Tag: ministry

Can ministry be measured as good or bad?

imageWe’re so used to rating everything using a good/bad scale.

Kind of like pass/fail.

I suppose that works well with something that is easy to judge, like food, for instance.

But even with food it could be deemed bad for several reasons; yet, it might be incredibly good.

It could be a matter of taste.

However, when it comes to determining whether a particular ministry is good or bad, I think we can run into some real problems.

I’m not referring to judging whether a ministry is/was scriptural or not, for that is fairly easy to determine.

But good or bad?

“Wow, what a good sermon!”

“The worship service was bad today.”

“The worship leader did a good job today.”

How can we really place a good/bad sticker on something we have no true way of measuring?

What would make a song service good or bad? It’s length, volume, instrumentation, key range, tempo, song selection, few words, lots of words, hymns, choruses, old songs… And who makes that call?

How about the Sunday sermon? Easy to understand, short, few scriptures, expository, topical, loud, altar call, no altar call, intellectual… And whose job is it to do the grading?

Some may call a sermon good because they agreed with all the points. You know, someone in the choir.

Someone else might call it good because they received a piece to their life’s puzzle…

Same thing with worship. Good because… Bad because…?

How could we be so small minded as to think we can know what God is doing in and through the lives of those who hear us sing or speak? We sometimes miss what God is doing in our own life.

If we live to hear someone say, “Good job!” each time we minister, we’re being set up by the adversary for a hard fall.

And if someone is critical of our ministry, and we’re down in the dumps for days, that’s just as bad. We’re getting picked off by the enemy.

Maybe we shouldn’t call something good or bad.

I don’t know.

Do I want people to think well of me and my ministry? Of course. But I cannot let that be my focus.

Whether I lead worship or preach; before, during, and after, I should be looking and listening for one thing. I want to know if I’m doing exactly what Father God has instructed me to do.

“When the music fades, all is stripped away, and I simply come…”, and it’s just the Lord and I, I’m wanting nothing less or more than a simple “That’s exactly what I wanted today” from Him.

To me, that’s good.

Equation For Ministry

EinsteinIf you take 58 and subtract 28, you end up with 30.

I suppose you find that to be a simple math equation, eh? But here’s something that just might engage your mind and heart: 30 is the age Jesus was when He began His “public” ministry.

Maybe you’ve never heard of the phrase “ministry equation”, at least in those words. But you’ve probably heard or read teachings about “how to be truly blessed”, “God wants you to prosper”, and “how to put the swagger back into Christianity; in six easy steps.”

I submit to you that the “equation for ministry” is:

58-28=30

I use the numbers 58 and 28, because of the contents in Isaiah 58 and Deuteronomy 28. Please take a few moments and read those scriptures.

First from Isaiah:
“Shout with the voice of a trumpet blast. Shout aloud! Don’t be timid. Tell my people Israel of their sins! Yet they act so pious! They come to the Temple every day and seem delighted to learn all about me. They act like a righteous nation that would never abandon the laws of its God. They ask me to take action on their behalf, pretending they want to be near me.

‘We have fasted before you!’ they say. ‘Why aren’t you impressed? We have been very hard on ourselves, and you don’t even notice it!’

“I will tell you why!” I respond. “It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves. Even while you fast, you keep oppressing your workers. What good is fasting when you keep on fighting and quarreling? This kind of fasting will never get you anywhere with me.
You humble yourselves by going through the motions of penance,
bowing your heads like reeds bending in the wind. You dress in burlap and cover yourselves with ashes. Is this what you call fasting? Do you really think this will please the Lord ?

“No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help.

“Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind. Then when you call, the Lord will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply. “Remove the heavy yoke of oppression. Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors! Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble.

“Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon. The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring. Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities. Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls and a restorer of homes.

“Keep the Sabbath day holy. Don’t pursue your own interests on that day, but enjoy the Sabbath and speak of it with delight as the Lord ’s holy day. Honor the Sabbath in everything you do on that day, and don’t follow your own desires or talk idly. Then the Lord will be your delight. I will give you great honor and satisfy you with the inheritance I promised to your ancestor Jacob. I, the Lord , have spoken. (Isaiah 58:1-14 NLT)

Now from Deuteronomy:
“If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully keep all his commands that I am giving you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the world. You will experience all these blessings if you obey the Lord your God: Your towns and your fields will be blessed. Your children and your crops will be blessed.
The offspring of your herds and flocks will be blessed. Your fruit baskets and breadboards will be blessed. Wherever you go and whatever you do, you will be blessed.

“The Lord will conquer your enemies when they attack you. They will attack you from one direction, but they will scatter from you in seven! “The Lord will guarantee a blessing on everything you do and will fill your storehouses with grain. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you. “If you obey the commands of the Lord your God and walk in his ways, the Lord will establish you as his holy people as he swore he would do. Then all the nations of the world will see that you are a people claimed by the Lord , and they will stand in awe of you. “The Lord will give you prosperity in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you, blessing you with many children, numerous livestock, and abundant crops. The Lord will send rain at the proper time from his rich treasury in the heavens and will bless all the work you do. You will lend to many nations, but you will never need to borrow from them. If you listen to these commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today, and if you carefully obey them, the Lord will make you the head and not the tail, and you will always be on top and never at the bottom.” (Deuteronomy 28:1-13 NLT)

I am not into numerology, or anything like it. I only find it interesting, that as I compare these passages, I see Jesus’ earthly ministry and the impact He made, and also a few reasons why the church isn’t making more of the same kind of impact today.

Deuteronomy 28 tells the people of God how to be blessed in every part of their life. Jesus did all Moses said, and The Lord set Him high above the nations! Father God took care of Jesus’ need for food, water, shelter; and everything He did prospered!

His enemy came at Him one way (on several occasions), and had to flee seven. People stood in awe of Him, wondering where did He receive such wisdom and learning. He never lacked anything He needed, and always had enough to meet the needs of those around Him. I’d call that blessed; how about you?

Deuteronomy 28:1-14 really speaks to the nation of Israel, and all the people of God. Yet it also points to the responsibility of every individual to do the right thing. Do things right, and receive God’s blessing for YOU.

“Well, if Deuteronomy 28 is true, then why can’t I get it to work for me?”

Here’s where Isaiah 58, the other part of the equation, comes into focus.

Jesus ministered effectively because His eyes weren’t on Himself, but on what other people needed. He wouldn’t fast, pray, or minister to please Himself, impress His Father, or even “build His church.” No, He ministered, gave of Himself, because people needed what He had to give.

The people in Isaiah’s day cried about how they had done so much for God, fasted and prayed, and all that jazz!

“But You don’t even notice”, they exclaimed to God.

“Oh, I notice”, God said. “I see just where your focus is. It’s on yourselves! It’s not where it should be; not at all. If you’ll change your focus, you’ll discover My focus will change as well! For if you will use your blessing to touch others, I will take care of you!”

That’s exactly what Jesus did, the disciples did, the early church did, and what we should do!

Jesus removed Himself and His needs from the equation, and found the grace of God to really minister.

Ministry begins when “self” is removed.

So, as I mentioned before:

58 (the dreams and desires of God for all people), minus 28 (the dreams and desires of man for themselves), equals 30 (the number that represents when true ministry begins).

The ministry equation.

Many People In This City

20130419-164033.jpg“One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision and told him, “Don’t be afraid! Speak out! Don’t be silent! For I am with you, and no one will attack and harm you, for many people in this city belong to me.” So Paul stayed there for the next year and a half, teaching the word of God.” (Acts 18:9-11)

The above scriptures refer to when the Apostle Paul and his team were ministering in Corinth. It seems as though Paul had considered leaving the city. Up until the night of the Lord’s visitation, things had been pretty rough for the ministry team. Sure, they’d had witnessed people become believers, but ministry had been difficult.

In fact, Paul even had to work a secular job for awhile.

Just think of the type of people Paul was preaching to: “Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people – none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”(1 Corinthians 6:9-11 NLT)

People involved in sexual sins, idolatry, adulterers, prostitution, homosexuality, stealing, greed, etc.; these are people he ministered to.

Sounds an awful lot like today’s society, eh?

Your “average” church goer has no clue the difficulties a minister has to face. “What difficulties? Good night, Irene, the preacher only works one day a week! And that’s only for a few hours. Difficulties, right. What’s so difficult about speaking?”

If it’s so easy, why doesn’t everyone do it?

Just talking to individuals or a congregation isn’t difficult. Giving a generic speech won’t draw the threat of attacks. Lofty, high-minded words won’t challenge the powers of darkness!

But when a man or woman of God determines to set aside the “stage show”, the theatrics, and the “motivational homilies” for a reliance upon Heaven’s Word with the anointing of the Holy Spirit…

…all hell can break loose.

And though the battle blazes around this kind of preacher, this kind of message, this is the way people are set free. This is what delivers them from the power of darkness, from the kingdom of hatred and death.

“Some of you were once like that…”

Most everyone knows some preacher who got involved in some kind of sin, thus disqualifying them, at least for a season, from “ministry.” Boy, howdy; do I know about that! And everyone is quick to point out the character flaws leading to the “fall”.

I’m not making excuses for anyone. I’m simply trying to make 2 points.

1. Preachers, ministers, leaders, need extra prayer covering. They need support, not idolized for their speaking or sermonizing ability.

2. Preachers, etc,,must rely upon the Spirit of God, the protection of God, and the unadulterated Word of God. They must not put their faith in people’s response, or lack of response, tithes and offerings…anything other than what will give them the spiritual strength to deal with a spiritual enemy.

Ministry is difficult, but eternally necessary. And it isn’t just a preacher’s responsibility to bring people into the Kingdom; it’s every believer’s call.

There’s no other way to reach the “many people in this city” belonging to Jesus!

“When I first came to you, dear brothers and sisters, I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s secret plan. For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified. I came to you in weakness – timid and trembling. And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit. I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5 NLT)

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