WHAT IS NEXT?
Recently while at lunch with one of our staff, our conversation turned toward what’s next for God’s people, God’s Church, and God’s servants. I commented that we must know “our lane,” and I would add, we must stay in our lane. And then I said, “I know my lane.”
By lane, I mean the place and the purpose that God has created you for. Now, I am not suggesting that every Pastor or servant of God is called to the same lane… They certainly are not. It is true in the scripture, and it is still true today that God has different paths of purpose for His servants. But knowing that lane is vital to being and doing the work God has designed us for.
Some years back I recognized just what my God-given pastoral “lane” is and have sought to stay in it as I continue to serve Him. There are some responsibilities that all God appointed pastors have, like the responsibility to proclaim salvation to the lost, lead the flock of God, and to preach the Word of God. This last responsibility has growing priority in light of what we see happening around us. Paul said in 2 Timothy 4:2 “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.”
As for me, my lane involves Equipping the Saints of God for the work of ministry (Ephesians 4:12); It involves Educating the Flock and helping them mature in the faith (Ephesians 4:13-14). It also involves proclaiming the truth of God without compromise or equivocation (see 2 Timothy above). There was a day when this was easy to do, and even expected. Today, as Michael Brown has stated, “If we declare that Jesus is the only way, we are branded religious fanatics. If we preach sexual purity, we are called hypocrites. If we speak against abortion, we’re accused of provoking the murder of abortion providers. If we say homosexual practice is sinful, we’re designated hate-filled homophobes and Nazi bigots… This is too much for many believers, who are not prepared for the onslaught against them. Better to stay quiet. Better to keep our convictions to ourselves… If we persist and continue to speak out, we will be blacklisted and blackballed. The secular media will shut us out, and the internet will block us out.”
And yet we have been warned in advance of what to expect and how to respond. Continuing in 2 Timothy 4, we should note verses 3-5, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” While we must be caring, compassionate and loving servants of God, and while we must preach the healing, redemptive good news of the gospel, we must also be prophetic servants unafraid to speak the truth as God’s messengers. I confess that this is the part of my “lane” that often carries the heaviest burden. Over the past several years I have sensed a greater need to bring warning from scripture about the path of culture and church; to balance both the positive practical messages of God’s Word for our lives, with the uncomfortable message of judgment to come. While I am no prophet, the need and burden of prophetic preaching is now greater than ever. America needs prophetic pulpits today. But the question is, does America really want prophetic pulpits? And do America’s churches want prophetic messages rather than motivational talks? Without a doubt, America’s sins will be its undoing unless we repent and turn back to God. And that is not likely to happen short of national calamity and the honest confrontation of its condition. We must be careful to not buy into the lie that the message of God is always positive, that He is always happy, that He is the big jovial guy in the sky who is never offended, and that He never grieves or is angry and corrective. God is love, but He is also righteous!
Remember, God is always trying to take you someplace new!
I love being your Pastor.
For God’s Glory Alone,