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God Can Use the Small Things, Too

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This is why we do the CBFA

By Patrick G Howard

The July Focus of the Month is the seventh of the twelve-part series – Making 2019 Your Best Year Yet: Realizing God’s Plan for You.

We started this year by talking about doing big things but shifted our focus for the past two months on how God can use the small things. This month we are going to focus on why we joined The Christian Business Fellowship Association in the first place.

As you know, the mission of the CBFA is to empower and support our members to be Christians all day, every day, at home, at work and in the community. We believe that by doing so, we reduce stress and make better decisions.

Imagine if you will …

You have a big day ahead of you. You have an early afternoon business meeting where you will be giving the presentation of your lifetime. You have been working and preparing your entire life for this one meeting. This is a mission critical, make or break meeting.

This is once-in-a-lifetime, World Series Game 7, bottom-of-the-ninth, bases loaded with two outs, down by three runs situation. You’re in the batter’s box facing Nolan Ryan. If you knock it over the fence, your name will be forever etched in the annals of baseball history as the batter that hit the walk-off grand-slam homer against the strikeout king to win the series. If you strike out, your name will be forever etched in the annals of baseball history as the batter that scored the final out for Nolan Ryan’s victory.

No pressure, right?

Of course, as any great speaker will do, you decide to mentally prepare for your presentation. You are dressed in your best suit. You are sitting at the computer with a perfect cup of coffee, polishing up the PowerPoint presentation you are about to give. Everything is going well, until …

• Your PowerPoint program crashes and destroys your file …
• You receive an angry phone call from a customer with a problem that MUST be solved immediately …
• You get an urgent voicemail from your child’s school …
• You spill your perfect coffee on your perfect tie …

Despite all of this, you solve all of the problems on your plate and leave in plenty of time for your meeting. But on the way, your “Check Engine” light comes on as you notice an abnormally high coolant temperature reading. And to top it off, you put the wrong address in your Garmin and you went to the wrong building. You arrive just in time to give your presentation of a lifetime.

Do you feel prepared?

Our focus this month comes from John 15:5.

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, and I in him, will bear much fruit; for you can do nothing without me.

John 15:5

Now, you’re probably wondering, “What does this verse have to do with being prepared for my meeting? I think that if you will stay with me while I channel the late Paul Harvey, it will all make sense as you hear …

The rest of the story.

The year was 1969. It was a beautiful July day. The skies were clear. The temperature was just right. By every account, it was a beautiful day. The air was filled with an electric excitement, and the anticipation was almost palpable.

And it was a pretty doggone good day here on Earth, too.

We have been talking about President Kennedy’s bold vision, to place a man on the moon and return him safely to Earth by the end of the sixties. That day, July 20, 1969 was to be the day that for the first time in history, man would take his first steps on Terra Luna. But did you know that it almost didn’t happen.

Some say that the last mile is the hardest, and to say that it was challenging for the crew of the Eagle, and the engineers at NASA is a gross understatement. On that lunar approach …

• They lost their high gain signal multiple times, causing a loss of telemetry and voice communication to NASA.
• They experienced an AC voltage fluctuation, which could have crippled the onboard computer systems.
• At 50,000 feet (about 7 minutes before landing), the LEM (Lunar Excursion Module) experienced a 1202 alarm. The onboard computer was handling so many instructions, that it caused a memory overflow and system reboot.
• At 3,000 feet (a little more than 3 minutes before landing), the LEM experienced a 1201 alarm. The onboard computer was processing so much data, that is caused a storage overflow and system reboot.
• At 75 feet, you can hear the callout, “60 SECONDS.” That meant that they had to land in 60 seconds, or risk not having enough fuel to return to the command module.
• At 30 feet, you can hear the callout, “30 SECONDS.”
• To make matters even more tense, there were large boulders in the primary landing site, and the LEM had to go long to find a suitable place to land.

Any one of these problems could have, and probably should have, triggered a mission abort. However, through all this adversity, the LEM pilot – Buzz Aldrin, and Commander Neil Armstrong, landed the Eagle safely on the moon. (And by the way, they landed about 41 seconds after the “30 SECOND” callout.) After conducting a few checklist items (they had to make sure they were safe to stay), Buzz Aldrin uttered the famous first words from the moon, “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”

Man’s first steps

The first steps on the moon weren’t scheduled for a few hours, which gave these men a few moments to relax and prepare to execute their primary mission. (I doubt there was much relaxing going on, though.)

Before they began to prepare for their lunar excursion, Buzz Aldrin came on the radio and addressed the world.

I’d like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his or her own way.

Buzz Aldrin

It wasn’t well known at the time what happened inside the LEM during this moment of silence. Buzz Aldrin had brought along communion that was prepared by the pastor of his church in Houston. In an interview years later, Buzz Aldrin explained,

I opened the little plastic packages which contained the bread and the wine. I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon, the wine slowly curled and gracefully came up the side of the cup. Then I read the Scripture [John 15:5]. Eagle’s metal body creaked. I ate the tiny Host and swallowed the wine. I gave thanks for the intelligence and spirit that had brought two young pilots to the Sea of Tranquility. It was interesting for me to think: The very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the very first food eaten there, were the communion elements.

Buzz Aldrin

Let that sink in for a moment.

Before Buzz began the task of accomplishing the mission, the culmination of President Kennedy’s bold vision, the aspirations of the United States and the world, he paused for a moment, read scripture, prayed and had communion. He invited God to join him there in the LEM and thanked Him for bringing them safely to this place and time.

Can you imagine how that one simple act removed the stress of the previous few hours, and allowed Buzz Aldrin to focus on the mission at hand?

Can you imagine how spending a few moments with God would allow you to focus on that presentation you’re about to give?

This is why we all joined the CBFA: to be Christians all day, every day, at home, at work and in the community. Even when your work takes you to the moon.

The next time you are having a particularly stressful day, or even before it becomes stressful, remember July 20, 1969 and focus on John 15:5 ~ I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, and I in him, will bear much fruit; for you can do nothing without me.

The Rule of 72

by Patrick G Howard

The June Focus of the Month is the sixth of the twelve-part series – Making 2019 Your Best Year Yet: Realizing God’s Plan for You. You can read the other parts of the series here:

• January: Do a New Thing (Isaiah 43:19) -> LINK
• February: Begin with the End in Mind (Genesis 1:1) -> LINK
• March: Creating Intrepid Steps (Proverbs 3:5-6) -> LINK
• April: Your Story is Written (Psalm 139:16) -> LINK
• May: God Can Use the Small Things, Too (John 6:9) -> LINK

We started this year by talking about doing big things, but we shifted our focus last month to doing small things. This month we will continue to focus on how doing small things can lead to big results.

It’s human nature to want to do big things.

It is human nature to want our efforts to be meaningful. It is also human nature to be intimidated when faced with doing something big, which is why there is a high demand for skilled project managers. Think about the example we used in March – President Kennedy’s challenge to place a man on the moon and return him safely within a decade.

To say that was a daunting challenge is an understatement. Remember, when Kennedy made this bold challenge, we hadn’t even completed an orbit around this planet yet. Walking on a land that was not Earth seemed like an almost impossible task; but the thousands of men and women at NASA developed a plan, broke that plan down into millions of small steps, and through great adversity, worked their way through each them with purpose and resolve.

This reminds me of James’ exhortation to the Jewish Christians scattered throughout the Roman world. Our focus this month comes from the book of James.

God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

James 1:12

Imagine the trials the early Christians endured.

Compared to them, we have it pretty easy. While we may be mocked and ridiculed for our Christian faith today, in James’ day you were tortured and killed for your beliefs. In his letter, James was encouraging Christ’s followers to keep their eye on the prize and work through their difficulties. Granted, the prize that James was talking about was eternal salvation; but the principal is the same for our earthly daily lives. And it doesn’t take nearly as much effort.

How much effort would it take to become a better person each day? Surprisingly, it isn’t as difficult as it seems if you take the NASA approach – set a goal and take small steps toward that goal every day.

Give .1% every day!

Could you give an extra .1% effort every day to accomplish your goal?

That seems like a ridiculously tiny amount of effort, doesn’t it? You may wonder how such a small effort could possibly lead to something big. To answer, let me take a page out of the financial planner’s book and use the example of compound interest and the Rule of 72.

For the non-financial among us, the Rule of 72 is a simple way of determining how long it will take to double your investment. You simply divide 72 by the periodic interest rate, and that is how long it will take to double your money.

Let’s say you start with $100 and add .1% to your balance every day. You would only build your balance a few pennies each day, but at the end of two years you would have $200. And if you continued your saving habit, you would have $400 after four years … $800 after six years … $1600 after eight years … and so on. You would double your money every two years.

It is incredible how such a small contribution, when done systematically, can result in something so big. By now you are probably thinking that the Rule of 72 works well for money, but not so much for human capital. I suppose that’s true, but just imagine how much better you can be if you exert a tiny amount of effort and do just one small thing every day.

What can you do today?

Surely there is one little thing you can do today to help you become a better person tomorrow. Perhaps you could resolve to:

• Learn a new skill. Open that computer program and spend a few minutes doing something that you don’t currently know how to do.
• Improve your musical skills. Spend a few minutes doing those boring exercises that you hate doing.
• Be a better employer. Find an opportunity to one extra positive thing each day for your employees.
• Be a better husband or wife. Do one extra nice thing each day for the most special person in your life.
• Cultivate your network. Find a person in your contacts every day that you haven’t spoken to in a while and give them a call.

These are just some examples of things you can do, and I’m sure you could come up with hundreds more. The trick is to pick that one thing and do it every day. Realize that you may not become twice the person you already are (after all you’re already pretty doggone good right now); but if you do that one thing on a consistent basis, you will become better every day.

My challenge to you this month is to find that one thing that you can do every day for the next month, and do it. I think you will find that if you do that one thing for a month, it will become a permanent habit and you will be choosing another thing to add to it next month.

As you do, remember our focus this month. Realize that there will be challenges to completing your “one thing” every day but remain steadfast under trial. And know that we’re all going to receive the prize at the end, but we might as well become better people while we’re waiting here on Earth.

But would you give your Whataburger to Jesus?

By Patrick G Howard

The May Focus of the Month is the fifth of the twelve-part series – Making 2019 Your Best Year Yet: Realizing God’s Plan for You. You can read the other parts of the series here:

• January: Do a New Thing (Isaiah 43:19) -> LINK
• February: Begin with the End in Mind (Genesis 1:1) -> LINK
• March: Creating Intrepid Steps (Proverbs 3:5-6) -> LINK
• April: Your Story is Written (Psalm 139:16) -> LINK

So far this year, we have talked about doing some really big things. We started out by talking about doing something new (January). Next you were challenged to create a bold vision for your life (February). Then you were tasked with creating intrepid steps to realize your vision (March). And last month, I gave you the biggest challenge so far – writing your story (April).

I have talked to many in our group. Some are well on the way to completing their challenges, while some have not started; but most are somewhere in between. Regardless of where you are in the process, we are nearing the halfway point in our year, and I would like to shift gears. While it’s a good thing to have bold visions, sometimes the best way to create something big is by doing something small. This month I want to focus on how doing small things can cause big things to happen; and can be the difference between good and great.

One Extra Degree

Think about this example.

Take something as common as water. When you heat it to 211 degrees, it becomes very hot and you can do many great things with it. You can make coffee or tea with it. You can use it to clean dishes. You can make Jell-O. There are hundreds of uses for hot water, but if you heat it just one more degree that same water turns into steam; and now you have something powerful enough to move a locomotive.

That one extra degree is all it takes to go from good to great.

The Feeding of the 5,000

This reminds me of a time when Jesus took something small and did something great with it. Our focus this month comes from the Gospel according to John Chapter 6 – The Feeding of the 5,000.

John 6 (5) Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him. Turning to Philip, he asked, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” (6) He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do. (7) Philip replied, “Even if we worked for months, we wouldn’t have enough money to feed them!” (8) Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up. (9) “There is a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish; but what good is that with this huge crowd?”

John 6:5-9

You will recall the rest of the story. Jesus gave everybody there, more than 5,000 people, their fill of fish and bread, and ended up with twelve baskets left over. And while that sounds like a big deal, it is only when you consider how much food Jesus started with, and how big the crowd was, that it becomes a miracle.

It’s a big deal!

First, let’s consider how much food “five barley loaves and two fish” really is. A barley loaf was a flat bread, roughly equivalent to a small pita. The two fish were small, probably about the size of a perch. The total amount of food the boy had with him that day was a meal similar to a can of sardines and a half sleeve of crackers. (I wonder if he had a bottle of Tabasco Sauce with him that day.)

Next, let’s look at how many people were fed that day. We don’t know exactly how many were there. John reported that there were 5,000 people there that day, but he likely only counted the men. We don’t know how many women and children were present. Regardless, the crowd was probably about the size of what you would see on a Friday night in the fall at most any 6A High School football stadium.

Now, imagine what you would think if Jesus said that he was going to feed this football stadium full of hungry people with a Whataburger #2 meal. Oh, and when you take up the leftovers there would be 12 buckets of the Colonel’s original to take home. That’s a miracle!

Don’t you love Jesus’ style?

He could have created this food out of thin air, but instead he used the offering from this boy to create something spectacular. It was so spectacular, in fact, that we’re still talking about it more than 2,000 years later.

Are you like that little boy?

As you go through your day, opportunities present for you to do some small thing that would mean the world to somebody else. When that happens, seize it and let God bless it. It can be something simple, like helping a person in a wheelchair reach something on the top shelf at the grocery store. Maybe you could just say something nice to the lady behind the counter that is having a very bad day. You could let that person with the blinker on merge into your lane. Or, instead of handing that panhandler money, stop and say a prayer with them.

Your Challenge

My challenge to you is to do one small thing each day, and let God bless it. As you do, focus on the Gospel according to John and the day when Jesus fed the 5,000. Remember that God doesn’t need you to do anything grand. He can use the small things, too.

Terry Carter with World Wellness Today
Mark Mmegwa with RISM Systems
Matt Dravis with Trinity Roofing and Restoration
Chuck Sprague with Novita Restoration
Jeremy Davis with AO Travel
Hiett Ives with Hiettives.com
Dave Sue with Lift-SME, LLC.
Chris Parmeter with Happier At Home

Judy Hans with Remax/Cinco Ranch
Jacqueline Norfleet
Bill Baumeyer with Reason2Race
Mary Bird with Debt Prodigy
Dennis Silva with TDECU
Jason Ceyanas with Modern Woodman
Judy Hans with Re/Max Cinco Ranch
Flora Oni with Eftex Tax Services
Travis Jones with Mission 1:28

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