Intimacy Fuels Ministry

As a young girl, I knew very early on that God had gifted me in some very special ways and that He would use me to share the Gospel with others. As I get older and grow in Him, I discover more and more of what He has given me. What I’ve recently discovered about myself is that I’m most effective as a witness and disciple when I am being extremely intimate with my Lord, Jesus Christ.

When coming up with strategic ways to share Jesus with others, it is so easy to limit our actual interaction with Jesus. We can spend a lot of time talking about Him, but little time talking with Him. It’s scary to think of how much satan must enjoy this. We load ourselves up with great things to do to the point where we are weak and susceptible to his attacks. I always wonder, why do we take the complicated route instead of allowing ourselves to become utterly consumed with Christ to the point that He effortlessly oozes out of our being?

This makes me think of some things I’ve recently learned about fatherhood. A Christian biologist by the name of Dr. John Medina has spent quite a bit of time researching the answer to the question,”what’s the most important thing I can do as a father?” After much searching, his answer to this question is simple: go home and love your wife. The advice is so simple, yet so profound. He didn’t say buy every new parenting book that is published, take classes, go to conferences or anything extra. He simply said love your wife, implying that if a man does that, the love that he has for her will drive him to love his children well and benefit them. I happen to think that ministry works the same way. Sometimes we look for magical solutions to growing our churches and increasing the spirituality of the people we minister to, when it could all be so simple.

What if the best way to minister is to others is to cultivate a red hot love affair with Jesus ourselves?

Think about marketing. Experts say that the best advertisement for any product is a happy customer. If stores have an excellent product, they don’t have to spend billions on advertising. One of my favorite restaurants know all about this. They have no commercials and I’ve never seen a coupon, yet when I visit the restaurant the line often starts outside the door. The restaurant is Chipotle. From the second I tasted it, I was absolutely hooked. The rice, the beans, the cheese, the guacamole…everything about it was perfect. It satisfied me. It filled me. It was delicious and I wanted more. And if you know anyone who loves Chipotle like me, they’ve probably had a similar conversation with you about how obsessed they are about it. You see, when something is amazing, it doesn’t need major strategies and big gimmicks. The news of it spreads like wild fire because it actually lives up to its name. Jesus is like this, but he’s so much greater than a burrito.

I honestly believe that if those of us who feel called to share Jesus would dedicate more time with Him instead of strategizing about how to present Him to others, I have no doubt that we would see more people crazy in love with Him and in intimate relationship with Him. Why can’t reading the Word, fasting and praying be enough for us? Why do we have to add so much to it? This week, I spent some time reading and watching a video of the book of Acts. What blew my mind was that anytime the body of believers was mentioned, they were praying together. Whenever there was a decision to be made, whenever Peter or Paul went to prison, whenever the body of believers was being persecuted, the small but faithful group prayed fervently.

I know that in our western, American Christian culture, we think that we need so much. Churches now have to stream and archive services, update Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, share the sermon notes in PDF form, add lots of gimmicks and bring in attractions to get people to church. Although I think technology, special programs and other tools can be awesome, I truly think that a lot of what we we do is done to distract us from the reality that we don’t have a consistent, intimate or real personal relationship with God. We can’t lay hands on the sick and heal them. We can’t cast out demons. We can’t perform miracles. And the reason that we can’t do these things is because we’re not consistently tapping into the vine.

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.” – John 15:5-6 NKJV

If we would just allow ourselves to be consumed by Jesus, the fire that we have would attract others and they too, would want to be consumed by Him as well. The things that we do for God will only be as great as our personal relationship with Him. God is not impressed with titles, positions or numbers; He craves intimacy. Until we give that to Him, our efforts in ministry will be in vain.

Getting Desperate

As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? – Psalm 42:1, 2 KJV

Hello friends. I haven’t blogged in a while and I wanted to sort of share some things that have been on my heart. This entire summer, I have been learning about what it means to truly seek God. For many years, I used phrases like “seeking Him,” “pursuing Him,” and “chasing after Him” all while not even lifting open the front cover of my Bible or praying regularly. I felt because I was reading my devotional every few days, whispering a quick prayer while half sleep and volunteering with ministries, that I must be pursuing Him. After all, that’s all there is to this Christian thing, right? Well, I’m learning now that I had no idea who He was because I wasn’t desperate for Him…

I think that many of us have a very poor understanding of what it means to pursue God. Earlier this summer, I read an amazing book called The Pursuit of God by A. W. Tozer, which I highly recommend. In the book, Tozer talks about how we don’t follow hard after Christ. He suggests that God is one who feels, loves, wants to communicate and that He will communicate with us. But the issue is that pursuing Him with fervor is not something that many of us are interested in. He says,

I want deliberately to encourage this mighty longing after God. The lack of it has brought us to our present low estate. The stiff and wooden quality about our religious lives is a result of our lack of holy desire. Complacency is a deadly foe of all spiritual growth. Acute desire must be present or there will be no manifestation of Christ to His people. He waits to be wanted. Too bad that with many of us He waits so long, so very long, in vain.

I completely agree with Tozer. The Psalmist says “as the hart (or deer) panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee.” My pastor preached on this a few weeks ago and painted an amazing picture of a panting deer. The definition of the word pant in this context is “to breathe quickly, spasmodically or in a labored manner” or “to long eagerly; yearn.” If I remember correctly, he told us to picture a deer that has been running hard and has been searching for water. You see, deer don’t have sweat glands so when they run and their bodies heat up, they breathe faster and become desperate for water. It’s the only way that they can get quick relief from the extreme heat in their bodies.

When was the last time your soul panted after Christ? Have you ever wanted to encounter Christ more than you wanted anything else in the world, even more than your next breath?

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Sometimes I wonder about the body of Christ, including myself. At times, I know I’d rather talk to my best friend for hours than pray for one. I could encounter the lover of my soul, but I’d rather watch TV. What’s even more pathetic is the fact that I’ve probably panted for cute shoes and money more than I have over Christ. Can you relate?

What is with us? Why are we so willing to chase, pursue, seek and work so hard for things that are so insignificant? Now, don’t get me wrong, our friends, family, and other people are always important. We should love as Christ loved. Education, work, responsibilities, etc are also very important. But when we spazz out if we miss our favorite tv show on Thursday night but not when we miss out on time with Christ, we have a problem. Priorities.

Yesterday, I had a talk with my dear friend Gabrielle and while discussing this matter, we came to the conclusion that we, the body of Christ, have to become extremely desperate and thirsty for Christ if we really want to see Him move! Like Tozer said, complacency kills! We have at times been so caught up in the church culture, our own agendas, our own limits on what we’ll give God and so many other things that completely distract us from truly seeking and pursuing God. I HATE this! It drives me crazy because God wants to change us, do even greater works in us than He did through Jesus and use us to spread His love to the ends of the Earth but we don’t want Him. He is literally waiting to be wanted by many of us. Why don’t we want Him? Have we really gotten drunk on the pleasures of the world to the point where we aren’t interested in the Bridegroom? Or is it that we’re so complacent and lukewarm in our “I’ll squeeze Jesus in where I get time” lifestyle that we have no desire for Him? Or perhaps, we are apart of the “I just like church because there’s good music and fine men” group who comes to browse but never purchase? Don’t even let me get on the “I don’t like this kind of music so I’m not worshipping” group! *regains composure* How did this happen? How did lukewarm Christianity completely over take us? How did we become so content offering Almighty God the leftovers of our time, devotion, love and life instead of what was first?

Satan loves a lukewarm Christian. He loves when we live our lives without pursuing God. As long as we never come to a full understanding of who Christ is or dedicate our lives to Him fully, satan knows that we’ll be powerless and completely subject to everything he throws at us…even the smallest of snares.

My prayer for all of us (self-included) is that we become completely desperate for Christ. That He becomes the place where we find joy, peace, love, comfort and shelter. Also, that we become so madly in love with Him that we would rather pursue Him than anything of this world.

We’ve got to get serious about falling in love with Jesus and following hard after Him every single day. Jesus over everything. NOTHING is more important.

Until next time,

Brittany

How Deeply I Need You – Shekinah Glory