For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10) We are often reminded of our “first world problems” on days when things just don’t go right. The drive to work is...
In less than a year, God has completely turned my life upside down. My family and I began attending the Church at Severn Run about two and a half years ago. Though I missed my old church, I tried to get in the swing of things, participating in the college-age Connect Group, SMASH, and working...
After your child has been dedicated (like we do at our church periodically), you might be thinking about your next steps and guiding them until they meet the age when they are ready to commit their lives to Christ and be baptized. We’ll talk about what to do, things to look...
When Jesus responded to the question regarding the greatest commandment, he states in Matthew 22:39, “And the second is equally important, love your neighbor as yourself.” This verse puzzled me, yet it had a profound impact on my life for years to come. It was a...
Anthony Lyle is originally from Pittsburgh and moved to Maryland with a company for work. We asked him about his experiences with his connect group. Here's what he had to say... What is your occupation? I move furniture and perform sound system installations. I do a lot of sound work for...
I walked to the table and there he was. Amanuel Habtamu. Not smiling exactly, but looking expectant. Or maybe that’s just how I perceived his expression. I felt he looked expectant of me, of anybody, to follow the leading of their heart. His face seemed to say, “I am...
It’s easy to think that some people are “immune” to sin, or at least more resistant to it, based on outward appearances. Some people just seem to have it all together, and it feels like they couldn’t ever do anything wrong. The truth is that this is as far from the truth...
I guess I first should say that before I was ever a part of a small group I used to think that these groups were for “weird” or “religious” people. Even being an outgoing person by nature, I didn’t think it would be something I was comfortable participating...
As she walked around the corner at the train station, a man who appeared to be homeless, made eye contact and began moving toward her. He seemed to be inebriated. As he mumbled to her she heard, “I wan’t to be delivered from my addition today.” Walking to him, she placed her...
At the tender age of 10 Pam walked into a VBS all on her own and heard the very first and only Bible verse in her life, John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever should believe in him would not perish, but have everlasting life.” She...
Have you ever asked yourself that ever-unanswered question, “Why does God allow bad things to happen?” Well, don’t get your hopes up, because I’m not here to answer that—we just don’t have enough room on the internet to tackle it.
However, I can tell you how God works through bad things that happen…
He works through his people! And about a month ago, Severn Run had a taste of this. Here’s what happened:
It was a typical Tuesday morning when some of the Severn Run staff came in to work. It was shortly after the New Year, and it was quite frigid outside. As to be expected, there was some ice in the parking lot of church campus. However, on this particular day, there was a large cascade of ice flowing down from Severn Run’s back entrance into the parking spaces nearby. It was quickly obvious that this wasn’t just ice from the previous night’s cold temperatures.
As some of the staff members investigated the interior of the church building, they discovered more ‘fun’ surprises. It seemed that Severn Run had gotten an unexpected pool installed in the whole first floor of the building! Ok, so it wasn’t a pool, but there was about two inches of water across the entire first floor of the building.
After calling the local water damage experts, the Severn Run staff began the tedious task of moving everything off the first floor that wasn’t tacked down. It was a LOT of work, but since it was the middle of the week, pretty much anyone who could help was already at the church building. After a lot of sweat, and maybe a few tears, it was eventually all done. The workers showed up later to start removing all the water and doing what needed to be done to set the church building up for repair down the road. This would be where the lovely ‘airflow upgrades’ around the base of all the walls on the first floor of the building came from. Perhaps you’ve noticed?
By the time all the water was extruded from the floor and carpet on the first floor of the Severn Run campus it was Friday, and the Severn Run staff had to move everything back into place to prepare for the services on Sunday. Quite a daunting task. But, this is where God came in!
The invite went out to most of the church via social media, and oh boy did people respond! The re-setup of the church campus was scheduled for Saturday morning starting at 9 AM. When I arrived (slightly late) there were already about 30-40 people there. There was a desk up front for people to sign in and get assigned to teams, which would tackle different places around the church campus that needed help.
Pastor John, our Executive Pastor, was giving a quick pep talk before we got started. He spoke briefly of how they discovered the water, and how excited he was to see so many people there to give up their Saturday to help prepare the building to house services on Sunday. He spoke of how important it was for us to come together because he knew that God had big plans. There were people who needed to have a place to sit on Sunday morning so they could focus on a message that God had specifically crafted for them to hear. It was inspiring to think about how such a simple thing as giving up a few hours of our weekend could have an eternal impact on the Kingdom!
Once Pastor John finished, off we went. It was a furious task to get the building back into a prepared state for Sunday, but we had a lot of help, as more people came in to support. It was probably 50 or 60 people in total.
Many people went inside the Worship Center to set up the chairs – one of the biggest tasks to do in preparation for Sunday. Other groups went to help put the kids’ areas back into place, while others helped remove trash, set up other areas, or go outside to start chipping away (literally) at the ice arena in the parking lot.
It took about three to four hours for just about all the work to be finished. The ice took the longest, and wasn’t even completely done by the time we all called it quits, but enough of it had been removed to allow people to drive through, park, and walk safely into the church building on Sunday.
Sunday morning came, and the services ran without a hitch. If you attended that day and had no idea about the escapades of the previous week, about the only way you would have known would have been those ‘airflow upgrades’ that I mentioned earlier, which that are still there. Well, that and the fact that we told everyone who attended, or who viewed our services online that day. But, we told everyone because we wanted them to know that when we needed help, God responded by bringing Severn Runners in to have our back.
And, that’s exactly what God does when bad things happen.
No one can say what exactly God will or will not do when it comes to allowing bad things to happen, but it has been evident since creation that when they do happen, he calls people to respond. The pipe’s bursting at Severn Run, followed by water damage, may not fully qualify as something ‘bad’, but no matter how big or small, God responds. Sometimes God calls on others, and other times he calls to us each individually. How we respond is completely up to us. We just have to decide if we’re going to be willing.
God works through his people. Are you willing to let him use you?
Nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified. (Galatians 2:16)
There is a difference between doing and being. More than the obvious differences of activity and rest—there is a spiritual difference.
Doing is about appearances. It’s about activity. It’s about the outward and the effort. Doing is “religion.”
Going to church because you’re supposed to.
Reading the Bible and praying because it’s on your list.
Joining a small group because you’ll look like you’re doing what you’re supposed to do.
Serving because it looks good on your resume.
Man is not justified by works. “Doing” for the sake of redemption does nothing but keep us busy, bothered, and stressed. Doing makes us think that we are in control of our destiny, our purpose, and our salvation. Doing keeps us focused on self instead of God.
Doing does not justify. Doing is empty and broken trying desperately to be something.
Being is about presence. It’s about the inward. It’s about your motivation. The dictionary defines being as, “having the state, quality, identity, nature, role, of something specified.” Being aligns your identity, your nature, your role, to Jesus. Being is relationship.
Being changes your purpose and motivation.
So instead of just going to church, you go to be with Jesus.
Instead of reading the Bible and praying because it’s on your list, you do it to be closer to God.
Instead of being in a connect group for appearances, you go to be with other believers.
Instead of serving to build your resume, you serve to be like Jesus.
This week, instead of thinking about what you are doing, ask yourself what you are being.
Are you being close to Jesus?
Are you being Jesus to others?
Are you…being the difference?
This post was originally published on the Collide Youth Blog but is a good reminder about how Scripture can help encourage us when we are tempted or fall short of our goals.
Happy New Year!
As 2018 approaches, the whole world celebrates the coming of a new year, and with that, comes New Year’s resolutions. The whole point of making resolutions is to become a better person in some way, which might mean losing a bad habit, or making better habits, or anything along those lines. And man is that difficult!
We face challenges every day from outside sources that are mostly beyond our control like schoolwork, jobs, relationships with family and friends, sicknesses, annoying people, and busy schedules. And then there are the challenges that we find within ourselves, like having a habit of lying, being tempted to sin, not holding your tongue, or feeling hatred towards someone. And those inner challenges can be the hardest to change. But what better time to deal with them than at the start of a new chapter in our lives? Hence, New Year’s resolutions.
So, what’s your resolution? Do you want to be a better Christian, sibling, student, daughter or son? Have you resolved to stop cursing, eating junk food, watching so much TV, or practicing some sin? Have you resolved to exercise more, share the Gospel more, be kinder to your little brother, be on time for things, READ more (because reading is great), or strive to do your very best in everything you do?
You may be wondering if the Bible actually says anything about this kind of stuff. Of course, it does! I thought I would share some Scriptures for you to consider when you experience moments that challenge your New Year’s resolution; moments of weakness, or temptation, or when you feel like giving up (because you will feel like giving up).
Choose the ones that fit your needs, and then to help remember them, write them on a sticky note, save them as notes to your phone, make them your screensaver, or even simply commit them to memory!
When you are tempted to flip out on someone
James 2:19 “Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.”
When others are not supportive of your resolution
1 Timothy 4:12 “Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.”
When you think negative thoughts about others
Colossians 3:12 “Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”
Philippians 2:3-5 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.”
When you feel your mouth (cursing, eating, lying) your body, or your desires (alcohol, shopping, violence, drugs, sex, food, etc.) are out of control
Colossians 3:5:10 “So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.”
Note: It’s important to remember that TEMPTATION IS NOT A SIN. Even Jesus was tempted in Matthew 4. But it’s also important to remember that temptation is what leads to sin, and has to be resisted. James 4:7, “So humble ourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
When you think negative thoughts about yourself
Philippians 4:8 “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
When you fail or feel defeated and you want to give up on your resolution
Galatians 6:9 “So, let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”
Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”
When you feel too timid to share your faith
2 Timothy 1:7-8 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord.”
When you are doubting God because of bad life experiences
Jeremiah 29:11-13 “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me”
When you are not sure that God will help you
Joshua 1:9 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
I can’t say it any better than this from the book of Ephesians:
“A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we[d] are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:11-17
As Barbara Martin walked into the church building on Sunday, she was approached by her husband, Youth Pastor Chris Martin. He made her aware that the youth team traveling to the Dominican Republic was in need of a female chaperone.
She politely declined.
Barbara Martin did not want to go to the Dominican Republic (DR). She had no interest in the heat, the bugs, and the number of out-of-her-comfort-zone experiences there would potentially be on the trip.
She walked through the doors of the worship center and find her seat. Unbeknownst to her, God had called Pastor Drew to share about missions. During that time, Barbara felt the Lord tugging at her heart and knew that he was calling her to meet the need for a female chaperone. She walked out of the worship center that morning and into the commitment to go with the youth mission team to the DR.
The team spent their days in the Dominican Republic building a house for a woman and her children. Barbara said that children came from all over to witness the work being done. She and some of the team were able to love on the neighborhood children while work on the house was being completed. The children had dirty clothes and most had no shoes. The team handed out snacks to the children and to most, it was a precious gift.
Barbara saw dirty clothes, dirty children, mud walled houses, the heat from the stove where the fire was fed all day, more dirt, bugs, dirt that became mud when it rained, rain that did not cool the air but instead made it more oppressive, sewage that began to mingle with rivers of mud that flowed around and sometimes through the houses, more dirt, and more heat.
To be honest, little about the trip was enjoyable for Barbara.
However, God spoke very clearly to her about several things.
Sometimes, when we answer God’s call, like Barbara did to go on the trip, we believe that since we’re being obedient everything will be sunshine and roses. We think that beautiful blessings will flow out of God’s abundant love for us and it will be the best experience EVER because we are in God’s will for our lives! But, that’s not always the case – at least in terms of sunshine and roses. Paul, for example, was obedient to God’s call and he ended up in many uncomfortable places, not the least of which was prison.
But our work for God is not in vain.
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you.Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
(1 Corinthians 15:58)
God used Barbara’s experience in the DR to teach her about gratitude and dependence on Him.
Barbara witnessed the woman’s house being built and saw how she and others in the community were so dependent on God for EVERY THING. Barbara realized that in our blessed, American lives where so much comes easily, she is often not dependent on God for 30 minutes, much less dependent on him to provide everything and meet all her needs.
“The more (stuff) I have, the more I take for granted and the more I don’t depend on God,” Barbara said.
Barbara does not want to go back to the Dominican Republic. It was not a “fun” experience, but perhaps her obedience enabled the Lord to reach her on a level, out of her comfort zone, that she would not have allowed him to penetrate from the comfortable surroundings of the familiar.
In the dirt, heat, and discomfort of a foreign country, God showed her she should be doing much more at home. Barbara changed her perspective on missions and learned that she doesn’t have to go to the DR to make big changes for the kingdom of Christ. There is much to do in her community and in the lives of people she comes into contact with every day that will bring others closer to Him.
If you find yourself serving in a way that you don’t enjoy, ask God what he is teaching you. Then seek out somewhere you can serve that better meets your gifts. And remember that nothing we do for the Lord is in vain.
Ask anyone you meet at work or on the street, “What or who do we worship?” and the answers most certainly would be varied. Severn Run attendees would mostly say “God”.
But if you continued to look beyond the church walls, and observe what or who people worship you’d see a much more broad scope of practices. Many of which we may not even realize how much we worship them. You’d see Hollywood, royalty, the rich and famous, money, possessions, good looks, food, children, and maybe even spouses. You would most certainly see self.
And if you ask the same Severn Runners is service worship? With a head nod they would likely say “Yes”! Then ask how is it that so? You might then get that “deer in the headlights” look.
Why would that be? Maybe because service seems on the outside to be about the receiver. He/She who is served is the receiver, right? They do of course benefit, yet we must ask is there more or is that it? Fortunately, there is more, much more.
William J. Stewart noted on the “Looking unto Jesus” website, “Every aspect of a Christian’s life is to be service to God, but not all service is worship. However, let us also be careful not to limit our worship to 3 or 4 hours of assembly time with the Lord’s people per week. We ought to habitually set time aside to worship the Lord privately. (Matthew 6:6)” (1)
If we are wanting to worship God, just how do we do that through service? To understand the tie between service and worship, we must first understand how worship is defined in the Bible.
In John 4:24 Jesus lays it out for us this way, “God is spirit. And his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” So then, is all service worship? Yes, no, or maybe as some would argue the following points:
- If the service is rendered to God it is worship.
- With the right heart, all service in all situations is worship.
- If the service isn’t sinful, it is worship.
- Service is worship if it follows the Bible’s definition of worship.
All these points have various compelling arguments but the final option seems to be supported in knowing we are then following the teaching of God’s word.
After Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the wilderness, Satan tempted Jesus with food. He suggested Jesus test the angels who were to protect him. He offered Jesus dominion over the kingdoms of the world. After all this, Jesus had enough and Matthew 4:10 tells us how Jesus finally responded to Satan, “Get out of here, Satan.” Jesus told him. “For the scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’”
What does this mean for us today? Jesus is clearly saying that we are to serve God only. We therefore must be careful our service is not tied to things of this world such as status, self-sacrifice, admiration of others, personal recognition or anything else we might potentially worship. These things and more can seep into our service lives.
Although worship and service are closely related, they are not the same thing. As noted on the “Trusting God America” website, if they were the same there would be no reason for Jesus to address them separately.
There are at least three things to consider for service to be an act of worship:
- Proper Attitude with Correct Authority: Our mindset and perspective need to be God focused and in the Spirit for our service to be worshipful. (John 4:23-24)
- Intentional: Worship, thus service, is to support Biblical worship and have specific action that we intent to be worship.
- Truth Regulated: To worship in truth is the approved action for service. Our service must support truth which is found only in God’s word. (John 17:17)
In summary we serve to worship God and this service is an outcome of our love for God and others.
According to one blog on worship versus service, “The Divine ideal is that our worship of the Lord will inspire us to serve, and that our service for Him will flow naturally from worship.” (2) Another wrote, “We find that worship is outwardly manifested by service.” (3)
When out of worship of God, we can then chose to serve God by taking action:
- Go to Severnrunner.info
- Click on “Be the Difference”
- Complete the Level 1, 2, & 3 challenges
- Get your stickers
- Fill your card
Get started or take the next step today!
(1) http://lookinguntojesus.net/a-difference-between-service-and-worship/ by William J. Stewart