Okay, so after the last post, let’s talk a bit about theological training. Now, I know this can be a hot potato with many people because the thinking goes somewhere along these lines,
“God called me to minister not to study”
“Theological study kills the spirit”
“God just looks for volunteers”
“why should we study to minister the Word of God”
“There is no room for professionalism in the church”
and I’m sure this list can go on and on…
So, why theological studies? Are we trying to promote an elitist clergy who alone has access to God and His Word? Does studying about God kill your passion for God? I’m not even sure I would want to defend this, but lets just say that when we want to be a pilot, we study. When we want to be an engineer, we study. When we want to be a school teacher, we study. When we want to be anything in life, we study. Why? Because we believe that in order to excel in any area of vocation we require a certain skill for proper execution and application, yet when it comes to administering the Word of God and ministering to his people, we feel that it doesn’t require us to sharpen our skill for proper execution and application.
Sure, Sure, you don’t need to study to tell people about God, but that is not the point here. Go look around and see how many churches, communities and people’s lives have been destroyed or derailed by people parading around as ministers who are not skilled and qualified for proper ministry. Does that mean that when you have studied you won’t mess up? Of course not, because we still find pilots crashing planes, engineers failing in designs, teachers not cutting the grade (no pun intended), so why do we expect ministers to be any different? Is there a different expectation on ministers? If there is then why lower the standard?
After a chat with a buddy on theological training and its outcomes, I had to ask this question. “What should be the outcomes after four years of studying theology?” Many people would respond by saying that it is in the pastorate (church) that all or most students should end up in. Others may say the mission field. The idea that does surface is that often we get the calling confused with that of the office. In other words we confuse function with office. So how should we respond to that?
I do think that we have asked the incorrect questions when it comes to theological studies and its outcomes. Instead of asking where are you called to, we should ask what are your called to? In other words, what is it that God has called you to do? Let’s get a bit closer to home here and use myself as an example. I believe I am called to minister to young people. Now automatically you would assume I will take up a post as a youth pastor at a church. What has typically happened here is that we confuse the calling (a function) with a post (an office). As someone who ministers to youth, that office can exist in more than one expression, namely, as a youth pastor at a local church, as a teacher at a school, as a person at an NGO that has youth as its mandate and that list could go on forever. There are many more examples one can use but I hope it brings the point home?
When we are called to the ministry it primarily means we are called in a capacity to make Jesus known to people. That is the FUNCTION. Our calling is NOT to an OFFICE but that of a function. The function, as mentioned above, is to make known Jesus to the world (by the way that is every believers calling as well). So let’s not get too stressed about where we will end up because the place we end up at will always be negotiable. I do believe that God is bigger than the limitation we place on ourselves and that of our callings. We sometimes wonder that if we do hang out at a place so different from that of traditional ministries we might be missing the mark. That is because we confuse our function with office. Again, I would like to propose that the office (where we minister) is irrelevant, as long as we fulfil our function (that which God has called us to). This office may never meet people’s satisfaction or what they may believe to be a relevant place to minister.
So at the end of the day we should be saying that it doesn’t matter where you end up or what the office looks like that you hold. What does matter is that you fulfill the mandate that has been given to you by God.
So the festival might be steeped in pagan history and the roots might be nowhere close to Christian. So hot cross buns, pickled fish (if you live on the Cape Flats), Easter eggs and even the Easter bunny might have nothing to do with why we celebrate. Does any of those then nullify or detract from what actually happened and what it means?
The day that Jesus Christ died (be it whatever day), was to free us from the bondage of the power of sin. And his resurrection from the dead was to free us from the power of death. And yes, no amount of rituals, chocolate, fish, or resistance to the various expressions of our modern society will satisfy what really happened. Is it then so bad to have symbols and reminders of that great event?
Don’t lose focus of the big picture!
December has arrived.
The year is nearly at an end.
The time of the year for festivities have arrived?
The world goes on vacation and celebrations happen.
This clip has been circulating around the net and I thought it gives a nice “Christmas in a nutshell”. So if you don’t know the meaning of Christmas… have a look.
Where do I go from here? That was a question that I had wrestled with for many years and it has come to an ear-shattering-all-time-high-volume for me about two months ago.
On the one hand a part of my journey has ended and yet at the same time another has begun but in the total scope it is just one continuous journey with many different stops along the way.
Each stop being unique and offering different challenges and tensions that whether I want to or not have to grapple with.
Challenges, tensions, threats, opportunities…
We evaluate our thinking, our choices, our lives.
We choose to change!
We are forced to change!
I have learnt that while I have control over my thinking and actions, I have no or little control over my circumstances. I cannot dictate how my circumstances should be or even would be and while it may sound like it is inevitable to live a life that is reactionary it is quite the contrary. Each time I make a decision, my circumstances change and each time my circumstances change I have to make another decision but while this dialogue continues, I have again been reminded that ultimately it is God who orders our steps.
It is God who is sovereign. He is in control. He is in charge and no matter how many decision we may make or how our circumstances may dictate and push us around, it cannot trump God. He is in control.
I have learnt that it is okay to not know all the answers. It is okay to not even know the questions. And so in the midst of my journey God assigns a new opportunity and while it has me anxious at moments, it leaves me humble. It leaves me grateful. It leaves me knowing that I have a God who is fighting my battles.
So here I find myself at the Cape Town Baptist Seminary…
And so the journey continues…
If any is familiar with day hospitals in Cape Town, then you will be familiar with waiting and waiting and waiting. It was literally a full days work. We arrived at 7am and left just before 3pm. It was a long and torturous day, but a day with many many lessons learnt. Allow me to just share three of them.
I have learnt that God doesn’t always heal and because he doesn’t come through for you in the way that you would like doesn’t mean he does not care or love you. I have learnt again that sickness is not necessarily a lack of faith or sinning against God. Sickness is a part of life. We get sick, we age, we die. It might be sombre and depressing but it is a reality. We cannot escape the inevitable. A day will come when we will be called home, where will your home be?
Being wise and responsible also means that we need to see medical practitioners (hopefully you will have medical aid for that, poverty can be dehumanizing especially when help is needed) on a regular basis and not just wait for God to heal miraculously. We cannot say if we have not experienced healing was because we lacked faith. I do not always know why God allows us to go through moments of difficulty, pain and trials, but I have always experienced his grace and peace in the midst of it all. God offers us his peace even when it seems foreign and impossible in moments of great trial and loss.
But what I learnt most of all today, is that God affords us only one life. One life to live. One life to love those whom God has given to us. One life to live out the purpose that God has given and not squander it for reasons of fear or indecision or any other reason.
Listen what God says in Joshua 1:9
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.
Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged,
for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
You only live once, live it purposefully, live it intentionally.
So Jesus Christ was in the Garden of Gethsemane just before being arrested and going on trial and then to be crucified, was found kneeling and begging God to remove this cup from him. What cup you might ask? The act of dying on the cross for us as humans that it may be possible to have a relationship with God. But he then concludes saying not his will but God’s will be done.
Wow! Jesus asked God for something that was beyond his will and he knew what he was asking for! Sjoe! Isn’t that hectic? I mean we are so hung up on the fact that as people we must always ask God’s will and here Jesus Christ knew he was asking God for something that was not in his will. Sure you might say but in the end he said God’s will be done and not his, he must have conceded that he was wrong. But if he was, why then did he ask God this very thing three times?
I do think that Jesus was overwhelmed by his humanity and his humanity took over at his greatest point of need. I also think he shows that it is okay to ask God for things, anything. We don’t always have to ask according to his will, I mean who knows what God’s will is? Beside us accepting Christ, and becoming like God through worshipping him and the great Commission. What is his will for your life?
God’s will for your life is to become somebody that he wants you to become, whatever that may be. And that there should be no shame when asking Him for things. We should not become or aspire to become something because it is the general Christian belief and that we will be outside of God’s will. If God puts two options, two opportunities before you, what would be his will for you in that matter?
My answer, it doesn’t matter! As long as you have seeked Him in prayer. God has already answered that prayer by giving you the skill, the experience and the desire to pursue either one. Either would be the right decision and nothing would surprise God.
So please, pray before you leap. Don’t wait 40 years before making a decision, you can make the decision. And do not be afraid to ask God what your heart desires.