How to maintain usefulness in ministry posted by tmangham on Apr 10, 2013
After 26 years of serving in Asia with occasional trips back to the USA, I became detached and unfamiliar with current trends in American culture. However, now that I have been back in the USA for 11 months, I have been alarmed to see the moral erosion in our country.
An address given by Pastor Rabbi Jonathan Cahn at the 2012 Presidential Inaugural Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C. testifies to what we have witnessed:
“America has been blessed with peace, power, prosperity and security. America has been blessed as no nation on this planet has ever been blessed. But something happened… We as a nation turned from God. Step-by-step we have ruled God out of our culture… our government… our economy and educational systems. And as we have driven God out we have replaced Him with other gods and idols. They include… sensuality, violence, wealth, carnality, sexual promiscuity and we have abandoned the ways of God. We are a nation where profanity is treated as holy and the holy is profaned. Our culture has grown increasingly godless, vulgar and darkened and we now ridicule, mock and blaspheme the Name of God.”
My caution to all who follow Christ is: If we are not careful, the moral erosion in our culture will undoubtedly affect our personal lives. Therefore, we must not remain stagnant or complacent but instead, we must be proactive and swim against the tide of current trends. If we are not swimming against it, we are going to flow with it.
To quote my friend Dr. John Parrish, “Even a dead fish can swim with the current.” This ought to compel us to deepen our relationship with Christ!
Let me suggest three factors that motivate us to grow deeper in Christ and help us to experience the power to live life victoriously:
1. Jesus’ presence compels us.
Christ takes initiative in the relationship: He wants to be with us. In John 11:14 Jesus says to his disciples, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there!” Why would Jesus say such a thing? I believe it is because He knew, it would be at their most desperate moment in life when they would be most aware of His pursuit and desire to be with them. He was about to show them how much He cared.
Jesus is saying… He wants to be WITH US… in whatever circumstance we face… He encourages us with His presence.
2. Jesus’ passion motivates us.
Jesus deeply desires to be involved in our lives. He encourages us with His love – His care and His concern. So the moment we enter a crisis, He says to us… “cast all your care on Me for I care for you!”
This is illustrated in John 11:23-35 where we see Martha & Mary casting their care on Him. This is evident when they threw themselves on Him because they saw Him weep and they knew He cared for them!
His passion communicates: “Come and be loved!” But His passion also compels: “Go and love others!”
3. Jesus power strengthens us.
What an incredible truth! The power of Christ is made available to us.
In Ephesians 1:17-20, Paul prays that we would come to understand that the same power that raised Christ from the dead is made available to us. Christ in us our only hope! He is the resurrection and the life and he proved it when Lazarus walked out of the grave (John 11:25-26).
- Jesus’ presence compels us to come to Him.
- Jesus’ passion motivates us to remain with Him.
- Jesus’ power applied to our lives – strengthens us to live for Him.
Remember: proximity and consistency are directly related to our usefulness to God.
What would your ministry – what would my ministry – look like if we:
- Responded to God’s prompting & pursuit of us?
- Realized how deeply & passionately He cared for us?
- Determined to live more consistently & intimately with Him & served Him with the same power that raised Christ from dead?
Christ is waiting today, to embrace you and take you to a new level in relationship with Him! When you apply these factors to your life, you will no longer merely survive in this world but instead thrive for His glory!
Here is a prayer paraphrased from Henri Nouwen:
Lord Jesus, Master of all – send Your Holy Spirit to help us this day.
We who have so much to do… help us to seek quiet spaces so we can hear Your voice in the business of these days.
We who are anxious over many things… help us to live by applying Your resurrected power in our every day duties.
We who are blessed in so many ways… long for the complete joy of Your presence.
We whose hearts are heavy seek the joy You guarantee.
We who walk in dark places, seek You because You are Light.
To You we say, “You are the Resurrection & the Life, Come rise up in us today! Come Lord Jesus come and help us live for You!”
In the matchless name JESUS, Amen!
- Tom Mangham serves as Director of Spiritual Development and Advanced Theological Studies. He can be reached via email at tmangham (at) eeworks.org.