King in a Cave: Review By Michael Gurley

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How do you move from one place to another? Whether you are changing your address, career, or even accepting the call to ministry, the answer is simple and obvious. Many miss the concept that you simply step in the right direction. One step at a time. There are no gigantic relocations of talent, ability or calling that skips the stepping stones of growth. The crucial thought, however, is where and when am I starting from? Knowing the answer to Point A is vital. We do not all start at the same point in life, albeit we want to go in the same direction, especially when we know the calling God has on our walk.
McElhaney has provided a great tool for all ministers, young and seasoned, to read and reflect on identifying the past, present and future of personal ministry. Yet, this is not all about the personal needs we take ownership of, but to also assist us when we consider the ordered steps needed for the young and maturing minister. Were a well written book like this available to me as a young man, and had my pastors directed me to read and study the material provided, I reflect on where my life and ministry may have been challenged differently and what would life be like today. We all need something, and someone, to aim us down the road, effectively mentoring us as we learn the role of ministry that applies to each of us personally.
As I approach my elder years it is easy to read the paragraphs from the pages of this book and see my past with more clarity than I have noticed before. It is almost as if these words provide me with something desperately required by many seasoned ministers today. Consider these particular words from the perspective of the author.

“…when you stand with your pastor and when you learn to submit to his vision, you become what every pastor needs – strength.”

When you are young, you feel invincible, although you still call on your coaches, mentors and pastors to help you through the challenges you face. When you are seasoned, and each moment of ministry requires more strength, then having young ministers with a “go to” and “can do” attitude is a blessing. It is not that they are ready to shoulder the full load, or carry the ultimate responsibility, but each one is fashioned with callings and talents to assist the seasoned minister in a profitable way for both. Young ministers can become the Aaron or Hur for the support of the weary leader, just like Moses needed.

McElhaney writes with an ease of a person who has been there, lived through it, and has grown with each challenge. Woven through these pages we can understand his past, and how he dealt with the challenges that leads him to his present life, and has given him the hope of a proper future. We can each read these words and consider where we once were, and comprehend our present responsibilities with a clear vision of our role.

“When you learn to appreciate your role in ministry, you start to understand the value of what you’re doing. … How many ministers actually get years of hands-on training before they are thrust into the role of pastor?”

Reader, realize that God’s timing and plan for your ministry are answered by silence, or “Yes” and even there are times when He speaks “Now”… Read this book and pray for your role to be satisfied in God’s calling.

Michael Gurley
Pastor, Teacher, Student

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Trans-what?

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Trans-what? There’s only been one…

Today our world celebrates the bravery of trans-genders; as men claim to identify themselves as women, and women claim to identify themselves as men. We as a culture are a little slower (and I’m not sure why) to accept this new issue of trans-racial; as a white woman claims to identify herself as an African-American woman.

It seems to me that our country is suffering from a severe identity crisis! Nobody really knows who they are any longer. But then again how could they? Our identity is found in God. It is Him who created us, and it is in Him that we have our being. Everything we are is in Him.

The disciples experienced this incredible phenomena, as they saw Him finally for who He was! The bible tells us that Jesus led Peter John and James up a mountain, and there he showed them who He really was. You see they knew he was different, they knew he was more than just a carpenter’s son. And they were right. Jesus wasn’t just a man, he was God. He looked like a man, but he was merely the “expressed image of His person”. He looked like you and I  but “in Him dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.”

Paul would look at him in retrospect and say, “Great is the mystery of godliness, God was manifest in the flesh…” It wasn’t a difficult proposition, after all the beloved John tried to tell us in John 1:1, 14, “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God….” vs 14 “…and the word became flesh and dwelt among us…” Jesus himself told Phillip, “if you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the father.”

This day; as Peter, John and James are with Jesus on this mountain something incredible happens. Suddenly Jesus began to change… he shown bright like the sun… Moses and Elijah appeared, the law and the prophets bearing witness that this is who they had prophesied about! This moment sits alone in the corridors of human history because this is the only true case of a a man who was born as something else! We call this moment the trans-figuration. When what He appeared gave way to what He was! When who He looked like gave way to who He really was!

One day we too will see him as He is… 1 John 3:2, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”

When He see Him, we see us! My identity is to be like Him! God trans-figured has the power to trans-form my world!

The Shield of Faith

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Ephesians 6:16

Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

In Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church, Paul instructs the believer in which armor was necessary to wear in this spiritual battle we’re in. He tells us things like… we need to have “our loins gird about with truth” or simply a belt of truth. Truth is what holds our lives together. As he progresses through the various articles of armor we come to verse 16 in which Paul says “above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” It becomes clear that Paul placed the shield in high regards.

Let’s look quickly at the shield that Paul was referencing. This shield was not an ordinary shield. These shields were extremely large. Most of these Roman shields, called a Scutum, were about 3 ½ foot long and 1 ½ feet wide. We have a picture of what these shields looked like…

scutum

As you can see the shield also contained a knob in the middle of the shield which served as a fist and they would literally punch their enemy and drive them back. It was more than just a defensive weapon, the shield enabled the soldier to keep moving forward!

And when Paul spoke of our spiritual armor, he said above all take the shield of faith! Faith will serve as your shield in this battle! It will protect you from the flying fiery darts of the enemy! And it will provide you with the ability to push the enemy back in your life, and keep moving forward in God! If we need anything in 2015, we need a restoration of faith! A faith that isn’t connected to what we know, but a faith that is driven by who we know! A faith that can’t be shaken by circumstance, but a faith that will shake our circumstances! 

Scutum_1

The Roman shield was actually curved, so that when arrows and swords would hit this shield it would slide off and the soldier would not take the brunt of the hit. What is fascinating about these shields is that as powerful as they were individually, the Roman soldiers learned that they were virtually unstoppable when they used their shields collectively! So these Roman soldiers created a military formation known as the Testudo formation. Testudo is a Latin word meaning tortoise. Below is a picture of the Testudo Formation…

sheild reenactment

the shields would literally provide a shell of protection or a covering around the troops and they would walk completely engulfed under the shields.The purpose of this military formation was so that these Roman soldiers could march through flying arrows, without injury. They could march towards city walls and not be harmed by flying objects. They were protected under the covering of shields and the enemy could do nothing to stop the progress of these valiant warriors!

Wenceslas_Hollar_-_A_testudo

It’s time for the church to get out of our selfish mentalities and realize that 1 may put a thousand to flight, but two shall put ten thousand to flight! As powerful as one shield can be! We need a revelation that the church becomes an unstoppable force, when the shields are used collectively!

So what is faith? I began to research the word faith and I found that the word faith was only used twice in the entirety of the Old Testament. We know that these patriarchs of the Old Testament had faith because Hebrews 11 lists them as Heroes of the faith. However, scripture only uses the word faith twice. The first mention of faith comes in Deuteronomy 32:18-20. God is speaking of Israel, and how Israel had turned from God and had begun to chase idols, and had become Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee.” And the Bible says when the Lord saw this He abhorred (despised) them. And he said in verse 20, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith.

The word faith here in Hebrew is a picture of a pillar. A pillar supports the door and holds the door in place so that people can walk through that door. The word here literally means to support, uphold or to confirm. When God said they were children of no faith, He was saying that they do not support, they do not uphold and they do not confirm that He is God.

And when God saw that His people would not stand as that pillar, God was provoked and He despised them! You see when you can support career over church; you are children of no faith! When you can uphold the rigorous schedules of your children’s after school activities and sports practices, but you cannot uphold faithful attendance to church, you have become children of no faith! When you can uphold the financial obligations of things you don’t need, but you cannot uphold the financial responsibility of tithing, you are children of no faith! And when you can confirm, or establish the truth of the things of this world, but you cannot confirm your God, you have become children of no faith!

This word was used again by the Prophet Habakkuk as he prophesies of a vision that is for an appointed time, he says in Habakkuk 2:4,Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith. The word live here in Hebrew literally means to remain alive, to preserve or to nourish, revive and restore! In other words when faith is that pillar in your life! And you support the church, and you uphold God’s laws, and you confirm your experience in your lifestyle choices; then your faith will keep you and nourish you!

Faith must be the pillar of the church! When faith is the pillar, the church has a shield! 

The Bible says when Isaiah saw the Lord high and lifted up, and the angels flying around the throne crying Holy, Holy, Holy; that the posts, or the pillars began to move at the voice of him that cried. And the house was filled with smoke! Look at what happens when worship meets faith!

• The glory of the Lord moved in!
• Isaiah cried WOE IS ME; conviction moved in! Because sin cannot dwell in the presence of a Holy God!

Let’s take this a step further, when Samson was grinding meal in the Philistines meal house. The Bible says that Samson was blind, bald and weary. Which spiritually means he had no vision, covering or strength. And so we preach that Samson’s hair grew back.

You see I preach that Samson’s strength wasn’t in his hair. And if his strength wasn’t in his hair, then how did he regain strength when his hair grew back? But when you read the story the Bible says that when Samson was weak, he asked a boy to lead him to a pillar!

Samson regained his strength, when Samson leaned on faith! And sometimes you may find yourself in a place where you don’t have faith, but that’s when you can stumble to a pillar! And the strength of the body can restore strength to the individual! Because a singular shield will protect one man! But when the shield is used collectively I can rest under the shield of a brother until I’m strong enough to use my own shield again! 

We need to learn the power of the testudo; where our children aren’t vulnerable to the tactics of the world, and our teenagers aren’t left alone to defend themselves against the temptations of our day. But the church can be that pillar! And we can take our shields of faith, and we can cover them and protect them! And when they fall, we don’t judge them, but we bring them to a pillar and we let the strength of the pillars restore strength to the weak!

 

The Transfer of Anointing

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Leadership has been defined in various way by many unique and diversely talented individuals. I suppose there is not really a black and white plan one can follow to be the greatest leader possible, however I do believe that scripture has many principles that can help us understand the pressing need to not only develop ourselves to be great leaders, but to develop those who follow us to be great as well.

In my opinion, one of the greatest deficiencies of the post-modern church, is our inability to develop young men and women to do the work of God as effectively as the previous generation. There is a need in our world for this generation of young men and young women to grab a hold of this message and reach this lost and dying world. Comments have been made, that we are lacking capable young ministry… I couldn’t disagree more. When I look at my peers, I don’t see young ministers who are incapable; I see young ministers who simply haven’t been given an opportunity to shine!

As we examine this critical and timely subject let’s look at a couple of examples of spiritual development. Recently I was drawn to a rather unusual portion of scripture. The scene is captured in 2 Kings 4, the Prophet Elisha had been the recipient of very generous hospitality by a Shunammite woman. As Elisha is resting in the chamber that was provided by this family, the man of God desperately wanted to find a way to repay this woman for her sincere appreciation of the ministry. Suddenly Gehazi speaks up and acknowledges that this unfortunate woman was barren, and aging. So the prophet prophecies to her and tells her by this time next year you will have a son.

As the boy grows the Bible records a very traumatic tale of the fate of this boy. Te Bible says that the boy was in the field with his father when tragedy strikes. This unfortunate scene is found in 2 Kings 4:19-20, And he said unto his father, My head, my head. And he said to a lad, Carry him to his mother. And when he had taken him, and brought him to his mother, he sat on her knees till noon, and then died.”

The woman sets out to find the man of God, trusting that his prophecy wasn’t in vain. Elisha doesn’t go to the house, instead he sends Gehazi to the house with his staff and commands him to place the staff upon the head of the boy. Gehazi does exactly as he’s asked, and the Bible says in 2 Kings 4:31, And Gehazi passed on before them, and laid the staff upon the face of the child; but there was neither voice, nor hearing. Wherefore he went again to meet him, and told him, saying, The child is not awaked.

In scripture the staff is a symbol of ministry. In the desert as God was preparing Moses to embark on the task of leading Israel in their exodus from Egypt, Moses couldn’t see how these people would believe him. So God asked Moses a question, “What’s in your hand?” When Moses revealed that he was holding a staff, God told him to cast it down and it became a serpent. He was then instructed to pick it back up and it became a staff again. He was telling Moses that Israel will recognize God’s anointing on him by witnessing the anointing of his ministry.

So when Gehazi comes to the boys room, we see an fascinating spiritual picture. Allow me to take my liberty here, this boy represents this generation of young people. He was prophetic and he was God ordained. I believe this generation of young people are a prophetic generation. I believe these are they in which “…whom the ends of the world are come. They may have a call of God on their lives, but like that young boy there is an issue in their head. And many talented young men and young ladies sit in comatose, which basically means you are unable to function. Why? Because of the issue in the head. The devil is after your mind young people! He wants you paralyzed by confusion and temptation. He wants you halted by fear and heartache. He’s not after your calling, he’s after your mind!

When Gehazi laid the staff upon the boy’s face, the Bible says nothing happened. Now understand the Bible is very specific, the scripture says literally there was neither voice, nor hearing. The staff, or the ministry was upon this young man, but the Bible says he could speak and he couldn’t’ hear. Have you ever talked with a deaf person? Their voice sounds different, and it’s hard to make out what they’re saying. But the problem isn’t their voice, it’s their hearing. Because what you hear determines how you speak.

 It’s a head issue! The mind of modern ministry is weakened by their labor, because they trust in themselves rather than in their anointing! And they have entered a spiritual state of a coma, alive but unable to function; anointed but unable to minister. And like a deaf person, they can’t speak because they can’t hear God!

The devil is after the mind of the ministry, because once we tune out truth we’ve lost our message!

So the Prophet Elisha comes to the house, and the Bible says in 2 Kings 4:34 that “…he went up, and lay upon the child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands: and stretched himself upon the child…”
That is he put his message in his mouth, and his vision in the boys eyes and his anointing on the boys hands, it wasn’t just a resuscitation, it was a spiritual transfer!

That’s significant because we can’t afford to allow our young ministers to die in a coma! We need men of anointing to stretch themselves to whatever degree necessary in order to transfer their anointing into the next generation! We need the message of our elders! We need to vision of our elders! And we need the anointing of our elders!

I would still be an “incapable” minister, if it were not for my pastor investing into my ministry. I’m glad as a young inexperienced preacher, I had an elder who was willing to put his message in my mouth, his vision for Tyler in my eyes and empowering my hands to do the work of God!