NEW ORLEANS (BP)–God has the right to interrupt the lives of believers any time He chooses, professor Reggie Ogea said during a missions commissioning service May 5 at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
Ogea, director of the doctor of ministry program and associate professor of leadership and pastoral ministry at New Orleans, spoke during a service honoring over 100 seminary students, professors and staff members who will begin serving in long- and short-term mission efforts this summer.
In his charge to the missionaries, Ogea recounted the story of his reluctant summer missions assignment to Africa in 1976, during which God placed a goal on his life. Prior to the trip, Ogea was studying to become an orthodontist. But during the trip, God began to change his heart and his plans. Ogea warned those participating in short-term trips to be alert to what God is telling them.
“Maybe you say, ‘Well I’m just going to enjoy my summer.’ Could I give you a little caution there?” he said. “Maybe this summer is the way God is going to really interrupt your life, so be careful about what you are going to go do this summer.”
Preaching from Hebrews 12:1-3, Ogea said believers must run the race that God has prepared for them.
“The Christian life is a marathon,” he said. “It’s not like a sprint where the fastest runner wins and the slowest runner loses … In a marathon the emphasis is on doing whatever it takes to finish.
“Unlike a sprint, in a marathon there is plenty of opportunity and temptation to quit or to drop out of the race. That’s why the author says, ‘Don’t just run the race marked out for us, but you’ve got to be ready to run it with perseverance, with endurance, with a don’t-quit attitude.’”
Ogea recounted the story of a 55-year-old marathon runner who was a deacon at the church where he served as pastor in New Iberia, La. One day Ogea asked the man how he finished a 26-mile race. The man’s answer is the same answer for those running the race of ministry, Ogea said.
“He said, ‘Pastor it’s real easy, you make up your mind ahead of time that you’re not going to quit, no matter what,’” Ogea recounted. “Sounds like the ministry, sounds like the mission field … Have you made up your mind you’re not going to quit?”
Believers must look within themselves, Ogea said, to discover what it is that has the potential to entangle them and prevent them from finishing their race.
“There is one sin according to the author of Hebrews that would entangle us,” he said. “I surmise that possibly what the author of Hebrews is talking about here, the sin that so easily entangles us, is the sin of unbelief, lack of faith. Whether that’s it or not, I can certainly tell you that the sin of unbelief has entangled a lot of folks.”
Those running the race must look up to Jesus, who was faithful despite all of the suffering, rejection and shame He faced, Ogea said.
“When you put that (Jesus’ suffering) in its proper context, you and I have no right to grumble and mumble and complain and gripe about anything compared to what Jesus had to endure. The cross, the shame of it all, he endured that,” Ogea said.
“I promise you something — if you start looking at your circumstances you’ll want to quit. Fix your eyes on Jesus. If you start looking at your surroundings and your situation you might lose heart. Fix your eyes on Jesus. If you start putting too much faith in other people, you’ll be disappointed before you get too far along the way. Fix your eyes on Jesus. Look up, look up.”
During the service the seminary recognized and commissioned more than 80 missionaries from New Orleans Seminary. Among the group were long-term missionaries appointed by the International Mission Board and North American Mission Board and short-term summer missionaries serving around the country and the world.
“We are very grateful for those associated with New Orleans Seminary who will be serving the Lord in missions efforts,” said Philip Pinckard, director of the Global Missions Center and associate professor of missions at the seminary.
Eleven of the missionaries will be serving in International Mission Board career missions while 11 others have been approved to serve as Nehemiah Project church planters with the North American Mission Board.
New Orleans Seminary President Chuck Kelley asked the missionaries in attendance to come to the front of the chapel for prayer.
“Make them a mighty ‘Great Commission Army’ conquering not with bullets and guns and creating death and wounds, but conquering with healing, conquering with love, conquering with joy, and bringing victory, not defeat, to lives already in the defeat of sin,” he prayed.
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: PRESIDENT’S PRAYER and PROF’S CHALLENGE.