Tag Archives: God’s Will

The Pew Needs To Read Too

There’s always been a great struggle in the church to get the congregation to read more often. There’s a need for them to open their Bibles more often than just Sunday morning when the Pastor gives his text. The desire is that the pew not only quotes Bible verses, but also studies their Bibles. Yes, we all need to study The Word. But what about supplemental reading that could be beneficial to the congregation? Not just a book full of motivational quotes and inspirational sayings, but books of Christian substance that can draw the believer into a closer relationship with God, and closer to the true call of Christians: Make Disciples!

Something that we as preachers often fall into is building our own libraries, but neglecting to help the pew build theirs. It is vastly important that preachers be well read because there is a lot of great scholarly writing available to us that wasn’t available to preachers in years past. However, what we must remember in our search for higher learning is that we can’t forget about the people we serve and the fact that they need something to read that isn’t necessarily as thorough as what we’re called to read, but just as important to their discipleship and their development.

What we as preachers are often doing when we’re reading is trying to sharpen our skills so that we may rightly divide The Word in a way that the congregation can receive from us. We’re trying to polish our sermons so that there may be some understanding on Sunday mornings. But there is a time where the pew will need more than sermon notes. They’ll need more than our three points and a close. The pew needs to read too.

When I began using my gift of writing exclusively for ministry, I thought my books would be popular amongst my preached brethren, but I soon found that such wasn’t the case. God revealed to me why that is. It wasn’t about any jealousy or animosity or anything like that, because there are some in the ministry that have purchased much of my work. It was about the fact that God didn’t call me to write to other preachers. He called me to help the pew. What I write is redundant to a knowledgeable preacher. It doesn’t appeal to them. However, the pew responds in a much different way. The pew receives it in a way that preachers wouldn’t necessarily. And that was God’s plan.

The fact remains that no matter how much the preachers learn from all of their reading and studying, at some point, the pew is going to have to do some reading and studying of their own if the dots are ever going to be connected. Not just their Bibles, but also some other well-written material to help them to make sense of what their pastors are teaching and preaching. Pastors can’t be insecure about this because the truth of the matter is, if they’ve had any type of advanced schooling, there was some supplemental material that aided in their understanding as well.

What was good for pastors and preachers (additional material) is no doubt good for the pew they’re charged with serving. The connection between the preacher and the pew is often missed because all aren’t committed to study. Additional training is always desired, but there must also be an effort on the part of the congregation to assist in their own growth. Pastors should always have some suggested reading for the pew. Something that may be remedial to them could be monumental in the growth of their congregation. The material is out there. The church as a whole must stop being resistant to it. Otherwise, false and sugarcoated doctrines creep in. The fact remains that if the church is really gonna grow as God intended, all of the study can’t be on the pastor’s shoulders alone. The pew needs to read too.

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Rejecting God: We ignore much more than we miss

Did you really miss your blessing or did you just ignore it when it came? I’m a writer by nature and by profession, so I’m a stickler for words. It’s popular for us to say things to people like “You missed your blessing” when they seem to have bypassed God’s provisions. But I want to challenge that thinking, because upon further inspection, I find that we don’t miss God with anywhere near the regularity that we actually reject Him.

It’s really very simple to me. As an example, if you miss a bus, you either weren’t there when the bus showed up or you arrived as it was pulling away and you couldn’t catch it. However, to reject a bus means that you were standing there when it arrived, you knew that it would take you where you wanted to go, but for whatever reason, you refused to get on. 

Maybe it was too crowded. Maybe you didn’t like the style of the bus because it was an older model and not a brand new bus. Maybe you didn’t like the driver. Whatever your reason for not getting on, there’s no doubt about it, the bus came. You just rejected it and now it will take you longer to get to your destination.

The truth is God is always placing blessings right in front of us. The lie is that we somehow know better than God. Often, the blessing doesn’t look like we want it to look or it doesn’t come when we expected it or from where we expected it. We fail to see that God designs the blessing to fit its purpose, not necessarily to be pleasing to our eyes or our other human sensibilities. Can He design such a gift that’s pleasing to us? Of course He can. But we’ll often only see it that way when we use our vision as opposed to our sight.

The point here is this: To suggest that you missed something from God is to suggest that God’s timing is somehow off. Now, you may be saying, “Wait Rev, if I say I missed it, how am I blaming God?” Well, let me hit you with another Christian catchphrase: “He may not come when you want Him, but He’s always on time.” That says to me that if you’re early, God will be there. If you’re running late, God will be there. You can’t miss what God has for you, but you sure can reject it trying to do things according to your own understanding. 

Even if your aim is off, God’s aim is true. And even though we may miss out on some things, we won’t miss it in its entirety. But you wanna know what else is awesome about God? Even when you reject Him, He’s so full of grace, that He’ll bring that blessing back around and give you another chance at it. However, I must warn you. You don’t wanna keep ignoring God. You may find yourself stuck with your plan instead of His, and that’s a mess you don’t want. My suggestion to you? When the bus comes, don’t outsmart yourself. Your best bet is to just get on.

Read an excerpt from the upcoming book “Overcoming Your Pharaoh”

Overcoming10 (1 of 1)Click here to order now! In the meantime, please enjoy this excerpt from our Chapter on failure:

Character is formed in adversity

The adversity that we face during our trials and our failures is in fact what develops us. It’s in the adversities of the long and winding road to success that we learn just how fragile our dreams can be. It’s during those times that we develop not only what it takes to be successful, but also what it takes to stay that way. However success is defined for you, you’ll need some grit and determination to maintain it. Nothing can teach you that like falling on your face can.

I understand that none of us like to fall short, but there are so many lessons that can be learned from our failed efforts. I often tell people to learn to see God in everything, and where you can’t see God, you should seek God. Believe it or not, there are times when God made it hard for us, just as He did for Moses by the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart. There are times when we claim a faith that hasn’t been tested, so God puts us through it by allowing a few no’s to come our way and allowing a few doors to be slammed in our faces.

The question must be asked of us as we pursue our life’s dreams: How bad do you want it? That question must be answered in what we’re willing to go through to get to where we say we wanna be. If you’re ready to give up at the first sign of trouble (we’ll discuss that in the next section), then you should be wondering whether or not what you’re pursuing is for you. It’s not enough to just be talented or gifted in something. You have to be courageous enough, tough enough, and mentally strong enough to endure. Whenever you’re chasing your calling, your purpose, your passion, or your career, know that it will be a marathon and not a sprint.

Excitement will only take you so far. Enthusiasm will only take you so far. Just wanting it so bad will only take you so far. Even drive has its limitations. It’s what you do with opportunities that matter, and even more so, it’s what you do when there are no opportunities or when opportunity is snatched away from you by forces that are working against you.

It’s not just about God’s promises to you, but it’s also about whether or not you’ll let God mold you into the person that you need to be in order to live out the promise He’s made to you. If you read your Bible carefully, God often promised prosperity to the unprepared, the uncertain, the unwilling, and often the unqualified. It wasn’t until He molded them to fit the promise that He’d made to them that they were able to live out their purpose.

The benefit of your adversity is in the fact that it often prepares you for the next challenge. Even if the next challenge is unique in nature and something that you’ve never seen before, if nothing else, you come to rely on the fact that God brought you out before, and He can do it again. It’s during those times when things aren’t working out that we learn to see God working it out.

During those moments when it seems that nothing will ever go right, that’s the time when we must draw on the strength that God has been developing in us through our various trials, disappointments, and failures. James 1:3 tells us that the trying of our faith brings patience in us. Even if God isn’t the cause of your adversity, it is God that can make you stronger through your adversity. It is God that can help us to overcome when we feel overwhelmed.

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Anatomy of a dying church

KJ PreachHow is the health of your home church? Ponder that for a moment. It’s a question that we don’t often consider. We assume that because the doors open each Sunday morning, everything is alright. But the gates of the cemetery are open often and many of us go there to visit. We’re frequenting a place where no life exists, and yet we have no illusions about it.

There are plenty of bodies there, but no spiritual life. We know that, and it doesn’t stop us from coming. We even bring living flowers to a place that’s known for death. Our mere presence doesn’t change the situation. There’s no pretending and there’s no doubt about where we are. In a cemetery, people are dead. So, I ask again, how is the health of your home church?

Contrary to what many of us believe about ourselves, we aren’t bodies that possess spirits, but rather spirits that possess bodies. So a body without a spirit is dead. When we consider the state of our churches today, remember that we are called the body of Christ. However, if we have not the Spirit of the living God, we are dead. We may be moving around, we may be singing, we may be testifying, we may even be preaching and teaching, but without the Spirit of God, we are still dead.

Make no mistake about it, the Spirit may come and go in your church. There may be some parts of the service that are more energetic than others. Sometimes that’s because the Spirit is there, while other times we’ve been fooled by the emotion of the moment. What that means is just because someone got excited in church doesn’t mean that it is a Spirit-filled excitement. And if you’re serving in a place where the Spirit doesn’t abide, you are serving in a place that’s dying or already dead.

This isn’t a statement on the individual worshiper. This is a statement on the body as a collective. There may be people within the congregation that are Spirit-filled, but if the body as a whole isn’t that way, then the entire place is dead. Believe me, if there are parts of your body that are alive, but the majority of you is dying off, if you don’t get some help, it’s just a matter of time before you’re overtaken by death.

So what is the reason for the church dying off? There are two critical areas that we can examine: false prophets and a lack of nourishment. Understand that even healthy looking people can still be unhealthy (See Ananias and Sapphira in Acts Chapter 5). Understand that many men called of God have engaged in false prophecy for their own gain (See Balaam in Numbers Chapter 22-24, 31:8, 15-16). If you aren’t fed properly, you die. If you don’t have a means to get your nourishment, you die. All of this hinges on whether or not there is good leadership in place.

Let’s break this down:

There are two things that false prophets rely on from the people: Darkness and silence.

A spirit of false prophecy thrives on a people that don’t know the truth of God’s Word and what He’s called them to do. Also, they rely on the silence of those people. They count on those that know better to keep quiet about what they know, and for those that don’t know better to quietly trust them, and never ask any questions, even if it seems as though things are going the wrong way.

Individual and critical thinking is discouraged, and even looked upon as disrespect. But if you’re not thinking for yourself, you are in a vegetative state. Someone may be about to pull the plug on you. Those that God has placed in leadership can develop a God-complex when they go unchecked. This is why a pastor must have a pastor that they not only revere and respect, but will listen to and follow, because no one is always right.

A false prophet would have you to believe that they shouldn’t be questioned because their knowledge is above yours. However, the best leaders will listen to those they’re leading because when you don’t, you kill their spirit. Even if that leader feels they are right, they must at times entertain the wishes of the people, just in case they’re wrong or to allow the people to see the error of their own thinking. Even God yields to the will of man at times in order to make His point. What leader is justified in being so stubborn that they can’t do the same?

These people fear the individual in the group that will ask “Why”. But even God allows that question, so why shouldn’t man? This was something that plagued Blacks when we were slaves. There was a fear that if we learned to read, we’d gain an understanding. Once you understand, you are no longer in darkness, you are walking in the light. You’re no longer stumbling around, unsure of where you’re going or what you might bump into.

Once you have an understanding, you ask questions when something goes against that understanding. You may even choose not to participate in some things that go against your spirit. This kind of behavior is a nuisance to the false prophet or those bringing a false prophecy. But no one has ever grown mentally or spiritually without gaining an understanding, asking questions, and being skeptical when their questions go unanswered. When you have a congregation of people that’s comfortable living in darkness and afraid to speak up when something isn’t right, there can be no growth.

There are two things that will keep a flower from blooming: Lack of light and a lack of water.

If we in fact seek the light that God gives, we can grow. If we in fact drink from the living water that God provides, we shall thirst no more. The issue in many of our churches is that we don’t realize how dry things have gotten. We don’t realize how dark it really is. We have no idea that the bloom is off our rose. We assume that because we’re standing, we’re alive. But a tree can stand upright for years, rotting on the inside. Without inspection, nobody knows it’s dying until it comes crashing to the earth!

So many of our churches are functioning on ritual and habit. We’ve become inanimate objects. We’re not alive in Christ, we’re just existing. We aren’t sprouting new leaves of knowledge, we aren’t growing and reproducing, we’re just there because we’re expected to be. We’re in church because we’ve always been. We’re in the desert trusting all of the mirages (praise and responses that are emotional, not spiritual) that we see.

We must be like that tree planted by the water in Psalms 1:3, that brings forth much fruit in our season. The Word of God says that our leaves shall not whither and we will be prosperous. However, if the landscape has changed and there’s no more growth, we must be willing to be uprooted and replanted somewhere else. A church that isn’t near the water of life and being kept away from the light of God can’t bloom. That church is ready to die.

So, how can we stop this death?

There are two things that can revive the church: The truth of God’s Word, and the courage and conviction of His people.

There’s no point in Bible Class if it isn’t designed to empower God’s people. The goal isn’t to make the people dependent on the pastor. It is to teach them to be dependent on God. It is to help them to know the power of His might, not man’s. It is to make them so courageous, to convict them so deeply, that they have no choice but to stand on His word!

Our churches are dying, not only because we so often miss Bible Class, but because we don’t apply what we’re learning when we do go. We’re dying because people are more concerned with the conviction of man than they are the conviction of God. They won’t challenge the wrong in their church because they’d rather be alright with the people they see each week.

They won’t challenge false prophets and false prophecies because they’re being taught not to. They’re hungry, but they won’t cry out to be fed like a newborn baby because they don’t wanna make trouble, not really understanding that spiritual death is the most trouble any of us can be in. However, God’s Word is all the inspiration any of us should need when faced with the death of our church.

God didn’t call us to be sideline Christians. We are called to get in the game. We are called to action. He doesn’t want us to act out of order, but He doesn’t want us foolishly compliant either. Sheep are reliant on a good shepherd to lead and protect them, but they aren’t called to follow just anyone. Jesus said that His sheep know His voice. If life isn’t being spoken in your church, it’s not of God. Don’t believe that God won’t move in you in order to move in your church. It’s alright to pray, but God’s answer comes through us. Believe it or not, this is a matter of life and death.

Never stay past your season

20150609_162857 (2)Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us that there is a season for everything. That means that everything (including you and I) has a beginning and an end. This scripture also tells us that there’s a time for every purpose under heaven. While the text goes on to spell out all of the different things that have a time and purpose in our lives, we must understand that we too have a time, purpose, and season for what we are to do and when we are to do it. The key is to never stay beyond your season.

There are times when we all overstate our importance in things. We’re often quick to identify our rights, while ignoring our wrongs. We’re quick to identify when someone else’s season is over in our lives, but we often fail to see when we’re out of season. God’s purpose for you in someone’s life or in certain situations isn’t necessarily never ending. Yes, God actually can hire us for seasonal work. Pride may keep us from seeing this, but humility can open our eyes.

So how does this happen? Well, we often get comfortable where we are. We start out going places because God directed us there. We begin the work, we have positive results, and we sometimes figure that we can permanently set up shop. Unless the work is uncomfortable or taxing on us, we’re not looking to finish up and move on so quickly.

However, when it comes to the ministry of our lives, we must always be ready to be on the move. The Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20 starts with the word “Go”. Which means God has called us to mobility. He’s already made us aware that we may be planted for a reason and a season, but we must be at least willing to carry the work that He’s called us to do from place to place. No matter how much we may like where we are, there may be an expiration date on the work that we’re called to do in a particular place.

God knows that comfortable sometimes breeds complacency, which can lead to resting on our past accomplishments, while not giving our best in the present day. We must be continuously inspired to go further, go deeper, and maybe even go away, in order to continue the work we’re commissioned to do. Resisting the call to move on when your season is through can lead to conflict with God and conflict in the place you’re serving.

The Bible states in 1 Corinthians 14:33 that “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace”. Therefore, when He sends you to do a work, there are times when it may ruffle some feathers, but its end is peace. When the work you’re doing causes more problems than progress, you may be out of season. God will often send us into places to stir the nest, but it may be someone else’s call to settle things back down. And once things are settled, it may then be another person’s job to take things to the next level.

The Apostle Paul spoke of such things in 1 Corinthians Chapter 3 when he made the distinction between himself and Apollos. He reminded a church that was arguing over who was the better preacher that we are all servants of God. One may plant, one may water, but it is in fact God that will give the increase. Once we understand that it is in fact God that makes it all grow, we can better accept it when our season is up. We can better understand that once we’ve done our work in service of The Lord, He has someone else to carry the work forward. Our job is to plant what we have for the edification of the people, and then move along as instructed so God can complete His work.

If I may use an example, when an apple tree is planted, its purpose is to produce apples when the season is right. Once those apples are ready for the harvest, they should be gathered to be consumed. If you don’t gather them in season, they fall from the tree. They begin to rot. All sorts of insects come around and begin to destroy the apples, and now the tree and its fruit represent a nuisance. The fruit can no longer be used for its intended purpose, which was the edification of the body. It’s now poisoned and no good.

The point here is when things, people, or situations are out of season, they can be hazardous to your health. Spiritually, we must not consume things that are no longer good for the (spiritual) body. While we are all trying to watch out for things that are in our lives that are out of season, it is just as important to make sure that we don’t stay in places longer than God intended.

We can’t be so arrogant in our spirit that we refuse to believe that we can outgrow our usefulness in certain situations. God calls us to certain assignments, but not necessarily forever. The message may be everlasting, but the assignment may be temporary. Be sure that you’re in season wherever you are. And if you’re not, don’t assume that God can no longer use you because the harvest has come. God can still use you, He just may not need you where you are anymore. Move on to the next assignment. God may not be changing your call, your purpose, or your message, but it may be time to change the recipients.