Ministry

One of the greatest challenges with our family’s adventure has been that of purpose. Why did the Sanders family move from Wisconsin? Typically people move because of a job. Committed Christian people will move to start a church or some other officially sanctioned ministry, but why did the Sanders family move? The only answer we had for this was “God told us to”.

You can imagine what kind of response an answer like that can generate. Many people were sad that we were leaving, but excited to see what God does. Others were convinced that there was some other motive. Then a ministry failed to materialize and we were financially destroyed (see “The Shipwreck”). People, ourselves included, began to question if God truly told the Sanders family to move. Christian paradigms, such as God opens doors and spreads flower pedals for the people He directs, were the number one cause for doubt.

Jenny and I continually prayed about the “why?”. We loved Tennessee’s weather and culture, but that is not a reason for a committed Christian family to move. We have always had a heart of service to God and love opportunities to encourage others in their faith. We could not comprehend why we would be asked to move to the buckle of the Bible Belt, where seemingly everyone is a Christian.

One fall day, as I was contemplating the “why”, I was reminded of a quote. The quote was, “Live a life that makes unbelievers question their lack of belief”. I decided to Google the quote to determine who said it and immediately found Kevin Shorter’s blog. I was very encouraged because he and his family were directed to do something similar. I reached out to Kevin and he was a source of great encouragement to me.

Months later I received an email from Kevin Shorter introducing a book, titled “The Extravagant Fool”, by author Kevin Adams. The book was scheduled to be released the following month. I went to the book’s website and was able to read the first chapter of the book as well as view the chapter titles. I immediately knew that I would need to reach out to the author, as his story resonated with me.

I emailed Kevin Adams and was surprised to learn that he lived a few miles away from me. He and I connected, over lunch, and have become close friends. We both share a passion for seeing the God of the Bible presented to what I call “sleeping giants” in churches. I believe there are a large number of people, in churches, who are dissatisfied with a form of godliness that lacks power. These people are designed for greatness by God and were inspired by Rick Warren’s “Purpose Driven Life” and David Platt’s “Radical”, but have failed to launch into fulfilling their purpose. Most often the failure to launch is due to the construct of Christian paradigms that present God as safe.

God’s call is anything but safe and rational, so these sleeping giants simply become more dedicated to the programs their church offers. They volunteer for everything, practically live at the church and give of themselves like never before. Help starved pastors are more than willing to put them to work and, for a time, the giant is pacified. They are not doing what the still, small voice says (that would be crazy!), but they have busied themselves enough to no longer hear the nagging voice that calls them to step out on the waters. Eventually the busyness wears the giant down and they begin to realize they need boundaries and they learn to say “no” to all of the volunteer opportunities. This leaves them, once again, vulnerable to the still small voice calling them to greatness.

In church terms a person has a “ministry” or “calling” that identifies their purpose in God’s kingdom. Our family was asked to leave Wisconsin without that identifier, however, over the last year I can see how we have been uniquely positioned, trained and equipped to awaken the sleeping giants, detailed above. The giants need to see that, while it may be scary/crazy, God has a plan for them and it is time for them to step up and embrace it. The unique gifts and passions of the sleeping giants have been cooped up in office cubicles, exhausting jobs and meaningless church routine for far too long.

Kevin Adams and I have partnered in a ministry that is focused on awakening the sleeping giants and we will be passionately pursuing that together. The lives of our families are living epistles that testify to God’s faithfulness as well as His craziness. We will see sleeping giants awakened and, as a result, see them turn their world upside down. You might say that is our ministry.

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3 thoughts on “Ministry”

  1. Reblogged this on thinklikegodthinks and commented:
    It is interesting reading on one hand and sadness on the other hand that discovery of purpose has become difficult and mysterious. I also struggled for some time …15 years from the POS …point of salvation.
    However, these are my conclusions:
    • There are 4 vital manifestations of the Spirit that happened at POS, without these there was no rebirth. (a) The instantaneous works of the Holy Spirit in bringing us into Christ, (b) Developing the ability to hear God, (b) Discovery of purpose as a matter of necessity for the new life (c) Recognition of the love of God that was shed abroad the heart of the believer to replace our carnal ability to love (d) Laying the foundation for a life in the spirit.

    • While I hope to discuss these points, I will only be brief on the issue of purpose.

    Jeremiah 1:4 sums it up.
    Purpose is a spiritual statement
    Purpose is fixed throughout the life of the believer on earth
    Purpose, spiritually carried out, determines the believer’s eternal rewards and the extent of the believer’s social impact.
    Purpose is different from Vision…which is a future expectation as described by Habbakuk in Hab 2:2-4. Vision is a variable.
    Purpose is not transferable from parent to children as covenant is.
    Purpose as a spiritual statement must be hashed out in dialogue with God within the 1st year of salvation because this was the very reason for creation and salvation. It is now to drive the rest of the believer’s life, bible study, plans, decisions and choices.
    Take Luke 5:1-4 Peter, James, Andrew and John discovered purpose…the Lord told them… You are not created to be fishermen but to be fishers of men. Notice the change from a life driven by the value of the world system to one driven by eternal life values.
    The Purpose Statement for these guys…”God has called us to bring Jews into the Kingdom” They left the boats, the fish and the nets.

    Paul ….Purpose Statement….Acts 9:15… God has called me to bring the Gentiles into the Kingdom.
    Jesus ….John 1:29 … Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.
    Virgin Mary…The womb that bears the Saviour of the world…Luke 1:31

    May I say that purpose is not a bible statement but rhema obtained from God, or from other sources that are used by God such as Angels, Spiritual Mentors (Elijah/Elisha). Spiritual Parents (Abraham), recognised Prophets and so on.
    But bible verses can support purpose statement obtained by revelation.
    This brings us to the next point that by reason of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, at rebirth, the young Christian should be taught how to hear God speak. It should not be guesswork. A young baby by the age of 2years hears the parents, no matter how difficult the language. The Holy Spirit as our Parent is instrumental in teaching us how to hear God speak and by this discover purpose in dialogue with God or as outlined above.

    Once purpose is discovered, the next step is to commence a migration programme from the life driven by the world to one driven by eternal life. Again when you explore the lives of the believers itemised above this was what happened. The Apostles probably migrated within 3-6 months, Paul within a week, Abraham immediately, Mary immediately and so on.
    His migration Prog should not be more than 5 years for any serious Christian.

    Unfortunately, we are taught to integrate our carnal life into a religious life…just bring all the baggage into the kingdom..which kingdom? This is why we are making a mess of our Christian life.

    We are members of Christ as long as we are under the full control of the Holy Spirit. John 3:5. Whenever we behave carnally, we revert to the mindset and lifestyle of an unbeliever. Rom 8:5-7 1 Cor 2:14

    So we live most of the time outside of the purpose of God.

    In conclusion,
    1. Do you have a purpose statement
    2. Do you hear God speak and engage Him in dialogue
    3. Have you migrated into the Kingdom and how?
    4. Are you a man/woman of the spirit….full of the Holy Ghost, full of Faith and full of integrity….Acts 6:3-5, Acts 11:22-24
    It takes a man/woman of the spirit to be full under the control of the Holy Spirit Eph 5:18 ….these are the purpose driven believers!

    Discussion continues …..

    1. Wow! I can not agree more. You aptly and, more importantly, Biblically identify the ideal process of a believer’s journey to “sonship”. Sadly, I bought into the modern Christian definition of “ministry”. I went to seminary, then into various church leadership positions and finally found “success” as a counseling pastor. I had it all, a great church, a great secular job, great family and a great home, but I was missing something. I can now clearly see that I was missing the God of the Bible. I had the god of modern church, not the real, powerful God. As a result, I left everything (this is detailed in my blog) in pursuit of God. More importantly, He pursued me. Now I only survive through my moment by moment dialogue with Him, I have a clear purpose and my life clearly illustrates integrity (an open book or living epistle). Finally God has connected me with like minded believers to accomplish Kingdom business.

      I am also saddened that it took me so long to wake up, but I agree with you that waking up should not be a long arduous task and my mission is to see many, many other “sleeping giants” awakened to the revelation that you detailed above. Thank you for the thoughtful response to my post. God bless you in all you do.

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