Chapter 1. To Serve, noun.

Of course, I don’t think it’s any coincidence that I’m reading this book and the past two sermons by my pastor have been titled “Love” and “Serve.” Serve (n) –one definition of the word reads “an act of helpful activity; help; aid: to do someone a service.” An act of helpful activity – we have so many options.

To serve is to do. God commands our service. There are some things I love to do: baking for my family, selecting the perfect gift for someone, taking on additional work for a struggling co-worker, or even an anonymous donation to someone in need. These things are easy for me. Going to Haiti to install water purifiers, even just a day trip to Mexico to spend time with orphans terrifies me.  I like being comfortable, let me just write a check and let someone else go. Ouch – I think the lightning just struck.

I know this is not what God wants, but I can’t seem to conquer my fear. Question 1: Do you have fears of service? I know God wants more from me. Just like God wanted more from our author.

The comment Mr. Stearns makes on the last page of the chapter I think is my biggest challenge and maybe yours too, “getting what I knew in my head into my heart and out to my hands and feet was the challenge.” Back to that word – serve. Question 2: What does God expect of us (Christians in general)? Question 3: In what areas do you think we are living up to His expectations and in what areas do you think we aren’t?

One additional thought. Question 4: Does service start in the home? This comment made by Mr. Stearns also struck a nerve with me, “When we are living out our faith with integrity and compassion in the world, God can use us to give others a glimpse of His love and character.” This is what I want to do, to be, and I thought I was. Question 5: How do I do this in the world when my own child doesn’t see this in me? (And I know that it’s God who works in his heart.)

One more quote to leave you with as we continue our journey together:

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”  – Mahatma Gandhi

~ Kim.



Filed under The Hole In Our Gospel

13 responses to “Chapter 1. To Serve, noun.

  1. Kim

    Song for the week:
    Live Like That – Sidewalk Prophets
    Enjoy and be challenged to serve!

  2. Great questions and great insight.
    1. You know it is so much easier for me to go “serve” where it might be stereotypically outside my comfort zone, than to mingle in a group and get to know them in that setting to begin to love on them, even as a part of the leadership team for a ministry at our church. It seems you serve and you serve well. Are you being called to serve in Haiti or spend time with orphans in Mexico? If you are and you’re running, that’s one thing. If you are being called to serve in some areas and write the check for others, then that’s something and maybe you are obeying.
    2. What does God expect of us? Great question. I think it is so multi-faceted and some of which we have definitely overlooked which is addressed in this book. Which is why I love it and being so challenged.
    3. For a long time I wasn’t living up to the expectations to “take care of home” with home being the local church. It is interesting to me as I have stepped up that piece the desire for international missions has grown exponentially in my heart.
    4. Yes. In my mind, if I am not taking care of home i.e, the Adams family – then I am not at my best to take care of others. I also am now more convicted that I am also called to play a part in service at “home” – our local church first. And the support of my dreams of playing a role in international missions seems to be growing by getting “home” in order.
    5. GREAT question. It’s my #1 mission every day first. My struggle is to also remember that my husband needs to see this as well. It’s easy w/ the youngsters b/c they are in a position to be influenced but I need to do what is in my control for my hubs too.

    Great questions lady.

  3. What I loved about this chapter was the concept of what is really takes to plant and cultivate a harvest. There is so much to be done and that MUST be done before a harvest. Loved this quote, “In our instant-gratification society, we would prefer to go directly to the harvest. Who wants to do all of that hard work of stump pulling and boulder moving? But isn’t all that “other” work the essence of the coming of the kingdom of God in its fullness?” It was so encouraging because I think we have been conditioned to think that the mark of success is about those who respond to a call of salvation. That is not the case.

    What was completely convicting was this quote: “We have shrunk Jesus to the size where He can save our soul, but now don’t believe He can change the world.” ~ Anonymous.
    Ouch. Seriously. I pray for salvation of many but forget about the needy. Is anything too big for Him? No. I should not put Him in a box.

    • kconley17

      Tiffany – These were two of my favorite quotes from this chapter also! The first reminds me that I must continue to plant, water, cultivate, weed and nuture my son…..even if he thinks God is make believe and it’s just a story. God will continue to use me and I need to be patient through all of this “stump pulling and boulder moving.” And, I KNOW that my God can change the world (which includes my son). Forgive me God if I ever put You in a box.

  4. I keep thinking about the sentence that the Kingdom of God was meant “to change and to challenge” our fallen world. re Q4: Yesterday I was at a seminar about foster care and was challenged by a foster parent who said – “how can I not do this? My family needs this. My children need to see me lay down my life for someone else, not just for them.” He helps recruit foster parents in his church and one of his questions to them is – are you ready to change? Are you ready to sacrificially lay down your life for someone else with little reward.

    So that’s stirring in me as I read this chapter. His life challenged me.

  5. Allison

    Great questions. Wow. Q1: I don’t know that I have specific fears of service, I just have all kinds of excuses. Or qualifying statements, like that I will be able to do/give more when my own family is out of debt, or when I am certain that I am finished having babies, or when those babies are in school and I have more time…certainly there are ways to serve that don’t require my ducks to be perfectly in a row!
    Q 4 and 5: Service at home. This is where I need to begin. I would love for my child(ren) to see that we are God’s hands and feet through what we are doing as a family and as a church. Tiffany, I completely agree with what you said about how that is much easier with the kids than the husbands. Sometimes goals and timeframes don’t exactly line up between adults and that gets a little trickier. I have a feeling reading through this book will lead to some very interesting, eye opening, and (hopefully) enjoyable conversations between Brad and I.
    This first chapter really made me look at how I tend to treat my relationship with God as a very personal thing. Just for me. I pray for myself and my family and friends. What about praying for those I have never met? What about praying for God to use me? I like those ideas.

    • I like those ideas too Allison. I used kids and ages and stuff like that as my “reason” for a very long time. God has made it clear I need to get in the game, to show Prayse and eventually Xavier what love truly looks like.

  6. Tara Hansen

    Ok girls in going to admit it, I didn’t get the first chapter read. BUT, after reading the insight of you wise women I am going to start it tomorrow!! Thanks for getting this going Tiffy, what a blessing you are to me friend!!!

  7. Heather

    I had to chuckle a little when starting this book as it is aligned perfectly with our sermon series right now. God’s timing is always perfect:) FEAR…as I am sure that many of you have heard this before…False Evidence Appearing Real. Fear of so many things throughout my 39 years has kept me from what I thought were my dreams. I now realize, more importantly, that fear has kept me from His dream for me. Growing up on a farm, in the middle of nowhere, isolated from anything uncomfortable, threatening or the least bit disturbing, led me to fear anything of the sort. The enemy is good at keeping us under a blanket of fear. It is easy for me to send a check, put time in serving at the church, etc. Flying across the world and witnessing the vision of how broken our world really is….is frightening. The great news is, that any of us (including myself) can change this. We allow fear to enter us by thinking about it. It ALL begins with our thoughts. Again, False Evidence Appearing Real…is a matter of how we think…not factual. I think this book will be a great aide in convincing us/myself to step out into the uncomfortable safety of our lives and do what God has planned for us.
    “When we are living out our faith with integrity and compassion in the world, God can use us to give others a glimpse of His love and character. It is God-not us-who works in the hearts of men and women to forgive and redeem.” What a great reminder that as Christians, we represent Him. Whether it is the clerk at the grocery store, the car that cut you off or a stranger you pass on the street… God, no doubt, wants us to represent His love….always. The importance of starting our representation in the home is paramount. I too struggle with this when it comes to my significant other and at times, my daughter. Why do I expect perfection from those around me (my family) when I am so thankful that God has given me Grace to forgive me for my less than perfect life. Always a work in progress.

    Favorite quote from Chapter 1: “Preach the gospel always; when necessary use words.” Saint Francis of Assisi

    • I love this perspective Heather. Loved also your quote about the enemy keeping us under a blanket of fear. I have lived under that blanket before and it is stifling. It at times feels as if you literally can’t breathe. This book can literally breathe truth into our lives b/c it is the greatest weapon against the enemy. Truth.

      I’ll be honest. I’m sitting here kind of pissed off at myself. It was a great day w/ my kids, going to the pumpkin patch. But I’m just tired. I finally got both kids to bed with a firm warning to P about not getting up and thought, “I’m so over this single parenting thing.” Good grief. I am not a single parent. There is a HS friend of mine who buried her husband yesterday. She is a single parent of 3. There are KIDS who buried their PARENTS today and are now the 12 year old heads of their households, they, are a “single parent.”

      Truth. Perspective. Thank you girls for being vulnerable and for being real. I needed you tonight. Truly because my life is good. I needed some truth shouted right into my head and heart.

  8. Martee

    Hi Everyone,

    I’m slow to join in but I’m here now. I’m Martee. I’m blessed to have a wonderful husband, Greg, and an amazing 11 month old, Genevieve. Tif was my roommate in college and made a forever impact on my life. I’m so glad that after 8 years away I now live back closer so we can spend time together again. Thank you Tif for organizing this wonderful book club, that I can participate in at 11 pm, the only free time I seem to have right now. I just finished the introduction, prologue, and Chapter 1. I’m so glad you chose this book. I’ll be honest, I grew up loving to read. But for the past 8 years I haven’t read much besides medical texts and the occasional book on tape. My favorite books over the past 8 years have been the Mitch Album books (especially Have A Little Faith) and Heaven Is for Real about the Burpo family.

    I’m loving this book so far. I feel like this is just what I need in my life right now, something to push me beyond my comfort zone. I too, quickly turn the channel when the news is too painful. I don’t want my heart to be broken by the cruelty and grief in this world, but I do want to help and not just live in my own sheltered little world. My favorite part of this book so far was in the introduction – “Two thousand years ago, the world was changed forever by just twelve. It can happen again.” This sent shivers through me. I truly believe that we can change the world, one small act of kindness at a time.

    I look forward to sharing with all of you and learning from each of you. And now I hear my baby crying…so until Chapter 2.

    • Yes! Hi Martee! Love you girl. I am guessing that med school/residency takes up a lot of space in your brain and time… so I personally think you should show yourself some grace on the book front. I loved “Heaven Is For Real.” I thought that it gave hope.

      That quote is also one of my faves, I remember is daily actually. It is encouraging.

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