been struggling mightily with my calling for years, not so much in figuring out what my calling was–I knew exactly what it was–but with stepping out and answering that calling with a trust in God deep enough to pull the ejection handle on my tech job and parachute into a new career in writing.  I truly wanted to live out Goethe’s imperative, “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.”  I’d only been at this writing thing fulltime for three months when I asked Scott the question.  The man obviously loves his job, and his spot-on sermons, his animated delivery, and his love for the flock he pastors reflect the passion, love, and joy he has in his calling.

“I was duck hunting one time,” he told me.  “It was freezing cold, I mean, it was miserable!  We got out there in the boat and we turned the heaters on and we’re waiting, and we got some poor dog sitting on the floor of the boat waiting to dive into the water.  And so we’re sitting there, and all throughout the morning, in the freezing cold, the water almost turned to ice, I’m hearing this sound, this thump-thump-thump-thump-thump, and I’m thinking ‘There must be an oil pump or something somewhere around here.’ Finally I realized it was that dog.  His tail was thumping.  What was he excited about?  He was excited about the moment when the guy goes ‘Cut ‘im!’ and the dog dives out into that freezing cold water.  But that’s what he’s made for.”  The Pastor laughed.

“And so at the end of the day I’m petting the dog and he’s living life, and I noticed his tail was literally bloody.  And the first thought that came to my mind was ‘God, that’s how I want to be.’  I call it bloody-tail passion.  I said, ‘I want to live in that.’”

I want to live in that . . . .  Who doesn’t?!  I want to be so caught up in fulfilling God’s will for me that I sit in the bottom of the boat, tail thumping, just waiting to explode with a bark of delight to scatter the ducks of joy all over Creation.  But so many people seem to just exist, to merely move through life joylessly, cowering like a beat dog, or floating around like a piece of driftwood on life’s ebb and flow, either never knowing their calling, or knowing their calling but never pursuing it out of fear.  And they seem unmotivated to do anything differently, like zombies going through the motions, dead but undead, losing body parts like hearts and souls along the way.  “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” philosopher George Santayana once said.  Those who cannot remember the past of their passions, those who cannot remember the past of what moved them, those who cannot remember the past of what brought joy into their hearts, all stand condemned by their own false truths, a parade of fools led by that king of lies: worldly security.

One of my deepest fears was getting to the end of life, looking back on not only what I’d accomplished but also the opportunities I’d passed up because of terror, and saying, “So what the hell was that all about?”  Rockford E. Toews, in his essay “One Less Accountant,” wrote, “Rather than purposefully living, the vast majority of people’s lives are little more than a series of reactions to events and forces outside themselves. That’s not truly living. That’s just survival. Yet most people willingly engage in simple survival today in the belief that they will get their chance at actual living tomorrow.  If they can earn enough money now surely they will be able to retire one day and enjoy life” (http://thoreau.eserver.org/oneless.html, retrieved 2/12/2014).

Jesus said as much in the Parable of the Rich Fool:

 

And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’

“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

              –Luke 12:16-21 NIV

 

Let me ask you something: Do you believe God wants you to actually enjoy the work He’s lined up for you  to do instead of being miserable in the job you’ve lined up for yourself to do?  Do you believe God has a plan for you, a gift of purpose tailor-made just for you, an avocation to live out with excitement, joy, and, dare I say, fun that will leave you breathless with wonder and smiling with contentment at the end of each day?  Do you believe God doesn’t intend for us to spend all of our energy chasing a dollar, but instead He intends for us to spend all of our energy chasing Him?

(continued)

Copyright ©2014 by David C. Hughes

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