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Monthly Archives: October 2016

The Worst Day of My Life

The Worst Day of My Life

Twenty years ago today was beyond a doubt the worst day of my life. It was the day that my mom died in my arms as we rushed her to the hospital. I was always very close to my mom. I have to say, I was blessed with a great mom. She was loving, funny, sometimes goofy, but in a good way, and may have been the smallest one in the room but when she meant business everyone paid attention.

She was also a great teacher. I cherish many of the valuable lessons she taught me as a child. She would often tell me that growing up she was dirt poor. Then she would tell me that those were some of the happiest times in her life because life was about friends and family and not about stuff.

For about a year prior to my mom’s death my wife and I took care of her. I use to be embarrassed to talk about it but my mom suffered with mental illness. However, I have since learned that mental illness is just like any other illness, it just affects the mind just as a heart condition would affect the heart.

Her mental illness didn’t start, or at least I didn’t notice or even know about it, until a year or so prior to her death. The last year of her life was a nightmare. When she took her medication she was my fun loving mom again. However, when she wouldn’t take her medication she would think she was better and didn’t need to take it anymore and turn into a stranger that I didn’t know that often caused me to fear for her life as well as my own. It was a vicious cycle that most people outside the doors of our home were clueless to.

At one point she returned to work and we thought she was doing better. At this time she decided to go stay at my grandmothers for a few days. Though we no longer participate in Halloween, we did then. We dressed our girls up and decided that we would take them over to my grandmothers to show her and my mom their costumes prior to going trick or treating. When we arrived at my grandmothers my mom was nowhere to be seen and my grandmother had a look of terror on her face. She immediately told me that she thought my mom found her gun she had hidden and was now gone.

My wife immediately took the girls away while I went out to look for her. Almost immediately I found her in the chicken pen lying on the floor. My heart sunk when I saw that she had just shot herself in the chest but she was still alive. I picked her up and carried her to the front of the house. About that time my dad pulled up and I jumped in the back seat of his car with my mom still in my arms. She didn’t make it to the hospital. I knew the moment she breathed her last breath and remember it today as clearly as when it happened. On October 31st of 1996 she had successfully taken her own life.

After this I was furious. I was angry at myself, blamed myself, and angry at the world. My mom was my best friend growing up and was nothing like what she had turned into in that last year of her life. I didn’t know how something like this could happen. Though I wasn’t a Christian then my mom was. She loved the Lord and loved going to church. I often had to take her to church and I hated it. When she was in her right mind she would always tell me that I needed to give my life to the Lord and let him straighten my life up. No doubt my life was in a mess back then. Though I considered myself an atheist at the time I was angry at God. If He was real, and loving, and powerful, why didn’t He help her?

That question leads to why I am sharing this awful story of the last year of my mom’s life and the worst day of mine; because it led to the best day of my life. I soon discovered that everything good in life comes from God. James 1:17 says, “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” Though to no fault of her own the last year of my mom’s life wasn’t good, I had a good mom, no, I had a great mom. I had the best mom anyone could ask for. And, she was a gift from God; a truly wonderful gift.

I also learned that everything bad and evil comes from Satan. Jesus said in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy.” Satan is that thief. Through his lies and trickery he caused sin to enter into the heart of man which caused the fall of man, resulting into the curse of sin coming upon man; the same curse that causes sickness and death to this day.

At the same time, I learned that God can bring good out of tragedy. God doesn’t cause the tragedy, Satan does, but God can and will bring good out of any tragedy if we let Him. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” God allowed the worst day of my life to bring about the best day of my life. Just a few weeks after my mom’s death on December 26th of 1996 I accepted Jesus Christ as the Lord and Savior of my life. Today, my wife is a Christian, my two daughters are Christians, and I have two beautiful granddaughters that are being raised in a Christian home to know and love Jesus.

Some say that people who commit suicide can’t go to heaven. That is a Catholic teaching that has absolutely nothing to do with the bible or any form of truth. My mom’s mental illness caused her to take her own life. In fact I don’t believe anyone can take their life unless they are demonically influenced or suffer mental illness. My mom was a Christian. And for that reason, though we are separated for a short time, I along with my family will see her again-because of Jesus.

We all suffer tragedy in this life; some worse than others. When it’s your tragedy, it’s the worst tragedy. But remember, Romans 8:18 says, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” When you face tragedy, remember where the bad comes from and give him the blame. Then, trust in the one who can turn all things into good, even the worst days of our lives. His name is Jesus!

Feel free to share this and let it be an encouraging word to others who are facing trials and tragedy.

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2016 in Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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The Biblical Mandate for Missions and Evangelism

The Biblical Mandate for Missions and Evangelism

Jesus said to the disciples just before His ascension in Acts 1:8, “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” As we study the book of Acts we clearly see the progression of the gospel starting in Jerusalem, going to Judea and Samaria, and then to the remotest parts of the earth. We can clearly see Acts 1:8 as the outline and the purpose statement of the books of Acts.

  • The gospel proclaimed in Jerusalem: Acts 2-8:3
  • The gospel proclaimed in Judea & Samaria: Acts 8:4-12:25
  • The gospel proclaimed to the ends of the earth through Paul’s three missionary journeys: Acts 13-28

In Acts 13:1 we see the church of Antioch praying and fasting leading to the Holy spirit saying in verse 2, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” The church then fasted and prayed again, laid hands on them and set them out to carry the gospel to the remotest parts of the earth.

Acts 14:21-23 says, “After they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” When they had appointed elders for them in every church, having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.” This text of scripture shows us the clear twofold purpose of the work that the Holy Spirit set out for these men on their missionary journeys to do. The first purpose was to share the gospel and the second was to start churches.

In every city Paul and his team of missionaries were faithful to preach the gospel. They would preach the gospel in Synagogues, along the riverside, by the gates of cities, houses, and prestigious lecture halls. Even while in the presence of governors and kings who held his life in their hands, Paul was faithful to preach the gospel.

In every city Paul and his team entered there were many who rejected the gospel and often persecuted Paul. Yet, at the same time there were many who accepted the gospel with gladness. When the gentiles heard that God’s grace was available to them through the preaching of the gospel, they were especially responsive. Acts, 13:48-49 says, “When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was being spread through the whole region.” I wonder how many who live today in our own communities would respond to the gospel when they hear that they are not too far removed from the grace of God. But how will they hear unless we tell them? Most of the time they will not come to us because they feel unworthy, however, if we go to them they may very well respond.

Paul was on a journey traveling from city to city preaching the gospel. He seldom stayed in any a city for very long, sometimes as little as two weeks. For this reason he knew churches need to be started in these cities as a continuing base of ministry. Paul trained elders for these churches who would then take leadership positions to establish order, to protection from false teachers, to educate, and to give direction. I Timothy 5:7 says, “The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching.”

The churches had a twofold purpose. First they needed to disciple the new believers. Secondly, although many in these cities responded to the gospel there were many more that did not hear and needed to be evangelized. The good news is that there were now churches established in these cities as an evangelistic lighthouse of the gospel; not only to their generation but to the ones to come.

God’s order has not changed. He still fully expects His churches to send, pray for, and support missionaries just as the church at Antioch did. Something interesting to notice about Paul’s missionary journeys is that he only went to larger cities of major commerce and trade that was easily accessible to the rest of the world. These were the perfect locations for churches to grow and multiply by sending missionaries out into the rest of the world.

God also still fully expects His churches to be a lighthouse of the gospel to their own communities and to disciple those who come to the faith where they too will become effective workers for the kingdom. If we are not faithful to this task the world will then be condemned to hell separated from the grace of God for eternity and we will be responsible because we refused to do what God fully expects of us. Remember though, Europe was the first continent to be considered a Christian continent in great part to Paul and his team of missionaries being faithful to the Holy Spirit and the calling He set them apart to do. What would God do through us today if we are simply faithful?

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

How to Prepare for Revival

How to Prepare for Revival

How to Prepare for a Revival:

After years of planning and preaching revival meetings I have learned a few things. The first thing I have learned is that a revival meeting isn’t necessarily a revival-it is often times only a meeting. In fact, I am thoroughly convinced that only a handful of people in our generation have experienced true, ground shaking, sin breaking, heart piercing, life changing revival. True revival doesn’t end at the final amen of the week. In fact, when true revival comes, that is only the beginning.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not interested in meetings. I am interested in seeing a God glorifying, church transforming revival that leads to a spiritual awakening of even the most hard hearted within the community. Keep in mind, neither you nor I can bring about revival. Only God can do that. But, we can prepare ourselves, and the church, and petition our almighty God for such a revival within the church and spiritual awakening in the community. If you are planning a revival meeting here are my suggestions to help prepare your church for true revival.

Prepare by Preaching:  

Naturally you need to plan the when’s, the where’s, the who’s and things such as this. But that’s the easy part. Once those tasks are accomplished you as the pastor need to plan on preparing the church for revival; plan on preaching, plan on promoting, plan on praying, and plan on seeking the favor of God. The church will only be as enthusiastic about revival as the one behind the pulpit and will only be as prepared as the pastor prepares them and as they pray and trust in God to be.

Start off by preaching a series of messages that will prepare the church for the up coming revival. Preach on getting spiritually prepared, the need for prayer and fasting, the need for seeking God, the need to go and tell others, the need for revival in and of itself, among other things the Lord may lead you to preach on in this time of preparation as you seek His direction. Through the preaching and the promises of God’s word build the church up for an anticipation and expectation of revival.

I firmly believe that we aren’t seeing revival in our day because the people of God are not hungry for it. They aren’t hungry for it because they don’t see the true need for it. Therefore, the pastor should, through the Word of God, convince the congregation that they truly are in need, and that God can, and will, bring about revival if we are truly hungry for Him and sincerely seek Him. Through the proper preparation of preaching the truths of God’s word, revival should be desired, prayed for, and expected within the congregation prior to the actual revival meeting.

Prepare by Promoting:

Let everyone, and I mean everyone, know you are having a revival. There are countless ways to get the word out. As a pastor, you already have too much on your plate. For this reason, I highly recommend forming a promotions committee/team. They can make posters, purchase yard signs and banners, arrange advertisement, organize community canvassing and form a plan to get the whole church involved in a variety of ways.

For churches that can afford it, radio, television, news paper, and social media advertisements are a good means of promotions. However, I have found over the years that word of mouth and personal invitations are always the best means of getting folks to come. We have a whole host of ways to invite people these days. I know social media has it’s downsides but it has proven to be a great resource for promotions as well.

Be sure to get your Sunday School classes, R/A’s, G/A’s, Awana’s, and youth groups involved. Find some innovative ways to get the whole church plugged into promotions and personal invitations. This is not only a good way to invite people to your revival services, it will also unite the church in its anticipation for the revival. Wouldn’t it be awesome to have revival start prior to the evangelistic team showing up?

Prepare by Prayer:

We don’t simply want a house full of people-we wan’t the power of God. No revival has ever occurred apart from prayer. Prayer is fundamentally the most important aspect of revival. In truth, it only takes one or two to seek the face of God for revival. However, prayer doesn’t just petition God for revival, it also prepares the prayer warrior for it. The sad reality is the majority of Christians will never seek God for revival. However, I am thoroughly convinced if we can gather the church to pray we will have it.

I have preached revivals where droves of sinners were saved and a multitude of church members were moved to the alter in prayer and repentance. I have preached the same sermons with the same personal preparation in other churches where the only one’s who moved were the ushers passing the plate. What was the difference? The churches preparation for revival by prayer. When I know a church is prayed up, I know the fire will fall. God will always honor His people’s prayers. Just look at God’s promise of II Chronicle 7:14. In essence God said if you do your part, I will do my part and “I will hear from heaven.” Strongly emphasize to your church how important praying for revival is and get them on their face before a holy God praying. Pray and believe that God will rise up prayer warriors.

Plan a minimum of a month in advance for the church to start corporately praying for revival. Set aside a time in the week where praying for the revival will be the only focus. Train a prayer team consisting of mature Christians how to pray through the revival services by praying through the points of the messages that God would pierce the churches heart with His truths and bring repentance to the sinners. Train them how to pray through the time of invitation for the Holy Spirit to have His way. As an evangelist, I will always recommend a time to be set aside everyday for the pastor and the revival team to pray together. Invite the whole church to come 30 minutes, 45 minutes, or an hour prior to the revival to come in and pray with and for the revival team as well as the revival meeting itself.

Prepare by Petitioning God’s Favor:  

I know many churches have spring and fall revivals because that’s what they do and that’s what they’ve always done because that’s what the church expects. If you are having a revival because you want to fill a spot on the calendar-don’t expect one. It probably won’t happen. Or, if you want a revival because you believe God needs to come straighten your church folks out over some issues, or if you are wanting a revival to fill more pews, don’t expect it. Why? Because none of those things honor God and none of those things are seeking Him.

When true revival comes it is messy, ugly, painful, and sometimes humiliating. But, the end result is always beautiful and glorifying to the Lord. What is revival? Revival is when God shows up, and God takes over. It is when God has His way in our personal lives, our churches, and our community. So, what/who do we want for revival? God! God, we want You, God, we need you, God, we are not sufficient without You, dear Jesus, we can do nothing apart from You.

Again, we can’t bring about revival. The best churches, the best prayer warriors, the best planners, the best musicians, nor the best preachers can bring about revival. Only God can. But we can, and we should, seek His face and His favor, and only His face and His favor, and, when He chooses to bring about revival He will do what He sees fit to do. He is God after all. Remember, He is a rewarder of those who seek Him! (Hebrews 11:6)

I also believe in the power of praying through God’s word. How better do we know His will? In most of my revivals, I preach through the principles of II Chronicles 7:14, therefore, I give this suggested prayer guide of praying through II Chronicles 7:14.

Pray through II Chronicles 7:14

For yourself and for the church

“If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

  • Ask God to revive yourself and His people
  • Ask God to rise up workers called by His name especially evangelists and teachers.
  • Ask Him to strengthen, anoint, embolden, and encourage those who are working.
  • Ask God to humble yourself and the church to trust only in His power and live in obedience.
  • Ask God to give yourself and the church a strong burden to pray for revival in the church and salvation to the community. Ask Him to rise up prayer warriors.
  • Ask God to give yourself and the church a strong desire and longing for Him; that we would seek His face. Pray the the church would only be satisfied with the power and presence of God.
  • Ask God to bless the church with His presence, Sunday School, prayer services, and the revival meetings. “Do not hide Your face from Your servant.” Psalm 69:17
  • Ask God to reveal any sin within yourself or the church and that the church would turn from any wicked ways.
  • Ask God to convict the church of righteousness that the whole congregation would live holy before Him.
  • Ask God to hear from heaven and send revival upon our church.
  • Ask God to forgive yours and the churches sin, then cleanse, and restore to righteousness to the church, and nation.
  • Ask God to heal our land and send a mighty spiritual awakening into your community where many will be saved. Ask that it would spread near and far.
 
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Posted by on October 12, 2016 in Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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