For 5 years I was the pastor of Trinity International Church in Strasbourg, France. I created this blog with those people in mind. In mid-November 2018 I will become the Senior Pastor of Word of Life Church in Coon Rapids, Minnesota. The focus of this blog will therefore shift, but I pray that people from the blogosphere will continue to find it helpful wherever they might be found.
The churches' websites includes recorded sermons for those who are interested. Click the links below to access them.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

My First House

Janet and I had been married for quite a while before we could afford our first house. It was a split-level house with a two-level deck out back. The living room, kitchen, and two bedrooms were upstairs. Downstairs there was a family room, laundry room and two small bedrooms that served as an office for me and a craft room for Janet. After years of apartment living it felt like a palace.

We had purchased the house in the winter time while the yard was blanketed with deep Minnesota snow. The spring melt revealed a beautiful yard with a sandbox that was perfect for our two young boys. But there was another surprise to come. In a corner of the yard there was a garden. And in that garden was a strawberry patch that yielded an incredible harvest of delicious strawberries. I remember picking a huge bowlful one evening, setting it on the counter, and shedding a tear because of the surprising blessing that God had provided us. I had not planted or tended the garden. In fact, I didn't even know it was there! Still, there in front of me was a large bowl full of the best strawberries I have ever tasted.

I am writing this having just returned from the grocery store. I remembered that unexpected bowl of blessing when I saw the strawberries in the produce section. They made my mouth water and I put a carton in my cart. As I did, I thought for a moment about how God provided these strawberries. He could have miraculously made strawberries appear in my refrigerator, but He didn't do that. Instead, somewhere there is a farmer that grows strawberries. When it is time, he or a hired hand delicately pick the strawberries. Then they are gently packaged and carefully shipped to a warehouse where they are briefly stored before being sent to the store. Then someone unloads them from the truck and puts them in the store's cooler. And then someone else puts them on a display rack so that those perfect strawberries can make my mouth water.  Think about that for a moment. God used dozens of people in the process of bringing me those delightful strawberries.

Or ponder this: my son, daughter-in-law, and two grandchildren were just here from the United States for three weeks. What an incredible blessing it was to see them. How did that happen? The automobiles, airplanes, roads and airports that they used to get here took hundreds or even thousands of people to develop, operate and maintain. Each of those people were a part of the blessing of me being able to see my family. I'll never know those people, but I am grateful to them. They made it possible for me to tickle my granddaughters!

This is how God designed the world to operate. Rarely does our daily bread just fall like manna from heaven. Usually seed must be sown, wheat harvested and milled and then baked into baguettes in ovens that were made from metals mined and forged by yet another chain of people. This is how God provides our food. In the same way, God watches over us to keep us secure, but usually he does it by means of faithful policemen. He heals us, but often he uses wise doctors and merciful nurses in the process.  Plumbers and electricians, police officers and window washers, managers and janitors all play a role in blessings we experience each and every day. Yet each of these blessings is properly seen as coming from the hand of God.
Just think of all that went into the
cup of coffee you had this morning!

So next time you flip on the light switch or turn on the radio, text a friend, or bite into a éclair, think about all of the people that God is using to bring you that blessing and give thanks for them and to Him for making it happen.

But there is more.

Perhaps it is just as important to think again about the job that you do. It may seem mundane at times, but you are almost certainly part of a process that is blessing someone. You are providing a product or service that someone needs or desires. Whatever it is, it is important to them, even if it may seem ordinary to you. Remember, you are being used by God to provide someone with their bowl of strawberries, the roads they take to work, or the soap they do their dishes with. So serve them well, even if they don't notice it or think about you. God notices. And his favour rests on those who serve others well.

The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. 
You open your hand;you satisfy the desire of every living thing.  
Psalm 145:15-16 (ESV)