I am in my 23rd year of pastoring and through the years I have learned a lot about myself and about leadership. Being in leadership in our modern culture has a way of exposing our weaknesses and making them seem greater than our strengths. With the help of Social Media and the constant posting of the good side of the leader's life, we often compare our weaknesses with other people's strengths.
Therefore, we find that we are constantly trying to be like someone else or at least wishing we had the "gift" sets that others have. A friend and I were talking about another preacher we know that has it all. His preaching is powerful and anointed. He is a mighty man in the pulpit but on top of that, he is an incredible musician and singer who can bring the house down. I know as I talk about this preacher I have said on many occasions, "God, why couldn't you give me just a little of that talent?"
Yet, the older I get the more I am learning to be comfortable in my own skin. I understand my weaknesses and I do everything I can to improve those. Every leader should seek to better himself or herself, but at some point we must understand, we are who God created us to be. Improve our weakness, yes, but do not focus on your weakness because it will make you think you have no strengths.
I have come to realize that there are certain things that I am not gifted to do. I try my hardest and frustrate myself trying to be something I am not. I have tried to live up to the expectations of others and the unrealistic expectations that I have put on myself, but it all ends the same. Therefore, in recent years, I have decided to surround myself with people who can help where I lack.
Many leaders and pastors, feel the peer pressure (that we thought we grew out of as teens) to achieve and be what the church culture or business culture tells us. We then drive ourselves and our churches to be what we think that success is, but if you are striving for these things for the wrong reasons, we fail. We might be a success in our peer's eyes, but what about God's eyes?
I am for growth personally and in ministry, but I want to be what God has called me to be. I believe we all do. Let's pray that we become what God has gifted us to be and see what He does through us with what He has given us.
I end with a great quote by Og Mandino in his book, The Greatest Mystery In The World.
"To do what I can is my problem; not what a Napolean or a Lincoln could do, but what I can do!"
Leader, seek to grow but always be yourself!
Monday, we took a family trip to Baxter Springs, Kansas, about an hour and a half from Rogers. We have been there before and last time enjoyed the Baxter Springs Museum which is quite amazing. The area is rich with history, ranging from Civil War to Mining History.
Recently, I was reading a book that chronicled the life of Charles Parham. He is known as the founder of the Apostolic Faith movement and also the father of the Modern Pentecostal movement. Parham was used of God to bring revival to our nation that eventually resulted in the Azusa Street Outpouring in 1906.
“The modern-day Pentecostal/Charismatic movement began in a small Bible school in Topeka, Kansas. The leader of the school, Charles F. Parham, assigned the entire student body the topic of the Biblical evidence of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.
Keep in mind; neither Parham, nor any of his students had ever heard anyone speaking in tongues. They approached this assignment not as antagonist or as propagandist, but as people hungry to follow the Biblical pattern. After three days, Parham called the students together in the chapel to ascertain their findings from the three-day study. To his astonishment the students all had the same story, reporting that although different things occurred when the Pentecostal blessing fell in the various episodes recorded in Acts, the common denominator on each occasion was that they spoke with other tongues. This, they concluded, should be the Biblical evidence of a genuine baptism in the Spirit.” (Quoted from a Sermon by Jeff Gravis)
As a result of this outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Topeka, Kansas, Charles Parham influenced a man named William Seymour, who found his way to the Azusa Street Mission in Los Angeles and God used him to lead a revival that literally shook the world. The influence that Parham had on William Seymour was immense and we should be grateful for both of these men who allowed the Spirit of God to work through them.
So, as I was reading a book on the Holy Spirit, I noticed that Charles Parham founded a Bible School in Baxter Springs and was buried there. Monday, as we drove to Baxter Springs, we passed the still functioning Bible College. (Now located in a different building) Then we went to the town cemetery to see if we could find his gravestone. In a prominent section of the cemetery, we found a well placed and intact gravestone that rested above this man of God.
As we stood near his grave, I couldn’t help but become hungry for a move of God in my own life as well as in our church. What God did through Charles Parham was a sovereign act of God, yet, God can work again. I believe that we are living in times that we are desperate for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit once again. Not a 1901 experience or a 1906 outpouring but something for 2019. Something that can change the world. Let us prepare our hearts for what God wants to do and I challenge everyone to pray for such a move of God that it will impact our respective communities all across our nation.
May God pour out His Spirit once again!
No, what you see was predicted long ago by the prophet Joel:
17 ‘In the last days,’ God says,
‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
Your young men will see visions,
and your old men will dream dreams.
18 In those days I will pour out my Spirit
even on my servants—men and women alike--
and they will prophesy. -Acts 2:16-18-
Also, I took this cool photo of the last Marsh Bridge on Route 66.
Over the last 15 months, I have walked through a valley of sickness. Not being able to hold food down has changed my life, in so many ways for the better. Not physically, but rather spiritually and it has transformed my perspectives. It has taught me a lot about hunger. Of course, I now have more compassion for those who are physically hungry. Those who have little to eat. But the greatest change has been in my understanding of spiritual hunger. As a result of this last year, my dependence upon God is at an all time high. I have had to trust Him for my daily needs as well as for the strength to walk through life. But what of spiritual hunger?
It’s not a plea for sympathy, but for 15 months, I was hungry every night, through the night. I couldn’t eat past a certain time and then I lost all of that. Every night was spent with my stomach growling and hungry for food. All night was spent anticipating my morning meal. I looked forward to the morning.
After all these months, I have come to understand that this is the type of spiritual hunger God desires for us to have. How often do we long for the morning that we can spend time with our Heavenly Father? How often do we long for Christ to satisfy our spiritual hunger? After all, He is the Bread of Life and only He can satisfy. It begs us the question, are we more hungry for physical food than we are spiritual?
The Psalmist was a man of hunger. He spent much time in caves on the run from his enemies. He understood what hunger and thirst truly was. But, in all of those times on the run, what he longed for more than anything was the Lord’s presence.
1 O God, you are my God;
I earnestly search for you.
My soul thirsts for you;
my whole body longs for you
in this parched and weary land
where there is no water.
Notice the longing for the Lord’s presence and the intensity of the Psalmist's hunger and thirst for God. In essence he is saying, "I long for you with everything inside of me." He is in a parched and weary land and he needs the water only God can give. He longs to be satisfied by the Almighty. But the hunger does not end there.
6 I lie awake thinking of you,
meditating on you through the night.
7 Because you are my helper,
I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings.
8 I cling to you;
your strong right hand holds me securely.
The Psalmist, too, is hungry through the night. He lies awake thinking of the things of God. He meditates on Him and on His goodness. It is in those night watches, in those moments of hunger that he finds himself clinging to God.
My friend, does your heart long for God in a similar way? How often do we meditate on God and on His goodness? I have found it true of life that God will use the circumstances and hard times we face to draw us closer to Him. It is never His intention to drive us away. Yet, it is our choice what we will do! How will you respond in the moments when you need Him the most? Will you seek Him and be driven to Him with a deeper hunger for His touch? Or will you leave His nudging unheeded?
I am thankful that after these 15 months of hunger, I am better and holding down food. However, the spiritual hunger remains. I am hungrier for a move of God than I have been in a long time. May God draw us nearer to Him and allow us to experience His fulness. I challenge you to seek Him and ask Him to give you a deeper hunger for His presence and His touch.
Just wanted to mention that 2 of the books I have authored are at their lowest ever price.
Sometimes, Church Hurts is now $6.99 on Amazon. This is a great book for those who have been wounded in church or by other Christians. (Also, available in e-book for 99 cents)
Also, Thoughts For The Journey is now $9.81 on Amazon. This is a book full of devotional writings. It will be a great encouragement to your walk with Christ. (Also, available in e-book for 99 cents)
I believe these books will be a blessing to you.
Have you ever been in a rut and couldn't seem to get out?
When we lived in Daisetta, Texas, we had received a great deal of rain over the period of a couple weeks. Off to the side of our driveway was a large puddle of water. It had been that way for a week and the ground was extremely soft. As I was backing out of the driveway, I pulled around Sonya's car and into the puddle. You guessed it; I got stuck. I had to call someone to pull me out. I learned that day, the harder I try to get out of a rut, the deeper it becomes.
In our spiritual lives, we go through periods of drought or as I call it, a rut. It seems that we are stuck in the same place all the time. It seems as though we are not growing, and the harder we try to pray and study the Word, the more difficult it becomes.
I have been through many times of drought, but one thing I learned, is the harder I try to get out, the harder it gets. That is when I learned the solution. When I’m stuck, I need someone to pull me out. Jesus is waiting for us to call on Him and ask for His help. The rut is too deep to try to do it our way. I have learned when it is the hardest to pray and read the Word, I ask God to help me. I stop trying to pray because "I NEED TO" but rather because I want to. Our spiritual walk can become a rigid ritual or formality. We do it and we walk away unchanged. When we give it to the Lord and we begin to spend time with Him, not just because it is our "hour a day", but a time set aside with Him to just soak Him in, we will find that we become refreshed.
A rut is difficult to overcome and impossible without Jesus to help us. I believe that God allows these times to build our faith and trust in Him so that we will still seek Him, although we don't feel like it or don't experience His presence. He will put within you a new spirit and a new heart.
Ezekiel 36:26 says, “I will give you a new heart and a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”
Allow Jesus to pull you out of your spiritual rut. He is waiting for you.