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.

Keep The Fire Burning

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Psalm 63:1 ESV

The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. Lamentations 3:25 KJV

In any relationship, it’s always important to continuously keep the passion, love and fire burning. When dating, people do this with good morning texts, random sweet emails, gifts for no reason at all and of course lots of affirmations of love. But I’m sure that I’m not the only one that finds it sometimes difficult to maintain a continuous, passionate relationship with God. I think that it’s difficult for many reasons.

We can’t see Him

I think it’s tough to keep our relationship strong with God sometimes, simply because we can’t see Him. In a dating or marriage relationship, we can call, eat and just spend quality time with the person we love. We can spend time with God, but sometimes it feels like we’re wasting our time because we can’t see Him.

Distractions

Distractions are everywhere. TV, computers, our phones, our friends and family. Distractions aren’t always bad, but sometimes they are good at keeping us too busy to spend time with God.

We haven’t made up our mind

Everything we do begins with a choice. Prayer, reading the Bible, and everything related to keeping our relationship with God thriving. At some point, we all have to purpose in our minds that we will have a strong relationship with Him because we choose to do what need to be done to obtain it. If that means cutting off the tv, telling friends we’ll call them later or even taking a fast from social media, we must decide to do whatever we must do to put God first and keep Him in His rightful place. 

So what can we actually do to be sure that our relationship with God is growing and thriving?

Purpose in our mind to put Him first

This sounds easy, but it’s something that we must do daily. Today, we can wake up and decide that we’re going to spend plenty of time with God in prayer, studying and worship. But if we don’t decide to do the same thing tomorrow, we will be on our way to losing some of the intimacy we had. Just imagine not talking to your significant other or your spouse for a whole day. I’ve experienced not being able to talk to someone that I loved for two days and it was a really rough weekend for me. Thankfully it didn’t damage our relationship, but if we were to do it over and over, it would. Think of God the same way. We must decide each and everyday that we will make Him first and treat Him as such.

Push through emotions

There are days that we all wake up and don’t feel like loving on anyone. We all have moods, bad feelings and emotions that try to discourage us from doing what we should do, but if we want to really reach the next level in our relationship with Him, we must learn to push through the feelings and pray, praise, worship and read our Bibles anyhow. We can’t be ruled by our feelings. The Bible tells us in Jeremiah 17:9 that we can’t trust our hearts. Don’t allow your heart to make the decision not to spend time with God for you. Push through those feelings and spend time with Him because you love Him.

Change things up

It’s wonderful to be able to change things up. When things become mundane or old, we can always spend time with God in different ways. I doubt that any couple would go on dates to the same place over and over and expect to have an amazing time. Of course not! We try new things, eat new foods, go to new places, etc because it adds an element of freshness to our relationships. When I’m not feeling like my regular routine of prayer then Bible study, I add in journaling and worship. Also, new translations of the Bible really enhance Bible study time. Whenever English Standard Version becomes a little dry to me, I read in the Message translation as well and it seems as if the words literally jump off the page!  I also supplement my Bible study with sermons & messages from awesome pastors. I utilize several applications from different ministries that really enhance my study time. Spending time with God can be as fun as we make it and it is only boring if we allow it to be.

If our relationship with God is the most important thing in our life, we must be willing to do whatever we must do to be sure that the relationship is growing and developing in a healthy way. This doesn’t mean that we can’t have a life, spend time with friends or anything else, but it does mean that we have our priorities lined up and God is in His rightful place. It’s been said that if we want to see what someone cares about, look at how they spend their time and how they spend their money. When we love someone dearly, we make sure that they know it because we give them our energy, our time and our attention. We don’t want to make God wonder How important He is to us. He is the lover of our souls so He deserves to always know just how much we love and adore Him.

-Brittany