Supreme Ambition Ministries

To Know Christ and to Make Him Known – Philippians 3:10

IS JESUS A CHRISTIAN?

So…is Jesus a Christian? I have been a Christian for about fifty years; at least I think I have. Now before you diehard Calvinists start polishing up your scriptures on eternal security, don’t worry. I haven’t lost my salvation. And, oh yeah, you Armenians, please stop daydreaming about dragging me to the altar. I don’t think I’m backslidden. I just finished reading a novel called THE SHACK, and my thinking about God has had a little refreshing. I said, ‘refreshing’, didn’t I? Well, that is certainly true, but I must say, I did not come through the experience without having the wasteland of my soul scalded by a most unusual vision of God.

The events in this book were told to a man named Willie by his good friend, MACK. To say the events actually happened would lead this writing into a discussion of truth that I’m not sure either one of us is prepared to tackle. I only know that after having read it I am left with a soaring in my soul and my spirit keeps sending me veiled messages about ‘home’ and ‘fellowship’. A few years ago my wife and I began a journey to try to get to know Jesus all over again. This journey has involved some radical changes in our lives. The reading of THE SHACK has been a burning bush calling away. I am drawn away. I hope forever. I am drawn away from the status quo and the idea of God that may be the very thing which keeps us from truly knowing Him. Oh, don’t worry! My theology is still intact. The bathwater is being discarded but I’m still holding onto the baby. In fact, I think I’m more solid in my Biblical formation today than I’ve ever been. It’s just the skeleton of Christian religion that fogs up my life. The idea that sitting in a building and starring at the backs of people’s heads that I don’t know and calling it Church is becoming increasingly more difficult for me.

So…when I ask…Is Jesus a Christian? I really want to know, if the flesh and bones religion which has evolved in the last twenty centuries is what Jesus had in mind? When the veil was pulled from Peter’s eyes on a dusty road at the foot of Mount Hermon in the Golan Heights, and our Lord established His Church upon the revelation of the Big Fisherman, did Jesus then sit around and get all ‘moony-eyed’ over buildings, programs and live-streaming conferences? Well, who can say for sure? But I think I know one thing. When theologians proudly say that God only established two institutions: the home and the Church, I’m not so sure that God is all that pleased that we refer to these as institutions.

The essence of THE SHACK is the test of religion in the face of unspeakable pain. It attempts to answer the question of where God is when ‘the wind comes at you sideways’, or when your ‘cheese’ falls off the cracker’. It also compares religion to relationship and goes to great extremes to point out that God is all about relationships. In fact, we find in the Godhead the perfection of relationship: a mutual outpouring of love and a receiving of the same, a mutual respect and humility, and all of it well-founded on a Biblical foundation. Perhaps the central issue of the whole writing can be summed up in two statements. One, while MACK is in conversation with God about who God is and why he seems so far away at times, God says, I’m not like what you think’. Second, and perhaps most telling is when MACK lets his guard down a little and questions God as to whether he is a Christian or not. God responds most emphatically, ‘I’m not a Christian’! Reading those words I was reminded of the words of the Angel of the Lord, who appeared to Joshua the night before the siege of Jericho. Joshua was in prayer seeking the help of God, when suddenly this majestic soldier was standing in front of him. Joshua confronted him and said, “Are you for us or them”? The Angel of the Lord responded, “Nay, I am the Captain of the hosts of Jehovah.” Our Bible says the believers were first called Christians at Antioch. That’s great. But I’m not sure we should have been stuck with that name. Was Jesus a Christian? I doubt it. I can almost hear him say, “Nay, I just want to enjoy a walk with you in the cool of the day.”

July 31st, 2008 Posted by | Fellowship, The Shack | one comment

YOU HAVE BEEN CALLED TO FELLOWSHIP – I COR. 1.9

Like many pastors I am concerned about the condition of our nation, the Church and the future of our children. The moral decadence of our culture seems to reach new lows on an almost daily basis. I see the Church divided by a casualness and self-absorption that belies a society floundering without a secure belief system. When I surrendered to the call to preach the gospel, I realized that the call came with no guarantees of success (humanly speaking), and no assurances that the people to whom I preached would hear and respond with Godly obedience.

Much of my ministry and preaching has focused on “Knowing Christ and making him known”. Thus the title of this blog, “SUPREME AMBITION MINISTRIES”, received its name. I, along with numbers of other preachers, have sought to know Christ myself and lead others into the adventure as well. Sometimes, it seems I am like the proverbial ‘preacher preachin’ when the well is dry’. I preach and challenge but see little fruit. However, I had an experience recently that was so fulfilling I wanted to share it with you.

Our Church is very small. We have no children’s Church service so most all the people are subjected to my preaching week after week. For better or worse that’s the story. After the morning worship a couple of weeks ago, one of the ladies in the Church looked at her 11 year old daughter (soon to be 12) and said, ‘Tell Pastor Dave what happened’. She related the following account:

She said she was awakened from a deep sleep one morning and felt the Lord was saying to her, ‘First Corinthians 1:9’. She got up and got her Bible to see what the verse said. I asked her to tell me what it said, even though I already knew. She spoke in her soft, pre-adolescent voice, “You have been called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” Some weeks or months before I had preached a series of messages from that verse not knowing, if it had truly lodged in the heart of anyone. My joy was so great. I thought I might have experienced something of the joy of Evan Roberts in Wales in 1907, when Florrie Evans, a teenager said, ‘I love Jesus Christ with all my heart’, and revival hit the nation.

…Oh yeah…One more thing. The young girl’s mother said, “Tell him the rest.” She then said, “It was the first anniversary of my baptism.” What a heart! What a hope! I am very concerned about our nation. We must pray. We must preach. We must repent. Will anyone hear? Will anyone obey? I think I have my answer. At any moment God can speak to a young tender heart and make his word specific to her. YOU HAVE BEEN CALLED…Florrie…Katie…YOU HAVE BEEN CALLED UNTO THE FELLOWSHIP OF HIS SON…AND SO HAVE YOU. That one experience is worth Forty years of preaching. REALLY!

July 30th, 2008 Posted by | Fellowship | one comment

A CITY SET ON A HILL

The photograph to the left is the building in which I first heard the gospel preached. I say it is the ‘building’ and not the ‘Church’, because most of us know that a Church is not made of wood, and stained-glass windows but is rather an organic blending of lives present and past, who make us, in part, who we are today. As you can see the Beech Hill United Methodist Church recently celebrated her 150th anniversary on July 20th. This little Church is nestled in the hills of West Virginia in a close-knit community. It is about 45 miles north of Charleston and 10 miles south of Point Pleasant in the Great Kanawha River valley. Kathi and I were privileged to attend this celebration, which included both morning and early afternoon services separated by dinner on the grounds provided by the brothers and sisters of the present congregation. The building was packed with 200 plus people. If I were writing a news article, it might end here. However, the experience of that day will remain with me for some time to come.

This little church in the wildwood is not much compared to the mega-churches and super-ministries of the 21st century but for me, and I’m sure many of those in attendance, the importance of Beech Hill cannot be easily exaggerated. As I sat there in the old pews I knew as a child and youth (they now have padding on them), memories flooded my mind. I tried to hold back the tears as we sang the hymns, listened to the choir, and rejoiced together (I didn’t succeed). From the time I first walked through the door into the sanctuary my mind was flooded with memories. The familiar odors conjured up thoughts of my past, some of which I would just as soon have forgotten and others I cherished. I looked at the faces of people, who, like me, had first come to know the blessed Savior because of messages preached and lives of holiness lived in that place. I recalled the conviction my soul felt during those spring and fall revival meetings just prior to and after my conversion. I thought of those who had impacted my life by teaching me in Sunday school and, it was almost as if I could hear one of the former pastors quoting the text from the gospels, “O, Jerusalem, Jerusalem! Thou who killeth the prophets, and stones them, who are sent to you, how oft I would have gathered you under my wings as a hen gathereth her brood and ye would not.” The shadow of his tall frame was silhouetted on the wall behind the pulpit from the poor lighting in the sanctuary, but it seemed to add to the solemnity of the moment. As he would quote those words, the truth of them would get deep within me. Interestingly, much of my own ministry has been related to that scripture and the burden of the Church. I have longed and preached for nearly 40 years that the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ would be gathered together under his wings of love and obedience.

As I began to make plans to attend the celebration, I noticed that Beech Hill was established in 1858. Being somewhat knowledgeable about Church history, I recalled the last truly great outpouring of God’s Spirit upon this nation was from 1857-1860. It has been called by different names, the ‘second great awakening’, and the ‘great prayer revival’. This move of God occurred because of the burden of a Manhattan Island, New York business man named, Jeremiah Lamphier. He was so burdened for his city and the nation that he announced a prayer meeting in the Old Dutch Reformed Church on Fulton St. in Manhattan. In a few weeks there were so many people praying in NYC that they filled all the theaters. Souls began to be saved all up and down the eastern coast and into the Midwest and the south. It is said that by the time the Civil war began that one third of all Americans were new converts. I believe Beech Hill was a part of that outpouring of God’s Spirit. She is not a large Church. In fact, most would say she is rather insignificant. But I challenge you to try and convince the thousands, who have come to know Christ in the last 150 years both directly and indirectly from this little ‘city set on a hill’. I’m reminded of an old song. “Little is much, when God is in it; labor not for wealth or fame. There’s a crown and you can win it, if you go in Jesus’ name.” I applaud those of the Beech Hill community, who are laboring in Christ’s vineyard. Be encouraged! If you ever wonder, whether or not you made a difference, I’m one…of many. Thank you.

July 29th, 2008 Posted by | Church | 4 comments