Blog

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.

Over the past few months God has shown me a lot of things but I just wanted to share two with you.

The first two weeks off were really strange for me. I felt myself wandering, not really knowing what to do. I didn’t have anywhere to go or anybody to meet with, and I was finding it hard to just rest. So I organized my garage, built some new shelves and a workbench, and pretty much became a carpenter for a week or so. Now this wasn’t a bad thing and, quite frankly they were projects that I had put off doing. What I didn’t realize was that I was using these projects to fill a void that I felt. A void that could only be filled by working. I was having an identity crisis of sorts. After some conversations with my wife and with the Lord. I began to see that I was finding my identity in who I was as a worker and what I did for the church, and now that that was gone I felt empty and a little purposeless. God reminded me that my identity is in him and who He has called me to be.

A second thing I discovered near the end of the sabbatical was that I really undervalued being home. To be honest, I thought that it would be hard to be home for three months, but it wasn’t. What I found was that being a part of the everyday routine with my wife and kids was in fact really restful. To be able to sit there and play games, read books, and run around with my kids was something that my heart really needed. I was able to deepen my relationship with my kids and that never could have happened without me being home. My wife and I were able to spend a lot of intentional time just doing life together. I realized how much of the little things I miss by not being home everyday. God revealed to me what is most important and I understand that more today than I ever have.

One of the first things I learned as a kid was to always say thank you. But when you’re little, thank you’s don’t really hold much weight because, let’s face it, you only say it when Mom or Dad tell you to say it. As we get older we start to understand the value of saying thank you is more than just about being polite, it is about showing appreciation to those who served you in some capacity. And I am so thankful. So, from the bottom of my heart,

THANK YOU!

Thank you for serving me and my family by allowing us these past three months to rest. It has been an amazing time for us and I can’t even begin to tell you how thankful we are. So, thank you to everybody who stepped up while I was away. Thank you to the staff and church body for allowing my family this time. Thank you to those of you who gave to us financially to help this summer be memorable for me and Jessica. We are beyond thankful for these past few months, so thank you for allowing us to rest not only physically but in Christ. If I had one encouragement to offer it would be to find time to really rest. Make time to spend some intentional quality time with your family and to find joy by resting in the perfect work of Jesus.

Star wars toys, Disc golf and becoming a cheerful giver…

Is it really more blessed to give than to receive?

In Acts 20:35 Paul says remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”

It’s interesting because it is not recorded in the bible of Jesus saying this. I love this though. I can picture the disciples sitting around a table talking about their time with Jesus and 1 of them mentioning mid conversation, “remember what Jesus said about giving, He said it was more blessed to give than to receive”. Paul obviously took note of this as you can see if you read Acts 20.

I love getting gifts. I guess it is one of my love languages. Still to this day get me a toy for Christmas and it makes my day! Even better if it is a nerf gun or star wars toy! Most of my life I haven’t lived Acts 20, because functionally I have enjoyed getting way more than giving. This makes it pretty difficult to be what God calls us to be in 2 cor. 9:7, a cheerful giver. Cheerful giver. So I not only need to give but be cheerful about it! How can this happen?

Two things have happened in my life that has given me better perspective on giving. 1. I developed hobbies that needed to be funded. I try not to have expensive hobbies, which is why I developed a love for Disc golf. Disc golf is kind of like regular golf (ball golf to us disc golfers) only there are no clubs and instead of golf balls we use Discs. Frisbees…don’t call them Frisbees and for heaven’s sake don’t refer to it as Frisbee golf!! There are many types of discs. Discs to putt with, discs to throw when you need it to fly left or right, discs that go far, discs that go mid range, and so on. As I learned how to play and began to love it more I began to buy better disc and spend a little more on them. And the thing was I spent money on it willingly and cheerfully because I loved what it was going toward.

The other thing that happened to me in life is I was blessed with 2 daughters. I love my daughters. As I am typing this blog I am anxious to see how Brooklynn and Kaelyn’s first day of 1st grade and 3rd grade is going. I can’t wait to see them this afternoon. I am thinking of things I can buy them to celebrate another “first day of school”. I love them and it results in loving giving them gifts. I love to see their face when we give them gifts. I give to them cheerfully because I love them.

God says he LOVES a CHEERFUL giver. As we grow fonder of God and trust Him and Love Him more we will want to love what He loves. He loves a cheerful giver. The type of giver that gives out of the knowledge that is all God’s anyways, so here have it back. We can trust that he is a cheerful giver. He is a perfect father and even imperfect fathers want to provide for their children. If you are like me there a many times we need to repent of how we view our “stuff”. I desire to hold on to it, hoard it, and spend it on myself instead of being a cheerful giver. Cheerfully giving to the Lord, to others in need, instead of holding on or even giving with a bad attitude. He says to not give begrudgingly. My prayer for you and I is that our affections for the Lord would increase and we would give cheerfully experiencing that it is more blessed to give than to receive.

I would like to share a few thoughts about giving by looking at a couple of my favorite verses from Philippians 4. The HOLY SPIRIT through Paul says in verse 13, “I can do all things through HIM who strengthens me.” Then in verse 19 we find these words, “And my GOD will supply all your needs according to HIS riches in glory in CHRIST JESUS.” Paul states that in JESUS all things are possible and in HIM all of our needs are met. What great comfort knowing that when I rest in HIM and in the cross that I will find satisfaction and contentment.

It is instructive to look at the verses between the two that are quoted above. Paul commends the Philippians for their gifts to him. In fact he notes that there was no other church that gave as they had given and on more than one occasion. Isn’t it curious that JESUS is the source of our strength and the ONE who meets our every need? But Paul recognizes that JESUS often uses others to provide the strength we need and to satisfy our very practical needs. Paul goes on to say that he is well supplied by their gift and that the gift was a pleasing aroma, an acceptable sacrifice to GOD. He also notes that he was not seeking the gift himself, but rather he was looking to the growth in faith that would come to the Philippians because of their generosity.

Interesting reading, but so what? What does giving from the heart really mean to me here in O’Fallon, MO two millennia after these words were written to people living in ancient Turkey? JESUS is at the heart of everything and obviously that includes money. As we yield to HIM and make HIM the king of our lives, we can accomplish tasks beyond our abilities and in excess of resources that are at our disposal. HE is not only able but also actively involved in meeting every need of our lives as we rest in HIM whole-heartedly.

When we yield to and rest in HIM, then our giving is impacted in gospel-centered ways. We will look for opportunities to help others in need and creatively find ways to give that bring glory to HIM rather than us. We learn to give sacrificially to meet the needs of our church because it is in the local church that GOD has placed us and is asking us to serve. The goal of our generous and sacrificial giving should always be to bring glory to GOD. This type of giving can only happen when HE changes our hearts and rules our lives.

Isn’t it annoying all the advice that’s out there in regards to your money? I frequently see ads about how quickly you can pay off your mortgage, or how to retire early, or which stocks to purchase to get rich quick. I always write them all off as scams.

When it comes to our finances, most of us are skeptical of free advice or get rich quick schemes. Are you also skeptical when it comes to the advice and direction that scripture gives in regards to finances?

Let me encourage you, that if there is any place to look for direction and instruction regarding money it should be the Bible. Why should we trust scripture in regards to our finances?

1. The Bible has a healthy view of money.
It’s doesn’t teach that money is bad and it doesn’t teach that money is everything (1 Timothy 6:6-10). The Bible has a very healthy perspective about how we should use money but not be consumed by it.

2. The Bible offers principles and promises about giving.
When people make promises that you will be rich if you give, you should be skeptical. The Bible doesn’t do that. Rather it offers principles that are helpful in regards to how you should use and view money.

3. The Bible is more interested in your heart than your wallet.
Matthew 6:21 declares, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” I love this verse because scripture teaches us to focus on our hearts. The way to have the right perspective on money and giving is much more about our hearts than it is about what we do.

This week, let’s ask God to help us trust His word more in regards to our finances.

X