Acts 4:13 (NKJV) Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.
I can think of no greater compliment than that one was recognized as having been with Jesus. I believe that for me, this is genuinely my goal in life, to become one who is recognized as having been with Jesus. To become one whose life was so changed and impacted by the Life of Christ Jesus that while my other deficiencies may be noted, Christ Jesus is still readily visible and evident in and through my life.
As was true of Peter and John, I would find myself, in regards to ministry, as fairly uneducated and common. I come from a line, albeit brief line (grandpa, dad and myself), of uneducated and common men who loved the Lord and believed that Jesus had called them to follow Him and so they picked up their Bibles and did so.
My grandfather was saved out of the Navy shortly after World War 2 under Amy Semple McPherson’s ministry. He believed that he was called into the ministry as preacher of the Lord Jesus. He bought a tent, a flatbed truck (to use as a platform for services and to haul the tent), picked up his Bible and went preaching the Word of God.
My Dad, saved under my grandfather’s ministry, went to Bible School for one year and then feeling the urgency of the call, went out, bought a tent, a flatbed truck, and began traveling around as a Preacher of God’s Word. My babysitter as an infant, so I am told, was the back seat of the car, as mom had to sing and help dad with the meetings.
Both, my dad and grandfather pioneered churches. Only my grandfather remained in the ministry up to and including most of his later years, finally having to retire. I was first saved in my grandfather’s church. My dad dropped out of the ministry within a few years of my birth and spent many years trying to go back into the ministry, to no avail and which is a story too long to share here and now.
When I finally came around to the call of God in my life, I was in College, majoring in Psychology and Interpersonal Communication. I picked up some Bible classes along the way and yet never finished college, but it wasn’t from lack of trying. I had finished my junior year and had started the first quarter of my senior year. I was also working in a Psychiatric Hospital on the secure wing. A patient had flipped out and I caught the brunt of his anger when he blindsided me from my right side. My nose, the part that connects to my eye socket was shattered. So I had to go through two surgeries in close proximity and had to drop out of School that quarter. It had already taken five years to get through three years of college, working full time and beginning a family.
While I was in the Hospital recovering from the most difficult surgery the Lord spoke to me through His written Word. He spoke to me through 1 Jn 2:27.
(NKJV) But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.
This was a personal and yet significant Word for me. I immediately knew, to my regret, that I was to not go back to School, PSU at the time. I, at the time assumed that this was only a temporary set back. I believed and was hopeful that the Lord would have me finish school later; I mean I only had one more year to go. I would believe this for the next ten years with a few sporadic attempts at seeking the Lord even later to go back to school. Yet in and through it all, the Lord made it clear that I wasn’t to go back to school and I finally made peace with this, for the most part.
I was the first in my family to get a high school diploma and then was to be the first to get a college education and degree as well. I was very motivated to do this, so this word was very difficult to accept and embrace. However, I had also come to believe that doing what the Lord Jesus wanted me to do was the only real path that I was to walk; that His will was more important than being the first in my family with a College education. My younger brother finally succeeded in being the first in our family to get a college degree, much later.
I would spend the next two years unlearning, or so it seemed, what I had learned in college, especially in regards to Psychology and Interpersonal Communication. It was then, about two years after having to drop out of school that I was put in a situation that would change my life. I had not lost my desire to be a counselor, to be one who understood people and then with that understanding trying to help them. I was frustrated because that desire hadn’t left me and I knew that I couldn’t do this kind of work without the education that I needed or so I thought.
A pastor at the church I was attending found out that I had taken Psych in school and asked me to do some counseling with two couples that he was making no head way with after about six weeks of work. So I agreed to do this, not because I felt I could do it but because I needed some things settled in my life regarding this desire to counsel others. For me, I needed this deep desire to be a counselor once and for all taken care of. I asked the Lord that if He wanted me to be counselor to help me help with this couple or please, please, remove this desire from me. So for me this appointment was a test, a test of what direction my life was going to go.
I met with both couples at the same time, as the problem existed between and amongst them all. I listened and prayed in the Spirit under my breath looking to the Lord for His wisdom and revelation. Just before I met with them the Lord Jesus gave me a scripture that was a powerful encouragement for me going into this appointment. It was Isa 50:4.
(NKJV)“The Lord God has given Me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to hear as the learned.
As I sat there in the Pastor’s office listening, expectant and praying. Then the Lord began to show me, literally, the crux of what was taking place. In fact the Lord just opened up to me both couples, to their and mine amazement. The Pastor was pleased, as was I and as were the two couples. I had seen the root of the issues at work through the word of wisdom and revelation knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t have that kind of understanding of people, relationships and their inner workings. I hadn’t been told by them all that I was shown by the Lord concerning their relationships and of why they had gotten mixed up in this whole thing to begin with. Within a few appointments we saw the Lord work in a wonderful manner and restoration was well on its way. The Lord was faithful to His Word.
With this confirmation that I was where the Lord wanted me to be and that indeed He wanted to use me, even without that education I had so earnestly sought, my life turned another important corner. In a relatively short time I was doing a lot of this kind of personal ministry. In fact the Lord gave me a whole approach to this level of ministry that in a few more years down the road expanded into working with entire congregations through revitalization, and more.
I never got that college education, but in truth, colleges didn’t teach what I needed to learn, absolute dependency upon the Lord Jesus Christ. When we genuinely lean upon Him in surrender and obedience to Him and His will, word and ways, He will always arise within, to and through us, to accomplish His purposes. This is the stuff that He teaches us in the school of walking in and with Him down life’s road.
Please do not misunderstand me. I am not against College Educations. In truth I am still one who believes very strongly that training and equipping is vital. I also realize however, that some of the best training and equipping comes from and through our willingness to simply trust and obey the Lord Jesus Christ, day by day. Our learning to follow the Lord into decisions that at the time make no practical sense, yet as we continue to follow Him, actually open up doors of opportunity that often move way beyond our expectations, is a vital lesson for us all.
I read, study, pray and I continue to grow and be stretched into the more of the Lord Jesus Christ as well as training and mentoring those few the Lord gives me. Since those earliest of days, the Lord has taught me how to preach, teach and even how to oversee His churches. He has taught and continues to teach me a lot, but always in His way and in His timing.
I am not a scholar in any way, shape or form. I am just a guy who has and continues to learn how to follow the Lord Jesus Christ into decisions that eventually open up the doors of opportunity, opportunities that are genuinely of His making and not mine. I am so very grateful to the scholars of this life and world, especially within the Body of Christ Jesus, but I have also learned that ministry and life is much more fundamental. I have found life to be more about a simple, but not always easy, obedience and a trust that He will in truth work, in, to and through us, to bring all things together for our and others good and to His greater glory, honor and praise.
No, I am not a well educated man. No, I am not one who knows and understands Greek and Hebrew. I am not a man who neither is very good at exegetical study nor am I a man who has anything to truly show for his life and ministry except a few simple lessons learned along the way. I am discovering a much greater simplicity in following my Lord and Savior along the way of life. It is the simplicity of trusting and obeying, for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus, than to trust and obey. He will teach me what He wants me to know and open up to me what He needs me to see; meanwhile I simply need to trust and obey Him, as we walk together along life’s way.