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Friday, July 13, 2007

Called By Who?

Now that I've recovered from Tori Spelling's ordination into the ministry, doesn't God take me to Galatians 1 this morning, where the Apostle Paul defends his own calling the ministry. (I wonder if dear old Tori feels a bit like dear old Paul!) It seems that the calling to ministry comes in two (2) different forms. It further seems that it has been that way since Jesus ascended into heaven (or even before). Society, and the world, has this view of what makes a minister. "If you are truly called by God, you will have seminary degrees, no colorful past, etc. Of course you'll also have a spouse who is truly religious and totally bought into your calling. Finally, you'll have a vow of poverty and not mind if the job of minister pays poorly ... or not at all (these are called bi-vocational ministers)." I don't mean to sound cynical, but look at the job boards for ministers and tell me if that isn't what you see.

So look at how the Apostle Paul explained his calling to ministry in his letter to the Galatians.

I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached ... I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. ... But when God, who set me apart ... and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, ... after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord's brother. I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie. ... I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. They only heard the report: "The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy." And they praised God because of me. - Galatians 1:11-24

So this Paul character, he's quite a fellow. He's a heretic of the worst kind -- an enemy of Christians. God reveals Christ to him and in him and calls him to preach. Without any seminary training, not even a Bible correspondence course, he sets off to preaching! Three whole years later, he drops by Jerusalem to meet an actual Apostle (Peter) and hangs out with him for 15 days. While there, he also meets James, Jesus' half brother. This is the totality of Paul's earthly credentials. Do you think any churches in America today would hire this guy?

I figured out long ago that God has a use for me in ministry. I"m never really sure what it is. I've tried to be obedient to His calling. In the course of that, I've done a little preaching, a little teaching, some counseling, some marrying, a funeral and a whole lot of praying and studying. Still I have no credentials, save for an ordination certificate from a lone church. Perhaps that's the same kind that Tori Spelling has. Still, some of us have qualifications that come from God. They're not recognized by most churches, and certainly not by most denominations. They are the enemy seminaries.

It is as Paul said though, "I was unknown to the churches ... and they praised God because of me." Hallelujah!

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