How Do We Reach This New Generation?

How do we reach this new generation with the message of Christ?

Their thought patterns, their cultures, the basis of their decisions, their perspective on life and death, their outlook on spirituality, it has all changed dramatically in the last decade here in America. The established church, in many ways, is grasping at air as they keep implementing their tried-and-true programs and techniques that seemed to work on the previous generation.

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“How’s Your Daily Devotional Life?”

Sometimes the Holy Spirit prompts us (as Pastors, or Leaders) to offer the simplest of solutions for people’s greatest life-challenges, instead of inspiring us with His deep and sometimes mysterious counsels of divine wisdom.

There is a young man who experienced the Spirit’s simplest of strategies for overcoming life’s most complex dilemmas.

When I was pastoring we sometimes had an open mic segment in a Sunday Evening service where people could share a testimony with the whole church. This one young man shared how he came into the office one day to see me. His emotional and mental life was in a shambles, so he was asking for help.

After hearing his long list of difficulties in dealing with daily life, I asked him simply,

“How are your daily times of devotions? Some prayer, some Bible reading?”

He shared with the church how, at that moment, he thought to himself “That’s it? That’s ALL you’ve got to offer me?” And though we did talk at length about details of his life, he didn’t remember any of that (all of my great, deep counsel was lost on him!). All he could remember after our time together was, “How are your daily devotions?”

He openly admitted that he was very flustered and was not impressed. He expected something more profound and really deep for handling his overpowering daily life’s issues.

Nonetheless, he started daily devotions. Thirty days later he realized that his daily life’s issues were calm, his emotions were at peace, and his mind was settled. His love for the Lord was renewed, and he was enjoying life.

As he continued to share his testimony, he said, “So, if you expect Pastor Dave to counsel you out of your grave with a bunch of deep, dramatic stuff; but all you get out of him is, ‘How’s your devotional life?’, you need to listen to him, and you need to do it! It has saved my life!

So, my conclusion about practicing a Daily Devotional Life is:

If life hurts when you don’t do it, then just do it!

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#PastorsTip #Devotions #DailyDevotions #Bible #BibleReading #Prayer #DailyPrayer #LifeIssues #Peace #Joy #Calm

Remember Who Called You

Are you following the call of God everyday, but it seems so hard? Are you discouraged by the loneliness and lack of general recognition for what you do sacrificially for so many others?

Are you battling diseases of the body and depressions of the soul?

Don’t forget Who called you! Remember exactly Who called you! You have been greatly honored and entrusted with your Divine assignment.

David Livingstone, former Explorer and Missionary (commissioned by his earthly King and by his Heavenly King) was sent into the heart of the unexplored African continent to create avenues for trade and for preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.

He too knew the times of loneliness, of enduring a diseased body, and enduring a depressed soul. At some point he had his first experience (one of many!) with a day like you might be having.

He wrote in his diary something that was no doubt for his own reminding, but also a tremendous truth for the eventual readers of his diaries:

“If a commission by an earthly king is considered an honor, how can a commission by a Heavenly King be considered a sacrifice?”

~ David Livingstone, Missionary & Explorer of Africa

Remember Who called you. You have been honored with a Divine commission!

#PastorsTip #Commissioned #Called #CalledByGod #CalledToTheMinistry #Serving #Sacrifice #Honored

For Leaders, Problems Are Not A Problem

To My Fellow Pastors & Leaders,

Great leaders do not consider daily problems to be a distraction. Daily problems are THE terrain in which leaders journey. If there were no problems, most leaders would not be necessary.

When problems arise, displaying the proper can-do and will-do attitude builds confidence in those around us, and it encourages and equips them with a similar can-do and will-do approach to problems.

The retired 4-Star General, Colin Powell, said it well regarding leaders and dealing with problems:

“The day the soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded that you do not care.”

As leaders in various situations and settings, let us approach problems with graciousness, without complaining or degrading those who have the problem. Let’s approach the problems with a can-do and will-do countenance.

#PastorsTip #Leadership #Problems #Attitude #CanDo #WillDo

What I Miss About Full Time Ministry

A little over a quarter of a century ago my wife and I entered into full time ministry. I served several years as an Associate Pastor with a variety of portfolios in both small and large churches, and as an itinerant Revivalist for several years speaking in churches, retreats, conferences, and the like. I have also served as the Lead Pastor of a local church for almost a decade.

My call to ministry came when I was a Junior in high school, a call that was a simple statement from the Lord saying, “Follow Me everywhere I will take you.” With His call came a drive within me to follow Him and to do what He led me to do and to be. That drive is just as strong today as it ever has been.

So, in 2006 when my health had reached such a debilitating and chronic stage that I couldn’t maintain a schedule of any kind, we resigned from the pastorate. The church family was incredibly, affectionately, and sacrificially patient with me, but I knew that they needed a Pastor who was present and actively engaged every day.

Stepping away from full time ministry was the most challenging thing that I have ever experienced. The divine drive within me was still just as strong as ever, but my health (at age 41) was beyond my control, and beyond the control of doctors.

For the first time in my life I understood what almost every minister experiences when they have reached the point to retire. The drive in the heart does not retire, and that is difficult to bear.

What I miss most is Pastoring a local church over a long period of time. In that setting I found the honor and privilege of working with and observing people as they are transformed by God one day, one week, one month, one year at a time; to be near when their children are born; to be there when they have surgery; and yes, to be there at their loved one’s funeral.

People are what I miss the most. It was the wonderful drive that Christ planted in me and then nurtured and cultivated over time that kept me going through the good times and the tragic times.

Now, I am in bed about 18 hours per day. The pain and fatigue of my body make socializing a challenge most days. I too am experiencing what it is like to be housebound most of the time like so many seniors that I used to visit in their homes, hospital rooms, and care facilities. I think I always had empathy for them, but now I can say I know from experience what it is like.

These are things I really miss about full time ministry among people. But, don’t feel sorry for me! I am blessed beyond my comprehension by our Lord. His grace and provision have not taken my pain away, and it hasn’t taken my ministry-drive away. What His grace has provided is a deep awareness of His presence. He has more of my intimate attention than He ever has had, since I spend my days mostly with Him and Him alone.

Presently I am 50 years old, I have been ill for 15 years and mostly in bed for a decade. I do not wish anyone to have my same health, but I pray that EVERYONE can experience the Lord to at least the level that I am privileged to experience Him every day. I am blessed more than most!!

See you at the altar of prayer, my friends!

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#PastorsTip #Ministry #Retire #Driven #CallOfGod #Pastor #Evangelist

At An Impasse?

Has God called you to a destination, but you have reached an impasse? God’s calling is followed by His provisioning.

“So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, ‘On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.'”

( Genesis 22:14 )

When God calls us as Christians to a task or to a destination, He will always provide that which we will need to fulfill His call. Our part is to walk in obedience, to live in prayer mode, and to perpetually believe in His willingness and in His plan to provide what is necessary for the mission.

Most of the time when God calls us our journey will require miracles of one kind or another, miracles done by Him in sync with our steps. If we stop walking in the right direction, His miracles may cease until we get back on the right track.

Sometimes His miracles are not in the form that we think they should be. We might think we need money for the next step, but He may provide a different resource. We might think that He will open big doors to big places, but instead He may lead us into a desert. We might think we need gift certificates to a grocery store, but He may instead command Ravens to bring us scraps of food.

“’Elijah, you will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there.’ So he did what the Lord had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there.

The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.”

( 1 Kings 17:4-6 )

Certainly there are times in our lives when God will provide in abundance, and we certainly enjoy those times and we thank Him with great appreciation and sincerity. However, as servants of the King of all Kings, our willingness to go with the flow of His provision is of utmost importance. Our time of service is not about our comfort, it is about our being trained and developed for service to the King in any environment with any resources He provides.

Good servants, good soldiers, good athletes, good princes and princesses of the King are not discouraged or offended by their training and their assignments that take them through mud and sewers, in extreme heat and cold, while being sick and experiencing loss. God is not treating us like dirt, He is helping us to overcome our weaknesses and shortcomings, and building within us great self discipline and a willingness for personal sacrifice of comfort and security.

God will provide, but His specific provisioning serves many more Divine purposes than just building a bridge for us to get from Point A to Point B. He is training us, building us, and using us all at the same time. And He gets the maximum glory out of all of it!

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#PastorsTip

Faulty Prophets

For our devotional today my term “Faulty Prophets” (as opposed to “False Prophets”) refers to those preachers who COULD hear from God and COULD proclaim His warnings, but they ONLY proclaim positive messages of “peace” and “blessing.” One may ask, isn’t a “faulty” prophet the same as a “false” prophet? That is a fair question; both are wrongful, but for our purposes here in this short essay I would like to make a distinction and speak of those preachers who have at some point truly spoken the messages of God when those messages were of a positive tone that implied blessings only.

Messengers of God cannot pick and choose which messages of God they proclaim. The entirety of the timeless messages of scripture (the logos) is to be declared, and the entirety of the timely messages of the Holy Spirit (the rhema) is to be proclaimed.

In the days of the Old Testament prophet Micah, the other prophets had been picking and choosing which messages of God to proclaim, and were focused only on their own prosperity. The messages were taken out of context and out of season, they were only of a positive nature (“peace”), and they did not contain God’s messages for that day which were warnings for the entire nation to turn from sin.

“This is what the Lord says: “As for the prophets who lead my people astray, they proclaim ‘peace’ if they have something to eat, but prepare to wage war against anyone who refuses to feed them.

Therefore night will come over you, without visions, and darkness, without divination. The sun will set for the prophets, and the day will go dark for them. The seers will be ashamed and the diviners disgraced. They will all cover their faces because there is no answer from God.”

But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression, to Israel his sin.”

~ Micah 3:5-8

Micah was “filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord” because he had chosen to speak accurately and in a timely manner the entirety of God’s messages. He did not concern himself with the consistency of a paycheck or of receiving sufficient offerings of support. He did not apply a guilt-trip on anyone when his audience withheld their offerings and resources.

His entire focus was on proclaiming the timely messages of God to his generation, even when it was time to preach about sin and righteousness, and time to call the people to a deep repentance from their active sinning. He was completely saturated with a passionate concern for serving God as His mouthpiece regardless of the personal cost and suffering he might incur.

If you are one who has been called by God to primarily serve Him and to secondarily serve a group of people for whom He has messages to be communicated, please prayerfully and carefully evaluate the messages of God that you are teaching, declaring, and proclaiming. Does your preaching include the timeless entirety of the scriptures (the logos) and the timely entirety of the Holy Spirit’s messages (the rhema)?

Just as the prophet Jonah’s own personal repentance [for avoiding the preaching of God’s timely message to repent] was the precursor to the repentance and revival of the entire city of Nineveh, so your own personal repentance [for picking and choosing your own preferred messages rather than God’s chosen messages] may be the key to repentance and revival in a city, a state, or a nation.

Have no fear, my friend. If you will choose today to do right though you have been weak, greedy, and afraid of rejection, you too [like Micah] will be “filled with power, with the Holy Spirit.”

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#PastorsTip #Micah3 #Logos #Rhema #Prosperity #Fear #NoFear #Preacher #Prophet #Repentance #Revival

Anointed Musicians & Inspired Music

While still a young lad, the shepherd boy David was anointed with oil by the prophet Samuel and was concurrently anointed with power by the Holy Spirit. His future coronation as King was prophetically established, though he certainly had quite a few adventures to go through before he would reach that day.

“So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him… and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David…”

‭‭( 1 Samuel‬ ‭16:13 )‬

David also became known as a great musician who was called into the service of King Saul. The Spirit of God had departed King Saul because of his unfaithfulness to God, and in that vacancy an evil spirit took up residence to torment Saul. It was thought that music would help sooth the king, and that is where David was recruited into the king’s service.

“Whenever the evil spirit… came on Saul, David would take up his lyre and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him.”

( 1 Samuel‬ ‭16:23‬ )

This is an interesting view into the spirit realm. David, a young man anointed by the power of the Holy Spirit, played music that was likely inspired by the Holy Spirit, and the result was the evil spirit that was demonizing and tormenting King Saul would be driven away. The passage implies that when David was no longer ministering in music, the evil spirit would later return to Saul to start tormenting him again.

Holy Spirit anointed musicians playing Holy Spirit inspired music are powerful weapons for clearing out the spirit realm of a room and for establishing deliverance for the demonized and the tormented. No wonder we experience so much of God’s presence and power in a genuine worship service.

The church does not need any more generic song leaders that lead everyone in a sing-along of “If you are happy and you know it…”. We need men and women, youth and adults, who have been selected by God, anointed with power by the Holy Spirit, and inspired by the Holy Spirit in creating music for worship that will fill the atmosphere with anointed and Christ-authoritative music. This is the kind of church service where God is exalted not only in words, but in deeds: the evil spirits are driven away and the Holy Spirit is fully embraced.

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#PastorsTip

Skydiving Without A Parachute?

Sometimes God leads us to take a leap of faith that has us feeling like we and our family have gone skydiving… without a parachute. Perhaps you are a missionary who recently moved from your home country and are now setting up a new life in a foreign land, surrounded by an unfamiliar culture and an unknown language — you may know exactly how it feels to leap out of a perfectly good airplane at 10,000 feet… without a parachute!

Wherever God has led you to go, whatever He has led you to do, your leap of faith is not a strange thing. God has been leading people to take extraordinary steps (leaps!) for several millennia that, in the natural without a miracle, would have been their last leap. However, when God leads His people to take extraordinary steps, He provides matching extraordinary miracles.

“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.”

‭‭~ Hebrews‬ ‭11:8-9‬

As Abraham believed God and took steps consistent with God’s leading over the span of many years, God provided divine guidance and miracles of provision and healing for him and his family as they took each step of their journey in faithful obedience.

Peter is another example of leaping as directed by Jesus. Before Peter jumped out of the boat and walked on water, he asked Jesus if he should come toward Him on the water. Jesus directed him to, so he did! We all know that after several steps Peter’s faith waned as he considered the storm and the fact that he was walking on water, but Jesus reached out to him. They both then continued to walk on the water hand-in-hand back to the boat.

If you are following the Lord’s lead, even in those moments when your faith wanes, He is just one frantic call away! You will be back on track in a split-second, I know because I’ve been there too.

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#PastorsTip #Hebrews11 #LeapOfFaith #Faith #Obedience #Skydiving #Parachute #Missionary #Foreigner

Just Missed The Cut

When you realized that Jesus hadn’t recruited you for His A-Team, like His team of Apostles or another special team, or a particular local pastorate or ministry, how did you feel?

Think back to being a kid on the playground at the beginning of recess. When it was time for the popular kids to choose teams, were you usually one of the last ones picked because you weren’t the cool, athletic type? Were you kind of dorky, and prone to losing the game for your team?

Well, this is nothing like that! Jesus doesn’t pick people for A-Teams because they are “cool,” and He doesn’t pass by others because they are “losers.” Consider whom He did choose: several wild fisherman, an extremely impulsive and flaky guy named Peter, some other previously unknowns, including a guy named Judas Iscariot that now holds a distinct place in history that nobody else wants to have!

“When morning came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also designated apostles including:… Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.”

~ Luke‬ ‭6:13‬

Scholars guesstimate that Jesus had between 120 and 1,000 disciples (followers) at the time when He chose just 12 of them to be Apostles. I’ll venture to guess quite a few of the rest of them had flashbacks to their own playground experiences!

Let us remember that God doesn’t pick us for a formal call to ministry because He loves us more, and He doesn’t pass other believers by for a formal call to ministry because He loves them less.

He was greatly pleased to create us so He could enjoy being a Father to us. He was greatly pleased to providentially assign to us a substantial purpose to fulfill in His Kingdom. He was greatly pleased to formulate a unique mixture of natural-talents and Spirit-giftings that would help us to accomplish our life’s Divinely assigned mission.

Let’s leave our playground disappointments in the past. We are now in the “big leagues” of the life-and-death “games” where God is unbiased and is purpose-driven in His selection for special teams. If He can choose Peter in spite of his huge flaws, and if He can choose Judas (Iscariot) in spite of already knowing his future as a traitor, God can certainly pick us at the right time, in the right place, for the right special team or church pastorate, to accomplish the right mission.

Besides, there is perhaps nothing more frustrating and unfulfilling than being and doing something that is outside of God’s original, pre-birth purpose and design for our life. Let’s be patient, and let’s trust our Father to orchestrate every step of our life.

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#PastorsTip #Luke6 #MissTheCut #Recruit #ATeam #A_Team #Judas #Peter #PurposeDriven #Talent #SpiritualGifts #Calling