Here in the beginning of Jesus’ historic Sermon (what we’ve called, His “manual on true discipleship”), He paints a clear picture of what our identity is as Christ-followers. In the context of this sermon, imagine that a coin represents disciples of Jesus who have a profound impact on the world and culture around them, and the two sides of that coin …

I was watching some clouds and thunderstorms develop out east from our home yesterday. Just "ordinary" clouds that show up many summer afternoons. As I took the time to pause and look at the clouds I noticed their beauty. You know, God doesn't make junk, and every creation if His, even the ordinary, everyday ... even you and I, bear His mark. We have value and use to Him.

Recently, on a fishing trip to a high country lake, I made an interesting observation. When there weren’t waves, we caught NO fish. When the waves picked up, things changed!  The waves bounced through the shallow waters, waking up the submerged bug life—putting them into the water in reach of the fish. The sandy shore spread into the shallows clouding the water just a bit, making it harder for the fish to tell the flies we were offering were fake bugs! The waves change everything – and the fish began to bite.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve talked about what it means to be “holy,” the importance of Christ-followers being different than the world around them. Yet, if this wonderful difference is only experienced among fellow believers—in the holy huddle—a needy world will never experience the life giving difference.

There are two things that can keep us from being fruitful among our friends who are yet to follow and know Jesus. These two simple ideas are reflected in this passage from Peter, the disciple:

Sometimes the shortest distances are the hardest to cross. I’ve often said that the longest 30 yards is the distance between our front door and the front door of our neighbor!

Where do your feet lead you? Based on the accounts in the Gospels, you would have to imagine that Jesus’ feet were worn, calloused, and often dusty. He walked long paths everywhere He went. He walked more than 80 miles between His home area of Galilee to Jerusalem. He took the dusty road through Samaria, rather than the easier, more lush passages near the Jordan. He walked to the places the religious leaders didn’t go—among those who were not of the approved establishment—across to the Decapolis and to modern day Syria.

One of the ways we can pass along God’s goodness to others is through our words.

Recently, our house was full of people. Usually I enjoy having people around. But I was tired, and sometimes when I’m tired out, I need to be alone and recharge, so having a houseful was wonderful, but challenging. One morning, I got into it with one of our adult kids. I got out of hand and my words became hurtful to the point that another of our adult children said, “Dad!” Gotta hate being called down by your own kids, especially when they are right!

The expression "pay it forward" is used to describe the concept of repaying a good deed done to you by doing something kind for someone else rather than for the person who was kind to you.  “Paying if forward” rather than “paying it back.”

The method of training people in a trade or art through mentoring—called “apprenticeship”—is not as prevalent as it once was. This year I had the chance to visit the art district of Raleigh, North Carolina. Moore Square is home to artists of all kinds, a community of friends, many of whom take pleasure in mentoring the next generation of artists.