Servant

Have you ever felt like something was beneath you? I remember volunteering with an organisation once, and all they gave me to do was rip the edges off pieces of scrap paper. To this day I still don’t understand why I was there, but Jesus clearly understood His purpose here on earth. “If you want to be great, you must be the servant of all the others. And if you want to be first, you must be everyone’s slave. The Son of Man did not come to be a slave master, but a slave who will give His life to rescue many people” (Mark 10:43-45) or, as another version puts it: “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve” (Mark 10:45).

Surely, that must have been a temptation for Jesus – to feel like this was beneath Him. He left the glory He had with God in heaven and came down here, to serve us. He taught; healed diseases; even washed people’s dirty feet, and it was after this that He said: “No servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them” (John 13:16-17). In other words, Jesus has served, so it’s up to Christians to do the same; we shouldn’t expect to get out of it. Jesus is our Master. Doesn’t any athlete strive to follow what their coach tells them? If you’re looking for true greatness, it may well involve humbling yourself, and being willing to start at the bottom.

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Why Paul Probably Wouldn’t Sing “Oceans”

“They also know I was there when Stephen, your witness, was killed. I stood there agreeing and holding the coats of those who were killing him!” (Acts 22:20).

I was singing on the worship-team at church this morning, and we sang the song “Oceans”. I looked at the words last night and felt uneasy about them, but I went along and sang some of them. I felt peace as we prayed before the meeting and that God wanted me there, but:
“In oceans deep my faith will stand;
“I’ll keep my eyes above the waves” – it seems a bit boastful and self-focused to me. I’d rather say that when I’m out of my depth, I’ll trust God to complete His work in me, and I’ll call on His name to keep my eyes above the waves (because I haven’t always done a very good job of it myself).

And then my pastor got ready to preach and someone read the verse above. I had never noticed before that Paul publicly confessed his part in Stephen’s death. My pastor went on to talk about how Jesus had utterly transformed him, and how Paul had completely changed his belief-system. It reminded me of Abby Johnson, the former director of an abortion clinic who’s now pro-life, swapping from one side of the fence to the other. The ridicule they must have had to endure from people who were once close friends.

I don’t think Paul would have sung a song like “Oceans”. There are lots of things I admire about Paul – his passion; his commitment; his willingness to confront wrongdoing, but I’m also impressed with how humble he is. He doesn’t hesitate to say: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the worst” (1 Timothy 1:15). He knows that of himself, he’s totally unworthy of anything God could give him. He’s absolutely missed the mark. He’s nothing, and yet God loves him completely.

And it’s the same with me. If I lived every day according to my old nature, I would be an angeraholic, and yet God called me to something better.

“God began doing a good work in you, and I am sure He will continue it until it is finished” (Philippians 1:6).

Living Generously: “Go Into all the World” Book-Review

Happy new year to my lovely readers. Praying for God to bless you with His peace and joy in 2015. Last January I pointed you to a very good book, and this year I’m doing the same.

As soon as I heard there was a book coming out by a man who’d sponsored 50 kids, I was excited to read it. I’m in a group for Compassion-sponsors on Facebook, so I kept up-to-date with the book’s progress, and David very kindly sent me an advanced copy in exchange for a review on my blog.

As a Compassion-sponsor who already knows about their 3 main programmes – for mothers and babies, for children being sponsored and for students, I found the long and detailed explanation at the beginning slow-going. If you’re a long-time sponsor like me, you might want to flip the first 30 pages and get straight to David’s stories. Once you do, it’s difficult to put this book down.

One standout for me was that not all the stories are stereotypical. When I read about a house in Bolivia with running water, a cooker and a TV, I wondered whether it ever crossed David’s mind to stop his sponsorship, but when I consider there are only 2 stories like this out of more than 30 visits, I realise how important sponsorship is. I am impressed that he included these details instead of trying to paint an unrealistic picture.

David’s character shines through the pages of this book. You might imagine someone who sponsors 54 kids on a teacher’s salary, visits 31 of them in 12 countries and then writes about it to be arrogant or prideful, so I really enjoyed reading the section on ‘Divine economy’ where he makes a point of saying: “Everything I have and am comes from God.”

I had intended to highlight my favourite story, but I can’t choose just one. I’ve heard about the impact letters had on a translator in Colombia. I’ve admired the attitude of Olga’s mother, and I’ve loved the way David related to Katherine’s family – commanding such respect from them that both parents confided in him and then, when he had to finance his own volunteering, thoughtfully finding Katherine new sponsors who could be role-models for them.

If you love children, and if you love Compassion, I think you’ll find this book very precious. It could be especially beneficial to someone who doesn’t use the Internet and won’t have read many accounts of sponsor-visits before. I’ve certainly been inspired and am delighted to own a copy.