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Archive for the tag “Church”

The Work Of the Ministry Is For Us All

This is meant to be a plea not a rant…

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,

Ephesians 4:11‭-‬12 ESV

I don’t know how many times I’ve read these verses, & yet, I’ve never really paid attention to WHY the Lord gave the apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, & teachers. Maybe I’ve noticed in the past that the point is to equip the saints, but it’s the next phrase that stands out to me right now: “for the work of the ministry”. Do you recognize what that means? The work of the ministry is not just for your pastor or elders or deacons. It’s not just for the teachers in your church. It is for you! And for every other Christian.

And what is the work of the ministry that you are called to? To use your gifts & talents “for building up the body of Christ.”

And for how long are we to do this? Verse 13 says,

“until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”

Even if you think you’ve somehow achieved “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,” (hint: you haven’t) you are still called to the work of the ministry until all have attained that. We have work to do, brothers & sisters!

Let me ask a question here that may rankle you a bit: how are you possibly going to be equipped to do that work if you’re not consistently plugged into a local body of believers (i.e.-a local church) where the shepherds & teachers can equip you? Consistently is one of the key words here. If you don’t feel connected, don’t think that it means the people there don’t care about you. Maybe you don’t feel connected because you’re not there consistently enough for people to be able to connect with you. Or maybe you’re there consistently, but come in late & leave as soon as the service ends so others don’t have the time to get to know & connect with you. Or maybe you’re there but you don’t take part in any of the ministry opportunities that are available. Or maybe you don’t go to any of the events that are designed to try to help people connect (or when you do, you come in time for the food & leave as soon as you finish eating).

Events; ministry opportunities; time before, after, & between services are the times where relationships are built, & where we have those opportunities to see how people need encouraged & built up. Life is difficult sometimes, & work and family obligations take up the majority of our time during the week which makes it hard to connect with people. Why should it be so hard for us to take one day each week to corporately feed on God’s Word & worship together while also taking time to build one another up & find ways to partner in the gospel with one another?

What we might discover is that our priorities are out of order, not just on Sundays, but throughout the week, too. May God work in our hearts to conform us into Christ’s image, & may we heed God’s Word & work to build one another up in & through our local churches.

Labor In the Little Things or Go Big For God

The other day, my friend & I were discussing (among other things) what the local church should be like & how it should exude the Gospel in all aspects of ministry both corporately & individually. He made a statement during our discussion to the effect of him tending to think big about this things with the implication (in my mind, anyway) that this could be, at least partially, a negative thing.

So on Wednesday evening I tweeted the following quote from DL Moody:

A good many are kept out of the service of Christ, deprived of the luxury of working for God because they are trying to do some great thing. Let us be willing to do little things. And let us remember that nothing is small in which God is the source.

Now, I must confess, I was thinking of my friend when I tweeted this, but when I came across this quote, I really liked it & would have probably tweeted it anyway.

Well, the next day my friend tweeted this quote from JD Greear (which I think he had mentioned to me during our conversation but I had forgotten):

The gospel fills us with audacious faith, making us expect great things of God and then attempt great things for God.

After reading that, I thought, “Wow! That’s a great quote; maybe Moody has it wrong.” But the more I consider these two ideas, the more I’m beginning to think they’re not mutually exclusive, and I wonder if they can’t be reconciled this way:

Be faithful in the little things, but expect God to do great things.

Or maybe:

Don’t attempt great things for God unless you are willing to do the little things.

I’m not sure that either of my ideas are correct, but I’m relatively convinced that both Moody & Greear are correct.

What do you think? I’d love to hear others’ ideas.

What are we missing in many of our churches today?

Just some things that have been going through my mind today/recently:

I wonder if we’re missing something in the church today. It’s easy for us to say that the church is the people not the building, but I think it’s hard for most of us to really live that out. We have so identified ourselves with the place in which & the people with whom we worship that it’s hard to remember that we are parts of a body. And that body is to be active. In Ephesians, Paul tells us that certain people (apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds & teachers) are given to the church to “equip the saints for the work of the ministry”(Ephesians 4:11-12). So what is this “work of the ministry”? Well, it seems that it is doing service since the word translated “ministry” in the ESV is the Greek word diakonia, & to be sure some other translations do use the word service here. What does this term diakonia imply? Well, preceptaustin.org has it defined as

the rendering of assistance or help by performing certain duties, often of a humble or menial nature, including such  mundane activities as waiting on tables or caring for household needs—activities that in men’s eyes (but not God’s!) are without apparent dignity.

In other words, we who are Christians need to be serving others. And I think God’s Word is pretty clear on this (see the parable of the good Samaritan, John 13:34-35, Galatians 5:13-14, 1 Peter 4:10), but we seem to ignore this a lot in the church (& I am chief among you!).

We think that if we go to church, sing songs, pray, be nice to the other people there, etc., we are fine; there’s nothing else to it. But doing those things does not demonstrate that we belong to Christ (i.e.-claiming the name Christian).

How do we demonstrate that we are Christ’s?

By loving one another as Christ has loved us (John 13:34-35).

And how has Christ loved us?

When we were still His enemies, He died for us! (Romans 5:8) That, my friends, is the ultimate act of service! He died (& was raised) so that we might have life (Mark 10:45)!

Jesus’ entire life was an act of humble service (Hebrews 2:9); He gave up all the glory & honor that He had in heaven with the Father, to be “made lower than the angels” in service to us.

He even demonstrated service to others through His actions, most notably at supper with His disciples when he performed the most menial of acts of his day (John 13:1-17). During this demonstration of service Jesus said,

If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. (John 13:14-15 ESV)”

Don’t be deceived into thinking this is a call to literally wash one another’s feet, but rather, it is a call to humbly serve one another (see Jamison, Fausset, & Brown and I’m sure other commentaries).

So let each of us be active members of Christ’s body, serving one another & serving others so that “[b]y this all people will know that [we] are [Jesus’] disciples” (John 13:35).

Division & Unity in the Church, Miserable Comforters, Self-Esteem, Jesus in Hell?, & SOPA

Satan’s Great Desire | Challies Dot Com. Some wise words here from Tim Challies. “Here is what we need to see: God wants me and commands me to love the other people in my church; Satan wants me to hate them. God wants me to feel a great deal of unity with those people; Satan wants there to be an issue between us—something, anything, to drive us apart.”

How to Build Unity in Your Church | Challies Dot Com. A follow up to the post above with more wise counsel. “You need to plant yourself in a local church. Why? Because you need the gifts of the Christians there and they need your gifts.”

How to Be a Miserable Comforter | Counseling One Another. Good advice given in the negative.

In schools, self-esteem boosting is losing favor to rigor, finer-tuned praise – The Washington Post. I think most of us realized a long time ago that praising kids for everything & trying to “build self-esteem” doesn’t really work.

He Descended into… Hell? | Blogging Theologically | Jesus, Books, Culture, & Theology. Very helpful explanation of a very confusing (@ least to me) part of the Apostle’s Creed.

SOPA and John Adam’s America | sojourns with Jesus. “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

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