Over the past few weeks, I've been learning a lot in my online classes at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. One of my classes, Foundations for Ministry, is designed to guide me through reflecting on my personal and ministry calling. It has been a very fruitful class, to say the least.
One of the exercises that has proven very encouraging was to reflect on my "life verses" that ultimately shape my personal ministry calling and purpose. While there are many passages of Scripture that resonate and encourage me deeply, the following verses have been pillars of Truth throughout my Christian journey.
John 3:30 – “He must increase, but I must decrease."
I actually have this verse tattooed on my forearm along with the phrase “HE> i”. This verse is a constant reminder that it’s not about me. It’s all about Jesus. My life goal is to exalt and life up the name of Christ through my actions and my words. He must become greater as I must become less.
John 15:5 - “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
This verse defines my purpose and my identity. I exist to abide with Jesus and to rest in Him daily. From that place of submission and obedience, He then allows fruit to be produced in and through my life as a result of His sovereign grace and mercy. It also reminds me that in and of myself, I can accomplish NOTHING. This concept smashes right in the face of everything our society and culture teaches and is a manifesto for me, and the Church, to abide in Christ, rest in Him, and see Him accomplish great things through us as usable instruments in His hands.
Psalm 1:1-3 - "Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law[b] of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers."
This verse reminds me that in order to live a blessed life, I must submit my life to the authority of God’s Word. I am to meditate on it and let it be the foundation of Truth in my life. From knowing the Word comes fruitfulness, as God defines it, whether it be suffering for His name, dying for His sake, or sharing the gospel and leading many to Him. I love the imagery of the “tree planted by streams of water”. This reminds me that the Word is the source of all nourishment and life that keeps me healthy and growing.
Romans 1:16 – “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”
There were many years in my life where I was legitimately ashamed of the gospel. I was ashamed to share it and afraid of being rejected because of the gospel. By God’s grace, I know have come to embrace the gospel and now am able to confidently say that I am no longer ashamed of the gospel. I am reminded that this gospel is the power of god to save lost souls! This gospel message is incredible and therefore demands that I share it as relentlessly as I possibly can, in truth and in love, for the sake of seeing God’s glory made known here on this earth. This also reminds me that the gospel is for all people regardless of race, ethnicity, social class, or language.