At the age of 15, I wondered if there were any conservative evangelical churches anywhere that preached the truth in love. It was then that I stumbled across Lakewood Church’s television program as John and Dodie Osteen shared the love of Jesus with such compassion yet did not compromise. Their theme was “An Oasis of Love”. While some may not agree with them doctrinally, they preached a clear gospel and made an impact on this young man’s life.
I later joined the staff of several conservative evangelical churches. Not all of them knew the balance of truth and love. As do many pastors, I got burned a few times. A few years ago left me in pursuit once again of a loving place. After an 8-month search, God finally placed us there. We only stayed 7 months before I planted Overcomers, but those were some of the sweetest times of worship.
Tonight, I had the privilege of going back for a special service that emphasized racial and denominational unity across the board. It was powerful! God is clearly at work in that ministry, and it’s always good to know we have a place to call home when the minister needs some ministry.
You may be wandering if the desert in pursuit of an oasis of love where you can experience the power of God and the love of His people. I promise you that these places do exist. Don’t quit searching! At just the right time, God will place you in a place of healing like this was for us.
We often hear about removal of sin when it comes to experiencing revival, but we often overlook a removal that often needs to take place in order for revival to happen. That is the removal of people. I heard someone say about a church that had the “annual pastor syndrome” that this church needed to have about 5 funerals before they could experience revival.
I have seen in my years of ministry that some bless your church when they come there and some bless it when they leave. They are divisive and do nothing but stir up strive. It may be that they are not truly born again or that they are not in the right place. Whatever the case may be, something must change.
I know of a church that had a long-standing divisive person on staff many years ago. The staff member was removed, and a group went with the individual and spouse. Although 40 left and several died, the church grew by over 200 people. Someone had to be removed in order for revival to take place.
To any pastors who are reading this, we cannot tolerate “pot stirrers”. The Bible says that a little leaven leavens the whole lump. With that in mind, they must be addressed. If they continue to create issues, Matthew 18 is pretty clear about how to handle them. So, break out the cleaning products and get ready for revival.
Friday night, I posted about how God convicted me of something during worship and that worship can sometimes be painful when we have to say “Woe is me”. Tonight, it left me speechless. During the service, I shouted and praised with the best of them. On the way home, I just could not bring myself to speak.
The writer of “I Can Only Imagine” said it best when he wrote, “Will I dance for You, Jesus, or in awe of You be still? Will I stand in Your presence or to me knees will I fall? Will I sing Hallelujah? Will I be able to speak at all?” Never forget the quietness and stillness of worship, because listening is an important component. Be still, know that He is God, and listen to His still small voice. Don’t rush but savor the moment!
I had the blessing of speaking on Facebook Messenger audio to an African brother in Christ. We try to connect every so often. He came across me through this blog, and he has blessed me with his zeal for Christ.
He began talking about waves of revival today. He spoke about different nations, what they are encountering, and what he believes they will encounter. As I was thinking about America, I sadly believe that we are not experiencing waves of revival but rather waves of regurgitation. We know how to manufacture and regurgitate “church”. We know the right temperature, lighting, and atmosphere to create. The real question is this – What do we know of the real power of God?
This dear brother in Christ from Ghana challenged my heart. He was on fire today. His church had an all-night prayer meeting. They are heavy into evangelism. He probably didn’t realize it, but he encouraged me to step it up a notch or two. I want a true wave of revival not a regurgitated imitation. No recycled manna for me!
When I knew divorce for me was imminent, I believed what I was trained – divorce means you’re done. Fortunately, I had some godly counselors who let me know otherwise. So I told God, “I will proceed to obey Your call upon my life. If You don’t want to use me, I pray You will stop me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.” He’s still using me. But I don’t want to focus on my story today. I want to focus on the stories of a few others of whom you may or may not be familiar.
One is a man named Ray Jones. He was a minister of music in Texas when he came home to a goodbye note from his wife. She no longer wanted to be married to a man in ministry. His church fired him, and he saw no foreseeable future in ministry. A pastor who had just started a church called Community Bible Church in San Antonio (averaging about 40 at that time) pursued Ray about leading worship. Today, Ray is leading a dynamic music ministry with several hundred musicians and a leader in modern worship. He met a lady whom he married, and they have a son together who writes music for their ministry.
Another man is Charles Stanley. His wife of many years left in the mid 1990s. Many Southern Baptists thought he should resign as pastor of First Baptist in Atlanta, Georgia and fade into the sunset. Over 20 years later, God is still using him.
A third is John Osteen. He has been with the Lord since 1999, but he was the founder of Lakewood Church which is now led by his son, Joel Osteen. His divorce took place in the 1950s when it was even more taboo. God gave him his precious wife, Dodie, who served faithfully by his side to reach the world for Christ until John’s passing.
God will use whomever He chooses however He chooses. I have often said that if God can make a donkey talk in the book of Numbers, He can still use them today. I feel like I identify with the donkey at times. Divorce does not mean you’re done. It just means that you are a broken vessel that God will put back together and use as a testimony of His Restoring power.
What comes to mind when you think of worship? Pipe organs? Choirs? Clapping? Dancing? Silence? Most people I know think of joy and exuberance when the idea of worship comes to mind. Worship does also have a painful side.
God, sometimes in the midst of our worship, points out things in our lives that need correction. It is called conviction. When you read Isaiah 6, Isaiah sees the Lord. His response is “Woe is me…” Isaiah saw the holiness of God and the sinfulness of self.
Tonight, God revealed something to me about myself to which I had to say “Woe is me.” We cannot always expect chills going up and down our spine when we are in God’s presence. Sometimes it is the reminder that we are nothing apart from Him. It hurts, but the fruit of confession and repentance is sweeter than the devil would like us to think.
There was once a generation of pastors who would have evangelists come in and preach evangelistic meetings. These meetings were focused on clearly communicating the gospel in order that unbelievers who would the truth and give their lives to Christ. These meetings were called revivals or crusades. Many pastors of days gone by were more evangelists than pastors or teachers because their messages were strictly gospel messages. They didn’t explain the Scriptures or veer into other subjects other than the basic gospel message. Ephesians 4 clearly states that the gift of the evangelist and the gift of the pastor and teacher are separate gifts. I have never proclaimed to have the gift of an evangelist, therefore I know that I need preachers to speak the clear gospel to our group at Overcomers. I love to teach and disciple, but there are those who have the anointing of God upon them to preach a clear gospel message and people will be saved.
With the passing of Billy Graham and the decreased number of churches that want to be “relevant”, we are seeing many churches ignore the gift of the evangelist. Many have this gift, but pastors will not invite them because it is not considered “cool”. If you think even on a surface level about this, how many people are truly coming to Christ in our churches? Very few! One of the reasons is that the gospel of Christ has become so watered down that no one would realize the real thing if it slapped them in the face. Too many preachers are giving out self-help and self-esteem pep rallies and few are letting people know that the only way to God is through Jesus Christ. You don’t have to be hateful to preach truth. People still need it. On the broad scale, the lack of truth-telling is seen in the workplace, the home, and everywhere imaginable. We tiptoe through the tulips rather than telling people what they need to hear.
With that said, I do not see evangelists to be a dying breed. What I do see is the lack of desire among many pastors and churches to acknowledge that gift and see true conversions in their churches. They are hurting not only themselves but many who could hear the truth and come to Christ for salvation.
If you are a pastor reading this, I challenge you to reconsider the gift of the evangelist. If you are attend a local faith community and you are not hearing how to have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, drive as far as you have to in order to hear this and how to grow in that relationship. You can tune in to Oprah for a pep talk. Jesus is your only answer when it comes to a right standing with God.
Last night, my wife and I watched the movie “Wonder”. I knew it would tug at my heart from the beginning. At the end of the movie, the little boy was given an award by his school. The crowd gave him a standing ovation. I then began to think about the standing ovation mentioned in Scripture.
Acts 7 gives the narrative of the death of the first Christian martyr whom we know as Stephen. When he was stoned to death (nothing to do with illegal drugs but large stones and blunt force trauma), Stephen saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God. Throughout Scripture, you see Him seated. As Stephen glorified God in His death, the Lord Jesus honors him.
I cannot help but wonder how often Jesus stands. For what acts of service does the Lord Jesus stand to show His approval? To receive a “well done” from the One who gave His life for us must be the highest honor for which none of us is worthy. With this in mind, I am challenged once again to please Christ in my life and in my death not for the rewards but because He is worthy.
Since I graduated high school and left Portsmouth, Virginia, I have lived mainly in small, rural towns. The people who have grown up there often have a very idealistic view of their hometown and see it as safe and crime-free. Such is not the case.
Several things have happened in our area that have been disturbing, and these types of things are increasing. Small towns are not exempt from crime and other issues. This area has its share of meth and multiple other issues that disturb me. They disturb me because I know that I as a pastor and us as a faith community must address them. It does us no good to stick our heads in the sand. I would love to think that everyone who affiliated with Overcomers Church is what he or she proclaims. I know people come who struggle with alcohol, drugs, sex, pornography, and the list keeps going. The excuse “I’ve known her all my life and she comes from a good family” does not hold water with me. Several years ago, I was in a small town, rural church with a long-time molester who was a faithful attender and “upstanding man in the community”. Everybody THOUGHT they knew him, but he was doing despicable things behind closed doors that eventually landed him in prison for life. Except for the grace of God, any one of us could go down such a path. Before you scratch your head and wonder how these things could happen, remember Scripture said that perilous times will come.
So, what are we to do? Pray! Fight the good fight of faith! Resist the devil! Determine that you will make a positive impact in your community! Your difference may be small, but even small can be significant.