THE HIGHER CALLING

Recently, I did an informal survey of Christian television programs to determine the overall flavor of the programming.  I wanted to
know what the men and women of God were teaching and what the Body of Christ was being fed.  Of course, such a survey is a broad
and general overview, because quite a number of different denominations and various groups were included. What I came up with
concerns me; it even causes me to pause and ponder my own pulpit ministry.

Almost without fail, the general flavor of the teachings and sermons had to do with some form of self-improvement.  Here are some of
the topics being addressed: health & healing, prosperity, freedom from fear, rising to your destiny, keeping your joy, maintaining your
peace, finding strength for today, improving your relationships in the home, etc.  I am sure there were programs I missed, so my survey
was anything but thorough and complete; however, I would say the survey revealed, in general, what is being fed to the Church through
the media.

Personally, I stand in the Word of Faith stream, a theological arena that believes in and teaches believers how to see the promises of
God work in their lives. We believe the Bible implicitly; and the Bible has much to say about improving every area of one’s life.  So, from
that perspective, what I discovered on TV seemed consistent with Scripture.  It is interesting to note that during my survey, there was
only one sermon that was focused on moving the listeners to action for the sake of the Kingdom.  I commend Pastor Ron Phillips, a
Baptist preacher from Tennessee, whose program airs in OKC early on Sunday morning.  Pastor Phillips saw fit to rise above the
temptation to preach what the people want to hear and compel them to fulfill the will of God, which is to be the salt and the light in
society and to be harvesters of the lost.

I speak from the standpoint of a pastor. There is a difference in the way sermons are accepted depending on the subject. When I
minister on a subject that feeds the saints’ desires for increase and improvement there is one response; when the topic is a call to
Kingdom service or sacrifice, there is quite a different response.  In fact, throughout the years, I have often received criticism over the
second category because people felt they were being pressured to do something.  They wanted to hear “Bless Me!” sermons, not
sermons that beckon them from the Lazy-Boy recliner to minister the love of God in the streets.  If you can show them how to get rich,
they will sit at your feet and soak up every word and even get in an “Amen!” every so often.  But as I would move them from getting the
wealth to actually using that wealth for Kingdom purposes, they usually fall back on the “10% mentality” and continue to make plans for
bigger houses, more luxurious surroundings, and trips abroad.  Or, when I teach them to walk in strength and health, they rejoice in
their newly found wellness, that it has brought ease  to them and the bliss of being pain-free. Rejoicing should come rather because
they are well and strong enough to labor in the whitened fields for Jesus.

It is good to teach believers how to improve their lives, and it should be done from the pulpit.  However, our recent historic focus has
been so strongly slanted that way that now the saints have developed a “Bless Me!” mindset that tends to reject the call to service and
to personal sacrifice.  This must change.  The covenant people of God must re-read the Scriptures and allow themselves to see ALL that
is written.  There are not only wonderful promises in the Bible that bless us, but there are commands from God as well.  These
commands don’t necessarily feel good to our flesh.  Some require great self-sacrifice or even persecution for doing what is
commanded.  The world (and the people in it) hates Christians who are zealous for the Lord.  As long as we sit quietly in our homes or
houses of worship, they are content to let us alone.  But, when someone with Holy Spirit boldness steps out into the streets and starts
to shout the clarion call of the Gospel, they rise up and stone him!  It would seem that such political incorrectness is so strikingly
foreign to many Christians; they too dismiss such devoted Kingdom service to God as outrageous and fanatical.  This must change.

How is this change from “Bless Me!” to “Here am I Lord, send me!” going to happen?  It will start in the pulpit.  As men and women of
God called to minister the good Word of God move beyond men-pleasing and ear-tickling to truly leading the Church, the power of Truth
will transform the listeners.  They will mature spiritually.  There is an observation that will wonderfully surprise the people of God; they
will discover that true health and wealth and happiness come only through Kingdom service.  There is no sense of fulfillment like the
Spirit’s inner witness that overcomes you when you know Father God is well pleased with you because of your selfless service to Him.  
His pleasure will happen because you do His will, not just because you receive His blessings.

Allow me to encourage you to rise up higher.  Don’t forsake believing and pursuing God’s blessings, but add to that pursuit the higher
calling to Kingdom service. Rejoice in Ephesians 2:10  “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works; which God
has prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”