Mercy Ministry Matters to God — and Why It Should Matter to You, Too

The Great Physician at Work

I have a soft spot for mercy ministries — those outward-focused ministries that serve the less fortunate in a community. Some of my sweetest ministry experiences have come through my nearly eight years of serving with English as a Second Language (ESL).

One day, though, I stepped back and asked the question: Why do we do ESL? Yes, ESL meets a practical need (teaching English), a relational need (building friendships), and can open doors to a spiritual need (presenting the gospel). But beyond an ESL ministry’s practicality, does it — or any mercy ministry — have biblical warrant to be a ministry of the church?

So I set out on a quest. I scoured Scripture to see if the Bible commands us to care for the needy (it does). And I surveyed church history to see if our spiritual predecessors cared for the less fortunate (they did).

In my studies, four theological principles emerged: Continue reading

Restoring Joy

[Please enjoy this guest post from my wife Katie.]

We know the feeling of being “on fire” for God.

Much like the burning passion that new lovers feel in the peak of a relationship. Or the deep longing a mother feels to meet the long-awaited-for child in her womb.

But then time passes by. Life happens. The relationship turns to coordinating schedules, making weighty decisions about bills/children/in-laws, and taking care of the mundane responsibilities of life that fail to ignite that deep joy we had once known. New babies — with the added kisses, hugs, and smiles — lead to lots of cleaning, laundry, bills, and carpooling and little to no rest. There may be no set routine (as much as new moms and dads try to establish one), but you find that the element of unpredictable sleep patterns leave little room for a person to experience even a minute amount of joy.

Over time, you find yourself getting frustrated with that individual that you waited for, prayed for, and felt so much stirring passion for. The passion fades.

This can also happen in our relationship with Christ. Continue reading

How You Can Be Like Jeff Gordon — In A Way That Truly Matters

Jeff Gordon is retiring. Whether you love him or hate him, odds are he comes to mind when you think about NASCAR. He was the face of the sport for more than 20 years, and many little race fans wanted to be like him.

You probably remember Gordon as the guy who drove the rainbow-colored DuPont car. And for good reason. DuPont shelled out tens of millions of dollars to his team every year.

By Darryl Moran [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
But Gordon didn’t pocket the money and run. He never said, “I got my paycheck, so I’m going to hit the lake this weekend. You guys can take care of the race, right?” Continue reading

Google Is Not Infallible, But Something Else Is

Have you ever seen Google make a mistake? I hadn’t. I just assumed that what Google says goes. So when I typed in the location of an important meeting today, I trusted that Google would steer me the right way.

It didn’t.

Where Google said there should be a church was a wooded plot of land. So I kept driving. And driving. And driving. Finally I called the person I was meeting. His instructions? Keep driving. All in all, the actual location of the church was almost eight miles away from where Google told me it was supposed to be. Google was wrong. (And, consequently, I was late.)

By Daniel Ramirez from Honolulu, USA [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsThis rocked my world. I mean, Google tells me when holidays are, how to bake five-star lemon pepper chicken, what my kid’s sickness symptoms mean, what really happened at the end of Inception, and where I can book that hotel for the least amount of money. Google is never wrong.

But this time it was. And it was a potent reminder that there is only one infallible source of truth. Continue reading

The Gospel > Your Rights

I’ve been a political junkie ever since middle school. While most kids were watching Nickelodeon or playing football, I was the oddball reading USA Today, watching cable news, and vehemently arguing politics with friends and family.

As an American, I had every right to assert my political opinions. To take a stand. To make my position known. And though I have mellowed in recent years, that itch never went away. As a result, I still liked posting opinion columns on controversial issues to my Facebook.

Then, last spring, I ran across this line in D.A. Carson’s book The Cross and Christian Ministry:

 “How can Christians stand beside the cross and insist on their rights?”

This quote—and the passage in 1 Corinthians 9 it referred to—floored me. I was immediately convicted about my “right” to assert my political views.

You see, when I ardently posted my political views, I was inevitably driving away the friends who disagreed. And their greatest need is not a change in politics. It’s a change in heart, the kind only the gospel can provide.  Continue reading

Want to Be Wise? Be a Fool.

I like learning.

There, I said it. I’m sure that makes me a nerd or something, but I don’t care. I honestly enjoy reading books, watching lectures, listening to NPR… you name it.

With this interest comes some spiritual baggage: I feel like I must prove Christianity to my non-Christian friends. That I must somehow make it reasonable. And, to be sure, there are plenty of brilliant scholars who excel at defending the Christian faith — William Lane Craig, Tim Keller, Alvin Plantinga, etc.

But Paul’s comments in 1 Corinthians 3:18-23 were a welcome reminder that in many ways, Christianity will always seem foolish.

But don’t take it from me: Continue reading