Pursuing Your Calling: “Come, follow me, and…”

Matthew 4:18-20

“As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fisherman. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him.”
Here we read about Jesus calling his first disciples. There is much to be learned from this passage. However, for today I simply want to look at the actual call of Christ.
  • “Follow me” – Jesus did not give these men a whole list of instructions. Instead he chose to simply invite/instruct them to follow. Neither did they ask for more instructions.  Their obligation at this point was simply to follow him and they did.
  • “I will make you fishers of men.” Jesus said that he would MAKE them fishers of men. He did not say that they would become fishers of men. No, Jesus said that HE would MAKE them fishers of men. But first they had to follow him.
Jesus said, “Follow me AND I will make you fishers of men.” If this is true, then it is logical to assume the opposite, “Do not follow me AND I will not make you fishers of men.” These men would become the founding fathers of the Church as we know. BUT, first they had to follow Jesus. Whatever Jesus is calling you to, remember that the first step is to FOLLOW HIM! Do so and he will give you what you need to fulfill that calling.
Romans 9:21 says, “Does not the potter have the right to MAKE out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use.” The Greek word that is translated as MAKE in this verse is poieo. This is the same word used in the passage above. Jesus was telling the disciples that he would form them into what he was calling them to become.
With a potter the methods used to create a given type of pottery will differ depending on the desired results. The same is true for us. God’s call on each of our lives is unique. As such, the methods that God uses to prepare us for this calling will also be unique.
So, where does this leave us?
Well, even as Peter and Andrew’s obligation was to follow Jesus, so is ours. Jesus is promising to MAKE us into what He is calling us to. However, this will not happen automatically. Nor will it happen instantly. Peter spent 3 years simply FOLLOWING JESUS before he became what Jesus was calling him to. Certainly there were glimpses of it along the way, but it was not until Pentecost that Peter’s calling truly came to life and the results were amazing. So, if you want to pursue your calling, start by  following Jesus. I have some thoughts on what that looks like, but that is post for another day.
Click HERE to see all the posts in this series.

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Cutting Off Ears For Jesus

God has a plan for your life. For those of us in ministry He also has a plan for our ministry. If we’re not careful we may find ourselves getting in the way of This plan. We may find ourselves cutting of ears for Jesus.


Where does this idea of cutting off ears for Jesus come from. I mean this sounds like such a strange idea. You may be thinking, “I would never do such a thing.” You may even be thinking, “that’s just gross where is Matt going with this?” Well just indulge me a little.
You see, God has revealed to me that I have spent the last several years of my ministry doing exactly this, cutting off ears for Jesus. Recently God showed me that my ministry had become an idol to me. You can read that story HERE. As I sought to change this and to put God back in his rightful place as number one in my life, I was reminded of Peter. In John 18:1-11 we read about the events leading up to Jesus being arrested. I verse 10 we see where Peter responded by cutting off the ear of the priest’s servant. Peter loved Jesus, and in that moment he did what he thought was best. He did what he thought was right. However, Peter was actually getting in the way.
You see, God had a plan. Jesus being arrested and, eventually, killed we’re all part of that plan. Jesus knew this plan and faced it boldly. Peter did not know the plan and acted out of his ignorance. By doing so, he actually put himself in between Jesus and the carrying out of God’s plan. In the end Jesus made it right by healing the man that Peter had injured and God’s plan continued.
In ministry and in life we often find ourselves being Peter. We love Jesus and we want to be a part God’s plan, but we don’t know what we should do. In our ignorance or maybe even pride we take action, as Peter did. In doing so we sometimes actually put ourselves in the way of God’s plan. In spite of this we can be encouraged that God’s plan will be carried out.
In later posts we will take a look at how you can know if you have been cutting off ears for Jesus, how you can prevent doing it in the future and what you can do to fix the ear that has already been cut off.

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Daily Devotion: Seek Ye First

Matthew 6: 33

“Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well”
 

Seek

 
Merrium-Webster has several definitions that it using to describe the word SEEK. One of them states, “to try to acquire.” To try to acquire something indicates that it is something we don’t have. This verse tells us that we are to try to acquire the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. This makes it clear that WE DON’T HAVE IT.
This is not to say that are to try to TAKE God’s kingdom from Him. Satan already tried that and got kicked out of heaven. Rather it is telling us that we should seek to SHARE in His kingdom and His righteousness.
 
Adam and Eve shared in His kingdom and His righteousness in the Garden of Eden. In the book of Genesis we see where Adam and Eve walked and talked with God. We often talk about ourselves walking with God, and we SEEK His kingdom and His righteousness we will find ourselves walking with God more often. 
 
But it doesn’t end there. 
 
You see, Adam and Eve also talked with God. They had actual, two way conversations. We know this to be true because there is one of these conversations recorded in Genesis chapter 3 starting in verse 9. We can see that this sort of conversation was not new because Adam and Eve readily spoke with God. If this sort of conversation had been unusual then it would not have elicited such a casual response. 
 
So, Adam and Eve had CONVERSATION with God. The thing about a conversation it that it is two way. When we have a conversation with someone, there are times when we talk and times where we are silent and listen. When you pray are you having conversation WITH God or are you talking AT God? When you pray do you have times when you talk and times when you are SILENT?
 
All to often when we pray we do plenty of talking, but there is little, if any silence. We spend a lot of the talking to God, but very little time listening. If we are to seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness, if we are to seek to share His kingdom and His righteousness as Adam and Eve did, then we need to spend as much time listening as we do talking when we pray.

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How I Almost Got Arrested at #CPC13

Let me start by saying that me, Ron Brooks and Justin Brooks had almost as much fun in the car commuting back and forth as we did at the conference. Besides a long list of wrong and missed turns, all by the guy who lives in the area, there was the adventure of almost getting arrested.
 
That’s right, we came closer to getting arrested than I ever have. I could see the headlines already, 3 Children’s Pastors Arrested for Auto Theft, or maybe, 3 Children’s Pastors Flee Police in Stolen Car. Ok, maybe not the second one, but I was definately thinking the first one.
 
So, how did we get from attending the premier conference for Children’s Pastors to almost going to jail? Well, let me tell you. As we got off the interstate and onto the highway that led to my house I drove past a state trooper going the same direction. No big deal, I’ll just watch my speed. Then the trooper pulled in behind me. Now, I’m nervous. I diligently watch my speed for the next couple miles. Still I am nervous. So, I change lanes. Well, the trooper doesn’t change lanes, so I start feeling better about the whole thing.
 
Then the lights come one. If you’ve ever been pulled over, you know what I’m talking about. The flashing blue and red lights. The lights that might actually be quite lovely, under different circumstances. The lights that instantly provoke dread in even the most law abiding of citizens. Those lights.
 
So, I pull over, put the car in park, and begin to gather my documents. As I ask Ron to retrieve the registration from my glove box I realize that there is a fair chance that it isn’t there. You see, I’m one of those people. I have a bad habit of setting things on the kitchen counter and forgetting about them, even my registration. Thankfully, this time the registration was in the glove box.
 
Well, Mr. State Trooper man comes up to the car and asks for my registration. I hand him that, plus my driver’s license. The whole time thinking how strange it is that he only asked for my registration. He spends a minute or two reviewing my documents, then turns to me and tells me that as soon as I can I need to call the tag agency and tell them that my tag does not show my car when he runs the number. Apparently when he ran my tag it showed as being registered to ME, but not to my car. So, if I had not had the registration I am completely convinced that all three of us would have ended up in jail for suspicion of auto theft. Try explaining that to your senior pastor.
 
I’m sure there is a sermon there somewhere and I am certain that someday I will tell that story in a sermon, but for now it is just a really funny story. 

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Lessons from #CPC13: Is Your Ministry an Idol?

“Cast Down Our Idols”
 
As promised I am going to share some of the lessons I learned from CPC 2013. This was my first CPC so I can’t say how it compared to previous years, but I can say that it was awesome and that God really used it to speak to me.
 
On Friday night while worshiping after the last speaker of the day we sang the song “Give Us Clean Hands”. The lyrics going into the chorus read like this:
 
We turn our eyes
From evil things
Oh Lord we cast down our idols.
 

This is the moment that God chose to speak to me. As clear as it could have been without actually hearing an audible voice God told me, as I sang this, that my ministry had become an idol. On the surface this sounds like a strange thought. I mean, after all, we minister out of a desire to serve God so how can our ministry become an idol. Well, Exodus 20:4-5 says, “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them” This tells me that ANYTHING can become and idol to us. At the end of the day, anything that we put in a higher place in our lives than God is an idol.

 
Well, it was clear to me that I had placed my ministry at a higher place in my life that God.
  • I spent more time thinking about my ministry than I did about God.
  • I spent more time working on my ministry than I did my relationship with God.
  • I put more energy into pursuing my ministry than I did my relationship with God.
  • I felt more disappointment over not being where I WANTED to be in my ministry than over not being where I NEEDED to be in my relationship with God.
In addition to this there were 2 things that I feel were the Holy Spirit preparing me for this moment. Over and over again over the weeks leading up to this night I have been repeatedly reminded of Matthew 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” In additon to this, my Pastor just talked to the staff about our own personaly Bible study just ONE week prior to the conference.
 
With all this in mind, it is clear that I had placed my ministry above God, thus making it an Idol. Now, at this point I am not planning to walk away from my ministry. In fact I’m not sure what this all means. The one thing I do know is that I will SEEK FIRST HIS KINGDOM. From there I will let try to let my ministry be an overflow of what God is doing in my own personal life.

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