The Call

Christians often have ideas and concepts that are rarely taught directly but come to us sideways, as a flavoring, a set of coded words or subtle suggestions.

I recall stumbling upon one of these slightly buried concepts not too long after becoming a believer in the middle of my High School years. I suppose it stands out strongly after all these years because it dealt with a subject that is usually very important to a young student; career choices.

From conversations and the way things were worded it became obvious to me as a young believer that among all the possible occupations “permissible” for a Christian (those such as becoming a professional hit man not making the list) the decision to do fulltime work as a minister or missionary was considered to have a unique and hallowed place among all other occupations.

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Preaching as Profession

When Did Preaching Become Profession?

 

I have a history degree and a Doctorate of Jurisprudence.  I am a published Christian author by Moody and have chaired a national Christian non-profit.  But I didn’t go to bible college or seminary.  Does that preclude me from preaching?

 

In the past several years I have felt an increasing call to perhaps move into preaching.  Those that I have mentioned it to have said, “But you didn’t go to seminary?  You are not ordained.”

 

Disheartened I have frequently just accepted the response sheepishly.

 

I continue to come back to the idea and wonder to myself, “When did preaching become a profession for which school, rather than God, qualifies you?”

 
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Jesus in a Cashmere Sweater

"You should try our cashmere sweaters. They'll lift you up. I know that Jesus is supposed to lift you up, but cashmere sweaters are the next best thing." —A retailer on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving

You can't make up quotes like that. I responded, "I'm blogging that."

I don't need to stand on a soap box and tell you everything wrong with Black Friday. You already know. (And that's a big list.) I also don't need to tell you all the good things about Black Friday. (That's a big list too.) Instead, let's imagine Jesus and his prophet friends in cashmere sweaters.

We've been discussing the spiritual offices listed in 1 Corinthians 12:27–31. So far, I've asked: Are spiritual gifts really gifts, or are they more like curses? I've also said: We don't compare ourselves to Elijah, but should. And I've noted that we treat pastors like restaurant managers. Now I have another question: Do we treat prophets like retail clerks?

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Treating Pastors Like Restaurant Managers

If your pastor said he is an apostle, you probably wouldn't be thrilled. You may even hit him with the five books of Moses, or smack him with the four gospels. But you would be wrong, at least according to Paul.

I recently said that we don't compare ourselves to Elijah, but (in some cases) should. Your pastor may not call himself an apostle, but maybe he should. I'm a bit bias about this, and here's why.

I was called to a spiritual office at an early age. This experience made me ask, "Why do I meet people who fell into the pastorate after an internship, or who thought becoming a pastor sounded fun?" My experience couldn't be more different than theirs. Shouldn't every position in the church be a calling?
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Call Vignettes- A Series of Surrenders 1

I am often asked, “How did you get in to this line of work?”  I assume they are referring to me living and working in neighborhoods that many people purposefully avoid.  Sometimes others will answer for me, “Oh, she feels called to this ministry.”  Which I suppose is true, if by called they mean compelled or led by Jesus into these choices.

When I think of being called I think of Moses and the burning bush or Abraham setting out for Canaan.  My journey has been more like a series of surrenders, a progression of saying ‘yes’ to the Father’s reign in my life.  Each surrender has led me deeper into relationship with the poor and with my brothers and sisters in Christ.

I suppose the first person who taught me to love the marginalized was my mother.  It wasn’t so much that she reached out to the poor but she gave me eyes to see them.  Before school each morning she would pray that my sisters and I would see the kids who didn’t have friends and befriend them.  That’s how I started bringing home latchkey kids and newly arrived immigrants, kids who stuttered and were generally marginalized.  Even when I didn’t reach out or was held back by wanting to be accepted by my friends, I still noticed the lonely kids.  I believe it was because of my mother’s prayers.  I would hear her in my mind while I played at recess and moved about in our classrooms.

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Can you find your calling and passion? Yes and No

Our refrigerator broke a few years ago.  Nearly every attempt I’ve ever made to fix something mechanical has resulted in further damage to already broken items, so when the cooling machine was whining, I did the smart thing: I stepped away from the appliance and called for help.  Soon a large man with tools was at our house.  He opened the freezer, which was stuffed beyond capacity with huge quantity “good deal” items from Costco. 

He turned to my wife and me.  “Do you see what you’ve done?”  he asked, glaring at us accusingly, his stares alternating between the freezer and us.  We told him that, no, we didn’t see ‘what we’ve done’, told him that we’d simply put things that needed to be frozen in the freezer, told him that we didn’t see the crime in that.

Balancing Plans and Providence...

Are you wrestling with deciding on a major? Are you at a vocational crossroads? Have you been downsized? Has a relationship turned sour? Are you goals eluding you? If you answered yes to any of these questions read on... I have a story for you:

My son took a trip to Austria several years ago. He was going to meet up with me because I was over there teaching in a wonderful Bible School. This was the travel plan: Plane/Train. He was 19 and it was his first time out of the country. Instead, here's what actually happened: plane delay (24 hours), plane, train (but a 100 year storm that dropped trees on the tracks in Europe), back up the train to try another track; same problem on the second track; be told (in German, which you don't speak) to get off the train and wait for a bus instead; get on the bus; be told (in German) that buses don't cross boarders from one country to another so this is the end of the line; watch as everyone gets off the bus; get off the bus; call your dad (it's 11:45PM) and say, "I'm in a town in Germany, the name of which I can't pronounce. What do I do?; wait while your dad calls a friend who lives in Salzburg. When your dad spells the name of the town she says, "O, that's only 15 minutes from here, across the boarder in Germany - I'll be right there"; get picked up in a car by an Austrian woman; spend the night with her and her husband; catch train to destination, arriving 72 hours later than planned...

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Turning 43: Midlife, No Crisis...

I rarely cross-post pieces between here and my blog at Beliefnet.com, but I have a sense with this one that I am supposed to do it,  so here goes...   


I have a birthday that stops people in their tracks. An elder Generation Xer, I was born on June 6, 1966. Yup. 6.6.66.
 
People at motor vehicle and police officers stopping me for speeding (call me 'lead-foot') would take my identification, read silently, look up with the same playful-yet-mildly-freaked-out expression and say something like, "Whoa, 6.6.66, huh? That's some birthday." Kids, who were not so polite, would say, "Hey, is that carved on your head?" (The Omen hit the big screen when I was about 10.) 
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