The Difficult Joyous Privilege of Ministry

There is no easy way to say it. Ministry is difficult. You are dealing with people. Not just people at a 30,000 foot marketplace exchange. You are on the ground, in the fight with them, dealing with the core of who they are. You are working to shape their worldview. You are helping them fight sin. You are comforting them in times of trouble and loss.

Ministry is a blessing

But for all its difficulties, ministry is a blessing. It is a privilege to be used by God as His instrument to bring about lasting change in others.

The apostle Paul was an exceptional leader and intellectual. He was gifted by the Lord in many different ways. For all his gifting, he experienced trouble in his ministry. He was rejected, beaten, and jailed. Most likely he was eventually killed for preaching the gospel.

Ministry is joyful

Even though he experienced hardship as the sinful world pressed in on him, he found ministry to be joyful. Recounting his time in Thessalonica, he recognizes it was not spent in vain (1 Thess 2:1). Some in Thessalonica were changed.

And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.

(1 Thess 2:13)

The word Paul preached had an effect on the Thessalonians. It took root and changed them from the inside out. Paul was one of the ones God used to bring about this change.

Ministry is a calling

It is a privilege to be used by God to do the work of ministry. Ministry is not a job, though it does provide income for those who do it vocationally. It is not necessarily a career, even though many minister vocationally for all their working years. Ministry is a way of life. It is a privilege. It is a calling.

For all its difficulties, ministry is us getting to be used by God as His instrument to bring about change in another person. How amazing it is to be called by God to minister to others.

For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.

(1 Thess 2:19-20)

Ministry is difficult

Yes pastor, your ministry is difficult. There are seasons in ministry that are hard. I know the difficulties of ministry myself. I believe we need to acknowledge them. We need help and encouragement as we walk through them.

But we also need to remember that ministry is a blessing, a joy, a calling, and a privilege. The God of the universe has gifted and called us, of all people, to preach His Word, to exhort, encourage, charge, and rebuke His people. He has called us to come alongside others to help them walk in a manner worthy of God and the Kingdom into which we have been called for God’s glory (1 Thess 2:11).

What a privilege it is and what joy it should bring, when we see the Lord at work in others through us!

A New Venture

Over the last several months, the Lord has been leading me towards a new venture.

The Backstory

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you know I have a passion for photography. You might also know I have turned that passion into a side hustle – Casey Lewis Photography.

Along with a passion for photography, I am also passionate about design. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to design / redesign everything from digital to print media including several websites for the churches I pastored. It has been a way for me to serve the church while also satisfying my creative passions.

A New Venture

The last several months has brought a lot of change in the Lewis household. One of which is the founding of a new company. I am excited to officially announce the launch of CL Creative!

CL creative was birthed out of a love for photography and web design.

I desire to use those passions to help businesses and entrepreneurs tell their story and build their brand through exceptional images and web design.

How Can I Help You?

I am providing custom-built websites and SEO services for entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Design or Redesign your Website | Develop Your Website

I can help you design or redesign your website without the confines of using a template. I can develop a website from the ground up that looks and functions in a way that serves your business. No compromise, just a solution that helps your business reach its full potential on the web.

Manage Your Website

I can also help manage your website. You do you and I will take care of the technical side of your business. I can work with you to keep your website up-to-date as your business changes and grows, so you can focus on serving your clients.

Optimize your Website for Search

Your position in Google’s search results is everything. It can mean the difference between a full calendar and your phone ringing off the hook or you twiddling your thumbs waiting for people to hire you. I can help you rank higher in Google search results through Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Think more organic traffic and a better conversion rate. In short, SEO will help focus your marketing efforts and see greater results in your target market than paid ads alone.

Do You Know Anyone?

I hope this post doesn’t come off too salesy and self-promotional. But here is my ask: Do you know anyone that could use my services? Someone that is starting a new business, or needs help attracting more clients in their current business? If you or someone you know could benefit, reach out either through the contact form on my website or email me directly at

If you don’t know anyone now, but would like to follow along on this new venture, like my new Facebook Business page and Instagram account.

Thanks for reading and celebrating with me! We could also use some prayer as well.

What are the benefits of persecution?

Christians will face persecution. It is not a matter of “if” but “when”. Our Lord was persecuted and suffered. All those who follow Him will experience the same. Believe it or not, persecution actually has benefits.

What are the benefits of persecution?

(1) Persecution forces us to turn to God and find hope in Him rather than the world.

Persecution serves to strengthens our faith in the Lord, as we are forced to turn to Him, rather than to our own abilities and the world. Steadfastness in persecution also acts as a witness to others.

(2) Persecution allows us to be a witness to the surrounding community.

While Paul doesn’t mention their witness to the surrounding pagan community, there steadfastness must have undergirded their gospel proclamation. Those who lived around them must have known that they were fully convinced of the gospel. They were suffering for it after all. They might not have agreed with them, but there was no doubt the Thessalonians believed what they proclaimed.

(3) Persecution allows us to be a witness to the church at large.

We are not sure of the impact the Thessalonians had in their city. Certainly, there were some who believed because of their steadfastness. What we do know is that their faithfulness served to strengthen churches outside of their city. Their witness — due their willingness to stand firm — spurred other churches on in the area to do the same, as they were encouraged in their faith by the Thessalonians.

The steadfastness of others should strengthen our faith as well. Right now, our brothers and sisters in China are suffering for their beliefs. We might not know them. We certainly aren’t experiencing the level of persecution they are experiencing. But knowing there are other believers who are suffering for their faith, and doing so with joy, should spur us on in our faith. It should strengthen and prepare us for times of suffering.

Jesus is worth more than anything the world can offer. He is infinitely valuable. As Christians, we are a part of His family. He is not a wise sage leading us to God, He is God who has come to rescue us. Not just rescue us but He adopts us into His family. The faithfulness of others through suffering reminds us of Jesus’ value and the relationship His suffering won for us, which should spur us on to greater joy and faithfulness.

(4) Persecution teaches us that our hope is not in this world but in the One who is to come.

This world and its idols cannot ultimately deliver us from the sinful acts of men. We might find protection in armed guards and fortresses for a time. Our money or abilities might buy us fame. We might be able to escape difficulty.

Even the wealthiest, most connected, and most likable people fall from the world’s graces.

Scroll through your Twitter feed and you are bound to find a once famous person being attacked. Even if someone makes it through life without difficulty, they haven’t ultimately escaped.

We need deliverance from the wrath of God

We are reminded in verse 10 that we not only need deliverance from the world but from the wrath of God. Money, abilities, and connections can’t help us escape God’s wrath. If we hope to stand on our own merit before God, we will fall. No one is good, no one is capable of representing themselves before God. We need someone to act as our advocate. We need someone who can deliver us. The only One who can provide deliverance is Jesus.

Jesus provides the deliverance we need

Jesus took the wrath of God in our place. We know His sacrifice was sufficient because God raised Him from the dead. He didn’t deserve the curse of death, so He was given life. All those who believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior are connected to Him, so that His death becomes their death and His resurrection becomes their resurrection.

Jesus’ deliverance begins in this life and continues into the next

We are resurrected now to new life in Christ, which is evidenced by steadfastness in the face of persecution. We will be ultimately resurrected to a brand new way of life in the future at Jesus’ return.

Jesus is our hope. He is our rescuer.

Does persecution mean God is unloving and powerless?

According to Open Doors, a non-profit committed to helping the persecuted church, in just the last year, there have been:

  • Over 340 million Christians living in places where they experience high levels of persecution and discrimination.
  • 4,761 Christians killed for their faith.
  • 4,488 churches and other Christian buildings attacked.
  • 4,277 believers detained without trial, arrested, sentenced or imprisoned.

Reading these statistics should give you pause. It should also spring you into action, praying for our brother’s and sister’s in other countries living out their faith and experiencing persecution for it. Prayer should be your first reaction.

We are human. We often associate oppression with a lack of power and care. Thinking about the persecuted church might cause you to wonder and ask:

  • Does God care?
  • If He cares, does persecution mean God is not powerful enough to do something about it?
  • Or is persecution a means of God’s punishment?

I am sure the Thessalonians were asking similar questions. After all, they were the one’s experiencing persecution. In an effort to encourage the Thessalonians and help future Christians who experience persecution, Paul reminds us of several truths.

(1) God’s love causes us to live for Christ

Paul is encouraged by the Thessalonians. He gives thanks for them as he prays to the Lord.

We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thess 1:2-3)

Paul is encouraged by their faithfulness. He sees them loving one another. As well as he is aware of their steadfastness even in the face of persecution.

Faithful Christians live for Christ no matter the circumstances they find themselves in. It might be dealing with a difficult brother or sister in Christ. It might be caring for others by sacrificing time, resources, and emotional capacity. It might be the choice between freedom and imprisonment. Faithful Christians seek to live for Christ in every situation in which they find themselves.

Christians are able to live faithful lives because God’s love permeates their lives. Paul thanks God for the Thessalonians. Specifically, he thanks God for the life they live. He thanks God because it is God who causes them to live for Christ.

(2) God’s election evidences His love

Paul assures the Thessalonians of God’s love starting in verse 4 when he writes:

For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction” (1 Thess 1:4-5a)

God’s love is evident by His choice of them. God elected, He chose the Thessalonians because He loved them. God’s choice is irrespective of their actions. It is not based on anything they did or did not do. God chooses us simple because He wants to. There is no other reason.

How do we know we are chosen. Paul tells us we know because the gospel affects our life.

  • The good news of Jesus comes “in power” and changes us, raising dead men to life.
  • The “Holy Spirit” sanctifies us, causing us to put away sin and walk in the freedom of Christ.
  • We are convicted, we repent, and we believe in Jesus “in full conviction” even in the face of persecution.

These are not the actions of quasi follower of Jesus. We don’t naturally change our entire way of life and remain steadfast even when persecuted. Man naturally moves away from pain not towards it. What has happened to us and the life we now live is evident of God’s gracious and loving election, which provides assurance that God has not abandoned us.

(3) God’s love led to Jesus’ affliction

“And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.” (1 Th 1:6–7)

Jesus was afflicted. His suffering didn’t occur because He was powerless. Instead it occurred according to plan. God’s electing love is lavished upon us because Jesus suffered. Jesus’ suffering made a way for us to become a part of God’s family. Believing in Jesus connects us to His death, burial, and resurrection, so that His death becomes our death and His new life becomes our new life.

Affliction and persecution doesn’t mean God is not in control. It doesn’t mean God doesn’t love us. It’s not His punishment for our sin. It is the opposite. In God’s upside down kingdom, affliction and persecution are markers of strength, a plan, and His eternal pursuit of His elect.

What is the best place for us to grow as disciples? – Part 5

We are fiercely independent people, but if we want to grow in Christ, we can’t do it alone. We must depend on others to help us, which means transformation is based on interdependent relationships.

We need to get to a place where we believe we need each other in order to grow in Christ. A place where we see that we need more than just Jesus, a Bible, and a quiet place. Don’t get me wrong, we need Jesus, a Bible, and a quiet place. We need our time in the Word and in prayer, but we also need one another. We not only need another, they need us.

How do we develop interdependent community? 

We can start by looking at what took place in the early church. When we look at what the early church did, we learn that they:

  • Immersed their lives in God’s Word together.
  • Prayed together
  • Shared each other’s burdens — They laughed, they cried, they parented, they ate together. 
  • They celebrated the Lord’s Supper together, proclaiming in a visible way to the world that Jesus is their Savior.
  • They served each other and the community. 
  • They sacrificed for one another. 
  • They made sure each other’s needs were met.
  • They extended hospitality to those around them. 
  • They were on mission together, seeking to win others to Christ and helping each other grow in their Christian walk. 

These are the things the early church did. But why did they do those things? What was behind those activities? Why didn’t they just stay home? Why did they press into community and these activities?

I believe it is because:

They saw themselves as a necessary part of the body of Christ. 

They knew that they were missed if they weren’t there. More importantly, they knew that they were hindering the church’s growth and mission when they failed to participate in the life of the church in a real and meaningful way. 

Knowing they were a necessary part of the body of Christ led them to share their lives with each other. 

There understanding of church as a body that depends on one another for growth and godliness, led them to be open and transparent. It is what led them to share more than their physical needs with one another but also to share their spiritual needs.

We must not only participate in the same activities as the first church, but we must see ourselves as a necessary part of the body, and we must be willing to share our lives with one another. 

Those you attend church with should know how to pray for you, not just physically but spiritually. They should know your fears, your struggles, and your joys. 

I know hearing that probably sounds a bit invasive. But that’s what it takes to live in interdependent community with one another that is transformative. If we always keep one another at arms length, if we never let anyone in, we aren’t really depending on them, instead we are depending on ourselves. When we depend on our self alone, we are not going to see the transformation we might desire and certainly the transformation we need. Transformation takes place in community.

Transformation takes place in community

Think about your body for a moment. Your arm doesn’t depend on itself. It depends on the rest of the body to work. We must do the same. We must depend on one another. We must live in interdependent community. When we do, we will see our lives being transformed to be more like Christ as we learn Christ together.

That is how you develop authentic and interdependent community that results in true transformation. You must see yourself as a necessary part of the body of Christ.

Do you see yourself as a necessary part of the body of Christ?


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We can do more than watch the war in Ukraine

Disagreements, conflicts, and wars take place every day on a global scale. Some gain our attention more than others. The war in Ukraine is one such war that has the whole world glued to the TV and constantly refreshing their Twitter feed. Not to lessen the devastation of other battles being fought, conflict and loss of life are terrible no matter how small or large. The war in Ukraine, however, effects the world, so we watch with anticipation.

But can we do more than watch?

I believe we can do more. I have two activities in mind.

(1) We can hope and worship with the Ukrainians

While innocent lives have been lost and I am sure more will be lost, the response of the church has given me hope. Ukrainian pastors are not running. They are staying and ministering to the needs of the people. I read an account on Saturday night of one pastor who was preparing his sermon for the next morning. He planned to hold service the next morning, if his church was still standing. In the middle of a war, this pastor is preparing to preach and lead his people in worship!

These reports remind me of Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians. He writes commending them for their faith and encouraging them with their witness. They received the Word of God under must affliction. Despite persecution and hardship, they were full of joy. They continued to remain steadfast, finding their hope in the Lord (1 Thess. 1:6-10).

What an encouragement the Thessalonians must have been to Paul. What an encouragement the Ukrainian Christians are to us. Not only an encouragement, but a witness to the power and truth of the gospel. I know I am encouraged when I read of their faithfulness. I know I am driven to a greater hope in Jesus. I am driven to worship the Lord for the salvation He provides through their faithfulness.

(2) We can pray for the Ukrainians

While I am hopeful and driven to worship, at the same time, I am burdened. Our brothers and sisters in Christ are facing a life and death situation. While we might not be able to fend off the physical enemy for them, we can still do battle on their behalf through prayer.

What takes place in this world is not solely a matter of flesh and blood. There is a spiritual war raging all around us. One that spills over and is played out in the physical.

We might not be able to do anything except pray.

But don’t discount the power of prayer. Through prayer we are petitioning the all-powerful and all-sovereign God of the universe. There is no greater power than the Lord.

We know from Scripture that the prayer of a righteous man has great effect, so we should pray.

Be encouraged, hopeful, and driven to worship by the faithfulness of the Ukrainians. But also be burdened for them. Be in prayer for their safety, their joy in times of trouble, and their faithfulness to the gospel of Christ in these trying times.