June 6, 2018 | by: Chris Kiiskinen | 0 comments
As we studied through the letter of Hebrews, one thing the author commanded us to engage in is to “stir one another up to love and good deeds.” The idea of the word to “stir up” is basically to incite or to irritate. It’s the idea of pestering or bugging each other in a way that is urging one another towards the goals of love and good deeds. That is what I hope this article will do…poke and prod you onto serving the Lord through loving and doing good to one another just a bit more.
When I was 18 years old and had begun to be discipled, part of that process was to engage in an in-depth Bible study program. As I did so, one of the verses that really grabbed my attention, and has been inspirational for me to this day, was 2 Timothy 4:6, which reads...
This made me think that I hoped that I could say the same thing when I was at the end of my life...that I had been “poured out” for the Lord. I wanted to say I gave all that I could, that I had no gas left in the tank...that I didn’t live my life for me, but for Jesus! I certainly have not always done this perfectly, but it still pushes me to this day.
My question for you is...do you think about this? Do you think about being spent for God? About giving Him all of you to use as He pleases, for His purpose and glory? That is what I want to strive for and what I want to urge you to strive for as well. Certainly this will look different for different people as we all have different gifts, different circumstances and different abilities. But shouldn’t our hearts be the same as Paul’s?
Shouldn’t we want to give all that we can for God’s glory? The world tells us to live for self, to serve self, to go for all we can for self. But the word tells us the opposite...to die to self and to live for Christ.
Let that be what drives you! You may say, "that sounds great, but you have more time to do that since you're a full time Pastor, so it must be easy for you." But it still requires sacrifice...and my circumstances weren’t always like this.
Allow me to humbly be like Paul for a moment, when he was writing to the Corinthians, defending himself to them. Please understand I’m not trying to pat myself on the back, nor guilt you into anything. I share this to encourage you to be poured out for Jesus, whatever that may look like for you. All credit goes to him.
When I was young (young people, pay attention)...for a couple of years after high school, my week consisted of a full time job, morning and evening church on Sundays, usually with some form of fellowship in between. Leading a Monday night Bible study. Tuesday night youth ministry staff meeting. Wednesday night serving in youth group. Thursday night attending our college ministry. Friday night event/activity with church people. And Saturday usually doing some chores and also spending time with friends. I was serious about wanting to give my life over to the Lord’s service and being with, and serving, His people.
After getting married and moving, Kristine and I began attending North Bay Bible Church in Vallejo (from which our church was planted). I was a 911 dispatcher working shift work that greatly affected and changed my schedule every 3 months, yet I was still involved as much as I could be in the youth ministry (leading it for 5 years), involved in leadership, involved in worship (leading it for about 3 years) and was working towards Eldership.
When we left there to come to Grace to help with ministry here, after the merge, I was still dispatching full time, but still pressed on. I took on the task of basically building the youth ministry, starting with four 7th graders, started leading a home group (for 12 years), served as part of the leadership team and eventually worked towards becoming an Elder, which finalized in 2010.
In 2000, I left dispatching (after 13 years) for a part time position at the church and worked another part time job for almost 2 years, until the church could bring me on full time. I generally work Sunday through Friday most weeks, and it isn’t uncommon for an average of 1-2 Saturday’s per month to also involve ministry in some capacity.
Many people thought I was crazy and foolish for leaving my dispatching career. I had a great job with great pay, benefits and retirement. Because I was a fire dispatcher at the time, we also worked 24 hour shifts and so I only worked 10 days a month. And even though it was 18 years ago that I left, my last paycheck as a dispatcher is still more than what I make today. In fact, if I continued on in my career, I would now be retired, receiving a nice pension. But you know what...when the Lord opened up a door to leave all that for ministry, it was an easy choice. And I’d make it again.
I’ll admit...sometimes when I’m weary and feel overburdened, I have thought about how nice it might have been to have just finished out my dispatching career, had a vacation home up in Tahoe, and now be in a position where I could just relax and golf every day, if I wanted to. But the Lord always brings me back to focus...back to Him...and wanting to give Him more.
All of this has required sacrifice for me as well as for Kristine. There have been seasons that, because of differing schedules with her working as an interpreter for deaf students during the day and me often being out at night, we would go 3-4 days without seeing much of each other Tells you a little about what a tremendous pillar of support she is to me!
Now, as I’m 55 years old and hitting the downhill side of life, I still want to finish the pouring out process, even though I don’t have the same energy that I did 37 years ago when I first started. As I referred to in my last sermon from Colossians 1, I will use all of the strength that He gives me! All thanks and praise to Jesus!
But I’m not alone in this. All four of your other Pastors here at Grace have also made, and continue to make, great sacrifices personally, for the sake of the ministry. There are others in this church that have also sacrificed much to serve the Lord and people. If you are one of those who has given much...thank you! I encourage you to keep giving for the Lord’s sake, for His Kingdom. There is nothing greater!
For those who maybe aren’t sacrificing much, or are prone to make excuses (which can be easy for all of us)...I urge you to be reminded of what Jesus said to his disciples in Matthew 6:19-20...
"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.”
Scripture encourages us in many places and in many ways, to live our lives fully for the Lord. To die to self, to live for Jesus, to serve one another, etc. So...please allow me to pester you, to stir you up to love and good deeds. Live for the line, not the dot! (If you don’t remember that illustration, ask me about it.)
Be poured out!
Serving with you,
Chris Kiiskinen is a Pastor at Grace Bible Church
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