Installment 18

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If I could nail the entirety of “My Story” into one word, it could be called: faith. I, therefore, find it of interest that faith is something that I wrote about in my journal. From October 30, 2011:

It seems that when I ask Christians what faith is, the answer is from Hebrews: the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

I find that answer simplistic. Because when I ask them to express “faith” in different terms, it cannot be done. So I ask what is faith? And I get a blank stare.

It seems that some may have a definite ability to quote Bible, presupposing [that quoting Bible] is the answer, and the Bible is certainly an answer, and the answer for many things.

But when asking what is faith, they gave an answer by quoting, but they did not give the answer. I believe the reason for this is because faith has not entered into them. They have awareness of faith. They have knowledge of faith. But they don’t know faith.

So I ask myself continually: what is faith?

Faith certainly is partly informed and defined by Hebrews, but I am thinking that definition is not adequate to describe Abraham’s willingness to copulate with Sarah in order to receive Isaac. Paul helps describe that kind of faith by saying that Abraham did not consider his body dead even though he was nearly 100 years [old] and Sarah 90, well past the age of child bearing.

Faith must be a willingness to “let go of your conscious self” [from] Star Wars IV Obi-Wan to Luke. Abraham had “to forget” that he and Sarah were ancient, letting go of that conscious reality and [reaching] for more.

But faith must also be “without doubt and hesitation” [a similitude of Koroth in the Star Trek episode Rightful Heir]. Abraham had to let go of his conscious self without doubt and hesitation in order to take hold of the promise that God had given.

In a sense, copulation became “the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen,” but if Abraham and Sarah had not first “let go of their conscious self” “without doubt and hesitation” they simply could not have copulated in order to receive Isaac.

Now the question becomes: how does one find fulfillment of Hebrews by “letting go of your conscious self” “without doubt and hesitation”?

That entry encapsulates the entirety of “My Story” – the building of my personal faith.

One can go through the motions and not have faith. Faith takes belief, belief that God will do the improbable, will do the impossible, that he will make the paths straight even when curved. And learning to have faith in Him is the largest reason I write, expecting that God will deliver on his promise.

In late October 2011, I recorded the following into my journal:

I definitely feel that… I should not be a minister. …

…[A]fter not getting employment in any church, it seems that I am not to be a mininster. But perhaps; if I consider the prophecy spoken over me is that my understanding of ministry will be [changed] and my idea of ministry will be [corrected]. So, perhaps my understanding of ministry is the problem.

So, it begs the questions: what is ministry? And what is a minister?

That, my friends, is something that I have been wrestling with since I left the pulpit, because so many identify the pulpit as ministry.

Interestingly, there are ministers, at least publically, who claim any Christian can be a minister. I believe that claim has merit and biblical vitality.

However, there are other ministers who claim that all Christians are ministers. There is just no way that I will support that claim, because if all Christians are actual ministers, then God help us all, for we are in dire straits.

A ministry is not limited to the pulpit, nor exclusive to the pulpit. Nor is a ministry a ministry when it is given financial support by willing Christians.

The Bible School that I attended: a ministry. But so are my websites. So which is more valid?

Some will say that recognition validates ministry. But who is to recognize it? A human? A congregation of humans? A board of directors? These are questions that do not have easy answers.

But it seems naïve and simplistic to say a ministry is a ministry when God sanctions it. Yet, that does seem true. But the problem is: we want heaven and earth to testify to a minister’s ministry. Ergo the teaching of Jesus: “by their fruit they are known”.

Jesus’ teaching is not the problem. The problem is that there are some highly unskilled and incapable fruit inspectors who truly can’t discern if a minister’s fruit was God-given. They may very well be Christians, but their spirituality is so underdeveloped that their lack of spiritual maturity causes them to misapprehend that which occurs directly in front of them.

Yet, I hear it now, “who art thou to judge?” I am simply asking questions, and responding from my practical observations of Christianity. There is much fruit to be judged, and all of that fruit is not fit for consumption. In fact, some of it I wouldn’t feed to my dog. I digressed, my apologies.

Since God is in control, and since God creates vessels of honor and dishonor, then it becomes necessary to assess things via the Spirit. Yet, even Christians cannot come to the table having agreement upon how the Spirit works.

Therefore since the mysteriousness of the Spirit exists, which few Christians want to discuss, then it therefore must also be true that the mysteriousness of the ministry exists. Which means that there are times the fruit of the minister’s ministry is not capable of being seen until he, as the seed, has actually passed on in order to bring forth fruit (cf. John 12.24).

That truth does not mean we hasten a minister’s death. No! But there is a reality: the church has wheat and tares (Matthew 13.25). But Christ said he’d take care of separation at the harvest (Matthew 13.29-30). Therefore part of ministry is not tearing out the tares, but helping the wheat grow.

So I close out this installment by sharing a portion of my journal entry from October 31, 2011. I called the entry “Reflections”.

I woke up this morning not feeling [well]. I had to make myself remember little chores that I usually have no problem doing….

But, as I was driving to work my mood deepened to depressed, and as I was driving the bus it became even worse. My mind went to the situation with the passports… feeling that the passports were symbolic [of something I perceived].

I just know that I am battling the emptiness that I feel. I feel that I am meant for something, but don’t know what that is. And when Mary has dreams and/or tries to encourage me, I don’t feel adequate, and/or the message is not something I understand. …

Mary said she also had a dream where we were dressing an infant… and she said maybe this is God letting us choose what form (attire) the ministry will take. So she asked me if I could choose: what would my ministry look like? This has me pondering. Because I don’t feel that I am called to do the work of a [pulpit minister]. …

So, if I got to describe my ministry it would have to include the freedom to challenge, to speak on topics that are of great concern to me and the church, and to speak apologetically defending truth, God, Christ, the Church, and the Good News; to travel and meet various people in various places; to work with all kinds of Christians in all kinds of Churches, and I don’t mean limiting this to Western Christianity or Christianity in the U.S.

All I can say is that driving a bus seems to be a vast waste of my skills. I am more, but I feel trapped, and just remembered that I was considering my death this morning and how much I would welcome it, but it would leave my family hurt, [and] it would not permit the future to come to pass…. Welcoming an early death… simply is cheating “fate” and expectations, it might be better expressed as “stealing” from ‘fate’ and expectations.

In our conversation, Mary and I talked about “joining forces” with others. She made mention that she had received this in a dream, and she pondered a bit about its application. … I [find] exciting possibilities, but I hate my skeptical doubtful inner man. I want to know with certainty, but perhaps that is the elusive carrot, for [when] walking by faith one has to retain some uncertainty – otherwise it is not walking by faith.

Blessings and Shalom