Letter to the Saints

Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands

God's plan is that through the faithful ministry of every part, the whole body will grow to full maturity in Christ. The leaders of his church have been gifted, positioned, and appointed to train and mobilize the people of God for this "every person, everyday" ministry lifestyle.
– Paul David Tripp

That's the impetus behind Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands – God has designed it so that when he calls you to himself in salvation, he also calls you to be a servant of sanctification in the lives of others.

God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things in the lives of others.

That's what the elders at Covenant Hope Church desire– every member of Covenant Hope seeking to help one another follow Jesus better. When everyone is committed to this "every person, everyday" ministry lifestyle the whole culture of the church is transformed.

Our relationships with one another will reflect the transforming relationship Christ has established with us. So rather than shallow, casual relationships, we'll work for deeper, redemptive relationships that God uses for lasting change in our lives. 

What does that look like? 

One crucial aspect is recognizing that we do all that we do because of our hearts (Luke 6:43-45). Whatever rules over our hearts, rules us. So for our relationships to be deep and redemptive then the heart must be the target.

Become a Good Question Asker

In our conversations, we must seek to go beyond circumstances, situations, and relationships to what is going on in the heart. How is your brother or sister experiencing their circumstances, situations, or relationships?

Take time to listen carefully to one another, pay close attention to what is going on below the surface, and don't assume; ask questions to understand how they are processing.

    What fears do they feel?
    What dreams do they have?
    What are they hoping for? 
    Who or what are they trusting in?
    What do they desire?

Sometimes just asking good questions is doing the work of ministry. Through good questions, we help people to see themselves in the light of God's word. Good questions do more than help us get to know one another, they uncover where change is truly needed.

Lead Them to the Redeemer

But remember, we aren't the Redeemer, we're just his instruments! We can identify with them in their struggles, show compassion in suffering, and be gracious with their sins. So listen carefully, but then lead them back to the Lord Jesus, Our Great Redeemer. Remind them of his promises. Point them to his love. Walk with them in his ways. Comfort them with his salvation. Look forward to his coming.

As we behold more and more of Him together He is transforming us into His image, from one degree of glory to another (2 Cor. 3:18).

With love,
Mark Donald

The Care of Souls

"Wouldn't it be wonderful if there were x-rays or imaging machines to tell us what was impeding the soul's spiritual health?"

That's what the author of The Care of Souls thought after a visit to the doctor's office. But his doctor informed him that only about 10-15% of the information needed for a diagnosis comes from such incredible devices. In fact, doctors rely most of all on asking the patients lots of questions.

The same is true as we seek to care for one another spiritually. The way we help one another diagnose spiritual ailments and carefully apply the healing truths of scripture and the gospel is through attentively listening and asking questions of each other.

"Prescribing the wrong medication or regimen can be harmful to a patient; sometimes it can be lethal." On the other hand, "Accurate diagnosis leads to effective treatment."

While the author is primarily addressing pastors these truths should inform all of our care for one another, since every member in the church is called to the work of ministry (see: Eph 4:11-16). 

Tips for How to Listen Well

  1. Give your full attention - Don't be thinking about what you are going to say next!
  2. Thank the person for confiding in you - It's hard to admit when things aren't going well.
  3. Ask lots of questions - Avoid giving immediate formulaic answers without giving thought to the person's struggle.
  4. Aim at the heart - Ask questions about the person's feelings, hopes, fears, doubts, and trusts.
  5. Listen attentively - Don't interrupt or interrogate, simply listen. Listen for: Faith (what are they trusting in?); Holiness (how are they responding? Godly sorrow or sinfully?); Repentance (how might they grow through this situation?)

These are simply tips, not rules. It requires much wisdom from God (James 1:5) to care for one another in the intricacies of each of our individual fights of faith. We'll make mistakes, we'll need to forgive and be forgiven, but it's a glorious duty the Lord has called us to, to care for one another's souls. Let's pray for wisdom and grace as a church to grow in this wonderful work.

Grace be with you all,
Mark

Posted by Mark Donald with