Living the Poured-Out Life

The following is an excerpt from Bill Mills’ book, A Gospel Worthy of Your Life: Orienting Every Resource, Attitude, and Passion around the Cross.


A Gospel Worthy of Your Life - ebook cover

How would you like to live for the rest of your life doing only as you please? If you could wake up each morning and say, “Today I am going to do only what gives me the most pleasure,” wouldn’t that be wonderful? That is exactly the place where God wants us to live every day, all of our days!

That is how the Lord Jesus lived each day. He found His deepest joy in bringing pleasure to His Father.

So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.” (John 8:28–29)

The satisfaction of bringing pleasure to his Lord moved Paul to serve with every resource every day, and to lay down his life for the name of Christ.

Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. (2 Corinthians 5:8–9)

By God’s grace, our ministry training pastors has flourished throughout Asia. Not too long ago, in a country where severe persecution remains a terrible reality, one of the pastors we train, Amos, was arrested for preaching while he was training his second generation of pastors, following our commitment to equip national pastors to train other pastors in their own language and culture. He was brought into an interrogation room and was strung up over a beam by a rope tied to his thumb and his big toe. After suffering for many hours, he was beaten and thrown out into the street.

Amos continued his preaching and training. Some time later, he was arrested again. This time, as he was brought into the interrogation room, he saw another pastor strung up over the same beam by the rope attached to his thumb and big toe. The interrogator said to Amos: “Sit in this chair and watch him. I will return.”

When the interrogator left, Amos quickly moved his chair under his fellow servant. Soon the interrogator returned and asked, “Who moved that chair”? Amos admitted that he had moved the chair in order to bring some relief to his hurting friend. Again, Amos was beaten and thrown into the street.

Amos continued to give himself to the gospel. Should we be grateful that another servant of our Lord was there to meet Amos when he was thrown into the street, and to remind him to endure in his suffering and to not give up on the gospel? No, there was no one there to meet Amos, and no one was needed! Amos is doing only what pleases him. He is serving the One who brings him the greatest pleasure he has ever known.

Like Pastor Van, whom we met earlier in our study, Pastor Amos would explain why he does this: “Because He is worth it!”

Measured and Poured Out

I am so glad that both the apostle Paul and our friend Amos missed the seminar on “The Balanced Christian Life.” What an enemy of the gospel! This is merely a human understanding of how to navigate complex responsibilities in a pressure-filled world.

All of us seem to have more responsibilities in our lives, relationships, and ministries than we can possibly handle. Our lives are very full, and sometimes we become confused about where to give ourselves first in order to be good stewards of what God has entrusted to us. Some would counsel us that the answer in the face of pressure and confusion is to balance our responsibilities so that when every need is in its proper place, we can, in proportion, give ourselves to these responsibilities.

There are two very real difficulties with this perspective. First of all, none of us is smart enough to figure out how to properly balance the many roles and responsibilities that have been entrusted to us. We also lack the discipline needed to discern how to give ourselves properly, sufficiently, to our marriage, family, work, ministry, personal needs, sports, and hobbies. This is why God has given us His Holy Spirit! He is able to show us how to give ourselves to the people and the work God has given to us as we seek His leading.

Second, the “balanced Christian life” is not a biblical concept. It sounds so right, and even helpful to us as we seek to live as good stewards of God’s grace. The great problem is that this human philosophy leads to “measured-out lives.” We carefully measure our resources of time, strength, etc., in their proper proportion. But God has never called us to measure out our lives; He has called us to pour out our lives. This is Paul’s testimony:

Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me. (Philippians 2:17–18)

Measuring out our lives is anathema to the gospel! We are called to lay down our lives for Christ and His Kingdom.

When we live poured-out lives, the questions that we ask are completely turned around. We begin to ask, “How much can I give away, and how much do I need to keep for myself? How much time can I give to encourage my brothers and sisters, and how much time do I need to spend on myself? How many of my prayers should properly be consumed on myself, and how many can I give to the gospel and the Kingdom?”

This new but simply normal Kingdom lifestyle happens only when the passions of our soul are inflamed toward Jesus. Those flames are ignited only when we see the surpassing worthiness of God’s beautiful Son!

Seeing God’s Word flow powerfully . . . through partners in Serbia

“Lord, send us the right partner!” 

That was the prayer of a Christian brother named Riste. Riste serves in the small European country of Serbia and has led a ministry training Serbian pastors how to preach the Bible faithfully for several years. Early on he realized the ministry could be stronger if he had the right partner.  So he and another pastor named Slavko prayed.

About a year later, Riste received an email from Leadership Resources’ Sean Martin. Sean had been connected to Riste through mutual friends in Ireland and would soon travel to Serbia to meet Riste and give an introductory workshop to ten Serbian leaders. 

Nine months later, the first LRI training group in Serbia began. Leadership Resources was just the type of partner Riste needed. Reflecting on his original prayers for a partner, Riste commented,

When I prayed, I asked God for a true partnership, another organization with the same vision, the same goals, same desires, and also a bigger vision for myself. When I met Sean, he treated me like a partner, not like a project. He didn’t come just once to Serbia and then leave. My eyes were opened, I felt peace, and knew that God had given me answers to my prayers. After four years, I am more and more sure that God started this partnership.


LRI’s Sean Martin (left) with our partner Riste (right)


A Ripple Effect into Lives and Communities

God has done remarkable things through this partnership and the original training group that started in 2016. Riste shared with our staff a few ways God has used LRI training in Serbia:

We have heard so many testimonies from long-time pastors that realized they needed to change the way they were preaching the Word. Leadership Resources is often training pastors who had no formal seminary training, and it has changed their teaching.  People in the churches are talking about how different the teaching is now. 

One pastor, after the first hour of training, said, “This has given me a new perspective of God, for ministry, and a desire to teach everyone how to study the Bible using these principles.” He is today [a part] of our core team here. He now has 15 or 16 camps for young people and teaches them the Dig and Discover principles. This is one of the ways we believe that God will bring revival to Serbia.  When His Word is being preached, people will come to faith. 

One of the young pastors (thirty years old) has been preaching in two churches over the last two years. The members are older people, and they have started to say that this type of preaching is very new to them and transforming them.  He is also teaching a nineteen-year-old man the principles so that he can learn to preach.


The first training group in Serbia


Bringing Gospel Light to the Roma Community

God continues to answer prayer in amazing ways. When Sean and Riste first connected and dreamed about seeing God’s Word flow more powerfully through the churches in Serbia, they prayed for open doors to serve the Roma people (sometimes called “Gypsies”) in Europe. The Roma people face great racism in Europe, at times even in churches as well.

The first training group in Serbia featured a Roma pastor named Marijan, who drove six hours to attend the training sessions every six months. As the impact of the training deepened in his life, so did Marijan’s desire to bring training to other Roma pastors.

In January of 2020, God further answered Sean and Riste’s prayer when a training group of Roma pastors was launched. During the training, the Roma pastors shared that they had been praying for years for trainers like Riste, Slavko, and to come equip them. This training was God’s answer!


Marijan (left) with Sean Martin (right)


While the COVID-19 global pandemic has slowed work in Serbia, our God still answers prayers. Would you pray with us for God to continue to accelerate a movement of His Word in this European nation?


Prayer Points

  • Praise God for answering so many prayers for Serbia! Praise God for open doors and transformed hearts.
  • Pray that God would use the men we’ve equipped to bring revival to Serbia.
  • Pray for Riste’s translation and publishing ministry to bear much fruit and strengthen the Serbian church with sound doctrine.

Paul’s Advice to Euodia and Syntyche: “Agree with Each Other” (Philippians 4:1–3)

The following is an excerpt from Bill Mills’ book, A Gospel Worthy of Your Life: Orienting Every Resource, Attitude, and Passion around the Cross.



Toward the end of the first chapter in the apostle Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi, he called his brothers and sisters to let “their manner of life be worthy of the gospel.” What does that look like? This call is lived out as we are seen “standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side for the faith of the gospel”! How does God bring us to that place?

Paul describes the attitudes of the Lord Jesus that we must embrace if we would live in this “manner worthy of the gospel.” As our Father builds into us the very heart of His own Son through the ministry of His Word and the power of His Spirit, we see how to live out this new Kingdom lifestyle in our church. Then God gives us the power of the indwelling Christ to make these relationships possible!

Later in his letter, just in case we are still confused about how to do this, the apostle gives us a real-life model to follow. Two women in the church at Philippi were struggling in their relationship with each other. Paul provides wise counsel for them, telling them how to navigate through this great difficulty:

I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. (Philippians 4:2–3)

What is happening in Paul’s heart as he is reaching toward the conclusion of his letter? After writing about the strategic partnership they share, the glory of the gospel, and our willingness to suffer for its sake, the power of the cross and the surpassing worthiness of Jesus, does he just now remember that he did want to make a comment on this situation between these two ladies before finishing his letter?

Absolutely not! Two issues prompted the writing of this letter by Paul to the Philippian church. One was his desire to thank them for the deep and full partnership they shared in the gospel, not only financially but also suffering with him and confirming the gospel together before the eyes of the watching world. The other issue that prompted this letter was the division between Euodia and Syntyche.

Sins, Hurts, Disagreements, and Disappointments

We do not know what had happened between these women. It does seem obvious that they were not arguing about whether Jesus is truly God, or whether He had in fact risen from the dead. This was a personal issue. Something had happened, perhaps a hurt or disappointment, a failure or sin of one against the other.

Paul sets the solution clearly before them. He calls them to agree with each other. He then asks co-workers to help them to that place. He had begun what we have designated “chapter 4” with a second call to “stand firm.” Nothing shakes us quite like divisions in intimate relationships!

Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved. (Philippians 4:1)

Why is this personal issue so important to the apostle Paul? We have already seen in this letter that Paul is “all about the gospel.” He is discipling this wonderful church to orient all that they are and all that they have around the gospel of Jesus Christ. Anything that distracts us from the primacy of the ministry of reconciliation entrusted to us is an enemy of the gospel.

Surely, you have seen in your own family, or perhaps your church, how great a distraction problems in relationships become. Issues with one another seem to immediately consume all the energy available to us. Every conversation, every prayer, every moment of time, and every resource of strength must now be focused on solving this problem.

Whatever had happened between Euodia and Syntyche was affecting not only their relationship with each other but also the unity of the church at Philippi. This issue was distracting them from the work of the gospel, and Paul tells them how they must get through this: they need to agree with each other.

We Cannot Do This

Why does Paul place this exhortation where he does in his letter? He has just portrayed so beautifully, with such eloquence and power, the humility of Jesus. The very Son of God did not grasp on to what was rightfully His; He came as a servant. He laid down His life. Jesus humbled Himself.

What would it take for Euodia and Syntyche to agree with each other? They would need to humble themselves. When Paul calls them to agree with each other, this does not come across to these sisters as a mystical exhortation; there is no confusion about how they must respond. Jesus had modeled before them vividly how to do this, and now He lives within His people to make this possible and the normal response of His children.

But we know very well that we cannot do this. In our churches in the West, and even increasingly throughout the world, it is not possible for us to walk in what is most basically Christian. Why can’t we do what the apostle Paul is calling these two ladies to do—to agree with each other? There are two devastating reasons.

First of all, we highly value the independence of the system in which we live, and we have learned to see the gospel through the eyes of our culture. Our independent spirit and the individualism we so highly value make it very difficult to submit to one another. Alongside this reality is our commitment to what we have learned to see as our highest good: the need to be right. We pursue our “rightness” and defend the positions we hold at any cost.

How much will we sacrifice for the sake of maintaining our rightness? We will destroy our marriage; we will split our church; we will walk out of an intimate and treasured relationship, because being right is more valuable to us than anything else. In fact, there is nothing we will not give up for the sake of being right. It is our highest good.

God Is Other than What We Are

The second reason we cannot do this is because we love justice more than mercy. We are not like our God, whose holiness defines both His person and His nature. What does it mean for God to be holy? Surely He is pure and without sin. Yes, God is completely separated from everything evil. But the first definition of holiness is “other.”

God is “other” than what we are. In every way, His uniqueness and separation from everything that we are fills our eyes with wonder, just as it does the angels around His throne. Sometimes we celebrate this aspect of God’s holiness when we sing together, “there is none like you!”

This is the place where we see most clearly that “we are not like God”: He values mercy over justice, but we value justice over mercy. That is why we would not have promised mercy to Adam and Eve in the Garden when there was no repentance on their part, or confession of their sin, or any sense of responsibility for their actions. We would have reminded them about the consequences of their choices. We are not like God; He is other than all that we are, in every way.

This is why we cannot do what Paul calls Euodia and Syntyche to do. Our commitment to justice over mercy prevents us from humbling ourselves and agreeing with each other for the sake of the gospel. Being right is a higher good than the ministry of reconciliation, and at whatever cost, whether it is a broken marriage, a broken friendship, or a broken church, we will hold out to defend our “right position.”

You may well be struggling with much of what I am saying here. On one level, this is very confrontational concerning who we are and our culture as Christians. On another level, it might seem very confusing when we talk about the attributes of God like this.

When we list the attributes of God or the characteristics of His Person, we must know that He is forever, and at every moment, fully every one of those qualities. God does not diminish one attribute at the expense of another. He is always fully just, for example. In His justice, God’s wrath must be satisfied toward all His enemies. That is why the cross was so terrible. God’s hate-filled wrath toward His enemies and His righteous justice were poured out on His own Son.

But God is also always fully mercy. He loves mercy! He gave His own Son so He could cover us with His mercy. Because we are “in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3–14) and because all our God’s affections are focused on His Son, He loves us, too, and pours His mercy upon us.

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