2019 The Year of New Beginnings

2019 The Year of New Beginnings

Podcast Of This Message

Listen to the expanded Podcast of this article here

A new year is upon us, 2019 is officially here so happy birthday Earth?!? Now rather than me giving you a Christian horoscope about the coming year I want to talk about how we can embrace change and new beginnings in our lives so we can better serve and follow after God. I know that many people look to posts like this to find out what God is going to do in the world during 2019, be it in politics, the church, world events, or over generalized personal promises. By this I mean words such as “look under your chairs, everybody gets a victory, you get a victory, you get a victory everyone gets a victory” with no details, confirmations or steps to carry out to see it come to pass.

I don’t mean to downplay God’s ability to provide theme words for 2019 and any other year or His ability to provide glimpses into what is about to happen. Instead I want to paint a picture of what I feel God is leading me to teach and talk about over the next twelve months, and spoiler alert it has to do with how to handle and navigate change in our lives. Far too often we hear a word from God and click like and don’t do anything to see those words come to pass in our lives or in the world around us. We need to go beyond chasing after an unending stream of unused/unapplied words from God in our lives and rather we need to learn how to engage with what God has already spoken to us.

A single word from God can change a person’s life but to see that word become a reality we must learn how to navigate the waters of change.

A single word from God can change a person’s life but to see that word become a reality we must learn how to navigate the waters of change. Never has God called or commissioned a person to do something great and then leave them in the place He originally found them in. That is the lesson for this coming year and it will be the driving force behind what I will be talking about in these articles throughout the year, and starting in June on my podcast and in my videos.

God Brings Change But Doesn’t Change Himself

The process of life is one of constant change, we get bigger, stronger, older, weaker, smaller and so on. Life is about growth and change and as long as we are alive we are faced with some form of change or another. Be it changes in our appearance, in our family, at work, in politics, or in the world around us in general. At times change is good and other times it can be painful, but that is life, change can bring out the best of us or it can chase us away into a deep dark corner to hide in until the change stops. No matter what happens or what changes what is inevitable is that we will face change again.

Now not all change is bad there are times where God is the one initiating change in our lives or in the greater world. For now though I want to focus on God’s desire to change us for the better, because He is aware of all things and He knows what we have to do in order to fulfill His purpose for our lives. Although we experience change and growth God does not. He is not alive in the senses that He doesn’t have a beating heart and is carried through time. God is eternal and with that eternity brings a stillness to His identity, purpose, nature and vision. God sees all and knows all therefore He who cannot change is able to see into us so that we can change to be more like Him.


Isaiah 46:10 “Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,’” (NKJV)

Daniel 2:21-22 “And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise And knowledge to those who have understanding. 22He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, And light dwells with Him.” (NKJV)

Malachi 3:6 “For I am the LORD, I do not change; Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.” (NKJV)


God has a plan and a purpose for each of us but to achieve those plans we have to learn how to follow God and how to submit to the changes He is trying to bring to our lives. It wasn’t enough for young David to be anointed King by Samuel, yes David had the promise but he still had to live out a life which would turn that promise into a reality. At times there were good seasons and others were marked by rough seasons in the literal wilderness. The promise was not enough for David, the offer of Kingship came at a price: his everyday life.

We expect God to do all of the work and forget that a life with a calling is a life of partnership with God.

I feel this is the missing ingredient in the lives of many Christians. We feel that we have a call or purpose from God but we do nothing to see it become a reality. We covet the title of king but we don’t want to fight Goliath, or serve Saul, or lead a band of misfits in the wilderness, or learn to live on the run, or even how to show honor to our enemy as David did with Saul. We expect God to do all of the work and forget that a life with a calling is a life of partnership with God.

We Are Prone To Change In The Wrong Ways

Unfortunately despite how much God tries to change us for the better we as Christians still seem to be prone to chasing after the wrong kinds of change (both personally and corporately). We are comfortable with superficial changes and think that if we experience enough of them it will count towards a change of heart. If I change these eight secondary things I can trade them in for a major heart change in God’s eyes. I know this is silly but it frighteningly happens more than I’d like to admit in the hearts of Christians and in the operation of the local church. We treat God’s commands to follow His words like its some fad diet that we follow along with until we get dissatisfied or too hungry for the old things then we abandon it and move on to the next thing. We have Christians who collect attempts to obey God like other people collect exercise tapes and gadgets, thinking that volume equals success.

We have Christians who collect attempts to obey God like other people collect exercise tapes and gadgets, thinking that volume equals success.

We go on these diets of obedience, character development, love, patience but never follow through to the end and assume that as long as we “tried our best” for a couple of weeks that will be enough to satisfy God and open the flood gates of heaven so all of the promises and blessings will rain down upon us. It is an ‘easy Christianity’ that we crave where no change is involved, no challenges are involved and no growth is necessary. We want the benefits of Christianity and relationship with God without any of the responsibilities.

Or even worse instead of making the changes God is speaking to our heart we simply replace God with one in our own image, while others find a pastor who will enable our resistance to God’s voice. Then there are those who hear from God about changing a portion of their own heart of soul and go on a crusade to force everyone else to do what God told them individually to do, while never actually doing it themselves. When we resist change and progress in our walk with God we are demonstrating to Him that we really want to serve a different God all together. One that is passive, one that is quiet, and one that acts more like a guidance councillor than the Wise King of the Universe.


Jeremiah 2:11 Has a nation changed its gods, Which are not gods? But My people have changed their Glory For what does not profit. (NKJV)


We have this desire inside of us to go back to living the ways of the world once again and we get triggered and offended when God tells us otherwise. What would have happened if David murdered Saul in 1 Samuel 24 while in the cave with him? What would have happened to his calling and promise to be King of Israel? Far too often we want to take our divine inheritance through natural means, and God’s process of change and refinement in our lives is a mission to keep us from doing that. God wants us to work with and through Him to accomplish the purposes of our lives, lest we drink from the Pride flavoured Kool-Aid and take all of the credit and accomplishments for ourselves.


Isaiah 48:3-5 3 “I have declared the former things from the beginning; They went forth from My mouth, and I caused them to hear it. Suddenly I did them, and they came to pass. 4 Because I knew that you were obstinate, And your neck was an iron sinew, And your brow bronze, 5 Even from the beginning I have declared it to you; Before it came to pass I proclaimed it to you, Lest you should say, ‘My idol has done them, And my carved image and my molded image Have commanded them.’ (NKJV)

We as believers and children of God cannot go around making changes simply for the sake of making changes. It’s like when a church is struggling financially and/or spiritually, and they think the answer to their problems is unveiling up a new logo. Change for the sake of attention is not real growth, you can make all kinds of changes but that doesn’t make them the right changes. You can move your house off of a foundation of rock and put it onto one of sand and while yes you changed you just made everything worse. We cannot reject the changes God is trying to make in our lives and try to replace them with other changes that we think are more suitable.

Not New But Activated

New Beginnings isn’t just about something new coming along to change a person’s life but it can also be things long promised coming into reality, the newness is in the person’s place in the fulfillment of long forgotten promises. It was new to David to be king despite being anointed for many years, in a single day he went from exile to the crowned King of Judah (and later Israel). That was a profound change in his life, but all he did for those decades prior prepared him for the day the crown would be placed upon him.

New Beginnings then can be look at as the start of a new chapter rather than you opening up an entirely different book. Right now I have a couple of books that I’ve been reading for over a year, not because of laziness but because it seems that when ever I open one of those books I find myself confronting exactly what I need to see at that moment. Yes I power through other books as well but I keep finding myself facing these moments in an existing book which help to direct my life.

That is what I’m talking about here about New Beginnings, all of us feel as if we are multiple books which are opened at the same time. We have a book of family, work, relationships, destiny, goals, successes and at times God will take us to one of those books and flip the pages to the next chapter so that we can begin the next season of that book. At times that chapter will overtake every other book on the table while other times it feels as if it is running in the background muffled by everyday life. What is important is learning how to follow God when He takes us to those new chapters, but we need to understand that God only advances us after we have proven our faithfulness, demonstrated our humility in obeying Him and in our openness to hearing what He is speaking to us.

What’s Coming In 2019

This year I will be teaching on three interconnected themes. The first is on New Beginnings and we will be taking inspiration from two places; the life of David, specifically when he exited the wilderness season by finally becoming King, as I eluded to above. While in the New Testament we will find out how Saul became Paul the Apostle, how he went from Pharisee to the wilderness and then became the great builder of the church.

Secondly, I’ll be teaching on the matter of Hope and how it is tied to our understanding of God’s nature because our hope is grounded in God’s identity. Thirdly, I’ll showing how we are to live as ones who have come out of the cycle of judgment. Think about places such as the book of Judges where Israel would go from faithfulness to apathy to idolatry to suffering (invasion, famine, etc.) to mourning to repentance to blessing/deliverance and back to faithfulness. I believe God wants us to learn how to come into of the process of repentance, blessing and faithfulness and learn how to remain in that place without slipping back into the cycle for as long as possible.

So I invite you to join me on this journey through 2019 as we follow as closely as possible behind God in a place where we can see Him work and learn how we can participate along with Him.


Ecclesiastes 7:8 The end of a thing is better than its beginning; The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. (NKJV)


To go deeper in your journey with Christ check out my new book Understanding Who You Are: A Survey of 21st Century Christian beliefs which is now on sale. Available in paperback (Canada or USA) and eBook! Get your copy today and discover not just your purpose but how you can build the Kingdom of God here on the Earth

 
Creative Commons License2019 The Year of New Beginnings Cameron Conway is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
 

Life Beyond Church 06: Trusting The God of Hope

WITH ALL OF THE DIFFICULTIES, struggles, pains, losses, frustrations and general unjust craziness there is in this life it doesn’t take much to lose ones hope. We try our best to continue trusting the God of hope but so much in this world and in our individual lives tells us to give up the fight and settle into the lands of defeat. There is no fairy tale ending, so get a cozy chair and get yourself a nice view of the pit of despair…

The Hunt For Living Water

The Hunt For Living Water

You need water to live. Each day your body required high quality H2O to continue its existence in this world. Yet that cool and refreshing living water can only do so much to bring life and restoration to the core of our being. I can flavor that water with anything I want, tea, coffee, kool-aid, tang, those weird little squares with syrup in them but no matter how I flavor that water it is still water. It can support my natural existence but it has no effect on my spiritual condition or my existence in eternity.

That is where we need something greater than H20, we need life, not just a glimmer of life but its very source, Jesus. Throughout the Bible we see this picture of “living water” appear in both the New and Old Testaments but it isn’t until the Gospel of John that we realize what God was talking about to the prophets. In John 4 Jesus in His conversation with the Samaritan woman comments on how the living water He possesses was far superior to the one beneath the well He was sitting beside. Let’s take a look at what He says:


John 4:10-14 10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? 12 Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?” 13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”


It becomes obvious to us that Jesus is talking about something far greater than the water that was sitting at the bottom of that well. He is speaking about a source of life which can lead not to more natural life but can lead us to eternal life. Not a cup of water which flows out of us a few hours later, but the very power of God’s life and power in us which brings about a change that lasts far longer than a few hours.  This is just one of the many instances where Jesus equates His life, purpose and reason for being on Earth is that those created in God’s image can once again receive life rather than the punishment of death through/by sin. Not long after the encounter in Samaria Jesus speaks of being the bread of life (living manna) which is once again available for God’s people.


John 6:47-51 47 Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes [j]in Me has everlasting life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. 50 This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”


This is the core purpose for why Jesus came into our world, to bring an end to the domination of sin, to break the power of Satan and to restore covenant relationship between the Creator and the created. Jesus came to bring redemption for our sins, to bring adopting for us into His family and to provide a means by which the futility of creation and life can be turned back into its original purpose.

Digging Beneath the Ice For Living Water

To me it feels at times that God has frozen His living water that is available to us in our modern world. As if a great winter has come upon us and the living water of Jesus is trapped beneath several feet of ice. We can walk and skate on that ice, build igloo’s and snow forts but we are unable to access the waters beneath with our bear hands. The water continues to flow beneath the ice, and those who are determined are still able partake of it will forcefully breaking through the ice, wither with a shovel, a drill, an augur or even with fire.

These people feel to be in the minority while most others will simply pass over it and wonder what it would be like to partake of that living water that supposedly flowed in the land long ago. So to can we take for granted what Jesus has not only done in the past but what He is offering to us right now. Have we learned to be accustomed to the winter and its snow, forts, ice and covering that we forgot what the land used to look like, full of greenery and life?
Do enough of us in the church today want to learn to dig through the ice so God can provide His living water to not only them but all of the people who are searching for fresh living water? No matter how much we sing or confess that we want the living water of Christ I fear that too many people have grown accustomed to drinking thawed snow picked up from the ground. Water which will not sustain them, and it is water which will only furthers their coldness of heart.

I fear that too many people have grown accustomed to drinking thawed snow picked up from the ground. Water which will not sustain them, and it is water which will only furthers their coldness of heart.

In this proverbial winter we have to learn how to seek after Jesus and watch for the places where He walks upon the ice and creates pools and openings for the people to receive once again His living water. I’m not trying to be super-spiritual here I am talking about following His words, following His presence and following where He is moving in our culture and world. To take in the living water of Christ we first have to be aware of where He is and what He is offering to us.

At the same time when we do find Him we have to remain closely behind Him because after He passes by those proverbial pools and openings they will gradually begin to freeze back over. Leaving only a memory of what was, this is not nonsense it is actually the picture of the cycle of revival in action. The hearts of the people were cold, so Jesus came and brought His presence and thawed their hardness. The people came and partook of His offer of eternal life, then Jesus moved on from that outpouring to somewhere else. When that happened the people had two choices either continue to follow after Jesus or remain where they were before and be left with nothing else but a memory of the time God came to town.

That is why we must continually follow Him as He goes about opening up new pools (opportunities for ministry, revival, miracles and so on), or else you could find yourself left without His water yourself. Those who are over taken by the winter of this world, those who saw life but became frozen once again.

The 5 R’s of the Living Water of Christ

Now for those who are searching for the living waters that Jesus has come to give us I want you to pay attention to what Jesus said to the Samaritan woman in John 4:10, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him.” Look closely at what Jesus is saying here, He is stating that “if only she knew who I was, she would ask the right question. That is the beginning of our journey, it is the beginning to understanding God’s living water and it is the beginning to a life in eternity.

There are five things we can learn from Jesus as to what we must do to not only find the living water of Christ in our lives but also how to live out that new life: Revelation, Repentance, Relationship, Restoration and Revival.

Revelation

Begin by seeing Jesus as He really is then and only then can we accept what He is offering to us. If Jesus is the Son of God who was crucified for our sins, raised from the dead and is now on the throne in Heaven then it would be foolish not to receive what He is offering to us. We need a revelation of the identity of Christ in our lives if we are ever to truly live, because any hope of life in our own lives is rooted and grounded in the eternal life which Jesus is comprised of.

John 7:37-38 37 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”

Repentance

When we experience the revelation of who Jesus is we are left with two choices we can either accept His identity and offer and receive forgiveness or we can harden our heart like ice and continue on living our life without Him. For those who choose the life Jesus is offering us we now need to come into alignment with Jesus’s commands, expectations and desires for our lives. We take our revelation of who He is and allow Him to redeem and forgive us. But that redemption comes at a price we are to transform our lives so we no longer do the things or think in the same ways that we did before our great revelation of who Jesus is and what He did for us. That is what true repentance is, its not just saying your sorry then doing it again a week later. Repentance is when you make a fundamental change to your life, it is when you go the exact opposite direction than you were before. So you don’t end up in a destination of destruction, but your course has been altered to a destination of life.

Jeremiah 2:13 “For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, And hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water. (see also Jeremiah 17:13)

Relationship

After repentance comes our inclusion into the New Covenant, we have been made a child of God and a joint-heir with Jesus. Our new life begins and we are able to pray and have a real two-way fellowship with God our Creator. It is a relationship that is grounded in word and spirit, that is to say it is grounded in the Scriptures and in our everyday conversations and experiences with God. When we don’t read and study the Bible our spiritual growth becomes stunted, and we either remain at the same level indefinitely or we regress into what we once were. Just like a river where as long as the water is moving down stream it can support life, but if fresh water is cut off or if there is no were to empty itself it becomes stagnant and the life within slowly dies (Luke 4:4). The same can be said about our spiritual life with God because without faith, prayer, experience and conversation with God all of our Bible knowledge becomes hollow and lifeless.

Hebrews 10:19-22 “19 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and having a High Priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”

Restoration

Now that we are followers of Jesus, we have been redeemed with evidence of repentance and our relationship is alive with God the process of restoration begins within us. Now God works to undo the damage done by Adam, Eve and Satan by restoring the original image God placed of Himself in us. Here at this juncture we become like Christ, we begin to love, think and act like He did, not as some sort of clone or zombie but we see the world through His eyes and begin to walk our or lives wearing His shoes.

It is the process of sanctification spoken of by Paul (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4), where we go through the process of daily refinement whereby we have the rust and barnacles of this world removed and we are polished and restored with the nature and conscience of God. This is the time where we begin to look beyond ourselves to see how we can serve God and be a blessing to others. It is the time when our priorities are challenged, our desires are refined and the truth of God’s opinion of us comes to light.

Jeremiah 17:7-8 7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, And whose hope is the Lord. 8 For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit.

Revelation 7:16-17 16 They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; 17 for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Revival

Here we are awakened and released to go and tell others about Jesus. The great commission and the call to discipleship begins to materialize in our lives as we look to tell others of the original revelation we had about Jesus and how that has changed our own lives. We go from the place of spiritual and scriptural milk and move on to the meat, the things which not just sustain but cause us to help others as well.

Zechariah 14:8, Ezekiel 47:7-12 and Revelation 22:1-5 speak of the river of living water which brings life back to the land and how the trees grow from it to bring forth fruit each month for healing of people (fish of the sea) and the nations. It is our duty through the Great Commission and the call to Discipleship to spread the revelation of Jesus where ever we are so that as many people as possible can enjoy the benefits of those prophetic trees, that they receive the endless life of Christ.

I am talking about more than the type of revival I mentioned earlier where we go from bareness to God’s presence appearing to awakening to monument building to slumber to bareness once again. I am talking about us coming to life, it is the passing from death to life that we experience when we partake of the living water Jesus offers all people from all tribes and nations. It is the life that comes through the power of the cross and resurrection, that life which transforms us and brings us to the point where we can walk around this world in the love, power and authority of Jesus.

Ephesians 3:20-21 20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Come To The Waters

Jesus represents the living water which brings us life, before we had a revelation or access to Jesus we were all like lone pools scattered throughout a field. Each one of us contained water but because there was no fresh water coming in we either became stagnant or there was so little water that it all sunk into the ground leaving nothing but an impression in the soil. When Jesus comes it is like He is digging a trench to connect all of these pools into the great river of His love and presence. Not that we are emptied because of this but rather we are ensured continually water to keep us alive and able to support life.
Compared to Jesus our life is a stagnant substance, one that needs revitalization, cleansing and renewal. Hope is not lost because Jesus longs to come into our lives and bring forgiveness, healing, love, friendship and purpose (Job 33:4) to us.

Jesus brings a purpose which transcends our jobs or occupation and rather has to do with our reason for being on this planet in the first place. Not everyone is called to full-time ministry, not everyone is called to the arts, or office work, or trade work, or IT or what ever else you can come up with. Our purpose is rooted in our relationship with God and how we bring about more of Him, in this world. Life is about so much more than preaching, our daily lives are the greatest witnesses of the gospel there is. We need living and active believers who understand their purpose in every walk of life, in every social and economic bracket and in every type of work. So there are no excuses why anyone and everyone cannot have the opportunity to experience the great revelation of who Jesus is.


Isaiah 12:2-5 2 Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; ‘For Yah, the Lord, is my strength and song; He also has become my salvation.’” 3 Therefore with joy you will draw water From the wells of salvation. 4 And in that day you will say: “Praise the Lord, call upon His name; Declare His deeds among the peoples, Make mention that His name is exalted. 5 Sing to the Lord, For He has done excellent things; This is known in all the earth.


Do you want “the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life” present in your life? If you do want that then you have to ask the question “who is it who says to you” these things? When you know that answer then you can ask Him for some of that water, the water of eternal life, the water of change, restoration, transformation and adoption.


John 11:25-26 “25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”


To go deeper in your journey with Christ check out my new book Understanding Who You Are: A Survey of 21st Century Christian beliefs which is now on sale. Available in paperback (Canada or USA) and eBook! Get your copy today and discover not just your purpose but how you can build the Kingdom of God here on the Earth

 

Creative Commons LicenseThe Hunt For Living Water Cameron Conway is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

 

When we don’t read and study the Bible our spiritual growth becomes stunted, and we either remain at the same level indefinitely or we regress into what we once were

03 – We Need A Higher Perspective

Conway Christian Resources Podcast

Do You Qualify For Ministry?

Do You Qualify For Ministry?

What are the qualifications in our day for pastors, deacons, elders and leaders in general?  Is it the ownership of several freshly pressed suits and ties?  Is it pieces of paper with a signed by someone most people wouldn’t recognize?  Is it the personal collection of books filled to the brim with other people’s personal opinions of Christ and the church?  Is it in masterful trickery of the tongue upon tickled ears? Have we ever really asked ourselves the question, “what qualifies us for ministry?”  What plumb line, or bar are we measured against that allows us the privilege of open ministry (both corporate and individual)? Or on a personal level, what qualifies us to openly display the gospel to the unbeliever?

My desire is to know what the scriptures say on this matter, of qualification.  Ever in my searching I have yet to find the verses commanding the attendance of and accredited university for 4 to 7 years.  Nor do I find the doctrine of, the issuance of golden sealed papers to be rewarded for the regurgitation of cold information.  No, in my ventures across the scripture I have found something, yes something somewhere which hints, no, declares the qualities of true leaders and servants. Now I am not discrediting the usefulness of proper education, I’m speaking as one who earned a Bachelor of Theology with highest honors (the Canadian equivalent to summa cum laude.)

However, that bachelors may be recognized by the people around me and those reading, watching and listening to my words but in God’s eyes it’s not a permit to be part of the ministry. That bachelors did not force God to place a call of ministry on my life and neither did that degree replace or cancel out 16 years of informal self-study and previous ministry experience. To be honest my years of personal experience and previous studies made getting my bachelors much easier and allowed me to complete it in record time.

I’m a huge advocate for learning the scriptures, theology, hermeneutics, doctrine and the like but possessing information, books or degrees does not equal a call to the ministry. There are a great many people who have attended Bible Colleges and Universities who were not called into ministry. On the other hand there are many who are called and are active in the ministry who have never been to school at all. Perhaps I am just jaded about this subject because I have been on both sides of the fence. I have been called and active in ministry without a degree (including teaching people with Bible school degrees) and now I have a degree and am still living out my calling.

I feel that people treat me “better” now than before, but my heart has not changed. I remember one encounter with a church I used to attend in Winnipeg, I was having a deep theological conversation with a man who was an elder in the church and a high-ranking member of the denomination. At one point he asked me where I went to school and how I became so insightful for my age. I told him that I didn’t actually have a degree and he looked at me turned his back and walked away and refused to talk with me any longer. (I should probably mention that at this time I was also the church’s volunteer youth pastor.)

Paying an institution thousands of dollars and writing theses and book reports did not stir up or validate a call on my life. Rather it merely encourages people to trust me more as I live out that calling

Paying an institution thousands of dollars and writing theses and book reports did not stir up or validate a call on my life. Rather it merely encourages people to trust me more as I live out that calling, because honestly would you rather buy a book written by some guy from Canada called Cam, or from Cameron D. Conway B.Th? We must go beyond the sights and sounds of paper and ink and begin to look at the qualities of the heart, the experience of trials, testimonies unwavering faith and a devotion to build the Kingdom as the true signs of a call to ministry in a person. The education which comes later (either formal, through discipleship or self-taught) then acts as a foundation to maintain a person in ministry. It provides the scaffolding for a heart to witness the gospel to the world. We must always remember that a heart will always cry out louder than an idea, our heart motivates us and leads us to God while knowledge and information ensure that we are correctly sharing the truths of the gospel.

How many times have we had information presented to us that was either not believed by the person speaking, flat out incorrect or focuses on the wrong things. I’ve seen fiery evangelists who have known next to nothing about the scriptures or discipleship and I have seen experts on the scriptures who have never lifted a finger to spread the gospel. We need both, we need a heart of fire and mind of raw fuel to sustain those flames and give them purpose.

We need both, we need a heart of fire and mind of raw fuel to sustain those flames and give them purpose.

Paul’s Standard

Paul was an apostle in the truest sense; he built churches, raised up disciples, and provided the framework for churches to flourish without his direct supervision. Later in his life Paul approached the twilight of his mortal journey wrote to his spiritual sons Timothy and Titus what the true heart of a leader must look like.  It is a message I fear is often overlooked throughout the church. It is not a message that has to do with externals but matters of the heart. Now I ask you to gaze upon yourself in a mirror as you read the words of Paul and see his qualifications for ministry.


1 Timothy 3:1-7 “1 The saying is true and irrefutable: If any man [eagerly] seeks the office of bishop (superintendent, overseer), he desires an excellent task (work).  2 Now a bishop (superintendent, overseer) must give no grounds for accusation but must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, circumspect and temperate and self-controlled; [he must be] sensible and well behaved and dignified and lead an orderly (disciplined) life; [he must be] hospitable [showing love for and being a friend to the believers, especially strangers or foreigners, and be] a capable and qualified teacher,  3 Not given to wine, not combative but gentle and considerate, not quarrelsome but forbearing and peaceable, and not a lover of money [insatiable for wealth and ready to obtain it by questionable means].  4 He must rule his own household well, keeping his children under control, with true dignity, commanding their respect in every way and keeping them respectful.  5 For if a man does not know how to rule his own household, how is he to take care of the church of God?  6 He must not be a new convert, or he may [develop a beclouded and stupid state of mind] as the result of pride [be blinded by conceit, and] fall into the condemnation that the devil [once] did. 7 Furthermore, he must have a good reputation and be well thought of by those outside [the church], lest he become involved in slander and incur reproach and fall into the devil’s trap.” (AMPC, emphasis mine)


This is not merely a bullet point thesis of a Christian leader, this should be the calling card of everyone in the church.  This entire list is grounded upon matters of the heart and is directed towards those that have been called by God and can prove their character to not just those inside the church but to those outside as well (1 Timothy 3:7). The fruits of our inner soul is to be one third of our ministry foundation along with knowledge of the scriptures and a living encounter with Jesus. That foundation is not built upon puffed up poster boards of self-righteousness, empty actions, clever words or selfish motives.  The eyes of God see far beyond the masks we wear to our very core being and nature. Thankfully in His grace He sent Holy Spirit to recreate our core in His image and likeness.

We are called to be children of wisdom, holiness and Christ-likeness no matter our age (in the flesh or in the spirit).  We are called to be diligent within our own home before we attempt to gain authority within the translucent walls of the church.  We are forbidden to covet what is not our own and we are commanded to teach with humility and honestly the mysteries of God. We are called to be holy, not for the rewards or to maintain a public show, but because it is the desire of God’s heart.

What Applies To Ministry Applies To All

We can also look to the epistle to Titus and one again see Paul repeat and reaffirmed his view on those who are qualified for ministry.


Titus 1:7-9 For a bishop (overseer, local leader, pastor) must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict. (NKJV)


This is the heart of all those who carry the banner of servant, helper, teacher, pastor, evangelist, prophet and apostle.  It is not merely the collecting of knowledge, though we are not to be ignorant or ill-informed.  But our personal conduct and love will shine brighter than any thesis or quote ever will.  We are to be wise as serpents and as gentle as doves (Matthew 10:16).  For within us is wisdom, knowledge and understanding revealed by the Holy Spirit. Revelation which goes far beyond anything found in books, CD’s, blogs, podcasts, or videos because it is from the spirit of the living God within. Yet these words of mine fail to compare with the words of Paul.


Titus 2:7-8 “in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.”


Have we forgotten that we cannot have the gifts of the spirit spoken of in 1 Corinthians 12 until we have learned to walk in the fruit of the spirit found in Galatians 5:22-24? We cannot have one without the other, one cannot be a helper without love, a teacher without faithfulness, a pastor without longsuffering, or an evangelist without peace.  No prophet is without self-control, and one cannot be an apostle without kindness.  Always remember that the fruit is the “horse” which pulls the cart of “gifts”.  I cannot refrain from repeating the notion that these truths are not exclusively for those in ministry but for all within the Body of Christ.

Those who reject this truth will never qualify for ministry in God’s eyes and will forever remain vessels of dishonor at the masters table.  Yet for those who wish to attain honor at the table must live the life spoke of by Paul to Timothy


2 Timothy 2:20-26 “20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. 21 Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, [h]sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. 22 Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23 But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. 24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.” (NKJV)


 

A Pattern Of Commission Combined With Servanthood And Relationship

When we search the scriptures we begin to see a pattern emerge of those whom God chose for ministry roles (leaders, prophets and so on). In most of these cases a call or a commission was first given, then the life of that person would be then marked by servanthood and continual relationship with God. A relationship which included an abundance of time learning God’s nature through the scriptures and revelation.

a call or a commission was first given, then the life of that person would be then marked by servanthood and continual relationship with God. A relationship which included an abundance of time learning God’s nature through the scriptures and revelation.

We see that Jeremiah wasn’t called because he went to the right school, but rather through the sovereignty of God. Moses wasn’t commissioned because he excelled in his Egyptian homeschooling but because God saw a heart which could carry the burden of the nation. Isaiah didn’t have a Doctor of Divinity but saw the throne and God’s glory. Elisha didn’t become Elijah’s servant because he impressed the school of the prophets during their summer internship program. Joshua didn’t emerge from a great military academy, Ezekiel didn’t receive his visions because he scored better than his fellow Levites in standardized testing. John didn’t witness the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ because of faithful tithing, and on and on we go.

What we do see is that when God commissions a person, it is the person’s responsibility to act upon that commission. To get up and go where God has commanded them to go, to live a life according to God’s standards and to make it so the words and voice of God were more familiar than their own voices. The things we associate with a person receiving a call to ministry are in reality the things people are supposed to do after they are called, commissioned or released into ministry. Education is good, oversight is good, certification is good but all of those things cannot transform a person into a pastor, prophet, teacher, evangelist or apostle. All they can do is reinforce the platform which God has appointed them to and to bring comfort to those that the person in ministry will guide, teach, encourage, disciple, train, and equip.

Paul was perhaps one of the most educated writers of the Bible but that information was irrelevant until his encounter with Jesus. Paul went to the best rabbinical school of the day and sat under the most respected teacher in Jerusalem but that didn’t produce a call to ministry or a revelation of who Jesus is. Even after the encounter on the road to Damascus Paul spent another decade back in Tarsus preparing for his launch into ministry. Paul had an experience, a commission and the knowledge to not only be in the ministry but to have success. He had the heart, mind and feet of one called by Jesus to not just witness to the message of the cross but to build the church as well. But even he needed letters form the Jerusalem Church and the accompaniment of Barnabas in those early missionary journeys to give people reasons trust him and to listen to his words.

Ministry is For All

In a frail attempt to craft a conclusion I ask that you examine your own hearts and ask God if you are lacking in any area, or if there is any place in you life that He is excluded.  Then ask if there is any place where He may use you as a vessel of honor to enlarge the boundaries of His kingdom.  For it is not by gilded golden paper that you are called, but by His spirit.  For “many are called yet few are chosen” are the immortal words of our King. The revelation of this mystery is this, that those who are chosen are merely the ones who appear when called. They are the ones who hear the call to preach, teach, encourage, pray, prophecy, disciple, write, create, support and evangelize.

To receive the call to the ministry is only the first step you must then take those steps into that new land where your life reflects that of Christ. Don’t limit this truth to thinking that I’m not called to full time ministry, these words apply to all of us because at our heart every Christian is a minister. We are all called to preach, teach and disciple so our lives, intentions, faith and time should reflect the words Jesus commanded in the great commission.

In closing may we never forget these words:


Titus 3:2-7 “to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men. For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (NKJV)


To go deeper in your journey with Christ check out my new book Understanding Who You Are: A Survey of 21st Century Christian beliefs which is now on sale. Available in paperback (Canada or USA) and eBook! Get your copy today and discover not just your purpose but learn how you can build the Kingdom of God here on the Earth.

 

Creative Commons LicenseDo You Qualify For Ministry? Cameron Conway is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.