Are You Available?

Have you ever had someone walk into your life—even if it was just for a moment—and say something you needed to hear? You might not have liked what they had to say, but it was definitely something you needed to hear. 

My hunch is that those timely messengers were not necessarily “experts” in the area in which they talked to you. They may have been a doctor talking about a medical need, or it may have been a friend talking about some health issues. Most of the time our valuable messengers are just everyday people. 

God loves using “everyday people”! 

  • You don’t have to be a trained pastor to minister to people. 
  • You don’t have to be a trained theologian to tell people what you believe about God.
  • You don’t have to be a trained counselor to encourage someone.

You just have to be who God created you to be. And you have to be available. Like Amos. 

Amos was simply taking care of his farm and his herds when God called him to deliver a timely message to His people.

Amos introduces himself as just one of the shepherds of Tekoa (1:1) and tells another priest that he was simply minding his own business when God said, “Go, prophesy to My people” (7:10-15). 

Amos’ name means burden-bearer—he had a burden for his kinsmen. He saw their sin and knew what defiance of God would mean for them. This burden made him available to hear God’s voice say, “Go.” 

“But I’m not a trained prophet,” Amos could have said. “You are telling me to ‘prophesy’ but all I really know is farming and shepherding.” 

God said, “Say what you know.” 

What did Amos know?

  1. Amos knew God’s voice—In this short book, 43 times(!) Amos uses phrases like says the Lord, declares the Lord, or hear the word of the Lord. 
  2. Amos knew his business—This book is filled with language about sheep and shepherds, farmers and farm equipment, gardens and vineyards. 
  3. Amos knew God had told him “Go and speak” so Amos had boldness. 

You can put your name in all three of those places that say Amos. You can know God’s voice through the Bible, you know your “business” (whether it’s parenting, or coaching, or your own profession), and you can hear God saying, “Go, tell people about Me.” 

God wants to use you for His glory. He just needs your availability. Will you be open to being that person? 

Join me next week as we continue to learn the major lessons from that the minor prophets teach us. 

8 Ways Pastors Can Minister Like The Apostle Paul

PreachingThe Apostle Paul reminded the Thessalonians of how he ministered among them (“You know…” [1 Thessalonians 2:1]). This gives all of us pastors now an example of how to minister.

(1) “With the help of God we dared to tell you His gospel” (v. 2). I cannot minister out of my own strength; everything must flow from God’s strength.

(2) The message “does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you” (v. 3). I must constantly allow the Holy Spirit to check my motives and check my theology.

(3) “We speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel”( v. 4a). I am merely a vessel that God chooses to use to share His gospel. This must keep me humble.

(4) “We are not trying to please men but God, Who tests our hearts” (v. 4b). I minister only for God’s approval, only for the applause of Nail-Scarred hands. “We were not looking for praise from men” (v. 6).

(5) “We were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children … We dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God” (vv. 7, 11, 12).

(6) “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well” (v. 8). Paul didn’t just show up to preach, but he was in day-to-day interaction with the saints.

(7) “We worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you” (v. 9). My salary should not be too much of a burden for my congregation.

(8) “Holy, righteous and blameless we were among you” (v. 10). My life of integrity adds weight to the message that I preach (v. 5).

May all of us who are pastors live and minister like this!

11 Quotes From “The Duty Of Pastors”

The Duty Of PastorsJohn Owen has some fascinating insights on pastors and ministers (hint: they’re not the same thing) in his book The Duty Of Pastors. Here are some of the quotes I liked from this book. Remember this book was written in the 17th-century, so don’t let the Old English keep you from discovering the rich truths in these passages.

“Why should any speak where the Holy Ghost is silent? … Where things are obscured, it is a safer way to prove the practice of men by God’s precept, charitably supposing them to have been obedient, than to wrest the divine rule to their observation, knowing how prone men are to deify themselves by mixing their inventions with the worship of God.”

“The lights which God maketh are sufficient to rule the seasons for which they are ordained. As, in creating of the world, God ‘made two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night;’ so, in the erection of the new world of His church, He set up two great lights, the lesser light of the Old Testament to guide the night, the dark space of time under the law, and the greater light of the New Testament to rule the glorious day of the gospel. And these two lights do sufficiently enlighten every man that cometh into this new world. There is no need of the false fire of tradition where God sets up such glorious lights.”

“All faithful ministers of the gospel, inasmuch as they are ingrafted into Christ and are true believers, may, as all other true Christians, be called priests; but this inasmuch as they are members of Christ, not ministers of the gospel. It respecteth their persons, not their function, or not them as such.”

“Thus, this metaphorical appellation of priests is, in the first place an intimation of that transcendent privilege of grace and favour which Jesus Christ hath purchased for everyone that is sanctified with the blood of the covenant.”

“Not to lose myself and reader in this digression, the sum is, the unspeakable blessings which the priesthood of Christ hath obtained for us are a strong obligation for the duty of praise and thanksgiving; of which that in some measure we may discharge ourselves, He hath furnished us with sacrifices of that kind to be offered unto God.” 

“That the name of priests is nowhere in the Scripture attributed peculiarly and distinctively to the ministers of the gospel as such. … And yet, when Christ ascended on high, He gave some to be prophets, for the edification of His body, Eph. iv. 11; none, as we find, to be priests. Priests, then (like prelates), are a sort of church-officers whom Christ never appointed.”

“Never fear the equity of what God sets thee upon. No excuses of disability or any other impediment ought to take place; the Lord can and will supply all such defects.”

“God never sendeth any but whom He doth so extraordinarily and immediately call and ordain for that purpose; and that this may be manifested unto others, He always accompanieth them with His own almighty power, in the working of such miracles as may make them be believed, for the very works’ sake which God by them doth effect.”

“We do not read of any such miracles wrought by the prophet Amos, and yet he stands upon his extraordinary immediate vocation, ‘I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son, but the Lord took me,’ etc. It sufficeth, then, that they be furnished with a supernatural power, either in, 1. Discerning; 2. Speaking; or 3. Working. … The sum is, that seeing such men pretend that their revelations and miracles are from heaven, let us search whether the doctrine they seek to confirm by them be from heaven or no.”

“There is a general obligation on all Christians to promote the conversion and instruction of sinners, and men erring from the right way.”

“For a public, formal, ministerial teaching, two things are required in the teacher: first, Gifts from God; secondly, Authority from the church (I speak now of ordinary cases). He that wants either is no true pastor.”

Be sure to check out my review of The Duty Of Pastors by clicking here.

The Duty Of Pastors (book review)

The Duty Of PastorsJohn Owen is one of the influential and powerful voices of the Puritans from the mid-17th century. One of the things that makes him influential is the source of his wisdom: Everything he writes is thoroughly grounded in Scripture. This is especially true for his book The Duty Of Pastors.

Originally this book was entitled The Duty Of Pastors and People Distinguished. As you might be able to tell from this original title, Owen lays out from Scripture the roles of ministers and pastors. These two titles and roles are distinct, although many people want to lump them together. Owen points out that any one who is a Christian can minister to people (and thus be called a “minister”), but there are special God-appointed roles for those called “pastors.”

Owen writes, “The first and principal duty of a pastor is to feed the flock by diligent preaching of the Word.” Indeed, this is one of the main thing which distinguishes pastors from ministers.

Owen also takes to task those in religious circles who would put artificial (in other words, things not commanded in Scripture) barriers for people to answer God’s call to the pastorate.

This is not a very long book, but given that fact that it is older, it is a bit of a challenging read. But for anyone who is interested in the roles of pastors and ministers, or for anyone who wants to know how to support their pastors, The Duty Of Pastors is well worth your time and effort.

10 Quotes For Pastors From “Living A Prayerful Life”

Living A Prayerful LifeAs I mentioned in my book review of Andrew Murray’s A Prayerful Life, this book was written as a response to pastors who were concerned about the lack of effectiveness in their ministry. Pastor Murray called out the sin of prayerlessness as the main factor in their struggles. Here are some quotes from this book specifically to pastors.

“The enemy uses all his power to lead the Christian—and above all, the minister—to neglect prayer. satan knows that however admirable the sermon may be, however attractive the service, however faithful the pastoral visitation, none of these things can damage him or his kingdom if prayer is neglected.”

“The pastor’s highest calling is not preaching, or speaking, or church visitation, but it is to cultivate the life of God in himself daily, and to be a witness of what the Lord teaches him and accomplishes in him.”

“Here on earth I may expend my time in exchange for money or learning. The minister exchanges his time for divine power and the spiritual blessings to be obtained from heaven. That, and nothing else, makes him a man of God and ensures that his preaching will be in the demonstration of the Spirit and power.”

“Many pray for the Spirit that they may make use of Him and His power for their work. This is an entirely wrong concept. It is He Who must use you. Your relationship toward Him must be one of deep dependence and utter submission. The Spirit must have you completely and always and in all things under His power.”

“When the Lord promised the apostles that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them, and commanded them to wait for Him, it was as though He said: ‘Do not dare to preach without this power. It is the indispensable preparation for your work. Everything depends on it.’”

“Little time in the Word together with little prayer is death to the spiritual life. Much of the Word but little prayer yields a less than healthy spiritual life. Time spent in prayer with little time in the Word yields life, but without steadfastness. A full measure of the Word and much prayer each day produces a healthy and powerful life.”

“The preacher must come to see that his preaching is comparatively powerless to bring new life until he begins to take time for prayer.”

“All you who long for blessing in your ministry, He calls you to abide in Him. Let it be the greatest delight of your life to spend time with God; it will be the surest preparation for fruitful service.”

“As a minister of the gospel, have you ever considered why you have a salary and a place to live, and so are freed from the need of holding a regular job? The reason is so that you can continue in prayer and the ministry of the Word. These will give you the necessary wisdom and anointing for your work. And that is the secret of a fruitful ministry. No wonder there are often complaints about the ineffective spiritual life of a minister and his congregation. That which is of prime importance—perseverance in prayer—does not occupy its rightful place.”

“The great question is: Shall we earnestly set ourselves to win back again the weapon of believing prayer that satan has, at least in a measure, taken away from us? Let us set before ourselves the serious importance of this conflict. As far as each minister is concerned, everything depends on whether or not he is a man of prayer—one who in the inner room is clothed each day with power from on high.”

To read some of the other quotes I shared from this book, please click here. And to read my full book review of Living A Prayerful Life, click here.

More Ministers Needed In The Church

The church goesI always get a bit nervous when someone calls me “the minister of Calvary Assembly of God.” I am not the minister; I’m the pastor and a minister.

There’s a big difference! 

A pastor is one of the gifts Jesus gives the church to equip lots of ministers (see Ephesians 4:7-13). A pastor is not the minister, but a minister-equipper.

Check out this quote from Oswald Chambers—

“Notice the gifts that the Apostle Paul says Jesus sent after He ascended—viz. apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers—‘for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.’  The test of a preacher or teacher is that as we listen to him we are built up in our faith in Jesus Christ and in our intimacy with Him; otherwise he is not a gift from God. Today we are apt to test the preacher on the ground of his personality and not by his building up of the saints.” (emphasis added)

I don’t want to be put on a pedestal as the minister. I want Jesus to be exalted. This will only happen when all the gifts to the church—apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers—are equipping the entire church to minister.

What do you think?

The Legacy Of My Parents

MustangThis past weekend we celebrated my parents golden anniversary. Long-time friends gathered around the dinner table and shared some great memories of how my Mom & Dad had impacted their lives. Other friends who couldn’t attend sent in letters and videos. My biggest takeaway from that weekend is something I already knew: My parents are ministers.

They don’t have a title like reverend or pastor or missionary. But for their entire marriage they have ministered like Jesus described in Matthew 25: they fed the hungry, clothed the naked, provided shelter for the homeless, and love for the hurting.

See for yourself…

I am so blessed by the legacy my parents have left!

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