Ministry

Marriage & Ministry: The Do's & The Blues

Ministry and relationships can be a good thing. Like chocoflan, seems like a great idea!  Chocolate with anything usually equals A+ in my book. In both, you're either left with a perfect blend of both flavors or a hot gooey mess. Execution is key. 

So the question then becomes, how does a couple live out their happily ever after while leading a healthy ministry? Here’s a Jesus-juke for you; is the answer always... do them Biblically? Yes and no.  Let’s dig in.

 

Who’s who.

The Bible. The inerrant word of God. It’s been called life’s manual book, cliffs notes and Wikipedia all wrapped into one. Yet in His infinite wisdom, God chose flawed humans to extol his perfect divinity. 

Abraham & Sarah, Isaac & Rebekah, Moses & Zipporah; the who’s who of marriages in the Bible. Men and women of character, valor, faith and destiny. Their marriages and ministries impacted the world and left a lasting legacy…however they didn’t always get it right as husbands and wives, while being spiritual leaders.

 

Honest Abe.

As humans, we learn equally from observing correct behavior as we do from the opposite. We do see prime examples of what may not be the wisest things to do in the marriage of Abraham and Sarah.  1Laughing in the face of God, 2lying that they weren’t married. In Genesis 20, Abraham crafted a lie so King Abimelech wouldn’t hit on his beautiful bride. It happened anyways and now he’s caught in a deceitful situation with a foreign King.

Now Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. Gen 20:2

God ultimately uses a Pagan Ruler to bring a lesson from ministerial ethics 101 to the man of God. What’s interesting is Isaac, Abe’s son, does the exact same thing later in Genesis 26. 

Then Abimelech called Isaac and said, Quite obviously she is your wife; so how could you say, ‘She is my sister’?” Isaac said to him, Because I said, ‘Lest I die on account of her.’” Gen 26:9

Moral of the story, beauty will always attract, deception always detracts... don’t get caught in a pretty lie.  Parents, your children are always watching. They will do what you do more often than what you say.  The way you preach as well as the way you correct a church member. The way you teach and seeing how you live out your teachings. Heavenly and physical eyes are always watching.

 

Generations.

Isaac was the first natural son to Abraham and Sarah, but not to Abraham. 3Ishmael, born of Sarah‘s handmaiden Hagar, was Abraham’s true first born. We still see the enmity between those two lineages to this day. What Isaac saw his parents model, it ended up being a pattern for his life as well. Yes he was a man of great faith, but in the process he and his wife Rebekah made similar mistakes. Where Abraham lied about his spouse, so did Isaac. Where as Abraham preferred Isaac, Rebekah preferred Jacob.

And Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob. Genesis 25:28

Moral of the story, Parent’s it is never wise to have a preferred child. We must never value one more because he helps in ministry than others who do not. God is the one that calls us into ministry, not us as parents or pastors.  Love them for who they are. Invest in their gifting for their sake, not your ministerial goals. 

Also the issues that we fail to address in our lives, many times end up as a responsibility for the next generation. We see it with Isaac, we also see it in David’s narrative. 4David faced the Philistine Goliath, because Samson didn’t finish the job. 5David also couldn’t build the Temple, but his son Solomon did. 

 

Plagued Parenthood

Another example is Moses and Zipporah. Scholars debate exactly why, but when Moses was out doing God’s work in Egypt, Zipporah was at home with the kids. We last read of her in Exodus 4:24-26 and then again in chapter 18:2-3 after the plagues, parting of the Red Sea, essentially most of God’s miraculous work through Moses' ministry.

He could have been upset she intervened in the circumcision of his son6. We can postulate that he was sheltering her and the kids from the weightiness of ministry. However in the process he robbed them of the opportunity of a lifetime to witness God’s hand moving in the most powerful ways. Possibly in an effort to protect them, he hindered the growth in them.

Moral of the story, God’s calling over your life equates to God’s calling over your family’s life. One is not separate from the other, and to separate them shows a lack of trust on your behalf.  That does not mean they are called to ministry as pastors or leaders, but they are called to be pastors kids. The dynamic is different in a pastors home, speaking from experience. Bring them up with the fear of the Lord in their lives as if you were an insurance salesmen or a minister. 

Also never sacrifice your marriage on the altar of ministry. Your first ministry is to your spouse and children, not the church. The church belongs to Jesus, not to you. Do not be an absent spouse or parent and expect them to readily understand because your doing God’s work. 

 

Putting the pieces together.

Now after reading this article, you may think hey you’re not putting our forefathers of the faith in the best light. Let us not forget that God included these stories in the Scriptures for a reason. Yes they accomplished many miraculous deeds for God. Yes we can never replicate what they accomplished despite their shortcomings. But the fact that they are included is for us to draw lessons from and learn what not to do, as much as what to do in our marriages and ministries.

It seems all three have a common denominator, issues of trust. We need to trust God with our children and our future. We do not need to act like mini-gods with our families. We need to learn to trust God wholly.  Trust that He will work things for our good. That He will build his church, so we can administer it.

The only perfect marriage exists between Jesus and the Church. Our job is to love our spouses like Jesus loves the church. Out of the abundance of love we have towards God, our relationships will flourish. We will lead our marriages and ministries to great heights trusting an unknown future to a known God.

1. Gen. 17:16-17; 18:13, 2. Gen 20:2-18 3. Gen 16:15 4. 1 Sam. 17 5. 1 Kings 6:12 6. Exodus 4:24-26

5 Steps for Achieving Goals

It’s a brand new year!   Happy New Year!

And by now, one month has almost passed for 2018.

You’ve had time to work on some goals, and opportunities to do something different this year over these past few weeks.  Hopefully, you have taken steps in the right direction towards the changes you want to see!

But if you haven’t, it’s okay.  We have all been there. But, we don’t have to stay there!

I have learned a secret:  if nothing changes, nothing changes.

In other words, if we do not intentionally change something we do daily or weekly, the results we are receiving will not change.  If we do not change our routines or habits that could aid in accomplishing our goals, we will be standing at the end of the year wondering where did the time go?

Here are some things to ponder:

·      Time is going to continue to press forward.

·      Being busy is not an excuse.

·      It is not going to happen overnight.

I have learned from my own personal experience that if I want to achieve my goals for the year, then I need to create actionable steps and habits in my weekly schedule to give me the results I want to see!

“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.” – Jim Rohn

Here are 5 steps for you to accomplish your goals:

1.  Decide what you want.

I know it may sound simple, but this practice is to help bring some clarity to your own soul.  What is it that you want to accomplish this year?

·      Do you want to go back to school?

·      Do you want to buy a home?

·      Do you want to try a new career?

·      Do you want to read more books?

·      Do you want to get into the best physical shape of your life?

·      Do you want more of God in your life?

Give yourself a fair chance to win.  You cannot hit a target that has not been identified.

2.  Write it down.

Right?  Again, another simple practice, but lots of people never take the time down to write down what they want to accomplish.

Did you know that people who write down their goals on paper (or digital format) are more than likely to accomplish their goals?  It’s true!  Great men and women have practiced writing down thoughts and ideas for hundreds of years.

Even the books and letters of the Bible are here today because the authors WROTE IT DOWN!

“When you write things down, they sometimes take you places you hadn’t planned.” – Melanie Benjamin

Pull out a sheet of paper.  Buy a journal.  Open your laptop.  Use the notes feature on your iPhone.  

3.  Share it with someone.

Okay, I know this makes you a bit vulnerable to others.  You are sharing things with someone that might be a bit personal.  But, I would encourage you to share your goals with someone you trust and someone that believes in you.  Also, if it’s really private, then use discretion.

The goal here is not to spread TMI (too much information), but to create a healthy accountability for you.  When others know what we desire to do or should be doing, it helps us to strive for the prize.

As long as you keep it private, you may not feel the healthy “pressure” to make it happen.  And here’s the bonus:  it’s not for them, but it’s for YOU!

4.  Schedule it into your calendar.

Let’s say you desire to read more books this year.  Okay, what books specifically?  And when you have selected your books, which book will you read first?  And once you have your first book, what part of the day or which days will you schedule some reading time?

I know – not all are scheduled people.  But the point here is to say that if it’s not on the schedule, it doesn’t exist.  If we don’t create space to achieve the habit required to meet the goal, we will not reach the goal.  Plain and simple.

You are worth it.  

You may not feel like those small changes in your daily routine are making a difference, but trust me, they do!  Small changes daily are magnified over time.

5.  Review periodically.

Now, here is where discipline really comes in – at the end of the month or every quarter, review your progress.

Personally, I check my personal and professional goals every month.  I want to know how I am doing.

Just like we check the scoreboard at football games to know who is winning, your year needs a scoreboard to know if you are down or up.  If you are down, make adjustments.  If you are up, keep doing what you are doing.  

You can either make progress or make excuses, but you cannot do both.

Now, get out there and go win!

Define Your Vision with Values

In recent decades, we have seen the emergence of books, seminars and conferences that bring secular leadership principles to the church setting.  Additionally, more and more civic and business leaders are becoming active in their local churches, exerting a corporate influence on church leadership.  This has undoubtedly been a blessing to the kingdom of God.  It has fostered a spirit of excellence and professionalism in the body of Christ that represents the kingdom well.

While secular leadership and church leadership share many sound ideas, they flow out of starkly different visions.  The jargon of each idea highlights opposite purposes: “gains” vs. “grace”, “success” vs. “salvations”, “profits” vs. “praise”, “losses” vs. “longsuffering” – you get the idea.  So, before we talk about vision, we need to talk about values.  Vision is what we do.  Values are who we are.  No matter how great the vision is or how clear we can communicate it, if we don’t embrace the correct values, then we cannot expect God to prosper our work. Here are a few virtues that should define your vision. 

Obedience. Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15).  Obedience is not solely our duty to Him, it is also our expression of love for Him.  We must be people of God before doing the work of God.  Google “obedience” and you’ll find this definition: submission to another’s authority. Don't ever forget that!  We are under His command.  “Dreaming is free” is a catchy phrase, but we are not free to dream our own dream.  Our vision should center on God’s – “He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent (2 Peter 3:9)”.  Our pursuit is obedience, before results. 

Compassion.  In ministry, passion alone is not enough.  Visionaries see needs – and it compels them.  God pointed Moses to the captivity of Israel.  David came to an army overpowered by fear.  Esther saw a nation in exile.  Jesus paid the sins of a helpless humanity.  None of them were concerned with success or fame, it was compassion that drove them. 

Relationships.  Spiritual leadership requires more than solely responsibilities.  It requires relationships.  Jesus called the twelve, “disciples”, but eventually he called them “friends”.  In other words, you must love on the people you lead.  And those relationships should deepen over time.  Ministry doesn’t serve clients.  It serves God’s children.  

Authority.  Authority is not the same as power.  The Pharisees were inferior to Christ in power, yet they abused the little power they had.  Jesus on the other hand, had all the power in the world.  He could have demanded that people follow.  In fact, He could have forced them.  But what had people in awe of Christ was His authority.  “When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, for he taught with real authority—quite unlike their teachers of religious law.” Power usually gets results through fear.  Authority gets results through love.  In business, employees fear losing their jobs if they don’t submit to leadership.  In ministry, people love the benefits of following a godly leader.

How do you want to produce results?  Love overcomes fear.  The greatest commandment is love.  God is love.  Let your vision be defined by love.  Entrepreneur and inspirational speaker, Robert Clancy puts it this way, “Great leaders may be found at the top of the mountain looking back upon their challenges, but the greatest leaders are often found at the foot of the mountain still helping others reach the summit.”

- Pastor Chali 

Chali Martinez is passionate about spreading the transformational gospel of Jesus Christ.  His unique speaking style blends passion, humor, and clarity and has made Pastor Chali a highly solicited international speaker.  Having accepted the call to ministry at age 16, Chali now has over 20 years of ministerial experience having served as a singer, songwriter, evangelist, and youth pastor.  In 2013 Chali and his lovely wife Carla founded Vital Church in McAllen, Texas, now one of the fastest growing churches in South Texas and where they currently serve as lead pastors.  Chali and Carla are the proud parents of two young boys, Dante and Luca. 

CREATIVITY: GOD'S GIFT

So what is creativity and where does it come from? When God created the world, he created man and woman in his own image. He told them to be fruitful and multiply and to rule over all that he had created. As part of that rule God had Adam name the animals. This was one of the first recorded creative acts of man. He also placed Adam and Eve in the garden and gave them work to do. That work involved thinking, planning and decision making, all of which are aspects of the creative process.

After the fall we find that mankind’s creativity continued, although it was now stained by sin. In the early chapters of Genesis we see the rise of agriculture, the building of cities, the forging of tools and even the beginning of music. We read in Genesis 4:21 that “Jubal … was the father of all who played the harp and flute.” In short, we find the beginnings of human culture, as man began to put into practice the creative gifts that God had given him to fulfill his task of ruling over creation

And so God, the creator, is the source of all creativity, and in creating man in his own image, He gave man gifts of creativity also. 

Exodus 31:1-6 -Then the LORD said to Moses, “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts — to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of craftsmanship. Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, to help him. Also I have given skill to all the craftsmen to make everything I have commanded you.”

In Exodus 31:1-6 God is telling Moses who will be in charge of building the tabernacle. But the text also contains four very important principles for us as we consider Gods "GIFT OF CREATIVITY"

1. God chooses to whom he gives gifts. (1-2)

The first thing we learn from the text is that God chooses to whom He gives gifts. Look at verses 1-2: “Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah.’” The word translated “chosen” in this verse is a word that means “called or commissioned.” You have heard of people commissioning art work to be done before. Well, here God commissions Bezalel son of Uri for the work of overseeing the building of the tabernacle. God had gifted Bezalel for this task. God chooses to whom he gives gifts.

We find this principle throughout Scripture. It is true of spiritual gifts. In 1 Corinthians 12 Paul lists a number of the gifts and then he says, “All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines” (1 Cor.12:11). Hebrews 2:4 also speaks of “gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” 

But spiritual gifts are only one example of this. God is the giver of all gifts, and He chooses which gifts to give to whom. God did not create everyone the same. To some he gives artistic ability, to others musical ability, to others the ability to make things with their hands. God in his wisdom gave you exactly the creative gifts that he wanted you to have. Your gifts are part of who you are. They are part of the person that God created you to be. We should receive those gifts with thanksgiving and use them to the best of our ability. 

2. God gives knowledge, skill, ability and craftsmanship. 

The second thing we learn from our text is that God gives knowledge, skill, ability and craftsmanship. Look at Exodus 31 again: “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts.” (Ex. 31:2-3)

Apparently this man, Bezalel, was a master craftsman. He was filled with the Spirit of God in knowledge, skill and ability to do the work of building the tabernacle. God had clearly chosen Bezalel for this task long before he revealed it to Moses. Moses didn’t just walk down the mountain and find that Bezalel could suddenly do all these things. God doesn’t work that way. God had been preparing Bezalel all along. And Bezalel would have had to work hard to develop those gifts as well. Still, God chose him for this task, and with that in mind, He “filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts.”

Now we are not all going to be like a Bezalel. It seems that Bezalel was an extraordinarily gifted man. You and I will probably not attain to the same level of skill and mastery that Bezalel obviously had. And that’s okay. God not only chooses to whom He gives gifts; He also chooses how much of any gift he gives to each person. But the point is this. Whatever knowledge, skill and ability you have comes from God.  James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father.” 

Do you have knowledge in a certain area? Do you have special abilities? Do you have skills that you have been able to develop beyond what the average person can do in that area? God gave that to you. It comes from Him. God gave you your creative abilities, and you need to honor him with the gifts He has given you. God gives knowledge, skill, ability and craftsmanship.

3. God gives a wide variety of creative gifts. (4-5)

The third thing we learn from our text is that God gives a wide variety of creative gifts. Going back to Exodus 31, look at verses 4-5. When God gifted Bezalel, he gave him knowledge, skill and ability “to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of craftsmanship.” 

Bezalel wasn’t just given one gift, say, the ability to work with gold. Bezalel was skilled in many mediums – gold, silver and bronze. He knew how to cut stones and place them in beautiful settings. He understood carpentry and how to work with wood. Apparently he knew much more, because verse five finally stops listing all his different skills and just says he was able to engage in all kinds of craftsmanship. 

God gave Bezalel a wide variety of gifts. And that was all just one person!  Rom. 12:6 says, “We [all] have different gifts, according to the grace given us.” God in His grace gives a wide variety of gifts to all people everywhere. 

And so when we think of creative gifts, we should not limit ourselves to just thinking about the creative arts – painting, sculpture, writing, music, dance, design, photography, and so on. All of human endeavor involves creative gifts and abilities, from a simple setting of the table for dinner to the building of a vast cathedral. 

Every person is a creative person. It’s true. Anytime you put part of yourself into a task or project you are being creative. Anytime you organize or decorate something you are being creative. Anytime you solve a problem you are being creative. Anytime you inject humor into a situation you are being creative. Anytime you apply the knowledge, ability and skill that God has given you to the task at hand, you are being creative.

So when you think about creativity, don’t just think about the arts! God gives a wide variety of creative gifts, and He has given creative gifts to you, too. And there is a reason God gave you the specific gifts that make you who you are.

4. God’s gifts have a purpose. (6)

And that leads us to our fourth and final point. God’s gifts have a purpose. Look at verse 6 where God expands the creative task for building the tabernacle beyond just Bezalel: “Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, to help him. Also I have given skill to all the craftsmen to make everything I have commanded you.” (Ex. 31:6)

Why did God give Bezalel and Oholiab and all the other craftsmen their specific skills? I am sure they used those skills for many other things as well, but God also had a specific purpose in mind for them. God had given them all the particular skills they needed in order to build the tabernacle, and not just to build it, but to build it according to God’s exact specifications, as God told Moses, “to make everything I have commanded you.”

God gives creative gifts for a purpose. Part of that purpose is simply for us to fulfill our role as human beings made in the image of God.  

Too often we think of Christianity only in terms of the Bible, prayer, and church on Sunday mornings. But as important as all those things are, the Christian life is so much bigger than that. Christianity is all about being human to the glory of God. And so that means taking all that God has created in this world and all of human culture and creativity and then returning it to God in praise. As Paul says in 1 Timothy 4:4 “Everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.” 

The church (believers) lost its influence in the world, because it lost interest in the world that God created. How sad! As Christians we should not only be interested in Christianity. 

Beyond the general overall purpose of reflecting the image of God in society by exercising your creative gifts, God also has some specific purposes for the gifts he has given you. Going back to the tabernacle in Exodus 31, God had a very specific purpose for the creative gifts he gave to Bezalel and Oholiab. How about for New Testament believers today? 

Eph. 2:10 says that “we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Isn’t that awesome? Just as Bezalel and Oholiab produced quality workmanship for the tabernacle, you are the workmanship of Almighty God. And God has not only prepared specific works for you to do, but he also created you with the specific gifts necessary to do those good works. Make no mistake about it. God’s gifts have a purpose, and God has a purpose for the creative gifts he has given you.

CONCLUSION: In summary: 1) God chooses to whom He gives gifts; 2) God gives knowledge, skill, ability and craftsmanship; 3) God gives a wide variety of creative gifts; and 4) God’s gifts have a purpose.

What should our response be to all this?

1) Always thank God for the creative gifts He has given you. Do not put down your gifts. Do not envy the gifts of others. Do not boast in your gifts. Rather, thank God for the specific gifts he has given you, and do so with a spirit of humility and wonder.

2) Develop and Use your creative gifts.Remember the parable of the talents? God does not want you to bury your gifts in the ground. If you have a sharp mind, develop it! If you have the ability to produce beautiful things with your hands, produce them! Work hard, and develop the gifts God has given you. The Bible says, “To whom much is given, much will be required.” Take the gifts that God has given you, develop them to the best of your ability, and then use them in loving service to God and others.

3) Engage in all the life God has given you for His glory. Remember, “Everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.” (1 Tim. 4:4)  No matter where your gifts or interests lie, God can use you to bring him glory in this world. 

 

Mike Ramirez/ThroneStudio

Born in a single parent home, Mike' s mother raised 4 children ( Mike being the youngest) and they all serve in their own ministry. Mike started his ministry as a youth pastor since 1994, through life's journey his ministry ThroneStudio was birth on Easter of 2015. He took a step of faith and has been full time ministry since October of 2015. Along with his beautiful wife Lori they serve and are members of Cross Church in San Benito Tx. ThroneStudio is a ministry expressing the WORD through paint (live painting). His passion is to PAINT and PREACH the WORD! 

Harvest

This year we experienced a GREAT EASTER WEEKEND! One thing I have learned about ministry around here, is that EASTER Weekend is a HUGE deal for us!  It is an opportunity for us to REACH PEOPLE we have never reached and tell them about Jesus.

However, with that grace of reaching people and seeing hundreds attend our services and ministry comes the high price of stewardship and responsibility.  The Bible teaches:

·      To whom much has been given, much is required - Luke 12:48

·      God gives the amount of the talent - it is our job to multiply the talent - Matthew 25:15

The Bible states that “he gave to each according to his own ability” - meaning if God has given us this type of influence, favor, and grace, He is affirming our ability.

I have learned that after Easter Weekend - comes the WORK!

I want to share with you some quotes I read recently from a sermon by Pastor Steven Furtick.  I don't think it was by coincidence that I thought on these things. He preached a message on John 4:34-38, where Jesus is talking about the HARVEST.  He is telling His disciples that the HARVEST is ready.

Here are some notes I gathered:

·      The HARVEST is hard.

·      Sometimes you have to go through things that other people will walk around.

·      If God gives you what you are praying for, you might lose a few friends.

·      Reaping ain't easy.

·      You can't reap what you don't recognize.  Harvest is a problem if you're not ready to reap.

·      Harvest is a problem if you're not willing to increase your capacity.

·      The harvest is often hidden in the things you hate.

I grew up in Itasca Texas and I remember when the corn fields or the cotton fields were ready, you would see the combines and workers working all day and night to pull in the harvest. There is a season to pull in the harvest because if you don't, you could lose your crop! I know the excitement of Easter Weekend has passed, but now comes the true test of commitment and stewardship - HARVESTING what God sent us.

So how does that look like for us?

·      Get to the know the people attending our services

·      Making phone calls to first time guests

·      Following up with saved people

·      Assimilating new people into the Serve Team

·      Stepping up our personal spiritual game to meet the demands of the season

HARVEST is a blessing, but it is also hard work. Don't be fooled into thinking we can stop now. WE CAN'T STOP. Eternity depends on it.  Families are in need of it. People are looking for it. A city is waiting for it.

Let's go get the HARVEST!

"Do you not say, 'There are still four months and then comes the harvest?' Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for HARVEST!" - John 4:35

Abram Gomez is the Executive Pastor of Cross Church, formerly known as Valley International Christian Center, in San Benito, TX. He serves under the leadership of Bishop Jaime Loya and helps in leading the 2,500-member congregation. Abram is a graduate of Southwestern Assemblies of God University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Church Ministries. He recently earned  his Master’s Degree in Human Services Counseling with a specialization in Executive Leadership from Liberty University. Abram is the founder and director of Next Gen, a movement designed to mentor Next Generation Church Leaders. Abram recently received approval as a team member and representative for Nation 2 Nation University, a video-based ministerial school offering two and four year degrees.  His teaching is a part of the curriculum including Youth Ministry, Church Administration and Church Growth. Occasionally, Abram writes for Valley Christian Magazine, a regional periodical that covers the entire valley.  He and his wife, Rebecca, reside in Harlingen along with their precious daughter Isabella and son Jude.

You Aren't Called to Be Average

When I look at society at large and those who lead it, there is one blaring question: Where are the Christians in places of prominence who are leading our society? Yes, there are certainly Christians in some positions of leadership in various arenas—but when it comes to leading, creating, and influencing culture, we are lagging behind the world. Which leads us to ask the question: why?

As Christians we are empowered by the grace of God, and God’s very Spirit resides inside of us—so why are we as a church often found imitating the world’s methods rather than leading?

Consider this account of Daniel:

Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. —Daniel 6:3 NIV

First things first—notice this is in the Old Testament, meaning Jesus had not yet made us clean and paved the way for the Holy Spirit to take up residence in our hearts. That means Daniel did this under an inferior covenant! That is astounding.

Next, notice it doesn’t say, “God distinguished Daniel.” Every major Bible translation says that it was Daniel who “distinguished himself.” The Message Bible states it this way:

But Daniel, brimming with spirit and intelligence, so completely outclassed the other vice-regents and governors that the king decided to put him in charge of the whole kingdom. —Daniel 6:3 MSG

How did Daniel do it? He had exceptional qualities because he was a man who was connected with God. It should be no different for anyone who has the Spirit of God living inside them. In fact, it should be better. He did all this under the old covenant, which we are no longer under. Hebrews 8:6 tells us that because of Jesus, “the new covenant is established on better promises.”

The New American Standard Bible says, “Daniel began distinguishing himself…because he possessed an extraordinary spirit.” The word extraordinary means “to go beyond the norm, to break out of the status quo, to exceed the common measure.”

As a people filled with God’s Spirit and empowered by His grace, under a new and better covenant than even Daniel had, we are called to rule in life. But don’t take my word for it. Look at Paul’s words to the Roman church. He says:

“All who receive God’s abundant grace and are freely put right with him will rule in life through Christ.” —Romans 5:17 TEV

As a believer, you are not called to just get by. You are not called to blend into the crowd. Nothing of the sort. You are called to rule in life. God made you to be extraordinary—and He’s placed His Spirit inside you to set you apart!

If you are a teacher, empowered by God’s grace, you should inspire students in a way that makes others marvel and ask you what you are doing differently. If you are in business, you should be ahead of the market, at the cutting edge of innovation. If you are an artist, others should look to you for creative ideas, wanting to replicate the originality of your work. The same principle applies if you’re a musician, researcher, athlete, scientist, politician, police officer, flight attendant, or stay-at-home mom, or if you’re in the media, the military, or any other arena of life.

Again, remember the words of Paul in Romans—our mandate as Christians is to rule. Like Daniel, we are to distinguish ourselves by God’s empowering presence on our lives.

It’s time the world looked to the church for inspiration and not the other way around. It’s time we begin living our lives with such a degree of excellence that we move into positions of influence in every arena of society. Not only do I believe this is possible—I believe it is a part of our calling—it’s God’s mandate on us as His followers. May we recognize our God-given identity as sons and daughters, rely on His empowering grace, and in a world of average, begin to distinguish ourselves for God’s glory.

 

John Bevere and his wife Lisa are the founders of Messenger International. A minister and best-selling author, John delivers messages of uncompromising truth with boldness and passion. His desire is to support the local church and resource leaders regardless of location, language, or financial position. To this end, his resources have been translated into over 90 languages, and millions of copies have been given away to pastors and leaders worldwide. When he’s home, John tries to convince Lisa to take up golf and spends time with his four sons, daughter-in-law, and grandbabies.