It’s You Call (Victory Publishing-November 2008) by Lawrence Powell, pastor of Agape Family Worship Center in New Jersey, promises to give readers the tools they need to bring their lives into purposeful focus by helping them discover their own God-given assignment and how to follow God’s compass to success.
The seven chapters seek to teach readers how to:
- Perceive, accept, and pursue the call of God
- Overcome the prison of the past
- Lose the weight. That is, to separate from the Old Boy’s network-the folks used to the old you who don’t like the You 2.0 that Jesus wants to upgrade to and seek to keep you back in the life you’ve been saved from (this is Andrea, the author’s metaphor is an eagle raised in a chicken coop, and says if you keep hanging around with chickens, you’ll let them mock you into continuing to act like a chicken). Note these folks can be Christians themselves who don’t want to grow and feel threatened by yours.
- Take the heat-a warning that God’s training program involves pain, pain, and more pain, and that if you want to follow Christ, you need to learn the old fashioned art of enduring under fire and submitting to God’s discipline, a concept rarely taught today.
- Keep on Keeping on-while under opposition. This one we hear about even less often in a Church prone to blaming persecution on the persecuted, “If you were more loving, the world wouldn’t hate you so much” is what I hear in some form or another being said to Christians torn apart by the enemies of the cross, just as Christ promised we would be if we’re faithful to Him. The basic thrust of this chapter is that as you purse God’s call on your life, you become a threat to the devil, and the accuser of the brethren will fight you every step of the way-and stir up your own friends and family, including fellow believers, if he can. His basic advice is to recognize the people the devil is using to stop you and ignore/avoid them, rather than letting yourself be controlled by them in the name of the popular notion that Christian love requires avoiding all conflict and never offending anyone. He also discusses mental attacks, and taking every thought captive.
- Stay Connected. Probably intended as a counter balance to all the advice about dumping the people the devil is using to keep you in sin, or at least not a threat to him, this one is all about staying connected to the people of God rather than letting fear and paranoia from past wounds turn you into a hermit. He teaches the reader to let God connect them to the people who will help mold them into their calling rather than hindering them and not to rely on the superficial judgment of man and the paranoid suspicion borne of past experience, but to rather rely on spiritual discernment.
- Get out of the boat. A final reminder that while you can’t achieve God’s purpose for you in human strength alone, you do have to actually do something. The way I like to put it is to point out that God’s miracles often do involve some type of effort-fill these jars with oil, go wash, get up and walk.
Over all, there is plenty of solid teaching that, if applied, could very well change your life. My primary concern is that we often get our fleshy desires confused with God’s. One could be pursing their “call” and actually running head long into sin. Such deceived persons, when applying the advice to dump people that criticize them for pursuing God’s call, will harden their hearts and write off the folks God sends to call them back to their true calling as legalistic folks sent by Satan to derail them. Thus they lose out with God, miss their calling, and may even lose their souls.
He’s right that many of us take the criticism of our naysayers too seriously. And too many Christians use Christian love as an excuse to keep rubbing elbows with people that lead them into sin. If anything, this is an oversight, as Powell does cover being teachable in chapter six. But he assumes that the call his reader is perusing is actually from God, and that sadly is not always the case.
For instance, plenty of folks are “called” to amass great wealth to themselves, but the scriptures have nothing positive to say about that. The spiritual gift of giving tends to come with an ability to accrue wealth, but like all gifts, this is not given for personal glory and enrichment, but for bringing glory to god and edifying the church. The old law required ten percent, but the new testament says with food and raiment, be content. Meet your family’s basic daily needs. Whatever’s left was meant for meeting the needs of the Church.
America doesn’t have a financial crisis. We’re still the richest, or one of the richest, nations on earth. What we have is a lifestyle crisis.
Likewise, read Hebrews 11, about all the saints who pursued God’s call without ever receiving the promise at all in this life. By earthly standards, if we only consider his temporal life, Jesus Christ himself was a dismal failure whose ministry ended in his trial and execution. The only lasting success that Christ achieved all came on or after Easter Sunday.
Biblically, Christians don’t labor to obtain earthly riches. Our reward isn’t this Earth, but the Kingdom. Does this mean you’re in danger of hellfire if you’re wealthy? Only if your earthly treasure is more important to you than Christ (because Mammon is an idol and no idolater will enter the kingdom.) However, only He can justly judge that. We all have blind spots.
So what does that have to do with pursuing God’s call? My point is that our notions of success tend to be completely at odds with the Lord’s, and that we tend to assume what we want, what we dream of, is from God. That can be the case, but not always. The easiest way to test which is the case with you is to examine the plan in the light of God’s word. However, when we really want something, we tend to bend scripture to say what we want it to. If we’ve convinced ourselves God has called us to do this, we’ll ignore his prophets when God calls them to rebuke us and point us back to the narrow way.
Thus, I don’t recommend simply ignoring your critics. Powell is absolutely right that a favorite device of the enemy is to tell you to that it’s arrogant to pursue your call. You’ll definitely get that from Christians content to sit in the bleachers. Christians threatened by anyone who dares to get in the game will get in your face and call you every name in the book. To justify their own inaction, they will even side with the enemies of Christ!