• I’m taking a break from ministry for a while

Jul
2

If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

-1Corinthians 13:2

It’s been a while since my last post, and for good  reason. Over the past few weeks it’s become clear to me that I can’t pour out what I don’t have within. This is true in many areas of life, but in ministry it is a foundational truth that cannot be ignored or side-stepped. Well…I guess it can…but the results are a ministry that is man-centered, human-powered and of little lasting spiritual value in the Kingdom of God.

I have been working hard over the past 2 years, since stepping away from a very well-paying and comfortable church position, at following where I believe God is leading me and pouring into Disciple Dojo through speaking, teaching, writing and online interaction with everyone from die-hard skeptics to Muslims to fellow Christians looking to more fully equip their faith. I’ve also been working through a number of challenges in my own life–spiritual, physical, emotional, financial, you name it!

All of this is good and all of it builds our faith, shapes our character, refines our devotion and empowers our life with God.

But it’s that last part–the “with God” part–that has take a hit in my own life.

My own inner personal relationship with God has been drowned out by all the busyness of “doing ministry.” My own striving and struggling to sustain my ministry, and my life’s calling as a Christian Samurai, has left me inwardly dry and my communion with the Holy Spirit vague and distant.

So I am stepping away from all forms of ministry for a season. Study, reading, writing, teaching, blogging, even having spiritual/theological discussions online or in person–I’m laying aside all of it until God re-energizes me and gives me clarity and intimacy that is sorely lacking right now in my life.

I will be continuing with my art (which you can see HERE and HERE and can follow on Facebook HERE!) as well as my martial arts training & teaching. These are two areas where I’ve felt most connected to God, most content in His leading, and which He as been blessing and opening doors through as of late.

Also, Disciple Dojo resources are, and will be, still available during this time. My DVDs, CDs, articles and online videos will still be here and I hope that they will continue to bless others within the Body of Christ.

But if you do not see any posts, speaking engagements or classes on my schedule for the next few months, you’ll now know why.

I will also be posting periodic “guest posts” from people who I love and respect and who I believe have MUCH to offer Dojo readers.

In fact, the first one below was written by my close friend and fellow Christian Samurai Olatunde Howard. Olatunde is one of the most prophetically gifted and profound thinkers I have ever met and I am honored to call him a beloved spiritual brother. If you have not read his book “The Mind of Christ”, stop reading this and go order it from Amazon immediately.

I asked Olatunde if he would be willing to write a guest post regarding my hiatus from ministry and he agreed. Here it is:

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Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. Luke 4:1-2

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. Luke 4:14

At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them.  But he said, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.” And he kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea. Luke 4:42-44

When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. Matthew 14:13

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Mark 1:35

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The Lord Jesus is our perfect example.  We see Him beginning His earthly ministry alone with God, led by the Spirit into solitude.  He returns from the desert in victory, with power and purpose in His ministry.  He seemed to make solitude a habit, finding solitary places and times to meet with God alone.  (Yet he could be found by those who looked for Him.)

It also seems that each time He returned, he did so with confidence and power in God’s will and way.  In a passage I didn’t copy, he stayed up all night in prayer, and the next day He chose the 12 from the many who followed Him.  He started His ministry alone with God in prayer.  He continued his ministry this way.  And he ended His ministry this way.  Though He asked His three closest disciples to watch with Him as He prayed, He still went a distance away from them to be alone with God.  They didn’t pray with Him, meaning corporately.

In the same way, we, as children of God, born of His Spirit through faith, as Christ was born of the Spirit through the agreement of Mary’s faith, are to follow in our Master’s foot steps.  We all need to set aside solitary times and places to be alone with God.  We need this to begin our ministries, and we need this to begin each day, and even through out the day.  Jesus encouraged His disciples in this way:

When you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to the Father who is in the secret place.  And the Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”

 

Instead of praying to be seen by people, Jesus exhorted His followers to pray so that God alone sees, in the “secret place” of prayer.

Observe the words of C.S. Lewis (emphasis mine):

“Looking for God—or Heaven—by exploring space is like reading or seeing all Shakespeare’s plays in the hope that you will find Shakespeare as one of the characters… My point is that, if God does exist, He is related to the universe more as an author is related to a play than as one object in the universe is related to another…How, then, it may be asked, can we either reach or avoid Him? The avoiding, in many times and places, has proved so difficult that a very large part of the human race failed to achieve it. But in our own time and place it is extremely easy. Avoid silence, avoid solitude, avoid any train of thought that leads off the beaten track. Concentrate on money, sex, status, health, and (above all) on your own grievances. Keep your radio on. Live in a crowd. Use plenty of sedation. If you must read books, select them very carefully. But you’d be safer to stick to the papers. You’ll find the advertisements helpful; especially those with a sexy or snobbish appeal.”

 

We must take heed to Lewis’ words, and follow our Lord’s example.

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Blessings from the Dojo,

JM

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Comments

  1. jill wagner

    J-M – You are very wise to take a break – it’s a good reminder for all of us that sometimes being busy is “Being Under Satan’s Yoke.”

    [Reply]

    Comment by jill wagner on July 2, 2011 at 8:47 pm

  2. May your time of solitude and re-filling be abundantly blessed! You’ve given a lot over the past two years. May you receive the filling and direction that you need. I know God has more in store for you!

    [Reply]

    Comment by Carmen Imes on July 3, 2011 at 1:47 am

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