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  NEW SERIES!

The Book Of James: Keeping It Real

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Psalm 119: For The Love Of Scripture!

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Philemon: Coming Home 

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Colossians: Jesus Our All In All

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Psalm 139: David's Road Map To Relationship

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PERSONAL CONVERSION EXPERIENCE

a)  Pressing On: Darren’s Story

 

Php 3:12  Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.

Php 3:13  Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

Php 3:14  I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

 

Forgetting those things which are behind? Well, since we know Paul’s meticulous religious resume (summarized by Paul in Philippians 3:4-6) - and his ultimate murderous tirade against Jesus and His followers - his words hold weight indeed!  My past may not rival that of Paul, but forgetting the old deeds and putting off the old man (Ephesians 4:22-24) has proven to take longer than I would have liked!

 

Raised in Aylmer, Ontario by two alcoholic parents, I had an early awareness of God, and may have even prayed to Him. After my mom passed away a number of years ago, I found evidence amidst her journals of her sending me to Sunday School (which I vaguely remember) when I was very young. I even found a letter I had written about Jesus. My grandmother was a Christian, and had a profound influence on my mother also. Sadly, though, without a Christian example at home, without a strong church community, and most importantly - without being born again (John 3:7) - it wasn’t long before Satan snatched me away. God protected me from using drugs and alcohol all that time, through my teens and adulthood - a true miracle really. But because I was a loner and very shy, I lived in my mind a lot. When puberty hit, Satan lured me in with perversion and an unhealthy understanding of sexuality. With no Biblical wisdom or guidance from my parents or siblings, I discovered a world of evil in my own house in the form of pornography. This visual poison, coupled with my living in my own fantasy world, set a course of addiction and lifestyle that manifested itself right into my adult life. One of the first things God dealt with when I became born again was how to live outside of my head, in reality. Praise God, though the battle rages on, the Holy Spirit is winning through the power of His Word (Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 10:3-6), fervent prayer, and powerful accountability with men who love Jesus. When I moved out to go to college, I was ill-prepared for life on my own. I soon ran out of money, dropped out of my courses, and sold all I had to survive. My parents eventually ran out of money to give me too. Thankfully, God kept me off the streets - I tried several direct sales jobs, and started accumulating debt that only lying and stealing would appease. This was my pattern of life for years in London, Ontario. Money was my idol - my spending of it, my lack of it, credit card debt, running from lenders and landlords was my life. Even after I got a stable job, I couldn’t tame my addictions. It only got worse. While music and writing had always been my healthy passions, providing extra income, they were often overshadowed by my descent into debt, depression, and dependency. Then in January of 1999, as I was working at Bellone’s Music, the dream job God provided, I faced the sheer terror of consequences, of being found out (Numbers 32:23). My hiding out in sin was about to end. I went into the store washroom, fell to my knees, and whispered “help me” to the God I used to talk to as a child. He told me to get up, and go speak to my friend Peter, my college friend and past bandmate who worked with me in the same store! He had become born-again years earlier, had been praying for me, and now I was asking him to help me. We both went into the store lunch room, locked the door, and Peter nervously led me in a prayer of salvation to accept Jesus Christ. Peter and his wife were also there for me only weeks later when Satan threatened to drag me away a second time. My life did not change instantly, and the sojourn has been long and difficult, but Jesus has held me secure (John 10:28-29), right up to this glorious day! Little did I know the plans He had for this once hopeless, now redeemed man...

 

Jer 29:11  For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

 

b)  Not Unto Us! Calling and Membership

 

Psa 115:1  Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth's sake.

 

My wife Sheri, whom I met and married at First Baptist Church in London, Ontario in 2000, is my best friend on earth, and often way more discerning and smart than I!  When our Pastor Mike Knoll approached me in 2018 about becoming ordained - a thought that never occurred to me since we moved to Kitchener in 2004 so I could pursue Pastoral Studies at Heritage Seminary - I brought the idea to Sheri, and we began praying for God’s direction. The thought kept coming back to us again and again, “This is why we moved here in the first place - the calling to pastoral ministry!”  Sure, many circumstances, hardships, and seasons of discouragement could have convinced us to turn back over the years, but we see now God never wasted a trial, a temptation, or seeming turn for the worst. He used it all to refine us and prepare us for such a time as this! (James 1:2-4) The calling was never in doubt, but I often questioned the one called. Then Sheri suggested that I write down all the ministry God had accomplished through us since becoming Christians. As I began to recall the fruit God had borne through our ministry over the years, I wept. Who am I that You would do wondrous things through me, Lord? I found the answer in 2 Samuel 7:21 - for the sake of His word and according to His will He does great things and makes us see it was all Him. Then He receives all the glory! After I was born again, God gave me a burden for the lost, a love for His own, and He gave me new songs to sing to Him (Psalm 40:3). Soon after Sheri and I were married, I recall co-leading small groups with my wife in our home, planting and growing young adult ministry together in our church, discipling and mentoring young adults and couples, teaching Scripture in people’s homes when I first was grasping it, participating in various worship music groups and recordings, mentoring young worship leaders, leading Worship workshops at various churches, writing and recording gospel C.D’s for outreach and devotional use for the Body of Christ, participating in prayer ministry, encouraging and counselling pastors and leaders, leading worship services and overseeing worship and discipleship ministries in several churches, founding vital prayer/worship ministries such as Inside Out and Prayse 145, serving as chairman for Make Us Holy Ministries (Gareth Goossen), becoming a teaching elder, prayer intercessor, leading Bible Studies, writing articles and prayer devotionals and worship songs for various congregations we served, co-writing doctrinal statements for church documents, pastoring a house church - preparing messages, worship, and providing pastoral care for families hurt by spiritual abuse, and there is probably more ministry I do not recall because so much ministry happened out of sight in coffee shops and restaurants, our home, or where ever we needed to go. We have experienced many tears, much heartbreak, but also seasons of breakthrough. God has been faithful. What an education that seminary could never have provided! Though Sheri and I have struggled throughout the years in our marriage regarding busyness and balance between ministry and home life, this is a very different time now as we discuss and pray through every significant time investment and/or ministry. We are moving together through this process of membership with Pillar of Fire Ministries. We joyfully submit under Godly leadership and training, and we appreciate the accountability and covering of prayer that are ahead. Looking back on all that the Lord has done, we are amazed! And we are excited to see what’s next, as we walk closely together with our Lord. To Him alone be the glory!

 

c)  The Call

 

1Co 15:1  Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;

1Co 15:2  By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

1Co 15:3  For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

1Co 15:4  And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.

 

Heb 3:12  Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.

Heb 3:13  But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

Heb 3:14  For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;

Heb 3:15  While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.

 

These two passages summarize my calling, from when I was saved until now. It has never changed. 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 is my general calling and summarizes the Gospel, and is among the earliest recorded texts of Scripture. The Gospel is the means by which we are saved and the mission to which we are called. There is no salvation, and no ministry without the Gospel. The second passage Hebrews 3:12-15 is my specific call to exhortation and discipleship. Especially in these last days, when deception abounds and the love of many grows cold (Matthew 24:11-12) there is a need for pure Biblical teaching and preaching, fervent one-on-one and group prayer, training in righteousness, and growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18) by experiencing and expressing His love in community, namely His church family. My means to accomplish these objectives has always been by first seeking the Lord in prayer as to persons or people He wants me to connect with. Then simply regularly meeting with men (or couples with Sheri) and praying, studying and applying Scripture, and modelling an intimate walk with Jesus. Exhortation is also expressed through me by means of teaching, preaching, music, writing - and most effectively through relationship and accountability. (James 5:16)  Finally, I want to emphasize that my ministry flows from regular intimate fellowship with Jesus Christ (Matthew 6:6) and humble service to my church family, the Body of Christ, whom I love.

 

~ Reverend Darren McClelland