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" the Gospel Burden "
    "For if I preach the gospel, there is no glory to me, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel." (1Co9:16)

    "Then I said, I will not make mention of Him, nor speak in His name any more. But His Word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with holding it in, and I could not." (Jer20:9)

    "The burden which Habakkuk the prophet saw... The burden of the Word of Jehovah to Israel by the hand of Malachi... But since you say, The burden of Jehovah! therefore thus says Jehovah, Because you say this word (The burden of Jehovah)..." (Hab1:1, Mal1:1, Jer23:38)

In June there was a horrible fire in South Carolina at a furniture store. A bunch of fire fighters had gone inside looking for live victims needing rescuing, and while thus engaged, the heat of the fire melted the roof supports, it fell, killing nine fire fighters.

From one of the participating fire stations there was but one lone survivor, who had not been inside the building. ALL the rest of the men from that station were killed. They interviewed him on national TV news, sharing his feelings of 'guilt' for being the lone survivor, etc. Typically when there is such a tragedy, and people are emotionally worked up, they are often given "time off". The TV person asked if he was going to "go in to work" (the next day) as the 'lone' worker for that station.

His response was on the order of -OF COURSE- he was going to work, because "it would be a -DISGRACE-" if he didn't.

Some time ago there was the account of somebody who had fallen onto the railroad tracks at a subway station, the train fast approaching; and a by-stander, seeing what happened, quickly jumped down to the tracks, covering the person who had fallen, pinning them to the ground while the train ran over them. Both came up alive. The 'stranger' who had saved the life was hailed by all as a "hero". When interviewed, he didn't view himself as a hero at all. He saw the need, and reflexively jumped to meet the need.

Back in 1960, when I was a child/youth, our family came to America from Japan, where my father had been a missionary. During the freighter trip across the Pacific, my dad would listen to a lot of shortwave radio. Around that time was the famous incident of the missionaries being killed by the Auca Indians. But less-known was another incident in Central America. I was a kid at the time, did not hear the radio myself, but remember my dad telling about it during deputation meetings in supporting churches; and after all these years don't remember the specifics now; but do remember the "punch line". [vw: If any of you know of this incident, would you please contact me and help fill in the blanks :]

Some sort of incident had occurred in Central or South America where some Christians had been martyred/killed. A native Christian from that village, either survived, or had not been there when the massacre happened; I don't recall. But here we get to the pertinent part: This native was being interview on radio by somebody, because of the killing, and also because he was planning to go to that same place to preach the Gospel. The announcer asked the native: "Aren't you -afraid- to go back there??" His answer has stuck with me my whole life since I heard it...

He said: "If we see a need and don't do something about it, there is something wrong with us."

If there is a need, and we sit idly by: it is a DISGRACE, there is something WRONG with us, WOE IS ME if I don't, it's a FIRE SHUT UP IN MY BONES.

The 'need' is to tell the world about Salvation from sin through the shed blood of Jesus Christ; and to exhort sleeping Christians to get off their duffs and start living the Faith they claim to possess.

On various occasions, when addressing the matter of "ministry", I have given the exhortation to anybody either -in- the ministry, or -contemplating- it: If there is anything -else- you could be doing, then DON'T go into the ministry! If you are presently in the ministry, but there is something else you could be doing, then GET OUT OF the ministry. If you are at the end of your Bible school or Seminary training, and you are 'contemplating' -what- to do next, and you have lined up on the table, side-by-side, with 'equal' weight, various "options", and "ministry" is in-amongst the lot...DO -NOT- GO INTO THE MINISTRY. You do not have God's "FIRE" in your spirit. God's Message is obviously not BURDENING you. It would not be a DISGRACE or WOE for you if you don't do it? Then DON'T!!!

Do you think the ministry is a position of 'glamor'? Do you think people would look 'up' to you as somebody 'important'? Then DON'T!

Many prophets were spat upon, stoned, imprisoned, killed... "of whom the world was not worthy" (Heb11:38) Of whom you are not worthy, if you idolize such a position.

How many pastors go into the ministry with the mentality that over the years they will be "promoted" to progressively larger and larger congregations. As they are promoted, they also hope their salary will increase. I am reminded of a fellow I knew in college, who went on to one of this nation's top seminaries, and last I knew of him, fairly recently out of seminary, he was pastoring a small church in northern Minnesota. While visiting some years ago there were the occasional subtle whines about so-n-so, another pastor over 'there' who was driving a nicer car, and little things like that. I don't know where he is these days, or what he might be doing. But I have often wondered 'why' he was in the ministry.

Was it "the -expected- thing" to do?

There was another pastor, at the last congregation I was attending, before I "came out" (Rev18:4), who whined to me one day in our private visiting that he had "lost his vision" for the ministry. But he was staying in that current position because it provided a steady pay-check. After I left that place, I heard a year later he had a mental break-down, as the Lord removed him from that place.

Back when I was in university studying music, the Holy Spirit was regularly pricking my spirit to "preach the Word". But I "was a musician". I did everything imaginable related to music in various churches. People were "blessed" by my music. How could I be a "preacher" when it was -obvious- that the Lord had blessed me with music??? But even though I did some professional stints, even doing 'well' at it, there was always a "nagging" in my spirit. A "leanness" in my soul. (Ps106:15) And over the course of time various "politicks" occurred which changed my direction away from music. At one point I was even totally disgusted with music and the included politics of those who did not actually know music that well, but thought of themselves that they were God's gift to the music world.

Around the same time, the Lord was starting to mould me to preach the Word. And to make a long story short, if I ever now sit down to the piano, the fingers -just- won't cooperate. If I try to sing something, the voice tightens up and I cannot.

Would I change the current state of affairs? NOT ON YOUR LIFE! Why would I go back to that, when I currently am a spokesman for the Most High? As Paul says, "But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss because of Christ. But no, rather, I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, that I may gain Christ" (Php3:7-8)

But you know, even back when I thought that music was my "thing", there were times, in my quiet thoughts, while perhaps doing other manual labor activities, or driving down the road, where other people might think about this or that; I was 'preaching'. Indeed, my mind was formulating the words of entire messages, just as if I had been at that moment standing in front of a group of people and 'speaking' to them. Not things that I had sat at a desk, with my Bible open, and writing down outlines on a piece of paper...but 'proclaiming' God's "thus says the Lord". The "burden" of God's Word, like a "fire" wanting to get out, not being able to be kept in.

Scripture was given this way, through the "holy men of God" as the Holy Spirit "propelled" them along. (2Pet1:21)

I knew another person, over the years, who told me one day that: to prepare his sermons for church services was a burden. Not the kind of burden we have been talking about, where God's Word weighs upon the messenger, needing to be spoken....but a burden of "tedium" to him. He much rather preferred doing other things. A couple years later he had split the church wide open, and stolen half the people away to start a new 'work'...and a bit later he even left that group.

When God burdens a prophet the Holy Spirit "rushes" upon the person. Even Saul, before God rejected him after his disobedience, the Spirit "rushed upon him, and he prophesied among" the prophets. (1Sa10:10) When David was anointed as the next king, as he ultimately became known as the "sweet psalmist of Israel" (2Sa23:1) it says that "..the Spirit of Jehovah rushed upon David from that day (of his anointing) forward" (1Sa16:13)

This is how the early Church apostles were commissioned, the Holy Spirit came upon them like a "rushing violent wind" (Ac2:2)

    "Is not My Word like a fire? says Jehovah; and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces? Therefore thus says Jehovah, Behold, I am against the prophets who steal My Words each one from his neighbor. Jehovah says, Behold, I am against the prophets who use their tongues and say, He says." (Jer23:29-31)
Is this "from his neighbor" comment a reference to commentaries? Where some, not having a Word from the Lord, look up in the books to see what -others- have said about this or that, and 'that' is what they preach...?

There are many who say, "I have dreamed" but God "did not send them" (Jer23:25,32)

When God calls His ministers, it is -GOD- who calls. We know the accounts of God calling to Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Moses, S/Paul. We know how God called Timothy through Paul's appointment, and David through Samuel. Most of the time God's call is not a 'dramatic' event like a burning bush. Most of the time it is God's call in His "whisper of a small voice" (1Ki19:12)

But when God calls His minister, He does not do so through the man's wife. He does not do so through a career counselor at Seminary. Jesus had 12 disciples following Him around, but He called to each one -individually-. While we know that many of them were married, He did not call their wives. God does not typically call husband/wife 'teams'. God calls His "man of God". Even -young- Timothy, whom Paul often spoke of like his "son", he exhorts, "But you, O man of God..." (1Tim6:11)

If a man cannot 'hear' God's "call" -to- be a minister, how can he possibly hear God's -Word- that is to be proclaimed? If a man is 'thinking -about-' the ministry, but is NOT SURE if it is "God's will" or not, then: -DON'T- !!! If such a person -decided- to become a preacher, and got up on Sunday and started yapping off at the mouth, how does anybody know that what he is proclaiming is from God? If he wasn't even sure God was calling him, the words he speaks are also unsure.

    "For if the trumpet gives an uncertain sound, who will prepare himself for battle?" (1Co14:8)
When God calls, He presents the case before the one He intends to serve Him, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" (Is6:8)

Isaiah replied, "Here am I! Send me." Samuel replied, "Speak, for Your servant is listening." (1Sa3:9-10) Saul responded, "Lord, what do You have in mind for me to do?" (Ac9:6)

But if God's call is not burdening you (and if it is you will know it), then don't pretend that it is; otherwise God's "Woe" to the false shepherds will be upon you.

    "Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture! says Jehovah...And as for the prophet, and the priest, and the people, who shall say, The burden of Jehovah! I will even punish that man and his house." (Jer23:1,34)

Related topic: A Call for Shepherds!

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