Tag Archives: Serve

Loving Laws or Loving People

Loving Laws or Loving People

For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  Galatians 5:14

Do you know someone that is hyper critical?  I mean, they have a problem with everyone and everything.  “The temperature is too hot.  The music is too fast. The speaker is too loud.  The women are dressing wrong.  The bulletin was not folded right.  The deacons should have a tie on.  The people helping are not doing it the same way I would do it. The van is parked at the wrong place.  The family is too big or too small.”  You get the idea.

Hyper critical people have forgotten the “Who” they should be loving.  Instead of loving God and loving people, they love a “What.”   They love rules.  They love laws.  They love their preferences and personal expectations and project them onto other people in a way that is detrimental to relationship.

If we could learn to love people more than our preferences, programs, and personal pet peeves, then we would show more honor to the Lord.  And in turn actually live out God’s law instead of a human version of His law.

Loving our neighbor does several things:

  1. Considers others ahead of ourselves.
  2. Creates a forgiving temperament.
  3. Causes more healthy relationships.
  4. Casts aside personal preferences.
  5. Calms personal interactions with others.

Music styles in church can have great variety and still please the Lord.

Preaching and teaching styles vary greatly from person to person, and God can use each delivery style in wonderful ways.

Organizational structure, facility maintenance, the next building project, and more need not be a stumbling point for you or for others at your church.  When we love God and love others, no matter the rules we may impose on ourselves, we do not need to let those preferential things divide and hurt relationships.

One terrific example is the Church at Ephesus in Revelation 2:1-7.  This church had pure doctrine.  They withstood persecution.  They even had a good work ethic.  But Jesus said “You left your first love.”  These second generation Christians, with a godly heritage, clung to laws, rules, and preferences to the neglect of loving Jesus.  They loved their “version of Christianity” more than they loved Jesus!

Don’t let rules and regulations or personal preferences stop you from loving your family (or church family) the way the Lord wants you to love them.

Love people more than laws.

 

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3 Lessons From George Washington

Recently I have been reading about the life of George Washington.  His incredible story continues to motivate and shape the direction of many people today.  His famous speech delivered to The Continental Congress, once nominated to be the first Commander in Chief, is worth repeating today for its sincerity and humility.

He said in part:  “But, lest some unlucky event should happen, unfavourable to my reputation, I beg it may be remembered, by every Gentleman in the room, that I, this day, declare with the utmost sincerity, I do not think myself equal to the Command I am honored with.”

His speech echoes what Paul wrote in Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. 

So what does the newly appointed general do as he sets out to create an army and organize a rag-tag group of farmers and family men into an army to fight England?  He does three things from which we can learn from today and apply to our spiritual lives.

  1. He orders new uniforms.  Since the British uniforms are red, he chooses blue for the American “patriots.”   Identifying what side you are on is good for battles and for the spiritual battle we are in as Christians.   What team are you on?  Jesus said in Luke 11:23, He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth.  Is it clear to yourself and to those around you that you are a Christian?  I think of being baptized and then being faithful in the life of your church as a sort of uniform that everyone can see.  Have you followed the Lord in believer’s baptism after you received Jesus for salvation?  And is your participation in church life a definite mark that you are on “Team Jesus?”  Do you “gather” with Jesus or scatter?
  2. The second thing Washington does is write up a will.  He ensures that his wife and other relatives know what to do in the event that he does not come back from battle.  Certainly a will is good financial advice for us and we should have wills in place today.  In a more practical way, Washington revealed by planning a will that he was ready to give his life for his country.  Truly, our lives are also on the line because we love Jesus.  in Luke 9:23, Jesus is teaching and says, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.  No matter the cost: job, finances, business, friendships, relationships, fame, athletics, art, etc. We should be willing to lay all that aside for Jesus.  Washington was “All In.”  Are you “All In” in your walk and worship of Jesus?
  3. General Washington also ordered copies of several military books.  Getting a uniform for the troops was not going to be enough to win against the British.  He needed to read about military tactics and disciplines for soldiers, etc.  He studied what he needed to know to be as successful as humanly possible in his undertaking of being the Commander in Chief.  I wonder if you and I read and study as much as we should to be successful in the Christian life?  Paul told Timothy to study the Word.  2 Timothy 2:15 commands, Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

There are many good books that are Bible based to help with areas of life in which all of us need help!  Here are several examples to take to heart and consider:

  • Books for relationships; how to be a good friend, what to look for in a potential mate, what does the Bible teach about dating, etc.
  • Books for marriage; communication, commitment, intimacy, and more.
  • Books for parenting; developing your child in adolescence, spiritual formation, parenting with purpose, and gaining the heart of your teenager.
  • Books for teens; there are many good books I recommend you to have you tween and teenagers read as they begin to navigate choices, friendships, and the opposite gender!
  • Books for growth; so many good books have been written on prayer, Bible Study, and how to have  closer walk with the Lord.  Daily devotional books, Christian magazines, and other Christian books should be something that we utilize.
  • Books for finances; most people could have more money and do more good with money if they knew the best ways to manage it.  A person who is not disciplined enough to read a book about fiances is probably not going to be disciplined enough with his money to be considered by God a “good steward.”  Convicting thought.

Some people do not like to read.  Most of us fight the natural response to “study.”  Study is hard work.  Study does require reading.  If Washington took his role so serious that he ordered some books to improve his skills, certainly, we can follow his example to read a few books a year to further develop our Christianity, our home life, and the direction of our life.  After all, when you really think about it – we are in a battle too.  A Spiritual Battle.

Ultimately, the underdog Americans won against the superior forces of England because it was the will of God.  In incredible ways from the timing of travel to the delay of weather, to the involvement of other nations, and even the apathy of some of the British towards the Patriots, the Lord caused a nation to be born.  Many Americans were praying.  The leaders were seeking the Lord.  God did the impossible and He accomplished His will through George Washington and others who were willing to be in the right place at the right time.  God can use humble people.  God will continue use people who are willing to learn, grow, and take serious the Christian life – to perform His will even today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Learning to Give

The following story provides a good illustration for a person with the good character of giving:  “Marquis de Lafayette was a French officer who provided invaluable assistance to George Washington and the struggling American army. After the war was over, he returned to France and resumed his life as a farmer of many estates. In 1783, the harvest was a terrible one, and there were many who suffered as a result. Lafayette’s farms were unaffected by the devastating crop failures. One of his workers offered what seemed to be good advice to Lafayette, “The bad harvest has raised the price of wheat. This is the time to sell.” After thinking about the hungry peasants in the surrounding villages, Lafayette disagreed and said, “No, this is the time to give.”” (Daniel Loy)

Giving may not be a very natural human response.  In fact, when you think of your own life, it may be that much of what you do is collect, save, and accumulate – for yourself.  Giving is a learned habit for the Christian.  One of the spiritual gifts in Romans 12 is giving.  Romans 12:8 says “…he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.” 

Those with the spiritual gift of giving, give far greater than a mere 10%.  Along with the call and gift of giving the Lord gives the means to give.  The Christian who exercises his spiritual gift of giving will be blessed in material ways because he has been faithful to give to others what God has given to him.

Just because a Christian may not have the “spiritual gift” of giving does not mean that he should not be give.  Even those gifted in other areas have a responsibility to God and their local church to be good stewards of the finances God has entrusted to them.  Giving is something that is learned.  It is a practice that is developed as our faith is developed.

The Lord has much to say in the Bible about giving to spiritual endeavors and the needs of those around us.  Here are several examples:

  • Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.  2 Corinthians 9:7
  • Take ye from among you an offering unto the LORD: whosoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it, an offering of the LORD; gold, and silver, and brass… Exodus 35:5
  • If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother: But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth.  Deuteronomy 15:7-8
  • Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have.  For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.  2 Corinthians 8:11-12

Perhaps we could be like Marquis de Lafayette, who when confronted with becoming more rich, he chose to give to those in need.  After all, in Heaven, the way we use our money – not how much money we have is how the Lord measures our faithfulness as managers and stewards of His provision.

The Critical Eye

The Critical Eye

And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him.  And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out?  How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days. Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other.   Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him.  Matthew 12:1-14

Have you ever been around a person that is constantly complaining?  Have you ever been that person?  Perhaps all of us know someone that is always “pouring cold water” on a situation or known to be a “Johnny Rain-Cloud.”  People who are hyper critical can find fault with even the best of things in life.

Think of it this way – Jesus was and is perfect.  No fault. No sin. Nothing wrong with Jesus, and yet the hyper religious pharisees found what they perceived to be a fault – Jesus was healing people on the Sabbath day and that must constitute work in their ungracious estimation.  These men were perceiving things the wrong way because they had conceived their own way of following God’s law.  The expectations they demanded of others were a figment of their own thinking – not the Lord’s.  They had added new rules to God’s Law for everyday for the year!

Everyone should grow in discernment.  This is something the Bible says we should have.  Being critical of others and having personal discernment are not the same thing.  These religious leaders, many of whom could quote long passages of the Old Testament, did not have any practical smarts about them to see Jesus was doing better than the Law was actually calling for.  Watch out – when you start to “nit-pick” others, your eye is becoming critical.

Here are several thoughts about the critical eye.

  1. Those with critical eyes tend to hold others to higher standards than they hold themselves.
  2. Those with critical eyes choose not to see the good that is evident all around them.
  3. Those with critical eyes are quick to complain and let their critique be known – no matter how foolish their words really are.  Imagine – criticizing Jesus – doing good!
  4. Those with critical eyes neglect to have a close fellowship with God.  Instead of praising God, they praise themselves with their proud stance and egotistical demands.
  5. Those with critical eyes get angry very fast.  These irate leaders wanted to kill Jesus.
  6. Those with critical eyes are more emotional and listen less to common sense and reason.  If a man had a sheep fall into a pit and he rescued it – how is it any better or worse for Jesus to heal a man with a withered hand?  Their critical eye and angry heart refused basic reason and it diminished their thinking skills.
  7. Those with critical eyes fail to see the goodness of God.

Jesus did amazing things in His time on earth in the New Testament.  I suggest to you that Jesus continues to to incredible things through His people – His church today.  If you can’t see it – reexamine your heart.  Check your spiritual eyesight.  Sadly, there are many people who look at life like the Pharisees did.

Clean your classes off.  Open the Bible and see our Good and Great God!  Look to serve others by finding ways to carry others, not criticize them.  Avoid having a critical eye.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 Church Priorities in a New Year

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. Matthew 28:19-20

Time goes by so fast!  Hard to believe we are in another brand new year.  Thank the Lord for His mercy in giving you and I another day to live and serve Him!

The above verses are generally known as “The Great Commission” along with Mark 16:15.  Incredibly enough, the all-powerful God has partnered with His followers to deliver the Word of God into this lost world.  So the goal is to see people saved, discipled, and in turn, them making new disciples.  This is paramount.  This goal is #1. And then this cycle is to continue from one generation to the next.

As time goes by, even the most well intentioned Christians, and even whole churches, can lose sight of the main goal.  Our lives get crowded. Our vision of the goal becomes cloudy.  Some merely achieve good things and unintentionally neglect the best things.

As Christians and as a church we must have a heart that is not divided of affection for God, or distracted from the purposes of God for our lives.  With this in mind, my 3 objectives in leading our church this year are as follows:

  1. Salvation and Worship. The first goal is for people to engage in a close relationship with Jesus.  Knowing God truly begins at salvation.  Have you been born again?  Are you saved?  Our Sunday morning services at 11:00 AM will be oriented towards knowing God and learning how to become a Christian.  These will be terrific service to bring friends, relatives, and neighbors so they can hear the Gospel.
  2. Discipleship and Growth is the next area to zero in on.  What kind of follower of Jesus are you?  Will you participate in our Adult Bible Studies?  Small Group Bible study and discussion can cause healthy interaction with the Word with others. The 10:00 AM Adult Bible Studies are a great avenue for spiritual growth and knowing other people along the Christian journey.
  3. Service and Winning.  In what ways will you serve Jesus this year?  How will you serve others?  I am concerned if we only focus on serving the people we know and like.  We need to reach out.  We must show the love of Jesus to the people around us.  If not, how will this world know of their need for Jesus and His eternal life? I believe every saved and growing christian, must use their spiritual gift and find at least one ministry in which to serve in and through the local church.  In addition, no matter what you spiritual gift may be, you are called to be a witness to the lost.  Each of us are capable to telling others about the love of God, the forgiveness of our sin (that He paid for on the Cross), and how to be saved.  We can hand out tracts, help in evangelism outreaches, and invite people to sit with us at our 11:00 AM church services on Sunday.

The terminology and how these goals are articulated are being reviewed and revised as you read this article.  I hope to be able to share very soon a clear path to achieve these 3 goals.  With God’s help, these 3 goals will be restated and repeated time and time again.

Will you help?  Will you worship the Lord?  Will you become a good disciple of Jesus, learning and growing with other believers?  And will you make an eternal difference by finding a way to serve with your church while delivering the Gospel to others?

I believe the Lord will do good things as we keep our eyes on serving God in the entirety “His Great Commission.”

 

 

 

 

 

Fellow Servants in the Church

Fellow Servants in the Church

But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.  Acts 6:4

There is much to do in ministry.  Preach, teach, pray, plan, promote, organize, visit, encourage, make phone calls, send texts and emails, administrate, design, print, clean, build, repair, record radio, post messages and devotionals, read, understand current religious trends, cast vision, staff meetings, deacon meetings, special church training sessions, counseling sessions, develop materials, conduct weddings and funerals, and generally be available to encourage the saints while evangelizing the lost.  etc. etc. etc.

Depending on what ministries your local church hosts, there could be many more responsibilities that are connected to the Senior Pastor position in your church.  Even the assistant pastors have much responsibilities in their oversight.  Like Arron supported Moses and lifted his hands, assistant pastors also make a big difference. Ultimately the pastor will give an account of each ministry decision and direction and he may have his hand in nearly every aspect of ministry to a degree because of that accountability.  Speaking of the relationship of the church to its pastor, Hebrews 13:17 states: Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

The pastor is watching for the souls of his people, the sheep in his local pasture field.  His ministry in prayer and in the Word are his primary responsibilities. It could be called “leading and feeding.”  Like a good shepherd does for his sheep.  No matter what needs arise in your life, your pastor will try to assist, help and encourage.  But, he cannot be everywhere at once.  Only God can do that!  The pastor cannot meet every need, but he may be able to point you in the right direction.

The congregation is likened to a flock of sheep who are called to know their shepherd and are directed to follow his leadership.  1 Thessalonians 5:12 teaches: And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you.  Do you know your shepherd?  Do you know his likes, dislikes, and personal characteristics?  Do you know his family or personal needs, and have you asked his thoughts about certain matters?  The church is to know and follow the shepherd God gifted them with.

With so much to do and with such a responsibility for both the pastor for leading and feeding, and the church for knowing and following, you can see why the Lord gave additional helpers in ministry.  They are called deacons.

The term deacon is defined as “an attendant, or someone who runs errands.”   Those who are called to the ministry of pastoring are focused on two main components: Praying and Studying/delivering the Word of God itself.  Therefore, the Lord gave deacons, to help with the material matters of the church.  They run the errands and conduct much business, supporting the oversight of the pastor.  It is the deacons, whose spiritual calling and enabling is to serve the church by freeing the pastors to fulfill their calling.  With so much to do, prayer and study can be hindered.  With so much needing to be built, repaired, meals delivered, saints cared for in physical ways, fellowships, hospitality, assistance, and more help in other material things, the deacons also have much to do.

During pastor appreciation month, I am thankful, not only for the pastors and servants preaching the Word, but I am also thankful for the deacons, who support the pastor, by serving the church people and looking for ways to minister to their material and physical needs.  We are blessed to have fine deacons at WBC.  It is a pleasure to serve with them.

Even if you are not a deacon, you are called to serve others.  Every Christian should find and fulfill his calling of God to “serve one another.”  There are many “one another’s” in Scripture to apply to our relationships at church. Some people are actually “deacons in training” who may fill that role in the future!

So, pastors – thank you.

Deacons – thank you.

Fellow church members – thank you.

Working together with God, we can see the Lord accomplish amazing things in our lives, homes, and church.  We are “fellow servants” in the church.

 

 

 

 

Tending to the Flock

Tending to the Flock

And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the LORD.  Jeremiah 23:4

Several years ago as my bus was quickly traveling down a mountain road in Israel, I noticed just a few miles from Jerusalem several wide open places and sheep walking around, un-fenced, and on their own.  But they were not on their own.  There were men, shepherds, and their sheep dogs, guiding the sheep and leading them, from grassy fields to clean refreshing water.

The Lord promised to Jeremiah and the people of Judah to send pastors (shepherds) who would feed and protect the people.  In the context of Jeremiah 23, the Lord is speaking of governmental leaders; the people who were given responsibility and a charge to take care of the “flock” of God.”  This is a good passage to learn about the responsibility the government has – to care for its people in restoring peace for prosperity and protection from harm.  The promise even includes that people would not go missing (due to crime) because of the good leadership of the governmental leaders.

Interestingly enough, the word for “pastor” and the word for “which shall feed them” is the same Hebrew word.  It means “To provide pasture.”  In other words, one of the responsibilities of the government is to provide the means to conduct prosperous business ventures.  It does not mean “to spoon feed;” but to provide a place for growth and sustenance. The government is called to provide a field in which industrious people can safely work, toil, and grow in business.  Like sheep freely roaming a field.

The government is also to provide basic safety.  Not only is there the possibility of wolves harming the sheep, like predators from foreign places that are not part of the field, but sometimes there are already wolves in the field.  We all were probably taught to “Not talk to strangers.”

Jeremiah 23 goes on to describe the return of Jesus and how once He comes back to earth, He will set up His Millennial Kingdom and will rule with splendor and majesty.

In contrast, check out how the previous leaders of Israel had failed in Jeremiah 10:21.  “For the pastors are become brutish, and have not sought the LORD: therefore they shall not prosper, and all their flocks shall be scattered.”  Because of a lack of godly leadership the nation of Israel and Judah suffered terrible.  “Brutish” is a Hebrew term which means to “kindle a flame or to consume with fire.”  Instead of looking out for the best of the people – the leadership was looking out for… itself.  Everything they touched, like a fire, they tried to consume.  Taxes, regulations, tolls, and more could be examples today.  Have you noticed much the same pattern in modern politics.  Many governmental leaders are successful at accumulating large amounts of money for themselves or for their pet projects.  I guess, some have even become rich by being full time politicians.

But one day.  One day, following the rapture, the 7 years of tribulation, and the battle of Armageddon, King Jesus will return.  He is the Perfect Shepherd this world desperately needs.  In the mean-time, praise the Lord for Jesus, the Great Shepherd Who is daily watching after His own sheep.  In this church age we are living in, the sheep are not confined to Israel, but to all those who are born again by faith in Jesus.  Take a moment to read Psalm 23 for more shepherding insight.  Be encouraged in Jesus today.