Author Archives: Carter

About Carter

Christ-follower, Husband, Middle-School Pastor, Uncle, Clemson/UK fan

Lion Hunting

The two figures stood silent in the tent. The king thought the boy foolish for not wanting his armor.

David let the armor lay at his feet anyway. Instead he looked straight into Saul’s eyes and said,

“Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock,  I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”

This is an incredible story-within-a-story. As I read this recently I was caught off guard by what the Lord challenged me with. This is a picture of pastoral ministry. Let’s look together as I ask myself again the questions scripture has already asked me.

1) Am I ready to go after the sheep…?

There are many times in ministry where the answer is no. There’s that one family. There’s the complaining mother, the angry father, the crazy aunt, the 15 year old boy who causes trouble in the youth group, and that’s not to mention the emails of gossip and prejudicial mess that are received on a weekly basis. When they falter, or want to leave the church because the episcopal church down the road, “has better music”, our first instinct is not to go after them. It is easy to forget that we as shepherds are called to watch after the sheep, and as Christ commanded and exampled, to go after the 1 instead of being relieved we still have 99. This is war, and the enemy is going to continue to take sheep. We must go after our sheep. It is messy…but then again, this is war.

2) Am I ready to fight the enemy…?

Did you catch what David did? Let me repeat it just in case. He chases the lion down and kills him by grabbing his beard and apparently slapping the beast. Are you kidding? He appears as if he has no fear. However, I do not believe this is due to a lack of belief in the lions power. No, it is because David is ready when the lion comes. As a minister of the gospel, I must be ready each and every day. After all, the Enemy is prowling around seeking who he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). How do I prepare? Our brother Peter tells us that as well; we are to be self-controlled and alert. My ability to fight for my people is dependent upon my willingness to submit to the Holy Spirit, and live a life that is becoming more like Christ. Quick lines and catchy phrases will not save your lamb from the lions jaws. Indeed the armor of Saul will not prepare you for the divorced father who starts crying in your office, nor the 16 year old girl who is considering abortion. Only the breastplate of righteousness can prepare me for such a fight. My personal holiness is a must.

Am I ready to give God the Glory…?

Notice that David’s concern in this and the surrounding story is God’s Glory. This is perhaps the most difficult part for me. I’m pretty sure if I killed a lion by grabbing his beard and whopping him upside the head, I would face major temptation to toot my own horn. In ministry this can be deceiving though. We work endlessly, vying for an ear to listen, for someone to have that lightbulb go off. Hours in prayer and study of the Word because we do want to “go after the sheep” and “fight for them”. Yet, we must be willing when the successes come, to praise God and give him the Glory, ALONE. If our success stories in ministry are capped with anything that starts with “I”, then we have missed the point. It’s not about what we changed, or did differently or the program you followed, or the curriculum or idea you came up with. We must be willing to say with David, “The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” If we do not fight for the captain of the hosts and are not ready to give him glory in the victory, then our fight is both in vain, and full of prideful conceit.

 Sometimes I forget that I am also a Soldier. 


Harry Potter and the Gospel

I remember when the email came.

I was 12 (yes email did exist, barely, but yes…). It went something like this…

“CHRISTIANS EVERYWHERE!!! Be Cautioned. A Series of Children’s Books, Harry Potter, has been released to the general public.”

The email went on, but it’s message was clear.

If you let your children read these books, you are not only inviting witchcraft and sorcery into your home, you are directly tempting your children in sin and the worship of Satan himself.

My friends, that is a bold claim. Many churches and organizations have renounced such statements especially since the end of the series. However, many Christians still are unsure, and unsettled in whether or not reading them, would be to open the door to sin or at the very least, criticism from fellow church members.

Let us look at authorial intent. If we cannot do at least that, then we are simply being lazy.

I’ll be blunt.

Harry Potter does not support witchcraft or Satanism any more than C.S. Lewis supports the idea that animals talk.

What you have in Harry Potter, is a magical realm, much like in Narnia. The difference, and perhaps confusion in Harry Potter, is that this Magical realm come in direct contact and contains consequences for the “real world”. This, however, is easily understood by reasoning that a “world in which there is also a magical world” is NOT OUR WORLD.

The magic in Harry Potter is clearly neither good nor bad. The author makes that obvious.

So with these things dismissed, we are left with quite what it was intended to be from the beginning

A STORY.

A story, that much like any other is full of suspense and action, love, intrigue. In fact, what will come as a shock to some people, the story of Harry Potter, is much more similar to the story of the Gospel than are most secular works of art. It would take a short essay or book to example out all the ways in which this is the case but I think this particular paragraph will do for now.

There once was a dark and sinful world, in the control and under siege from an evil enemy. Everyone lived in fear. But then, amid the darkness, there was a child born in a small town. The evil one came and tried to destroy him immediately but was unsuccessful. He tempted him later, trying to make the child his servant. As the boy grew, he grew famous throughout the land, and when he reached adulthood he went into an all out battle against the enemy. In the end, he laid down his life on behalf of all his friends, in order that they might live. Somehow, miraculously he came back to life and defeated the enemy once and for all, saving all the people.

Am I talking about Harry Potter or the Gospel?

My point to all this is that we should not be afraid of stories. There are of course things that are inherently evil, and you should not participate in ALL THINGS. However, we should not react in fear of something that sounds suspicious to us. We should at least be willing to interact with it. Augustine taught us that we should “take that which is good from the world, acknowledging that all good comes from our Father”. There’s a reason why Harry Potter reminds us of the gospel. J.K. Rowling was made by the same Maker that we were, and has a mind which cannot escape the thematic elements of our existence (i.e. sin, fear, saving, redemption, sacrifice).

We have a greater story than Harry Potter, but you need not be fearful of it.

In conclusion, read this quote from G.K. Chesterton.

“Fairy tales, then, are not responsible for producing in children fear, or any of the shapes of fear; fairy tales do not give the child the idea of the evil or the ugly; that is in the child already, because it is in the world already. Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon.” – G.K. Chesterton


Conviction, Confession and Carnival Cruises?

A Southern Gospel Cruise? Ok ok, it wasn’t like the whole cruise was singing amazing grace…but yes that was the group I was in. Just like any cruise ship though, Carnival’s newest addition, the Magic, had everything we could ask for.

Great food, Free food, water park, wonderful food, putt-putt, great food, and 2 stops in the Bahamas. I even had a lady in Nassau shout out “Come get your bahama mama,”

I was uncertain what she meant but was sure I didn’t want one. I set back towards the ship instead.

It was indeed Magic.

I know what you’re thinking though still…Southern Gospel? I understand. Southern Gospel has indeed tainted itself with story after story of tragic infidelity and marital failure. Often the singers themselves are denoted as “fake” or “made-up”, just out to charm a few old folks and take their money.

Not this cruise and not these singers.

Before singing their next “number”, one of the groups’ members stood up and started sharing. However, what he shared was not cheesy nor for show. He told of his own moral failure. He did not glorify it but rather said with tear-filled eyes of how he had failed his family, lost his wife and kids, and his ministry. The silence was deafening.

But he continued. He said something that we all need to hear more of. He told of his guilt, and the shame that resulted. He wallowed in it, as most of us would. He considered himself useless to God. He then said, however, that the Holy Spirit continued to work in his life and he realized something that caught my ear.

“Shame is not of God…guilt should not lead there in Christ. Conviction, Repentance and Renewal are from God.”

He had revealed something that many of us struggle with. Confession is necessary. And here’s why…

What he did in that moment was recognize and glorify God’s victory over his sin. His sin was real. His shame was real. Satan would love for believers to live in shame. Shame from secret sin that we carry, whether current or past. The enemy would relish the opportunity to render us “unable” to serve because we are wrecked with shame. In Christ we have conquered the grave, sin and the shame of sin. We do not have to and SHOULD NOT live in shame. But in order for that to have its full affect in our lives, we must confess.

What we realize upon confession, is that we are not confessing sin at all. That would be both shaming to us and glorifying to the sin. But rather we are declaring Christ’s victory in our lives and confessing his glorious victory over sin.

Few of us need more Cruises, Most of us need current Conviction, and I would venture to say we all need to practice more Confession.

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

You can confess that all day folks (spoken like a southern preacher)


The Hunger Games

If you have not read these books but wish to, I suggest you not read this post. If you have read the books….

I won’t bore you rehashing the details. These books are fantastic. Intrigue. Love. Heroism. Suspense. Action.

It’s easy to understand why Suzanne Collins (or Aunt Suzanne as I sometimes refer to her) has taken the young adult and teenage readership by storm. The trilogy’s first part was published in 2008, the original 50,000 copies having doubled twice since then.

However, if you have read the Hunger Games Trilogy as a whole, there is something missing.

Book 1 – Leaves you hopeful

Book 2 – Leaves you confused but triumphant

Book 3 – Leaves you despairing in one key fact. Katniss failed.

She does not truly resolve her relationship with Peeta and Gail. Only through her arch enemy does she realize that she’s given control to a government who’s leader is as morally corrupt and power hungry as the last. Even after killing Coin, there is no firmly established government that believes itself to be able to enact permanent change. In fact Plutarch admits he thinks the “fickle stupid beings” will fail again. She is estranged from her mother. Haymitch goes right back to his drunken stupor. Gail’s fate is only mentioned in a line, and Katniss’ reaction to the absence of her life-long friend? RELIEF. All that to end the book with a page and a half long epilogue that declares “but maybe there is good in the world”. But you doubt it…you must…Suzanne has already done her job. And if there was any hope you had left you remember the one thing that destroys that whole philosophy.

Prim is dead.

Katniss failed. The very thing she set out to do, she can’t. She steps in, as a sacrifice for her sister, taking her place. But it wasn’t permanent, it wasn’t enough.

As a reader you should feel the emptiness that this brings. Don’t write it off as someone’s philosophy or personality and try to come to “grips” with it. There is something not right about the way this story ends.

As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we know what the problem is sin. Collins’ paints a morbid but accurate picture of sin. But her worldview will not allow her to solve it. Almost unwittingly she presents Katniss as a saving figure. But that figure fails, her sacrifice is not enough.

Praise be, this is not how our story ends. Jesus Christ died, sacrificing himself for us, of his own choice, he took up the cross paying once and for all a PERMANENT price for our sin so that we would never have to die. As believers we have to recognize that people are looking for this solution, the solution of “savior” in everything but Jesus. We must bring them Jesus.

Those who do not have Christ are seeking something. They have the law of God written on their hearts. Deep down they know something is wrong. But they have been blinded. They seek after a savior in pornography, alcohol, government, materialism, until finally they are left with the conclusion that history is doomed to repeat itself and there is nothing you can do to stop it.

As pastors and believers, we need to recognize that this makes the task of spreading the name of Christ so very urgent. When we see the alcoholic who’s lost his wife, what he needs is Jesus. When we find the broken single mother who has just lost her job, what she needs is Jesus. It won’t take you long to convince them that their world is broken…they already know. It similarly won’t take much for them to admit that they’d love for it to be different. They have seen all the elements of the Gospel…Creator, Sin Death, Need to be Saved. The difference is that you have good news. A perfect sacrifice once and for all. You have the truth. He is the one that makes a dead heart beat again. His name is Jesus. He’s the River of Life. They don’t have to be thirsty. The Bread of Life.

They don’t have to be Hungry.


Missions – How?

How does someone become a christian?

Let’s look at Ezekiel 37

1 The hand of the LORD was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2 He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. 3He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

I said, “Sovereign LORD, you alone know.”

4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! 5 This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath[a] enter you, and you will come to life. 6 I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.’”

7 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8 I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.

9 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.

11 Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD.’”

It would be tempting to stop after verse 10…to say they are living and breathing. After all, we can place ourselves in Ezekiel’s shoes and say, “we can preach the word, and we can even pray and ask the Lord to grant them true life.” However, lest we fall into the temptation to think that we somehow attained something, the Lord sets our hearts upon Him who truly deserves the Glory in verse 11. Only God can open the grave, having conquered it himself. Only the Lord God can put his spirit in a human being. We cannot control the spirit of God nor command it where to go. Our Lord is sovereign and thank goodness it is so.

A missionary once told me, “if I didn’t believe that God was the only one who could awaken a soul to life, I would leave the mission field right now.” This type of attitude comes from the realization that we are merely instruments. We do not save people for the Lord…the Lord brings people to himself. Sin is totally destructive. Therefore those who are lost need total reconstruction. Praise be to God He and He alone is mighty to pull them out of darkness into His marvelous light.

If sin and darkness hold us captive can another sinful man set one man free? Then how does a man get saved? There is only one explanation…and it doesn’t start with us…it starts like this

For God…..John 3:16


Missions – What?

“What are you going to say?”

“Not sure, I guess i’ll figure it out as I go.”

This conversation took place subconsciously between my dad and myself across the room from one another. We were packed in a 12×8 square foot room with nearly seventy-five others. In this abandoned soviet school, this was the only remaining room with a fire stove. At -5 outside, I deemed it a good location choice.  Suddenly, midst  the freezing cold, language barriers and new surroundings of this village , it became apparent that in the absence of their usual preacher, my father was being called upon to preach. There was no further instruction (at least that we could understand) but only to begin whenever he was ready.

I have no doubt that the idea of being ready was the furthest thing from my dad’s mind. His intention on this trek was to meet some new believers in an attempt to connect them with some already existing churches. Needless to say he was not “ready”. However, in perhaps the proudest moment I can recall of sitting under my father, he began to preach. There was no exegetical discourse, nor was there any attempt at alliteration. What proceeded from his mouth rather was an overflow of a heart that Christ had won, purchased and was always changing to be made more like him. Thus his word was simple, “Isn’t it great that we can have peace in Christ.”

After a few minutes of expounding, and reading a few verses, he sat down. There was no alter call, nor were there any conversions. What there were, however, were men and women who had lost their homes, livelihood, and families who heard a message of hope in the name of a Savior.

Once we reconcile that we MUST go…we must preach. It is difficult to feel qualified to do so. The call to preach the gospel seems overwhelming to us because often times we know not what to say, or how to say it. Whether it be in a village of Croatia or the city of Louisville KY, we have a temptation to try and provide the lost with something that will catch their eye, prick their ear, just enough to where they will come to church and perhaps they might be saved.

This is why Paul ends his thought in Romans 10 about going and preaching and hearing with the statement in verse 17, “So faith comes through hearing and hearing through the word of Christ.”

We have not been commanded to go and preach anything other than the word of Christ. To know anything among the nations except Christ and Him crucified. Like the demon-possessed man, we are commanded to go “and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”

What we have in Missions is the promise that it works. This word of Christ, and the message of what He has done for us…that IS the message the Holy Spirit uses to open eyes, and open ears, and open hearts to see Christ for who He truly is.

What are you going to say? You need not fear…Christ has said it. Merely preach what He has spoken.

“I have come to seek and save that which is lost”


Missions – Why?

The Following is the first in a series regarding Missions. What is it? Why do we do it? Who does it involve? Hopefully this will be encouraging and helpful.

Romans 10: 13-17

“For everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved”. But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing and hearing through the word of Christ.

Take that last verse and stick it in your back pocket for next time. For now lets answer the question of why we would do missions? It may seem self-explanatory, but at the simple risk of encouraging us all the more to pursue the spread of God’s gospel…here we go 🙂

I Peter tells us that it is the will of the Father that all might be saved. We know however that this is not the case for everyone. There will be those that perish without the salvation of Jesus Christ and His Righteousness. However, Paul affirms here a solid truth that as believers we must hold on to when he quotes the prophet Joel by saying that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved. This is amazing!!! In this we find the will of the Father come to fruition and we rejoice at the thought that all tribes and nations and tongues will be represented one day before the throne…why? Because ANYONE who calls will be saved.

However, we also find from scripture that those without Christ are spiritually dead. A dead man cannot call out. They are ensnared and under capture of the Evil One (2 Timothy 2:26). Thus the dilemma. Our brother Paul gives the solution.

They cannot call upon him in whom they have not believed – ok…makes sense if they don’t actually believe in Christ…they won’t call upon Him to be saved

They cannot believe in Him of whom they have not heard –  This also fits. You can’t possibly believe in something you do not know about.

How are they to hear without someone preaching – Incredibly enough this fits as well. Someone (in whatever avenue of communication) has to actually inform you for you to “hear” and comprehend.

How are they to preach unless they are sent – We have to GO to people to tell them the good news

The conclusion from Paul’s walk through is simple. Those who are lost in darkness cannot call out and be saved unless we go. Unless we are sending (Whether in official capacity or earnestly encouraging one another to go to our neighbors) and going, we cannot tell anyone of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. If we do not tell them, they won’t hear. If they don’t hear, they will not believe. And if they don’t believe, they will not call. And if they don’t call they will NOT BE SAVED.

So why Missions? Because when it comes to the Lost being Found,

The Church is God’s plan for His Mission


One Word

One word…? Really?

This is what I was thinking following a conversation I had a few years back. After discussing the sermon preached, my counterpart in the conversation concluded that it was far too long (over 20 minutes) and too scattered (3 points). Finally he declared, “I think each message should focus in on one word…ya know…one push and that’s it.”

Now initially my reaction was to agree. Each sermon or message should have a specific thrust and focus, however, what became all too apparent in our conversation was that what he wanted was short, simple, and immediately applicable. I admit also that I enjoy a message that (due to the thrust of the biblical text) gives an immediate application. It’s helpful and encouraging and easy to remember throughout the week. Sometimes, after all,  the most applicable lessons are the one liners from dad or grandpa quoting scripture out next to the shed.

Where I must disagree though is with his underlying premise. He admitted to me in the conversation that his reasoning began by determining that people cannot remember more than one word. Therefore, anything else would be a waste of time and breath. I immediately and concretely concluded myself that there must be….MUST BE…responsibility within the church placed on the listener as well as the speaker.

We have greatly underestimated the human mind’s capacity for retaining information.  We’ve become so accustomed to having information thrown at us in quick two minute YouTube videos that our attention span collectively is not as it should be, but if we’re honest, not really what it actually is capable of. We memorize songs, movies (ENTIRE MOVIES), without even trying. We’ll sit through an entire football game, movie, or comedian, all of which are much longer and MUCH more intricate than most messages or sermons we’re exposed to week in and week out.

The Psalms pour forth David’s heart for God’s word. He has an extreme desire to listen, learn, be filled. And that’s just it isn’t it. We don’t want fulfillment, we want entertainment. The dramatic irony of that is that if we were to listen, truly pay attention, what we would find in God’s word is the most entertaining story ever told.  But we must come taste and see that the Lord is good.

As pastors present sermons and messages to us, it is not wrong to hold them accountable to communicating effectively. However, if our main criterion are short, simple, immediately applicable; then perhaps we’ve missed the point. There should be a push for one message, one stress, one focus, one word. But he has a name. Jesus. And what goodness and mercy he would share with his people is far greater than 20 minutes once a week 15 of which is a “good story”. We must discipline ourselves to sit and listen as the disciples did in acts as they submitted themselves to the apostles teaching. Be attentive. Be a listener. Be a learner of the one and only word of truth.


The Creator, The Creation and Crayola?

The commercial starts with a young girl twirling around dancing. As she looks at the image of herself on the computer screen, she exclaims,  “CINDERELLA!”. The message is concise and clear. Your child not only can act like the princess she dreams of becoming…she now IS the princess! Her face is stamped and printed on page after page of crayola’s newest line of personalized coloring books; where everyone’s dreams come true. This may seem innocent enough, and lets be honest what guy my age didn’t want to be Aladdin growing up. I had the vest and the magic carpet. Ok, I had Abu too. More importantly, I was the hero. Likewise, whatever flavor of story you choose for your coloring book, you are the main character.

This mentality though, goes way beyond a cute little coloring book or Halloween costume. The markings of being self-centered , prideful, embittered, autonomous, and individualistic within a believer or unbeliever, do not arise overnight. They are embedded. The enemy is no respecter of age. He starts from the moment we take our first breath. From the time we are old enough to understand language we are bombarded with signals and messages from the world that we are the center of the universe. And it would be naive of us to think otherwise. The problem i’m convicted of today, however, is that within the church we must combat this ..but often we support it.

THIS IS TRUTH – We are fearfully and wonderfully made, the Psalmist tells us. We are knit together in our mother’s womb’s, known specifically by our Creator. This is a wonderful truth that should make us weep at the thought of being intimately known by the Creator of the universe…

HOWEVER – We promote this to our children to an extent that cripples them. Follow the thoughts.  “No one has your fingerprint”. “Just like there can never be a snow flake the same, no one can be you.” “You are unique and no one in the history of the world before or after will ever be like you.” And finally it comes…boiling to a point of no return…”Jesus, above all else, was thinking of you on the cross” or how about, “Jesus died for you so that he wouldn’t have to live without you”. All of these come from a partial truth, but when stretched this far become completely unfounded in scripture altogether.

As ministers and teachers we have to balance this truth with an understanding that we are also in so many ways exactly alike. We are ALL sinners. We have ALL fallen short of God’s glory. There is NOTHING you can do to find worth within yourself. You are DEAD. LOST. POWERLESS. We must embrace this! The gospel begins with a recognition that we have NOTHING good within us at all. No one seeks God. He seeks us. He liberates us. He lived righteous. He died defeating sin. He rose conquering death.

Our message to children within the church doesn’t necessitate mixed signals. We should recognize our unique characteristics as image bearers of the Most High God, but also realize that this applies to all of mankind. We should love our children specifically, and in a special way…but all the while we must maintain a far distance from a “me” centered “trading the truth of God for a lie” culture who’s master would love nothing more than for us even as believers to live lives with us as the hero. We need to teach our children that our only hope of heaven is bound in what Christ has completed, having his righteousness given freely to us, our sin washed clean by his blood.

Oh that our children would want to replace their picture with that of Christ Jesus our Lord. He is the main character in our story. Not us.


Formula For Becoming A Pastor

Grow up in church. Attend every service. Be a leader in the “youth group”. Go to a Christian college. Graduate. Get married. Go to Seminary. And when you graduate, you, your wife, three kids and your black lab all move into the parsonage where you finally are qualified and prepared to be a Pastor. This is it right? Maybe not…

The apostle John writes in I John 3:1 “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God…and SO WE ARE”. We often classify what we are in the Lord’s hand in past or future terms. We want to verify salvation itself by an event, a moment in time, a prayer. We also tend towards leaving holiness as some futuristic blanket we’ll receive from Peter at the pearly gates.

John writes that we have hope because we know that when we see him we will be made like him. This is our only hope; that we be made like Christ, and heaven surely is the culmination of that promise. However, he is also declaring that we are children of God now, today, and have the spirit of God living in us. John’s conclusion from this is that with this knowledge we will then “purify (ourselves) as he is pure.” We have been called to Christ, to be sanctified to His holiness today. We have been completely cleansed by the blood of the Lamb (1:7). That is not merely something we look forward to happening but a reality in which we should live.

Similarly our pursuit to be pastors is not a state of calling resigned for some future expectation. We are called today. There is no formula. We’ve only been promised that all we need has been given in the word for life and godliness (I Pet. 1:3). That implies that we are to be above reproach, a godly husband, self-controlled, respectable… today, all these are to be qualities we should exhibit now (I Tim 3). This does not remove training ourselves in righteousness, in fact it implores it to be so.

Part of our desire in creating this blog is to test ourselves; to challenge one another to live in view of the call. Thus, we can cry out with John, confident in Christ alone, that, we have been called to shepherd, and indeed we are shepherds. For those who will read, we thank you ahead of time for your comments, suggestions, and encouragement.