Tag Archives: service
A Ministry Update!
Friends: I am so thankful that the Lord is giving me opportunities to serve Him in my dotage (I’ll be 71 on Groundhog’s Day!). Here are a few areas that you could pray for!
Teaching ministry with my Ethiopian brothers and sisters: Linda and I were to go to Addis Ababa last August to work with some national pastors, but the trip was cancelled due to Covid. Since then I have taught a couple of courses to this group of pastors via Zoom. Presently we are in a short course on the Holy Spirit. Please pray for their encouragement as we study together.
Editing work for Christian Focus Publishers in Scotland: One of my few talents is uncovering dangling participles, comma splices,and basketfulls of sentence fragments! Please pray for my work on one manuscript right now entitled “Behold! An Invitation to Glory!” by Justin Huffman.
I continue to have great joy in teaching first year Greek to my friends Paul and Stephen in New Jersey through Zoom. They are to be commended for their diligent work in this tough language. Please pray for them — and for me! Just a reminder, I’m open to starting a new online Greek class for any who have an interest. Here’s the link you need.
The Lord has given me opportunities to produce message videos for several churches. I’ve done a series such as “Unlike Jesus: Let’s Stop Unfriending the World!”, “The Spiritually Healthy Family (A Study of the Epistle of Titus)”, and “Developing a Biblical Relationship with God the Holy Spirit.” If your church wants to use any of these, I’m available to meet with your church via Zoom. Please pray for my ongoing work on such messages.
I’m always writing stuff and I’m still committed to several of my own projects. I think my next book will be on the topic Developing a Biblical Relationship with God the Holy Spirit. I’m also working on a study of Philippians entitled Finding Deep Joy in a Sad, Shallow World. And I’m seriously considering a series with the title A Five Minute Theology: Devotions in the Basics of Belief. I would appreciate your prayers for focus and commitment to these projects. (Man, that’s an irritating graphic, isn’t it?).
That’s it. Please pray for me. And for the Lord to bless the work of my hands in my senior years! Thanks!
Keys to Not Losing Heart (A Study of 2 Corinthians 4)
Friends: If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know that my friend Frank (in New Jersey) and I have been doing an email Bible study for over a year. We read the same chapter every day for a week — and then send a brief email of encouragement to each other. We’ve completed most of the epistles of the New Testament — and it’s been a great discipline for both of us.
We’re now working our way through 2 Corinthians. Here’s my outline for several verses in chapter four. (I needed to include the entire chapter below):Keys to Not Losing Heart (2 Cor. 4)
1. Follow God-Honoring Ways in Your Ministry (v. 2)
2. Set Forth the Truth — and Yourself — Plainly (v. 2)
3. Recognize That the Minds of Unbelievers Are Blinded (vv. 3-4)
4. Don’t Preach Yourself, But Christ! (vv. 5-6)
5. Don’t Minimize Your Own Suffering for the Savior (vv. 7-12)
6. Do Your Work Out of Faith in the Lord Jesus (vv. 13-15)
7. Be Motivated by the Biblical Certainty of Eternity (vv. 16-18)
Finding Deep Joy in a Sad, Shallow World (A Study of Philippians) Part 9 JOY and Sacrifice!
The sixth use of the word JOY is here in Philippians 2 where we read —
14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me. (ch. 2)
What makes you GLAD (a form of the word JOY)? I can’t help it, but when I think of the word GLAD I think of . . . garbage bags. Yes. That’s Madison Avenue advertising at its best! We use such bags for garbage, for getting rid of trash.
However, Paul doesn’t say that his life is being thrown away, but it is being “poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith.” Although Paul will use the imagery of garbage in 3:7-8, here he is referring to the Old Testament issue of sacrifices. The following article from GotQuestions.org is helpful —
Question: “What is a drink offering?”
Answer: The first recorded occurrence of a drink offering was that given by Jacob in Genesis 35:14, right after God changed his name to Israel. Drink offerings were also included with burnt and grain offerings in God-ordained sacrifices, including the morning and evening sacrifices of Exodus 29:40. One-quarter hin, about one quart, of wine was poured out into the altar fire for each lamb sacrificed (Numbers 15:4-5). A ram sacrifice required one third of a hin (Numbers 15:6), and a bull required one half (Numbers 15:10).
It has been speculated that the offering of an animal, grain, oil, and wine—the smoke making a “soothing aroma to the LORD”—is a metaphor for providing food for God, an important cultural requirement in the Middle East. What we do know is that the pouring out of a drink offering is a metaphor for the blood Jesus spilled on the cross. Jesus spoke to this directly in Luke 22:20 when He instituted the New Covenant. He picked up a cup of wine and said, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.” Jesus’ sacrifice fulfilled the need of a drink offering, His blood literally pouring out when the soldier pierced His side with a spear (John 19:34).
Paul took the metaphor further, twice using the image of a drink offering to describe his own service. In Philippians 2:17, he challenged the church in Philippi to live a life worthy of his dedication to them. In 2 Timothy 4:6, he sensed the end of his ministry, again comparing his efforts to wine poured out of a vessel onto an altar. (https://www.gotquestions.org/drink-offering.html).
Paul does not resent his life being poured out. He rejoices that it is all worth it! Do you and I see our lives as drink offerings being poured out for the service of our King?
Some Thoughts on the Book “What’s the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian?” (Post #19): Chapter 18- “Jesus’ Legacy”
We move now to Chapter 18 of Martin Thielen’s book What’s the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian? Entitled “Jesus’ Legacy” this chapter’s subtitle is “Is the Church Still Relevant?”
This is a strong chapter on the importance of the church. Jesus promised He would build His church — and we get to be part of that building project!
Thielen tells several stories of churches he has served. As a place of joy and tears, enthusiasm and disappointment, growth and service, the local church offers many opportunities to get involved in each other’s lives.
MY RESPONSE: I have no real criticism of this chapter on the church. I do wish that Thielen would speak more clearly of conversion as he gives the stories of those who grew up in the church.
After listing the many events of one weekend, the celebrations and even a funeral, Thielen asks the question, “How do people live without a community of faith?” Great question.
May the Lord encourage each of us to be fully-committed members of a local church, to pray for and support its leaders, and to use our God-given gifts to build up that body for His glory!
Some Thoughts on the Book “What’s the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian?” (Post #16): Chapter 15- “Jesus’ Example”
We are in chapter 15 of Martin Thielen’s book What’s the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian? this morning. The question he is seeking to answer is What Brings Fulfillment?
Thielen gives several examples of those who learned that true contentment comes from serving others. He talks about the founder of Habitat for Humanity who made millions but was unhappy until he began to care for others, especially those needing low-income housing.
Jesus’ example of washing His disciples’ feet shows us that serving others is a key ingredient of a rewarding life.
MY RESPONSE: Boy, do I disagree with Thielen in this chapter! Wow! Serving others? Is he kidding? Actually there is nothing in this chapter that raises my theological hackles [I don’t even know what “hackles” are or what causes them to “rise”].
Of course we should be servants like the Lord Jesus. So . . . look for someone to serve today! [I’ll do the same and try to give a brief report in our next post on Thielen’s book].
The Last Six Months — A Ministry Summary!
Some of you kind readers have prayed for me over the last few months and have followed my adventures in serving the Lord! I am deeply grateful for your support and thought I would take today’s post to reflect back on some of the Lord’s kindness in using me in various ways.
After my fourteen months of serving as the preaching pastor of Crossroads Fellowship Church in Georgia, the Lord began sending me on trips! I like to travel, but these trips were each God-appointed opportunities to serve Him. In April I went over to Palestine and Israel and visited several refugee camps (as well as saw several of the holy sites). Being detained by Israeli security was an experience, but I’m grateful for God’s expanding my thinking that I can be pro-Israel without being anti-Arab!
I returned from Palestine to do ministry at Cedarcroft Bible Chapel in New Jersey and continue to enjoy an ongoing relationship with the leaders of that church. They invite me up every few months to preach and to consult with the elders. I also get to spend the time with my 92-year-old mother-in-law and catch up on episodes of “Little House on the Prairie.”
In May I got to participate in Emmaus Bible College’s “Iron Sharpens Iron” conference and presented workshops on “Courageous Preaching: The Spirit of God and Today’s Preacher”, “Five Certainties in the Light of Tragic Events”, and “Unlike Jesus: The Lost Art of Being a Friend of Sinners.” It’s always a joy to be with my EBC friends and to participate in that leadership-training time.
In June I spent a week teaching the book of Galatians to the students at Word of Life Bible Institute on Jeju Island, South Korea. That was an amazing experience and I was glad I could be a part of that important ministry.
A mountain vacation in July (thanks to our friend Karen Gay) provided some needed rest before my speaking at Dayspring Bible Camp in St. Louis and my three-week teaching trip to Myanmar in August. I have become an advocate for the needs of South East Asia Bible College in Myanmar and would be pleased to answer any questions you dear readers might have about supporting that good work!
After Myanmar, I got to spend a couple of days ministering to the supporters of Camp Elim in Colorado! I am now back in New Jersey finishing up two Sundays of preaching and collaborating with the elders at Cedarcroft. They are having me back three times in 2019 and I’m looking forward to leading a half-day Saturday seminar each weekend I am there.
Whew. I’m so grateful for the Lord keeping me busy. I’ve also been able to design or redesign two Emmaus theology courses for their online ministry, as well as teach both of them.
We are also thoroughly enjoying spending some time with our seven grandchildren! Please continue to pray for me for the next chapter in whatever opportunities the Lord gives me. I’m looking forward to Linda retiring (hopefully soon!) and going on these ministry trips with me.
“Servants of the Servant” — A Sermon in Preparation — Part 4 (Conclusion)
The normal Christian life involves knowing and using my spiritual gifts to build up the Body of Christ. And — watching a lot of episodes of “Little House on the Prairie”! Just kidding about that last one. Although I will be staying with my 92-year-old mother-in-law as I preach for two Sundays at Cedarcroft Bible Chapel in New Jersey (their website is here).
On September 30th I will be speaking on our responsibility to the poor (the message is entitled “The Poor You Have with You Always”). On October 7th, the message will be “Servants of the Servant” and will focus on the four primary passages about the Christian’s spiritual gifts (Romans 12, I Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, and I Peter 4).
We’ve looked at the first three texts — Let’s look at I Peter 4 this morning and draw some final conclusions to this brief series of posts. Here’s our text:
“Servants of the Servant” — A Sermon in Preparation — Part 3
I’m looking forward to catching up on the episodes of “Little House on the Prairie”! What? Yes, I get to stay with my mother-in-law Mary (who’s 92) — and that’s what she watches. During that time I will be preaching at Cedarcroft Bible Chapel (their website is here) in New Jersey Sunday, October 7th,on the issue of our using our spiritual gifts to serve in the local church. And I’m entitling this message “Servants of the Servant.”
Becoming servants of the Servant, the Lord Jesus, involves knowing and using our spiritual gifts to build up the Body of Christ.Our four passages on spiritual gifts (Romans 12, I Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, and I Peter 4) all emphasize the point that every believer has a gift or gifts and must use them to serve the Lord!
We’ve looked briefly at Romans 12 and I Corinthians 12. Let’s examine Ephesians 4 this morning and draw some tentative conclusions:
“Servants of the Servant” — A Sermon in Preparation — Part 2
I will be preaching at Cedarcroft Bible Chapel (their website is here) in New Jersey Sunday, October 7th,on the issue of our using our spiritual gifts to serve in the local church. I’m entitling this message “Servants of the Servant.”
My friend and former colleague Dr. Don Howell, Jr., wrote a book with that title (subtitled “A Biblical Theology of Leadership”). I would highly recommend that text as an in-depth look at the model of servant leadership seen through the Word of God.
A major facet of our becoming servants of the Servant, the Lord Jesus, is knowing and using our spiritual gifts to build up the Body of Christ. Four passages (Romans 12, I Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, and I Peter 4) drive home the point that every believer has a gift or gifts and must use them to serve the Lord!
We’ve looked briefly at Romans 12 and the principles there about our service in the local church. Let’s move to our second passage, I Corinthians 12, and see several further guidelines in our ministries. There’s an immediate problem with I Corinthians 12 and it is this: This is a long text! We will reproduce it below and then draw several conclusions from this rich passage:
Servants of the Servant! (con’t):
1. The Holy Spirit is mentioned 12 times in I Corinthians 12. And there is no doubt that He is also referred to as “God” or “Lord” (see verses 4, 6, 18, 24, and 28). My relationship to God the Holy Spirit is vital — and it is HE who gifts me so I can serve others!
2. God delights in variety among the people of God. But such variety can bring division or pride or unbiblical shame or a sense of not being needed (vv. 15-26).
3. We should not see ourselves as but tiny cogs in a great machine, but as vital parts in the movement of God Himself! (to be continued)