May 21, 2007 What it takes to stay fresh and challenged in ministry and to do this until the finish…

God is an intentional God, and we must have intentionality in our approach to ministry. Staying fresh and challenged in ministry has everything to do with our deliberate passion for Christ’s honor, glory, and dominion in all things for all our days. This can only be accomplished by a continual refocusing on the realities Christ presents as that which should be accorded the most worth in our life. This is not some sort of spiritualized hyperbole. It is sum and substance of our reality in Christ that we must dare to practice every day. In fact it is practical, deliberate discipline much of the time.

Ongoing ministry will only flourish by means of sacrificial consecration and freeing ourselves from the distractions of this world in order to apprehend the blessings of unmitigated satisfaction of ministering unto the Lord. Ephesians 3: 16-19 says it best for me… that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

Passionate pursuit of Jesus will take us surely home. Eugene Petersen called this "a long obedience in the same direction." This is first and foremost an exercise in humility and brokenness. Seeing Christ as all in all in humiliation, failure in the eyes of the world and self can ultimately yield more joy than any worldly success. This reckoning yields an ever deepening sense of acceptance in the beloved, accompanied by a passion for the things Christ care about- that many sons be brought to glory. As our powers of mind and body so soon begin to wane we shall see power perfected in weakness.

This is what allows us the power to fight the good fight, finish the race and keep the faith. Scripturally we are to be living in the light of the unseen, walking by faith and not by sight. We must apprehend spiritual lessons in the mundane things of life. We must place our abilities on the altar and understand that "fading quietly into obscurity" may, in some cases be what pleases God- and in more cases than we understand. It is not necessary that we all go out like Elijah to please God. It is also key that leaders reproduce and know when God calls them off the stage. Answering the call is all of grace whether it be in starting or finishing, taking up or passing on the mantle. If the challenge is right, often the freshness will be necessitated.

May 26, 2007 More thoughts on finishing well... Spiritual barometers and resolutions...

I think we should think about finishing well in ministry the way we think about finishing well in life. They are one and the same. It is moment by moment that Christ is Lord of our soul. I think it was Luther who said he wanted to be found tending his garden when the Lord returned.

I consider Jonathan Edwards one of my spiritual heroes. Most people considered Edwards to be a failure at the time of his death. I keep a copy of the Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards in my Bible, but I think we all have to come up with a few of our own, and the simpler the better. Here are a few that sprang to mind as I’ve been pondering Dr. Williams’ question this week.

Expect that your best days are ahead of you.

Think regularly about the goal- the prize of the upward calling in Christ Jesus.

Don’t let the fear of the new keep you from taking on challenges.

Check your spiritual barometer regularly- monitor checkpoints or spiritual disciplines that alert you to apathy and living beneath your privilege.

Practice gratitude, even in suffering.

Don’t judge progress by sustained activity in one area.

Learn to say no to good things so you are free to appropriate the best things in God’s will, God’s time, God’s way..

Be willing to pay the cost of being available. embrace relational sacrifice as unto the Lord

Keep in vital contact with what God is doing in the world at large.

Get angry about things worth getting angry about.

Realize that we are not called to be remembered for the great things we have done, we are called to enjoy God and love Him forever, and to love others in that light.

Anticipate learning something new each day as a way and means by which to enthrone Christ.

Really realize that right now, moment by moment, mundane or magnificent, counts forever.

Focus on truly knowing and loving Jesus more than on just avoiding Sin.

Operate out of Christ’s sufficiency, not yours.

Never let people put you on a pedestal- focus them on sitting at the feet of Christ alongside you by making much of Christ.

Pray without ceasing.

Remember that life is a test and a trust.

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