“Support Staff” (In the Desert and in the Spirit)

Phyllis Nissila

IN THE DESERT

My brother, retired military, commented that the enemy currently terrorizing its way through “deserts east” is benefiting at the moment from abandoned allied trucks and tanks and other battle gear. However, he says, unless its leadership assigns personnel on a ratio of about 12 to 1 to support those at the wheel, so to speak, to requisition, transport, maintain and repair all those high-tech sand-stressed working parts, the desert may soon be littered with useless junk.

With regard to the enemy in question, which advertises extensive travel plans, you might say martyrdom over maintenance does not a very successful—or long-term—campaign strategy make. (Which is, of course, a good thing for the rest of us.) It takes a lot of power behind the scenes to effectively power the front lines, whether it’s the “good guys” or the “bad”…

IN THE SPIRIT

This has me thinking about “support staff” of an entirely different nature needed for an entirely different “campaign,” if you will, this one, spiritual.

Just as the Body Military needs troops on the front lines and everywhere else (as in “They also serve who sit and type”—and order and ship and cook and repair) the Body of Christ needs members in spiritual support positions. Only every position in this Body, top down, is support!

Here is a list of “(Spiritual) Occupational Specialties” from 1 Corinthians 12:4-31 (NASB), their nature, and purpose:

Concerning Spiritual Gifts

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues,[a] and to still another the interpretation of tongues.[b] 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues[d]? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way… (and on to the most potent gift and calling of all: love).

IN CHRIST

I feature this passage and message today because I fear that due to the way numerous churches are organized at present, many congregants might mistakenly assume that the lion’s share of power resides in the pulpit, little, in the pew.

The Scripture above, however, details it very differently. And in these days of intensifying battles—literal and spiritual—we need to remember this.

According to God’s plan, each member of the “spiritual troop” is needed to engage in the specific gifts and ministries to which we are uniquely called by our spiritual Commander-in-Chief. And, as noted above, He is concerned that “(we) should have equal concern for each other.” Thus, the need for fellowship—and “lateral support” for all.

Not necessarily, however, the fellowship of man-made, admin-heavy, more business-model driven than Holy Spirit led fellowships, or emotion-driven hype-fests.

Not to say that good organization and openness to Godly emotions are not appropriate.

But discernment is in order.

Indeed, these days it seems increasingly hard to find a body of believers adhering to classic Biblical truths and teachings outside of a small group here, a remnant, there.

But even so, we have these words of comfort, encouragement—and support—from Christ, Himself: “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:20).

Carry on, troops.

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From Hurting to Healing—Wash, Rinse, Repeat (Meditation on Psalm 30)

Phyllis Nissila

dark-forest-path-backgroundWise ones tell you: the grieving process comes in waves; you will not feel the way you do today, forever. Commit to the work of recovery, they advise, with good counsel, support, and reliance on the grace of God to instruct, convict, comfort, cleanse—and restore.

As I meditate on Psalm 30, David’s account of this process in his own life, I think of the analogy of washing hair: the “wash” (of emotions) over the event, trauma, or series of same; the “rinse” (of good counsel and comfort); and finally, the acceptance of the fact that the process will likely repeat as new layers of hurt—and healing—emerge, adding to the “work (of restoration) in progress.”

If we don’t give up.

Or quit.

David experienced this process, too, again and again, in psalm after psalm.

But that’s not all he experienced.

Through candid confessions, he reveals his own recovery processes, whether due to self- or other-inflicted sorrows, and he reveals the promise on the other side of the pain: the mourning of sorrow that, through God’s great kindness and compassion, turns into a morning of joy.

At length.

And we, too, can be encouraged.

Today.

From the New International Version, here is one of David’s accounts of this “cleansing” process:

Psalm 30

I will exalt you, Lord,
for you lifted me out of the depths
and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
Lord my God, I called to you for help,
and you healed me.
You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead;
you spared me from going down to the pit.

Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people;
    praise his holy name.
For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.

When I felt secure, I said,
“I will never be shaken.”
Lord, when you favored me,
you made my royal mountain stand firm;
but when you hid your face,
I was dismayed.

To you, Lord, I called;
to the Lord I cried for mercy:
“What is gained if I am silenced,
if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it proclaim your faithfulness?
10 Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me;
Lord, be my help.”

11 You turned my wailing into dancing;
    you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
12 that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
Lord my God, I will praise you forever.

 

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Dear Christians: Welcome Back to Public School! (Some Encouragement from a Believer Working in this Sometimes-Overlooked Ministry Arena)

I just finished reading yet another dire warning to parents sending their children off to the public school system. I responded to the prophet of (mostly true) doom as follows, adding a bit to this post, in order to provide some encouragement for parents (and prospective college students) who for one reason or another don’t have other educational options. Be assured: God’s people are everywhere. Continue reading

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Out of the Fire: On Leaving Roman Catholicism 9 (Dad’s Story)

Phyllis Nissila

Again today I am prompted to respond to a reader’s comments within which she linked to the story of her experiences in prayer and intercession for her own relatives (mother and brother) before they passed on, although they were not Roman Catholics. Very inspiring—and encouraging. See “poetry cottage’s” comment and link in the previous post, part 8 of this series. Today I’m adding the story of my father’s conversion shortly before his death, as a kind of book-end to the story of my mother, here, and more encouragement for those of you in similar situations: http://pnissila.wordpress.com/2014/01/26/on-witnessing-to-a-roman-catholic-an-explanation-a-story-and-an-exposition/

THE CONFLICTS

Some years ago I wrote the story for a Christian magazine about the circumstances of my father’s conversion just days before he died, November 21, 1985. Here it is in the context of how difficult it can be to reach a Roman Catholic. But, then again, “all things are possible.” Continue reading

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Out of the Fire: On Leaving Roman Catholicism 8 (Witnessing to RC’s–A Labor of Love and of Angst)

Phyllis Nissila

From the riches of reader responses to my posts, I often glean inspiration for more essays, devotionals, and commentaries. This reader, with whom I share a common joy–having through time come further out of and away from the non-biblical aspects of Roman Catholicism–inspired me today with the next installment in this series. She writes: Continue reading

Posted in Commentaries, devotionals and commentaries featuring technology, encouragement in hard times, Ex-Roman Catholic/Catholicism, Out of the Fire: On Leaving Roman Catholicism, Purgatory, Witnessing to Roman Catholics | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

On the “Rapture” and the “Church Prevailing”—a Few Thoughts Pre-Trib

Phyllis Nissila

A RAPTURE

Rapture is a term in Christian eschatology which refers to the “being caught up” discussed in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, when the “dead in Christ” and “we who are alive and remain” will be “caught up in the clouds” to meet “the Lord in the air” [1].

The Rapture (a concept derived by Bible scholars from a study of the Greek term harpazo (to carry off, snatch up, and the Latin term, rapiemur [2]) is believed to take place sometime before, during, or after, the Great Tribulation, a period of seven years at the end of the so-called Church Age described in several books of the Bible [3]. I favor a pre-Tribulation Rapture for several reasons, two of which are discussed here: the pattern of redemption and deliverance found throughout the Scriptures and Jesus’ teaching on the Church’s “prevailing power” over “the gates of Hell.” Continue reading

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On (Spiritual) Asymmetric Warfare

Phyllis Nissila

Asymmetric warfare: noun, warfare in which opposing groups or nations have unequal military resources, and the weaker opponent uses unconventional weapons and tactics, (such) as terrorism, to exploit the vulnerabilities of the enemy. [1]

He knows he has to use it. Satan, that is. Asymmetrical warfare, that is. Continue reading

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