You’re a Christian who claims to be serving God. But is that what you’re actually doing? Or is it just what you think you’re doing? Do you understand what it means to serve God? Most Christians don’t. We certainly aren’t taught how to serve God in church. At church we’re only taught how to serve people—people who tell us that we should trust them to interpret God’s will for us. But should we? Continue reading Serving God vs. Serving People: Understanding the Difference
We all start off serving God on a “give to get” basis. When we obey Him at great costs to ourselves, we naturally expect Him to reward us within the same context. If obeying Him causes us to look really stupid in the eyes of others, then we would really appreciate God rewarding us in that same context–by doing something that shuts everyone’s faces and proves that we were right. Noah looked like a lunatic when he was building the ark–but then the flood did actually happen, thus he got his “Ha, I told you so,” moment. When Daniel was chucked into the lion’s den, he got his “told you so” moment the next morning when he was still alive. When Shadrach and his friends were thrown into the fiery furnace, they got the satisfaction of God publicly exalting them by keeping them alive. Plenty of us would be willing to put it all on the line for God if we knew our earthly humiliation would end in earthly glory.
But what if it doesn’t? Continue reading When God Sets You Up to Look Stupid: Help for Humiliated Christians
God could end your life at any time. This is true for all of us, but for the most part, we don’t really give much thought to God’s absolute control over life and death. But when God arranges for us to have some close brush with death, suddenly our perspective changes. Maybe He healed you from some fatal disease. Maybe He saved you from dying in some horrible collision. Maybe He botched your attempt to commit suicide. Maybe you were impaled by a bullet or a knife that barely missed puncturing some critical organ. Maybe you almost died on an operating table. Maybe you’ve lived past the expiration date that medical experts put on you. Maybe you survived someone’s attempt to have you killed in the womb. Maybe you were saved from execution at the last second. Whatever the circumstances, when God does this sort of thing, He’s forcing you to see how easily He could have taken your life. He’s also making His decision to prolong your life on this planet feel like the very personal, purposeful decision that it is. The big question now becomes: why? Why is God keeping you here? Why didn’t He have you die when it seemed you should have? Why is He making an exception in your case? If you’re currently pondering these questions, then you’re definitely on the right track, and helping you stay on the right track is the purpose of this post. Continue reading Your Second Chance At Life: How To Use It Well
One day John’s boss calls him into his office and announces that a new position has opened up in the company. It’s a prestigious position—one which will give John a lot more clout than he currently has. John is shocked and thrilled when his boss promotes John to the new position right then and there. Now John has a new title, a bunch of new responsibilities, a new staff, a new office, and a ton to learn. Does merely receiving the promotion mean that John will be a success at the new job? Not hardly. The promotion is merely an opportunity—it’s now up to John to decide how he is going to use the opportunity. He might do great, he might turn out to be mediocre, or he might miserably tank. If his boss isn’t happy with John’s work, John could get fired. The promotion isn’t a guarantee of success or of job security. Promotions can be taken away the same way they are given, and when they are taken away, it’s bitter. It would be less humiliating for John to get fired from his low ranking job than it would to be fired from a high ranking position. His new promotion has not guaranteed his success, but it does come with extra responsibility and the threat of extra humiliation if things don’t work out.
Among Christians there is endless fuss surrounding the subject of Divine callings. Yet while we’re busy envying titles and prestige, we’re forgetting about the great responsibility and risk that come with Divine appointments. If you get iced out of a church congregation as an untitled layperson, it’s certainly a painful experience, but you can find another church where the people are less twerpy. Meanwhile, the whole community isn’t gossiping about what happened to you. But if you’re the pastor who the church board just decided to fire, there’s now a bunch of flack and embarrassment following you around and making it difficult for you to find a new position. Once you gain a reputation for being a “somebody” in the Church, you end up being the target of intense scrutiny and criticism. There’s enormous pressure to compromise, and there’s a growing mob of folks who are eagerly waiting to celebrate your demise. But beyond the human realm, there’s God. He’s the One you’re serving, He’s the One who gave you the promotion, and He is holding you accountable for how you use it. Continue reading Being Called by God: The Responsibility & The Risk
We humans don’t like to wait. Waiting makes us feel forgotten, tired and aging. The longer we wait, the harder it gets. There’s just nothing fun or rewarding about standing around wondering if we’re ever going to have a turn. Christians approach serving God with this same impatient mindset. We don’t like waiting for God to direct us because He takes too long to say anything. So instead we just decide for ourselves what He would have us do and we hop to it so that we can have a ready defense to that guilt-laden question “What are you doing for God?” No one wants to say “I’m waiting.” Waiting is interpreted as “nothing.” Those who wait are considered spiritual slackers and carnal cop outs. No one respects waiting. No one except God, that is. Continue reading Waiting on God: How It Makes Us Better Servants
When it comes to serving God, there are two main ways that Christians spin off course. The first is not understanding what soul attitudes are pleasing to God. These attitudes are reverence, submission, dependency and trust. Their polar opposites are fearless disrespect, domination, independence, and doubt. In the Church, we find many servants who are trying to make their Master serve them. Instead of waiting for God to assign tasks to them, these Christians are constantly assigning tasks to Him and then grumbling against Him when He doesn’t stay in alignment with their agenda. Such attempts to dominate and control God will get us nowhere. Before we can even begin to experience serving the way God intended it to be, we must remember that our role is to receive orders, not give them. We do not direct God. He directs us.
The second way we go astray is in not understanding what God’s motivation is in asking us to serve Him. In this post, we’ll dig deeper into this second topic and learn how a proper understanding of God’s goals leads us to form correct expectations about how He might ask us to serve Him in the future. Continue reading Understanding Why God Calls Us to Serve Him
There’s a popular rumor floating about in certain sections of the Church that fancy titles can earn men and women special privileges from God. Some leaders like to claim a blanket promise of protection from God and then drop not-so-subtle hints that you’d better treat them extra special or else God will strike you down. If He doesn’t strike you down, He’ll put some kind of curse on your life and bad things will happen to you. So then, is this true? Can pastors, prophets, missionaries, evangelists, healers, and teachers really claim special protection from God?
This theory was clearly started by human ego, and like so many ego-based fantasies, it directly counters what we find in the Word. The Bible is far from perfect, but it does provide us with some very educational records about how God has dealt with His leaders in the past. So let’s see what we can learn. Continue reading Can Christian leaders claim special protection from God?