July 24, 2009 Matt Pennock

Calling vs. Desire

“Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.” 2 Peter 1:10

“Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” Galatians 3:3

“For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” Galatians 5:17

Planting a missional gospel community is  a simple thing, truly. Engaging the neighbors and people you know in your own home for the sake of the gospel is so easy, that nearly anyone can start one. It has been good to see the organic side of Church and to have hope in a lasting vision that involves an organic and living church. I know I’m tired of dealing with dead churches and am more than ready for a new thing. Portland is ready for a new thing.

However there seems to be a lot more at work that is unseen than what is seen, and because of that, taking this direction in life to become a church planter has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I have met more opposition than I ever have with any other pursuit. Encouragement in this direction is almost non-existent. I think most people have very little faith in church planting anymore. You are perhaps thought to be either selfish, greedy, shady, or otherwise off in some way or other. There is also a constant stream of lies spoken to my mind intended only to make me doubt, fear, worry, or feel ashamed.  A lot of times they work–and I doubt, fear, worry, and feel ashamed about doing ministry. Then there is my self. My self doesn’t even want to do it. It’s the last thing I would have chosen to do as far as my life interests are concerned. I didn’t appeal to me. The responsibility is beyond me. There’s far too much contempt out there for ministers and they don’t make any money—unless of course you’re one of those contemptible ministers. They have to sacrifice more time than the average Joe or Jane does just to be there for them. And Joe or Jane are only occasionally there for him, or sometimes not there at all.

All the while one small still voice keeps the reign, and its tight. Obedience is the last unbreakable bond between learning to be a minister and losing it to the dogs. I would have given it up many times but that bond just can’t be broken. Perhaps it is so that God has a destiny for certain people and if they don’t like it at first, they will learn that it is actually the best thing. Nine years ago I received that call and despised it. I didn’t want to do it, nor did I feel it was right. It was definitely not in me. In fact it was an old man who had prayed over me and spoken those words to me. “Pastor,” said he.

“Bull crap,” said I.

I could never forget what he said though. God wouldn’t let me. I couldn’t run from it either—it followed me everywhere I went. Destiny seems to follow you and press on you until you learn to obey.

Nine years later, I am still battling and struggling through to break free from all of these rooted oppositions. I still have a measure of desire to not do ministry. There are still thoughts that ministry is weird and is for weird people, though I know it is not true. There are still accusations from the enemy that I am too sinful or weak to do it. There are still many, many doubts. But I press on somehow, like a miracle. It shouldn’t be, yet it is. I am not yet a true minister, but a minister in the making. I’m still hoping it turns out for the good and that it’ll be worth it even though I know it will be worth it. It’s like bootcamp for the soldier—for now I need to focus on doing my duty and deal with the dirty work.  Weeping may linger for the night, but in the morning: joy. (Psalm 30:5)

The spirit and the flesh oppose one another so sharply on this point, and I pray for the diligence Peter talked about to “make my calling and election sure”.

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