Recently at one of our Bible studies, I made a statement about being “called into ministry”. One of the ladies at our study asked me “Pastor, what does it mean to be called into “ministry”? I thought that question would be a good subject to blog about over the next few weeks. I can hopefully share some insights I have gleaned through my journey that might be profitable to my readers in discerning God’s will and leading in our lives. My own journey to the center of God’s will started in earnest in the summer of 1981 at an event called Creation‘81. At the end of a message by Tony Campolo, I stood to respond to the challenge to commit that to go wherever God wanted me to go and do whatever He wanted me to do. I had no idea what that might mean, but I stood anyway.
We were attending a church in Hamilton (Bible Baptist Church) whose recent interim pastor was a professor of Philadelphia College of Bible. We had also recently called a youth pastor who was a graduate of the same school. I was introduced to the school through their ministries.
That fall (1981) I enrolled in a counseling ministry class at PCB because I felt, with my personal history of substance abuse issues, I might someday be able to help someone with these issues in the local church. It might be good to have counseling background if God ever opened that door of ministry for me. I was not in any way planning on becoming a pastor or counselor. At the time I was working quite contently as a postal clerk. Over the next five years we would add 2 children to our family and I would ultimately graduate with honors from PCB. I went to school part time for 2½ years and full time for 2½ years.
I mention graduating with honors because I had never been a particularly good student before my experience at PCB. I received a “C” in that first course and the only other “C” I ever received was in a Master’s level statistics (sadistics) class I had to take as part of the program. It was especially during those last 2 years of full time study that I experienced a remarkable presence and power that could only be described as the energy of the Holy Spirit sustaining and guiding me. I agree completely with Paul who wrote in the 6th chapter of Galatians,“But God forbid that I should glory, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,” (v.14a KJV). I can do nothing apart from Christ. But with my wife Deb’s help and support, God blessed my studies in amazing ways. Also I was growing and serving in the local church and having my gifts verified by those I was serving alongside at Bible Baptist Church.
It was during this time as God was empowering and enriching my service and studies that I claimed 2 life verses. In the 4th chapter of Philippians Paul reminds us “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (v.13, NKJ) and in the 3rd chapter of Ephesians the 20th verse Paul writes, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us (NKJ). I still believe that these two promises are true when we walk in obedience and trust God to do great things in our lives. So I we see that God leads through His Word (1st and foremost), through empowering, through godly counsel, through faithfulness in serving where we are and finally through open doors. These are all background issues to the conversation that I would have with the dean of students in the spring semester of 1986 that would have life changing implications for our family. Stayed tuned.
All for Christ,