My friend and fellow laborer in Christ, Marty Schoenleber Jr, wrote a post on Facebook that I must share. Marty has a heart for the Lord, for the Lord’s people, and for those who shepherd local flocks. He nails the experience that pastors have on Sunday evenings while reflecting on the day. An encouraging word from a caring brother–pastors, you are not alone! Thanks, Marty.
Having a typical “pastor Sunday afternoon.” What does that mean? you ask. Like most pastors, a mixture of fatigue, regret and hope. Fatigue because standing and delivering the word of life to a congregation is emotionally and physically exhausting in a way that most don’t understand. The burden of knowing that people need the word of life, that it is not me they need to hear but God, that critical decisions are being made in people’s lives and they need the wisdom of God
And then there is the regret that you never get it right. This point could have been clearer. That point was made with the right force. Did they get it? Do they know why this is important? How will the congregation live this out this week? Did the message give God His proper place? Did I help them to see God more clearly?
And finally, hope. I hope they will forget everything that is unhelpful and remember only what will help them to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ. Every pastor, every teacher goes through periods of low-grade depression and malaise over this work. And so this afternoon, I went back and read some of my earlier posts on preaching and reminded my heart that this is what I want to try to do this week, and the next week, and the next week, until Jesus calls me home.
The power of the gospel to change a person’s being is the hope of mankind. Jesus Christ did not come to give us rules and regulations, or burden humanity with more laws and expectations. He came to die on the Cross of Calvary for the payment of our sins, and convict us through the power of the Holy Spirit. At salvation, the Lord changes our ‘being.’ Out of this change comes changed actions and attitudes. The gospel is not about imposing moral transformation or behavioral modification, it is about inward change of being that produces a outward demonstration of a changed life. And this only takes place through the work of the Holy Spirit at salvation.
Here is a testimony from a Hindu Priest in India. He shares how he came to Christ in November through Project India, the church planting ministry which began a little over three years ago. Continue reading
Most people hates boxes. They require everyone to fit someone’s narrow view of reality and thought. We find this true in Christianity also. Thank God for sound theology and boundaries of historical thought concerning the person and work of Christ. However, the enemy seeks to divide believers by using self-appointed ‘heresy hunters’ who cause divisions while claiming to protect evangelical orthodoxy.
The Lord calls us to freedom in Christ, freedom in worship, freedom in the power of the Holy Spirit. As a free Christian, we are at liberty to worship God free from the narrow thoughts of man as long as our doctrine and practices are within the boundaries of the Holy Scripture. What does a “Free Christian” believe. It can vary, depending on one’s level of study, influences, or maturity. One thing for sure, the Scriptures will have the final say on all matters of faith and practice. For me, here is my confession. Continue reading
At the beginning of every year, millions of people, including Christians, start the calendar year off with resolutions and self-promises. It is man’s way of attempting to have a better year than the one before. If we look back over several decades, we find that most have repeated the same old resolutions year after year. Obviously, the power of our ‘resolve’ hasn’t been successful.
Maybe, we need to do things differently. Maybe, the answer is not in the strength of the ‘will of man.’ Real change is found in surrender to the Only One who can change us from the inside-out. This is why the Gospel is so powerful–it is not just a message of a historical figure who died in space-time for us. Jesus actively and existentially changes us as we lay ourselves upon the altar of prayer and spend time in His Word and in His presence. Continue reading
On a recent vacation trip with my wife, we visited the Billy Graham Library and museum in Charlotte, NC. It was fantastic! Throughout the visit, the message of the gospel was penetrating, convicting, and refreshing. Being a pastor in my 52nd year of life, and realizing that the sand in my hourglass of time is getting low, I cried and rejoiced at the same time observing the brevity of time and the importance of making every moment count. Kudos to the BGEA for their superbly built and God-honoring museum.
There is so much that could be discussed, but I want to mention the last thing viewed during the tour of the site. It was the gravesite of Ruth Graham, Billy’s wife who passed away in 2007. Ruth grew up in China as one of the children of medical missionaries, married Billy after meeting him at college, and was with him as his dear bride for over 60 years. She had the front row seat of the life of a man who preached face to face with more people than anyone who has ever shared the gospel. Continue reading
Saturdays are special to most people. It is the day of relaxation and hobbies. A day to sleep late or do yard work. A day to play with the kids or watch a movie. However, do not forget about your pastor. For those seeking to have a ‘live coal’ from God’s altar to communicate with the congregation, it is a day of spiritual battle and wrestling to get completely settled with the mind of the Lord for the messages the Holy Spirit has laid upon his heart.
Enjoy your family, friends and day off. But through it all, remember that your pastor is in the battle of the week. He has a target on his back as the enemy comes to discourage him, get him off track, or confuse his mind about what he is planning on sharing. He has worked on it all week, on his knees in prayer, and with pencil in hand. Take moments throughout your day and send up a prayer for him. What to pray? Good question. Continue reading
I get many testimonies from the front lines of church planting in rural India. They are filled with stories of the Holy Spirit’s work similar to what we read in the book of Acts. The Lord is just as committed to reaching men and women that are looking for truth as He has always been. After all, Jesus is the “same yesterday and today and forever.” (Heb. 13:8) Thank God He is, and here is a story I recently received that demonstrates the Lord’s tender care for all people, regardless of where they have come from. The lady being baptized in the photo is Rati, who wrote this letter to me.
(Names and villages changed for security reasons) Continue reading
The subject of being led by the Holy Spirit to speak into the life of another person (prophecy or prophetic ministry), can be very detailed and involves many subjects. One of the important subjects that comes to bear on this topic is Divine Guidance, and this involves learning to distinguish the promptings of the Holy Spirit from the promptings of a foreign spirit or even our own spirit. Any person using the gift of prophecy or prophetic sharing should seek to get grounded in the biblical guidelines about its operation and use great wisdom and caution concerning it.
The Apostle Paul instructed the believers at Corinth,
“Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.” (1 Corinthians 14:1)
There are many underlying subjects that must be mined from God’s Word in order to grasp prophecy maturely and in balance. In this article, I will give some simple guidelines that may help answer questions about prophetic ministry. It is important to know that these guidelines are are built upon many other subjects and are not ‘stand alone’ points.
There are many over-lapping issues between various gifts. The word of knowledge, discerning of spirits, word of wisdom, and prophecy have that over-lapping element. Within these 4 gifts we “know something” from the Holy Spirit. The real question is “What do we do with it?” Continue reading