As he nears the end of the Bachelor of Divinity degree program, David Ewing reflects on how he felt unworthy of the calling God had placed on his life. Read his story to hear the ways in which he learned that God does not only call the equipped, but that He always equips the called.
Called Into Ministry
In 2018, I retired and began enjoying doing the things I said I would do if I had more time. The plan was to enjoy the fruits of my labor, so to speak. I dove head-first into projects around my home, lawn, and farm. I played a lot of golf, and even got my fishing boat back out. It was pretty great at first, but I felt somewhat guilty. I wasn’t sure why I felt this way, after all this was the plan, right? It was the plan, but it was way more my plan than God’s plan. He began instilling it on my heart that now was a time I needed to draw closer to Him, and to use my time in a manner that would bring Him glory. His plan went a little deeper, and I felt a tug – a calling to become involved in ministry.
He Always Equips the Called
The calling was there, and I couldn’t deny it. I did what any normal person would do. I began coming up with all the reasons why I was unworthy and incapable. What I needed was to possess the attitude of Joshua and Caleb, and use this is an opportunity for God’s power to shine through. After all, God chose Gideon from the weakest tribe and what’s more the least of his tribe. God didn’t need Gideon because he had great power, he chose Gideon so His own power would be perfectly evident. Not by my own might, but through the grace of God I could accomplish this new plan: God’s plan. I’ve heard it said God doesn’t always call the equipped, but He always equips the called.
The Seven Connections Philosophy
When I began courses at CLI, I was not sure what the Lord had in store for me. One of the first things I picked up on was the seven connections philosophy. I can honestly say it has changed not only my life, but the lives of my family and friends. Although it was a new concept for me, I started to put it into practice. The first step was a greater personal relationship with God. I began reading more scripture, studying more, and above all: praying more. Every instructor I’ve had at CLI stressed prayer as the starting point of everything. The focus on the connections is a personal relationship with Christ. As you move up to the next connection, you always do it to enrich and glorify the connections below it.
As I progressed, I began bringing Christ into my marriage, to my family, and then to my friends and small groups. I needed to look at this area in my life. We are all members of many small groups, whether we realize it or not. I was a member of small groups through my church but I was also a member of small groups with my golfing friends, my hunting friends, and a few others. What I needed to do was make sure every group I was a part of enriched the connection below it, and ultimately brings glory to God.
Through prayer and a great desire to be led by the Spirit, built upon in the first three connections, I was able to do just that. I also became more active in my church, attending early morning prayer meetings and filling in as a Bible Study leader. I have also made plans to attend, for the first time, a retreat that many of my friends have been doing for years. This brings me to the seventh connection and where my experience at CLI comes even more into the picture.
Enriched Spiritual Life
CLI has been a blessing in so many ways. The classes I took in earning my Bachelor of Divinity Degree enriched my spiritual life as I gained knowledge and understanding of the Bible. The instructors are men committed to bringing high-quality education to those who have a calling and desire to walk closer with the Lord. Their passion for the Lord was evident in their teaching, and their insight gained from years of pastoral care for the church was invaluable to me.
These men were not only educators, they were mentors and role models. The emphasis was on discipleship and leadership and there were many times during the course of my studies that an instructor would point out certain aspects of life. They would remind us that if we are not competent in that area, or exhibit certain character flaws, we were not capable of leadership roles. I appreciated their honest approach, and was compelled to search my heart and seek the Lord through prayer. The Bible tells us that leaders will be judged more critically. To accept a leadership role, one must exemplify fruits of the spirit and be grounded in the word of God.
Gained Knowledge and Understanding
When thinking on some of the highlights along the way, the first one that comes to mind is the knowledge I gained in Bible Interpretation 1 and 2. This course featured a video series by Ray Vander Laan. I have never been to Israel and had never given enough thought as to the time and location of many of the scriptures. Mr. Vander Laan presented the word in a historical and geographic context that was incredible. His knowledge of the scriptures, languages, and historical significance made the Bible come to life. It was almost like going to the cities and seeing the actual remains of temples and city gates and their magnificence. I can say this was the most eye-opening class for me. I now acknowledge that I have a very Western view, and will be much more appreciative and willing to share my riches with others.
Sermon Construction and Preparation was another significant class for me. There are many different styles in which a sermon may be constructed. I think we had a pretty good overview on them and how each one can be extremely effective in conveying God’s message. There were videos of great preachers delivering their sermons, each with a unique style. It was an honor to learn from sermons preached by men such as Ravi Zacharias, Francis Chan, Max Lucado, and John Piper. Great preachers!
Thank you, CLI!
In conclusion, I would just like to express my sincere gratitude for all the experiences I had. There was so much valuable information and knowledge gained during my studies. There were also many great resources shared that will be invaluable as my call to ministry continues. One common theme I picked up on was the willingness to share. Most instructors encouraged us to use and build from material they had so laboriously put together. One of my favorite phrases I will remember is “if my bullet fits your gun, shoot it”. That speaks volumes about the selflessness and Christian attitude of the instructors and programs.
I appreciate the time and energy it took in developing these lessons and the commitment it took. Although I have obtained my degree, I plan to continue taking classes to further enhance my ministry skills. What a blessing it has been to learn from some of the best. Thank you, CLI!