“One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?” The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!” – Luke 10:25-28. 

In Luke 10, we read about a conversation between Jesus and an expert in the law. This was common for Jesus as His teachings attracted scribes, Pharisees, and Jewish scholars. In this interaction, the expert asked Jesus “what should I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus’ response gets him to answer the question by referencing what the expert already knows. Jesus says the response is correct, and if the expert does this, “You will live.”

But the expert goes a little further. He wants to know how far he must go. He asks Jesus, “…And who is my neighbor?” (vs. 29) In other words, are there limits or other criteria to use to determine who is a neighbor? Jesus tells the familiar story of the Good Samaritan. The Samaritan is one of the last people the expert would consider a neighbor, yet he still did the right thing to help someone.

Jesus gets the expert to admit the Samaritan did the right thing and says, “…now go and do the same.” He is expanding the expert’s definition of neighbor to include everybody because loving people is always right.

Doing the right thing for people should be our mindset as well. This passage of scripture charges us to live life by doing the right thing. Love your neighbor, who is everyone and anyone. Work to keep your eyes open to be able to see them clearly. 

The challenging part about loving another person is looking at things from their perspective. This is so hard, especially when our side of things makes so much more sense than what we can see of their side. But when we prioritize loving them even if we don’t fully understand or agree, that’s when Jesus comes to life in us.

Francis Chan notes: “How would my life change if I actually thought of each person I came into contact with as Christ—the person driving painfully slow in front of me, the checker at the grocery store who seems more interested in chatting than ringing up my items, the member of my own church family with whom I can’t seem to have a conversation and not get annoyed? If we believe that, as Jesus said, the two greatest commands are to ‘love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind and to love your neighbor as yourself,’ then this passage has aplication to every part of our life.

Do this and you will live.


Questions to Ask Yourself

  1. Do you see everyone as a neighbor, as Jesus defined it?
  2. If you can see them as neighbors, are you loving them well?
  3. Where are instances that you have/have not loved?


“Love is not only something you feel, it is something you do.” – David Wilkerson

Our culture has the mindset that life is a zero-sum game. In other words, there’s only so much to go around so giving anything away results in you having less. But God’s love is different, it is meant for sharing.  Shared between you and God. Shared between you and other people. And there is no better time than the present to start bridging the gap between our words or intentions and our actions.

When we look at the ministry of Jesus, we discover real synergy and alignment between His actions and His words. Jesus revolutionized love. He showed us that to love we often have to disregard personal comfort and convenience. Jesus demonstrated love to the fullest, putting it into action even when it was really painful. He preached love, but he practiced and lived love. He didn’t just sit around and talk about loving people. He went out and fed people who were hungry, healed people who were sick, and welcomed people as a neighbor, not an enemy.

Our priority for 2023 should be loving others. Becoming more like Jesus means seeking opportunities to be serving and loving others, no matter the circumstances. The Bible says “ Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith..” (Galatians 6:10) Whenever we have the opportunity. Opportunities are all around us, starting with today. Now.  “…whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone” Don’t wait until a later date to help your neighbor if you can help them now. Don’t procrastinate if you can show them the love of God today.

Ask yourself a question: Who do you need to show love to today?  Who do you need to go home after this service and make that phone call and share a word of encouragement and love?  Or knock on that door to reconcile?  Or go home and make a visit to somebody in a nursing home or at the hospital?  Who do you need to invite over to your backyard and have a barbecue with them and show some love?  Who is it at your work that is so annoying they are an outcast that you can demonstrate the love of God?

There are some activities in life where procrastination is a legitimate response.  But showing love is not one of them. If love is what matters most, then love should always take priority over everything else. You will never know how long you will have the opportunity. There is no time like the present.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How did Jesus demonstrate His love for others? What things did He do? Can we show this type of love?
  2. What can we do this week to live more like Christ?

Serve Like Jesus

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.  – 1 Peter 4:10-11.

Some of you remember those World War II posters of a stern Uncle Sam pointing out at you and saying, “Uncle Sam wants you!” or “Your country needs you!” Many folks responded to that challenge, going to work or to fight for their country even though they knew it would mean personal sacrifice and change of priorities. They responded because they believed in the cause they were fighting for.

As Christians, we are challenged to discover that same kind of commitment to step up and serve God and the church.  Doing so contributes to a Home Run Life. I don’t want anybody to think I am not grateful and humbled by the hundreds of people (just like you) who have stepped up to share their time and talents on one of our incredible teams. We couldn’t do what we do without our volunteers.

But, at least once a week somebody who attends Northstar tells me that I am doing a good job. While I appreciate the feedback and the support, I am concerned that many people believe it is permissible, even expected, to leave the work of the church to the pastor or church leaders. It is their job after all. That is what they are paid to do. And yes, things are going pretty well at Northstar as it is, so why change anything. Success sometimes can breed complacency. The wonderful things that God is doing at Northstar has made many people comfortable, but I wonder if some of us have been too comfortable for too long.

Here is my point. The mission of our church is too important to leave to everyone else. The moment you begin to believe that our church can be healthy while you sit on the sidelines, you have forgotten that God has a plan for you. And to accomplish His plan, God made you to be exactly who you are, and His Spirit has empowered you with unique spiritual abilities, or “gifts.” God placed you in your unique situation because He wants you to minister to and with the other Christians He has placed around you. Paul’s vision for the church included every Christian: “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” (Ephesians 4:15–16)

The goal of the church is to grow up in every way into the likeness of Christ. But the church will never reach this goal unless “each part is working properly.” This doesn’t mean that we will all function in exactly the same way, but it does mean that we all have a responsibility. Together, we function as one body. Until every person in our church is actively ministering to the people around us, people in our area won’t experience what the church was created to be.

Now I understand that we have plenty of people who serve outside the walls during the week. This is not an indictment against those who are serving somewhere, rather an encouragement to those who aren’t serving anywhere. If you are one who tends to sit back and let everyone else meet the volunteer needs of the church, I ask that you pray about where you too can be used.

If you’re not serving, it’s never too late to start. Look at the things that you have a natural talent for. What are your skills? Are you an organized person? Are you great with numbers? Do you have an ear for sound? Your gifts and skill sets – whether they’re hobbies or vocational – can be used to serve Northstar. What is your passion? Do you love kids? Love talking to people? Love one-on-one discipleship? The things that make your heart beat a little faster can be used for ministry. Pray about filling an area of need? We have a number of need areas: Babies that need to be rocked. Cars that need to be parked. Coffee that needs to be served.

I encourage you to jump in and see how life change happens through the simple act of serving others. Don’t underestimate the blessing that you can be if you will lay aside your fears and inhibitions and allow God to use you. Most people are not going to criticize genuine works of love, even if not done perfectly. And as you begin to serve in small ways, you will begin to be more confident and see more ways that you can practically serve others.

If you attend Northstar, talk to your Campus Pastor today (or shoot him an email) and tell them you are ready to get started. The whoosh you hear will be him leaping on the opportunity.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What does it mean to serve God? Is it a position, a role, or a mindset?
  2. Whose responsibility is it to serve people that are in need?
  3. Read what Jesus had to say about being a servant in this context in Luke 17:7-10. How does this show us how Christ wants His followers to serve? How does that compare with how we view service?
  4. How do Christ’s beatitudes about Christian service, particularly in Matthew 5:40-41, reveal the type of service Christ is looking for? Why do you think most Christians find it hard to serve in this way?
  5. Pray and ask God to direct you in where to serve in the church.

I Go To Church! I Am The Church!

Core Statement: We are not spiritual consumers; we are spiritual contributors. The church does not exist for us. We are the church, and we exist for the world.

It is clear that in every church we have two types of people who attend; the consumers and the contributors.The obvious question is what exactly do you mean by that. In the next few paragraphs, I will try to explain the difference between the church consumer and the church contributor.

If I approach church as a a consumer, I view interacting with others as a necessary evil, or an inconvenient necessity. I don’t usually hang around when the service ends, or if I do, it is because I saw someone in my small circle of friends I am uncomfortable with, or Northstar groups because they involve participation, scrutiny and close personal contact.

If I approach church as a contributor, I come to church expecting to be part of a community. While at times I find it challenging, I count it a privilege to be part of a fellowship of diverse people with whom I can share my life. I welcome the accountability and scrutiny that comes from close contact with members of my Northstar group, and I seek to be an active participant in one, praying for and pastoring others.

When I approach church as a consumer, I attend, but I don’t commit. I prefer the fringe to the core. I prefer to spectate rather than participate. I pick and choose the meetings I attend. I cannot be relied upon to show up. I just don’t have the time to volunteer, take on responsibility or contribute to church life.

If I approach church as a contributor, I commit myself to the community and this shows by my attendance and servant’s mentality. I embrace my calling to be a partner and co-worker with others for the gospel and I do whatever I can to support church initiatives. I therefore give sacrificially of my time, energy and money.

If I approach church as a consumer, I would like to be ministered to. I expect to be served.

If I approach church as a contributor, I show up at church on Sunday expecting to minister to others. I recognize that I have a responsibility to care for others and so I am proactive in watching for opportunities to minister to other people.

Zig Ziglar said that nothing great happens until someone sells something. I believe that nothing great happens until someone serves. That is certainly true of Northstar. We want to part of something that makes a difference.

There is a principle in business that 20 percent of your customers give you 80 percent of your revenue and profits. A recent survey shows that the 80/20 principle is a fact of church life as well. Only 20 percent are heavily involved, while 80 percent are minimally involved and attend infrequently at best. They act more like like spectators than members. Think of that for a moment.

Ask yourself which group do you fall into. The fact is, we need more spiritual contributors. Why? Because the church does not exist for us. It exists to reach people with the saving message of Jesus Christ wherever in the world they live. The church is people using gifts to make a difference in the lives of others. God calls you to serve as His church. Not only do we serve in His church, you serve as if His church is the world.

Our vision is that Northstar will be a group of people where each member is a minister and each home an extension of the church in order to win over our generation for Christ. Where we are not spiritual consumers, but contributors.

Discussion Questions:
1. Would you fall into the consumer or in the contributor camp? What caused to you being in either one?
2. Who are some spiritual contributors you notice? What makes them stand out?
3. Serving, teaching, encouragement, giving, leadership, kindness, prophecy — which gifts has God given you?
4. Share how you have been served and loved by our church. How will you match or surpass what you’re receiving?
5. Pray and ask God for wisdom on where you can best make contributions to the church.

Thermometer or Thermostat?

Confused? The title needs an explanation. I was reading a church blog when the following line jumped out at me: “The trouble with him is he’s a thermometer and not a thermostat!” The person being quoted explained that a thermometer doesn’t change anything around it—it just registers the temperature. It’s always going up and down. But a thermostat regulates the surroundings and changes them when they need to be changed.”

Well, it is safe to say that The Apostle Paul was a thermostat. Instead of changing with the spiritual hills and valleys, he went right on, steadily doing his work and serving Christ. And serving Christ meant serving others. “Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus…(Philippians 1:1) “Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ…” (Titus 1:1)

If you want to be a thermostat, and not a thermometer, and if you want to eliminate pride, you have to love people and serve them. Serving is a core value of Northstar. Though our gifts differ, each one is needed and is multiplied when used for the common good. Some are called within the church family as teachers, and leaders, while others are uniquely gifted to reach out in missions beyond the church walls. This is not a formal process. People serve when they receive a gentle nudge from God.

Most people equate serving with church and Sundays. But in reality, serving is a 24/7/365 duty. There are many opportunities to serve God in both large and small ways outside the church and on other days than Sunday.  Serving is not always convenient and doesn’t always fit our own timetable. We are asked to serve even when our schedule is full. Even when we want to quit. Even when our heart is breaking.

And we don’t receive a pay check for our efforts either. We don’t see an immediate return for our service. The pay check—the appreciation—comes from Jesus Christ. We are serving Him. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (Colossians 3:23-24).

Jesus said in Luke 22:27: “…But I am among you as one who serves.”

Jesus did not come to be served—but to serve. He served to the uttermost, just as He loved to the uttermost. Anything that needed to be done for another, He did as naturally and as simply as He breathed. He loved people, and was interested in them, and was ready always to be helpful to them. It never mattered what the service was, whether it was the saving of a soul, the curing of a seemingly incurable sickness, or the giving of a cup of water—He did the most humble with the same grace as greatest.

If being a thermostat is changing the environment, nobody changed the world as Jesus did when He walked this world or today 2,000 years later. And He changed the world by being a servant all the way to the cross.

Discussion questions:
1. What is Paul’s warning to us in Philippians 2:3-5?
2. Can you be a leader and a servant?
3. In what areas are you serving the Body of Christ? What drew you to serve in these areas? Describe the feelings you experience when serving in these areas? What motivates you to continue serving?
4. What must you do, beginning today, to acquire an authentic heart of a servant?
5. Following the example of the Savior, believers are to function as servants who seek to minister to one another in loving and selfless service. Are you, in submission to the Lord and to others, seeking to serve, or are you seeking to be served in the pursuit of your wants? Pray and seek God’s help on becoming a servant.