Archives For Courage to serve

I have two questions for you.

  1. Do you have a safe place?
    A judgement-free zone.  A place where you can feel free to share what’s on your mind without worrying that people will be so scandalized they’ll never talk to you again.
  2. Do you have a stretching place that challenges you?
    A mediocrity-free zone. A place that inspires you and motivates you to be better.

We need both. We need a place where we can be accepted as we are AND a place where we can be challenged to be more than we ever thought we could be. We need a place that can handle the worst in us AND a place that brings out the best in us.

We call it “a safe place” or “a stretching place”, but really the “place” is secondary to the relationships that happen there. The people are what makes the place scary or safe–discouraging or encouraging.

BigStockPhoto.com 65273749 Leungchopan

BigStockPhoto.com 65273749 Leungchopan

A Great Example

As Christ-followers, we have the greatest example of this concept.  God saved us by grace while we were still in sin and had nothing to offer him.  He knew who we were and that we were incapable of pleasing him in our own strength.  But he choose to love, save and even adopt us into his family.  We were accepted and adopted as we were.  THEN, God sets out to help build us into a new creation to display his glory to the world.  Consider these three examples. Continue Reading…

If you’ve ever worked or volunteered much at a church, you know there are many aspects of ministry to balance.  It can be overwhelming and balls can get dropped.

There are four major components to my personal philosophy of ministry.  There will be aspects of ministry that may not be included here, however, the following helps me organize my thoughts and efforts.

 

Image credit: 6kor3dos DepositPhoto.com/11826108

 

Focus

Based on John 10:10, as well as ministry and life experiences, I am convinced that in any Christian endeavor two supernatural beings are always at work. God is at work to promote life and our enemy is at work to thwart life and growth and sabotage spiritual progress. Therefore, we need to actively choose to focus our attention on what God is doing in any given situation rather than on what Satan is doing. I am firmly convinced that our attitudes in life are greatly controlled by the one on whom we set our focus. That is the one we actually serve. Therefore, my personal philosophy of ministry is to first maintain my own focus on what God and what he is doing and then to help others stay focused upon God and be an asset to what He’s doing in their lives.

Feed

In the practical outworking of the above principle, I see God entrusting a flock to a pastor’s or teacher’s care with the expectation of their being returned to Him having been well fed, strengthened and protected. Col 1:27-29 speaks of bringing the flock to maturity for God in Christ’s strength. Eph 4:11-16 paints a picture of believers being equipped for works of service so that the body would be a built up, unified, mature, loving and growing organism. I believe these goals are best achieved by sound biblical instruction given in an atmosphere of acceptance and inclusion.  Efforts will likely include:

  • Opportunities for people to evaluate where they are in their walk with God along with suggestions and resources to grow during the upcoming season.
  • Expository preaching of Bible books and occasional topical, yet expository, messages.
  • Relevant and engaging teaching during Sunday School/Adult Bible Fellowship or other opportunities (seminars, webinars, workshops, conferences, etc.)
  • Small Groups that help people discover God’s word and his people in a deeper way.
  • Specialized small groups designed to offer a forum for the questioning and a support for the struggling.
  • Well-planned prayer meetings would also help maintain focus in, and excitement about how God is working in and through the various ministries of the church.

Find

The choice of the word “find” for ministry to unbelievers is deeply rooted in my philosophy of evangelism. I often view the evangelist as a kind of spiritual midwife. We are not the parent, but we are there to aid in the birthing process. The relationship of the pre-natal child and the parent has long been established and the midwife would not think of doing anything to hinder that relationship. Therefore, rather than striving for a decision or to manufacture spiritual sensitivities, prayerful efforts should be made to discern those in whom God is already working and seek to be an asset in that process.

We need to teach evangelism as a lifestyle proving ourselves good stewards of God’s grace. Teaching on evangelism should be careful to equip the experienced without overwhelming the novice. Telling people about God’s involvement in our lives should be a natural outflow of a child in love with her Father.  We must also reinforce the truth that we are in partnership with God and not resemble a multi-level-marketing strategy.

While many choose to focus their efforts on the saved or the unsaved, I am greatly indebted to training from Child Evangelism Fellowship who taught that you may never really know where your audience is spiritually. Therefore, each Bible teaching should include a point of application for the saved and a point of application for the unsaved.

Family

I am thoroughly convinced of the communal nature of the Body of Christ.  Not only does God save us, he also adopts as children into his family where we can be encouraged, nurtured, and developed to maturity.  The sheer volume of “one-another” passages in the Bible clearly show that Christian fellowship is not just a nice fringe benefit but an essential dynamic of God’s plan.

Hebrews 10:19-25 also show how this should be a key component of our regular gatherings.  I am concerned that this could be a missing ingredient in many churches in our day.  Beyond the obvious reason of meeting to worship God, the author of Hebrews helps us to realize one of the purposes of meeting together is to encourage one another.  We are to follow Jesus’ example and come together to serve rather than be served.  Interestingly, if everyone comes together with that mindset each member will leave having served and having been served as well.

“Let us encourage one another” is not just an empty or fluff command.  Webster defines encouragement as “to impart courage.”  Then defines courage as “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere and withstand danger, fear, and difficulty.”  This is exactly the spirit the author is trying to instill in his readers.  As we encourage each other, we are to spur one another on toward love and good deeds.  I can’t help but wonder what God could do in our world through bands of believers who regularly leave our gatherings encouraged by the body and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

What comes to mind when you hear the term, The Battle Is the Lord’s?  or The Battle Belongs to the Lord?

Does the military imagery trouble you? Are you OK with the military imagery but troubled that our part seems to be too passive?

Image by 3dconceptsman DepositPhotos #19467907

Do you ask yourself, if the battle belongs to the Lord, then what do l DO?  Do I just sit here and do nothing?  Well, sometimes the answer is yes.  Other times, the answer might be different.

Be Still

When the Israelites were rescued out of slavery in Egypt, God was setting a trap for their captors that would include rescuing His chosen people while punishing their captors but His own people couldn’t see past the obstacle in front of them.

When they saw the vast Red Sea before them, they complained to Moses that they should never have left Egypt. Continue Reading…

My wife’s parents were role models in showing hospitality.  Dinnertime was not only a social event, it was the main event!  The food was always great and so were the welcome and the conversation.

This is the third in a series of posts honoring the life of a true encourager, my father-in-law, Joe De Ruvo, Sr.  You can find Part 1 and Part 2 on the Encourage and Equip blog.

A Friend of People

My father-in-law was a friend of people, regardless of their church affiliation or absence. Let me explain.

As a kid growing up in New York CIty, I remember the occasional big holiday dinner around the table for hours but the normal daily routine was sitting on the couch with folding snack tables with the evening news on the television.  When I made a dinner reservation at a restaurant, they would ask “what time?” so they could estimate what time the table would be available for the next guest.

While living in Italy many years ago, I noticed a key difference between American culture and Italian.

My daughter Cathy enjoying time with her grandpa after dinner.

In Italy, I quickly learned lingering at the table with loved ones was one of the rewards of making it through the day.  When I made a dinner reservation in Italy, they only asked what day because they reserved the table for the evening.  When you were invited for dinner at Joe and Rose’s (my wife’s parents) you were invited to linger.

At my mother and father-in-law’s, Continue Reading…

A lot of people find spending time in prayer particularly challenging. They carve out some time. They muster up all their self-discipline and courage, get on their knees, and then say, “OK, what do I do now?!”

Personally, I have often found it helpful to have a variety of resources available to help me stay focused during prayer. I share this not because I am a spiritual giant. Rather, I often find it such a struggle to stay focused in prayer that I have had to discover or develop tools to help.

I have found three resources, or methods, immensely helpful in developing confidence and consistency in my own prayer life. In this book. I weave all three of those methods together for a powerful combination in Time with God: Develop Confidence and Consistency in Your Personal Prayer Life.

This book is designed to serve as a resource to help us grow closer to God and to build confidence and consistency in our personal prayer lives. Primarily, we need to remember that prayer is simply spending time with God. Unfortunately, we can complicate it so much that we get confused, insecure, bored, or distracted. Continue Reading…

Thank you for serving.

November 11, 2013

In the United States, this is the day we set aside to remember the valor, the courage and the sacrifice of those who have served to protect and preserve the freedoms that we enjoy this day.

In this blog, I try to instill and to celebrate courage in everyday life, ministry and relationships.  When I think of courage, one of my role models is the serving men and women in the armed forces.  Whether they begin their service in a time of peace or war, they always know that putting on a uniform means they might be called upon to give their life so that others may live free.  To those who have served in spite of their own fears, we salute you!

Thank you for serving!.

Remembering those who have served.