by David Chadwell
When something really nice is done for me, I have a very real problem. Actually, I have two problems. The first problem: if what is offered to me is much too kind, much too generous, much too thoughtful, I really struggle with accepting the kindness.
Back in the 1960's when I preached for the Senatobia congregation in Senatobia, Mississippi, a Christian friend came to me and said, "Why are you so selfish?" The question astounded me. I muttered back, "I don't know. How am I selfish?" The friend answered by asking another question: "Do you really enjoy doing nice things for other people?'
I knew the answer to that one! I quickly replied, "Certainly!"
He then asked, "Why won't you let others have that feeling when they want to do something for you?" I had not thought about it that way, and obviously I never forgot it.
The second problem I have is found in how do I show gratitude for something I genuinely appreciate. What is the appropriate way to show gratitude?
Thanksgiving for Bread
Thanksgiving for Cup
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
by Chris Benjamin
Rockwall Recollections -
As a child on the farmland in Brentwood, weekends and summers were spent building the houses and other structures on the land. I recall the genesis of the old barn from its time as nothing more than a wooden framework rich with the smell of sawdust and construction materials. We used the resources available to us on the land. For a time we even had our own sawmill and made planks from the trees on our land. Using the resources from our 400 acres meant using rocks and stones. Stonework is a common feature of the structures my family built. It is a part of every building – the well house, the garage, the chimneys of houses and the patio walls.
I remember our old rusted metal trailer wagon. We hitched it to the back of the Massey Ferguson and chugged out to a clearing in the woods or to a place near the little canyons that cut through our land. The men would fan out and begin gathering rocks of all sizes and shapes. My father told me that as he would walk along scanning for rocks he would look at all sorts of rocks – some of them moss-covered, some of them rough, some of them slick and smooth, some of them light-colored and others black as coal, some buried deep in the earth and others just standing free as if they had just tumbled off the slide of a cliff. He said that as they gathered the rocks he could begin to see the entire wall formed in his mind. After filling the trailer, they would bring the haul of stones and spread them out at the building site. Like the pieces of the puzzle the rocks are combed through to find the rock that is destined to fit. Nothing is forced to fit. There’s a rock for every part of the wall. And every rock will find its place in the wall – some rocks are . My father has a rock shaped like the state of Arkansas in his rock pile at home. One day it will be a part of a wall. Not right now. But one day he will place it into a wall, or chimney, or walkway – in his own time, in his way.
My father tells me that during the gathering of the stones and in the sorting of the stones there is a subconscious search for the stone. The builder knows it when he sees it. It has the right shape and size; just the right height and width. This stone becomes the cornerstone of the wall or chimney. Dad says that when he finds this stone he can see the whole structure projecting from it. Just by looking at that one stone he can see how every other stone fits and stacks to build the whole structure. You can search for rocks all weekend, but only when you find this one rock can the construction begin. It is the key to the whole project.
Because of God’s mercy and kindness, we have been gathered. He has a vision for us. He has a project in mind and we are the materials for that project. It’s a work of restoration – a new house built on ancient foundations.
God had the entire project in mind when he placed the cornerstone.
What is this project God visualizes? For what purpose and for what project is he gathering us and building us?
One way to express this project/purpose might be – "Making Disciples for Jesus who are Eager to Serve Others."
We are being built into a spiritual house by the master builder – God.
Every member and every ministry of West Ark must be oriented and supported by Jesus Christ. If Christ isn’t cornerstone to all that we do here, then why are we doing it?
Everyone here has a gift as part of the body. That gift is for the encouragement of the body and is for serving others. We need to recognize one another’s gifts and encourage one another to use them.
We have an identity – We know who we are because we know whose we are. We are a chosen people, a holy nation, a royal priesthood. We are chosen and called out – but not for our sake but for the sake of the world.
Why do we do all this? Why does God do it? Because his mercy endures forever! He’s kind and good.
1 Peter 1:3 – Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR