Do you ever get a song stuck in your head that you must keep singing over and over? Once I had a song about Mary’s discovery of her pregnancy with Jesus in my head. There was one emphatic line I kept singing out loud everywhere I went, “gonna have a baby!” Sarah read me the riot act after hearing me sing it for fear that I was somehow dropping hints for people. No, just have a song stuck in my head. Sometimes I really love it, especially if it’s a song that has meaningful lyrics. Our praise team has been learning a couple of songs from Sandra McCracken’s album, Psalms. One of the lines from her song, Flourishing is “turn my heart away from worthless things”. I love when that song gets stuck on rerun because it serves as such a good reminder for me.

Occasionally, I get a quote or a saying that plays on repeat in my mind. This morning I woke up with one that I was chewing on all day yesterday. I heard this quote at the ECO Strive conference last week and it had a tremendous impact on me. “The strength of your ministry flows from your relationship with God”. I wish I could come up with this kind of rich fare for the soul! Let me just say here that all of us have been called into ministry. We’re all called to go forth to bear fruit for the Kingdom of God. Notice it doesn’t say the success of your ministry, or the fruit of your ministry, or the quantitative acumen of your ministry. It’s not that before we do ministry we have to make sure we check the box off on our quiet time with God. No, I am convinced that if we know Jesus we will be doing ministry in one way or another. The issue here is in the strength that we carry for the ministry at hand.

There’s an old story of a young, strong, upstart lumberjack who approaches an old lumberjack to challenge him to a chopping contest. The old jack agrees to the contest and they set out to see who can chop the most wood in a day. The young lumberjack is full of vitality and vigor and begins wailing away at the wood, chopping twice as fast as the old jack. The young man notices that the old jack keeps stopping to take breaks, but he continues chopping as fast as he can. At the end of the day the young lumberjack is exhausted, but proud of the huge pile of lumber he has accumulated. When he goes to examine the old jack’s progress he is astonished at how large his pile has become. How could you have chopped more wood than me? I was faster, and stronger, and you kept taking breaks! The old jack kindly responded, yes, but every time I stopped to rest I sharpened my axe.

Friends, the strength of our ministry is not in our talent, our knowledge, our training, or our instincts. If we rely on any of these things in doing God’s work we will burn out. However, when we seek to cultivate our relationship with the Lord Jesus through His Spirit we are strengthened for every task- our axe is sharpened. Acts 4 tells a story of God doing miraculous things through Peter and John.  Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. We are all called to share the love of Jesus Christ with the world. This is our ministry. Have you been with Jesus?