Welcome to a sample of lesson two of the Master of Chaplaincy Studies program. If you order this course, each week you will receive a discourse that talks about the study of how to be a chaplain. To order this course, go to: CHAPLAINCY PROGRAM
I remember when I was a young man asking my pastor, “How did you get into the ministry?” I had no clue. I did know that there was something different about my pastor. He was just … different. He did not act like normal folk.
Then there was the time I was a soldier stationed in Germany. I noted a British Army Major visiting our unit. Our unit was co-located at a British Army installation. This man walked and talked different. Then I realized, he was not just an officer – he was the base chaplain. Something marked him different from the rest.
I accepted a new job one time. My wife had to remain behind to prepare the home for sale while I had to find a rental in a new town 120 miles away. I was given the name of a landlord to speak with. I met with the lady and noted again something different. I just had to ask, “Are you in the ministry?” She owned a campground and held worship services every Sunday for the campers – yes, she was an ordained minister.
You probably had similar experiences. You noticed something different about someone. You could not put your finger on it. Something inside of you, your spirit, figured it out. You sensed the Divine Mark upon that person.
I remember a special worship service where several congregations were involved. A group of ministers were talking and the host’s son, about the age of 22, walked up to his father with a reminder. One of the ministers turned and said, “O, this is your son!” The father smiled as any proud father would. Then with all seriousness the minister said, after introducing himself, “Son, when are you going into the ministry? You know you are called.” The son was stunned. He was a student attending college with no sense of calling. Two other ministers also came up to the man and the son just stammered. The eldest minister in the group took the father aside, “Have you talked to your son about his call?”
The Call to God
God is always working. The Divine Spirit is constantly searching. On the God side of the equation – the calling – God is the initiator. I personally believe that the call begins long before the person is born. Isaiah the prophet speaks,
“Listen, O coastlands, to Me, And take heed, you peoples from afar! The LORD has called Me from the womb”(Isaiah 49:1, NKJV)
Isaiah was called before he was aware – while he was in his mother’s womb. This is not an isolated incident. God’s plan for humanity has been forged before creation came into being. Jeremiah writes of his own call:
Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”(Jeremiah 1:4-5)
Though Jeremiah did not recognize his call at birth, God did. He was divinely set apart. The attributes necessary for Jeremiah and every other person called was set in place. It might be a special desire placed in the heart. It may be a more receptive spirit or a hunger to know the Divine.
Another person who was called before birth was the prophet, John the Baptist. His father was a priest and was assigned a special duty of lighting the incense before the Holy of Holies. It was a rare opportunity and a special privilege. In that moment, Gabriel, one of God’s angels appeared:
The calling of John the Baptist was recorded centuries before his birth! The angel makes mention of Malachi prophesy which reads, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD” (Malachi 4:5). Some see John the Baptist as the reincarnated Elijah and other believe the ministry is similar in spirit. No matter what your belief is on reincarnation, the fact is the call began long before the birth.
Samson was another who was called before he was born. In the Book of Judges, Manoah’s barren wife is told, “For behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. And no razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines” (Judges 13:5).
The Desire For God
One of the signs of the Mark of the Divine is a desire for the same. It begins with a child-like interest when young. Every minister was a child once upon a time. The typical child called of God may not act too much different from others. It is in the quiet moments away from others that the mark may be manifested. It could be in looking up at the night sky in amazement. It may be wondering in a field or in the woods fascinated by all the plants and animals. It may be in daydreaming.
One young dreamer found in the Scriptures is Joseph. His story begins in Genesis, Chapter 37. He was a dreamer. He could not explain his dreams at first. He would be tending his father’s sheep and there would be a dream. He dreamed of binding sheaves of wheat and his brothers’ sheaves were bowing down to him. He did not understand what the dream meant. Years later, Joseph would be the second highest official in Egypt and his brothers would come and bow to him.
Joseph would go through a series of trials but one common phrase found in his story is “the Lord was with him.” He was no formal prophet. His calling or ministry would not fit the standard role of pastor or chaplain but he had a calling. He saw all that happened to him as part of God’s plan .
There is another person who had a desire for God: Enoch. Note what little we know of him: “After he begot Methuselah, Enoch walked with God three hundred years, and had sons and daughters. So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him” (Gen. 5:22-24). He walked with God. The Hebrew word for walk means much more that the simple movement of legs. It includes conversation, behaving, and to grow. It implies an intimacy with another.
In the Christian faith, the Gospels reveal this in the relationship between Jesus’ first disciples. They walked with Jesus everywhere. After Jesus’ ascension, the apostles were identified by having been with Him.
Seeking after God is one way one is marked by the Divine. It is in the attitude and actions. The desire, often starting while young will be noted. It is designed to mature and become even more noticeable.
The Call By God
Sometimes God takes the initiative in others ways. God does call. He calls in the following ways:
Personally – as evident in the life of Enoch and Adam; the 12 apostles; Mohammad.
Dreams and visions – noted in the lives of Isaiah and Ezekiel.
Miracles – Moses’ witness of the burning bush.
In many situations, the person may not be seeking after God. Moses was looking for lost sheep, for example, when he was attracted by the burning bush. He was not in a hurry to follow God’s instructions. He gave excuse after excuse to God. He was afraid. He wondered if the people would believe him or understand him. It is a scary thing to be called of God. Note the following lessons that can be learned from Moses’ encounter with God.
But Moses said to God, "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?" So He said, "I will certainly be with you. And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain." (Exodus 3:11-12)
Moses would not be alone. When there is a Divine call, the Author does not leave. The Spirit is always present. Jesus Christ made a similar promise to His disciples. In His Great Commission, He ends with the promise, “…I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen” (Matthew 28:20).
Then Moses said to God, "Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they say to me, 'What is His name?' what shall I say to them?" And God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." And He said, "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.'" (Exodus 3:13-14)
Moses wanted to know by what authority – Name – he was serving. There can be no doubt. A calling comes with the delegation. It comes with a Name known to those whom the person will serve as a minister. Moses served the Hebrew people. It was their God who called him.
Others do recognize the call of the divine. Remember, the one called with have the Divine Mark. Those who operate in the spirit will recognize a fellow pilgrim in the journey. They will resonate with each other. When Jesus Christ was in His mother’s womb, she visited her cousin Elizabeth.
Both babes in the womb resonated. The Divine Spirit caused one to respond to the other. Elizabeth did not know Mary was pregnant and yet, she said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb” (Luke 4:42). She, too, was filled by the Spirit. She, too, had revealed to her the calling of the others in that moment.
Then Moses answered and said, "But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say, 'The LORD has not appeared to you.'" So the LORD said to him, "What is that in your hand?" He said, "A rod." And He said, "Cast it on the ground." So he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it. Then the LORD said to Moses, "Reach out your hand and take it by the tail" (and he reached out his hand and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand), (Exodus 4:1-4)
When one is called, the human tendency is to say, “I am inadequate. I have no power!” But the call comes with spiritual power and abilities. They will vary based upon the Divine intent and plan. Moses was given the ability to lead a nation and needed dramatic powers for this purpose.
Not everyone called is given the same abilities. One must remember that. Each calling is unique. Each person is fitted to the times, peoples, and circumstances for which called. John the Baptist, for example, performed no miracles. Noah just built an ark. Enoch walked with God and warned of God’s future judgment.
The Apostle Paul’s instruction to the church in Corinth notes that spiritual power given is up to God.
There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. (1 Corinthians 12:4-11)
The primary gift that seems to unite all ministers is the ability to communicate spiritual truths. The one called might declare, “But I am not a good public speaker.” Join the club! Moses had the same complaint:
Then Moses said to the LORD, "O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue." So the LORD said to him, "Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the LORD?” (Exodus 4:10-11)
Have no fear! God made your mouth and called you! Think of this…if the Divine Spirit can give Moses the ability to turn a staff into a snake and back again, how simple must it be for Moses then to speak God’s Word?
The Divine Spirit marks one long before that person recognizes the call. It is a call to something greater. It begins first with a relationship by the Spirit. It then matures the person to the point that there will be recognition of that Divine Mark. Others may see it first. Sometimes the human will struggle. But have no fear!
For Additional Study
1. Read through this about three times.
2. Print out a copy for your notebook.
3. Answer the following questions. Post them to the ULC Discussion Board under the Master of Chaplaincy course topic.
Describe someone you know who has the Divine Mark. What set them apart?
Has anyone observed the mark in you? Write down what they have said?
Consider your calling. Describe it in a paragraph or two.
Thank you for your time and consideration. Remember that this training is being undertaken for the benefit of others. We are ministers after all. I will do my best to keep it interesting and a benefit to your ministry. If you find anything that you do not fully understand, or if you have any questions, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org . God be with you all.
The New King James Version (NKJV) of the Holy Bible will be used in these lessons unless otherwise indicated.
Copyright 2009 by Rev. Daniel Moore. All rights reserved. No part of this lesson may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author.