Now is the only time we’re given
The moment we look at any moment in our past as the pinnacle of our life is the moment when we start our slow, painful decent to hopelessness. What if the best is still ahead? What if we really do move from glory to glory? What if there is no end to the revelation, opportunity, wonder, and adventure in this life and the next?! What if there is always fresh bread, new every morning? What if there is always enough in the house of God? What if God is the same today as He was yesterday, only today I’m different and get to learn about Him in a new way?
If you read the first ministry update in this series a week ago (click here) about what God has been doing in our lives, you have seen God’s faithfulness and promotion in our lives over the last few months. I’m not content with what God has done, although I am extremely grateful. If the moments of God’s intervention in my past are monuments, then let them be signs pointing into today, where God will show up again and again.
I’ve heard it said that the word “testimony” has a connotation of “do it again.” As if by giving our testimony of how God has worked before, we are asking him to work again in our present situation. I love that! We aren’t pointing backwards trying to tell people who God was, we are using the past to point us to right now, asking him to do something here. I find it easier to talk about what God has done, or will do, but to say that God is doing is somewhat intimidating because we come face-to-face with the reality of today.
So, let me tell you what God is doing today. Today, literally, Michelle and I were appointed Elders at our church, Substance. Now, I’m only 28 years old, so either we really do have a super young church (which we do) or there’s more to being an Elder than simply being old.
Although it seems weird and almost arrogant, I wasn’t very surprised when we were asked to take up this position. I felt as if God has been communicating that message to me for a while already. I remember thinking, “You know, it would be just like God if I ended up being an Elder at Substance.” It seemed to go right in line with what God had put on my heart and confirmed through a prophetic word regarding spiritual fatherhood. I love how God works.
Honestly, although I wasn’t too surprised, I am deeply humbled and super excited to be in this role. My primary peace-time duty (as opposed to if anything starts getting “funky” in the church) is to simply pastor the people of the church where I am able. I love that. I love the people that God is wooing to Himself. I love that I get to be a part of that process and I don’t have to sit on the bench and watch. I love that I’ve been empowered and enabled to do that far before I had an official title in the church (God, help me be humble now that I have a title!). I love being a missionary to the American church.
So, pray for us. Michelle and I both want to be faithful with what we’ve been given. The position of Elder spans throughout church history back into biblical times. To be connected to such a lineage of tradition and history is invigorating to say the least. To think about the body of Christ being unified across generations and generation is simply exciting. To walk in the tradition of so many men and women of faith is inspiring.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus.
So, today I was appointed an Elder. Tomorrow must have something super awesome in store for this child of God.
It seems a lot easier to trust God with ethereal things like “going to heaven” than something so practical as dropping a borrowed axe in a river. How do you trust God in that? How do you trust God with things like lost keys or not making enough money to cover all your bad credit card choices from a few years ago? Sure, I can trust Him to get me to heaven, but maybe I’m more comfortable with that issue because I don’t really have to face the reality of that on a daily basis.
One of the more difficult things that I wrestle with is that it seems that God primarily, but not exclusively, works through His body, the church. The church of God should be doing everything the body of Christ did before his crucifixion. The problem is, it doesn’t. Lets say God wants to provide for me in some tangible, practical way according to my need and in response to my prayers, but if His body isn’t firing on all cylinders, maybe it will fail to respond to the brain’s promptings and in the end I’m out of luck. Not because of God, but because of His body not walking in obedience. Man, that’s a tough one! Makes me want to make sure that I’m always being obedient to the promptings of the Spirit and willing to be generous even if it hurts.
Here’s the problem. I think this perspective is a slight distortion of the truth. Check this out:
Everything we need is ours in Christ.
2 Peter 1:3: By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.
From start to finish, by faith. (not earned)
Romans 1:17: This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”
When God makes a promise, He will make sure that He fulfills it.
Hebrews 6:17-19: God also bound himself with an oath, so that those who received the promise could be perfectly sure that he would never change his mind. So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.
Now, look at Abraham. God made Him a promise and Abraham believed Him. He didn’t explain away why God hadn’t come through for him yet, nor did He think that someone had somehow messed up God’s plan (like the whole “getting a child through his wife’s servant” thing). He wasn’t concerned that God had lost his opportunity to fulfill his promise simply because things weren’t working out according to his own schedule. It could have been easy to think that either he or his wife had somehow messed up God’s plan through their impatience or adultery.
Romans 4:20-21: Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God.He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises.
Bam! I would even venture to say, “Wah-bam!” That’s what faith really is. I think it’s easier to have more faith in people’s selfishness and greed than it is to have faith that God can work with all that junk and still fulfill His promises in your life. Is He really that capable? Is He really that good?
I do believe that we can miss out on God’s will for us if we refuse to obey the promptings of the Spirit, but I simply can’t believe that that somehow means that God’s promises won’t be fulfilled. He will accomplish what He promises whether I or the next guy responds in obedience or not. That’s the amazing potency of God’s power. Maybe He has to talk to three or four people, maybe nine or ten, before He finds someone who is listening and willing to respond on my behalf. Maybe He just bypasses them all and I randomly stumble across *insert current need here* lying on the street. That’s fine with me! The only down side there is that a bunch of people really missed out on being used by God to do amazing, Kingdom things.
Find the promises of God in scripture. Stand on them unwaveringly. Watch and be amazed.
Hindsight is best when life is beautiful
The last month of my life has felt completely new and invigorating. The other day I found myself writing this in my journal:
For the first time in my life I can say that I am living all-out for the Kingdom of God. I have held nothing back, although I know there is more to give. I’m sure Holy Spirit is more than able to reveal it.
I am doing the Kingdom. I really am. That is so exciting!
I think there is something in each of us that is discontent with our lives as long as we aren’t quite doing what we were created to do. We often settle for less than great because… well, I think mostly because no one has given us permission to do the crazy things that we would like to do! A good friend of mine pointed that out to me a while back, and I think it so true.
I want to tell you my story. If you have been following my blog so far this year you have heard a bit of it. This summer has been a Joshua-entering-the-promised-land sort of time, including all the uncertainty and feeling overwhelmed by the battles ahead.
Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven,
conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ.
To get you up to speed, a year ago I quit my job and started toward full-time ministry. I tore into my house to remodel it into a place of ministry (still quite in-process). This summer I got severely involve in an aspect of my life that I have fallen in love with. Spiritual fatherhood. Quite appropriate as we’ve got a little one in the oven right now. I started a discipleship program at my church called Immerse. A lot of new things for me with this genesis. I discipled four men through the summer. I designed a logo. I built a webpage for the program (click here to see). I designed and printed brochures, business cards and signs. I discovered a love for teaching and a love for helping others walk through their unique spiritual journey.
Immerse has grown. We have had a few amazing leaders join us and the guys and gals that were discipled this summer are now discipling their own crew. Word is getting out that the Spirit is at work, people are discovering their value and calling, and that spiritual growth/empowerment is really happening.
I spent a week up at Camp Nathanael as a counselor. My brother, Daniel, was in my cabin and my brother Andrew was working on the dish crew that week. We all rocked it! I learned how to play octa-ball and had some great mentorship opportunity with a few of the other counselors. I again got to teach, this time for morning devotions to the staff and shared a story that I wrote inspired by Pastor Peter’s sermon on blood covenants. (See if you recognize the sleeping guy in the the intro video!)
Finally, in this last month and a week I have done roughly 160 hours of prayer counseling and Michelle has done around 80. For the first time ever, I can say that I’m doing vocational ministry full time for a whole month! Wow. Totally excited, totally exhausted. One of the ways that we do Prayer Resolution is when someone can take off two weeks to come and do a “blitz”. That is, eight hours a day, five days a week for two weeks straight. Let me tell you, everyone is exhausted by the end, but everyone is also encouraged and uplifted after seeing our heavenly Father doing such and amazing work in someone’s life in such a short period of time. This is the core of the ministry that Michelle and I are seeking to do in this new life of faith. It is an amazing thing to watch God do the miraculous in people’s lives.
Man, I’ve been busy this summer (I didn’t mention yet all the construction I’ve been doing on the house!). But, at the same time, I can’t think of a time in my life where I have felt so fulfilled and purposeful. My life is so good and I am so blessed! It’s kind of weird, because I have so much stress and uncertainty about the future, our finances, our remodeling, and our coming baby, but none of that carries any weights in the light of the fact that the Kingdom of God is advancing and people are seeing the powerful arm of God at work in their life. If you are feeling a bit “off” in your life, it may be that God is putting a holy discontentment in you until you step out of your comfort zone and start trusting Him to accomplish great and amazing things through you. Take my word for it, jumping off the cliff is a great ride.
I would love to grab coffee with you. Please feel free to find either one of us on Facebook, e-mail us, or call us.
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Nathan & Michelle Banker
1236 Upton Ave N
Minneapolis, MN 55411