A Living Sacrifice

“Therefore, I urge you brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God — this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1-2)

By Thomas Yerman

Meditating on these two dynamic verses of Scripture caused me to reflect on Abraham  when God tested his faith and asked him to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, whom he loved. This Old Testament story from Genesis 22 gives us a picture of Abraham’s faith and obedience — and to some extent, Isaac’s trust and willingness to submit to his father’s instructions.

Testing Faith

Scripture does not specifically reveal any type of resistance or struggle from either Abraham, asked to sacrifice his only son, or from Isaac, who was bound and put upon the wood on the altar. Yet the first two verses of the chapter reveal a surprising and shocking request. I believe they were meant to help us understand the inward struggle Abraham must have been fighting, despite his faith in God to provide.

Isaac carried the wood on his back while Abraham carried the fire and the knife. In the end, God intervened, interrupting the action and stopping the test. Abraham’s faith shone along with God’s faithful provision.

After reflecting on this, you cannot help but be reminded of another Father/Son sacrificial story. The New Testament tells the story of God the Father sending his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to earth to die upon the cross of Calvary. The story of Abraham and Isaac truly points us to this future event.

A Sacrificed Life

With Jesus Christ, we see the ultimate sacrifice. We see the willing sacrifice of an obedient and trusting Son who carried his stack of wood (the cross) to the place where he sacrificially gave his life for the sake of others. Jesus died to provide the forgiveness of sin to those who put their trust in him, believing that his death, burial, resurrection, and ascension back into heaven made their salvation possible.

Jesus’ death paid the price of our sin. He died so we would not only escape death eternally, but he also died for us so we would live for him. In the end, God honors Christ’s intercession for our lives forever. Believers are relationally heaven-bound, but until then, we are called to be living sacrifices.

This is where Romans 12:1-2 comes in.

Uncommon Life

As Paul finished speaking doctrinally in the previous chapters of Romans, he now appeals to doctrinal application. It’s where the truth being taught is applied to life — where the rubber meets the road. Those who believe, putting their faith and trust in Jesus, are strongly encouraged to become a “living sacrifice.” Believers are to live an uncommon life. We are called to offer up a life that is alive, holy, and pleasing to God.

With Jesus conquering death, defeating Satan, and overcoming the world, believers are, however, left with a problem — basically only one problem. Living sacrifices can crawl off the altar. Because we are faced with that temptation every day, we must stay focused on keeping the proper mindset to win that battle. We are no ordinary people. We have the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit helping us be transformed to become a pure spiritual offering to God, knowing and enjoying his perfect will. We are a chosen people called to worship God. Becoming a living sacrifice is both at the heart of worshiping God and obedience.

History tells of a deepening understanding of sacrifices. The Dead Sea Scrolls community believed their holy way of life was a substitution for the temple sacrifices, which they believed to have been corrupted. And in an early church document called, A Plea for the Christians, Athenagoras argued that Christians should not participate in pagan sacrifices but instead “present a bloodless sacrifice, to offer ‘spiritual worship.’”

Just as God led people in earlier centuries to be living sacrifices and to know his will, may his Spirit continue to move forward — in and through us! When believers yet to come look back at us, may they also be encouraged — and see the power of the gospel in our living sacrifice.

Just as God led people in earlier centuries to be living sacrifices and to know his will, may his Spirit continue to move forward — in and through us! When believers yet to come look back at us, may they also be encouraged — and see the power of the gospel in our living sacrifice.

History is watching. Stay focused. Keep the proper mindset. You are fully equipped to win!

Tom Yerman is an FCA pastor ministering at Living Hope Church in Elk Grove Village.

Come Apart…or Go to Pieces

By Marco Bianco

As a corporate chaplain I spend a good deal of my time visiting with my corporate employee constituents week in and week out. Personal weekly interactions highlight a plethora of situational and circumstantial challenges, which often intertwine with the perpetual work-and-life balancing act.

Sadly, I meet and speak with many workers who are so often immersed in their present predicaments that they lose sight of the need to step back and displace themselves from ‘the issue.’

An impromptu segue between dialogue provides me the opportunity to ask them, “What about your ‘Me time’?” I’m amazed that many of these sincere and conscientious employees are so spread thin in their commitments with family, work, and social events that they often sacrifice their personal well-being to keep everything else all together.

To a large extent, a healthy corporate culture is dependent on the personal and emotional well-being of each and every employee within the enterprise. “Me time” is a critical component to establishing an essential balance for one’s well-being.

I always encourage my employee constituents to be intentional in their pursuit of personal time as a critical element of dealing with the stressors in life. I want them to connect with and engage their ‘sweet spot’ activity to give them an outlet where they can de-stress and dis-engage from the treadmill of the work-and-life balance.

Ministers and missionaries have the same needs as the employees I work with. To maintain emotional and spiritual balance, you must schedule an intentional “Me time” appointment with yourself! What activities do you enjoy? What helps you unwind? Make it happen.

Is it reading a good book? Taking a walk or jog? Perhaps a hot salt water bath? Whatever it is, make an intentional decision to make that appointment with yourself — at least twice a week. You will be amazed at how it will help your outlook and disposition.

Refuel your passion for life and gain an upper hand in working through your toughest challenges. Be intentional and make some time with yourself this week.

—Marco Bianco works as a
chaplain through Outreach Canada
and serves at a trucking company
in Kitchener, Ontario.

The Power of One

Thomas Yerman sent this passionate call to unity just before the recent elections in the U.S. Now with a divided Congress, his plea is perhaps even more poignant. What can believers do in such a climate? Read on.


We have become a divided nation, In this divided atmosphere, the call for transparency and freedom of speech have now become tools of destruction.

Why should transparency and freedom of speech give a person the right to hurt others? Yet even good things can be abused when used without boundaries. Even God gives freedom with a “fence” around it.

Boundary fences provide us with the freedom to run and play—but also to protect us. Rules of law or guidelines in relationships are so important. Small compromises here can lead to bigger problems down the road. True freedom is not being able to do whatever you want without restrictions. Rather, to be truly free means a freedom to do what you ought—to do things you were unable to do before being set free.

We can clearly see the battles being fought around us. Our nation’s diversity has been used to divide us, blinding us to the commonality and core of our unity. We must step back and see the unseen battle. The fight is not so much Democrat versus Republican, or left versus right, or liberal versus conservative. The ultimate battle is between darkness and light. It’s called Spiritual Warfare. We are all in it, and we can all see the casualties. But we don’t all recognize the bigger picture.

Our national unity is being threatened! We’ve become a nation where people choose not to stand with their hands on their hearts honoring our flag and nation. We allow protesters with covered faces to destroy other people’s properties and assault those with different ideas and beliefs. We have officials influencing acts of incivility toward other leaders. We have teachers training our children to reject and oppose the foundational truths our nation was built on—or viewpoints that don’t agree with their own. We permit and advertise so-called “witches” to put hexes on Justices and leaders. We have a national media and “entertainment shows” unashamed about showing disrespect to the Office of Presidency. And we see justice used as a tool for favoritism.

Whenever we move away from truth, the moral lines of life begin to smear, the character of righteousness fades, and the distinction between right and wrong blur. Truth and its absolutes are overrun and replaced with subjective feelings. Everybody’s sense of what’s right stands opposed to any other views that might disagree with them. Open hearts close and become hardened.

We no longer are teachable and open to truth We are unable to imagine the progress and possibility of moving forward together. We are experiencing what happens to a nation when that nation moves away from the foundation of truth on which it was established. We ignore the influence of our Constitution and Absolute Authority to define what is right and wrong. We have wasted so much time and energy being distracted by our feelings, our pride, and our moral relativism that we became prey to the enemy’s tactics to divide, putting us in danger of forgetting our true identity of being united as One Nation under God!

Though many walk in the spirit of rebellion and denial, we have all been made in the image of God. And God invites his us into a relationship with himself. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” (John 14:6-7). Jesus, who revealed God the Father to us, was a model for our humanity, and points the way back to the God.  Truth can divide, but remember that truth must be held above our relationships for the sake of those relationships. It is more than possible that we can celebrate our diversity and yet stand in unity.

It’s time for people to make the right choices and stand united as One Nation under God. God has given his people a message along with the Holy Spirit, who stands behind that message to keep us unified. The Gospel keeps Jesus in the center of our lives so we who believe can be a letter from Christ to the world.

Begin to see yourselves as God sees you:

“…we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing” (2 Corinthians 2:14-15).

“…you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts” (2 Corinthians 3:2-3).

Jesus prayed for unity, that all of us may be one!

“[I pray] for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you…so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:20-23).

If we step back to see the bigger picture and get back to our roots in God, as well as our Constitution as a Nation, we will find a place of unity to move forward together. We are all responsible for our choices and actions.

It is time to stand up! As “Believers of God” in Christ, we are especially equipped and born for such a time as this. We are more than we know. We were made by God and for God. Unless we come to grips with that, life will not make sense, and we will not reach our “together potential.”

There is but one God and one Lord. Unity takes effort, but we have his promise, his power, and his presence. There is power in One. Let’s make it happen!

Tom Yerman is an FCA Pastor ministering at Living Hope Church in Elk Grove Village.

Baptizing the Immobile

by Drew Brattrud

When the coroner left, I felt a deep sense of sadness.

“J” lived in a neighborhood of section 8, government sponsored housing. Riddled with drugs and gangs, the San Bernadino projects seemed to be the end of the line for all who lived there.

A heavy sense of despair hung over the place. There was no hope, no motivation, and no reason to work. It seemed no one there tried to better themselves. Kids, neglected by single mothers, scurried constantly up and down cement stairwells. Out front, older folks sat smoking on porches and steps, staring into the distance, doing nothing. They were waiting, in the middle of the day, as though a parade were about to come down the street.

But nothing was coming. There was no parade. There was no hope in this area frequented by the death team of police and coroners.

Despite all that, however, as I stood in “J’s” small, studio apartment, I found hope. A source of comfort—a piece of paper hanging on an otherwise bare wall.

I had visited “J’s” place numerous times. Each time would end with a prayer to cast out the voices he heard, telling him to “end his life.”

It wasn’t just the voices, however. He knew his liver could not handle the alcohol he kept hidden around his home. But why was he hiding it? He lived alone, alienated from his family by his dysfunctions. I wonder if he was hiding the alcohol from himself, hoping he wouldn’t find it. His drinking had taken almost all his health.

I was blessed, really blessed that he came to our little congregation a dozen years ago when we were starting out as a new church, meeting at J.W. North High School. He had hope in me as a minister—but much more than that, he put his trust in Jesus to save his soul.

I remember when his trembling hand went up to ask Jesus to be his Lord. The following week he wanted to be baptized, but his frail body would not do well being dunked. He had great difficulty walking, often opting for a wheelchair—and he was not light enough for us to carry into the water.

The solution was clear. The following week, I brought in five 5-gallon buckets. After the service we sat him on a bench just outside the door where we met and—to the roar of the congregation—on the count of “in the name of the Father, his Son, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit,” five of us each dumped out a bucket and dowsed him until he was thoroughly drenched.

If they can’t get into the water, bring the water to them. Even today, thinking of his smile brings tears to my eyes.

One room, two chairs, a tiny table for TV dinners, a mini fridge with a microwave on top and one simple decoration—his baptism certificate hanging on the wall.

For me, it was more than a decoration. It was a declaration of hope.

Andrew Brattrud is pastor at
Riverside Christian Assembly
in Riverside, California.

Back to the Altar: Returning to the Place of Divine Encounters

Maybe you’ve noticed a trend in Pentecostal churches—a shift away from altar calls and congregations yearning for an encounter with God. Samuel Rodriguez has.

Rodriguez is the founding and lead pastor of New Season Christian Worship Center (AG) in Sacramento, California. He also serves as the president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, the world’s largest Hispanic Christian organization.

He writes about the need for the altar on the Open Bible website. It’s well worth the read! Click HERE.