Tuesday, October 31, 2006


When it comes to ministering to each other perhaps the most basic and fundamental truth we have to remember is that we belong to one another. Even though this is a simple principle to understand, it is not easy to live out. The idea that we belong to one another runs contrary to everything we believe as Americans. It’s just wrong to say we belong to each other unless we are married! One of the truths we hold to be self-evident is that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. We hate the idea of people belonging to other people. In fact, we fought a big war over this issue about one hundred fifty years ago! In spite of our American principles, Paul says, “Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” We have already come to terms with the unity and diversity in the church illustrated by the body metaphor. The part of the body concept we have not discussed is that all the parts of the body belong to each other!

This concept might take a little getting used to! Not only are we expected to use our gifts for the benefit of one another but we have a vested interest in seeing each one use his or her gifts! Our relationship to one another in the community has some similarities to the marriage relationship. Just as in marriage each partner belongs to the other, so in the body each member belongs to all the others! What happens in a marriage when one of the partners begins to ignore the other, or begins to seek his or her own goals while ignoring the partner’s goals, or begins to act alone without consulting or considering the other? The marriage suffers and eventually disintegrates! The same is true of the church! If one member begins to seek his own good while disregarding all the others, or if one begins to act autonomously the church will suffer and eventually blow apart!

It’s very important for us to remember daily that we belong to one another. There are a number of benefits that will come to us if we do this. The first is obvious; by working together in close relationship we will accomplish far more than we ever could working alone. There is great comfort in knowing we don’t have to go through hard times alone; that there are a number of others right there with us who belong to us and to whom we belong. There is strength in unity. If all of us pay attention to ministering to one another’s needs then we don’t have to worry about getting our own needs met. If I daily remind myself that I belong to the other members of the church, that it is not all about me, and that my actions affect everyone else, then God will use that to keep me away from sin. We belong to one another!

Monday, October 30, 2006


In a study of the church we touch on a theme that shows up in a number of places. When we study spiritual gifts we hear Paul say that the gifts the Holy Spirit gives to believers are to be used specifically for building up one another. These gifts are to be exercised in connection with the gifts of other people for the benefit of the whole body of Christ. In other words, gifts are given to people so they can minister to one another. We discover this same thing in a study of the church at worship. When we gather for worship it is not “all about me;” it is about joining together with the rest of the believers for the purpose of lifting a concert of voices to God in worship. Ministering together! In Ephesians 4:11 Paul says that Jesus Christ is the one who gave to the church some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and some teachers. Then in verse twelve he reveals the reason God gave these people to the church; “to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up…” There it is again; service, ministry. The two words mean the same thing. We can’t escape this theme! The church of Jesus Christ, the body of Christ, is designed by God to minister to one another for the mutual benefit.

So the church ministers. It serves. How are we supposed to serve each other?
Thanks be to God, in his letters Paul makes a number of statements about how we are to
treat one another.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


So what about spiritual gifts? Remember what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 12:7, “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” (Obviously, italics are mine.) Emphasize that each and every individual believer has a spiritual gift. Emphasize that spiritual gifts are actually a manifestation of the Holy Spirit. Emphasize that gifts are given, they are by definition “graces.” Emphasize that they are given for the common good of the body of Christ.

The gifts given to us by God are not meant to be used for ourselves; they are to be used to help and build up the other members of the church. In fact, if anyone tries to use a spiritual gift for his own benefit he is actually abusing a gift of the Spirit.

Here is our biggest problem in the early 21st century: We members of the church are not close enough to be able to exercise our gifts for the benefit of one another. We gather to worship on Sundays and then go home. We like each other! We love each other! We would do anything to help each other! But we don’t know each other well enough to be able to minister to one another for our spiritual edification!

We have to find ways to spend more time together so we can trust each other and open up to each other. Only then will we be able to exercise our gifts “for the common good.” We need to make this a priority in our churches or we will never really be a church, just a group of people who pass each other on Sunday mornings during our worship time!

And what about discovering our spiritual gifts? What if I don’t know what my spiritual gift is? Shouldn’t we have some studies on how to discover our spiritual gifts? Shouldn’t we go through some classes to teach us how to identify spiritual gifts? There is no need to worry about all this. There is no mystery involved. As you serve the Lord and as you serve the others in your fellowship it will become apparent what you gift is. Just get to know people! Learn to care about them and learn to love them! Serve them in any way you can, in any way you know how. You’ll be using your gift without even putting a label on it!

(From “What about Spiritual Gifts?” Sermon number 089 at Shiloh Community Church, Caledonia, MI. 15 October 2006)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006



The closings on both houses took place on Wednesday, October 4. It was relatively painless. My hand began to hurt because of all the papers I had to sign and initial. But there it was! Sold one house and bought another.

If you have been wondering what happened to me for a week or so, let me tell you. Our cable company, through whom we also have internet service, is very quick to turn off one’s service when one moves and very slow to start it in the new house. I did everything I could to ensure uninterrupted service but they were still able to mess it up. In fact, my dad (my folks are here from Temecula, CA) and I missed the Michigan-Michigan State football game on Saturday because of our cable company! I just got them out here yesterday to give me internet service again! We still have no home phone!

The move was Saturday, October 7. It was so great! One of those perfect autumn days in the Midwest with seventy degree weather, a cloudless blue sky, and magnificent colors on the deciduous trees. The Shilohfolks came out in force and had almost everything moved by noon! They were awesome! My back was killing me so I was relegated to unhooking TV wires and stereo speakers and trying to look busy. We moved 1.2 miles so it went quickly. I’m so thankful for the Shilohfolks.

I failed to finish the drywalling in the upstairs. The upstairs rooms were only used for attic space in the previous 86 years of the life of this house. I knew I could tear down the old wallboard, insulate, and put up the new in two days. No problem! Even with Caleb home from Sault Ste. Marie, John and Ben (sons numbers 3, 4), Tom the elder, Steve the doctor, and my dad, we couldn’t do it. We got it insulated but we only got about one quarter of the drywall up. That means three of our kids have no bedrooms. The lovely wife and I decided yesterday morning to hire a professional to come out and do it quickly. My failure was pretty discouraging!

Mia is attacking this new house with a passion. She has finished off one room after another until the main floor is almost done. She’s been a magician. The main floor is almost a home already!

The neighbors have proved to be very friendly. Many have been by to introduce themselves. I’m looking forward to getting to know them all. That’s one nice thing about moving into an older neighborhood. People have lived here for a long time and there is a sense of belonging here.

Well, I’m back in blogspace again. I’ll be visiting your blogs soon. Right now I have to get back to writing for this Sunday. The title? “What About Spiritual Gifts?” Could be interesting!

Thanks for stopping by. I missed you!