PGD2020-43: Slow, Hope, & Prayer

“Our hearts should be filled with a holy dread and awe when the Bible is proclaimed.”         -R.C. Sproul                                                                                                           

            “For I will proclaim the name of the Lord; ascribe greatness to our God!                                                                                                                         -Deuteronomy 32:3

            The Bible is not just another book. You cannot open it up flippantly, looking to breeze through it or peruse it like you are looking for a sale on Amazon. For novice readers to categorize it as such brings consternation. No, it’s the Word of God. John Calvin said if you want to hear God talk out loud, then read the Bible out loud. To say that is has power hidden in its pages is to misunderstand it. It is power, and it is evident in every syllable. The Bible should be read as such. If you read the 119th Psalm you will find out that it is the longest chapter in the Bible and it is repetitive. Over and over it calls us to keep the commandments of God, and the Psalter just says it in 176 different ways. Let me outline to you a daily approach to the Scriptures. One that, if followed, will deepen your understanding of God speaking to you. 

1. Read the Word of God SLOWLY

When I read fiction, I read to be moved emotionally and to be entertained. When I read non-fiction, I read for information and education. When I read poetry, I read for descriptions of beauty and to be inspired. However, the Word of God does not fall into any of these categories. When I read a regular book of any kind, I place it on the shelf after I am finished. The Word of God is to be grasped and hidden in the heart. It convicts me of my sin, plainly shows me the path of living righteously, and gives me purpose. I have found that life is purposeless without God in Christ. Therefore, I need more of the Word in me and you need it in you. To do that I need to study the Bible and be deliberate about my approach. 

2. Read the Word of God with ANTICIPATION

Look forward to reading it. Caveat: Chances are you are not going to wake up one day and say, “I’m in love with the Bible!” That craving and expectation has to be crafted and created by actually living in the Word. In other words, the more you read it, the more you trust Him. The more you trust Him, the more you have to know Him. The more you know Him the more you want to arrange your life around your relationship with Him. And the more you do that, the more you will go to Him anticipating His power in your life. 

3. Read the Word of God PRAYERFULLY

I long for a better prayer life. I try not to stress over it. Getting on my knees before Him is necessary for me. Psalm 34 begins with, “I will bless the Lord at all times….” Bless means to kneel. Think about it. Money is not going to bless God. Your hours serving as a volunteer at the soup kitchen doesn’t impress God. Going to church doesn’t move Him either. Blessing Him does and it means to be obedient. When we kneel, we are at least assuming the posture of humility that would lead to true servanthood. Many times when I read the Psalms, I am contemplating it, and meditating upon it, and I say to myself, “That’s a lot better than I have.” What I mean by that is my prayer on my best day isn’t that good, so why not pray that as the Psalmist does? So I do it.

PGD 2020-42: THE MAIN THING

“While committees waste their time over resolutions, do something. While societies and unions are making constitutions, let us win souls. Too often we discuss, and discuss, and discuss, while Satan only laughs in his sleeve.”                                                              -C.H. Spurgeon

            “So be careful how you act; these are difficult days. Don’t be fools; be wise: make the most of every opportunity you have for doing good. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but try to find out and do whatever the Lord wants you to.”                                       -Ephesians 5:16-17 [Living Bible]

            I don’t like meetings and have never met anyone who did. You? They either seem to spiral into something other than the intended business of the day, or they are tedious with a lot of hum-drum monotony. And from experience, church business meetings or staff meetings are not far behind that. I suppose they are occasionally necessary, but they can surely become a major distraction from the goal of any organization. Understand: the enemy, Satan, is not playing fair. He is not taking names. Rather, Jesus says he comes to steal, kill, and destroy. So, the modern day church needs a swift kick in the rear in order to be reminded of our mission. We are called to share Christ and make disciples. 

            I love the feeling of ministry as we, the church, reach out to those in need. We can be proud of our brothers and sisters in Christ who give their time to work in disaster relief, feeding the poor, and ministering to the homeless. It’s important to go and encourage our Christian family in different countries, and even to build structures for churches to meet, or repair homes of the aged. However, it becomes a massive dilemma when the church trades the mission of preaching and teaching Jesus, for the salvation of souls, for a so-called social ministry. When the church exchanges the message of faith alone in Christ for nailing boards or pitching roofs, without ever mentioning the soul-saving love of Jesus, that church is dying. 

            Yes, the church is supposed to do ministry. Yes, we are called to give aid, send money, and dig wells for water in third-world countries… as we are sharing the Gospel. Folks, that is the Great Commission. If the local church sends a group of teenagers to a distant country or island on a mission trip to do construction work, yet they don’t have evangelistic outreaches or gatherings to preach salvation alone in Christ, then that trip is a waste of time. Not only have you been disobedient to God, but you have reinforced an incorrect message to teenagers that they will carry with them all of their lives! 

            I try to limit meetings as much as possible because in the end they are usually not work and they will get your organization off track often. We know the mission of the church. We know that the message is simple: Jesus died for us. And when we share that message, the Holy Spirit takes it and does the work. Be assured — in our ministry we will make the main thing, the main thing. Jesus saves!

PGD2020-41: Truth

“Do not expect to be honoured in a world where your Master was crucified.”    -CH Spurgeon

            “I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him.”   -John 5:43

            Our world has a massive problem with truth. And as Jack Nicholson says it in the classic movie, A Few Good Men, we can’t handle it! There is only one truth: Christ Jesus. Everything else — every philosophy, ideology, good deed or humane act — is just propped up. The innocence of childhood goes so quickly. By age 3 or 4, perhaps much earlier, we shockingly learn that life isn’t being cuddled and cared for like you were when you were born. People are jockeying for a rightful position to achieve riches and stardom, and if they have to cheat, then so be it. If they have to define or forge their own truth, then they will do it. 

Yet as Christ-followers we have to seek the Truth (capital T). It’s fundamental to who God is as God. Satan… is a “liar and the father of lies,” and we know that He is God’s enemy. He is looking to trip us up. Our great God opposes Satan, who he is and what he stands for. Conclusion: God must be nothing other than the Truth… because God is truth, the Bible is truth. The Lord comes near to bless only those who invoke His name in truth. The Psalmist says, “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” In fact, truth is so important to God that He is willing to swear an oath to prove His own truthfulness. The Lord swore by Himself — for there is none higher by whom He may swear— in order to assure Abraham that He would keep His promises to the patriarch. This happens in Genesis 15:17, in what theologian/preacher RC Sproul said was the most important verse in the Bible because of truth.

Truth is ultimately a person — God is truth — and that truth consists of both propositions that are spoken/written and actions that a person performs. I like to call them righteous acts. God’s written Word —Scripture — is truth, and it comes to us in propositional form. It is inspired, inerrant, and here’s a very important point: it is completely sufficient to equip us for every good work or right deed. But we are clueless on the truth of God’s Word if we do not seek to put it into practice. We must… we have to… love in deed and in truth, and since love encompasses actions, so also does truth. We are to walk in the Lord’s true way, and this means a life of repentance (repentance every day is massive!) in which we seek to do what God commands and repent when we fail to do so. 

Satan walks to and fro… looking to devour… looking to get you to walk by anything other than faith. Paul says this about him to the church at Thessalonica, “He will completely fool those who are on their way to hell because they have said no to the Truth; they have refused to believe it and love it and let it save them, so God will allow them to believe lies with all their hearts, and all of them will be justly judged for believing falsehood, refusing the Truth, and enjoying their sins.” Did you get that? They may have had some glimpses of truth in their lives or looked like it on the outside, but in their hearts and the way they lived, they lived for God’s enemy. 

Handle the truth by talking the Truth, walking in the Truth, and seeking to do righteous acts of Truth.

PGD2020-40: Fear Him or fear them?

“Holy Scripture is the highest authority for every believer, the standard of faith and foundation for reform….”  -John Wycliffe

            “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.”   -Romans 13:1-2

            The presidential election is only a month away. The lines have been drawn, and there seems to be political unrest like never before in the history of modern times. Social strife and turbulent community tension is at an all-time high. Friendships are being tested, personal feelings are on the edge, while someone told the candidates that they didn’t have to wear gloves during the debate! And on the forefront of every mind in America are the questions, “Who is in charge? Who can lead us? How will we be governed?”

            (As I am writing this, my phone rings…it’s my good friend Adam…he’s growing in the Lord and I take every opportunity to encourage him and disciple him. I said, “Hello” and he says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” I smiled through the phone as I responded to him, “Adam, that’s solid gold. If you learn that and apply that to your life every day, you will never have to learn anything else.” The truth is, understanding that statement is the crux of the Christian life and if we learn it and live it each day, it governs every breath we take!)

            We all have world views whether we know it or not. We look through the lenses of something or somebody. What is your world view? Is it a philosophy, an ideology, a god, money, or the Word of God? What has authority in your life? Who leads you? What do you bow down to? Who makes you react the way you do? What pulls your chain? Who makes you think the way you do? These thought-provoking inquiries dominate your inner-being. As a nation, we are fearing the outcome of the election and it doesn’t matter whose side you are on. We all believe we have legitimate claims in both political camps. Here’s the problem: We have made politics, and political leaders, our gods!

            I realize these are stormy days for the Christ-follower and the church in America and in the world. The stakes are high in this election. It seems that every election cycle thrusts us closer to doom. But let me warn you of the danger of selling out to politics while putting God in the kitchen warmer. Let me warn you of being proud of your candidate for any office, yet never speak the name of God publicly. It’s abomination in the sight of God. Whenever we fear what the world is turning into, more than we fear Jehovah God, we are in dangerous waters. Whenever we watch a debate more than pray, we are making a statement. And that statement is our world view. Most people who call themselves Christians talk out of the side of their mouths, and need to begin to walk straight. Whenever we put our faith in a man and not in God, we have already lost. As we tune into our favorite news shows today listening to the pundits tell us who won the debate…understand, there is no debate who has won the victory of life over death. Jesus reigns!

            God is the one that hardened Pharaoh’s heart and used him to set His people free. God took Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon and NOT a God-fearer, played him, and used him as a pawn for His plan for His people. God used Herod, even in his sick and twisted declaration to kill infant males, in order to try and stop God (by the way, my only political view is to stop abortion). Paul tells us in Romans that it doesn’t matter who is in office, who is leading, or who is elected…God put them there! Movie stars, pro-athletes, and popular musicians will tell you to get out and vote and some will tell you to vote your conscience. This preacher has a better plan…you better vote, establish, and commit to fearing the Almighty who holds your very life in the palms of His holy hands. It’s your only shot at winning! 

PGD2020-39: Memorize & Meditate

            “The Holy Scriptures were not given to us that we should enclose them in books, but that we should engrave them upon our hearts.”  -John Chrysostom

            “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”     -Colossians 3:16

            If there is one key to revival in this country that is overlooked and taken for granted, it’s prayer. However, the missing catalyst is the gravitation and apprehension of God’s Holy Word. This one forgotten practice– of disciplined search and seizure of hearing the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe– is life transforming. That one indisputable truth that changes your life and mine completely is to train your heart to seek Him methodically and meticulously. The Psalmist tells us to hide the Word of God in our hearts. Yet in our progressive, offset society we have labeled the Bible as archaic antiquity. 

            Here’s some simple pastoral direction for you: Read your Bible. Its nutritious food for your soul. It’s the vitamin of life that you have been longing for. The Bible can be described as many things, but if we don’t understand it as God speaking directly to you and me, then we don’t get it. It’s not just a religious symbol. It contains life– it is life. It’s not a book of God’s Word, it is God’s Word! How can a Christian go through this life without desiring to hear God speak to them? What does Jesus really mean to someone who has a take it or leave it attitude towards the Bible? If you are a Christ-follower, then the most precious possession you own is your Bible. 

If you have been reading your Bible for a period of time, perhaps even years, it is time to advance to Scriptural memorization. If you want to grow with God, I promise you it is not a seminary class in New Testament or a modern book on the views of the Revelation that will change your life as much as a daily commitment to meditate upon a verse or two. While you do it, challenge yourself to memorize the verses. It is the beginning steps of writing them on your heart. Here are several verses (Message translation) that emphasize the importance of carving God’s Word into your heart:

“Place these words on your hearts. Get them deep inside you.”   -Deuteronomy 11:18

“Tie them around your neck; carve their initials on your heart.”   -Proverbs 3:3

“Dear friend, do what I tell you; treasure my careful instructions. Do what I say and you’ll live well. My teaching is as precious as your eyesight—guard it! Write it out on the back of your hands; etch it on the chambers of your heart.” -Proverbs 7:1-3

 In a world looking for shortcuts to God, here’s your opportunity get rid of past pain. In short bursts of passionate desire to incorporate His words into the very fiber of your life, you will push out the memories of the bad things and times you have miserably endured. The old recollections of sin will disappear when you replace the remembrances with remembering God’s Word to sooth your heart in trying times. This one practice of commitment to His Bible will alter the trajectory of your life! If there was one message of sanctification in Christ that I could preach to every person in church it would be to read and memorize as much Scripture as possible. When you do, you will sing to God His greatness, I promise.

PGD2020-38: Obey or Sacrifice?

            “We must give up the vain idea of trying to please everybody. That is impossible, and the attempt is a mere waste of time. We must be content to walk in Christ’s steps, and let the world say what it likes.” -J.C. Ryle

            “Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor,  not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.”  -1 Thessalonians 4:1-7

            Basically, we are a people that will give up something for some peace in our lives rather than to do the right thing. We will turn our heads, acting like we didn’t see it, in favor of not having to deal with it. We will part with our hard earned dollars to pay someone else to face the music for us. In other words, we value the ability to sacrifice way more than we value the appropriate, honorable, and right thing to do – obey! God calls us to obey Him. 

            All the religions and godly beliefs in the world are based on you and me sacrificing something. It makes us look like we are noble or altruistic. The difference is that Jesus Christ came for the ultimate sacrifice and there is nothing we can do to impress God by our puny offerings of money or giving something up. He calls us to be obedient to Him. Obedience is the beginning of holy living. Think about it… much of the Christian life you have lived, up to this point, has probably been one where you weigh in your mind and heart what you can do for God without giving up the real you. We want our cake and we want to eat it too! Yeah, we want to do some religious stuff that makes us appear that we are religious, or even makes us believe we have it all together. It doesn’t matter. Only obedience counts with God in our discipleship or sanctification. 

            Our salvation is measured in Christ and Christ alone. He rescued us from sin… He did it. And then when we move from justification to being sanctified (growing in Christ) we are defined by our Christian actions of obedience. Those actions of love tell the world to whom we belong. The Apostle Paul gives us insight by talking about being a bond-servant to Christ, and he emphasizes that his body is not his own. We have made this commitment to serve Him and that means we are to please Him above all others. Are you sold out to God in a relationship with Christ?

            In 1 Samuel 15, King Saul has disobeyed God’s instructions. He is called on the carpet by the prophet Samuel. As Samuel is telling Saul that his days as king are numbered, he says this one line that permeates modern-day sanctification in Christ… Samuel says to Saul, and everyone else at that time, and for everyone is all of history to hear, “…to obey is better than sacrifice.” 

            If your life for God is characterized and defined by you going to church, praying once and while, giving God your left-overs and, whenever you can to help out in the soup kitchen, then I’m afraid when the difficult times come your life is yanked out from under you because you have traded in the Holy God for some worthless religion you call by His name. 

PGD2020-37: Artificial heart?

“Above all other studies in the world, study your own heart.”   -John Flavel

            “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”  -Jeremiah 17:9

            Your heart is a trickster. God often speaks to our hearts about fraud, rebellion, and sin,  but many are good at deflecting His real attempts of truth, love, and mercy. We are habitual charlatans… at heart. Routinely, we talk ourselves into thinking things will turn out all right, and wrongly push aside the pressing and important issues of life. So, we run from God, looking to hide from our pain. Interestingly, we do the exact same thing Adam and Eve did when they realized their sin, they bolted! The good news is that God came looking for them, and He does the same for us, but again, our own heart plays tricks on our minds by convincing us everything will work out one day. 

It’s easy to forget about serious matters of the heart because we have so many sedatives these days to sooth our instability. We digest in massive quantities things like hobbies, sports, vacations, toys (cars, boats, etc.), drugs, alcohol, parties, technology, and work. Our mobile devices have also become tranquilizers for our hectic days where we comfort our souls by perusing social media or playing video games. Overtime, a workout, or family commitments rob God of all He wants from us – our hearts. Our great God vies for your heart. He longs that you give Him time. 

Here’s the question that must be understood before we try to respond to God’s gracious love – What’s wrong with the heart? The heart has become distracted from God’s heart of love. When Adam and Eve took that bite of fruit (btw it doesn’t say apple in Holy Scripture) their eyes were opened to their spiritual death and their first awareness of guilt was to discover their own nakedness. Sin bends the heart toward selfishness and that is the massive problem. We no longer care about the Creator and Sustainer… only ourselves. 

Where have all the godly people run off to or gone? The giant man of God, Daniel (dream interpreter), is called in to decode the literal writing on the wall by a ghostly hand while King Belshazzar was hosting a huge party. Belshazzar tells Daniel he will give him a purple robe (royal), a gold chain (cash), and become 3rd in command (power). What person of God do you know that would not look at this proposal and think that they have hit the jackpot and God’s favor was upon them? I don’t know many preachers or Christ-followers who would have turned this down, but Daniel did. I even like the way Daniel put it, “You can keep your gifts, or give them to someone else (5:17).”

It was his heart. His heart was in the right place, and it wasn’t artificial. When we confuse God’s favor on our lives with money or riches… all of the time, we miss true blessings of God. Our hearts have tricked us into thinking worldly instead of godly, tricked us into thinking secularly instead of spiritually, and tricked us into thinking selfishly instead of sacrificially. When that happens our synthetic lifestyle is waiting to explode. Jeremiah has diagnosed it correctly — our hearts are sick and they are stuck. They need healing, and Jesus is the only answer for a desperately sick and egotistical heart. 

Last week, my good friend had a stent inserted in one of the main arteries that goes to his heart. He showed me the tiny incision they made on his wrist, right below his palm, for the surgical procedure. I thought about the nail mark on Jesus’ hands and how those painful invasive spikes healed the hearts of Christ followers… they opened everything up for us to go to the Father. Enroll in a heart study today. In other words, be honest before God about what really goes on in your life and how much you need Jesus to forgive you, and He will heal your heart. 

PGD2020-36: Thank God for Suffering

“By perseverance the snail reached the ark.”  -CH Spurgeon

            “…but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance.”                      -Romans 5:3

No one liked it, but all of the civilized world was enrolled in COVID-19-Coronavirus/Mask-wearing/Hand-sanitizing/Social Distancing – 101 back in March of 2020. It was akin to having a 3-hour, afternoon lab in one of your required science classes in college, but the lab has been 24/7! As the teacher handed out the syllabus explaining the course, someone raised their hand and asked, “How long does this class last?” The teacher responded, “I don’t know, but we will just keep going until we finish.” Another piped up, “What is this all about?” Again, our instructors replied, “Wait and see!” And so we began our long crawl through the spring and summer, complaining every time we were caught off-guard as the leaders called out “pop-test” signaling a change in direction. We moaned, but put on the mask anyway. We were grouchy and grumpy and cantankerous, but stayed isolated anyway. And when the very worst happened – someone left and didn’t come home – we cried, while asking ourselves more “why” questions.

It’s a brief tongue-in-cheek analysis of the last six months, however, we have found nothing to laugh about. Who knows what is to come? At the same time, it’s a microcosm of the plight of man, which largely contains perseverance. For a world that is in a hurry and loves instant gratification, COVID-101 has been disastrous. Upsetting our daily routine, most have adapted to the lifestyle changes and accepted the unknown future. We are human beings and we persevere.

Most Christians, those who have identified with Christ in His death, burial, and Resurrection, need to go back to the administrator and sign up for a class they obviously missed. Matriculation is a calling, and it is understood right up front. Just read the Old Testament and the New Testament. When you do you find pain, suffering and, for the true believer…endurance or perseverance. Life is painful, but we keep going, knowing that there is a day coming. Those ancient prophets before Jesus talked about the coming day of the Lord. John the Baptist told everyone to get prepared. The Apostle Paul gives a graphic biographical sketch of the anguish, torture, and affliction that he experienced. And, Jesus tells us of the suffering that is coming for His followers. Why have we missed it?

Christianity, and successful affluent living, has been combined, packaged, and marketed to this modern world. Who wouldn’t want it? In bold print, on the front of the verbal brochures, is the promise that your suffering is over and done…all you have to do is recite a little prayer, get a little water up your nose, and give $10 online every now and then. If you do…they say…you will live pain-free. Many have been had. As a matter of fact, I find many modern day preachers have just eliminated suffering from their vocabulary altogether. I could go on and on about this subject, but let me get to the point…

…here’s the truth: when you are in pain and going through a difficult time, when it looks like you are not going to make it, and when the suffering becomes too much to bear…thank God for it. It means He is producing in you something far greater than your abbreviated comfort or luxurious relief. The world is infected with sin and sin knows no boundaries. It wants to destroy you, but when you endure in Jesus name, and when you persevere for the sake of the Gospel…it produces more and more joy because you realize His love for you. Tough day? Thank God for it!

PGD2020-35: The Clueless Crisis

“Most Christians would like to send their recruits to Bible college for five years. I would like to send them to hell for five minutes. That would do more than anything else to prepare them for a lifetime of compassionate ministry.”   -William Booth

“The rich man also died and was buried,  and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.  And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’”   -Luke 16:22b, 23-24

There is a crisis within ministry in the United States…and most are clueless that it’s occurring. It’s spilling over into the healthy feeding of the local congregation, and the disturbing ramifications are malnourished church folk. We, God’s people, more specifically God’s called pastors and preachers, have lost our way when we don’t obey. Whenever we abandon the Almighty’s plan of redemption (The Great Commission)…by supplanting it with social issues to preach we have taken a left turn into oblivion. When we forsake the manual of God speaking to us about our sin…replacing it with America’s top ten principles to make your business grow… we rightly drive off into canyons of obscurity. And, when we kneel to idolatrous ideologies rather than regularly taking a knee to our King and Sovereign…we are in the center lane and forthrightly headed for debacle and calamity.

In short, preaching on sin and hell have fallen on hard times in favor of breaking it to the people gently. Truth is not truth anymore. Sermons are casual talks of motivation and apologies for the way things have turned out in the world. For the most part it’s whatever information the preacher is digesting then being belched up in aftertastes of spiritual fantasies of wishes. The result is anemic leadership giving the church a steady diet of quick verbal shakes and mixed messages that savor a bland life. If we are one day going to sit down at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, then why are we setting the table with morsels of rotting so-called spiritual food? Look at the convicting words that God tells Ezekiel (34)…

“God’s Message came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherd-leaders of Israel. Yes, prophesy! Tell those shepherds, ‘God, the Master, says: Doom to you shepherds of Israel, feeding your own mouths! Aren’t shepherds supposed to feed sheep? You drink the milk, you make clothes from the wool, you roast the lambs, but you don’t feed the sheep. You don’t build up the weak ones, don’t heal the sick, don’t doctor the injured, don’t go after the strays, don’t look for the lost. You bully and badger them. And now they’re scattered every which way because there was no shepherd—scattered and easy pickings for wolves and coyotes. Scattered—my sheep!—exposed and vulnerable across mountains and hills. My sheep scattered all over the world, and no one out looking for them!

Pastor, church leader, and/or person of God desiring to grow closer to God…you don’t have anything to teach until you have humbled yourself and become a student of the Word of God. You can’t start a church, lead a movement, or pastor a body of people, until you submit yourself to King Jesus and His blueprints of salvation. Realize that “going into ministry” is your declaration to give up the next 5 decades of pleasing yourself to pleasing the Creator. Make sure of your calling…to neglect the distribution of the entrée of God’s mercy to forgive the lost soul is to serve up slop!

PGD2020-34: Prayer/Lack of Prayer

“Things are not well in the Christian church. What is the matter? In our folly we have been trying to build and run the Christian church without God. We have forgotten the prayer meeting.”  -M. Lloyd-Jones

“He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer….” -Matthew 21:13

Looking back at my former pastorates, I can see where I failed the most: prayer. I should have recognized the squabbles, quarrels, and church tiffs as exactly as they were presented to me: People who were not praying.  I sat in way too many meetings talking about bad ideas, hurt feelings, and wrong goals concealed in concerns of how the budget was spent, or how others would judge us. Church disagreements are the result of individuals or a group within the body that wants to present their selfish agenda for their own glorification. Either they have forgotten about the Great Commission to go and make disciples, or they have never understood it! Their plans, decorations, presentations, and recognitions all center around community perception instead of obeying the Savior’s command. Spurgeon said, “The very church which the world likes best is sure to be that which God abhors.” Those are strong words for the 21st century church that spends billions on trying to look like the other businesses in town.

You see, when you don’t pray you worry, fight, and look to assign blame. When you avoid meeting with God you will redirect your sinful life and its shame upon some other unsuspecting Christian or church member in order to prop yourself up. And when you refuse to get on your knees in humility, calling out for forgiveness, pleading for the rescue of friends, and presenting your petitions of honest prayer, then the church is being run like any other money hungry organization. Pastors have stopped being pastors and are now executives or trying to be high-powered CEO’s. And worse…they don’t pray anymore. Here’s the very worst thing you can say in leading a church: “Let’s say a quick prayer.” You have demeaned and devalued the Holy and Righteous God by stating that you will give Him a pittance of recognition. Prayer is not a spiritual add-on in order to make it seem legitimate.

Prayer is easy to forget when things are going well or we are in building mode. However, let things go bad in the budget for a few weeks and churches will begin to call for revival. Where am I going with this? For 7 years, our church has been borrowing places for a small fee to meet in for worship. As we are on the precipice of moving onto our 19+ acres of land in the next several months, I want to make sure we are on the same page. We will continue to pray. We will have a prayer ministry. We will have a prayer meeting during the week. We will not let FRESH Church become a den of thieves or a house of complainers. Jesus is the head of the church and our allegiance is totally and completely to Him. Other churches may go without it (God help them), but we will not. FRESH will be known as a house of prayer. Mark it down.

God is taking us deeper to take us farther!