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

Running the Race

In 2005 Dean Karnazes ran 350 miles in eighty hours—setting the world record for distance running without sleep. Ten years later, Rob Young, nicknamed the “Marathon Man,” broke the record by covering nearly 374 miles in eighty-eight hours. Young, who had endured abuse by his father as a child, said he ran with two goals in mind: to test the limits of human endurance and to help the world become a better place for kids.

Is This Heaven?

In the fantasy-drama Field of Dreams, Ray Kinsella heard a mysterious voice whispering from his cornfield: “If you build it, he will come.” In time, Ray realized the voice was calling him to build a baseball field among his rows of cornstalks. When he built the ball field, major-league baseball players from the past miraculously emerged from the remaining cornstalks to play ball.

Tongues Afire

Over the past month or so, my wife and I have had some hard conversations. Places of deep hurt have become visible again. As we’ve talked, amid much sadness, I’ve had to reckon with a lasting wound I left on her heart. Years ago, before we were married, Miska and I endured a significant conflict. In that turmoil, I spoke words to her that were foolish and immature, words that lodged into the most tender and vulnerable places of her heart. I didn’t speak in anger or malice, but rather with ignorance and stupidity. I’ve asked her forgiveness multiple times, and she has freely forgiven me. Still . . . the wound is there. My words can’t be taken back.

> daily devotional

Together Forever

A Chinese translator told a visiting theologian that her Buddhist parents admired the teachings of Jesus, but they were offended by the idea that someone had to believe in Him to be saved. They worried that their Christian daughter now believed her ancestors were in hell. The translator said, “Revering my ancestors means much to me, and I want to assure my parents that I do not want to dishonor my family heritage. So please tell me what I, as a Christian, can say to my parents about this.”

Reflections of Marriage

Our pastor read this verse during a sermon: “It’s better to stay unmarried, just as I am” (1 Corinthians 7:8). Quite happily wed himself, he followed the reading by saying, “Marriage complicates things.” Seconds later, a masculine voice emitted a long exaggerated “Aaaaamen.” The congregation broke into laughter.

Passing By

During a political election year, a tow truck driver was called to assist a woman who was stranded with a broken-down vehicle. But the truck driver, upon seeing a bumper sticker on the car for a candidate he disliked, informed the motorist that he wouldn’t help her and drove away. His actions remind me how we sometimes choose to ignore those who need our help.

> ethics

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.”

if My people

I was speaking with three friends about the lamentable condition of our country. They mentioned the continued practice of abortion, the rise of homosexual marriage, and the debt crisis. One friend cited 2 Chronicles 7:14, and said that our nation’s problems will only be solved when our country turns to God. I said that would be difficult to pull off, as our nation believes in the separation of church and state. We cannot compel Muslims, Buddhists, or atheists to worship Yahweh. Nor would we want to. Life goes badly—both for those inside and outside the church—whenever Christianity becomes the religion of the state.

> faith

Philip Flunked

In college, I had the, ahem, joy of taking a class about the history of the English language. The professor would ramble on and on about his life and all kinds of odd facts during his lectures. We listened intently, however, because his tests were famously difficult. He didn’t simply ask us to recall facts, he required us to think differently. The questions were designed to ensure that we could apply our knowledge in unique ways.

Big and Small

Some big interviews lay ahead as I continued my quest to join the UK’s Royal Navy as a chaplain. That included psychometric tests, practical leadership tasks, planning exercises, and the writing of essays. I needed to take several trains down to the interview location, plan my interview techniques, and practice answers.

Hearing Loss

According to the World Health Organization, more than a billion young people are at risk of hearing loss because of personal audio devices and damaging levels of sound at some entertainment venues, where noise levels can top 120 decibels for hours on end! Doctors warn that a steady onslaught of loud noise, particularly through earbuds, is damaging the hearing ability of a generation.

> health

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.

Real Rest

During the long, harsh Alaskan winter, Denali National Park rangers rely on teams of sled dogs to help them patrol the vast, snowy wilderness. Dogsled patrols can last up to 6 weeks, and the dogs are always raring to go.

sweet sleep

Recent research concluded that Americans are among the world’s worst when it comes to sleep deprivation. The published statistics reveal: The US (along with France and Taiwan) ranks among the top three most sleep-deprived nations in the world. Indians (54 percent), Americans (49 percent), and Singaporeans (43 percent) reported not getting enough rest due to being too worried or stressed out. Most sleep-deprived Americans (66 percent), however, can’t sleep because they’re anxious about finances and paying their bills.

> relationships

Reflections of Marriage

Our pastor read this verse during a sermon: “It’s better to stay unmarried, just as I am” (1 Corinthians 7:8). Quite happily wed himself, he followed the reading by saying, “Marriage complicates things.” Seconds later, a masculine voice emitted a long exaggerated “Aaaaamen.” The congregation broke into laughter.

Bubbles

Sarah sometimes wonders if she only believes in Jesus because she’s surrounded by family and friends who also do. She asked, “Am I a Christian because it’s true or because I live in a Christian bubble?”

Distance

Reasons? He has many. As he passes several churches during his drive to the park for his Sunday run, he enjoys his solitude. In fact, he reflects on how he can connect with God just as easily—if not more so—on his own. But deep layers of pain, a multitude of rehearsed excuses, and complicated explanations mask a simple reality: Church has not been a safe place for him.