I have now written five books, none yet bestsellers, but I have been faithful to materialize most of what has seemed to come as a spiritual mandate for my life.
That mandate seems more than ever pressing me to be more open with a long developing progressive revelation that seems to leak openly, regardless of whom I am with or what the conversation might be about.
Whether by my writings, words serendipitously spoken, business propositions or various leadership roles provided it seems now unrestrainable.
Just this past Sunday as I participated in communion, I asked the Lord, “Now What?” The voice I have heard and been guided by at least since dedicating my life to Christ, if not childhood, answered the question, “Will you not do this in my Name?”
I knew exactly what that meant! I am talking about spiritual practicality, not simply church-speak held for more appropriate moments.
I know, I'm getting a little heavy here, and frankly the good news is it still feels to me somewhat awkward, which I trust is genuine humility. However, at age 75, I gotta be true to myself and my calling.
That calling first heard when I was only nine years old with the words: "One day you'll preach the gospel." As scripture proclaims, one's "calling is without repentance."
The irony is that it never became what I feared, living behind a pulpit. I'm not knocking that role, for I have been there, done that and at times enjoyed the kind reception to what I felt was a "Word from the Lord." I also have many well-respected friends, and yes, my current pastor, who has given his life to that calling.
My journey however has been quite different than expected, whether by God's direction or life's deflection! Yet, I now have no excuse to withhold what wisdom has been learned.
I did once take the risk of following the advice of one of the best senior pastors ever known, when in 1990, I would leave a then dear to my heart small town where we had planned to retire, many friends and, the very field that my three degrees seemed to have prepared me for.
I would then jump full bore into full time church-based campus ministry. Yet, within seven years, I found that what the Lord had chosen to use my life for seemed ill-fitted for a template based on mere church expansion, or a best a campus folk came to to serve God.
Though our mission described a more city wide impact, the more involved I became, the less I was able to fully participate in community leadership. It seems the church has created a self limiting idea of clergy, one that limits their bounds to their campus. Sure, there are those that gain such personal prominence as to be permitted to serve at large, a few even matriculate into governance. Bless them.
I must only assume that move in 1990 was necessary to lure me back to my hometown, though in good faith I was attempting to step into a "Word from the Lord" given in 1978, "Where ever I sent you, seek that city, if not this one the next, I'll give you a city." Apparently, serving as a three term mayor did not fulfill that mandate!
Even prior to 1990, with my previous position as a public-school administrator, I ended up in the role of community relations director. My calling seems about developing true community, to me the real "do this in my name" that Jesus modeled his last Thursday on earth. However, the primary takeaway from Maundy Thursday by the Institutional Church was a sacrament built around serving bread and wine, one best administered in an isolated sanctuary setting.
Don't misunderstand me, as I fully buy into both the New Wine and the Bread of Life. However, the more awkward foot washing and full embodiment of the priesthood of believers, a calling forever leveled at the foot of the cross, initiating a community integrated priesthood has never fully manifest, perhaps due to given the controlling parameters of the institution of church.
Keep in mind the religious community killed Jesus, stoned Stephen, burned Moravia's Jan Hus at the stake and imprisoned Galileo! Yet, we keep tweaking that model in hopes of escaping some feared Armageddon, rather that fully accepting our role in bringing the Kingdom of God to this earth.
Meanwhile, if it wasn't for the ideation that more often flows through the marketplace, few of the technologies now necessary to sustain life would be ours. Think about that in lieu of the recent COVID crises when evangelical churches declared that "none of these things would come near our dwelling."
Some were fortunate, others died, and in the end wisdom prevailed. I'm just being honest, as I lost several friends.
God is Sovereign, and I believe the source of all practical ideation. Yet we have so locked God up in our guardian approach to the text of scripture that progressive revelation seems to flow more through those outside the church than the clergy that attempt to sustain her.
Why am I saying all this, simple, my calling is without repentance. I didn't ask to say or hear these things, and I was far more comfortable before I gave into that calling.
Since I seem to have come to an understanding of my vocational "Sweet Spot," my next move is to explore the more practical use of any spiritual revelation. But, for the sake of brevity, I will stop here and continue this conversation in the next post.