Pastor Bob Mammen preached about the “mirage” of ministry. He used Is 35:7 “the parched land shall become a pool”. “Parched” meaning mirage, falsehood, deception and a lie. “The mirage of ministry will mock a pastor”. Conference serves to dis-illusion us. Conference helps us necessarily deal with reality. He used this quote: “There is nothing more tragic than to be in the presence of a man who has just had his eyes opened by disillusionment”.
He then began to deal with some pastoral mirages. 1) Spiritual warfare, we started our ministry thinking we would enter a city and establish God’s authority and start down the road to evangelistic victory. The reality is that we, and most churches, cruise under the protection of the spiritual fight that the pastor is going through. The minute they laid hands on you to send you to another city you became a target. He referred to a Gary Larson cartoon (I landscaped his house in Seattle). 2) Convictions will really matter in the ministry. You need to know why you do the things you do and do them. The mirage is that it doesn’t matter, the reality is that convictions about media, prayer and evangelism will matter. 3) The illusion of qualification or the fact that we go out to pursue ministry with the idea that we know everything only to find out that we don’t know anything. He talked of that first time you really counsel a marriage. What am I doing? I’m still working to keep my marriage together. 4) Our attitude about fruitfulness will be tested. The mirage is that I am a lowly servant of the Lord, the reality is that I have a powerful ego and to a certain extent that ego allowed me to respond to the call of God to be a servant/leader. The mirage is to be consumed with “numbers, noise and nickels” the reality is to not allow it all to be about me. 5) the illusion of personal validation, the idea of looking for spiritual fulfillment in serving the church putting us in the position of needing the people of the church to validate your ministry, they might or they might not, that is the reality. 6) False expectations about the people in your church will lead you to being vexed and frustrated, it is disillusioning but you must learn to deal with it.
All mirages are made of deception. If we are not careful these illusions will turn us into the 10 spies who see the fruitfulness of the land but become filled with unbelief. “We need to be disillusioned”. The point of the text and the sermon is that God can make the illusionary real. fruitfulness is a miracle of God and in order to see this happen we must: 1) Stay focused, not getting distracted from the mission (Pastor Campbell) He had some fun with a guy focused on eating Big Macs, et least he had a goal. 2) fruitfulness is a foreign place. Overseas, or across town, or just leaving your comfort zone the call of God always leads us onward. Keep sowing and keep reaping.