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The Greatest Book Ever Written
It has been said, “That reading is a lost art.”  We have set aside books for news articles,
social media and blogs.  The act of reading needs to be revived, specifically the reading the Word of God.
Nothing else is as insightful and helpful for it greatest book ever written.  I want to encourage you
take some time today to read the Word of God.  Get into the Bible and let the Bible
get into you and I guarantee you that you will not regret it.
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A Judgmental Principle 
The Word Of God warns us against having a judgmental spirit and it does so, because it is easy to have one.
Our flesh seems to enjoy finding faults in others and excusing away our own short comings.
The judgmental heart owns a hundred microscopes and no mirrors.  Before we look outward, we need to look inward.
I am reminded of what Matthew 7:5 says, “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the mean out of thy own eye, and then 
thou shalt see clearly to cast out the mote in thy brother’s eye.  Before we examine others, lets first have
a self examination through the lens of God’s Word and lets allow Jesus Christ to be our measuring stick.  
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People are dangerous! Our sinfulness often brings with it the capacity to hurt others. We hurt one another with the words we say and with the things we do or forget to do. Sometimes we injure our relationships with others through carelessness or negligence. When this happens, we need to learn to find the grace to forgive as the Lord has commanded us to do. Forgiveness is one of the great themes of the Christian faith. We learn from the Bible that God has forgiven our sins and that He expects us to pass along that same forgiveness to others. Forgiveness, though sometimes very hard to do, is absolutely necessary in order for our personal relationships to stay strong. It grows us into the image of Christ and frees others and ourselves from the bondage of bitterness and resentment. No doubt many of us have heard numerous sermons, Sunday School lessons, and devotions on the subject of forgiveness. It is important to realize, however, that there is not only a scriptural obligation on the part of an offended party to forgive, but there is also a responsibility on the part of the offender to make things right. It is a universal experience to be hurt,
to be offended, or to suffer injury in a personal relationship. Everyone knows this pain. Husbands at times say things to hurt their wives; wives now and then hurt their husbands. Parents, children, friends, and associates all know the bitter sting of being falsely accused, taken advantage of, or hurt in other ways. However, it is also true that it is a universal experience to cause offense.
Our selfishness and insensitivity frequently injure others. Any time human beings live near each other, they will most likely hurt each other. Intentionally or unintentionally, we are dangerous. We get hurt. We put up barriers. We distance ourselves from those who have hurt us, and if we are not careful we let bitterness and resentment grow in our hearts. To prevent this, we need to learn to forgive, and we need to learn to apologize. Apology is often the forgotten responsibility when people hurt other people,
but apology and forgiveness are the hand-in-glove requirements for damaged human relationships to be properly restored.
The problem is that both of these things are hard on our pride. The only thing in this world more difficult than forgiving someone is asking someone to forgive you. An apology is the highway that must be paved for forgiveness to travel. We can learn a great deal about biblical apology from David. In Psalm 51, we get a glimpse into the heart of this man of God after he had committed an array of unimaginable sins. His heart was broken, and he knew he had damaged his relationship with his Heavenly Father.
So David in a desire to restore the joy and intimacy he once enjoyed with God offers a sincere apology to God. From David’s confession we can learn four elements of an effective biblical apology.
The starting place for a biblical apology is expressing remorse and regret. When our actions hurt people,  the injured party needs to know that we are remorseful that we can identify with their injury. We can encapsulate this principle in three simple words: “I am sorry.” Saying these words can go a long way in healing another’s heart. It is impossible to miss David’s remorse over his actions: “Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me” (Psalm 51:2–3). David was truly sorry for what he had done, and he wanted God to know it. He recognized his actions hurt others, and he sincerely acknowledged that to the Lord.
An apology cannot stand alone, though. It must be coupled with true contrition. It was David’s words spoken with humility that
God took notice of in Psalm 51:17, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” A flippant apology only adds to the damage. It is a second insult. An injured party does not want to be compensated because they have been wronged; they want to be healed because they have been hurt. Only a sincere apology can heal the hurting. It is important that we do not offer excuses for our actions, that we ask nothing in return, and that we are specific in our apology. It may not be enough to simply say, “I am sorry.” The offended party is healed by hearing that you know specifically what you did that hurt them. If you lost your temper with someone and said hurtful words to them, your apology needs to recognize this.
It would sound something like this: “I am sorry for losing my temper today and saying things I should not have said. I realize my words were hurtful, and that is not the kind of person I want to be.” Expressing remorse with a contrite spirit is something
we all need to learn to do.
The second component of an effective biblical apology is encapsulated in saying the three most difficult words known to mankind:
“I was wrong.” These words take us beyond remorse to responsibility. David not only was remorseful for what he had done, but he also accepted full responsibility for his actions. He said in Psalm 51:3, “For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.” David acknowledged his sins and admitted they deserved judgment. This step is vital. The admission of failure holds the potential to bring true change in our hearts. Saying “I was wrong” takes courage because we are afraid of what the admission of guilt will bring. But leaving outcomes up to God is an important part of growing up in Christ. Admitting guilt also requires humility, trust in the Lord, and maturity. It is a function of integrity—admitting I am not the person I want to be, but I am
still trying to get there.
These three phrases combined say to the injured party that there is still hope. “I am not finished growing, I have not given up on myself, and I don’t want you to give up on me either.” Alexander Pope said, “A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong; he is merely saying that he is wiser today than yesterday.” And, I might add, that there is still hope for our tomorrow. One of life’s greatest failures is not admitting that you have failed. No one has ever choked to death on the words,
“I am sorry. I was wrong. Will you please forgive me?”
The first three components could be communicated with words, but this fourth component is an action. True repentance is the
final component to an effective biblical apology. It will never be enough to simply apologize. As sinful and dangerous people,
we also need to change. Repenting not only recognizes that what we did was wrong, but it also expresses a desire to do right.
We owe it to the people we love to be at our best for them. An apology is a desire to continue growing. It is the best way to keep
a contrite heart and not be at odds with the Lord. An apology is required to safeguard the important relationships in our lives,
and it is necessary to do what’s right!
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Be A Positive Presence

Theologically, it is an amazing truth; but to us humans who are limited to occupy only one space at a time, we can find it a bit hard to appreciate . God occupies all places and all times simultaneously. All of Heaven… all of earth and all of the time. Preachers often use that truth to remind themselves and their listeners that God is with us at all times and sees everywhere we go and everything we do.

Consider Psalm 139:7-12 “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into Heaven,       thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts          of the sea. Even there shall thy hand lead me and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me;                   even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day:                                     the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.”

Now in truth, that is a valuable and sober warning for all of us; but we should also consider the wonderful positives implications of     this great truth. God is with us everywhere we go! Recently, I was praying before I walked into a service in which I was preaching.                    In my closing my closings words I said something like, “Lord, please do not let me go into that pulpit by myself.” The Holy Spirit stopped me and whispered into my heart, “You never do!” In an explosion of joy, that truth flooded my mind. It was not that I did not know the theological truth, but I was do appreciative of how it worked its way into the everyday portions of our lives.

Think about it: the Holy Spirit drew us to Christ, He daily guides us, He daily teaches us the Scripture, He prays for us in words that we cannot utter, He comforts us when we are hurting, He anoints and He enables us to serve. He is the One who walks into every situation of our lives with us and makes us more than conquerors. He is at all times a “positive presence” of helping us please the Lord and avoid the suffering that sin brings. There is no moment that we face in our day when the Holy Spirit is not with us to help us.

What is we patterned ourselves after the ministry of the Holy Spirit? Oh, we cannot be omnipresent, omniscient and certainty not omnipotent; but we can purpose to be a positive presence in every situation we find ourselves in during a day. We do not always find ourselves in pleasant circumstances; but with the Holy Spirit’s help, we can be the helper, the encourager, the source of truth in love,  the one who has mercy, the one who is gracious and the one who tried to make a difference for the good of others. Oswald Chambers said, “The atmosphere produced by a man, much more than his activities has the lasting influence.” So friend, be a that positive presence and watch God influence others by your attitude.



As women, you have the opportunity to make choices on a daily basis. Sometimes, the choices you make seem small and insignificant. Other times, they involve life-changing consequences.  If you are a mom, though, there are a few choices that you didn’t make. Some choices God Himself made for you.  If you are a mom, God chose you for your children.

He graciously and lovingly determined, before the world began, the child (or children) you would have. He knew their temperaments. He knew their strengths, their weakness. He knew what would make them laugh and what would make them cry.

He knew what they would like for dinner and how they would like to play. He knew how they would learn best and what subject they would most enjoy in school. He knew what type of guidance they would need to become men and women who would one day be used of God… and He knew the mom they would need to make that happen. He knew the tender touch you could provide and the loving discipline you could impart. You are God’s choice for your children. You are the woman God made to influence their moldable hearts.

He chose you for them.  But, God also chose your children for you.

He knew, before the world began, that you would learn from their childlike faith, simple wonder, and loving acceptance of others.  He knew that you would need a toddler to rub food in his hair right before church, so that you could demonstrate loving patience. He knew that same toddler would melt your heart with a timely hug in the middle of a crazy day.  He knew that your children would change you for the better, causing you to be less selfish and more sacrificial. He knew that you would be capable and strong, but that your children would test your capabilities and strength.  He knew that your children would make you depend on Him, cry out to Him, and seek Him.  He knew the loss of a child would draw you to Himself in ways you would never imagine. He knew that you would love them with an indescribable love, and He knew that love would give you a small glimpse of His love for you.

He chose them for you. I love it when God makes the choices in my life.  I’m thankful for my wife and the four children He chose for us, and I pray that you will savor the blessings He has chosen for you this weekend, as well. Happy Mothers Day! Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. — Psalm 127:3  




  “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. – Acts 2:42–47 When God sends revival to a church, there is a natural interest in prolonging the good effects of what has happened. One of the most important factors in extending the blessings of the revival is for the church to adopt what could be called “a revival M.O.” The letters M.O. abbreviate a Latin term modus operandi (means of operating). Churches that have experienced a revival need to adopt a revival M.O., a revival-based way of doing things. Often the lifelessness, carnality, worldliness, and barrenness of churches in an unrevived state are caused by operating in an unrevived way. So going forward in ministry in the new way requires a new M.O. On the day of Pentecost, the church at Jerusalem experienced revival. Not only did the Holy Spirit come to indwell believers, it was a revival for the one hundred twenty who waited before God the ten days before the Spirit came. They were “filled” with the Spirit (Acts 2:1–4), and not merely “sealed” with Him (see the significance and distinction between the two by studying Ephesians 1:12–14, 4:29–30, and 5:18). Not only did He come to dwell within them as part of the dispensational change, He took control of their lives and began to empower their witness for Christ. They experienced a revival. And the revival continued as the church adopted a revival M.O., described for us in Acts 2:42–47.  So what should change in a church when revival comes, so that the community will be impacted with the gospel in the days ahead? Right away the renewed church should adopt as the “new normal” the following things that the Jerusalem church followed:


A certain kind of doctrine goes along with revival. A very serious obstacle to revival in a church can be the doctrine that is taught. But the apostles’ doctrine was favorable to the faith that is behind revival, to expecting the supernatural involvement of God in church life, to the ministry of the Holy Spirit (note verses 4, 17–18, 33, and 38–39), and to bold evangelism (verse 40). For more than a century now, many Bible-believing churches have been scared away from preaching on the Holy Spirit because of the false teaching on this subject that has been spread by charismatic groups. But heresy about a certain doctrine is not effectively challenged by avoiding the subject. False teaching must be met with the truth. And Bible-believing Christians have always known and taught the basic Bible truths about the Spirit’s ministry. Fatalistic preaching that says, for all practical purposes, “what will be will be” and whether we pray or believe or repent or not, God will do what He was going to do all along, quenches revival fires. We must learn again the truth about abiding in Christ (John 15) and about drawing nigh to God (James 4) and let it permeate all we do and say.   2.  PRAYER MEETINGS Prayer meetings were the means of the church getting things done, as Jesus taught them that they would be in Matthew 18:18–20. Revived churches will be empowered, guided, driven, and regularly impacted by prayer meetings. The pastors must learn to lead them in a spiritual and biblical Matthew 18 way, and members must get into the habit of participating in them. New Testament churches engage in prayer meetings.   3.  HEALTHY CHURCH LIFE 

We find that the revived church at Jerusalem engaged in warm fellowship together (verse 42), observing the Lord’s Supper regularly (verses 42 and 46), bearing one another’s burdens (verses 44–45), and coming together often for church (verses 46–47).  The church should pray and plan to connect the members’ lives and families together for ministry (I Corinthians 12:12–27).
For a while, they had church every day: “continuing daily with one accord” (verse 46). Eventually the main meetings of Christians
were held on Sundays (Acts 20:7), but sometimes, such as the days that followed Pentecost, they met every day. Such protracted
meetings provide believers an opportunity to exhort one another regularly and raise the spiritual sensitivity of the congregation (read Hebrews 3:12–13 and 10:24–25). So revived churches should plan to have special meetings to revive the revival.

5.   Fervent Praise The practice of praising God was common when believers gathered together. The church meetings were characterized by, Gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favour with all the people”(verses 46–47). They were happy and exuberant meetings, not dull and formal. Church meetings should be orderly (1 Corinthians 14:26, 32–33, 40), but they should also be alive (verses 23–25). Attention must be given to encouraging praise and testimony when we come together, letting the Lord fill

the room with joy and gratitude (Ephesians 5:19–20).
It was the real thing that these Christians practiced. See how they loved each other in verses 44–47. 

Tradition must give way to scriptural teaching.


“And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved,” it was every day that the congregation took in new members who had just come to Christ. The harvest of souls that began at Pentecost continued as the evangelization of the city continued.       Both public and personal proclamation of the gospel got the message of salvation to everyone in town (see Acts 5:27–29 and 42). A revived church will operate as an aggressively evangelistic church, with members witnessing and bringing people to Christ. When God sends revival to a church, the people and their leaders should take a good look at how they have been doing things. Ministry methods should be examined, and unspiritual philosophies and practices dropped. The mission of the church must be adjusted to match Acts 1:8 and the methods adjusted to reflect the book of Acts. The people should learn to hold prayer meetings in order to cooperate with God and to get things done. The preachers must examine their teaching in the light of revival truth. The church should get ready for scriptural change, and be excited about it. Everybody should rededicate his life to the service of Christ, and depend on the Holy Spirit for the power to spread the gospel and to minister to the needs of the saints. Let’s have revival the way we are told in James 4:8–10, and plan to go forward on the higher plane to which we have been lifted!

Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. — James 4:8–10

3 PRINCIPLES TO FOLLOW WHEN YOU ARE CRITICIZED RESPONDING TO CRITICISM As a younger pastor, I am not sure I was fully prepared for just how critical some people could be concerning my leadership and my service. Ministry life is truly life in a fishbowl. Not only me, but my family was observed as well. That goes with the calling; and though it is not one of the more pleasant aspects of ministry, it is one that we all will deal with from time to time. My experience is that most people are loving and appreciative of your role in their life; but at times, criticism of your actions and your motives can come. Sadly, if we do not handle those times properly, it can affect our present ministry and set some very serious precedents for the future. Several years ago, in the midst of a very discouraging time, God gave me three principles to guide me through times of criticism. They became so important to me, that I review them regularly. Let me share them with you.

I will Take Every Experience Of Criticism As An Opportunity
To Honestly Examine My Words And Actions.

  I am flesh and therefore capable of any failure of the flesh. There are times when criticism of our lives and ministries is justified. Hopefully, that criticism is offered in love and with a desire to help; but even if it is not, it does not change the fact that it is justified criticism. I may not be able to correct the spirit of the one who is being critical, but I can correct that which the criticism exposed in me to be wrong. Someone else’s bad behavior does not allow me to excuse my own failure.

Proverbs 26:12 says, “Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than him.” Instead, “A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels”(Proverbs 1:5).
If The Criticism Is Unjust, Then In Humility I Will Attempt To Explain
My Words And Actions So That They Can Be Understood By The Critic.
The servant of the Lord must have the spirit of teaching not striving. Our flesh does not enjoy being forbearing, patient, and kind; but that is the response which can lead to agreement and unity. If you are not given the opportunity to explain, then be forgiving. That does not mean that you do not move forward with what God has given you to do, but you move forward with a heart always ready to reconcile with the critic. I love the event in Paul and Mark’s life when, instead of being bitter against the criticism of Paul, Mark became a trusted co-laborer with him in the ministry of the gospel.
I Will Not Use Times Of Criticism To Attack Those That Are Critical Of Me.
They say the only way to escape criticism is to say nothing, be nothing, and do nothing. No, thank you! That is not the life any of us want to live. So then, if you are criticized and it is justified, make the changes called for. If it is unfair, try to win the critic to your view, but in humility continue what God has given you to do. Do not use the critic’s failures to vindicate you; let God do that, through prospering what He has given you to 

THE CULTURE OF A HEALTHY, NEW TESTAMENT BAPTIST CHURCH  10 WORDS THAT DESCRIBE THE CULTURE OF THE CHURCH AT Jerusalem   Every church has a culture — a functioning set of values and identity. Hopefully, this culture reflects what the church says it believes and teaches. But that is not always the case. Too many times, the culture of a church becomes one of divisiveness, pride, or worldliness (although no one is likely to acknowledge those). As Baptists, we of course believe that the Bible is our final authority for faith and practice. But does the Bible speak to such matters as the culture of a church? It does. And it does in one of the earliest descriptions of the first-century church in the book of Acts. In the same passage that tells us of the first moment of explosive growth in the church, we catch a glimpse into what the culture of this church was like.


The amazing explosion of growth that took place in the Jerusalem church on the day of Pentecost can only be attributed to the work of the Holy Spirit. But He used Peter boldly standing and preaching the gospel as the tool to convict the lost. Preaching must be the engine that pulls the train in the ministry of a New Testament Baptist church. But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: — Acts 2:14


Although Peter is the one who preached at Pentecost, it is obvious that all the disciples must have been dealing with people on a personal basis. A church focused on reaching the lost with the gospel not only will bear more fruit than a church that is inwardly focused, but it is also a more pleasant place to be and to grow in Christ. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. — Acts 2:41


Even in this early explosion of growth, the church at Jerusalem did not neglect new Christians. The fact that these three thousand people continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine means that someone taught them the apostles doctrine. A healthy church has an environment that works like a greenhouse for new Christians. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine… — Acts 2:42


Christian fellowship is a powerful source of encouragement and is one of the great gifts God gives us through local church relationships. And they continued stedfastly in…fellowship… — Acts 2:42


One of the most worshipful times at Lancaster Baptist Church is when we partake of the Lord’s Table. Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it (Ephesians 5:25), and He is the one who should have preeminence in the church (Colossians 1:18). To say it another way, church should be about Jesus, not about us. And they continued…in breaking of bread… — Acts 2:42


I don’t think prayers in the early church were confined to pre-scheduled moments on an order of service to create transitions.    They were heartfelt, corporate prayers — as they should be today. And they continued…in prayers. — Acts 2:42


This was a church that feared God. The signs and wonders performed by these early Christians brought an awe of God in the church. This was a church that recognized His holiness and had a deep reverence for Him. Holiness in the church is still vital today, for there is no fear of God where there is no holiness. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. — Acts 2:43


Giving is such an important part of a healthy church. We may not practice giving the same way that first-century church did, but we should have the same spirit of generosity. Sacrificial giving allows us to start ministries, send missionaries, and help those in need. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. — Acts 2:44–45


The work of the ministry is too important to attempt it without the work of the Holy Spirit. Discord and division repel God’s power, but unity and love invite His work. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, — Acts 2:46

This was not a church enamored with its own success. It was a church praising God for what He was doing in their midst. The moment we usurp the goodness of God to elevate ourselves — our leadership, vision, organization, or anything else — is the moment we lose His favor. Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. — Acts 2:47 Interestingly, we might read these ten descriptions and assume this church was practically perfect. It wasn’t close. In fact, just four chapters later in Acts 6, we read of significant problems that arose related it its growth. (Incidentally, we see in the apostles’ response in Acts 6 that this church also had an approachable culture!) But while it wasn’t a perfect church, it was a healthy church. Even so today, a healthy church culture does not mean a church without problems. But it does point to a church that is focused on Christ and has centered its energy around reaching the lost, discipling new converts, encouraging each other, and all while worshiping God.
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Someone once shared with me this thought: It is easy to say, “I love you, but far more difficult to live a life that consistently reveals, “I love you.”

We treasure those places in the Word of God where Jesus said the words, “I love you,”
such as John 15:9 and 12; but beyond the words, His life and actions continually revealed
that He loves us as no other has or could. The truth is that the very essence of God is love,
and the Bible definition of love is God.
The life of the Lord Jesus Christ was the living demonstration of love. Jesus expressed His love
in His Word. Jesus demonstrated His love in His living. Notice with me how Jesus
demonstrated His love in Matthew 20:29–34:
And as they departed from Jericho, a great multitude followed him. And, behold, two blind men sitting by the way side, when they heard that Jesus passed by, cried out, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David. And the multitude rebuked them, because they should hold their peace: but they cried the more, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David. And Jesus stood still, and called them, and said, What will ye that I shall do unto you? They say unto him, Lord, that our eyes may be opened. So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him.


As they left Jericho, a great multitude followed the Lord Jesus Christ and His disciples. The days of Jesus casually strolling with His disciples were gone. It seemed that now there was always a crowd of hundreds, sometimes thousands. His disciples always seemed to focus on the crowd. This day, they thought it was improper for these two blind men to demand the attention of Jesus when so many were around. But the Lord Jesus knew the importance of the individual. It is important for us to remember that great lesson. Our world is becoming more and more anonymous, more and more aloof. What a tremendous opportunity for Christians to be personally caring and accepting, revealing the beauty of the gospel through caring acts of friendship! The world, like never before, needs more loving pastors, caring soulwinners, interested Sunday school teachers, bus captains, and junior church workers. We talk of a lost world, but I believe we would reach people more effectively if we saw them as lost individuals.

These men were crying out because they had real needs. They were not just seeking attention; they were seeking help. The disciples did not hear the cries for help, only the noise of distractions from their own purpose. The disciples were on a journey, a mission, and it did not include time for stopping to help two blind men. But the Lord Jesus’ mission was different: He had come seeking those men and desiring to save them. Sometimes we can get so busy with working the details of ministry projects that we can fail to minister to the individuals the projects are meant to reach.
When the disciples urged Jesus to keep moving and the natural flow of the crowd was to keep going forward, it is a stunning contrast to see the words: “And Jesus stood still…” It is hard in our hurry-up world to realize what a statement of love it is to give people our time and our attention. A few minutes of true listening can be a great way to provide encouragement. A moment of shared prayer can be a very real help.
Not only did the Lord give of His time and attention, but He also was now ready to give of His resources to help. He asked them, “What will ye that I shall do unto you?” Jesus knew their need, but He wanted these men to enter into the miracle. When we have the resources, love demands that we help (see 1 John 3:16—19). Our Lord was careful to love in deed and truth. His actions perfectly expressed His love.
“So Jesus had compassion on them.” His concern was not whether they deserved to be blind, or if their parents had sinned, or if they had a record, but that they had a need. Sometimes it is difficult to discern when tough love is necessary. We must be careful that what we call tough love is not actually the absence of compassion in our own hearts. In our hard world it is easy to develop an attitude of, “I can’t fix it all, so I won’t help at all.
The Bible says Jesus, “touched their eyes,” and their eyes were healed. We do not have to be “touchy-feely” people, but we do need to touch lives with the love of God.
We are a peculiar people put on this earth to be the light that directs people to our Saviour,
not only with our words but also through our living.  Jesus may not have often said the words, 
“I love you,” but there was never a moment or a day that He did not live it.



How many of us through the years have prayed, Psalm 85:6, “Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?” In truth, we need revival. I know of no greater need for our nation, the church where I pastor,

or my own life than revival.  We need Revival!!! 

For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit,

to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

I’m encouraged by this verse because it assures us that God is willing to revive our hearts.

And it tells us specifically what revival looks like:

A HOLY FOCUS For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place… As long as our focus is turned inward, we will not see revival. We need a fresh  – not just glimpse – but focus on the holiness and greatness of our eternal God. Pride is the idolatry of self. To experience revival, we must once again give Christ preeminence in our life. A HUMBLE FELLOWSHIP …I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit… That the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy, would desire to dwell with us is…amazing. And very humbling.  Just last month, we reflected often on the meaning of Emmanuel, God with us (Matthew 1:23). And we know that as believers, the Holy Spirit indwells us (2 Corinthians 1:22). But Isaiah 57:15 reminds us that those with a contrite and humble spirit can have a special awareness of God’s presence and power. When we are filled with ourselves, we see no need for God, and we do not walk in dependence on Him. But when we humble ourselves before Him and focus on Him, He revives us. A HOPEFUL FUTURE …to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. Revival is new life. It is not something that we manufacture, but something God gives. Something, in fact, that He delights to give. When God brings revival to a heart, there is no need to “pump up” that individual for the things of God. They are consumed with Him and have His power filling their heart.

DO YOU WANT REVIVAL?  As G. Campbell Morgan said, “We cannot organize revival, but we can set our sails to catch the wind from Heaven when God chooses to blow upon His people once again.” When does God blow upon His people? And upon whom? For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. — Isaiah 57:15



We know that Jesus is the reason for the season. But how much of our season actually is centered around celebrating Christ?  It’s so easy in the rush of responsibilities to see December as more of a to-do list than as a month of special opportunity to lift up Christ.  How can you make this unique month more Christ-centered?

If there is one thing the human element of the Christmas story teaches us, it is to trust and submit to
God’s sovereign plan.  In the fullness of time, He works. Few things honor God more than our trust.
Let the Christmas story reset your faith.
For with God nothing shall be impossible. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.
And the angel departed from her. — Luke 1:37–38
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. — Matthew 25:40
It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed. — Luke 1:3–4


When our children were young, we gave tangible items to the church as “Christmas gifts to Jesus.”
Either personally or as a family, find a way to give to the Lord or to others in His name this Christmas.

V.   TELL SOMEONE ABOUT HIM Christmas is the easiest season to open conversations about the Lord. Whether it be asking a co-worker about their holiday traditions and then sharing yours, or bringing a plate of Christmas cookies over to your neighbors with an invitation to a special church service where the gospel will be presented, this is a wonderful season to tell others about Christ and why He came.

And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

—  Luke 2:17–18

Image result for first baptist church of sutherland springs

5 Responses To A Church Shooting

Like many churches around the nation, Grace Baptist Church had a time of prayer a few weeks ago    for First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.  Here, twenty-six people lost of their lives   during the worship of that church.

A mass shooting is always tragic and, regardless of how or where it takes place, we grieve the loss of life.But when it happens in a church, to brothers and sisters in Christ, we grieve for and with our Christian family, perhaps in a deeper way.  What should Christians do when something like this happens?  How should they respond?
Our first response in every tragedy should be prayer. As Christ taught us, 
“Men ought always to pray…”
(Luke 18:1). God invites us to cast our burdens on Him, because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).

Pray also for those who are in authority—law enforcement officials and civil leaders as they respond.  In particular, I have appreciated the tenderness and godly faith of Governor Abbott in leading people to pray for the families and victims of this particular shooting. But pray for all of those involved. And pray for those who give care – spiritual and physical. Approximately twenty people were in the hospitals being treated for wounds. Pray for the doctors and nurses who are cared for them, in the wake of seeing their own community and state so devastated. Pray for extended family and spiritual leaders (in addition to Pastor Pomeroy) giving love and seeking to direct hearts to the comfort of God. REJECT FEAR As I was praying for this church over these past few weeks and thinking through the implications of  this event, I thought of the first-century Christians who routinely were harassed, imprisoned, tortured,      and martyred for their faith. What must it have been for them to watch one another go through these types of persecution? They had to choose to look to Christ for courage. As Paul wrote to Timothy, “God hath not given us  the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (II Timothy 1:7). Do not allow the powers of darkness to score a double victory by making you a victim of fear.

Even as first-century Christians continued in their regular worship through extreme persecution, so we should remain faithful in the assembling of ourselves with our church families. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much   the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).


We all have our political opinions. But don’t do with a tragedy what we hate for politicians to do and turn it into a platform to further a given agenda. When people come to church after an event like this, they need to hear the Word of God. Only God’s Word can bring comfort, courage, hope, and security.
Every church facility is different in terms of the needs for security. But I would strongly encourage every church to, with the help of expert advice, put a solid plan in place that will provide protection   for every service, and to let your church family know that is the case.

Love your family. Love your church family. The truth is, none of us know “what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (James 4:14).

It’s sad that sometimes it takes a tragedy to wake us up to the fact that none of us are guaranteed tomorrow. But when we’re faced with losing the ones we love, we realize how much of our time we have invested in things that don’t matter.  Thank God for the people He has placed in your life to love, lead, and care for. Give your children a hug. Tell them you love them. Pray for your church family.   Tell them you’re thankful to be with them. Reflect on the blessings God has given you through the people He’s put in your life. And let them know you love them.


Five Aspects of Christ’s Ministry To The Church

The early “infancy period” of the church is fascinating to read about in the book of Acts. In just a few years’ time, local churches of baptized believers were established in dozens of cities in the Mediterranean region.

They had no steeples or stained glass, no buildings, no busses, no organized Sunday school, no media advertising,  no youth groups, or kids clubs. No gospel tracts, no Bible-study books were available. Their only written Bible was the Old Testament.

In spite of their lack of many tools that churches use today, notice what happens in Acts 2:47: “Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” We see something magnificent for the cause of Christ. The assembly of believers did not have all of the “stuff” we are accustomed to churches having. But, what they did have was the power of God at work in their individual lives— through the indwelling Holy Spirit — channeled through their local church. Let’s consider the central figure of the church.

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.—Acts 2:38

Peter’s message in Acts 2:14–36 articulates that Jesus Christ is the central figure, the primary thrust, the key Person of all that is happening. Sadly, much of what is done in the name of religion, today, has little or nothing to do with Jesus Christ.  Let us be clear: Jesus Christ must be the central figure of each local church.


I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. — Matthew 16:18b

Jesus speaks of His identification with the church when He says, “My church.” He is not talking about just any group. Rather, He is identifying with His assembly, His “called-out” ones. Jesus speaks of His relationship. He says, “I will build.” We are energized by His activity, by His power.                He is engaged with His people and He propels them to progress. Jesus is speaking of His victory, “And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” The church will victoriously endure—not because of those who are in the church. It will victoriously endure because of He who founded it!


Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; — Ephesians 2.19–20

The church is not only founded by Jesus Christ; it is founded upon Jesus Christ. It is specifically on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ that the church is based. Without Jesus’ work of redemption there would be no need for a church.


In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. — Ephesians 2:21–22

Your life is a work in progress. God is building you in Christ. Our church is a work in progress. God is building us together in Christ. Just like the simple song says, “He’s Still Workin’ on Me.” Our churches can sing “He’s Still Workin’ on Us.”  Who we are is all about Jesus. So, what we do should be all about Jesus.

Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. — Titus 2:13–14


Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, — Ephesians 1:20–22

The Founder of the church is not dead. He is not in a grave with a memorial monument to Him and to His vision.  We serve a living Saviour! Our Founder is alive and still leading as, the Head of the church.

And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. — Colossians 1:17–18

It may come as “news” to some people, but let it be clear: the Head of the church is not the membership. The Head of the church is not the Deacon Board. The Head of the church is not the Pastor. The Head of the church is JESUS CHRIST! Any and all human leadership within the church is under submission to the authoritative Head — our Lord Jesus Christ!

Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. — I Corinthians 11:1


So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. — Romans 12:5

A great pastor from a generation ago, Dr. Jack Hudson, used to say, “You make much of Jesus; He will make much of you.” If our Church will make much of Jesus, He will make much of our church.

That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. — II Thessalonians 1:12

The disturbing trends we see in many churches today seem to indicate that they want to present themselves less and less like Jesus, but more and more like the world and the culture. (The same world and culture that Jesus came to save people out of.) You can certainly draw a crowd by putting on a show and making people feel good about themselves. But, that is not a New Testament church. The measurement of a church is not in its size, or its buildings, or its offerings. The true measurement of a church is in its likeness to Christ.

And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.—John 12:3



The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. — Psalm 34:17

In this Psalm, young David is running for his life from King Saul. God providentially preserves him, and he has a message for all who come behind him: there is a God in Heaven who hears the cries of His children! No matter why and how far we run, God is only a prayer away. In a time of great trial in my life, I noticed some very brief Bible prayers I was using to cry out to God. I learned,    as Spurgeon said, “It’s not the length of your prayers; it’s the strength of your prayers that matters most to God.”  He also tenderly declared, “Tears are liquid prayers.” The very first song I sang in church after I had trusted Christ as my personal Saviour while a senior in high school in 1981 was “Tears Are a Language, God Understands.” I am so thankful that our LORD hears and understands the cries of His children! Note three brief heart-felt Bible prayers we can pray in our time of need:


In Nehemiah chapter 13, the prophet asked the Lord three times to remember all he had done for Him, His people, and His house. He had led the people to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and had reestablished the people in the worship and service of the Lord. He had put God and others before himself. The enemies of the Lord, however,  tried to frustrate Nehemiah’s efforts. We must remember that God’s servants and their work for Him will always be demeaned and disparaged by the  self-willed and self-serving. We must also remember the promise of Hebrews 6:10, “For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.” Others may forget what we have done for them (Isaiah 49:15–16), but God remembers all we have done for Him and will reward us in His time. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord. — I Corinthians 15:58


In Isaiah 38:14, King Hezekiah cries unto the Lord upon the occasion of his impending death. God had sent word through the prophet Isaiah for the king to set his house in order, “For thou shalt die” (verse 1). As he humbled himself in verse 2 and asked God to remember his faithful service in verse 3, God said in verse 5, “I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will add unto thy days fifteen years.” Hezekiah recounts the words of his prayer in verses 9–20. The word undertake in verse 14 has the thought of “to braid and to intertwine.” It also has the idea of being a surety for, a guarantor as in a cosigner. When he cried, “undertake for me,” he was asking God to enter into his situation with him and to pick it up where he left off or came up short. Praise God that He will do just that! He hears our cry of invitation to step into our desperation and to make up the difference as a cosigner would.


We read in Mark 9:14–29 about a young man who was demon possessed and his father who asked Jesus for a greater faith to believe in our Lord’s heart of compassion and ability to deliver his son. He found that in Christ, “All things are possible to him that believeth.” Often we have a measure of faith but struggle with a confidence of faith in God. God can increase our faith, and sometimes He does that by reminding us that He is the object of our faith. A little mustard seed faith in a great big God can see the impossible made possible. Perhaps you know deep in your heart God can, but you are really wondering if He will work in a certain area of your life. Ask God to come alongside of you and relieve your wavering confidence in His promise. Hebrews 11:33 says that through faith His people “obtained promises.” That means they held to the promise of God until that promise was realized on their behalf. Hold to the promise of God and you will find the God of the promise holding you! “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” If you have lived for the Lord for any length of time, you have taken your licks and learned many lessons. One thing we learn is that though we can be too strong for God to use (II Chronicles 26:16), we can never be too weak (I Corinthians 1:27). Don’t disqualify yourself because of your weaknesses. God is drawn to such that He may show Himself strong on our behalf. Whatever we face along life’s journey, we have the assurance from God, through the promise of His Word, that He will remember who we are and what we have done for Him, that He will enter into our trials with us and make up the difference where we come up short, and that He will bless our true faith in Him.  Is your heart crying this hour? By faith, lift your cries unto Him that “heareth, and delivereth.”




The existence of God has been the subject of debate for hundreds of years. The fact that the number of non-church goers, skeptics, and atheists is on the rise is not surprising. “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).
The natural tendency of the human heart is to blindfold itself when it comes to God. If we can eliminate God then there is no accountability as to how we live; no one to judge us in the end; and no one but ourselves to determine our eternal fate.
Yes, the human mind is happy to be blinded to the existence of God.
The rise of empiricism has only accelerated the denial of God’s existence. For the empiricist, only that which can be experienced by the human senses is real or factual. Many today believe that because God cannot be seen with the human eye or heard with the human ear, He cannot be placed in the realm of fact. Rather, something like God must be placed in the category of value. Fact and value have been split today into separate categories and only that which is factual is considered truth. If I can see it, hear it, touch it, taste it, or smell it, I can call it factual or truth. But if I cannot experience it with my
human senses, then it is relegated to the realm of mere value.
There used to be a time when you could get into a good old-fashioned argument or debate with people about God.
Public debates on creation versus evolution were common. D. L. Moody once spoke to a group of over a thousand atheists
at their request. People were interested in “the facts” and then would wrestle with those facts as to their beliefs.
Today, it is difficult to have a discussion with many people about God because they have taken Him out of the realm of fact and placed Him in the category of value. They do not have a problem with you believing in God as a value for your life, but consider it wrong for you to push something non-factual on to them. This is why God has been removed from the public school classrooms and public prayers. The name Jesus Christ is banned from public conversations and labeled politically incorrect because He is simply a “value” rather than a “fact.” All God talk is “non-sensical” and thus non-factual and
untruthful according to the skeptic.
So is God a matter of fact or simply a matter of a person’s values? Much of what we believe about God is indeed a matter
of faith. “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were
not made of things which do appear” (Hebrews 11:3). But I would contend that while God honors our faith, He has also provided empirical facts upon which to base our faith.

When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, “…they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day” (Genesis 3:8). In John chapter one we learn of the deity of Jesus Christ.  He was indeed God according to verses one through three: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.” This Word (Jesus Christ) according to verse fourteen “…was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” When God announced to the world that Jesus Christ was His Son and the Saviour of the world, He did it with an audible voice. “And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).

At the foundation of the Christian faith is the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. If Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead,
I Corinthians fifteen tells us we are without hope. In fact, our entire set of beliefs is a hoax without the resurrection! 
And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain…For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:14–17).
As Paul presents the argument that Christ is truly risen from the dead, he does so with empirical facts. “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve. After that he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time” (1 Corinthians 15:3–8). Over and over, Paul points to the empirical evidence to prove the resurrection which forms the foundation of our faith.

The book of 1 John is a marvelous little epistle which contains much instruction for the child of God today. For hundreds of years now, God’s people have benefited from the instruction given under inspiration of the Holy Spirit through the human writer John. The Apostle may have wondered if anyone twenty-one centuries later would believe what he was writing. So the Spirit of God inspired him to write from the basis of empirical facts in his introduction. “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, and our hands have handled of the Word of life: (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us:) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full” (I John 1:1–4).

Our culture relegates God to the realm of value, but He is indeed a matter of fact! He is found by those who seek Him.
Look around. “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world” (Psalms 19:1-4). Look in the Bible, “… thy word is truth” (John 17:17). Look within, “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them” (Romans 1:19). Yes, God is a matter of fact! Only a fool says and believes otherwise (Psalms 14:1).




The picture above illustrates an important truth about priorities and relationships. It’s a multi-tiered fountain. Imagine,
if you would, your life as a fountain, and each of the levels are your priorities: God, your spouse, your family, your work,
your ministry, your friends, and your recreation. Let the top pool of this fountain represent your walk with God.
When the top bowl gets full of water, it will naturally overflow into the next bowl and so on. When we view our priorities
as a list, something always goes wrong.  There’s always a crisis that throws my priorities out of whack. I need to begin
with God my walk with God is at the top.  
Speaking to the woman at the well Jesus said, “But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst;
but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14).
Living inside every Christian, is the Spirit of God. Paul said, “Christ [is] in you” (Colossians 1:27). We need a walk with God, so that when we are filled with the Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit can overflow into our relationships with our spouse, family,
co-workers, and friends. Ephesians 5:18 shows us what that looks like: “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess;
but be filled with the Spirit.” When someone drinks alcohol, it makes its presence known in every area of his life.
Likewise, the filling of the Holy Spirit overflows into every part of our lives, marriage, family, work, worship, and friendships.
Think about the marriage relationship. My poor wife married this super needy, high maintenance guy. When I come home,
I am looking for my wife. I’m looking for a kiss, a hug, food, and fellowship. After dinner, I want to know how her day went, and I want to tell her how my day went. I’ve seen couples that have two or three good talks a week; and they’re both doing great. Not me. I want time with my wife. And she’s the same way! I’ve got to have one date a week. A couple of times a year,
I want to get away with her. Our relationship takes time!


How much time do you need with God? Is it 15 minutes in the morning in the presence of God? A half an hour?
Is it 20 minutes at night? I don’t know what you need, but I know you need Him! Time in His Word, time to pray, time to fellowship with believers at church, and living in obedience to what you see in His Word. When you walk with Christ,
it shows up in how you treat your spouse, your kids, your siblings, your co-workers, and your friends.
Why? You are empowered by the Holy Spirit.  If the top of your fountain is empty, if it is dry, I am warning you:
  • You will be empty and unfulfilled in your soul.
  • You will have difficulty being close with family members.
  • You will have tension with your boss and co-workers.
  • You will have regular cat-fights with your “friends.”
Make sure you are filled with the Spirit, everyday, Matthew 6:33!



Recently, in my personal worship, I came across two great truths that stirred my heart and caused me to contemplate some meditative thoughts. The verses are in Psalm 111 and 112, they are both incredibly rich with significant truths about the kind of experience God wants each of His children to enjoy with Him while they journey through this life here and now.
One of the truths that captivated my attention was in Psalm 111:2.

The works of the LORD are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein.

It is definitely true that we will seek out what we find pleasure in. If you find pleasure in exercise, you will make time in your schedule to do it, but if it is not at all pleasurable, the least little thing will keep you from it. If you find pleasure in a person’s company, no distance is too far, no challenge is too great to spend some time with that person. If a certain type of food or meal is pleasurable to you, then you would have no problem eating it three times a day or every evening for dinner all week long. But at the same time, if a food is not pleasurable to you, one time a year is too often even if it is good for your health. The works of the Lord found in the Word of the Lord are sought out by those who find pleasure in them, while easily avoidable by those who do not. Discovering new truths and insights into known truths is a constant source of joy to those who delight themselves in the law of the Lord.

If you are in the Word much at all, staying sensitive to the Spirit of God as you  read it, you will be regularly pleased by
the things you discover and uncover as you dig into His truth. It is there for anyone who will find pleasure in it.

The other truth that stirred my heart is found in Psalm 112. This Psalm is talking about the blessed man, which is discussed in several other Psalms and portions of Scripture. In fact, the phrase “blessed man” is a great word study to dig into in God’s Word and see what God has to say about being that blessed person. But look at the reality of peace in verses 7 and 8.

He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the LORD. His heart is established, he shall not be afraid, until he see his desire upon his enemies.

The hope of our heart is fixed by trusting in the Lord. The word fixed in the Hebrew means, “To be set up; or erect, established, or stable,” it means to be, “Focused, prepared, or ready for prosperity.”

This is what happens for the person who is trusting in the Lord, and it is connected back to delighting in God’s Word.
The more you enjoy the Word, the more you will be in the Word, and then the more you will be fixed in your heart
and experience peace in your life by trusting in the Lord. 



Discouragement is a very real problem in our world today, even among Christians. Have you ever felt so discouraged
with life that it was difficult to get out of bed or go to work? There have been plenty of great men and women of God
down through the ages who have experienced the same problem! When I am discouraged, I am reminded of two men
in the Bible who had a much worse day than me: David and Elijah. The stories of David and Elijah offer us
some insight in how we can deal with discouragement and rise victorious.


But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers. And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat. And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again. And the angel of the LORD came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee. — I Kings 19:4–7

In this passage, Elijah was very discouraged, so discouraged that he even asked God to take his life! The first thing
God did for Elijah was provide him a chance to rest physically. Elijah needed some rest! He had just faced off
against the prophets of Baal, he had just prayed fire from Heaven, and then had prayed rain from Heaven,
and now he was on the run from Jezebel. Elijah was exhausted!
This may sound more like practical advice than spiritual advice, but I believe it is both. If you have a day off, use it well to rest. If you have vacation time, take it! Do not keep going until you completely collapse, take time to steward your body and rest!


And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God. And David said to Abiathar the priest, Ahimelech’s son, I pray thee, bring me hither the ephod. And Abiathar brought thither the ephod to David. And David enquired at the LORD, saying, Shall I pursue after this troop? shall I overtake them? And he answered him, Pursue: for thou shalt surely overtake them, and without fail recover all.
— I Samuel 30:6-8
David and his men had just arrived at their home in Ziklag, only to find that it had been burnt to the ground and that the women and children had been taken captive. To make matters worse for David, the men were so angry that they wanted
to stone him! This was a dark time for David, but we are told that he encouraged himself in the Lord.
How did he encourage himself in the Lord? He sought the mind and will of God!
When we are discouraged, one of the best things we can do is dig deep into the Word of God and spend time in prayer.
Too often, we are discouraged as Christians because we are not regularly spending time in the Word of God in the first place! Speaking with God and seeking His will is a place of rest and comfort. Why do we so often seek encouragement from
outside sources, when all we need to do is to seek the Lord?


Elijah was discouraged when Jezebel threatened to kill him, but I Kings 18 tells us that less than 24 hours earlier he had experienced one of the most amazing spiritual victories ever! He had prayed fire from Heaven, proving definitively that God was stronger than Baal. Why didn’t Elijah remember the victories he had just experienced? This is a question I
ask myself often when I read the Bible: Why did the children of Israel still doubt after the parting of the Red Sea?
Why did the disciples still wonder where they were going to find food after the feeding of the 5,000?
It is a question that often convicts my own heart when I am discouraged, “Why are you discouraged when God has done
all of these wonderful things for you?” On bad days, or days when I do not know how I am going to make it,
it is important for me to remember the other times God has worked on my behalf. If God has been faithful to me
in the past, why wouldn’t He be faithful to me now? Remember what God has already done for you,
and be assured that he will help you through this difficulty as well!
Do not allow discouragement to demobilize you from serving the Lord! Get up, get encouraged, and get back to work.
God has given us plenty of means to be encouraged on bad days!





Several weeks ago, a young lady went to Home Depot to get a couple of keys made. Home Depot was located just a few miles from their home, and the cost of the keys was minimal. But what was intended to be a simple task of relative ease turned into quite a fiasco, a fiasco that was created by the help she encountered.

The first attendant that she encountered said that he had no earthly idea how to make a key. So he pointed her in the direction of the key machine and said (and I quote), “Knock yourself out.” So she put the blank in the key machine
and proceeded to cut her own key.  No sooner had she begun, than she was surrounded by three other home depot employees.  She could feel their ominous stares and so she nervously said, “Hi guys, what’s happening?”  
One employee in this semi-circle of advisers began to chastise my daughter for making her own key.
“You’re not allowed to operate this equipment,” he disdainfully asserted.
The second employee in the semi-circle began to chuckle. He felt that it was absolutely comical that someone
would attempt to make their own key. The third person then offered her assistance, and said,
“Come on, sweetheart, I’ll help you get your keys made.”
And thus, there were four responses: 1) the abstinence of responsibility – “knock yourself out;” 2) the critique of activity –
“you’re not allowed to work this machine;” 3) the laugh of disdain – “what a hoot that you think you can do it;”
and 4) the assistance of friendship – “come on, sweetheart, I’ll help you.”
As she relayed her afternoon at Home Depot to her father, He thought of how often churches are like that Home Depot.
We have been given the keys to the kingdom, but some of us abdicate responsibility. When people enter our churches with apparent needs, we turn them away. They are on their own. We hope that they can figure it out by themselves.
Some of us, however, are continual critics. Don’t they know they are not allowed to be involved in this activity?
Who gave them permission to act like this? Don’t they know they are outside the bounds of acceptable protocol?
Still others find the whole thing comical. The body piercings, the colored hair, the tattoos and it is all a big joke to them.
They act as if dysfunction is something to be laughed at rather than helped.
But then there are others (praise God for them) who actually but an arm around the “customer” and say,
“Come on, sweetheart, I’ll help you.” I trust that I am this kind of employee in God’s work force.
This young lady walked out of Home Depot that afternoon with her keys in hand not because she was alienated, accosted
or affronted, but because she was assisted. If we understand what should have happened at Home Depot, why don’t
we understand it when it comes to church?  Help someone get a hold of the right keys today!



As we pause this month to celebrate Mothers’ Day, I think of the influence that each and every mom has over the lives of her children. Qualities like love, patience, care, tenderness and faithfulness flood our minds when we think of our mothers.
The affection of friends and family may ebb and flow, but the love of a mom is always there.
There is no mother like a godly mother. A godly mother is one who loves God and her greatest desire is for her children to love God. A godly mother knows that the world, flesh, and devil will do all they can to pull her children’s hearts away from God and the things of God. A godly mother seeks to instill the precepts and principles of the Bible in the lives of her children.
She seeks to lead by her own example and fortify by her exhortations.


Abraham Lincoln said, “I remember my mother’s prayers, and they have followed me; they have clung to me all my life.” Hudson Taylor told how that the closed door of his mother in the middle of the day meant she was praying for her children. Yes, a godly mother is a praying mother. One of the greatest things any mother can do for her children is to bring
their name and needs before the Heavenly Father’s throne daily.


As I conclude, I want to pay honor to all the godly mothers who are reading these words. I believe it is fitting to pay tribute to my own Mother and to the mother of our two children. Mom, I love you and thank God for you! Stepahanie, our children could have no better mother. Thank you from the bottom of my heart! Let your mother know today of your love and appreciation
if she is living, for there is nothing like the godly influence of a mom!


The Bible is the only book I know that can absolutely move this nation back to God! The Bible is alive!
Christians love it, sinners need it, and it is a weapon against the devil! Read it today!
All preachers should commit themselves to preaching and teaching the infallible, inerrant, inspired, God-breathed
Word of God! My soul is troubled for any pastor, church, or institution that begins to doubt the Word of God.
You have likely heard folks say it is full of errors, fables, and inaccuracies. NO!
The Bible is the immutable, unchanging Word of God.
  • You can build your life on the Book.
  • You can build your home on the Book.
  • You can build every aspiration on the Book.
  • The church is built on the Book.
  • My hope of going to Heaven is found in the Book!

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. — Psalm 119:105

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. — II Timothy 3:16–17

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
—  Hebrews 4:12
The Bible begins in Genesis to unfold the great revelation of Almighty God Jehovah. Without the Bible we would never
know Him. Without the Bible we would not know about creation. Without the Bible, we would not know the marvelous
story of redemption. Hallelujah for the Bible! O bless the Lord!
I know the Bible is the inspired Word of God. It brings assurance of salvation upon repentance and belief in our loving Saviour, Jesus! I don’t want the science of the liberals. I don’t want to read about a cosmic egg.
I’m not interested in a “fire mist swirling in space.”
Voltaire said, “Within a hundred years there will not be a Bible on the face of the earth except as an antiquarian curiosity.”
The infidel Hume said, “I see the twilight of Christianity.”  However! The Lord still reigns, the Bible is still the greatest book, and salvation is still available to all! Give me the Bible. Give me the Book. The queen of all science is theology.
We should read and study the Bible, not just for facts, read and study it for TRUTH!
The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever. — Isaiah 40:8



Scientists tell us that lightning flashes around the world some 6,000 times per minute.
The Bible teaches us that, like a bolt of lightning, our lives appear like a flash and then we are gone forever.
Our lives are, “A vapour, that appeareth for a little time and then vanisheth away” (James 4:14).
The days of our years are, “Soon cut off, and then we fly away” (Psalm 90:10). We are as,
“A wind that passeth away, and cometh not again” (Psalm 78:39).
Away. Away. Away! We are here today and gone the next; never to pass through this life again.
We only get one life to count for God. This is it. We will not get another.
Away then with regret — wishing you were someone else, someplace else, doing something else with your life.
If you are doing what God wants you to do, “Do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device [planning],
nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave, whither thou goest” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).
Give who you are, where you have been, and what is left of your life to that which never dies (1 Peter 4:12; 1 John 2:15–17). Determine to make a lasting impact upon your generation by doing the will of God and leaving a legacy of faith in action.
Someone has said, “Life is like a coin; you can spend it any way you wish. But, you can only spend it once.”
Life is short. We must invest the coin of our lives wisely.
Life is also filled with storms. Remember that lightning flashes brightest in the darkest clouds.
Do not forsake in the storm what God gave you in the sunshine. The lightning bolt of your life will pass quickly.
May it also flash brightly for the glory of God and the good of others!

 In the words of C. T. Studd: “Only one life twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

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The Resurrection validated the claims of Jesus and provided ultimate credibility to His person. 
Because the Resurrection offers such proof, we can believe His message; moreover,
we can belong to the Master.  We can take Him at His simple word and be saved!.


Paul lamented that a man, minus the power of God, has no hope of living in spiritual victory.  Indeed, power over sin
in our own strength is assuredly an exercise in futility.  But the Resurrection power of Jesus Christ and the new life He provided to believers enables us to live in victory over the enslaving power of sinful flesh as we reckon ourselves to be
alive unto God through Jesus Christ.  For the believer, power over sin is a bona-fide possibility that is effectual by faith.


Think about it, because of our resurrection life in Christ we are connected with the Lord. By His Spirit He indwells us.
We are partakers of His divine nature!  In the words of Alfred Ackley, “I serve a risen Saviour.  He’s in the world today.
I know that He is living. whatever men may say.  I see His hand of mercy.  I hear His voice of cheer,
and just the time I need Him, He’s always near!”
The Resurrection means that Christ is with me and will never leave me.  It means that I have a context for my life.
It’s not about fifty or sixty or seventy years.  It’s about eternity and living my life with that eternity in view.


Based upon the fact that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, we who trust in Him will rise too!  God assures us of this
by His teaching on first fruits.  The earliest ripened fruit, vegetable, or grain serves as a harbinger of the main harvest
to follow. Christ arose and provided the sure hope that in Him, we can all have confident hope of a glorified body.
Sounds good to me!  My body tends to ache a bit more with every passing year!  I don’t know much about what tomorrow holds, but I am profoundly grateful.  Whatever speed bumps lie in the way, the truth about my future includes
a perfection in Christ forever! 



Revival is more than simply having a special guest preacher and a few extra nights of meetings. True revival is a work of the Holy Spirit. That is why Habakkuk prayed, “…O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years…” (Habakkuk 3:2).


Do you ever get discontent with your spiritual progress? Do you ever hunger for something more from God, or sense conviction from the Holy Spirit that things are not what they should be or could be? As long as you and I are content to keep the status quo spiritually—as long as we think we are doing fine—revival will not come. Denial of our true condition is a major obstacle to revival. Real revival will not come until we reach the place where we cannot and will not ignore the truth of our spiritual condition. The simple fact is: if we never take time to let God speak to our hearts, and show us our need, we will never experience revival. “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”Psalm 139:23–24


Revival is held back when God’s people refuse to get right with Him. How can the Spirit of God freely work when our hearts are pre-occupied with other things? David understood this and sought the Lord’s cleansing and restoration in Psalm 51:10–13: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.” I am constantly amazed at God’s grace in my life. He truly is patient and longsuffering with me and is always, always, ready to hear my cries for mercy and forgiveness—when I repent and confess my sin to Him. “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” Isaiah 57:15 Did you notice? God will revive the spirit of the humble and the heart of the contrite ones. We often quote 1 John 1:9 which says: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” But we often forget the verse begins with the word ifand that is the great pivoting point. No confession—no forgiveness and no reviving of the heart. The importance of confession is seen in 2 Chronicles 7:14 as well: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. Will revival come? Yes, I believe it will, but only to those who are of humble hearts and willing to confess and forsake their sin.


When we are confronted with our sin, the devil tries to keep us from moving toward God. He tries to hinder us even after we have fully and honestly confessed our sin and received God’s forgiveness. Remember the words of David? “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.” David understood that a clean heart needs the joy of God once again. Jeremiah 29 has one of my favorite passages of encouragement. It reveals God’s message to Israel at a time when they were going to be chastened for their sin. God extends to His people—including you and me—an offer of His presence and renewed Spirit: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the Lord:” Jeremiah 29:11–14 We need revival, and I believe God is ready to send it when He hears our prayers lifted up to Him and sees our seeking hearts. Paul wrote to the believers at Philippi, “That I may know Him.” That should be our cry and heartbeat. God invites you and me to see what He can do in us, through us, and for us. “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” Jeremiah 33:3


“And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”Hebrews 10:24–25 






Resurrection week is one of the BEST weeks of the year to bring someone to hear the clear gospel of Jesus Christ.
So, I challenge you to be intentional and strategic about bringing someone to hear about Jesus on Easter Sunday.
Make Easter about more than family and your personal world. Make it focused on what matters
— a Saviour who really rose again, and a lost friend who needs to “get it.”

Here are some ways you can bring someone to hear the gospel this Easter…


Start with belief that God is moving in hearts and the gospel is still powerful to those you know. Then ask God to
intersect your path with that person with whom you should speak. Expect Him to do so. Anticipate that He
will go before you and prepare a heart to respond positively to your love and kind invitation.


Make a list of people you know who need Jesus — family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, classmates, acquaintances.
It’s safe to assume that God is working in at least one of those hearts. Ask God to give you wisdom and courage — then reach out: cell phones, text messaging, email, social networking. Use these resources to invite others to Easter Sunday.


Partner with your church family in making the gospel clear. Get on board with your church’s existing outreach efforts
— help distribute flyers, promote online event invitations, share Facebook posts, re-tweet church announcements.
Help host, prepare, clean, pray, and prepare for Easter Sunday. God has a way of bringing people to churches
where the gospel is priority and grace is abundant!


Consider this question: In what way could I serve or sacrifice to help someone hear the gospel this weekend?
Could you invite them to coffee or breakfast before church? Would you consider hosting someone for lunch after service? Could you offer someone a ride? In what way would some small gift, act of love, or gesture of self-sacrifice speak more powerfully than just a simple invitation? Your love is what will make a difference!
A half-hearted, obligated witness is not compelling. Christ-like love is!

Here are the facts. Jesus rose from the dead. He will save anyone who calls upon Him. He chose you and me to help others hear of Him. And this week, people are actually planning to be in church on Sunday. Someone near you is deciding very soon what church to attend. Your invitation could be the defining difference in whether they hear Latin or English, works or grace, labor or love, religion or relationship. Let them hear truth! Love them enough to compel them to hear a clear salvation message!

One day, when time is ended and eternity has begun, you will look back on these opportunities with a different perspective. You will wish you had been more courageous, more confident. Then, you will be glad for every time you made any effort
to help someone hear of Jesus.  Hope you have several wonderful weeks leading up to Resurrection of Christ.  
and please be sure to make sure it all about Jesus.  




God has given us the answer that the world needs—the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But what do we do with this treasure?
How do we steward the Gospel? How can we get this truth into all the world?

Acts 13:1–4 provides the answer by example: “Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.”


Notice that all of this took place in the context of a local church.
Biblical missions is the work of local churches getting behind others to plant local churches.
I’m thankful for every soul that is brought to Christ, even when there is no local church in that part of the world.
But, every newly-saved person needs a local church to grow and bear fruit as a Christian.
Thus, missionary efforts must have church planting at their heart.


Why were the first missionaries called and sent from the church at Antioch? Perhaps it is because these Christians were serious about hearing God’s voice. They were already busy in ministry and earnestly seeking God through fasting.

The modern, self-centered church of today sees few called to missions.
Perhaps it is because few are listening for the call, and few are listening for the direction to give.


Barnabas and Saul obeyed the Holy Spirit to go. The church obeyed the Holy Spirit to send them. The rest is history. Who could have imagined how God would use these men? Who could have foreseen how far they would carry the Gospel, the churches that would be planted, the epistles that would be written? And it all began because they obeyed. What would happen if we, as God’s people, rendered the same obedience today? The world could truly be reached in our generation!

God has entrusted the Gospel to our care, and we must bring it into all the world. We steward the Gospel
when we work through the local church, listen to the Holy Spirit, and obey Christ’s command,
“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).


Missions Month and Missions Conferences

Stir Churches To Do More For The Lord

Mission Months and Missions Conference are a powerful tools and are monumental times on our church’s calendar.
Why are Mission’s Months and Mission’s Conferences so powerful experiences? 


When Jesus left this world He commissioned His church to go into “all the world” with the gospel message.
This is more than just the message of salvation; it is also administering baptism and then training or discipling
new converts. If we are going to be successful in doing what Christ gave us to do, churches must be
planted in order to carry out the three directives given by the Lord.
There is something special about new churches being birthed. It is much like birthing physical babies.
There is great joy when children and grandchildren are born. By partnering with missionaries, we are helping them
birth churches, and we have great joy from that element of our spiritual life. It is what Christ has put us here to do!


All Christians should be willing to live in complete and total obedience to Christ. Missionaries, by their very response to
God’s call, are following Christ wherever He wants them to go. For some, it means leaving behind their home, family, and the American way of life. It means being thrust into a new culture and learning a new language. It may mean getting out of their comfort zone and meeting new people. It means loving and caring for those that Christ loves.
When we see the sacrifices these missionaries are willing to make, it should cause us to want
to have a part in what they are doing.


It has been said, “God had one Son and that Son was a missionary.” It was Jesus that said “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” When we focus on what God focuses on, we get a special blessing from the Lord. Hearing from and interacting with these great servants of the Lord stirs our hearts because God is stirring their hearts.


It means making decisions and choices about our resources above a tithe in order to help missionaries get to and stay
on the field. They are willing to go to the far corners of the world, but it takes people being faithful in their financial support
to keep them on the field. It takes people praying that God will protect, provide, and encourage these missionaries.
This kind of focus endears us to what the Christian life is all about.
I trust that as you read this God will stir your heart to be faithful to your promise of finances but also to pray for the missionary family of your church. For more than twenty years, I have participated in giving to Faith Promise Missions. It has been one of the joys in my life to watch God do great things by faith in my heart. I trust that you, too, will know that same joy by being involved in giving to the missions’ program of your local church.



We know that a biblical perspective on our finances is based in the awareness that God is the ultimate owner of everything and has entrusted resources to us to steward, or manage, for Him. Our job, then, is to be faithful stewards.

It’s easy to talk about faithfulness and to assume we are faithful just because we have the desire to be.
But what does faithful stewardship look like in terms of our day-to-day lives?

Over the years, I have observed five habits consistently present in those who wisely handle finances. 


God blesses hard work. Throughout the Bible, especially in Proverbs, God commends diligence:

He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich. — Proverbs 10:4

The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute. — Proverbs 12:24

The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat. — Proverbs 13:4

The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want. — Proverbs 21:5

Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.
—  Proverbs 22:29
Diligence is a character trait, not a gift. Although God has gifted some people with sharp business intuition
or a natural ability to make wise investments, all of us can develop diligence.


Making a conscious choice to acknowledge God as the owner of our material possessions
reminds us that He is our generous provider.
When we mentally retain the ownership of our resources, we end up eternally bankrupt, if not financially bankrupt.
The sooner we purposefully turn it all over to God and enlist ourselves as His stewards, the better.


This is a two-sided discipline that requires both contentment and discernment. On one hand, we recognize that being caught up in the proverbial competition with the Joneses or having our spending determined by our own insatiable appetites is not worth the price. The old adage “a penny saved is a penny earned” is true, but it can be lived only by those who possess the godly trait of contentment. I Timothy 6:6–8 teaches, “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” Efficient stewardship requires that we learn to live within our means.

In addition to contentment, we need wise discernment in our budgeting. I’ve known people who were struggling
to purchase groceries and pay their electric bill, all the while maintaining a cable television subscription.
Sometimes we need to step back and evaluate our financial priorities.


As I began my first job of mowing lawns, my parents insisted that I both tithe and save. With my payment from each job,
I set aside 10 percent for the Lord and 10 percent for the bank. I’m thankful for learning early the discipline of saving,
and I taught my children a similar principle when they were young.
Some Christians struggle with the idea of saving, because they feel that any unused money in a particular month
should be given away. But Proverbs 11:16 says, “A gracious woman retaineth honour: and strong men retain riches.”
It is wise to retain or to save, as long as you remember that your savings belongs to the Lord
just as much as any other possession.


Just as diligence and contentment are disciplines, so is giving. Giving is not a matter of can or can’t, but of will or won’t.
In other words, we will be faithful to give based on our willingness, not on our prosperity.
This is how the Christians Paul mentioned in II Corinthians 8:3 were able to give “beyond their power.”
They were so willing, so desirous to have part in God’s work that they chose to give even at the point of extreme sacrifice.
Someone once said, “The more passionate our faith, the more consistent our giving.”
Our willingness to give to the Lord is a tangible measure of our love for Him.
God sees far beyond the actual amount of a gift to the heart of the giver. It is our love that He desires, not our money.
II Corinthians 9:7 makes it clear: “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly,
or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.”

In God’s economy, giving to fund God’s work is our opportunity to invest in eternity and to express our love to the Lord.

George Mueller, a German missionary who opened orphanages in England, wrote, “Let us walk as stewards and not act as owners, keeping for ourselves the means with which the Lord has entrusted us. He has not blessed us that we may
gratify our own carnal mind, but for the sake of using our money in His service and to His praise.”

In many ways, financial stewardship is baseline to every other area of stewardship. Speaking of finances, Luke 16:10–11 points out, “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?”

Our faithfulness to honor God with our finances prepares our hearts to honor God in every other area.

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Do you need Grace today?  Do you desire to Grow in Grace this year?  I suppose these are questions with self-evident answers. We know we need God’s grace, and we know Scripture commands us to grow in grace.

But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now

and for ever.  Amen.  —  II Peter 3:18

This is what we desire for our lives as well as for the lives of those to whom we minister. But how? How do we grow in grace? And what does growth in grace look like on a practical level?

God’s grace is not static; it is dynamic. It brings real change in our lives and compels us to increased growth.
If you want to grow in grace, here are three areas where grace works:


Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.  —  Ephesians 6:24

God’s love is a fruitful love. Love itself is a fruit of the Holy Spirit’s work in the life of a yielded Christian
(Galatians 5:22), and it is this love that compels us to continue in service for Christ.

For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:

And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him

which died for them, and rose again.  —  II Corinthians 5:14–15

grace-filled Christian is a loving Christian—someone who rests in God’s love for him, does not neglect truth
but is bound to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:14–15), and is constrained by God’s love to serve others.

So, if you want to grow in grace, begin by growing in God’s love.

And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
—  Ephesians 3:19


God’s grace makes us like Jesus. It is the grace of God working within us that is responsible for a lifestyle
(conversation in the verse below) that represents Christ to the world.
For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.
—   II Corinthians 1:12
Of course, we know that God’s ultimate plan for us is to conform us to the image of Christ and that
He will make every detail of our lives work together toward that goal.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son…
—  Romans 8:28–29
But God’s grace also gives us comfort through the seasons of difficulty that are part of this path.
Even as Jesus was full of grace, He imparts His grace to us.

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. — II Corinthians 12:9

You’ve heard it said: “Nearness is likeness.” If we are walking near Jesus, His likeness will become evident in us,
by His grace.


God’s grace moves us to action. Yes, it begins with growing in God’s love and likeness, but it doesn’t end there.
It moves us to labor in the work of God for souls. This requires that we are ready always to share the gospel
and that we purposefully go to others with the gospel.

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: — I Peter 3:15

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. — Mark 16:15

It also means that we labor in transferring truth to the next generation of Christian servants.

Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
—  II Timothy 2:1–2
We can only remain faithful in God’s work by God’s grace.


Sometimes we subconsciously think that the alternative to pursuing growth in grace is just taking a break.
We think it’s a moment of rest and that we can pick up again whenever we feel ready.

Yet, the verse we all know — II Peter 3:18, “But grow in grace…” — is preceded by a verse of warning.

Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away

with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. — II Peter 3:17

We will either grow in grace, or we will fall from faithfulness. Being stagnant isn’t an option.

Could I encourage you then, will you make a commitment to grow in grace this year?

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Titus 2:13 says, “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” This verse speaks of the need for Christians to be ready! Ready for the Lord to return! Ready to live an authentic Christian life while we watch and wait for the Lord to come! Ready to be the salt and light that the Lord has called us to be! READY,
in all things that pertain to the Christian life.  How does the Christian live ready and remain focused in a world
that is quickly moving away from God?


It is impossible for a Christian to stay focused on what is clearly important from God’s perspective without taking time each morning to meet with God. I know some people have their devotions in the evening, but personally, I know how important it is for me to start my day focused on God and His Word. I have a designated place where I do my Bible reading and prayer time. Develop this habit, and find a place where you, too, begin your day with God.


A Bible-oriented, New Testament church is the place God designed for believers to develop in the faith.
I honestly don’t know a Christian that has a biblical mindset and walks faithfully with Christ that doesn’t
connect with God and other believers by attending church a few times a week.
Growing up, I knew that unless I was sick or our family was out of town, there was only one place we were going to be on Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday night. God used that time in my life to develop my heart and life for the church. It was where my closest friends were. It was a place where I made life’s most important decisions. It was where I was convicted of my lost condition by the gospel. It was the place I was baptized into the fellowship of believers.  It was where I heard the still small voice of God calling me to ministry and full-time service. I love the church and can’t imagine my life without the church family.
Let me hasten to say that it isn’t enough to just be a member, you need to be engaged in the ministry of the church.
Find a place to serve the Lord with a sincere heart of joy and love for Christ.


No matter where our travels take us, it is guaranteed that we will meet and be engaged with unsaved people, sinners in need of a friend and in need of a message that can change their eternal destiny. We aren’t to be closet believers; rather we are to be vivacious, living testimonies of the grace of God. The Bible speaks of being ready to give an answer to every man that asketh us of the hope that is within us.

Friend, are you living ready?  If not, I encourage you to apply these truths to your life.  
If you do, you will find yourself focused and ready for Christ’s return.

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh

you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:  —  I Peter 3:15

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Everyone appreciates light. It does not matter how small it may be. If it is shinning, it can lead us out of darkness. The Bible reminds us that God desires His children to shine in this present world! Philippians 2:14–16, “Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life….”

I believe as Christ-followers we would agree on the importance of letting our light so shine! But it is sad
how many Christians have let their light dim. As we consider these verses, I believe they contain
two practical principles to help keep our lives shining.
First, we are instructed to stop complaining. If anyone had reason to complain it was the Apostle Paul. He was in prison when he wrote the book of Philippians. His crime was faithfully preaching the gospel of Christ. Yet he amazingly writes to inform us that if we want our light to shine, we need to stop complaining.
Second, we are challenged to be “blameless and harmless.” Blameless is being free from fault.
As a Christian, we will not live our lives without sin, but we should live our life without the dimming effect of sin.
Here is a practical acrostic for the word shine that we can apply to our outreach:


How can we faithfully share Christ with others if our relationship with Him is weak and in decline?
Stay close and excited about the Lord, and sharing Him will flow much easier from your heart.


We have to constantly yield our lives to His plan for us. One of His desires for our lives is to be an engaging witness
for Him. For this to take place, we need to die to our desires and be dialed into His passion of people
coming to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.


We need to establish new relationships with people for the purpose of sharing the gospel with them.
Too often we get comfortable with the people we already know, and we fail to build new relationships because
of our fear of being rejected. Take courage and walk across your office and become someone’s friend.
Remember the stakes are huge. We are talking about Heaven and Hell!


We need to exercise patience with people. People need time to consider what we have shared with them. I have found that our tendency is to dismiss people too soon. If a person does not make a salvation decision in a two or three week period,
we move on to the next prospect. I am sure my dad is thankful that people were patient with him. It was years before he fully understood the gospel and made a decision to accept Christ. People need time to digest the biblical teaching on salvation because most likely it contradicts everything they have ever known.


Christians get discouraged in the area of witnessing. When discouragement comes, we are less eager to share the gospel. One way to stay encouraged is by not focusing on your results, but on your obedience. If I keep my focus on obedience,
I am able to stay encouraged and I continue to look for those moments to share Christ. If you keep sharing, it is only
a matter of time before you will be reaping!

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Do you need grace today? Do you desire to grow in grace this year?  I suppose these are questions with self-evident answers.  We know we need God’s grace, and we know Scripture commands us to grow in grace.

But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.  —  II Peter 3:18

This is what we desire for our lives as well as for the lives of those to whom we minister. But how? How do we grow in grace? And what does growth in grace look like on a practical level?

God’s grace is not static; it is dynamic. It brings real change in our lives and compels us to increased growth.
If you want to grow in grace, here are three areas where grace works:


Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.  —  Ephesians 6:24

God’s love is a fruitful love. Love itself is a fruit of the Holy Spirit’s work in the life of a yielded Christian (Galatians 5:22),
and it is this love that compels us to continue in service for Christ.

For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.  —  II Corinthians 5:14–15

A grace-filled Christian is a loving Christian—someone who rests in God’s love for him, does not neglect truth
but is bound to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:14–15), and is constrained by God’s love to serve others.

So, if you want to grow in grace, begin by growing in God’s love.

And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.  —  Ephesians 3:19


God’s grace makes us like Jesus. It is the grace of God working within us that is responsible for a lifestyle
(conversation in the verse below) that represents Christ to the world.
For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.
—  II Corinthians 1:12
Of course, we know that God’s ultimate plan for us is to conform us to the image of Christ
and that He will make every detail of our lives work together toward that goal.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son…
—   Romans 8:28–29
But God’s grace also gives us comfort through the seasons of difficulty that are part of this path.
Even as Jesus was full of grace, He imparts His grace to us.

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  —  II Corinthians 12:9

You’ve heard it said: “Nearness is likeness.” If we are walking near Jesus, His likeness will become evident in us,
by His grace.


God’s grace moves us to action. Yes, it begins with growing in God’s love and likeness, but it doesn’t end there.
It moves us to labor in the work of God for souls.

This requires that we are ready always to share the gospel and that we purposefully go to others with the gospel.

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:  —  I Peter 3:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.  —  Mark 16:15

It also means that we labor in transferring truth to the next generation of Christian servants.

Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
—  II Timothy 2:1–2
We can only remain faithful in God’s work by God’s grace.


Sometimes we subconsciously think that the alternative to pursuing growth in grace is just taking a break.
We think it’s a moment of rest and that we can pick up again whenever we feel ready.

Yet, the verse we all know — II Peter 3:18, “But grow in grace…” — is preceded by a verse of warning.

Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.  —  II Peter 3:17

We will either grow in grace, or we will fall from faithfulness. Being stagnant isn’t an option.

Could I encourage you then, will you make a commitment to grow in grace this year?




And thou shalt take the anointing oil, and anoint the tabernacle, and all that is therein, and shalt hallow it, and all the vessels thereof: and it shall be holy.  —  Exodus 40:9 The book of Exodus ends with the successful completion of Israel’s great wilderness project: the construction of the Tabernacle. And they had done it all just right. The thirty-ninth chapter (next to the last) ends with these words:

And Moses did look upon all the work, and, behold, they had done it as the LORD had commanded, even so had they done it: and Moses blessed them.—Exodus 39:43

Then the fortieth chapter begins with the account of the assembling of the Tabernacle worship center. The tent was set up
(vs. 1–2), the ark was put in and the vail hung (v. 3), the table of showbread was set up with the right things put on it (v. 4),
the candlestick was brought into the tabernacle and its lamps lit (v. 5), the incense altar was placed before the ark and the door hung (v. 5), the brazen altar was put before the door (v. 6), the laver full of water was put between the altar and the door (v. 7), and finally the court was set up (v. 8). In many ways, it was perfect.
Truly it can be said that the Tabernacle in the wilderness with its prescribed rituals was the most perfect object lesson depicting the Person and work of Jesus Christ ever to be made. It was just right, but we note as the book comes to a
close that the Tabernacle and its ministers were not yet ready. Something had to be done before ministry at
the Tabernacle could begin.

The LORD told Moses that he must, “Take the anointing oil, and anoint the tabernacle, and all that is therein,” and by anointing it with the oil, all of it would be hallowed and holy and useful in the service of God (v. 9). So he anointed the brazen altar with the oil, and then the rest, and also the priests in their special garments. The Tabernacle and the priests were not ready until they were anointed. Of course, anointing with oil was the ritual that symbolized the anointing with the Holy Spirit. In Old Testament days, men were anointed as they began their service for the Lord. In the sixty-first chapter of the book of Isaiah the prophet, we read: “The Spirit of the LORD is upon me; because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel unto the meek… to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for the spirit of heaviness.” (Isaiah 61:1–3) The book of First Samuel tells the story of David, and includes this record,“Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward” (1 Samuel 16:13). Throughout the era of the Old Testament economy, anointing oil represented the Spirit of God. And so Exodus 40 teaches that our witness for Christ can be right, perfectly right, while we are not yet ready for ministry. It is the power of the Holy Spirit that makes our gospel witness effective. First Corinthians 15:1–4 defines the fundamentals of the gospel: the authority of the Scriptures, the deity of Christ, His blood atonement for our sins, His bodily resurrection from the dead, and salvation by faith in Him. Without all of these doctrines, you don’t have the gospel. Without accepting the gospel, you are not a Christian. True Christians are sometimes confused about other doctrines, but if they deny any of these fundamentals, they are not true Christians. A Baptist is a Christian who practices New Testament practices. Questions of practice among groups of Christians have often been called matters that are “distinct” to that group. Church history defines a person like me as a Baptist because I practice what are called “the Baptist distinctives.” Among them are: believer’s baptism by immersion, regenerate church membership, two ordinances of the church, two officers of the church, the church of Jesus Christ as local and visible with Jesus as the head of each congregation, the separation of church and state, and individual soul liberty.

So I am a Baptist, and it is important. The Baptist distinctives are taught in the Bible. But being a Baptist is not as important
as being a Christian. A person might get to Heaven without being a Baptist, but he cannot get to Heaven without being
a Christian.

Even Baptists disagree about what the Bible teaches about lesser issues of doctrine or practice. I hold to views about what I understand the Bible to teach about issues of personal separation, about principles that apply to church music, about revival, about prayer, and about victory through Christ over sin and the devil. These are very important matters but they do not have the same biblical weight as do the fundamentals of the gospel or the distinctives of New Testament practice. I want to be right about these issues, all of them.

I’m not saying I have everything right, but I am saying that I want to have it all right. Don’t you? What Christian
does not want to please God in every detail? Our doctrines and practices should all be biblical.
As I understand the light I have on these issues from Scripture illuminated by the Holy Spirit, I identify myself to be a fundamentalist Christian who is a Baptist by conviction. I also think I am using the right Bible and the right music,
and living a holy life. I want to be as right as I can be in my point of view, but being right has never been enough.

Notice that the priests were not ready to serve in the Tabernacle until the Tabernacle and its furniture had been anointed with oil (read again Exodus 40:1–16). Aaron (the high priest) and his sons were to be washed, clothed, and anointed for service.

When Jesus was baptized by John, He was anointed with the Holy Ghost (Acts 3:36–38). On the great day of Pentecost, all believers in Jesus Christ were anointed with the Holy Spirit. (See this in Luke 24:45–49, John 14:15–27, John 16:5–14, Acts 1:1–8, Acts 2:1–18, 2 Corinthians 1:21–22, Ephesians 1:12–14, Ephesians 4:30, Ephesians 5:17–18, and 1 John 2:26–27
—  it will be worthwhile for a servant of Christ to review these passages and study the anointing again).

We are His priests, but the enduement of power our Lord promised resulting from the anointing of the Spirit does not happen until those sealed with the Spirit when they believed, are finally filled with the Spirit when they surrender. And this happens after they are washed from their sins (John 13:4–10 and 15:1–5) and clothed with Jesus Himself (as in Romans 13:11–14). Washed, clothed, and anointed, we are finally ready to be used of God to impact the dark world around us.

It really isn’t enough to be a practicing independent, fundamental, King-James, conservative,
Baptist believer.  We must be filled with the Spirit.

Tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem until ye be endued with power from on high  —  Luke 24:49b

As we have examined the weightier and lesser matters of the written Word of God, let us now examine ourselves, if we have been washed (by confessing our sins), clothed (by faith putting on Christ), and anointed (by surrender). Let’s hear revival preaching, engage in self-examination, unite in prayer meetings, and claim the power of God to evangelize the world! When we have taken such measures, we will be ready to preach our Lord Jesus Christ and to win many to Him. The lost world is waiting for us to get ready! 

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“Thou preparest a table before me…my cup runneth over.”—Psalm 23:5 What is the hardest material in the human body? Although this substance is the toughest, it can begin to break down through constant stress as seen in one grinding his teeth or clenching his stomach from acid indigestion. Even the most enjoyable things in life when frequently relished by this hardest material can cause its deterioration. The prevention of this deterioration is to keep oral acid at a bare minimum. This oral acid, most commonly, is produced when Streptococcus mutans bacteria meets sucrose. Yes, this bacteria in the oral cavity is waiting to take the sweet and turn it into something detrimental to your joy. Your tough, tooth enamel is no match for Streptococcus mutans. We must not over indulge in the sweet things in life. The Lord knows we would not grow spiritually without the bitter making us better by God’s grace. The sweet things in life are not bad for you, but be on guard when Streptococcus comes along to try to ferment your joy. Diligent brushing and flossing to defeat this enemy is a must. Dental sealants will further strengthen your armory of dental hygiene. Prevention of tooth decay is the best way to maintain healthy enamel.

Prepare your heart now before Mr. Streptococcus comes your way. If you clear out the negative thinking and seal your heart with God’s promises, you can enjoy the bitter along with the sweet. The Lord is preparing the table before you so be ready for your cup to overflow!


At the start of a new year, we make goals, resolutions, or commitments.
And we sincerely want to transform them into reality over the coming months.
Very often, however, there is a disconnect between the internal commitments we’ve made and our everyday living. This can be the case for every kind of goal—from spiritual goals to physical goals.
We may have positive thoughts, but we keep ending up with negative results. Why?
Reaching a goal requires more than good intentions. We have to make changes in our lives that align what we do with what we plan. In other words, we must align our external world with our internal commitments.
  1. Read God’s Word daily. God’s Word has the power to renew our minds and transform our thinking, aligning our thoughts with God’s will. There is no substitute in the Christian life for regular hearing, reading, and studying God’s Word, and allowing it to change our lives.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. — Romans 12:2
  1. Memorize Scripture. Committing Scripture to memory is one of the best ways to be able to think on it throughout the day and for the Holy Spirit to bring it to mind as needed. Choose verses to memorize that are specific to the changes you are trying to make in your life.

But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. — Psalm 1:2

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. — Psalm 119:11
  1. Write a self-review as part of your daily devotions. Don’t become overly introspective, but do make daily evaluations. Ask the Lord to search your heart for unconfessed sin, and check to see how you’re doing in the habits you are working to develop.
Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.—Psalm 139:23–24
  1. Ask someone to help you with accountability. One of God’s greatest gifts is Christian friendships. Whether this be your spouse, a spiritual leader, or another friend, share your goal, and ask for encouragement and accountability. (It usually works best if this is a person who has already grown in grace in the area in which you are setting a goal.)
Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.—Proverbs 27:17
  1. Seek input from your spouse or a family member. Your spouse has insight from a vantage point you don’t have. Share your goals with one another, and ask your spouse for his or her input on what it will take for you to reach them. You may be surprised at the help your spouse can and will give if you will share with transparency and humility.

…as being heirs together of the grace of life…—1 Peter 3:7

But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. — James 4:6
  1. Understand your roles, and set goals related to them. The God-given roles of my life (Christian, husband, father, grandfather, pastor, college president, etc.) help to direct the focus of my goals. I write out my yearly goals related to each role God has entrusted to me. Take a few minutes to write down your roles, and then set goals for the coming year in light of 
  1. Review goals according to roles, and set action items. As part of my daily devotional time, I review both my roles and my goals. Specifically, I ask the Lord for discernment in which life roles I need to give more attention, and then I set action items for the day or week related to that role. 
  1. View life as a stewardship for God, not consumption for self. The mindset with which we view our life has a great bearing on how and which goals we accomplish. If I see my life as belonging to me, I may accomplish the goals that bring me personal satisfaction. (And those may even be career or hobby goals that require tremendous discipline.) But I will probably neglect goals that relate to seeking God’s kingdom first. If, however, I see my life as belonging to God and as a gift to steward for Him, I’ll direct my energy to seek first His kingdom and will have a higher motivation for pressing forward even when I don’t see immediate results.
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. — Matthew 6:33
  1. Pray daily and specifically for a pure heart and clear testimony. Where the heart is pure, the vision is clear. Ask the Lord to reveal impure motives and to help you to daily walk in the Spirit in a way that is pleasing to Him.

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.—Matthew 5:8

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.—Galatians 5:16
  1. Exercise integrity at the moment of choice. It is impossible to live the Christian life or to reach spiritual goals in our own strength. This is why God calls us to daily die to self and yield to the Holy Spirit. This isn’t just a matter of praying along these lines in the morning (although that is a great start), but it is a matter of yielding to the Holy Spirit as He convicts and leads.

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.    —  Galatians 2:20

The process of growth is never as easy as simply writing goals on paper. Yet, change is possible as we allow God to realign our inner commitments with our daily actions. I pray that the coming year will be one of growth for you in each of the goals God has placed on your heart.  Happy New Year!



Christmas will be difficult for many this year. Perhaps the death of loved ones is becoming incredibly real all over again,
or maybe financial hardships have brought a family to the breaking point. I hurt deeply for those who are struggling,
suffering, or sorrowing this Christmas. Christmas is the message that Christ came to help His people.
And just as God gave mankind the greatest gift, we are to make giving a priority this season.
Here is my question for you?  How will you be a help to someone in need?  Do something special
and out of the ordinary this season, and if you’re not sure how, here are a few ideas.


My family has been able to do that these last several years, and we absolutely love it. Some of the people we sang to were sick. Some of them were widows. Some of them were hospitalized. And some have since gone home to Heaven.
While we are the ones striving to be a blessing, we always leave blessed. We take them some cookies that Stephanie
and kids had baked with some notes from our family and some pictures from our kids.


Send a few messages; make some calls. Send an encouraging or funny picture to someone
that you know might need it. Think of others on that morning, not just you.


Invite some young adults who can’t make it home or some young couple with no family nearby.
Or open your home to a shut-in who doesn’t have anyone to spend Christmas with. Maybe someone you know
has family serving in the military on foreign soil. Invite them over or reach out to them in some way.


There will be many who won’t have any funds this year. Find them and put some extra cash in their pocket
or discover what their kids enjoy and bring some gifts. Or maybe you could bring them a meal or give
them some decorations to brighten their home.  I hope this holiday season will be more than just a reprieve
from the rigors of your job. Look for ways to be compassionate to the hurting, lonely,
discouraged, broken, and depressed. 



In studying James chapter four, I find that there are at least seven ways to miss God’s will for your life.
Here is an Overview of the Seven:

1. I miss God’s Will when I follow my Sensual Desires.

From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence,

even of your lusts that war in your members?—James 4:1

2. I miss God’s Will when I put “ME” First.

Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war,

yet ye have not, because ye ask not.—James 4:2

3. I miss God’s Will when I pray with the Wrong Motives.

Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. — James 4:3

4. I miss God’s Will when I fail to Confess My Known Sin.

Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners;

and purify your hearts, ye double minded.—James 4:8

5. I miss God’s Will when I choose Wrong Friends for my life.

Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?

whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. — James 4:4

6. I miss God’s Will when I refuse to Humble Myself.

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. — James 4:10

7. I miss God’s Will when I reject God’s Grace for my Life.

Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.  Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin. — James 4:13–17

These seven sobering thoughts should cause us to pause and consider our own personal life as it stands before God.



On Thanksgiving Day, when you are sitting around the table sharing your blessings, it’s easy to feel thankful.
But we all have to work to maintain a grateful spirit every other day.
Perhaps it would help to identify these four attitudes that are enemies of thankfulness:


This is one of the most ignorant enemies of thankfulness. Comparison tends to make us feel inadequate, boastful, or lacking—all of which kill a spirit of gratefulness. We only see a small portion of the lives of others. It may appear that they have more or better than us, but we do not know all the other aspects of their lives and in what other ways God is working in their lives. It’s far better for us to trust God in His dealings with others and compare ourselves to no one but Christ.

For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves:         but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.          —  II Corinthians 10:12


Someone once wisely said, “The foundation of gratitude is the expectation of nothing.” Expectations rob our joy
and damage our relationships. Give all your expectations to God, and you will never be disappointed.

My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.  —  Psalm 62:5


When we focus on what God has given us rather than on what we wish He had given us,
we enjoy our blessings much more fully.

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.  —  1 Thessalonians 5:18


In the rush to accomplish, we sometimes forget to meditate on God’s goodness in the victories along the way.
We’re prone to hurry some of the most significant events and people of our lives as we push forward to the next step
in our plans or the next item on our calendars. Spending a few minutes to reflect on God’s goodness strengthens
our spirit of gratefulness and enriches our lives.

Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul,                and forget not all his benefits.  —  Psalm 103:1–2

May we repel these enemies of thankfulness with a sincere humility that recognizes God’s infinite goodness to each of us!

Unto thee, O God, do we give thanks, unto thee do we give thanks: for that thy name

is near thy wondrous works declare.  —  Psalm 75:1



Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.
—  Psalm 100 
I have never met a joyful Christian who was not a thankful Christian. Joyfulness and thanksgiving go hand-in-hand.
Where there is one, you will find the other.
Oftentimes, we say we should be more thankful. That is true. But, we must understand that to get to verse 4 we must
travel through verses 1–3. The root of knowing God and rejoicing in Him will produce the by-product of gratefulness.
When we pray, it is not so much that God might get to know our heart, but that we might get to know His heart.
As we go deeper into the heart of God, we will love Him more, worship Him more, and thank Him more.
Find yourself in need of a gratitude adjustment this Thanksgiving? What you really need is an attitude adjustment
toward God. Draw nigh to Him. Spend time in personal prayer and fellowship through His Word.
Work on your walk (rejoicing in Him), and your talk (thanksgiving) will follow.

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This has been an incredibly difficult election season.
In fact, recent polls indicate that 82 percent of Americans are disgusted with it.
Sometimes as Christians, we wonder how we can make a difference in a time like this.
How do we respond to the vitriol and rhetoric with clear thinking and Christ-like decisions?


Our first loyalty is not to America but to our King. Patriotic as we may be, we have an eternal homeland:

For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.  –  Philippians 3:20–21

This is good news for the Christian because it gives us a clear perspective to see the issues through a biblical framework
and eternal vantage point.  As a pastor, I’m always aware that there are people in every church in different phases of their spiritual journey. Some are skilled Bible teachers while others are just beginning to learn where the books of the Bible are.
Younger Christians have often not yet learned to apply biblical principles to matters of everyday (or every four years) life. Thinking through issues that have been labeled as “political” with scriptural truth in mind can be new to them. Christians shouldn’t be contentious with one another over these issues. We should stand and declare biblical truth
but allow for growth in grace.


I like the quote by John Adams, second President of the United States: “It is the duty of the clergy to accommodate
their discourses to the times, to preach against such sins as are most prevalent, and recommend such virtues
as are most wanted.”  The Bible tells us that “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people”
Our nation needs preachers who will boldly preach Bible truths that are under attack,
even as it is becoming less popular to do so.
Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
—  2 Timothy 4:2
The hope for our communities, indeed for our nation as a whole, lies in the power of the gospel.
This is why it is vital that Christians continue to share the gospel with boldness and compassion.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth…—Romans 1:16


You have an opportunity one day every two or four years to make a difference through your vote.
But you have an opportunity every single day of every year to serve those around you.
Is your testimony to your family, neighbors, and coworkers one that shows both truth and grace? Would they find it hard
to believe that you have a dual citizenship? Or do you love and serve them even as you witness and stand for truth?

Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.—1 Peter 2:11–12


As Americans, we have a privilege not enjoyed by first-century Christians or, for that matter,
Christians in many other parts of the world—the opportunity to vote.
In many ways we’ve struggled with this election as there are not necessarily candidates on every slot of the ballot
we are eager to support. Sometimes we need to look past the individual candidates and look to their
party platform to see what direction they would lead us.
I believe that religious liberty is one of the most vital issues in this election, simply because our nation has come
to a crossroads in it. In recent years, there have been many cases of excessive fines and government-sponsored
oppression toward those who believe the Bible and desire to practice their faith in all areas of life.
Ultimately, we say with Peter, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29), but ideally, we’d like to
see men elected who will uphold our right to obey God.
We should at least elect someone who will not be against us—a leader who, in the words of 2 Timothy 2:2,
would allow us to lead a “quiet and peaceable life in all godliness.”
And because much of the recent threats to Christian liberty have been in the hands of the Supreme Court, we are wise
to take into consideration that whoever we elect as president will be appointing Supreme Court justices who will
serve far longer than this election and will shape the future of Christian liberty as we know it today.
For all of my ministry, I’ve encouraged our church family to vote through a grid of three biblical issues
–  life, the family, and support of Israel:
  • Life  –  “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5).
  • Biblical Family – “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 1:27, 2:24, see also Ephesians 5:22–25).
  • Israel – “And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). I appreciate those candidates who are willing to stand with Israel, including establishing the capital in the city of Jerusalem.
We think primarily of the presidential election, but there are other matters on the ballot as well.  
The State of Ohio has many other important issues on the ballot and we ought to use our voice on each issue.  


Although in many respects we have more freedom than the Christians to whom the New Testament was first addressed did, sometimes we are most negligent in the area they were most fervent—prayer.

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.—1 Timothy 2:1–2

We should pray for our leaders and for policies that protect our freedom and allow us to continue to share the gospel.


In the old city of London, there is a place known as Bunhill Fields; it is the burial ground of non-conformists.
Many Anabaptists, Baptists, and Protestants are buried there who would not conform with unbiblical mandates
by the government or the state church and for that gave their lives.
Not far away is Smithfield, where John Philpot and others paid the ultimate price as they were publically burned
alive in the 1500s because of their stand for truth.  But the ashes at Smithfield and the remains at Bunhill Fields
represent men and women who are now in Heaven and do not regret for a second their loyalty to their
Saviour or the opportunity to stand for Him.
As we look toward this election, we should remember that Christians have always functioned well in times of difficulty.
We must be willing to stand as counter-cultural, non-conformist Christians who are bound to Scripture.
We need not be fatalistic, however. Whoever wins whichever offices in this election does not control our destiny.
The fact that we are dual citizens reminds us that the future is bright. In the words of missionary Adoniram Judson
while facing extreme difficulties, “The prospects are as bright as the promises of God.”
Vote on Tuesday. But do so keeping your eyes on your eternal homeland.



One of the great joys of an intense season of outreach, such as our church just conducted several big
or Special Sundays, is the following up on new Christians.
There is nothing more rewarding than to come alongside a new Christian and help ground him in God’s Word,
encourage his faith, and guide him in new patterns of Christian living.
And there is nothing more needed for that young Christian either. Spiritual maturity, like physical maturity,
doesn’t take place overnight. Neither does it take place the moment a person is baptized or attends three
church services in a row. It takes long-term commitment from spiritual leaders to help someone grow in their faith.
Young Christians need an atmosphere of acceptance and encouragement. Throughout the New Testament,
we see specific ways to nurture growth in young Christians.


The local church is to be so much more than just a place where people come, listen to music and a sermon, and leave.
It is to be a place where believers encourage one another in spiritual growth.
This is why the same verse that commands us not to “forsake the assembling of ourselves together,”
also says, “but exhorting one another…”(Hebrews 10:25).
Encouraging one another in Christian growth is to be part of what it means to assemble together.
And there is no better time to build these relationships than immediately after someone is saved.
Another way to encourage new Christians is through opening your home. Hospitality is all throughout the New Testament,
and it is extremely helpful in establishing the new Christians in the faith. When my wife and I take new Christians out
to eat at a restaurant, we often invite others who have been saved for a while as well.  Thus, helping the new believers
begin to build other Christian friendships.


One of the most important truths to remember for a soul-winner who is encouraging a new convert is the importance
of the local church in the life of every believer. A soul-winner should beware of being the only point of spiritual influence in a young Christian’s life. Although your friendship and care is vital, they need a local church as well. They need a pastor,
Bible preaching, small group or class accountability, and a church family.
Encourage them to be faithful to regularly-scheduled services. Help them enroll in an adult Bible class or small group
with others in a similar life stage. Introduce them to your pastor and to others in the church family

Biblically speaking, a disciple is a committed follower of Christ, and discipleship is a life-long process of growth. John 8:31 records, “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed.”

But practically speaking, a structured discipleship meeting can be immensely beneficial in getting this process jump started. Having a weekly discipleship program where a new Christian meets one-on-one with a seasoned Christian for structured instruction while having opportunities to ask questions and, in the process, develop a mentor-type relationship has
been very helpful to new Christians in our church.
But even a structured discipleship program is only part of the picture. Discipleship is more than a weekly meeting;
it is a process of spiritual maturity that is produced through hearing preaching, developing a devotional life,
being in a Sunday school or adult Bible class, and growing relationships in the local church.
Be there to encourage a new Christian in this kind of growth.
Any investment that you make in the life of a young Christian, is a worthwhile investment.
And, as you’ll discover, it not only encourages their growth, but it encourages your spirit!
As John wrote in 3 John 4, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”

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Luke 17 gives the account of Jesus healing the ten lepers. One of the most convicting statements to me in that
passage was Christ’s question to the man who returned to give Him thanks: “Where are the nine?”
What really gripped my heart from that question is the fresh realization that Jesus considers our lack of response
to the many blessings He lavishes upon us.

Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.—Psalm 68:19

So How Do We Give Him Thanks?

What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?—Psalm 116:12


Giving thanks unto the Lord assumes that we do indeed follow Him as our Lord.

And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?—Luke 6:46


One of the best ways to express thanksgiving is through thankful giving. Out of gratitude for what the Lord has done for you, give an extra offering to Him—invest in His work, or give to someone in need in His name.

Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.—1 Chronicles 16:29


Our verbal expressions of gratitude are a sacrifice of praise to Him.

By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.—Hebrews 13:15


Take some time today to express gratitude to others who God has used in your life — your family, friends, teachers, mentors, spiritual leaders. Thank them for their investment in you, and tell them specifically how God has used them to provide for, encourage, and strengthen you.

I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,—Philippians 1:3

Thanksgiving at its best is thanksgiving. Give the Lord thanks!

Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
—  Psalm 107:8

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Every pastor has former church members and former workers.  It has been said that the average life of a church worker
is seven years. That may be the average, but I am sure it is not God’s intended norm. Here are a few simple thoughts
to help people be faithful in the work of God over a long period of time.


The Bible says in Proverbs 27:23, “Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds.”
Is someone missing church services?  Are they not showing up for soul winning like they used to?  Do they seem to be discouraged?  Is there a burden in their life they are struggling with?  As Christians, we need to be attentive to our
brothers and sisters of Christ.  We are ought to know the pulse or the spiritual temperature of them.


Call the people who are hurting.  Ask them how they’re doing.  Encourage them. Be a blessing to them.
Offer to spend some time in fellowship with them.


Note that the Apostle Paul said to the Thessalonians, “But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children” (1 Thes.  2:7). He said he would have given them his own soul because “ye were dear unto us” (v. 8).
Remember that he told the Philippians, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, Always in every prayer of mine
for you all making request with joy, For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now”(Philippians 1:3–5).
Elmer Towns once visited First Baptist Church of Hammond in preparation for writing the book World’s Largest Sunday School.  During a service, Dr. Hyles “got on” one of the ushers for some infraction, the usher had allowed people to come into the service at a time when the doors were to have been kept closed. After the service, Elmer Towns went to that usher and said, “Well, when are you leaving the church?” “What are you talking about?” the usher asked.
“Well, I heard how the preacher spoke to you.  He dressed you down in public.”  The usher became intense and pointed
his finger in Elmer Towns’ face as he said, “Mister, I don’t know who you are, but I want you to understand, when a man
loves me like that man loves me, he can say anything he wants about me in the church service.”


A fellow preacher once had a key member who was going through an intense spiritual battle. This pastor testified that
he got on his knees and prayed for approximately four hours for the life, the family, and the future of that man.
It was a time of vigorous spiritual warfare. He was so exhausted by the end of his prayer that he went to bed and slept
for twelve hours. That man not only stayed faithful in that church, but went on to serve God in full-time
Christian ministry as an evangelist.



We have all met people who don’t understand God. They blame God for a lot of things.  He didn’t cause sin or death.
Many people think that God kills everybody. They say, “Well, the Lord took Uncle John.” God didn’t take him, he died.
Death took him. Now God took his soul and spirit to Heaven if he knew the Lord. But God didn’t kill him.
Death doesn’t come from God. He created the world without death in it. In fact, Jesus came to save us and destroy death which is the last enemy (1 Corinthians 15:26). People who think God is angry with them are ignorant of God.
What is ignorance? Ignorance is, “A lack of knowledge, understanding, or education; to be uninformed.” We are all ignorant from birth.  We lack knowledge, understanding, and education. As we go through life we learn about the world around us
and we overcome ignorance on various topics. Yet there are many things we will remain ignorant of our entire life.
And that’s okay! But there is an ignorance that is dangerous. The greatest ignorance is to NOT know God and His truth.
This is ignorance at its worst point. Ignorance by itself is not a sin, but ignorance of God and His laws will quickly result in sin.
I wish that everyone knew God is not angry with them, but that He loves them. God is not mad at you, and He does not hate you. He cares for you! He sent His Son, not to condemn you, but to save you. But He will not forgive you unless you by faith turn away from sin and to Him. How do we do that? Understand the bad news—we are already condemned by sin.
Believe the good news.  Put your trust in Jesus Christ who died in your place and rose again. If you want to be forgiven
of your sin and become a genuine follower of Christ.
Jesus did not come to condemn us. In John 3:17 Jesus told Nicodemus,“For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”  We know this is true because that is exactly what Jesus did.
He reached out to everyone… the rich and the poor, the weak and the powerful, the sick and the healthy.
Jesus doesn’t need to condemn us, according to John 3:18 we are already condemned. Where is the evidence or proof
that we are condemned? Is it because everyone is evil and wicked? No—there are a lot of decent people in the world.
There are many unbelievers who do kind things for others. How do we know that all people are condemned, including me? We die. We are all going to die.
The focus of Jesus’ life was His death and resurrection. He said, “Because I live, ye shall live also”( John 14:19).
The good news… the greatest news is that our Saviour arose from the dead and lives today. We do not have to live
with feelings of condemnation or false guilt.
When we give our hearts to Christ, we are completely forgiven of every sin we have ever committed, past, present,
and future. The focus of the disciples’ message was not Jesus’ teachings or miracles, but rather that He died
and rose again for us. This is great news for all of us!!! I wish everybody knew!



A growing church is always in transition. From building programs to classroom changes to staff adjustments
to schedule flexes to responsibility changes to added ministries, a growing church must constantly
preparefor the transitions that come with growth.
Transitions aren’t always easy. Generally speaking, transitions that involve people and relationships are more
difficult than those that simply involve facilities and schedules.  Nevertheless, a growing church must learn
to adapt through transition.
For the pastor, this means leading the church family through the transition.
For the church leadership, this means supporting the pastor as he makes needed adjustments.
For the church family, this means being flexible and remembering that transition is part of the growth process.
Ministry transitions were common in Scripture. Some were incredibly beneficial and wisely handled.
Some were disastrous and poorly planned for. But one of the great moments of transition occurred
when Moses passed the mantle of leadership to Joshua.
Through this particular transition, I noticed five aspects of wisely leading a church through transition.
Each one of these actions below are essential for both the pastor, church leaders and the church family to embrace.


Moses really wanted to lead the people into the Promised Land, and Joshua probably would have been happiest
to support Moses as he lead the way. But God had a plan that was bigger than either of them could see,
and it required that they allow God to work through the transition.
For years, I have had a tendency to work so hard to smooth out transitions and guide people through them that it became frustrating to others and tiresome to me. Through the years, I’ve had to learn to allow God to work in every heart.
Even when I’m not working, God is. Even in difficult changes, Romans 8:28 is still true.
Jesus loves the church far more than we do! We must trust that He is sovereign over the church,
and we must give Him room to work.  Before we take any further step to guide a church through transition,
we must step back and commit the matter to the Lord. God is greater than I am, and He has a plan for His church.
Sometimes transition is a part of God molding us.
One word of caution, however: The more we complain and gossip through transition, the less God can work.
Getting carried away with the “what if’s?” and “why me’s?” can be a sign of operating from the flesh.
As spiritual leaders and mature Christians, we need to remember that God is in charge.
The gold standard of the Christian life is the sovereignty of God


The Israelites knew they would miss Moses, yet they committed to follow Joshua: “According as we hearkened unto Moses  in all things, so will we hearken unto thee: only the Lord thy God be with thee, as he was with Moses”(Joshua 1:17). Hebrews 13:7 confirms how important it is to acknowledge and follow spiritual leaders: “Remember them which have the   rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.”

Remember that transitions are difficult periods of adjustment foreveryone—including the leader. During these times,
it is always appropriate to express encouragement and support to the leader. Simply letting him know that you are
praying for him and are thankful for his leadership can go a long way in helping to bear the load of the one who
is feeling the brunt of the transition.


Moses instructed Joshua, “Be strong and of a good courage” (Deuteronomy 31:7).
If there is anything I want to be for our church family it is strong and of a good courage!
I want to follow the instruction of Ephesians 4:29 and speak “that which is good to the use of edifying”
and be a minister of the grace of God.
If you are in any role — as a pastor or in church leadership — in guiding a church through transition,
determine to purposefully do whatever you can to encourage people. Ask yourself, “Who especially
needs my encouragement and help?” Then go out of your way to affirm others.
Love people. Invite them to your home. Write notes. Reiterate the Lord’s and the pastor’s love for them.
Be an encourager through times of change.


During transition, it’s vital that leaders accept responsibility. This is the time to say, “I will get done what
I have been assigned, and nobody is going to have to worry about my responsibilities.”
This is also a time to accept responsibility for the needs of others. During transition, it is easy for people to disconnect
or to “fall through the cracks.” These are times when everyone needs to be sensitive to others and purposefully
go the extra mile in helping to bear the burdens of others.


Remember, transition is often a part of growth!  Difficult as it may be at times, it is part of a larger picture.

Over and over, I have seen that God blesses people who are faithful during transition. These faithful servants are
positioned to receive and enjoy the blessings God brings through the transitions!



Income is a nice thing. We labor for it, and we use it to pay our bills and take care of our families. We trust God and are thankful for His promises of provision in Matthew 6:33, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness;          and all these things shall be added unto you.”However, I wonder how many of us are planning appropriately for our            income to continue in the event of illness, disability, or old age. We know the Bible teaches “the just shall live by faith,” but we need to put feet to our faith. Solomon said in Proverbs         that we are to consider the way of the ant. Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler,                    Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.—Proverbs 6:6–8 In teaching the wisdom of planning for a future need, Solomon did not say that meat is easily provided for the ant.        Instead, the ant has to go out and gather the meat for the present season and the coming season. Proverbs isn’t the only place in Scripture that teaches us the principle of saving for future needs. God revealed the meaning  of Pharaoh’s dream to Joseph in Genesis 41. Knowing the future need (after seven plenteous years, there would be seven years of famine), Joseph advised Pharaoh to seek out a man that was discreet and wise to set aside twenty percent of the harvest during each plenteous year. The purpose of this was so that,“Food shall be for store to the land against the seven years of famine, which shall be in the land of Egypt; that the land perish not through the famine”(Genesis 41:36). God revealed a previously unknown need to Joseph. We do not know our future days, but God knows all of our days.      What we know is that, should the Lord tarry His coming, we will continue to age and perhaps experience various illnesses, which may render us unable to labor or otherwise earn an income. It is both wise and prudent to save “against that day.” We are further admonished on this issue in Proverbs 21:20: “There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling                of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up.”

It’s rather difficult to have such valuable commodities in our home—treasures and oil—without saving them,
or saving for them.    How do we save for our financial future?

1. Begin by making savings a priority for your household budget.

2. Have a thorough and honest look at where all of your dollars are going
Watch month and look for areas where some dollars can be “re-captured” or re-directed towards savings. I have called        my cell phone service and Cable companies and been able to reduce my monthly bills by as much as $60 each.

3. After tithing and designated monthly offerings, commit to a set dollar amount to save/invest per month.

4. Build up a cushion of cash savings before investing.
Ask yourself what might be the single, largest expense you might incur in one year, and then set a goal
to surpass that amount in savings in the bank.
5. Make your savings or investing deposits automatic.
If you have to think and decide to save each month, it is not likely to happen.
6. Seek godly counsel when investing the resources God has entrusted you with so that you
honor Him and avoid speculating (which is gambling).
It is not necessary to pay a broker load fees—avoid mutual funds that have a “load” (which is a commission).
7. Diversify.
Solomon, being a king of peace, had a navy of ships—not for war, but for trade. He did not put all his goods on one ship, but he gave, “A portion to seven, and also to eight; for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth.” (Ecclesiastes 11:2).

8. Continue investing (appropriate to your age and willingness to weather the movements of the markets) long term. The faithful stewards in the parable of Matthew 25 did not double their lord’s assets overnight, but “after a long time,”       which translates to “many seasons.” End Note: Consider the value of time. A 20 year old can invest (fairly aggressively) $100 every month until age 65 and have potentially accumulated over $1.2 million, while a 40 year old would need to invest $600 a month in order to even come close to           $1 million by age 65. It is better to start sooner than later.



We cannot always measure effectiveness by visible fruit. Some of my favorite testimonies of salvation are of people who trusted Christ after repeated witnessing attempts by multiple people.  Even the Apostle Paul experienced times when he witnessed and the fruit wasn’t immediate.
I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.—1 Corinthians 3:6
So if we try to measure the effectiveness of our witness on fruit alone, we may miscalculate. Perhaps during a season
when we are diligently sowing seed, we won’t see fruit. On the other hand, we may be in a season when we are reaping another man’s labor and are seeing great fruit although our own witness may or may not be effective.

The bottom line is that God grades on faithfulness, not evident fruitfulness.

So how do we measure faithfulness? Is it simply by our heart to continue? Is it because we are open to sharing the gospel
if the opportunity arises?  I don’t believe we can truly claim faithfulness if we are not actively participating in the Great Commission. In other words, there is a correlation between my faithfulness to Christ and my level of engagement in personally sharing the gospel.  Below are five questions I ask myself on a regular basis, and especially if I am not seeing as much personal fruit in a given season:
1. With how many unsaved people am I presently cultivating a relationship?
Every Christian should be actively building the relationships within their sphere of contact for the purpose of sharing Christ. But it takes intention to pursue these.
2. How many recent doors have I knocked on or witnessing opportunities have I initiated as I was led by the Spirit?   I can guarantee you that there are people who live near you who are not saved but would trust Christ if you would seek them out. And I believe the language of the Great Commission calls for this: “Go ye…” (Matthew 28:19).
If we only witness to those who happen to have a relationship with us, we miss these kinds of opportunities.
3. When was the last time I personally shared the gospel with a lost person?
If I knock on one hundred doors every week, but I never share the gospel itself, I may need to reevaluate my approach. Am I approaching every contact with the intent of initiating gospel conversation? Am I turning the conversation to Christ, sin, and salvation? If it’s been more than a couple weeks since I actually shared the message of the gospel personally, I think that means I need to seek out more opportunities.
4. How many people has God used me to reach?
Although we can’t measure faithfulness by fruit alone, it can be part of the picture.
5. How many others am I involving?
This question is specifically for leaders. Part of the Great Commission is training others to witness as well (Matthew 28:20). As a pastor, then, my burden is not just to go myself, but to involve others. The same should be true of a Sunday school teacher, Bible study leader, discipler, parent…anyone with any spiritual influence in another’s life. (See also 2 Timothy 2:2.)

Although there is a real distinction between faithfulness and fruitfulness, I think we need to be careful that we don’t excuse fruitlessness with an assumed faithfulness. As we approach fall and the visible reminders of harvest around us, may we ask the Lord to increase our fruitfulness for Him, and may we proactively and passionately engage in our witness for Him.

Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.—2 Corinthians 5:20




One of my favorite verses is Jeremiah 6:16 
“Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls….”
I’ve heard many messages from this text that emphasize everything under the sun except “rest for your souls.” But that is the promise of the verse.
Picture the prophet Jeremiah pleading with a rebellious nation to seek out the old paths of righteousness, put away their idolatry, and walk in truth. And then he promises what the result will be:
Rest. Soul-deep rest.
If we are following the “old paths,” why don’t we have rest? Well, if “old paths” are anything less than hungering for God
and righteousness and walking humbly with God, they won’t lead to rest. In fact, when “old paths” stir any of the following
in your heart, you will not find rest.


1. Your Identity is Found in Accomplishments
It is right to want to make a difference for the cause of Christ. It is wrong, however, to assume that the visible fruit of our efforts defines who we are. Our true identity is not in what do, but in what Jesus did. We rejoice not in who we are, but that
we are found “in Christ.” Our goal then, is not great accomplishments, but “that I may know Him” (Philippians 3:7–10).
2. Your Worth is Based on Conformity to a Standard
You’ve heard it said, “Your worth is based on your birth.” Growth in grace will include developing convictions, and it will include growing in the likeness of Christ (Romans 8:29, 12:2). But as long as you tie your personal worth to conformity
— even to conformity to Christ Himself—you will not find rest.
3. You are Trying to Prove Something to God
That’s where Paul (as Saul) started. In Philippians 3, he records that he was over-the-top zealous in every area for God.
And that was
his conversion. After salvation, his zeal transferred to commitment in preaching the gospel, but it was
no longer driven by a desire to prove himself to God. He did endure hardship, but it as by the grace of God and because
he knew he could rest in that grace (2 Corinthians 12:9–10).
4. You are Trying to Prove Something to Men
When our motive for even the work of God is to please a mentor or prove something to a critic, we lose the peace of God. Rest comes when we take Christ’s yoke (Matthew 11:28–30) and do all things heartily as unto the Lord, and not as unto men (Colossians 3:23).
Do you want “rest for your soul”? Turn from finding your identity or worth in what you do or who else approves of it and even from thinking you have to prove your worth to God. In other words, turn from the path of pride onto the path of humility.
Then you will find rest for your soul.

Micah 6:8 “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly,         and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”


Don’t Ring the Bell!

5 Reasons Not to Quit

“Agony, torture, psychological abuse, mentally stressful, complete exhaustion, physically excruciating, and cruel and unusual punishment” are just a few of the descriptions that Navy Seals who have experienced the fourth week of Seal training in
San Diego, California use to describe it. The week begins on Sunday evening at Midnight and ends on Friday around midday.
For five and a half days these Seals go through some of the most physical, emotional, and psychological pressure
that most of us will never have to endure.
In his book, You Want Me to Do What?,  Jeff Krauss gives an extremely vivid description of  this week and what it does for those soldiers who are able to endure the entire week and complete their training. The crazy thing about the entire week
— the recruit can quit anytime he chooses. The Marines are in wet clothes, experiencing freezing water temperatures,
and literally dying of sleep deprivation. All the while, their instructors are in warm clothes, drinking coffee, and offering
them donuts, coffee, blankets, and a warm shower if they will just quit.
There is only one rule if you quit, you must go to the beach in front of all your fellow Marines, ring a bell loudly, then drink coffee, eat donuts, and get warm while watching the rest of your fellow Marines continue suffering during their training. Ouch!

In his book, Krauss writes of Company 123 who started training with over 70 and ended with 6 Marines: “The hardest thing was not the temperatures, the lack of sleep, the verbal abuse, or even the physical demands of our training. The hardest thing was keeping your mind right when other people rang that bell. Every time the bell rang that indicated another recruit had quit, it took us an hour just to get our minds right and keep focused so we wouldn’t be the next guy ringing that bell.” Jeff literally is saying that quitters are the biggest discouragement during the week. More people quit because of quitters than because of the conditions during the week.

Jeff states, “All who quit eventually either want to try again, or they become so defeated and discouraged that they drop out altogether, or many just settle for status quo instead of Seal status. All who finish are tested that week beyond their capability; and they find a strength and endurance that they never thought possible, if they will just keep going.” The coolest thing about finishing the training: a photo of each class that finishes the training is posted in the halls, and only a select few make the
Hall of Fame. Jeff writes, “One of the great motivating factors of the week was I wanted my face and name on that wall!”


When I read this book I could not help but think of Hebrews 12:3: “For consider him that endured such contradiction of
sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.”  God compares the Christian life to a race that is being run in Hebrews 12, and He makes it abundantly clear that there are some who will quit this race. The reason? They get weary and faint in their minds. But the writer also describes for us just one chapter previous in the Great Hall of Faith the life and testimony of those who finished their race, endured to the end, and were honored by God Himself!

The Christian life is a great joy but it also requires a great amount of discipline and endurance if you are going to cross the finish line and accomplish all that God has given you to accomplish for His glory during your race! There are going to be moments when you and I will want to ring the bell and quit, but let me remind you of several things before you “ring the bell”:

1. This race has already been run and won by the Lord Jesus Christ.

2. This race has already been run and won by other believers.

3. If you ring the bell, you will discourage other people.

4. If you ring the bell, you will join a long list of washouts who never endured and saw God’s best.

5. If you ring the bell, you will always wonder “what could have been.”

Vince Lombardi once stated, “Quitting is a habit, just like finishing!” One of the greatest joys I have is to work with people who have been serving the Lord faithfully for many years. They are happy, holy, and helpful people and it is a great joy to serve with them. But one of the greatest heartaches I have is to see friends, former ministry partners, families, and many others who when the going got tough, “rang the bell.”

God has called us into the “fellowship of his sufferings,” which includes a cross to bear and trials to endure. Don’t quit,
Jesus didn’t. Don’t quit, the heroes of the faith didn’t. Don’t quit, others are following you. Don’t quit, you will never know
what God could have done in your life. Endure, look to Jesus, remember that He is keeping the final score and He will
honor those who endure and finish what He has called them to do!


10 Ways To Be A Miserable Church Member

 #1 Forget that your Pastor is a Sinner.

Yep. Dwell on the fact that he is not perfect as often as possible and make sure to meditate on all his faults.

#2 Forget that the entire Leadership is made up of Sinners.

While you are thinking about all your pastor’s weaknesses be sure to look for all the weaknesses in all the leadership. Criticize their every decision and talk to others, but don’t ever go to them with your concerns.

#3 Forget that your Brothers and Sisters in Christ are all Sinners.

This is a really important one. Go to church expecting everyone to be perfect. Get really upset when someone doesn’t
notice you or someone offends you. Then leave the church and tell people you don’t go to church because it’s
filled with hypocrites.

#4 Forget You are a Sinner. 

Like numbers one through three instruct, focus on everyone else’s faults, but do your best to forget about anything
you do wrong. And since you’re perfect nobody should ever wrong you. Expect the most out of everyone
except yourself and get really angry when people don’t live up to your standards.

#5 Don’t be involved, but then complain that you don’t know anybody,

and make sure to point out how your church is filled with cliques.

This one is SURE to make you miserable! Make sure you are involved in the least amount of activities and events,
but then make complaints like, “Nobody ever says hi to me” or “Nobody knows me.”  Consistently whine
about all the cliques in your church and how impossible it is to get to know anyone.
#6 Get upset every Sunday about the Music.
Church bodies all over the world are divided over music; you can easily use this area to make yourself miserable.
Make sure you criticize every song the music leader chooses and make fun of him if he makes a mistake. 
Bemoan how hard it is for you to listen to the hymns (if you don’t like hymns) and whine about all the new songs
and how you don’t like them.  Be sure to do this with the leadership constantly.  Forget about the fact that there is
only one instance recorded of Jesus singing (and even then it was only one song), but make sure the music
in your church is one of thee most important issues.
#7 Don’t ever Invite people over to your House.
Then be sure to get really upset that no one ever invites you over.
#8 Wait around for the leadership to do everything, and complain
about all of your ideas that aren’t followed immediately.
Come up with things your church SHOULD be doing, but don’t do it yourself and get really angry when your pastor says, “That sounds like a great idea! Why don’t you go ahead and head up that ministry?” Never offer to help serve in
the areas you see there is a need.

#9 Only come to the Sunday Morning Service and then get mad

because you and your family aren’t “Growing.”

Be sure to get angry that your church body (the pastor in particular) is not meeting your family’s spiritual needs when you only come to one service a week (maybe less) and are not looking for other ways to grow.

#10 Forget that the Local Church body is about Jesus and not You.

This is THE MOST IMPORTANT AND VITAL WAY TO BE MISERABLE in your local church body.

Forget that the church is for Christ and His honor, glory and purposes and make it for your honor,

glory and purposes! Make church all about you! 


The Sad Life of King Saul

Walk in the Spirit

And Saul was afraid of David, because the LORD was with him, and was departed from Saul.—1 Samuel 18:12


That had to be a difficult moment of realization.  I cannot help but think it would have been a terrifying experience to have
the Lord “depart” from you especially when at one time, the Lord was with you mightily.


Now, we understand the difference in God’s dealings with people in the Old Testament era.  The Holy Spirit did not indwell and fill His people constantly as He does today. He came upon people to accomplish great things for the Lord and sometimes left when those tasks were done.  But consider this, there was a time when Saul was powerfully filled by God.  In 1 Sam. 10 we read “and the Spirit of the Lord will come upon thee… and [Saul] shalt be turned into another man… do as occasion serve thee, for God is with thee… God gave him another heart… and the Spirit of God came upon him….”  Even though we know the how and why, it is still so very sad – Saul, afraid of David because the Lord was with him, and was departed from Saul.     It had to have been a grim day for him.


So what lesson is there to be learned?  Well, I am glad that the Lord won’t completely depart from us, but He may still go
silent and leave us looking in the dark for answers, direction, and hope.  Why? because of our own self-will, disobedience, spiritual apathy, and sin.
Do you long for the power of God in your life?  Then keep “short accounts” with the Lord. Strive to live for Him and when
you fall short, confess quickly and get back on track with Him. God wants to fill us with His power and joy.  Let’s not block
His blessing or “limit” His working because of going our own way. Take heed to the warning of the sad life of king Saul.

A Mother’s Faith

The Priorities, Problems, and Practice of a Faithful Mother

Although many Hallmark holidays appear to be merely a marketing ploy to guilt people into buying yet another card for a newly invented special occasion, I nonetheless am grateful for the celebration of Mother’s Day. Of course, I’m grateful for
the wonderful mother I have and for her incredible commitment to her children. She has embodied the concept of unconditional love over these many years.


And what a special honor it has been for me to be married to Stephanie, the mother of our children and an excellent example of what a godly mother should be. In honor of these mothers (my favorites) and of all faithful Christian mothers everywhere, here are some thoughts on Mother’s Day:
With a broken heart, a young widow (and mother of two boys) approached the prophet Elisha. Her husband—one of the
sons of the prophets—had died, and now she was facing the harsh reality that her sons would be absconded by the creditor, leaving her entirely destitute in every way. What advice could the prophet give? What resource could he possibly provide
for her? Note three aspects of this faithful mother:

Priorities of Her Family

We can infer that this family possessed some godly priorities. They were known for their reverent service to God. After all,
the husband was one of the sons of the prophets during a dark spiritual time in Israel’s history. His testimony was even
known to the prophet Elisha. In spite of the culture, their family served the Lord.


This woman displayed a right spirit toward God. Instead of blaming Him or becoming bitter in her heart, she sought the wisdom of God’s Word through God’s prophet. Hard times are not a time to run from God; they are a time to run to God.
A third priority evident in this story is that this woman was raising sons for God. Unthinkable as it was for her to relinquish
her children to the creditor. Those sons were hers, and she was going to rear them for God! May today’s mothers possess that same priority and passion in raising children to serve the Lord!
Problems She Faced
When it rains, it pours! This woman faced some overwhelming difficulties that forced her to look beyond whatever meager resources she possessed. For instance, she was confronted with an untimely death. Her husband could not have been an
old man considering the youth of these sons. His death was almost certainly unexpected and that much more shocking because of his age.
Without the benefit of social security or life insurance, this woman was faced with an unpayable debt. The creditor was
within his legal rights to conscript the sons to a life of exacting labor until the debt was paid. Financial pressures can weigh mountainously upon us, and this woman felt the weight in all of its crushing reality. Given the details of her situation, it seemed that she was experiencing an unbearable dilemma. With no prospect for personal support, she was now being
kicked when she was down by the additional prospect of losing her boys.

Practice of Her Faith

Adverse circumstances tend to reveal fear or faith in our hearts, and sometimes both. It is only as we look to God and the instruction of His Word; and believe and act on it that we can see resolution, in God’s unique timetable, to our problems.

Elisha instructed this woman to act upon a message that proved to be a challenge to her reasoning. Faith choices are not always logical choices by the standard of human reasoning. Borrowing vessels for the purpose of emptying one vessel of
oil into many others seemed to be a preposterous suggestion! Ultimately, though, we must be mindful that faith is a matter
of choice.


Faith is not primarily a feeling or even an attitude; it is rather a belief that moves us to action. Our faith choices as parents
are so vitally important because we have children to be redeemed. The sons of this dear woman were the beneficiaries of
her faith in that they were (1) saved from the creditor, and (2) instructed by the process.


May our active, vibrant faith deepen our relationship with our great God, and may it provide a clear beacon that our
children may follow.

Joy and Sorrow Are Two Parallel Tracks

The themes of joy and sorrow have been on my heart and mind recently. I’m sure, that at least to some degree,
you have some level of sorrow in your life right now.  How would I know that?  Because sorrow is a given. It’s a part of life      in a fallen world. It’s a part of the daily grind with a sinful flesh. The source of that sorrow is often external—circumstances, bad news, hurt, loss, or past pain. At other times, the source is often internal—low days emotionally, fatigue, self-condemnation, disappointment, frustration, and internal struggles. Yes, sorrow is a given.
The mistake we make is in thinking that sorrow is the polar opposite end of a spectrum—as far as it can possibly be from     joy at the other end. In other words, if I’m at the south pole of sorrow, then I am as far as I can possibly be from the north   pole of joy. We see it as a continuum that makes one end exclusive to the other. By that logic, when I’m joyful,
I’m far from sorrowful. And when I’m sorrowful, I’m far from joyful.
Friend, this is incorrect. It’s not a continuum or a spectrum. It’s two parallel tracks—like train tracks. One is sorrow
and one is joy. And every moment of every day, I must choose on which track to travel. Sorrow is a given but so also is joy. Think about it…  Even as there is something to be sorrowful about in your world, isn’t there also something over which you can rejoice? Aren’t there things that eclipse and surpass our sorrow in gargantuan ways? Don’t we have hope, promises, 
and truth that dwarf our sorrows exponentially? Yes we do.


In Philippians the Apostle Paul rehearses the theme of rejoicing—over and over again he says, “REJOICE!”
And every command flows from the pen of a man in prison who is facing much sorrow. He calls it “sorrow upon sorrow.”
And yet, over and over again he says, “I’m rejoicing!”

Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.—Philippians 4:4

Sorrow and joy are not opposite ends of a spectrum. They are two “givens.” They always exist in every life, in close
proximity to each other. The potential for sorrow haunts us every day. The door to joy is open to us every day.

Sorrow is a given. Joy is a given. My decision is the hinge on which my experience swings.

Only Jesus makes it possible for you to be joyful no matter what. I pray for you today—that you will choose to rejoice.
I pray that the gospel will be vibrant from your heart of joy, and that your loving, gracious spirit will minister to all those
around you—even while there are reasons for sorrow. More than that, I pray this will not be a forced choice as much
as a natural response to explosive gospel truth.


Joy is not merely a command to be coerced or forced upon your emotions—it’s more so, a combustible, irrepressible
outflow of deeper truth that sets you free from and overcomes sorrow with a greater reality. Joy is not the absence of sorrow. Joy is simply a choice to allow the deeper truth and greater hope of the gospel to swallow up my sorrow.
I hope that will be the case in your life today!

…for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.—Nehemiah 8:10


Claiming God’s Promises

Lot had made his greedy choice. He and his flocks and family would move to the plain of Jordan. There was a nice spot      that overlooked the city of Sodom. It was a bad choice—one of many. But it left his uncle Abram with some moving of
his  own to do. Where would he go? Were there any good spots left?


It was at this moment, that God stepped in and revealed to Abram His choice for Abram and his descendants.

And the LORD said unto Abram… Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever.—Genesis 13:14–15

While Lot looked in one direction only, God instructed Abraham to look in all directions, because God had far greater
plans   in mind than just one fertile plain. In fact, God was ready to give to Abram everything he could see with his eyes.
This would be an abundant blessing and better still, in the perfect will of God. I find that God is usually ready to bless
us beyond our feeble thinking.

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.—1 Corinthians 2:9

If we can get to the place where we let God lead us and make the choices for us, then we can experience the
wonders of God’s provision—a far better provision than we can create for ourselves.

There was just one catch: Abram had to claim this blessing as his own.

Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee.—Genesis 13:17

And so it will be for you and me. God has set before us all the land of promise, but we must, by faith, walk through
the land and make it ours. Will you trust Him and make the land “yours?”

4 Ways to Make Family Devotions Work

Ideas to Help with Devotions

Parents are responsible not only to teach God’s Word to their children but to “teach them diligently.” Deuteronomy 6:7 describes the level of persistence with which we are to teach our children: “and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in        thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” In other words, your home is to be an ongoing school of discipleship—a Bible school. The most practical way I know to    obey the instruction to diligently teach God’s Word to your children is to read the Bible daily with your children. In our home, we called this time “Family Devotions.” Some call it “Family Altar.” But whatever you call it, do it. Have a time every day   when as a family you learn from God’s Word together. If family devotions weren’t part of your own growing up experience, beginning them in your home may feel intimidating.       But it’s not as hard as you think. Any parent with a real relationship with God—even a new Christian—can lead their child spiritually. Here are a few tips to help:

1. Set a Time

You don’t leave your children’s academic education to happenstance. You don’t take them to school only on the days they feel like going or the days your schedule is free. You make it a priority in your lives around which you plan. A responsibility   as vital as teaching our children the eternal truths of God’s Word must likewise be something we take seriously enough that we set a definite time for it. Invariably, distractions will come up. Fight them. As our children are growing up, we facing the same pressures that any other family faces: rushing the kids to school, unplanned urgencies, and distracting frustrations. But with everything in us, Stephanie and I wanted our children to have a strong foundation in God’s Word. We had to resist the lie that if our family devotion time couldn’t be perfect it wasn’t worth doing. Even if our time was rushed, at least it was there—a pause in the day of our children where we read the Word of God and prayed together as a family.

2. Start Simple

You don’t have to be a theologian. (In fact, your children will probably appreciate it if family devotions do not resemble seminary.) You don’t have to know the Bible inside and out, and you may not want to begin with the book of Leviticus.        But there isn’t a Christian parent who has a tender heart to God and a real relationship with the Lord who can’t open            to the book of Proverbs and give a spiritual insight for his child every day. Proverbs is, in fact, a good place to start. Another great starting place is telling the stories of the Bible. When your children are young, sometimes act out the Bible stories. This makes family devotions fun and the Bible memorable. Another direction is to teach them the basic truths from Scripture applicable to their age—obedience, respect, contentment, and so forth. You can do this through Bible stories (Cain disobeyed God, but Abel obeyed) as well as through direct verses (Ephesians 6:1 teaches, “Children obey your parents…”).

3. Grow with Your Children

As your kids grow, let the emphasis of family devotions grow with them. Beyond the stories of the Bible, teach them about   the people in the Bible and how we see God’s grace at work in their lives. Teach also the truths of the Bible: the commands  of God, the sin of man, salvation through Jesus’ blood, grace, faith, the fruit of the Spirit, forgiveness. For older teenagers, you may want to study a topic (anger, speech, relationships, making decisions) or read through a particular book of the Bible, highlighting insights. As your children grow, study what Scripture says regarding contemporary issues and holy living: creation versus evolution, God’s definition of marriage, abortion and the sanctity of life, music, purity, the accuracy of God’s Word, etc.

4. Emphasize Application

As D.L. Moody said, “The Bible was not given for our information, but for our transformation.” No matter how brief your time around God’s Word is or what portion you read, try to draw a specific application. This will tell your children that the Bible is applicable to daily living—and it is. As a parent, you have the responsibility to set the spiritual direction for your family. Your children need a dad and mom who like Joshua will say, “…as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15) and who follow that declaration up with purposed time of worshipping the Lord and teaching their children the ways of the Lord.


Putting Salt in What You Say

5 Ways to Be a Blessing with Your Speech


Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know

how ye ought to answer every man.—Colossians 4:6


The words that come out of our mouth say a lot about us. Solomon said, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” James said that the tongue is, “A fire, a world of iniquity.” He also said that although the tongue is a small member, it is         very hard to control. Let us consider some ways our speech can be a blessing.

1. There is to be the consecration of our speech. We are encouraged to let our speech be always with grace.                Our speech needs to be set apart for the glory of God. Instead of reacting in anger or argumentation, our speech            needs to define us as being holy and not easily perturbed. Instead of speech that tears down, we must have                     speech that promotes and builds up.

2. There is the constitution of our speech. Consider with me some various ways our speech can be always                         with grace, seasoned with salt:

  • Our speech should major on being thankful. Thankful speech is speech that is conditioned to find a silver lining in all circumstances. A trait of any good man is that he is thankful in speech.
  • Our speech should be thoughtful. Speech seasoned with salt has something positive and encouraging to say. It is speech that turns a bad day into a good day for someone else. It is speech that is helpful to someone that is needy.
  • Our speech should make others around us thirsty. Salt makes us thirsty. When our speech uses the right words at     the right moment, it has a way of making those we know increase in their desire for Christ.
3. There is the consideration in our speech. We are told to know how to answer every man. Sometimes this might mean we should be quiet and not speak too soon. Sometimes this might mean we need to be discerning and to speak words that seek to resolve conflicts rather than let them continue. Considerate speech has the other person’s best interest in mind.
4. There is the consolation from our speech. Our speech should seek to help heal the wounds others are dealing with.   We should speak comforting words that help a fallen or weak person find solace.
5. There is to be consistency within our speech. Our speech is to be always with grace. It needs to be consistently    Christ-like, encouraging, and helpful.

What do our words say about us? Do our words build up or tear down? Do our words bless or curse? Do our words inspire others to do something great, or do they push them away?

Let’s seek to have speech that is always with grace, seasoned with salt!
The Teaching Arm of the Church
The Teaching Arm of the Church
The goal of Sunday School is to accomplish one of the greatest needs in the 21st century
–    to provide Biblical education to individuals in a particular life stage.
 Dr. Elmer Towns said that “Sunday School is biblical education in action, it is the mortar that holds
the bricks together and becomes the foundation of the house.”
Sunday School, like many things in the church, is a tool, not a goal. It is a tool that God has used in amazing ways.
It is a tool to systematically, comprehensively, and appropriately teach the Bible to a particular life stage.
Sunday School exists to transform lives through effectively teaching God’s Word.
Sunday School lessons usually provide a format for discussion and interaction, while following a set curriculum
that covers the Bible and applies it to a particular life stage, then cycles around every few years.
“Sunday School is the teaching arm of the church. For people to be transformed, the Word of God
must be planted into their hearts.”   –   Elmer Towns
If the only teaching your congregation receives in the course of the week is a forty-five minute sermon, they’re not
learning much. There is so much more that you could be teaching them, and Sunday School provides that opportunity.

Sunday School should focus on providing age-appropriate instruction. It is a venue to give Biblical world views in everything from dating to evangelism, from knowing God’s will to interacting with parents and coworkers, all while allowing time for questions and answers. It should provide Biblical education to a particular group of people at a particular life stage.

One Bible college professor was asked by a college student what someone should do in order to become a theologian.
He replied, ‘That’s easy. Teach a third-grade Sunday school class.’ Sunday School makes it possible to get
age-appropriate Biblical teaching into the life of the church.
Sunday School is a valuable tool for discipling believers. It complements and supplements the sermon,
gives age-appropriate knowledge needed for godly living. Accountability, fellowship, community,
and mission– these things are all very important, but what gives them their power is the Word of God.
Sunday School provides the Biblical education necessary for discipleship.

Partial Consecration Is Not Enough

God Does Not Want Part of You, But All of You

Would you consider yourself a consecrated Christian? One who is wholly given to God, seeking to honor Him in body
 and spirit in every way possible? Or, is there an area of your life that still belongs to yourself; some area that you
“sort of” honor God in, but do not want to go “too far” in or “miss out” because of?
Churches abound with “casual” Christians in this hour. Those who are careless in their walk with God,
in the way they live, in the work they do, in the witness they give and in the words they say.
Statements like, “I don’t look at it that way,” “I’m not called to full-time service,” or “I’ve got a life apart from serving God
all the time, you know,” can serve as umbrellas to shield the half-hearted. Sometimes we fell as if we are, “rich
and increased with goods, and have need of nothing”—not even God. Who are we kidding, but ourselves?


While we withdraw from the call to consecration, we readily devise ways to discount the commitment of others.
Be reminded that “like character attracts like character.” If you walk in the counsel of the unconsecrated
and stand in the way of the lip-servers, it will not be long before you are sitting in the seat of the contemptuous.
Be careful in developing contempt for the holy things of God. He will not hold those guiltless who do.

Be ye holy; for I am holy.—1 Peter 1:16


3 Keys To A Transforming Prayer Life

Scripture Text: Luke 11:1

  Do you ever feel ineffective in prayer? True prayer is really a foundation of true ministry. Without regular, fervent prayer, we may produce much activity, but we won’t see lasting spiritual fruit. Not only that, but our own spiritual growth is dependent on regular communion with the Lord in prayer.      An old Scottish pastor, Thomas Brooks, observed, “The power of religion and godliness lives, thrives,         or dies as closet [private] prayer lives, thrives, or dies. Godliness never rises to a higher pitch than when men keep closest to their closets.” And yet, if you’re like me, you find yourself often echoing the words of Jesus’ disciples, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). The full verse says, “And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased,     one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples” (Luke 11:1). Recorded in the very verse with the disciples’ request we learn three attributes of Christ’s prayer life:


“…as he was praying…”

That the disciples would find Christ praying is no surprise. Not only did He sometimes spend complete nights in prayer (Luke 6:12) and often rise early to pray (Mark 1:35), but Jesus’s life was a state of continual communication with the Father.


“…in a certain place…”

It seems Jesus had designated places where He would go to pray. Just before Calvary, Judas knew he could find Jesus in the Mount of Olives at the garden where he frequented as a prayer place (Luke 22:39). If you’ve ever traveled to countries with an eastern culture, you know that it can be difficult to find privacy. Yet Jesus found places of solitude where He made time for private prayer.


“…when he ceased…”

Jesus was so engaged in His time of prayer that for the disciples to ask a question would have been an interruption. The way many of us pray, however, is so disengaged that we are constantly letting our own thoughts interrupt us and perhaps thankful for the intermittent distractions coming from our phones. Jesus was fully involved in prayer. He was bringing definite petitions before the Father. This was no mere ritual—it was real communication. John Bunyan said, “In prayer, it is better to have a heart without words than words without heart.” I’m afraid we too often pray through a list with no real heart engagement in the serious business of prayer.

Constant, private, whole-hearted—do these adjectives describe your prayer life? If not, could they this week? 



12 Steps to Take When You Come    

 under the Fire of Criticism


Criticism Can Help Refine You

We live in a cynical and condemning world. In case you haven’t noticed, the ministry isn’t getting any easier. Studies show that Americans have a less favorable view than ever of fundamental Christianity. In fact, much of the world hates our beliefs. Recently USA Today reported that fifty-seven percent of Catholics had a favorable view of Muslims, while only forty-six percent had a favorable view of fundamental Christians! Abraham Lincoln wrote, “If I were to try to read, much less answer, all the attacks made on me, this shop might as well be closed for any other business. I do the very best I know how—the very best I can, and I mean to keep doing so until the end. If the end brings me out all right, what is said against me won’t amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference.” One pastor wrote, “The qualifications of a pastor are to have the mind of a scholar, the heart of a child, and the hide of a rhinoceros.” It has also been said, “Treat both criticism and praise like bubble-gum—chew on it a bit, but don’t swallow it!” I realize we will never please everyone. Frankly, pleasing everyone should not be the goal of a spiritual leader. In 2 Timothy 2:3–4, Paul said: “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” Paul’s ultimate goal was to please the Lord as he served Him. While we cannot control criticism, we can respond biblically to it. And by walking in wisdom, we can do much to prevent it.

Why Hostility toward Christian Leaders Is Growing

We are attempting to lead people in a very unusual day. More than ever, pastors are suspect. Gone is the day when pastors were trusted and respected merely because they were a minister. More and more, this title automatically brings men under closer inspection and greater suspicion. Harold Myra wrote, “The furnace that forges leadership burns steadily, and this is particularly true among those charged with very large responsibility.” Warren Wiersbe shares in The Integrity Crisis, “The church has grown accustomed to hearing people question the message of the Gospel, because to them the message is foolish. But today, the situation is embarrassingly reversed, for now the messenger is suspect.” There are several factors that have influenced such a decline in respect toward spiritual leaders. Much of it comes from the media’s portrayal of the ministry. Rarely does a news program or entertainment venue represent biblical leadership in a positive light. From ministry scandals to cultic abuse cases to outrageous caricatures, pastors and spiritual leaders are almost always positioned negatively on television and the Internet. The failure of Christian leaders is another attributing factor to the decline of respect for religious leaders or institutions. It seems annually that there is another nationally recognized leader in Christendom who falls publicly either to moral failure or to financial improprieties. To the average unchurched person (whom we are trying to reach) this has a growing negative impact. Christian literature has progressively become less and less doctrinal and distinctive and more profit-driven by a broad market. The more vague and obscure the spiritual thirst of the nation has become, the more vague the gospel has become from mainstream publishers. Jealousy and envy from those who share our faith breed hostility in our culture. I will never understand why we do not rejoice in God’s blessings for another ministry, and I cannot comprehend why we have to actively undermine what God is doing, even if we choose not to rejoice! Frankly, some criticisms that spiritual leaders face are brought on by themselves. A lack of discernment in the pulpit, an inability to control the tongue, and a prideful attempt to “take a stand” have often exposed a carnal side of an otherwise good man. These actions prove a man to be full of the flesh and not the Spirit. A critic is someone who points out how imperfectly other people do what the critic does not do at all!

How Biblical Leaders Respond

In short, as a biblical leader you are going to have painful things coming at you from four different directions—a secular workplace, a hateful world, carnal Christians, and jealous leaders. It probably helps just to know that you are not alone! Every leader who ever tried to do anything for God faced this kind of opposition. Being attacked hurts—especially when you know the attacks are untrue, distorted, and unfair. When you know your record is clean—you have been faithful to your wife, true to strong doctrine, sincere in your ministry, and pure in your motives—it’s painful to discover that others are still unhappy with you. After all, you never dreamed that Christians could generate enemies simply because of their biblical position. In these moments, everything within you wants to rise up and defend yourself. You want to engage and win. The essential question is, how should a godly leader respond? What would God have us to do in the face of such growing hostility? Allow me to share with you twelve steps you can take when you are under assault.

1. Go to God in Prayer

Take your burden to the Lord. This is His flock, and you are His man. In His presence you will gain strength, wisdom, and perspective. You will be reminded of your dependence upon Him. The Bible says in Hebrews 4:15–16, “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

2. Rest in the Sovereignty of God

Early in the process there must be a yielding of your will to God’s. You must accept that He has allowed the attack, and you must rely on His timetable and His process to respond to it. God has not forgotten you. He is working in you, and He is preparing you for a greater work— even through the efforts of the critics. Remember, anything out of your control is in His plan. There is not a season of criticism in our ministry that has not been immediately followed by a far greater season of growth and blessing—and the harder the trial the greater the blessings! Though the criticism and attacks were hurtful for the moment, months later and in retrospect, I have often felt that the trials moved me forward in God’s grace.

3. Receive Difficulty as a Friend to Develop You

Ask the Lord to help you, by faith, to see the blessings that will result from the burden. Accept the trial that you might win the crown. The psalmist wrote, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes” (Psalm 119:71). Looking back, spiritual burdens and trials have always helped us to go forward in ministry—every time.

4. Don’t Retaliate

Mark Twain said, “Few slanderers can stand the wear of silence.” In moments of attack, you don’t want to react. He who throws mud always loses ground. Hold your tongue, hold your pen, hold your internet postings; grab hold of your words and submit them to the approval of the Holy Spirit. Don’t abuse your authority or use your pulpit as a battering ram. Every time our ministry has been attacked, I have called on the counsel of godly leaders and friends. Without fail, they have urged me not to retaliate. A few times I found myself in a position where retaliation would have been very easily accomplished. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit guided me in those moments to protect the testimony of the ministry.

5. Grow in Grace

“And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8). Allow God to use this time to call you more deeply to prayer and Bible study. Soften your heart and grow. If you don’t make this conscious decision, your heart will likely harden and your spirit will become calloused toward people. Keep your heart soft and your spirit right during these times of difficult growth. Second Peter 3:18 says, “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.”

6. Humble Yourself before God

John Adams, toward the end of his life, wrote to his grandson, “The longer I live, the more patiently I think, and the more anxiously I inquire, the less I seem to know. Walk humbly. That is enough.” Let these trials cause you to decrease so Christ can increase.

7. Love Your Family

In moments of pain and discouragement you start to feel like the whole world is against you. Isn’t it amazing how Satan can do this? You might have a whole church family praying for you and loving you, but two critics can rob your joy in the Lord. In these deceptive moments, God has always encouraged me with thoughts like this: “Well, I can love my wife and love my kids. As long as they are for me, we’re still in this together!” Somehow these trials have always drawn our family closer. No one knows your integrity and sincerity more than your family. Let the trial renew your commitment to loving them passionately.

8. Make Important Assessments

Henry Blackaby wrote once “Past leaders had certain times in their day when they were inaccessible to people. During such times they could reflect on their situation and make decisions about their next course of action.” He continues, “Leaders realize they must occasionally step back from the day-to-day operations in order to gain perspective on the broader issues such as the nature and the future of an organization.” Often it is a moment of criticism that will cause you to pause and evaluate. Don’t ignore criticism. Step back, lay it before the Lord, and ask Him to reveal the truth to you. During every season of criticism, we have identified areas where we could have communicated better or could have taken preventative measures to help people understand our position or our polity. We have grown greatly from the information given to us from critics. Many of the principles in this post flowed from teaching moments during trials. As with Joseph, what they meant for bad, God used for good. My only regret is that I would have liked to redeem the relationship and not merely benefited from the criticism. Winston Churchill said, “Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body; it calls attention to the development of an unhealthy state of things. If it is heeded in time, danger may be averted; if it is suppressed, a fatal distemper may develop.” One pastor said, “When criticism is a threat, a leader becomes defensive, but when it is viewed as a natural occurrence and a challenge, it can become a source of constructive energy.”

9. Don’t React

All leaders get criticized. It’s their response to criticism that sets them apart. John Adams wrote to a friend in Massachusetts after he had been hurt by a rival, “When a man is hurt he loves to talk of his wounds.” This might mean you need a wise listening ear. It also means you could say the wrong thing in a moment of reaction! Some battles are not worth fighting. An old Chinese proverb states, “A bulldog could whip a skunk at any time, but it’s not worth the fight.” Hurting people hurt people. When you are hurting, don’t react; respond. Prayerfully seek God’s direction, obtain godly counsel, and follow a very predetermined course of action that pleases the Lord.

10. Increase Your Accountability and Accessibility

The more your ministry grows, the more important it is that you protect yourself with accountability and accessibility. With broader influence comes broader accountability—embrace this as a preserving agent, not a restraining one. When we have been attacked, the Lord has always led us to strengthen the structure of accountability and to more effectively communicate transparently. Increased accountability has always positioned the ministry for bigger influence and greater responsibility. It’s a paradox that God would use a trial this way, but the results are wonderful.

11. Develop Leaders around You

One man said, “Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.” When the leader is attacked, people usually look to the surrounding leadership for a response. In other words, the church family will watch your pastoral staff, your deacons, and other leaders around you. It is no doubt then that these leaders will often come under attack as well. Satan will do everything he can to undermine the respect and trust of those in leadership. You can be sure that you are not his only target and neither are your leaders. He’s going after the sheep. In distracting the undershepherd, he’s hoping to steal a few lambs! This is one of the great benefits of developing strong leadership around you. There is safety and strength in a team of leaders. Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto! Furthermore, instead of creating a dependency mentality in your congregation, teach the Bible and help your members to grow in discernment and to follow the Spirit’s leading in their lives. Develop leadership within the church body. The stronger your church, the more easily they will see through and withstand the deception of the wolves. “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2).

12. Don’t Quit

Let the trial strengthen your resolve. Often trials are the greatest indicator that we are on the right path, doing the right things. Everything that is moving forward encounters resistance—so thank God you are apparently moving forward. One man said, “Defeat may serve as well as victory to shake the soul and let the glory out!” If you quit, your critics win, and much is lost for the cause of Christ. Don’t let petty people determine your destiny. God planned even your enemies, and they are serving His purposes in your life. It has been said, “For every action there is an equal and opposite criticism.” I want to remind you that not all critics are your enemies! Not all critics have the intention of being hurtful or scornful, and if you lump them all into the same category, you will often be wrong. Proverbs 27:6 reminds us, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend….” Some critics are truly seeking to understand. They genuinely have a concern. Even if their spirit is wrong in the way they raise it, their heart may be in the right place. You sometimes have to presume a genuine heart when it is hard to see one. The critic may be a friend seeking to help you. He may have the insight to see one of your blind spots. He may be genuinely seeking to protect you and grow the ministry. It would be a mistake of gigantic proportions to stop your ears to all criticism. Generally we find it easier to take criticism from someone we know and trust, but I challenge you to receive it even from those you do not know. If God brings someone into your life with a negative insight, receive it with a soft heart, pray about it, and communicate with that person openly and transparently. Most importantly, be willing to change! Positive, growth oriented change is good for you and the whole church. There are many times when I have benefited from such negativity and have gained a friend in the difficult, but worthwhile process. Remember, a smooth sea never made a skillful sailor. Suffering truly qualifies and equips you for the ministry.

Everyone I know is tired– moms, dads, police officers, even people who are retired are tired. Our society lives at a fast pace, so we are going to be tired doing something. This even extends to the ministry.
In 2 Corinthians 12:15 the Apostle Paul said it like this: “And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you.” We need what Paul had– a healthy sense of the reality that this is the only life we get. This life is here for a little while, and then we stand before God. Jesus talked about that idea this way: work while it’s day, because the night is coming when no man can work. It seems to me that the question should not be “Why am I so exhausted?” but “Why aren’t I energized?” Authentic, Biblical Christianity is highly energizing in so many ways. Being filled with the Spirit is refreshing. Watching families be put back together is encouraging. Sending missionaries to regions where there is no gospel witness is galvanizing. Helping someone come to a saving knowledge of Christ is motivating. Serving God is invigorating in so many ways. Remember: the joy of the Lord is our strength! The problem is that when we aren’t properly energized we begin settling for other sources of strength. While there are multiple reason for this lack of energy, here are a few that I’ve personally battled.

Ministry Becomes an Identity

We sometimes believe the lie that our name is on the line if this ministry doesn’t grow. And we can easily feel a significant responsibility to make our ministries grow. To acquire properties that help propel the mission. To be sure that the staff member is a success. To administrate all the meetings and appointments and counseling. It is easy to find our identity in what we do or what we accomplish.
But Paul admonishes us that this kind of thinking is dangerous, especially in ministry. In fact we should only glory in the cross. So whether someone met you at the back door and told you that was the best sermon ever, or whether they wished you better luck next time, if you preached Christ and Him crucified and risen that is guaranteed to not return void. So only glory in the cross of Christ.

Ministry Leaves You in Isolation

It’s lonely to lead. A pastor is privileged to information that shouldn’t and in some cases can’t be openly shared. So we tend to bottle up these burdens and responsibilities until no one really knows what we are facing. But when we learn to walk in the light (1 John 1:7), when we open up, two things happen. We first have fellowship one with another, as feelings of isolation and pressure are eased. And the blood of Jesus forgives us of all sin, reminding us that we are forgiven by the finished work of Christ on the cross. Those are energizing realities that God gives us. So we need to find counsel, whether from another pastor or a spiritual deacon, to help us process and open up our hearts.

Some Ministry Models Are Not Sustainable

There is no way a pastor or leader can be everywhere all the time. While the spirit may be willing the flesh is weak, and it is encouraging that God knows the weakness of our flesh. God has given us the principle of taking one day each week for rest: “Six days shalt thou labor and the seventh day is a sabbath unto the Lord.” We need to be sure to take that day of rest every week. Find a hobby to enjoy, a book to read, some clubs to swing, a gun to shoot– something that takes your mind away from the work and responsibilities, the sermon prep and the counseling. Actually enjoy some mindless activity.
Everyone I know is tired. But do you find joy and energy in your ministry? Or is ministry draining you because of an improper focus?

 What Christmas Tells Us about Setting Goals

3 Truths to Remember When Setting Goals

The week between Christmas and New Year’s has long been claimed territory on my calendar for goal setting.                      In the weeks previous, I’ve jotted down general ideas for goals for the New Year, but on this week, I prayerfully                       finalize these goals.
I don’t know if you’re a goal-setter or not, but consider the advantage in setting goals immediately after Christmas:    Christmas reveals profound theological truths that should impact our lives on every level—including the level of how             we plan for a New Year.
Consider for a moment what would happen in 2016 if you set and planned for goals like you really believe these three truths:

God Is with Us

Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel,              which being interpreted is, God with us.—Matthew 1:23

Are you setting goals with the assumption of God’s presence? Or are you acting as if you are entering a new year alone?

Christmas reveals the profound truth that God is with us. On the first Christmas, Jesus entered our world wrapped                 in human flesh. And today, we who know Him as our Saviour, have the indwelling Holy Spirit.

May we never set goals as if we have to reach them in our own strength. Indeed, the arm of flesh will fail us.                        But the power of the Spirit never fails.

With God, Nothing Shall Be Impossible

For with God nothing shall be impossible.—Luke 1:37

Are you reaching forward by faith? Or are you planning based on predictable resources?

The virgin birth of Christ assures us that with God, nothing is impossible. May we not relegate this truth                                  to December but carry it with us into the New Year.

God Is Sovereign and Works through Yielded Lives

And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.—Luke 1:38

Are you setting goals as if you are in control of your life? Or are you making plans with a surrendered heart?

For all our goal setting and planning, we can’t control every (or most) aspects of our lives. But we can yield ourselves            to the Lord with the simple words, “be it unto me according to Thy word.” We can trust that nothing will enter our lives         this year without passing through the Father’s filter. And we can yield ourselves to the Father.

Goal setting for the Christian leader should be fundamentally different than goal setting for the unsaved.

We know the truths so gloriously revealed on that first Christmas over two thousand years ago.

And yes, this might be the week after Christmas. But these truths should infuse our hearts with faith, courage,                     and trust as we look ahead to a new year. Actually, as we live out every day of the coming year.

3 Helps to a Vibrant Prayer Life

Prayerlessness Results in Powerlessness

Before every Sunday evening service, we have a men’s prayer meeting. These men have committed to unite together to pray for me, my family, and the ministries of our church. Their commitment and faithfulness is a tremendous blessing and encouragement to me. In addition to sharing prayer requests in our meeting, I shared with them three basic helps to a vibrant prayer life. None of these will catch you by surprise. They truly are basic, but I’ve discovered that they are basically missing in too many Christians’ lives.
All of us have times when we struggle in prayer. As Jesus said, “Watch and pray…the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak”(Matthew 26:41). Your spirit is willing (that’s why you’re reading this). How then can you overcome the weakness of the flesh? Here are three simple places to start:

Time—Set a definite time to pray. Schedule it—just like you would any other important meeting. It seems that Jesus’ prayer time was early in the morning before the distractions of the day came crashing in.

And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.—Mark 1:35

List—Keep a list of the people and needs you should be praying for. Without a list, you can still pray, but your intercessory prayer, in particular, won’t be as faithful as it should be.

When you study the prayers of the Apostle Paul, you see that he prayed faithfully and fervently for those he led to Christ and discipled. You also see that he prayed for many people by name. (See Romans 16 for an example.) In my experience that kind of prayer life requires a list.

Partner—Jesus often prayed alone, but He also sought out prayer partners at Gethsemane—if not to pray with Him physically, to stand with Him prayerfully.

There is something about having times of praying with a partner that strengthens one another’s faith and arrests the Father’s attention.

Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.—Matthew 18:19

These three helps are basic, but that is what makes them so powerful. If they are missing, your prayer life will only limp along. Conversely, if they are not already in place, adding them will make an immediate difference.

When is your time to pray?

Do you have a current prayer list?

Who can you ask to be a prayer partner with you?

4 Simple Ways to Express Thanks to the Lord

Thanksgiving Should Be a Way of Life

Luke 17 gives the account of Jesus healing the ten lepers. One of the most convicting statements to me in that passage
was Christ’s question to the man who returned to give Him thanks: “Where are the nine?”
What really gripped my heart from that question is the fresh realization that Jesus considers our lack of response
to the many blessings He lavishes upon us.

“Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.”  —  Psalm 68:19


So how do we give Him thanks?

“What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?”   —Psalm 116:12

1. Obey His Word

Giving thanks unto the Lord assumes that we do indeed follow Him as our Lord.

“And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?”    —Luke 6:46

2. Give Him Offerings

One of the best ways to express thanksgiving is through thankful giving. Out of gratitude for what the Lord has done for you, give an extra offering to Him—invest in His work, or give to someone in need in His name.

“Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him:

worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.”   —1 Chronicles 16:29

3. Verbally Thank Him in Prayer

Our verbal expressions of gratitude are a sacrifice of praise to Him.

“By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is,

the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.”  —Hebrews 13:15

4. Thank People He Has Used in Your Life

Take some time today to express gratitude to others who God has used in your life — your family, friends, teachers,
mentors, spiritual leaders. Thank them for their investment in you, and tell them specifically how God has used them
to provide for, encourage, and strengthen you.

“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.”   —Philippians 1:3

Thanksgiving at its best is thanksgiving. Give the Lord thanks!

Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
—Psalm 107:8

6 Ways a Church

Grows Together

Building Blocks for a Local Church

When I think about the early history of Grace Baptist Church, I’m in awe at Christ’s power to build His church. In our case, He took an old, closed down, country church, He raised it up and has built a strong local New Testament Church and I believe we’ve just begun to see what God can do!

But how does that happen? Not just at Grace Baptist, but in churches around the world? How does a church not only stay intact, but grow so they are maturing in the Lord together?

Actually, the necessary building blocks are basic. Here are six simple and practical—but needed—ways a body of believers grows together:

1. Through the Word of God

Very simply, we need the preaching and teaching of God’s Word—for both doctrine (what to believe) and Christian living (how to apply what we believe).

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:—2 Timothy 3:16

2. Through Prayer

You’ve heard it said: “A family that prays together stays together.” The same is true of a church family. Over the years, we’ve seen the difference that joining together in prayer makes.

And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;—Luke 18:1

3. Through Trials

When I look back over the past twenty-nine years, our greatest times of spiritual growth as a church family have been during trials. Trials have a way of teaching us to pray and driving us to our knees with brothers and sisters in Christ.

But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.—1 Peter 5:10

4. Through Godly Examples

From the pastor to the deacons to Sunday school teachers to disciplers to church staff, God uses human instruments to develop the faith of others.

Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.—1 Corinthians 11:1

5. Through Fellowship

And I’m not just talking about German chocolate cake here. (Of course, I’m not denying that it helps either.) Christian fellowship is more than time together. It is real engagement about the faith and what God is doing in our lives.

And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.—Hebrews 10:24–25

6. Through Serving

Like soldiers bonding in the trenches, there is something about serving alongside your church family that provokes both personal growth and relationships. Servants don’t argue, demand, or boast—they serve. And great churches are filled with humble servants of the Lord.

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.—Galatians 6:9–10
Whether I am the pastor desiring to see the church family I shepherd growing spiritually together or if you are a church member desiring to grow with your church family, these six building blocks are a good place to focus your attention and efforts on.