J.J. Warren

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Called Out: A Guide for Modern Prophets

By J.J. Warren

Day 1 of 5: A Calling for All

“The words of Amos, who was among the shepherds of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of King Uzziah of Judah and in the days of King Jeroboam son of Joash of Israel, two years before the earthquake.”

‭‭Amos‬ ‭1:1‬ (‭NRSV‬‬)

Right away in the book of Amos, we’re told that the following words are from a shepherd. It almost seems like the author(s) were saying “See! I told you God uses everyone!” We’re about to read the words of a shepherd from a small village about 16 km south of Jerusalem. “Read on,” I can hear the ancient authors saying, “and see the boldness of this guy from the middle of nowhere—read and hear the prophecy God speaks through him!”

Amos was a poor shepherd of color who lived around the eighth century B.C.E.. His family was of no consequence, and he had no degree—no ordination or consecration. Amos was a nobody. He was from a small village, and no one thought much of him. If God was going to do something, Amos certainly wouldn’t be the person God would use—or so everyone thought.

Perhaps Amos thought this about himself, as well. Perhaps Amos had listened to voices around him, to the elders and chief religious leaders, to the wealthy landowners, to those who had the power and positions and education. Perhaps when Amos first heard God’s calling he wondered, “Why me? Am I worthy? How could I possibly be part of God’s large-scale plans?”

Perhaps you’ve asked yourself these questions, as well. I know I have.

As someone from a small town in central New York, I know what it feels like to be from a place where there aren’t very high expectations. Surely the next U.S. president won’t come out of Penn Yan, NY—a town of 5,000. And yet, in an unplanned three-minute speech which I made at the United Methodist General Conference in February of 2019, I was thrust into an international spotlight. I was just a young adult from the middle of nowhere, but God was able to use me in an unexpected way.

I know that feeling of “who am I?” I know the feelings of inadequacy, of fear, of doubt and confusion—but I also know the calling of God. When God calls us, it is unexpected. And we may very well be unprepared, but we must remember that we are vessels of the Most High God. It’s not about our inadequacy, it’s about the message God is calling us to convey. Whoever you are, God will use you when you open yourself to this possibility.

Our calling as prophets is to speak the truth (in love) which God places on our hearts.

The story of Amos reminds us that no matter who we are, we are vessels for the Divine. You are worthy simply because God created you. You are called. God can/is/will use you for the renewal of all things. You and I have a place in the work of this Kin-dom—it’s time for us to claim it! Be bold; rely on God; and speak when God calls you. Over the next five days, I hope you’ll gain confidence in your own prophetic voice and be a part of this life-changing faith we’re called to.

Holy God of justice,

Open our eyes to see you and our hearts to experience you in the midst of every circumstance. Open our ears to the cries of your people, that we may hear and have compassion. Open our mouths, so that from our compassion we would speak Your truth—even when we feel powerless. Overflow in us, Your vessels, with the power and prophecy of Your Holy Spirit. Embolden us, strengthen us, and use us, we pray, so that Thy Kin-dom will come, and Thy will will be done on Earth, as it is in Heaven. Amen.

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