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Family Ministry Moments - May 2024

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A More Excellent Way

In 1 Corinthians 12 and 14, we discover the church in Corinth had been ranking Christians based on their spiritual gifts.  Spiritual gifts such as the gift of tongues and healing were thought to be better than other gifts.  People were separating themselves in a pseudo-class system based on the gifts they displayed.  Paul rebukes the church and reminds them that all these gifts come from the Holy Spirit.  Even though they are displayed differently each gift is an expression of the one Spirit.  Paul uses our physical bodies as an illustration.  Each body part is different, however all of them are important and useful.  The same is true for the distinct spiritual gifts.  The church needs all of them to function properly,  no one gift is better than another.

As you read through the passages you might notice there is a break in his discussion of this topic.  At the end of chapter 12, Paul tells the church that he will show them still a more excellent way.  There is something even greater than spiritual gifts, a way to more fully experience the Lord and express Him to those around us. That way is LOVE!

1 Corinthians 13 is thought of as the love chapter.  Often this passage is used in weddings to express the type of love we want to bestow on our mate, however this passage is not just good for weddings.  Paul was not thinking about marital love when he wrote this.  He was thinking about the love that Christians should have for one another.  Remember, Jesus spoke often about how we should love each other.  John 13:34-35; John 15:9-17; Matthew 5:43-48; and Matthew 22:37-39 are a few places where Jesus speaks about love.  He commands us to love everyone: fellow believers, neighbors, and even our enemies.  I cannot help but think that Paul had some of these words in mind as he wrote 1 Corinthians 13.  It is a great expression of how we are to love others.

First Paul says that we can do all kinds of works for the Lord but if we do not have love then we have nothing, this is a strong statement. Paul puts everyone on notice that how we do ministry is as important as the ministry we do.  He tells us that we can even give our life for Jesus but if our motivation is not love then we do it in vain.  This tracks with many other scriptures from Paul and the other apostles (1 John 2-4; 1 Peter 4:8; Colossians 3:14; Romans 13:8). They all make it clear that love is the primary attitude when it comes to living out our Christian faith.

Paul then shows us what love looks like.  The list in verses 4-7 are very convicting.  I can recall very vividly where I have failed to love people in this way.  I am extremely thankful that sanctification is an ongoing process.  Learning to love others in a Christlike way does not come to us naturally.  We must rely on the transformative power of the gospel.  Love is a fruit of the spirit so only those that are saved and submitting to the spirit will be able to live this way.

The challenge for our modern church is the same as it was for the church in Corinth– to stop looking for ways to puff ourselves up and make ourselves important.  Our charge is to love everyone as Christ has loved us.  Paul helps us by putting it on the “bottom shelf” so that we can understand what love looks like.  As a Christian, loving others with
Christlike love is the most important thing we can do.  None of what we do means anything unless we do it with love.  This is the more excellent way– the way of Christ.

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Family Ministry Moments - April 2024

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 Who is your hero? When I was a kid, I read many comic books.  Superman was my favorite. I went through a season where I probably bought every Superman comic for a year or so.  I looked up to him not because he was an unstoppable force but because he always did the right thing.  He was always trying to protect and help people.  The only problem was he wasn’t real.  Despite the fascination of our culture with superheroes, they don’t exist. As I became a teenager, I started to look to musical artists as heroes.  I grew up right as grunge music became popular and Nirvana sang the anthem of my generation.  I loved Nirvana and thought of Kurt Cobain as a hero; however, as I have matured, I have come to realize that he is no hero at all.

A hero is someone that you can look up to, someone you can attempt to emulate.  Heroes are typically born from suffering and adversity.  In my estimation pop stars, actors, social media stars, and celebrities make terrible heroes; however, these are the people our children are looking to.  These are the people they are trying to emulate.  Please understand that I don’t think all artists and celebrities are bad people.  I just don’t want my children to think of them as heroes.  Think for a moment about their message. First, they are prioritizing entertainment.  This is a major problem in our culture.  People are addicted to entertainment.  We can’t wait to escape from our lives into a screen or concert or some entertainment experience.  Second, the life of a celebrity is driven by fame and fortune.  Is this what we want our children to chase?  Are these the priorities we want them to have?  Celebrities and artists are not heroes.

Who are the heroes we should be pointing our children to?  This year in our school curriculum we looked at the lives of several people I would consider heroes.  Three that stood out to me are Hudson Taylor, Sergeant Alvin York, and Corrie Ten Boom.  These are people who faced immense adversity for the Lord.  They were not perfect people, but they did the right thing.  They trusted God through their trials.  These are people we can truly call heroes.

Hudson Taylor was a British missionary who devoted his life to winning China for the Lord in the mid-1800s.  He faced many trials such as illness, the death of his first wife, the death of three of his eight children, being deserted by co-laborers, persecution, and financial strain; however, through it all, he persisted.  He preached the gospel and planted churches. Today many of the millions of Chinese Christians can trace their spiritual lineage directly back to the influence of Taylor.

Sergeant Alvin York was a country boy from the hills of Tennessee.  He was a drunkard and troublemaker in his youth.  He was saved and turned away from a sinful lifestyle to serve the Lord.  In 1917 he was drafted into the Army to serve in the Great War; because of his religious beliefs, he objected to killing and tried to get a religious exemption.  His exemption was denied, and he was forced to go.  He proved himself to be an expert marksman in basic training where he still wrestled with the fact that he would have to kill his fellow man.  After much prayer and counsel from his superior officer, he decided that to make peace, sometimes men must fight.  He went on to fight bravely in World War I and earned a Medal of Honor for his part in the Meuse–Argonne offensive.  He was instrumental in taking out a machine gun nest that had the Allied soldiers pinned down.  He single-handedly killed 25 enemy soldiers and captured 132.

Corrie Ten Boom was a Christian living in the Netherlands during World War II.  Her city suffered German occupation and while her family was not bothered at first by the Germans, they knew many of their Jewish neighbors were suffering. Defiantly, her family hid many Jews in their home and participated in the Dutch Underground Resistance to help Jews escape Nazi persecution.  Corrie, along with her sister and father, was arrested and sent to a concentration camp.  She alone survived the experience.  Her faith was the reason she helped the Jews, and her faith was what sustained her in the harsh conditions of the camps.

These are just a couple of examples of real heroes.  We can point to many others throughout history that bear the same title.  We find many heroes in the Bible, like King David or the Apostle Paul, and of course the greatest hero of them all, our Lord, Jesus! We can go on and on and name so many more.  These are the type of men and women we can point our children to, the type they should look up to.  Let’s redefine what a hero means and point our children to true heroes!

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