Thursday, January 3

I'd rather stand upon the judgment of God instead of man.

“Let us be judged as servants of Christ, and as those who are responsible for the secret things of God. And it is right for such servants to be safe persons. But it is a small thing to me that I am judged by you or by man's judging; I am not even a judge of myself. For I am not conscious of any wrong in myself; but this does not make me clear, for it is the Lord who is my judge. For this reason let there be no judging before the time, till the Lord comes, who will make clear the secret things of the dark, and the designs of the heart; and then will every man have his praise from God. “ (1Corinthians 4:1-5 BBE)

Recently a church that I had sent an resume to in regards to a position that they had available and I felt led to inquire about contacted me about it. While I was surprised at the ‘achievement’ of being considered for the first time as serious about the call to ministry, I wasn’t shocked that I received the call.

I am not seminary trained, religious college degreed, or validated by a Bishop of a major denomination. I haven’t written theologically challenging thesis that have rocked the Christian community to its core and redefined the face of Christianity single-handedly.

I haven’t created a façade of perfection; of renewed and Christ washed living without trace of human frailty. I haven’t hidden many things in my life outside the walls of Christian church that most of us would want hidden, especially with the CALL radiating in the bones of an aspiring Pastor.

And I have been found lacking. I struggle in my household to be the spiritual husband, father, and man of God that I am growing into an understanding of what those things each mean and how God has designed them. I sometimes express myself in an unbending, (yes….it’s been called intolerant) direct way that I have made no apology for. I have been called a zealot and a radical, I have been rejected by those in leadership positions for discipleship, mentoring, and involvement in pursuit of the CALL to ministry.

Three years ago, God pointed to a stage in the 3,000 plus sized sanctuary of Willow Creek and spoke the CALL to me…..”Jim, that is where I want you to fulfill My purpose for you. Work for me.” Gene Appel, newly hired to the Willow Creek family, was speaking about his outreach in his own neighborhood. I exited my seat and paced the atrium of the upper level until the topic was finished and the rest of the attendees were released for break. The discussion that God and I had in regards to such statements was punctuated with laughter, both richly felt and fearfully expressed, and pleadings, for mercy and clarification. It was one of the first true conversations God and I have had…..and I was changed, again, by the touch of the Holy Spirit.

And God has never changed His mind, expressed in other ways, my inability to do the CALL or even whether maybe I wasn’t exactly anything more than a stand-in for someone imminently more qualified. Not once, even in the season of drought when I despaired and questioned. Not even when I demanded and expressed my disappointment in the timing of the Creator.

Not once.

But man has. And has expressed it loud and clear of their decision that such a person, such a sinful and broken, battered and bruised, and in process person could ever hear the voice of God, let alone be CALLED by Him to ministry.

And so have blocked or rejected the person who was CALLED.

I had a wonderful discussion with one of the members of the search committee in regards to my Christian faith, the journey I’m still upon, and the church’s need in the position I expressed in the original inquiry. Oh, no formal job offer was tendered or may ever be so, but did I get to talk about the wonderful memories that I have been blessed with in the pursuit of the CALL.

And my desire to continue the pursuit……..

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