Jesus Driven Ministry- Chapters pt. 1

Posted on February 24, 2011 by

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Ajith Fernando’s book has been a great encouragement and challenge to me in ministry. As I look at each chapter I will summarize, give some high points, and my insights. There is so much great content in this book that to do it justice I would end up retyping entire chapters. I would strongly encourage you to read through this book, and I hope that you will find my chapter reviews helpful.

 

 

1.       Identifying with people

As ministers we need to be able to identify with those that we serve. This is a strong warning to avoid the temptation to become the wise man in an ivory tower. He gives examples from Jesus’ ministry that show that we need to go out of our way to be sure that we are indentifying with our people.

2.       Empowered by the Spirit

This chapter can be summed up with a verse that Fernando quotes a few pages in “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25 NIV). The main idea is that since we have been made alive in Christ through the work of the Spirit, since we are being sanctified by the Spirit, and since we are identified as children of God by the Spirit we need to be living lives that are in harmony with the Spirit so as not to hinder His work in our lives or the work He is doing Through our lives.  Fernando gives many and varied examples of this from scriptures, and history. He also has a great many practical applications in this chapter.

3.       Affirmed by God

Since there are many difficulties and trials in ministry to be aware of the different ways that God affirms us. “The ministry is so challenging that when we think of it, the primary focus always needs to be on what God does for us.” (pg. 47) He goes on to show how if we are dependent on ourselves and are faced with our own inadequacy we can become “discouraged…fearful…timid, cynical, or bitter… dictatorial” all which contradict the character that we are to have as followers of Christ. A few ways that God can affirm us in our ministry  – A bible passage that speaks specifically to our situation – “A strong impression of the mind… that surfaces at the right time to minister to our particular need.”(pg.54) (“God will never give us a message that contradicts His Word.” [pg.55]) – etc.  He goes on to identify characteristics of insecure leaders, and ends with an encouragement to minister “out of the strength of the identity, security, and significance that come from the fact that we are children of God, accepted by Him, and given a role to play in His eternal Kingdom.”(pg. 60)

4.       Retreating from Activity

Drawing from the pattern of ministry that Jesus showed us Fernando encourages us to take a retreat from daily activities to spend time in prayer and the Word. Doing this affirms to us and others the priority of the spiritual. It also slows us down so that we can be in God’s presence, “be still and know that I am God.”(Ps. 46:10). These times of intentional retreat make us receptive to God’s voice since we are so muddled in the daily work of ministry that removing ourselves from that environment can help us to reevaluate our priorities and to stop and listen for God speaking to us. This is especially important in times of crises but it cannot become a damage control tactic. We need to cultivate a daily sense of retreat.  Fernando also suggests fasting as a way to further our focus on the spiritual and be an intentional practice in trusting God.

5.       Affirming the will of God

Fernando shows from Jesus’ temptation that God can, and will, use times of temptation and difficulty early on in ministry so that we will affirm the priorities that will characterize our ministry. Also these can affirm God’s will over our rights, over our uncrucified desires (demanding things of God without asking whether our request is right or wrong is not asking in faith.), and over wrong paths to success.

For me there was a powerful gut-check section where Fernando admonishes us about getting affirmation from our success and the approval of people when we need to get our sense of identity and approval from the acceptance of God and His work to save us and adopt us. He says “I believe that one reason why so many leaders are falling in [sexual sin] is that they are insecure people needing such conquests to boost their egos.” (pg. 82) Lord Help Us.

A biblical way of living, from Paul’s writing and ministry, is to “…voluntarily limit [oneself] (1) to do only what is the will of God; (2) to refrain from doing what other people should be doing; and (3) in personal life, to ‘beat [the] body to make it [one’s] slave.’”

At the end of the chapter he sums up his larger points by looking to the temptation of Christ, and His perfect response.

“With the First temptation it was the will of God over His rights and privileges. The second dealt with God’s will over uncrucified desires, and the third with God’s will over wrong paths to success.”(pg. 87)

6.       Saturated in the Word

Fernando gives a strong and comprehensive argument for us to base our lives and all our aspects of ministry on the Word of God. Scriptures should be where we draw our authority, our strength, and our security. If we base all that we do on the Word of  God then we don’t need to worry if we are doing the right thing, or how to respond to someone who doesn’t agree with us. If we are not spending time with the Word of God, how can we effectively do the ministry of God? Another challenging quote;

“…I have no hesitation to tell young ministers that if they do not spend unhurried time in the Word (and prayer) daily, they have no future in terms of effectiveness in ministry.”(pg. 101)

7.       Facing wild animals

Drawing once again from the temptation of Christ and His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane Fernando develops how the angels ministered to Him at those times and how we should view God’s ministering to us in times of trouble. He points to the fact that God used angelic beings to minister to Christ on both occasions, and how one ministered to Christ before his agony in the garden. Sometimes we are prepared for the trouble we will face instead of being delivered from it. Fernando also encourages us not to let people have such a strong impact on us, which can result in bitterness. Instead we should focus our minds on the grace of God towards us.

 

We are half way through the book, which makes this a good place to take a break. I hope you will join me in looking into the last 7 chapters and what Ajith Fernando has to say to us.

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Posted in: Book Review