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Monday, February 27, 2017

WHEN YOUR PASTOR RESIGNS (FROM A PASTOR'S PERSPECTIVE)

 
A friend of mine wrote me recently about how upset he was over his (sorta/kinda) pastor resigning. He couldn't understand why God would do that. He questioned whether the pastor even knew the will of God. He questioned the pastor's integrity.

I've had to deal with and answer this type questioning many times. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of pastors and leaders out there that live sinful lives and abuse the people. There are plenty of examples of preachers compromising and doing terrible things. I also know that great men of God are often stereotyped because of these wicked hirelings. I'll rebuke the sinful preacher, but I'm also quick to fight for the men and women of God that are trying to work for Jesus.

This will a very long post, but I am going to share my response to him with you, hoping you can see things from a pastor's perspective. I know there are great churches and very faithful saints out there, so the things I said to him aren't applicable to everyone. If you are one of the faithful, Thank You. Please, continue what you're doing. The kingdom depends on you. Souls depend on you. Keep praying. We're living in the days of the great falling away, you're important!

"Dear Brother __________. I understand everything you're saying. I also understand why you're hurting. It's perfectly normal. And I want to be sensitive to your situation. I count you as a friend-you've been through a lot lately.

But with that said, I'm having a hard time agreeing with your perspective because, not only do I understand how you feel, I understand how it feels to be a pastor.

In a previous message, you said the following to me:

"We have become discouraged about not having a home church..."

"of course the ___________ church and the people are nice and treat us good but we still don't feel a part of or at home."

After reading that and then reading your complaints about them resigning and how you now questioned the _________'s for leaving, I feel like you were wrong and certainly weren't being fair. (I'm speaking to you as a friend. I'm not bothered at all.)

People celebrate when we (pastors) start churches. They believe us when we say God sent us. They tell everyone how much they confident us. They tell people we're their favorite preacher. That all sounds good, but God didn't send us so we can be people's favorite preacher. He sends us so we can build the kingdom of God, winning the lost, and discipling men and women. We can't do that without help, so God sends people to help us, but it's here we find the problem.

The members expect us to be faithful. They expect us to always show up. They expect us to be at every service until we die, yet they come and go as they please. The members can stay home for any reason, or no reason, and if we challenge them they get mad at us and come to church even less, or find another church to not attend.

People have all kinds of reasons and excuses for not being at church, but that doesn't change one thing when it comes to a pastor and his wife's broken heart. We study and seek God for the message and then the people we studied for don't come to church because they stayed home to clean their house, or had a family reunion, or a birthday party, or were tired, or went to the park, or had a headache, or had to work, or had company, and/or a thousand other silly reasons. Church is the last thing on their priority list. Everything else takes precedent over church. They will be too sick or tired to come to church, but miraculously make it to work the next morning. They can live without church, the pastor, his teaching, the preaching, and fellowship, but they can't live without the almighty dollar. People do what they want when they want, but expect the pastor and his wife to work, even if they have to work alone. I've actually had people take new jobs that wouldn't allow them to come to church services and they wanted me to change the service days or start another service night just so they can come. I hadn't forgotten that they missed half of the services before they took the new job. The only thing better than having 2 services that people don't attend is having 3! I was already dying from preaching to empty pews and fireless hearts. I guess they wanted to kill me quicker.

God gives the pastor a burden for their city, but again, the people have a thousand excuses why they can't come and be a part of ministries that will effect that city. They won't volunteer for evangelism work, they won't commit to children's ministries, they won't show up to prayer meetings, won't clean the church, and hardly show up on work days, yet they still expect everything to get done. They can go out to eat several times a week; they can buy anything they want, but won't tithe. The church suffers financially, hindering what the pastor can and cannot do to fulfill the vision of reaching the city.

God can give the pastor a vision, but often can't implement the vision due to the unfaithfulness of the people.

I see this everyday all across the country.

Dear brother, your reasons for not going to the __________'s church may be valid, but for you to get upset when they left is simply wrong. If God sends a pastor to a group of people and the people won't help him, God will move him somewhere else. God doesn't love the church members any more than he loves the pastor and his wife. He won't allow us to be destroyed by unconcerned church members.

 Furthermore, there are times the Pastor and church get along fine and work beautifully together and God will still move them somewhere else. It's His business.

If we confidented the pastor when they said God brought them we should confident them when they say God is moving them.

God moves church members to other churches. God moves pastors to other churches. That's His business. I do find it funny that both pastor and members accuse the other of not obeying God when they move.

Now, I know that was a little hard, but it's the truth. I just wanted you to see it from another perspective.

I love you, Brother ______."

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Five Lessons to Learn When Your Vision is Nailed to a Cross



I GOT SCHOOLED

I have a tendency to interpret what God says to me. Don't get me wrong, I want to know what God means when He speaks, but if I'm not careful I will prematurely expand it. Let me illustrate:

Some years ago, while the pastor of a beautiful church in Florida, I had a strong impression that I would start a Bible/Ministry School. Because I'm a "whole hog or die" kind of guy, I was totally committed to being at the church. So I just knew that I would start that school there. I've learned a few things down through the years, so I didn't tell anyone God told me to start a school, but I did mention it, I insinuated it. I had misinterpreted His will, if it was even Him that had spoken to me-I'm still praying about that.

THE APOSTLES GOT SCHOOLED

The Apostles were raised in a Judaic culture which held the Word of God in the highest regards. It was God's Word. It was the final authority. They taught their children its precepts at every possible opportunity.

They were well versed on the subject of the imminent coming of their Messiah. They had spoken of it day after day. They had memorized every verse dealing with His arrival, but there was a problem with their interpretation. They were taught and believed that the Messiah would literally take over the temple in Jerusalem, sit upon a throne, and rule the world from there. Who would debate that was an incredible vision for what was to come? Not me. Their vision was mighty, it just wasn't God's vision. They were living under the oppressive hand of Rome and had read their desperate desire to be delivered from that oppression into the Word of God. They had committed the egregious Theological error of eisegesis. 

In John chapter twenty-one, verses one through three, we see the results of misinterpreting the will of God. They were looking for Jesus to sit upon a throne in Jerusalem, break the power of Rome, and give them liberty right then and there. Unfortunately, they watched their vision be nailed to a cross and then buried in a tomb. 

WHAT WILL YOU DO WHEN YOUR VISION IS NAILED TO A CROSS?

They didn't know how to handle this contradiction, this frightening disappointment. Was the Bible wrong? Was Jesus not the Messiah? They had placed all of their chips on Jesus being the Messiah, but now He was dead. 

Peter said, "I don't have an answer for this. I can't explain why it didn't work out like I thought it should. I've preached a lot of bold things about Jesus, but now He and my hopes are dead. I'm going fishing". 

All of the other Apostles went with Peter. Why go fishing? And why did Luke, the doctor, go fishing with him? This answer is actually very simple. Peter went fishing because it was familiar to him. Luke went with Peter because Peter was familiar to him. People run to what they know when their hopes and dreams don't work out like they want. I've watched new converts run back to a man, a woman, a drug, alcohol, etc. I've watched saints run back to their busy-ness, their hobbies, their depression, their isolation, etc. People run back to what is familiar. 

When the heat was turned up, John Mark went home to Jerusalem (Acts 15:37-40); Demas went back to Thessolinika (2Ti 4:10); Cleopas and his wife took the Damascus road home (Lu 24:13-35); and Peter went back to fishing (John 21:3).

We need to seek God for His will. When we get ahead of God we set ourselves up for failure. When we get ahead of God we miss His will. We become discouraged and sometimes depressed. 

We can lose our purpose and direction. When you sink your heart into doing what you feel is God's will but it falls apart at the seams ... it can rock your world. It can make you question everything. It can open up doors for Satan to shake your faith.

Here's five things you can do when your will is nailed to a cross:

1. Be merciful to yourself. God's will is far above ours. We love Him and want to work for Him with all of our hearts. When He speaks we take off running to what we think He wants. We miss everything else He said because of our zealous desire for Him.

2. Don't immediately discard what you felt God spoke to you. It may happen at a later date, in a different place, or slightly different manner.

3. Don't be afraid to start over. Better men and women have had to.

4. Learn every lesson you can from your mistakes and try to not make them again.

5. Pray for a greater sensitivity to the Spirit. Ask Him what His will is before you come to too many conclusions on your own.    


Watch the following Devotional Video on this subject! 



Monday, February 13, 2017

A Cry For Revival (The Burden Of My Heart)



I want to see revival in our city. When I speak of revival, I mean a couple of different things. Revival is bringing that which is dead back to life or restoring something back to usefulness. So revival could happen in an individual's life, in a family, in a church, or in a community. What I am ultimately longing for is another awakening in America as a whole.

I don't mean to be a pessimist, but the American church of today is not what it was a hundred years ago; much less what it was in the book of Acts 2,000 years ago. Genuinely powerful Christianity is dying in this country. I have dedicated my life to seeing it revived.

As I travel the world preaching, I find that some want revival, some don't, and some don't think they need it. But whether we see it or not, our churches are losing their hunger for the lost and are almost powerless. We have grieved the Spirit. Where are the signs, wonders, and gifts of the Spirit? Revival would restore the church to what it's supposed to be and if the country as a whole will not seek God for revival, then I'm looking for congregations, or individuals that want revival. If the saints at Revival Tabernacle don't want revival then I'll pray for the Lord of the Harvest to send laborers into our vineyard.

Revival will come when we adhere to 2Chronicles 7:14. And if the American church does adhere to it, we may see another great awakening.

This is just a brief description of the burden of my heart.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

A Burnt Out Minister is Irrelevant


I've been reading staggering statistics about clergy burnout. Statistics revealing how depression, obesity, hypertension, and diabetes are incredibly high among ministers. Did you know the life expectancy of a minister is much lower than the average person? 1,500 preachers leave the ministry every month. Why? I know what some will say, "They're hirelings. They don't pray. They don't love God. Etc." I'm sure that's true way too often, but that's not always the case. And those that readily say such things usually aren't pastors.

We are living in a different world than the men of old. Did you ever consider the fact that John Wesley, Charles Spurgeon, Charles Finney, Jonathan Edwards, General Booth, A. B. Simpson, etc, didn't have access to phones, planes, cars, internet, Facebook, email or text messaging? If the congregation got a hold of them it was on Sunday or via horse and buggy. And if your preacher was a circuit rider ... you DIDN'T get a hold of him.
 
They didn't have to compete with cell phones, ipads, ipods, television, radio, internet or Hollywood. People weren't gospel hardened and entertained to death. People didn't expect the preacher to cater to their every whim because they knew they COULDN'T cater to their every whim. Now, compare that with the hundred phone calls, text messages, emails, and literally thousands of Facebook messages I receive per week! I'm not unique, any pastor worth their salt has a similar story. Today's pastor is on call 24/7! The expectation level is insane. People want them to be at all places at all times having the answers to every dilemma. The minister (and whole family) never fully meet the requirements demanded of them because they haven't yet figured out how to be God! John Wesley attributed his long life to taking naps as often as he needed. If today's minister takes a nap someone rings the door bell and accuses them of being lazy and sleeping all day. (Been there and done that!)

But concerning the men and women of old ... they had revival and we (for the most part) do not. They spent most of their time praying, reading, and preaching. Their greatest stress came from wrestling with God, not men. 
 
They understood that the church belonged to God, not them. They understood that counseling can never take the place of the unadulterated preached Word. They understood that the hard-hearted and stubborn laity sitting in the pews were lost and in need of conversion and not to be reckoned as church bosses.

The answer? You need to remember that you're a Christian before you're a pastor! Let's spend more time in prayer and the Word, talking to God about men; and less time on Facebook, answering text messages and counseling people to do what we've told them a hundred times from the pulpit.

If you're tired, sleep. If you're on the verge of burning out, shut your phone off, take a few days off, spend time with God and your family. Learn how to say "NO"! If you're overweight and your health is breaking down ... man up! Get some discipline. Eat right and exercise! It'll pay off in the long run.

Don't let your wife suffer because you're ministering to another man's wife and don't have time for her. Don't lose your kids trying to save other people's kids. If you burn out you will wreck yourself and then be irrelevant anyway. You have no business overseeing spiritual business if you can't overseer your own personal business! (1Ti 3:5)

Don't allow anyone to push you beyond your capacity. And ... remember it all belongs to God. He's the husbandman. Let the divine stay up all night. Let the omnipresent be every where at all times. Let Him be responsible for HIS church. You? Just do what you can. You ask what the people will think? The true Christians will understand and be merciful. The hypocrites? Who cares?
Let go and let God!
Peace, love, hope!