Tag Archives: Christian Ministry

What Is Christian Ministry? (Part Two)

Jesus and People 

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

John 10:11

Jesus liked people. Therefore, those who minister in Jesus’ name will like people, too. Seminaries cannot teach you about people: only experience can provide insights into people’s peculiarities, choices, attitudes, and issues. On one hand, people will serve, encourage, and love others with an energy and life that is both surprising and delightful. On the other hand, people can act with the most devious and self-serving of intentions. Their behavior defies all the rules of gracious and loving behavior. These same people who are simultaneously bewildering and benevolent attend our churches and work in various parachurch ministries.

Pastoral wisdom recognizes that Christian people are imperfect and that these people are the people that God uses to advance his kingdom. Pastoral care points people to Jesus, reminding them of his precious promises, and encouraging them to trust the Christ who died and rose again on their behalf.

Pastoral counsel uses Scripture to display God’s great grace and remind his people that Christ is available in power to live his life in and through them (1 John 4:9). Pastoral comfort makes available the sacramental grace (i.e., Eucharist, baptism, confession, etc.) of our Lord to the bewildered and hurting.

Christian ministry is about people, if you do not like people, you will not like Christian ministry. The same manner in which Jesus ministered in the Gospels is the same manner in which he will minister through us. Therefore as difficult as people can be, Jesus will want us to reach out to all.

The same principle holds good if we consider that other very common name for our office-minister, or servant. We are not made ministers in order that the rest of the Church may be excused from serving; we are made ministers in order to help the whole Church to be a serving Church and to lead it in this service. Just so, we are made priests in order that the whole Church may be trained to be a truly priestly body, fulfilling in its whole life the great High Priesthood of Jesus.

If we are called priests, it is not in order to keep the priestly function in our hands and exclude the rest from it; we are called priests in order that the whole body may be holy priesthood, and that every member in it may be trained and equipped and encouraged in every way to play his part in the priestly ministry of Jesus for the whole of mankind. If we are priests, we are such as priests of the priestly people, for the sake of the priesthood of the whole body.

Lesslie Newbigin, The Good Shepherd (Oxford: Mowbray, 1977), 43.

What Is Christian Ministry? (Part One)

 

Ministry is a Relationship with a Person

As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

2 Tim. 4:5

True Christian ministry is the overflow of the Life of God in us. Ministry is not a position, but a relationship with a person, Jesus Christ. We spend time with Christ, Christ reveals himself afresh to us. The overflow of that experience is life, that life encourages and blesses others.

Ministry is communicating “life information” to others: why he loves, what God does, when he speaks, where he works, and how he transforms. Ministry is sharing with others how God has been faithful in our lives and how God will be faithful in theirs. Ministry is encouraging others to trust Christ’s work on the Cross, the Father’s faithful provision, and the Holy Spirit’s consistent guidance.

The message I would bear is Jesus Christ and him crucified and from the consideration of the great things he has done, to recommend and enforce Gospel holiness and Gospel love, and to take as little notice of our fierce contests, controversies and divisions as possible. My desire is to lift up the banner of the Lord, and to draw the sword of the Spirit not against names, parties and opinions, but against the world, the flesh and the devil; and to invite poor perishing sinners not to espouse a system of my own or any man’s, but to fly to the Lord Jesus, the sure and only city of refuge and the ready, compassionate and all sufficient Saviour of those that trust in him.

John Newton, Letter to Harry Crooke of Hunslett, Leeds, cited in Marylynn Rouse, “An Important Turn to My Future Life,” The John Newton Project Prayer Letter (October/November 2008), 1.

“Does God Have All of Me?”

Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.

Psalm 86:11 NIV

One of my favorite authors and teachers is the late Alan Redpath, his sermons and books stir me to the core of my spiritual life. Today, I listened to his message, “God Seeks a Man of Prayer,” I was deeply affected by Redpath’s passion for Christ and his passionate heart-cry for prayer. His message was one of the most anointed sermons I have ever heard.

In that sermon, Redpath, former pastor of Moody Memorial Church, relates a story concerning leaving a church meeting with Stephen Olford. As they walked out the door, a Bible student asks Olford, “What is the secret to Christian leadership?” Olford responds, “Bent knees, wet eyes, and a broken heart.” Redpath elaborated by admonishing those in Christian ministry not to rely on a theological degree for ministry success, but be dependent on God’s grace and Spirit that “God clothes you with himself.” Redpath quoted Isa. 59:16 and Ezek. 22:30 as examples of Christians not seeking God, but God seeking us. Redpath relates that God is looking for a man (or woman) who is determined enough, bold enough, and small enough to pray and intercede for our nation on God’s behalf. With this kind of bold intercession, we not only grab ahold of God, but God lays claim to every aspect of our hearts.

Alan Redpath had two daughters who loved to swarm him when he came home at night. As he came in the door one evening, his little girls ran to meet him. One grabbed his leg and hugged him with all her might. He snatched the other daughter up in his arms. The one squeezing his leg said, “Now, I’ve got all of Daddy.” The daughter in his arms replied, “Yes, but Daddy has got all of me!” Perhaps the question we need to continually ask is, “Does God have all of me?”

Daily Christian Quote/Alan Redpath

Have You Listened Lately?

A Listening Ministry

But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer.

Psalm 66:19 NLT

Ministry does not start with talking, it starts with listening. Paying attention to a friend’s needs, cares, longings, and desires is the utmost sign of respect and concern. Christ’s love is extended when we stop, hold our tongue, and listen to others’ problems. As we listen, we pray for the Holy Spirit to minister to their pain asking Christ to heal their hurt.

The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists in listening to them. Just as love to God begins with listening to His Word, so the beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them. It is God’s love for us that He not only gives us His Word but also lends His ear. So it is His work that we do for our brother when we learn to listen to him. Christians, especially ministers, so often think they must always contribute when they are in the company of others, that this is the one service they have to render. They forget that listening can be a greater service than speaking.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together.

HT: reformation21

“Handle Them With Hands”

Ministry That Is Full of the Spirit

And so, brothers, select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom.

Acts 6:3 NLT

When I entered the ministry some thirty years ago (it seems like yesterday), the emphasis was on the Holy Spirit’s power. Christian leaders taught that Christian ministry should not be pursued without the Spirit’s blessing. Our ministry could not be successful without the Spirit’s enabling. Our ministry would not have a lasting impact without the anointing of the Spirit. Our ministry could not change hearts without the transforming work of the Spirit. All these statements were true and are still true.

While these “spiritual” concerns were real and should be heeded by any gospel minister: we should not neglect diligent study of the Word, faithful theological reflection, and research into the latest insights in pastoral care and counseling. Emphasis on the Spirit’s anointing should not displace diligent and faithful study. “Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15 NLT).

It’s not an either-or, God blesses the minister with a yielded heart and a faithful mind. We worship and serve the Lord in “Spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). We are called to love the Lord with ALL our heart, soul, mind, and strength.

However for today’s new minister, the pendulum has swung the other direction. For the training of new pastors, the academic is over emphasized to the neglect of spiritual maturity. The obtaining of advance degrees more prized than a ministry candidate’s prayer life. The size of the congregation more valued than than the depth of the minister’s walk with the Lord.

We need both: faithful men and women who will walk with God while consistently acting on the means of grace: study of the Word of God, earnest prayer, receiving the sacraments, and fellowshipping with other believers.

This practice he [i.e., David Brainerd] earnestly recommended on his death-bed, from his own experience of its great benefits, to some candidates for the ministry that stood by his bedside. He often speaking of the great need of ministers have much of the Spirit of Christ in their work, and how little good they are like to do without it; and how, ‘when ministers were under the special influences of the Spirit of God, it assisted them to come at consciences of men, and (as he expressed it) as it were to handle them with hands: whereas, without the Spirit of God, said he, whatever reason and oratory we make use of, we do but make use of stumps, instead of hands.’

Jonathan Edwards quoted by D. M. Lloyd-Jones, “Jonathan Edwards and the Crucial Importance of Revival,” in The Puritans: Their Origins and Successors (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1987), 370.

Spiritual Manipulation

nicodemus1

Only God Opens Hearts

About the intimate workings of the Holy Spirit in the human heart there is a highly personal relationship in which no third person can share. The sacred work of redemption was wrought in darkness. No strange eye could see what was taking place when the sins of the world entered the holy soul of Christ that He might die under their weight and thus make his life a guilt offering (Isaiah 53:10; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Matthew 27:46).

That there is a deep mystery about the new birth is plainly stated by our Lord.

“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked. “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, and do you not understand these things? I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?” (John 3:8-12).

It is bordering on the irreverent to suggest that this sovereign work of the Spirit can be induced at the will of a personal worker by means of a textual recipe. The moment this is attempted, the Spirit withholds His illumination and leaves the worker and the seeker to their own designs. And the tragic consequences are all about us.

All any Christian worker can do is to point the inquirer to the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). That was all John the Baptist did. He did not attempt to create faith in any of his hearers. The Spirit alone can open the heart, as John well knew. It is our task to arrest the sinner’s attention, give him the message of the cross, urge him to receive it and meet its conditions. After that the seeker is on his own. The individual is out of the hands of the instructors and helpers and in the hands of the God with whom he has to do.

A. W. Tozer, The Size of the Soul (Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, 1992), 152.

Supernatural Ministry: A Sermon on Psalm 23

On Saturday, October 18th, 2008, St. Michael’s Seminary, Central Gulf States held it’s first session for the course, Christian Preaching. As a teaching method, I preached a “model” sermon to illustrate principles taught in Bryan Chapell’s book, Christ-Centered Preaching. My sermon addresses a need in every believer’s life: how can I have a ministry that affects lives and changes hearts?

Supernatural Ministry:

Life-Transforming Ministry to a World Scarred and Marred by Sin:

An Exposition of Psalm 23

Canon Glenn E. Davis

Proposition: What is supernatural ministry? What constitutes a vibrant personal ministry? Specifically, how can I have an effective ministry that changes lives and gives hope to the hurting?

Fallen Condition Focus: We all struggle in ministry: What do we say? How do we say it? Can we say anything that would change a life? Yes, we can meet Christ and through us, He can change lives.

Illustration: Johannes Tauler was broken by God of his arrogance and pride; as a result, become a vessel for God’s use: a life poured out without reserve to God.

‘Master Tauler,’ he [i.e., Nicholas of Basle] said, ‘you must die!’ ‘Die,’ said the popular Strasburg preacher, ‘what do you mean?’ The next day Nicholas came again and said: ‘John Tauler, you must die to live.’ ‘What do you mean?’ said Tauler. ‘Get alone with God,’ said Nicholas, ‘leave your crowded church, your admiring congregation, your hold on this city. Go aside to your cell, be alone and you will see what I mean.’ His plain speaking at first offended Tauler, and his resentment only proved how accurate was the diagnosis at which Nicholas has arrived. Tauler was a long time coming to the end of himself.

Johannes Tauler cited in J. Gregory Mantle, Beyond Humiliation: The Way of the Cross (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany Publishers, 1975), 143.

Definition: Brokenness is a heart yielded to God; ready and willing to obey the Holy Spirit whenever and wherever He directs. Brokenness is a work of grace achieved by the Cross and established by the Holy Spirit. “By nature we are so strong, so able to think and plan and do, and God must bring us to the place of weakness, the place where we cannot think or plan or do apart from him.” (2 Cor. 5:14-15).

Watchman Nee, Changed Into His Likeness (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1987), 128.

Definition: Consecration is the abandonment of my life without reserve to the loving purposes of God. A conviction held deep within my being that my life is God’s. I do not reserve from Christ’s Lordship any rights, gifts, possessions, relationships, or privileges. “The whole man must make the decision before the heart can know any real satisfaction. God wants us all, and He will not rest till He gets us all. No part of the man will do” (Phil. 3:7-9).

A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God (Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, 1984), 107.

Testimony: In my own life, the Holy Spirit brought me to a place of utter and complete surrender. After years of being in trapped in dread of people and events, the Lord brought me to the end of myself. The Lord spoke, “Do you love me more than your fears” and that night I came to Christ. I knew that I could not go on being in bondage to fear.  He gave me grace to overcome my fears and live for him. At that moment, I surrendered and met Christ as my Shepherd-the warrior king of my heart.

When the Holy Spirit brings us to that place of utter surrender, then and only then, are we able to understand the truth of supernatural ministry found in Psalm 23.

Read the entire sermon here: supernatural-ministry-sermon .