“Body shaming”, a label for the current time. We have all heard it, many of us have fallen victim to the self shaming of “how I look in the mirror.” And certainly if you raise kids during this age, you have likely had to comfort a child who does not look pretty enough, or feel thin enough, or stretch tall enough. And bullies have body shamed their classmates with name calling and labels long before I was in school. Body shaming, It was NOT a term used in the 60s, when I was growing up. But let me say if your last name is Fulton, and you weigh too much… your name might be “Full-ton.” I was body shamed. But this is not about that, it is a journey of “body talk” however. And because I have an over sized Belly, what God has taught me is truly remarkable. The Body is really important to me, and to God.
It is Father’s Day, June 21, 2020. And Today my Heavenly Father gave me a story. It is a true story, as I remember it. Parts of the Body, Children of the same Father, and the Same Grandmother as it turns out. It is about Bob, and Bob, and Bob. Brothers in Christ. But without a doubt they are different parts and functions in the Body of Christ…
1 Corinthians 12:12-27 New International Reader’s Version (NIRV)
One Body but Many Parts
12 There is one body, but it has many parts. But all its many parts make up one body. It is the same with Christ. 13 We were all baptized by one Holy Spirit. And so we are formed into one body. It didn’t matter whether we were Jews or Gentiles, slaves or free people. We were all given the same Spirit to drink. 14 So the body is not made up of just one part. It has many parts.
15 Suppose the foot says, “I am not a hand. So I don’t belong to the body.” By saying this, it cannot stop being part of the body. 16 And suppose the ear says, “I am not an eye. So I don’t belong to the body.” By saying this, it cannot stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, how could it hear? If the whole body were an ear, how could it smell? 18 God has placed each part in the body just as he wanted it to be. 19 If all the parts were the same, how could there be a body? 20 As it is, there are many parts. But there is only one body.
21 The eye can’t say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 In fact, it is just the opposite. The parts of the body that seem to be weaker are the ones we can’t do without. 23 The parts that we think are less important we treat with special honor. The private parts aren’t shown. But they are treated with special care. 24 The parts that can be shown don’t need special care. But God has put together all the parts of the body. And he has given more honor to the parts that didn’t have any. 25 In that way, the parts of the body will not take sides. All of them will take care of one another. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it. If one part is honored, every part shares in its joy.
27 You are the body of Christ. Each one of you is a part of it.
This is the story of some Body Parts… they all lived and were birthed in the same “hood.”
Bob graduated from Kansas City Center High School in 1967, and Bob graduated from Center High School in 1968, and Bob graduated from Center High School in 1969. They all met on the same school wrestling mat in the Fall of 1966. They all became children of God through the ministry of Ted Nissen and Colonial Presbyterian Church. Ted was a student under the legendary Henrietta Mears.
If you are unfamiliar with Henrietta, and most of you will be, take a moment to search this remarkable woman of God. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henrietta_Mears This woman is perhaps the most unknown, unassuming person and yet an influential teacher to young men and women of the Word of God. Her family tree of pastors and teachers is unrivaled, Billy Graham, Bill Bright, Jim Rayburn, Don Moomaw, Ted Nissen, and on and on.
The “three Bobs” are Henrietta Mears’ “grandchildren.” They have traveled differently, and yet from my perspective they definitely are headed in the same direction, as one Body. Those who know them will confirm that the “the Bobs” truly share the same body of Christ, but function are so differently There are millions of stories in the Body of Christ, here are three, I am familiar with two, and intimate with one. I hope that this shared narrative will help you find your place and enjoy your place in the Body of Christ. Because it was a difficult yet glorious journey for me to find my “place and part and purpose.” My journey took longer it seemed than it does for most. So I share the three Bobs story in hope that you will have further joy in your walk with God.
Bob Lehleitner and I met in the early 60’s.. He did not believe in Jesus when I met him, though our first interaction was in the youth group at Colonial Presbyterian Church. But it was on a wrestling mat that we became conversant. I am not here to speak his testimony. Suffice it to say that Bob gave his life to Jesus decades ago. In 1974, Bob and I shared a house, a semester in seminary, numerous stories and ice cream cones. Bob is now a pastor at Colonial Presbyterian Church and has been for over 40 years. He is among the most generous, caring, and loving men I know. He officiated at the memorial service for my mother upon her passing. The Body of Christ is better because of Bob Lehleitner. Few who meet Bob would deny that in the Body of Christ, he is the heart. Truly I want to be like Bob. And I want to be the “heart” of and for Christ. What a great body part.
Bob Beltz and I met somewhere on a football field, then on the same wrestling mat. In High School, he was one of those guys. Tough, handsome, brilliant, and loved by men and women. He was never a close friend, and frankly he was an intimidating figure. We never socialized, until St. Patrick’s day, 1970, At Shakey’s Pizza Parlor on Metcalf Road in Overland Park. Green beer at age 18 and 19. All legal drinking on the Kansas side of Kansas City. Bob came up to my table. He came to complain about losing his girlfriend to the new youth pastor at Colonial Presbyterian Church. We engaged in some conversation. “Can you believe that this guy believes in Jesus?” was Bob’s question to meet that night. I let him know I also believed in Jesus. I am not here to speak his testimony. Suffice it to say that Bob gave his life to Jesus Decades ago. Bob and I shared some fellowship, a trip in his little MGB sports car, on a trip from KC to Denver, and a belief in Jesus as Savior. Bob is Seminary grad, a Doctor of Theology, and an Author, a brilliant teacher and minister in Denver. The Body of Christ is better because of Bob Beltz. Few who meet Bob would deny that in the Body of Christ, he is the brain. Truly I want to be like Bob. And I want to be the “brain” of and for Christ. What a great body part.
Bob Fulton is the third Bob… that is me. I am the “other” Bob. I actually have been on a journey with Jesus for over 60 years. I have no doubt of His presence in my life. I know all of the intimate details of my travels in the Kingdom of God. I am an emotional one. I am the one who “finds myself doing those things I don’t want to do, and not doing those things I should.” Romans 7:15. It is a constant battle. God what is my purpose? This is a question I asked frequently. I would wander around within the Faith, looking to do my “thing.” I wanted to be one of the important parts… like Bob or Bob.
While searching for my place, I learned a few things about what I liked to do with God. Worship, and sing, and teach, and share hospitality. But that which I wanted to do most is to extend the Kingdom of God. I am not afraid to pursue the chief end of man… which according to the shorter catechism of the Westminster Confession.. is to glorify God, and enjoy Him forever. I am committed to my heavenly Father… I feel it in my Belly… That is my place in the Body of Christ. But what is the Belly in the Body of Christ?
I did NOT want to be THAT part. Seriously. I instead said to God, “I was here first! Why Bob and Bob? Why not me? Make me the heart, or make me the brain. I want to be one of those cool parts.” But I am the Belly. And as God often does in my life, he lets me circle back to familiar territory to discover my answers. He knows I love the familiar. He knows I know His word is living and active. He knows I know that I see in a mirror dimly. He knows I know that “seeming coincidence” is actually a sign of His sovereignty and existence in my life.
So in the midst of the Covid Pandemic, God brought me back to Colonial Presbyterian Church. Not physically. But digitally, with daily sermon and devotional feeds on Facebook live. It started on a Friday, watching my dear friend, Bob L. share a daily devotional.. then to the other dailies at 10 in the morning, Greg, Tami, Mark, and Todd, and finally to the Sunday service and the teaching of Senior Pastor Jim West. Let me say, returning to my old home church online, ColonialKC has been the best part of the Pandemic. And on May 24, 2020, God said to Jim.. Preach a sermon about the belly for Bob Fulton. And so it came to pass. And this was glorious.. “5/24 – For Those Who Thirst – John 7:37-39”
Here is the link if you choose to hear the entire service.. https://www.facebook.com/1040129265998163/videos/573465743553481 I will share what I heard.
And so from the figurative pulpit of my hero and mentor Ted Nissen, former Sr. Pastor of Colonial Presbyterian Church came these words from Jim West, current Colonial Senior Pastor, “I would simply point out that THIRST is not a matter of the heart…it is a matter of the belly, right? Thirst is a dimension of our appetite. In the Greek speaking-world the heart was thought to be the center of our convictions, but the belly was the center of our appetites. So, consider the promise that Jesus just made: Out of the belly of the one who believes in me shall flow rivers of living water. Out of the place of one’s deepest appetite and thirst will flow forth rivers…not one river…but many rivers of living water that nourish who? Certainly, the rivers of living water would nourish the believer; but rivers that flow through the believer also flow out to nourish others as well, right? ”
And so it was on that day in May, I took my place in the Body of Christ. A believer for over 6 decades, I settled in to a place God had made for me. I was in my place, My Kingdom place, and I had always been there. That is the reality of a body part. It is why the hand is already the hand and not the foot. It was just my responsibility to recognize it. My encouragement to you… run the good race. For some the race is a sprint to the purpose, for me it has been a marathon and beyond.
Just know your Heavenly Father has a purpose for you in the Kingdom. ….. And a place in His Body while on this earth. You will find purpose and peace in the Body of Christ… Seek and you will find it.