Monday, February 6, 2012

Called To Ministry

            Upon my arrival to college to study to become a successful business man and preacher “on the side,” I encountered some very uncomfortable language.  First of all, that language of “on the side” sounds harsh in and of itself.  I came to the conclusion that if anything was going to be “on the side” it would be whatever business practice I ended up pursuing.  Another phrase I was uncomfortable with is “going into ministry.”  What does that even mean?  What are you coming “out of” to “go into” ministry?  

            That language has no business entering the ears of anyone, much less someone who is considering ministry for a living.  This may just be a pet peeve with words, but I believe every Christian is in ministry no matter what their occupation.  “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).  Peter did not just speak to the preachers, elders, and deacons.  We are all priests, whether school teachers, administrators, bus drivers, nurses, maintenance workers, electricians, stay-at-home mommies etc.  No Christian can avoid the call to ministry.

            That last statement was another thing that made me uneasy.  People would ask, “What is your calling?”  I would always joke back, “I don’t know, I never got the phone call.”  The language just sounds like everyone should have this great epiphany directly from God about what they are supposed to do in life.  That is not how it works.  Paul wrote, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).  Don’t miss it, “…that by testing you may discern…”  People that sit around and wait for this call from God better not hold their breath.  Knowing God’s will takes action and you can know it.  Whatever your passion is and you decide to do, never forget that each of us entered ministry and its call the day we put on Christ in baptism.  “Of this gospel I was made a minister…” (Ephesians 3:7a).

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Lord Surrounds Us

            Some of the most beautiful images of God’s protection resides in the Psalms.  I had another opportunity to visit the Rocky Mountains and the scenery is absolutely breath taking.  Words are hard pressed to describe the overwhelming feeling of being 32,000 feet above sea level and look around to see nothing but snow capped mountain range.  God’s creation is always around us, but those mountains made it feel like his creation had wrapped around me and was giving a bear hug. 

            The Psalmist had similar feelings when he looked at the mountains surrounding Jerusalem.  “Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people, from this time forth and forevermore” (125:1-2). 

            Bobby Price, a song writer, took inspiration from these verses and compiled the lyrics to “Surround Us, O Lord.”  Robert Taylor in his Praise Hymnal thought Psalm 106:47-48 was appropriate for this song as well, “Save us, O Lord our God, and gather us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise. Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting! And let all the people say, “Amen!” Praise the Lord!”  The song goes like this: “As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people (Repeat).  Surround us Lord, surround us, O Lord.  We need to be in your presence.  Surround us Lord.  Surround us Lord.”

            What a beautiful and comforting image to think how God surrounds his people.  He is not some distant deity who is out of touch with the world he created and the people he calls his own.  He wants to be a part of us and surround us with his presence and love.  While in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, to look around and see the endless mountain range to me meant that I could not easily escape them.  That’s the picture the psalmist paints.  We cannot easily escape God and ultimately nobody will for one day every knee will bow (Romans 14:11).

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


            The doctrine of Scripture is vital for how Christians present the Bible to others.  The world questions things like the Bible’s reliability and if it is really a revelation of God.  Christians even question the doctrine of the scriptures by challenging the necessity of the Old Testament and if God’s presence with us resides solely in a book. 

        The first place often turned to in defense of the reliability of scripture is 2 Timothy 3:16-17, All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.(ESV).  This is a powerful text that is hard to deny if one believes that there is a God.  For now we will stick to the doctrine of the scripture for believers in God and deal with Christian evidences later.

A second argument for the reliability of scripture is to consider the prophesies and their fulfillments through the ages, And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:19–21).  The Bible is reliable because it contains fulfilled prophecy confirmed by time. 

It is vital that Christians not throw out the Old Testament in their Bibliology.  Paul wrote, For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope(Romans 15:4).  The “Scriptures” the 1st Century Christians had were what Christians today call the “Old Testament.”  They certainly did not call them “old,” but considered them living and active (Hebrews 4:12).  God’s presence resides with us through his Spirit by which Christians speak through the word of God, the Bible, the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17).