The Pursuit of God

Serious Topics for Serious Christians

Category Archives: Specific Callings

Why God Performs Miracles Through Spiritual Rebels (Help for Disillusioned Christians)

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AUDIO VERSION: YouTube  Podbean

Father Marcus is a seriously devoted priest who cares deeply about the Lord and about the souls in his flock. One of his parishioners, Maria, is newly diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. She’s suffering terribly, treatments aren’t working, and after she spends an hour weeping in Marcus’ office, he is very grieved for her and feels strongly led to give her hope that God will heal her. So he does. He tells her not to give up on the idea of receiving a miracle. Then he prays for her right then and there, lays his hands on her, and really believes that God is going to grant the healing right then. Why else would He be impressing on Marcus so strongly that Maria is going to be healed?

But when Marcus prays, nothing happens. Maria goes home. A week passes. She’s much worse and Marcus is feeling bad that perhaps he led her astray by urging her to hope for a miracle. While he’s wrestling with doubt, a well-known healer named Hank comes to town. Marcus knows that Hank is a pompous glory hog who doesn’t care in the least about honoring God. He’s even heard Hank laughing about how easy people are to dupe. Hank has gotten rich after years of conning people into giving him large sums of money in exchange for Divine healing. While Hank is in town, a desperate Maria goes over to him for healing. She drops hundreds of dollars into the offering plate, Hank picks her out of the crowd, lays his hands on her, says his usual dramatic prayer, and Maria is instantly healed. She’s ecstatic and she tells everyone how the great healer did what Father Marcus couldn’t. When Marcus finds out, he feels confused and hurt. Why would God choose to exalt a jerk like Hank and leave Marcus looking passed over? Read more of this post

Being Called by God: The Responsibility & The Risk

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AUDIO VERSION: YouTube  Podbean

One day John’s boss calls him into his office and announces that a new position has opened up in the company. It’s a prestigious position—one which will give John a lot more clout than he currently has. John is shocked and thrilled when his boss promotes John to the new position right then and there. Now John has a new title, a bunch of new responsibilities, a new staff, a new office, and a ton to learn. Does merely receiving the promotion mean that John will be a success at the new job? Not hardly. The promotion is merely an opportunity—it’s now up to John to decide how he is going to use the opportunity. He might do great, he might turn out to be mediocre, or he might miserably tank. If his boss isn’t happy with John’s work, John could get fired. The promotion isn’t a guarantee of success or of job security. Promotions can be taken away the same way they are given, and when they are taken away, it’s bitter. It would be less humiliating for John to get fired from his low ranking job than it would to be fired from a high ranking position. His new promotion has not guaranteed his success, but it does come with extra responsibility and the threat of extra humiliation if things don’t work out.

Among Christians there is endless fuss surrounding the subject of Divine callings. Yet while we’re busy envying titles and prestige, we’re forgetting about the great responsibility and risk that come with Divine appointments. If you get iced out of a church congregation as an untitled layperson, it’s certainly a painful experience, but you can find another church where the people are less twerpy. Meanwhile, the whole community isn’t gossiping about what happened to you. But if you’re the pastor who the church board just decided to fire, there’s now a bunch of flack and embarrassment following you around and making it difficult for you to find a new position. Once you gain a reputation for being a “somebody” in the Church, you end up being the target of intense scrutiny and criticism. There’s enormous pressure to compromise, and there’s a growing mob of folks who are eagerly waiting to celebrate your demise. But beyond the human realm, there’s God. He’s the One you’re serving, He’s the One who gave you the promotion, and He is holding you accountable for how you use it. Read more of this post

Understanding Spiritual Gifts: The Labels & the Lies

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AUDIO VERSION: YouTube  Podbean

What is a spiritual gift? There are two ways we can answer this question. When spiritual gifts are talked about in Church, people are usually referring to one item on a list of “gifts” which the apostle Paul jotted down in one of his New Testament epistles. We find various gifts listed in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4. These three letters were written by Paul. As is often the case in the Church, we are really recycling the theological beliefs of one dead apostle when we talk about spiritual gifts.

Now Paul’s list of gifts was far from comprehensive. This is hardly a surprise, for how can one man possibly list off every way that God might choose to work through someone? It’s important to note that Paul himself never tried to claim that the lists of gifts he mentions are complete. It was never Paul’s intention to try and tell us every possible gift that God might impart to someone. Yet many teachers in the Church act like this is exactly what he did. They will then go on to say that EVERY Christian MUST have one of the spiritual gifts mentioned by Paul. Of course this is utterly ridiculous, but this is what they say, and all kinds of guilt and trauma result as many Christians start trying to fake one or more of the gifts, or else they conclude that God has somehow overlooked them. Read more of this post

Christians without Callings: You are Just as Special to God

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AUDIO VERSION: YouTube  Podbean

If I am planning to take a cruise two years from now, but I don’t tell you anything about it, does that mean that I’m not planning it? If I’ve been saving for five years to buy myself a fancy new car, but I’ve never shared my dream with anyone, does that mean my dream doesn’t exist? In the Church today, the concept of a calling is widely misunderstood. God has all kinds of plans and purposes in mind for every human He creates. Yet many teachers in the Church erroneously tell you that God ALWAYS shares at least some of these plans and purposes ahead of time. Well, no, He doesn’t. God keeps the vast majority of His plans to Himself. Now and then He drops some human a hint about the general direction He wants their life to go in. When He does this, we say that that person has received a calling from God. We say that God “called” Jeremiah to be His prophet. But that calling was extremely vague. God did not download a comprehensive picture of what Jeremiah’s prophetic career would be like. He didn’t give the man visions of himself being beaten, ridiculed, hated by his friends, and thrown into a cistern. We humans are easily overwhelmed by negative images of the future, so when God hands out callings, He leaves a lot of information out. Read more of this post

Learning from the Levites: Specific Assignments

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Levi was the founding father of the Levite tribe.  Levi had three sons, and for centuries their descendants were careful to keep track of which son of Levi they descended from: Kohath, Gershon, or Merari.  If you’re not from a family that focuses on lineage, all this fuss over who your daddy was might seem ridiculous.  But we must remember that this is God’s world and He directs all the activities in it.  By inspiring the Israelites hyper-focus on bloodlines, He ended up having a nation that was composed of many well-defined groups.  God used the convenience of these groups for His personal agenda.  Consider how easy it was for God to set apart the tribe of Levi as His own.  If no one had been keeping family records, this wouldn’t have been possible to do.  And because the descendants of Levi were so careful to  keep track of which son of Levite they descended from, God could very easily divide up the work He wanted them to do into three neat sections.  So often what we think is a good idea is really God inspiring us to do something that benefits Him. When you’re trying to create a portable temple in a barren land, a lot of curtains are required. Where there are curtains, there is hardware to hold them up.  Breaking down and setting up the Holy Tent, the Meeting Tent, and the entire altar sacrificing area was no quick task.  Today we can buy tents that spring open with one press of a button or mattresses that automatically inflate and deflate. Back then, they had to do things the long hard way. Complicating the task was the fact that God was supersensitive about His special things.  This was not the kind of work one could perform carelessly or with a bad attitude.  Holy eyes kept a close watch over the entire process and God was very clear that He would instantly strike down anyone who dared to violate His precise instructions. Read more of this post