Παύλος δούλος Θεού απόστολος δε Ιησού Χριστού κατά πίστιν εκλεκτών Θεού και επίγνωσιν αλήθειας της κατ εύσέβειαν | Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness,

-Titus 1:1

Around three months ago, I sat at my desk, collecting my office supplies from the job that I had worked for nearly three years. As I packed, I listed out the endless worries in my head repeating – “How is this even gonna happen, Lord?”

Looking ahead, I had to raise $73k for two years in just three months. I had to find a place to live in Austin, figure out how the Marine Corps Reserve was going to fit into it, and still wonder if I was still called to ministry. In all, summer was an agonizing process of trusting what God was gonna do before August 1st. I’ll be the first to say, I didn’t fully reach my goal – but the Master still had a seat for me at the residency orientation.

This past week was my first official week on staff with the Austin Stone as a resident. As soon as I took a seat during my orientation, the feeling of unworthiness set in. Who was I that the Master would call me to do His work for a living? Praise God for that!
Yet within, I just could not fathom He would choose a chief of sinners, an abuser of grace, and an often cold-heart toward the Gospel. . . I took to the scriptures and here’s what I learned.

Paul typically opens his letters by addressing a bold claim of who he is in Christ. For example:

– an apostle(1 Corinthians 1:1, 2 Corinthians 1:1, Galatians 1:1, Ephesians 1:1,  Colossians 1:1, 1 & 2 Timothy 1:1) by the will of God.

– a prisoner (Philemon 1:1), for Christ Jesus, writing to a slave owner, Philemon (Philemon 15-16).

However, in Titus 1:1 (and Romans 1:1); Paul uses the Greek word “doulos” (δούλος) which in English is closely translated to “bond-servant” or “slave.”
Within the Roman Empire, to have the status of a slave was assumed as a contractual role of great humility. Paul specifically chooses the word slave to communicate his role for the church and to Christ. See verse below:

– for the sake of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness (verse 1).

Again, Paul is choosing to label himself as the lowest form of titles to describe his service for the Church.

With those things said about Paul, here’s also what the scriptures reminded me about calling:

Paul understood that there wasn’t anything he did to commit to the ministry. It was the Master alone that appointed and ordained his ministry. See below:

“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God. . . ” (Romans 1:1)
“Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus. . . ” (1 Corinthians 1:1)
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God. . . ” (2 Corinthians 1:1)
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God. . .” (Ephesians 1:1)
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God. . .” (Colossians 1:1)
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope. . .” (1 Timothy 1:1).

** Scriptures used from ESV **

What a humbling thought that the Master would appoint me into His work! As I look ahead, may I be reminded to choose the perspective of Paul; a slave for Christ. May I be committed to being a chair-setter-upper, button-pusher, cable coiler, or copy maker for the people of God. Would I recognize the great privilege of joyfully serving the bride of Christ!

With that said, Residency has been an awesome experience so far. On Thursday (8/3), my first day with Austin Stone Worship, they gave us our residency expectations, and concluded with taking us to Alamo Draft House to see Dunkirk. Everyone on the team from worship leader to production embraces the element of togetherness- it doesn’t matter where you serve, we’re in this together. Could not express how honored I am to have joined this family. I’m also incredibly excited to see how this program will develop me in my doctrine, skills, and character. Plus my supervisor is the one and only, Philip Ellis! – check out his vlog “Watch Me Live My Life

Below is the Austin Stone Worship manifesto, this is what we believe and are committed to in every aspect of our lives.

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“Center My Life” by our team

In closing, I would like to thank my partners in the ministry who have graciously provided the means at which I’m able to do this residency. Your giving is supported by four truths:

1. Your support will not go unnoticed by the Father (Matthew 6:2-4).
2. You’re putting your faith into action by the scriptures (James 2:14-17).
3. God delights in cheerful giving (2 Corinthians 9:7
4.
You are fellow workers of the truth (3 John 5-8).

Thank you!

Side by side,

Jeremy Gonzalez

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