Induction Papers From The Almighty

On April 5, 1981, Andy Loving was ordained a Baptist minister at Oakhurst Baptist Church in Decatur, Georgia. The text of the ordination charge, given by his friend, Ken Sehested, follows.

Andy, on this occasion of your ordination to the gospel ministry, my charge to you is simple. I want to remind you in public--and therefore commit you--to some things you already know in private.

Remember these four things:

- Remember that, like the rest of us, you're a damned sinner. Thanks be to God that a way of redemption has been made. Even so, you will--like the Apostle Paul--continue to struggle with your weakness. Don't try to hide that weakness from God or God's people. It is in your confession, in your continuing repentance, that you will find strength.

- Remembering that you are a sinner will be the key to remembering that your calling is from God. Remember God's word to Jeremiah: "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you for my own; before you were born I consecrated you...." The calling which you confess and which this congregation recognizes is God's calling. God doesn't do anything in general; God always does things in particular. You happen to be one of the particular things the Holy One of Heaven is fostering in this day and in this place.

- Remembering that you're a sinner and remembering that the calling you sense is God's calling, keep in mind and be prepared for some occasional hard arguments with the Holy One. Unless you're somehow very different from those people in the Bible who received induction papers from the Almighty, you may sometimes feel like deserting. The divine touch at your shoulder urging you on may at some point feel like a grip at your collar dragging you forward. It did to Jeremiah. He went so far as to say, "A curse on the day when I was born! Be it for ever unblessed, the day when my mother bore me. Why did I come forth from the womb to know only sorrow and toil, to end my days in shame?"

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