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Aligning Ministry Service With Personal Narrative (via Stephanie Judd)

Stephanie Judd writes about aligning Christian service ministries with the personal narrative of individual Christians.

The church is not a sausage factory. It’s a dynamic, diverse group of people that God has brought together in Christ. That’s what makes the church so amazing. But what this means is that to see people really fly as volunteers, leaders of churches need to resist the urge to be more concerned with filling gaps in rosters than they are about helping people serve in a way that aligns with their personal narrative. We need to sit down with people and ask the following questions:

  • What does it look like for you to live faithfully and courageously for Christ this year?
  • What excites you?
  • What energises you?
  • What are you passionate about?
  • What ministry sparks your interest? Why?
  • What do you want to get out of serving?
  • What are your present commitments and what do they demand from you?

Asking these questions can tell you a lot about a person. Not only is it going to give you a good idea of what role is going to see them thrive and be a source of ongoing joy and motivation, it also gives you a touch-point to come back to. Six months down the track in enables you to say: ‘At the beginning of the year you told me that you wanted to join the welcome team to connect with more people at church. Is that happening for you?’

Read the whole post at Gospel Coalition Australia.


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The Need To Keep Margin In Our Lives (via Michael Kelly)

In a culture that encourages fear of missing out there is a price to be paid in having every cent and every moment spoken for.
As Christmas gives way to thoughts of New Year, Michael Kelley writes about the margin that God wants us to factor into our lives and why we shouldn’t reap to the edges of our fields:

We live in a margin-less world. Everything from our time to our money is pretty much spoken for. We are reaping to the end of the fields. In fact, we are going back over the fields of our lives a second and third time, looking for any spare cent or second that has not been accounted for.
This isn’t how we were meant to live. It’s certainly not how we should live if we expect the Lord to bring gospel-oriented opportunities into our lives. Living in a margin-less way is, at the root, a lack of faith in God’s character. Think about it from the perspective of the farmer: What might cause a farmer to reap everything, even the edges, instead of obeying this command of margin?
At some level, it’s fear. Fear that there wouldn’t be enough. Fear of missing some profit. Fear that at some point in the season, the family would be in need. The way you combat that fear is with faith. You believe that God is generous – that God will provide and that God will give us enough. That’s how you leave the edges unreaped.

Read the whole post


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Seeing Bruised Reeds And Smouldering Wicks As Jesus Sees Us (via Tim Counts)

Tim Counts reminds us of the way Jesus looks at people, the way he looks at us, the way we should look at those around us.

Isaiah, in his expressive word pictures and poetic prophecy, describes hurting people as bruised reeds and smoldering wicks.
Bruised reeds were useless. Shepherds would make small musical instruments from reeds and once they were cracked, they would no longer make music. So they would be thrown out. Nobody would blame the shepherds for that. But when it comes to people who are like bruised reeds, Jesus does not despise or reject them. He will not break them, but he welcomes them and offers them healing if they will but come to him.
Smoldering wicks were useless. In a time that people depended on lamps for light, smoldering wicks did nothing but create smoke in the house and give little or no light. So they would be snuffed out. This made sense. But when it comes to people who are like smoldering wicks, people who create more smoke than light, people who seem to create more problems than they are worth, Jesus does not despise or reject them. He will not snuff them out, but he welcomes them and will make them a light for him if they will but come to him.
Reflecting Jesus’ heart towards broken and hurting people does not mean that we are never appropriately firm with someone who needs boundaries, and this does not mean that we believe in a squishy love that does not love someone enough to tell them the truth. Jesus was perfect truth and perfect grace all the time. But it does mean that we will see broken and hurting people as people who need Jesus like the rest of us.

Read the whole post at For The Church.


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The Hardest Thing For Anyone To Swallow, Especially The Winners, Especially You, Or Me, Is That We Are Objectively Loved (via Duo Dickenson at Mockingbird)

A post at Mockingbird by Duo Dickenson that contains phrase after phrase that I turn over and over in my mind.

But later, for many of us, maybe most, who have defined ourselves not by love but by demonstrating an ability to be lovable, failure is guaranteed. If perfection is your standard of lovability, you are doomed to an unloved life.
+++
We are judged by everything we are given. Every paycheck, every gift, every look from a stranger conveys more than the moment (but, also, is completely confined to it).
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If the world can reveal our worth or confirm our legitimacy or celebrate our value, it can also display our terminal inability to perform. And it is terminal.

Read Who You Are You When You Don’t Win at Mockingbird.


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Fullness Of Joy That Lasts Forevermore (via Stephen McAlpine)

With the seasonal observations of the euphoria that is experienced by winning football teams and their supporters, Stephen McAlpine reflects on how a joy that seems so complete will fade so quickly (pre-season training will probably commence well before Christmas) contrasts with a joy that is more complete and which will never diminish.
I’m a long way into a set of Bible studies on the book of Ecclesiastes at the moment and these thoughts are very relevant to the theme of that part of Scripture.
From his post:

When people ask the question “Can you be happy without God?”, I say, “Of course!” I don’t buy it when apologists say “no” to that question.
I don’t believe that you cannot be happy without God. Because lots of people – especially in this rich Western world – patently are.
But it won’t last. It will fade. It will die – probably before they do. For if someone dies without having experienced severe suffering, or deep unhappiness, then they are a rare beast indeed.
Die they will, and the joy of a premiership flag will not go with them. Nor the joy of sex, the joy of work, the joy of leisure, the joy of anything outside of the joy of God.
Christians are often described as “kill-joys”. We don’t need to be that. In fact our one true Joy was killed, then raised again so that our joy could go on forever.

Read the whole post here.


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Living As Exiles, Not Expatriates (via D.A. Horton)

We are citizens of heaven living on earth, not people from heaven seeking to become citizens here.
That difference should show in our priorities and in our relationships.
From D.A. Horton.

Living as exiles means that fighting for political power isn’t our main objective, suffering together well as we reach the lost in our society is. The fathers and mothers of our faith, living on mission outside of Jerusalem, were known to spiritually flourish while they were socially oppressed and persecuted. Many of them held no power, yet they preached Christ in boldness and loved those living on the margins of society with them.

source


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Negative Splitting The Christian Life (via Stephen McAlpine)

Maybe its because I’ve started cranking the treadmill at the gym up to a bit of a canter in the mornings, but this article by Stephen McAlpine caught my eye.
A 51 year old pastor with a passion for running McAlpine comments on completing the second half of a recent half-marathon (about 10kms) in a faster time than the first half – a negative split.
McAlpine develops the thought of completing the second half of a Christian lifetime with more purpose than the first, rather than settling and coasting home.
From his article:

So what about negative splitting your Christian life? What about making the second half stronger, more purposeful than the first half of it?
I say that in the light of being a Christian long enough to see peers either seemingly struggle to reach the finish line and settled into a low grade anger or cynicism, or give up altogether and go down some sidewalk. It’s not unusual for me to meet 50 to 60 year old men who, having started the race with joy and endurance, go into positive split territory or leave the faith altogether, and all the time getting closer to the finish chute.

Read the whole post at Stephen McAlpine.