Category Archives: Service

Post from the Past: Still waiting on God?

I have heard people say that God spoke to them audibly. I have never known exactly what to think of that, even though I am sure that God is quite capable of doing anything He feels like doing. A few years ago, however, I had an experience that made me wonder.

I was attending chapel at my college. It was probably the first or second time I had ever been to chapel there. Even though the university had a chapel-attendance policy, I was exempt; I was a commuting student and was rarely on campus during chapel sessions. I don’t remember what the message was about that day, but I remember sitting there in my own little world talking to God. I was asking Him what He wanted for my life. Normally, we see or hear words, but this was a completely different experience. While I didn’t hear an audible voice, I felt the very distinct impression of two specific words: Serve Me.

“Impression” is the only word I can think of that even comes close what I felt. Now as to whether these words came straight from heaven, or whether they were just the culmination of everything that I already knew, I have no idea. But as I was thinking about this experience later, more and more I got the impression that I should have already known the answer. It doesn’t really matter whether God spoke directly to me, or whether I just happened to figure it out in that instant. Either way, I’m absolutely sure what God wants me to do with the rest of my life: serve Him.

Serve Him. Am I being too simplistic? I don’t think so. I guess you could just brush it off as a phrase that you have heard one too many times. Maybe it has lost its meaning to you. But if you will take a moment to consider the implications, I think you will see that those two little words offer a life-changing experience. Taken literally, they have the power to change the life of everyone who comes into contact with you. Those words, acted upon, will function as a stone tossed into the middle of a sea of souls. Whether a large stone or a small one is entirely up to you.

How do I serve Him? One obvious way we can serve Him is by serving others. “…Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Matthew 25:40b.

Why do I think I should have already known the answer?

Because God has already told us to serve. It is not a suggestion, but a standing order. “…but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Galatians 5:13c-14.

Because Jesus is our example. “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45.

Christ’s first miracle as a man occurred because there was a need to be met. John 2:1-11.

The question then, is how can we serve? Find a person with a need and fill it. Find an organization that helps people with needs and volunteer. No act of kindness is too small. The more spontaneous, unexpected, and undeserved it is, the greater impact it will have. If you have an abundance of time or money, start by offering these. If you don’t have either, find ways to consume less of what you do have so that you will have some left over to share with others. What do you think is more effective: knocking on doors and inviting complete strangers to church, or serving someone in the community, stranger or not, and following up with a conversation about Christ? They may even ask you why in the world you are offering your time, money, sweat, etc. This will open the door to explain how your actions are nothing compared to the love of God and the free, undeserved gift of salvation.

When can we serve? Start by cutting out as much television as you possibly can. Remember that everything in this world will be burned up, and that we could be taken off this earth at literally any moment. Get up a little earlier or go to bed a little later. Take a week or a month, and inventory how you spend your time. Try not to worry too much about loss of personal time. Time means nothing to those who have an eternity to look forward to. Any time lost to serving others and spreading the gospel will most certainly be redeemed after you are resurrected. You will be laying up treasure in heaven. Of course, you must still make time for your family: they are your responsibility, and serving them is just as important as serving others.

Do you ever feel like you can’t do anything else without direction from God? Do you feel you have been waiting for years, and you are just tired of waiting? Sometimes I fear that we Christians use “waiting on God” as an excuse. He has already given us direction for our lives. Why do we think we need to wait for a personal word from God, in addition to what He has given us in His Word? Are we waiting for Him to drop an opportunity into our laps? Are we waiting to be the leader of a ministry? Our own ministry? That’s our first mistake. Ministry is about everyone except us. Sometimes, we don’t recognize God’s will because it doesn’t line up with our own will. He wants us working, not sitting around waiting for Him to knock us over the head with an answer that we approve of. I’m not suggesting that we stop waiting on the Lord. He commands us to do that as well. I’m merely suggesting that we do both – obey His commandments, and wait, expecting Him to lead us to the next step.

Challenge: Still waiting on God? All well and good. But in the meantime, obey the call to service.

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Discipling our Children

Bible ReadingWe need a mature mindset when it comes to disciplining ourselves and the little people we are responsible for (our children). Somehow, we find no problems saying, Yes, you HAVE to eat your vegetables, you HAVE to brush your teeth, you HAVE to share, HAVE to apologize. These things are non-negotiable. We parents realize that we are responsible for our children’s health and attitudes in their youth, with the goal of cultivating life-long responsibility in our kids. Why is it then, that we have such difficulty in helping our children develop habits such as daily Bible-reading, prayer, worship, and thankfulness? What about teaching them to discipline themselves through occasional but regular periods of fasting, even if it’s only for one meal? What about charitable giving? Volunteering? Reaching out to others? Shouldn’t we make these things a regular part of their lives so that they will have some clue as to how to function as real Christians?

What do I mean by real Christians? The word Christian is an old one, and originally it meant “little Christs.” It may have even been a derogatory term when it was used by the citizens of Antioch to label followers of Christ. I’d like to think that Christians earned this term because of their adherence to a lifestyle that mimicked Christ’s. Therefore, I maintain that Christianity should be more than just a belief. More than just an acceptance of the Gospel. True, our works don’t get us into heaven, and the definition of the word “Christian” has changed over time, but our belief and acceptance should be made obvious by the changes that salvation works in us.

You might argue that your children haven’t personally accepted Christ yet, and that’s okay, I get that. But the goal is to direct them to seek out the true God and develop a relationship with Him. There’s nothing wrong with running your household in a way that presupposes their eventual acceptance. Even if your children never accept Him and grow up thinking you’re a crazy fanatic, there’s certainly nothing wrong with teaching them to love people and sincerely seek the truth.

Even for parents who have no qualms with “pushing” their religion onto their kids, many still fail to instill Christian discipline in their offspring. I think one of the main reasons is this: we refuse to discipline ourselves and therefore feel like hypocrites when we require them to read their Bibles, etc. If we demand that our kids return the candy bar they stole, yet we ourselves cheat on our taxes, what does that say about us? How can we pass on traits such as sharing, self-discipline, fasting, etc. if we can’t be bothered with these things in our own lives? Well, I only have one answer for that – seek discipline in your own life and set the example. But being an example isn’t enough; we need to help our kids practice for a lifetime of Christianity.

None of us are perfect, and we’re going to fail – a lot – but that doesn’t excuse us from trying our best. You expect a good effort from your kids on all sorts of things – keeping their rooms clean, obedience, education. Expect the best from yourself while you’re at it.

Anyway, rant over.

Here are a few things I find lacking in Christian society today:

1. Sincerity

2. Discipline

3. Obedience

4. Compassion

I have a few thoughts about each, but I will save them for another post.

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Serving Others While Waiting on the Lord

God’s Will For Your Life

I remember asking the Lord once, “God, what is it that I should be doing with my life?” I had images of using my unique set of skills to serve Him. Perhaps a ministry that would be truly mine because I was the only one who could do it in just such-and-such a way. Do you know what He answered back to me? Two words, soft and undeniable, settled onto my heart: “Serve Me.” Wow, was I ever falling short.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this moment in my life. It was the first time that God had ever spoken to me directly. (I think because it was the first time I had ever asked Him a direct question…) It certainly changed my way of thinking. Until that point, I had known lots of Christians who were waiting to serve because they were waiting for the right doors to open up for them. They knew what they wanted to do with their lives, but didn’t know how to get from point A to point B. The fact is, we aren’t always called to do what we want. And when we are, we need to take baby steps before landing in a full-blown ministry.

But I need to find something that I can be good at…

Perhaps you are a music director in your community. However, there’s no opening for a choir director at your church, so you can’t find a way to serve. Well, I believe that’s a very limited way of thinking. A problem with some Christians today is that they aren’t looking to serve; they are looking for an easy way to feel good about themselves. Or worse yet, they want to be recognized for their service, like a true Pharisee.

Were you born to lead?

Maybe you are a born leader, but we need to learn to follow before we can learn to lead. Have any of you ever had a manager that didn’t understand your position? Perhaps they had been hired directly out of college and thought they knew everything about everything when in fact they knew nothing because they had never been in your situation? It is impossible to understand true leadership until you have spent some time following.

History Lesson

Here’s a short story from my own life. The last thing I ever wanted to do was accompany. I’ve always said how much I hated it! I did it for a while in college, because it paid. When it came time to accompany the students in their sophomore recitals at our local community college, I was so nervous I wanted to bolt. I actually remember thinking, as I sat at the piano bench, “What are the absolute worst consequences if I just get up and leave right now?” I decided I would never be able to show my face there again, so I stayed.

However, I now accompany the congregation every week during church. And until I found a church of my own, I served others by playing in churches when their pianists were unavailable. It wasn’t easy at first, but it was something I could do while waiting to know what God wanted for my life. And now, the truly funny thing is that I actually enjoy it. Anyone can vacuum or pick up trash on the streets. The idea is to do something while waiting to find your niche.

Challenge yourself today.

Are you doing anything for God? Is your neighbor, who never graduated from high school and who volunteers at the church by cleaning toilets once a week, pleasing God more than you are?

Note: This post is directly tied to Still Waiting on God? and Not Real Good with Words, so if you want to dig deeper into the topic, click through to read more.

Homeschool Empty Nest Part 2

It’s been almost a year since I posted about empty nesting, but I just had another idea today, and thought I would update. I think that volunteering for your local Chamber of Commerce would be a great way to stay busy and benefit your community at the same time. I truly enjoy helping them out, and I get to meet lots of fantastic people and get in on some great events. Our local chamber could always use volunteers, and you can even serve on our committees without being a member. Of course, if you *do* have your own business, and you aren’t a member of your local chamber, you have no idea what you could be missing out on. Personally, I was blown away when I discovered all of the benefits of joining. I guess it’s probably different in every town, but you should probably look into it, if you haven’t already. Happy Homeschooling!

Musicians and the Community

I joined my local chamber of commerce over the summer, and have been going to networking meetings to promote the music studio where I work. For the first several months, I was very involved in our town’s farmers’ market, and the studio was extremely visible to the public because of it. Several teachers, students, and other musicians associated with the studio came to the market to play nearly every week during July, August, and September. However, now that the excitement has worn off, I am having trouble talking myself into going to the next networking expo. I know I’m going to have to introduce myself and the business I represent, and since I can’t really talk about the farmers’ market in the middle of winter, I’m struggling to come up with other ways that we can benefit the community and other businesses. I’m tired of merely repeating, “We can offer musicians to play for your weddings, luncheons, and other events.” So I ponder the following question as I prepare for the upcoming meeting: How can musicians and communities be mutually beneficial to one another? Here’s what I have come up with so far.

Kay’s Studio can help the community by:

Playing for community events – parades, banquets, fundraisers, farmers market

Bringing “fine arts” into the community through our concerts and educational programs

Performing at area nursing homes, community centers

Instilling discipline and a sense of accomplishment in the new generation

Helping homeschool families find each other through our homeschool music classes

Sending business to those with services that complement ours (think weddings – florists, bakeries, dress shops, etc.)

Getting the next generation involved in the community – passing the torch, so to speak.

Making use of the services of local businesses

 

The community can help Kay’s Studio by:

Referring us to paying customers – weddings, luncheons, events, restaurants, private students

Purchasing merchandise

Helping us become more visible in the community by allowing us to play for community events

 

I still feel like I’m missing something important. Do you all have any ideas?

Post from the Past: Not Real Good with Words

One of my all-time favorite posts, which I originally blogged on February 14, 2011. That just so happened to be the day that I gained my first follower. Now that I have more readers, I would like to repost this for you all! Hopefully, someone will find the encouragement that they need.

The young man on my porch stammered as he tried to think of a way to begin a conversation. Finally, he just said, “I’m not real good with words…I just thought you might like to see this.” He handed me a DVD and walked away. As I turned the homemade disc over to read the writing, I saw that it was about the Bible. The DVD was the young man’s way of letting me know about Christ. I was struck by his willingness to obey God in spite of his perceived limitations. How many times have I shied away from witnessing to someone for the fear of not knowing all the answers? How many times have I refused to play the piano or sing in church for fear of messing up? How many lives might I have touched if only I were more sensitive to the prompting of the Holy Spirit? I have found that many times, God will call us into an area of the ministry where we don’t feel comfortable serving. Why does He do this?

Exodus 4:10-11

And Moses said unto the Lord, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.

And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord?

1) We need Him. We must realize that we just can’t minister without Him. If He has called us to a ministry, He will provide the tools to accomplish that ministry.

Judges 7:2

And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me.

2) He wants us to realize that the ministry isn’t about us; it’s about Him. He wants us to stay humble in serving others instead of getting caught up in what a great job we’re doing.

I Corinthians 1:17b

…not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

3) He wants others to focus on the message, not the flashy music or the perfectly delivered sermon.

II Samuel 24:24a

And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the Lord my God of that which doth cost me nothing.

4) He doesn’t want a sacrifice that costs us nothing to give.

I will never forget a performance I heard one summer at youth camp. A young lady with Down’s Syndrome sang the song “We Are the Reason” in front of hundreds of her peers. I was deeply moved by the message, compounded by the fact that she was willing to respond to the call of God on her life. I knew she wasn’t standing up there because she liked the sound of her own voice. But do you know what? God liked the sound of it. I liked the sound of it. I imagine that her sacrifice was a sweet savor unto God, and was perhaps more precious to Him than many of the offerings of song that we hear in services today. Too many times, we make up excuses why we can’t serve. I challenge you to serve Him in spite of your perceived limitations.

What is sacrifice?

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

Romans 12:1

A living sacrifice. What does that mean exactly? Basically, it means we shouldn’t do everything we want to do. Even if those things are within our means. We should say no to ourselves sometimes. Deny our flesh. I have been reading When the Bottom Drops Out by Robert Bugh. I’ve really been enjoying it, and getting a lot out of it.

He had this to say about sacrifice: “Sacrifice is saying no to something you prefer so you can say yes to God. It’s placing your preferences, what you love, on the altar and telling God, ‘I want to keep this or have this or do this, but You are speaking to me and I am giving it up. Take it; it’s Yours!’…Sacrifice is counterintuitive; it’s winning by losing, gaining by giving, living by dying, doing without now so you can be rewarded later in heaven…Hear me, dear reader: as painful as it is, it’s sacrifice that will keep you from wasting your life, because it’s sacrifice and service that reveal the lordship of Christ in your life.” – pages 101-102

I don’t hate myself. I’m not going to go out of my way to make life difficult on myself. But I do know that I don’t need everything I think I do. God will take care of everything I need, and sacrificing the things I want won’t necessarily make life any harder on me. In fact, sometimes, I think sacrifice makes our lives simpler. It’s going without. It means there will be fewer things in my life to distract me from God.

What about sacrificing my time? Won’t that add things to my life? Won’t my schedule get busier if I try to minister to others when I already have so many things on my plate? Not if you sacrifice something else that eats up your time. Television is the first thing that comes to mind. Nobody needs it. On your deathbed, you won’t regret the hours you didn’t spend watching television.

What about homeschoolers? Homeschoolers are too busy already. So many things to teach, to learn. Let’s not forget the reason many of us are homeschooling in the first place. It’s not so our kids will be smarter. It’s not so they’ll get a better job or function better in society. Are we not preparing our children for a life of service to God? And do they not learn best by example?

Some ideas for sacrifice:

Change the way you eat or drink, what you watch, what you wear, the way you spend time on the internet or the phone.

Change the way you spend your money, your time, your emotions.

Change the way you relate to God, your spouse, parents, children, and others.

When you see a need, fill it. Be sensitive to the urging of the Holy Spirit.

Why does sacrifice mean so much to God?

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Matthew 5:16

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Romans 12:2