Karen Lafferty Ordination Message

April 15, 2018 – Calvary Chapel Las Vegas, New Mexico

Thank you for coming. This is a special occasion for me and I’m honored you came to be part of it.

Many of you may be wondering why, after 47 years in ministry, have I chosen to be ordained now. I’ve actually been in prayer about this for awhile and a few months ago I started talking with Pastor Mike about it.   I want to share with you some of my journey with this process which I hope gives you a perspective on it. So… a little history.

My History

As far as a life vocation, I had felt from very young that Music was to be my focus. I earned a Bachelor of Music Education at Eastern New Mexico University thinking I would become a teacher. However, during my college years I began to pursue entertainment in folk and rock groups and as a soloist. I found that I could actually make a living at it, so after I graduated I decided to take a couple of years to see if I could actually “make it” in entertainment, before getting my masters and going into teaching. I had been in school all my life and wanted a break. I always had a desire to use my music to be a positive influence on people.

While entertaining in New Orleans the Lord sent a friend to visit , who had found a closer walk with the Lord through Campus Crusade for Christ. I got hungry for what she had and became much more intentional about pursuing God’s purposes in my life. As God ministered to me on a personal level I felt compelled to share Him with others. The bars I worked in became my first ministry platform.

Within a year I moved to Southern California to continue to be an entertainer but now I had a new motivation to “shine my light” and find ways to share God’s love.   God landed me in the midst of the Jesus Movement at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. I was blown away by what I began to experience there in worship, study of God’s Word and witnessing. We all wanted to share Jesus with our generation.

I got a good job entertaining and led my first person to Jesus there. But I remember the very night, that I left work in tears over the broken people I was meeting in the clubs. I felt the Lord was saying, “I don’t want you to just occasionally be a witness at work, I want you to sing my Truth all the time and minister to my people through it.”   That was in 1971 when I believe I received a call from God to full-time ministry.

There were only a few of us who were full-time Jesus musicians so we didn’t have examples of what that was supposed to look like. What we DID have was leaders like Pastor Chuck Smith, who had appointed Mike McIntosh to be the pastor of the Calvary musicians. Mike, Pastor Chuck, Greg Lauri , Tom Stipe and others had regular Bible studies for us and helped us learn what it was to be a minister.

At the time that was pretty unconventional, as far as how you prepared for the ministry, but very effective. I began to love the Word of God and understand its transforming power. I took Bible courses at Southern California College as well. We were either at a Bible study or out ministering every night of the week. What a wonderful transforming time that was for so many of us.

Pursing the Call

So that was my call that I’ve continued in for the past 47 years. I began to have invitations to minister overseas and on my second trip to Europe, I saw how effective it was to use Contemporary Christian Music in other nations. That’s when I received the vision to begin Musicians for Missions as part of YWAM Amsterdam. I ended up living fifteen years in Holland where I became involved with mentoring and training young musicians in ministry through YWAM’s University of the Nations.

As a women I have been challenged in that a few times. So I want to share with you both my heart and the encouragement I’ve received from ministers I respect and the Word of God.

When I announced recently on FaceBook that I was going to be ordained some people were surprised that I was being ordained by a Calvary Chapel. Many thought that Chuck Smith didn’t believe in that. But Chuck DID ordained women that he saw had a call on their lives. Being the pastor of a church is not the only way to minister to people.   Recently I was reading some thoughts from C.S. Lewis that helped articulate my calling.

The first thought has to do with the Nature and Character of God.

– Lewis pointed out that the FIRST thing God shows us about himself is not that he is loving, holy, omnipotent, gracious and just. No… the first thing He showed us is that he is CREATIVE. His creative spirit is in action. Then He creates US, mankind, in HIS image. Being creative is a very important part of who God is. He encourages and gives the ability to ALL of us to be creative in some manor. Some of us create very practical things that we use in life.

I love in Genesis 4 where man was first creating communities where three men are mentioned. Jabal – A rancher, herdsman and maker of tents. Very practical and necessary for life. And Tubal-Cain who was a craftsmen and teacher in instruments of bronze and iron. But Jubal was the father of the harp and flute. He created beautiful sounds. Some people may have said to him, “Jubal, when are you going to get a REAL job?” I’ve had people challenge us as musicians in ministry and in missions because they felt that planting churches was the only valid ministry. But I don’t believe that’s what the Bible teaches.

Jesus said in John 10:10 – “ The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy; but I come that you might have life and that abundantly.” Part of that abundant life is enjoying the beautiful things that reflects God’s character. Creating beautiful music that is filled with his messages of truth is part of God’s grace and blessing to us.

I have seen that there is often a healing factor in music as well. We see this in scripture when David played his harp for King Saul. Notice that he wasn’t singing but just playing. Those beautiful sounds chased the evil away.

He calls some of us to do this as a life calling.

– Another thing C.S. Lewis said was when he came to faith in Christ that it didn’t change his vocation but it caused him to reimagine his work as service to God and others. This is what happened to me first when I really became intentional and serious about my walk with Christ, and then when I began to pursue ministering to others, rather than setting career goals. This was part of my “reimagining” what I did though my music.

Being a Woman in Ministry

I want to mention a few things about how I have felt I should pursue ministry as a woman. I mentioned before that I have been encouraged in ministry by some men I have really respected.

– Pastor Chuck gave me a platform at Calvary Costa Mesa and the opportunity to record my songs. He also counseled me in personal matters. He was a spiritual father who believed in me.

– John Wimber – who founded Vineyard Church movement counseled us at a musicians retreat “If you see yourself as a musician, your career will rise and fall, but if you see yourself as a minister, you will always have something to do.” I knew then that I always wanted to be a minister first.

– Mike McIntosh – pastor of Horizon Fellowship in San Diego – Was always there to be an encouragement

– Floyd McClung – My YWAM leader was a real mentor and guided me and released me into ministry and encouraged me to start Musicians For Missions.

What I discovered over the years, was that as a women, I functioned best when there was strong spiritual men who released me and supported me in ministry giftings. They gave me freedom. Were not domineering. I knew I was accountable and there were times I was reproved on something. It was always in the spirit of wanting me to be who God had called me to be, not to control me.

Women function much better when we have strong spiritual men in our lives. God has made us equal but different. Even single women as myself. Most of us desire to be helpers. When married women feel loved as Christ loves the church, they generally respect and care for their husbands and families. Jesus is my husband. I know how he loves me. But as Godly men respond in that kind of love, I am totally motivated to work along side them and serve.

My Future Ministry

So how does today change things for me? I was at Sandy Hoffman’s ordination a few years ago and I asked him over lunch the other day, “How did being ordained change your life?” He said, “Well, the spiritual warfare really intensified.” I don’t know if that will happen to me or not. But I DO know that what ever happens, “If God is for me, who can be against me.”

One of the pearls of wisdom I received from Pastor Chuck was, “Do what God has called you to do. If it supports you, great; but if it doesn’t, then work to support your ministry.” I needed to work teaching music at the beginning of my ministry and would do it again, if needed. I’m grateful that at this time God has supplied my needs so I can focus my time on ministry activities.

The main way I pray it changes me is that I will be more dedicated to serving God and his people than ever. While I’m serving at this church, I pray I’ll help you grow in your desire to worship God. If you need prayer, I want to be available. I pray I can grow deeper in my knowledge of God and his ways and grow in my compassion and patience toward others. I pray the fear of God will increase in me. All these things have been my daily prayers before this day, but I believe this gives an even stronger motivation to glorify God through my life.

In closing, I want to remind us all that WE are all called to minister to God and one another. I Peter 2:9 says “But you are a chosen Race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

I’d like to close with a song that a friend named John Wytock wrote but I recorded on my Life Pages – Love of the Ages album. It simply tells the story of God’s love through the ages. Please join me at the end as we sing, “And We’ll all live together in the house of the Lord, We’ll all live forever, praise the Lord, praise the Lord. “Love of the Ages” 

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