Fulfill YOUR Ministry

21 02 2013

There’s no doubt that we live in a world where success is king and everyone has their own definition or brand of success. For some success is fame and popularity. For others success is wealth. Churches in general and specifically pastors are certainly not immune to the drive to succeed and to measure success by worldly standards. The pressure to perform in the ministry is immense. There’s pressure to grow a large church, pressure to entertain instead of preach, pressure to be funny instead of preach, pressure to appease people and please them, pressure to be liked, pressure to be some sort of pastor pop star, and so many other pressures to “succeed.”

This drives me to consider: What is success in the ministry? With all of the pressures listed above and many others there is ultimately a huge temptation to be someone that we’re not. At the end of the day, Matt Chandler’s advice is obviously solid and biblical…”Fulfill your ministry.” In other words, obey Christ and in the process be who God has and is making you to be. The central command and calling for every believer today is to make disciples of Jesus Christ. Ultimately, our availability and faithfulness to that mission determines our success in the ministry.

Here’s the problem: MAKING DISCIPLES IS NOT FLASHY! When we make disciples we will rarely, if ever (likely never), hear the applause of the crowds. It is truly hard work, full of potential let down and disappointments, and of course at times there will be seasons of growth in ourselves and others that bring personal joy and satisfaction allowed by the grace of God enabling us and others to grow and bear fruit for the glory of Jesus Christ. However, applause and fame are just not typically a part of that. So we have a choice to make. Do we want to be faithful to Christ and make disciples OR do we want to pursue the “success” that so many buy into today (yes, in the Church) and go after the big crowds and all the flash and pomp and circumstance that can go with modern ministry. Don’t get me wrong…big crowds are cool and impacting when God is moving and Christ is at the center of all that’s happening, but this is rare.

At the end of my life and ministry I want to be found successful and to me that means being faithful to fulfill the ministry that God has graciously given to me. It may not be flashy or garner the attention of the masses or gain the applause of large crowds, but if I can hear from the King of glory “Well done good and faithful servant” then I will have run my race and finished my course and kept the faith and received a crown to lay down at the feet of He who alone is worthy.

What does success look like for you? If someone were to witness your life and priorities how would they say you define success? What’s your greatest challenge to having biblical success? How do we make disciples?

Routine Faithfulness Pays Eternal Dividends

9 02 2013

FaithfulnessSometimes going through our daily routines can cause us to fall into ruts and lead us to question the importance of what we do. We need to especially fight against such feelings when it comes to spiritual routines and routines of service to the glory of Christ. It is in these spiritual routines of service that God defines the success of believers. “Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.” (1 Cor. 4:2) As I’m reading “Shepherding the Church,” Joseph Stowell recounts the following powerful story of how routine faithfulness pays eternal dividends.

“It was Dwight Lyman Moody who led Wilbur Chapman to the Lord. Wilbur Chapman became a great national evangelist in the generation succeeding Moody’s. During Wilbur Chapman’s ministry in Chicago, a baseball player with the White Stockings had a Sunday off, as all professional ballplayers did in that day, and was standing in front of a bar on State Street in Chicago when a gospel wagon from the Pacific Garden Mission came by playing hymns and inviting people to the 2:30 service down the street. This ballplayer, recognizing the hymns from the home he grew up in, attended that 2:30 service and received Christ as his personal Savior.

That afternoon encounter with Christ dramatically changed the life of Billy Sunday. He played ball for two more years and then left professional sports to minister in the YMCA in Chicago, which was then a fine and effective organization for Christ. Wilbur Chapman came through town and talked Billy Sunday into joining his crusade team as an advance man to help organize the pastors and set up Chapman’s meetings. Billy Sunday enthusiastically agreed. Upon signing up with Chapman, Billy Sunday received word that Chapman was going to leave evangelism and take the pastorate of one of the leading churches in America.

This left Billy Sunday stranded, but he refocused his efforts on national crusade evangelism. He soon began scheduling his own meetings, which launched his ministry across America for the cause of Christ. In one of his meetings, a young man by the name of Mordecai Hamm accepted Christ. Mordecai Hamm became a great evangelist in the Southeastern United States, ministering to massive crowds south of the Mason-Dixon line. One night in one of those large crowds, a young man and his friend came forward to accept Christ. One of those young men was Billy Graham.

And now you know the rest of the story.

What a phenomenal line of the succession of faithful, stellar, maximized servants of Christ. But that’s not really the rest of the story. The rest of the story is told where it begins: with a Sunday school teacher in Boston who on one Saturday committed himself to visiting every one of the boys in his Sunday school class to make sure they knew Christ as their Savior. One of the boys worked as a shoe clerk in his uncle’s shoe store in downtown Boston. Edward Kimball walked through the store, back to the stockroom where Dwight Lyman Moody was stocking the shelves, and confronted him with the importance of knowing Christ as Savior. It was in that stockroom that D. L. Moody accepted Christ as his Savior. Kimball had no idea that that routine faithfulness on his part would reap such unparalleled results in terms of populating heaven.”

Moral of the story? NEVER underestimate the power of your routine faithfulness to Christ because routine faithfulness to Christ pays eternal dividends.

The Man Behind the Christian Magna Cart, Part IV

7 02 2013

romansHere’s the third way Paul chose to introduce himself to the Roman Christians.

“Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God…

It reflects the truth that Paul was…


The Greek word for set apart is “aphorizo” and means to separate or to reserve for special assignment. If we transliterate that into English it would sound like the phrase “off horizon.”
If you’ve ever looked out over the ocean or one of the Great Lakes you can see the horizon. The horizon is an imaginary line that separates the earth from the sky and becomes this boundary that defines the world we live in. It defines our existence. I can spend my lifetime chasing the horizon, trying to fulfill my dreams within the boundaries of my existence. But to travel outside of that boundary is humanly impossible in the natural sense.
Paul was once defined by a horizon that kept him bound in his life to the pursuit of certain goals, ideas, and to a way of life. But when he met Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus, Jesus opened up a whole new realm of possibilities. Jesus introduced a whole new horizon and Paul went “off horizon.” It was not just the dawning of a new day, but the dawning of a new life, with a new purpose, and a grand design. Paul’s self-righteousness was put to death and he put on the righteousness of Christ. The chains of legalism were loosed and Paul was unshackled and free to live as a bondservant of Jesus. He was liberated by the gospel and for the gospel.

Paul had met his magnificent obsession and could never get over Jesus Christ.

Have you gone off horizon from the life you once lived outside of Christ? When we meet Christ and we receive Christ there is a whole new world that is opened up for us. It is a world that extends far beyond this world and this life. It is a world of new possibilities, new hopes, new desires, and a persevering faith.
Are you identified in Christ as one who is set apart on special assignment? When you meet and receive Jesus Christ He will transform your life, redefine your life’s purpose, and set your feet in pursuit of a new grand design.

He will become your magnificent obsession!

Is the story that you’re telling by the life you live producing the kind of results that will transform those who read your story?
Is Jesus Christ, the One who died for you, the magnificent obsession of your heart and thus your life?

Is the gospel, the life-transforming good news, central in your life?

If the answer to these questions is “no” then you need to forsake whatever your heart is obsessed with and get a new magnificent obsession!

Let your heart be captured by Christ, called to a higher purpose, and compelled to pursue a new horizon of possibilities for your life and the legacy of your life.

At the end of the day this will be true of you and me:

The credibility of our lives will only be as strong as the obsession of our hearts. Whatever you live for is exactly what you’ll be remembered for.

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