face to face with lionIn ancient times, few people were given the privilege of seeing God.  While we aren’t told that Abraham actually saw God face to face, we know that God valued Abraham so much that he was called “the friend of God.”  It was an amazing closeness.

However, for the Hebrews to acknowledge that a man would have friendship with their G-d was not even logical.  Jehovah’s name alone was so holy that the Jewish people dare not speak it.  Therefore, when spelling G-d’s name, the vowels are left out so it cannot be pronounced.

Understand, this is a sensible precaution considering the history of  mankind-and-God’s tentative relationship. We note that God loves.  Man rejects his love through sin.  God continues to love.  Women and men fail.  God loves.  We finally fail so completely that the only answer is to turn to God.  God forgives in his love.  God and man live in harmony for a time and then the cycle begins again.

Therefore, it is amazing that God’s mercy and grace reached out to us to give to us his son.  He is a man whom we can touch and with whom we can experience God’s forgiving love through a personal relationship.  We are no longer slaves but friends.

I often tell people that I’m God’s favorite.  Most people laugh.  Some get angry.  Yet, it is the fact that God desires to have a personal relationship with me that leads me to believe that I must be his favorite.  I know who I am and how much I must be forgiven each day.  Still, he loves me.  He desires to be my friend!

Christmas reminds us that God became a man in order that we might become a friend of God, having a face-to-face relationship.  Through our own efforts, we cannot obtain forgiveness or peace.  Ironically, achievement isn’t necessary.  Acceptance of God’s grace is.  Jesus’ birth means that we come face to face with God and we share in his love with total abandonment and joy.

Is there a way that we can super charge our ministry?  Perhaps a better question is “Should we even try to have a super-charged ministry?”  Last October, as I sat with more than ten people who head special needs ministries from many parts of the US and Canada, I saw men and women who weren’t looking for a position of importance or even a national platform.  They merely want to do an effective job in the ministry to which God has called them.

In studying men and women who have been successful in ministry, there are several things I’ve observed which factor into their success.

First is a strong sense of CALL.  Each person I’ve met who heads a successful ministry within the mentally challenged community has felt that the Lord has called them to share the gospel with men and women who are intellectually disabled.  They can pin-point a day and hour when God cemented their call within their spirits.  There have been a few folks who have sort of fallen into this ministry for one reason or another. Even though they are fine people, they don’t have the a burning gut to reach special needs people for the Lord.  They seem to fall away quickly.

Second, they are hard-working people.  Ten-to-16-hour days are the norm–not the exception in their lives.  Taking a day off is one of the hardest things they do every week.

Third, they are able to intensely focus on their God-given purpose.  Having a singular focus means that they are able to eliminate things in their lives which distract from what God has called them to do.

Fourth, they maintain a relationship with the Lord that is separate from their ministry.  They learn early that losing a relationship with God will shipwreck their calling.

Fifth, they are able to change their mode of operation.  Even though they know what God wants them to do, they are not married to the methods.

Sixth, they are eager to learn from others.  They read and study.  They welcome times to gather with others who are doing what they do to be able to hear what others are doing.

Seventh, they are willing to generously share their methods with others.  They liberally give away their thoughts and techniques to other people who minister within this community.

What are some of the other things you have observed which have makes a ministry head successful in their ability to reach people for the Lord?