Meet Dr. Audrey Evans

They shall still bear fruit in old age; They shall be fresh and flourishing,
(Psalms 92:14)

Dear friends, Stephen and Samantha, shared this video with me about a wonderful 92 year old woman, Dr. Audrey Evans. Please take 10 minutes to watch this video. Think about how this Dr. knows her purpose and lives it.

Meet Dr. Audrey Evans

5 Love Languages: Acts of Service

I’m currently reading the 5 Love Languages for Men by Dr. Gary Chapman. Click here if you want to purchase the book for yourself.

Dr. Gary Chapman’s famous approach is that we all speak different love languages, and he categorizes them as:

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Quality Time
  3. Gift Giving
  4. Acts of Service
  5. Physical Touch

Today is about Acts of Service

First of all, let’s demonstrate that this “love language” is most certainly Bible-based. Listen to the words of the apostle Paul:

For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another (Galatians 5:13).

Dr. Chapman mentions three parts to become truly fluent in acts of service.

  1. Impact. Its the idea of working harder, not smarter. Are you listening to what she really needs? Do you hear her talk as to where she really needs the help? You could work all day doing all kinds of chores, and not add a drop to her love tank, Dr. Chapman points out. However, if you make dinner, clean up the kitchen and put the kids to bed, you might overflow her love tank. It comes down to listening to her needs and wants, not serving where you feel the most comfortable serving.
  2. Initiative. Making a list of things you can do for you wife really means nothing until you start DOING things on the list, particularly the things that mean the most to her. This requires drive, discipline and dedication, Dr. Chapman adds. Don’to let this very important to do list get lost under your mountain of paperwork. Think of what that says to your wife and how she will perceive your love and commitment. So, get busy!
  3. Attitude. Have you ever had someone do something for you, but you ended up feeling bad and guilty because of how that person behaved through the whole task? Motive and attitude are everything, aren’t they (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)? We are neither heroes nor martyrs, Dr. Chapman writes. Jesus says we are servants who have merely done our duty (Luke 17:10). So that means we are not trumpeting our good works before others, especially our wives. This is very hard for some of us! When we do that good deed, we want to make sure our wives really know we did the dishes and cleaned the bathroom, but that is contrary to the heart and attitude Jesus wants us to have.

“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly (Matthew 6:1-4).

Pages 80-81 have some great practical tips for acts of service that you can do for your wife. If you have not already purchased this book, please do. It will be a helpful guide in your relationship with your wife. The Bible is of course always the first and best guide, but we also have great help and advice in many other resources like the 5 Love Languages.

 

 

 

 

 

It Has Been Fully Reported

And Boaz answered and said to her, “It has been fully reported to me, all that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband, and how you have left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and have come to a people whom you did not know before. The LORD repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge” (Ruth 2:11-12).

Ruth was from Moab; she was an outsider, a Gentile. When she was shown such great kindness and generosity by Boaz, she was overwhelmed with gratitude. But she was also puzzled…why me?

So she fell on her face, bowed down to the ground, and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?” (Ruth 2:10).

Ruth’s humility here is evident. Her whole mindset was to serve God and work hard to take care of Naomi and herself. She didn’t expect a parade for her service, nor did she expect this bountiful treatment from Boaz. Ruth was perfectly content to get dirty and sweaty working in the fields to get just enough for two widows to survive.

However, Boaz kindly reminds her of why she was being so treated.

“It has been fully reported to me…”

The behavior of Ruth got people talking. Ruth’s commitment first and foremost was to serve the Lord God. She left Moab, her family in Moab and her gods in Moab to come under the sheltering wings of the great I AM. Secondly, her life was but to serve Naomi and to make sure Naomi was provided for.

Ruth’s manner of life got the attention of the people of Israel, and word eventually came to Boaz. He was greatly impressed and I believe he was encouraged by such behavior. It seems like Boaz saw himself as one of God’s instruments in helping provide for Ruth and Naomi. Boaz knew full well that God was pleased with the commitment of Ruth, and he was convinced that the Lord would repay her for her work (Ruth 2:12).

The same is true for us today as God’s people. If our mindset is the praise of men, we will get our reward, Jesus said. When our heart is all about the reward and the material goods, we will get our reward (Matthew 6:1-4). But when our hearts are set on heaven as was the heart of Ruth, heaven takes notice.

Jesus Himself observed this kind of behavior in a poor widow. He watched how the rich people were giving large sums to the temple treasury, but what really grabbed His attention was the two coins given by a widow who gave all she had. Those two coins didn’t make much of a sound when they dropped in the container, but they thundered in heaven (Mark 12:41-44; Luke 21:1-4). Ruth’s service was just like that…God took notice of her and used Boaz to take care of her.

Let us reflect on our own service to God. If our hearts are like the heart of Ruth, then heaven will take notice. And really, it doesn’t matter if anyone else notices if God is the one who sees it.

For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister (Hebrews 6:10).

Some are givers, some are takers

Some are givers, some are takers…which one defines us? The passage we are going to look at today showed two very different agendas. The Jewish leadership was at the temple to take (steal, really). They had turned God’s house into a den of thieves, according to Jesus.

That day, Jesus restored the temple back to its original purpose. He drove out the corrupt money changers, and He began healing the blind and the lame. Children were running around praising Him as the Messiah. Because of Jesus, the temple once again became a place of healing, a safe place for the broken, and a haven of praise.

Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He said to them, “It is written, ‘MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER,’ but you have made it a ‘DEN OF THIEVES.'” Then the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple and saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant and said to Him, “Do You hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes. Have you never read, ‘OUT OF THE MOUTH OF BABES AND NURSING INFANTS YOU HAVE PERFECTED PRAISE’?”(Matthew 21:12-16).

Some Are Givers, Some are Takers

Because Jesus came to serve, the blind and the lame found a welcome place in the temple. When our attitudes at the church building are all “me-oriented,” then the broken will not come to us. We wouldn’t even notice it anyways, because if we are “me-oriented,” the broken can offer us nothing.

So, when we go to worship services this Sunday, what is our agenda? Do we view it like a movie theater, we pay some money, sit down and are entertained and then go our way? Is my expectation for a perfect service, flawless music, awesome sermon, and for everyone to treat me perfectly? Are we full of ideas and critical of how the doers are doing things? If so, that’s a taker’s attitude.

Or do we see this as an opportunity to serve and to help heal? Do we come with our sleeves rolled up and ready to offer our assistance? Are we on the search for the brokenhearted? Do you look for new faces? What about taking a young college student or a struggling mom out to lunch? Take note of that widow who faithfully comes every time the doors are open, but doesn’t say much. Build a relationship with that dear elderly brother or sister. Notice that preteen who comes with her grandparents that may seem a little distant. Try to create conversation and show her you genuinely care.

Jesus came to serve, the other Jewish leaders came to take. Let’s decide to follow Jesus’ example.

What Now Lord?

Thanks, Andy Harrison, for sharing this article about Ralph, entitled, What Now Lord?

 “Whom have I in heaven but You?  And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.  My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”  Psalm 73:25-26

Over the last few years I’ve gotten to know an old man, let’s call him Ralph.  Don’t worry, he wouldn’t be offended, he’s in his 80s and calls himself an “old man”.  Ralph is really nothing special to look at and in many ways is just your average elderly person.  He’s got white hair and wrinkles and has been in a wheelchair for a number of years.  He is soft spoken and his voice can get a little shaky when he talks.  Ralph lives in a very modest assisted-living facility with a few other elderly people.

But when Ralph was younger…oh man, that was different!  He was a pilot in the Air Force and retired with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.  For those who don’t know that is just a couple ranks away from a Brigadier General.  After his military service he found a home in the financial sector, responsible for significant sums of money.  One of Ralph’s passions in life was raising prize-winning Doberman Pinschers and he has pictures and trophies testifying to his accomplishments.  There was a lot about his life that one could envy.

But, as with all of us, time caught up with Ralph.  His wife got ill and died a number of years ago.  He started to lose muscle control in his legs and was forced to use a walker.  It wasn’t long until he deteriorated to the point of needing a wheelchair.  Because of Ralph’s physical condition, he was no longer able to take care of his dogs and he had to find them new homes.  Speaking of homes, he had to sell his and give up his freedom and space for a single room in a small assisted-living facility.

I suspect Ralph’s story is not that different than a lot of people in their 80s.  If I live long enough, I’m sure my decline will have a number of similarities.  What has impressed me (and humbled me) is his outlook and attitude throughout these stages of life.  So many people meet the loss of status and power and physical health and freedom with anger and bitterness but Ralph has embraced these changes with one simple question, “What now Lord?”  In every situation he sees opportunity to continue working for the Lord.

When he was forced to sell his house he spent time in prayer and decided that if the house sold he would use the money to support the preaching of the gospel.  He has confidently stated, “When I die I don’t want one cent left to my name.  I want it all used up for the Lord!”

When Ralph found himself lying in bed one night, shortly after moving into a small assisted-living facility he went to God in prayer and said, “Here I am.  What now, Lord?”  Shortly after that he realized that there were lonely people in that facility nearing the end of their lives and he could be a comfort and an encouragement to them.  He got busy and he shared Jesus.

After Ralph could no longer support his weight with the walker he was forced to stay in a wheelchair.  Many of us might consider this a greater restriction but Ralph turned it into an opportunity.  At worship he took his seat with him everywhere he went, all over the auditorium.  Instead of sitting in the same place, next to the same people, week after week, Ralph wheels around and sits by different people all the time.

Ralph is the very definition of a servant and he realizes that the Lord’s people don’t “retire”.  Wasn’t Moses 80 years old when God called him to lead Israel out of Egypt?  Ralph is not stuck on “how things should be” or “this wasn’t part of MY plan”, he simply does the work that is in front of him.

Now here is the kicker and a little bonus lesson in humility that I received.  I started my relationship with Ralph thinking, “Now there’s someone that could use some attention and encouragement.  I should be a ‘good Christian’ and help that lonely old man.”  Maybe it didn’t sound just like that in my head but you get the picture.  A few years have gone by and I don’t know if I’ve helped Ralph but one thing I do know:  I have learned a ton from him.

“Whom have I in heaven but You?  And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.  My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”  Psalm 73:25-26

Distracted with Much Serving, Part 2

Today we are continuing from yesterday’s article to look into how Martha was “distracted with much serving” and how Jesus brought her back to (#1) reality and (#2) perspective (see Luke 10:38-42).

“She approached Him and said, Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” When we become “worried and troubled over many things,” we can fall into the same trap as Martha did. Martha became the standard of judgment for Mary, and she even assumed that Jesus would agree with her assessment of the situation.  She could not figure out why Jesus would not order Mary to get in the kitchen. Like Martha, we can begin to view our gifts and level of involvement as the standard of judgment for others.

For example:

  • You go visit someone in the hospital or shovel snow for a shut-in and wonder why every Christian cannot find the time to do what you are doing. I mean, how hard is it to get in the car and go visit with dear sister Smith?
  • You are cleaning the church building and wonder why every person is not as diligent and dedicated as you are. You wouldn’t have such a hard time cleaning if the family the week before would have “done their job.”
  • You stay up extra late or get up extra early to make sure that your Bible class lesson is completed and come to Bible study and see so many adults with nothing done at all. Some have blank pages and blank expressions, some even forgot their books. Why can’t they just spend more time preparing at home?
  • You say to yourself, “Good grief! There comes the Jones family again. Late as usual to service. Running in at the last minute. I mean, come on, Sunday morning comes the same time every week. Why can’t they get it together and set the alarm clock a half hour earlier?”

When we get troubled and worried over many things, our joy of serving and the blessing of using our gifts for Jesus get replaced with bitterness and resentment.  We start grumbling about the work, and complaining (even to God) about others.  It then just becomes a job, a grind, and we really don’t like doing it anymore.

Jesus knows our tendency to get distracted while doing good works, and He is acutely aware of how easily we lose our focus and begin to grumble against God and others.  That is why so many Scriptures are devoted to this very thing.

  • Do not grumble against one another (James 5:9).
  • Be hospitable…without grumbling (1 Peter 4:9).
  • Do all things without complaining… (Philippians 2:14).
  • And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart (Galatians 4:9).

So then, what is a person to do when he or she falls into this trap?  What further words of encouragement did Jesus have for Martha?

“But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”  Mary took time to focus on the one thing that mattered, so therefore it meant that some very important things had to be set aside for the moment. Jesus was not condemning Martha in any way for being a servant, He was encouraging her to see Mary in a positive light.  He was giving Martha permission to set her apron aside for a moment and to focus on the one thing that truly mattered – His words of life and salvation.

If people had to eat a little later, it was fine. If the guests did not have everything they wanted for supper, it would not be the end of the world.  Jesus seemed to have little concern here if the house was immaculate and spotless. Who was in that house that day and what was said mattered more than who was working and what was being served. All too often we get caught up in the jobs and the ministry and forget the people and the perspective.

Mary was Mary and Martha was Martha.  Jesus did not expect Martha to be Mary, but Jesus expected Martha to use her talents in His service while keeping focused on the one thing that mattered.

I hope this helps, men. For me, I put my name in that verse and hear Jesus saying, “Aaron, Aaron you are worried and troubled over many things, but one thing is needed…” Put your name in the verse, and think about it.

Distracted with Much Serving, Part 1

Today and tomorrow, Lord willing, we will focus on the passage from Luke 10:38-42 about Martha and Mary, especially that Martha was “distracted with much serving.” The illustration above was done by my daughter, Lindsay. Great work, Linz!

“Hey, Jesus! Don’t you see I’m busy working my fingers to the bone here in the kitchen all by myself? Don’t you care that I’m feverishly trying to take care of all these guests? Mary is not helping me; I mean…she isn’t doing anything. She is just sitting there on the floor listening to you. Why can’t you tell her to get her tail here in the kitchen to help me? You see, Jesus, my “ministry” is service and hospitality, and I’m trying my best to make sure that everything is just right so that everyone’s needs are met. But Jesus, I can’t do this all alone. There are meals to prepare, breads to bake, tables to set, drinks to fill, and dishes to do. Tell her to get in here and do something!”

The above words are merely my paraphrase, so please read Luke 10:38-42 to see how the Holy Spirit through Luke records the actual conversation between Martha and Jesus.

“Martha welcomed Him into her house.”  Martha was hospitable, that was her gift and her passion, and that is a good thing. In fact, God expects every single believer (including men) to be hospitable and to serve others. As God’s people we are all to use our homes and resources to share with others, especially with the less fortunate (Romans 12:13; Hebrews 13:2,16).

Martha was a servant, a doer, and it seems that she had a very practical, no-nonsense personality about her. These are great character and personality traits and are very useful in the kingdom of God. She wanted to make sure that everyone was comfortable and well fed.  This is not the only time we find Martha serving guests and using her gifts of hospitality (see John 12:2). We are very thankful for the Martha’s in our lives. They get the job done, don’t they?

So what’s the problem? Isn’t Martha doing what she was supposed to be doing?  Is that not what Jesus had been preaching about all along?  Even Jesus said to be greatest in His kingdom, you had to be the servant of all.  At one point He asked His disciples, “For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves” (Luke 22:27).  Martha had that very heart, the heart of a servant, so Jesus was by no means correcting her for trying to serve others and to take care of others’ needs.

“Martha was distracted with much serving.”  What did Luke say?  What was distracting Martha? Much serving. You see men, Martha was not being pulled away by evil pursuits; she was just trying to be a servant to others. She was so involved in serving that she lost perspective on the reason for the gathering.  The dinner became the focus instead of the feast Jesus was offering. This is a vital point in the text here. She was not getting distracted with indulgence in sinful pleasure; she was getting sidetracked while using her gifts and talents that God had given her. The Scripture records that these things had become a “distraction” for her.

“Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.”  Martha, Martha.  Remember that Jesus loved Martha just as much as He loved Mary and Lazarus (John 11:5). Martha wanted more than anything to please her Lord, and it is clear from other passages in Scripture that she had a strong faith in God and a clear understanding of who Jesus was and what He was teaching (Please see John 11:20-27).

Martha was a dedicated servant to Jesus, but she lost her focus. Jesus, in His tenderness and patience, called Martha back to (#1) reality and (#2) perspective.

Here is the reality – Martha was worried and troubled over a lot of stuff. She was worried about the guests. She was troubled over all the preparations.  Sadly, she got all worked up over what she considered to be Mary’s lack of involvement.  And here’s the kicker – she was really bothered by her assumption that Jesus did not even seem to care that Mary had left her alone to serve all these guests!

Here is the perspective – Mary had chosen the good part.  Mary was not lazy.  Mary was not un-hospitable.  Mary was not less interested in taking care of others.  She, as Jesus said, had chosen to focus on the most important and pressing thing at the time, and that was to listen to what Jesus was saying. Both Mary and Martha “approached” Jesus, but for very different reasons.  Mary sat at His feet to listen to what He had to say, but Martha wanted to tell Jesus what to do.

More on this tomorrow, men. Meditate upon this. May we as men in the world today think about what Jesus taught Martha.