Wednesday, October 8

Effective servants....renewing hope in God

"The Lord's love never ends; His mercies never stop. They are new every morning; Lord your loyalty is great. I say to myself, "The Lord is mine, so I hope in Him." The Lord is good to those who hope in him, to those who seek Him." Lamentations 3:22-25 (NIV)

This graces the email signature of one of the greatest warriors on bended knees that I have had the honor and priviledge to know, fellowship with, and to recieve encouragement, edification, and requests for prayer as well as offer my own. Through the four years I've known her, worked with her in ministry, and joined the prayer chain she 'operates', Marilyn has been a source of examples of real Christianity and faithful service.

The verse has changed only three times in the four years I've been on the prayer chain, and this one has affected me the most.

I have always mentioned the Call I recieved one October day almost four years ago, of the quest to realize God's purposing for me in this journey towards home, and of my writing on this blog (mostly anymore...though I have written on Faithwriters in the past).

Of my frustration with the leadership of the Body that seem to judge me most harshly about 'qualifications' and 'training.'

Of my joy and honor of being asked to attend the leadership training with Awakened Hearts Ministry under the direction of Scott Englemann, and the chaplaincy that God provided for me to serve under during the season not too long past.

Of the abandoned Jehovah Witness Kingdom Hall in Holly on Milford Road that seems to beckon me to resurrect and rededicate as a church that seeks God in an intimate and personal manner.

And the desire to be in ministry under the direction of a Bible-believing, God-honoring, and culture-challenging Pastor for eventual 'employment' in the Body of Christ as a teaching and administration pastor, the two highest spiritual gifts that I believe I have.

I have been dishearted, disenchanted, and discouraged. I have had extreme highs of peace and joy and disastrous moments of destruction and troubling doubt. I have known moments of peaceful contemplation in communion with God and echoing desert experiences of seemingly utter silence from God.

And, this far into the journey, I find myself in a village, a new church, and no ministry. A pending divorce, a separated family, and no gain in the struggle for financial stewardship of a godly intent.

Not at all where I thought I would be by now.

As I remarked at the last Able Men meeting, I feel like I have a host of skills, talents, and desire to contribute to the Kingdom business and am standing on the sidelines shouting, "Put me in Coach! I'm ready to play!" and I am being told, "You're only the waterboy. A great waterboy, but still just a waterboy."

Not everyone has said that.

Several people I know and point to as spiritual warriors have told me of the strength I have that inspires them. My mentor has told me, in the midst of my despair, that he looked forward to being there that day "I preached the Word of God from the pulpit." Those of you who read my blog, though not commenting with edifying and encouraging comments, are reading it.....which causes me to continue writing.

I am far from perfect, measured by either the culture's standards or the example set forth by Christ. I struggle with temptations, sins, and my relationship with God. I do, unashamedly and continously welcoming the accountability of brothers and sisters in this journey. I am far from perfect and never will be.

"If tribulation works patience, that patience will work experience, and that experience a hope that makes [me] not ashamed" Matthew Henry.

The attractiveness of God, the truthfulness of His promises, and the hope for the future (in eternal terms) has never died. My adore for pursuing God has not moved from its intensity, or its focus. I want to know God so I can know God to the point ot utter, complete, and continued trust. Not to 'claim the promises' He's given in the Bible text, but realize the deliverability of those promises in God's timing in accordance to His plan.

It is my 'failures' that have wounded me, scarring me in multiple slashes across my heart, as rejection after rejection have made me 'gun-shy' in pushing the resistance to what I know is God's plan for me into submission. Being told you are strong and yet sidelined because of unclear, unspoken decisions is harsh. Disappointing and disabling.

"If you have been discouraged by your failure, then give up. Stop trying to do something that you know is futile. But don't give in." Bruce Bickel and Stan Jantz write in their devotional book, "Keeping God in the small stuff." They were speaking on the topic of temptation, not pursuing God or failure in and of itself. But, it made me realize that I still very much rely upon my own ability to 'make things happen' instead of trusting God to be able to handle what He wants to do in His way and His time....the Adam complex.

I have yet to still 'die' to my broken humanity and trust fully in God.

"Then He said to me, "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel; behold, they say, 'Our bones are dried up and our hope has perished. We are completely cut off.' "Therefore prophesy and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "Behold, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves, My people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel. "Then you will know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves and caused you to come up out of your graves, My people. "I will put My Spirit within you and you will come to life, and I will place you on your own land. Then you will know that I, the LORD, have spoken and done it," declares the LORD.'"" Ezekiel 37:11-14 (NASB)

Just like Israel, who looked around the landscape of their discontentment and felt the hand of God had perished from them. No Promised Land, no inheritance.

God called me to ministry. Not by conventional means, i.e. seminary or theological training and a denominational appointment. Not that I would be opposed to such training. He told me this is what I want you to do, head in that direction. I have, and simply am getting tired of dealing with the slammed doors and the appearance of brick walls.

I have grown to feel 'cut off' and 'dried up'.

But, just as Ezekiel prophesied to the Israelites, God will do His will His way, so that there is no doubt of whom it is that called me, that empowers me to minister, and who my words come from.

Those of us in the Body that do as we are commanded by God, even in the face of the greatest of rejections and discouragements, don't need to doubt that the path we are on will not bear successful fruit. Because we have been commissioned by God; whether it is teaching or shepherding a congregation of hundreds or thousands, being the techie on the recovery ministry's team or being a godly parent, we have no reason to fear temporary failures......God is the owner of our purpose and will enrich each answered and pursued purpose according to His ultimate plan.

We may feel the dryness of our bones, bleaching in the harsh sun of the culture or those who utter religous terminology without substance. But, in the course of His timing, even the faithful who have felt dead in the pursuit of God will be set up and breathed life into their souls that leaves no doubt as to its source. The Spirit of Life, which came to us in the physical birth and comes to us in our spiritual birth, comes from God and God alone. He breathed life into Adam and He will breathe life into those fallen saints from generations past on the day of Resurrection.

And He breathes it into us at each point of our spiritual journey where we die anew, each and every morning, and grow closer to Him. Renewing us each day to continue on the journey to a relationship as we were designed to have with Him.

And, just as the once-dispirited and despairing captives that cried out in their hopelessness to God, when the breath of Life was breathed again from the spirit of God, they became an inspirited nation, animated with resolve that defeated all the discouragement and defeats of their captivity that had overwhelmed them and applied themselves in the pursuit of God's promises with determination, becoming an great Army of not only a living and breathing force, but of effectiveness.

As Matthew Henry writes, "Effective men, fit for service in the wars and formidable to all that gave them any opposition."

Just as Christ died and defeated death in the ultimate realization of God's glory, so we will overcome our death in the spirit by the breathing of life into us from God for a good purpose.

We will begin living a life that is glorifying to God.

And it will speak to those who look at us, showing that God alone is responsible for the accomplishments and achievements to which we have labored.

As it says in v13....."You will know that I am the Lord, and that I have spoken it and performed it."

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