This week on the podcast Travis and I chatted about serving the church and how Jesus is the perfect model for selfless giving of our time and talents. Today, I just want to get into the practical side of this subject. We went over the “why”, now lets move on to the “how”.
God gives gifts to his people not primarily as a means of fulfillment for us as individuals, but for the maturing of his church. Our service to the church yields several benefits—for ourselves, for others, and most importantly for the glory of God. We cannot say that the Body doesn’t need us or that we don’t need the Body.
Before I begin I want to mention that this isn’t an exhaustive list and some of these ideas might not even apply to the church you’re apart of. Also, keep in mind your talents and abilities. If you have no idea how to play piano, then maybe don’t try out for the worship team. If you have a difficult time with organization, then heading up a planning committee might no be where God is leading you. Lastly, pray and ask God where He wants you to be.
Okay, let’s do this!
Teach a Class – Just as we mentioned in the podcast, teaching isn’t meant for everyone. Maybe teaching a children’s Sunday school class is more suitable for your abilities. Whether you’re teaching adults, teens or children, you should take this responsibility seriously.
Discipleship Ministry – Some churches have an active discipleship ministry. Talk with your pastor about how to lead a discipleship group and helping other Christian growth in their faith. Disciplining others is a great way to grow to spiritual maturity
Greet People – “Hello! How are you this morning? That’s quite a fancy shirt you got on!”. I already gave you your first greeting!
Cleaning – It’s a dirty job but someones gotta do it (lol).
Maintenance – Are you pretty handy with a hammer? Maybe you do some carpentry in your spare time? Churches could always use help with the maintenance of the building and grounds.
Prayer Team – Prayer is the most important thing we can do and it should always be our first action in all decisions. Our churches and pastors need our prayers. Consider joining a prayer team and bring your requests to God in a group setting.
Worship Team – Joining the worship band or team shouldn’t be your chance to fulfill your dream of being a rock star. This job is to help lead the church in worship to the Almighty Creator!
Nursery or Children’s Church – This is a valuable ministry especially to families who have young children that may be serving in another capacity on a Sunday morning. It’s a serious job to take care of other people’s children and may require extra patience and gentleness if you have some rowdy kids in your care (like our kids for example).
That’s just a quick sampling of places where you might find a need in your church body. If you aren’t sure where you can serve, ask your pastor! The leadership in your church would be grateful for your willingness to help and participate. And of course, bring all your requests and desires to God through prayer and the reading of the Word.
During this past week’s episode, we wandered into sluggard territory. And when I say that I wandered into that territory, I mean that I used my frequent flyer points and checked into my usual room.
Battling laziness and an unproductive lifestyle can be a real challenge. Especially if you are similar to me and you LOVE serving yourself. You love serving yourself so much, in fact, that you don’t even want to make yourself serve yourself (Prov. 26:15)
Now before we go any further, if you find yourself physically unable to function in daily life, seek out some help. You very well may be experiencing depressive symptoms and could benefit from biblical counseling or other solutions provided by a medical doctor. I’ve been there. Betsy’s been there. It’s alright to get help. It’s not alright to suffer under the guilt of a malfunctioning body.
Now back to Sluggardville.
Why is it in this day and age, where we have modern conveniences out the wazoo, we still find it difficult to get the most simple tasks completed – or even started! What’s the major malfunction??
Well, a helpful resource Do More Better by Tim Challies, has brought to my attention the real issue is not just a motivational one, but a theological one. When we have a misconstrued idea of who God is, what He has done, and how we are to respond, we can adopt or continue to live out the soul of the sluggard. We see in the beginning God modeling how He works – He created all things, they were good, and then at the end of His creating – He rested. Now before the fall, we were called to be fruitful and multiply and to subdue the earth. However, thanks to man’s sinful actions, against a holy God, our spiritual and physical realities were doomed to death. Not only that, we still are required to fulfill this command of working – but it is going to be exhausting and produce little fruit!
In the beginning of Ecclesiastes we read how our labor is futile. We work to only do it all over again. And we work for what perishes. We toil and toil, yet all we have to show for it is constant toiling.
Agh! WHY! (says every person who does the same thing day in and day out with little to no visible fruits of their labor)
But, enter Christ. God in flesh. The God incarnate. Fully man and fully God. He took on flesh, worked daily for the Lord, perfectly loving God and loving neighbor, and completed the work for us. We no longer have to strive to not be dead. Our biggest problem – solved. In Christ, we don’t get the wages of our sin. Instead we get the free gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23).
So, what does this mean for our working? How is this supposed to help me not be a lazy bum all the time? Well folks, because Christ finished the work that we couldn’t do, upon adoption as Sons we get the Holy Spirit. Through this incredible gift, we are equipped to do every good work. That’s right, we were saved so we could do good works! Because doing good works brings glory to God and our purpose is to glorify God! These good works express our love for God and love for others.
Not only that, we know that our work is not futile. Even if it seems futile (I see you toddler mom’s out there), we are working for Heavenly rewards. No longer are you working for the perishable, but when you do good works, you get to glorify God and love others; and by consequence, store up riches in heaven. These riches are even greater than any perishable wealth we gain here, because they are God fulfilling our every desire in Himself (Psalm 16:11). WIth every good work we do here, we are making the character of God known to others as well as experiencing conformity to Christ ourselves. The longing we will increasingly experience as we know and love Him to greater degrees while on Earth, will be satisfied when we are with Him in Heaven.
So what constitutes a good work? Well in James we read that faith and good works are inseparable. Good works are evidence of our saving faith. We cannot be merely hearers of the word and not doers. And these tasks, we should put ourselves to do, are works that the Lord is concerned with. In the world there are many things considered “good works” that are in fact in opposition to what God has commanded us to do. However, we know that the law can be summarized in loving God and loving neighbor. We read in Galatians that “in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love” (5:6) and that we were called to freedom, but “not to use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”” (5:13-14).
Works of the flesh (that we are not to do) are :sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealously, fits of anger, rivalries, disensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like those” (Gal. 5:19-20). But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Gal 5:22-23). We are to be imitators of God, walking in love, “as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5: 1-2). Therefore, we shouldn’t be focused on good works that benefit ourselves (immediate satisfaction, or for self-centered ambition), instead we should be laying down our lives, our wants, our goals, our comfort to display the works of the Spirit – the fruit of the Spirit.
We should be working as Christ did, laying our life down for the brethren. That means, anything you do, you are placing the needs of others ahead of your own. You live to make others successful, to display Christ to them, to empty yourself in order to fill others with the love you’ve been shown in the Gospel. Any work that fulfills the need of someone else, is a good work. Any work that requires self-sacrifice to the betterment of others, is a good work. When you are patient with your fussy child, you are doing a good work. When you do anything that relieves a burden off of someone else, you are doing a good work. When you imitate Christ throughout your day, displaying the fruit of the Spirit, you are doing a good work. Doing good works isn’t some extravagant show, most of the time, it is simply laying down of our own life for another. It doesn’t always come in the form of “look at this great achievement from my good works”. It is humble, it is meek, it is contrary the flesh and that is why we need the Holy Spirit to do them. And ultimately our overarching charge is to go and make disciples. Nothing requires more self-sacrifice, or a supernatural ability to love and put others before ourselves at every turn.
Once we have the proper view of what good works are, and how we are able to do them in the first place, we can move on to the practical stuff. This is where I can point you to a couple places that have been of benefit to me. One is Eve in Exile by Rebekah Merkle. It revolutionized the way I think of “woman’s work”. She does a fabulous job of encouraging women to dig in deep to their calling, not settling to just do the bare minimum to get by, but to make your life a testament to the ability of women in the home. Whether that is through cooking, organizing, home-schooling, creating, money management – anything that we are responsible for can be beautified and point to the glory of the Lord.
Second is Do More Better by Tim Challies. He has done such a fabulous job at laying the foundation of our true problem in fighting laziness and being unproductive. Linked below is his webpage for the book and some of the worksheets he recommends using.
Christian, I am praying now that you and I would see the field set before us. That we would reap what has been sown and grown by the Lord. That we would lay our lives down, making disciples and loving our brethren to the Glory of God.
Christian, have you ever wanted more? Have you ever looked at others’ relationship with Christ and thought:
“Why do they have that type of relationship with you, Lord, and I don’t? Why can’t I experience miraculous things in my life? Why can’t I hear God’s voice? Why doesn’t God relate intimately with me, like this other person? Am I not doing enough? Is my faith too weak? Am I doing it wrong?”
Maybe someone even came up to you, while you were content in your relationship with Christ, and suggested that you should want more – that there’s more to be had, that you could experience God in a way that is supernatural and beyond your wildest expectations.
I’m here to tell you, Christian, to stand firm.
Stand firm in the Word. The Word of the LORD. The creator, sustainer, and sovereign Lord of all. The One who spoke everything into existence. The One who always was, is, and always will be. This God, gave you His Word. Not only that, but He preserved His Word over thousands of years. He has used, faithful sons and daughters to translate it into your own language, so you can read and know it yourself. His Word is never failing, always true, more valuable than all the riches in the world, and yet understandable to us. He gave us this precious Word, that houses the way to know Him and the way to salvation. He sovereignly directed every jot and tittle to show us the plan of redemption. In it, He answers our hardest questions and provides the greatest comfort – even the Comforter Himself.
Christian, you want more? You have it all. You have the living Word of God. You want more? Read it. Study it. Know it. Because in it you know Him. In it, you know salvation.
But what about the miraculous? You want to experience God, “intimately”? Oh dear friend. I’m sorry that you have overlooked such a gift of your Heavenly Father. From before the foundation of the world He foreknew you. He set you apart to be His. He went to the cross and bought you with the highest price. He then indwells you. How much closer could you get? He never leaves you or forsakes you.
A miracle you want? Friend, He made you alive! You were dead. Dead in sin. You didn’t want Him or seek Him out for help – you were dead. But God, in His unspeakable mercy, He made you alive. He gave you life through the miraculous working of the Holy Spirit, because of the work of Christ on our behalf. Not only did He make you alive. He is making you into the image of His son. Every day, little by little, faithfully sanctifying you. He renews you by His Word and by His Spirit. He teaches you, makes you holy, enables you to love God and your brethren. You want more? Christian you have it all. You have it all because you have Christ. No amount of gifts or miraculous workings could He give that would be greater than the giving of Himself.
Am I saying that these are the only ways that God works miracles today? No. Am I saying that God doesn’t display His enormous grace in other spectacular ways? No. However, I am saying that experiencing any other miracle isn’t the point. Furthermore, these things don’t surpass the things we have already experienced or possess as Sons of God. Don’t get it twisted. What Christ purchased for you can’t be earned, can’t be mustered up by trying to increase your faith, but is guaranteed by His obedience, His perfection, His sacrifice, His power. He doesn’t make you earn what he purchased with His very life.
There’s no new levels to reach. No faith that needs unlocking. No dream destiny to be realized. No amount of miracles, riches, safety, health, or knowledge is more valuable. You have the one thing that trumps it all. You have the One who is over all. You have the fullness of God, right now, if you are in Him. Because He is God. And if you abide in Him, He abides in you. No more striving. No more wishing for more. Open your eyes. You have it, because you have Him.
If you feel that you are missing out, you don’t feel like God is moving in your life – have you sought out other gods in place of Him? Have you neglected the very Word He gave you to know Him? Have you passed on knowing Christ for an experience, a fleeting feeling of passion? If it’s so, and you find yourself without Christ, turn to Him. Cling to Him, and His work alone, for your right standing before God. Forsake the appeal of comfort, euphoria, or possessions and take hold of Christ. If indeed you are in Him, take comfort, brethren – He is with you until the end. And when He comes again, we will see Him and we will be like Him. There will be no more struggling with flesh and sin. There will be completion of all that he has started in you. Cherish His Word. Never move on from the Gospel. Because in it, we have all we could ever need – Himself.
I was brutish and ignorant;
I was like a beast toward you.
Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:22-26)
In lieu of a blog post regarding our past week’s podcast – speaking the truth in love – I felt it was necessary to provide some helpful resources to first know what the truth is. If we don’t rightly understand the truth, there is no way we will be capable of speaking truth in love. If we don’t know the truth, our first priority should be understanding the truth that has been revealed to us, before speaking it to others. I’m not saying we must be the most knowledgeable before we can point others to the truth of the Gospel, but we should know the truth and the Gospel well enough to adequately discern what is true and what is false, and to say what the truth actually is. If we know His Word, we can know truth (John 17:17)
That being said, below I have compiled some resources to help you in your study of God’s word. I pray this will encourage you and provide you with tools to dig deeper into God’s word to know Him and the salvation He has purchased for His people.
Personally, I found combining these two methods to be really helpful, allowing you to get your feet wet in all of scripture and also becoming more intimately acquainted with passages or a couple verses.
Birds-eye view approach (broad lens, focusing on the overarching narrative of scripture)
follow a “whole bible” reading plan at whatever pace is manageable for you
Read Old and New Testament each day
Make sure you begin at the start of a book, not somewhere in the middle
a great resource if you need direction on what to study, with daily devotionals, reading plan, and related topical articles. Available online(for free) and in print(for an affordable subscription price, and free trial)
This list is not exhaustive, but a great starting point and contain solid, trusted ministries.
If you know of some resources you think would be a great addition to this list, email/message us and we would love to share them here for others to utilize!
More than anything, I pray you see the absolute necessity, command, and blessing we have been given in studying God’s Word. He is a great God, the God of our salvation, and we can (and should) know Him through His Word. Thanks be to God for this gift!
This past week, Betsy and I researched the victimhood mentality that has grown to full bloom in our culture at large. We see it in our interactions throughout the day, when insignificant slights (purposeful or accidental) are taken as grandiose insults to our personal character or group in which we identify. In these slights, we often seek out the public to validate our “victimization.” We turn to social media or the immediate witnesses to our “crime” to engage in our piling on of sympathy and outrage. And we feel good about it, feeling as though our victimization has given us a special kind of righteousness. A righteousness that can stomp our oppressors into the dirt and lift us up as the victor. All while making a public spectacle. This mentality has even invaded the grounds of the local church body. We often consider our various “victim” status as a source of pride and/or righteousness, destroying the very relationships we are to nourish and seek to serve.
No matter if our victimhood is developed by a genuine victimization or just one of our own imagining, we can have hope in Christ. Praise the Lord.
This week we remembered that Christ offered Himself up as a sacrifice, laying His life down for the redemption of His people. In a sense, He was the only true “victim” that has ever walked the earth – because He was completely innocent, yet endured the just punishment for His people’s sins. However, he willingly laid his life down, out of love. Even more so, He was raised three days later, securing our victory over death and sin.
So how does this relate to the victimhood mentality of our day and age?
We don’t need to fashion for ourselves “fig leaves” to cover our shame. Christ is our covering
In our search for righteousness, we attempt to procure our own in the form of victim righteousness. We stomp over others, at any and every mistake/slight that is in our direction, to lift ourselves up. But with Christ’s righteousness applied to our own guilt and shame – our offenses that were toward a holy, perfect, and good God – we can rest from our scrambling. We can lift others up to see the righteousness we have been given in Christ. A righteousness that we could never earn by our works or by our claim to victimization.
2. We have hope in the victory of Christ
When we are truly victimized; whether by circumstances, evilness in the world, or our own sinful nature, we have an everlasting hope in Christ. We can rest knowing that our own wrongs won’t be punished on us for eternity, because if we are in Christ, our punishment has been absorbed by Him on the cross. We also know that whatever hurt we experience in this life, no matter how grand or painful, we will be glorified – wholly renewed in our mind and bodies. When we are resurrected to life with Him, we will have no tears, no sin, no hurts.
3. We get to answer evil with love and justice
Because of Christ’s work on the cross, we are gifted with the Holy Spirit. He conforms us to Christ’s image. A character that doesn’t revile back, but sacrifices his life for his friends. When evil is done to us, we don’t have to worry if the government, the public, or ourselves can handle dealing just punishment. We know that God is sovereign and just. He is trustworthy and punishes all wickedness – either in the unrepentant sinner in eternity or for the repentant, on His Son. Because of this, we get to focus on showing His great love – to which we have been recipients.
So family, I entreat you to trust Him who judges rightly, and also who forgives our iniquities against Him. Run to Christ. Seek refuge in His work and His righteousness. Trust his justice and cover a multitude of sins in love, as He has done for you.
As a woman, and as a Mom, one descriptor I never thought I would have for myself is angry. But anger is a sin that I battle, and sometimes let rule over me. And if I am to be really transparent, this battle occurs on a daily basis.
I wanted to write about how we have a culture of anger and how that produces angry people. But if I am to be wise in my understanding, I should look to scripture. And scripture says that it’s not what goes into a man, but what comes out of the man which defiles him (Mark 7:15). We don’t need any help being angry, because in our sin nature, we already are. We have an anger problem stemming from the heart. The very first sin we see, after Adam and Eve are exiled from Eden, is the murder of Abel. It’s no surprise that Scripture tells us if we have anger in our heart toward our brother that we are guilty of murder (1Jn. 3:15).
Now, I can make a lot of legitimate excuses why I get angry: I’m tired, I have needy children, I deal with diagnosed anxiety, etc. However, if I am to really examine the reason why I am angry, it is not anything outside of my being – as we have seen scripture say already – it is because of sin. And that sin is pride. In my pride, I want things to be a certain way. I have a constant desire to control other people and situations. I want people to think a certain way of me. I want to feel a certain way about myself. All of these are rooted in pride and express themselves in anger. Sometimes it’s bubbling under the surface anger, which looks like being snippy or short with my children and husband. Other times it’s flying off the handle, can’t breathe, can’t think, can’t speak without yelling kind of anger. All of it sinful. None of it glorifying to God.
We know that anger is a secondary emotion (thank you brief, but valuable, masters level counseling courses) that is not only played out in us, but God as well. God shows His wrath as a secondary characteristic to His holiness. This to say, that God is not characterized by His wrath, but by His holiness, and a holy God must take action against sin and evil. This action against sin and evil is His righteous, and just, wrath.
How I could ever justify my anger as being righteous (in how I daily display it) is laughable. Showing anger toward my children, husband, or whomever has the pleasure of crossing my path, is not displaying righteous anger. What it is displaying is how little I consider the holiness of God. How little I consider the penalty that Jesus willingly paid for my sinful anger.
Do you know how much I really deserve to be angry? Zero. Why? Because nothing that is done to me, or that inconveniences me, or that makes me anxious, is against an innocent me. It is right to be angry about injustice. It is right to be angry about evil in the world. It is not right to be angry about an offense toward myself. I am not an innocent party. I am guilty before God. Even in my grumbling, I grumble against God – not man.
However, do you know who was innocent? Jesus. Jesus was completely innocent and yet declared guilty. He took on my guilt before a holy God and He imputed his righteousness to me. He didn’t revile back when he was reviled by sinners who sought to murder Him (1Peter 2:23). Father God was pleased to crush Jesus as a perfect sacrifice for sin – because He became sin for us (Is 53:10).
You see, the person who should have been angry – and rightfully so – was Jesus. He should’ve been angry toward the people who betrayed Him, the disciples who abandoned Him, the people who wrongfully accused Him and tortured Him. He was the only innocent person who ever walked the Earth. And yet, the only anger we see from Him, is anger at sin against God and its effects on people. Not against the wrong done to Him while on Earth. Can you see the difference? I hope so.
We have no right to be angry. We aren’t innocent. We are deserving of God’s righteous wrath toward us for our sin against Him. Not only that, if you are a believer, you are acquitted from your guilt before God. How can we, who have been forgiven of so much, not dispel our anger for relatively minor offenses? And if you see this reality, but still struggle with the sin of anger, we can know that we have been gifted with the Holy Spirit. Jesus paid the penalty for our sin, and also secured our sanctification by the Spirit’s work in us (Phil. 1:6).
Through His work, we can have the fruit of the Spirit bearing in our lives – which is so very contrary to anger: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Gal 5:22-23). In Him we get to be transformed into Christ’s likeness. And we already saw how glorious He was in response to the wrong done to Him.
We, angry folk, have hope. I pray for you and for me, that we would admit our guilt before God – that we have been wrongfully angry. That we try to protect our pride by being angry toward others. That we would be so thankful for the penalty that was due us, for the innumerous sins against God (including anger) that we have committed, but is now washed away by the blood of Christ. That we would thank God for holding His wrath and letting it build up, only to spare us and pour it out on His innocent Son. I pray that we would trust the Spirit’s work in sanctification and respond in a new fervor for killing our sinful anger. I pray all this for you and I, in Jesus’ great and wonderful name.
“The nature of Christ’s salvation is woefully misrepresented by the present-day evangelist. He announces a savior from hell rather than a savior from sin. And that is why so many are fatally deceived, for there are multitudes who wish to escape the Lake of Fire who have no desire to be delivered from their carnality and their worldliness.” – A.W. Pink
Before I came to true repentance and salvation in Jesus Christ, I was wearing a mask. At least it felt that way. I was living a life just for show. I attended all the church things, I was heavily involved and even raised my hands during worship, but I was wearing the mask of nominal Christianity. Jesus wasn’t the Lord of my life, and He was not first in anything I did. I was willfully disobedient in my heart. Outwardly, things looked good, but I was bound for hell. I’ll never stop thanking God for pursuing and rescuing me from that darkness, even when I didn’t know that’s where I was headed.
I know that I’m not the only person who has lived that life. I’m afraid that there are some who are content to live this way.
“But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light.
Therefore it says,
‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead. And Christ will shine on you.’”
On this week’s episode we discussed nominal Christianity and what it looks like, but more importantly, what God thinks about it. There are many who claim Christianity, but aren’t truly living it. They may think that the mere outward appearance of being moral is enough, but they are living in sin and darkness. They live only for themselves and have no desire to obey God’s Word. There is no true salvation in this. Only belief in Christ’s righteousness on our behalf (Phil 3:9), and Him as our propitiation for sin before God (1 Jn 2:2), can we be saved. Furthermore, those who are self-deceived could be sitting in the seat beside us in our churches. I know, because that was me.
We also covered what the next steps should be if we think someone we love is living in deception. Confronting people is never easy – even when you are approaching it with gentleness, but we are called to make disciples not mere church attendees (Matt. 28:18-20). If they are self-deceived, then they are bound for hell. If we truly love people, then we won’t sit idly by.
These 9 questions, by Pastor Tim Keller, are a great starting point into this important conversation. Not only to ask those around us, but also to ask ourselves.
How real has God been this week to your heart?
How clear and vivid is your assurance and certainty of God’s forgiveness and fatherly love? To what degree is that real to you?
Are you having any particular seasons of delight in God and sensing Him in your life?
Have you been finding scripture to be alive and active? Instead of just being a book does it feel like it’s coming after you and searching you?
Are you finding certain biblical promises precious and encouraging? Which ones?
Are you finding that God’s challenging you or calling you to something through the Word? In what ways?
Are you finding God’s grace more glorious and moving now than you have in the past?
Are you conscious of the evil of your heart and in response a growing dependence on and grasp of the mercy of God?
Most importantly pray for the nominal Christians in your church. Pray they come to find true salvation and repentance. Pray for all professing Christians.
As our culture continues to grow in hostility toward Christianity and the truth, we need to be prepared to suffer well and encourage one another in the Lord, so that we all may say:
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:7-8)