Category Archives: Service

Unified in Death

Pastor Dave Simiele from MCC spoke about unity in the church last Sunday. I found his comments to be right on the mark. Unity only comes when we set aside our rights and humbly seek to serve others in the name of Christ. This requires us to look beyond ourselves and our own interests. It calls us to really trust God and others we are called to connect with in Christian community.

Pastor Dave said, “Simple unity can only live where humility exists.” I agree. We must realize that everyone has a part to play in the life of a church. This is especially true when it comes to the different generations coming together to celebrate and understand each other. 

Then Dave told a story about how he did something to honor his wife for her birthday even though he generally disliked the activity. It ended up giving them a real good time to further their relationship. Dave said that we must come to realize that “What is death to me can be life to someone else.”

Jesus called His disciples to a radical mission. He said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).

That is a radical call to live a life greater then your own desires. The question is, “Are we ready to embrace such a radical message?”

Listen to Pastor Dave’s sermon at www.mccag.org.

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What Would a Kingdom Company Look Like?

A few different people talked today at my church about taking a leap of faith at work. The key focus is to be a generous, loving enterprise that puts God first. I was challenged even as our company is facing some tough times. God has been providing and giving us favor despite price pressures and competitive challenges. New products are starting to come on line, and I am beginning to feel a bit optimistic for the first time in months.

Michael Thaler, a local entrepreneur and leader in the church, shared about how God met Him time and time again as he took leaps of faith with his company. He runs a company called Equity Concepts (http://www.equity-concepts.com). It has launched a variety of service initiatives designed to reach the poor in Niger. Hearing Michael’s story caused me to stop and realize that my family business has just begun to scratch the surface of what it means to be a Kingdom company.

A Kingdom company is a business that really runs for God’s Kingdom and glory. The bottom line is not the driving factor. Honoring God is. 

Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Encourage employees to put an inspiration word or thought on their e-mails and voice mail messages.
  • Involve periods of strategic silent prayer and meditation in all planning meetings.
  • Hold a weekly prayer and Bible study during office hours.
  • Do a company mission project where the company covers the cost if the employee will donate the time.
  • Adopt a special service project/mission emphasis as a company.
  • Empower employees to lead service initiatives. Give the staff a budget and let them run with it. 
  • Create service and personal enrichment committees to help spear head spiritual and community service efforts.
  • Encourage employees to go the extra mile by giving excellent customer service.
  • Publicly recognize employee accomplishments and foster an environment where excellence is rewarded.
  • Provide the employee a certain amount of money per year to donate to a charitable cause.  
  • Provide employees one paid day off per year to do a community service. Work with employees to allow flexible hours to do community service projects.
  • Offer free counseling services with an office chaplain.
  • Pray for employees by name ever day. Pray for customers regularly as well.
  • Require employees to hold to ethical business practices and follow all necessary laws. Discipline employees that violate laws or company procedures in a fair and equitable manner.
  • Avoid favoritism. Company leaders should set the example for all new initiatives.
  • Managers should take personal interests in employee development and even personal problems as appropriate.
  • Providing pro-bono service to non-profit organizations.
  • Avoid negative promotion and competitor bashing. Speak ill of no man.
  • Provide freedom of religion while honoring God as the CEO of the company.
  • Encourage employees to show interest in the personal lives of customers and their needs at the moment.
  • Listening is one of the best ways to show that you care. Encourage employees and management to really listen to each other instead of trying to talk over each other.
  • Promote Christ via your Web site and other public communications, such as company newsletter.

The ideas are limitless. Now, I just have to figure out where to start because you can’t do everything in one day. And I know it will take a lot more than just me. It starts with management casting the vision and then releasing the staff to make it happen.

The High Cost of Serving Jesus

Wanted: True Disciples

Fakers need not apply although all truly repentant sinners are welcome. No overly qualified candidates may apply. It will cost you everything because it cost me more than you could ever imagine. 

Are you looking for a position with incredible advancement opportunities? Do you like to serve others and live for something bigger than just your own appetites? Do you want to change the world? If so, you were made for this job.

This is not a fast-paced, performance-driven environment. Instead it is a slow, deep process that will completely unleash your internal, God-given potential. You will be expected to leave all behind for this post. But you will gain more than you had to let go.

You will be provided all the tools you need to succeed. This includes divine power to do more than you could naturally do on your own.

Your worth in this enterprise is measured by your value as a person not output. Strong performance will be rewarded although it is not a necessity for acceptance. You will discover a whole new reality through this experience and will join a grass roots group of radical determined to love and disciplined enough to ignite a revolution. 

This is the toughest job that you will ever love. Oh, and it’s not a job, it’s a calling.

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I think that may the message that Jesus would post up in your church if He were to use a flyer to recruit new disciples. My previous blog entry, described the discipleship void in most churches today. It included a number of comments by Charles Crabtree, a leader with the national Assemblies of God. Crabtree said that churches have missed the mark by teaching and calling people to something less than complete abandonment and surrender to Christ. We are called to love Jesus more than our life and anything else we would hold dear.

Crabtree wrote, “I believe the Assemblies of God (insert denomination name here) needs to send out this message: The High Cost of Serving Jesus.” Do you know what will happen? People will come by the millions to a cause that is bigger than their own lives. If we soft-soap the gospel and get by with lackadaisical discipleship, our young people are not going to be interested in something that is not challenging. It is time to confront; it is time to challenge and offer an alternative lifestyle – a life of surrender to Christ.

Crabtree also wrote, “Repentance is not a negative concept. It opens the door to living a new life full of divine power and blessing, but for a reason – to live the Christian life, not just to hear about it.”

Pointing at reason for apathy in churches, Crabtree said it stemmed from the fact that most people don’t plan to do one thing about what they hear in church. Why go through the religious motions if you aren’t going to let God change you?

The gospel is messy. It is costly. It is something that will forever ruin you for ordinary life. It calls us to something beyond our wildest dreams. At the same time, it requires a surrender that should scare us to death. We all need to die so that we can live anew in Christ.

Are you willing to accept the high price that was paid for your freedom? Are you willing to follow Jesus and truly count the cost of being a disciple? These are tough questions that need more than an answer. They need a commitment.

A Life Worth Living

Should we really live for God? I am beginning to think that is not such a good idea.

Ok, before you stone me, consider what this looks like in your life. If you are Christian, you may discover how ungodly this “living for God” can be.

Turn off the screen, walk away from the computer and think about it for a moment. Then come back and read the rest of this entry to see why I made such a “brash” statement.

Ok, welcome back.  

Pastor Don Coleman, one of my spiritual mentors, talked to me about something better than just living for God. He said that this can still be far less than what God desires. This allows us to live the life that we think seems best and try to involve God in it or to somehow dedicate it to God.

God wants more than just His name put to our plans. God desires to work in His people. Ultimately, God wants to be Lord of everything. He wants to call the shots and direct us to His best plan. More than simply dedicate our work to God, He wants to do His work in and through us. Instead of living our lives for God, maybe the better reality is to surrender everything to God and to live the life that God truly wants us to live. The big difference between the two lifestyles is where we get our direction and where our focus is. The difference may be subtle, but it can have a major impact.  

Here’s a major point to consider. It is impossible to live the life that God wants for you unless you stop to listen and sense His direction.

God may be asking, “Do you hear me now?”

A Dangerous Faith

Philip Watkins, one of my closest brothers in Christ, recently wrote a college essay on Hezbollah and how their zeal although misguided shows how sold out real Christians should be for our faith. While reading the paper, I couldn’t help but think, ‘I have thought those same things while watching the TV coverage of the latest news from the Middle East.’Please do not misunderstand me. I am in no way encouraging suicide bombings, terrorism or Islam. I believe these are all rooted in lies. But you do have to appreciate the convictions of someone who will really give his life for what he believes to be right. The same can be said for many U.S. soldiers who are courageously fighting in Iraq or humanitarian aid workers who put themselves in harms way while serving the poor in Africa.

Here is my question. Why are so few Christians radically sold out for Jesus compared to the young Muslims who will do virtually anything for Allah? This is one of biggest concerns that I see facing the Church today. We don’t need any more good guys. We need dangerous young men and women of faith. But instead of blowing up buildings or killing people, we need to radically love and serve even our most bitter enemies. We need to be doing things that are so big the only way they will happen is by God’s intervention on our behalf.

Consider this quote from a recent issue of Youth Worker Journal, “If we lose kids to the culture o drugs and materialism, of violence and war, it will not be because we didn’t entertain them but because we didn’t dare them. It will not be because we have made the gospel too difficult but because we have made it too easy.” – Shane Claiborne of The Simple Way 

I agree with both Philip and Shane. We need a new holy war where the battles are fought on our knees and the victories are won by helping hands that melt hard hearts.

See Philip’s paper at http://web.mac.com/philipwatkins/iWeb/philip%20watkins/blog/DFEE639A-0F72-4ADE-AD13-EA48CD5506A4.html