Saturday, January 24, 2015

A Fresh Start

Once again I find myself at a crossroads in ministry. I have been wrestling for sometime with a part of myself that has remained dormant and unfulfilled. A part of myself that I believe the Lord wants alive and active for His kingdom. Yet, in my efforts to see that part of me come alive, there have been countless roadblocks put in the way. I in turn have responded with frustration and anger. I have come to a point of giving up and trying to live "half" a life. Recently, God has reawakened in me His call to use His gift of pastoral ministry. I had considered planting a church last year after a very good Christian friend and brother felt the Lord saying that I needed to start a fellowship of my own. However, after realizing how great a task it was, I threw in the towel. However, no matter how hard I try to deny this part of me, it keeps pursuing me. A few weeks ago I was at a prayer gathering and met a pastor whose story resonated with mine. He had also run into many roadblocks in an attempt to use all of the gifts God had given to him, especially the gift of teaching/preaching. He spoke of having visited numerous churches only to be unable to get as he put it, "plugged in" using all of his gifts. He had gotten to the point of just showing up to church but not feeling fully connected to anyone or anything. The straw that broke the camel's back at the last church he attended came after he had surgery and was out of commission for awhile. In that period of time, he did not receive any phone calls or visits from church members to check on his healing. At that point he felt led to begin a home Bible study with a handful of folks and is beginning to experience an increase in those attending. His story stirred a passion in my soul that this may be what God meant when my Christian brother stated that God wanted me to start my own fellowship. Last week I was sharing my story with another Christian brother. While we were talking, he paused in the middle of our conversation and stated that the Lord put a word on his heart for me, "This is your time!" Again I felt this passion stirring in my spirit. During one of my recent devotional times, I was reading Matthew's account of Jesus walking on the water. (Matthew 14:22-36) After the disciples cried out in fear to what they believed to be a ghost, Matthew tells us Jesus immediately said to them, "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid." (Matthew 14:27) What jumped out at me in Jesus' words were three "identifiers" coinciding with His comfort to the disciples. First, Identify faith in yourself. ("Take courage!") Second, Identify the "Faith-Giver." ("It is I") and third, Identify the fear and let it go. ("Don't be afraid.") That same day as I was reading the devotional, "Jesus Calling" I felt God reinforcing His message to me. The devotional stated, "Don't waste energy regretting the way things are or thinking about what might have been. Start at the present moment----accepting things exactly as they are----and search for My way in the midst of those circumstances." Those words felt like echoes of Paul's letter to the Philippians, "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:13b-14) The devotional went on in the same meditation to say, "Trust is like a staff you can lean on, as you journey uphill with Me. If you are trusting in Me consistently, the staff will bear as much of your weight as needed. Lean on, trust, and be confident in Me with all your heart and mind." Again I heard echoes of Scripture as I had read in Exodus chapter 4 about the staff the Lord gave to Moses to use as a sign to Pharaoh of who God is and the power He possesses. Additionally, came the words of Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." So, I am pursuing ministry on a smaller scale and stepping out in faith to start a home Bible study and trusting God to take it wherever He desires. My encouragement to you as you move through the seasons of your life is to remember the three identifiers,  Identify faith in yourself, Identify the "Faith-Giver", and Identify the fear and let it go. God is with you!
Peace & Blessings,
Pastor Sheree

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