A bright red jacket was given to me as a crew member who served Mr. Armstrong on his private jet. With the jacket, Mr. Armstrong gave a philosophy. I was to treat everyone on this plane like they were royalty. Everyone has the opportunity to be kings and priest in God’s kingdom. We all should have a symbolic red jacket. We are all called to serve others.
Good afternoon, everyone, or good morning, to some of those hooked in, wherever they are. It's a pleasure to be here with you. I'm glad there's no lions in the room. I'm sure I'm sending out more vibrations than anyone else, (Laughter) knowing you're talking to so many people. Actually, I almost had this opportunity about sixteen years ago, Mr. Armstrong's last feast. He always did the broad satellite broadcast, and he got sick two days before it. And I went up to his house, and he said "I want you to do the telecast." And I about, like the lady in the car with the lion, about passed out, and then convinced him that he should take his past sermons and make a tape, and so I got Larry Omasta and the TV crew, and so the last one you heard was a compilation of previous messages, so I didn't have to face the music at that time. Although I did have to finish some of his sermons, some few that went to Jordan that year, in about 1982, I think it was, in the middle of the sermon, Mr. Armstrong, something happened, and he just said, "I've got to go," and he stood up and said, "Excuse me," and handed me his notes and said, "Here, you keep going." (Laughter)
And about fifteen minutes, twenty minutes later, he came back into the room and said, "Where are you?"
And I said, "Right here."
And he said, "Okay." It was the first tag team sermon I've ever given. And now I have the opportunity to speak to all of you, not because I've done anything great, or because I'm a great orator, because I'm not, and I always talk to you fast, and the translators tell me to slow down, or they'd probably kill me. Oh, they didn't say that, but I'm sure they think that, because I do often talk very fast, so I'll try.
But basically, I'm here because they, each year, we try to have certain council members speak, and they ran out of council members, so, I'm what's left. Some suggested that we could have some of the non-salaried council elders speak, and of course, with three hundred of you, in a hundred and fifty years, we could get through it. You'd have to live a long time to get your turn, but since I'm both, I can fill in one of those spots.
I appreciate all the men who have spoken up at this lectern over the last few years, the messages they've given; I find these stories that they give inspiring. And all of you do in your sermons. And there are so many stories in this room that can be told, and I think about those. I've listened to some of the past conferences the last couple of weeks just to rehearse some of the things that were done. And I remember some I didn't have to rehearse because some of the stories that have been told, beginning with the shoeless man statue in South America, and how he felt bad until he saw the man with no feet. And of course, Bill Bradford talked about the silversmith and seeing yourself in the silver because when you know it's ready, you see yourself as Christ does. Of course Bob Brandt talked about Frederick, who was being crowned as Emperor and all his pomposity and all his titles finally had to resort to it's "I, Frederick" center, which is where we all.
Or Melvin Rhodes talking about drawing back from the lepers and the people in Africa, which is personal to me because I've done the same thing. These stories are all about people, and people is what it's all about. I hope to add today to some of those stories, hopefully, because it helps us understand; it helps us understand our calling when we know it's about people and what we have to do.
Twenty-nine years ago this month, I received a phone call which changed my life. There have been a lot of things in our lives that have changed us over the years, and I'm going to get a little bit more comfortable now. Surprise. Actually, I'm going to get a little bit more uncomfortable, because what I'm doing now, for those of you that are on the hookup, I'm going to have to tell you, I'm putting on another jacket. It's a bright red jacket. It's a jacket that I put on twenty-nine years ago. When you wear this jacket you stand out.
Now, Robin Webber would have loved to have Andre have this jacket on a little earlier because he was trying to find him in here, and he couldn't because he wanted to Xerox his notes, and he'd already had mine, and I was beginning to worry because I didn't get my notes back, and I didn't want to do this acappella.
But I put on this red jacket because I was asked in a phone call by Mr. Armstrong who paged me, and I didn't know what it was. They turn off the phones during formal occasions, for formal brunch, graduation, and the phone, somebody answered back in the kitchen, and they went out and paged me, and I went back and answered the phone. And I said, "Hello." And I knew I was in trouble, because why would they page me during a brunch.
And the person said, "Do you know who this is?"
I said, "Yes, Sir. Do you know who this is?" (Laughter.)
Of course he called me, so he knew who he wanted, and he said, "Aaron, I want you to fly with me as a crew member on the plane."
And I said, "Oh, I was supposed to leave Sunday to be a trainee in Salt Lake City."
He said, "Well, that's okay. They'll understand."
So, on Monday, I got on the plane, and I put on this red serving jacket. And Mr. Armstrong, when he first saw me on the plane, after I'd done all the normal things a crew member does, loading luggage, etcetera. His first comment to me wasn't, "What's for breakfast?" or "Can you get me some coffee?" Which he usually had when he first got on the plane. His first comment was to me was, "Aaron," he says, "on this plane, you're going to be serving kings and queens of this world." But he says, "I want you, no matter who gets on this airplane, whether young or they're old, whether they're a minister or whether they're not, whether they're wealthy physically or not, whether they're a child, to treat everyone that gets on this plane like a king or a queen. Because everyone who gets on this plane has the opportunity in the future to be a king and a priest." And he meant it. He felt that way.
And so we took off on that trip. And indeed I did serve royalty my first flight. I served King Leopold and his wife, Princess Lillian. And it was an honor. It was unexpected, and I was nervous, just the way I am now. I was supposed to be trained on flight. I thought I'd get some training, and unfortunately, God seems to always get me jobs without any training, because Captain Black called Sunday night at ten o'clock and says, "You're going to fly by yourself. You don't need any training."
And I said, "Well I don't really know what I'm doing."
"That's okay. Your brother does." Well, he wasn't going. (Laughter.)
And so I learned to cook at altitude on my first flight. It's very different cooking at altitude, nothing boils at the same temperature, or cooks the same way. Thankfully, I had learned to cook in college in the kitchen, that's why I ended up on the plane. But it was fascinating to have to serve and to do things when you're not prepared.
All of us are never really prepared for everything that we have to do in life. At baptism we sign up for our calling, we're willing to lay down our lives, and we say all the things we're willing to go through, but yet we really don't know what's in store for us ahead and what we'll have to do in the future, and if we could really see what we have to face when you count the cost. Yeah, you hear the stories of other people's costs, but you don't really know what yours are going to be.
When I put on this jacket, it was obvious that I was the server. I was the servant. I was there to do whatever I was asked to do. It wasn't a question of anybody knowing - well, who is serving on this airplane? Because I was it.
Now when Mr. Armstrong told me to treat everyone like a king, he meant it, and we did. Whenever someone got on the plane, and some of the people in this audience have been on the airplane, and were served, and it was all china and crystal, all for a purpose, all to further a cause which we all have fought for, many in this room for forty, fifty years. But to Mr. Armstrong, it was all about people. When we look in the Bible, we see that it was all about people, with Jesus Christ and God, the Father; it was all about people. And we had a lot of slogans that we developed over the years, many of them, still as applicable today as they were then, such as "God is love; love is outgoing concern." Of course, that's concern for others, and it has to do with people.
We heard about the way of give, versus the way of get. That's giving to people. We learned that man knows how to deal with things, but only God knows how to deal in relationships. HWA came to see God in His family and His plan. It was about people, more precisely, saving people, helping people to understand God and His way of life. That's what giving is all about, when you talk about the way of give. It's what Christ gave; He gave His life, for us, for you, for me, for all mankind. It's hard to get that sometimes because in this world, when we look at service, we look at leadership, we don't see it the way that God sees it. Turn to, if you would, Luke 9. We've done a lot of discussion about leadership. More recently, we've focused on servant leadership, or names like - Christ centered servant leadership, or being like Christ, or whatever you call it, and the function of what we're trying to do is make us all like Christ. But it's interesting because when we see power, unlike the Jews in Christ's days, who wanted a Messiah, a Savior, and the Jews today want a Messiah and a Savior, they saw something of Him in power that we often see, and we miss some of the things we're supposed to see. In Luke 9:50 Jesus said:
Luke 9:50 - "Forbid him not:" He's talking about someone who was doing things for them, and the apostles always seemed to get upset with other people doing things instead of them, but verse 51:
Verse 51 - "It came to pass, when the time was come that He should be received up, He stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem." So, He's going to go.
Verse 52 - "He sent messengers before (His face):" (Him) "and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready. . ." He's coming; let's set it up.
Verse 53 - And the people there "did not receive Him because. . ." because they thought He was going to go on to Jerusalem, and the disciples were upset at this. This was their master, and He wasn't being taken care of and of course, they'd seen so many times when He was.
Verse 54 - "His disciples, James and John," they "saw this, and they said 'Lord, will You that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, just as Elias did?' " That's power; You're the Son of God; let's consume them. And Christ turned to them:
Verse 55 - ". . .and He (turned, and) rebuked them, and" He "said, 'You know not" you don't know "what manner of spirit you are,' " Now I'm sure they face dropped when He said that to them.
Verse 56 - "For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them." Yes, He came to save. It's about people. And as we look at leadership, and we look at our role as servants, we have to realize the whole purpose that we're here is about service; it's about people, the apostles, or the disciples before they became apostles were concerned with who's the greatest. And we've all read the scriptures where they fought with each other, and the jealousies they had between each other, and Christ made it very clear, he that is greatest is the servant. The servant. The one who wears the red jacket, and is known for his service.
At baptism each of us put on a red jacket. You didn't get a literal red jacket, but you put on a jacket that says, "I am going to do what Jesus Christ wants me to do. Whatever that is, and that may mean I have to stand out." As Andre van Belkum said it may mean I have to stand in front of a firing squad. It may mean I'm going to be uncomfortable, because when you serve sometimes, in some situations, it is very uncomfortable because the world is very different, and truly we put on a role of service when we wear this.
Unfortunately we've had six thousand years of human history of seeing the rule of the Gentiles, as Christ termed it. Rule, hierarchical, which is the same as God's rule. But rule where service that is defined as not what the king can do for you, but what you can do for him. And that role is something that we see; it's self serving; it seeks materialism, and truly this world is very materialistic, and so it rubs off on us. The world is very willing to sacrifice the people at the bottom (that it considers at the bottom) for the sake of those at the top. We've had a good example of that just recently in Iraq where someone gets control. Leader. Strong leader, and you can rule by fear, as Saddam Hussein did, or you can rule by love, the way Christ teaches.
Christ set an example that we should follow Him. How did He lead? In Iraq today you can see all sorts of disfigured people. There are teams of doctors going in there, making prosthetic ears, so people who have had their ears cut off because they didn't do or hear or listen, or they deserted, or whatever thing that they didn't do that the government demanded of them. And so we see people disfigured and maimed from that leadership. We look at Jesus Christ, and read the gospels, we see people that are maimed and disfigured being made whole, being restored, being put back to where they should have been as God created mankind. Christ cared. He cared for children. He cared for young, He cared for the old. He cared for people that were the dregs of society, the people that were looked at with disdain, and He wasn't concerned; He didn't draw back, and again like Melvin showed, when a person having been touched, and being in the third world countries, many different places that are not developed, there's a lot of people you wished you could do as Christ did, or Peter and the apostles and heal them. And it makes you feel so small, and you realize that your faith isn't that strong because you can't help those people the way that you want to. But yet, we are involved. We put on a jacket that says we're going to serve, and so we stand out, and our actions should make us stand out.
Turn to Matthew 25:33; we'll start in verse 31.
Matthew 25:31 - Where we want to be with God and with Christ in the kingdom. "When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels" (about) "with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory." And we want to be there to see Him.
Verse 32 - "And before Him shall be gathered all" (the) "nations; and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides the sheep from the goats:
Verse 33 - "And He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.
Verse 34 - "Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, 'Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." That's where you want to be. That's where I want to be. And why does He say that they're there? Why are they put on the side that they're put on? Because they rose to the top? Because they're able to control men? No.
Verse 35 - "For I was hungry, and you gave me meat." Simple act of kindness. "I was thirsty, and you gave me drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in:" We've all been strangers; we've all been in situations where we've seen people that need help.
Verse 36 - "Naked, and you clothed me: I was sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me.' " Those are the little things that we should be doing, if you want to be there with Him, on the right hand. And it's interesting to me the next verse is so powerful in my mind, because:
Verse 37 - ". . .the righteous" (say to him, "answer Him. . .) 'Lord, when did we see you hungry, and feed you? Or thirsty, and gave you drink?
Verse 38 - "When did we see You a stranger and took You in, or naked and clothed You?
Verse 39 - "When did we see you sick, or in prison, and came to you?' " We didn't do that.
Verse 40 - "And the King (will answer" answers and says,) " 'I say unto you, inasmuch as you have done it to one of the least, My brethren, you have done it unto Me.' " If I served a child on the airplane, and treated them like kings, I did it to him. If you help someone in your congregation, or someone outside your congregation, or someone in your community, because Christ never dealt with a Christian, humanly, on earth. They didn't happen until after He died. He helped a lot of people with a lot of needs.
The people who inherit the kingdom are the people who this becomes second nature. Not really second nature, it becomes - Christ nature, because that's really where it comes from. It doesn't come from humans from within.
Turn to Luke 19. We have to do things without knowing it. It's part of our nature as well. Not always easy, and it won't be seen probably for the act that it is by some people. In Luke 19:11:
Luke 19:11 - "And as they heard these things, he added and spoke a parable, because He was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear." Everybody wants it to come now. So do I. And we're closer now than they have been. I can say that with certainty. And we'll be closer tomorrow.
Verse 12 - "And He said therefore," (to them,) " 'A certain nobleman went to a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.
Verse 13 - "And he called his ten servants, and delivered" (gave) "them ten pounds, and" he "said (unto them), 'Occupy till I come.' " And He returned in:
Verse 15 - ". . .having received the kingdom, and he (commanded these servants to be called unto Him. . .)" brought the servants in front of him.
Verse 16 - "Then came the first (saying), 'Lord, your pound has gained ten pounds." He did something with it. He used it; he worked with it; he spread it out.
Verse 17 - ". . .Because you have been faithful in (very) little, have you authority over ten cities.
Verse 18 - "And the second came,. . .' 'Your pound has gained five pounds.
Verse 19 - " '. . .And likewise. . .over five cities.
Verse 20 - "And then (another)" (one) "came," and just took his pound and said, "I kept laid" put it ". . .in a napkin." I held it; I kept it tight; I protected it. I held on to what you gave me, and of course, He rebuked him. And so we can't just sit back and say, "Okay, I know the ten commandments; I know the Bible; I've read it; I'm keeping the law. You can't earn salvation; it's a gift of God, naturally. It's not by works, but you have to do something. But let's go back and see what made Him say this parable. Go back to Luke 19:1. What does this parable have to do with a man named Zacchaeus?
Luke 19:1 - "(And) So Jesus entered and passed through Jericho." Jericho is down below Jerusalem, down by the Jordan River.
Verse 2 - "And (behold) there was a" certain "man named Zacchaeus, which was" a "chief among the publicans, and he was rich." Now Zacchaeus was the most hated man in town, more than likely, because a publican was a tax collector. He took money from you, which no one likes, and he also was the chief of the tax collectors, and he represented the Roman government in taking taxes. So he was very much despised.
Verse 3 - "And he sought to see Jesus, and who He was . . ." He'd heard about Him. ". . .and could not because the people were all pressed, and because he was little of stature." And I'm sure because he was hated, no one was saying, "Oh, Zacchaeus, you're so short, let's put you up in front. Nobody was turning around giving him his chair. So what did he do?
Verse 4 - ". . .he ran before, and (he) climbed up a sycomore tree. . ." And of course, we have the song, you may have heard or sang when you were little, wee Zacchaeus climbed up a sycomore tree so he could see what he could see.
Verse 5 - "And Jesus came (by) and looked up and saw him, and said, 'Zacchaeus, make haste, (and) come down; for today I must abide at your house.' " Oh, you know this irritated the people who were great in the city because He didn't ask to stay with them, the chief rabbi, the chief Sadducee, or the chief Pharisee. He picked Zacchaeus. And they probably thought - well, he's the richest man in town, so He's probably going there because of that. No.
Verse 6 - Zacchaeus "made haste, and came down, and received Him joyfully." I mean, I am sure he was really happy. Not only he got to see Him, climbing up a tree, without a lion chasing him, he got to be called back down and have this man for dinner.
Verse 7 - "And (when) they saw it, they (all) murmured, saying, 'This is He that was gone to be a guest with a man that is a sinner." Why did He do that?
Verse 8 - "And Zacchaeus stood. . ." talking to Christ, "and said, 'Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him four-fold." This is an honest man. He was seen as a sinner. People wouldn't put him up. Christ didn't say, "No, you didn't do this." Christ didn't condemn him. I mean, Christ could read the mind, and how many times did Christ say, "Yeah, right. That's what you're thinking. I know."
But this was true.
Verse 9 - "And Jesus said. . .'This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he is also a son of Abraham.' " Whether you're at the bottom or the top, you're a son of Abraham. You're a potential king; you're a future son of God.
Verse 10 - "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." A lot of people out there who think they're lost. And so He gave the parable of the talents, because Zacchaeus, even though he was a tax collector and considered the lowest on the totem pole, even though he was wealthy in the sin category, he was doing good. He was serving. He was using his money to do some things good. Now certainly he had other things that he could have done. I'm sure he had sins, and I'm sure he had problems, and I'm sure he felt embarrassed sometimes because of what he did for a job. But he understood that it's a life of service.
Do we do as Zacchaeus did? Do we give? Whether people think we do or not, do we plan out what we're doing? These words are moving - to inherit the kingdom. All we have to do is help people. Well, of course, we have to put sin out of our lives; we have to do all the things that show that we love God, but it's difficult.
I remember the first presentation we had about servant leadership. It talked about the chairman of Southwest Airlines going out and loading luggage on Thanksgiving Day, which is great. People respect him for that, although it's a planned activity. How much should our service be planned, or should it be spontaneous? When we were in New Zealand, you know, sometime around 1983 or 84, I forget which year, my wife had begun flying on the plane because Bob Fahey had committed her to that job a couple of years earlier. She's never forgiven him for that. No, she has.
It was interesting because the first trip she said, "I want to quit."
And I said, "Well, you tell him. I'm not telling him."
And so she was on for a while. But it was interesting because I got hung up in customs immigration because I always fought the battle of the luggage, and the battle in New Zealand. They want to make sure no bugs get into the country, so they come in and spray bug spray all through the airplane, and my way around that was I'd have empty cans of bug spray and always carry them with me, and I'd hand it to them as they came in, and usually they'd let us go thinking I had already done it instead of poisoning everybody. But I was in the back, arguing with one of the people there, and the luggage had gone down, my wife was there trying to take care of the luggage. And Mr. Armstrong saw her, back there, pulling these bags, and there were quite a few bags, and some of them were quite heavy. And the images of service that are etched in my mind are ones that there are times when people did things spontaneously when they didn't have to.
And he saw her, and he ran over, and said, "Michelle, you need help." And he started grabbing luggage, and he was eighty-eight, eighty-nine years old, past his heart attack. He couldn't lift some of the bags either. But he went over and began to help her. Very moving.
ecause with him, it was about people. Now you could say it was about being a gentleman, because here's a lady doing this, and he was a gentleman. And that generation very much did things like that.
We had another time, when I was on the airplane. We lost the auxiliary units of the plane, and all the heat went out. All the cooking and everything, I couldn't fix a meal back in the back that time. Nobody wanted to eat anyway, because it was freezing in the plane, and nobody wanted to unwrap, and I had my nice, light-weight, little jacket on. And I went up to check Mr. Armstrong; we had all the blankets and we had all the coats out; we did everything we could to try to keep warm. And the captain had talked to Mr. Armstrong and said, "Well, we're three hours from Hawaii, and we're two hours if we go back to Guam. We'd taken off from Japan. And he said, "Do you want to go on?"
And Mr. Armstrong said, "Well if we go to Guam, how long will we be stuck there?"
And the captain said, "About a week or two."
He said, "Well, I can't work from Guam. Let's go on."
So we went on, and it got colder and colder in the plane, and there were icicles forming. And I had my little jacket on, and I walked up to Mr. Armstrong to see if he was all right, and he had his big heavy bull vicuna coat on, and wrapped up around his ears. He was cold, too. And he looks up at me, and he sees me, and he says, "Aaron, you're going to die."
Now I could have quoted scripture that says, "It is appointed once for all men to die." I didn't. I just said, "I'll be okay."
He says, "No. No." And he stands up and starts taking off his coat. He says, "You know, I'm old. I'm eighty-some years old. I've lived my life. You're young. Take my coat."
Well, I've defied a few of his orders, and that was one of them. I said, "I'm not going to be responsible for killing you." I said, "I'm young enough, I can run up and down the plane." Even though it's only thirty feet. It's enough. He had an attitude of service that he really did care about people, and it wasn't just to be noble. It was genuine.
Often times, we see acts of service that amaze us outside of our own body, outside of those we consider Christian. And these acts again get etched in your mind because they're so rare among humanity, and Christ, when He saw them, when He saw Cornelius who was willing to accept healing by just saying, "Well, give the order. You don't have to come."
And He said, "Wow, look at the faith." And we see times and other people who were Gentiles did things.
In our travels and in meeting with various people, two of my favorite people were the king and queen of Thailand. The queen of Thailand in particular developed a real close relationship with Mr. Armstrong; the king had already had one for a number of years. And Mr. Armstrong always tried to see both of them. He didn't realize it was a violation of protocol to see the royal family together. The only time the royal family meets other people together is when the husband and wife, like the president and his wife come, or another king and queen come, then they see them together. And for years, he had been wanting to see the queen, and he'd always met with the king. And he always wondered why his wife wasn't there, and he'd always ask the king about his wife, and the king would kind of, you know, not say anything, because it was diplomatic not to. So finally he had a meeting with the queen. And the queen had asked her husband, she said, "What should I do for Mr. Armstrong?" You know, at this time, he's ninety years old, or ninety-one.
And the king said, "Well, you know, we started a project up in Angkong. Maybe you should ask him if he wants to go up there?"
And she said, "Well, that's a long ways up there." It's on the very corner of the country on the Burmese border.
And he said, "Well ask him. If he doesn't want to go, he doesn't have to."
And so, this village where we started this project, and that's a story in itself because it was the poorest, smallest village that you could find in the area. It was right in the middle of the drug lords, and the wars, and the children, the boys were taken to the military, and the girls were taken for prostitution, and it was a mess. And the king decided that he wanted to help there.
And he asked Mr. Armstrong for help. So Mr. Armstrong agreed.
So, the queen asked him, "Mr. Armstrong, would you like to go see Angkong?"
And Mr. Armstrong says, "Sure." So it involved quite a bit because we had to - we flew up to the north, up to Chiang Mai, and then we took helicopters with the queen and the entourage, there were three helicopters there, and of course, there was a military group that went up before that. And so we landed in this little place. It was all hilly and mountainous and poor; this village that used to grow poppies for the opium trade. Now they're growing vegetables because that was what the project that was started was about - making them self-sufficient, growing vegetables, and to help them.
It was remarkable as we landed, because the queen got out and we got into the jeeps. And we drove on some really windy, windy roads. They were scary because they were roads like you go hunting on, cliffs on one side, steep on one side, and downhill on the other. I was on the cliff side; I was safe. My wife was supposed to be on the other side, but she was on my lap because she didn't like that side. Mr. Armstrong was on that side, too, but he had that bad eye on that side, so he couldn't see, or I might have had him on my lap as well. I don't know.
But we drove down to the village, and the queen said, "Excuse me, I've got to do some work." And all the people there were lined up, and she got down in the dirt with them, and she worked with them. And to watch a queen get down in the dirt with some hill tribe people, not even Thais, but yet they're part of their people, and she and her husband care for all the different people of their country, and they pinned on their lapels the problem that people had, because they wrote it in English. They didn't want others to read it and embarrass them. She was courteous enough that way, so she could read it and not them. And she would talk with them, and sometimes she may give them a few coins. She may offer a few of them that were younger she offered to come to the palace to learn a trade, so that they'd be able to work and go back to their village and teach others, like we've learned a trade. We've learned the truth of God, and what's our job? To go back and teach others. She was doing on a physical way what we're to do on a spiritual way. And it was moving to see someone get down on her hands and knees and work with people. That was remarkable in itself.
But when lunch time came, even something more remarkable happened. We sat down to eat. There was a little hut there, where there was some outdoor picnic table with a bamboo shade over it, with leaves and things like you find in the jungles. And we had our packed lunch there, and it was clean because the queen had asked what could we eat, so she knew most of our dietary laws. And even so though it was clean though it was all wrapped up, they're so good at wrapping things up in little figurines like dolls and pheasants and ostriches and all sorts of things that they make these things look like, and you don't know where to open it and how to get in it. Mr. Armstrong was trying to fight his way through this decoration and he'd been known to eat decorations before. He'd eaten an orchid off a plate once before, so I learned not to put orchids on plates only edible things, and I was praying that he wouldn't get sick. But he was having trouble opening this decorative food. And so the queen got up and walked over and started unwrapping it for him. Now the staff was all shocked. They were whispering to each other, what is… you know, "What is she doing?" Because the queen doesn't do things. The king and queen are served. They don't serve. They are served. And they didn't know what to do.
So that was enough. My wife, she had to go to the bathroom. So she turned to one of the ladies in waiting and asked where you go. And it was off a little ways, so they told her, and so she started walking. Now the queen saw Michelle walking out toward the restrooms, and she got up from her chair and she ran ahead of my wife. And she turned around and said, "Michelle, wait." She says, "Don't go in yet."
She went into the restroom and cleaned it for my wife. And she came out and she handed her a little towelette she kept in her purse, and she said, "Don't use the water. It's not good for you. Use this." And she went back.
Now when you see something like that, you think, wow! And her servants, her staff thought, "What is she doing?" She could have sent someone else to do it. She did it herself. And I could see doing it for Mr. Armstrong, but for my wife? Now, would I do that for my wife? She's put up with a lot over the years.
And I ask myself, "Would I do that for someone?" Yeah, for someone important, maybe, or if that's my job; I'm the janitor, maybe. But if you're the leader; if you're the king; you're the queen. You'd do something like that? That was one of the most remarkable things I've ever seen in my life. There's an attitude of service. I'm a Gentile from Buddhist. From someone who understands service in a different way. And I'm sure when she is called by God she'll and her husband, both will do very well.
But we as a people willing to clean a restroom for each other, for people outside. We're not Buddhist. We weren't of a religion. We weren't the co-leader. We were servants. And she went and cleaned it for a servant. Do we do the same thing? We do foot washing every year at Passover, and we did it a couple of weeks ago. And oftentimes I think our service there becomes a ritual, as opposed to a way of life. Oh, yeah, it's that time of year; we wash feet. But it's not the act of washing feet. The first time it was done, it was very moving because the disciples really were shocked. Well, you're not shocked after the first time, the second, the third. You understand it, but yet, the attitude of why you're doing that has to be with us. It has to be Christ's nature in us. That when you see a need, you fill it. That's what I've tried to teach my children. I'm always saying to A. J. and Crystal, when you see a need, you fill it; you do it; you don't wait until you're asked. All too often in this world we want to wait until we're asked. Most people in the world want to wait, until if they do an act of service, they want everybody to see it.
We've all seen people in politics who smile when the camera shows up. Who can put on tears when it's time to cry; and can laugh when it's time to laugh, regardless of how they feel. But it's got to come from the heart; it's got to be a part of us that we keep. Most people don't want to put on a serving jacket, at least not for the right reasons. Turn to I John 2. Most people want to put on the king's robe; most people want to have material goods; most people are caught up by that roaring lion that Andre talked about, and his way of life.
I John 2:15 - "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." This world loves itself; it loves its materialism; it loves what it is doing. We see justice, and injustice, and we see people who want to do good, but it's man's form of good, yet it's not always for the right reasons.
Verse 16 - "For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world." And certainly, this world will put on a red jacket, if it can be noticed and if, they can be rewarded for it. And there are people who put in their time somewhere so that they can advance above it, even in the church. In times past, we've had people who want to be deacons and elders for the wrong reason. And some of them get to be that because they did serve and do things, and then, "I'm done with that now. I've put my time in." You've never put your time in. Even if you're the queen of Thailand, you've never put your time in. You serve, no matter what, because that's what it's about. It's about service. You put on the red jacket; it doesn't come off. It's a commitment to the end.
Verse 17 - "The world passes away, and the lust thereof, but he that does the will of God abides forever." You want to abide forever? Do the will of God. What's His will? Yeah. Going to be a child of God and keep His commandments? And do as Christ said, if you want to be there, on the right hand? Feed the hungry? Clothe the naked? Serve the afflicted? Help them? It's difficult, and we've had lots of good examples, and lots of bad examples. And we can learn from each. You should learn what not to do when you see something wrong, and what to do when you see it right.
I had people come up to me and ask to put this red jacket on. In a sense, I'd be asked, "Well, how do you get a job on the plane?"
And what they wanted was the recognition from it, which was wrong. But my answer to them is, "You don't want this job." Why? Because this job is too demanding. This job is tribulation; it's trouble. For me, it meant I lost four years on the first part of my marriage, away from my wife. I didn't get married to be alone. It wasn't fun. But because I was ordered to do it, God helped us, and it worked fine.
But you don't put on the jacket because you want to be seen, or you want to have things done for you. You put it on because you want to help others. Luke 17. If you did things just because it's a job, then you're in trouble.
Luke 17:6 - "And the Lord said, 'If you had the faith of a grain of mustard seed, you might say unto this sycamine tree, Be you plucked up by the roots, and be you planted in the sea, and it would obey you.
Verse 7 - "But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle will say to him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat?
Verse 8 - "Will he not rather say (unto him), Make ready so I can eat. And gird thyself and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward then you can eat and drink?
Verse 9 - "Does he thank the servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not.
Verse 10 - "Likewise you, when you have done all the things which are commanded you, say, 'We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do'." If we're only doing our duty, we can be unprofitable. It's difficult. There's a lot of work out there, and I appreciate the work all the men in this room do, pastoring. It's more difficult to prove and go above and beyond your duty when that is your job. What do you do to go above and beyond when you're paid to do it? It's difficult, and we have some large circuits, and a lot of people, and a lot of problems, and servants meet, and all the unpaid elders in here, you know, you're going above and beyond, and Christ's going to reward you, and I appreciate the thousands of hours that we get every year from all of you, and from the membership who do all the things that they do. It's wonderful to visit churches and be accepted.
I was recently in Oakland and Stockton and spoke there, at the ophthalmology convention, and it was wonderful to be treated so kindly by the people there. That's how I am, and all of us are, when we visit other churches around the country, and around the world, for that matter. But we have to do more. Every year, this red jacket gets dry cleaned. Now not physically, I don't dry clean this thing, because I don't wear it very often. But every year, this jacket is dry cleaned in the blood of Christ, to get more pure red. And every year, we get a chance to say, "If I didn't do as much as I could last year, I can more this year. I can serve a little better this year than I did before."
ecause our job is to help, and to serve, and to give, as part of God's nature, part of Christ's.
I stood on the plane and after a few years, I got all sorts of other titles and jobs and things, most of which nobody even knows. I had about twenty-some business cards that said everything from go-fer, to Vice President, basically because I had different functions I had to do at different times, and Mr. Armstrong used to joke with me, "What card are you using today?"
Because when you went in the world's circles, you had to be a certain part to be allowed in. So if you're meeting somebody who had something to do with the press and editorial out there, I'd have a "Good News" or a "Plain Truth" card. If I were doing something for the college, I'd be a representative of the college. And if I was meeting on a project, I'd be of the foundation, and so I had these cards. And I remember the nurse, when Mr. Armstrong gave me one of the titles, she said, "Oh, you're important now."
I said, "I am ? So, what am I today that I wasn't yesterday?"
He'd say, "Well, you're a vice president."
"Well what do I do today that I didn't do yesterday?" I said, "I'm just a servant. I'm going to do the same thing I always did. I'm just a servant now with another business card."
She didn't understand because this world looks at service in the wrong way. They look at service as something you advance through and you kind of forget where you were. We should never forget where we were, what we were. We put out the old man and put on the new one, but we don't turn back to it. We have to hear, and we have to change. You don't put in your time to get to the top. You serve mankind, and Christ will put you on His right hand, where He wants you to be. It's an example that's difficult to follow. Some of the apostles had to give their lives just like Christ did. Some of us may have to. Like Andre says, there are some times ahead that are very, very troubling. I think they're very soon, and I think if I could do anything in the church, I'd bring back a sense of urgency, so that we would think it was tomorrow, and act like it was tomorrow, and give like it was tomorrow. How long do you have to do this? How much do you have to do? Oh, you have to do it until you die, and you have to do it with every opportunity you get, because there's only so much life you have to live.
And it's not the great big things you do, because there aren't that many big things to do.
At the college, I had the opportunity to sit on a board that decided the awards we gave to students. And there were times when names would come up, and things that people did that were very visible would come up, and you always wondered did they do it because they wanted to, or because they had to, or because they got recognized for it. In our history, we can admit it, there has been some when we look at the things people do and the stature, kind of like Samuel, look at the big brothers of David, and picked all them. And God said, "No." We haven't always been good in how we picked.
It was interesting, on one occasion, we couldn't really think of anything anyone had done, and someone said, "Well, this one particular person, when my kids were sick, they came over and offered to baby sit."
And then someone else said, "You know that same person came and sent me a card when I was sick."
Someone else said, "Well, that same person did something for me when I needed some help." As we went around the table, that same person that no one had thought of, and wasn't a stand out, wasn't amazing, wasn't a beauty, wasn't, you know, whatever. She had done something for every single person in that room. And she got an award that year, and she deserved it.
We need to be doing all those little things because like those that said, "Well, Christ, when did we do it toYou?" You shouldn't really know you did it. God knows all those little things you do. And that's what it's about. It's about people; it's about relationships. Do we hear? Do we listen? Why did Christ say to Peter, "Feed my sheep? Feed my sheep. Feed my sheep." Was it because He knew Peter might have some difficulty? Maybe with the Gentiles? He really didn't accept the Gentiles so readily in a sense. He kind of stood back, and Paul had to correct him. Do we hear?
The ten commandments are about relationships, the first four, our relationship to God, the last six relationship to man. Christ gave two commandments, the same ten, love God with all your heart and your soul and love your neighbor as yourself. And we do a lot to pamper ourselves. We do a lot to serve ourselves. Do we do the same thing to serve others? Do we clean the restrooms? Do we lug the luggage? Do we offer the coat, when we're freezing? Yes, it's about wearing a red coat; it's about cleaning the restrooms; it's about doing those things. It's an attitude of Christ's nature. It's ". . .let this mind be in you that was Christ's," Philippians 2:5. That's what it's about. It's not just an act of washing feet once a year; it's the actions of service to each other and to mankind, eventually all of mankind throughout the year. Service has to be part of your life. It's often easy to serve out of abundance. It's hard to serve out of need. If you have lots of money, you can give lots. If you have nothing, it's hard to give.
If you have lots of time, it's easy to give time. If you have no time, and you're willing to sacrifice something else that has to be done to serve someone else, it's a little harder. It's easy to lead when you have lots of time and lots of money. It's hard when you don't. And most of us don't have lots of time or lots of money. We need to do the little things now and God will grant us eternity.
I could take off this red jacket, physically, because I'm not serving on the plane anymore. It's symbolic, though. I put back on this jacket, my regular suit, and I can blend in and not be seen and look like everybody else. But we can never really take off that jacket, and I can look at my time and see it's almost over, but the sermon is never-ending, because in our hearts we have to wear the red jacket all the time. And people see it when we do an act of kindness. And it may only be the person who gets the act of kindness. It may not be everybody else. When we step forward and serve, we're doing what it takes to get into the kingdom.
As James said, "To him that knows to do good and does it not, to him it's a sin." If we see a need, and we don't fill it, we may be with the goats. And it scares me for Christ to come and say, "Aaron, I sent someone to you; you saw them, and they needed something; you didn't give it to them. Why?" I hope He doesn't.
My brothers and sisters, we volunteered at baptism to do those things, and we are doing them. And it's easy to do them as a group, it is harder to do as an individual. Via Mr. Armstrong, my first command was to treat people like a king; my last command from him was to help purify the bride of Christ. And in doing so, that's a one-on-one effort. You come to the bride, you have to say, "I do." You say it, not a group, you say it. You prepare. You do what you need to do. And so I try to fulfill that promise I made to him, because I told him I would, and I didn't know how, and I still don't know how. But I try, and United does a lot of good things, and the people of God do. But we can always do more. But I've learned that it's that one act of kindness that no one sees; the one piece of time, visiting someone who's sick. It's getting sunburned, like I am now, hauling our kids around a picnic, because we had a picnic last week which was great. God gave us beautiful weather and sunshine and a breeze to keep us cool, and keeping cool means you don't cover up, so you get burnt. It means sending a thank you card to someone who needs some encouragement.
You all have a red jacket. What I'm going to ask you to do now is to show your colors. Show your colors. Put on the jacket, and people will notice. After all, Christ died to serve us. We are called to serve others.