TOWARD AN EFFECTIVE MINISTRY
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Chapter 1 - Hearing The Call (below) Chapter 6 - Going Forth
Hearing the Call
passing along by the Sea of Galilee, he saw
and Andrew the brother of Simon casting
net in the sea; for they were fishermen. And
said to them, "Follow me and I will make you
fishers of men", And immediately they left
nets and followed him. Mark 1:16-18
they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to
Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me
then these?" He said to him, Yes, lord; you
that I love you." He said to him 'feed my lambs'
second time he said to him, "Simon, son of John,
you love me" He said to him, 'Yes, Lord; you know
I love you," He said to him, "Tend my sheep." He
to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do
love me?" Peter was grieved because be said to
the third time, "Do you love me?" And he said to
"Lord, you know everything; you know that I love
Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep. Truly, truly,
say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself
walked where you would; but when you are old,
will stretch out your hands, and another will gird
and carry you off where you do not wish to go."
he said to show by what death he was to glorify
And after this he said to him, "Follow me."
we were asked to compare the function of a Christian congregation to its
counterpart in the auto industry, we might think of a factory where new cars are
produced, or perhaps a bump shop where they are repaired. But hardly a junk
that one day you’re making the rounds of the junk yards in search of a
transmission for your car. In one of them an astonishing thing happens. A man
comes into the yard who needs only to touch the remains of a wreck and it
becomes a brand new car again. He touches a 1963 Chevy. Instantly it's new. He
brushes against a 1949 Ford. Suddenly it looks as it did when it left the
factory. He leaves, and all the people in the junk yard are scratching their
heads. Did that really happen? Was there such a person? He's gone, but there's a
new car ....a brand new car!
The church of Jesus
Christ is not a factory where new souls are produced from scratch... nor is it a
bump shop, (although very often it is thought to be one; a place where spiritual
fenders are straightened). No... the church of Jesus Christ is a junk yard. We
are an assembly of human wrecks who have been, or are being, brought back from
the dead. With some of us it’s a slow painful process... with others it seems
to happen more rapidly. But it is happening. And even if you can’t see the One
who’s performing it, you’re seeing the results... look around you. If you
walk up to one of these revived souls and ask him or her what happened, every
single one will give you the same answer: “A man came to me and called me by
name. And when I turned around and answered his call this happened.” We
may not fully understand who this man is. We cannot see him with our eyes, or
touch him with our hands, or hear him with these ears... yet we know the call of
his voice in the center of our hearts.
We know that he has a claim on us.
We know in our bones that we were born to hear that call and that our
whole life up to this moment was spent waiting for it to come. We may not yet
understand the ins and outs of his death and resurrection, yet we somehow begin
now to understand that it is the power of that death and the power of that
resurrection which comes to us in that call and draws us by that call into the
very heart of God.
this miracle goes all the way back twenty centuries, to the beginning. If you
talk to Peter and you ask him what caused the change in his life he would say,
“I was fishing one day and this man came along and said, ‘Follow
me’....and I knew I had to go.”
how did it happen to you?”
was in my tax office counting my money... here comes this man who says,
‘Follow me.’ I had no choice but to get up and go.”
Magdalene, what ever happened to you... I never saw you like this before.”
was living in a mental hell. Suddenly my mind cleared and standing before me was
this man who told me that my sins were forgiven.”
you mean the call comes to some but misses others?”
sooner or later the call of that man comes to every single soul that has ever or
will ever be born. For he says himself,
“And I when I am lifted up from the earth, (on the
cross), will draw all men, (women), unto myself.”
will fulfill those words. But many hear the call and know they’re hearing it,
and understand what it means, and go on their way.
married a wife and I cannot come... I got some land and I have to look at it...
Let me first go and bury my father."
for those who answer the call, the miracle happens in every life without
the call that comes to us has two aspects. First, there is the initial
hearing. It's like being in a deep sleep and your wife or your husband is
trying to wake you up. Your name is called ten times and you don't seem to hear
it. You grunt and roll over and continue sleeping. Then suddenly you hear it.
You shake yourself and jump out of bed. And so it is with some who will be
reading these words. A voice has been calling you by name. The moment comes when
you hear it. If you respond to that call, you begin to experience the mercy of
God and you begin to change.
second aspect of this call is the daily hearing of it. There are those
who have the idea that you just have to hear it once and you're all set. If you
think that because you came down to the altar once-upon-a-time
and asked Jesus into your life, confessed your sin, and shed some tears, that
that blazing and wonderful experience is going to hold you all the way through,
you are in for a surprise. Glorious as it is, that experience by itself will no
more keep you through your life than a marvelous wedding ceremony will keep a
man and woman married for fifty years... you've got to hear that call every day.
any one would come after me let him deny himself (herself),
up his cross daily and follow me.
I don't have enough sense every day to put other things aside and be still and
listen once again, I will soon drift beyond hearing range. But if I make the
time and settle down in my heart and listen, I will again hear the voice of the
Shepherd and I will be renewed.
sheep hear my voice and I know them and they
me, and I give them eternal life.
doesn't matter whether you heard the call fifteen years ago or if you're going
to hear it for the first time today, the call of the Lord upon our lives is,
first of all, a call to the unworthy. He doesn't call you because you've
got something to offer. ("Wouldn't it be wonderful if so-and-so
became a Christian. Think of all the people who would come into the kingdom
because he's ouch a wonderful ball player... because she's so pretty... because
he's a brain.")
comes for the very opposite reason. God allows us to get to the junk yard stage
in our lives so that when we come to him it's clear that we didn't do it .... he
Jesus passed on from there he saw a man called Matthew sitting in his tax
office. And he said to him," Follow me." And he rose and followed him.
as he sat at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and
came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples. And when the
saw this, they said to his disciples, "Why does your teacher
with tax collectors and sinners?" But when he heard it, he said,
who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.
and learn what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.'
I came not to call the righteous, but sinners."
are many who have the idea that they will not hear the call of Jesus until they
get their lives together... it's the other way around. You will never get your
life together until you first hear and respond to the call of the Lord which
comes to you as an act of sheer mercy. If you will be still inside your heart,
my friend, you will hear him calling you today ...and as you respond all things
become new. He didn't come to call the righteous he came to call sinners. This
is not the Cadillac plant, this is a junkyard. And if you're not willing to be
included in the junk yard you won't possibly hear that call. The fact that we're
a piece of junk is no problem to the Lord at all. It is his joy to take that
piece of junk which is our life and raise it up into something that is pleasing
to God and a blessing to man.
second thing about this call is that it comes to those whose hearts are
when you hear his voice do not harden
hearts as in the rebellion ....
the reason why the call of the Lord which has been extended to many of us for
years didn't get through was because we were anything but tender... because our
hearts were critical, hard, self-righteous, full of judgments. We saw all
the other hypocrites, and never imagined what hypocrites we were. For this
reason, God, in his mercy to us, has taken many of us down a path of
circumstances that have had the effect of softening our hearts, so that when we
come out through the other end of the meat grinder we now aren’t so sure we
have all the answers. We aren't so quick to judge other people. We're more
broken and more tender and more merciful in our attitudes toward those around
us. And now when Jesus comes, we begin to understand that what he says to us
does indeed make sense. As long as I'm sitting on the top of the world, the
money's rolling in, everybody's my friend, success is my constant companion, I
don't have any interest in this strange man from Galilee who calls me to follow
him. But after tragedy hits my life, or God in some way brings me down to
reality, then I am able to recognize the truth. If you are having trouble
hearing the voice of the Shepherd, the most valuable prayer you can pray is,
"Lord, do whatever you have to do to soften my heart. Take me through
whatever road necessary that I may finally be tender to the word that you
the call of the Lord upon our lives is a call to the service of the living
the kingdom of heaven is like a householder
went out early in the morning to hire laborers
his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers
a denarius a day he sent them into his vineyard.
going out about the third hour he saw others
idle in the marketplace and to them he
"You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is
I will give you," so they went.
didn't say, "I’m going to send you for ten weeks to a seminar... then
you'll know how to serve God ... You go to Bible college... then you'll know how
to serve God... I want to check you out a little more... give you some more
instructions." He said, "Go... go in the shape you are right now and
function in the place that I put you." What is the Kingdom of God... what
is this vineyard we are to work in, but simply to share God's mercy in Jesus in
the place where we find ourselves now.
of us are still waiting for the angel to come and say, "Go to
Australia." And we won't go anywhere until the angel tells us Australia...
because that's where we want to go. But what makes you think you're going to
serve God in Australia if you're not doing a thing for him here? Is it not true
that there are people who need to hear a good word from your lips in the place
where you are now?... who need to see something that's going to give them some
hope?... who need to see some evidence of love, mercy, kindness, goodness from
your life and your actions? "Oh, I can't do anything, I'm only a piece of
junk... I'm not a Cadillac." But when the piece of junk answers the call of
the Lord and begins to serve the living God where it is, it's no longer a piece
of junk... it is the habitation of the living God. We have this treasure in
earthen vessels in order that the transcendent power may be known to be of God.
call of the Lord upon our lives is
a call to death.
anyone would came after me let him deny himself,
up his cross every day, and follow me.
what does it mean to deny yourself every day and take up your cross every day,
but to die every day. And to die every day is not morbid. It means that I come
out of this ridiculous self that I am... that I come forth from that into
freedom once again. And this only happens if I die every day, deny myself and go
forth into him who is meek and lowly of heart and who lives not for his own will
but for the will of the heavenly Father.
of us are so full of self that we're of little use to God. Many of us merely
have to walk into a room… we don't even have to open our mouths... and our
presence fills the room. Everybody knows we're there. We can be very "meek
and humble," yet we make sure that everybody knows we're there. Until we
learn how important it is to die... until we understand how essential this is,
that we die every day, we're going to be of little use to God's kingdom. The
people who are growing in their ministries, who are getting better at it, who
are becoming effective, who are bearing fruit, who are coming through the storm
stronger every time, are the ones who answer the call of the Lord to die.
"Lord, I don't understand what this means, but I know I need it... help me
to die with you."
finally, the call of Jesus upon our lives is
a call to life.
truly, I say to you, the hour is coming
now is when the dead shall hear the voice
the Son of God, and those who hear (that is,
listen, who respond) shall live."
sheep hear my voice and I know them and
follow me and I give to them eternal life."
as surely as we go down into the grave with Jesus with our sins, we also come up
out of that grave by his grace and power to live a life which is so radically
different from what we were before that it's a difference between life and
is eternal life, to know thee, the only true
and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent ...
be alive is to know God... to know God right now. Not last week, but now. Not
that marvelous experience you had in January, but to know the living God now.
And to this Jesus calls every single one of us. "You were a wonderful
Christian last week, but right now, come out of that death into me," says
Jesus to every one of us. He extends the call to each of us and it's up to us to
answer it. Peter left his fishing... Matthew his tax collecting... the woman at
the well set down her water jar and went to do what Jesus said, and that was to
follow him. Mary Magdalene left her seven devils. Now the Lord calls us to leave
what we are and what we have and all these things that cling to our hearts and
that our hearts cling to. "Come, I have something far better."
suddenly the junk yard is no longer a graveyard but a place where resurrection
miracles begin to occur as men and women begin to rise up and answer the call
that's been placed on their lives. And as they do they change. So if you now
hear the call of the Shepherd to your heart... answer it... answer it in
whatever way that is meaningful to you... answer it sitting in that chair...
answer it kneeling on the floor. Don't close this book until you’ve answered
it. As you do you will experience new life... resurrection life... this day.