What are your “Loaves & Fish”?

4 01 2017

If you’re anything like me, you heard the biblical account of the boy whose lunch became a feast for thousands when you were quite young. It’s a great account to capture the imaginations of young and old and is found in all four of the Gospels, Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44, Luke 9:10-17, and John 6:1-13.  loaves-and-fishes-coloring-page-1 If you haven’t heard the account, let me summarize it here.

Jesus Christ had attracted a large following, people wanting to hear His unorthodox teaching, and hoping to see Him perform miracles like healing the blind, deaf, disabled, or the demon possessed.  They had followed Him without any thought as to where or what they might eat.  Jesus disciples discovered that the only food in their midst is a small boy’s lunch of bread and fish.  Jesus takes the boys lunch, prays over it, blesses it, and then shares it with the crowd of thousands.  They even had left-overs when they were done.  Needless to say, those who came hoping for a miracle, got one.

Anyway, from a very young age I wondered what my “loaves and fish” might be.  What might I possess that, when Jesus Christ asks for them, I could surrender them for His use? I can sing.  I’m an “above par” audio technician.  I love the satisfaction that comes from serving others in such a way that their lives have been blessed, perhaps without even knowing that I was involved.  In truth, I’m a “behind the scenes” servant at heart.  So when I assessed my potential offerings for the Lord, I’ve always been pleased to see if He would “feed the many” with anything I might give.

For the past several years my family has been involved with the planning and execution of The Salvation Army Central Territory’s C.B.L.I. encampment, Central Bible Leadership Institute (on Facebook).  We love it.  It’s a gathering of people across the spectrum of age and from all across the central United States. centralmapaboutusweb Well, in late July, early August of 2016 we were once again gathered at Wonderland Camp & Conference Center when I saw an old friend, someone I have known for about 15 years.  But this time, as I looked at my friend, I wondered, “What has happened to him?  He’s so feeble, diminished, and lifeless.” I found out that his kidneys were failing.  Barring a miracle from God and a matching donor, he was going to need dialysis to stay alive.  Immediately I prayed, “Father, my friend, your son needs divine healing or a matching donor.  Please send him someone.”

Throughout the week of camp I prayed again and again for him and his family, even going so far as to offer to spread the word that he needs a donor with, “What blood type is he?”.  As soon as I heard his blood type and knew mine to be the same, I felt a nudge from God and heard Him ask, “Aren’t you ‘someone‘?”

I’ll cut to the chase here.  After months of testing, praying and waiting, I am giving one of my kidneys to my friend.  Here’s the thing.  I’m not doing it for praise or thanks.  I’m not trying to add a “jewel to my crown” or anything like that.  I’m simply offering my “loaves and fish” to the Master and am waiting to see what He’ll do with it.

I didn’t mention that my friend is a pastor.  When he speaks God’s Word people listen to hear God’s voice.  He’s a singer.  When he sings people are moved to tears, to action, to repentance, and to worship the Almighty.  He’s a husband and a father.  When I see him look at his wife and kids, I see a man who would lay down his life for them in a heartbeat.  But more than that, he’s investing in them every day, loving, guiding, correcting, giving and receiving from them, just as Christ does the church.  He’s a champion for social justice.  He’s a voice for those too afraid to speak.  He’s a defender of the downtrodden. I’m giving my “loaves and fish” to someone who has already “fed the thousands” and has “calmed the sea”.

What can God do with my “loaves and fish”?  I don’t know, but I’m watching to see.  Like the boy in the Bible, no one needs to know my name.  The simply need to follow the One to whom I make my offering and eat until they are filled from everything He offers them.

Ask Him today what your “loaves and fish” are.  When He asks you for them, don’t hesitate.  Give what you have and see what He will do.  He never disappoints.

 

For information on being a living organ donor, check out:

https://www.unos.org/donation/living-donation/

https://organdonor.gov/about/process/living-donation.html

http://www.americantransplantfoundation.org/about-transplant/living-donation/becoming-a-living-donor/

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Are we “the older brother”?

20 09 2016

Very few people I know are ever pleased with injustice.  If we even smell a hint of injustice our hackles are raised, especially if we think we are on the receiving end of the injustice.  Look at the political scene in the U.S.A.  Doesn’t it appear to be driven by our reactions to injustices or perceived injustices?  Isn’t it driven widely by perceived injustices and our sense of entitlement (false or real)?

With that in mind, put yourself in the place of the older brother of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32).  Isn’t this real injustice? Isn’t it true entitlement?  His father was spending his inheritance on the disrespectful, disobedient, lazy, good for nothing brother who had already blown through his own inheritance.  If anyone has “the right” to be angry, it’s him.  If anyone should be allowed to vent his frustration and even riot over the injustice of it all, it’s this older brother.

Yet the father tries to help him see that, first of all, reclaiming someone or something thought lost is worthy of celebration, and second, because the father is still alive, none of the wealth that was spent, either by the prodigal or the father, is anyone’s business but the father’s.  The older son/brother only gains access to his inheritance through his relationship with the father, dead or alive.  After his brother left he may have thought, “From here on out, it’s all mine.”  But the truth of the matter is this.  The entire estate was the father’s until the father ceased to live.

Now, I ask you to consider your allegiance.  Have you surrendered yourself to the Heavenly Father?  Do you claim to be fully His?  If so, what might Abba be saying to you through this story?  Does He want you to vent and complain, rally and posture against any and all perceived or real injustices?  Or does He want you to do what He does?  Love?  Forgive?  Extend grace?  Celebrate justice?  Live justice in all you do?  Instruct?  Correct?  Defend the helpless?  Serve the fatherless and the widow/ers?  Befriend the imprisoned?

I’m not claiming to have it all together, nor am I condemning anyone.  These are thoughts prompted by my quiet time with Abba.

If they serve you, praise God.

If they anger you, pray to Him to help you discern why.  Perhaps I need correction or instruction, or maybe you do.

If they push us apart, I’m sorry.

If they bring us closer, let’s celebrate.

Your servant,

David Tooley

Prodigal Son Returns

Prodigal Son Returns





Why Am I Here? Do I Matter? Am I Making A Difference?

4 10 2013

I’m guessing that at some time in your life you’ve wondered, “Do I make a difference?  Would anyone notice if I were gone?”  There are many variations of this thought but it all comes down to the desire to know we’re relevant, that we matter, that our contribution is part of a bigger picture, an essential piece to complete the whole puzzle.  It’s all part and parcel of the question, “What is the meaning of life?”

To quote Gru, of Despicable Me fame and then the Bible, Rick Warren & many others, “Here’s the dealio.”, “It’s not about you.”  From the day we’re born, our innate or natural desire is to have our own needs met.  We don’t come out of the womb thinking, “Wow! That had to hurt, Mom.  I really hope you’re OK.”  No our first thoughts and reactions are, on instinct, “I want what I want and I’m going to let you know about it by crying out loud.”

Until we are exposed to the Truth of God’s Word, the Holy Bible, our first thought and response is to look out for me and mine.  Me first, but protecting my stuff, my family, my friends, my neighborhood, my community, my country will also come into play.  Yet, exposure to and transformation by God’s love transforms our thinking; our eyes begin to see beyond me and mine to His.  From the very beginning of the Book we see that it’s all His, so our petty and selfish desires hardly register compared to the magnitude of needs around the world.  When we finally gain vision beyond ourselves we finally begin to catch a glimpse of the potential part we might play in meeting needs around us and around the world.

My dad always said, “Success is recognizing a need and meeting it, fulfilling it.”  Our problem arises from this. If we are self-centered, self-focused, we will look at our own resources (those hoarded and protected things that are MINE) and say, “I’m sorry. I can’t help.”  The answer lies in the life surrendered to Christ.  That life, that person or group of people instead say, “Abba, we see the need and it’s overwhelming.  We can’t do this on our own, but we know that You have helped us to see the need and you’ll help us to meet the need.”

Until you experience the way God meets needs with your help, you can’t fully understand what it is to realize humility and pride at the same time.  General Frederick Coutts, of The Salvation Army wrote, “Humility is to rise to one’s full stature by the side of Jesus Christ, and then to realize what pygmies we are in His shadow. This cuts a man down to size, in other words, blesses him with a sense of proportion.” ~ The Splendor of Holiness.  When we work alongside Jesus we realize how little we have to offer, how much He overwhelmingly offers, as well as how much He loves having us there to help.  He loves our contribution when we freely and joyfully give our all to His cause.  In that we can be content and proud.  We’re not haughty, simply pleased that He chooses the likes of us to help Him carry out His work. Similar to when my son helps me change the flat tire, handing me the right tool when I ask for it, Jesus expects & enjoys our company & help in completing the task.

What it comes down to is this, if you really want to know who you are and if you matter, you’ll only truly find the answer to that when you are fully surrendered to Jesus.  It’s in our surrender to Him that He is able to challenge us beyond our own capacity to His capacity and sufficiency to fulfill what He’s asked us to do.  When you’re walking beside Him you hear and sense Him saying, You matter.  You make a difference.  Your contribution counts.  That’s why I paid the price for you to join me.”





I don’t know what to call it, so call it what it is: My Testimony

9 12 2011

I know that this season has you running at your wit’s end but am under the conviction that I need to share this with you.

First, I appreciate you. I pray for you often, knowing that if you are a disciple of Christ you are in the cross-hairs of the enemy.

Second, I wanted you to know that the God we serve is alive and active, allowing us to partner with Him in reaching the lost and the wandering wonderers with His love. I say that because God allowed me to share my story yesterday and I saw Him shock and awe someone who claims to believe. You may have heard this already but I need to share it anyway because that’s what the Umpire of my heart wants.

When I was 3 years old I started having extremely bad headaches. We’re talking the pain and pressure were so bad that my face and head would literally show signs of bruising (those pretty purples and greens). Our family doctor immediately referred Mom & Dad to the experts in the big city (Sioux Falls). The specialists diagnosed me with a brain tumor on a frontal lobe and immediately prepared for surgery. Mom and Dad both surrendered me to the hands of Christ and asked for prayer from our church network, which sent the request around the world via HAM radio (the facebook or twitter of the early 1970’s). I went in for surgery while Mom & Dad waited and shared Christ’s love with others in the waiting room. 4 hours later the doctor came out of surgery with a look that Mom & Dad took for me becoming a cherub but found out shortly that it was shock/awe/frustration and such. The doctor said, “Every test and indicator was that ther was a large tumor on David’s brain but after doing the neuro-ventriclogram we find no tumor. We can only write it up as a pseudo-tumor. (Off the record though, I have to tell you it’s nothing less than a miracle.” Mom & Dad didn’t miss a beat. They celebrated and praised God with the doctor and others in the waiting room, testifying to the healing power of God and prayer in the lives of those who submit themselves to Him. I came home from the hospital on Thanksgiving day.

Friends, that’s my God. He gave me back my life at the age of 3 by healing me of a brain tumor and He’s not done. He continues to move mountains and heal the sick and save the lost because He is FULLY ALIVE & FULLY ACTIVE.
I shared this with my friend yesterday and saw the look of shock on his face. He’s in the medical profession and knows that tumors don’t simply spontaneously disappear like that. He knows that a neurosurgeon doesn’t start cutting until he/she is confident they know exactly what they are doing. He looked at me almost in disbelief and all I could do was smile at him and say, “God healed me of a brain tumor so I could be here to tell you that He still ministers through miracles and I’m proof.

I won’t pretend to know why He has asked me to share this with you. It’s simply my responsibility to obey. If the Spirit has or hasn’t spoken to you through what I’ve written is up to Him. What you do with it is up to you. Simply know that our God is not One to be trifled with. He has laid out a mission and His plan for you & I.  He always provides every resource for every task He has assigned.  If you want to see Him move, shape and save I suggest you put it all in His hands and trust Him to do what’s right when He knows it’s the right time.

He loves you (& so do I). Merry Christmas!

Your servant,
David





When you think you’re done…

29 09 2011

I recently got to spend the day with 10 little girls and 1 boy, ages 4 through 11, talking about prayer while their parents were downstairs studying the same thing. We talked about why we pray, how we pray, what we pray and more. Keeping their attention for two ninety minute sessions was a formidable task, nevertheless I really had a great time with them. I got to hear innocent and beautiful testimonies. I had to field some pretty tough questions, including one on the in-errancy and trustworthiness of Scripture. All in all it was a very good and tiring time. Truthfully, I was relieved to see parents coming to pick up their kids.

One of the little girls, I’ll call her Belle, was bored while waiting for her mom and asked me to play with her. I asked her what we were to play and she replied, “Let’s play house and you can be my daddy.” In this time of play and imagination we ate together. I took her to and picked her up from school. We had a house with a secret passage that required the pushing of the play-dough button and rushing out before the door closed. I got to read her a bedtime story, hug her and kiss her forehead goodnight.

After a tiring day you’d think I would be ready to see her go home with her mom. Instead my heart ached. I hurt because I knew Belle doesn’t have a daddy in her life.  For that brief moment in time I got to live out just a little of James 1:27.  I got to be a daddy to the daddy-less and it changed my heart.

This in mind, I challenge you, when you think you’re done and it’s time for a breather, take a look around and see if there’s someone waiting for Jesus and will never meet Him or know Him if you take a break. I’m not endorsing the burning of the candle at both ends or stewarding your mental, spiritual, emotional or physical health poorly.  Godly stewardship of you and me is of utmost importance.  Instead, I propose that out of all my lesson plans, games, coloring pages and talking with these 11 kids, my time pretending with Belle was when and where I got it right.  I simply said “yes” and got to embody Jesus for a few minutes with someone who needed Him.

What do you think? When are you done?  Tell me your stories of saying “yes”.





A Mind of Their Own

2 09 2011

Last night my wife walked into the living room and said, “Anna needs you in the bathroom.” Immediately my thoughts rushed to, “Well, you’re her mother. Why can’t you take care of it?”, but I knew Dawn wouldn’t send me in unless it was something better suited for my response.

Anna was taking a bath and was playing with her tub toys as she innocently looked up at me and asked, “Daddy, why does Ram [pronounced Raum] not believe in Jesus and what does he believe?” She was asking about our Muslim friend’s beliefs. My brain immediately went into overdrive thinking, “Thanks a lot, Dawn!” and “How do I put this in terms that my sweet six year old will understand without making her fall asleep face down in the tub?” At the same time these thoughts rushed through my head I was praying for wisdom and help from Abba.

I asked Anna if she was ready for the answer and she shook her head yes. Here’s the gist of what I told her.

“Ram and his family believe that Jesus was a good man but that He was not the Son of God or the Savior of mankind. He was just a really good example for how to live.
Do you remember the Bible account of Abraham & Sarah, how they were really old but God promised them a baby boy? Do you remember what they did? They took things into their own hands in order to “help” God’s promise to come true. From their lack of faith, trust and obedience in God comes the whole offshoot of the family that believes they are god’s promised people and that those who follow Christ are wrong. Their prophet built up a belief system that requires everyone to do certain things at the right times to make it to “heaven”. But what does it take for us to get to Heaven, Sweetheart?” She answered, “To believe in Jesus and to obey His ways.” “That’s right! In fact, Jesus told his followers that if we want to get to Heaven we should love God above everything and love our neighbor as ourselves. Does that sound like doing a lot of chores to get to Heaven? No, it doesn’t.”

She and I talked a little more about it, but you get the idea. Our talk got me to thinking about what gets us into trouble still today. When we lack the patience or the faith to allow God to fulfill His promises in His time we plot and plan our ways to make “His will” come to be. The thing is, we cannot see clearly what His will or plan is because we don’t have His full perspective. We’re not privy to all the details. We cannot see the whole picture. Our limited intellect and imagination may only serve to corrupt the timeline and perfect design of God.

I guess what I wanted to share with you today is to trust Him in what He has, is and will promise to do. Be patient. Be obedient. If you aren’t sure about what He means by His promise or challenge, He is always the best one to seek and consult about it, not your intellect, or for that matter your spouse’s. It’s OK to ask those with wisdom and discernment around you, but always go back to Him for His input and design. Live so close to Him that you know His ways. Study His Word so thoroughly that your actions and responses become His actions and responses. As you live and move with Him you will gain sight, or at least find it easier to trust Him to do what He has said He will do.

In short: When God promises something, trust Him to do it in His way & His time. Only give Him help if He asks for it. We’ll all be better for it.

Your servant,
David





Do You Geocache (pronounced “jee-O-cash”)?

7 06 2011

My brother Randy got me started on geocaching a couple years ago. Ok, I’ll be honest. At the time I was in the throws of 4 herniated discs in my lower back and was not all that enthused about running all over Branson, MO looking for garage sale fodder. Randy recently invited me to join him again and my perspective has changed.  I love to walk and hike and I still love playing Hide & Seek as well as Treasure Hunt.  That’s what geocaching is.  You get to follow hints and coordinates to find a hidden treasure.  Sometimes the finding the cache is a treasure in itself.  You sign the log & and return the cache to its hiding spot without drawing attention from the unknowing passersby (known as muggles thanks to Harry Potter).  Other times the cache has collectibles inside, for which you exchange a collectible of your own.  Regardless, I and my kids have caught the geocaching bug.

Pictured below is one of my favorite cache containers.  It is simple and natural to many environments, thus making its discovery by the unwary unlikely.  But for the discerning geocache hunter, it is a worthy find.

Large Dark Nano Rock Geocache Container


 

You can find this and other cache containers at http://www.cachingcontainers.com

To learn more about how to join the geocaching lifestyle, go to http://www.geocaching.com . You can also ask questions here and I’ll do my best to find the answers for you.