Esteem People Above ‘Things’

Esteem People Above Things

Chapter One

Esteem People Above 'Things'
Hamburger For Thanksgiving 12 Insuring Our Values Like We Insure Our Valuables – Part II 20
Turning 'Interruptions' Into 'Appointments' 14 I Got Nothing For Christmas! – Or Did I? 22
How Do You Want To Be Remembered? 16 The Stars Confirm……. 24
Insuring Our Values Like We Insure Our Valuables – Part I 18 Discussion Questions 26

Matthew 6:33; Psalm 37:4; Matthew 19:29

Hamburger For Thanksgiving

It was the afternoon before Thanksgiving and I was planning to make meatloaf and instant potatoes for dinner the next day. I would bake biscuits and make gravy. We still had a package of raspberry kool-aid left from last summer.

My husband was pastoring a very small church in Elizabeth, Colorado, and the last three months had really been rough. Our two year old Daniel had been in the hospital to have his heel-cord lengthened, so he was in a cast. This was cast number 27; the other 26 had been corrective casts.

Our new baby, Laurella, had been in the hospital with a terrific case of bronchitis. My husband had fallen in the bathtub, gashing his forehead open and turning on the hot water. This required an ambulance trip to the hospital fifty miles away in Denver to receive plastic surgery. We had no health insurance.

We were all on the mend now and pretty excited about Thanksgiving. Six year old Cassandra and four year old John had decorated napkins with their crayons. We would spend the afternoon singing, playing games and giving thanks.

The then the telephone rang. A friend in Denver wanted to know if we could come in and pick up a box of groceries and a turkey. The youth group from the church we had previously attended had gathered the food for a family who lived near the church. When they arrived to make the delivery, however, they discovered the occupants had vacated during the night.

Happily, the six of us made the fifty mile journey to Denver. Our hostess fed us cake and ice cream. Then I started complaining about all the troubles that had come our way recently. She quietly listened for quite a while as I dressed the four children in their pajamas; we knew they would go to sleep on the way home.

Our wedding vows had included the phrase, "for richer, for poorer," and I knew I was marrying a man who wanted to be a pastor. I had claimed Matthew 6:33 as my life verse. I was always pleasantly surprised at the various methods God used to supply our needs. And! really did thank Him. But I rehearsed every detail of our recent trials to her.

Finally, my friend looked at me and said, "Laura, I would gladly give you all the money I have if I had four beautiful, healthy children like yours." She and her husband had only one child, a beautiful girl who was retarded.

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I looked at my two girls and two boys and my wonderful husband and decided that I should start praising God instead of complaining. Suddenly, I realized how rich I really was and how many blessings had come my way. On the way home we sang, "Count your blessings, name them one by one," and I said, 'Bill, Cassandra, John, Daniel, and Laurella.' "Count your many blessings, see what God has done."

I have often thought about that night and the wonderful turkey dinner God supplied for us for the next day. Most of all, I learned to be thankful for the blessing God bestows on us daily through out friends and family. Every Thanksgiving, I remember how God taught me to refocus on life's priorities that year.

"Father, help me to trust you to supply our needs. Help me to name my blessings one by one, and to focus on thanking you rather than complaining."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Life's priorities include delighting in the Lord's presence, in spite of the circumstances.

– Laura Drewer –

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Proverbs 3:1-6

Turning 'Interruptions' Into 'Appointments'

Interruptions are divine appointments made by God. This week has been filled with interruptions. Of course, an interruption is only an interruption when you are trying to accomplish something else. You can always tell how important a task is by how you feel when you are interrupted. If you are angry, obviously your task at hand is more important. If, however, you welcome the interruption, it may mean that you are bored with the task. Interruptions are just a fact of life.

I was settling into work on a project when a friend came over. We sat and visited for about an hour. I enjoyed the talk far more than I would have the work. Besides, work can wait. Such interruptions kept happening all week long.

The list of "to do" items is not getting any shorter. In fact, there are still more things to do than what has been crossed off my list. Rather than become extremely frustrated, I decided to evaluate the interruptions and have drawn two conclusions.

First, those people who interrupt us consider us very important. We are important enough for them to want to come to us. Perhaps they just want our opinion about something or to talk through a problem regardless of the motive, we are important to them.

Second, interruptions are opportunities to experience the presence of God. We may think that our tasks are very important, but to God, relationships always come first. This is illustrated by the way Jesus handled interruptions. Relationships always came first. No matter what the request, he always had time for others. Jesus turned those interruptions into appointments. He used them as opportunities to help others reach out to God… and to find God.

Perhaps it is time for us to reconsider our priorities. Tasks are never as important as people and rarely as regarding. When we learn to esteem interruptions as appointments made by God, we will find ourselves looking forward for the next interruption. Mine just came. My son just made us some root beer floats. I think I'll go enjoy the interruption!

"Keep me aware, O God, that You may be setting people in my path because You want me to minister to them. Make me aware that people are more important than tasks. As I love You, Lord, let me show Your love to others. In Jesus' name. Amen."

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AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: With God there are no interruptions… only divine appointments.

– Thomas Duckworth –

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Proverbs 10:7

How Do You Want To Be Remembered?

At time of family reunions, members often asks: "Do you remember when… ?" "Yes, I remember…" This may be followed by laughter. In the remembering we are recalling events from the past – some painful, may joyful.

Memory is associated with remembrance, recollection, and reminiscence. The path down memory lane is crowded. This is the way it should be. In the context of a close family, we honor and memorialize those who have preceded us. At the same time little treasures are being tucked away in the closet of memory for the following generation.

Edith Schaeffer in What Is Family? Asks:

"What is a family meant to be? Among other things, I personally have always felt it is meant to be a museum of memories – collections of carefully preserved memories and a realization that day-by-day memories are being chosen for our museum." (Pp. 190, 191)

How do you want to be remembered? What comes to mind by others about you? What word of two summarizes what people would say about you? I am more concerned with who you really are rather than events, although these are closely related.

Dr. Donald M. Joy writes about his grandmother Carrie Hulet Joy who, with her family, homesteaded south-west of Dodge City, Kansas, in 1904. The mother of seven children, she and her husband spearheaded the construction of the Cave Free Methodist Church in 1927. He says: "It seems fair to say that the grandchildren and great-grandchildren are overwhelmingly in the debt of Carrie Joy for their spiritual heritage… Her indomitable drive, sparkling humor, and boundless love combined to sweep us all toward Christ and the church."

In tribute tot he same person, G.M. Cottrill wrote: "She was a dedicated, cheerful Christian, devoted to her family, faithful to her church. Her wholesome Christian influence touched many lives. She has left her family a rich heritage of Christian faith.

Yes, there were the events on the bleak plains of Kansas, but character and those deeper things answer the question: How do you want to be remembered?

At my wife's family reunion (the Schufeldts) I gave the following tribute of the father, Paul Estes Schufeldt, and mother, Cecile Mae Marshall Schufeldt:

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  • the endured hardships of life only tendered their hearts,

  • the discomforts of life only enabled a preparation of their heavenly home,

  • the denial of society's register only opened the door of their home and hearts to varied and numerous friendships across the years,

  • the endurance of life's trials caused people to look with favor upon their name.

Each one of us is writing memories, not only of what we visualize of others, but others are writing on the tablets of their hearts, memories of us.

"O Lord my God, may I live in such a way that the memories people hold of me will be an inspiration and blessing to them. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Today by God's grace I will so live for the glory of God, that some day, after I am gone, I might be a blessed memory to others!

– Floyd Cooper –

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Deuteronomy 6:7-9

Insuring Our Values Like We Insure Our Valuables – Part I

"These insurance bills just keep growing and growing! I wonder if all this "stuff" is worth paying all this insurance!???

Do those questioning thoughts sound familiar?

In today's climate and culture, insurance has become almost an absolute necessity. In fact, many types of insurance are required. In most, or perhaps all states and provinces, automobile insurance is required. Mortgage companies require insurance on all mortgaged property. Many loans require life insurance on the person responsible for the loan. Certain types of insurance are required for businesses with employees. This would include Worker's Compensation, Social Security, and other mandatory programs.

In addition to insurances that are required, there are those that are highly necessary if one is to maintain fiscal stability. These would include health insurance, liability, insurance, and at least some life insurance to protect your family's financial future.

A further category of insurance is more discretionary but often considered very important. In this category might be included long-term disability insurance, accident insurance, insurance on valuables such as jewelry or other special possessions. You can insure for nursing home care, insure your credit cards, your collections, your travel, and almost anything else you can imagine. If most of us would do a detailed analysis of the cost of all insurance we carry, we would probably be amazed at the total annual outlay. For many families it will range from 10 – 20% of their income.

Why are we spending so much to insure our valuables? To put it simply, our current North American culture and lifestyle have become extremely cash-dependent. Our lifestyles have created hand-to-mouth existence which allows for very little margin when there is a loss of income. There is also the very real potential of catastrophic loss from which many in North America could never recover, much less handle with current assets. For example, a major illness can easily cost as much as many families will earn in a lifetime.

Consequently, we feel compelled to protect our valuables through the acquisition of a myriad of insurance plans which require huge portions of our income. It has become the norm.

The question that we need to consider is this: 'HOW ARE WE INSURING OUR VALUES?" What are we doing to protect our selves from a catastrophic loss of

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"values" which will have disastrous consequences for life on this planet and eternal consequence for those deprived of those values? These are sobering questions. Our scripture for this day outlines of God's plan for the perpetuity of values. Deuteronomy 6:7-9, will help with the perspective.

The primary resource in God's plan for the perpetuity and maintenance of values is the family. Is your family working to insure your values.

"Dear Lord, help me to plan my family life in such a way that I am consistently teaching and modeling eternal values."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Teaching God's values to my family is the only way to insure those values will be lived.

– Edward Rickman –

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Deuteronomy 6:7-9, Ephesians 6:1-4

Insuring Our Values Like We Insure Our Valuables – Part II

Over time there has been a continual and increasing transfer of responsibility for "insuring our values" from the family to various other agencies and entities. The teaching of values has been assigned to schools, churches, children's clubs, youth programs, the government, and the media.

With all of the current cultural discussion about values, many have begun to recognize that transferring responsibility from the family to many of the other entities for teaching "Values" has been a colossal disaster. We are realizing that there is a catastrophic loss of values in process. What can we do?

Let me suggest a few of the ways we can begin to "insure our values":

  1. We need to model and practice our values.

    Perhaps the simplistic way of saying it is: "We need to practice what we preach." For example, we decry the subtle, creeping materialism of our culture while acquiring more and more things we need to insure. Is there any wonder our youth are embracing materialism instead of a simple lifestyle?

  2. We need to support the agencies and institutions which are responsibly insuring our values.

    We recognize that our churches and many ministries are actively and aggressively trying to fulfill the task of teaching and encouraging the values we hold dear. At the same time, these ministries have less than adequate resources to fulfill their assigned task.

  3. We can evaluate where our "values insurance" dollars are being spent.

    There are unlimited requests for funding a myriad of causes. But not all of these causes are perpetuating the Biblical values we hold dear. They need to be evaluated.

  4. We need to be reminded occasionally that God placed the primary responsibility for "values insurance" on the family and the church.

    These two entities must be working together to accomplish the desired goal, but the family has the first responsibility.

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"Lord, my family is valuable to me. Please help me assure that scriptural values are passed along to all members of my family."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I must insure my values at least as well as I insure my valuables!

– Edward Rickman –

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John 3:16

I Got Nothing For Christmas! – Or Did I?

It was far from a normal Christmas for my family and me. Even though all of the elements for Christmas were very visible and the music and celebration of the season were very much alive, for our family there was a greater concern.

In the fall of 1954, my sister had become very ill while away in college. The illness was not properly diagnosed. Consequently, she experienced a ruptured appendix, and even then, it was nine days later when surgery was finally performed. Her life hung in the balance for several days. In fact, during this initial surgery, the work could not be completed due to the seriousness of her condition.

In December, she had to return to the hospital for additional surgery to complete what could not be accomplished in the first surgery.

Since I was only 14 years old at the time, I have relatively few memories of those days except the concern we had for her life. I do recall that on Christmas day, we visited her in the hospital. Following our visit, we walked down the street where a "boarding house" was advertising Christmas dinner at a very low cost. I recall a bit of embarrassment in eating Christmas dinner with a group of people I didn't even know. Beyond that, I have little or no memory of either the day or the season. I do know that my sister recovered to the great joy of the entire family!

About 35 years later, while enjoying the celebration of Christmas with my sister and her family, she asked me a very interesting question. She said, "Do you remember the Christmas when I was in the hospital and the only person in the family who got a present was me?" Mother had sewn a pair of pajamas for her out of material she had available. She took them to her at the hospital as her Christmas gift. She went on to say, "You and Carolyn (my younger sister) got nothing for Christmas that year."

Now that came as a total surprise and shock to me. I got nothing for Christmas and for 35 years didn't even realize it! Surely that would have left some kind of scar or warped my emotional being. Surely I would have felt bad about this injustice all those years. But none of these things were true. I got nothing for Christmas and didn't even realize it! Or did I?

Perhaps out of those financially lean years (our family was no doubt below the poverty line), I received the greatest gift possible. Because of our circumstances, our attention was totally focused on the one gift that would bring joy to our family. It was the gift of LIFE for one we loved. In fact, it is obvious now that we were so totally focused on that

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priority there was no room for self-centered concern about personal gifts.

I shall never forget that it was she who encouraged me to go to Bible College and it was she and her husband who gave me $200 to start Bible College. It was money they could not really afford but was given out of love and concern for the direction of my life. Even though it was the only financial assistance I ever received during my college years, it totally changed the course of my life. I shall be eternally grateful to God for sparing her life to be an encouragement to me and be at least partially responsible for steering my life in the right direction.

"Dear God, please help us focus on the greatest gift of life instead of all the materialistic celebration of Your coming."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: The gift of Life – Eternal Life – is the greatest gift we will ever receive.

– Edward Rickman –

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Matthew 6:33; 1 Timothy 4:8

The Stars Confirm…….

In the complexity of our day it is easy to become enchanted with things, and place improper value upon objects.

Andre Malraux, in his book Felled Oaks, tells of visiting Charles de Gaulle in retirement at Colombey on a snowy day in December, 1969. The two men spent a day together talking in de Gaulle's study, over lunch with Mme de Gaulle, and on into the evening. When the conversation ended, Malraux prepared to leave, and then writes: "We reached the entrance. The General gave us his hand, and looked at the first stars, in a great hole of sky, to the left of the clouds. He said, 'They confirm the insignificance of things…'"

The stars "confirm the insignificance of things." If we could stand upon a star and look at our "Valuable things", would they not seem insignificant? The chorus sings: "…may I do each day's work for Jesus, with eternity's values in view."

Jenny Lind left the stage at the zenith of her powers. Sitting one day where the gentle tides come rolling in at Ostend, a Bible in her hand and her eyes on the glories of the setting sun, someone asked her why she had stepped down from her throne in the day of her coronation. She laid her hand on the open Bible and said, "It made me think little of this, and (pointing to the great sun) nothing of that; and so I gave it up without regret for a greater life."

What are the valuables of life? Note: not valuable things! Things such as wheels (cars, trucks), boxes (houses, business places), stuff (possessions), $$ (money), are all so dispensable – here today, gone tomorrow. Natural disasters or carelessness snatch them away. They are gone!

Robert M. Fine said: "Don't fret about the man who delights in things. He may not be satisfied. He may want something better. If you find your highest in God, then your life is lived with satisfaction" (Light & Life, 9/7/77). Let me hold lightly the things of this earth.

Health, time, friends, hope, family, love, good books, uplifting, music, faith, peace with God and others, is a partial list of life's valuables. Most of these cannot be purchased at a garage sale where things are being discarded or at a costly price in a department store. The intrinsic are more often unseen but known, known inwardly.

As cameras must be in focus for clear pictures, so the valuable – our soul, time, a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and friends – may get out of focus in our lives. Watching, praying, and keeping, committed to God, will enable us to keep values in

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proper perspective.

"Dear Father, help me not to become side-tracked with the trivials, but to keep focused upon those values which are lasting. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Today, by God's grace, I will not allow my heart to become fixed upon things but upon God's kingdom and all that pertains to it.

– Floyd Cooper –

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Discussion Questions

  1. Amidst your 'troubles' and 'tribulations', are you learning to 'focus' on God's blessings in your life rather than on life's 'losses' and 'hurts'? What benefits accrue (to you, to others, to the Lord) when you 'focus' on life's blessings instead of on life's hardships? Have you experienced exceleration of 'counting your blessings' (naming them 'one by one') and "being surprised" at all the great things which God has done for you? Have you 'noticed', when you are going through 'hard times', that someone else (close or far from you is going through 'harder times' then you are?

  2. From your own life (or from your observation of the life of someone whom you know well), give an illustration which demonstrates the truth of the following statement: "Interruptions are divine appointments made by God."

  3. When you 'accept' interruptions (from people who unexpectantly call you or who come to see you) without anger or excessive frustration, does this demonstrate that you "value people above tasks"? Do you think that it is especially difficult for "task-oriented" and "highly-motivated" and "perfectionist-minded" persons to "accommodate" persons who un expectantly "interrupt" their busy schedule? As a Christian who works hard to attain your 'goals' and to complete your 'tasks' and to fulfill your 'mission' in life, how have you learned to accept 'interruptions' from 'needy people' who need to 'pour out their hearts' to someone who will give them 'a listening ear'? Tell to what extent you agree (or disagree) with the following statements: "Tasks are never as important as people and rarely as rewarding. We may think that our tasks are very important, but to God, relationships always come first."

  4. In considering the 'stewardship of influence', what 'qualities' do you most desire to develop in your character that will make your life worth being remembered, long after you have died? How do you want to be remembered? What do you want your family and close friends to say about you (as a 'person') and about your accomplishments (in terms of your 'life mission')?

  5. In light of the fact that you spend so much money on various insurances (to protect your valuables), what are you doing to protect your self from a catastrophic loss of 'values' which will have disastrous consequences for life on this planet and eternal consequences for those deprived of those values? What specific 'steps' are you taking to teach God's values (standards) to your family? What are you doing to 'resist' worldly influences which seek to 'squeeze you into its own sinful molds"? (Note Romans 12:1-2)

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  6. What are you specifically doing (in terms of actions, projects, expenditures of your money) to demonstrate your strong (Christian) conviction that "people are more important than things", that "eternal values are more important than temporal values".

  7. Give your interpretation of the following statement: "The stars 'confirm the insignificance of things'."

  8. Is it possible for a believer to fully "embrace" the 'good things' of this earth, and, at the same time, to live for the 'values' of eternity and for the 'concerns' of heaven? Why or why not?

  9. Make a partial list of "life's greatest valuables" to you. Do you value in life what God most values?

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