May 7, 2017

Deuteronomy 18:15 The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him.

Here we have God’s promise of provision of leadership. The thing is, too often people claim to be one God has raised up when they are not. The standard, expressed in verses 20-22, is both strict and severe: a prophet whose words don’t come true is false, and should be put to death. The difficulty there is that even for genuine prophets, often the fulfillment of their prophecy is many years in the future. Discernment is required in any case. Even the New Testament has many warnings against false prophets. Leadership is necessary, and God does provide all that is necessary, but counterfeits abound. As I have written recently, leadership in the Body of Christ is not something to be taken on without the direction of God. Sometimes even well-intentioned people take on roles God doesn’t intend for them, and they make a mess of things for themselves and others. We have various mistaken ideas in this area. In the first place, you don’t have to be a pastor to serve God. I don’t much like the expression, “full-time Christian service,” because every believer should be serving Christ full time, whatever their occupation. The Japanese equivalent expression is even worse. It translates to “those who have given themselves to God,” but that is certainly something every believer should do! Another misconception is that you have to go to seminary to be a pastor. Bible knowledge is good, and some seminaries are very helpful, but a diploma doesn’t equal the call of God. We must not forget that seminaries didn’t even exist for the first few centuries of the Church. We tend to like such things. There was even something of that sort back in the days of Elijah and Elisha. (2 Kings 2) However, there is no such thing as an academic test that can determine qualification to serve and/or lead in the Body of Christ, despite the existence of such tests in some denominations.

I went to seminary very reluctantly, and became a pastor with equal reluctance. I agreed to pastor a rural church in Virginia only after I got a cassette “letter” from a pastor in Japan, and realized that I needed empathy with pastors of small churches if I was going to minister to those pastors. When I arrived in Omura I didn’t really intend to pastor a congregation, but the Lord arranged that I had a flock that somebody needed to pastor, and I was it. At this point, past the age when a majority of people are retired, I have no objective evaluation of my ministry. The Lord has used me in various ways, and I am grateful, but I haven’t seen major breakthroughs, nor have I done anything to merit stoning. The Lord has given me various prophecies over the years. One of the most specific, which also happened to be medically impossible, was fulfilled in ways that the recipients couldn’t imagine at the time I spoke it. Some others, that seemed much less cryptic, have yet to be fulfilled, so I need to keep my trust in God. I don’t know how He will use me from this point, in leadership or otherwise, but I want to be completely available to Him. I certainly don’t want to take hold of anything He doesn’t intend for me.

Father, this is a continuing issue for me, obviously. Thank You that my qualification is from You. (2 Corinthians 3:6) Help me fulfill all of Your purposes for me, for the blessing of many and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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