Upside Down Service

GodReflection: Power Word Wednesday

“I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” – Jesus

garyguarujaMy culture taught—and continues to teach—me the joy of being served.

It’s a lesson I learned all too well. I got in on the time when gasoline was purchases at service stations rather than in front of box stores.

Passages and celebration were often at banquet halls where I was dressed to the nines along with the other guests in anticipation of extraordinary service throughout the evening.

serve2High on my list of expectation when I go to a restaurant is service. I expect good food from the kitchen and good service from the wait staff.

Air travel and hotel accommodations receive my mark of approval or disapproval based on service.

I find that I can overlook an inferior product from a merchant much easier than I can overlook poor service.

With service—directed at me—far too high on my expectation list from decades of acculturation how do I turn the table upside down to reflect the generous service of Jesus? He came to serve people and to teach me to do likewise.

By Jesus’ service to people he rendered service to God. That looks to me like his hope for me is to follow his example as I hear him say. “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you”

jesusgod6One thing is for sure. I need to start with recognition of the Holy that is embedded in every person that crosses by path.

To this day I remember a lesson I was taught over four decades ago. However, I find that I didn’t fully apply its application across all spectrums of my walk.

After an ambush by a church leader that cost me my job at my local congregation my thoughts weren’t exactly focused in God’s direction.

A dear friend wrote me a four-page single spaced letter that filled all four margins.

The heart of the letter was to remind me—to teach me for the first time—that people are to be served through the lens of God. That one lesson places disappointment with people in proper perspective.

So, I was told to read and remember the teaching in Colossians chapter three:

serve12Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Here I am years later still learning to grow in my servant identity.

It’s the identity claimed by Jesus and the role he placed me on earth to fulfill. It is only through service that others can see Jesus in my walk.

Maybe I should offer service rather than expect it, don’t you think?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells – A GodReflection on Serve as a Power Word.

I Was Born Thirsty

GodReflection: Power Words

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? – Psalms 42:2

garyguarujaI was born thirsty.

It’s a God gene planted in every human soul.

It’s the feeling of incompleteness. It’s the thought that there must be more. It’s the awe that every human being has experienced periodically in the presence of rainbows, starlit skies, and majestic mountains filled with color and regal creatures.

It’s the thirst planted by God and affirmed by King Solomon: He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

I would guess that God’s greatest desire is to see us sip the Holy water. His hope is that I become addicted. His thirst quenching water provides a strange sensation. It satisfies as it simultaneously creates a thirst for more.

thirst1Like so many others who live in the “over developed” world, I’m sure thirst doesn’t create near the word picture in my reality that it creates in people without water systems to provide fresh cool water available at the turn of a faucet.

David described his thirst for God from a hideout in the Desert of Judah with the words: You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water (Psalms 63:1).

David knew thirst.

His thirst for God was desert thirst. His thirst for God was a parched thirst.

My description of thirst stands anemic when place alongside of David’s.

Both David’s thirst and my thirst find refreshment in Jesus and his promises.

thirst6From his voice I hear the promise of being satisfied if I thirst for righteousness.

I hear the reassurance in his voice when he promises that the water he gives will cause me to never thirst.

It is like the possession of a spring of water in my soul welling up to eternal life.

My thirstiness brings power when I hear Jesus say whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

Jesus closes the Scriptures with these words: To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life (Revelation 21:6). Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life (Revelation 22:17).

Jesus thirst quenching spring is free. It’s a gift. No charge for the thirsty.

The power in the word thirst reminds me that Jesus is the source of my daily walk and the fulfillment of my destination, don’t you think?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells – A GodReflection on Thirst as a Power Word.

Sent is a Dynamite Word—Don’t You Think?

“The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me.” – Jesus of Nazareth (John 12:45)

GodReflection: Power Word Wednesday

garyguarujaAnyone who has ever had a parent, a wife, a husband or a child has countless examples of being sent on an errand. Common to each experience is an assignment and the expectation of results.

How about an assignment from Creator God?

As I read through Old Testament Scripture I see a God who never hesitated to send celestial Angels or common humans on an assignment.

God sent Abraham, his son, and grandson to establish a people who were to be witnesses of His Grandeur and Holiness to the nations. The remainder of the Old Testament is the story of a people who wanted no part in following God or reflecting His Holiness.

Those Scriptures also contain God’s greatest promise—His Son would be sent to redeem all creation. The people of God would indeed witness His Majesty and Holiness to the nations.

formed5Hundreds of years passed when in God’s perfect time He sent His Son Jesus as a manger baby who was to be a sacrificial offered for all humankind and was to reflect the heart and the love of God for all to see.

However, Jesus wasn’t the last messenger sent by God.

After the resurrection—at the close of Jesus earthly ministry he gives instruction to the eleven apostles. “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (John 20:21).

Jesus will send the Holy Spirit to empower their mission. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8)

sent8The Apostles are now ready to be sent.

Then it happens.

Jews from every nation under heaven were in Jerusalem when the Holy Spirit made His arrival.

So Peter preached, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).

The remainder of the New Testament is the story of the Church—the body of Jesus—sent to establish a people who were to witness to God’s Grandeur and Holiness to the nations.

formed10So, two thousand years later I find myself attempting to live as one of the sent ones of Jesus.

My mission is still the one described by Jesus, The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent (John 6:29) whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24).

Ok, what do I do with my here and now?

sent6No matter where I am on my earth walk I must stand ready to be sent. With the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit I am to keep my antenna extended for Holy assignments.

Sent is being a window that allows the Holy to shine through in a way that others can catch a glimpse of God’s Grandeur and Holiness.

To be sent is to be on mission.

To be sent is not necessarily another nation assignment. It is being light wherever my location.

It seems to me that sent should be a dynamite power word to guide my walk—don’t you think?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells – A GodReflection on Sent.


Still Guided by Baptism

GodReflection: Power Words

garyguarujaReading through some old family records I came across the following anecdote:

Ollie’s oldest was riding along in a buggy with her daddy when she was very small. He said, “Here is water; what doth hinder thee to be baptized?”  She said, “But Daddy, I haven’t ‘pented yet.” Ollie’s husband was Oscar Billingsley.

They must be tied to family. They knew The Acts of the Apostles and the language of the King James Bible.

baptism3For generations Jesus call to the waters of baptism has been a common thread among aunts, uncles, and cousins.

My mother was baptized in a muddy stock tank on a dry dirt farm on the plains of eastern New Mexico within its first twenty to twenty-five years of statehood. My dad was baptized as a boy in southeast rural Oklahoma less that than thirty years after it became a state.

For reasons I don’t understand I was born on third base. I didn’t have to learn the game, make the team, make the lineup, and move from the dugout to the on-deck circle, to the plate, get a hit, and safely pass first and second base.

My parents raised me from diapers within the community of the church.

baptism1There came an obvious point in my live when I realized if I was going to surrender to Jesus I would need to follow him into death, burial, and resurrection of the waters of baptism.

It took years of growth to begin to understand the impact of God’s grace received through my baptismal event.

Baptism remains a power word in my walk all these years later.

I love its symbol. In the Gospels Jesus went into the waters of baptism as an act of obedience to Father God.

Paul—the apostle—describes it as death to life without Christ, burial of the former self that lived the illusion of self-sufficiency, and resurrection to life eternal lived within the rule of King Jesus.

baptism11This is the picture that baptism brings to mind. It is this picture I can point to as a historic moment in my life. It was that act that placed the responsibility of my walk more squarely upon my shoulders.

My baptism reminds me the old is gone and I am a new creation in Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17). My overall decision pattern as a new creation started at my resurrection from the grave of baptismal waters.

So here I am decades later. With all of the ups and downs on my life chart, I still attempt to follow the one I submitted to and imitated in death, burial, and resurrection through the waters of Baptism.

That make baptism a powerful word in my walk, don’t you think?

The neat thing is it can become your power word too.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells – A GodReflection on Baptism.



To Believe and To Fish

GodReflection: Power Word Wednesday

garyguarujaTo believe is not a natural response.

It’s learned behavior.

Because of the actions of my parents I learned to believe in them. They were worthy of trust.

To believe is a word so common it passes through my mouth, before my eyes, and into my ears countless times each day.

In sports stadiums fans encourage fellow spectators and their team with signs held high that read “We believe”.

The optimist believes the best. The pessimist believes the worst.

believe6Yet, there is a “believe” that rises above daily usage. Its basis is tied to the eternal.

To believe receives it maximum power and its highest degree of authenticity when connected to Jesus.

I love Jesus selection of fisherman to be the core of his apostolic band.

I’ve fished enough to know that it’s not done in business casual dress.

Fishermen are a unique subset of the human species. They smell like their work. It’s a nasty business. Bait, blood, guts, fish-stench, and scale removal morph into a smelly perfume that only fisherman wear.

grandpa frank morrow fishingFishermen are authentic. My grandpa was a fisherman and he made it his mission to weave the experience of fishing into my earliest memories.

I learned early that fishing brings the heart and soul of a person into the open.

Fishermen live by faith in the future.

There is no guarantee of a catch. Night and day they cast nets, bait lines, and believe ahead of time in the reward of a catch.

Two fishing trips in the Gospels tie belief to Jesus. Both serve as bookends to the story of Simon Peter’s faith in Jesus as Divine Son of God.

The first story tells of Peter, James, and John’s futile night of fishing. All fishermen know the feeling of long hours with no success.

believe9Jesus was preaching good news. Simon and his partners washed nets that smell of seaweed rather than fish. Perhaps they finished the cleaning project and reloaded the boat for another night.

As the crowd grows Jesus joins Peter in his boat. Boats make good pulpits for lakes and hillsides. Jesus finishes his sermon and directs his invitation to Peter: “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”

Simon responds in obedience—and most likely with minimal expectation: “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”

Jesus spoke the truth.

Simon Peter, astonished at the breaking nets filled with fish starts his journey to belief and fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”

Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything, and followed him.

Between the bookends of two fishing trips are the accounts of Simon’s good days and not so good days. (If it hasn’t been written a great title for a book would be A Simon like me.)

believe5On perhaps his worst day, Peter denies Jesus and his hope is crucified.

Simon filled with guilty is ready to get away and go fishing.

Now I read Johns’ account of the second bookend fishing trip that sealed Peter’s belief. A seal so tight he would never doubt again. Once more it was a night of hard work with nothing to show for the effort.

Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.

He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”

“No,” they answered.

He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for believe1he had taken it off) and jumped into the water.

Have you ever thought about your own proverbial fishing encounters with Jesus that mark the start and the climax of your “I believe” bookends?

I would love to hear the story of your own bookends of belief.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells – A GodReflection on Believe.

To Bear Loads and Produce Fruit

garyguarujaGodReflection: Power Word Wednesday

There is a power word that shows up in the teachings of Jesus and mirrored in the instructions of the apostles.

From Jesus and the apostles I learn that I am to bear.

It sounds a lot like work.

I don’t receive any sense that I am dealing with a passive action.

bear1The first image that comes to mind is a pack burdened with supplies needed for the duration of a journey.

To bear is not a word that comes to mind to describe the feeble and the frail.

To bear is robust. To bear comes from Holy Spirit power.

The heavy act of the word bear causes me a sense of discomfort.

There is also power in the uncomfortable bear.

This aspect of bear I more readily associate with cross.

bear4Both Peter and Paul understood fully the lifestyle of the cross. To be a follower of Jesus is to be willing to carry his cross.

I learn from Peter that I am to bear up under the pain of unjust suffering and even more so if my suffering comes because I bear the name of Christian (1 Peter 2:19 & 4:16).

From Paul I am encouraged to help bear another’s load and to bear the failings of the weak. He teaches me to bear up under temptation knowing God will not allow me to be tempted beyond what I am able to bear (Romans 15:1 & 1 Corinthians 10:13).

Here comes the real biggie. I am to bear those who wrong me and Forgive as the Lord forgave me (Colossians 3:13). I’m still working on that one.

For some reason I like the other aspect of to bear.

It just seems less cross heavy although in reality it is closely tied to the cross.

bear6I am to bear fruit.

This bear is robust and strong. This bear serves, teaches, loves, and cares.

This bear does not bring about mistaken identity. By good fruit all know the bearer is grafted into Jesus.

This bear is likewise powered by the Spirit. Such power bears good and succulent Jesus fruit.

Non-bearers are pruned and thrown into the fire – Matthew 7:20. Non-bearers are easy for the gardener Father to recognize—there’s no fruit.

Here’s the good news. It comes directly from the mouth of Jesus:

bear8“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.

. . . Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me”.

I bear fruit only as a direct result of remaining in Jesus.

There is something positive and attractive when it comes to being a participant in spreading the juicy grapes, golden pears, and the sparkling apples of Jesus goodness.

Young trees must take the time to grow and mature prior to becoming prolific fruit producers.

I remind myself that I am not a young tree. I’m at the stage in life when the power word ‘bear’ should be front and center stage in my walk.

Will you pray with me that it is so?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells – A GodReflection on Bear as a Word of Power.


I Was Appointed Ambassador

GodReflection: Power Word Wednesday

garyguarujaNormally, we common folks don’t give a lot of thought to the post of Ambassador.

It is a role assigned by kings, presidents,  and other authorities who serve as the heads of nations.

Most of us have never crossed paths with an ambassador.

An ambassador is a messenger, a representative of the nation’s leader. She or he serves on location in a foreign country to create good will and to represent the wishes of their Head of State.

ambassador11In New Testament Scripture the word is used twice by the apostle Paul. I love the way he employed the word.

To Corinthian believers he writes:

We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

 And, to Ephesian disciples he has a special request:

. . . keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

Here is what I think.

ambassador12The reality is that as a disciple of Jesus I am his ambassador. It is a holy appointment. It is now my identity.

I claim the title of ambassador.

As an appointed ambassador my job description is to represent God as though God were making his appeal through me. He gives me a message to share with those I encounter: Be reconciled to God.

There are times when I need to speak that message forthright. On other occasions I speak the message by example. I don’t want to get in the way of anyone who needs to return to God.

My ambassadorship calls me to pray. I am to keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. My prayer is that the Holy Spirit will supply to them and to me just the right words to fearlessly ambassador3make known the mystery of the gospel.

So each morning when I awake I calm my title.

As I go about my tasks for the day I am to represent the power of the cross before those I encounter. The cross bearer is King Jesus. I am his ambassador.

It is the cross that fuels the power of my name tag that reads: Gary Sorrells, Ambassador.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells – A GodReflection on Ambassador as a Word of Power.