Not Volunteers

So you belong to a church and you “volunteer” your services there?  If this is your reasoning, according to my devotional today, you are dead wrong.  You might say this is an example of stinkin’ thinkin’ (see previous posts Stinkin’ Thinkin’ and Even More Stinkin’ Thinkin’).  The church is not our club, and we are not volunteers.  According to the apostle, Peter,

“… you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”  1 Peter 2:9

The point is, if you are a Christian, you have been called.  God chose you because you have certain gifts and talents that are necessary for the growth and well-being of His body, the church.  Our arm or leg or brain does not “volunteer” to do its job — it does so automatically because that is what is was designed to do.  You fit into God’s plan, and your piece is important.

According the author of my devotional, here are some differences between those who are called and those who volunteer (this is my paraphrase of the information).

  • A volunteer sees his or her service as an obligation they have undertaken.  The called are honored, and eager to be used by God
  • A volunteer will often become offended and quit if corrected.  The called are hungry to learn and grow and will accept godly advice.
  • A volunteer will also complain and sometimes quit if things become hard.  The called accept sacrifice and persevere in order to reach a goal.
  • A volunteer puts in as much effort as they can “afford” or “can fit into their schedule.”  The called give their all.
  • A volunteer avoids situations that require change.  The called are ready to be transformed.
  • A volunteer may be envious or intimidated by the gifts of others.  The called are secure and able to admire and celebrate the abilities others.

Now, we all have different seasons in our lives.  We may be called to do one task when we are young, another when we have small children and something completely different as we age.  We also need to spend time in prayer, allowing God to help us discern our particular calling at any given time. The point is, we are always called and we are always needed.  It’s not a choice.  As Charles Foucauld (1858-1916) said,

“Once I believed there was a God I saw no other course than to serve him.”

For a review of the devotional I’ve been using, you can go to this post:

The Insanity of Sacrifice by Nik Ripken — Book Review


The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken–Book Review

I received a copy of a devotional by this author,The Insanity of Sacrifice by Nik Ripken , — Book Review and I enjoyed it so much that I checked his earlier book, The Insanity of God, out of the local library.

In this spiritual autobiography (one of my favorite genres), you’ll learn Nik’s full story, and it’s fascinating.  In response to God’s call, Nik travels from his home in Kentucky, to seminary, then with his wife, Ruth to Africa and eventually to Russia, the Ukraine, China and more.  He takes the direction of the Great Commission in Matthew seriously, and maintains it is for all Christians.

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.  When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.  Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  Matthew 28:16-20

In Somaliland he deals with discouragement.  After years of relief work, providing food and medical care to starving people, he still feels he has failed in taking the gospel to this largely Muslim country, because very few converts were made.  He even questions whether he should be trying to convert people who will then suffer, be persecuted and possibly die for their faith.

This leads him to a study of persecuted Christians around the world, and what keeps them going.  He finds that in many places, Christians expect persecution.  Being imprisoned for the faith is normal.  Becoming mature in the faith requires suffering, and a willingness to sacrifice for God and others.

You’ll find this to be a challenging read.  It made me ask myself hard questions, and look at my Christian life in a different way.  According to Ripken, the miracles and signs of the church described in the book of Acts are still going on around the world.  I certainly recommend it.  Five stars!

The Insanity of Sacrifice by Nik Ripken — Book Review

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways. This is the Lord’s declaration.”  Isaiah 55:8

I have thoroughly enjoyed this 90 day devotional.  It is not only biblically sound, it is challenging.  I have already used some of the daily readings for openings at our church committees and Bible studies.  In fact, I liked it so much that I have already ordered a previous book by Nik Ripken, “The Insanity of God”  from our local library.

Ripken’s point is that God’s ways are so different from ours that what he asks of us might actually be considered insane, by human standards.  God is different, and we, as His followers, should also be different.  We are called to love the world and sacrifice for its’ people in a way that is extravagant and outlandish.  Can you do this?

Maybe you think you’re not qualified.  Well, think again.  God takes pleasure in calling people who are inadequate.  You may be unqualified — but God is able and He wants you to be part of His work in the world.

Through his writing Ripken seeks to lead readers to:

  • Consider the story of God encountered in Scripture
  • Learn that God is still very much at work today
  • Give voice to God’s clear demand for obedience that applies to EVERY PERSON who follows Jesus — yes, that means you and me!

VERDICT:  Definitely 5 stars.  I highly recommend it.

If you would like to purchase this book, follow the link below:

The Insanity of Sacrifice

The Lutheran Ladies received a free copy of this book in return for an honest and fair review – Disclaimer pursuant to FTC 16 CFR Part 255