Provoked Unto Love & Good Works

Dear Fellow Young Minister,

I want to make a confession to you. I have worshipped next to you during song service at youth rallies, conventions, conferences – I have sat by you in young ministers’ sessions and seminars to come to this conclusion.

You make me jealous.

Not envious. But jealous.

I have seen the manner in which you worship our God. I have observed the way you speak of others. I have seen the way you tarried for altar calls. And I must say, I have been deeply impacted. You have provoked me to jealousy and a hunger to magnify the Lord. Quickly, I think it is important for me to differentiate between jealousy and envy, because I see jealousy characterized by a sense of selfless possessiveness of Jesus, while envy is simply selfish possessiveness. The Lord presents Himself as the jealous God (Exodus 20:4-6). Therefore, I believe jealousy is a positive characteristic to be inspired of you, while any negative connotation of jealousy we read, in KJV language, of the New Testament is really envy.

Anyway, I’m glad to have you as a dear friend, because I have learned the importance of provoking one another unto love and good works. A lot of people quote Hebrews 10:25 as the main reason to “go to church”, when I believe it is a gross understatement as to why we should gather. On a brief note, not only is verse 24 the real focus, but it is biblically inaccurate to say “I’m going to church”. Pardon me, that’s for another time. Because friend, I have had legitimately deep moves of the Spirit gathering with you and other friends outside of a church service setting. Frankly, I have ZERO motivation to assemble myself with other believers if I’m not going to provoke or be provoked unto love and good works. I believe that if we are not careful, we can sin by gathering with the people of God, by simply having the wrong attitude and approach. The Scriptures state in Romans 14 that “whatsoever is not of faith, is sin”. Not to mention that whomever knows to do good, and doesn’t do it, commits sin, too (James 4:7).

I believe we ought to be mindful of what atmosphere and provocation is cultivated by our closest friendships. I understand that some people get into a competitive mindset at times, but the love and good works you provoke me to, cause me to want to become competitive with myself. That’s what I want in a close friend. I hunger to become more like Jesus, than I was yesterday. For today truly is the best, opportune day to serve the Lord. I proudly blame you for contributing to that. I have had friends that provoked me to compromise and even discomfort, for simply wanting more of God. This became painful at times because I love my dear friends, but the atmosphere conflicted with the direction I wanted to go. I know I’m not the only one that feels this way.

Mark told me once about a time he was at Senior Camp, and one of his best buddies, Sam, who was in town from bible college, came up to him after making some rounds with old friends. Sam told Mark that Mark’s name was being tossed around, but in the context of “this guy thinks he’s all that”. I remember Mark told me the story and broke down weeping at the pain these accusations caused him. Mark told me he didn’t know how he had carried himself in such a way to make others feel inferior. It was never the intention – and possibly never the reality.

Truth is, some people don’t want to be provoked unto love and good works. While many do. It can be a difficult course to navigate because people vary in their responses, yet possess the same desire. Some people are comfortable in their relationship with God, while many have a deep sense and longing for more. I partially wish I could write today that ALL of my friends want to be provoked unto love and good works. But my ambivalence proceeds from the fact that the pain that comes from these “unequal yokes”, has provoked me to seek those that are going in the same direction.

Here lies another challenge. What becomes of my attitude, towards those whom I have had to create some distance with? Do I then fall into becoming a Pharisee? Am I excused from provoking at a distance? I must answer these questions for my own sake. Paul said he “always [strove] to have a conscience without offense toward God AND men” (Acts 24:16). I did not know this at first, but leadership is highly characterized by the manner in which we deal with pain, especially when others are involved. Can we still retain the momentum of provocation unto love and good works, when the current of compromise beats against us?

It comes down to this.

People are watching.

That in itself can paralyze many. But to know that Jesus is watching, is all the more motivating. Although, I did want to let you know that watching you has been a blessing to me. I want to be guilty of being a match in God’s kingdom. I heard a minister once say, “I don’t desire to be a bonfire. I just desire to be the match. The match that starts the bonfire gets consumed by the bonfire. Nobody even remembers who the match was.” I pray that God help our motives in provoking others unto love and good works, resulting in Jesus becoming the bonfire – while we are consumed in Him.

Thank you for being a match in my life.

Anointed or Talented?

Fellow Young Minister,

I desire to be effective in God’s kingdom. I want to grow in Him, too. But, I have noticed that certain people and ministries receive a lot of attention because of something called talent.

Now, I know that Jesus said we would receive talents and be wise to invest in them (Matthew 25:14-30). We will bare record to the Lord about our occupation with His kingdom. Although, with microphone-based ministries, like singer or preacher, the talented receive quite some press. If we were honest, we would hopefully say the talented need no repentance to be talented; for the gifts and callings of God are without repentance (Romans 11:29). But why the press? The cheer and jeer? I mean, it’s not a sin to be excited about talent, I get it. But I get this feeling sometimes that the talented are misrepresented as the anointed. I have heard that talented folks have gone shipwreck because they became entitled with their gifting, confusing man’s attention for God’s approval. It taught me that while some have the attention, it does not mean they have the anointing.

Paul made it very clear that preaching isn’t a flow of ministry made effective by intellectualism, philosophies, and jargon (1 Corinthians 2:4, Colossians 2:8). Yet, it was made effective through God’s power, demonstration, and kingdom. I would imagine that singing would function similarly. People would experience God’s righteousness, peace, and joy through song and lyric, not so much via vocal roller coaster (Romans 14:17). Yet, it perpetuates as a legitimate temptation for many involved in microphone-involved ministries. I would contend it’s because of a culture of celebrity-ism that can creep into our circles.

It can be frustrating. But, it has allowed me to gather a greater sense of appreciation for the anointing of God and anointed people. You know what it’s like. One person is projecting these wild illustrations and colorful displays of intellect, while the other preaches a glory cloud upon the soul. Or, one singer belts their runs and turns as smooth as cursive calligraphy, while the other invokes a path to liberty at the feet of Jesus. It is a crucial thing to be able to identify between talent and the anointing. God help us.

But, I have found this to be a double edged sword. While it is quite evident that the talented can fall short of pleasing God, so can the anointed. I am reminded that Saul, the anointed of God, also displeased our Lord (1 Samuel 24-27). David, too. Likewise, I too, being anointed, have displeased the Lord before. John said the people of God have the anointing (1 John 2:20, 27). But we can get this big head, you know? Still, I have erred on the side of fear of failure and pride because of it – this is not the will of God. One day, the Lord gave me this thought to consider, “A submitted person with a spiritual revelation is dangerous to the kingdom of darkness. But how much more dangerous is an unsubmitted person with much spiritual revelation, to himself?” It struck me that growing in anointing, still, was not the complete path to pleasing God.

I remember your words today. You said in 2019, you were focusing on becoming the COMPLETE man, where the supernatural was just something that was normal in everyday life, but the pique of your existence was your relationship with Jesus Christ. That really impacted me. The Lord put this in me in addition, “Anointed or talented? Neither are enough. But to be Christ-like, is worth it all.”

We could gain the whole world, by talent or even anointing, and still lose our soul. Seeing that we also, could never gain Christ and gain the whole world, we strive to just win Christ (Philippians 3:8). Truly, our prize is not heaven. Our prize is Jesus Christ. We are His bride and He is our groom. What more of a win, than the winsome King who robed Himself in a humble servant, and died for us on a cross? To be resurrected so that we could experience the same.

I will pursue Him in 2019. I will walk with Him in 2019. I must say it that way, because my wants fluctuate because of my frail frame. He is mine and I am His. I cannot even say I am indebted to Him, because He plainly and biblically owns me (1 Corinthians 6:20). What Scripture does show me, is that I am indebted to OTHERS, in showing them whom I belong to (Romans 1:14).

So, talented or anointed? Neither are enough. But to be like Jesus, is worth it all.

Happy New Year, my friend. Let us be complete in Him.