Faith & Reason ... a mystery

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Serving in a spirit of restoration!

Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Galatians 5:26

True servants concentrate on their God-given assignment - not what somebody else is doing! Competition between God's servants is illogical: we're all on the same team. Our goal is to make God look good, not ourselves. Listen: "We will not compare ourselves...as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do...Each of us is an original" (Gal 5:26 TM).

Grow up! Get over your petty jealousy! When you're busy serving you don't have time to be critical. When Martha criticized Mary, she lost her servant's heart. True servants don't complain of unfairness, don't have pity-parties and don't resent those not serving in the same way. They just trust God and keep serving. It's not your job to evaluate others. Listen: "Who are you to criticize...The Lord will determine whether his servant has been successful" (Ro 14:4 GWT). God determines who's successful, not you!

Nor is it your job to defend yourself against criticism. Let God handle it! Nehemiah's response to his critics is a classic: "My work is too important to stop now and...visit with you" (Neh 6:3 CEV).
One of the most beautiful acts of love shown to Jesus was criticized by His own disciples. When Mary took the most valuable thing she owned, expensive perfume, and poured it over Jesus, they called it? a waste'. But Jesus called it, "significant" (Mt 26:10 TM). There's only one opinion that matters - His! Your service for Christ is never wasted, regardless of what others say.

Pride is the root of competition. As fellow servants, competition should always take a back position. We make it our goal to please the One we serve by showing compassion and grace to others in service as He has graciously immersed us in the same. Thus, we serve in unity while developing hope in those we attend to.

You know I love ya, Don

Monday, June 24, 2013

Willing to serve...or living a life of soft serve?

"If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles." Matthew 5:41

Service begins in your mind! Listen: "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus who...made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant" (Php 2:5-7 NKJV). Are you into reputation building, or serving others? You can't do both. God is always more interested in your attitude than your achievements. King Amaziah lost God's favor because: "He did what was right in the sight of the Lord, yet not with a true heart" (2Ch 25:2 NRSV). True servants have certain attitudes

True servants focus on others, not themselves! Real humility is not thinking less of yourself - but thinking of yourself less. A lot of what we do is just self-serving. We serve to be admired or to achieve our own goals. Some of what we do is manipulation, not ministry; we're really thinking about ourselves and how noble and wonderful we are. We even use serving as a bargaining tool: "God, I'll do this for You, if You'll do that for me." True servants don't use God for their purposes, they let God use them for His.

Self-forgetfulness is a daily struggle, a lesson we must relearn over and over again. You can measure your servant's heart, by how you respond when others treat you like a servant! How do you react when you feel taken for granted, bossed around or treated as an inferior? Jesus said: "If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life" (Mt 5:41 The Message).

We choose to serve thus we choose to have an attitude that intentionally thinks of others before thinking of our self. It is a question of having a heart that is willing to serve or having an attitude that is always looking for soft serve.

You know I love ya,
Don

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Relationships...the easy and hard part of life!

I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each others' faith. Romans 1:11-12

Paul earnestly desired to visit the church in Rome. There were probably multiple reasons, including: it was his calling/ministry, he wanted to teach them, wanted to see how they were doing, and many more. But, it was also so that he could receive from them. Paul was a man who wrote the majority of New Testament books and he wanted to be encouraged by new Christians in Rome. How awesome!

At times we also need the encouragement of other Christians. He was wanting to spend time with people, to develop relationships with people, and to then be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. These kind of relationships do not happen by attending church services alone, we need to take steps to genuinely get to know one another and discover the faith and spiritual gifts that others have. In this scripture, we can learn from Paul and seek out a group of people to meet with to be encouraged by their faith. As we gain encouragement, we give encouragement. We weren’t called to live the Christian life alone.

How many of us make the effort to be encouraged by meeting new people? Are we encouraged to unify our efforts so as to make an impossible task possible through the work and dedication working, living, and relating to each other? I see no other way to respond to God's great love then to respond by relating to others and allowing others to relate to you!

You know I love ya, Don

P.S. - No, that is not a picture of my boys...although that they are best of friends and it could be....

Monday, June 17, 2013

Make Every Effort...Unity....Bond....Peace

"Make every effort" is a strong statement for the faith and is then followed with the command to "get along." Paul wrote it to the Ephesian church. He wrote: "Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." Every believer should make a quick note that it is not optional, but is a directive to live in harmony within the faith. 
It would have been easier if Paul had wrote that we should make every effort in fellowship meals or in cutting the church grass or in at least meeting every week but that is not the action Paul is calling us too...we are to make every effort in getting along and living love. A friend of mine wrote in her blog:
Do you make every effort to maintain the unity that already exists between Christians? We are extorted to make that our goal.
My sister, who had been a valuable model to me in maintaining excellent personal relationships, said one day, “I refuse to have a row with that girl – life’s too short to fall out with anyone.” We can refuse to have a row if we want to. That is making an effort to keep what we already have – unity. The problem is that if we have unity among ourselves, we sometimes ignore or neglect it. We start to work on it only when a relationship falls apart! But we must get to work before it falls apart. We must endeavor to maintain it. We do that by building an already good relationship into something even better. That takes time and effort.
We have good relationships on our church staff, but they can always be better.  We schedule regular times to eat, to have fun, and to pray together. It’s such a comfort and delight not to have to be a blessing but rather to meet with people on the same spiritual level as ourselves and enjoy a time of maintaining our unity!
I have a friend who often spends time with me – playing tennis, talking, shopping, or just relaxing – and she never fails to say before she leaves, “Let’s pray together.” It’s just a brief glance heavenwards, but what a bond of peace it adds to our relationship!
What practical things are you doing to maintain the unity of the Spirit? I am making it my new goal to put this directive in front of my life. I want to live love and I want others to know that I will diligently seek the unity of the faith through the bond of peace.
You know I love ya, Don

Do you make every effort to maintain the unity that already exists between Christians?  We are extorted to make that our goal.
My sister, who had been a valuable model to me in maintaining excellent personal relationships, said one day, “I refuse to have a row with that girl – life’s too short to fall out with anyone.”  We can refuse to have a row if we want to.  That is making an effort to keep what we already have – unity.   The problem is that if we have unity among ourselves, we sometimes ignore or neglect it.  We start to work on it only when a relationship falls apart!  But we must get to work before it falls apart.  We must endeavor to maintain it.  We do that by building an already good relationship into something even better.  That takes time and effort.
We have good relationships on our church staff, but they can always be better.  We schedule regular times to eat, to have fun, and to pray together.  It’s such a comfort and delight not to have to be a blessing but rather to meet with people on the same spiritual level as ourselves and enjoy a time of maintaining our unity!
I have a friend who often spends time with me – playing tennis, talking, shopping, or just relaxing – and she never fails to say before she leaves, “Let’s pray together.”  It’s just a brief glance heavenwards, but what a bond of peace it adds to our relationship!
What practical things are you doing to maintain the unity of the Spirit?
- See more at: http://justbetweenus.org/pages/page.asp?page_id=113281#sthash.hWHvkNla.dpuf

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Unify...unity....joined....together!

Recently, I have had a many discussion about unity in families, in relationships, and in the church. It brought to mind the text from Ephesians 2:14-17
 For he himself (Jesus) is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

 Jill Brice writes:
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If the middle wall of partition has indeed been broken down by the death of Christ, why then do so many people inside the kingdom still meet a stone wall where true fellowship is concerned? Why does the wall still divide black and white, rich and poor, those with social status and those without? I believe it is because Christians have not been taught that the basis of their unity is belonging.
Unity begins when we get our theology straight. If the wall has been broken down and yet the wall is still there, it is because someone has been busy building it up again! What is a wall? It’s a barrier – something that includes others and excludes you. We sense it, though it be unseen, between people inside the church. We see different factions with religious and personal differences. Yet our unity is in belonging. For through Him we all have access by one Spirit unto the Father. He sees all of us kneeling down at our bedsides at the end of the day!
I must tell Jesus, “The wall will not be built by my hands!” I must not be a builder of walls. I must lay down my trowel and use my hands rather to reach out to my brother and sister in love. I need to keep acting as if the barrier isn’t there; I need to walk through it and speak into years of silence. I must write another letter and extend another dinner invitation. I must do what I can to make sure others know I believe in belonging!
I could not agree with Jill more...we must strive to remove the barriers that hinder relationships. In fact, it is our duty to live for the goal of loving God, loving each other, and loving life. 
You know I love ya, Don
If the middle wall of partition has indeed been broken down by the death of Christ (see Eph. 2:13-14), why then do so many people inside the kingdom still meet a stone wall where true fellowship is concerned?  Why does the wall still divide black and white, rich and poor, those with social status and those without?  I believe it is because Christians have not been taught that the basis of their unity is belonging.
Unity begins when we get our theology straight.  If the wall has been broken down and yet the wall is still there, it is because someone has been busy building it up again!  What is a wall?  It’s a barrier – something that includes others and excludes you.  We sense it, though it be unseen, between people inside the church.  We see different factions with religious and personal differences.  Yet our unity is in belonging.  For through Him we all have access by one Spirit unto the Father.  He sees all of us kneeling down at our bedsides at the end of the day! 
I must tell Jesus, “The wall will not be built by my hands!”  I must not be a builder of walls.  I must lay down my trowel and use my hands rather to reach out to my brother and sister in love.  I need to keep acting as if the barrier isn’t there; I need to walk through it and speak into years of silence.  I must write another letter and extend another dinner invitation.  I must do what I can to make sure others know I believe in belonging!
- See more at: http://justbetweenus.org/pages/page.asp?page_id=105816#sthash.Elfiw8lH.dpuf
And that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.  ~ Ephesians 2:16 - See more at: http://justbetweenus.org/pages/page.asp?page_id=105816#sthash.Elfiw8lH.dpuf
And that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.  ~ Ephesians 2:16 - See more at: http://justbetweenus.org/pages/page.asp?page_id=105816#sthash.Elfiw8lH.dpuf