Hearing God’s Call to Ministry

The Atmosphere for Revelation of
GOD’S CALL ON YOUR LIFE

“Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers…
As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.'”
~ Acts 13:1-2

Saul (who was later renamed Paul) and Barnabas had God’s calling upon their lives revealed while they were in an atmosphere that had the following characteristics, as read in the passage above.

An Atmosphere of:

1. Close proximity with established Godly Leadership such as Prophets and Teachers.

2. Ministering to the Desires of the Heart of God.

3. Sincere Humility and Subjection of the Human Will to God’s Will by Fasting.

4. Openness to the Speaking of the Holy Spirit through Human Agency.

5. Readiness to Engage in The Call of God.

Are you interested in knowing what God’s call is for your life? Consider putting yourself in the same atmosphere that Saul and Barnabas had entered into [and lingered in] and in which they eventually received a revelation of the Holy Spirit.

Food for thought. Thanks for reading, friends.

Involving Jesus in Our Fun-Life

“Dear woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.”

~ John 2:4
Jesus talking with His mother, Mary.

They were at a wedding party and Mary, seeing the smallest of opportunities, got Jesus involved.  She probably didn’t have a clue as to what He might do, but she knew that whatever He did do, it would be life changing.  After all, He is the Son of God and though Jesus told her that His time to be revealed was not on this particular evening, Mary pressed the issue by telling the servants to do whatever He would tell them to do.

No doubt, the tenacity of this woman was treasured by Jesus.  She was insisting that He transition from being her son to becoming their Lord.  Everyone had come to the wedding to celebrate and to enjoy a party, but she insisted on involving Him in that fun setting.  She did not know what He would do, but whatever He would do, it would be wonderful and glorifying to God.

As the story unfolds, Jesus helped with a problem of a shortage of wine.  So, with the servants becoming involved at His request, He turned a large supply of water into wine.  Very good wine!

This was the first of many miracles that Jesus performed during His ministry time, miracles that accompanied His preaching and teaching, demonstrating and proving that He is the Son of God.

In the course of your daily life, how frequently do you involve Jesus, especially in the fun times? We don’t need to know ahead of time what He will do or say, all He needs is our personal invitation to get involved, and then our commitment to follow through and to do whatever He tells us to do.

Get ready to be amazed at what He will do in the midst of our fun-filled lives.  God is about to bring glory to His name, and to welcome people into His kingdom!

 

 

Absent, Though Present in Heart.

Fountain PenIf, per chance or per purpose, you have been dropping by my site to see what I might have posted lately, well… as you can see, I have not been writing much.

The desire is there, and the inspiration is mostly there, but due to the increased level of pain and exhaustion that I have been going through with the Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (FM/CFS) in these last several months, I have been absent, though present in heart.

While writing projects are on hold, I think I will dabble with changing the design and look of the site.  At least some creativity will find its opportunity for expression.

I hope to write again soon.

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The Priceless Hunger

“Appetite is an incentive to work;
hunger makes you work all the harder.”

Proverbs 16:26 (The Message)

I noticed a small, non-profit ad the other day for a food bank, it simply stated: “When you are hungry, nothing else really matters.”

That phrase rushed into my heart and soul like a river of refreshing water.  From there the gentleness of the Holy Spirit began to minister to me in ways that were then beyond the realm of words and sentences.  There was a deep, resounding earthquake within my heart that was like a love song that beckoned me to draw near to Him.

I soon noticed that my hunger for God’s Presence had suffered in recent months.  No, I had not walked away, per se, nor had I become lost.  I was still joyful, still filled with the Peace that Jesus Christ offers His friends, and very much devoted to Him.  But, I had allowed my hunger for Him to go unfed, and hunger unfed for long enough can dull the drive of the hunger pains.

As the above passage from Proverbs intimates, our hunger is a priceless gift that fuels our drive to fulfill our hunger.  The right hunger is a good thing!  Hunger for God is Priceless!

If your hunger for God has lost its drive in your soul, all is not lost.  Hunger can be restored, and the best way to re-ignite our hunger is to eat an appetizer.  Great chefs prepare multi-course meals with a very special first plate.  An appetizer!  It is not designed to satisfy hunger, it is designed to trigger it.  It is designed to ignite all of the physical and chemical processes within the body that prepare it not only for the consumption of food, but to enjoy and relish the experience of consuming it.

The Word of God, the Scriptures, the Bread of life, the reading and consuming of His Word while within His Presence, this is our appetizer!  And, just as every great meal experience is enhanced triple-fold by the company and the conversation that surrounds the meal, so also is the consuming of God’s Word multiplied in its richness as we converse with Him.

We have the potential to hunger for many things, but there is only one kind of hunger that leads to a priceless finale.  Nurture the hunger for God, and starve out the hunger for the things of this world.

Man, I’m hungry.  Want to go catch a bite to eat?  See you at the altar, with His Word in hand, and fully engulfed in His Presence.

 

Transforming Local Churches into Harvesting Combines.

Every local church should be a contributing member of the global church, fulfilling the call of Christ [not only in being a place of discipleship, relationship, and training in the Word and Spirit, but] especially in the arena of becoming and functioning as a harvesting combine of souls.

Recently, I came across a passage that Pastor Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) penned and preached to his local church. His passion for seeing the lost soul come to Christ, and for the transformation of some Christians within his church that are missing the call of Christ to be a soul-winner, is expressed as follows:

The soul-winner must be a master of the art of prayer. You cannot bring souls to God if you go not to God yourself. You must get your battle-ax, and your weapons of war, from the armoury of sacred communication with Christ. If you are much alone with Jesus, you will catch His Spirit; you will be fired with the flame that burned in His breast, and consumed His life.

Jesus looking over, and weeping over, JerusalemYou will weep with the tears that fell upon Jerusalem when He saw it perishing; and if you cannot speak so eloquently as He did, yet shall there be about what you say somewhat of the same power which in Him thrilled the hearts and awoke the consciences of men.

My dear hearers, especially you members of the church, I am always so anxious lest any of you should begin to lie upon your oars, and take things easy in the matters of God’s kingdom. There are some of you—I bless you, and I bless God at the remembrance of you—who are in season, and out of season, in earnest for winning souls, and you are the truly wise; but I fear there are others whose hands are slack, who are satisfied to let me preach, but do not themselves preach; who take these seats, and occupy these pews, and hope the cause goes well, but that is all they do.”

~ Pastor Charles Spurgeon, “The Soul Winner”, [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989 reprint], Pg 246–47. Bold were Italics in original.

Perhaps, if you are like me, it would be helpful to re-read the above quote several times so that the full impact of the message can be received, followed by an introspective application to our heart.

If we are not earnestly praying for the salvation of the lost, we have not yet begun to be that which Christ has called us to be.  The scriptures say regarding Jesus that He “came to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10) and also in regard to those who are bound in sin, that He “was manifested, that He may destroy the works of the devil.” (1 John 3:8).

The difference between the fruitful and the unfruitful local church [in regard to the harvesting of souls] is profoundly simple: the fruitful church contains some branches that have engaged in the simple yet profound art of soul-winning intercessory prayer.  The unfruitful local church just won’t do it.

Let us (you and I) agree to make a world of difference within the local churches that we are branches within (Jesus said that He is the Vine, and we are the branches).  Let us (again, you and I) determine to see the prayers of Pastor Spurgeon for his local church in the 1800’s answered and fulfilled in our local churches in 2013 & Beyond.  Let us (yes, you and I) master the art of soul-winning prayer!

Your Disability & The Greatest Work of God.

The greatest work that God desires and has planned in regard to your life is not to work through you, but within you.

For sure, God does desire and has planned to work through you in some specific capacity for His Kingdom and His Glory. But, that is secondary to His greatest desire and plan in regard to your life.

His primary desire and plan is to work within you while He dwells within you.

You might say He is like an investor Who buys run-down houses that previous owners have abused and neglected, now taking ownership in order to rebuild, remodel, and repurpose each of them.

And while He is working on each house, He chooses to live in each house. He dwells with the dust, the noise, and the dirt that is kicked up during the various phases of reconstruction. The carpenter ants and other critters that have long lived in the structures and have had their damaging impact need to be exterminated, and among them He lives until the job is done.

We are amazed and we thank God for the incredible work that He has done through a man by the name of Billy Graham. And yet, we may find ourselves question how much God might love us “small-timers” in comparison to how much He might love Billy Graham, a “big-timer.”

My friend, what God may work through us will vary from person to person. The scriptures reveal to us that each of us will be worked through by God in various degrees. Each of us being given a different measure of talents or resources with which we may serve God in our lifetime (Matthew 25). In this ministry, we are evaluated not by the largeness of what we allow God to work through us (eg. Billy Graham’s worldwide and multi-decadal evangelistic ministry), but instead by our faithfulness in working with Him as He works through us.

There is however a work that God desires and plans to accomplish within us that is unlimited in scope and depth. God desires to dwell within us while He transforms us from what we were into someone whose inner beauty is… well, is shockingly beautiful and spectacular in the eyes of the heavenly hosts.

You may never experience God working through you in a huge public way such as a preacher, a top chart singer, a best selling author, or a doctor that cures the masses with a final solution to cancer.

However, you and I will be evaluated and blessed by our faithfulness in collaborating with God as He works within us, transforming us, teaching us, inspiring us, and drawing us into a beautifully intimate and loving relationship with Him.

Today, perhaps you have a disability that seems to hinder how much God can work through you, leaving you with a daily sense of uselessness and a sense of being much more worthless than others in God’s Kingdom who are being used in some wonderful, public ways.

However, my friend, may I (as one who is also disabled by physical maladies) remind you that God’s PRIMARY desire and plan in regard to your life is not how much He can do through you, but rather how much you will allow Him to work within you!

Jesus teaches in the gospels that there will be many on the last day who will be rejected from entrance into heaven (Matthew 7:21-23). With tears they will cry out, “Lord, did we not preach and prophecy in Your Name, cast out demons, and do miracles?” (Notice these are things related to God working through them).

And Jesus will reply, “Depart from Me, I never knew you, you who practice lawlessness.” (This is in regard to those who did not allow God to work within them, and did not collaborate with God for their internal transformation from sin and corruption of heart and soul).

So, whether we are bed-ridden or we can run ministry marathons, our calling is to first and foremost answer the call to minister to The Lord, being faithful to the ministry of surrendering our hearts, minds, souls, spirits, memories, ambitions, dreams, desires, etc. to God as He dwells within us and as He works within us.

God working through us has eternal value and eternal meaning when, and only when, this outward work flows as an offshoot from the primary river of His work within us being accomplished on an ongoing, daily basis.

Suffering for a Season, By God’s Will

Cover of "Divine Healing"

I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in 2000, that was 13 years ago.

In 2006, about 7 years ago, I had reached such a level of pain and fatigue that I resigned from pastoring a church. I was unable to work, having to be in bed so much.

I believe in Divine healing through faith in the name of Jesus Christ. He has instantly healed me in the past of things, and I have witnessed people being instantly healed while I laid hands upon them and prayed in Jesus’ name. I have seen a 14 year heroin addict instantly delivered as I prayed for him and then touched him.

So, you might ask me why I still believe in Divine healing through Jesus’ name since I have not been healed after 13 years of praying for healing, and having been prayed for by countless others.

You may ask why I still think God loves me if He has not healed me and has allowed me to suffer so much pain for so long.

Well, I don’t have all the answers for why God heals and why He doesn’t. But I do know this: every time I pray for healing, I finish with, “Father, not my will, but Your will be done!”

Jesus’ Crucifixion is our perfect example of how our Heavenly Father at times chooses to accomplish His will through a season of our sufferings rather than through our deliverance, through our bankruptcy rather than through our prosperity, through our sickness rather than our health, and for some through their death rather than through their life.

Does this mean that I have given up hope? No, I believe with all my heart that God is going to heal me, either miraculously or medicinally. There is just a season of time that must pass so that God’s will may be accomplished through my life as I suffer these painful diseases.

Again, “not my will, but Your will be done, Father!” I can honestly say that God grants me the grace that I need (sometimes enough grace for the next moment or two, but I never run short on His supply of grace) and the peace that I need, to be able to truly desire for God to accomplish His will in and through my life BEFORE He heals me.

What about your life? Are you experiencing a prolonged season of suffering? Do you want God to provide the same grace to you that He has provided to me? Do you wish that you could genuinely desire God to accomplish His will in and through your life even if it means continuing in your suffering a little while longer before His healing is finally dispensed?

All we need to do is pray with heart-felt sincerity just as Jesus prayed after He had asked for deliverance from the suffering at hand: “Father, not my will, but Your will be done!”

Now THAT is living by faith!

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Should Non-Catholic Christians Pray for the Pope?

Pope FrancisSome non-Catholics have asked why the media is providing so much coverage of the new Pope, Pope Francis being his papal name. They don’t mind the coverage, they even find it interesting and historical.

In answer to their question, I think that the first and foremost answer would be the fact that the Pope is a VERY influential spiritual leader of those who hold to the Catholic faith.

The global membership of the Catholic Church is 1.6 Billion people. That is “Billion” with a “B.” The global population currently stands at just over 7 Billion (according to the official World Population Clock).

The Pope is the influential spiritual leader of 23% of the world’s population. That is between 1 out of every 4 people, or 1 out of every 5 people is a Pope-influenced person.

That makes the Pope THE most influential leader of the masses (no pun intended!) in the world!

THAT is why almost all the media in the world are focused today upon today’s selection and announcement of the Pope.

As a [non-Catholic] Christian, I therefore believe that it is prudent to include the Pope in the list of world leaders that I pray for regularly (scripture teaches us to pray for leaders). In fact, because of the influence the Pope has upon so many of my fellow Americans, it is prudent to include him in the prayer list of America’s leaders.

See you at the altar of prayer where we pray for all leaders, who [according to scripture] have been given by God authority, power, and influence to serve the population.

 

The Whispers & Roars of a Pastor

“A king’s rage is like the roar of a lion, but his favor is like dew on the grass.”

~ Proverbs 19:12

Pastors, as leaders our words, our expressions, and the tones with which we communicate, they are felt by those whom we serve with extra sensitivity.

A rebuke softly spoken is still felt and heard as “the roar of a lion,” and a compliment spoken in passing is experienced like a beautiful morning sunrise that is filled with the aroma of the dew on the grass.

As leaders, we must wield our words with absolute caution, as they are our scalpels for surgery, and not axes for the beheadings of the people around us.

Our passion may fuel our emotions to the point of wanting to “with righteous indignation” drop a 500 pound smart-bomb on a person or group, but the above Proverb reminds us of the power we as leaders have to kill… or to refresh.

Pastor, what is a 10% output to you is felt as a 90% force for good or evil by the people with whom we communicate.

Let us walk gently [among the people whom we serve] unto life and godliness.

See you at the altar of Pastoral character development.

Maturing Faith, Goodness of God, and Tribulation

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

~ John 16:33

A maturing, genuine faith is one that begins to see the goodness of God in the midst of very difficult trials (“tribulations”) in life.  Yes, Jesus said that He has given us His peace, but His peace is not based upon our circumstances.  In fact, He wants us to learn that His peace goes beyond our circumstances… He said that He has already overcome them.

So why do we go through tough times?  It is simple, actually.  It is to test the genuineness of our faith, and to mature our faith from a seedling to a full grown tree of life in Christ. (See James 1 for further study).

The word “tribulation” in this passage translates as “compressing a material that is free and unshackled or unfettered.  In Christ we have been set free, yet in our freedom we will encounter seasons (and sometimes a life-long season) of compressing experiences.  But, don’t be dismayed.  These things will not destroy you or your faith.  Just don’t give up, my friend.

So you think your trials are bigger than others?  You think you are being Divinely paid-back for your sins?  No, you are being blessed.  Yes, BLESSED!  Your faith is being challenged and built and nurtured to a greater degree than many others.  Your tribulations experienced in this world are tribulations of this world, but Christ in His incredible love and wisdom is using this world’s tribulations (which He has already demonstrated His victory over) to build you into a conquering, faith-filled, God-loving, warrior-child of God.

Jesus teaches us that we should pick up our cross and follow Him.  I encourage you to be courageous and to fall in love with your cross, not for the pain it brings, but for the maturity it is bringing into your life. (See my article on Picking up Your Cross here).

See you at the altar of prayer in the Presence of Christ, my friend, and my fellow “tribulation-er”.