Sunday, July 21, 2019

Focus on the Family…and Ministry

Often I visit the CBN News website to read about current events from a Christian perspective. Back in 2010, one of their headlines was “Evangelist Benny Hinn Opens Heart to Viewers.” The Israeli-born televangelist talked about his wife divorcing him (they have since reconciled and remarried). Benny admitted he was so busy with the ministry that he neglected his family and urged viewers not to do likewise.

Billy Graham also regretted not spending enough time with his family. In his autobiography “Just As I Am”, the evangelist wrote that “...over the years, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the Team became my second family without my realizing it. Ruth [Billy’s wife] says those of us who were off traveling missed the best part of our lives—enjoying the children as they grew. She is probably right. I was too busy preaching all over the world.” Billy confessed, “Every day I was absent from my family is gone forever. Although much of that travel was necessary, some of it was not.”

Nonetheless, a minister should not let family issues prevent him from doing the work of the Lord. When one disciple asked the Lord to “let me first go and bury my father”, Jesus' response was, Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” (Matthew 8:21-22) In 2 Samuel 6, King David returned to Jerusalem with the Ark of the Covenant and danced before it. In response, his wife Michal voiced harsh criticism. David wouldn’t let her negativity discourage him and said in verse 22, “I will be even more undignified than this.” As a result of her resentment, Michal remained childless.

I was once married to a woman who joined me in about 20% of my evangelism outings. Many other times, she tried stopping me from going out on the streets. One reason given was that I should spend more time at home. We were together there most of the day without any children to look after. When doing street ministry, I’m usually out for about two or three hours at a time (as opposed to eight to ten hours if I was working a secular job).

People can open doors to the devil by not obeying the call of God on their lives. In the 1800s, Maria Woodworth-Etter was called to preach the gospel at a young age. She resisted at first because she didn’t think people would receive ministry from a woman. So Maria got married and tried living the “normal” life of a housewife and mother. During that time, five of her six children died from disease. When Maria finally answered the call to preach, it broke the curse upon her family.

Until both my parents died over a year ago, the Lord led me to spend part of the summer in the Fargo, North Dakota area and minister there. One night as I was riding in the car with my dad, I was surprised to hear him ask questions about my street ministry. Although we had spiritual differences, Dad said he was proud of me. Every son needs to hear that from his father.

Strong family relationships are important to God but so are fulfilling His plans and purposes to get the gospel out to a lost and dying world. 1 Timothy 4:14 says, “Do not neglect the gift that is in you.” So if you have family obligations but also called to the five-fold ministry, ask the Lord to show you how to balance your time. We must be good stewards of both these important responsibilities.

 “for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?” - 1 Timothy 3:5

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