Posts tagged Service.

How To Change The World

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change the worldWhen I was younger, I had aspirations to change the world. I felt as though I had a blank canvas before me. What would I do with my life? I knew I didn’t want to waste it with drink or folly. I knew since about the age of sixteen that I was meant to work with people. I dreamed of making my impact on the world. Would I one day write a best seller? Would I invent a new form of therapy that would benefit thousands suffering with mental or emotional woes? How would I make my mark? I hoped it would be big.

It seems when we are young we have a desire to impact a lot of people; to change the face of the planet is it were. For some, life’s many distractions get in the way. For others, disillusionment sets in and they begin to feel that the world is broken beyond repair. They begin to view the world as an old, abandoned, worn down house. What does it matter if another window gets broken in the house? Its dilapidated, forgotten, and most don’t care anyway. Yet, for many, the older we get the desire to see the world change around us still resides within, but the sheer scope of our desire seems overwhelming. How can we change the world? Problems abound. People hurt. Tragedy strikes. Kids suffer abuse. The poor go hungry. Changing the world is harder than we thought. Our youthful idealism and exuberance begin to seem naive.

So how do we change the world? Is that desire still in you? Maybe the mention of it has awoken dreams long given up on. While its true that some do impact the world across time zones and hemispheres, most never will. We all know that the odds of our doing something to make a global impact is dismal, but as Christians, we are called nonetheless to change the world.

I think everyone falls into one of three camps when it comes to changing the world. There are those who have long given up and stopped trying. There are those who are changing the world right now, though they don’t know it. Then, there are those who understand the weight of their significance and are embracing their calling.

We may not change the world on a global scale, but we can change our immediate world. In doing so, the rest of the world is impacted. Often even, we might influence someone that directly changes the global footprint. Recently, my mom kept my children while I was mowing a widow in our churches grass. As I was slaughtering weeds like Paul Bunyen felled trees, I thought to myself, “My mom is mowing the grass too.” The fact that she kept my kids allowed me to help someone that needed it. So, her service to me my by watching my kids, was also a service to this woman in need. Furthermore, it was also a service to Christ because He said, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.” It’s like a domino effect. My mom helped me, so I could help someone else, and in doing that, her service was to Christ.

As I continued to work on grooming this yard, I began to think of how interrelated our helping others turns into them impacting the world further. For example, Charles Stanley had Sunday School teachers of his own. Little did they know that they were teaching a man who would reach millions one day with his own preaching. Alexander Flemming, who discovered Penicillin, had grade school teachers that impacted him. The wonderful writings of C.S. Lewis, were influenced heavily by the lesser known author, George MacDonald. We might also think if the millions of children who do wonderful things with their lives only because they had loving parents that poured their lives into them, or perhaps the Christians that travel to foreign lands after sitting under their preacher for years.

Often, we never give thought to the small influence and impact we make on others. Through our pouring our lives into a few people around us, we may ultimately impact thousands. We have a large calling and responsibility. We are to invest in the people around us!

Have we given up on changing the world? It’s time to reengage. Have we thought our significance small? Then we need to remember that what we do for a few goes on to impact a multitude. Who can we invest in? How can we help those around? We all have a calling and a mission.

Jesus used twelve men to turn this world upside down. He believed in the principle of compounding interest. Invest in a few people, who then invest in a few more, and so on. As this chain grows the world finds itself different. The problem comes when we ditch our calling to influence those around us and break a piece of the chain.

It starts at home. We need to invest in our kids and marriages. Then our relationships in the community and marketplace. As we all do this, we might just find that we have changed the world. In doing so, we have also served Jesus Christ as we were called to.

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

Marriage Monday: Die, It Will Make Your Marriage Better

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Love Is Not SelfishI have read a lot of books that deal with having healthy marriages. I have taken class after class on family structure and the dynamics of marital relationships. I get the privilege (and sometimes frustration) of helping people see their marital problems from a different point of view that results in fresh perspective. I get to enjoy getting to see couples resolve problems and grow in their intimacy. There are many things that create a healthy atmosphere for a marriage to thrive, and there are a host of behaviors that can be a detriment to any relationship. However, at the bedrock level of all marital problems rests one word: Selfishness.

I will venture to say that there is a correlation between selfishness and degree of intimacy in a marriage. As selfishness goes up, emotional intimacy lessens. This would only make sense. It is hard to be close to someone that cares only for themselves.

Selfishness says my needs are more important than your needs. The selfish person undeservingly expects the universe to revolve around them. When a person is selfish, they have expectations that are difficult to meet. They are hard to please, and they are generally difficult to be around when things do not go their way.

I will be the first to say that marriage (and later parenthood) points out one’s selfish propensities quickly. Self preservation comes naturally (because we are fallen creatures). We are inclined to think about ourselves at the expense of others.

Selfishness is a blood-thirsty parasite that will bleed every ounce of intimacy out of a marriage. Love gets choked out when selfishness is present. Paul reminds us in I Corinthians 13 that, “Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not conceited, does not act improperly, and is not selfish…”

How do we slay the beast of selfishness? Simply by serving. We love our spouse by putting their needs about our own. That is not intuitive, but it is what love does. The interesting thing is that once a spouse starts to serve the other, a beautiful dance begins where that service is reciprocated. Each meets the needs of the other. There is no longer a reason to be self-serving because there is someone else that strives to meet the other’s needs.

We live in a “me centered” society. Marketing strategist focus on make us feel pampered and important. We are led to believe that what matters most is ourselves. The world resoundingly coerces us to live our lives for ourselves, but where has it gotten us? What the world needs now, what marriages need now, more than ever, is people willing to take the focus off of self and place it on others.

This is a call to service. This is a call to die to self. I am tired of living for just me, and I hope you are too.

Marriage is a call to die [to self]… Christian marriage vows are the inception of a lifelong practice of death, of giving over not only all you have, but all you are. Is this a grim gallows call? Not at all! It is no more grim than dying to self and following Christ. In fact, those who lovingly die for their [spouses] are those who know the most joy, have the most fulfilling marriages, and experience the most love. – R. Kent Hughes

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

No Butts In the Body of Christ

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Within a church there are various people with different interests, abilities, talents, and personalities. Diversity is such a delight, yet within an atmosphere of diversity must exist unity. In fact, this is where the term university comes from, meaning unity among diversity. In a church, a diverse group of people is to be united under a single banner. They are to use their various talents and interests to share the Gospel message of Christ, forming a unified front.

In 1 Corinthians 12, the Apostle Paul uses a brilliant, yet familiar, analogy as to how a church should function. He likens the body of Christ to a physical body. He reminds us that no part is insignificant. Each piece of the body must be present and working for the whole to function. Notice what he says in verses 15-20. “Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.  If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?  But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.  If they were all one part, where would the body be?  As it is, there are many parts, but one body.”

He is driving a point home. There is a place for everyone in the body. No part is more important than any other. It takes everyone to keep the body of Christ functioning properly. When one part of the body is hurting the entire body suffers.

He is also emphasizing that there should be unity. It takes people working together, not against one another. When there is harmony in the body it is able to move in a graceful dance.

Paul discusses many different parts of the body: eyes, hands, head, and feet. One part Paul does not mention is the butt. Yes, you heard me right, the butt. Now before you think me crass, I might point out if Isaiah can liken our righteousness acts to “filthy rags” (look up the meaning) I can certainly talk about the spiritual butt.

So what is the spiritual butt of the body? These would be the people with smelly attitudes. They see all the problems but want no part in coming up with solutions. They want to see new ministries started, but want other people to start them. Instead of promoting unity, they sow seeds of dissent. They speak discouragement instead of encouragement. They point out mistakes, but forget to show love. They are concerned with their own wishes instead of seeking the desires of the greater body. They see ministry as competition instead of service.

The spiritual butt of the body isn’t concerned with seeking Christ, promoting unity, and seeing that the body does well. Instead, the concern is on self. The Spiritual butt asks, “What am I getting out of church?” instead of “What am I giving?”.

Hands and feet are desperately needed, but there is no room for Spiritual butts in the body of Christ. Let’s love, give, encourage, serve, and promote a spirit of unity.

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

Marriage Monday: Me, Me, ME!

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Being married has taught me many wonderful things about life, God, myself, people, and what is important. One thing I wasn’t prepared to learn when I got married was how selfish I am. Serving self is so insidious; you barely know it is there until you have another person daily looking into your life. When Devon and I were first married, I was simply not prepared to have all my selfish thoughts and actions brought into crystal clear focus. Marriage was a tool that God used, and continues to use, to refine my character.

There is no room for self indulgence within relationships, especially marriage. If you want a fast track to poisoning your marriage, then focus on yourself, your wants, and what makes you happy. Our normal is to focus on ourselves; to do what makes us feel good. It comes natural to get our needs met before we worry about anyone else’s.

What are the results of two people serving themselves within a marriage? Unhappiness. This is not intuitive. It would seem that if we are seeking to make sure we get our needs met then we would be happy. Logic would drive us to think that when we are the king of our castle, life has to be good. Selfishness may bring us temporary happiness, but it is always fleeting.

So how do we extract the poison of being self serving from our marriages? Jesus lets us know in John 13:34. He tells us to “Love one another.” I know you are thinking, “Well thanks captain obvious. That is why we got married in the first place, because we loved one another.” I didn’t say it, Jesus did. But see the problem is, we are noun loving. We are making love a thing, a feeling, something sentimental and valentiney. We need to make love a verb, an action, a service. To love correctly involves doing something for the other person, and if we are doing something for the other person we are not serving ourselves.

The Apostle Paul builds on this idea. In Ephesians 5, he offers some heavy hitting advice on how to have a healthy marriage. If you haven’t read it, it would behoove (love that word) you to do so. Paul admonishes us to “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” How do we submit to one another in marriage? We put the other person’s needs first. It is where I say “Devon, you come first.” Devon replies, “I don’t think so, you are the priority here.” “No mam, I am here to see that your needs are met pronto.” Submitting to one another means we make the other person the priority. How often do we really see that? So often, it seems like marriages are every man for himself. Me, Me, ME! Mine, Mine, MINE. There is no room for a case of the “me monsters” in marriage.

The interesting thing is, when we submit to one another, when we make our spouse the priority, when we make love a verb, our needs end up being met in a way we could never imagine. You see, when our spouse is placed first, they want to meet our needs all the more. Then there is this wonderful circular relationship born. A magical dance that ebbs and flows between two people in love that are meeting one another’s needs.

So how are you doing? Got a case of the “me monsters”? Are you at the center of your own universe? Are you leaving your spouse to meet their own needs? Maybe things would look different in your marriage if you made love a verb, if you practiced mutual submission, if you served your spouse.

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed
Josh

Question: Name a practical way we can serve our spouse?

The Calling – Where Is My Hologram?

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The thoughts being purged through my fingers by the dim light of my computer screen are the culmination of many things. I briefly want to discuss my thoughts in relation to being “called to ministry.” My thoughts in this area started to grow out of a conversation that a dear friend and I had about our experience in feeling the need to vocationally preach the Gospel and become ministers. Recently, he shared a blog with me that echoed our conversation from about a year ago.

I have heard many people say that one “must be called” to ministry. I understand what they are saying to a certain degree because some things are a fit for people and other things aren’t. In this sense, I was not “called to sports” because I am not an incredibly athletic person. I have also heard people say when someone asks them to serve in a particular form or fashion that they “don’t feel called to do that.” What does that mean exactly? Are they ill equipped? Do they lack the desire? Is it an excuse? I know I have used the phrase as a wonderful Christian cop-out that politely says “I don’t want to be a part of that but I want to look good.”

So what does it mean to be called? I have heard people spiritualize “the call to ministry” as if it was reminiscent of the scene in the Star Wars film where Luke and Obi-Wan stumble across a holographic image contained in R2-D2 where Princess Leia proclaims “help me Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.” I never received my hologram from God. The sky never split where God said, “Hey Josh, it is high time you become a minister.” I never randomly opened the Bible and put my finger on a random verse that said, “Go and preach the Gospel into all the nations.”

So how did that “calling” come? Before I share how I came to become a minister please allow me to share something I read from Andy Stanley (who is certainly one of my hero’s) not too long ago. Andy and his Father, Charles Stanley (maybe you have heard of him, maybe), had a conversation one day as the drove down the road. Andy asks Charles, “Dad, does a person have to be called into ministry, or can they just volunteer?” Charles pondered this question for a few moments and responded, “Well, I guess it is okay to volunteer.” So Andy did just that. He volunteered. No fanfare. Fairly anti-climactic. He simply volunteered to become a minister, and he has done some very significant things for the kingdom of Christ.

Back to my experience in this area. I grew up in a pastor’s home. Essentially, I have been tied to ministry in some form or fashion for most of my life. As a child and adolescent the last thing I wanted to do was be a pastor, preacher, etc. My plan was to major in psychology, get a M.A. in psychology, become a licensed professional counselor, and minister to people by helping them work through their difficulties in life. I started down this path and it was, and still is, and incredible journey. After pulling away from God, making a few bad decisions, and then drawing closer to God amidst sorting through some things in my life I found myself wanting to serve in a greater capacity. I then started reading more and devoting more time to spiritual pursuits. I felt a gap I had created between God and myself begin to narrow because, after all, God never moves away from us. Instead, it is we who move away from God. My family and I would watch DVD’s of preaching in the evening, sometimes for several hours. One night while we were watching sermon after sermon, message after message, and series after series, I realized I also wanted to volunteer. I wanted to volunteer to preach and teach. In some ways, I was naive. Not realizing the difficulty, frustration, heartache, and even loneliness that comes at times with becoming involved in ministry. On the converse side, it is also incredibly rewarding and exciting to be a part of what God does in other people’s lives. Tonight all of these thoughts caved in on me as I watched a sermon that I go back to from time to time that I have on DVD that ministers to me in a significant way. It reminded me of when I first realized that I wanted to serve Christ through preaching. I know I am suppose to preach, teach, help others with their difficulties and share insight with others. If someone gave me a million dollars tomorrow, I would still do these exact same things only in a different capacity. This lets me know I am doing what I should be.

So what am I trying to say exactly? Only this. We all have our unique set of talents, gifts, abilities, interests and passions. If we wait for a hologram to be projected in the air, we will never serve. It’s okay to volunteer. We are all called to serve Christ in some capacity. So what are you good at? What are your passions? What do you feel interested in? Harness these things for the cause of Christ! Ministry and serving God cuts across all vocations. Don’t wait to be asked. We are all commanded to serve.

Just remember. It is alright to volunteer.

Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
I Corinthians 10:31

Walk Good. Live Wise. Be Blessed.
Josh

The Bystander Effect

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It was 3:00 A.M. on March 13, 1964. A bar manager by the name of Kitty was returning to her home in Long Island after getting off work. As she was walking to her apartment she was assaulted and stabbed twice in the back. In agony, she began to scream for help. Slowly, lights started to come to life in surrounding apartments. The attacker, sensing that he might be identified, fled the scene.

Kitty hobbled a little closer to her apartment door and collapsed. Later the attacker returned and finished the job. Again, she screamed and pleaded for help. Lights lit windows. People looked on in horror. At least a dozen people heard the screams for help. How many people called the police? Not a single phone call came through to the police that night. Why? Are people that cold hearted? Absolutely not. Each assumed that someone else would called the police or that someone else was better qualified to help.

In social psychology this is known as the bystander effect. Is it possible that this effect permeates our own lives at times? We see a need, but we assume someone else will meet it. We sit in church and hear opportunities to serve, and we look around thinking there are plenty of people to meet this need so we do nothing.We hear a plea that someone needs help and we instantly think there is someone more qualified to assist. We look upon a position that needs to be filled and think someone else will step up and do a better job. The bystander effect probably plays a part in our lives more than we even realize.

Instead of waiting on someone else when we see a need can we just respond? How different would things look if we just took action? Who knows what hangs in the balance? We can make a difference. Don’t wait. Take action.

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” – Edmund Burke

Walk Good. Live Wise. Be Blessed.
Josh

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