Author: DJ Pittman

“All of you together are Christ’s body, and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:27 NLT)

A few months ago as I was reading an article on our significance in the body of Christ, I was struck by one line…

“Your service is desperately needed in the Body of Christ.”

Let that sink in for just a second…

That got me thinking, is that statement something I truly believe? Don’t get me wrong, I believe God has called me to serve others in various capacities, but do I believe that my service is “desperately needed,” not by unbelievers, but it is needed by believers within the body? As someone who spends a lot of time trying to recruit people to serve, one of the biggest hurdles I have encountered is people who believe that they have nothing to offer our children and students. I can agree, serving in Children’s Ministry is intimidating, and frankly, often times void of appreciation. However, over the last several years I have seen men and women rise up to invest in the next generation and make life-changing impacts. Imagine what we would allow God to do through us, when we believe that the Body of Christ is desperately in need of our service.

Every week we welcome over 120 kids into our SummitKids ministry. And every week they are greeted, taught, and invested in by people within the body, most of whom don’t feel “called” to Children’s Ministry, but rather see the importance of spending about two hours a month with a group of kids. Additionally, unlike any ministry I have been a part of, in the last two years we have seen about ten kids come to accept Jesus and follow Him in baptism. That is what we, the Body of Christ, are desperately in need of! People who will rise up and serve others by sharing the Gospel story in word and deed. Whether it is in Children’s Ministry, or in another ministry of the church, we are all necessary to the body.

As we journey through this Equip to Serve series, I want to challenge us all to realize that God has called us to be intentional servants. Not just waiting for opportunities to rise up to serve, but seeking out how we can serve the Body of Christ in small, but greatly impactful ways.

“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” — Ezekiel 36:26 ESV

When I was in elementary school, my parents surprised me with tickets to go see one of my favorite magicians, David Copperfield. I loved magic growing up. The magician’s ability to completely boggle the mind was captivating to me. I remember the last trick David did at his show. He brought a live elephant onto the stage, which as a kid, was awesome! He covered up the elephant with a giant sheet. And almost in an instant, he snapped his fingers and pulled off the sheet, and right where the elephant use to be, appeared a double decker bus full of tourists. I nearly lost my mind in that moment! How in the world could such a transformation occur?

Obviously, as I grew older, I realized that magic isn’t miraculous transformations, as much as it is diverting attention, and smoke and mirrors. That’s why I am so thankful that Gospel transformation is in no way like a magic trick. My “religious” background consisted of very little church and a whole lot of skepticism. From eighth grade until my junior year of high school I would have labeled myself as an atheist. But then something miraculous happened. A group of students who attended my high school started to invite me to things. I was not normally the kid who got invited to things. I avoided them for the longest time, until finally I literally had this thought, “I will go hang out with them and be my completely obnoxious self, and then they will leave me alone!”

I remember walking into a living room full of high school students. I recognized some faces, but didn’t really “know” anyone. And as I sat there feeling extremely awkward, God began to show me what true Gospel authenticity looks like. I had rarely seen the Gospel lived out in a positive way. Usually it came in the form of someone preaching “at” me and telling me to stop what I was doing and go to church. But this group was different. They were…normal, but joyful. And it was there in that living room that God began to chip away the hard pieces of my heart. It was also in that living room that I met the girl I would marry five years later.

The Gospel is powerful. It has the ability to take something and not just change it, or even “fix” it, but completely transform it into something completely different. I can honestly say that I am not the same person as the guy who walked into that living room. A couple of things changed for me in that moment:

  • I was confronted with my brokenness. As an atheist, this is a foreign concept. Sure, I knew I made mistakes, but that doesn’t make me “broken”. But when God grabbed hold of my life, He opened my eyes to see that no good I could ever do would make me pleasing and acceptable to Him. Which brought me to my second revelation…
  • I was introduced to a Savior. People began to speak into my life and teach me about a God who paid it all so that I could live in freedom. I learned that I didn’t have to “make up” for my past sin, but that it had already been covered.

Aren’t you glad the Gospel isn’t a magic trick? God isn’t waiting to pull back the curtain to show us that the sin is still there. He has completely transformed us because of what Jesus has done. It is not an illusion, it is a miracle.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind…” (Romans 12:2 ESV)

I am a huge TV show nerd. I love all sorts of shows, from Frasier to the West Wing to Stranger Things. When I was in college we gathered in the lobby of our dorm room to watch one of the greatest shows ever, LOST. About twenty guys would be crowded around arguably one of the smallest TVs ever made as we became mesmerized, and at times confused, with the character development and intricate connections between the characters of this storyline.

I recently began re-watching this series and have again become captivated by these characters. To summarize for those of you who have never watched this show, a plane crashes on a mysterious island. Over the next few months the survivors of this crash begin to discover that there is more to the island than meets the eye.

What intrigues me the most is that the majority of the main characters on the island are somehow connected. Before the plane crash, their lives were linked and they didn’t even realize it. However, the problem was that they quickly discovered that even when you’re stranded on an island with a group of seeming strangers, your past is never far behind you.

I think there is something to say about that and about the way we live in the Gospel:

  • Before Christ, our pasts have a tendency to bring back feelings of worthlessness and brokenness.
  • Our pasts can also tempt us to believe that life was “easier” or “better” before Christ.

In other words, there is a constant battle to fight the temptation to believe that the Gospel really hasn’t transformed me. Essentially Paul says to the church in Rome, “It is not possible to be conformed to or transformed by God AND be conformed to or transformed by the world at the same time.” I cannot tell you the times, almost daily, where thoughts of sin in my past have come back to the front of my mind and made me think one of two things: 1) I have no value, or 2) life was a lot more “fun” back then.

The truth is that our behavior can be influenced away from God when we forget that the gospel has transformed us. When this happens we allow our past or present broken situation to shape us.

The people stranded on the island were hoping to start over and begin new lives where they would be able to flee the things they had done. But instead they found that it was much easier to conform to the same worldly persons and behaviors they were before the plane crash. Similarly we have been given the opportunity to begin new lives. We are offered lives set free from our sin and shame, lives where we are transformed by the healing power of the gospel.

Today be reminded of the transformation and renewal that the cross has brought you. Rest in the truth that you are no longer conformed to this world, but you have been brought into a new life in Christ.

“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:18 ESV)

I have been blessed beyond measure that God has brought my wife, Dianna, into my life. There is truly no one that I would rather walk with in this journey. In the short time that we have been married, God has taught me countless lessons on what it means to be a godly husband. The biggest lesson that I have learned is, I am terrible at it! I have my moments, sure, but in the grand scheme of our marriage, I am nowhere near where I should be. The biggest problem, I confess, is that I am great at loving her with my words, but not my actions.

Can I ask you a question? How well does your “love talk” and “love walk” match up? Was that too cheesy? Seriously though, if you were to think about it, how much does your wordy love match your actions of love? If you are anything like me, probably not well. 1 John is being addressed to the family of believers who have been adopted into the family of God. And John is challenging people to stop loving by mere talk, and start accompanying it with action.

Let me confess to you, I am far better at showing love to complete strangers than I am my own wife, and even my kids. Of course, I tell them, “I love you” numerous times a day, but sitting here reflecting on the last week, the number of times I have shown love is far less. I can recall several conversation my wife and I have had in the last several years of ministry, where she has rightfully called me out because I spent a lot of time investing in the needs of others in ministry, but was neglecting the needs of my own family. Let me challenge you to think, how have you shown your love to those you are closest to, both in your physical family and your spiritual family?

In recent weeks, as I head out the door for work, it has become a common occurrence that our 2-year-old daughter has a moment of, let’s just say, “weakness.” That is, as I get ready to leave, she experiences a type of emotional breakdown and latches onto my leg, begging for me not to go. Since this started, I’ve been trying to explain to her that I will come back and she doesn’t have to worry. However, her mind simply does not comprehend what I’m telling her. For her, all she sees in that moment is her dad walking out the door, not knowing if or when he will come back.

Have you ever felt that way spiritually? Maybe you’re in that place at this very moment.

Many times, we go through these chaotic events, or even seasons, of our lives and we look up at God with feelings of hopelessness and we say, “God, where have you gone? I am all alone here. Are you ever coming back?” And we forget, or simply don’t understand, the promise of Deuteronomy 31:6, “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” [ESV] In this moment, Moses is speaking to the Israelites in a moment of chaos. As he is about to depart from this life and Joshua will come up to take his place in leadership. And the Israelite people have a “reputation” of messing up in moments of chaos, of forgetting the loving promises of God. So Moses uses one of his last opportunities to speak the truth in love to God’s people by reminding them, “You are loved and you are not alone. Even though I will die, there is One far greater than me who is always with you.”

Though the morning is a struggle for our daughter, one of my favorite moments is walking through the door when I get home. She drops whatever she is doing, she runs through the house and welcomes me with the biggest smile and hug. Far too often we forget, that we serve a God who does not leave us in our chaos, but rather One who has already gone before us and is always with us.

Be strong and courageous, because you are not alone. Do not be in fear, for you stand in victory. Rest in the promise that we have a God who looks at us with an unending and never failing love.