Archives For Serving Jesus

Almost everyone ends up in the hospital at some time of their lives.  Even if they don’t, they will have a friend or loved one that will.  Learning how to visit someone in the hospital is not just a skill for ministers and chaplains.  It is a skill every person should learn.

Visiting the Hospital

Visiting the Hospital

Many people are intimidated by the hospital, but you don’t need to be.  It is a place of healing and caring.  In most settings you will find hospital staff to be kind and compassionate.  Sometimes the hospital building can be confusing to navigate, but usually there is a front desk where you can ask someone for guidance and directions.

When you visit someone who has been admitted to the hospital, here are some “Do’s” and “Don’ts”…

First, the “Don’ts”…

  1. Don’t stay too long.  They are sick, or hurt.  They probably don’t feel like entertaining guests for long.  They want to know that people care enough to come see them, but they still need their rest.  There are some exceptions.  Family may want you to hang around awhile for comfort and help.  You have to use your best judgment.
  2. Don’t sit on the bed.  You never know what that could do.  You could move the bed and hurt the patient.  You could even sit in something you don’t want to sit in.  One time my friend sat on someone’s bed only to find he was sitting in a pool of urine.  Yuk!  I think you get the picture.
  3. Don’t compare their sickness with other people or with yourself.  This can be offensive.  People don’t want their illness or injury to be compared to others.  Just talk to them about their issue.  Sometimes it is appropriate to mention others who are going through the same thing, but be careful about this.
  4. Don’t stand off at the edge of the room, approach them.  You came to visit, don’t look like you are scared of the patient.
  5. Don’t interfere with hospital staff.  This is the health care professional’s domain.  The patient is there to receive their care first and foremost.  Your visit is very important, but it is a support and not the primary care role while they are in the hospital.

Next, the “Do’s”…

  1. Knock first and open the door slowly.  You don’t want to hit anyone with the door.  You don’t want to come in too fast and catch them in an immodest position (going to the bathroom, getting a sponge bath, dressing, or breastfeeding).
  2. Leave a note if they are not there or if they are busy with hospital staff.  The patient may be getting direct care from nurses or may be away from the room for tests or rehab.  Leaving a note lets them know you care and came.
  3. Consider your tone.  Know who you are visiting and be sensitive to their emotional needs.  It is good to default on the side of being serious rather than joking. But know and assess the person.  Sometimes jesting is in order.  But you have to be careful.
  4. Be sensitive to their modesty needs.  Protect their modest always.  People feel like they lose a lot of dignity in the hospital.  Don’t make that worse.
  5. Do ask if you may pray for them.  Prayer is powerful.  It is powerful because God answers prayers.  But it is also emotionally powerful for the one being prayed for.  When you pray for someone, they experience a connection with God during a time of weakness and vulnerability.  They are often keenly aware of their dependence and can be deeply blessed to be assured of God’s care in their lives.  Make your prayer brief and positive.

The Bible tells us to “carry each other’s burden’s.” (Galatians 6:2)  Visiting someone in the hospital can be one way to do that.

Challenge:  Next time someone you know goes to the hospital, plan on visiting them and showing you care.

Question:  Can you add any other “do’s” or “don’ts” when it comes to hospital visits?  Share them with us.  You can leave a comment by clicking here.

There I was singing in church, my hands in the air, my eyes closed.  The Worship Pastor led well, the choir, praise team, and band were leading in a God honoring way.  The words I sang were theologically rich.  But my mind was hardly thinking about the Lord.

Authentic Worship

Authentic Worship

I was thinking how much time I had before getting up to preach, how cool the lights looked on stage, I even wondered how worshipful I appeared to others with my hands in the air and my eyes closed.  I wasn’t connecting to God.  I was focused on myself.  I am embarrassed to even admit this.

Let me say this, I believe in the importance of worshipping each Sunday with your local church.  Jesus died and rose again to build his body.  For two thousand years, the body of Christ has physically gathered each Sabbath day to bring praise to Christ.  This is how it should be.  If anything, Christians today should renew commitment to this age old practice.  It is certainly my favorite part of my week.

But we really must take it more seriously.  We must assume personal responsibility for our focus in worship.  Too often we come to a service of worship as if it were a show.  It is not a show.  It is a time to allow our Pastors and lay leaders to prompt us to fully and deeply connect with God.

It is sad how we get confused about what worship is.

Just a few years ago many churches were battling over an issue of contemporary worship vs. traditional worship.  Many Christians were seriously conflicted over the issue.  The debate typically centered on the weekend services and their music style.  Do we sing hymns with an organ or choruses to an electric guitar?  The unfortunate thing about this debate was that it distracted Christians from the real issue.

People were arguing that contemporary music was shallow and trendy or traditional music didn’t resonate with the postmodern unbeliever.  But these were stylistic issues about music and had nothing to do with the ultimate definition of worship.  Sure the issue was important in matters of cultural and generational relevance.  But it mattered little in terms of a person’s personal commitment to engage with God.

We need to remember that worship is not singing songs.  It is so much more.

God never said, “True worshipers worship me with organ music accompaniment” or “true worshipers sing to the sounds of electric guitar and drums.”  He said they would worship “in spirit and truth.”  I seriously doubt God looks down from Heaven on Sunday mornings and says, “Wow! I really love it when they sing “The Old Rugged Cross.”  Nor do I think he says, “Man, that worship band really rocked today.”  No, he asks, “Do I have their hearts?  Do they love me with the totality of their souls?  Have they given me dominion over their lives?”

Worship is not music, preaching, nor singing.  These can serve as vital tools and activities that promote worship.  But in and of themselves these are not worship.  All of us know that we can sing a beautiful theologically rich song and hardly be exalting God in our spirits.

So what about the Sunday “Worship Service?”  What is it for?  First of all, it is not about maintaining stylistic traditions.  Nor is it about grand standing the latest in contemporary Christian music.  Pure and simple, the worship service is about connecting people to God.  The central focus must always be on God, not the style of how we do that.

But here is my point.  No one can connect you fully to God, not without your personal engagement.  No dynamic Worship Pastor, praise team, or choir can create an atmosphere where you automatically are fully surrendered to Jesus.  They can help.  They can inspire.  But you must be the one to engage.

That is what I had to realize that day in worship.  I was being helped.  I was being inspired.  But I was not engaged and that was on me.

Would you do two things this weekend?  Would you go to church, to a service of worship?  And then would you engage?  Would you say, “Jesus, I am here to praise you with my whole heart.  I surrender to you my will, my life, and all my resources.”  Would you truly worship God, deep in your soul?

Let’s truly worship!

Question:   What are ways you get distracted in worship?  What helps you get yourself focused again on the Lord?  You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Have you ever wanted to help a friend discover Jesus?  Have you desired to encourage fellow believers in their walk with God?  It is not as hard as you might imagine.

FREE E-book

FREE E-book

You can start a “Dust to Destiny Group.”  Often, the best way for a Christian to grow in their faith is to study and talk about their commitment to Christ with others.  Likewise, a very effective way to lead someone to Jesus is in a group of believers who are joined together to talk about the things of God.

That is why I wrote the book, From Dust to Destiny.  I wanted to provide you a tool for helping your friends and loved ones discover the Lord and grow in a personal relationship with him.  I wanted to help you have natural conversations with others about the most important spiritual realities that will impact our lives.

From Dust to Destiny is a short, 100 page, e-book designed to help anyone discover their destiny in God’s plan.  The book is FREE and quick to download (click here).  It is an easy read and has just four chapters.  It also has a 4-week study guide in the back that helps you with your group.

So you have friends in need of a spiritual boost.  They need to get their lives re-calibrated about a vital, life-giving personal relationship with God.  And perhaps you have a friend who has yet to receive Christ into their life.  Start an easy 4-week “Dust to Destiny Group” where you and those you invite, read the e-book and discuss what they are reading.

Imagine you and 2 or more invited friends sitting around a table at a coffee shop, the break room, or one of your homes, discussing the claims of Christ and the things of God.  Just think of how God could use that to encourage your friends and perhaps lead someone to accept Jesus into their life.  Believe it or not, you could make such an experience happen.  It is simple!

Here are a few simple steps to getting such a group started…

  1. Invite a small group of your friends (it could even simply be you and one other person) interested in joining you for a study that speaks of God’s plan for our lives.  These people could be fellow believers, but I also encourage you to invite someone who has yet to accept Christ but who would be interested in learning more about the Lord.
  2. Instruct those you invite to go to to register on the site and download their FREE copy of From Dust to Destiny.
  3. Arrange for a time and place to meet.  Plan on having 4 sessions for the group.  This could be done over four weeks.  You could meet in a restaurant, coffee shop, break room, or home.
  4. Prior to each session have the group read the chapter to be discussed that week.
  5. Follow the Study Guide at the back of the book to lead your discussion sessions.
  6. Pray for God to work powerfully in your life and in the lives of everyone in your group.  Be confident that God will work.

It will be amazing to see how God will use you as you facilitate this book study.  Write to me and let me know how God worked in the lives of those you invite. (Contact Me)  I’d love to hear about it.

Question:  Have you read any part of From Dust to Destiny, what truths challenged you the most and how would your friends benefit from this resource?  You can leave a comment by clicking here.

It was on a cold winter’s day, in the privacy of my home study and I was complaining to God about my daughter’s stunted spiritual development.

Spiritual Parenting

Spiritual Parenting

“Lord,” I cried.  “Before her baptism three months ago, every day she seemed more curious about you.  She had a spiritual hunger, an incessant interest in the things of God.  But now, O’ Lord, she just seems stuck.  The curiosity has subsided; the desire to learn new spiritual things has waned.  Please do something in her life, send someone to help her move further along on her spiritual journey with you.”

It was then that it hit me, as if God had wacked me on the crown and woke me from my stupor.  I didn’t hear an audible voice, but the impression the Lord gave me was clear.  I sensed him ask me a question.

Without doubt, I was certain he was speaking to my spirit.  He was asking, “Greg, who did I establish as spiritual leader of your home?  Who will I ultimately hold responsible for the spiritual guidance your children receive?”

I responded, “Me, Lord.”

It was in that moment that my prayer changed.  I now could see God had already, long before, answered my original appeal to him.  He had sent my daughter someone who was given the task of shepherding her soul God-ward, someone who would inspire her with his example and instruct her with his testimony.

I was that person, the answer to my own prayer.

Do you have children?  If you do, it is the same for you.  God has already placed you in the life of your child to lead them spiritually.

You are the chosen one to introduce them to the God who gives them a redeemed identity and sets them on a course to fulfill their divinely given mission.  The task of leaving a spiritual legacy has been given to you.

And let’s be clear on what is at stake.  If you don’t lead your child, someone else will.  You might not like where they lead them.  If you do not lead them to discover the Lord’s ways, the culture will gladly help them define their identity by the perspective of this fallen world.

In fact, they will gladly shape the identity of your child for as shallow a reason as to obligate them to their company’s product brand.  If you don’t help them set their sails in the direction of the God-ward seas, they will most certainly sink deep in the lonely bay of godless sin. (Tweet That)

The spiritual direction of the next generations will be largely influenced, positively or negatively, by the choices you make with your spiritual leadership at home.  How you lead will profoundly shape your family tree for generations to come.

Parents!  We build homes, careers, and organizations that advance causes.  We build portfolios, construct companies, develop cities, and erect monuments.  But are we building a generation to follow us?  Are we leaving a legacy that will empower our sons and daughters to rise up and shape the next century for the glory of God?

Are we growing in our relationship with God ourselves and sharing that growing faith with our children?  The need for spiritual parenting has never been greater.  Won’t you devote yourself to this God-given task?

Question:  What will you do, starting now, to begin sharing your faith in God with your kids?  You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Jesus gave us the Golden Rule, yes to live by, but more specifically to love by.  He commanded, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.” (Matthew 7:12, NIV)

Golden Rule

Golden Rule

This is probably the most famous command Jesus ever gave.  His Sermon on the Mount reaches its high point in this verse.  This is a rule about loving someone in the ways we would hope others would love us.

Let’s be clear, when we love like Jesus commanded, relationships are better.  When relationships are better, life is better.  So let’s look at five ways to love by, the Golden Rule…

  1. Forgive as you wish to be forgiven.  Jesus taught us to pray this prayer, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12)  The highest form of love is to forgive a grievance.  The greatest expression of this forgiveness, the act that made forgiveness permissible, was Christ’s willing sacrifice on the cross to pay for our sins and secure our forgiveness before God.  Colossians 3:13 says, “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”  God has forgiven you.  Why?  Because he loves you.  How do you love your spouse, you children, your co-worker or boss, that fellow student?  You forgive them when their words or actions hurt you.
  2. Help as you wish to be helped.  Colossians 3:13 says, “Bear with each other.”  Love is translated by action.  When you see someone with a need, fill it.  It could be as simple as taking out the trash when you see the can full or helping your child tie her shoe.  But it could also involve more, like supporting a spouse as they go back to school for continuing education.  This can be expressed at work as you help someone with a project or at school as you help someone pick up the books they dropped in the hall.
  3. Encourage as you wish to be encouraged.  Hebrews 3:13 says, “But encourage one another daily.”  We want others to encourage us, to believe that we could become all that God made us to be.  We want this from others, so Jesus says, “Give it to others.”  People want to be encouraged.  The world is filled with people who want to be more for God, but who are discouraged and in need of encouragement.  Ben Franklin once said, “Most men die from the neck up at age twenty-five because they stop dreaming.”  Let’s not let those around us give up on the dreams God gives.  Let’s encourage them with our words and support.
  4. Understand as you wish to be understood.  Recently I learned of a friend who got in a lot of trouble because of a sin in his life.  My first thought, “how could they do that?!”  But then God reminded me, that though I have never been in trouble like that, I have had sinful inclinations and have the same capacity for failure in my life.  It is only by the Grace of God that I have thus far gone a different path.  Jesus said, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone.” (John 8:7)  When I am more understanding I am humble and able to love with greater compassion.  Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and love them as you would wish to be loved in the same situation.
  5. Look for things to do to lift and bless those around you.  Philippians 2:4 says, “look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”  Make it your mission in life to scout out ways you can lift and bless people you know and meet.  Wake up each day asking God to use you to bless someone else with something good.  Live your life outside yourself.  If you do this, you will become a powerfully loving person that attracts people to you.

The Golden Rule is all about love.  Live by it and your life will become richer.


Question:  How can loving in obedience to the Golden Rule bring greater satisfaction to your own life?  You can leave a comment by clicking here.

God loves to set you apart for great assignments.  He aims to use you to advance his kingdom in ever larger ways.  But how do you prepare yourself to both recognize and respond when God calls you into a greater assignment?

Greater Service

Greater Service

In Acts 13, Barnabas and Saul, two leading men in the early church, were given a big mission.  It was a task that would have broader reach than any assignment they had fulfilled in the past.  This opportunity would spread the gospel of Christ, resulting in many new believers and churches.

All of us are meant to serve the Lord.  He gives each of us tasks to fulfill.  After God uses us one way, he often leads us into opportunities that are greater in breadth and potential impact.  When we are faithful with the smaller, he will many times promote us to the larger. (Matthew 25:21)

This doesn’t mean God will give us more prominence in the eyes of others.  It simply means God opens doors giving you an increased impact for his glory.

The question is, how do you prepare to be used of God in greater ways?

From the example of Barnabas and Saul, here are five steps that you can take to posture your life for greater kingdom impact.

  1. Do the things God already called you to do.  Before Barnabas and Saul received a greater assignment, they had completed a mission God had given previously. (Acts 12:25)  Before God gives you a greater opportunity, he is looking to see if you are being faithful with the smaller task he gave you before.  Has the Lord not yet opened a greater opportunity?  Do not fret.  Simply be faithful to the last thing God called you to do.
  2. Worship Regularly with God’s people.  These men heard God call them into a greater task as they were doing two things…
    1. Worshiping.  They were with their church family and corporately worshiping God.  There is great power when we glorify God with our brothers and sisters in Christ.  It is easier to hear from God when you are seeking him with others.
    2. Fasting.  They were cutting out the distractions of worldly pursuits.  Their focus was on God and what he wanted.  We would experience the call of God more clearly if we would purposefully set aside distractions for periods of time to focus our energies on the Lord.
    3. Listen for the promptings of God’s Spirit.  It was in the context of the church drawing near to God that they heard the prompting of the Holy Spirit who said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” (Acts 13:2,NIV)  We need to be sensitive to the promptings of God in our lives, always looking for the times he opens doors of opportunity.
    4. Look for confirmation from others who walk with God.  Note that Barnabas and Saul were not the only ones who heard from God about their greater call.  Others in the church sensed it as well and placed their hands on them confirming they too believed these men were called.  It is good when other godly people can confirm that they too see this assignment is being given to us.
    5. Enter into the greater service.  These two early believers, according to the Bible, started their mission without delay.  When you know God called you to something, the time to start that something is right now.  Adlai Stevenson once said, “On the plains of hesitation lay the blackened bones of countless millions who at the dawn of victory lay down to rest, and in resting they died.”

Take action, get started doing what God called you to do.

Question:  How are you going to prepare your life for greater service?  You can leave a comment by clicking here.

God has a destiny for you.  Have you chosen to enter it?  If you have, just know that following such a path will demand your faith be stretched and your courage tested.

Journey into Unknown

Journey into Unknown

The word destiny sounds mysterious, but it need not.  By destiny, I merely refer to God’s plan for your life.  It is the life you will live if you choose to follow God.

Don’t get destiny confused with a glamorous, or famous, life.  The life God has planned for you may or may not become front page news.  Consider the example of Abraham in scripture.  We know him now, but in his day he was only the head of a small family of nomads amidst much larger civilizations.  But God had a destiny for Abraham to follow and that destiny would have far reaching impact.  Consider the scripture…

The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.  “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”  So Abram left, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him…and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.”  (Genesis 12:1-5, NIV)

This simple act of obedience would define the history of God’s people for thousands of years.   It would establish God’s chosen people in the Promised Land and it would be through Abraham that Christ would come.

From Abraham we learn some important lessons about God’s plan for our lives, our destiny.

God’s destiny is meant for blessing:

*His destiny is meant to be blessing for you.  God said to Abraham, “I will bless you.”  God says the same to us.  Follow me and you will experience blessing.

*His destiny is meant to bless others through you.  God told Abraham that following his destiny would result in his life becoming “a blessing.”  The adventure of God is always about making us a channel of His blessings to others.

*His destiny is to bring blessing to the next generations after you.  After arriving in Canaan God said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” (v. 7)  We should always be aware that the choices we make to follow God today will impact the generations to come.

God’s destiny demands our courage:

  1. We must leave the familiar.  To enter his destiny he had to leave the life of comfort and predictability.  He left his country, people, and father’s household.  To enter the adventures God has for you, you will have to be willing to leave the status quo.  If you do not, you will never be able to take the next step.
  2. We must follow God into the unfamiliar.  God said, “go to the land I will show you.”  Abraham had never been there before.  Are you willing to step into experiences you are unfamiliar with in order to follow God.  You will never experience the adventure of God, until you venture into that which is unknown to you.

The Challenge:  Ask yourself the question:  Is the Lord prompting me to step out of a comfort zone to venture into a new experience of serving Him?  If so, today take your first steps and follow God into the unfamiliar.

Question:  What have you found to be the greatest rewards to following God into a new adventure?  You can leave a comment by clicking here.