Showing posts with label Service. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Service. Show all posts

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Vision, Inspiration and Leadership

“Moses said, ‘Please show me your glory.’ ”

What makes a person give up everything in order to follow Christ?

What motivates a lifetime of obedience and service?

What makes men into real men, spiritual men, dedicated men, godly men, and what makes women into women of substance?

Well, let’s see what the Bible says about that.

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Harking the Herald Angels

“So this is Christmas,” sang John Lennon, “and what have you done?”

That Lennon — never one to get a point.

Whatever Christmas means, you can trust me: it’s not about what you’ve done. When you get stock-taking at the end of the year, you can easily get more than a little depressed. How has the year worked out? Did you achieve all the goals you set for yourself? Did you always live up to the mark, always do your best, and always win what you hoped? How’s it all been going?

Merry, merry Christmas indeed!

Friday, April 28, 2023

Too Hot to Handle: Billy Graham Regrets …

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

Evangelist Billy Graham, in a 1977 interview with Christianity Today:

“One of my great regrets is that I have not studied enough. I wish I had studied more and preached less. People have pressured me into speaking to groups when I should have been studying and preparing. Donald Barnhouse said that if he knew the Lord was coming in three years he would spend two of them studying and one preaching. I’m trying to make it up.”

Tom: Does that quote surprise you at all, IC?

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

A Better Second Fiddle

Back in 1939, theorist Kurt Goldstein coined the term “self-actualization” to describe the motive to realize what he called “one’s full potential”.

In Goldstein’s view this drive might take the form of creative expression, pursuit of knowledge or the desire to contribute to society in some personally-defined way. Goldstein believed self-actualization was any organism’s “master motive” and its most basic drive in life. Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory built on Goldstein’s concept and is probably the most familiar expression of it.

Among others in Christian circles, Rachel Held Evans seems to have bought into Goldstein’s theories.

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Getting Off the Hamster Wheel

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things …”

The COVID church life interregnum served at least one profitable purpose: it stopped all our programs and activities dead in their tracks, and forced anyone with critical faculties to give at least a cursory examination to their validity and usefulness.

That was a long overdue exercise. But when governments finally pushed the “continue” button and allowed us to unlock the doors of our buildings, many Christians couldn’t wait to climb back on the hamster wheel and begin spinning again.

Some of the more reflective folks did not. I do not believe they are necessarily being carnal.

Sunday, September 04, 2022

Ambition and Acclaim

“Learn to grapple with souls. Aim at the conscience. Exalt Christ. Use a sharp knife with yourself. Say little, serve all, pass on.

This is true greatness, to serve unnoticed and work unseen.

Oh, the joy of having nothing and being nothing, seeing but a living Christ in glory, and being careful for nothing but His interests down here.”

— J.N. Darby

As a young believer, I was being asked to go here or there, preach or give counsel to others, and seemed to be on the rise and gaining some sense of purpose from it all. I was encouraged to put a high value on doing “the Lord’s work”. I had yet to learn that, for most believers, this will mean in a kitchen, in a barn, on the factory floor, or behind the desk in a conglomerate. All my activity made me to think I should pursue a path that would make any gift I had received from God of benefit to more people.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021


“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Remember pet rocks? Five million of those useless things were sold in 1975-76. They were marketed to people with a droll sense of humor and no time or energy to devote to a real pet. Like any fad they quickly disappeared, but for a brief period of time the pet rock craze made the people who came up with the idea some serious money.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Falling and Standing

“Son of Adam, stand on your feet, and I will speak with you.”

Ezekiel the priest had fallen on his face at the sight of the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. As a son of fallen Adam, that was where he belonged. That is where we all belong, naturally speaking. Down through history, whenever men glimpsed the glory of the Lord even in smaller ways than the spectacular view afforded Ezekiel, they have tended to keel over.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Serving and Being

“Have you considered my servant Job?”

The jargon believers use with one another often sounds a little unusual to those unfamiliar with it, something of which I was jarringly reminded during a conversation a few weeks back with an unsaved friend. I lapsed momentarily into incomprehensible Churchian and unthinkingly used a euphemism to describe a Bible teacher with whom we are both acquainted.

I called him a “servant of the Lord”.

Servant?” my friend remarked. “What a strange thing to say!”

Thursday, June 03, 2021

The Butler Did It

When John Milton, the famous 17th century poet and eventual author of the epic Paradise Lost realized in mid-life that he was going totally blind, he felt a rising sense of panic. How could a wordsmith be of any value, to God or anyone else, when he had not even the use of his own two eyes?

When the great night finally descended, he was reduced to dependency and darkness. And understandably, he agonized over why the Lord would allow such a thing. He recorded his struggles in a short poem — perhaps his most-quoted piece of work.

“When I consider how my light is spent …” he began. With half a life left to give, what point would there be in him losing the one great talent he had? It would remain, he worried, “lodg’d within me useless”, and yet his “soul [was] more bent to serve therewith [his] Maker”. How could he give an account to the Lord if he could no longer serve, and in fact, could no longer even see?

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Out to the Curb

“Only one life, ’twill soon be past ...”

Garbage day in our city varies from block to block, so there is always something out for pickup. Quite often, along with the refuse of daily living, home owners will set outside for collection a few items that are still in good shape but are simply of no further use to them.

So out to the curb they go. Each abandoned item has its story.

Thursday, July 09, 2020

Vision, Inspiration and Leadership

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

The Day of Big Things

A handful of times throughout our earth’s history God has made major public statements. Big things.

The Bible records a number of these great and unambiguous events: the Flood; the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah; and Israel’s delivery from Egypt, passage through the Red Sea and miraculous conquest of Canaan. Even when Israel and Judah went into their various captivities, God still made appearances to miraculously shut the mouths of lions, walk around in fiery furnaces and write on the walls of pagan kings.

Then came the first century miracles of Jesus, and later his apostles. Big things.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

To One and All, A Mary Christmas

“… the power of the Most High will overshadow you.”

“So this is Christmas, and what have you done?”

So sing the children in John Lennon’s wretched ditty. I really don’t know why he bothered himself about Christmas when he also wanted to “imagine there’s no heaven”. But each to his own. I’m sure he’s thought better of that since.

At Christmas time, I can’t imagine a more dismal question. Another year over, Lennon accuses, and you haven’t done anything. The poor are still starving, the world is still at war. When are you going to get off your haunches and be worth something?

Ah, there’s nothing like Christmas pudding and the sounds of self-flagellation to improve the seasonal mood.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Drawn Away

“But refuse to enroll younger widows, for when their passions draw them away from Christ, they desire to marry and so incur condemnation for having abandoned their former faith.”

It’s not just young widows who need to worry about being drawn away from Christ by worldly passions, and it’s not just women more generally. The symptoms and objects of earthly desire vary from person to person, but the unshakable conviction that the grass on the other side of the fence is somehow greener than the grass on my side is a lie of the devil we must all contend with.

Here, the specific passion in view is not anything evil. In and of itself, the impulse to marry is not abnormal or unhealthy. Everybody wants to know and be known, to feel secure, to have someone to care for and to care for them.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Butler Did It

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

On the Mount (32)

The world is brim-full of good causes. There’s no end of things with which a genuine altruist may busy himself in seeking to do good to his fellow man.

In the Christian life, few truly “good” works involve status or recognition, but those which do almost always attract the worst elements. Simon the magician was so entranced at the prospect of being able to confer the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands that he begged the apostles, “Give me this power also.” Likewise, the seven sons of the Jewish high priest Sceva got excited about driving out evil spirits.

You may remember both stories ended badly for the would-be doers of good.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Too Hot to Handle: Billy Graham Regrets …

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

The Commentariat Speaks (12)

Gary McBride, a northern Ontario Bible teacher and author, posts a thought on the subject of corporate testimony:

“… in 1 Peter 2 we are a ‘royal priesthood’ bearing witness. Priesthood is a collective noun and is only demonstrated when believers gather.”

Having enjoyed Gary’s useful commentary on 1 Thessalonians, I know he chooses his words carefully, so I will try to do likewise.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Third Row from the Back

You’ve all met Joe, right?

Joe’s been coming to your church forever. He and his wife sit at the end of the third row from the back, a holdover from when their kids were small and he or Cheryl might have had occasion to escort one or the other out discreetly mid-service.

It’s fifteen years later now; the boy is off to college and the daughter is about to be. And Joe and Cheryl still sit in the third row from the back.

More importantly, to all appearances fifteen years have changed nothing substantial in Joe’s relationship with the Lord, and definitely nothing about how he relates to the Lord’s people.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Opportunity and Desire

One of Chuck Snyder’s readers shares a not-so-unusual problem:

“I believe the Spirit of God is upon me to teach the Word of God with love, accuracy, patience and discernment to a lost and hurting world and to all who hunger for the truth. Several years of schooling and formal study took place in order to prepare and to show myself approved. Now, in my home church, I am given every job and project under the sun to be responsible for, except ‘teaching the Word of God.’ ”

I hear this sort of thing all the time: “My church doesn’t let me use my spiritual gift.”

Monday, January 29, 2018

A Bright Thought for a Brisk Winter Morning

Life is affliction.

Too dark an opener? Maybe. But it’s true.

It’s too short for one thing, gone before we fully appreciate it. “Dust”, says Moses. Like a dream. We wither like grass. We are swept away like a flood. Seventy years on average. Eighty maybe, if we’re unusually robust. Almost nothing. At some point after we enter this world, we discover that death is a universal reality. From that moment on, the spectre of our own imminent demise and that of all those we love hovers over, informs, taints and affects every moment of our lives. Affliction.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Harking the Herald Angels

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Did or Didn’t

Who are you, and what’s your job in the Body of Christ? Do you know?

When you and I confessed faith in Jesus Christ from the heart, God saved us, and the Bible says he saved us with certain objectives in view. Those objectives were both general and specific. Unless we were saved in the last six months, I think we should probably know something about that.

Hey, if you don’t have a clue, it might be time to give the subject some thought.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Vision, Inspiration and Leadership

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Monday, December 26, 2016

It May Be the Armor

“Then David said to Saul, ‘I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them.’ So David put them off.”

There was nothing wrong with Saul’s helmet and coat of mail; they worked just fine for Saul.

There was nothing wrong with Saul’s intentions; at the time he thought well of David. He had no desire to sabotage David’s efforts and every reason to hope he might succeed against Goliath.

And there was definitely nothing wrong with David; Saul’s armor just didn’t suit him.

Sometimes other people’s methods don’t work for us.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Too Far Gone

Does your church need an ... er ... equalizer?
“You have gone too far! For all in the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?”
— Korah’s Rebellion, Numbers 16

Christian women are priests just as Christian men are priests; therefore Christian women should be able to do everything in the churches that Christian men have traditionally done.

So goes the modern argument, and it’s dead wrong.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Priests and Priesthood

If all believers are really priests, why is it that some churches still don’t allow women to exercise the priestly role of teaching the Bible publicly?

Martin Luther famously referred to a general priesthood in his 1520 tract To the Christian Nobility of the German NationLuther did not actually coin the phrase “priesthood of all believers”, and the idea itself obviously did not originate with Luther but rather with the writers of the New Testament. Still, the fact remains that the doctrine we know by that name has been a significant feature of Protestantism for almost 500 years.

This being the case, you’d figure any questions about the status of women in a universal priesthood must have been asked and answered hundreds of times.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Distance

Do you ever feel completely inadequate to the task of being a Christian?

The space between God and man is quite a distance to bridge, isn’t it.

I’m not talking about the distance between hell and heaven, or the moral distance between, say, Hitler and Jesus Christ. That’s obvious enough to not require a labored explanation. I’m not even thinking of the need to get saved or the importance of becoming reconciled to God and escaping the judgement we are all due.

No, I’m speaking here, not as a member of a fallen race, but as one who already knows and loves God and is seeking, however incompetently, to stagger along in the footsteps of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The distance between — the difference between — me and him … good grief!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

A Better Second Fiddle

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Friday, December 25, 2015

To One and All, A Mary Christmas

The latest version of this post is available here.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Work Yourself Out of a Job

Come again? That’s a perplexing statement.

The regions to which Paul refers are, after all, pretty large. He says he has preached to Gentiles “from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum”. At its widest, Illyricum included all the territory west of Macedonia and east of Italy extending south as far as Epirus and north through the Balkans almost to the Danube (see map).

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Whose I Am and Whom I Serve

How do you characterize your relationship with God?

When people ask you, what do you say? How do you describe it?

Anybody can make a list, even a long list, and many have done so. But if you were addressing unbelievers and had to distill the relationship down to one or two very primary, fundamental elements, which aspects would you choose?

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Fixed Mindset and the “Praise Bell”

You’ve got to know that when you come across an article entitled “Why Do Women Fail?” in a forum that specifically exists to promote women, somebody is likely to be unhappy with whatever conclusions may be drawn.

Unless the answer is “men”, I suspect.

The fact that the piece is credited to two credentialed women (one a Stanford University professor of psychology, the other the co-founder of the Girl’s Leadership Institute) and flagged with an uncharacteristic editorial disclaimer declaring, “The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the authors” just serves to make it more interesting.

I’m hooked.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Service and Administration

Yours truly engages in administrating — not.
Thank heaven we work for someone smarter than we are.

If I wanted to cite a cautionary tale in that regard, I’d look no further than the corporation that employs me (which will remain nameless, since I am grateful for a weekly paycheque). For the last decade or so — not trying to be unkind, but merely truthful — the company has been afflicted with near-systemic administrative incompetence. Even a worker bee can see that dwindling market share, increasing debt load, layoffs by the thousands and an inability to attract investors are not positive indicators.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Believers That Sin & A God In Whom Is No Darkness At All

A more current version of this post is available here.