Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Completely His - Part 3

Shannon Ehtridge in her book Completely His introduced me to a new perspective on ministry.  It's actually based on a concept given to her by David Ravenhill.  It's the concept of the Ishmael or Isaac ministry.

Using the story of Abraham and Sarah, Ethridge illustrates how we humans can try to accomplish our purpose or we can take the time to pursue God and learn what His purpose is for us.  We can try to do things ourselves or we can trust God to use us to make His purpose happen.

When it appeared Sarah couldn't have children, she decided to take matters into her own hands and convinced Abraham that he should take her handmaid, Hagar, and have a child with her.  Abraham didn't seem to have a problem with this plan, which just shows us that even God's true believers can make poor decisions when they don't check with God first.  Hagar gave birth to Ishmael, but Ishmael wasn't the fulfillment of God's plan.

In God's time, Sarah did have a child and he was named Isaac.  Isaac was God's plan and the tribes of Israel would come from Isaac. 

Ethridge says, "Instead of asking God 'what dreams do You want to bring to life through me?' we often ask, 'Lord will You bless the dreams I have for my life?'"  I know I have at least 99.9% of the time asked the latter and not the former.

According to Ethridge, our dreams will bear human-sized fruits (Ishmael ministries) not God-sized harvests (Isaac ministries).  As Ravenhill shared with Ethridge, "Our dreams are either self-appointed or God-anointed."

How do we find out what our Isaac ministry is?  Know Christ initmately, and be willing to submit to God's dream for our lives.  If we get to know God, we will discover what we are born to do for His kingdom, and He will let us know when it's time to make the dream happen.

There are two questions Ethridge says we have to answer if we want to have Isaac ministries:
  1. Are you willing to give God permission to enlarge your dreams if they are too small?
  2. Do you trust in His infinitely good and loving nature enough to surrender your own plans and embrace His?
For me, I will say the submission and surrendering are hard.  I want to stay in control.  Stubborn will keeps me in the Ishmael category even though I long to have an Isaac ministry.  And, my soul wrestles within me to say my dreams are not important - forget my dreams, please Lord use me for Your dreams.

© Lisa Kelley 2011

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