Book Review #2: The Burden Bearer

41fzLV03QwL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_In Matthew 11:28-30, the Lord said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you restTake my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” As we seek to serve Christ, we can often become weighted down with burdens of our own making.   In the midst of our daily lives, we often tend to look to ourselves and our abilities for the strength to survive another day: we become reliant on the things that we know and the jobs that we can accomplish. While we are busy serving Christ and making “sacrifices” for Him, we begin to see ministry in the light of “what” we are doing. We become so obsessed with doing things for the Lord that we neglect to develop a meaningful relationship with Him. In other words, our focus becomes the service itself, rather than the Saviour we are serving. Instead of allowing the Lord to carry the weight and give us rest, we shoulder the burdens on our own and end up weary, worn, and broken.

This book is written in allegorical form, similar to Pilgrim’s Progress, and tells the story of Carrier, a Christian whose focus in life is to be as strong as he can to carry the burdens placed upon him by the Burden Bearer. As His relationship with the Burden Bearer grows stronger, Carrier realizes that his thought process has been flawed: his burdens have not come from the Burden Bearer but from Carrier’s own desire to succeed and his fear of looking weak in the eyes of others. In time, he learns to place His burdens at the feet of the Burden Bearer and then rest in Him to find true success. Throughout his journey, Carrier must battle his inclination to pick up those old burdens and add more in order to prove his strength and worthiness for the journey. The Burden Bearer is always present and ready to assure Carrier that He can carry those burdens far better than Carrier will ever be able to do on his own. In the end, Carrier serves the Burden Bearer happily until he is able to lay his burdens down one final time and meet the Burden Bearer face to face.

Each chapter in this book contains two parts: a piece of Carrier’s story and the practical application for Christians today. It is filled with Scripture, as well as personal stories from the life of the author. If you are struggling to survive in this journey that we call “life,” I would encourage you to read this book. If you wish to find true success in the this Christian journey, you must realize that just making sacrifices or staying busy for the Lord will not bring you the peace and rest that He offers. You must “yoke up” with Him and allow Him to carry your burdens. The Burden Bearer: Who’s Carrying Your Load? will give you practical advice and Biblical principals to make that possible.

This book can normally be purchased for $14.95 from http://www.strivingtogether.com.

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What is Ministry?

“Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”       ~~Matthew 20:28

“…and took upon him the form of a servant…”     ~~Philippians 2:7

What does it mean to live “ministry” life? For as long as I can remember, I have equated being “in ministry” only with those who were in “full-time ministry”: the pastors, staff members, evangelists, missionaries, teachers, etc. whose livelihoods came from churches or their associated ministries.  For the past few months, I have honestly felt a little lost. When we began our life together almost 15 years ago, we surrendered our lives and our home to “full-time service” and willingly followed the Lord wherever He would have us to go in pursuit of that calling. Then, life happened, and circumstances we may never fully understand landed us in a time of transition between ministries: a season when being “full-time” was relegated only to memories of the past and hopes for the future. For two solid years, we have prayed and waited and prayed and waited and prayed and waited for the Lord to open a door to another ministry position!! As I write this, we are still praying and waiting, which has lead me to ask, “What about the present? How can I write about living ministry life when, at this point, we are not really ‘in ministry’?”  This time of transition has taught me many things (which I may write more about in the future), but one of the most important is that our entire Christian life is supposed to be about ministering to others. After all, isn’t that what ministry is about in the first place? It is not about position or prestige or programs. Though having a full-time position may bring a certain prestige and may require participation in various programs, that is not the heartbeat of ministry. In truth, ministry is about people: it is about building relationships and serving others. Indeed, the foundation of all ministry (and, therefore, of Biblical leadership) is a servant’s heart! That is what Jesus had. Jesus Christ, the only man ever truly capable of speaking with all knowledge and authority (prestige), chose to leave his Heavenly position to come to this earth and live the life of a servant!  I have determined that, as we wait for God to show us His plan regarding full-time ministry, I will ask the Lord to give me the opportunity to serve and minister to people who are hurting! When the Lord does answer our prayers and fulfill our desire to return to a full-time position, I will continue to ask Him to guide me to those who are in need of a friendly smile, a kind word, or a helping hand. Certainly, I have not conquered this necessary aspect of ministry, but I would like to believe that I have learned something over the last two years: there are hurting people everywhere. There will always be people in need; and, therefore, there will always be a chance to live “ministry” life!