Posts Tagged ‘kevin Deyoung’

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There are few epitaphs I would rather have engraved on my tombstone than Paul’s words of commendation to Philemon, “the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you” (Philemon 1:7). Oh, how I love Philemons and want to consistently be one!
Here are twenty practical ways that you can seek to nurture this refreshing gift in the midst of your own local church.

– Greet people on Sunday mornings with a smile. It is o.k. to let your face say that you are “happy” to be at church. Go out of your way to say, “Hi,” ask questions about the lives of others, and listen attentively.
– Visit the widows and shut-ins of your church. Take an afternoon and visit three or four. Sit, talk, listen, and be willing to look at their photo albums—all of them (1 Timothy 5:3)!
– Have a mouth that is overflowing with grace (Ephesians 4:29) and is slow to wander down any other road.
– Show up each Sunday morning with a mental list of three or four people that you are going to find and minister to (Philippians 2:4). Many of us walk into church with an attitude of, “I wonder who will minister to me today.” Nothing can be as drastically encouraging to a local church’s membership than a people united in the understanding that they are there to serve and love one another.
– Be a Monday morning encourager instead of a Monday morning critic by sending your pastor an email detailing what you appreciated about his Sunday sermon.
– Don’t rush out of church on Sunday mornings. Be one of the last to leave because you are taking the time to talk with everyone you can (this will be hard for the introvert—but some of the most engaging and refreshing people I have served with are introverts. They wear themselves out on Sunday morning). The football games and lunch will be there fifteen or thirty minutes later.
– Often remind others of the benefits of salvation and the graces that flow from union with Christ. Let it season your conversations.
– Routinely have a crock-pot meal or roast cooking on Sundays and spontaneously invite a visiting family or family-in-need for supper following the service.
– Seek out those visiting the church, get to know them, and introduce them to others. Find connections and be a networker to the glory of God.
– Aim to remember peoples’ names and greet them by name each Sunday (I wish I was better at this, because it means so much to people). The Cheers’ theme song had a point, we all feel loved when our name is known (Isaiah 49:16).
– Refuse to speak ill of others in the congregation (Ephesians 4:31).
– Get to know the children of the congregation and seek to talk to five different children each Sunday morning (Matthew 19:14).
– Know the Word and season your conversations with it. This isn’t to impress others, but rather to encourage them in the faith. The Word does not return void (Isaiah 55:11).
– Write and mail anonymous encouragement notes to members of the congregation. Why are we so hesitant to pass out encouragement? We can never encourage others too much (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
– Always speak the truth with others (Ephesians 4:25). “Let your ‘yes’ be yes and your ‘no’ be no.” (James 5:12).
– Ask the pastor if there is anything you can do to help him during the week and be willing to do it.
– Refuse to listen to gossip or be a purveyor of it (2 Corinthians 12:20).
– Willingly bear the burdens of others in the congregation (Galatians 6:2). This means praying for them, serving them, giving financially to help those in need, loving when love is not returned, and being quick to forgive.
– Write thank you notes to volunteers in the church.
– Rejoice in the Lord and lead others to do the same by your example (Philippians 4:4). Don’t be an agitator, complainer, or “negative-Nelly.” This doesn’t mean we are seeking to be Pollyannish, but rather simply rejoicing in the many benefits we have as those united with the Living God by the blood of the Son.

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Many of us are so familiar with the Gospels that we fail to see the obvious: Jesus was a very busy man. One of Mark’s favourite words is ‘immediately’. For three years, Jesus and his band of disciples are a whirlwind of activity. One event immediately follows another. In Mark 1, Jesus begins his public ministry by teaching in the synagogue, rebuking an unclean spirit, caring for Simon’s mother-in-law and then staying up late into the night, healing many who were sick with various diseases and casting out many demons (1: 34). At one point Jesus was too busy even to eat, and his family thought he was going mad (3: 20– 21). Jesus had crowds coming to him all the time.

He had people looking for him, demanding his time and attention. The impression we get from the Gospels is that almost every day for three years he’s preaching, healing and casting out demons. Don’t think Jesus is some kind of Zen master who does yoga and ponders the sound of one hand clapping. If Jesus were alive today, he’d get more e-mails than any of us. He’d have people calling his mobile all the time. He’d have a zillion requests for interviews, television appearances and conference gigs. Jesus did not float above the fray, untouched by the pressures of normal human existence. (mai mult…)

The unity of Scripture also means we should be rid, once and for all, of this “red letter” nonsense, as if the words of Jesus are the really important verses in Scripture and carry more authority and are somehow more directly divine than other verses. An evangelical understanding of inspiration does not allow us to prize instructions in the gospel more than instructions elsewhere in Scripture. If we read about homosexuality from the pen of Paul in Romans, it has no less weight or relevance than if we read it from the lips of Jesus in Matthew. All Scripture is breathed out by God, not just the parts spoken by Jesus.
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london-big-benI think I understand Carl Trueman’s critiques of American evangelical celebrity culture after touring (to use a celebrity word!) England for a fortnight (to use a British word!). No one asked to take a picture with me–not once. Actually, the one selfie I took was with two Americans (friends of a friend), and we were razzed by the Brits for doing so. Every introduction I received was in the form of a brief interview. People did not queue up after a talk for me to sign their Bible or get a photo for social media. In fact, several church leaders told me that when they really like someone they make fun of them! The culture struck me as one that would rather chop the head off all the tall poppies than point to the one others are pointing at.

I didn’t have a problem with any of this. I like sarcasm and friendly scorn. I’d rather not get my picture taken. I don’t long to sign things. But at the same time, it felt to me like these were cultural values I was experiencing more than strictly biblical ones. Although the lack of pizzazz was refreshing, there were also times no one came up to me to say anything. During break times, I could wander around looking for the loo without fear of someone interrupting my wandering! I didn’t mind. Everyone was exceedingly kind. I’m simply commenting that the same culture that was wonderfully free of celebritification might seem to others unfriendly or unwelcoming (again, that’s not how I took any of it). I don’t think people from America should assume the British are rude, just like I don’t think they should assume people from the Midwest are too nice, people from the South are fake, people from the Northwest are weird, or people at Christian conferences in the States worship the speakers. As we learn from each other, part of what we will learn is that we do things in different ways and skew toward different dangers.

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