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Posts Tagged ‘calling’

Discovering More Clarity with My Calling

In business, you set up and maintain a business identity.

It speaks to who you are and what you do. It becomes your brand. And it is how others come to know your business.

Ministry is similar, but there is a subtle difference between the two.

Firstly, the ministry calling is based on God giving you your marching orders. He usually pricks the heart of the believer for a cause or concern that invokes compassion or conviction, causing the believer to follow the leading of the Lord and His Spirit in that given direction.

Secondly, the ministry calling evolves over time. After one’s initial calling, God reveals more along the way. Greater clarity on the big picture is provided along the way during the journey.

My journey started around 2005 with an idea that would eventually take the form of Life Path Ministries & Services in 2008. It include Bible Stories & Beyond (Bible lessons and activities), All Men Edified Now (A.M.E.N.) (a monthly small group Bible study), and Operation Reach Out (evangelism and outreach). I added a weekly newsletter, self-published books of poetry and ministry guidance, and Bible study activities for A.M.E.N. over the course of several years.

I was content with what I was doing for God. I was confident that I was in the right place and on the right track.

Comfort Zones Cloud Clarity

Comfort zones can become dangerous places for anyone with a calling from God. That’s a particular place where business and ministry are truly similar. The amount of overlap is difficult to determine by degrees, but they at the least run parallel to one another once you get into the danger of comfort zones.

I knew what was doing in both ministry and business. I was struggling with completing my degree between Organizational Leadership at Chapman and Business Administration at Azusa Pacific. I knew how to do the work. I knew that the work was both important and critical. I even knew that the Lord had more in store for both myself and the ministry.

I was in a strange place. I was in an unknown zone. People applauded my work and what I was doing in the name of the Lord, but I felt an uneasy tension or frustration of the unknown lying ahead. I was engaged in what Keith Haney points out as motivating others like Jesus, but I had no name for it.

The evidence of the work was visible with tangible results, but I struggled with pinpointing what exactly it was that I was doing. Let me clarify that to say I struggled with what to call it. I was stumped with how to categorize it. I didn’t know what box to check when describing it.

Was it a ministry like Prison Fellowship, Salvation Army or YMCA? Was it a para-church ministry like Focus on the Family or 700 Club? What was this thing that I was doing?

I could not articulate it with clarity or with confidence if asked.

It took me over 12 years to realize . . .

I am in the inspiration business.

I am a preacher, rooted in a steep biblical basis of study and interpretation. I am a teacher and facilitator, focused on making tangible life connections for those with whom I study and lead. I am an evangelist, fired up with a passion for both those who the Lord calls “the least of these” and “sheep without a shepherd” similar to other street ministry efforts across the country.

I am in the inspiration business.

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I Found the Answer

I was weak and weary, I had gone astray, … I found the answer, I learned to pray

I can relate.

I was weak.

I was weary.

I had gone astray.

I was not in the place or position for God to bless me.

I used to say: “Something’s got to change.” That was not the answer.

I needed to change.

The Body: Being Light in Darkness

Changing My Attitude

Lord, I thank you for changing my attitude about my calling, my ministry and my responsibility.  Continue to feed my spirit and cause me to become more and more open and obedient to You.

Changing My Approach

The Lord had to deal with me on an entirely different level.  He had to help me see how I was waiting when I need to be working.  He had to help me to see that I was forcing it, on the verge of faking, and not facing it. (The “it” was my ministry.)

Changing My Answer

I thank God for giving me the answer along with confirmation from all over the map.  My answer led to my acceptance, and then my actions.

During November, Life Path Ministries & Services will push and promote Giving Thanks by Giving Back: A Week of Works.  This will serve as a launch of our Holiday Outreach Service Team (H.O.S.T.) and the Saved2Serve Volunteer Network, both of which have been on the back burner for a few years now.  Stay tuned for more to come regarding this venture.

After all, I found the answer.

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“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”  – Mark 1:15 (NIV)

Doing as He Says

Repentance and belief are what lead to salvation.  The first calling for us as believers is to salvation.  We are called to believe the Good News (the gospel).  Upon our internal belief in it, then we confess our belief in Jesus as Savior before men.  This our public profession of Him as our personal Savior.

This is our first calling as Christian.  It is what makes us Christians.  We accept Christ as Savior and enter an entirely different realm of existence, for His Spirit indwells within us upon belief.  That is the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Many of us may differ upon the numerous other things that transpire upon belief.  Some things are more inherent to our denominational traditions and beliefs rather than biblical facts. However, as believers, we all have a common faith with Christ as the head authority over us all.

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Then He said to him, “A certain man gave a great supper and invited many,  and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’  But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’  And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’  Still another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ – Luke 14:16-20

The parable reveals how believers can make excuses about what they are not willing to do despite what the Lord is inviting them to participate in with Him.  You see, His “great feast” is by invitation only but of “those who were invited” they all made excuses.

The church resembles the world when we consider the work od the church.  We have more people sitting than serving.  He have more people taking in the Word than those taking action with the Word.  In fact, we don’t accept the world’s 80/20 principle.  In the church, we have adjusted the odds to 90/10, accepting it more as fact rather than a challenge for us to overcome with prayer, fasting, teaching, training, and mentoring.

Jesus spoke of the cost of becoming His disciple throughout this very chapter of Luke (vv. 10-11, 13, 26-27, 33).  He reminds us that our main aim in this life is to live a life of sacrifice for His sake.  We sacrifice by taking a servant’s position, seeking to satisfy others more than ourselves.  As His disciples (followers), we are to serve those who cannot pay us back just as we are debtors to the One who paid a price that we cannot pay back (Luke 14:14).  By doing so, we support others and serve the Lord by reflecting His example and meeting His expectation of us.

Since we have been called by Christ, let us not turn back or create excuses.  For every reason why we won’t or don’t do more, He hung, suffered, bled, endured and died to give us all the reason that we need not to quit or walk away from His calling on our lives.

Don’t dwell in a place of complacency or mediocrity.   Get back on track with the Lord.  Give Him all of you, all that you have to give Him since nothing was held back when He save you and I.

We have been called by the Master.  We have been called and we cannot turn back, not now and not ever.

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All hard work brings a profit,
but mere talk leads only to poverty.

-Proverbs 14:23 (NIV)

You have been pouring your heart into this latest venture.  You can see the vision that you have for the future as clear as day.  It is in view.  Yet, as you continue to toil away by the sweat of your brow, you start to stress.  You feel yourself losing your nerve.  You begine to agonize over the potential pitfalls and staggering stumbling blocks that could emerge as you chase your dream.

That’s common.  You are just like many other entrepreneurs who fail to walk down beaten path.  Yes, it is common, but it far from healthy.

The Bible says that all hard work leads to a profit.  According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), that’s not necessarily so.  The births and deaths of business are measured in what is called “business churn.” Business churn amounts to combination of business births and deaths during a specified period, whether a quarter or a year, providing an indicator for the overall scope of business.  During this first quarter of 2012, things appear to be churning upward.  However, that means some businesses did still die during this period.  They closed shop and called it quits, never to arise from the ashes of defeat again (at least not under that company name).

So, what does that mean for Christians in business or seeking to jump into business?

It means that there is a slight and gradual recovery from the recession.  It means that the landscape is still full of uncertainty.  It means that, as Christians, we still have to have faith, even to go into business in this day and age.

Keep your faith.  Maintain your focus on what you can do.  Keep costs and expenditures, especially debt, low.  Seek to grow your business step by step, taking it slow if you have to in order to keep things balanced.  Stay close to the Lord throughout the venture.  Don’t wait until you have a pending bankruptcy to call on the Lord.  Start praying as you start planning.

After all, the profit that the Bible speaks of may not be limited to monetary riches and social prestige.  The type  of profit  spoken of by the Bible extends far beyond money.  You can be a success at making a difference in the community and in the lives of the people who benefit from your business, customers, employees, suppliers, partners and more.

Success is just within your grasp.  Go on and keep going for it.

Strive for Success with Life Path Consulting. . .

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Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.- Psalm 115;3 (NIV)

The LORD does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths.
– Psalm 135:6 (NIV)

God can do whatever He wants to do.  In theological terms, it is called His sovereignty.  In other words, He is God and answers to no one except Himself.  He is God alone, answering to no one.

Since God is sovereign, we can be assured that God can also use whomever He decides to use.  He used a stuttering murderer to deliver His people out of Egypt.  He used a young man to serve as His prophet to His people.  He used a shepherd boy to demonstrate how to be a man after God’s own heart.  He used a poor young woman to bring the manifestation of the Messiah into the world.  He used a religious zealot to spread the gospel to Gentiles throughout the world.

He uses whomever He chooses to use.  He can use you, too.  Don’t overlook what God can do and how He can do it to bring Himself glory.

Look at this story below to just how God can use anyone or anything.

21Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey and went with the princes of Moab. 22But God was very angry when he went, and the angel of the Lord stood in the road to oppose him. Balaam was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him. 23When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand, she turned off the road into a field. Balaam beat her to get her back on the road.

24Then the angel of the Lord stood in a narrow path between two vineyards, with walls on both sides. 25When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, she pressed close to the wall, crushing Balaam’s foot against it. So he beat her again.

26Then the angel of the Lord moved on ahead and stood in a narrow place where there was no room to turn, either to the right or to the left. 27When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, she lay down under Balaam, and he was angry and beat her with his staff. 28Then the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?”

29Balaam answered the donkey, “You have made a fool of me! If I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now.”

30The donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?”

“No,” he said.

31Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell facedown.

32The angel of the Lord asked him, “Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me.c 33The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If she had not turned away, I would certainly have killed you by now, but I would have spared her.”

34Balaam said to the angel of the Lord, “I have sinned. I did not realize you were standing in the road to oppose me. Now if you are displeased, I will go back.”

35The angel of the Lord said to Balaam, “Go with the men, but speak only what I tell you.” So Balaam went with the princes of Balak.

– Numbers 22:21-35 (NIV)

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“A problem is a chance for you to do your best.” –Duke Ellington

God expects us to do our best.  He desires it of us.  Essentially, we are to do our best to give Him glory.

Have you done your best with what you have been given by God?

  • Marriage?
  • Children?
  • Job?
  • Spiritual gifts?

The list could go on.  We have to answer whether we have truly handled what God has given us to the best of our ability.  We have to do our best and give Him the glory in doing so.  He has entrusted us.  That’s about stewardship.

Do your best and give God the glory.  He did so in saving us.  He did not hold back.  He did not spare anything.  He offered His best, a lamb without spot or blemish.  We should do the same.

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? – Romans 8:31-32 (NIV)

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“More people are coming to Christ now than at any other time in history.” – Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Church

The church has a real responsibility.  It is revealed in the Word of God.  It is real work.  It amounts to the work of people.  People make up the church.  Therefore, the work of the church has plenty to do with the people who come into the church and are touched by the church.

The church has a responsibility to the Lord for how it handles people.  Its ultimate responsibility is to answer to the Lord and His commands of them.  It represents the Lord on this earth.  Its works shed light into the darkness of this world and offers mankind a reason to glorify God the Father in heaven.

The church is called to reach people.  We reach people with people and through people.  We do the work that touches people and impact lives on this side of heaven.

The church is called to receive people.  The Lord adds to the church.  That part is on Him, but we have a responsibility, too.  We are to serve as wise stewards over what He provides for us.  We need to handle what (and who) God gives to us in a manner that blesses God.

“Jesus commanded us to make disciples.” – Ted Haggard

“People need to feel needed.” – Myron Rush

“God has ordained the church as a place of truth.” – Bob Russell

“Ministry is a marathon.” – Rick Warren

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“We have to take initiative where we are, not where we have not yet been.” – Oswald Chambers

Imagine helping everyone else except for those whom you love.  You offer strangers and others more than your own children and loved ones, even your closest friends.  That would sound sort of strange, right? That would make you seem like some sort of hypocrite.

You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me. – Matthew 26:11 (NLT)

We need to stop overlooking the needs that go unaddressed right around us daily instead of seeking to go off to some distant land and do the same good that we never ever attempted at home.  We should go abroad and carry the Good News of Jesus Christ.  That is certainly the truth.  However, we do not need to leave needs unmet right at our own doorstep.

What was it that James said about true religion?

Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. – James 1:27 (KJV)

We need to start right where we are.  We need to start doing good works right where we live every single day.  We need to do our part to keep things in order right where we live.  Our works should start with what we have done on our home turf.  Then, as we build up those around us by equipping and empowering them, we can branch out from there.

On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.” – Acts 1:4 (NIV)

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. – Acts 1:8 (NIV)

Until the Lord directs you, don’t leave where you are today.  Get busy doing His work with His Word right there.  Stay on task.  Once He has developed you, He will direct you.  When He has readied you for branching out, He will tap you for further service.  He wants you working on His good works in His name.  Your best bet is to start where He has planted you.  He has put you here for a reason.

You may not be able to go to the ends of the world and do every good work, but you have somewhere to start.  You something to offer.  You can get started right here.  You can grow as you do good.  Let doing good works do you some good, too.  Let it be right where you are today.

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Keep it Real (Urban Dictionary)

Definition: to not inhibit yourself or pretend to be something you are not. (One of many definitions on this page)

Jesus must have been a realist. 

How else do you explain His words and ways?  He used parables to bring the point home.  He compared and contrasted what people have heard or what is written to how it really should be with God’s people.  He kept it real for real.

Jesus didn’t sugar coat or water down His message.  He had to be a realist.  Even while on trial after being arrested, he let Pilate know that no earthly authority compelled Him to do anything that was not in His Father’s will.  Obviously, Brother Pilate was not informed of how Jesus blew the detachment of soldiers away by simply saying: “I am he.”  Jesus demonstrated His power with that I am

He was real.

Can we be a little more like Jesus? Seriously.  If we are truly going to be followers of Christ, let’s start by following in His footsteps.  Let’s do like He did and do as He would do.  We have too many euphemisms and schisms to be like Jesus.  We need to drop some of that stuff that hinders us from going beyond our limited scope.  We need to get real with ourselves and stop faking and fronting.  That keeps us from masking our pain, guilt and uneasiness beneath our Sunday’s best and all of that.

We don’t have to fake it.  We don’t have to front.  We can simply look at the Lord’s example and do our best to keep things as real as can be.  From there, the world we see that we are not super sanctified or ultra holy.  They’ll see us for what we are.  They’ll see us as people who catch hell just like the rest of the world, but they’ll see that we are simply keeping it real and keeping the faith.

That’s real talk.

FYI: Here’s the link to that Keep It real t-shirt, too!

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