Wow, what an exhausting and yet refreshing week this has been. I totally missed my normal Sunday post this past week, but hopefully this will make up for it. Many have asked what happened at the retreat (most especially with this status that was posted last weekend: “In Illinois at the Men’s Retreat & I’m really seeing some things become clearer regarding the ministry — but, honesty ain’t always pretty.”) — and so, here is the answer.
This past weekend I had the blessing of attending a Men’s Retreat in Illinois with No Greater Love Ministries (http://www.nogreaterlove.org) and let me tell you I was challenged by what I heard, opened to hearing God speaking to me, and totally plugged in to the power of the Holy Spirit! In a lot of different ways I have been struggling in my ministry to understand where it is that God is calling me, and how He wants me to be used – and I now have direction, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Just about three weeks ago I had an honest and open meeting with a Pastor friend of mine who after a two hour discussion told me that I could get involved in anything I wanted to at the church, and use the talents God gave me for Kingdom outreach. Wow, I cannot remember the last time I had a blank check handed to me, and I simply felt God’s urging telling me to “dive in” and attack this opportunity. And so, after the retreat and of course after making sure that it was God I was hearing from, this past Sunday our family re-joined New Vision Baptist Church (http://www.newvisionbaptist.org) which was the first church we were members of when we came to Alabama, prior to being called to pastor at Bethlehem.
When we came up front to ask to be “plugged in”, the welcome we received by the congregation was amazing, and we were simply blessed to be “welcomed home”, which was said over and over to us.
In the meeting with our Pastor (Rev J.B. Burt) he pretty much told me that he is needing help in Men’s Ministries but did not want me to even think about holding breakfasts or setting up grass cutting events or anything that typically comes with this (GET AWAY from the typical Baptist men’s stuff was the immediate instruction here).
What he was asking for help in was to first pray, and then come back to discuss how I could be used; and the answer I received from the Lord (during the pre-mentioned retreat) was in discipleship, accountability, and plain out “stop pretending to be a Christian and live it” Men’s Ministries; which we also agreed could roll over to Discipleship Training for the entire church. This is one area that as a Pastor, I have seen is so needed in our churches today, and made me really stop and consider how best to challenge others and myself.
So, it sounds like a huge challenge, right?
How can I possibly do this you might ask?
Well, go forward a few days to this past Wednesday night (2 nights ago) where we sat in the evening service and got thrashed by the Holy Spirit to consider the concept of putting on the full armor of God, and quit pretending to be a follower of Christ. The central mission of the message was to GRAB ONTO the “Faith” (mentioned in Galatians 5:22) and actually live it! I tell you what, I sat there practically balling and realized that what I had been missing was ……. ACTUALLY BEING FED so that I COULD work in the ministry!!
I realized that I was starving spiritually and desperately needed to be poured into, not just emptied over and over for others with nothing coming back in return. Oh, how I longed for this and NOW I had discovered through God’s revelation and IMMACULATE and PERFECT timing what I was missing and how I could gain strength to do His work!! HALLELUJAH!! For a year now since I left the pulpit I have not been fed, and it is really that simple and I will not mince words on this. Whether through my own fault or there being nothing of substance to feed on (which sadly was often the case), I was in a spiritual wasteland and starving for nourishment! This was the reason for the confusion, and why I was struggling so much; even as a “Reverend” I needed to be FED!!
So, here I sit in my office having had about an hour of quiet worship before God, I am humbled and amazed at how He works. My heart is rejoicing at this moment considering all that He is in my life, and how perfect He is in His timing, and that He is really all I will ever need. We have joined a church that is not only feeding our souls but is preparing, encouraging, and discipling us to work in a way that I never thought was possible. Truly, this verse comes to mind tonight and brings it all into perspective:
Psalm 91:2, “I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
Thank you Lord, for you are my refuge and all that I will ever need. I trust that YOU, God, know the next step, and I look forward to watching YOU move!! I love you Lord, more than even the air in my lungs.