Last March we made the call that I would go back to school and finish my Master of Divinity. I am a life long learner. I believe a large part of the Christian walk is learning the right things and unlearning the wrong things. But, this is what I have observed concerning formal education and the clergy- people like me. Possibly just me.
Education is like table salt. It can only season what is already there. By itself it leaves a dry taste in your soul. Education cannot compensate for a lack of calling, cover up a lack of gifting, nor atone for a lack of experience. It neither fosters faith, deepens divine dependence, nor instills humility. Yes, the man of God is to study to present himself approved, but first he needs be of God, for God, and from God.
Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and with virtue knowledge…. II Peter 1:5
The challenge is not to meet people’s needs but to fulfill your ministry. Chasing needs puts you at the will of others. Pursuing ministry makes you submissive to God. Meeting needs is the result of your availability. Ministry is the result of your spiritual gifts. Needs arise when someone calls. Ministry is birthed from your divine calling. Meeting needs often leads to exhaustion, but ministry ends in exhilaration. It isn’t that meeting needs is bad- fulfilling your ministry is best. Unfortunately, many will never experience what God has planned because someone asked them to do something else.
Are you just meeting needs? Have you found your calling?
The disciples found Jesus and said, “Everyone is looking for you.” And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next town, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” – Mark 1:37-38
When we focus on purity in the church family it looks like this;
1) I do whatever I can to help you get closer to God. I gently walk along side you on your journey towards righteousness. Righteous living is where you will experience the greatest fulfillment. Purity is the shortest path to joy and surest path to divine success.
2) To help you I must die to myself. I have to sacrifice my ambition, arrogance, and agendas. I have to give my life so you can live yours. Notice, this, in turn, also moves me closer to God. Doing the loving thing for you is also doing the loving thing for myself.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds… Hebrews 10:24
Saturday means Sabbath in our home. It is a time of rest and unplugging. I began working through Neil Anderson’s The Steps to Freedom In Christ. One of my mentors uses this guide, yearly, during personal retreats, and it is part of my current study on spiritual transformation. This one truth gripped me the most as I worked through Step 2 Deception vs Truth;
the truth is my Father God is committed to my growth and PROUD OF ME as His growing child.
I wept. Sobbed. I was wrapped in love and heavenly joy as my Heavenly Father spoke right into my soul, “Son, I am proud of who you are and who you are becoming. I will never let you go.”
…he encircled him, he cared for him, he kept him as the apple of his eye. Deut 32:10
How are you leading your caravan?
Settlers focus on the short-term. Pioneers focus on legacy.
Settlers know what they have. Pioneers know what they have left behind.
Settlers build walls to protect. Pioneers break down walls to connect.
Settlers hold on to. Pioneers share.
Settlers build their empires. Pioneers advance God’s kingdom.
Both strive for happiness and fulfillment but only one will find it.
Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens… – Babel, Genesis 11:4
The money you hold is the money you keep, maybe. The more money you share the less money you will have. Faith is the opposite. The more faith you try to put away the less you have. But, the more faith you share the more your faith grows. Still, faith, like money, is a transferable commodity. What is mine can be yours. So, tell others your faith stories. It deposits your faith into their spiritual bank account. When they come up short they have something to draw on. Your faith can make up the difference.
Abraham answered Isaac, “God himself will provide….” Genesis 22:8
Faith is positional not proportional. It is about a “who” not about a “how much”. It is not about having enough to enter the amusement park. Faith is the actual ticket in. And, you only ever need one ticket; God gifts faith to you. I don’t think God is a cheep giver, Indian-giver, holding-out-on-you giver. God is the perfect giver. And He gave you faith, singular. Why do you think you need more? Well, if you believe you need more than you get to believe you have to work for it, a human tendency which voids the gift and is no longer about faith. You search and search and pray and pray attempting to accumulate enough faith to reach some divine, predetermined tipping point that releases whatever you feel you don’t have enough faith to receive.
Faith is a shield but everyone always wants a tank. You don’t need a tank. God sent you out with a shield, the perfect size to get behind. You don’t need to ask for more shields you just need to use the one you have been given.
Do not be afraid, I am your Shield – God (Genesis 15:1)
Getting what you don’t want starts by getting what you do want. Obesity starts as a nighttime snack. Heartbreak starts as a “one-time-thing”. Debt collectors calling starts with easy credit. Watch your impulsiveness and let God make the decisions. The deceitfulness of our hearts always seems to cover up a wagon train of painful consequences stemming from the things we want so badly. What you want is seldom what you need.
But Israel refused to listen. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us.” – I Samuel 8
Distraction + Depravity = Drift
If you don’t pay attention the natural currents of your heart will pull you from shore and you will drift away. It is as natural was watching un-tethered un-anchored boats float on the tide. Remove the distractions. Put down a hard line and stop the drift. Prayer time is a line. Study time is a line. Discipleship time is a line. Anything that will connect you back to Jesus, your foundation, will keep your soul from drifting on the waves.
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. Hebrews 6:19
Don’t give out of your abundance. Don’t just give some or give what is left. That is not faith. That is formality and religion at its finest. Relational giving, generosity that is birthed out of knowing God and wanting to know him more, gives to position the giver in a place of intimacy. Faith-filled giving asks God to get involved in our lives. Generous giving starts by noting when you give. This giving gives to God first and reveals devotion and dependence. How do you know your giving has brought you to a place of partnership with God? Listen to how you pray when you give and how God shows up after you give.
God loves a cheerful giver. – II Corinthians 9