The Good News in Serving

I’ve worked as a pharmacy manager for 5 years now, and my number one priority has always been service. Okay, well, safety is always our number one priority, so service is a close second. I try to keep up with medical literature, and I am hungry for any new information about healthy living I can share with my patients, but the one thing I am always checking my pulse on is service. I’ve enjoyed listening to great servants like Dan Cathy from Chic-Fil-A, or Danny Meyer from Union Square Hospitality Group, but it hasn’t been enough to sustain me in a demanding profession.

It was a very difficult industry for me at first. I am sure you’ve heard the phrase “the customer is always right,” and it’s 100% accurate. I am a proud person, and I don’t enjoy being wrong. After a few quarters of always being on the defensive, I was convinced I wasn’t going to survive in my profession very long. I had to frequently fix problems that I wasn’t responsible for, and often take the blame. It was exhausting. Before long, I was driving to work everyday preparing myself to be wrong, which became very depressing. Something was going to have to change. It turned out, it was me.

A couple of years ago my wife and I read the book of Mark together. I was taking a new job with even higher standards of service at this time (surprising, I know), so I was excited to be reminded of the life of Jesus. If you want to know what God is like, all you have to do is look at the life of Jesus. He is God! His compassion, grace, and mercy to us is inspiring and worthy of our worship. One of the most helpful passages during this transition is found in chapter 10, verses 41-45:

When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

It is a familiar text, but it must become more than familiar to us; it must become a part of us. As new creations in Christ, it is of great importance to remember what our new bodies were resurrected for, what we are to do. In this passage we can clearly see that one Christlike behavior is serving. Serve to the point where our life is demanded of us. Without God, this type of service isn’t possible. I have experienced it first hand. I tried to serve, and my well was just about dry. The Spirit used this passage to remind me that service is not from duty but from a new heart.

Look at what Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:17: ”Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” Paul is literally saying that something new is here. You are not simply cleaned off and put back in the world. No, the Resurrection has made you into something you’ve never been before, something you could never be on your own. You are restored into the royal priesthood of God, worshipping Him in all things, and reflecting the praise of all creation back to Him. To put it more simply, a new heart means new desires. Our worship does not come from a place of duty, it comes from a place of love – a place of joy. So, instead of serving others because I am “supposed to,” I serve because my soul longs to. It’s a radical transformation that is only made possible by the death and resurrection of Christ.

Believers, we have entered into death, so that the flesh may die (and all of the idols with it!) so that we may be born again and raised to life with Christ. We are finally able to live as we were designed to live; as worshippers of God. Serving others is one such way that we can worship our great God.

Serving others is no longer something I am supposed to do as a believer, it is something that my new heart beats to do. It is one way that I can worship God and prepare the way for His Kingdom to come. When I am weary I am able to look to Christ who also served, though he was a king. Serving has also become part of my ministry. By serving others, I can better demonstrate my love for the gospel and love for others.

I’d like to invite you to join me by starting to incorporate service routines into your life. We have numerous opportunities to serve right here at Redemption Church, and we could use a lot of different skills. Whether it is making disciples in Redemption Kids, running the sound booth, or greeting with Hospitality, there are ample ways you can bless others. The elders, deacons, and I also pray to see such service flow outside of our church walls and into the community of Augusta. We need people with a heart and vision for the city to find opportunities that our members can serve in. Lastly, we can serve globally by funding, and praying for our global missionaries. I pray that the Spirit may lead you into this vocational change, and that you may find joy by serving others.

Redemption Church 2018

The following is a summary of “Making the Best Use of the Time,a sermon preached at Redemption Church on 12/31/17.


It’s a new year, 2018. Maybe you, like many others, have spent a little time reflecting on the prior year and setting some goals for the future. As you plan 2018, what are you deciding are the most important things to make happen this year? And why? Are you making the best use of your time?

I keep a jar of 52 marbles in my office as a visual reminder of the 52 weeks I have each year. The idea is that when you can see the time you have you tend to make better use of it. Ann Voskamp, in her book The Broken Way, does something similar with her daughter by filling a jar with seeds representing the days of any one life. She makes some observations that are helpful as we decide how we will use the time that we have. She writes:

You have only one decision every day: how will you use your time?… I’ve thought of time as something you have to wring the very most out of, drain to the last drop. Carpe Diem, people, Carpe Diem.

But what had Jesus said? ‘My time has come.’ What time? The time of His death? For Jesus, time was not something you seize as much as something you sacrifice….It’s not something to grab; it’s something to give.

How are you going to make the best use of your time? Are your goals focused around seizing or sacrifice, grabbing or giving?

In Colossians 4:2-6 says:

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

Paul exhorts toward continual prayer and walking toward outsiders to make the best use of our time. In Matt Perman’s book, What’s Best Next – How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done, he makes a Biblical case that the most productive thing we can do is to do good for others. Perman says that “The guiding mindset of our lives is to be: how can I do good for others? How can I benefit my neighbor?” and that “The good of others is ‘what’s best next.’”

How are you going to make the best use of your time? Are you seeking to prayerfully walk toward outsiders for their good and the glory of God? Here is what I want us all to believe more fully this year; the most abundant life is the life given. Following the way of Jesus, doing good for others, becoming last, to the glory of God is actually the way of the truly blessed life.

At Redemption Church we are stepping into 2018 following the exhortations of Paul on how to make the best use of our time, and we want every one of you involved. Will you join us in praying continually and walking toward outsiders?

Ways for us to practice together:


We want to pray together continually this year. As we move through 2018 please continue to pray with us throughout each week that:

  • Doors would be opened for people to hear the gospel in downtown Augusta. Paul asks the same in Colossians 4:3. We are on Broad Street for a reason; we want to see this place saturated with the gospel. Let’s pray in that direction.
  • We would be a unified body of believers representative of the diversities of our community. We want to see the church reflect the community we live in. We want Redemption to be a place full of people who “once were not a people, but who are now God’s people” (1 Peter 2:10) because we believe that the gospel is proclaimed more fully from such a community. Would you pray with us toward a united body made up of a diverse people?
  • Church planters and missionaries with The Alliance and A29 around the globe would see doors open for the gospel. We want to be a church that plants churches. We believe it is the best and most sustainable way to send missionaries into other neighborhoods, cities, states, and countries. God hears our prayers, and who knows the hearts that would be open to the gospel elsewhere because we simply ask? Specifically, let’s pray for Paul and Lindsay Murphy and our friends at Sojourn Uganda.
  • God would provide for Redemption Church with people and finances to see the gospel advance in and from our community. We believe that the harvest is plentiful, so we are asking that God provide people who are willing to go with the gospel among us, locally, and beyond. Financially, we’re asking God to give us more in order to do more in the way of discipleship, blessing the city, and church planting.  That can look like many things from taking care of roof leaks and hiring staff to funding other ministries and organizations.


Walking Toward Outsiders

For Redemption Church this immediately means walking toward the people of downtown with the grace and with the seasoning of the gospel.

There are a lot exciting things happening in downtown Augusta, and we have a tremendous opportunity to steward the gifts God has given us toward blessing our city. Nothing will make Augusta a great city like the advance of the kingdom of God here. The effects of the gospel saturating this district would be exponential and beyond our wildest imaginations.

Here are a few ways we can walk intentionally toward downtown together:

  • Stay Informed. There are several avenues, from social media groups to newsletters,  that will help you keep up with what is going on downtown. Here are a few. Make and effort to pay attention to what is happening down here. People are participating in community all around us, we just have to join them where they are.
  • Participate in #LOVEdowntown. Once a month we will come up with a way to bless downtown together. We may ask you to bring a $10 bill, or come prepared to stay downtown for 30 minutes. It may be buying a $10 gift card and giving it away, or commissioning a local artist to create public art in some form, but each month we will bless downtown together. This is a real tangible, practicing, way to walk toward downtown with the flavor of the good news of Jesus.
  • Serve downtown with your Missional Community. There are a lot of ways to do this. You can pick up trash on Sunday mornings at 9am with Operation Clean City. You can plan to eat downtown together on Sundays and invite a guest to go with you. You can play pickup games of ultimate frisbee in The Common. Just prayerfully build some rhythms in downtown spaces individually and with others, enter graciously, and go with the gospel on your lips.


So, what might be the best use of your time in 2018? The way I see it we have 52 weeks full of opportunities to sacrifice and give the gospel away. We have 365 days to spend for the good of others and to the glory of God. And that is life giving for us.

As you’re making plans for 2018, it may seem counterintuitive, but the message of Jesus is clear

“Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” Matthew 5:16

The purpose of life is to do good for others to the glory of God. Let’s prayerfully walk toward outsiders seeking Jesus and His Kingdom together. Let’s wear the “new self” of Jesus together; doing good works for His glory, clothed in compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, love, peace, and thanksgiving (Col. 3:12-17).


Thoughts Before the 2017 Presidential Inauguration

On January 20, 2017, Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States of America.  Without a doubt, he is unlike any President I have encountered in my lifetime.  In times like these, it is natural to look backwards into our history to see how Presidents from the past have handled times of great transition and division.  At the onset of Abraham Lincoln’s second term as President of the United States in the midst of a Civil War that had not yet come to an end, Lincoln is quoted as ending his inaugural address with these words: “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

The election cycle of 2016 was in and of itself a time of division and contention.  While we have certainly not been in a season of conflict like Abraham Lincoln was in when he uttered those words, we must without a doubt acknowledge the division that has bubbled to the surface of our society as a result of this election cycle.  It has been reported that upwards of 80% of people who identify as Evangelical Christians voted for Trump.  We also know that very few Minority Christians voted for Trump, thus exposing that Christians themselves were divided in this election not unlike our nation as a whole.  Based on what I’ve seen and heard, I think many Evangelical voters were hoping to restore some sense of Christian values back into our society inasmuch as President-Elect Trump promised to make America great again.  

I’m incredibly grateful to have been born in the United States of America.  I have been afforded a lifestyle and myriad opportunities that many people in our world will never experience.  We live in a nation that is undoubtedly prosperous, and the freedoms we enjoy are unbelievable when compared to much of the world. In Revelation 7:9-10 (ESV), we find these words:

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’”

With all of that said, we as American Christians sometimes miss this truth: God doesn’t love political nations – He loves people.  When the word “Nation” is used here in Revelation and throughout the New Testament, it’s not referring to a specific political entity.  It is referring to people where they gather with specific cultural and linguistic identities.  

Jesus didn’t die on the cross to save the nation of America: He died on the cross to save the people who live in America.  God doesn’t make covenants with nations any longer.  With the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, God established a new covenant and created a new entity.  The new covenant is made with the people He saves, and the new entity He created was not a nation – it was the Church.  It is time for the Church to embrace the fact that our standing in the world is not based on any power, prestige, or influence we wield in our societies and cultures and states and nations.  Our standing in the world is based on the fact that Jesus died to set apart His people as a called-out group empowered, not to create Christian nations, but to make disciples who make disciples who make disciples.

In this linked article from Christianity Today, Ed Stetzer states the following:

“It is time for us to stop asking how we get our collective foot into our culture, and instead begin to ask God how we can be faithful to Him and our call to show and share the love of Jesus in a broken and hurting world. We need to remember, quoting an old preacher phrase, that “what happens in the church house is far more important than what happens in the White House.”

Jesus is not coming back on a donkey or an elephant. He is coming back on a white horse to bring victory. I, for one, just want to keep showing and sharing the love of Jesus in the midst of a changing culture until that moment comes. Do you?”

While we should be grateful for the freedoms we enjoy and while we should endeavor to be model citizens inasmuch as we do so to glorify our Father in Heaven (1 Cor. 10:31), let us not forget that we live in a deeply divided, deeply fallen, and deeply hurting nation.  As Christians, we hold the answer to division, sin, and pain.  The work ahead of us is incredibly difficult.  Only Jesus can bring the peace and unity that Abraham Lincoln spoke about at his second inauguration.  

Here’s the kicker for me though: it’s the church that has the obligation to steward the Gospel for the well-being of our city and state and nation.  As God’s people were sent into exile in Babylon, the prophet Jeremiah uttered these words to the exiles from Israel in 29:7, “But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”  The welfare of our city and state and nation will only be found as the Gospel advances and people become part of God’s kingdom.

Church, our nation needs the Gospel.  Church, our nation needs us to proclaim the truth of reconciliation, forgiveness, and healing.  Church, our nation needs Jesus.  Church, let’s get busy with things that will matter for eternity.  America will one day cease to exist, but Jesus and His bride will not.  Let me leave you with this reminder from Psalm 20:7, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.”

Check out this related 3 part series of blog posts: After the 2016 Presidential Election

After the 2016 Presidential Election (Part 3): Two Kingdoms

American Flag

Members of the Electoral College have cast their ballots, and it is official, Donald Trump will be President of the United States for the next four years. Some are pleased with the outcome, some are indifferent, and others are devastated.

If you paid attention at all to this election cycle, you know that what Ben wrote in part 2 of this series is so true, “No matter the candidate or year, election season is often a cause for anxiety.” As a former U.S. History teacher, I spent time studying elections and campaigns, and found that in each political season powerful and effective rhetoric is employed to convince the public of one position or another. The goal of political rhetoric is simple, vote “X”.  This is how politics work. The process is much more sophisticated but often looks something like this:


Person or party “X” is wrong- either dangerously or ignorantly so


There is one hope to maintain stability, security or integrity- person or party “Y”


You must save _______ by voting for person or party “Y”


Get others on board to save the world- encourage social pressure and shaming


Because, fear, hope, and social pressure are dynamically powerful motivators, I want to begin by inviting you to consider the following questions:

  • Who or what do you fear?
  • Where do you place your hope?
  • How does this affect the condition your heart?
  • How does this shape the way you interact with others?

Some Relevant History

The 1970s facilitated a surge in evangelical involvement in American politics. This particular surge was primarily a response to a transitioning national and cultural identity- away from what some believed to be “Christian” to one marked by secular humanism. Throughout this transition, many prominent evangelicals shared a deep conviction that the United States was falling further and further from its “Christian” identity and the proper response was to mount a counterattack to “take America back for God.” This resulted in an array of party alignments, agendas, and affiliations for many evangelicals.

In the early 1980’s, three well respected professors of U.S. history, Mark Noll, George Marsden, and Nathaniel Hatch, sought to help evangelicals sift through some of the political rhetoric and arrive at a more accurate view of the past. They explore the following questions:

  • How Christian is America’s past?
  • Was early Christian America a distinct source of Christian values?
  • What was the mix of Christian principles and baptized ideology in Puritan New England, the legacy of the Great Awakening, and the American Revolution?
  • How much Christian action is required to make a whole society Christian?
  • Is the “Christian nation” concept harmful or helpful to effective Christian action in society?

Convinced that a proper view of the past, a) helps us rightly view the present, and b) leads us to effective Christian action in society, Noll and his colleagues published their their research and conclusions in, The Search for Christian America.

In short (sorry for the spoiler, but well worth the read), Noll, Hatch, and Marsden explain that although America has had a generally religious past and it’s history has been liberally sprinkled with genuine Christian influence, the facts of history show that early America does not deserve to be considered uniquely, distinctly, or even predominantly Christian. Furthermore, careful examination of Christian teaching on government, the state, and the nature of culture actually reveals that the idea of a ‘Christian nation’ is very ambiguous concept which is usually harmful to effective Christian action in society.”

If you are interested exploring this topic more, but don’t want to read an entire book, check out this interview with Mark Noll (my apologies ahead of time for the cheesy intro music).

Why does this matter?

First, the aforementioned mentality or sentiment has carried over and shaped the landscape of American evangelical involvement in politics in the 21st century.  Noll explains that, “proper perspective profoundly affects the way we approach the public arena,” and “allows Christians to more clearly speak the gospel in evangelism and to put it to work in social concern.”

Second, for many evangelicals it is difficult to differentiate between the Kingdom of God and the American kingdom. And even when find ourselves able to differentiate, it is even more difficult to know how to operate first as citizens of the Kingdom of God and second as citizens of our country.

Two Kingdoms

As followers of Jesus it must be clear to us that, “the kingdom Jesus came to establish is ‘not from this world’ (John  18:36).” It is fundamentally distinct from any kingdom of the world.

Our understanding of the proper relationship of the church to society can be clarified by one of the greatest of the church fathers, Saint Augustine. Augustine lived in the fourth and fifth centuries after Christ in the era just after Christians had just gained access to political power in the Roman empire. Augustine thought that Christians should loyally perform their duties to the powers that be and thank God for any blessings that came from their country, but they should not have illusions about the nature of human governments. Ultimately every human government belongs to what Augustine called the “city of the world,” in which self-interest rules.

Augustine explained  that all human governments are resolved to defend things of material and worldly value, and they will unhesitatingly destroy (in some form or fashion) anyone or anything that challenges their authority. Only in the City of God, says Augustine, or in the church, can we find a community that is dedicated not to defending self-interest, but rather to the love of God.


When we die with Christ and are raised again with him, we give up our ultimately allegiances to the principalities and powers of this world-even to the relatively good powers that benefit us. Although we are to be good citizens who value the civil order God has provided, our ultimate allegiance is to a higher power.

In his second letter to the Corinthian church, Paul wrote, “I am afraid that… your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ” (2 Cor 11:3). Many of us, myself included, have wrestled this political season with having our eyes, hearts, and minds led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. Political participation is a privilege, but with it comes a tremendous temptation to be drawn into and consumed by powerful rhetoric and propaganda. Our political ideologies can become to us our hope – that which saves and delivers us from our fear- taking the place of God.

We must realize that a gulf lies between the church and any human government no matter how admirable or how relatively good it may be. “Despite some overlaps, the church’s goals are never going to be nearly coextensive with the goals of the civilizations of the world. We should work for the relatively better.” We have important obligations to do whatever we can to help our neighbors-promoting just laws, good order, peace, education and opportunity. Nonetheless we should recognize that as we work for the relatively better in the “city of the world”, our successes will be relative.

“The church declares that the solutions offered by the nations of the world are always transitory solutions, themselves in need of reform. Such sobriety about the world should not lead to political cynicism or dissolution. It should however, reinforce the ultimate Christian truth that our final hope rest only on the grace of Christ” (Noll).

The failure of many Christians in the political realm has not been political engagement, rather, a failure to recognize and pronounce Christ and His Kingdom as supreme and independent.

The Truth We All Need

A political party, candidate, or ideology cannot satisfy the longings of our hearts or fully resolve the brokenness that surrounds us. It would serve us well  to evaluate the position of our hearts towards the kingdoms of this world, the little kingdoms we make in our individual lives, and the better, true Kingdom that is ultimately demanding of our affections and the only way to true flourishing.

Let me encourage you to spend some time with the following questions. If the Spirit leads, repent (turn from your idolatry, and turn to Jesus) and rejoice in the good news of the Gospel!

  • Who or what do you fear?
  • Where do you place your hope?
  • How is Jesus and His Kingdom better?
  • If you believed this, how would this it affect the condition your heart and reshape the way you interact with others?

Don’t forget what Reggie wrote in the first post;

“One day, America and all her Presidents will just be a footnote in History – a kingdom that lasted for just a moment in time.  When that day comes, Jesus will still be reigning supreme.  One day, King Jesus will return, and the only Great King that has ever existed will rule this earth with the kind of glory that earthly kings can only dream of possessing.  Church, let me remind you of what King David said in Psalm 20:7 (ESV): ‘Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.’  Church – don’t put your hope in earthly kings. Likewise, don’t despair over earthly kings. Instead – remember your true king!”