Paul says we Christians are running a race. Here's what I'm looking at on my run toward Christ.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Spiritual Gifts

Read 1 Corinthians chapter 12.

In this chapter the Apostle Paul is writing to the church at Corinth to explain about spiritual gifts.  The church at Corinth had many questions and misunderstandings about spiritual gifts.  As a life-long Baptist, I can easily say that I have many questions and much to learn about spiritual gifts.

Below are a few things we can know about spiritual gifts from this chapter.

1) We all have at least one spiritual gift.

"All these (spiritual gifts) are the work of one and the same Spirit, and He gives them to each one, just as He determines."  1 Corinthians 12:11

"For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body... whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free... and we were all given the one Spirit to drink" 1 Corinthians 12:13

I believe that we all have the complete indwelling of the Holy Spirit from the moment of conversion.  We at that moment were baptized into one body of believers and given the one Spirit to drink.  Because we have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, we will have a manifestation of the Holy Spirit of some kind.  What manifestation and to what degree will vary, but we all have some gift/gifts of the Spirit.  No Christian can say that they don't have a gift.  One could say they aren't aware of a gift or aren't using a gift, but I believe all Christians have a gift of the Spirit.

2) All gifts of the Spirit are important, likewise all those with the gifts are important to the body of Christ.

"Now the body is not made up of one part but of many.  If the foot should say, 'Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,' it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body.  And if the ear should say, 'Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,' it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body.  If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be/  If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?  But in fact God has arranged the parts of the body, every one of them, just as He wanted them to be.  If they were all one part, where would they body be?  As is is, there are many parts, but one body."  1 Corinthians 12:14-20

The metaphor is easy to see in this passage.  Don't let yourself be tricked into thinking that you are not important of your local church or the Church universal.  You are essential and so is everyone else.  Don't think of yourself too lowly or too highly.  You are essential but not self-sufficient.

3) The purpose of Spiritual gifts.

"Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good."  1 Corinthians 12:7

"Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms.  If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God.  If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.  To Him be the glory and the power for ever and ever.  Amen."  1 Peter 4:10-11

Spiritual gifts are given for the common good and the glory of God.  When using your gift of the Spirit you should ask.  "Is this for the good of others or just me?"  "Does this glorify God or me?"  Asking these questions will help you faithfully administer God's grace in the form granted you to do so.

Gifts of the Spirit are also to highlight the diverse and wonderful character of our God.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Christmas Letter 2013

Merry Christmas,

We did not send out a Christmas letter this year (Matt thought we weren't at that life stage yet and then we started getting cards from our friends who are our age), so we are writing our letter online.

2013 was a monumental year for us.  We had so many exciting changes.  On January 17th Matt proposed (Christine said 'yes') and on August 17th we were married in front of our friends and family.  We've reflected on that day and are amazed at how lucky we are and how much our friends and family love us  This year we also moved into a new home in Waverly.  The house is very nice, perfect for our needs and our landlord is the best.  We are learning to live with each other.  It has been better than great, but we are still learning to care about each other's needs before our own.

Besides getting married, Christine had a big year.  In May she graduated from U.N.I. with a degree in biology.  Just a few weeks later in June she began a 15 month accelerated program at Allen College to get her B.S.N.  She is finishing up her second semester now and will graduate in August.  Christine has also begun helping Matt lead the youth group at our church.  On top of all that she is writing and directing our church's annual Easter passion mime.  This is a huge undertaking and she is filling big shoes because our friend Becky Baker had done it every other year until moving to Wisconsin this year.

Matt is still working at KWAY radio in Waverly.  He's on the air from 5:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. every weekday.  He enjoys being on the air and getting involved in the community.  He also continues to broadcast sporting events for the station.  He does play-by-play for football, volleyball, basketball, soccer, baseball and softball; and has averaged doing 135 games a year.  Matt also is working part time at our church.  He is the youth leader.  Matt is in his ninth year working with youth at the church, but with the departure of Jay Baker, the previous youth leader, he's accepted some more responsibility in that role.

Spiritually as a couple we've grown a lot this year.  We've been actively involved in our church, Grace Baptist.  We enjoy serving, doing Bible studies and anything else we're able to do.  We each have our own personal studies, we do Bible reading together and through leading the youth and writing the mime we have been deeply rooted in the Word this year.  We thank God for the ways He's lead us closer to Himself together as a couple.

We thank you also for all your love, support and friendship this year.  Thank you for helping make 2013 the best year of our lives so far.  We wish you a merry Christmas and a happy 2014!


The Rays

Friday, December 13, 2013


Please read 1 Corinthians chapter 11.

My generation is one of the champions of "come as you are."  I myself prefer this notion of church going (mostly because I dress up all week long for work) and I also can be disgusted at the way some people make a church service into a fashion show.

That being said, many people dress nicely for church services because they want to bring their best before God.  I find this to be completely unnecessary and commendable at the same time.  I'm sure that God couldn't care less what clothes I'm wearing, but I think the attitude that the "Sunday best" folks bring to church can be better than we "come as you are" folks.

Here's what the "Sunday best" folks get right: reverence.  I'm not saying that wearing jeans makes you irreverent, but I am saying that the attitude of the "Sunday best" folks errors on the side of reverence.  Now, I can be completely reverent in a T-shirt, but what one wears isn't the point.

I'm not talking about clothes, or rather I'm not trying to talk about clothes.  The point of this post is not to convince you to start wearing slacks and a button-up shirt.  What I want is for you to examine how reverent you are in your church service.

There is something special, something different about our church services.  For some reason we treat them differently than our potlucks or even Bible studies.  Something about our communal worship is different and begs to be treated with reverence.  In 1 Corinthians chapter 11 the church at Corinth was not treating their church service and the Lord's Supper with reverence.  For this reason Paul gives them instruction on public worship that error on the side of reverence.

So, we must ask ourselves: "How do we practice proper reverence in public worship?"  I'm not instructing you necessarily to change your dress code.  I'm not necessarily suggesting you should make a rule about hats in your local church.  What I do want is for you personally to examine how much reverence you exercise in the public worship of our holy God.

Don't start rule making, and for goodness sake don't start judging the reverence of others unless you've been appointed leader of them.  Examine yourself.  Approach God with reverence today.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Decision Making 101

Take time to read 1 Corinthians chapter 10.  It is full of some great truths.  Truths about withstanding temptation, truths about why we continually preach the Gospel to even those who should have already been able to see God clearly, truths about how we need to be fully committed to God and truths about the believer's freedom.

I want to focus, as I did in a previous post, on the believer's freedom.  I believe that 1 Corinthians chapter 10 has some great instructions on how to make decisions.

There are three questions we can expound from verses 23 through 33 that we should ask when making decisions.

1) Does it glorify God?

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31

We should ask ourselves, "Does this glorify God?"  If it does, then it may be worth doing.  If it doesn't, then we shouldn't do it.

This is an amazing verse and an amazing questions because it presupposes that everything we do, from eating to preaching, from A to Z, can all be done for the glory of God.  There is no action too small to honor God nor is there any task too lofty in which to honor the Almighty.

If we ask, "Does this glorify God?" our lives will be changed for the better.  So often I ask, "Can I get away with this?"  If I instead asked, "Does this glorify God?' my actions would no doubt be more in line with God and His ways.

2) Is this the most beneficial for the most people?

"Everything is permissible'... but not everything is beneficial.  'Everything is permissible'... but not everything is constructive.  Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others."  1 Corinthians 10:23-24

We should ask, "Is this constructive?"  "Is this beneficial?"  "Is this for my good or the good of others?"  How much better would our world be if people asked this question?  This, like the question before it, can change the world.

We all want to hear, "Everything is permissible".  The Corinthians made this saying famous.  It was the Y.O.L.O. of the ancient world and it is somewhat true with Christian freedom.  But just because you can do something does not mean that you should.  Jesus could have had ten thousand angels wipe out those plotting to kill Him, but He, for the glory of God and to achieve the most good for the most people, endured the cross.  We are to imitate Him.

3) Will this show others Christ?

"Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God... even as I try to please everyone in every way.  For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved."  1 Corinthians 10:32-33

Ask, "Will this show others the love of Christ?  Will it show others the Gospel?  Or will this obscure the glory of the cross?"  If we ask this question our lives will be changed and the lives of those around us may be changed.

We are called to live missionally.  Do we live in a way to makes Jesus look attractive to an unbelieving world?  Through actions and words we are to live missionally.

Don't think of yourself only.  Don't be fooled by your prideful ego.  Make good decisions by asking the questions above.  1) Does it glorify God?  2) Is this the most beneficial for the most people?  3) Will this show others Christ?

Make decisions based in this Biblical principle today.