Deo Volente, New Features Coming Soon

Dear friends,

God willing, you will be seeing video blog entries beginning later this month. I have been blessed with an opportunity to get some new {to me} technology that gives me the ability to begin vlogging. Yes, I know. People have been doing that for years, so this isn’t innovative by any stretch of the imagination.

Nevertheless, I am pretty excited about the possibilities, and feel more energized and eager about this than I expected. It has come about primarily through my home church, First Evangelical Free Church. The dear brothers and sisters there are so encouraging to me, both as friends on a personal level and corporately as a body of believers who consistently affirm my ministry among them as a lay-minister, teacher, theologian, and sometime elder in their service.

So I am pretty stoked about the ministry opportunities, and pray that, Deo Volente (God willing), I will be faithful in proclaiming the glory and grace of our Triune God.

Soli Deo Gloria

Jesus’ Inefficient Ministry

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, nicknamed ‘sons of thunder’ by Jesus himself, were models of the inefficiency of Jesus’ ministry.  Christ called them into his inner circle to witness many of his miracles in person, miracles that the other disciples did not get to see. He brought them along with Peter to the mount of transfiguration, where they were given a foretaste, an appetizer of heaven displayed in Jesus’ glory revealed. He brought them into the inner room to witness him raising a little girl from the dead. These are a couple of amazing examples where Jesus involved them in his ministry of sovereign miracles.

 

Yet, when we turn to James specifically, what role does Jimmy Thunder play in the early church?  He is the first martyr drawn home from the twelve, dying by the sword early in the book of Acts.  He didn’t write of his intimate experiences with Jesus. He didn’t leave a written account of the refulgent glory of Jesus on the mount, or of Jesus’ precious tenderness as he raised the little girl with a gentle call and a helping hand.  No, instead of Jesus selecting the ones he knew would bear the most fruit, write accounts of their treasured Lord, and testify before the watching world, he devoted time to a man who would only live for a few weeks past the cross. 

 

What of us? Do we seek to make ‘strategic decisions’ on who we will disciple, aiming for optimized time invested  and potential impact from that individual over the long-haul? Jesus had a wonderfully inefficient ministry with James, son of Zebedee, martyr  of the church.
 

Continue In Your Work…

Continue in thy work. Thou who art a minister, it is a work for thy lifetime; and not to be taken up and laid down again, according as it may best suit a man’s carnal inclinations, and outward conveniences. The apostles that laboured with their hands, have, by that example, set the conscience of a minister at liberty, to provide for the necessities of this life by other employments, when he cannot live of the gospel; yet certainly no man that is called of God to this work, can with a safe conscience abandon it wholly. Paul, for example rather, than necessity, both preached, and wrought in a handy-craft. As preaching doth not make working unlawful, so neither should any other business of a minister make preaching cease.

–Robert Traill, taken from his Works, Vol I, p.236

Paul in Philippi – part 1

We are in Acts 16. Paul is on his second missionary journey. He left Antioch with Silas, drew young Timothy into the journey at Lystra, and is joined by Luke in Troas. The call to Philippi is supernatural. Paul has a vision of a man from Macedonia asking him to come over and help. He answers the call and the band of evangelists heads to Philippi.

What does Paul find when he gets there? He starts by looking for a synagogue but finds none. This leads them to look for a place of prayer by the river, hoping to find a group to preach the gospel of Christ to. They succeed in finding a group of women by the riverside, including Lydia, who will become the first convert to Christ in the establishment of the church in Europe.

Paul and his companions stay in Philippi for several days, continuing to visit the little group at the riverside, teaching them the way of salvation. Conflict arises. A slave girl possessed by a spirit of divination starts raising a ruckus, focusing unwanted attention on the evangelists as they seek to establish a church in Philippi. She continues this harassment for many days. Finally, Paul has had enough. He turns and casts the spirit out of the slave girl in the name of Christ.

The slave girl’s owners immediately realize their prophet of profit is fallen silent and they know who has staunched the flow of money. They drag Paul and Silas before the judges, hurling false accusations and stirring the crowd to join in the attack. They are stripped of their robes, repeatedly beaten with rods, and thrown into prison. Having received a command to guard them securely, the jailer takes extra precautions with these so-called rabble rousers, placing them in the inner prison and fastening their feet in stocks.

This is an opportunity. An opportunity to:


1) Question God’s call to Philippi?

2) Doubt God’s love or even existence in the
face of these current troubles?

3) Consider themselves failures in ministry?

4) Pray and sing hymns to God in full view of
the other prisoners?


Before you answer, place this in the context of current evangelical thought concerning successful Christian ministry. And no, I’m not thinking of Joel Osteen. Put it in the context of your local church and how the evangelists’ mission would be judged, or how you personally might respond if you were in Paul’s shoes, er… sandals.

The meta is open. Fire away.