All Disciples Are Full Time, Not Part Time Pastors

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I have many friends who are ordained ministers and many friends who are lay pastors, who have a “regular” job and ministry. Some lay pastors say they work all day to support themselves and their ministry, and then after they get off work they then work for God. I don’t see it that way. I believe they are full time pastors, working for God even while doing their “regular” job.

For years I too was a lay pastor while working for UPS. I supervised the early shift starting around 3 AM. I was not the only Christian or even the only pastor working at UPS. Students from a nearby Baptist seminary and other lay pastors of various denominations worked there as well. One morning I had to call and wake up one of my employees who overslept. He apalogized, realizing he was already supposed to be at work. He was a Christian, so I told him, “Get in here as fast as you can, after you have your prayer and Bible time.” First I was a pastor. Second I was a UPS supervisor with a deadline to meet.

As Gospel Workers we always pray before entering the pulpit where we preach for thirty minutes. How much more so should we pray before going to our regular jobs, where we will be preaching by word and example, not a mere thirty minutes but rather 8-10 hours.

This is how it was with Jesus.

Christ was just as truly doing His Father’s business when toiling at the carpenter’s bench as when working miracles for the multitude. –Ellen White, Heavenly Places, Page 214

You might think a “regular” job might get in the way of your ministry, but it does not have to be that way. I talked to a lady, who told me she had a gift and card shop that was just breaking even for many years. She said she kept it open because people were coming in all the time who needed encouragement, and it was a great way to meet people. One morning while working on the sort isle at UPS, the guy sorting next to me started asking me questions about Revelation. While we were working hard at 3 in the morning, I was able to share some Christ centered teachings from Revelation. In all my years as a paid Bible Worker I was never able to give a Bible study at 3 am, but that morning I had the opportunity to share Jesus with someone that I may not have had the opportunity to meet any other time or place.

There’s a story of a Romanian prisoner who was always talking about Jesus. Finally the guard had enough and told him, he could make one last sentence about Jesus, and then could say no more.

What would you say if you could only say one sentence about Jesus?

The Christian prisoner did something very wise. He said as his last sentence, “Jesus is like me.” You may think that statement was a bold and presumptuous. But it was actually very wise and humble. Knowing he could talk about Jesus no more, he simply used those words to let everyone know, watch me, and I will show you Jesus. 

As disciples for Jesus we do not just use our “regular” jobs to support our ministry. We make our “regular” jobs a part of our ministry. We don’t leave our “regular” jobs at the end of the day to go do our ministry. We do our ministry while at our “regular” jobs, preaching by example, and reaching people we never would have met during our “gospel worker” job.

Some police officers wear the uniform, but other police officers find they are actually more effective in accomplishing their mission if they dress just like everyone else. They are called “plain clothes officers” or “undercover detectives.” In plain clothes or in uniform, they are police officers just the same. If you are a disciple of Jesus, you may be wearing a suit like a regular minister, or you may be wearing a delivery uniform or restaurant uniform, or medical scrubs or what have you. Either way, what you really are is a pastor!

You may study this week’s SS lesson here.

The Fruit of the Spirit, Lesson 8

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

This week’s SS lesson is about the fruit of the Spirit and faith. When Jesus came down from the mount of transfiguration, he was met by a man who begged Jesus to heal his son. He told Jesus his disciples could not do it. Later Jesus told them they could not do it because of their lack of faith. Lack of faith is seldom a lack of faith in God’s power. It is a lack of faith in God’s love. This is how sin started. The serpent did not make Eve doubt God’s power. He told her God did not want her to enjoy a higher existence and life and thus made Eve doubt God’s love. The disciples that were not invited to the top of the mountain with Jesus felt left out and doubted God’s love. That is why they could not heal the boy.

Faith is contagious and so is doubt. The disciples lack of faith then caused the father to doubt God too. He asked Jesus, “if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.” (See Mark 9) The father added a big “if” to his request. Since the disciples, who were to be like Jesus could not do it, how could he know if Jesus could do it? The father asked for help with his unbelief and Jesus healed his son. Did you catch that? Jesus even helped him to believe. With faith all things are possible but Jesus is the One who gives us the ability to have faith and believe. Surely we can do nothing without Him.

The disciples were to represent Christ to this father and they failed because of their lack of faith. Instead of feeling left out of getting to go to the mountain top, they should have been preparing for the task that was presented to them. If only they had not doubted Christ’s love they would have had a very exciting story to share with Jesus, James, John, and Peter when they returned!

Like the father, Let’s ask Jesus to help us with out unbelief. He will help us to believe and our faith will ignite faith in others. When we doubt we cause others to doubt too just like the disciples zapped the faith out of that father. (See Chapter 47 of The Desire of Ages)

By the way, God is not the only person we are to believe in. “Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.” 2 Chronicles 20:20. The same logic and arguments that people use to dismiss Ellen White as a prophet are the same logic and arguments others use to dismiss the Bible altogether. We are to believe in the Lord and His prophets. Let’s not lead others to doubt God’s love or the writing of His prophets. If you lead a friend to not believe in the Spirit of Prophecy don’t be surprised when they stop believing in the Bible and God too. That is where that logic leads to. Those writings are there to help us to overcome unbelief and have faith in God and His love.

You may find more studies and devotionals at In Light of The Cross.

Acts of the Apostles-The Great Commission

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area. But this picture is not in the Tampa Bay area. Can you tell where it is?

Acts of the Apostles Chapter 3

After the death of Christ the disciples were well-nigh overcome by discouragement. Their Master had been rejected, condemned, and crucified. The priests and rulers had declared scornfully, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He be the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him.” Matthew 27:42. The sun of the disciples’ hope had set, and night settled down upon their hearts. Often they repeated the words, “We trusted that it had been He which should have redeemed Israel.” Luke 24:21. Lonely and sick at heart, they remembered His words, “If they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?” Luke 23:31. 

     Jesus had several times attempted to open the future to His disciples, but they had not cared to think about what He said. Because of this His death had come to them as a surprise; and afterward, as they reviewed the past and saw the result of their unbelief, they were filled with sorrow. {AA 25.1} 

 The early church started with a disappointment. The disciples did not understand the Scriptures said Christ had to die, even though Jesus told them plainly. They got excited about their own plans for Christ and got carried away. They were mocked and ridiculed by the Jews and the non believers. Then when Christ was resurrected they were accused of making up the story to cover their embarrassment that He had died. Fact is, even though they made a mistake and misunderstood Scripture, they were still God’s people, and Christ was indeed resurrected and commissioned them to take the good news to all the world.

Later in 1844 God’s people suffered another disappointment. They did not understand that the 2300 day prophecy of Daniel pointed to the sanctuary message and not a time prophecy for Christ’s return. Even though the Bible taught clearly against setting times and dates for Christ’s return God’s people once again got carried away. When Christ did not return in 1844 they were disappointed as the disciples were at the cross. They were mocked and ridiculed. Then when they discovered that the 2300 day message actually was about the sanctuary they were accused of making it all up to cover their embarrassment. But even though they made a mistake they were still God’s people and He has commissioned them to take the good news to all the world.

When people mock and ridicule the saints of God in 1844 they do exactly what the Jews did to the disciples at the cross. In both cases the mocking and ridiculing leads to unbelief in God Himself.

Thankfully none of the accusations in either case holds any water and the everlasting gospel will outlast all the lies and accusations will triumph! Here are some wonderful promises found in the current chapter of Acts of the Apostles.

The disciples were to carry their work forward in Christ’s name. Their every word and act was to fasten attention on His name, as possessing that vital power by which sinners may be saved. Their faith was to center in Him who is the source of mercy and power. In His name they were to present their petitions to the Father, and they would receive answer. They were to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Christ’s name was to be their watchword, their badge of distinction, their bond of union, the authority for their course of action, and the source of their success. Nothing was to be recognized in His kingdom that did not bear His name and superscription.  {AA 28.2} 

 

Christ did not tell His disciples that their work would be easy. He showed them the vast confederacy of evil arrayed against them. They would have to fight “against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Ephesians 6:12. But they would not be left to fight alone. He assured them that He would be with them; and that if they would go forth in faith, they should move under the shield of Omnipotence. He bade them be brave and strong; for One mightier than angels would be in their ranks–the General of the armies of heaven. He made full provision for the prosecution of their work and took upon Himself the responsibility of its success. So long as they obeyed His word, and worked in connection with Him, they could not fail. Go to all nations, He bade them. Go to the farthest part of the habitable globe and be assured that My presence will be with you even there. Labor in faith and confidence; for the time will never come when I will forsake you. I will be with you always, helping you to perform your duty, guiding, comforting, sanctifying, sustaining you, giving you success in speaking words that shall draw the attention of others to heaven.  {AA 29.1} 

You may find more studies and devotionals at In Light of The Cross.

Acts of the Apostles-The Training Of The Twelve

I am writing tonight from the beauiful Tampa Bay area.

Acts of the Apostles Chapter 2

For the carrying on of His work, Christ did not choose the learning or eloquence of the Jewish Sanhedrin or the power of Rome. Passing by the self-righteous Jewish teachers, the Master Worker chose humble, unlearned men to proclaim the truths that were to move the world. These men He purposed to train and educate as the leaders of His church. They in turn were to educate others and send them out with the gospel message. That they might have success in their work they were to be given the power of the Holy Spirit. Not by human might or human wisdom was the gospel to be proclaimed, but by the power of God.  {AA 17.1} 

An education and a degree are two separate things. Not everyone who is educated has a degree, and not everyone who has a degree is educated. Jesus wanted his disciples to be educated and they were, just not by the self righteous Pharisees. So today, Jesus uses men and women whom He educates not by the might and power of the world but by His Spirit.

As it was with the early church, so it will be in the last days. ” In the last solemn work few great men will be engaged. . . . God will work a work in our day that but few anticipate. He will raise up and exalt among us those who are taught rather by the unction of His Spirit than by the outward training of scientific institutions. These facilities are not to be despised or condemned; they are ordained of God, but they can furnish only the exterior qualifications. God will manifest that He is not dependent on learned, self-important mortals.–Testimonies Vol. 5  p. 80, 82 (1882). 

Thus the message of the third angel will be proclaimed. As the time comes for it to be given with greatest power, the Lord will work through humble instruments, leading the minds of those who consecrate themselves to His service. The laborers will be qualified rather by the unction of His Spirit than by the training of literary institutions. -The Great Controversy, p. 606

There is much to be said for education both in the classroom and in the field. Many have educated themselves by reading books, who were not able to attend a school. Still, they have book knowledge. However, book knowledge is not everything. The best example I can think of is several years ago when I was a lay pastor in Fort Worth. I had a friend who was a student pastor at Southwestern Adventist University in Keene, near Fort Worth. He and his wife had recently had a baby when I called one evening. My friend was quick to get off the phone that night which did not bother me. I had no clue anything was amiss until he called me back the following day. He said, “I am sorry I got off the phone so quick yesterday but my wife and I were having an argument and she was upset with me. She was trying to breastfeed the baby and it was not working for her so I started telling her how to do it and she became very angry with me.” I asked him how in the world he thought he could instruct his wife on nursing a baby. He responded defiantly, “I read it in a book!” Well guess what my friend? Book knowledge is not everything. I think this is a prime example on how we sometimes put too much emphasis on book knowledge instead of practical training.

I have spent my whole life reading and studying about Jesus and theology. Yet what I have woven into my ministry over the years has not all come from books. I have learned letters from books, but I have learned love and compassion from seeing it manifested in the lives of my self sacrificing family and friends. It was caught not taught. I still have a long ways to go though.

You may find more studies and devotionals at In Light of The Cross.