I had the wonderful benefit of being raised in a family that loves Jesus. I met Jesus at the age of 5 and He has been my Savior ever since. Oh there were times I would have nearly given anything not to be a “preacher’s kid”, there were times I thought my home address was whatever church we were members of, and quite frankly times I didn’t want to have anything to do with church, I just wanted to be “normal” like everyone else. Well I’ve learned some things now that I have more gray hair than brown. I’ve learned to appreciate my parents and all the values they instilled in me and their consistent example of serving the Lord Jesus with everything they had. I learned to serve the Savior primarily watching my parents each involved in ministry in our local church. I saw firsthand their love and devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ because they lived out in front of me that love in how they served the Lord in a variety of ministries – even though they became “full time missionaries” when I was about 12 years of age. Even though their jobs were working for the Lord, I’ve watched them volunteer and serve God in their local church, something they continue even now in their 70’s.
I’ve also learned that the only way I can have peace, contentment and joy is by consistently giving my life away in service to Jesus. I’ve learned that when I begin to pursue my own agenda and not the Lord’s, when I begin to focus all my efforts on my own entertainment, leisure, finances, family or anything else, something begins to happen in me and my family; the contentment, joy and peace disappears and the wheels begin to come off. I reprioritize and get back to serving the Lord with all my heart and the contentment, joy and peace returns to me and my family. Honestly, it is just weird. It’s almost like God takes His hands off me and says, “Go ahead, do it your way and tell me how that plan is working for you.”
This brings me to my point, as I see a church full of very harried, busy, stressed out and over committed people pursuing everything under the sun and it appears there isn’t much joy, contentment or peace in their lives. Let me give you a little secret from Jesus in Luke 9:23-25 “Then He said to them all, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. 25 "For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? In other words, Jesus is saying the secret to “having a life” is losing your life, your agenda, your plans, picking up your cross – the service God has for you to do for His kingdom each day. In all our efforts to entertain ourselves and “get a life”, we’re just more stressed out, tired and dissatisfied with the life we are living. In another passage, Jesus tells us to store treasure in heaven because it lasts forever.
On the other hand, the church as a whole and Calvary in particular struggles to place people in ministry positions because everyone is already “too busy.” Leadership positions like AWANA commander and leaders, Missions committee members, trustees, children’s teachers, deacon positions will go unfilled as we begin our church year (just to name a few). We have a dire need to multiply our youth ministry to High School and Middle School departments, yet we’re not able to do so because we don’t have enough workers. As a result, we’re forced to keep 6th graders with grade school children when in their schools, they are in middle school. We are facing some major difficulties with some key ministries here at Calvary for lack of leadership and volunteers. Your staff and nominating committee continue searching for people to serve only to be told no because people are too busy.
I don’t have it all figured out, but I know Jesus is capable of multiplying our meager loaves and fishes we’ll bring to Him by faith. I know Jesus promised to give you “life and that you’d have it more abundantly” when “you take up your cross and follow…”. Your church has need of you to serve and you have need for your church, because it is the God-ordained place for you to find the joy, contentment and peace you’re breaking your neck to find with worldly pursuits. God established the church for you to use your gifts, talents and abilities and especially your weaknesses to magnify His glory and expand His kingdom, the place for you to become a disciple of Jesus Christ. Churches and families working together produce disciples. I’m grateful to God for having learned this lesson of serving God from my dad and mom who still faithfully serve Jesus, who still help me grow as a disciple. They are so full of joy and life it is amazing. They’ve found a great life; I’ve found a great life serving the Lord. I have joy, contentment and peace that is astounding. It starts with a willingness to serve; from my little corner of the world to yours…Pastor Ralph Green
Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church www.calvarybelair.com