Posts Tagged ‘Calling’

Before I Guide You . . .

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

Making the right decision can be very difficult. It becomes increasingly difficult when you have two or three good options from which to choose. The questions that seemingly cause me the most stresses are the ones where the Bible does not specifically address: Where should I live? What should be my life’s work/career? Who should I marry? How many children should we have? Who should I hire? Should I take the job in Texas or the one in Minnesota? We have a heavenly Father who loves us, knows the future, and desires to give us the best he has for us. But, before we receive guidance from God for our lives, there are some things that should be true of us. Over the next few days, I will be posting a limited list of prerequisites in the form of questions. Here is the first question:

1. Have I chosen to follow Jesus and let him reign in my life? Matthew 6:31-33

God will guide us when we have chosen to submit to the reign and leadership of Jesus. If we have not made the decision to follow him in the most important area, that is, to love him and seek his kingdom values, then why should he give us guidance/direction in other areas in our lives?

Popularity: 13% [?]

When Prejudice Meets The Word

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

Last weekend’s message was simple but very difficult for me to deliver. Remember the major point from the weekend, as Malachi helped us to Reset Justice?  – “Correcting injustice in the world, begins with God correcting injustice in me. “  It was a heavy message for me to deliver, but God lifted my spirit in an amazing way as someone literally allowed God to immediately deal with the injustice in their own hearts.

After the 11:00 service a man approached me and said he needed to ask me to forgive him. Immediately, I wondered what it could be. He told me that when I was introduced as the candidate for the position of Senior Teaching Pastor, he didn’t vote for me. “I am sure that many people didn’t vote for me.” I opined. So, his comment was no big revelation to me. What he said next was. He said, “You need to know why I didn’t vote for you.” I continued to listen. Because of his experiences in the past, he had developed a spirit of prejudice and racism against black people. In essence, he was saying he didn’t vote for me because I was black. He began to weep and asked me if I would forgive him. I said it wasn’t a problem. He retorted, “Listen! You don’t understand. I really need you to forgive me. I don’t want the junk of prejudice and racism spilling over into my kids’ lives. I didn’t vote for you and I was wrong. God has been and is using your preaching to impact my life.”Wow! To His glory!

I realized what God was doing. This man heard God and was acting on what he heard. I forgave him. We hugged for a good while, weeping in one each other’s arms (Glad we weren’t in the men’s bathroom doing this – Smile! It was a joke). I was moved, humbled, and I rejoiced as I was reminded that God has me in the right place at the right time doing the right thing. God, thank you for using Malachi to help us see that: Correcting injustice in the world really does begin when we let God correct injustice in us. For His glory!

Popularity: 33% [?]

Don’t Drink It!

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

In John 3, the followers of John the Baptist tried to get him to drink the heart-numbing elixir of jealousy and envy when they said, “the one who you said is the Messiah is baptizing people, too.” They must have been living the thug life because they asked John: “Do you want us to put in some work and stop him?” In other words, they wanted to somehow stop Jesus’ success. John told them to slow their roll. Now, he could have been dragged into the numbers and success game, but John didn’t drink the cancerous libation. He responded with a line that is unnatural for me, but it is a principle that I need to rehearse and learn daily: “I am filled with joy at his success.”(NLT) Let’s be honest; It’s not easy being filled with joy for someone else whose . . .

ministry is larger than yours
budget is bigger than yours
popularity is greater than yours
books outpace yours
blog gets more traffic than yours
songs get played more than yours
networks are stronger than yours
living the life that should be yours
marriage is happier than yours
job pays more money than yours
body looks better than yours
enjoying the success and blessing that should be yours
checks have more zeros than yours

And the list goes on, doesn’t it?

I hear people saying all the time: “I work just as hard and spend just as many hours as they do, working on my craft, honing my skills, and being faithful to God and my family, but I don’t experience the same success.” Sometimes, it just doesn’t seem fair, does it?. Yet, John said: I am filled with joy at his (Jesus) success. So, how can I be filled with joy at the messianic status and success of others? Here is what I’m learning:

1. God gives each different gifts and niches in ministry.
2. I have to be faithful to and thankful for what God has given me.
3. We’re on the same team and playing for the same generous Coach.
4. Celebrate the success of others every chance I get.
5. Jealousy and envy are sins that prevent me from being fully present where I am.

Have you ever been tempted to drink the elixir of jealousy and envy? How difficult is it for you to be filled with joy at someone else success? What lessons are you learning?

Popularity: 15% [?]

Giving You the Best That I’ve Got

Monday, April 19th, 2010

The one thing I desire in ministry and in life is to give God the best that I’ve. I don’t always succeed, but I aspire to give him my best. How can we be sure that we are giving God the best we’ve got? Here are three very important questions that can help us to achieve maximum effectiveness in ministry and life.

Question #1: What is the motive of  your ministry? Service? Life?
Answer: Always choose the approval of God over the praise of people.

Question #2: How are you mastering your ministry? Service? Life?
Answer: Always choose excellence over mediocrity.

Question #3: What is the measure of your ministry? Service? Life?
Answer: Always choose the eternal over the temporary.

Which question(s) and answer(s) spoke to you the most? Which will you choose focus on over the next seven days?

Popularity: 6% [?]

Greater Things

Friday, April 16th, 2010

My ten year old son asked us if he could have friends over. We usually say yes. But, this time we said no and reminded him that he had not been responsible in the small every day, normal things:

cleaning up his room
separating the recycling
picking up his clothes
helping with other household chores
going to bed on time

Because Micah had been irresponsible in smaller things, what made him think that we could and would trust him to be responsible in greater things. When he showed greater responsibility in smaller things, then we would be more apt to give him greater responsibility in bigger things. I think we miss opportunities of greater things because we cannot be trusted with the smaller things.  

However, sometimes I think God gives us greater responsibility, not because we are deserving or even because we are the most responsible people he could have chosen. Sometimes I think he gives us greater responsibility simply because he is a gracious Father and desires to bless us. But, I think he also gives us greater responsibility to expose our inability to handle the greater responsibility without him and to move us to break ourselves on his unconditional grace, creating the habit of humility.

I am readmitting today that, without God, not only can I not do the greater things, but I can do nothing. His help is not just nice, but it is absolutely necessary.

What assignments have you been given? How responsible are you in carrying out those assignments? What do you need to do to be more dependent on God in carrying out those assignments?

Popularity: 13% [?]

Jesus, Stop Blocking!

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

I was reading Mark 5 and the story was about Jesus casting out demons, and God gave me pause as I came across these words from the demon: “Why are you interfering with us?” That question intrigued and convicted me.  I begin wondering if I have privately and secretly mouthed or lived these words to Jesus.

Jesus, why are you interfering? Why are you getting in my way? Why are you interfering with:

my career?

my family?

my plans for the future?

my agenda?

my time?

my success?

my kingdom?

my money?

my profits?

my sleep?

my day?

my life?

“Why are you blocking, Jesus?! We like you, and I might even say we love you, but not enough for you to get in the way of our lives. In fact, when following you becomes too inconvenient and involves too much sacrifice and suffering, we might just tell you to leave us alone, at least until the next time we need you. We apologize in advanced.”

The interesting thing is, when we were sinners on our way to hell, he interfered and rescued us, and we were grateful for his amazing grace, weren’t we? Well, if he was good enough to save us, he has to be good enough to lead us as well, right?

Here is what I’m learning: If he is my King, and I believe he is, then he has the right to get in the way of my life any time he desires. He has the right to interfere with my career, my 3 to 5 to 10 years plans, my family, and even my money. He can interfere because it all belongs to him. He can interfere and redirect if he so desires, without my permission. The assurance I have is, that his interference is designed to make his name famous through me.

Have you ever asked Jesus, “Why are you interfering with me?” How has his interference advanced his kingdom through you?

Popularity: 18% [?]

Dangers to Ministry Leaders

Saturday, December 26th, 2009

Danger1 Dangers to Ministry Leaders

I have been in ministry a number of years, serving in small, midsize, and large churches. There are ministry mine fields all over, and one misstep can ruin your family, ministry and influence that God has allowed you to develop. Here are some DANGERS to ministry leaders that I have observed over the years. Our ministries are in danger when:

1. We love ministry more than we love Jesus and the people to whom we minister.

2. We are busy with busyness than busy enjoying the joy of our salvation.

3. Our spouses and families get our leftover energy instead of our best selves.

4. Our spouses and children see more joy in our faces for ministry than for them.

5. We begin to believe and embrace our own press clippings.

6. Our primary motives for ministry are applause, recognition, and idolization from our peers.

7. We allow our accomplishments to cause us to accept and live with “reasonable” sins in our lives.

8. We allow our abilities and gifting to cause us to become less dependent on God.

9. We allow our addiction to success to cut our appetite for our desire for Jesus.

10 We allow work to replace solitude and activity to replace prayer.

11. We let the addiction to the praises of people to keep us from living the truth and convictions of God.

What other dangers to ministry leaders can you add to this list? With which danger(s) do you most identify? How can you guard yourself against these dangers in ministry?

Popularity: 13% [?]

It’s Official!

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

Here is a portion of the letter the elders of Trinity Church sent me yesterday, extending a call to be their next Senior Teaching Pastor:

Dear Marvin,

This is an important holy moment in the history of Trinity Church. The deacons have completed the counting of the ballots and the members of Trinity Church have overwhelmingly approved you as the next Senior Teaching Pastor of Trinity Church as recommended by the Elders.

Therefore, Trinity Church extends the call to you to become our Senior Teaching Pastor. We expect you to lead our Teaching Team and preach twenty-five to thirty times a year in our weekend services. You will also become one of our Governing Elders.  The Church is eager to see how God will use your teaching and leadership gifts in transforming lives into His image and equipping us for the work of the ministry. In addition there will be many opportunities besides the weekend services for you to advance the work of the Kingdom both inside and outside the walls of our Church. We are excited about what God will do in our midst through your ministry among us.

We ask that you would acknowledge the acceptance of the call to be the Senior Teaching Pastor of Trinity Church. As soon as we receive your response, we will inform our Church.

In Christ,

Here is my response to the call that the elders of Trinity Church extended to me:

Dear Elders of Trinity Church:

I greet you in the precious and powerful name of Jesus Christ.

I am writing you in response to your letter extending the call to me to be Trinity’s new Senior Teaching Pastor.  As we have inquired of God before and throughout this process, we strongly sense God leading us to serve God among and with the people of Trinity Church. Therefore, it is with great joy and excitement that I, along with my family, accept the call extended to me to be the Senior Teaching Pastor of Trinity Church. We are excited about how God will use us among you and you in our lives. Here is a verse that I desire to live out among you:

And now, a word to you who are elders in the churches. I, too, am an elder and a witness to the sufferings of Christ. And I, too, will share in his glory when he is revealed to the whole world. As a fellow elder, I appeal to you: Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example.  And when the Great Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of never-ending glory and honor. 1 Peter 5:1-4

Because the Tomb is Empty
Marvin L. Williams, Teaching Pastor
Tabernacle Community Church

Popularity: 21% [?]

Seizing Your Moment

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

Over the next couple days I would like to discuss what it means to seize the divine moments God brings our way. God presents us with divine moments and opportunities each day. He longs to touch reality with eternity, and he wants to use us to do it. What does it take to seize the vision that God has given you? What does it take to embrace God’s vision as our own and impact the world for his glory?

I believe it begins with a divine encounter with God himself. Seizing our divine moment seems to always begin with being seized by the Holy. His love and grace arrest our attention and call us from a life of sin, bottom-feeding living, and selfish quests, to a higher purpose of living – living in covenant relationship with Him and pursuing his mission and vision.

Has his grace seized you? Melted your heart?

Read and ponder these verses: Acts 9:1-6; Philippians 3:12

Popularity: 14% [?]

The Letter

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Here is the letter I tried to share with our congregation yesterday. This was probably one of the hardest letters I have ever written.

My entire life and ministry have been about God’s call on my life

At 13 years old God called me out of darkness and into the light of his kingdom through his Son. At 20 years old, God called me into ministry.

Then God did something strange. Sixteen years ago God called me from cosmopolitan Chicago to a very different place called Grand Rapids, Michigan to serve at New Hope Baptist Church, alongside the late Donnell Smith.

Then God did something even stranger; he called me from a predominantly black church to serve at Calvary (a predominantly white church), alongside Ed Dobson. I believe that call set the tone in my life for helping to break down the racial and cultural barriers that had exist in churches today. My entire life has been about God calling me and me responding to that call.

Seven years ago, God called me to two men, Artie Lindsay and Kizombo Kalumbula, to plant a disciple-making church that looked like heaven. When I look around this morning, we see a church that, seven years ago, was just an idea. God made a crazy idea reality. In serving a Tabernacle, I have realized another call on my life – a calling as a bridge – a walkway between various cultures.

My entire life and ministry has been about God’s call on my life.

Several months ago, elders from Trinity Church, in Lansing, Michigan approached me to see if I would consider praying about serving as their next Senior Teaching Pastor (I did not initiate the conversations, send out resumes, and neither was I looking for new assignments. I believe God opened this door). So, Tonia and I began praying about it, and with our elders’ knowledge and blessing, we agreed to enter and go through the process to see if God was leading us to join him in Lansing, Michigan. After going through a lengthy process and interview, on Tuesday, November 17th, the elders of Trinity Church agreed to recommend me to their congregation as the candidate for their next Senior Teaching Pastor. My family and I sense God calling and leading in our lives, and we want to remain open to his leading and direction.

Because we love you and desire to honor you, we are asking you to pray with us, as we remain open to God’s will for our lives. Here are some dates that we invite to pray for us.

On December 12th and 13th, the Trinity congregation will vote whether to call me as their next senior teaching pastor.

Thank you for your prayers and support during this time in our lives.

What are your reactions to the letter? To what do you think God is calling you? How open are to his call on your life?

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