Blog

“Blessed are those who mourn – for they shall be comforted.” – Jesus (Matthew 5:4)

Jesus is telling us in Matthew 5:4 that if we mourn our sin we will know the comfort of God’s very presence that brings peace and healing to our souls. One of the primary privileges we have as sons and daughters in the kingdom (vs 3) is comfort. This comfort is not the removal of pain or the solving of our problems. This comfort is the very presence of God that Jesus promises us in John 14:16. The Greek word used in the book of John for the Spirit that will come and intervene in our lives as our Advocate, Counselor, or Comforter is the word “paracletos”. The same root word is used here in verse 4 for comfort. Comfort is not just a gift or an effect from God – comfort is God!

It is quite amazing to think that in declaring our brokenness – in repenting of the sin in our broken souls (this is the idea of mourning here in this passage) – that we can know the presence of God. I often believe that being exposed or “outted” for my sin is the worse thing that can happen; that I will disappoint God and I will receive a reprimand – not comfort. But Jesus says when we agree with God that our sin is death (that is why we mourn) – He will comfort us through His presence. Jesus says that when we agree that this death hurts others, ourselves, and God – He will comfort us through His presence. And this is the best news, what Jesus calls “good news” or the gospel: We receive this comfort not due to our work but due to Jesus’ work.

This means that God comforts me not because I mourn well or right, and not because my mourning is sincere, or because I weep from the depths of my heart. My effort in mourning has no bearing on his comfort. He comforts me because Jesus’ effort on the cross enables me to be with God.

For certain we access this comfort when we “mourn”. And, we miss out on this comfort when ignore our sin. However – rest in and know the powerful hope in this truth: our comfort – God’s very presence – comes to give us peace and healing solely based on Jesus and his work for us. May we run to Jesus today and find Him (comfort) every day as he reveals the sin he calls us to mourn.

There is a relentless pursuit of happiness that drives each of us pursue most of what we do in this life. We don’t always recognize this pursuit in the day-to-day craziness of our lives – but it is there.

This relentless, often unconscious, pursuit of happiness can be the fuel of many of our worries; and it can be the fuel for many of our celebrations. It is often what drives our risk of loving, giving, helping, hoping, and serving. It is often what fuels our search for new jobs, new relationships, new careers, new homes, new neighbors, new hobbies, and even new churches. Ultimately, happiness – for ourselves or for others we care about – is one pursuit we all have in common. No matter our political, religious, or philosophical views, we all seem to be driven by this relentless desire, or pursuit, of happiness.

There is another pursuit that is taking place; one that, if we believe it, will inform, direct, and quite possibly reconfigure our pursuits. The pursuit: God has been pursuing- and continues to pursue – your heart and soul so that it will find its ultimate, ongoing happiness in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Listen to God for a moment:

Ephesians 1:4-6 (ESV) 4 He (God) chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

John 15:6 (ESV) You did not choose me, but I (Jesus) chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

I Corinthians 12:18 (ESV) But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.

I Thessalonians 1:4 (ESV) For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you,

I Peter 2:9 (ESV) But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Before the world began God had his loving eyes on you. He has pursued you through every age of time, through every moment of your life. He chose you and called you to Himself so you would know the majesty of “His glory” and the wonders of all His “excellencies.” You know Jesus as your Lord and Savior because of His pursuit. But His pursuit of you does not end there. He is consumed with your full knowledge His “glory” and “excellencies” because He is the source of all our happiness and He knows this. He created us for Himself. So He will not stop pursuing your heart and your soul. Listen, and may His words inform, direct, and reconfigure your pursuits today.

Psalms 139:1-6 (ESV) 1 O Lord, you have searched me and known me! 2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. 3 You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. 4 Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. 5 You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.

I give thanks to THEE, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are THY works, and my soul knows it well. Psalm 139:14

Have you ever stopped to think how carefully and lovingly you were created? Every intricate detailed was fashioned in your mother’s womb by the one true GOD, the creator of the universe. HE knit each of us together using a pattern that is totally unique for each of us, resulting in the infant that we were born as. However, HE did not stop there, but gave each of us a unique personality that was shaped by our experiences and environment. Every event and action that has occurred in our lives has only happened as HE has allowed, and HE uses these activities to shape how we respond and react to future events as they occur.

In Acts 17:26 we read, “And HE made from one man (Adam) every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place.” Meditate on this verse for a few moments. We are not in O’Fallon, MO because that was where the job was, or because this was the most affordable housing, or because it is one of the ten best cites in the U.S. to live, or because this is where I was born and raised. Rather, before the foundation of the world the Triune GOD decided that you would be right here in 2017. We are not accidents that inadvertently ended up the way we are, acting the way we do, and living in the house that we live in.

Is it any wonder then that we would serve in such different ways? GOD has fashioned you and me to process differently than each other and than others we encounter. He has given each of us different aptitudes, interests, hobbies, body types, endurance levels, skills, talents and gifts. Then HE has brought us together so that as we exercise these differences the body as a whole can accomplish its intended purpose, to Glorify HIM. We are not the same – and it is by HIS glorious design. Spend some time today appreciating differences of others around you and serving the body with your unique and specific gifts.

“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace…” – 1 Peter 4:10

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” – Colossians 3: 17

As I have taught about spiritual gifts for the last 18 years, I have learned that most of the spiritual gifts are things every Christian is called to practice on a regular basis, except they are on “steroids.” Most of the gifts-mercy, hospitality, service, giving, etc., we are all called to do as believers. So whether I am gifted or not, I am called to be merciful, I am called to be welcoming to those who are strangers or different from me, as a parent I am called to teach my children and lead them. So God has covered every base to show us how important it is for us to do our part in the body, whether that is in the little body of my home or the bigger body of Christ. And graciously, God always gives us the ability to do what is necessary.

But there are lots of things that need to be done that don’t even fit in the list of gifts. In my house, I am not gifted at taking out the trash, or unloading the dishwasher, but they need to be done to make my home run smoothly. I do love to cook and my husband loves to clean up, so we make a great team. We have divided up all the little jobs that make our home efficient, and yet there are times we have to fill in for each other, or we see something that needs to be done now, and we do it. Sometimes I find God is asking me to do things I don’t really like to do, to remind me that I can do it joyfully and honor him in obedience. God didn’t cover every minute detail under gifts because one of our primary calls as believer is to love and serve one another as unto the Lord.

The same thing is true in this body. We have a home here, consisting of two buildings. There are lots of things that need to be done that aren’t covered in the list of spiritual gifts. Kitchens need to be put in order, chairs need to be straightened, coffee needs to be made and cleaned up, sidewalks need sweeping, weeds need pulling, etc., etc., etc. We are all called to pitch in to make our Summit home run smoothly. So serving in these areas is not a serving out of giftedness, but a serving out of need. Sometimes we aren’t even aware of the things that need to be done. But the more hands that help the lighter the workload will be, the more these buildings will look like home. So if you don’t know what needs doing, please ask. There’s a running list that we would love your help to complete. And the fringe benefit of helping with all the little things is that if you do it with a couple of other people, you may meet a new friend, or have someone pray for you in the process.

Look around your home and see all the little things that you or your family members do to make it feel like home. Now take that picture and ask yourself: How could I serve as unto the Lord to make Summit feel more like a home? Then find out how you can make that happen.

I love trivia! I have way too much useless knowledge in my brain. One of my favorite categories is the Sink or Float category. Basically, I take an item and hold it over a tub of water and people have to guess whether the item will sink or float. The fact is, whether you are six or 96 you can make a guess in this category.

One thing I always say to people before they start guessing is, “Don’t over think it!” Sometimes it’s a simple answer but people will come up with all kinds of crazy ideas to talk themselves out of the easy choice.

When it comes to using our gifts and serving, I think some of us have the same problem. We aren’t serving because we are over thinking. Here are two steps to protect yourself from over thinking:

1. Commit to something for a short period of time.
One way we over think things is we are not sure what is the right place. Consider trying an area of ministry for just three months to get a taste for it. Then if it doesn’t feel right you can try something else for three months.

2. Invite someone to participate with you.
One way we over think things is we make the decision on our own. Consider inviting someone to join you so you can process with them how it went and if that area of ministry is the right fit for you.

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them. – Romans 12: 4-6

When I was little I fell off a skateboard and broke my left arm. My arm was in a cast ALL sweaty summer. The cast was removed 10 days before school started and the doctor told my mom to make sure I started bending my left arm and using it as much as I could to strengthen the muscles that hadn’t been used for eight weeks. But I was afraid to use it so I used my right arm for everything, and even my feet if I had to. I wouldn’t use my “broken” arm because it was hard work to get my arm to straighten out again. My mom reminded me if I didn’t use it, it would stay weak and be useless.

That’s how it is in the body of Christ as well. Some of us are hard workers and love doing all sorts of things to serve around the church. My ‘go to’ saying used to be “I’ll do it if nobody else will.” So I ended up doing way more than God called me to, and became exhausted. A more mature woman came alongside me and said something that changed me. She said, “Doing things because no one else will do it is not the Gospel. God has given each of us things to do to make the body function in a healthy way. Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean God is calling you to do it at this point in time. There are specific things he wants you to do right now, and he wants you to say no to the other things so other members of the body can practice using their gifts, so they can build up their spiritual muscles. Maybe right now your job is to ask someone who has never done that before to do it, and encourage them as they do. If you do whatever no one else will do, you will not be able to do what God called you to do to the best of your ability.”

That bit of wisdom has changed the way I serve and my ability to say “no,” as well as the way I encourage and challenge others to serve. In the Gospel, we want to help every member of the body to build spiritual muscles of service by using their gifts in the places God calls them to serve. Whether that means making coffee, serving in the nursery, playing the drums, or walking with someone who is hurting, everyone is needed for the body to be the body. The little things matter to the body as much as the big things, and both are missed when they aren’t there.

So, what spiritual muscles is God calling you to use right now? Start out small, but use them so the body doesn’t have to limp along.

 

Have you ever stopped to consider all of the parts that make up our bodies? Unless you have taken a course in anatomy, I am going to guess that your answer, like mine, would be, no. Doctors can tell us how many bones, major organs, minor organs, pints of blood, even down to the number of cells that we have. But for most of us this data is simply not relevant. Instead we focus on simply living and are unaware that our pituitary is glanding, our hair follicles are generating away (except for good old number 1,872 that seems to be slowing down) and our meta-tarsal is providing the flexibility and support it is supposed to. All of this to say, that each part of our body has an assigned function to carry out which it normally does without us being consciously aware of its actions.

How about you in your role in the body of CHRIST? What role(s) are you playing? Are others aware of your “performance” because our body is able to function smoothly, seamlessly, not even fully cognizant of all that is being done? Or, do you perform when you get noticed and the spotlight is on you? Does the body have to make adjustments (limp along) because you just didn’t feel like processing and digesting the food (word) that came to you?

In Luke 17:10 we read: “So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.’”

JESUS is saying to HIS disciples and to us, I have a job for you. This verse is a command or an imperative. However, JESUS has also given us an indicative, that is, HE has provided what we need in order to carry out this command. In this verse, the indicative is implied, but from other verses, we know that HE has created us specifically and uniquely to accomplish this task or to play the roles that HE has for us (Ephesians 2:8-10). No one else can do these roles as well as you because HE has not gifted anyone else the way that HE has gifted you.

So act. Perform the role HE has given you. Join with the other parts of the body to live out our vision of being in the gospel, for the gospel, to HIS glory not to our own.

1 Behold, how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell in unity! (ESV) – Psalm 133:1

I was walking in my house not too long ago headed to the bathroom in the middle of the night, and didn’t want to wake anyone so I didn’t turn any lights on. I misjudged where the corner of the hall was and caught my tiny pinky toe. I am not saying I grazed my pinky toe…I may as well have swung my leg with the force of mighty Thor and slammed my Thor’s pinky toe hammer into the corner! This apparently angered my pinky toe and it rebelled against all my other body parts, rendering me useless. I rolled around on the ground moaning in agony. Unintelligible noises mixed with inappropriate words…and I woke up everyone in the house. Have you ever had that experience? Stepped on a Lego, stubbed your big toe, slam a finger in a door? When a part of the body hurts like that the whole body hurts.

The body of Christ is like that. We, the church, are called “the Body of Christ”. Christ is the head and we all play important roles in the body. Not only does serving in the role God has given us demonstrate that we are obedient; it glorifies Him as we do so. Psalm 133 verse 1 says how good and pleasant it is when we dwell in unity. Unity is such an important thing. If a hand or foot decides not go in the same direction as the rest of the body it causes pain and chaos. When a part of the body of Christ decides not to do what it was made to do it can cause a lot of damage. Division. Bringing attention to us instead of Jesus, where the Glory belongs.

Do you know what God has gifted you to do in the body? Are you obeying in that area? Are there things you need to repent of and get back on track, rejoicing that Jesus has covered our sin and taken the blame so we can walk with him? Our prayer is that we would be a good and pleasant aroma to the world around us as we live unified together in the Gospel, for the Gospel, to the GLORY of God.

It is a beautiful thing when our physical body functions as it is supposed to, all the parts doing what they were created for. Our thumbs making it possible to pick up that coffee cup in the morning. Our eyes letting the light in so we can see the beauty of God’s creation. Our heart beating so all the other parts can function. All these things we take for granted at times…until they do not operate as they should then we become very aware of them. Thank you Lord for creating each one of us to function in unity with the rest of the members of the body of Christ for Your glory.

“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.

Our sabbatical was filled with a lot of fun memories and it would be impossible to list them all, but here are a few of the highlights.

In June, Jessica and I took a trip to Huntington Beach, California without the kids. With three kids 5 and under and one due at the end of August we knew that we needed some time together, just the two of us. We were there for a week and did some sightseeing in LA, San Diego, and Huntington Beach. It was unbelievably relaxing. We spent a good amount of time in the car while we were there and were able to reconnect on our drives up and down the coast.

In July, we took the kids to Branson. We stayed in a condo close to Silver Dollar City. We spent a lot of time in the condo pool because it was HOT. We went to Silver Dollar City two days and we went to see Moses at the Sight & Sound Theatre. The kids loved all of the animals and music in the show. I celebrated my 30th birthday on the trip as well. Another highlight for me was that I took the girls go-carting, and they loved it. In fact, they loved it so much that we “had” to go back the next day before we left for home.

The whole summer was filled with laughter and a lot of time outside and in the pool. We are so grateful for the time we were able to have together and are thankful to work at a place that allows us the time to rest. So once again, thank you.

X