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Serving- I Will Go: Personal Growth

Hello everyone! We’re going to be in our series on Serving again today, but we’re going to take a look at serving from a different angle. So far we’ve discussed the call to serve, the importance of avoiding the desire to be the “fixer” of others, and how some people don’t want to be served. Every post so far has touched on this theme of serving not being about us. I’m hesitant to say this next phrase, but sometimes serving is about us.

We shouldn’t serve out of selfish desires or with any unhealthy motives and when we serve out of God’s call in our lives we may not experience any worldly rewards. However, if we’re listening, God is often speaking to us as we serve and in this sense, it is about we who are serving as well as those who are being served. All day long God is guiding and shaping us and He doesn’t stop when we’re serving.  In fact, it’s when serving others that we may see some of our biggest deficiencies. God can open our eyes to areas we need to grow in, but we need to be paying attention.

Sometimes we can over-correct and in efforts to not serve others out of selfishness or a paternalistic mindset, we can make serving too much about those being served and forget that those doing the serving need to grow too.  Often God uses these experiences to shape us to be more like Him; and often, the areas He wants to grow us in reflect virtues such as the fruit of the spirit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Galatians 5:22-23a

Let’s apply this verse to how we approach serving. How often do we fully live up to each of these characteristics? Now, take some time to reflect on when you’ve volunteered or gone on a mission trip: what did God teach you, did He show you personal weaknesses in any of these virtues? How did He grow you through that experience?

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6.8 Day!

It’s 6.8 Day!!

What is that you ask? It’s a day we celebrate every June 8th to take time talk about what SERVE 6.8 is doing in the community and give supporters a chance to come alongside through financially giving to allow us to continue our work.

Why should you support SERVE 6.8? Great question! We are a Christian-based nonprofit who is solely funded by churches, businesses, and individuals like you.

Our heart and mission is to unify and equip the local church of Jesus Christ in caring for those struggling financially. We do this through our 3 programs: the Resource Center, Community Impact, and Adopt-A-Family. When we started our Resource Center, we had 6 partner churches and now (2 years later) we are at 19! Every day we are encouraged and in awe of the great blessings God has bestowed upon this partnership of churches and how He has been moving across our Northern Colorado community.

These are the goals we seek in our programs:

  • mobilize volunteers to serve Northern Colorado
  • help families and individuals reach financial sustainability
  • our ultimate goal is that those serving and those being served would be reconciled to Christ

Thank you to all who have supported SERVE 6.8 over the past five years! Your generosity with your time, talent and treasure allows us to serve over 2,500 families every year and you’ve served over 90,000 volunteer hours.  Please consider giving today to continue to support our mission, thank you!

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Serving – I Will Go: When Help Isn’t Wanted

One of the hardest things we may experience while serving others is when they don’t want to be served. Last week we addressed the “Savior Complex” when serving, which is when someone takes on an unhealthy level of desire to fix situations or people. When coming from this mindset, bitterness can creep in if someone doesn’t want to be “fixed.”

Sometimes people aren’t in a place where they are ready to make a change, accept ownership of their situation, or even feel they need any assistance. For some, they truly may not need the help, we simply assume they do. Others may really need assistance, but not be ready to accept it. This is okay. We cannot take on other people’s problems to the extent that we become bitter if they choose not to engage in a solution with us.

Moreover, we cannot become discouraged when people reject our help because we are doing it in the name of Jesus.  The teachings of Jesus weren’t easy for people to follow when he was on earth and they aren’t any easier today because they requires submission to God and his instructions. In John 6:60 we see people choosing to not follow Jesus because of this: “Therefore, when many of His disciples heard this, they said, ‘This teaching is hard! Who can accept it?’”

Another great passage about this is 2 Corinthians 4:1-5

4 Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2 Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.

When serving we should keep presenting the Gospel message and ministering in truth and love. We do this with the understanding that some will reject us, some will accept Christ as their Savior, and some may not be ready to accept God’s truth right now. That’s okay. We serve out of obedience; the outcome of our service is in God’s hands (1 Corinthians 3:6). We will keep serving others, loving and respecting them as image bearers of God, even when they don’t want to be served.

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Serving- I Will Go: The Savior

Hello everyone! Today we will continue with our series on serving and address a common term in the social service world, “The Savior Complex.We’ll look at how we should approach helping others with the power of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

“The Savior Complex” is a term often used in helping professions and describes someone whose service is born out of a mindset of needing to help everyone, always having the solution, or expending an unhealthy amount of time and energy on other’s problems and taking pride in doing so.

While these desires may seem to come from good intentions, they often result in harm to ourselves and others. Servers/Saviors may experience burnout, resentment, and frustration because of unmet expectations. Those being served, may feel disempowered and deprived of their God-given dignity and worth as they’re prevented from being active in their own solution.

What is left out in the secular explanation of this term, however, is that we do have a real Savior and it is through Him that we find true salvation!

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12

Indeed, if we succumb to the false belief that we can do what only God can do, we will not last long in any compassion ministry.  This is not to excuse us from serving others, for we have been commanded to make disciples, care for the poor, and love our neighbor. We must, instead go about these acts of service remembering in whose name and power we are serving. Acts 4 is a great example of a healing performed by Peter and John, done in the power of the name of Jesus and resulting in glory given to God. 

10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed…… 13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. Acts 4:10, Acts 4:13

4 Such confidence we have through Christ before God. 5 Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. 6 He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 2 Corinthians 3:4-6

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Serving – I Will Go: Isaiah 6:8

Hey everyone! Our next series is going to expand on the foundation of SERVE 6.8 and start with a post about our second founding scripture, Isaiah 6:8.  The name SERVE 6.8 makes our mission clear: we are here to mobilize the Church of Jesus Christ to serve the poorWe take our dual mandate to care for those serving and those being served seriously. This series is intended to grow those of us who are actively engaged in serving and volunteering.

Our two founding scriptures are Micah 6:8 and Isaiah 6:8. We kicked off our series about poverty with Micah 6:8 and will start with Isaiah 6:8 for our series on serving. Let’s first review Isaiah 6 and then explore how we can apply this to obeying God’s call to serve.

The title for Isaiah 6 is “Isaiah’s Call and Mission,” and we need to understand this whole passage so we can apply meaning to Isaiah 6:8.  Verses 1-7 are some of the most powerful verses in the bible about what a holy God we serve. When Isaiah saw the Lord he was filled with awe of God’s majesty and holiness and faced with how unholy he was. Then God gives his call to action to Isaiah:

“Who should I send? Who will go for Us? I said: Here I am. Send me.” Isaiah 6:8

Isaiah has opened himself up to God and His mission, but verses 9-13 then lay out the plan, which fully displays the wrath of God upon those who have turned from Him, the wrath we each deserve, but are spared from because of our Savior Jesus Christ.

As Isaiah learned,  when we‘re called to serve, it isn’t always in a way that’s easy or expected.  Serving is fun when it just makes you feel good or fits your vision, but what about when God calls you to something bigger, harder, and that you don’t understand? Why would you say, “Here I am. Send me?

We follow those calls because of what we see displayed at the beginning of Chapter 6, a God that is so big and powerful that we fear being in His presence. We serve to not be fulfilled, not to take glory for ourselves, but to love and lead people back to the Creator and His Son, who can now bridge the gap from our unworthiness to God’s holiness. When we shift our serving mindset away from being about us, toward it being about God, it drastically changes to what mission we will say “Here I am. Send me.”

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Lessons from Union Rescue Mission

Last Thursday we were blessed to be visited by Rev. Andy Bales and Steve Borja of the Union Rescue Mission. It was an honor to meet them, learn from their experiences, and have them share with us at our Annual Fundraising Dinner. Today, we’ll take a moment to reflect on what was shared at the event.

Rev. Andy Bales is the CEO of the Union Rescue Mission, a private Christian homeless shelter located on Skid Row in Los Angeles that shelters 1,300 guests every night. His love and care for those experiencing homelessness is inspiring, but he readily admitted that he isn’t perfect!

Andy shared a story of when he was a teacher and gave a sermon to his classes on Matthew 25, hoping to deter them from bullying a classmate. The main take away from this lesson was Matthew 25:40, And the King will answer them, ‘I assure you: whatever you did for the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’ Unfortunately, when a short time later he was presented an opportunity to live this out, Andy missed the chance.

He’s not alone, we’ve all missed moments when we were given the opportunity to live out our mandate “to care for the least of these.” Fortunately, those moments don’t define us or our ministry. We can learn from our mistakes and move forward, just as Andy has, continually renewing our heart and mind (2 Corinthians 4:16).

Steve Borja, the Vice President of Programs for the Union Rescue Mission also shared valuable stories and lessons for our community. Using valuable insights from the book of Nehemiah, he encouraged us in our efforts to work with government, city officials, businesses, churches, and others to accomplish our work in caring for those experiencing poverty. The wall of Jerusalem wouldn’t have been rebuilt in 52 days without partnership. It took the King of Persia to make sure Nehemiah had safe passage and was provided materials. Working on the wall there were priests, nobles, officials, goldsmiths, perfumers, guards, temple servants, and merchants each with different portions to work on.

It doesn’t matter our title or income when partnering to do the work of God. We are stronger together, but only when we remember whose power and authority we are under. When we collaborate, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of honoring ourselves, but the honor is due to our God. “The wall was completed in 52 days, on the twenty fifth day of the month of Elul. When all our enemies heard this, all the surrounding nations were intimidated and lost their confidence, for they realized that this task had been accomplished by God.” Nehemiah 6:15-16.

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Seek the Peace & Prosperity of our City: Jeremiah 29:4-7

Today is our Annual Fundraising Dinner and our theme for this year is, “seeking the peace and prosperity of our city.” To honor our theme, today’s post will be over this passage: Jeremiah 29:4-7.

This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

This passage was written to encourage the exiles to make the most of their situation instead of believing the false prophets telling them their exile would be a short time period. In verse 10, the Lord says that they will be in Babylon for 70 years, so they might as well make themselves at home there!

We’re not exiles, but we’re still in a temporary earthly home, waiting for the Kingdom to come. This can sometimes make us feel discontent, longing for a better life, not wanting to endure any current suffering. Since we weren’t made to stay in our earthly home forever, it can seem like we’re out of place and that we don’t belong. This may makes us want to shrink into our own bubble of fellow believers, trying to stay in our comfort zones until we make it through this life.

God calls us to a higher way of living though, to fully integrate into where we live now. We are to become a part of the fabric of where we live, praying and seeking what’s best for it, making the most of our time there. May our deepest hope be that those we live among will see how we live and ultimately accept Jesus Christ as their Savior, reconciling them to God.

How we are expected to live in this world is also reflected by Peter when he was writing to encourage persecuted believers in Asia Minor:

11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority, whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. 16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.17 Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor. 1 Peter 2:11-17

May we live this way today.

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What the Bible says about Poverty: Galatians 6:9-10

Welcome to the last blog post in our series “What the Bible says about Poverty.” We’ve journeyed through several passages, some easy and some more challenging, but today I want to leave you with some words of encouragement.

(9) So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up. (10) Therefore, as we have opportunity, we must work for the good of all, especially for those who belong to the household of faith. Galatians 6:9-10

Poverty is a very complex issue, yet our politics tend to oversimplify the root cause on one of two extreme ends of the spectrum: personal responsibility or unjust systems.  The reality is, it’s often both as well as the consequences of adversity like diseases or natural disasters. 

As there is no easy explanation of cause, there is also no simple solution. This is why working with someone experiencing material poverty can be so messy, exhausting, humbling and overwhelming, but it’s also mandated. People are broken. At some point when we work with someone in poverty, they may let us down and make mistakes, but so will we! Be encouraged, keep God in the middle, and keep working for the good of others.

Let‘s allow God’s word stir us to keep working our way through this complexity to help someone else, to think beyond just ourselves. Let’s care because God cares about the vulnerable and commands us to seek justice for those suffering and in poverty. In verse 10 we are told to care even more for those who belong to the same household of faith. We are each part of a biological family, and those ties run deep, but we also live among our adopted brothers and sisters in Christ, who we are all called to love and care for. 

In a culture of individualism and independence, it’s sometimes hard to feel like family with other Christians. Our current society looks quite different than the community of believers described in Acts 4:41-47, where believers were singing praises to God and breaking bread together, but let’s use it as an example and strive to have this type of love for our fellow believers.

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What the Bible says about Poverty: Psalm 9:9-10

Hello everyone! We’re nearing the end of our series on “What the Bible says about Poverty”. If you haven’t read the other posts in the series, make sure to catch up!

(9) The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. (10) Those who know Your Name trust in You because You have not abandoned those who seek You, Yahweh. Psalm 9:9-10 Whether you’re the one experiencing poverty or the one walking alongside someone in poverty, keep God at the center of this present crisis. It’s no secret that God cares for and delivers the poor, that He is our strength when we have none (Isaiah 25:4, 1 Samuel 2:8, Psalm 102:17, Hebrews 13:6).

Even though we may know His power, it’s easy to get caught up in the present crisis and forget to take time to give our problems to God. I read some really great advice recently, if you’re feeling discouraged or unsure about where God is in your life, put your trust in God’s character. God’s character is true and we know that God has proved that He is faithful and doesn’t abandon those who trust and seek him. Looking back at all He’s done, there’s ample evidence that He rescues those who are oppressed. (Daniel 6:27, Isaiah 43:14-19).

Prayer, seeking God, laying down our burdens at His feet; these are all things that should be part of any solution to material poverty. We’ve never been told we will have it perfect and easy in this life; we live in a fallen world. This doesn’t mean He isn’t present during our trials and that we can’t call on His name to move the mountains in our life. Strive to keep God in the middle of your crisis, when life feels like a whirlwind, let God be your anchor.

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What the Bible says about Poverty: 1 Timothy 5:16

Hello everyone! Today, we’re going to seek wisdom from Chapter 5 in Timothy, specifically verse 16.

If a believing woman has widows in her family, she should help them, and the church should not be burdened, so that it can help those who are genuinely widows. 1 Timothy 5:16

We often spend time talking and debating about what the government is doing in taking care of the poor. We may debate over what type of programs they are funding, what policies they are trying to pass, which programs are getting budget cuts, the list goes on! What if we spent time instead discussing our role in poverty alleviation?

As stated in the second half of the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:39) — “Love your neighbor as yourself” — we are called to serve those closest to us, not to rely solely on outsiders. We each have the responsibility to care for family and friends directly connected to us before sending them to the Church or a social service agency. Paul is telling us, in this passage of Timothy, that Church assistance should be reserved for those with no family. This still rings true today.

Think about if or when you’ve been in a situation where you needed financial help. Who did you go to for assistance? Many of us have friends or family to ask and they will gladly help us out! However, many people in poverty, experience broken relationships; sometimes they don’t have any relationships to turn to.

First, we, as Christ-followers want to help people mend broken relationships to increase social support and have a safety net in place when they experience a crisis. Paul felt so strongly about this concept that he even states in 1 Timothy 5:8 “But if anyone does not provide for his own, that is his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

Second, the Church should care for people who don’t have any relationships to draw on in crisis. If we, as individuals, fulfill our personal responsibility, the Church can use its resources for those who don’t have a relational safety net.

It’s easy to feel that we’ve done our part by paying taxes or donating to an organization serving the poor, but we can’t forget about our individual responsibility. Let’s get involved if someone we know is struggling. We may not have all the answers and we may need to draw on the larger resource of the Church or other social service agencies, but let’s continue to walk alongside those in our lives that we know are struggling.

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