My Calling

Matthew 10:41 (AMP) He who receives and welcomes a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and he who receives a righteous (honorable) man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward.

October is Pastor Appreciation Month, most churches celebrated and honored their pastor’s yesterday (ours did it the first Sunday). To be called into the pastoral ministry is a joy. We are tasked with the duty of equipping the saints for the work of the ministry, the ministry of reconciliation, as we were called into it first.

My husband and I have been on a series called “Restore” all year. We have taken the past few weeks to tackle a subject regarding “My Calling.” We find that many in the church start to chase after their calling. Leaving, and forsaking the covering of their pastors, and seeking out those who will promote their calling. Did I just say covering? Is that not old fashioned? Do you not think that this is anything new? The letters in the New Testament were not written to the unbeliever, they were written to the church. Hebrews 10:25 talks about not forsaking the meeting together as some have come into the habit of. What would the writer say about the church today, staying at home, watching on You Tube and disconnected from serving one another?

Hebrews 13:7 (AMP) Obey your [spiritual] leaders and submit to them [recognizing their authority over you], for they are keeping watch over your souls and continually guarding your spiritual welfare as those who will give an account [of their stewardship of you]. Let them do this with joy and not with grief and groans, for this would be of no benefit to you.

I understand there have been abuses. Your pastor does not have the right to tell you who you can marry, where you can live, what job you are to take, nor what car to buy. Your pastor does have the right to tell you that the counsel you have chased after to build up your calling, is not where you need to be. The pastoral calling is heavy and will come with more responsibility.

The initial verse of this is Jesus speaking. Jesus went to His hometown. He desired to see people set free where ever He went. The same power to heal and bring back to life flowed through Him every where He went. Why did it not flow freely in His home town? They still saw Him as the boy that grew up there and not the man who walked in freedom that all the other towns were able to receive from. They could not receive from Him because they saw Him as common. How do you approach the gathering on Sundays? Do you go with expectation? Or are you expecting the same thing every week?

Pastors are vision carriers. They have a passion to see you become free and to do the work of the ministry. That is not always vacuuming or cleaning the bathrooms, but sometimes it is. What it really is…the ministry of reconciliation. Who are we doing the serving with? Those who need freedom in their life, just like you. Do not get so caught up in the work that you do not see the person you are working along side and not get to know them.

I do a lot of one on one care. I will invite someone to do an activity and get to know them. I will find out how I can pray for them, direct them in the Word, share my own struggles and how I am overcoming in the Word, find out their interests and just get to know them. That is what it looks like. Then I will help them do the same for someone else. Not everyone will have a relationship like that with me. Some still see me as the teenage girl, that wore short skirts, dating the pastor’s son. Some still see me as the young woman that would roll her eyes. Does that mean I am not the person I am today? I do not remember that young girl, even if others do. That does not mean I will not serve them.

During this Pastor Appreciation Month take stock of how you see your pastor(s). Pastors, take a look at how you lead and serve the people God has called you to. We are connected for a reason and the reason is the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-21). We are no longer bound, but free. Freedom takes work to figure out, there are root areas that will try to keep us from putting on the newness (Colossians 3:10) we have become, it takes all of us to get there.

Father, thank you for your goodness, mercy and grace. Let me see the people you have called me to with fresh eyes. I no longer want to see them as common. Your Son said that if I would receive people with honor and see them as righteous that I would receive a righteous man’s reward. I want all that you have for me, so I choose today to lay down my rights and stand on Your truth. Forgive me for not receiving from the pastor(s) you have placed in my life. They have only wanted to see me free and I repent for fighting them in my stubbornness. I surrender my heart to You. Let it be tender and responsive to Your Holy Spirit. I choose to surrender today. Thank you for giving me the ministry of reconciliation, so that I can share Christ with others. I do not take it for granted. It is the calling that you trusted me with. I will not run the race in vain. I choose you today. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Focus

Matthew 6:33 (NKJV) But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

To me this has been a year to readjust our focus. My focus has not only read my Word more so that I can grow deeper in my relationship with God, but also so that I can be more impactful in what God has called me to do.

As I was reading Acts this week I was hoping that it would bring me excitement in the fact that the Holy Spirit was in the forefront. All the demonstrations that happened. The unbelievable peace of Stephen. The call of Paul.  It was the focus of Paul that drew my attention.

Paul was a man that rubbed people the wrong way. I have even heard people refer to him as their least favorite because of how he held himself. In my battle of rejection and insecurities I often empathize with Paul. Paul claimed to be a Pharisee in his previous self. There were some character traits that were like no one else, and God could use that, just like He uses me.

Pharisee: a member of a Jewish sect that flourished during the 1st century b.c. and 1st century a.d. and that differed from the Sadducees chiefly in its strict observance of religious ceremonies and practices, adherence to oral laws and traditions, and belief in an afterlife and the coming of a Messiah.

He was all in when it came to the Jewish law…he was going to be all in when it came to spreading the word about Jesus.

I can imagine Paul as he was reading the text or hearing of how Jesus told this Parable of Talents we find in Matthew 25:14-30. I used that perspective in talking to my church yesterday.

In Acts 17 we see that Paul is starting on a journey. He is waiting on two others to join him (Silas and Timothy). Just because he was waiting on them did not mean he stopped ministering. What got my attention was that he traveled places like Athens and then Corinth (we see that he is tent making with fellow believers in Corinth, he was only going to teach on the Sabbath) but I want you to see this:

Acts 18: 5 (MSG) When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was able to give all his time to preaching and teaching, doing everything he could to persuade the Jews that Jesus was in fact God’s Messiah.

Paul was willing to do so much to spread the message. My husband and I are the pastors of our church. We are a small church, but it is often hard for us to turn off the doing everything button. We were not always the pastors. We were the ones that were there every time the door was open saying, “give me something to do!” If they were building something, “let me go get you more nails…let me go get more paint.” We say a need, we immediately went to fill that need without even asking if we could. It is hard to turn that off.

Reading the rest of Acts we see that Paul is a prisoner for the rest of the book. He was perfectly fine in this state. Why? He saw a way for him to get an audience with Caesar (and any governing official that would be on that path). Did you know Paul in prison was probably more relaxed than we are when we binge watch something on Netflix?

What if he got to a place where he said I have been to this many countries…I have completed my bucket list of things to do and now I am just going to relax.

1 Corinthians 9:16-17 (NKJV) For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel! For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have been entrusted with a stewardship.

Woe is me if I do not use my gift to establish His Kingdom. Woe is me if I think my portion is unimportant. Woe is me that I think that my presence would not make a difference.

Luke 16:10 (NLT) If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.

The vision that we have for Connect Church is “We exist to touch the world through our community.” This is not a little vision God has put before us. Right now we help in service projects with different organizations in our city and surrounding cities. We join other organizations to help them succeed. We do not try to reinvent something that they are already doing.

“We exist to touch the world through our community.”

Vision Statement of Connect Church

At this moment Connect Church does not have its own building. We did the large overhead and enormous debt thing and found that we were not effectual in carrying out the vision that God gave us. We are in a building program. We are saving little by little, but sowing more and more. Our vision is to make Connect Church a place for the community, not a place for them to just have “church.” It is a place that if they need to get a hot meal, they can. If they need to wash their laundry at 2 in the morning, they can. If they need a place to connect on the basket ball court, they can.

It is by us being faithful in the small things. I think that when Paul read or heard the Parable of the Talents he got a key insight on Matthew 6:33 (NKJV) But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

I do not know if I am the person given five thousand, two thousand or one thousand. That should not be my focus. My focus is that I seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. Could it be that I am given more talents, more resources, more responsibilities? All I want is more of Jesus!

You are gifted!

A year ago my husband was in a series called “Finishing the Race,” in this series he described the race we are in. The race is against time…time to complete what God has purposed for you to do on this earth.  Our purpose is Ministry. When I say ministry people automatically think that is pulpit ministry, evangelism or missions. Ministry is whatever helps further the kingdom message. The gift of knowing how to work a camera or do production for television can be used for ministry. The gift of getting a managing of finances is a vital ministry (lights and chairs are not free). I have taken from his notes to write this blog today. I thought it was important, as I put my hands to ministry this week. This week I noticed holes in what I was called to do. I noticed that there are those who are suppose to be linked up with us, that for whatever reason, are not. My prayer is that you see your importance. That ministry is bigger than one person, it takes a team to finish the race strong.

You were created for ministry. Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” What are we created with an ability to do…”to do Good Works!”

Once we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, we also accept the responsibility of ministry. 2 Timothy 1:9 “It is He who saved us and chose us for his holy work, not because we deserved it but because that was his plan long before the world began.” Plain and simple a non-serving Christian is a contradiction.

Plain and simple a non-serving Christian is a contradiction.

We have been called into ministry. All of us have a purpose. Galatians 1:15, God, in his grace, chose me even before I was born, and called me to serve him. Ephesians 4:1, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 1 Peter 2:9-10, You have been chosen by God himself…God called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Every Christian, the moment you became a Christian, you were called into ministry.

We have been gifted for ministry. 1 Peter 4:10, God has given each of you some special abilities be sure to use them to help each other, passing on to others God’s many kinds of blessing. This ability is to be used for Ministry purposes. Philippians 2:4, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Ministry Life does not revolve around self promotion, but rather promotes the development of others and their God given ability. If you succeed then I have succeeded.

If you succeed then I have succeeded.

I want to stop here an ponder on the wonderful Gift that Jesus left us especially during this time of year when we are so focused on giving/receiving gifts: John 14:15-31 (TPT) “Loving me empowers you to obey my commands. And I will ask the Father and he will give you another Savior, the Holy Spirit of Truth, who will be to you a friend just like me—and he will never leave you. The world won’t receive him because they can’t see him or know him. But you will know him intimately, because he will make his home in you and will live inside you. I promise that I will never leave you helpless or abandon you as orphans—I will come back to you! Soon I will leave this world and they will see me no longer, but you will see me, because I will live again, and you will come alive too.  So when that day comes, you will know that I am living in the Father and that you are one with me, for I will be living in you.  Those who truly love me are those who obey my commands. Whoever passionately loves me will be passionately loved by my Father. And I will passionately love you in return and will manifest my life within you.”  Then one of the disciples named Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “Lord, why is it you will only reveal your identity to us and not to everyone?” Jesus replied, “Loving me empowers you to obey my word. And my Father will love you so deeply that we will come to you and make you our dwelling place.  But those who don’t love me will not obey my words. The Father did not send me to speak my own revelation, but the words of my Father.  I am telling you this while I am still with you.  But when the Father sends the Spirit of Holiness, the One like me who sets you free, he will teach you all things in my name. And he will inspire you to remember every word that I’ve told you.

There is so much that is available to us because of the Holy Spirit. The third part of the trinity that we should make ourselves familiar with. A spirit led life is more than a feeling, it is knowing where you are called to be, doing what you are called to do, with the people you are called to do it with. Galatians 5:25 (NIV) Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. There is always free will though.

Matthew 6:33 (GW) But first, be concerned about his kingdom and about his approval. The all these things will be provided for you. If this is what you want your legacy to be, then we have to leave the comfort of the smallness of what we think an impact our gift makes. There are churches, community ministries and world wide ministries with holes in them. They are getting by without you, but does not mean that they have to. Just think what an impact you would make with the gift that God gave you. I need leaders and helpers to complete the vision that God has given me for Connect Church.

In Acts, chapters 17 and 18, we see that Paul is doing ministry but he was waiting on someone. It tells us that he is waiting on Silas and Timothy. Their lack of presence did not cause him to stop ministry. Acts 18:5 (MSG) When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was able to give all his time to preaching and teaching, doing everything he could to persuade the Jews that Jesus was in fact God’s Messiah. Here I read this as, now that he had ministry partners, Paul is able to do what he was called to do. He was not successful every time, but he was doing what he was called to do, because those with him were doing what they were called to do.

You are gifted. You are needed. You are more than staying in your room wanting to see this world change for Him. You are being called out of your room, or like me off of my couch. Let us turn this world upside down for his kingdom!