Sunday, May 14, 2017

Layers of Minions

Layers of Minions

As Sir Hiss was to Prince John and as Donkey was to Shrek, so Timothy is to Paul.  Sounds like a question on a game show.

What is “Henchman?”

Hiss was a Henchman, Donkey was a side-kick and Timothy was a protégé but they were all Minions. 

And remember how the Oxford dictionary defines a minion: “A follower or underling of a powerful person, especially a servile or unimportant one.”

This is week two of our “Minions:  Playing Second Fiddle for God” series and you know what they say, another sermon another pair of minion socks.  Well maybe they don’t say that, but they should.

This week we are looking at Timothy who we are first introduced to in the book of Acts and then later on there are two books in the New Testament which were addressed to Timothy. 

1 and 2 Timothy are two of three books which are referred to as “Pastoral Epistles.” Or Pastoral letters and they are simply letters which Paul had sent to directly to pastors who he had trained. 

So, the book of Ephesians was a letter that was written to the church in Ephesus.  But the books of 1 and 2 Timothy were letters which were written to the Pastor of the church in Ephesus and that was Timothy.

Just like some letters that arrive in our mailbox here at the church are addressed to Cornerstone Wesleyan Church and others are addressed to Rev. Denn Guptill. 

So let’s start at the beginning, which is usually a good place to start.    

The Apostle Paul is on what is referred to as his Second Missionary  journey, it began in Jerusalem and now he has ended up in Lystra, which is located in modern day Turkey.

And we pick up the story in  Acts 16:1  Paul went first to Derbe and then to Lystra, where there was a young disciple named Timothy. His mother was a Jewish believer, but his father was a Greek.  And so let’s begin with the fact that
Timothy was  a Young Minion  I don't know about you but often times when I think of the heroes of the bible, I think of older,  more mature individuals. 

And in the case of Moses, who was 80 when he was called to lead the People out of Egypt, or Abraham who was 99 when the promise of becoming the father of a great nation was fulfilled the picture of the man with the white beard is probably fitting. 

And, if you pause and picture, say the 12 Apostles, who were the Minions that we spoke of last week, you probably think of Jesus surrounded by mostly older men.   But the 12 were most likely in their twenties. 

Paul who was the architect of the early church was in his early thirties when he was called. 

Jesus was only 30 when he began preaching and 33 when he was crucified. 

So, while we don’t know how old Timothy was, he was young enough that it was mentioned.  And several years later Paul would write to Timothy and remind him in 1

Timothy 4:12  Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. . . .

The bible reminds us that age isn’t a factor.  It wasn’t a factor when God called those who were old and it wasn't a factor when God called those who were young.

Age shouldn’t be a limit on our dreams or our calling.

Bill Gates was twenty when he founded Microsoft and Steve Jobs was 21 when Apple started and Mozart had composed over 600 works by the time he died at the ripe old age of 35. 

On the other hand, Colonel Sanders was 62 years old when he founded KFC,  Christopher Plummer won his first Oscar when he was 82 and Gladys Burrill completed her first marathon at the age of 92.  They called her the Gladyiator. 

God doesn’t have an upper or lower age limit on who he chooses to uses.  Don’t let anyone think less of you because of your . . . age.

What else can we discover?  Let's keep reading. . .   Acts 16:1-2  . .  .His mother was a Jewish believer, but his father was a Greek.  Timothy was well thought of by the believers in Lystra and Iconium. . . 

Timothy was young, but he wasn't fresh out of the box.

Timothy was A Minion with a Heritage Even though Timothy was young he was mature in his faith.  And the credit for that goes to two ladies in his life. 

If we go to the second letter that bears Timothy’s name we read this about his heritage.    2 Timothy 1:5 I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you.

You catch the critical word there?  The word faith.   Three times in thirty words Paul uses the word faith.  We are told that it was a genuine faith, that it was a shared faith and that it was a strong faith. 

The person that Timothy was, had been shaped by his mother and grandmother, and that isn’t all that surprising considering how much influence our mothers have over us. 

It was Napoleon who said “Let France have good mothers, and she will have good sons.”  And in his poem by the same name William Ross Wallace writes “For the hand that rocks the cradle Is the hand that rules the world.”

And so according to Paul, Timothy was who Timothy was because of Eunice.  His faith had been formed and shaped by the faith of his mother and on this day when we celebrate Mothers it would be a good time to realize that Timothy could never have become the man he became without the influence of both his mother and Grandmother.

French philosopher Mirabeau was asked when the education of a child should begin?  His reply was "Twenty years before his birth, by educating his mother."   

The actual title of this message is “Layers of Minions” because while we see Paul as Timothy’s mentor there was a much more important mentor in the story and that was Timothy’s mother Eunice and before Eunice could be a mentor to her son she had a mentor in her mother, Lois.

Moms and dads, understand the responsibility that falls to you.  We aren’t just responsible for our children growing up healthy and productive, which is why health care and education are priorities.   But we are also responsible to introduce our kids to God. 

Ultimately it will be their decision as to whether or not they will pursue that relationship but it’s up to us as parents to make sure they understand the importance of it.

When you look at what you communicate and demonstrate to your kids about God, the scriptures, their relationship to Jesus and the church,  are you communicating a genuine, strong shared faith?

And perhaps some of you  are thinking, “Well sure pastor but it’s not that simple, my spouse isn’t a believer.”   

Remember the scripture that we started with?  Timothy’s mother was a Jewish believer, but his father was just identified as a Greek.  It’s not that Paul had anything against Greeks, you see it wasn’t what Paul said about Timothy’s father it was what was left unsaid. 

He was a Greek, not a Greek believer just a Greek.  And so we have a household where one spouse is a Christ follower and one isn’t and the challenges that are posed in such situations can never be fully understood unless you are in that situation.

That was the situation that Timothy’s mother found herself in. she probably didn’t have to fight the hockey, baseball, soccer, scouts, sparks, band battles but I’m sure there were similar cultural concerns 2000 years ago. 

Would Timothy be in church and youth group or would he be at the chariot races and practicing for the Olympics?

And so Eunice would have been practicing her faith and raising her son in a less than ideal home situation.  Now we don’t know at what point in her relationship she became a believer.  Was she a Christ follower before the wedding or after the wedding? 

In her situation and culture that question may have been irrelevant in that her marriage may very well have been arranged and she didn’t have a choice of who she would marry or who would marry her.

And still she was able to be the godly example that would lead her son to the place that he was a committed Christ follower. 

Let’s keep reading.

Acts 16:3  . . . so Paul wanted him (Timothy)  to join them on their journey  After Paul met Timothy and got to know him he saw the potential that Timothy had to help change the world.

We don’t know what Timothy was doing at that point in time, whether he was working at a trade or in school.  But Paul didn’t see him where he was, he saw him where he could be. 

Timothy was a Called Minion  Notice that Paul didn’t just stand up and ask for volunteers to go with him.  He saw in Timothy the qualities he was looking for in a minion, I mean a protégée and he asked him to join the adventure.

At Cornerstone, we don’t just stand up and say, “Hey we need someone to serve in the Nursery or in Children’s ministry or on the worship team”.  We aren’t looking for warm bodies to fill spots.  You can be assured that if you are invited to serve at Cornerstone it’s because we see in you the potential to make a difference. 

John Sculley was the president of Pepsi when he was hired by Steve Jobs to be the CEO of Apple computers and the pitch that Jobs made was Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want to come with me and change the world?”

When we invite you to join us in ministry at Cornerstone it is an invitation to change the world.  And I don’t say that lightly.

When you are asked to assist with our children or youth you have the chance to make a difference in their eternity.  Two of our teens committed their hearts to Christ on Wednesday night, that wouldn’t have happened without those who have committed to serve with the youth. 

I don’t know what plans Timothy had for the rest of his life before that day, but I do know that he would go on to shape the church in Ephesus and have an impact on the lives of hundreds if not thousands of people.    Because someone believed in him and asked him to serve.

And there are times we get all mystical and spiritual about the call, after all Moses got a burning bush, Mary got an Angel and Paul got a blinding light. 

But Jesus simply asked Peter to follow him, and in this story it simply said that Paul wanted Timothy to join him on his journey, so presumably he just asked.

And maybe when God calls you to serve it will be through one of the staff at Cornerstone.  But when you are called to serve at Cornerstone you are being called to make a difference in the lives of people and in the Kingdom of God.

Let’s keep going.    Acts 16:3  . . . In deference to the Jews of the area, he arranged for Timothy to be circumcised before they left, for everyone knew that his father was a Greek.

Can you imagine the conversation between Paul and Timothy “You want me to do what?”  “Why?”  It’s at this point that it becomes very clear that   Timothy was a Committed Minion.   

Paul may have arranged for Timothy to be circumcised but it wouldn’t have happened without Timothy’s consent.    It didn’t say that Paul forced Timothy to be circumcised it says he arranged for it to happen.

And whether we can understand that rationale or not, it happened so that there wouldn't be a anything that would cause a barrier between the message and those who heard the message.

Paul would later write,  1 Corinthians 9:19-23  Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.  To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law

(though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law.  To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law.  To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.  I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

If you asked Timothy why he allowed himself to be circumcised I’m sure he would have replied, “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.  I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.”

If we are committed to the mission, and committed to reaching people there will often be a cost.  That’s why Jesus said we’d have to take up our cross and why Paul spoke about being crucified daily. 

And that might be the cost associated with stewardship or giving up a Sunday morning a month to teach our children or giving up your Wednesday nights to help lead the youth group. 

Or simply surrounding our preferences in what church is like so that Cornerstone can reach the pre-churched, the de-churched and the un-churched.

One of my favourite websites is called the Babylon Bee and it is satirical Christian site.  The other day one head line read “Everything Local Man Feels Led To Do He Coincidentally Really Likes”  The article begins by saying WARAW, IN—Don Farmer, 43, reported Tuesday that he was recently “led by God” toward several things he really likes—and in fact, as a general rule, everything he feels spiritually moved to do he coincidentally enjoys very much.

The article goes on to report:  Additionally, he felt led to attend the church’s Super Bowl Party last year, which it just so happens he thoroughly enjoyed. The next Sunday, Farmer was unable to sign up for the church outreach visit to the senior home or the juvenile detention center due to the lack of a “nudge” from the Holy Spirit, but did feel moved to participate in the Men’s Group’s Annual Chili Cook-Off. He was also able to fend off several invitations by the church’s leadership to attend the new discipleship class, sorrowfully noting that not only would the time interfere with his Tuesday TV viewing lineup, but that he just didn’t feel as if he was being led to a diligent study of the Word “in that season.”

“I’m always listening for that still, small voice that just so happens to send me to do things I already want to do,” said Farmer.

Most of you know that one of my passions is training pastors in West Africa, I feel that is one of the high-level things that I have done.  And I can be passionate about it.

But it wasn't like that from the beginning.  My first trip was in 2007 and I had only been in Ghana for a couple of days and I had determined that whatever else happened in my life I wouldn't be going back to Africa.

I don’t know what I was expecting the trip to be like but it wasn't like that. 

I found it hot, loud, dirty and overwhelming and as far as I was concerned I had made my first and last trip to the dark continent. 

That evening during my devotions I was reading Acts 16 and discovered that what Timothy was willing to do in order to be obedient to God.  And suddenly being in Africa didn't seem so bad. 

The next day I spoke to Joe Ocran the National Superintendent of Ghana and asked what I could do to help fulfill the mission in West Africa and we worked out a plan to help with the training of their pastors.   But understand, Africa isn’t my favorite place to be but being in the centre of God’s will is.

Being circumcised doesn't always involve . . . Well you know what it doesn’t always involve, but there is always a cost involved. 

And when we arrive at the conclusion of Timothy’s call we read this   Acts 16:4-5  Then they went from town to town, instructing the believers to follow the decisions made by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem.  So the churches were strengthened in their faith and grew larger every day.

Timothy was an Effective Minion

Timothy didn’t have a starring role in the story of the early church, he was just Paul’s sidekick, his minion. 

And if it wasn’t for the two letter that bear his name Timothy would hardly be a footnote in the New Testament story.  But he was a really important footnote to the people he ministered to.

40 years from now when the two teens who accepted Christ this week are telling the story to their grandchildren, they might not be able to remember the fact that it was Stefan, Chad, Andrew, Lynn and Kristen who we doing youth that night, but that won’t change the fact that if Stefan, Chad, Andrew, Lynn and Kristen hadn’t been willing to give up their Wednesday night the eternity of those young men might have looked very different.

So the take away today?  Every one of us has the potential to be a footnote in the story.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Minions by the Bunch

When you hear the word “Minion” what do you think of?  For some, you think of little yellow people in blue pants. 

For others, you have your own favorite minions from years past.    The Disney films we grew up with were filled with Minions, albeit with other names.  Snow White’s Step Mother had her magic mirror.  Captain Hook had Mr. Smee, and Gaston had LeFou.

For those with more cultured tastes you might remember Pintel and Ragetti  who were minions for whoever was paying the best in the various Pirates of the Caribbean.

If you grew up with horror movies, Frankenstein had Igor and Dracula had Renfield.

And lest you think that Minions always worked for the bad guys remember that Batman had Robin, the Lone Ranger had Tonto, the Green Lantern had Kato and of course every Han Solo needs a Chewbacca. 

The Oxford dictionary defines a Minion as A follower or underling of a powerful person, especially a servile or unimportant one.”

So in theory that would make the Vice President of the United States a minion.  Mike Pence might not think so but John Garner who was Vice President between 1933 and 1941 once told Lyndon Johnson “The office of Vice-President isn’t worth a bucket of warm spit.”   

I guess Lyndon Johnson might have disagreed with that on November 22, 1963.

But for most of us today when we think of Minions we think of Kevin, Dave and Stuart and their friends. 

These minions first made their appearance in the animated feature “Despicable Me” in 2010, which was followed by Despicable Me 2” in 2013 and finally by their own movie “Minions” in 2015. 

Now the reality is that most of us would feel insulted if we were characterized as someone’s minion but the reality is that most of us serve as minions to somebody.

My Grandfather was fond of saying Beware of the man who says he’s boss in his own home, if he’ll lie about that he’ll lie about anything.”   

Peter Moore is presently our assistant District Superintendent and after July, everything being equal will most likely be our District Superintendent.  Because I serve the district in a couple of different capacities I’m kind of a minion for Peter.  But the reality is, that when Peter first graduated from University he was my minion.
Over the next 7 weeks or so we are going to be looking at some of the folks in the bible who were cast as minions, those who didn’t get to play the lead role or have a place on centre stage.  Those who were asked to play second fiddle for God. 

Leonard Bernstein, the late conductor of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, was once asked to name the most difficult instrument to play. Without hesitation, he replied: “The second fiddle. I can get plenty of first violinists, but to find someone who can play the second fiddle with enthusiasm – that’s a problem; and if we have no second fiddle, we have no harmony."

Let’s start with a whole bunch of minions, 12 to be exact.

If I was to ask you to name the Twelve Apostles I would suspect that many of you would be hard pressed to get all Twelve. 

Most of us would start with Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  But only Matthew and John were actually apostles.  We could probably add Peter and James, most would get Judas and then we’d start grasping. 

I remember in my Systematic Theology  class in university a friend of mine was stumped by a particular question so he wrote “I don’t know the answer but the names of the twelve apostles’ were . . .” and then he listed them.  The Prof marked it wrong.  As my cousin Rob used to say “Mr Bridgeo had no sense of ha ha.”  

So what do we know about the twelve?  A number of years ago I preached a message called “Discovering the Twelve” and taught about each of the twelve apostles.  I’m not going to do that today, if you’re interested let me know and I’ll send you the manuscript.

This is a really, really important group of people. 

They may have scattered when Jesus was being crucified, but when public opinion was still on the other side they came back together.  And after Jesus’ death and resurrection and his return to the Father there were only 120 gathered in the upper room. 

That’s about a quarter of the number that call Cornerstone their church home.  And through the efforts and leadership of the eleven remaining Apostles those 120 people literally changed the course of history.

Now I understand that God was working, and the Holy Spirit was moving but it ultimately happened because of these men.  This was the group that God had chosen to accomplish his plan through.   And they changed the world that they lived in, without television or radio or the internet, without force or violence they reshaped humanity in a matter of half a century.

And while we might not know everything about the Apostles there are some things that we know about the twelve, let’s start with their call.

Mark 3:13-14  Afterward Jesus went up on a mountain and called out the ones he wanted to go with him. And they came to him.  Then he appointed twelve of them and called them his apostles. They were to accompany him, and he would send them out to preach. . .

They Weren’t Just any Minions, They Were Chosen Minions

Just so you understand, there were countless disciples but there were only twelve apostles.

The twelve weren’t the only ones to follow Christ during the three years he taught, Jesus had followers two thousand years before twitter, but the twelve were the ones who followed him the closest and he chose them for their role they would play in changing the world.

Jesus had come to the place that his mission and his message could no longer be fulfilled without the help of others.  He was working under constraints that he had put on himself by choosing to come when he came and choosing how he came. 

He came as a person and he came at a time when there was no social media, no mass media, no printed media and for that matter no media period.  If people were going to hear his message they would need to hear it in person. 

And I’m in no way suggesting that there would have been a better time or a better way, Paul tells us in Romans 5 that Jesus didn’t come at just anytime, he came at just the right time.

And because of that he needed help if his message was going to spread and if his message was going to stick. 

And so he choose the 12.  Notice that he didn’t chose 12 people who would do their own thing in their own way at their own time.  Instead He chose 12 who would function as a group.  From the very beginning Christianity was designed to be a social religion and wasn’t simply to be something we do by ourselves.

And so Jesus called the twelve to serve a couple of purposes.  He called them to be the steady and constant players in the drama of his mission. 

We would see others who would come and go, but for three years the 12 were with him.  And he called them to represent him, he couldn’t be everywhere so he multiplied his efforts when he called the twelve.  It’s a great example of synergy. 

And the scriptures were very clear the 12 were different than the multitude.

Why would he call these 12 and not 12 others?  Because he’s God and because of that He  ultimately he gets to choose Wesley wrote “With regard to the eternal states of men, God always acts as just and merciful. But with regard to numberless other things, he seems to us to act as a mere sovereign.”   

So, they were chosen, what else do we learn? Let’s keep reading. 

Acts 4:13-14  The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus.  But since they could see the man who had been healed standing right there among them, there was nothing the council could say.

While they were Special Minions, They Were Ordinary Minions

So, who were these “Apostles” and what were they like?  Well let’s start by saying they were people, they weren’t statues or stained glass windows they were people.  Living breathing people with all of the faults and foibles, passions and vision that make us people.

Too often we elevate the apostles up on a pedestal and point to them and say, “Well I could never be like them.”  But they reality is that we are just like them and they were just like us.

You don’t have to dig very far before you discover that Jesus wasn’t recruiting from Ivy League universities or prestigious firms and institutions. 

He found Peter and his brother Andrew along with John and his brother James on the beach.   They were all fisherman. I’m kind of glad he still calls fishermen.
Matthew was a tax collector and Jesus found him in the tax booth.  We talked a little bit about tax collectors last Sunday.  
2000 years ago tax collectors weren’t anyone’s favorite people, I don’t even think their mother’s liked them.   If you do a search of tax collectors in the New Testament you find them mentioned with thieves and prostitutes, drunkards and sinners. 
And it wasn’t just because they collected the taxes, although to be fair that was a good part of it, it was who they collected the taxes for.  The tax collectors worked for the Romans, the occupiers and so they were seen as collaborators and traitors by their countrymen. 
On the other end of the spectrum was a man named Simon, and whenever he is mentioned it says in brackets (the Zealot) which meant he was on the far right on the political scale.   The zealots were nationalists and in reality, they were probably terrorists.  Depending on which side you were looking at them from. 
You would be hard pressed to have a zealot in the same room as a tax collector without a fist fight breaking out.   But from the very beginning Jesus insisted that the most diverse people should be able to get along.  
I’m pretty sure that Matthew and Simon never came to a place that their political views were in agreement, but that’s the great thing.  We don’t have to agree about politics or hockey or what type of music we enjoy or the food we like.  But we have to agree that Jesus is Lord.
And then there was Nathanial who was a little bit of a racist.  And you’re thinking “No, one of the apostles could never be guilty of something so base.” 
Really? Let’s pick up the story in the book of John. 
Andrew has introduced Philip to Jesus and now Philip goes to look for Nathanael and when he finds him he tells him told him in, John 1:45. . . “We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth.”  
And I love the response that Philips gets from his friend:  John 1:46 “Nazareth!” exclaimed Nathanael. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”   
Well maybe he wasn’t a racist, but he was a cityist. 

If’n I was Jesus, and I’m not but If’n I was not sure that would have endeared Nathanael to me.  I’m from Saint John NB, or at least that’s where I call home and if someone asked, and they probably have “Can anything good come from Saint John?”  I’d take it personal, even if there is a certain amount of truth to the statement. 
But before his encounter is over we read this  John 1:49 Then Nathanael exclaimed, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God—the King of Israel!”
We don’t know what the rest of the group did for a living, but what we do know is that it didn’t merit a mention.

William Barclay sums it up when he writes:  “Judging them by worldly standards the men Jesus chose had no special qualifications at all. They were not wealthy; they had no special social position; they had no special education—they were not trained theologians; they were not high-ranking churchmen and ecclesiastics; they were twelve ordinary men.”

So let’s keep going in the story:    Matthew 4:18-22  One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers—Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew—throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living.  Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!”  And they left their nets at once and followed him.  A little farther up the shore he saw two other brothers, James and John, sitting in a boat with their father, Zebedee, repairing their nets. And he called them to come, too.  They immediately followed him, leaving the boat and their father behind.

They Were Obedient Minions but They Weren’t Perfect Minions

I love this passage, Jesus says follow me and the response of Peter, Andrew, James and John is simple,  the bible says  “and they followed him.”   When Jesus called Matthew from his job as a tax collector we are told that “Matthew got up and followed him.”

Over and over again in the scriptures we see the Apostles obeying Jesus’ commands.   Hand out a few fish and buns to thousands of people, no problem.  Cast your net over the side of the boat, no problem.  Preach the word, no problem. 

And that was part of the deal, Jesus told them John 14:21  Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”

And it’s easy to see the apostles as super saints who had an incredible amount of faith and succeeded in everything they tried.  And again, that becomes daunting.  The Apostles are way up there and we are way down here.  And we can never be like them, so why bother trying?

But they didn’t always get it right.  In Matthew 17 we read the story where a man brought his son to Jesus to be healed and said “I took him to the minions and they couldn’t do anything.”  And Jesus said it was because they didn't have enough faith.

It was the apostles who couldn't stay up and pray with Jesus in the garden while had awaited his arrest.  Because they kept falling asleep.

And this was the group that scattered and hid after Jesus was arrested.

But even though they blew it sometime, and even though they didn’t always get it right, they tried and when they blew it they were willing to get back up, ask for forgiveness and get on with life.

 It’s so easy to be paralyzed by the fear of failure and refuse to do anything, but watch the apostles.  For all their faults, they tried. 

And here is a word of encouragement, there will be days you will blow it and days that if God could be embarrassed then you will embarrass him. 

But you still need to try and remember that in the end his forgiveness and his grace are there and they are bigger than your failures. 

Don’t be a Judas, and I don’t mean don’t betray Christ.  I mean don’t give up on Christ, he won’t give up on you.  I don’t know what your theology might be but I believe that  if Judas had of accepted the grace and forgiveness of Christ then he would have been forgiven, he just didn’t accept what had been offered.

Set your eyes on Christ, make it your goal to be obedient, but remember his grace is so much bigger than our failures. 

Acts 1:8  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”    And finally we discover that When Ordinary Minions are Obedient Minions They Can Change the World  It was just forty days before Jesus had made that promise that the Apostle had scattered in fear.

If you were to ask anyone the day after the crucifixion, including the apostles, what the 12  might amount to the answer to paraphrase Vice-President Garner would probably be that they wouldn’t amount to a bucket of warm spit.

After the resurrection, there were eleven of the original 12 left, 11 ordinary people who chose to be obedient.

And they would literally turn the world upside down.  This was a group of men who had never travelled more than 100 km from where they were born, and yet before they died they had taken the gospel to the very edges of the known world.

Tradition tells us that Simon the Zealot went as far as the British Isles, that Thomas went to India and Peter went to Rome.  Philip we are told ventured to North Africa, Matthew went to Ethiopia and we are told that Andrew ventured as far north as the “Land of the Man-Eaters” which is thought to be modern Day Russia.

Sources indicate that by the time the last Apostle died that there were close to 1 million believers world-wide. 

The reality is that for two thousand years God has been using ordinary obedient people to change the world.  And he can use you, if you will let him.

So let me close with the words of  William Barclay who said “These twelve had all kinds of faults, but whatever else could be said about them, they loved Jesus and they were not afraid to tell the world that they loved him--and that is being a Christian.”