Called to Prepare

GodReflection: When God Calls
gary portraitThere was only once in my life, perhaps twice, when I received what I would describe as unmistakable calls from the Holy that were recognizable at the time of the call. Neither time was there an audible voice direct from God.

The first was the sense of call at the time of baptismal waters. For whatever reason it was a—dare I say nagging—silent voice in my head for a solid week prior to my immersion.

The second I will refer to at a later time in this series of posts.

As previously mentioned, God’s call was more likely to be recognized over a long succession of events that led to markers placed along my earthly walk.

prepare3God’s call to prepare took such a route.

It was in my earliest years of elementary school when I knew I wanted to preach. When my young classmates affirmed their goals to be firemen, policemen and nurses, I declared my decision to be a preacher. Obviously, I didn’t know exactly what that entailed, but I never wavered in my resolve.

Over my twelve years of hometown schooling I remained involved with my church. I always loved the sermon times as I sat mesmerized from the pulpit occupants.

prepare15It was in high school that I drove to my first preaching appointment. I still have a Bible that is inscribed: Bought with money earned from my first sermon, Sunday March 7, 1965, Del City, Texas.

For reasons I do not remember I knew college was a must for preparation. I do remember I took every shortcut I could find in high school that would allow me to graduate early so I could get on with life.

The early graduation didn’t happen so with required courses in my rearview mirror my senior year was spent mostly in fun classes and what we called study hall. Study hall was supervised free time to study for the fun classes that I judged not to require much work.

prepareWhile in high school I would take off four days each winter to attend Bible Lectureship at a university six hour from my home. It was an exciting week.

Thousands would gather for classes and theme lectures. A large circus tent complete with enormous gas heaters provided warmth and space for book venders with an ambience for fellowship fueled by continuous cups of hot coffee.

Then came college. I don’t know how I could have been less prepared. I enrolled in higher education without the slightest clue of the expectations involved. The unimaginable width of the gap between a do-nothing study hall to first year Greek caught me off guard. No one told me college would be hard.

prepare11I no longer see any of the above as random choices. I suspect God orchestrated these and other activities I failed to numerate to prepare me for my life’s work. I now see them as woven together as His call to prepare.

Can you reflect upon five or six times God may have nudged you in certain directions to prepare you for your life’s work?

If you are reading this and are young enough to have not yet entered your life’s work can you spot a pattern of directional moves in your own life that might possible be Holy God’s orientation as He calls you to prepare?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells
A GodReflection: Called to Prepare


When God Calls

GodReflection: When God Calls

gary portraitAt prior times on this Blog I’ve admitted to being a ‘Baby Boomer,’ a great-grandchild of the Enlightenment, and a child of the Scientific Age a time when everything had to be proven as to its reality.

call1Translation: that meant I learned if I couldn’t touch, tastes, or feel something with my hands it didn’t exist. I did however get a pass on God. I was taught that He was the real and only creator.

That didn’t leave me a lot of room for the unseen. Thus, in our church the idea of a call from God didn’t get much billing.

Our preachers and teaches owned a solid touchable Bible and had no trouble with the Holy Spirit’s role in divine inspiration. I was baptized in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit and was told the Holy Spirit acted upon me through the inspired Bible.

call9Although we were taught that God answers prayer, we didn’t have much credence in the activity of the unseen Holy in our lives. I do not recall one testimony in our church where anyone declared having received the call of God to do anything.

Let me be clear. I don’t deny anyone’s call. It was just not expressed in such terms in our church.

When I read my Bible, I find it to be a grand compilation of men and women called throughout thousands of years by the God of the universe to work in partnership with Him for the salvation of His beloved humans.

God called Abraham, Moses, Mary and Saul of Tarsus rather directly.
While He called others like Joseph, Peter and Dorcus through more ambiguous circumstances.

Creation God has been active in each and every stage of history. He continues to work with His created ones to share His purposes and His story with other created ones. Continually, He calls each one into action.

call14As I have confessed before I am a whole lot more adept at hindsight than I am at foresight. In times of reflection over my past it isn’t all that difficult to spot the signpost where God had His hand upon my life. He called.

I can see specific times and places when God called. There were times when I responded. I can see clearly other times when I lacked the necessary trust to take the assignment.

Over the next several posts I want to explore the call of God. I investigated it somewhat in a former series of posts titled “Silent God—Seeking His Voice.”

call10As I continue to reflect, I think I see a much wider bandwidth used by God as He calls each and every believer into the service of King Jesus.

I’m beginning to see in a clearer manner how God calls us at different stages of our lives to a grand variety of kingdom tasks and in specific directions.

I’ve never heard the audible voice of God. He has not approached me as directly as He did Samuel with his call, “Samuel, Samuel”. I stand more in the assembly of the multitudes across the history of God’s people who moved with sense of being nudged in a certain direction.

I look forward to further reflections on the reality of God’s call on each one of us throughout our lifetime. I hope you will share with me your insights. I want to make this a rich series. This is an area where I would like to reach greater clarity.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells
A GodReflection: When God Calls

God’s Holy Spirit is Active in Worship

GodReflection: Is Worship for God or for Me?

gary portraitI sometimes wonder if the traditional way I’ve understood the Holy Spirit is less than helpful. Let me explain.

Truth is the word trinity is not found on the Bible’s pages. Nor are Father, Son and Holy Spirit ever used together in a specific Scripture text as three distinct personhoods.

Rather than the view of Father, Son and Spirit as three different Holy Beings, what if I envisioned the Holy Spirit as the earthly presence of Father and Son? Isn’t that more in line with the New Testament? My copy of Acts and the Letters paint the picture of Father and Son actively at work through believers who composed the church—the body of Christ.

In Acts chapter sixteen Father and Son desired the message of God’s grace to enter the continent of Europe. We read this account:

Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia.

However, note verse seven:

When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to (Acts 16: 6-7).

It is the Spirit of Father and Son that dwells within the heart of believers and guide their steps.

spirit1I don’t believe Scripture ever tells us to worship the Spirit as a third member of the Godhead. Whereas worship is always directed only to Father or Son. The Spirit of Father and Son are present to receive worship.

When Paul the apostle writes to a group of believers in the city of Thessalonica he makes the connection between Father and Spirit as one and the same: Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 4:8).

Let me lay one more foundational stone to my thought process. It comes from the conversation of Jesus with a woman at a well in Samaria. Jesus’ response is focused on God’s Spirit in worship:

“. . . Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24).

Ok, here is what I think.

Perhaps the Holy Spirit is simply the presence of the Spirit of God and Christ.

spirit6When I engage in the worship assembly the spirit of Father and Son not only are present in my body but are also present within every believer in the room.

We are in the combined presence of the Holy.

Where could be a better place to be convicted or to encounter forgiveness and healing than in the presence of the Holy? That is intensified through the joint presence of Holy-indwelled siblings.

spirit7In silence I look around the room. It isn’t difficult to envision the weakness and defects of all us human types. Then I think of the contrast beyond comprehension that is palpable. In contrast to all my weakness stands the strength of the Holy Spirit. Father and Son are present and active.

We have had the joyful audacity to bring our sin and defects into the Holy Presence. Perhaps that alone is the picture of God’s Holy Spirit active in worship.

Isn’t that a blessing that comes through joint worship for God AND for me?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells


Did God Put Me on Earth for This Time and Place?

GodReflection: Does God Care Specifically About Me?

gary portraitWhy I am a resident on planet earth is not a question that is high on my list at this point in my walk.

Although, I don’t know that I am absolutely right in my conclusion, I resolved it—at least to my satisfaction—earlier on in my earth journey. When I looked at my Bible I found that God selected rather ordinary people for His assignments.

He always knew them by name and was quite aware of each person’s strengths and weakness. But for each He had an assignment during a time and place in history.

earth10I like to think that I’ve lived with a sense of purpose. I read about God’s assignment for the prophet Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart . . .” (Jeremiah 1:5).

I have a suspicion that God sees each of us in the same light. When we complete His design, and fulfil His expectation He must smile. How He must hurt with disappointment when we determine to go in our own direction and create our own agenda.

When Paul the apostle wrote to the Asian gateway church in the Ephesus, surely, he remembered the Jeremiah scroll as he penned:

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.

In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves . . .

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will . . . (Ephesians 1:4-6 & 11).

earth3The best I can tell, the same God who cares specifically for each sparrow and knows the exact number of hairs on my head (Luke12:6-7) placed me where He did at a specific time in history.

That I was born into a certain family and church tribe in the New Mexico desert didn’t catch Him by surprise.

I suspect God set it within my heart to fulfil His purposes in certain locations during the dash that will someday be on my tombstone. It goes without saying that at any point where I’ve been found to aligned with His design; those tasks were carried out in less than stellar fashion.

Paul was familiar with the prophet Isaiah’s description of God as potter and we human types as clay. I like the apostle’s use of the imagery as he describes our feeble attempt to be light over the course of our short walk:

earth4We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us (2 Corinthians 4:7).

Andy Lee, a North Carolina writing friend, on her daily blog, Words by Andy Lee, sums up God’s love for each of us, His awareness and presence with each of us over our time and place walk:

“God hasn’t called us to be a BIG somebody . . . He’s called us to follow Him. Whatever that looks like. He’s called us to make a difference in our part of the world. He’s called us to live with eternal perspective.”

earth7When I take my eyes off of me and look across even my limited horizon of the church, I stand in awe at the variety of people and the powerful way God uses them specifically to touch unlimited corners of our world.

Is this not our God’s specificity at work through each individual at specific times and places across our globe?

Have you considered the possibility that you were placed by God on this earth for this time and this place?. I would love to hear your perspective. What conclusions have you reached?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: Did God Put Me on Earth for This Time and Place?

Inherited Faith, My Bible, The Future

GodReflection: My Bible Doesn’t Read Like Yours

gary portraitAs I close this series of posts I must revisit my childhood faith.

In reflection, just as assuredly as I inherited the color of my skin, my eye color and the rest of my physicals features, I inherited my faith.

Ok, I’ll admit my faith didn’t arrive through DNA but from parents, grandparents, extended family and my tribal church. It was acculturated into my soul.

inherit2My inherited faith came gift wrapped with rich blessings as well as barnacles that tightly grasped the ribbons and bow. In a fallen world that is how acquired faith is passed on.

In addition to their love and accurate teaching, my family and my tribal church held some misguided views they perceived as non-negotiable. Those views came from reading their Bible. As today, the influence of fellow interpreters wrongly shaped how they understood some rather important themes within Holy Scripture.

However, from my inherited faith, I received two huge gifts for which I will always be grateful. I was taught that my Bible was inspired by God and that I should read it as the guide for my walk. Second, I was taught to trust Father God.

inherit5Rooted in those two gifts my current faith grows in the soil of my soul. Inherited faith massaged over a lifetime was foundational to my adult faith. It is a faith I own and a faith the Holy wants to continue to grow in my soul.

It is the very two gifts received from my inherited faith that sustain my current walk. So today I read my Bible with concern for my own understanding and to grow my relationship to the Holy. I no longer read to prove others wrong or to boost my ego by declaration that I am right while others have it wrong.

It is from a consistent encounter with my Bible and the effort—as feeble as it may be—to apply its principles and teaching to my daily walk that I grow step by step in greater trust of God, Jesus and Spirit.

inherit14What about the future?

I find that the way I read my Bible has everything to do with my future.

As I move forward I think of at least seven guidelines I want printed on the lens of my glasses as I read:

1. I want to read my Bible with greater confidence. Confident that little by little the words of Holy Scripture will transform my life in small increments to reflect more Jesus in my walk.

2. I want to read with the realization that my Bible is a conversation between God and me. Our conversation is personal. I read to grow trust and to allow Him to form me and my heart for the next reality.

3. I want to read for service. My faith walk on earth will affect how I treat everyone who crosses my path. So, I want to read my Bible for insight into how I can be used by the Spirit for more effective witness.

inherit004. I want to read my Bible with full awareness that I still have an enormous need for growth. I find that I yet need major Spirit-filled help to see my patience fruit turn from tree-green to a ripe fruit of the Spirit. The over expectation of this baby boomer in an ill-trained public sector is a constant reminder of how far I have to grow.

5. I want to read my Bible with full consciousness of my Adamic-nature. I interpret that to mean I want to read to cultivate humility and more of a non-judgement spirit toward others. Even on my best days I am far from faultless performance. Which moves me to my next point.

6. I want to read my Bible with increased acceptance and expectation of the Holy’s cleansing grace on my behalf. Even after a lifetime, it is still hard to grasp fully that my salvation and daily forgiveness stands on the reality of what Jesus has done. It is a free gift given to me that thrilled heaven when I accepted it.

7. I want to read my Bible with anticipation of the final resurrection. It has never been closer. One of two thing will happen. The finish line of my earth-walk is not too distant. Either, I will cross and wait in timelessness the return of Jesus or He will break into our currently reality and culminate earth into Eternal Holy Presence.

inherit8Has any portion of your faith come by way of inheritance? If so, how does that color the way you read your Bible? Does your present Bible reading challenge both your inherited and your current faith?

What seven themes would you identify to shape how you will read your own Bible from this point forward? I would love to hear your insights.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: Inherited Faith, My Bible, The Future

The Great Interpreter Is God—Not Me

GodReflection: My Bible Doesn’t Read Like Yours

gary portraitI live in a big city. Hidden in the city I miss the reminder of God’s grandeur. We city dwellers may find that concrete and bricks limit our daily visuals of All Powerful Creator God.

Day and night, I am either inside a house covered by ceiling or in the streets staring at pavement in an attempt to stay out of the pathway of a gazillion cars flying above speed limits and moving in my direction.

At this point in my walk I find much of my effort is spent on my deteriorating body. almighty7From my pavement focus while driving, to my downward gaze when I walk, my actions are careful to NOT speed up my demise. I try not to skin my knees and my nose by a fall nor end my time on earth in a wrecked automobile.

Often, I find when I read my Bible I am focused on a specific thought or a limited arena of concern. Far too often I read without a consideration of big picture God.

As I hunt and peck at the keys of my keyboard I think back to earlier years. Like a Power Point presentation, I see frames of sleeping bag nights in wait of sleep as I took in the vastness of God’s grand sky. The moon shown bright and stars filled the heavens in numbers too great to be counted.

almighty19Pictures flash before my mind of past views of high mountain ice-cold lakes in the Mountain Ranges of New Mexico, the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and the Andes of Argentina.

I see beloved images of the rugged vastness of New Mexico’s Chihuahuan Desert and the beauty of the tall pines in the Sacramento Mountains.

My Power Point continues to run through moments of awe at the enormity of Brazil’s Amazon, the power of her rivers, the beauty of the Pantanal and her exquisitely sculptured beaches.

almighty12Surely, God’s magnificence needs to also penetrate my Bible reading.

Ok, what’s my point?

When I look back over my Bible reading walk, I recognize that in earlier years my reading was anemic. My focus was upon how close I followed what I had learned from others. To be fair, I probably read more with brain than heart. I was more concern with my rightness than I was with relationship to the power source.

Yes, I did need to know God’s written word. Yes, I did want to honor it. But, with my eyes lock on city concrete I failed to see the larger grandeur of Jesus the Word. Perhaps I sought truth without awareness that Truth is Jesus since Jesus is Truth.

I was saved but I still believed Pluto was a real planet.

almighty13I learned and believed over my life that Pluto was a planet. It wasn’t until eleven years ago in 2006 that I learned I had believed wrong.

All because a bigger picture came into view and scientist reclassified Pluto. Still a heavenly wonder but little Pluto was removed from the planet list.

I must always read my Bible with an attitude of humility. I will arrive at some wrong interpretations because of my humanity. I suspect that is ok with the ONE who sees across all of the light years of the universe. He knows that my brain is limited in understanding.

almighty6What applies to me applies to others. It’s ok that we don’t read our Bibles alike. The same God that interprets the universe also sees my human ceiling, pavement and sidewalks.

He knows that far too often you and I read our Bible concerned with our present circumstances forgetting to trust the one who see the entire picture and is its perfect interpreter.

If God who is the final and Great Interpreter still accepts me when my limitations that cause me to understand many aspects of my Bible different from others; shouldn’t I allow Him to grant you the same grace when your understanding is different from my own?

And, shouldn’t I too open my heart valve and let some grace flow in your direction?

After all is said and done, all knowing and all-powerful God, who was before the beginning of time, is still the Great Interpreter—not me.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells
A GodReflection: The Great Interpreter Is God—Not Me.



My Bible Isn’t About Religion

GodReflection: My Bible Doesn’t Read Like Yours

gary portraitReligion drains me. I am tired of religion. I wish it would go away.

We humans tend to create religion. We build systems of belief and interpretation based on our own opinions or acceptance of views from a previous generation.

Before I know what has happened I codify my beliefs and assume they are precisely what Jesus thinks.

religion8Then I begin to judge others relationship validity with the Holy based on whether or not they observe my belief system.

Religion tends to serve the movement rather than the Master. When I’m concerned with my religion I seek laws instead of Jesus’ heart. I can be committed to religion yet find myself far from the heart of Jesus. After a time, my religion can actually oppose Jesus’ values.

Pardon me for my momentary audacity, but may I say what I think Jesus would say should He address our churches?

religion15“Come on people, please wake up and stop the time and effort spent to build and protect your religion.”

I suspect the furthest thought from Jesus mind as he set out on his mission was to start a religion. He came to restore relationship between God and humanity.

As I read my Bible I see Jesus ready to challenge the builders of religion. His confrontation was always provoked by their allegiance to self-imposed rules rather than alignment with the heart of God.

Far more times than I like to admit I find myself among the crowd of the religious builders.

religion10One of the most obvious ways is when I find myself reading my Bible to find support for an idea that I have predetermined to be true or so want to be true.

Such behavior on my part lays another brick in the structure of religion.
To steer clear of participation as a religion builder I think of a few guidelines I want to follow:

1. I want to learn to read my Bible with one eye centered on religion19the page and my other eye focused on Jesus. At the heart of my Bible is the story of what Creator God has done and is doing through Jesus. Jesus is my link to the Holy. Everything in my Bible is to be interpreted through Jesus who mirrored Father God.

2. To avoid transformation into a religion builder I want to remember that my Bible is written for my own transformation and growth. Its purpose is not to support political policies or religious darts hurled at others.

3. I draw myself into the practice of religion when I start to seek Biblical support for a valued tradition or for something that I would like to see changed. The way I read my Bible can transform my traditions into my gospel, rather than the gospel of good news brought by Jesus.

religion174. I want to take care not to read my Bible to take proof texts and change them from their given context to justify my tribal practice.

5. When I read my Bible with the sole intent to make my views right and your interpretations wrong I act as a contractor of Religion.

What if I attempt to consistently read my Bible with the humility of a listener and the anticipation of a learner? Wouldn’t that act alone keep me from religious construction? Wouldn’t that act alone take the focus from me and place it on the Master Builder where it belongs?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: My Bible Is Not About Religion