Ushering in the Church

Ushering in the Church

Today I am writing about Ushering in the church.
“For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.” Psalm 84:10
This verse doesn’t make a doorkeeper (usher) sound very important. But it has been said that for some visitors to church the usher is the first person they meet and the last person they meet. What that means is that some people purposely come late, are met at the door and escorted to a seat. Then at the end of the service, perhaps during prayer, they are the first to leave. Again they see the usher.
Being an usher is actually a very important position. If you serve as an usher you are likely the first person a visitor sees. And that visitor forms an opinion about the church you represent. As an usher you may hand out greeting cards or take up the offering.
In other words you represent the church!
You don’t want people to have a bad impression of your church. So your appearance, speech, and actions need to be your very best. It may not be fair but that’s the way it is. Not only that, but how you treat them. Do you smile? Do you welcome them to the church? Do you offer to shake their hands?
These trivial words and actions aren’t so trivial when you consider you are being evaluated by the visitor. And if you mess up in any single item it has the potential of being blown out of proportion and causing the visitor to never return. Worse yet, it might prevent the visitor from listening to the preacher!
Unfortunately most Christians don’t appreciate ushering. If they were to rate jobs within the church on a 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest), being an usher would rank near or at the bottom. Singing in the choir or performing in the music department is usually rated much higher. Yet neither of them have the potential impact upon a visitor like an usher. Now before you get irate I do acknowledge that those ministries are important as they can set the mood for the service to follow. But an usher meets people personally and they either make a positive or negative impact.
How should an Usher dress?
Really depends upon the pastor and deacons, but I would recommend suit, shirt, tie, polished shoes, and a smile. Down here in the south many churchgoers prefer the casual look. That is their prerogative, but it disqualifies them from ushering. Why?
It’s not all that complicated. Because they personally meet visitors and represent the church it is necessary to put forth their very best. It’s an old argument, “if God the Father gave His very best, Jesus Christ, then we should wear our very best,” but it is also true.
Should an Usher talk to visitors?
Obviously the answer is a yes. But I would add “not for very long.” A good usher tries to make the visitor feel welcome without taking up much time. For one thing the visitor could get insulted if you overdid the friendly bit. It’s a fine line, but you should keep your conversation brief.
What about joking with people, both members and visitors?
Be careful what you say. You could be talking to a friend that likes to joke around, but it is possible that a visitor might be offended by such joking.
When should the Ushering begin?
One of the hardest things to get ushers to realize is that ushering begins 10 – 15 minutes before the service starts. By then an usher should be at his station greeting people as they arrive. On Sunday morning I come over from Sunday School, where I’m a teacher’s assistant, and immediately begin my ushering duties. Because I’m the head usher those duties include making sure that all scheduled ushers are reminded of their duty or a substitute is selected.
Part of my ushering involves going about greeting people already there. And not just greeting visitors, but members as well. It is all part of making people feel welcome and a part of the service.
Are you looking for a place to serve in your church? Check out becoming an usher.
ARE YOU A BOOK REVIEWER? I am always looking for book reviews. Whether it is Perished The World That Was (Book One), World of Noah and the Ark (Book Two), World of Shem (Book Three), World of Abraham (Book Four) or Death Ship to the Stars I value your reviews.
If you would like to review any of these books contact me at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com with the subject line indicating that desire. An example of an appropriate subject line would be: ‘Seek to review [book Title].’ In the email make sure to indicate your email address, your name, and the choice of copy (PDF or ePub).

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for Christian Historical Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

Writing as a Service

Writing as a Service

Today I am writing about Writing as a service.
The following article is largely a reprint although I have both edited and updated it.
Today we deal with the concept of a Christian’s writing as a Service! Authorship covers many genres and categories within each genre. The concept of writing can be reduced to: writing from a Christian viewpoint.
What do I mean by Christian viewpoint?
Basically this involves the tenor of your writing. In my case I write some novels that are based on Bible stories. There are such books out there that are based on Jewish or Christian views. Obviously, mine are Christian. My books may or may not be based on the Bible but all will be characterized by a Christ-centered theme. By that I mean that the reader will come across scripture pertaining to salvation.
Why do I write with a Christian viewpoint?
The reasons are twofold. First, the Bible stories are true events, not children’s stories. They are about real people and real events. The stories are meant for people of all ages. And they are written to instruct not entertain!
God is not in the entertainment business. Each of His stories is meant to teach or drive home a point. A good example is the story of Noah and the Ark. This has been widely viewed as a story for children. However, the story has very little entertainment value as written. But it is highly instructive and teaches us about God’s love and provision.
My job is to take that story and weave in material that transforms it from its instructive nature to an exciting, action-based novel that awakens the imagination of the reader without losing the instructive side. Judging by my readers’ comments I have been successful!
Secondly, my job is to put God on display. The Bible already does this with great effect. So it is not as difficult as it seems except in those situations where the Bible is silent within the story, but comments on it later on. As an author I can lift those comments from the future Bible sections and insert them into the story itself. I do this with actual quotes or an imaginative conversation that is true to Biblical context.
But it is not just to put God on display. It is also to enable my readers to see and feel His love and power. I can think of no greater compliment than to learn that my novel has so impressed someone that he/she desires to read the Bible!
Some of my novels are historical or speculative not being based on the Bible. These stories also have a Christian theme. I try not to be preachy, but I do try to convey the idea of 1) God’s love for mankind, and 2) man’s needed response. I also like to show how God can use multiple methods of leading His people. So in general, my Christian viewpoint is to relate Biblical stories that emphasize God’s love and power in an entertaining manner that both uplifts and convicts.
Your Christian viewpoint might be a little different. It doesn’t have to be Bible stories for example.
ARE YOU A BOOK REVIEWER? I am always looking for book reviews. Whether it is Perished The World That Was (Book One), World of Noah and the Ark (Book Two), World of Shem (Book Three), World of Abraham (Book Four) or Death Ship to the Stars I value your reviews.
If you would like to review any of these books contact me at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com with the subject line indicating that desire. An example of an appropriate subject line would be: ‘Seek to review [book Title].’ In the email make sure to indicate your email address, your name, and the choice of copy (PDF or ePub).

– – – – – – –

R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for Christian Historical Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

Writing as a Christian Service

Writing as a Christian Service

The following blog is taken from an earlier blog entitled, Is Writing a Service to God? I am still a writer and I write Christian themed novels. So examining the subject of writing is as natural as breathing. There may be small alterations, but basically it is the same.

Is writing fiction really serving God?

That’s a reasonable question since some people believe that it is not true service. I once was upbraided for writing novels based on the Bible because:

  • People will mistake it for the truth
  • Thereby getting wrong doctrine

There are a few things wrong with that view:

  1. The Bible is found in the Bible or Religion section of bookstores not fiction
  2. Novels are found in the Fiction section not in the Religion section
  3. My books state they are novels
  4. My novels are purposely based on Biblical fact and doctrine
  5. My novels flesh out the stories rather than disagree

In other words, no person who has read my books can seriously claim they teach false doctrine. If there is any doctrine in the book it always agrees with the Bible. In fact, I have been told my books “bring the Bible alive!”

Actually one of the reasons for writing Bible based novels is to encourage people to read the Bible; to discover what is Bible fact and what is a product of my imagination? It is always a thrill when someone reads my books and their faith is either renewed or they become more interested in reading the Bible.

And that is a service!

The true test of service, any kind of service, is as follows: Does it

  • Agree with Biblical facts
  • Honor God
  • Inspire people to read the Bible
  • Inspire people to worship God
  • Inspire others to serve
  • Inspire people to live godly lives

It needn’t do all the above but it should have at least one of the elements. Christian authors, whether fiction or non-fiction writers, have an awesome opportunity to influence people for Christ. You don’t have to be preachy. You don’t even have to write about Bible events or people. But our writings should reflect a Christian approach to or view of life.

My books generally take place before the birth of Christ yet I strive to present a Christian view. So while I don’t mention Jesus, I do mention the Redeemer. In addition, I emphasize the Scriptures (aka the Writings).

So if you’re a Christian author don’t be shy about being one. You have a job, perhaps a calling. Trust His leading and do things His way. And when people challenge you respond in pride, “I write because God gave me the talent and because He wants me to use it for Him.”

ARE YOU A BOOK REVIEWER? I am always looking for book reviews. Whether it is Perished The World That Was (Book One), World of Noah and the Ark (Book Two), World of Shem (Book Three), World of Abraham (Book Four) or Death Ship I value your reviews.

If you would like to review any of these books contact me at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com with the subject line indicating that desire. An example of an appropriate subject line would be: ‘Seek to review [book Title].’ In the email make sure to indicate your email address, your name, and the choice of copy (PDF or ePub).

– – – – – – –

R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for Christian Historical Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

Mistaken Call

Mistaken Call

Mistaken call? What is that?

If you’ve been a Christian for awhile, you have probably been guilty of this. Sometimes when we are desirous of God’s will, we actually get ahead of him.

In the Old Testament we read of Rebekah. When she gave birth to Esau and Jacob, God had made a prophecy, “Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.”

Rebekah knew by this that Esau, the first to come forth, would serve Jacob. But Isaac favored Esau. So Rebekah took it upon herself to deceive Isaac so Jacob would get the blessing. In doing so, she actually got in front of God and the consequences of her action are felt to this very day.

In like manner, we as Christians get in front of God. Sometimes we hear a call that was never given.

Like all Christians, when I got saved and immediately had a desire to read God’s Word, to worship Him, and to serve Him. These are the first calls upon us, but we’ve got to be careful. We need to get into the right church, worship in the right manner, and serve according to His will.

Like Rebekah knew God’s will concerning Jacob getting the double blessing, I knew God wanted me to serve Him. So when the head usher came to me and asked if I was willing to be an usher, I jumped at the opportunity. I didn’t pause to ask God if that’s what He wanted me to do nor did I stop to think about the opportunity. I simply said yes.

Later that same day I did ask God’s blessing on my call to service. But the problem was I got the cart ahead of the horse. Moreover, I got in front of God.

I believe that if I’d asked God His will, He would’ve said yes. But I never gave him the chance. As a result I was miserable that first year of service. But when the term was up, I went back to God and asked Him if He wanted me to continue serving as an usher. He said yes.

I learned a valuable lesson. Always seek God’s will first! That is more important than the call itself. Once I learned that principle I put it into practice. And God has used me in a variety of areas.

It is always a mistake to assume God is ok with your decision. If your decision is wrong, it can lead you down a wrong path. But asking God first doesn’t guarantee a right decision.

There have been times when I asked God first and didn’t receive an answer right away. I have even asked several times, but didn’t receive an answer. Then I made a mistake. I looked at the facts I knew and decided God was leading me down a particular path.

Don’t get me wrong. I truly believed it was God’s will. But as time went on I came to realize I was mistaken. But what had I done wrong?

I got impatient!

God has a plan for us and we need to patiently wait on His calling. And when we haven’t heard the reply we thought was right, we need to patiently wait longer. Getting ahead of God can be costly in terms of time, energy, and money wasted. So we need to make sure of God’s leading.

How does this apply to me as a writer?

It means questioning myself. It means asking myself questions about the book before I ever write my first sentence. I means asking Him questions throughout the writing; questions like “Is this the right scene?” or “Is the plot correct?” or other questions. I need to involve God in all of my writing.

But not only that, I need to involve Him in the publishing and marketing, as well.

As with other aspects of the Christian life, God doesn’t always answer with a yes. I once knew a man who claimed he always got a yes. But nobody is perfect. All of us err sometimes. And God has three possible answers: Yes, No, and Wait. Wait is actually a delayed Yes. But wait means wait.

So seek God’s leading and let Him do the calling. And be patient. Then when He does call, be ready to follow.

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com.

First Call To Service

First Call To Service

The title of this blog is very specific for a reason. It is to avoid confusion with the First Call on everyone’s life: To get saved by trusting Jesus Christ Who shed His blood for us! Then there is the Call to be Baptized by immersion. Once saved, be baptized.

But today I am writing about service. And I am assuming that you are saved and that you have obeyed your Savior and been baptized.

You are probably very much aware of Ephesians 2:8-9 where you find that salvation is a gift of grace and not of works. But then we find that once saved a Christian is expected to work. I refer you to Ephesians 2:10:

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

There are other verses encouraging, even commanding Christians to work, but this verse should be sufficient for any born-again believer!

How Can You Know the Call of God?

Christians are called in a variety of ways and areas of service. In my case I was first called to serve God in the Sunday School. I was a student in a Young Adult class knowing nothing about teaching, but one day I realized something. Our teacher had to dig deeper into God’s Word so that he could teach us. He actually learned more and imparted only a portion of what he learned.

My first call to service, therefore, came as a result of my deep desire to learn God’s Word. But I knew nothing of teaching. So I went to the Minister of Education and told him I thought God wanted me to teach.

He didn’t hesitate, but immediately asked me, “Would you be interested in teaching 6th grade boys?” To be honest that scared me. I felt more comfortable talking to adults. But I immediately knew this was God’s call, so I said yes.

He suggested that I take a course (by mail) from Moody Bible Institute. I did as he suggested and that Fall I started teaching. Since that beginning I have served in a variety of areas in three different churches.

But the important thing here is that I sensed God’s call on my life, I sought the wisdom of an associate pastor, I acted on his advice, and began serving. All this even though I knew nothing, not even the basics of teaching, until I received instruction from Moody.

That proved to be my first step in serving God. Now I am using my talents as a writer to serve God, but I still am involved in the Sunday School ministry. God took me and built upon my early works to where I am today. And He is still working on me.

How Do You Prepare For That Call?

The short answer is: make yourself willing to serve. It is not how much you know but how much you are will to do what He wants you to do! No job is too small or too big.

The longer answer is to first be obedient. That includes tithing, attending as many church services as possible, Bible study, and prayer. Seek God and ask Him to reveal what He wants you to do (which may be totally opposite what you want to do). Go to your pastor and tell him you want to serve. It’s OK to mention areas of interest, but be open to his suggestions.

An example of this in my life came recently when our pastor was restructuring the Bus Ministry. I was a helper on Saturdays working with a bus driver and visiting the bus route. But pastor broke us up and assigned us different responsibilities. In my case he asked if I’d be willing to visit people who had missed church or Sunday School? I said yes and, with my wife, began visiting. Already this ministry has expanded to the point where we call on absentees, the sick, and the new (prospects). Since I have been in the soul winning ministry from almost the beginning of my Christian walk, I find this exciting.

Warning: Don’t presume that because you may sense a call to be a preacher or evangelist that you should immediately start there. Just as I needed to learn how to teach (and for that matter how to be a soul winner), you need to do the little things (see my blog on Christian Service and The Little Things). Getting ahead of God can cause problems down the road (read the story of Jacob and Esau in Gen. 27:1-46 and how Rebekah got ahead of God – we are still suffering the consequences).

How you respond to that first call to service may very well set the pattern for the rest of your life. Respond rightly and God will build upon it. There is no telling what He will do with you!

– – – – – – –

R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com.

Writing As a Christian Service

Writing As a Christian Service

Although we are in the midst of a series on Christian Service I thought it would be good to introduce a new series called Writing as a Christian Service. This new series will appear somewhat randomly, probably after the second or third blog of my regular series. With that in mind here is Writing as a Christian Service (we will return to our current series, Called to Serve, with our next blog).

Today we deal with the concept of Christians writing as a Service! Authorship covers many genres and categories within each genre. The concept of writing can be reduced to: writing from a Christian viewpoint.

What do I mean by Christian viewpoint?

Basically this involves the tenor of your writing. In my case I write novels that are based on Bible stories. There are such books out there that are based on Jewish or Christian views. Obviously, mine is Christian. My books may or may not be based on the Bible but all will be characterized by a Christ-centered theme. By that I mean that the reader will come across scripture pertaining to salvation. It will be a theme that runs through the entire story.

Why do I write with a Christian viewpoint?

The reasons are twofold. First, the Bible stories are true events, not children’s stories. They are about real people and real events. The stories are meant for people of all ages. And they are written to instruct not entertain!

God is not in the entertainment business. Each of His stories is meant to teach or drive home a point. A good example is the story of Noah and the Ark. This has been widely viewed as a story for children. However, the story has very little entertainment value as written. But it is highly instructive and teaches us about God’s love and provision.

My job is to take that story and weave in material that transforms it from its instructive nature to an exciting, action-based novel that awakens the imagination of the reader without losing the instructive side. Judging by my readers’ comments I have been successful!

Secondly, my job is to put God on display. The Bible already does this with great effect. So it is not as difficult as it seems except in those situations where the Bible is silent within the story, but comments on it later on. As an author I can lift those comments from the future Bible sections and insert them into the story itself. I do this with actual quotes or an imaginative conversation that is true to Biblical context.

But it is not just to put God on display. It is also to enable my readers to see and feel His love and power. I can think of no greater compliment than to learn that my novel has so impressed someone that he/she desires to read the Bible!

So in general, my Christian viewpoint is to relate Biblical stories that emphasize God’s love and power in an entertaining manner that both uplifts and convicts.

Your Christian viewpoint might be a little different. It doesn’t have to be Bible stories for example. Why not share your viewpoint. You can use the comment section or write me at information@rfrederickriddle.com.

The next blog on this subject will look at writing as a calling.

– – – – – – –

R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to information@RFrederickRiddle.com.

Serving thru Missions Conference

Last week I wrote about serving in the church. I specifically mentioned our Missions Conference which was to start on Wednesday.  This is my follow-up.

The conference, which involved five independent Baptist churches, began Wednesday night. Each night of the conference would involve a different missionary. Here is a breakdown:

Wednesday: Michael Payton, missionary to Nicaragua. He gave an excellent presentation which included a video showing in burden for the people of Nicaragua. He also preached

Thursday: Sam Quinn, missionary to India. We enjoyed his presentation with video showing the need of India for the gospel. He preached on battles and giants we all face as Christians.

Friday: Pablo Ramirez, missionary to Japan. I was able prior to service talk to him about Japan (I served there during Vietnam War) and found the country had modernized since I had been there. His presentation was good and included a video showing the need the Japanese people have to hear the gospel. He preached on missions.

Saturday: Missionary Banquet (see below).

Sunday AM: Aaron Hiltibidal, missionary to Romania. Unfortunately he suffered an accident during the week which injured his eye. He was able to only give his presentation which was quite good. We had a substitute preacher for the actual preaching.

Sunday PM: Jesse Turpin, missionary to Indonesia. In his video presentation he pointed out that Indonesia is the largest Muslim nation in the world. His preaching was strong on missions and why we are left behind on earth rather than going to heaven immediately upon salvation – to proclaim the gospel.

This may have been the best missions conference we have ever had. All the missionaries were good preachers with a sound and timely message.

As mentioned above we had a banquet on Saturday night. A number of people hosted tables. Each table could represent a different country. Teresa and I took the Bronx, New York. While not a country our church supports a missionary to the Bronx, Ken Baker. Likewise, another couple took Hawaii where a missionary serves. The rest of the tables took actual countries from around the world.

We all participated in a contest to pick the best table representation of a country. The judge was looking for an attractive display, native food, and, in particular, details about the people, the land, and the need including information about any missionary serving there. The judge liked our table so much that we were high on the list, but the table representing Guyana won.

All in all it was a great banquet that afforded all of us the opportunity serve by hosting a table and to learn more about the mission field. The entire conference was a success raising funds to be divided among the five missionaries. Our church alone raised a large amount ensuring that each missionary would get a very generous offering. (Our funds were sent to another church which acted as a hub. They collected monies from all five churches and divided it among the missionaries. It is always a great offering!)

Teresa and I enjoyed hosting the table and learned a lot about New York City, especially the Bronx. This is an example of serving in the church. It doesn’t always have to be work, sometimes it can be fun!

This also emphasizes the principle that everyone can serve. We can serve with our prayers, our gifts, and our time. Perhaps you have a story of how you and/or your church served as it relates to missions. If you do, why not share it?

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured.