Tuesday, August 10, 2004

I Am Stirred Up

I must confess that my trip to California this month really stirred things up in my spirit... or in my mind... I'm not completely sure which. While I was out there I received so much affirmation... many people encouraging us to come back out there. I had one solid offer and a couple of veiled offers to come pastor churches or plants. None of those situations particularly appeal to me but what did appeal to me was being back in the role of Pastor again. I have known that there would be other opportunities but I had not really given myself over to considering going back into fulltime ministry until the last couple of weeks. And now the thought consumes me.

God has allowed me to revisit almost every stage of my history in the ministry through the last month. I have had contact with adults whom I taught as children in Sunday School classes almost 20 years ago. I have spoken to a couple of people from a group I formed in college. I have revisited my first pastorate and have visited my last one. And God has used these people to affirm and confirm the calling he put on my life. I don't say this with an ounce of arrogance... in reality I say it with a great deal of fear and trembling... but God put me on this earth to pastor his people... to lead them... to protect them... to teach them... to prepare them for life and ministry. I crave that role again... not only as a subordinate but eventually as a Sr. Pastor again... setting the vision and goals.

In 1998 I went to Randy Knutson for a ministry assessment. This involved several personality profiles, life history analysis, gifts analysis... etc. I had already been in ministry for a number of years but I was at a crossroads... wondering if this was a calling or something I just fell into. It took hours to actually work through all of the paperwork and the forms... and I was pretty cynical by the time I got toward the end of my packet of tests.

One page in particular really annoyed me... it was a timeline that you were to draw of your life. I was to put the significant people and events on this line... particularly those whom had spiritual significance, ie. - the first minister I remember... when I got saved... mentors... prophetic words spoken over me... spiritual successes... and failures... I had already done pages of stuff and this little one page chart just seemed worthless. As I thought back and began to remember... and began to write... the Holy Spirit took over. I began to draw and weep. The Lord used that simple chart to remind me of all that he had done... all that he had prepared to bring me to this place... this point in time. By the time I had completed that chart I had been transformed. I had gone from "How could God possibly call me?" to "What a marvelous plan God has for my life! How brilliantly he has orchestrated each step."
(The entire exercise with Randy was wonderful and I recommend it)

I listened to a speaker on tape last night who read this passage from Jeremiah.
Jeremiah 1:4 - 10 (NLT) 4The LORD gave me a message. He said, 5"I knew you before I formed you in your mother's womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my spokesman to the world." 6"O Sovereign LORD," I said, "I can't speak for you! I'm too young!"7"Don't say that," the LORD replied, "for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. 8And don't be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and take care of you. I, the LORD, have spoken!"9Then the LORD touched my mouth and said, "See, I have put my words in your mouth! 10Today I appoint you to stand up against nations and kingdoms. You are to uproot some and tear them down, to destroy and overthrow them. You are to build others up and plant them."

I have known God had a purpose for my life long before I understood his calling. I believe that God has chosen me before my birth, that he has prepared me for over 40 years for "such a time as this". I have endured things that have shaken my faith. I have brought things upon myself that have tested his grace. But through it all God has never removed, or even allowed to fade for long, that fire in my gut. He has put his words in my mouth to uproot and tear down, to build up and plant...

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