Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Again, Assessing Our Place




At the start of Sunday morning worship in my brother-in-law Fagan’s ministry, he said to everyone the Holy Spirit told him to turn all the service over to me.  He told me I could do anything I wanted.  There were nine of us there.  Whatever I chose to do would not have been an apple cart turnover situation.  It wasn’t a formal setting of liturgy or worship order or discombobulated musicians to worry about.  We gather normally to join in worship through MP3 files on an iPhone through a Bose-like sound system followed by some scripture and sermonizing, and some soaking music and spontaneous prophetic utterances and prayer and laying on of hands on some in the room.  It’s pretty free flowing.  I was not surprised to be told to take the worship and ministry time in any direction I chose. 

After reading portions of Isaiah 42 out loud, I glanced at April.  She looked at me and said in a whisper, “When you’re finished, I have something.”  I was relieved.  I tapped her on the leg and said, “Go.” 

April and Fagan had a conversation last week.  She told him I was looking nationwide for a paid position in a church or ministry in which we fit, and that isn’t everywhere.  He told her he wasn’t sure if it was God or him, but he believed we would stay here in order for their ministry to provide us a launching pad to land back on Sand Mountain.  Neither April nor I believe that.  We both feel there needs to be a chronological and geographic separation for us and Sand Mountain.  We also believe we’re here for a season, but we’re not called to his ministry or Calhoun County. 

There are a few things April and I are in agreement about regarding our future on Sand Mountain.  First, we’re called to minster on Sand Mountain.  God has revealed too many things to us about our future there.  We will be back.  Second, in light of what we’ve accomplished, experienced and struggled through, we need to separate from the people and circumstances that we’re too familiar with, right now.  There needs to be a separation.  Third, April conveyed this to me recently, and, at first, I didn’t agree, but after a moment of honest reflection, I agreed.  We’re not skilled to the degree we need to be to accomplish what we’re called to do there.  We’re anointed in our gifts, but we’re not skilled in how to use the gifts accurately and effectively.  This will take time and experience, and this will probably not be under my brother-in-law’s ministerial mantle.  Again, we’re not called to this ministry or Calhoun County.

April shared from Matthew 11 where Jesus said, “Blessed are those who are not offended at me.”  She went on to talk about Jesus not being what we assume him to be when we’ve been shaped by religious thinking.  I then shared from Mark 2 which I’d read from the Daily Office earlier that morning.  Jesus told the paralyzed man on the mat lowered through a hole in the ceiling, “Your sins are forgiven.”   I emphasized, “God is not holding anything against you,” and how this doesn’t fit in a religiously trained way of thinking.  April came back with the meaning of repentance being the changing of one’s mind.  Your nature has been changed by virtue of what Christ has done for us all on the cross.  “I may sin, but I’m not a sinner.”

We work well together.  Our destiny is linked together in one flesh.  April proved openly to be what she knows herself to be – a prophetic, teaching priest.  Months ago, the Lord called her that.  She preaches and teaches with an anointing.  Though I’ve preached more in church over the years than she has, she has the gift necessary for these days.  When she preaches or teaches, I learn.  That was the case Sunday.  I spoke from what I know.  She spoke from the Spirit’s leading.  Since we’ve been here and led to openly contribute in these worship and ministry times, I share more often through learned behavior rather than spiritual direction.  April waits and shares more strategically, and, consequently, has more of an impact, I believe.

April is the prophetic, teaching priest.  I’ve been told in the Spirit and through prophetic impressions and utterances of others, both friends and strangers, I’m a gifted intercessor and through intercession, and what was called by two different people at different times, ancient works, the work of the Spirit will abound.  I’ve come to accept the positive feelings and impressions I’ve had over the years when it came to prayer. It is a calling for me to intercede.  My male pride has gotten in my way and compelled me to strive for more public expressions of ministry like preaching and teaching.  There have been years when I’ve thrived and relished the idea and opportunities to preach.  That was the big part of my pastoral ministry in the church.  It appears this is no longer my primary calling as it was in congregational, pastoral ministry, and that’s OK. 

As I’ve posted on this blog before, I’m supposed to write and record, as well.
Write this down for the next generation
    so people not yet born will praise God:
God looked out from his high holy place;
    from heaven he surveyed the earth.
He listened to the groans of the doomed,
    he opened the doors of their death cells.”
Write it so the story can be told in Zion,
    so God’s praise will be sung in Jerusalem’s streets
And wherever people gather together
    along with their rulers to worship him.
-- Psalm 102: 18-22 (The Message)

April’s frustrated because she is not fulfilling her calling.  While in full-time ministry in the United Methodist Church and most recently in Albertville at Safe Harbor, she had the opportunity to exercise her teaching and preaching gift.  She was great at it, and you, as a reader can go to my You Tube page and hear excerpts of my wife’s preaching. 

She and I are not in an authoritative place where she can preach as she may desire.  We’re under someone else’s mantle of spiritual authority.  April is not at a place to insist her brother give her a platform to fulfill her calling.  He is the steward of his anointing and mantle and God-given ministry.  We follow his lead, and that’s OK.  That’s the best we can do, but that increases April’s frustration. 

While many from my past may see me as a skilled preacher or orator of some kind, I’ve willing stepped into the days of a shifting paradigm.  I’m called to intercede and record the movement of God and God’s people.  I’m not frustrated with any of that.  My frustrations lie elsewhere.

Fagan followed the Spirit and called us out.  We were faithful.  We find ourselves, again, assessing our place and gifts and hopes and callings.  We trust God.  Continue to pray for us.

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