Posts Tagged ‘ordination’

Reflecting on the goodness of God on a special day

August 11, 2021
Here is quotation that I use as the motto for every writing class I teach and a statement I apply each day of my life.

As an adjunct professor of English currently starting a new semester at St. Augustine’s University in Raleigh, NC, I share a weekly email devotional with my students. A new semester started today, August 11, 2021, which turns out to be an especially significant day for me. Not only is today, the first day of classes where I teach, but it is also the 47th anniversary of my ordination to the Christian ministry and the 5th birthday of my grandson, Kingston Edward Simkins. All these events intersect in a glorious display of the Providence of God. I am posting this email devotional that represents my life and my ministry.

The devotional opens with a quotation attributed to Saint Jerome:

Good, better, best
Never let it rest
Until your good is better
And your better is best

Professional athletes, such as Tim Duncan and others, use this motto in an athletic context, but we can apply the statement in an academic context as well.

In discussing this inspirational quote, let us look for a moment at the adjective “good” which is derived from “God” who alone is good. Indeed, Jesus Christ said, “There is none good but the Father.” Good is an adjective, and an adjective has a comparative form and a superlative form. When you compare two objects, one is said to be better than the other. If you compare three or more items, one is selected as the best of the group. With God, however, there is no comparative or superlative. No, God has not seen “better” days, and God does not have the “best” day He’s had in a long time in comparison to others. With God every day is a “Good News Day” because “God is good.” Period! Because God is good, “. . . all things work together for the good, to them that love God, to them that are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28—my favorite verse in the whole Bible) So no matter how bad the situation may appear to be, it will work together for the good.

“O, taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the man that puts his trust in Him.”
“For the Lord is good, and His mercy endures forever.”

To further illustrate the truths of the opening quote, take a look at the video excerpt from “Facing the Giants.” Here we have a coach asking one of his players to “him his best.” That’s really all that anyone can ask of another person. Even so, as the facilitator of this class, that’s all I’m asking of you.


As we strive to apply this inspirational quote to every aspect of our lives, there should be an underlying motivation: that we want to express to God our gratitude for all that He has done for us through Christ Jesus, His Son, the least that we can do is give him our best. Like the coach in “Facing the Giants” that’s all that God is asking of us. This should be our response: “Giving My Best to You, Lord.” as offered by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir:

Reflections on my ordination and my legacy

August 11, 2020

August is a special month, and I recently published an article in Medium.com recognizing this month as “What will be Your Legacy Month.” August 11 is especially significant since it relates to a milestone in my life. An event of supreme significance occurred 46 years ago when I was ordained to the Christian ministry.

Ordination is the public recognition of a response of an individual to the call of God to serve. The recognition of this inner prompting to be of greater service may have transpired a considerable time prior to the actual ordination ceremony. I recall as a child being aware of the presence of God, and as I grew older and was introduced to the Bible, I remember reading the passage from Isaiah 6 where the glory of God overwhelms the Prophet, who responds to the question: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us.” Isaiah answers saying, “Here am I, send me.” This simple response resonated within me for years, and I publicly acknowledge that I had heard and accepted the call in 1974 at age 32.

Ordination is said to be a process whereby individuals are called, chosen, and set apart to serve, considered as a “special sacrament.” Such an entry point for service can begin with “the new birth” experience when one accepts Jesus Christ as savior and endeavors to follow in his steps. A child, however, who gratefully and joyfully accepts the blessings of the Father, eventually matures to the point of being about the “Father’s business.” In the minds of some, ordination is considered a kind of “rite of passage” which commences with a higher level of service in ministering to Body of Christ, expressed in Ephesians 4:11-13:

11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,
12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,
13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;

In reflecting upon my ordination ceremony which also involved a prayer of consecration, the laying on of hands, and a word of prophecy, all of which have been sources of inspiration and direction over the years. I wrote an original psalm inspired by that experience, and I later dedicated to other fellow servants who continue to respond to God, those who heard His voice and answered

The Call of God

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord,
beseech you to walk worthy of the calling
with which you were called,
Ephesians 4:1

The call of God resounds like a repeated name
From the lips of a beloved friend who knows us.
We wait and clearly hear our name and see the flame
Lighting the path to fulfill God’s divine purpose
As we choose to embrace a higher destiny.
This holy calling only God can verify.
We know our ears cannot hear; our eyes cannot see;
Yet from the depths of our heart, we cannot deny
That we have truly heard and seen what few will know.
We must, therefore, arise and strive to reach the place
Where the mighty rivers of understanding flow,
And we must never doubt God’s purpose and His grace.
In the unbroken line of all those ordained of God,
We stand. Having heard, we rise to heed the call of God.

August 11 is a “double lovely” day since it is also the birthday of my 4-year-old grandson, Kingston Edward Simkins, who answers, in part, the question raised in the monthlong celebration of What will be Your Legacy Month.”

Kingston and Grandpapa Johnson love to read together

Kingston Edward Simkins is part of my legacy that I believe will extend for generations to come. The lyrics to “The Blessing,” a powerful benediction by Elevation Worship featuring Kari Jobe and Mark Carney, express my innermost desire:

Ordained and called: God’s masterpiece

August 11, 2018

Today, August 11, 2018, is a “doubly lovely Good News Day,” meaning I am celebrating two special occasions: my ordination to the Christian ministry, occurring 44 years ago and the second birthday of my grandson, Kingston Edward Simkins. Both of these glorious celebrations occur during August, designated as “What will be your legacy?” Month. A blog entry posted on August 1, discusses the significance of the number 8, representing a new beginning.

Upon further reflection, I realized another aspect of a new beginning for me as a teacher. I taught my first class as an adjunct instructor at a Bible College in Kansas in 1976. Having come full circle, today I serve as an adjunct professor at Carolina College of Biblical Studies in Fayetteville, NC. Oh, the Providence of God.

Even more remarkable, at the beginning of this year, I reconnected with a former student in the second class that I taught at the Bible College in Kansas, Kevin Bell. He recently earned his doctorate and is serving as an online adjunct professor at several Christian colleges. We are now colleagues pursuing some of the same goals as teachers. When we first reconnected, he spoke of the New Testament History class that I taught and made specific reference to my closing illustration of the opening session. I brought a life-size blank canvas and a full-length mirror. I instructed the students to visualize painting a life-size self-portrait which when completed we would display in “The Living Gallery of the New Testament.” I closed the first session of the course with this original poem:

The Living Gallery of the New Testament

In the living gallery of the New Testament is reserved a special space:
An empty canvas awaits each feature of your face.
Each of us paints a self-portrait in minutest detail.
To develop your life’s masterpiece, you can never fail
When you follow Christ’s example, the Master of the Word,
Beholding as in a mirror, the glory of the Lord.
Each day abounds with potential for matchless artistry.
Now is your golden moment—you are making “His Story.”

A recent article posted in Medium.com talks about the life-changing impact a work of art can have on a viewer and asks “Have you ever encountered a work of art that captured your attention and left you speechless?” I go on to describe a personal encounter with a wood carving that moved me to tears. Included in the conversation is a statement from Olafur Eliasson, ‘Icelandic-Danish artist, who explains “Why Art has the Power to change the world”:

“Most of us know the feeling of being moved by a work of art, whether it is a song, a play, a poem, a novel, a painting . . . . When we are touched, we are moved; we are transported to a new place that is, nevertheless, strongly rooted in a physical experience, in our bodies.”

Without question, a work of art has power to touch our lives in unforgettable ways.

These comments serve as a prelude to a poem written today in celebration of my ordination as a teacher. It builds upon the opening poem for the class taught 42 years ago with a similar theme:

Breath-taking Portraits in the Living Gallery

Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him
for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.

Isaiah 43:7

Frank, honest, forthright, moving with spiritual insight,
Energized with a desire to serve with all their might.
Called as servants of the Lord, they have been given much;
They extend healing hands with a compassionate touch.
Walking in favor, ever eager, seeking to find
The strength to love God with their whole heart and soul and mind.
They desire to follow the Lord, to walk as the wise,
And just as Noah, they long to find grace in God’s eyes.
In the mirror of the Word we find pictures to paint,
Self-portraits of empowered people who do not faint.
From broad brush strokes, even down to the finest details,
Their whole lives reflect the love of God that never fails.
Masterpieces in the living gallery where we observe
Breath-taking portraits of all those called and ordained to serve.

Sarah Reeves offers “In the Details” to display the masterful skill of the ultimate artisan:

The call of God

March 9, 2018

2 Timothy 1--9

Touching upon the topic of God’s calling to the ministry, the Verse of the Day for March 9, 2018 comes from 2 Timothy 1:9 (NIV):

He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,

The Amplified Bible offers a more robust rendering:

for He delivered us and saved us and called us with a holy calling [a calling that leads to a consecrated life—a life set apart—a life of purpose], not because of our works [or because of any personal merit—we could do nothing to earn this], but because of His own purpose and grace [His amazing, undeserved favor] which was granted to us in Christ Jesus before the world began [eternal ages ago],

Paul, in the first personal epistle addressed to Timothy, his spiritual son, his true son in the faith, makes reference to those ordained of God, those with “a holy calling,” having a consecrated life, being set apart by grace to fulfill God’s purpose.

Although there may or may not be a public ordination ceremony that acknowledges an individual’s response to the call of God upon his or her life, the hand of God touches those called, chosen, and ordained of God, even before that person is born. As the Psalmist declares:

Psalm 71:6 (AMP):

Upon You have I relied and been sustained from my birth; You are He who took me from my mother’s womb and You have been my benefactor from that day. My praise is continually of You.

Note what the Word of God says about Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 1:5

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you [and approved of you as My chosen instrument], And before you were born I consecrated you [to Myself as My own]; I have appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

The Verse of the Day and related verses also bring to mind a most memorable event occurring more than 40 years ago when I was first ordained to the Christian ministry.  In reflecting upon my ordination ceremony, I recall a prayer of consecration, the laying on of hands, and a word of prophecy, all of which have been touchstones of inspiration and direction over the years. During that time I was inspired to write a poem which I have revised and would like to share:

The Call of God     

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord,

beseech you to walk worthy of the calling

with which you were called,

Ephesians 4:1

 

The call of God resounds like a repeated name

From the lips of a beloved friend who knows us.

We wait and clearly hear our name and see the flame,

Lighting the path to fulfill God’s divine purpose,

As we choose to embrace a higher destiny.

This holy calling only God can verify.

We know our ears cannot hear; our eyes cannot see;

Yet from the depths of our heart we cannot deny

That we have truly heard and seen what few will know.

We must, therefore, arise and strive to reach the place

Where the mighty rivers of understanding flow,

And we must never doubt God’s purpose and His grace.

We stand in the endless line of those ordained of God,

For we have heard and walk forth to heed the call of God.

 

We close with Joe Medrek, who reminds us “God is calling”

Reflecting on ordination and more

August 11, 2017

Ephesians 4--1

I begin this day, August 11, 2017, reflecting on an event of supreme significance occurring forty-three years ago, when I was ordained to the Christian ministry. Biblical scholar, E.W. Bullinger discusses the symbolic significance of the number 43, which is a combination of forty and three:

The number 40 is the product of 5 and 8, and points to the action of grace (5), leading to and ending in revival and renewal (8).This is certainly the case where forty relates to a period of evident probation. . . . A period of testing.

Now the number three stands for that which is solid, real, substantial, complete, and entire. . . All things that are specially complete are stamped with this number three, representing divine completeness or perfection.

Many times periods of reflection result in a poetic output, as Wordsworth observes, “Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.” Today’s occasion brought to mind three poems written related to my calling to the ministry:

Although my ordination was the public recognition of my individual response to the call of God to serve, this recognition of my inner prompting to be of greater service transpired long before my actual ordination ceremony on August 11, 1974. I recall as a child being aware of the presence of God, and as I grew older and was introduced to the Bible, I remember reading the passage in Isaiah 6 where the glory of God overwhelms the Prophet, who responds to the question: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Isaiah answers saying, “Here am I, send me.” This simple response resonated within me for years, and I continue to respond to God whereby I first heard His voice and answered:

The Call

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord,

beseech you to walk worthy of the calling

with which you were called,

Ephesians 4:1

 

The call resounds like a repeated name

From the lips of a dear friend who knows you.

I clearly hear my name and see the flame

That lights the path of those whom God foreknew

Would hear and heed a higher destiny.

This calling only God can verify.

My ear cannot hear; my eye cannot see;

Yet within my heart I cannot deny

That I have heard and seen what few will know.

I must arise and strive to reach the place

Where the rivers of understanding flow1

And never doubt God’s purpose and His grace.

I stand in the unbroken line of all

Those who, having heard, rise to heed the call.

Another related poem is “This Year of My Jubilee.”  To understand some of the references in this poem, one must first be familiar with the Old Testament concept of the Sabbath Year observed every seven years. Also known as the “Year of Release,” during this period no farming nor manual labor was to take place. In addition, all debt payments were remitted. At the end of every seven Sabbath Years, a special Sabbatical Year, The Year of Jubilee, was observed, during which time bond-slaves were released from their obligation of servitude, and they were free to leave their masters and go out on their own. These servants, however, could by their freedom of will choose to serve their masters for the rest of their lives in light of the close relationship they had established.

As it turns out, some have calculated 2017 will be another Jubilee Year in the Hebrew calendar, so that this poem is even more significant in that light.

This Year of My Jubilee

Exodus 21:1-6

Leviticus 25:1-17

 

I stand alone clothed only with the wind

At the end of another seventh Sabbath year.

Gathering of blessings now flow through my mind

As the shofar’s call resounds in my ear

To proclaim this year of my jubilee.

I reflect upon the wonders of this grace

Wherein I stand, a bond-slave now made free.

In this golden moment as I embrace

The truth and pledge to love as You command,

Pierce my ear, place Your brand upon my soul;

Enlighten me so that I may understand

That to run to serve is life’s highest goal.

Unfold before me pleasures of Your ways

And renew my vows to serve You all my days.

A year ago, I posted a blog entry entitled “Reflections on a convergence of events,” as my heart overflowed with gratitude to God for being alive to celebrate not only my ordination, but most providentially my wife, Brenda, and I were present to share in the birth of our first grandchild, Kingston Edward Simkins, who made his grand entrance at 5:45 p.m. on August 11, 2016, weighing in at 6 pounds 14 ounces with a 20 and three-quarter inch frame. Later in the day while trying to take in the magnitude of the moment, I recognized that these two events had occurred during August which has been designated as “What will be your legacy month?”

The closing piece in this series of celebratory poems makes reference to the importance of the legacy that one leaves behind:

To Serve and To Sow

Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy.

He who continually goes forth weeping,

Bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again

with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.

Psalm 126:5, 6

 

I learn to serve and to sow with a joyful heart,

To pour from the fountain of my soul and to give

All my strength to the Lord’s work and to do my part

To complete each task, to build that the Word might live,

For only deeds done for the sake of Christ remain.

The legacy to fulfill God’s will lives beyond

The brief journey of our days filled with joy and pain,

This precious token of our covenant, the bond

Of devotion to the Master, perfected love

Shed abroad in our hearts, enfolded in His peace

That passes understanding, flowing from above.

As I plant and water, our God gives the increase.

Freely I have received that I might come to know

The love of Christ, as I learn to serve and to sow.

I closed my blog post last year with these comments and a music video which still apply today:

Overall, my desire is to leave a legacy of a man called to serve and to minister to the people of God, a legacy that will touch eternity. Indeed, the example that we leave for others to follow is part of our legacy, which should be of concern to everyone, not just during August but every day of our lives. We close with “Find Us Faithful” which reminds Christian believers of the importance of the legacies that they leave:

Reflections on my legacy:ordination, a grandson, and more

August 18, 2016

Ephesians 4--1

Last Thursday, August 11, 2016 was indeed a special day of celebration, as three significant events converged in a remarkable overflow of gratitude to God.  My day began with a time of reflection and expression of my gratitude to God for my ordination to the Christian ministry which first occurred August 11, 1974. Most providentially my wife, Brenda, and I received news around 1 a.m. that our older daughter, Melissa, had gone into labor, as she and her husband, Will, were expecting their first child. We rushed to be with our daughter and son-in-law to share in the birth of our first grandchild, Kingston Edward Simkins, who made his grand entrance at 4:41 p.m. on August 11, weighing in at 6 pounds 14 ounces with a 20 and three-quarter inch frame. Later in the day while trying to take in the magnitude of the moment, I recognized that these two events had occurred during August which has been designated as “What will be your legacy month?”

Previously, I had commented on the significance of ordination in a blog post:

Ordination is said to be a process whereby individuals are called, chosen and set apart to serve as clergy. It is thought of as a “special sacrament.” Such an entry point for service can begin with “the new birth” experience when one accepts Jesus Christ as savior and endeavors to follow in his steps.  A child, however, who gratefully and joyfully accepts the blessings of the Father, eventually matures to the point of being about the “Father’s business.” In the minds of some, ordination is considered a kind of “rite of passage” which commences a new period of service in ministering to Body of Christ. . . .

In reflecting upon my ordination ceremony which also involved a prayer of consecration, the laying on of hands, and a word of prophecy, all of which have been sources of inspiration and direction over the years, I continue to respond to God whereby I first heard His voice and answered:

The Call

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord,

beseech you to walk worthy of the calling

with which you were called,

Ephesians 4:1

 

 

The call resounds like a repeated name

From the lips of a dear friend who knows you.

I clearly hear my name and see the flame

That lights the path of those whom God foreknew

Would hear and heed a higher destiny.

This calling only God can verify.

My ear cannot hear; my eye cannot see;

Yet within my heart I cannot deny

That I have heard and seen what few will know.

I must arise and strive to reach the place

Where the rivers of understanding flow

And never doubt God’s purpose and His grace.

I stand in the unbroken line of all

Those who, having heard, rise to heed the call.

While reflecting on my calling as a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ, I also thought about the birth of my new grandson, Kingston Edward Simkins, as well as the offspring of my “spiritual son” in Capetown, South Africa, Neil Demas, who named one of his sons after me: Lonnell Edward Johnson Demas. I think of these individuals and others who are a part of my life and part of my response to the question raised during August: “What will be your legacy?”

Kingston Edward Simkins

A website devoted to various holidays, offers this definition of the term: “A legacy is defined as what someone or something is remembered for or what they have left behind that is remembered, revered or has influenced current events and the present day.”

Offspring of my "spiritual son" Neil Demas is Lonnell Edward Johnson Demas of Capetown, South Africa.

Offspring of my “spiritual son,” Neil Demas, is Lonnell Edward Johnson Demas of Capetown, South Africa.

The legacies that are part of our lives at this time we pass on, and they will impact generations to come, as we sow seeds of the Word of God while we live our lives. We anticipate that the seeds that we sow will fall upon fertile ground and abound with fruit, even as this poem suggests:

Legacies

 

I

Faithful and true heroes ever remain

And generate legacies we pass on

To each generation, father to son,

Heart to heart. The light of life left behind

Ever shines to brighten the path of truth,

Raised and then passed on from elder to youth.

 

II

 

Faithful and true heroes ever remain for all

Who hear the mandate and rise to answer God’s call.

Our lives of service are legacies we pass on

To the next generation, from father to son.

With the love of Christ in us, we tear down each wall.

 

We rally to support a brother should he fall.

Our ears have been pierced with the sharp tip of an awl:

A covenant of blood ever seals our union.

Faithful and true heroes ever remain.

 

Spiritual athletes excel beyond glove or ball.

They seek to bring out the best, as iron sharpens iron,

Striving to finish strong and pass on the baton.

On the shoulders of our fathers we now stand tall

To view the future where greater victories are won.

Faithful and true heroes ever remain.

 

Benjamin Disraeli made the statement, “The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example.” We are perhaps familiar with the statement, “The greatest gift you can give someone is a good example.” Similar sentiments are also expressed in Proverbs 22:1:

A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold.

Overall, my desire is to leave a legacy of a man called to serve and to minister to the people of God, a legacy that will touch eternity. Indeed, the example that we leave for others to follow is part of our legacy, which should be of concern to everyone, not just during August but every day of our lives. We close with “Find Us Faithful,” a song which reminds Christian believers of the importance of the legacies that they leave:

After 40 years the answer is still yes

December 1, 2015

Yes

Not too long ago, I added a new category of blog entries which I called the “Word for the Day” in addition to the “Verse of the Day” which often becomes the basis for the blog entries that I post. Today’s discussion of a little word of great importance could fall into that category, as I relate the power of “Yes!”, compiled from previous blog entries:

Without question the Word of God is energetic and life-giving, as revealed in Hebrews 4:12:

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Each word in the Word of Life is an expression of power. Luke 1:37 in the King James Version says, “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” The American Standard Version offers this translation: “For no word from God shall be void of power.” Indeed, there is life-changing power in a single word from the Word, as the Poet notes:

. . . the power
of the printed word,
the power of a single light,
like a cloven tongue of fire,
to shatter the darkest night.

One of the most powerful words in the English language, in my estimation, is “yes.” With regard to Jesus Christ, Paul makes known this profound truth:

2 Corinthians 1:19-21 (NLT):

19 For Jesus Christ, the Son of God, does not waver between “Yes” and “No.” He is the one whom Silas, Timothy, and I preached to you, and as God’s ultimate “Yes,” he always does what he says.
20 For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory.
21 It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us,

“Yes” is used to express affirmation or assent, often used as an affirmative reply. Certainly we are aware of the word as a strong expression of joy, pleasure, or approval. When a player scores the winning shot in an overtime game, often excited fans respond with a vigorous “Yes! Way to go!”

Recently I have been reflecting upon an experience where I said “yes” forty years ago when I enlarged my commitment to serve God when I was asked to develop and teach a class on New Testament History for the first time at a Bible college in Emporia, Kansas in 1976. Today as I continue preparing for the 2015-16 academic year at Carolina College of Biblical Studies in Fayetteville, NC, I marvel at the Providence of God, whereby I continue to answer yes in answer to God’s call.

On Sunday, my wife, Brenda, and I will be installed as one of the Senior Ministers and Associate Pastors, respectively, at Christian Provision Ministries in Sanford, North Carolina where we are presently serving. Ordination is the public recognition of a response of an individual to the call of God to serve. My recognition of this inner prompting to be of greater service transpired a considerable amount before time prior to 1976, however. I recall as a child being aware of the presence of God, and as I grew older and was introduced to the Bible, I remember reading the passage in Isaiah 6 where the glory of God overwhelms the Prophet, who responds to the question: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us.” Isaiah answers saying, “Here am I, send me.” This simple response resonated within me for years, and I simply acknowledged the call to ministry and said “Yes.”

In reflecting upon the intersection of these meaningful experiences, I recall this poem written in celebration of the call of God and my response:

Forty Years ago

The number 40 is the product of 5 and 8,

and points to the action of grace (5),

leading to and ending in revival and renewal (8).

This is certainly the case where forty relates

to a period of evident probation.

E.W. Bullinger

Number in Scripture

Forty years ago in a kairos moment in time,

I was forever changed, beyond all reason and rhyme.

I answered God’s call, offered my life, and I said “Yes.”

The exact path my life would take I could only guess

The valleys I must descend, the mountains I must climb.

I would need great courage, symbolized in fragrant thyme

That graced my neck, as I was striving to reach my prime

Forty years ago.

To stumble and fall along the way is no crime,

For my earnest desire was to minister full-time;

Despite the challenges, to serve God nevertheless,

To go where I am sent, to please the Lord and to bless.

With a simple “Yes,” I began my quest toward heights sublime

Forty years ago.

William Nelson offers “A Song for my Ordination.” to close out today’s blog entry.

Walking worthy of the calling

August 11, 2015

Ephesians 4--1August is a special month, in that during the eighth month, which symbolizes “new beginnings,” I am celebrating a particular milestone in my life. An event of supreme significance occurred 41 years ago when I was ordained to the Christian ministry. Ordination is the public recognition of a response of an individual to the call of God to serve. The recognition of this inner prompting to be of greater service may have transpired a considerable amount time prior to the actual ordination ceremony. I recall as a child being aware of the presence of God, and as I grew older and was introduced to the Bible, I remember reading the passage in Isaiah 6 where the glory of God overwhelms the Prophet, who responds to the question: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us.” Isaiah answers sayings, “Here am I, send me.” This simple response resonated within me for years, as I also came to understand more fully the words from 2 Timothy 1:9 (NIV):

He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,

This verse brings to mind that most memorable event that occurred August 11, 1974. Today I reflect upon my ordination ceremony which also involved a prayer of consecration, the laying on of hands, and a word of prophecy, all of which have been sources of inspiration and direction over the years. I continue to respond to God whereby I first heard His voice and answered:

The Call             

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord,

beseech you to walk worthy of the calling

with which you were called,

Ephesians 4:1

The call resounds like a repeated name

From the lips of a dear friend who knows you.

I clearly hear my name and see the flame

That lights the path of those whom God foreknew

Would hear and heed a higher destiny.

This calling only God can verify.

My ear cannot hear; my eye cannot see;

Yet within my heart I cannot deny

That I have heard and seen what few will know.

I must arise and strive to reach the place

Where the rivers of understanding flow

And never doubt God’s purpose and His grace.

I stand in the unbroken line of all

Those who, having heard, rise to heed the call.

I also make reference to my ordination and celebrate this milestone in this poem:

Forty-one Years Ago

Forty has long been universally recognized as an important number,

both on account of the frequency of its occurrence, and the uniformity

of its association with a period of probation, trial, and chastisement. . . .

It is the product of 5 and 8, and points to the action of grace (5),

leading to and ending in revival and renewal (8). (The number eight

also signifies “a new beginning”)

There can be no doubt as to the significance of this primary number [one].  

In all languages it is the symbol of unity.

E.W. Bullinger

Forty-one years ago, the passion to fulfill the call

inflamed deep within my soul a desire to give my all.

In this golden moment, past, present, and future all converge

Where the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God emerge,

As words that God spoke over my life I vividly recall.

“The Teacher” laid hands upon me to bless and to install

Me to lead God’s people and to give my all in all.

In my mind I stand in another place where two roads diverged

Forty-one years ago.

Renewed in strength to run through a troop and leap over a wall,

To fulfill God’s divine calling nothing can ever forestall.

The rivers of understanding God’s purpose and grace still merge.

Today I stand triumphant in Christ Jesus while on the verge

Of a renewed commitment to give all or nothing at all:

Forty-one years ago.

The accompanying video also invites us to “Answer God’s call”

Anointed, a contemporary Christian musical group, offer “The Call.”

2 Timothy 1:9: Reflecting on The Call

March 9, 2015

                                          2_Timothy_1-9

From 2 Timothy 1:9 (NIV) comes the Verse of the Day for March 9, 2015:

He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,

This verse brings to mind a most memorable event that occurred 41 years ago when I was ordained to the Christian ministry. In reflecting upon my ordination ceremony which also involved a prayer of consecration, the laying on of hands, and a word of prophecy, all of which have been sources of inspiration and direction over the years, I continue to respond to God whereby I first heard His voice and answered:

The Call             

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord,

beseech you to walk worthy of the calling

with which you were called,

Ephesians 4:1

The call resounds like a repeated name

From the lips of a dear friend who knows you.

I clearly hear my name and see the flame

That lights the path of those whom God foreknew

Would hear and heed a higher destiny.

This calling only God can verify.

My ear cannot hear; my eye cannot see;

Yet within my heart I cannot deny

That I have heard and seen what few will know.

I must arise and strive to reach the place

Where the rivers of understanding flow

And never doubt God’s purpose and His grace.

I stand in the unbroken line of all

Those who, having heard, rise to heed the call.

I make reference to my ordination and celebrate this milestone in this poem:

 

Forty-one Years ago

Forty has long been universally recognized as an important number,                                      

both on account of the frequency of its occurrence, and the uniformity                                        

of its association with a period of probation, trial, and chastisement. . . .                                  

It is the product of 5 and 8, and points to the action of grace (5),                                                    

leading to and ending in revival and renewal (8). (The number eight                                          

also signifies “a new beginning”)

There can be no doubt as to the significance of this primary number [one].

In all languages it is the symbol of unity.

E.W. Bullinger

 

Forty-one years ago, the passion to fulfill the call

Inflamed deep within my soul a desire to give my all.

In this golden moment, past, present, and future all converge

Where the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God emerge,

As words that God spoke over my life I vividly recall.

“The Teacher” laid hands upon me to bless and to install

Me to lead God’s people and to give my all in all.

I my mind I stand in another place where two roads diverged

Forty-one years ago.

Renewed in strength to run through a troop and leap over a wall,

To fulfill God’s divine calling nothing can ever forestall.

The rivers of understanding God’s purpose and grace still merge.

Today I stand triumphant in Christ Jesus while on the verge

Of a renewed commitment to give all or nothing at all:

Forty-one years ago.

 

The accompanying video also invites us to “Answer God’s call”

For a more in-depth discussion of ordination and its personal significance, take a look at this Examiner.com article:

Yes and amen: In answer to God’s call

August 11, 2014

2 Corinthians 1_19

Without question the Word of God is energetic and life-giving, as revealed in Hebrews 4:12:

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Each word in the Word of Life is an expression of power. Luke 1:37 in the King James Version says, “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” The American Standard Version offers this translation: “For no word from God shall be void of power.” Indeed, there is life-changing power in a single word from the Word, as the Poet notes:

. . . the power

of the printed word,

the power of a single light,

like a cloven tongue of fire,

to shatter the darkest night.

One of the most powerful words in the English language, in my estimation, is “yes.” With regard to Jesus Christ, Paul makes known this profound truth in 2 Corinthians 1:19-21 (New Living Translation)

19 For Jesus Christ, the Son of God, does not waver between “Yes” and “No.” He is the one whom Silas, Timothy, and I preached to you, and as God’s ultimate “Yes,” he always does what he says.

20 For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory.

21 It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us,

Used to express affirmation or assent, “yes” often indicates as an affirmative reply. Certainly we are aware of that the word as a strong expression of joy, pleasure, or approval. When a player scores the winning shot in an overtime game, often excited fans respond with animated gestures and a vigorous “Yes! Way to go!”

Today I am celebrating an experience where I said “yes” forty years ago when I was ordained to the Christian ministry. Ordination is the public recognition of a response of an individual to the call of God to serve. For me, the recognition of this inner prompting to be of greater service may have transpired a considerable amount of time prior to August 11, 1974.

I recall as a child being aware of the presence of God, and as I grew older and was introduced to the Bible, I remember reading the passage in Isaiah 6 where the glory of God overwhelms the Prophet, who responds to the question: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us.” Isaiah answers saying, “Here am I, send me.” This simple response resonated within me for years, and I simply acknowledged the call to ministry and said “Yes” in my heart, even before I really knew what I was doing.

In reflecting upon that life-transforming experience I was inspired to revise this poem written earlier:

In celebration of my ordination

to the Christian Ministry

August 11, 1974

 

Forty Years ago

The number 40 is the product of 5 and 8,

and points to the action of grace (5),             

leading to and ending in revival and renewal (8).              

This is certainly the case where forty relates

to a period of evident probation.

E.W. Bullinger

Number in Scripture

 

Forty years ago in a kairos moment in time,

I was forever changed, beyond all reason and rhyme.

I answered God’s call, offered my life, and I said “Yes.”

The exact path my life would take I could only guess

The valleys I must descend, the mountains I must climb.

 

I would need great courage, symbolized in fragrant thyme

That graced my neck, as I was striving to reach my prime

Forty years ago.

 

To stumble and fall along the way is no crime,

For my earnest desire was to minister full-time;

Despite the challenges, to serve God nevertheless,

To go where I am sent, to please the Lord and to bless.

With a simple “Yes,” I began my quest toward heights sublime

Forty years ago.

Matt Redman offers “Yes and Amen,” the perfect expression in song of my response to God’s call to serve: