Jeremiah 20:9. ‘If I say, “I will not mention Him, or speak any more in His name,” there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones and I am weary of holding it in and I cannot.’
Whilst the fire that burns within me may not be the biggest, I trust it may ignite some others. I remember my first day in eldership (Pastoral ministry in the church) in 1990, wondering what I was expected to do and how should I do it. I only wish now I had sought out those of maturity and wisdom who had walked before me and learnt some of these lessons to shorten my journey. Sadly it seems today that many younger saints are elevated to responsibility before having ‘earned their stripes.’ I have captured below some of the things I wish I had known as a young man that may have helped me in my walk and ministry with God. I regret that I have no space to explain or expand on the details.
1. The issue of vision. I would have narrowed my focus and better understood – and pursued with vigour – God’s calling contained in two Scriptures – and directing me to 3 things:
- Mat 22:37-39 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself.
- Mat 28:18-20 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
For God. To love Him with all my heart, soul and mind and to seek ways of doing that. For each other. To seek to love and honour others and to live in the ‘one another’s’ of Scripture. For the nations. To live with an activity that reaches beyond our self-interest, into the nations, and going beyond making disciples to obedient followers.
2. Knowing God. My greatest regret is that my growth in knowing God was more through an evolutionary process than active pursuit. To know God is not an academic exercise but the experience of depth in a personal and intimate relationship. This pursuit needs be a life-long practice. For too long I knew God as an argument and a theology rather than an experience. My greatest need was to learn how to love God with all my heart, Soul and mind.
3. Faiths passion. Following a deeper walk with God I would have set myself on fire, earlier, with appropriating scripture that captures my soul. I believe more now than ever before that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God with genuine meditation, reflection and worship on the Godhead.
- Some Scriptures that God sets my heart on fire with. Acts 20:24; Jos 14:10; Jer 20:29; Phil 3:7-13; Rom 1:11; Rom 8:28; Rom 8:31; Col 1:28; 1 Cor 9:13; Psa 50;10.
- Teaching preaching inspirational scriptures: Eccl 12:9-10;Is 50:4, 55:10;Mal 2:6-7;Luke 24:45;John 7:18;Jer 23:16-29; Deut 32:2.
4. A life of worship. (John 4:23-24. Message) I would have better learnt the art of worship and adoration of the Godhead.
- In song and by becoming God’s praise singer, for in this is the upliftment of the soul and man’s great purpose. “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him for ever”. Ps. 86:9; Isa. 60:21; Rom. 11:36; I Cor. 6:20; 10:3. Worship is the evidence of a love for God. To be ‘God’s praise singer’ I mean that I would have sought to discover the reality of His attributes and His names and used them as an act of worship back to Him.
- To live with the principles given in Brother Laurence’s book ‘Practice the presence of Jesus.’ To live in the practice of the presence of Christ. That my daily time with Him would not just be an event but a day long journey. The lack of ‘longing’ for God, and to know Him experientially, is the basis for every man’s anaemic condition before Him.
5. I would have “ordered” my private world better. A psychiatrist once said that people don’t so much break down as ‘fall to pieces.’ “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flows the springs of life.” Prov 4:23. Also “not be conformed to this