Are we subtly addicted to the narcotic of success, power, influence, visibility, growth, etc.?
James 1:2-4 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work in you so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
James 1:12 “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”
Wes Stafford (President, Compassion Intl) shared a story of a hero of the faith who he once met in Uganda. After nearly dying for professing faith in Christ, this man told Wes that he was in fact praying for the Christians in America. What? Why? Because he was told that American Christians are not persecuted for their faith so it was possible for them to go all day, even all week without ever praying, or reading their Bibles. He was told that on nice warm days American Christians would prefer to go to picnics rather than go to Church. So he prayed that American Christians would know persecution.
Revelation 7:13-14 “Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes – who are they, and where did they come from?” I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
Moma Maggie Gobran (Founder, Stephen’s Ministry; Nobel Peace Prize nominee)
“My soul magnifies the Lord. For He has done great things for me.”
We do not choose where to be born. But we do choose to be sinners or saints. We choose to be a nobody or a hero.
Egypt is the land of tears and blood. A land of prayers and love. 25 years ago she heard her call. Lord Jesus took her step by step. Along the way she committed to reading through the Bible every year and she has done that.
She had to sell everything and follow Jesus if she really wanted to be his disciple. To be elegant comes from the inside. True love is to forgive and to give…until it hurts.
She was a teacher with some of the best and smartest students in the country. She was called to leave them and go to the poorest and the least. Wasn’t Jesus himself born in such places?
“When one has nothing, God becomes everything! When I touch a poor child, I am touching Jesus. When I listen to a poor child, I am listening to God’s heart for all of humanity.”
Among the poor the Creator is hidden…there is mystery in the poor.
When you die to yourself you will discover the beauty inside of you – that is what God sees.
The toughest of all the “called” is to have a pure heart and to get to know the Almighty. She would devote herself to silence for long periods at a time to be fully inside herself. Not easy, but there is where we discover the secrets in silence.
-Silence your body to listen to your words
-Silence your tongue to listen to your thoughts
-Silence your thoughts to listen to your heart beating
-Silence your heart to listen to your spirit
-Silence your spirit to listen to His Spirit
In silence you leave many to be with the One.
Bill Hybels shared the story of Jeremiah as the third story in this session of leaders with tough callings.
Jeremiah heard God’s calling that he is needed. He tells God “Count me in.” God then tells Jeremiah what he wants to do for him – tell His people a series of warnings of what will happen if they do not change their ways. God wants to shake his people and wake them up and he wants to use Jeremiah to do it.
Nothing goes well. Nothing goes up and to the right. Nothing looks, tastes and feels successful to Jeremiah. God tells him to keep speaking and he does. One day they beat him and tie him up and put him on display on the city gate so people can spit on him and mock him as they pass through the gate.
Jeremiah cries out to God in Jeremiah 20 – “You sweet talked me, God, and I bought it.” He curses the day he was born. He gathers his wits about him and he says “but you did call me and I did say ‘yes'” He’s torn between his calling and his ache for success.
He starts speaking God’s words again, this time with lower expectations. People attempt to shut him up again and throw him into a pit and left to die. Later on people lifted him out of the cistern and upon reflecting, he says “I cannot deny that God asked me to be his spokesperson. I think I’m going to have to give up that ache inside me to be successful in the eyes of the world.”
After years of heartache, ridicule and derision, the enemy comes over the hill and attacks the people of God and carries everyone (including Jeremiah) into captivity. Later Jeremiah writes a small book called “The Lament.” He writes all of his disappointment and disillusionment down. In Lamentations 3 he records that throughout all of it God’s mercies were new to him every morning!
Bill shares that he had an easy calling – to lead a church in a suburban area in one of the most affluent places in the U.S. He’s surrounded by great leaders, wealth, etc. He opens up about having very little “true hardship” as he’s carried out what God asked him to do.
It only takes one episode of the evening news to know our world is broken. The fixes that are going to be required are not easy assignments. They are not short term. They are not going to come with compensation packages. God is looking for some strong-shouldered leaders who are willing to attack these tough assignments…to be available to take a tough calling.
Jeremiah was told by God to go buy a jar and to gather as many people around as possible. He was supposed to smash the vase for effect as he tells the people what God is going to do the people don’t turn back to him. He smashes the vase – the people grab a hold of him and beat him to within an inch of his life.
We were given a piece of clay from a clay jar. The instructions: if you have the courage, if you are serious about the things of God and the condition of our world, take a pen and write something on this piece of clay. Are you open to God’s tough calling?
This world is not going to get fixed unless leaders like us are available for the tough calling.
Personal Insight: “Out of chaos…count me in” August 12, 2011