Archive for the ‘Serving’ category

An Open Serving Policy

July 8, 2014

Greystone Bakery taught me about grace once again.

Anyone that comes to the front door of their bakery is given the chance to work, no questions asked. When a job becomes available they take the next person off the waiting list and give them a job.

keep out

I want to be part of a church that has an “open” serving policy. Anyone who wants to serve, can. This doesn’t mean they can do whatever they want, in whatever way they want.

There are standards and expectations for certain types of service. Elders and deacons are held to higher standards than others. But, graceful churches, like Jesus, can adopt an open serving policy. Think of the band of misfits Jesus used. One of them wasn’t even a believer.

The open hiring policy of Greystone says your past isn’t your future.

Reluctance:

  1. Children need protection from predators.
  2. Financial integrity is essential.
  3. Quality of service needs to be held high.

In other words, open serving doesn’t mean anyone can do anything. But, its incumbent for those who believe in grace to express grace by providing places of service for anyone.

Religious pressure:

Could it be that you are worried about what other believers think? After all, what would “they” think if the person who is passing out bulletins was drunk last night?

I’d rather offend a religious person than belittle an unbeliever by excluding them, unnecessarily.

Bigger issue:

The bigger issue is you feel superior to “them.” Your sins aren’t as bad as their sins. But, you don’t have permission to look down on outsiders, especially when Jesus loves them and died for them.

Low responsibility jobs have low or no standards. For example, the next time you take out the garbage, ask the guy who was drunk last night to help.

No Demands – No Obligations

February 18, 2014

dancing

Christianity is not about demands and obligations. It’s about love and love can’t be demanded.

Life, on the other hand, is filled with never ending demands. Do…do…do, go…go…go, work…work…work. But, grace can’t obligate.

The only demand of grace is receiving it by faith. The more I talk about grace the more I enjoy grace and the more I want to talk about it. I’m addicted.

Grace means gift. Gifts exclude compensation.

Any attempt to pay for grace blocks it. 

Rewards:

God protects free grace by rewarding service. Rewards remove any hint that obedience is payment for grace.

God pays for service – rewards – so no one can brag they are paying for grace.

Illustration:

Think of God as a graceful dancer. Our maker dances His way to us. The melodies of grace permeate His presence.

He risks looking foolish by dancing alone. All we do is take it in. As the music sinks into our hearts, He invites us to join.

He leads. We follow.  We respond. It all starts and ends right here in the dance of grace.

Grace cannot demand love.  Grace enables love.

How to be a Friend of “Sinners”

February 10, 2014

friends

It’s a great compliment to have self-righteous Christians complain that you’re too friendly with non-Christians. The religious elite made a similar complaint about Jesus – the friend of sinners (Lk. 7:34).

But there’s another side to this issue.

1 Corinthians 15:33 (ESV) “Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” Our friends predict our future.

How can you be a friend to “sinners”?

The inner circle:

Cultivate and develop an inner circle of three deeply committed believers. One of them should be a visionary like Peter. One should be a doer like James. And the other, should be a lover like John.

Questions to ask before becoming a “friend of sinners”:

  1. Do you know who you are?
  2. Where do you look for approval? Or, who are you trying to please?
  3. Are you deeply connected to committed believers?
  4. Can you explain the gospel quickly, simply, and clearly. (The best way to do that is tell your own story of trusting Jesus.”
  5. Do you deeply love “sinners”? If God loved the world, so can you.

Three attitudes:

Every believer who aspires to be a friend of sinners knows they are:

  1. “One of” not “one above.” Christianity isn’t morality. Christianity is Jesus. Everyone is in the “falling short” bucket. The fact that you may sin less doesn’t make you sinless.
  2. Not trying to change or reform “sinners”. Your job is sharing Jesus. Changes are his business. Getting people to sin less, might make life better, but it doesn’t help in the long-term.
  3. Dedicated to serve others, not be served. Jesus came as one who serves and you aren’t above Him. The path to influence is the path of service. Solve a problem. Meet a need.

Embrace these attitudes or you’re doing more damage than good.

Be a friend of sinners. But, fasten your spiritual seat-belt. You’re in for a challenging ride.

Acceptable Service

December 13, 2013

bowing flower

The “why” of service matters more than the service itself.

Christian service is an expression of love and gratitude, nothing more, nothing less, nothing else.

Ungrateful service is arrogance in disguise.

Arrogant servants think:

  1. I deserve better.
  2. I’m not appreciated.
  3. What about them?
  4. Whose serving me?

Ungrateful servants whine and complain. Grateful service, on the other hand, frees us.

Service as response is privilege and opportunity.

Service as obligation is a burden.

Focus:

The focus of grateful service is Jesus, not the people you serve.

Arrogant service focuses more on results than response. Results matter. Serve where you have impact. But, results come second to response.

Engaged:

Those who aren’t serving haven’t seen grace. Law may pressure into service. But, law never produces acceptable service.

Perfect gratefulness:

How grateful is grateful enough?

We all always falling short. Sometimes you serve out of obligation, other times out of love and gratitude.

When you see the signs of arrogance I listed above, don’t try to be humble. Instead, refocus on Jesus. Remember his grace.

Give yourself space to respond.

Gratitude can’t be demanded or manipulated. But, you can let it happen. When it’s absent, keep on serving. But at the same time acknowledge your brokenness and believe in his grace.

Let gratitude rise in you. If it doesn’t, know you have forgotten how Jesus served you.

Whatever

November 3, 2013

uncertainty

It sounds spiritual to pray, “God please show me what you want me to do.” It’s also safe.

Believers pray for God to show them His will and then slip under the covers for a snooze.

Fake Spirituality:

Praying without taking action is fake spirituality. I hear someone cry, “Don’t be so harsh. I’m waiting on God.”

If waiting on God is doing nothing, then stop waiting on God! Waiting on God, in reality, is doing everything you can while waiting for further guidance in one area.

Waiting on God isn’t an excuse for self-indulgent spiritual.

How not what:

“But what,” you ask, “Should I do?”

You’re too concerned about “what.” God is concerned about “how.”

Colossians 3:23 (NIV84) “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,”

Worry less about “what.” Go do “whatever.” Worry more about “how” – “with all your heart.”

Excuses:

Uncertainty is the excuse of fake spirituality. “I’m not sure what God wants me to do, so I’ll do nothing.” Excuse makers:

  1. Believe certainty indicates God’s guidance.
  2. Know what they don’t want to do.
  3. Feel spiritual doing nothing.

Whatever:

Doing nothing takes you nowhere.

Stop making excuses and go do “whatever.”

Do:

  1. Good for another.
  2. Meet a need, the bigger the better.
  3. Act on your point of highest certainty. Forget perfect certainty.

Most importantly, whatever you do… “Do it with all your heart.” Uncertainty is an opportunity to trust God. Perfect service opportunities don’t exist. Go all-in on an imperfect opportunity.

Under grace you are free to do good to others
as much as you want!

New prayer:

Rather than praying for God to tell you what to do, pray for an opportunity to serve. “God give me an opportunity to serve someone.” Get up off your knees and get busy. That’s real spirituality.

Half-hearted Christians are unhappy Christians.

When you focus more on wholeheartedness and forget about perfect answers and opportunities, life grows bright. You become happier and more useful.

My prayer is, “God, give us more ‘whatever’ Believers.”

Stop Pretending You’re a Loser

October 28, 2013

sad doll

False humility isn’t humility it’s dishonesty. All believers are gifted by God. Suggesting otherwise suggests God screwed up when He created you.

Direction in life:

Pretending you don’t have gifts is a sure way to miss God’s plan. Your strengths, talents, and gifts point to God’s will for your life.

Qualities “IN” indicate plan “FOR.”

Gifts point to purpose. When you deny your gift, – the way God made you, – you lose sight of your purpose.

Stop asking God to show you his will for your life. Start asking for opportunities to use your gifts, strengths, and talents.

Timothy’s mentor:

1 Timothy 4:14–15 (ESV)

14 Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress.

Mentors see our gifts and challenge us to use them. You spend too much time fixing weaknesses and far too little time maximizing your gift.

False humility insults your maker and neglects your gift. Missionary and Olympic athlete Eric Liddell knew he had a gift. “God made me fast.” His speed indicated God’s purpose and plan. Use your gift. Denying your gift is denying God.

Immerse yourself in your gift. When you do, God’s plan opens up.

Finding Clarity:

Pathetic believers – who pretend they are losers – walk around confused about God’s plan. Just go use your gift. For goodness sake!

If you have too many opportunities for service, choose the most meaningful one.

It may not be dramatic like fasting, praying, and being led by God. But, using your gift is the most practical way to fulfill your purpose in this world. Qualities “IN” indicate plan “FOR.”

Note: if you don’t know what your gift is, just go do something good that you enjoy doing. Whatever you do, get off your butt.

Do You Serve or are You a Servant

September 9, 2012

Service is about who you are not what you do.

When serving is something you do, service becomes an optional point of convenience or inconvenience. People who “do service” check their schedules, timelines, and agendas before serving. Leaders convince, cajole, or guilt people who “do service” into serving.

When serving is who you are, service is the only option.

Servants aren’t inconvenienced by service. The only question is, “Where is your most useful place of service.” Servants never ask “if” they should serve, only “where.”

Jesus didn’t simply perform acts of service. He was a servant.

Philippians 2:5–7 (NIV84) 5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

Grasping:

Jesus didn’t grasp for high position. He made himself low. What are you grasping? Do you grasp to be like God? Adam did. Or, are you making yourself nothing.

The God who made the world from nothing can make something of you.

Free to serve:

Jesus’ serves us so we can serve each other.

John 13:5 (NIV84) 5 After that (after dinner and before the crucifixion), he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

John 13:14 (NIV84) 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, …

It’s normal to complete verse 14, “You wash my feet.” But that’s not how servants operate. Jesus actually said, “Wash one another’s feet.”

His service frees us to serve.

Think how Jesus served the unworthy. Servants don’t embrace the worthy and ignore the unworthy because serving is who they are not what what they do. Legalism makes us serve. Grace makes us servants.

Pony Express Churches

August 18, 2012

The Pony Express was the brainchild of William Russell, Alexander Majors and William Waddell. It operated for only eighteen months from 1860 to 1861.

The Pony Express died because it defined itself too narrowly and failed to adapt. Technology – the telegraph – killed the Pony Express.

If the Pony Express defined itself as a communications company rather than a letter carrying company it might still exist, only in a different form.

Churches can give artificial respiration to dying ponies or learn to define themselves in ways that align with transcendent Biblical truths; truths that don’t change even though the way they are expressed must.

God adapted himself to our context when he became man. Yet, he didn’t lose himself. His appearance changed but he didn’t. He never changes.

Transcendent Truths include:

  1. Grace alone.  We always freely receive provision from God. That’s how we become believers and that’s how we live, by grace. Christianity isn’t a self-help program. It’s a grace enabling program.
  2. Faith alone. We never work our way to God. He worked his way to us. Our responsibility is to believe. All commitments in our walk are expressions of learning to trust him alone.
  3. Jesus alone. He’s not one of many ways to rich relationship with God. He’s the only way.
  4. Response alone. All expressions of Christian living are response to God’s love and grace, that includes, service, worship, obedience, evangelism, and everything else we do.
  5. Love alone. Love is the only thing that makes life meaningful. Without it, life is empty, like clanging cymbals. The only way to love is to be loved. “We love because he loved.” (Back to #1) Even confrontation expresses love or it’s wasted, useless effort.

Most of the things Churches do in their gatherings are completely adaptable, consider music. There are no Christian notes or rythmns, only Christian lyrics.

What would you add or modify on my list of transcendent truths?

What is adaptable when it comes to Church gatherings and ministry?

The Day I Heard Dad Sing

June 29, 2012

My dad was a quiet man; not weak, just quiet. We had his funeral yesterday, June 28, 2012 at 1 p.m. He was 84.

He trusted Jesus at the funeral of his best friend, Gene Niles, about 40 years ago. I remember the day when he walked to the front during the public invitation, knelt down and became a believer.

It was one of the few times he spontaneously embraced me. The only person he persistently expressed affection to was mom and he did it a lot.  I’m not complaining. We never doubted dad’s love.

One summer morning, when I was a teenager and dad was finishing the chores in the milk room, (the place we kept all the milking equipment). I heard dad sing. It was early yet and I was just waking up. From across the driveway I heard a god-awful baritone voice belting out, “Amazing Grace…”

He sang like no one could hear. But I did. Now that I think about it, he was probably singing to God.

I checked with family and friends; no one ever heard dad sing, ever. And, I never mentioned it to him.

He was a regular at church but during the singing his lips never moved. You might have thought he didn’t love Jesus or that he had no passion.

Truth is the quiet man from Maine – the man I call dad – was passionate about grace. Over the years, with typical tenacity, he studied grace. We talked about it, from time to time. He didn’t run around like a cheerleader; he lived it. Grace touched him and set him free.

The same passion he brought to his work he brought to Jesus. Even though he worked harder than anyone I ever knew, he always faithfully served. Grace changed him.

I’ll never forget the day I heard dad sing “Amazing Grace …”

7 Reasons I Don’t Have to Serve You

May 29, 2012

Top 7 reasons I’m free from serving you:

  1. Your preferences are wrong, meaning they aren’t mine.
  2. You have sin in your life.
  3. I’m smarter than you. You’re making dumb decisions.
  4. You need to grow up.
  5. You’re self-centered.
  6. I don’t like you. Christians are allowed to not like some people aren’t they, as long as they love them?
  7. I’ve already served you and you didn’t serve me back. The serving scales tip in my direction. Get busy!

When serving becomes about others
we find excuses not to.

Ultimately, serving is about us not them. When serving is about who we are grace takes center stage.

Jesus served people we reject because
serving was about Him not them.

Strength to serve:

Grace gives strength for free service. Strength for service comes from being served by Jesus. If you don’t let him serve you, you can’t serve others.

Believe Jesus serves you for no good reason except love, then share what you’ve received.

Serving is about grateful response. Ungrateful people may go through the motions of service. However, they need a deeper touch of grace before real serving begins. They may be good and moral but they aren’t Christian.  (Note: I didn’t say they aren’t Christians. You can be a Christian and not act like one.)

Calling people to serve isn’t about brow-beating, crying about needs, or bribing; it’s about grace. When we aren’t serving we need more grace not less.

We’re free to serve as we realize we’ve been served. Serving is the overflow of
gratitude for grace.

If you’re nodding your head but not engaging in meaningful service, you don’t know what I’m talking about.


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