Archive for the 'Service' Category

17
Oct
10

Refuse to Do Nothing

This Saturday, hundreds of people from First Church will be heading out into the River Valley to touch lives with the love of Jesus.  We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus by making sure that our faith is a loving, practical, active faith (James 2:18).  We’re calling this Servolution Saturday, but our desire is to adopt a Servolution Lifestyle.

If you are a follower of Christ, how are you demonstrating your faith?  What is the difference you’re making?  Whose life has been impacted for good because you cared and you stepped up to get involved?  It is easier to look the other way and not be bothered.  It is easier to think, “Someone else will do it.”  Let’s quit taking the easy way.

Josh Wilson, singer/songwriter, has written a song that says, “I refuse to do nothing.”  He produced the video below after experiencing Nashville’s 1000-year flood and being convicted about his involvement to help the victims.  I hope as you view this, you will be inspired to ask how you can be the hands and feet of Jesus.

How are you inspired to serve?  Where do you make a footprint for the Kingdom?

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15
Oct
10

An Easy Way to Make a Difference

The focus verse for Hydrate this week is James 2:18.

But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”

Faith and works are inseparable for the true believer.  If we are the recipients of the tremendous grace of God through salvation, how can we help but want to share that grace with others?  Real salvation will result in real concern and love for others because we have experienced real love from the author of love:  God Himself!

We need to ask ourselves, “How am I expressing the love of God to those around me?”  Is there a way to make a difference in both the eternity and present  life of people with whom I have influence?  The love of Christ motivates us, the Spirit of Christ guides us to be intentional.  How will you let Him use you?

Look around you and pray for God to show you the needs of the community in which you live and the world beyond your locale.  Submit yourself to be used by God to meet these needs and open doors to share the life of Christ through the gospel.

If you want to take an easy first step of making a practical difference, click on the Blood:Water Mission link on my page and complete the activity.  The sponsoring business will make a donation to the organization which provides clean drinking water and AIDS care for people in Africa.  Let that activity then be the first step in a long list of ways you become involved in touching the world with the love of Christ and His gospel.

Celebrate!  Comment and share the ways and ministries through which you are making a difference.  I would love to hear all the ways God is at work through you.

09
Oct
10

Next Gen Motivation Connects with Biblical Truth

Daniel Pink, noted business leader and speaker, points out that there are three basic motives for behavior.  Specifically, he speaks of motivating behavior in the business world.  Studies and observation of human behavior tell us that we are motivated by…
1.    Biological Motives – food, sleep, sex.
2.    Reward Motives – greater productivity brings greater reward.
3.    Purpose Motives – understanding that what one does has a greater purpose and contributes to a greater cause (involving ownership).

We know biblically, as well as scientifically, that biological motives are very powerful in controlling behavior.  However, when it comes to problem solving, they are not very effective beyond simply taking care of one’s biological needs.  Unmanaged, they can even become enslaving and lead to less productivity in life.

Reward, as research indicates, is effective for relatively low-level cognitive problem-solving situations.  And, actually, when creativity and innovation are needed for more complex problem solving, productivity actually decreases when reward is increased.  This is certainly counter-intuitive, but proven to be true.

However, when an individual gains an understanding of purpose behind their problem solving and are encouraged to take ownership of the overall purpose, their creativity and productivity increases.   This is even more pronounced when they are given “authority” or freedom in their activity rather than being delegated tasks.

So What?

So how does this apply to life and the church beyond the business world?  I think there is a very significant application in regard to the cultural relevance of the gospel.

Thirty-plus years ago, American culture was primarily a reward motivated culture.  If you do these tasks, you’ll receive this reward.  Do more tasks and you’ll receive more reward.

The “Next Gen” culture is not motivated merely by simple reward.  The bigger picture motivates them.  They want to know there is a cause bigger than them and want to become a part of something that will make a difference in their world.

Place that dynamic over our spiritual journey and it looks like this.

Past generations have been concerned primarily with the gospel redemption that gets a person saved so as to gain the reward of heaven.  After that, they wanted to enlist as many as they could to join them.  Great goal, but I would argue–incomplete.

This alone is not a motivator to the Next Gen’ers.  They want to know that they are changing the “here and now” of people AS WELL AS their eternity.

For the church to reach the Next Generation we must be focused on engaging and reforming the culture as a natural outcome of the redemption process of the gospel.  We can call it a means to an end, the ultimate step in the discipleship process, or just the other piece of the puzzle.  However, we label it, we know that the Bible speaks prolifically about the people of God caring about the poor, the oppressed, the disenfranchised, the broken and the forgotten.  For us to embrace the gospel of redemption, and not embrace the responsibility to bring healing and physical restoration to these, is to fail to fully embrace the gospel.  I speak not of a “social gospel” that tosses aside the message of salvation in favor of only addressing a physical or emotional need.  I do reject the notion that we only focus on bringing people face-to-face with the opportunity for salvation with no concern for their physical needs.

This is not just a Next Gen issue.  It is a biblical truth issue.  Can we possibly look at the life of Jesus and all that the Scripture teaches about caring for the needy and think that addressing social injustice is not an integral part of the gospel?  The only answer in my mind is reflected in the words of Jesus.

“ The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”

Luke 4:18-19

What are your thoughts about the connection between the gospel and social injustice?  How have you involved yourself in connecting the two?


28
Sep
10

Unclogging the Stagnant Pool

I was in a resort area a month or so ago and passed by a motel that touted its great rates and nice accommodations.  As I glanced into the outdoor pool, I noticed that the water was a very gross greenish brown color.  It was obviously NOT in a condition to be used.  As much as this place of lodging wanted to promote its value, the message of the stagnant pool said “Don’t stay here.  You’ll be disappointed.”

This morning I met Steve.  He’s a mild-mannered guy who has spent the past 20 years as a contractor, building homes and working with the skills of his hands.  About a year ago, he came upon hard times and hit “rock bottom.”  Remembering the faith of his childhood from which he had strayed, Steve turned to God in despair and God responded with love and forgiveness.  Steve proceeded to find a church to attend, devour the Scripture and look for opportunities to fill his life with worship, study and growth.  He became so engrossed in pursuing his spiritual journey that family and friends cautioned him not to burn himself out…find a balance.

It seems God was already at work to address this concern in Steve’s life.  In his walk with God and God’s pursuit of him, Steve began to feel that something was missing.  It became apparent that the missing part was service.  “I want to do some kind of mission work where I can use my skills,” Steve said.  He has found the key to the “balance” that he needs…a “drain.”

What I mean is this.  The Dead Sea cannot sustain marine life because the salt content is too high.  Although fresh water enters the sea, there is no outlet.  The lack of an outlet makes the body of water lifeless and stagnant.  With the best of intentions, we may become students of God’s Word.  We may soak in everything we can from study, worship, preaching, etc.   However, if there is no outlet for serving, sharing and dispensing what we have gained, we can become spiritually stagnant.  Steve has found a way to unclog his stagnant pool of knowledge and growth.  Fulfilling the Great Commandment and the Great Commission is not only spiritually necessary, it is practically beneficial.  It keeps the stream flowing well.

Have you experienced spiritual stagnation?  Is there a nudge of the Holy Spirit calling you to serve in a particular way?  Where have you found an outlet for serving?

16
Sep
10

Let Go and Give Up

What do you pray for and how do you live in a way that trusts in what only God can do?  I mean…isn’t most of what we accomplish in the church (or our lives for that matter) that which we are able to do without God?  Don’t we usually play it safe and do only what we can pretty much guarantee will be successful based on our own ability, planning and manpower?  What would happen if we stepped out and acted based upon a plan that could only be brought to fruition by God’s sovereign power!  The following quote from an article by Francis Chan says it well.

Honestly, a nonbeliever can accomplish a lot of what you’re doing. Pray that God would lead you into tasks that can only be done by the power of the Spirit. Pray for results that can’t be explained humanly. Ask Him to do what only He can do through you. Pray in faith (James 1:6) and stop looking at the men of Scripture as unattainable superheroes. “Elijah was a human being, even as we are” (James 5:17).

I will be the first to acknowledge that I struggle with this.  I need to give up the safe territory for the journey God is calling me to.  I need to surrender and let God do what God desires to do.  He will easily get the glory when I do.

What would be different if you started living and working based on what God can do and not your own ability?

31
May
10

Remembering & Thankful

I remember seventh grade mostly because of a classmate who experienced a tragedy I could hardly fathom.  He was new to our school that year.  His dad was in the military and serving in Vietnam.  He talked with excitement about his dad coming home in just a few weeks.  Although it wasn’t the center of attention for us as self-centered middle school kids, I remember thinking how great it would be for him to have his dad home again.  I didn’t know what that was like…to have a war separate family members.  My dad had served in the Army during the Korean War, but did so stateside as a communications instructor at Fort Gordon.  He had served before he was married and, obviously, before I was a thought in my parents’ mind.  My only other experience was an uncle who served in Germany during the Vietnam era.

I remember the years during the Vietnam War being dark and depressing as I would watch the reports on the evening news.  It was the first war where reporters were embedded in the war zone and giving “live” reports.  The feeling was oppressive.  Of course, I later came to understand more clearly the political implications of the war and how the soldiers were treated when they returned from combat.  The sad fact is that they had to endure the terrible experiences of the battle in an impossible situation and then come home to be treated as criminals.  The truth…no matter how one feels about the Vietnam war (or any other war), the soldier is just fulfilling his duty.  We should always be thankful for their courage and sacrifice…and this goes for those who served in Vietnam as well.

What was it that made my seventh grade year so memorable?  I remember the day that our teacher stood before the class to tell us that “Brian’s” dad would not be returning home to the family.  Just a few days short of his return, he was killed in combat.  Somehow, the tragedy of this death brought home to a kid, trying to figure out the world, just how much a person is willing to sacrifice to fight for his country.  I went to the funeral home for the visitation and just stood there quietly not really knowing what to say.  The sadness on my classmate’s face told me that he had suffered a loss that I could not even begin to understand.  But I knew, from that point on, I would always appreciate the courage and sacrifice of those who serve our country in the armed forces.

This Memorial Day, I remember and honor all those who have given their lives for the cause of freedom and at the call of our country.  Regardless of the political agenda, every soldier, sailor, airman and marine who has served our country with honor deserves to be applauded.  I stand today and salute them…with a grateful heart and a humbled mind.  Thank you for being willing to serve.

Do you have a friend or loved one who you wish to honor?  Write their name and/or a brief comment about their service below.

20
May
10

Taking Credit

I was getting my hair cut this evening by Val, the stylist who does an awesome job.  She is a believer and we always get into a conversation about faith in some fashion.  She often asks me questions and we talk about church and the human condition.  Tonight, Val was excited about meeting a college-age young man earlier in the day who was preparing to go to the Philippines as a missionary for a year.  She was so impressed with his zeal, outgoing and winning personality and his dedication to go on this mission to “save people.”  I shared in her excitement as we talked about the opportunity this young man has to make an eternal investment in lives.

It was at this point that she turned her attention to me and how she admired me for the work that I do.  “You deserve a lot of credit for the work you do,” she said.  I cringed and told her, “I couldn’t do anything in my ability.  It is the power of God at work through me.”  She responded that I have to take some credit, that would only be human.  I said, “The only credit I can take is my effort to be obedient to the calling God has give me.”

I mention this, not as some shallow attempt at false humility, bringing praise to me.  Instead, I want to point out that I, along with anyone else who serves Christ in this world, can do nothing that has eternal value in our own power.  The problem is, I too often try to do that.  I sometimes plan, prepare and promote, and then neglect to pray for God’s power and His purpose to be worked out in ways that go far beyond my own.  Do I do that because, in the end, I want the praise?  Do I think I can do it in my own ability and so I don’t need God?  Both are wrong motives and assumptions.  The truth is, I am at my best when I’m at my least, and God takes over.

If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.  1 Peter 4:11

The ones who do the planting or watering aren’t important, but God is important because he is the one who makes the seed grow.  1 Corinthians 3:7

How do you deal with the temptation to seek praise for what you do for God?  How have you seen God show up and do more than you expected?




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