What I am about to describe is NOT a formula. Please do not take it as a formula.
Formulas are what the Apostle Paul referred to as “doctrines of men.”
“Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations— ‘Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and DOCTRINES OF MEN? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.” (Colossians 2:20-23 – NKJV)
We humans have a tendency to have so much faith in man’s doctrines, traditions, formulas, and programs that we neglect simple trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.
These are all, ultimately, earthly and will all yield death in time.
What I am about to describe IS an experience I had with the Lord which has yielded life in Christ. My goal in my life with Jesus is to practice one thing: seek Him and His direction and, quite simply…..do whatever I sense He is directing me to do.
Jesus promised us something wonderful: abundant and eternal life.
“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish” (John 10:27-28a)
The story I am about to share is just a part of my story with the Lord, which continues to unfold. The eternal life in this story is now a part of many other lives and, through them, a part of many, many others.
In 1993 I was sitting in the pews of a large church building in Houston, TX listening as the pastor was winding up his sermon. He was preaching out of Isaiah 6 and closed his sermon with this verse:
“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I! Send me.’” (Isaiah 6:8)
With that verse he asked us all to stand and gave the invitation. The music played and everyone stood and sang. Well, not everyone. I was sitting in my seat, tears streaming down my face and dripping onto the pages of my open Bible. What touched me was the realization that the Lord had revealed my heart cry deep inside me.
I longed for God to choose me just the way Father, Son and Holy Spirit were choosing Isaiah for a task that meant something to them.
Just like Isaiah, I cried out to the Lord; however, I wasn’t as immediate or as spontaneous as he was.
I left that building that day knowing that I looked to be chosen.
Now, I was and still am VERY aware that, as a Christian, I already am chosen by God to be His child.
“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.” (1 Peter 2:9-10)
The “chosen by God” I’m talking about is something I often refer to as “being deputized by God to do something.” I wanted to be like the men mentioned in Acts 15:22 and 25: “chosen men”. I knew that Jesus said in Matthew 20:16 and 22:14 that “many are called, but few are chosen.”
I wanted to be THAT kind of chosen. So, I prayed and I searched the Scriptures.
I found something in one of Paul’s letters that spoke to me and became, for me, a bold prayer. Here is the prayer that I prayed back then, many years ago, and still pray frequently to this day:
“Father God, make me foolish, weak, base, and despised.”
That doesn’t sound like the prayer of a sane man, does it? It sounds crazy! When you hear my logic, the prayer might make more sense.
What did I want? What do I still enjoy? I wanted and still enjoy being chosen by God for tasks in the advancement of HIS Kingdom on the earth.
I prayed my crazy little prayer because Paul said this:
“…. God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.” (1 Corinthians 1:27-29)
So....that prayer made sense to me.
While everyone else is begging God to make them look smart, make them strong, make them important, attractive and accepted our Lord Jesus was willing to be considered foolish, weak, base and despised.
It was worth it to Him to become these things so we could have eternal life available to us. It is through His sacrifice that the Kingdom of God was established in the first place.
I wanted to be chosen by God to do things in His name…..not things of my choosing based on the acceptance and plaudits of men. I never have considered easy things to necessarily be good things. I simply wanted to do God’s will in the things He chooses to assign to me.
So, I prayed my simple prayer: “Father God, make me foolish, weak, base, and despised” and He answered my prayer.
“Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)
Since praying that prayer in 1993 we have been on quite an adventure. What I first noticed was that as we simply learned to practice Christianity as it is so simply presented in the Bible many began to consider me to be foolish or stupid (the real meaning of the Greek word translated as “foolish” in 1 Corinthians 1:27).
That wasn’t fun. No one likes to feel foolish or stupid.
I started to experience my own weakness. We encountered financial limitations. One of our sons became deathly ill with pneumonia as a baby and we were faced with the reality that we were, as humans, completely powerless to heal him. We had to depend on the Lord for His healing mercies. We repeatedly encountered what seemed to be dead ends in ministry.
That was not enjoyable. No one likes when his weakness becomes glaringly evident.
In our modern day Church, as polluted as it has become with earthly ways to measure success, the things we did in ministry seemed base to many who felt it was their duty to let us know how little our ministry mattered. To them we were base, unlovely, meaningless and unimportant. Having a Biblical ministry but with no man-made pulpit was suspicious to them. Jail, prison and street ministry was yucky to them. For some, the style of church we practice made us base in their eyes.
This hurt. No one likes to know that other people who matter consider them to be base.
Finally, I came to understand that I, in particular, was despised by many.
I joke sometimes (because laughing about it sometimes makes it a little easier to bear) that when I prayed that “crazy prayer” it was as if a line formed filled with people who either hated me or held me in great contempt or both. My wife and I both have family members who have nothing to do with us because we are born again, or because we live like we do in obedience to the Lord Jesus, or because we teach what we teach because it is truth or because we don’t belong to their sect of Christianity.
We have learned that people who tell others how great you are and promote you and your work will, in an instant, turn on you, tell lies about you and try to destroy you and what you do. One minute they will appear to love you and the next will despise you for the EXACT same reason they said they loved you in the first place: that you try to be honest and transparent and simply trying to follow Jesus.
No one relishes being the object of the hatred of others….
Now, please don’t hear me whining or complaining. I’m not.
“Father God, make me foolish, weak, base, and despised.”
I asked the Lord for this and He so graciously answered my prayer.
“Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you, and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man's sake. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven, for in like manner their fathers did to the prophets.” (Luke 6:22-23)
I had a purpose for announcing my willingness to be foolish, weak, base, and despised, in reality and/or in the eyes of others: I wanted Him to choose me to perform the works of His Kingdom.
He has so graciously answered my prayer and continues to do so.
I won’t go into many details here about our journey because I don’t want to seem to be bragging. Frankly, I don’t brag about it because I am simply stunned at what He has chosen us to do.
I’ve ministered in many nations via the internet and physically on three continents (in Canada and Sierra Leone in Africa with my wife Laurie) and several nations on my own.
I’ve ministered to over a thousand people in my counseling room here in Decatur, TX and in my offices in Houston, TX. I’ve written two books and over 200 articles and have many more of both in the wings.
We’ve ministered in organic, first century style Christianity hundreds of times in our home, other local homes, all over the DFW Metroplex and Houston as well as in St. Louis, Missouri, Columbus, Ohio and Washington, D.C. We’ve also been received in a number of church buildings.
Finally, many allow me to practice a first century style pastoral relationship with them.
God has answered my prayer. He has chosen me and has “deputized” me to do many things.
That has not made me special in any way.
What we do for God doesn’t make us more important or more valuable. We ALREADY HAVE fullness of value and importance because Jesus spent Himself to purchase us and has made us His.
What God has chosen me to do has made me one thing: satisfied.
I hope my story about how God answered my prayer of willingness to be foolish, weak, base and despised will not deter you from throwing yourself headlong into His will for your life.
None of that hard stuff was fun, but it WAS all worth it!
I am content and satisfied in Christ AND I anticipate with great expectation the things for which He will choose me in the future.
To Him I say “I will freely sacrifice to You; I will praise Your name, O LORD, for it is good.” (Psalm 54:6)
I hope this true story of our life has encouraged you to trust the Lord with your every minute.
Ask Him what He would have you to do and then go do that.
If you find yourself experiencing the hard things that sometimes come with following the Lord, take heart!
Jesus really KNOWS what you are feeling. In fact, the very same prophet who wrote the words that started me on the journey I have just described wrote these words about our Lord:
“He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:3-5)
Read in the Gospels the record of what was said about and to Him and what was done to Him.
He, for our sakes, became foolish, weak, base and despised.
It really is worth it to become those things for Him.
May you find His travel plans for your journey.
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)