The Power of the Pulpit

pulpitSocial media has flooded our lives. Everyone everywhere is into communications. It’s like a rushing of a mighty wind. Communicators and pastors are struggling with the challenge of utilizing social media technology without losing the personal touch that is important to all relationships. I empathize with all communicators as they seek to embrace the modern methods of connecting with people while trying to retain their own unique contribution with what God has ordained them to say.

Recently I heard someone talk about using twitter and the Internet while preaching in the pulpit so that the people could respond immediately to what was being said. I think most people are seeking relevancy in a contemporary world. To test every means in order to keep abreast of influence on individuals, both in their secret thoughts and corporate expression, is certainly admirable. However, it seems to me that having people’s tweets appear on a screen during the presentation of the sermon would be a distraction.

How do we capture people’s attention and drive home the message? To use the word drive might seem a bit over the top, but it is used often in advertising to cut through the cacophony of distractions in order to capture individual attention regarding the brand of a product or message. Some think that the sermon is a monologue and needs the input of the people as it is being delivered. That thought bothers me just a bit. It seems to me that while we need to seek better means and utilization of today’s technologies, the sermon is not a monologue. It could be seen as a monologue when it is being orated by a person who has forgotten that the words are those that he or she has carefully chosen to deliver to God’s people through and in the power of the Holy Spirit.

As a pastor delivers a message from the Holy Scripture it is being transformed into the living and active Word in the lives of the people who are listening. The Holy Spirit goes in advance to prepare the hearts of the people for their response. When a sermon is delivered, it moves into the battle against principalities and powers and the forces of darkness. It seeks to assist those who are filled with the Spirit of God along with those who are seeking answers from God.

     A sermon is a composite of divinely orchestrated ideas, principles, and words melded together by the power of the Holy Spirit and tuned to the waiting hearts of every willing individual.

A sermon remains a monologue only to the pastor who thinks that he/she is singularly engaged in the presentation. A sermon is crafted as an art form, but is delivered as an oracle of substance that the Holy Spirit of God is directing to minister to people and further the gospel message to the world. The people of God are present. The angels are present. The Holy Spirit is present representing the whole council of God and the work of His Son. The pastor and all that are present are engaged in either the giving or receiving of the word for the furtherance of equipping the saints and advancing the kingdom of God on earth and in heaven. The content of the sermon teaches, challenges, convicts, and reaches out to all who come with open hearts and minds seeking conversion, nurture, and spiritual power.

The pastor who does not have this in mind might want to rethink his /her purpose in the pulpit. I think that listening to a sermon with congregants interrupting via twitter would be distracting. I think ideally we should let the Spirit of God first speak through the pastor and then sort out what God is saying to us as the result of listening to the message with reflection. If we are tweeting during the message we may miss the whole point the pastor is making. However we are led to respond, make sure we “Let the words of our mouth and the meditations of our heart be acceptable to the sight of God.” Remember the pastor’s part is to deliver the message faithfully because there are consequences to the shepherd who leads the sheep astray. The communicant’s responsibility is to handle the Word of Truth faithfully and apply it to our lives with care.

Summary: What is a sermon for? Is it a form of oratory that is dedicated to enhancing the worth of the pastor? Is it a creative part of the ritual of religious expression that flutters for a moment on the conscience of those who are listening and then melds with the many other messages that demand the attention of our lives?

Taste and see that the Lord is good!

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Signing Up

I started writing this blog a few weeks ago when this topic was a hot one but the thoughts are just as critical and important for us to think about today.

“Signing Up” is the easy part. The living out of the experience that you have bought into will determine the worth of the commitment.

Recently I read an article in the New York Times that told of the mass confusion that is going on in Crimea. Since Russia signed up and annexed Crimea a few weeks ago, the people of Crimea joined Russia with great enthusiasm and anticipation. They are now discovering how difficult the process is. Thousands of people are standing in line for days trying to figure out what they have done. There are shortages and a lack of leadership to facilitate the change.

Signing up for Obama Care has been a difficult experience for those who have spent long hours getting into the system. Broadcast news and updates have filled the public airways with reports of failure and frustration. The President has arbitrarily made decisions related to the law many times to try to get it all to work. Multimillions of dollars were spent selling people on the benefit of getting into this government run system. It has often seemed like the President and his people are trying to drive a square peg into a round hole.

Recently the President proclaimed victory and success that his plan is working. It sort of reminded me of the event former President George Bush had on the ship with the sign “Mission Accomplished” waving behind his head. We know what happened there. Mockery resulted because the mission really had just begun.

So, too, the new healthcare process has just begun. The real results are ahead of us and no one is clear as to whether it will work or not. We do know that this is going to change America forever in ways we have not even begun to realize. When Nancy Pelosi said that “you need to pass this bill in order to understand it,” she led the people into an unknown abyss that will cause us a sea of change in the years ahead. There are those who will benefit, but there will be others who will find themselves weighed in the balance of government jurisdiction, losing more than they gain. Many of those are people who never desired this change in the first place.

In my lifetime I have had to face the realities of life at every level of need. I have looked beyond the proverbial fence and seen many things that I desired and wanted, but they were beyond my capacity to either earn or merit them. The main reason for not having something is not being able to afford it. Not only do we need the capacity to buy but the capacity to keep. Maintaining the results of our signing up are as critical as signing up in the first place. Signing up is only the first step in a journey of unknowns. Everyone should hope for a good outcome, but I don’t think it is a bad thing to question the unknowns and test the perimeters of the promises made. If we don’t have a good outcome, it will affect us all.

While all of us desire the best for everyone, there is no law that can legislate equality of substance into existence. Legislation that requires people to do what they won’t naturally be motivated to do only creates a climate for a black market to circumvent the system. The only freedom guaranteed under the constitution is the freedom of opportunity to use your circumstances to the best of your ability.

The reality is that decision making in life is like a tide that impacts the lift of all the boats in the water. None of us will be rewarded for hiding our talent in the sand. Sign up, step out on your conviction, but make sure your conviction is rooted in the logic of truth and good stewardship and not in the illusion of entitlement and consensus.

The Bible gives us many illustrations that act as guiding principles related to all of this. One of the key ones is found in Luke 14:28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.“

If we are going to finish strong, then we must determine wisely what we sign up for in life. Every time you create something you must feed it. Whether you are parenting a child or a new idea, learn to count the cost and then weigh it in the light of your capacity to deliver the results at the end of the journey.

When you sign up with God’s plan through faith in Jesus Christ, there is a cross you bear when you commit your life to Him. But in Christ there is a divine power to share that takes you through the valleys of death and testing into the sufficiency of God’s love.

All this leads you to living according to God’s will and purpose. Don’t miss the divine blessing that can be yours but is often clouded by the self interest of the finite world in which we live.

Match or Mismatch

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

In this blog I would like to emphasize the need for matching those who accept Christ to the right ministries and mentors. As I look at the way churches nurture and equip the saints for leadership and ministry today, I think many times we are missing the mark. We are creating all kinds of things for people to do for God. Then we are continually calling out for more volunteers to do them. Is this the call of God or a structure of religion seeking to fill their coffers with good works that have nothing to do with getting to heaven? Someone once said that if Christ came back today, 95% of the things the church does would continue on like nothing had happened.

In gaining insight into Ephesians 2:10 we know that in the beginning God created humankind in his own image. The relationship that was there was broken by disobedience on the part of humanity. Separation resulted. Reconciliation to God happens when a person is brought back into fellowship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. We become Christ’s workmanship. Those who are a part of this special group of people called the priesthood of saints are now embracing God’s plan for their life. That plan includes a predetermined program of works that God wants to do through the saints. The institutional church’s responsibility is not to fill pews and collect money but to join you in your search to connect with that plan so that God can work his work through you.

This happens best through matching people, not with the need of the institution, but with the need of the individual to find where God has chosen them to serve as a part of the body of believers in Christ. It is God, not the church, who has prepared in advance the works he wants to do through us.  Matching begins with interviewing and connecting people to the right ministries and the proper mentors. Matching people with the area of ministry that best suits their talents and gifts is the first step. The second step is matching the candidate with a person who can mentor and assist them as the Holy Spirit guides them through their ministry service orientation.

In the health care system every day there is an ongoing process for matching blood types, organ donors, and many other areas that go far beyond my knowledge in order to serve the needs of millions of people. All this is done to keep the body alive and productive in its contribution to the world. Every breath that gives life to that body and every motivational strength that comes from that body is generated by the human spirit. God provides that breath and endows that spirit. Without the breath and spirit the body is dead and has absolutely no value.

The church is the institutional agency ordained by God to take on the task of nurturing the spiritual needs of humanity. We must give more attention to this process of matching people with the works Christ has for them in the body. The church needs to take great care in matching people with ministry needs. We often fall short of giving the effort and attention to equipping people. The church is frequently off message in its programs today, thinking that filling pews and raising money and monuments are the things that make a successful church. The church is not solely about the art of great sermon making, but the art of nurturing and equipping the saints for the work of the ministry. When the saints are equipped, evangelism is a natural result. People in love with Jesus who are taught how to frame their faith radiate the presence of God and communicate it to others.

When hearts are changed by the power of the gospel, lives are changed and the world becomes a different world because of it.

The human spirit that lives within the body of a person is much more valuable than the body that contains it. We give little attention to nurturing the human spirit and reminding people that without God, who gives us the very breath of life, we would all return to dust. The church is not a divinely ordained babysitting service, but a divinely commissioned equipping service for a body of people who Christ has given life and drawn to himself through His redemptive work on the cross.

When was the last time you interviewed for a job? I guess in today’s job market millions of people are sending out resumes looking for just the right position so that they might earn a livelihood. The people who come to Christ and sign on to serve Him are seeking the right place that God has for them to work. We as a church miss these opportunities for guidance.

Interviewing each new person who wants to become a member takes time. My book More Than Volunteers gives healthy insights for addressing this subject and will guide the leadership of the church in what they should do.

The goal of the interview is to find out where people are in their thinking and spiritual journey. As a result, the interviewer is able to determine the best guidance to lead the communicant in finding the right ministry.

When the interview is finished the exploration period begins with people praying and observing ministries that they feel God might open up for their involvement. They will be assigned mentors who will guide them in their discovery period. They will pray with them and connect them with the depth of understanding they need to lead them to the right decision. In my next blog on this ongoing subject of how to build an engaged church body, I will talk about mentoring.

This week Rome just canonized two new saints. If you know Christ you are a saint and in Christ people will know you are a Christian by your love. As you serve, you will become more assured each day as you see your life become fruitful through your faithfulness to His will and purpose.

 

 

 

Prayer Changes Things

The last blog I wrote about prayer. This is a follow up commentary on the subject praying hands 2adding some thoughts about why we should pray. I have this material made up in a brochure that I can make available to you if you would like. Please respond with your comments and I will send you a copy of the brochure on prayer entitled, “Why Should We Pray?”

Study after study has shown that people who pray and believe have a better record of recovery from illness. There have been studies that show that even plants grow better when people pray over them. Prayer is not an act of desperation but a command of the scripture backed by a proven record of results.

“The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” James 5:16

Receive it! Everyday our minds are bombarded with millions of messages. We only take action on those that catch our attention and fit into our conscious desire to find answers to issues that impact our lives. When we engage we must follow up with belief.

Believe it! When we begin to consider the things that influence us we move toward the process of internalizing the belief in those things with the hope that they can help us build a better comfort zone of existence. We follow up by working to live life to the full!

Living it to the full! “I am come that you might have life and have it to the full.” (John 10:10) There must be consideration for life itself. Do you just happen to be here or are you here because God put you here for a reason and cares for you on a personal basis? If your answer to that question is yes, then you will grasp the idea that prayer changes things.

  • Prayer Changes Things—We know that prayer changes things because things change when people pray. The answers are not always what we want to hear but the results are always impacted when people pray for outcomes. Study after study has shown that things happen when people pray. Prayer connects the known with the unknown and the witness of the results becomes real.
  • God grows things—It is interesting that in all of the productivity of the human race we have no capacity to either grow or heal what we touch. There is a power beyond ourselves that takes the seed we plant and the incision that is stapled by the doctor and makes it all respond to its normal state of being. The seeds grow and the incision heals because God grows things and heals the body of the patient. (John 4)
  • Man manages the things God grows—We are the stewards of what God has created and we are here to give compassion and care to all who have need. God has given us the grand task of overseeing all that he has created.

When the hand of the doctor is finished with his work, the power of God takes over to make sure that work is not in vain. It is the unseen hand of God that heals the wound of those in need. It is God who seeks to heal and save those he has created. He preserves them to live life according to his purpose. If God does not grow and heal things they die.

Healing is not for our convenience Healing is to encourage our commitment to life and its God given purposes. Healing will make you feel good, but only if you tune your life to the way God has intended you to live will you become all that God created you to be.

“Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is any one happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” James 5:13-16

As we look back on the history of our country and the history of families you will find that every act of progress and healing throughout history is someone’s answer to prayer.

“Be joyful always; pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Comments on Prayer

Comments on Prayer Let me start by commenting on the decisions made by World Vision regarding the hiring of homosexual people in their organization and then retracting that decision two days later. The story in Christianity Today provoked some thought on my part about how we pray and what the world thinks about prayer.praying-hands

First, let me set the stage for my thoughts. World Vision, after a long period of prayer and discussion related to this subject, made a decision to come out publicly with the notice that they would hire homosexuals under certain conditions. Two days later, as a result of pressure from their constituent body, they rescinded their decision. Thousands of people who supported their programs for helping children around the world had withdrawn their support. The World Vision people recanted and returned to their former position.

My thoughts are not about what’s right or wrong with regard to the decision, but how we use prayer to affirm or disaffirm our positions. When we pray, how do we discern whether the leading we are getting as a result of that prayer is God speaking or our “mother in the attic” of our minds? How do the politics of going along in order to get along impact our decisions?

Some years ago a person interviewed for a staff position in my organization. He prayed about it and felt God was calling him to serve with us in New York. He was a good person and met the qualifications so I hired him. The process of moving him and his family from their previous location was costly for us but worth it. The verbal contract we had was a commitment for two years. He moved in and settled into his new home and position. After about six months he came to me one day and asked for a private meeting. We met and he told me God was talking to him and he felt he was called to another position in another town. Don’t blame God and prayer if the reason is really that your wife doesn’t like the neighborhood or is too far from her family.

I admit that I was quite ready to question his calling to move again after a lot of expense and a short time with our organization. We often hear people say, “I prayed about it and God told me.” I really was not happy with the choice of my staff member except for the lesson I learned about how fragile the answers to prayer are if we are not listening closely to the voice of God. I don’t know what the greater plan of God was for that moment, but it was tough for me to understand. How often in our lives are we using prayer as an excuse to make decisions that may or may not be within His will and purpose?

If through prayer we are led to the conviction to do something, should we not be willing and ready to pay the price for doing it. If you have read my book, “More Than Volunteers,” there is an illustration that deals with decision making. In our heads are two boxes that dominate our decision making process. In one box is the value that will be experienced as a result of the decision. The other is the price that will be paid as a result of the decision. When the value is greater than the price, we make the decision to experience the value. If the price tag is greater, we remain tied to the price tag, forfeiting the value. We may lose our constituency. We may lose our job. We may lose our position in the social order. Either way, there are consequences.

We must decide which consequence bears the greatest reward. Prayer should always result in a person following principle and not money, value and not price.

There are many devout prayer warriors out there. We hold these people in high respect for the hours they spend lifting up the petitions of need before the Lord. Matthew 7:7 tells us, “”Ask and it shall be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” I believe that Scripture indicates there are many levels in the process of seeing the answer to our prayers.

Prayer is the connection of communication with God who has revealed himself both in and through his Son Jesus Christ, and translated into truth by the guidance of Scripture and the Holy Spirit.

What’s in a Prayer?

By Charles S. Rigby

Have you ever stopped to think when you pray,
As to how you would respond if you were
On the other end of your request?

Often we throw our prayers up there
In hope that someone will answer
We offer up the most extensive list of
Undoable expressions and personal desires
While giving no consideration as to how we would
Respond if we were answered.

The doable youable exposition of
Dishing and dissing pours out of our souls
In our attempt to manipulate sovereignty
According to our personal goals.

When, in our desire to stake out our turf
Do we stop and realize that at all times
We stand in the presence of God
Who already knows and cares about our need?

God is patiently waiting for us to
Realize we can’t make heaven alone.
He is ready to help us and guide us
With directions which can reassure us that
Someday we will meet Him and He will then
Point us toward the place He has prepared for us
At home with Him in Heaven.

I am continually challenged as to how to carry on my conversations with God. Dr. Robert Cook, known to many for his faithful years of service, used to say, “Pray your way through the day.” That’s what we need to do. Live so close to God that we talk through each step of every day. Let’s live so that we can feel his presence and release his power in our lives. Appreciate God the Father as creator. Never allow the light of redemption through Jesus Christ to be lost for a moment. Embrace the Holy Spirit as guide into all the truth. The power of our prayer will take on new depth of meaning. The power of His presence will grow as we draw closer to Jesus Christ. More of what He wants to do through each of us will be revealed and valued as we live out our Christian faith.

Presently, as the town council of a little town of Greece on the outskirts of Rochester, New York waits for the Supreme Court of the United States to decide whether they can have prayer to start their meetings each session, let us resolve that no law of man can ever keep us from talking to God. Pray that the two women who brought the law suit against public prayer will someday be made aware that prayer is not a religious ritual but a conversation with God.

Just a closing thought related to World Vision’s decision and retraction. Whether the value of feeding and caring for thousands of children was worth the retraction of their decision to hire homosexuals became their challenge. Their decision seemed to boil down to determining where the organization needed to stand in order to accomplish the work it had been doing for decades in touching millions of lives of children with life saving help. Keep in mind that the constituents of World Vision and the people of other nations in which they work have varied views on this issue.

Prayer is a conversation with a force beyond yourself. Stop and realize that every breath you breathe is given to enable the human spirit to respond to life. When prayer leads you to stand for the value of what you are doing, then never compromise value for the cost you will need to pay for it. Grace may be sufficient but it never compromises truth on the altar of convenience. Seek truth. Stand for the values that are foundational for carrying out God’s purpose in your life and eternity will be your reward.

Say Something And Someone Will Find Fault with It

 Look…that person said something wrong! See that person! I am offended! What are you going to do about it? For time immemorial everything anyone has ever said has likely offended someone who is seeking to find fault.

Just today, as I read the news, there was a story about a deaf couple who lost their luggage and when it was returned there was a staff to staff note that had been left on the luggage that read, “deaf and dumb USE TEXT.” The couple were greatly offended by this and are demanding an apology from the airlines. They wanted the people fired and reprimanded.

In today’s world, businesses are trying to hire people to do tasks like handle luggage. They don’t have college degrees. They come from different cultures and disciplines. They may have limited English. Do we hire people who may see it differently or do we keep the welfare rolls high because people should not be allowed to work who do not express things the way we want them expressed?

There used to be an old expression when we were kids, “Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me.” In today’s PC climate every word is measured in order that we can find the greatest leverage for law suits due to slander, and other issues that offend us. People who don’t agree with gay marriage are called homophobes. People who are Christians are thought to be anti-semitic. If people comment on any minority group, they are racially bigoted except when the comment is made about white people. Where does it stop? Where there are people, there is always prejudice because prejudice feeds off of personal assumptions, reasoning, opinion, and likes as well as dislikes within the hearts of individuals.

I know how this might hurt the feelings of people, but limitations come in many different forms. The deaf couple who lost their luggage are on one side of being challenged, but there are others on the other side that might be just as challenged with writing or language. Why in the world is this national news?

We all want to be treated right and respected by others. We never want the human systems of service to fail us, but they do. A Jewish person was beat up in Paris this week. The stories coming out of the White House and the Vatican showed different views from the same meeting between President Obama and the Pope. Who is right and who is wrong? It remains that we live in an imperfect world. Beneath the surface of the individual and national mask we put on everyday in order to please all those in our sphere of influence, there is a world of dysfunction. The potential for destabilization which increases the potential for chaos becomes a great concern for the future. Sometimes when a microphone is left open or a cell phone captures a moment of revelation, the real person and true position of the politician shows through.

As far as Christians are concerned there is a public demand to water down convictions related to following the divine principles of the Bible in order to please the world. Jesus, in outlining His ministry to His disciples on the Sermon on the Mount, says this: “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:11-12 (emphasis is mine)

There are several keys in that couple of verses. The first is, “because of me.” Most people are insulted because of what you say that is related to Jesus Christ. I’m a Christian. Oh really, then you must be against Jews, Muslims, homosexuals, and a long list of never ending issues. People immediately say that you are judging their world. In the same breath they are judging you for believing that the world needs a Savior.

People’s perceptions of Christians are so wildly varied that they would make a rainbow look bland. In order to understand “because of me” you need to know what the Bible says about Jesus Christ. The first step to understanding is to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. If you do not know Him you cannot discern the spiritual base from which Christianity works.

People began calling people Christians because they had given their lives to a process of seeking a path of holiness built on principles taught by Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “You are in the world but not of this world.” John 16. That has no meaning apart from the relationship one has in Christ.

The second key in this passage is “in the same way they persecuted the prophets.” Down through the ages God moved through the lives of prophets. Before there were books in print, principles of truth were taught orally and passed on from generation to generation,

Prophets not only foretold things that were to come but “forth-told” what God’s direction for people should be. The prophets called out kings and chieftains alike. They often presented scenarios in dramatic fashion in order to get the attention of the people and make the point of their message.

There is the example of Elijah and of Ezekiel. Prophets were notorious for messing up the individual plans of kings and paupers alike. It seems to me that they had larger than life courage in confronting the problems of the day. So as the Matthew text says “in the same way” we will be confronted today as we try to get the attention of the masses living out the message that Christ has placed in our hearts. If you are a Christian living out the Christian message, you will be persecuted for Christ’s sake and shunned by the world systems.

The world is in full attack mode. Secularists, as well as many others, are like nervous hunters in the dark. They shoot at anything that moves because they are self protecting as well as out of ideas related to how to bring peace to the world. They fail to see that the greatest crisis in the world is the problem with the human heart. Shakespeare once wrote, “The evil that men do live after them; but the good is oft interred in their bones.” Julius Caesar, Act III, Scene 2 – William Shakespeare

It seems that saying something right and politically correct gets no traction in life. Only when you say something that tweaks the ire of someone who is on edge, and not secure in their own skin, does it get the notice of the news and public attention. Political correctness is often demanded by those who have no platform outside their own self interest.

Where do we go from here? We must give attention to addressing what is right. We must be committed to live by principles of truth no matter what the cost. Whether we speak through our actions or our words, we must be dependable and responsible in negotiating truth in a world that is fraught with political expediency and situation ethics.

When Jesus was brought before Pilate and questioned, Pilate’s answer to the charges against Christ was,“I find no fault in Him.” That did not keep Christ from the cross or from the pain He had to endure as an agent of truth. In the end He and He alone became the most sufficient sacrifice to redeem human kind and set him free from the laws of sin and death.

When the Saints Go Marching In

Matching the Saints with Mentors and Ministry

This blog takes us to Step Three in revitalizing the church by engaging the priesthood of saints in the work of the ministry through matching and mentoring. With this blog I want to alert you to the idea of the matching process. 

A motivated person is a person on the move. To be on the move is not only about physical movement. Being on the move requires the engagement of physical, mental, social, and spiritual considerations. It embodies in whole of one’s being. One of the steps to fulfillment is matching you with the works God has prepared so that you can have an effective ministry. 

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10 

This verse has always intrigued me. Particularly the part where it states that the works God has for us to do are prepared for us in advance. When we come to know God or even if we engage in religious activity we often are anxious about launching out to do things for God.  

We often equate any good works with doing the things we could be rewarded for when we die, even if we are not consciously thinking about them. I think this is a wrong way to evaluate our desire to serve. Our passion for service must be much more than “Jesus is coming, look busy.”  

Nothing we do for God counts for eternity apart from what we are prepared to allow God to do both in and through us. This is why the more we submit to Christ the more the Holy Spirit can translate the works He has for us and unleash the gifts he has brought into our lives to empower our service.   

God has a specific plan for our lives. As we move closer in our relationship with Jesus Christ, the energy and power of God kicks in. We give attention to the root builders of our faith which are made up of reading the Word, dedicated prayer, Christian fellowship, and service. If we address these areas we will see more clearly His direction and feel more completely His presence in what we are about. 

Remember, as we stated in the beginning of this blog, a motivated person is a person on the move. As we grow in our relationship with Jesus Christ, a process I call “matching” becomes an important factor. This is a critical step for both the individual and the spiritual health of the church as we find our place in the priesthood of saints.  

There are two aspects for “matching.” The first is to match a person with the ministry area that suits them. When we accept Christ, the Holy Spirit moves into our lives with a tool box full of spiritual gifts that equip us for the works Christ has for us to do. In our natural state we have talents that give us a capacity to find service areas suited to our personality traits and skills. When we accept Christ and the Holy Spirit comes into our lives the spiritual gifts He brings enhance our natural talents and experience.  

The second part of matching is putting you along side the right mentor who can guide you through the process of service in whatever aspect of the ministry God reveals for you to serve. The church must have a group of mentors ready for the newly redeemed folks who God is bringing into his family. 

The mentors must be experienced and also trained to work with a new generation of people God is preparing for ministry. Paul writes to Timothy, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” 2 Timothy 2:2

Once again I want to refer to my book “More Than Volunteers” where I define 16 ministry areas where people can choose to serve. The book also outlines the foundational work in setting up a mentoring program through interviews and seminars. If pastors and lay leaders, along with interested saints, will take the guidelines seriously and apply them to the already existing service platforms of the church, they will never fail because of neglect in equipping the saints for the work of the ministry.

In summary: The three steps to “matching” are: To interview the person who is desirous of serving the Lord, work through the 16 possible ministry areas, (You can add to these areas or delete them as they only serve as models for your thinking), then find a qualified person in the ministry area chosen to guide the person through the process of carrying out the work. 

Please feel free to interact with me on this. The blog is to share insight with you who read it and I am ready to help you take the next step.