MINISTRY INSIGHTS FROM A TENT MAKER

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Paul worked for 1 ½ years with a husband and wife team (Aquila and Priscilla) while conducting missionary work in Corinth (Acts 18:2).  While working as a tent maker, he continued to teach the Word in the local synagogue.  It is of interest how he employed the word “work” throughout his life and teachings, especially in relationship to what God is doing and what His people are doing.  The importance of work is highlighted throughout his letters.

Luke quotes Paul in Acts 20:32-35, ”You yourselves know that these hands of  mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give, than to receive.'”

In the letter from Ephesians 4:28 Paul writes, “He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. In 1 Thess 4:11-12 he writes, “make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.”

In the above scriptures Paul emphasized the point of working to support oneself and one’s family rather than live as a beggar dependent on others for necessities. Paul himself demonstrated the importance of having a skill (tent making) that provides a service to others (shelter) and a livelihood for oneself. A Christian is to gladly work “unto the Lord” (Col 3:22-24).  The work one does should not glorify oneself, but God.  In addition, the work should be a means to provide for those less fortunate – “it is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Also, as work relates to fulfilling God’s plan, He writes in Titus 1:7 that “an overseer is entrusted with God’s work.” Barnabas and Paul was set apart by the Holy Spirit for this work (Act 13:2-3). And not only were they commissioned for this work, but had to support themselves in the process (I Cor 9:6).  He again writes how one’s work for the Lord must stand the test of trials, difficulties, problems,  especially when we shall all be evaluated at the end of this age (I Cor 3:10-15).

He was primarily focused on the Lord’s work and only labored to support himself and his team, not to gain riches. He practiced what he preached.  The work of the Lord was the priority in his life and for all those that the Lord calls (I Cor 15:58, 16:9,10).  While working his craft, he contemplated and compared the physical craft of tent making to the spiritual work God is completing in us as a church and as an individual. His analogy of the body working together as a team with all its parts supporting one another is but one example of lessons learned while working (I Cor 12:12-13).

All tent-makers need to stand up and rejoice.  It is an example for all people everywhere that the craft, skill, profession, and work we perform is more than just to feed ourselves.  It’s a means of grace that we practice.  When we work, we are able to support those less fortunate than ourselves and therefore practice love of our neighbor.  When we work, we learn how God operates in our lives.  When we work, we are able to compare and better understand the spiritual realities we face each day.  When we work, we are able to express ourselves by the results of our labor.  When we work, we contribute to the community we reside in.  There are many valuable lessons we learn while we work. To paraphrase Jesus, “God works, and so do I.”

What other insights of ministry do you think Paul may have received while engaged as a tent maker?

Dr. Mike

DOES BEING WRONG EVER PRODUCE BETTER FRUIT?

Our Righteous, Loving Dad:

PRAY 9 

Thank you for loving us even in our ignorance. Thank you for loving us even when we suffer “brain damage.” Thank you for loving us even when we are wrong. Help us to love like you. Help us to love; to love; to love … So Be It.

 

 

 

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“Do not be excessively righteous and do not be overly wise. Why should you ruin yourself?”

Ecclesiastes 7:16

 Which is more important? Being right or keeping the peace? Which is more important? Being right or allowing love to have its way? Which is more important? Being right or experiencing supernatural joy?

 

When the above questions were first introduced to the me, I stumbled with the answers. Being brought up in a ”religious culture”, I was trained to first seek righteousness which translated for me meant to be right in doctrine (as I saw the answer to be). To be right in rituals (again, as interpreted by me). To be right in defining God (my view of course was always correct). It wasn’t until the above questions slapped my spiritual face that I had a rude awakening. Being right isn’t that important anymore.

 

With hindsight being one of the great teachers in life, I now see how God has allowed me to be wrong many, many, many times, yet He rarely immediately corrected me with “the answer.” Instead. He would allow me to experience His peace, love, or joy first before showing me a better way. His righteousness is far superior than any legalistic system we can every devise. His righteousness takes into consideration the entire internal spiritual dimension while we only focus on the exterior behavior. His ways are far superior then anything we have come up with in our man-made systems.

 

As a disciple of His, I want to learn how He relates with people and then emulate it. I want to learn how He works with people, and make it my method of operation. I want to learn how He loves people and love the same way. He is my standard. He is my model. He is my hero. His way is the way I want to walk in. And you are correct. We don’t have to be right in all things – only in the important one – Jesus.

 

Dr. Mike


BRING IT ON!

PRAY 9

Dear Heavenly Dad:

Glorify your name in all that I do. Let not my path be one of ease and comfort, but one of challenge and dependency on you. You are always with me. Help me always be with you. Make you the center of my life. Let nothing come between us. Help me capture your vision, to see your work, to accomplish your will in everything I do.

Help me be a living example of kingdom life in today’s world. Let your kingdom surround me and surround all the people we meet today. Let your glory shine through me and in me so that every person we meet today knows they have met you. Amen.

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“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. Matthew 10:34

 

                        ”Play it safe.” “Don’t take any risks.” “Why rock the boat?” “It’s better to keep it dull and routine than expressive and unpredictable.” Or does it?

      The older I become the more predictable, dull, and routine this life seeks. What change I am confronted with only creates more work and effort on my part. Basically, my nature has moved towards laziness where I don’t want to make the effort. I would rather live life with contentment, peacefulness, and stability. But is that reality?

      The scriptures teach us that a people without vision will perish. We need a mission to focus our life towards. Now our life’s mission could simply be to avoid all confrontation, to avoid being involved in other people’s lives, to live for ourselves without a care of the world around us. We simple live our life so that when we are gone no one will have missed us. We live as a world unto ourselves. But is that an apprentice of Jesus Christ? Is that what the Kingdom of God is all about?

      Didn’t Jesus forewarn his disciples that He came to bring division among families and people? Didn’t He predict that we would stand before courts and rulers as a witness to Him’? Didn’t He compare our struggles with that of a pregnant woman in labor? Didn’t He threaten the status quo with His mission of preaching, teaching, and healing? Didn’t the apostle Paul write that Christ-followers are turning the world upside down? Didn’t he cause riots in the streets with his message of One God? Didn’t his former religious partners seek to destroy him? Didn’t small armies pursue him with the purpose of killing him? How controversial was he in his time? Yet didn’t he preach a message of peace, contentment, and stability?

            The Kingdom of God is not a tamed vision. It requires total surrender. It requires the death of selfish desires. It is not the path of least resistance. Instead, it’s a journey through battlefields. With the armor of God, we are proactive in our daily walk with Him. We do not know what to expect on any given day. All we know is that He is with us. Today may be a roller coaster of emotions, struggles with the self, darts from the evil one, or attacks from love ones. Through it all though, we have an Advocate who is with us and we rely on. In prayer and through faith we call for assistance. We move forward towards our heavenly call. Our mission is sure. Yes, we may desire the easy way out. But, as a disciple of His we have agreed to take whatever comes our way and handle it with His love. We may have initially desired tame visions, but in the pursuit of the Kingdom of God we take on more than we are capable of handling apart from Him. Yes, I like it dull, routine, and boring. But I gladly take whatever comes my way because it will make me stronger for the Kingdom, stronger for Him, and stronger for my love ones.

              Dr. Mike

IS IT NOT EASIER TO DRIVE FORWARD THAN IN REVERSE?

A DISCIPLE’S PRAYER:

 PRAY 9

Our Faithful, Heavenly Dad:

You are a faithful Father. You are committed to your plan. You are committed to your relationships. You are committed to your work. You are committed to your Word. And you are committed to me.

Thank you for caring. Thank you for giving me the gift of faith. But help me in my disbelief. Help me with my doubts. Remove any obstacle that prevents us from have a totally committed relationship. Always be the first and center in my life. Help me put the effort and time in our relationship. Let there be nothing that ever comes between us. Let your Faith live powerfully in my life. Let it flow from me and touch the lives of others. Let you be glorified in all my actions, thoughts, and deeds. Help me be totally committed in our relationship. Help me make the time to walk with you, to pray with you, to study with you, to meditate with you, to fast with you, to party with you, and to play with you.

Thank you for everything that you do. But more importantly, thank you for being you. As always we ask and pray these things in our Lord’s Name. Amen.

 

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But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62

 

 

      In today’s language, we would say that the kingdom of God requires total commitment.  It’s faith in action. It’s total abandonment. Anything less is a road to failure.

It’s like driving down the freeway at 70 mph. But instead of focusing your eyes in the direction you are driving, you keep your eyes glued to the rear view mirror. How long do you think you could drive before causing a major accident?   It  requires total commitment. One of those action character words that everyone knows is required to be a winner in life. In our day and age that word seems to have become like the relic bones of a dinosaur. We take the few bones that we have from a dinosaur, and put them together by how we think they ought to go, not absolutely sure because no one was there to take pictures for us. So whatever we come up with is just as good as the next guy’s.

We know the “C” word, most  of us know how to spell it, pronounce it, and use it in a sentence. But to apply it in everyday life is another story. We see people enter relationships with the attitude that when it starts to take work, then we shall depart. We see people start a diet, but when the effort takes work they then resort back to their old habits. We see people start a new job, a job with great  pay, benefits,  and work  environment.  Most of  us  would consider it a dream job. But when the job requires further education, self-improvement and personal changes, then they throw up their hands and quit. It’s not worth the effort. They would rather return to their old job that pays half as much and float through life without having to change. To be totally committed in your pursuit of a worthwhile goal takes effort, work, and sweat. To persevere, until the end results are achieved, most of the time seems to take more than we can muster. This is where faith comes in. A faith not based in self-confidence, in family and friends, or in the system, but an action faith in a living God. A faith that says, “GOD IS!”

A faith built on hearing God’s word and acting on it. A faith built on living God’s word and experiencing the fruit. A belief that is built on walking with God and discovering His true character. Without faith, total abandonment looks reckless. With faith, total abandonment is the high adventure and thrill of pursuing God’s kingdom. It’s like driving down the freeway of life with the knowledge that the road was built by God, the vehicle was developed by God and the police patrolling the road are servants of God. So that no matter what obstacle may come your way, you have faith that God is in control.

So tell me, isn’t it easier to drive forward than in reverse?

Dr. Mike