Tag  |  body-of-christ

Rest Affects

One morning, I was surprised to see my mail carrier lugging his heavy bag. I asked him why he was delivering mail on Sunday, and he curtly responded with a single word: “Amazon.” The online retailer had started offering Sunday delivery, so it was no longer a day of rest for postal workers.

one source

During October, the trees come alive with color in my region. One year, a particular tree caught my attention. Like Joseph, it wore a “coat” of many colors. Its top leaves were plum-colored. A little lower, the purple morphed into crimson foliage. The red gave way to robin’s-chest orange, and finally, neon yellow leaves peeked out at the bottom like a petticoat. Although the leaves had radically different colors, they all had sprouted from the same maple tree.

you choose Q: what's the mission of the church?

Q; What's the mission of the church?  —Sean

A: The church is a holy priesthood. As a body, it shares the gospel of Jesus Christ with the lost and intercedes with God for an unbelieving world (1 Peter 2:5,9). Acts 2:42 summarizes the activities of the earliest fellowship of believers—activities that should still characterize the church today—this way: “The believers devoted themselves to the…

October 6, 2014

What does the saying, “In the essentials, unity, in the nonessentials, liberty, in all things, charity” mean to you as you consider the Body of Christ?

one mission

My husband and I often must act as referees while moderating the differences between our two offspring. They focus on what makes them different instead of what unites them. We frequently remind the two that they need each other—something that’s hard for them to see.

one diverse family

A question I often hear (and also ask myself) regarding diversity is this: “God calls us to reach out to those who are different from us, but how far are we supposed to go?” Is it enough to serve and minister to people who are different, or are we called to do more?

one

Have you ever wanted to take a quick peek at someone else’s mail? Maybe it was an envelope from a doctor’s office that held the results of a family member’s recent medical tests. Or perhaps it was a letter addressed to your parents from an estranged family member. As you held the envelope in your hands, the temptation to open it might have felt overwhelming.

thanking God for you

image005

—copy and design submitted by Terry and Pat Lampel, US

generous unity

April 2013 marked a milestone birthday for me. To celebrate, we took a long trip to my college “stomping grounds.” Numerous tollbooths, scenic beach views, and city excursions marked our unforgettable vacation. The highlight for my husband and me, though, was a little unexpected: it was that our kids had actually enjoyed being together for an extended period of time.

team effort

Recently, I watched the making of a popular Korean TV drama. I’ve been a fan of the show, but the behind-the-scene experience brought my appreciation to a new level. I learned that a successful program requires more than just a talented screenwriter. She needs the actors and actresses to bring the story to life. Then, there’s the director, the lighting engineers, the editors, and more. The crew members of this show work so well together that they recently went on vacation in Cebu to celebrate the show’s success. That’s a team!

flare

"The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit" (1 Corinthians 12:12-14).

I've been…

warped view

Recently, I was talking with a friend who has been scarred by sin—things done to him by others. The effects linger, even though the actions occurred long ago. He was struggling, trying to see beyond the lies that caused him to feel unworthy of God’s grace. He felt powerless and weak, which left him vulnerable to the temptation to assuage his pain through wrong means. His identity in Jesus had been warped and weakened by his negative life experiences. So the two of us took a long look into God’s Word to view my friend’s true identity in Jesus.

measuring ourselves

We have a tendency to overestimate ourselves and inflate our positive qualities. Recently, researchers asked nearly a million high school seniors to assess their leadership skills. Seventy percent rated themselves as above average, while only 2 percent rated their leadership skills below average. In another study, 94 percent of college professors rated their work above average. Psychologists call this the “illusionary superiority” effect—where we think we’re better than we really are.

drowned by love

One of my deep joys as a pastor has been to baptize both of my sons. I have a picture taken just before I went into the baptismal pool with one of my boys. I’m crouched down, eye-to-eye. I don’t remember what I was saying, but I remember the tears. God was pouring grace on my son, and my church was welcoming him into its fold.

good religion

As a pastor, I get interesting responses from people when they discover my vocation. Some will immediately apologize for the language they’ve used. Some offer a forced smile and then come up with an excuse to change the subject. One line I hear often is: “Well, I like Jesus, but I don’t like religion.”

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> christian living

Actions Speak

Two siblings went down truly divergent paths. One turned his back on Jesus and eventually spent years in prison. The other lived out the grace and love of God, compassionately caring for family, those inside the body of Christ, and those on the outside. Two lives marked by actions that spoke loudly.

Careful Living

The Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri, is a marvel to behold. Clad all in stainless steel, the 630-foot arch is the tallest of these types of structures in the entire world. When it was constructed in the 1960s, both feet of the arch were erected simultaneously, and joined at their very center. But had the construction of either foot of the arch been off by even a fraction, the two halves of the arch would have missed making a perfect union. Such a marvel of engineering required incredibly careful planning and thorough execution.

Honor by Example

Darkness wrapped the jet in a quiet comfort, while a few reading lights remained on. Though it was late in the evening and passengers were trying to sleep, the loud chatter of two young women could be heard above the hum of the plane’s engine. Suddenly, an older woman seated in front of them turned around and sharply exclaimed, “Would you two be quiet!” Taken aback, they looked around to see who had heard and began laughing disrespectfully. Turning to glare once more, the disrupted sleeper settled back in her seat.

> daily devotional

Making Plans

Andre-Francois Raffray was a middle-aged lawyer who found a bargain. A ninety-year-old widow named Jeanne Calment offered her French apartment en viager, or “for life.” If Raffray paid her $500 US per month for her remaining days, he would inherit her apartment when she died. But as months turned into years, Calment kept living and Raffray kept paying. Finally, after thirty years and a lot of money, Raffray died! Jeanne Calment celebrated her 120th birthday and shrugged, “In life, one sometimes makes bad deals.”

Looking Back

Winston Churchill once said, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” But the original thought may be traced to the philosopher George Santayana, who wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” It’s true; you can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been.

Actions Speak

Two siblings went down truly divergent paths. One turned his back on Jesus and eventually spent years in prison. The other lived out the grace and love of God, compassionately caring for family, those inside the body of Christ, and those on the outside. Two lives marked by actions that spoke loudly.

> ethics

Imitate My Father

The idea of immigrants competing with locals for jobs is a political hot potato in many countries. Some citizens resent the newcomers because they perceive them as stealing jobs, competing for scarce services, and causing overcrowding. With unfamiliar customs and languages, the immigrants are sometimes accused of disturbing and even threatening the social fabric of the native born. So how should believers in Jesus respond to the aliens living in their midst?

rotten fruit

There’s a “quick sale” area in my local supermarket where fruit is offered at a huge discount. If not sold quickly, the fully ripened edibles will become soft, flabby, and infected with fungus.

judgment of justice

An acquaintance of mine, who is highly intelligent and has a philosophical bent, also carries antipathy toward God and religion. He enjoys being provocative, recently quoting the second-century philosopher Epicurus who said: “There is no such thing as justice in the abstract; it is merely a compact between men.”

> faith

Semper Gumby

Since 1883, semper fidelis (always faithful) has been the motto of the US Marine Corps. The toy figure Gumby, based on an animated character from a TV show, has been with us since the 1950s.

A Heart of Gratitude

In his memoir Townie, novelist Andre Dubus III shared that his father, also a renowned writer, would write every single morning. After he finished, “He’d count how many words he’d gotten and record the number. After each total, whether it was fifteen hundred or fifty, he wrote ‘Thank you.’ ” This writer had learned the art of gratitude, and it shaped his work—allowing him to see and then write about rich experiences of hope, humanity, and grace.

Unscripted

After walking into a sandwich shop, I sensed the Holy Spirit nudging me to reach out to the young man who took our order. Unsure of how to start, I gathered my food and followed my husband to the patio area. Shortly after we sat down, the same young man came outside to sweep the area. I set aside my fear and began an unscripted conversation. In this unexpected moment, God provided the opportunity for us to discuss how Jesus’ love and the power of the Holy Spirit could help the young man overcome the situations he was facing.

> health

Gaps

A battle rages where I live—a rivalry between two universities. The rivalry manifests itself primarily in athletic competition. My alma mater proudly displays the letter “S” as its logo. The S stands for State, as in Michigan State University. The other school brandishes a distinctive “M,” which represents the University of Michigan.

Hope for Today

Someone close to me recommitted his life to God, began taking his wife and young daughter to church, and was seeking to follow Jesus faithfully. Within weeks, however, his world began to fall apart. His daughter was admitted to the hospital with a chest infection, his business partner refused to pay him, and his wife asked for some time apart. He looked drained and weary when I offered to pray for him, saying he’d rather not have any help from God. From the moment he’d chosen to serve the Lord again, he said it felt as if a huge target had been placed on his back and the Enemy was having a field day.

Something More Powerful

When France’s ministry of health realized that 17.8 percent of French women smoked while pregnant, they came up with a plan. For a trial period of thirty-six months, seventeen French hospitals paid women up to 300 euros to stop smoking during their pregnancies. Of the 612 participants, 22.5 percent of the women gave up their cigarettes.

> relationships

Next Generation Faith

Graeme was part of a group of self-proclaimed Satanists at my school. By God’s grace, he came to Jesus during an outreach event, began growing in his faith, and eagerly attended church youth groups. But one day I noticed he looked quite sad. When I asked why, he said his parents didn’t approve of his newfound faith. They wanted him to go back to his former way of life that included partying.

Covenant Relationship

Two different friends from different spheres of my life—one a man, one a woman—told me about their unfaithful spouses during the same week. Both felt betrayed and angry. They wondered if they would ever feel whole again.

Gifts from God

Police were sent to a home in response to a report of domestic child abuse. When they arrived at the house, they found a scared four-year-old girl with a black eye, swollen cheek, and bruises covering a majority of her tiny frame. The officers were devastated when they asked her to say her name and she meekly replied, “Idiot.”