Author: Brandon McCain

1 Behold, how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell in unity! (ESV) – Psalm 133:1

I was walking in my house not too long ago headed to the bathroom in the middle of the night, and didn’t want to wake anyone so I didn’t turn any lights on. I misjudged where the corner of the hall was and caught my tiny pinky toe. I am not saying I grazed my pinky toe…I may as well have swung my leg with the force of mighty Thor and slammed my Thor’s pinky toe hammer into the corner! This apparently angered my pinky toe and it rebelled against all my other body parts, rendering me useless. I rolled around on the ground moaning in agony. Unintelligible noises mixed with inappropriate words…and I woke up everyone in the house. Have you ever had that experience? Stepped on a Lego, stubbed your big toe, slam a finger in a door? When a part of the body hurts like that the whole body hurts.

The body of Christ is like that. We, the church, are called “the Body of Christ”. Christ is the head and we all play important roles in the body. Not only does serving in the role God has given us demonstrate that we are obedient; it glorifies Him as we do so. Psalm 133 verse 1 says how good and pleasant it is when we dwell in unity. Unity is such an important thing. If a hand or foot decides not go in the same direction as the rest of the body it causes pain and chaos. When a part of the body of Christ decides not to do what it was made to do it can cause a lot of damage. Division. Bringing attention to us instead of Jesus, where the Glory belongs.

Do you know what God has gifted you to do in the body? Are you obeying in that area? Are there things you need to repent of and get back on track, rejoicing that Jesus has covered our sin and taken the blame so we can walk with him? Our prayer is that we would be a good and pleasant aroma to the world around us as we live unified together in the Gospel, for the Gospel, to the GLORY of God.

It is a beautiful thing when our physical body functions as it is supposed to, all the parts doing what they were created for. Our thumbs making it possible to pick up that coffee cup in the morning. Our eyes letting the light in so we can see the beauty of God’s creation. Our heart beating so all the other parts can function. All these things we take for granted at times…until they do not operate as they should then we become very aware of them. Thank you Lord for creating each one of us to function in unity with the rest of the members of the body of Christ for Your glory.

Star wars toys, Disc golf and becoming a cheerful giver…

Is it really more blessed to give than to receive?

In Acts 20:35 Paul says remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”

It’s interesting because it is not recorded in the bible of Jesus saying this. I love this though. I can picture the disciples sitting around a table talking about their time with Jesus and 1 of them mentioning mid conversation, “remember what Jesus said about giving, He said it was more blessed to give than to receive”. Paul obviously took note of this as you can see if you read Acts 20.

I love getting gifts. I guess it is one of my love languages. Still to this day get me a toy for Christmas and it makes my day! Even better if it is a nerf gun or star wars toy! Most of my life I haven’t lived Acts 20, because functionally I have enjoyed getting way more than giving. This makes it pretty difficult to be what God calls us to be in 2 cor. 9:7, a cheerful giver. Cheerful giver. So I not only need to give but be cheerful about it! How can this happen?

Two things have happened in my life that has given me better perspective on giving. 1. I developed hobbies that needed to be funded. I try not to have expensive hobbies, which is why I developed a love for Disc golf. Disc golf is kind of like regular golf (ball golf to us disc golfers) only there are no clubs and instead of golf balls we use Discs. Frisbees…don’t call them Frisbees and for heaven’s sake don’t refer to it as Frisbee golf!! There are many types of discs. Discs to putt with, discs to throw when you need it to fly left or right, discs that go far, discs that go mid range, and so on. As I learned how to play and began to love it more I began to buy better disc and spend a little more on them. And the thing was I spent money on it willingly and cheerfully because I loved what it was going toward.

The other thing that happened to me in life is I was blessed with 2 daughters. I love my daughters. As I am typing this blog I am anxious to see how Brooklynn and Kaelyn’s first day of 1st grade and 3rd grade is going. I can’t wait to see them this afternoon. I am thinking of things I can buy them to celebrate another “first day of school”. I love them and it results in loving giving them gifts. I love to see their face when we give them gifts. I give to them cheerfully because I love them.

God says he LOVES a CHEERFUL giver. As we grow fonder of God and trust Him and Love Him more we will want to love what He loves. He loves a cheerful giver. The type of giver that gives out of the knowledge that is all God’s anyways, so here have it back. We can trust that he is a cheerful giver. He is a perfect father and even imperfect fathers want to provide for their children. If you are like me there a many times we need to repent of how we view our “stuff”. I desire to hold on to it, hoard it, and spend it on myself instead of being a cheerful giver. Cheerfully giving to the Lord, to others in need, instead of holding on or even giving with a bad attitude. He says to not give begrudgingly. My prayer for you and I is that our affections for the Lord would increase and we would give cheerfully experiencing that it is more blessed to give than to receive.

[13] For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. [14] For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” – Galatians 5:13-14

Why is it so hard to ask for help? Have you ever put together a swing set where the first thing on the instructions says “at least 2 people needed to assemble this item”? Why are we so stubborn and prideful when it comes to asking for help? Is it that we don’t want to inconvenience someone else?  Maybe. Is it that you just find it easier to work by yourself? You know if you want it done right, do it yourself!

I remember watching my dad put together a swing set when I was a kid. At this time I was old enough to distinguish that swing sets came in two varieties: the first was the “Impossible to put together and you will most likely lose a limb” kind; and the second, “You will definitely end up in the ER today” kind. I think my dad bled more that day than most people do in a lifetime from the sharp metal posts and four billion screws. My dad refused to ask for help, and I am pretty sure he had already burned the bridge to asking mom to help him. I learned all the curse words I know that day!

Life is like that swing set. Not recommended to do it alone! Jesus told us that in this life we will have trouble – but take heart, Jesus has overcome the world. Life together in the Gospel is not to be done alone. Even when the world leaves us, Jesus will never forsake us. I love what Paul says in Galatians 5, we are freed to serve one another and love each other as we love ourselves!

This is how the gospel has been changing me over the years and still today. Yes, getting something accomplished by myself might be possible, but I miss out on doing life with others around me. I have had the opportunity to serve the Sharing shed at different times and my favorite part about that now is asking for and having people help me with it. The conversations, the laughter, the lives touched as we do life together are so encouraging. It’s not just everyday things though…life gets difficult, at times impossible. We need each other. I realized this more than ever when I lost my dad six months ago. Through that terrible time I have experienced much joy as I have sought help from people around me. More importantly, I have accepted so much help and support from people living out the call to be together in the Gospel, for the Gospel, to the Glory of God!

Psalm 133:1

            [1] Behold, how good and pleasant it is

                        when brothers dwell in unity! (ESV)

It is much easier to show kindness to someone in need when we are looking at them at eye level rather than looking down on them, as though we might be better or more deserving than they. Each of us deserves God’s wrath, but Jesus paid our debt.  Now, out of gratitude, we can serve the world around us in hopes that they will receive a blessing. Our hope is that they might experience the love of Christ.

The Sharing Shed is a great opportunity for us to serve those in need. The Sharing Shed has been serving our community for many years. Today several churches and agencies team up to provide furniture, beds, kitchen items, linens and more to those in our community who are in need. Many people we serve are coming out of very difficult seasons, some have even been homeless, and we are privileged to provide necessary items to help them get back into a home. We have seen parents reunited with children by providing beds and dressers for children to use. The Shed is following the call that Jesus gave to believers.  When they are cold, give them a coat.

Get involved. Love well. Serve well. See if you are not blessed in doing so.

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”

Matthew 25:35-40 ESV

I love movies about baseball.  Almost all of them.  The Natural, Bull Durham, Major League, The Sandlot, League of Their own, 8 Men out, 42, The Rookie…the list goes on and on.  One of my favorites though is For the Love of the Game, starring Kevin Costner. Costner plays an aging pitcher named Billy Chapel trying to prove he still has what it takes to pitch in the big leagues.

Chapel has a practice that he uses during games called “Clearing the Mechanism”.  This is where he drowns out all the distractions around him and focuses on what is most important, getting the batter out.  One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when Detroit, Chapel’s team, is playing the New York Yankees at  Yankee stadium.  The scene is crazy. Every fan is screaming at Chapel about how he is washed up and no good.  The Sounds are deafening! Then Chapel closes his eyes and reminds himself to “clear the mechanism” then it happens, everything that is not important goes out of focus and silent.  All that is left is what is most important.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could clear the mechanism when our lives get out of control?  When the world is screaming for our attention.  The enemy shouting lies directly to our hearts. “You don’t have what it takes!” “You’re the reason bad things happen around you!” “How could God love someone like you?”  Chaos in our lives gets too loud for us, at times, that we can’t focus on what matters.  What does matter? Isaiah 26:3-4 (ESV) says You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.  Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.  Jesus is who matters. He is our way to clear the mechanism of life. He gives life. He gives peace. Peace even in chaos.

Our Prayer as we go together in the Gospel is that we would learn how to “stay our minds” on Christ.  The chaos doesn’t go away. Oh it is still there, but take heart Jesus has overcome all the things that distract us and make us anxious.  Does the thought of peace in the middle of our chaotic lives sound appealing? Open your bible and stay your mind on the one true living God.

Clear the mechanism.