From "SHARING" #009, November 1997
There was a modern parable on the church bulletin board for a while which I thought I might share with you. Unfortunately I did not get around to writing this before it was removed. I'll try to remember some of the highlights.
"What you are is God's gift to you; what you make of
it is your gift to God."
The story was about a fisherman's organization. The group would gather, learn all about fishing, talk about fishing, and study about fishing related topics. But the one thing they never actually took time to do, was go fishing. After years of bringing in new members, and establishing clubs in various areas, a couple of members started questioning whether someone ought to actually go fishing, since after all wasn't that the point of the organization? So, the two of them did. They had a great time. And, to make things even better, they caught a lot of fish. Indeed, when they returned to their local club branch, to tell of their success, everyone was impressed. They were so pleased that someone had actually gone out and tested their knowledge, they suggested the two needed to share their experiences with the other club branches, to encourage and enlighten the various members. So they did. They gathered some notes they had made, and began to travel the lecture circuit. However, lecturing kept them so busy, they never again had time to go fishing.
Similar to the above story was a sermon I heard in Petoskey, Michigan this summer. The minister talked about a football team which came onto the field on offense and went into their huddle. As too many seconds ticked off the clock, the official threw his flag for a "delay of game" penalty. This occurred several more times as the players remained in the huddle talking about all the plays they could run, how to better organize the huddle itself, its procedures, and whether or not it looked good to the fans. Finally, the fans began to leave the stands, the official threw his flag one more time, then declared the game forfeited, and left. With the stands empty, the officials gone, and the other team on its way home with an easy victory, the huddled players still stood circled together on the field totally engrossed in themselves and their potential.
Chuck Swindoll (Insight For Living) has an expression which I've always enjoyed. He says too many churches spend too much time having mostly "flashlight parties." What is a "flashlight party" you ask? That's where Christians gather and "flash" their "light" onto one another trying to impress each in turn, rather than taking true light into the world.
I can almost hear some people saying, "yep, that's the way those churches are all right." As if using the word "church" takes the blame off each individual, and puts it onto some building, or anonymous group. When you hold yourself up as a Christian, everything you do, or don't do, tells somebody something about this Jesus of yours, the Christ. Are you representing Him well?
Food for thought.
"The qualities that get a man into power are not
those that lead him, once established,
(My poem "Every Direction" was included as a part of this newsletter)
Boy, I must have been tired when I wrote the last Sharing. Twice I referred to Iraq as Iran, among several other typos. I also never even mentioned the new poetís circle membership cards which were enclosed with it. I plead being overworked. That newsletter kept me at the church from 8:30 p.m. to 1:10 a.m. to get it out before July 4th. (Iím much smarter now. Before bringing it to the church to type I wrote this one longhand at home. Of course I was up Ďtil 3:00 a.m. the night I decided to finish it. But at least I was home. Itís progress.) Anyway, the new cards are laminated, with no expiration date on them. This was so I can simplify my life a little by not having to type and send new ones each year. It would be nice if you would return your card if ever you are not interested in remaining a member, but it is not required.
Just a side note about the cards: my signature is not pre-printed. I signed each one individually. It gave me the opportunity to think about each of you, and my appreciation of you, as I did.
This time Iíve enclosed a puzzle piece for you. You have to gather from all across the country to put this jigsaw puzzle together. .....No, just kidding..... Some of you are already familiar with how I use these pieces as a teaching tool, but I thought it would bear repeating for those who donít.
Most of you have had the opportunity to put a jigsaw puzzle together. Itís likely you were taught to find the corner pieces first, then all the pieces with a straight edge to form the border. Then you look for colorful pieces, or unusually shaped pieces, because itís easy to find where they go. These are the most important pieces, right? We teach much the same thing about about a personís place in our society, or Godís creation, which are both like a giant jigsaw puzzle. So we should seek to be a corner, straight edge, colorful, or distinctively shaped part of this picture, right? I mean we do want to be important, donít we? Well, let me ask you something. If you have almost finished a 2000 piece puzzle, and in the upper left area, in a boring hazy light blue sky, you discover an ordinary shaped piece missing, do you say "no big deal, itís just an ordinary unimportant piece?" Orrrr, do you throw up your arms in total frustration hollering thereís a piece missing to my puzzle. The picture isnít complete without it! Thatís the way it is with Godís universe too. The most important piece at any given time is the one which is missing. Now, you can try to force yourself to be straight, or colorful, or whatever. You can have people try to force you to be something youíre not, or fit someplace you donít. You can even try to jam yourself into a spot you really donít fit into. Sometimes you may find a spot you think you fit, but you really donít. Or, others may think theyíve figured it out for you, but they havenít. Youíre an important piece. The puzzle is not complete until you are where you REALLY fit. No matter what someone else, or society in general tries to convince you of. When you find your piece, you find your peace. Hold onto it if you like as a reminder.
I have some "Precious Feet" and "Precious Hands" lapel pins at the Center. Those are the pro-life symbols which are a replica of those of a fetus at ten to twelve weeks. A non-violent, non-obnoxious way to show your support for "choosing" life. If you want one let me know. If out of this area, Iíll be happy to mail it.
While weíre talking about business, Iíd like to briefly discuss the "related businesses" of a touch of william.
I recently added the Sportron nutritional line to Solutions. It is a multi-level marketing company similar to Enrich. When I took on Enrich, I caught some flack. It was apparently not "holy" or "spiritual" enough for a few of you. I was a little naive then, and assumed others would be able to see and understand as I did. This time I am not sending information unless you request it. Sportron was added primarily because of the simplicity of their system. It is geared to the part-timer who is not overly comfortable with "selling." But it looks like a good opportunity for anyone needing relief in either financial or health areas. Enrich has become a solid addition in meeting the helping others to "break out of the boxes the world would keep them pigeonholed in" part of the a touch of william mission statement. I think Sportron will as well.
Now, a few thoughts for those critics who think I should not travel these "business" paths because it reflects poorly on my "spiritual" journey.
1. I have not gone down any of these paths except where I felt I was called or lead to do so.
2. Jesus, in His physical days on earth, was also severely reprimanded by those for whom religious appearance was important. He was frequently criticized for His participation in "un-holy, un-spiritual, or un-clean" activities.
3. If I am asking "what would Jesus do," I suspect He would go to where the "people" are, and meet them at their level of needs and places of gathering.
4. Providing opportunity for physical and financial needs to be met, though not originally perceived by me as a part of my mission, certainly fits within the parameters of my mission statement, and quite possibly increases the likelihood of someone becoming "open" to "spiritual" needs as well.
5. Providing opportunities is NOT primarily about trying to make money for me. I am debt free. I (and Donna) own my house, my car, my furniture, and my equipment. I would be taking a much different path if making money for myself was the top objective. I certainly would not have taken ALL these paths, with this much work.
But, in having taken them, through the related businesses, I have used my God-given talent for organization, and ability to discern, to provide possibilities for those who might need them. For example:
- for those whose finances are tight there are both traditional marketing and multi-level marketing avenues available with guidance and support.
- for those artistic personalities who shy away from such things, they can trade their art or craft items relating to the nature-spirit-expression themes (especially Native American related items) directly at Cherokee Billís.
- services and goods can be traded at the Trade Center for gift items, health nutritional items, and more.
- for those with health issues and concerns there are a whole bunch of possible answers through Solutions.
There are many avenues to satisfy many needs within the seven primary aspects of a touch of william. But it requires some initiative on your part. Itís taken a lot of work to put it all together. ASK, SEEK, and KNOCK.
"I love to tell a story from The Mental Equivalent. Itís the one about the man who was thrown into a dungeon. For twenty years he lay there, never attempting to even rattle the door. If he had, he could have set himself free, because, from the beginning, the door was never locked! So often, like the man in the dungeon, we allow our own thoughts about a situation to trap us."
- Phyllis Diller
FROM MY MAILBOX
Got a solicitation from Joni And Friends which included an endorsement letter from Billy Graham. Guess you canít get much better than that. Her ministry is with the handicapped. For info write:
611 Siegfriedale Road
I liked this picture from the Red Cloud Indian School newsletter. The Jesuit priests have been providing education to Lakota children for 110 years.
Red Cloud Indian School
The article at right is from the Lansing State Journal (OK so it wasnít in my mailbox). Not even on my porch. I go to the drugstore to buy a newspaper.
The quotations shown at right are from In Godís Care by The Hazelden Foundation. An excellent meditation book.
It seems like itís been an unusually long newsletter. But maybe thatís just because Iím the one writing it. Anyway, thanks for bearing with me just a little longer.
I mentioned debt free/donít use credit earlier again as a way to simplify this worldly life. I havenít always been quite so direct, but Iíd like to remind you of the best way to simplify both your worldly and your spiritual life. Thatís to enter into a personal relationship with Jesus, the Christ. No, you donít have to become a hypocrite to be a follower of Christ, as so many believe based on "Christian" examples which abound. Just open the door and let Him in. It doesnít get any simpler than this. No promise of easy living, nor easy street. But for fulfillment and simplicity there is no comparison. Donít let "lip service" Christianity scare you off. Thereís a lot of it going around these days. How well you "represent" Christ (as alluded to earlier) frequently has more to do with attitude than it does with accomplishment. Donít let others tell you what you "have" to do. Read His words for yourself (theyíre printed in red in many Bibles, and itís only an extremely small portion of the Bible). Learn about Him, and the simple instructions He gives for a fulfilled and happy life. Talk to Him. God will guide you and bless you in ways you cannot begin to imagine, if youíll set aside your own agenda long enough to look at His.
Donít expect Iíll be getting around to another Sharing before the end of the year (or perhaps even before next spring, who knows?). So, let me wish you the happiest of times this holiday season. Look for the simple. Get rid of the rush and the stress. You neither have to do it all, nor buy it all. Have a blessed Christmas, and a simpler happier New Year.
P.S. The article on the back (item is not shown in this newsletter excerpts version) just appeared this week in our small hometown newspaper. I liked it.
Also, the only need for the Center which comes to mind continues to be first class stamps. Especially around newsletter times. Obviously there are numerous wants, but I only said I would make you aware of the needs.
Another also, the coupon enclosed is for the price and basis on which I wholesale my 11x14 signed photography prints. I donít know that any of you particularly want to buy 10 of them, but I figured Iíd at least make the offer available to you. You wouldnít need the coupon here at the Center, but you would if you want to get them at the Mega Mall.
"If you do not already do so, begin to talk with God in the way you feel most comfortable. Put away all thoughts about what you should say and, in the silence of your being, begin to talk to God as though you are sharing with your most dear and trusted friend, for this is true."
- Daily Word July 27, 1992