Digest One: Seeking God's Guidance
By A. Daniel Barker Jr./Dean
When a Christian is making choices in areas like: selecting a marriage life partner, choosing a career, or starting in ministry… one of the challenges that a person faces is knowing what is God’s will. This is important because if the person makes the wrong decision it will not only cost him a lot of pain, but it can also be frustrating for the entire family.
I was faced with the challenge of starting ministry three years ago when I was in the process of completing my seminary studies. During that time, I had a good paying job with a benefits firm. Whenever there was a ministry opportunity, the Lord reminded us: “Be careful not to sacrifice your burnt offerings anywhere you please. Offer them only at the place the Lord will choose in one of your tribes, and there observe everything I command you,” (Deut. 12:13-14). He warned us, what is important is not where we choose to minister but where God has chosen for us to minister. It wasn’t until after months of prayer that I accepted my current position with Chicago Bible Institute. During this process I learned three important lessons.
If we wait on the Lord, He will direct us to the place of ministry.
In 1997, after a church service, I was asked by my senior pastor to consider a ministry position with CBI. My wife, Shuling, and I promised that we would seek God’s guidance. Years ago I knew from a sermon series, that God had called us to serve in a large urban center, but I didn’t know where. I had aspirations about a teaching ministry. In March of 1998, as we started waiting on the Lord for the future ministry, He began directing our footsteps. After another church service, as I was praying with my senior pastor – the Holy Spirit spoke to me and said that I needed the covering of the church. In other words, Shuling and I were not to be lone rangers in ministry but were to be accountable to a church.
On the evening of July 10, 1998, Shuling was waiting on the Lord and she asked the Lord to show us clearly where we were to minister. She went to sleep and the Lord said, “You need the covering of the church.” These were the same words that I had received from the Holy Spirit. She asked, “Which church?” The Lord answered, “The church where I spoke to your husband”. That church was Church of the Great Shepherd – the church where we are members. This was significant because God was not only directing me but Shuling as well, which was my prayer. Shuling asked for a sign of confirmation that God was leading us to minister with CBI. The sign that she selected seemed impossible, but she received her sign clearly. This brings me to my second lesson that I learned about seeking God’s guidance.
After we receive God’s direction, we need to bring our concerns to the Lord to receive His promises.
I was ready to launch out into ministry once the Lord had spoken to both of us; after all, people were asking us if we had made our decision. Shuling however had some concerns. She wanted to receive three P’s from the Lord – God’s provision, protection and presence. I felt that her concerns were legitimate. In October of 1998, we agreed to ask God for His promise of provision, protection and presence. We also set a deadline of October 31, 1998 in fairness to the church and CBI, and if we both did not receive God’s assurance then we would not take the position.
As for me, God’s promises of provision and protection came from daily Scripture reading. After I read 1 Kings 17, the Lord showed me that He commanded a raven and the widow of Zarephath to provide Elijah’s needs (1 Kings 17:4, 10). I sensed that God would take care of our needs. He will prompt people to give without His servant begging for money. I received God’s promise of protection during my quiet time. The words jumped off of the page, “But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one,” (II Thess. 3:3). His promise of presence came while I was working. The Holy Spirit spoke to my heart, “I will help you with the ministry. Don’t worry!”
Shuling also had God’s promises of provision and protection through daily Scripture reading and her quiet time. The Lord promised that He would watch over His children both now and forevermore (Ps.121:8). He surrounds His people both now and forevermore (Ps. 125:2). He provides food for those who fear Him (Ps. 111:5). He does not let the righteous go hungry (Prov. 10:3). But at the end of October however, she still was waiting for God’s promise of presence.
On Sunday, November 1, 1998 we were supposed to give our answer. Shuling was puzzled - why did God only give her His promises of provision and protection but not His presence? I thought that the Lord might be saying that we should not take the position. When we were worshiping during the church service, God asked Shuling, “If I have promised that I will protect you both now and forever, where will I be? Am I not promising that I will go with you and be with you already?” Shuling answered, “Lord, if so, would You please fill me with Your Holy Spirit as the token of Your promise.” After she took communion, the Holy Spirit filled her…
We submitted ourselves to the church after that Sunday service and I was confirmed for the position at CBI shortly thereafter. However, I began to sense the reality of the new position and pressure. I felt like something was amiss. I was restless. This led me to my third lesson that I learned in seeking God’s guidance.
Once we have received God’s promises, we can make a covenant with Him.
I shared my anxieties with Shuling and we prayed together. I felt like we needed to respond to the Lord. Then it hit me – we needed to thank Him for His guidance and make a covenant with Him. So we spent some time typing out a simple covenant. The first section is addressed to The Holy Trinity - Father God, Son Jesus and Holy Spirit, with the expression of His guidance and thanksgiving for the promises that He gave us. In the second section, we listed our personal promises as a pledge to Him. Once we finished the draft, we knelt down before the Lord and prayerfully read it to Him. While we were praying, we could sense God’s presence and peace. We were ready to start ministering.
I am not saying that if we seek God’s guidance and walk with Him, we will not experience any difficulties. What I am emphasizing is that when the storms come, we can always go back to how God has guided us and cling on the promises that He has given us. I pray that what I have learned concerning His guidance may be a blessing to you. X
A WAKE UP CALL
By John K. Wynn Jr. / Student
Growing up I always felt that I was the outcast in my family. My family members would call me stupid and retarded. My grandmother would repeatedly tell me, “You are nothing but the devil,” for I was always doing bad things. Sadly, I believed those lies most of my life.
When I was about eight years old, I was forced to have sex with three older girls. This abusive sexual act took a big toll on my life. I have had the sexual struggle in me ever since. In high school, college, and even later on in my life, I was still wanting and getting sex. I found myself unable to stop.
Being short and always picked on, I eventually developed a “macho” personality by becoming involved in sports. This really allowed me to be involved with a lot of women, as well as drugs and drinking. I found myself drinking everyday. When I would drive by a store, I could smell the liquor from my car. Drinking made me mean and uncaring toward my wife and children. It was so bad that I couldn’t remember things I had done.
My sexual bondage and drinking got to a point that it nearly broke up my marriage. I put my own family through eight years of hell. I hated drinking but I couldn’t stop. I wasn’t a responsible husband or father. The lifestyle that I lived, partying, whore-mongering, and out at all times of the night, put all the responsibility of raising my children and taking care of the home, on my wife. I thought bringing home my paycheck and giving it to her was enough to free me from any other duties. One day, the Lord gave me a wake up call through my children. He used my six-year-old and sixteen-year-old sons to tell me that enough is enough. God opened my eyes and showed me that I was miserable, lost and dead spiritually. Man was made to glorify God and be strong in Him, and if he doesn’t, Satan is able to creep in and destroy lives, like he almost ruined mine.
I started seeking God, going to church and being involved in a small group Bible study with my wife and some of her friends. I found myself getting up, walking back and forth through the house, singing and praying to God out loud at night. It was disturbing my family because I woke them out of their sleep. My wife would ask me what was wrong, but I couldn’t explain it to her. I didn’t know what was going on with me except that I needed to know more about Jesus.
I told my wife I wanted to go to school, but I knew that we could not afford it. I prayed to God that if He wanted me to know more of Him, He would have to show me what to do. One day my wife saw in the Austin Voice Newspaper an advertisement about Chicago Bible Institute with free tuition. She called and enrolled me in CBI on September 2000.
During that same month, while I was reading my Sunday school lesson on Samuel’s call to ministry, I was struck by the story that he ran and answered Eli, but Eli told him to go back and lie down because he didn’t call him. It was the Lord who was calling him (I Sam. 3). The Lord reminded me of a time in my childhood. I once heard a voice calling me and went upstairs and asked my mother what she wanted with me. But she told me that she didn’t call me. Now I understood that it was God who was calling me. I found myself laughing and then broke down in tears of joy.
Since I started classes at CBI, I have been helped to experience God on a personal level. I had never really believed in demonic spirits before, but now I know the spiritual battle without Jesus is never won. I surrendered a lot of ground to Satan and became his bound slave to sin. Jesus set me free physically, emotionally and spiritually. He teaches and helps me to reclaim that surrendered ground. In Him I have hope, help and victory.
God is alive and at work around His people. I thank God that He never gave up on me when I was engulfed in all my sins. By His grace He adopted and called me to serve Him in His kingdom. I don’t know who is funding CBI, but I do thank you whoever you are and I hope you are also uplifting our God, the Creator of the whole universe. X
I HAVE BEEN ROBBED!
By Vickie Broadnax / Student
It happened on March 8th, 2001. I was leaving CBI early to go to our church state-headquarters holy convocation that night, when a woman came up behind me and asked me if I could give her a ride to Madison Street. Out of love I answered “Yes”, because I do give rides all the time.
She had only put one hip inside my car and then reached over me and grabbed my purse and took off! I was sitting there dumb-founded.
I went back over to the school and announced that I had been robbed. One guy who was auditing the class and my two male classmates went with me to look for the robber. We met a young man coming down the street. After he found out what we were looking for, he said that he saw a woman that fit the description going into a transient hotel across the street. During this time, my three helpers had been to the hotel and were told that the lady did not come in there. I immediately went in and told them that I was going to call the police. They said, “All right, lady. We will call for you.”
At this time, now this is the strange part - it was nobody but God - the woman who had robbed me was trying to leave out the front door because that was the only way out. Minus her wig, she came out of her room and was carrying my coin purse. I could see my blue ATM card and my driver’s license sticking up out of my change purse. I told her that the purse was mine and snatched it out of her hand. My three helpers and I linked arms together across the door so that no one could get past.
She threw me my purse and ran back to her room. Everything was still in it. Remarkably, I got everything back except for my small Bible.
The police came and they searched her room. They found other people’s purses, but she had disappeared. Yet, we knew that she was still hiding somewhere in the hotel because there was no other way out except the front door.
An officer took me outside to the squad car and had me fill out a police report. When I had finished, a lady officer asked me whether I felt like making an identification. I replied, “Yes.” The police brought out the robber. I said, “That’s her.” They put handcuffs on her. When they did that, something happened to me. I began to pray for her. I wanted her to know my Jesus and be saved. I asked God to touch her.
When I went to the court on April 30th, she did not show up for the hearing. I don’t know what happened to her but I am still praying that she will read my small Bible. May she seek and find the Lord Jesus Christ – the way, the truth and the life. X
WITNESSING GOD’S MIGHTY HAND
By Gustavo Pacheco / Student
God revealed Himself to the entire class in the midst of our prayer.
We were having CBI class on a Thursday evening, and Vickie left earlier (around 8:30p.m.) to go to her church meeting. A few minutes later, she returned to the classroom and reported that she was robbed.
I, along with two other males, went out to help. Prior to leaving the classroom, I heard our instructor leading the whole class to pray for protection, ask the Lord to return the stolen purse, and touch the robber’s life.
I met Vickie outside the church. It seemed as if she had doubts that her purse would be returned, so I grabbed her arm and began walking toward her car. We met a young man who was nearby and she asked him, if he saw the woman who went running in that direction. He pointed at a hotel, which was located right on the corner. When we got to the hotel, all of us decided to go in. We explained what had occurred and questioned the clerk. When Vickie described her assailant, we were blocking the entrance from anyone leaving the premises that resembled her likeness. Then, out of nowhere, came the assailant walking directly toward us. Vickie asked for the coin purse that the assailant had in her hand. She refused, so Vickie snatched it from her, took out her identification and asked everyone whose picture was on it. We all agreed it was Vickie’s.
The police arrived in a matter of minutes. The assailant was arrested and the purse was returned. The only thing missing was her Bible. We believed that God wanted her to have it. I was so excited to be used by God, responding to the need and witnessing His mighty hand at work. I ran back to the classroom to share the good news. Everyone was praising God, clapping his or her hands and was filled with awe. The presence of God was there. Our prayer was answered. Our faith was reassured. We all got to share God together in witnessing and experiencing His power. X
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Chicago Bible Institute. Based in Chicago, Illinois.