Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Jonah, Jonah, Jonah, When Will You Learn: A Discussion Of Ministry And Freewill

As I mentioned in my other posting, I grew up in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. There the "freewill" was an important doctrine. As I mentioned before, every sermon had a choose and decide for God appeal. But something that I also noticed is how men came to be called to the ministry was not a freewill issue. Ministers in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church often talked about a struggle with God calling them to ministry. As a youth a few people told me that I should go into the ministry. I told them that God had not called me. Then one day while reading Isaiah, I noticed Isaiah saying, "Here am I Lord, send me." I felt like I could also sense that I had the choice to serve the Lord in ministry. The burden to preach came from the Lord, but it also came from a need of those who need to hear the message. I accepted that call, and have been preparing for ministry for over 20 years. (I don't know when I will finish.) But along the road, at one time I felt like I had missed God's call somehow. I gave up on that sense of call. God started burdening my heart. I knew that he was not going to give me any peace if I did not pursue the ministry. At that time I was more like Jonah who did not want to preach because of his audience. I was intimidated that I was not good enough. I think Jonah's motives may have been different than mine but both of us were not being faithful to the work God had for us.

It is funny to me that a church could hold freewill as a sacred doctrine when it comes to salvation but the call is everything when it comes to ministry. Yes, I beleive in freedom and the will, but I also beleive in a call. All are a part of salvation and ministry.
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