Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Serving

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“The Church is the Church only when it exists for others…not dominating, but helping and serving. It must tell men of every calling what it means to live for Christ, to exist for others.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison

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Who Do You Serve?

Let’s be honest, ladies, we all serve somebody.  So who do you serve?  I suspect the answer for most of us is “myself.”  That’s not only our sinful inclination, it’s what our world tells us to do.  “Look out for number one.”  “Follow your bliss.”  “Do what feels right for you.”  Our culture bombards us with messages like this every day.  Let’s label it with its’ true name –SELFISHNESS.

I don’t know about you, but I struggle with this sin every day.  Here are a few examples:

My husband forgets to pick up the something I needed on his way home from work.  My default response?  How could he!  I do so many things for him, and he can’t remember this one thing for ME?

My daughter calls and asks me to go to the Dollar Store and pick up something for her class (she is a preschool teacher). She lost track of time and didn’t get to it last night.  REALLY?  What makes this MY responsibility?  I have my own plans for the morning.

Somebody from church calls.  We’re selling  cobblers at the local Peach Festival and need somebody to work at the stand.  OH NO!  I’m an introvert and I’M JUST NOT COMFORTABLE around a crowd of strangers.  Don’t ask me to do that.

My friend is totally uninterested in the new project in which I’m so involved.  She’s MY friend,why isn’t she being more supportive of ME?

Anyway, you get the idea.  My first response is to think of myself, what I want, and what seems most comfortable and convenient for me.  Here’s what Jesus says about that:

“He answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Luke 10:27

That means our priorities should go like this:

  1. God
  2. Others
  3. Me

This doesn’t mean we can never say no.  Sometimes we must say no;  sometimes it is better for the other person if we say no;  sometimes we need to say no because something is definitely out of our skill set. It also doesn’t mean we don’t hold folks accountable or express our feelings — but we need to do this in a gentle, respectful way, not in anger.  It does mean that as God’s servants, we can’t allow a selfish mindset to control our actions.  Following our own impulses (i.e. serving ourselves) will lead to conflict and broken relationships.  Serving God and doing His will leads to peace with God and others. So who do you want to serve?

 

 

 

Serving God with Your Gifts

“My sons, do not be negligent now,  for the Lord has chosen you to stand before Him and serve Him, to minister before Him and to burn incense.”  2 Chronicles 29:11

This was part of my devotional reading a few days ago, and it brings me back to spiritual gifts once again.  The King Hezekiah is speaking here to the priests and Levites.  The previous King Ahaz was wicked and had kept them from performing their duties in the temple;  now Hezekiah intends to set things right.  He reminds them that they have been chosen to serve God and should return to the special tasks they’ve been assigned.

God has chosen us to be his children and to serve Him.  In order to do that, He gave every one of us at least one spiritual gift.  If we don’t use those gifts, we’re not only being negligent, we’re being disobedient and ungrateful to the Giver!  Listen to what the apostle Paul has to say:

“We have different gifts according to the grace given us.  If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it proportion to his faith.  If it is serving, let him serve;  if it is teaching, let him teach;  if it is encouraging, let him encourage;  if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously;  if it is leadership, let him govern diligently;  if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.”  Romans 12:6-8

So my question to myself (and to each of our readers) today is this:  how am I using my own spiritual gifts?  A gift that is left unopened is of no use at all.  Don’t be negligent — use your gifts in the service of the one Who gave them.

The Spiritual Gift of Service

Well, ladies you know that this year my focus is on spiritual gifts.  I thought it would be appropriate this month, as we talk about servanthood, to examine the qualities of the spiritual gift of service.  All of us are called to serve, but some have a particular talent for this.  Here’s the definition:

SERVICE: The gift of service is the special ability that God gives to certain

members of the Body of Christ to identify the unmet needs involved in a task

related to God’s work, and to make use of available resources to meet those

needs and help accomplish the desired goals. Contributes: Skills.

You may have this spiritual gift if you:

  • Serve behind the scenes wherever needed to support the gifts and ministries of others
  • Seek the tangible and practical things to be done and enjoy doing them
  • Sense God’s purpose and pleasure in meeting everyday responsibilities
  • Attach spiritual value to practical service
  • Enjoy knowing that you are freeing up others to do what God has called them to do

You can study more about this gift by looking up the following passages: Romans 12:7 and Ephesians 6:5-9

 People with the gift of service will often tell you, “I didn’t really do anything important.”  That’s not true.  Every ministry depends upon the everyday support of average people like you and me.  Serving in quiet ways builds up the whole body.  How can you serve this week?

 

New Month/New Theme

Okay, everybody time to delve deep, our theme this month is – Servants of the Lord. There are too many verses to list them all but we are told throughout the Word that we are to have a Servant Heart, Servant Mind, Servant Demeanor and so forth.

What does this mean to you?

Who are you a servant of?

Talk to me, I want to know

 

Singing Saints

“Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name” Psalm 30:4

Lutherans have been called “the singing church” and it’s true.  I can’t imagine worship without singing.  One visitor to our church told me, “you have a lot of audience participation!”  Well, we’re not meant to be an audience because worship isn’t a performance and yes, it’s all about participation.  The word liturgy literally means “work of the people.”  Songs of praise are part of that work, and it’s a privilege and joy to worship the One who loves and saves us.

The Bible is full of saints who sang.  There was David, of course, author of many of the Psalms (the hymn book of the Old Testament).  Miriam sang after the people crossed the Red Sea, and Deborah sang a victory after defeating the Canaanites.  Mary sang after her meeting with the angel who announced the birth of God’s son, and Simeon sang after seeing that same babe who had been promised.

There are many reasons saints sing, but most often their songs flow out of the joy and happiness of life with God.  One Christian song that comes to my mind as I write this is His Eye Is On the Sparrow.  Here’s the story of how that hymn by Civilla Martin  came to be written:

                                                                                                            “Early in the spring of 1905, my husband and I were sojourning in Elmira, New York. We contracted a deep friendship for a couple by the name of Mr. and Mrs. Doolittle—true saints of God. Mrs. Doolittle had been bedridden for nigh twenty years. Her husband was an incurable cripple who had to propel himself to and from his business in a wheelchair. Despite their afflictions, they lived happy Christian lives, bringing inspiration and comfort to all who knew them. One day while we were visiting with the Doolittles, my husband commented on their bright hopefulness and asked them for the secret of it. Mrs. Doolittle’s response was simple: ‘His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.’ The beauty of this simple expression of boundless faith gripped the hearts and fired the imagination of Dr. Martin and me. The hymn ‘His Eye Is on the Sparrow’ was the outcome of that experience.”

The next day she mailed the poem to composer, Charles Gabriel, who wrote the tune for it.  Sing along with this beautiful piece because you’re happy to be a child of the King.

 

 

 

The Cloud of Saints

1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:1-2

Since nobody else has posted about the great cloud of witnesses this month yet, I will.  This reading from Hebrews is what I consider my “life verse” and it never fails to inspire and encourage me.  The witnesses are all the saints, past and present.  My question to you today is, who’s in your crowd of witnesses?

I’ve told you about some of my Biblical favorites — Nicodemus, Mary and Martha.  Then there are people who have gone before me, who are now in the presence of God — my grandfather, the lady who picked me up every Sunday when I was a child and took me to church and Sunday School, my good friend, Paul and others.  There are the living saints who have cheered me on and encouraged me in my Christian walk — my old Pastor, Dave; my college roommate, Nancy;  my prayer buddy, Karen;  many of my fellow congregation members;  Via de Cristo and Marriage Encounter friends, and more.

Most of all, there’s Jesus.  He’s the one on whom we’re meant to particularly focus.  As a man, He endured all the same temptations and sufferings that we do — yet He did not sin.  He loves us and prays for us;  He promises He will never leave us — what an encouragement that is!

We’re still running the race, but we’re not alone.  We’re in the company of saints.  Persevere ladies!