November 2013

25 Nov The Power of a Nobody!

I absolutely love reading the history of great moves of God. Right now, I'm enjoying reading Tommy Welchel's newest book True Stories of the Miracles of Azusa Street and Beyond. There are so many stories that I could share from this book that have encouraged and challenged me but space and time won't allow me to do so. But there is one thought from this book that has to be shared. Have you ever studied the life of the Azusa Street Revival's founder, William Seymour? After reading the first few chapters, my initial thought was that Seymour definitely wouldn't have been the man that I would have chosen to birth a mighty revival. Consider these facts: Seymour wasn't a person of means or notoriety. He was the child of two former slaves. Seymour was a no-name nobody going nowhere. His race wasn't the "right" race for this time period to become a respected leader of spiritual movement. Being an African American in 1906 was a major liability. Racial hatred and bigotry abounded. His first attempt at pastoring in Los Angeles would be considered a failure. After preaching the first  Sunday morning upon arriving in Los Angeles in the church that had invited Seymour to come to the city, Seymour returned to preach that night only to discover that the door was locked and a note was placed on the door telling him to not come back. Seymour wasn't a slick-looking, glamorous preacher. After a bout with smallpox, he was left with a blind eye and a scarred face. Seymour wasn't in touch with the latest preaching fads of his day. His unconventional preaching was done with Seymour wearing a box over his head. From what little that I've shared, I'm sure that you will agree that there were probably hundreds of people in Los Angeles that would have been a more likely candidate to usher in God's presence. Seymour was a nobody going nowhere. But God chose to use a person that would have been passed over by the multitudes to usher in one of greatest moves of God to sweep across our nation. History is ready to record the feats of another person who will dare to go beyond the limitations placed by man. To many, you might be just an unpolished worker stuck in a room with a bunch of youth or children. In man's eyes you might not have the ingredients found on many people's peck-list of "must-have" essentials to be some great, renowned mover and shaker in the church-world. But, those are man's limitations. Obey God. Know that you have been set apart for His glory. Dare to believe the impossible. Defy the odds. Another great move of God is waiting on a person like you!...

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18 Nov Is He Preaching or Telling the Truth?

You may have heard about the little boy who was sitting in a church service listening to his father preach when he leaned over to his mother, pulled on her dress to get her attention, and then whispered in her ear, "Mom, is dad preaching or is he telling the truth?" Even at a young age, the little boy had learned that, at times, preachers can "stretch" the truth a bit (especially when reporting how many people attended the church services). Here's a statement that makes its way into a lot of sermons. It's not a new truth or revelation. The statement was made long before Jesus was born. It says: "You will not succeed by your own strength or by your own power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD All-Powerful." Zechariah 4:6 (New Century Version) I'll readily admit that it makes for good preaching material. For many preachers, all that they need to add is a little shout and some heavy breathing and the waving of a Bible and a congregation can get excited when the preacher quotes this verse. But, while it preaches good, I am like the little boy when he asked his mother, "Is Dad preaching or is he telling the truth?" I know that what I'm sharing this week probably isn't for you personally. It's for the preacher/teacher up the road. But, just to appease me, let's pretend that you might know what I am talking about. Let me acknowledge up front that that there are many, many leaders who are on their face before God seeking His guidance as they prepare to stand before the congregation. But, it is evident that there is a growing number of Pastors/youth pastors/children's church leaders/Sunday school teachers/mid-week Bible club workers who have abandoned the "carpet time" and substituted internet time to gain the latest fad sermon series or thoughts on the hot new book making the rounds. Being still before God has been replaced by being still in a movie theater or watching television to become more relevant to today's needs. Giftings, personality, and creativity are the bedrock to their pursuit for success. The "by my Spirit" is a small part of the equation if it is in the equation at all. What defines your ministry? Come on. I'm Billy and I'm your friend. Talk back to your computer screen. I won't tell anyone. To use the little boy's analogy, it's time for the truth. Is it "by your own strength or by your own power" or is it "by my Spirit"? This ancient passage is still true today. If you want to succeed in God's estimation, it only comes through His Spirit. So, with that in mind, my prescription to you is, take a daily dose of the "by my Spirit" found in Zechariah 4:6 for seven days and write me after next weekend's service. I guarantee that there will be a marked difference when you follow the direction of the LORD All-Powerful....

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11 Nov Just Who Are You?

You've probably heard the story about the legendary Alexander the Great riding into his military troop's encampment one night and discovering the sentry guard asleep at his post. The angered Alexander the Great jumped down from his horse, kicked the sentry guard to awaken him, and then demanded the name of the sentry guard. The startled, frightened sentry guard responded, "Sir, my name is Alexander." Upon hearing the response, Alexander the Great told the sentry guard, "Either change your actions or change your name." In Alexander the Great's estimation, the sentry guard wasn't living up to the greatness of the name Alexander. I have the unique privilege of being a children's pastor in a great church and also traveling to speak in churches across the nation. In these travels, I am constantly reminded of the sad reality that churches and denominations that were birthed with Pentecostal fire are now trying to downplay and even hide their Pentecostal identity. Churches and denominations whose founding members can testify of the presence and working of the Holy Spirit at its inception are now void of the Pentecostal fire that once touched adults, youth, and children alike. While the word "Pentecostal" or "Spirit-baptism" can be found in their constitution and bylaws and possibly in their doctrinal statement of faith, Pentecost can't be seen or heard in their services.  99% of those visiting or even faithfully attending these churches have no earthly idea that there is any trace of Pentecost in the church. It causes me to ask Alexander the Great's question, "Who are you?" Here's the reality. You ARE Pentecostal. That's your name and identity. You have the God-given responsibility to be the Pentecostal sentry guard to your position of ministry. If you are a Sunday school teacher, you alone have the responsibility to safeguard what enters into your classroom. Youth Pastor, you are the sentry guard of the youth. Children's Pastor, you are a person of authority who watches over what is allowed into your services. Like Alexander the Great, I challenge you to measure up to the greatness of your name and identity. If you are Pentecostal (and you are!), then let's be Spirit-baptized, Holy Ghost-filled Pentecostal and make it readily, undeniably, and unashamedly visible!...

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04 Nov Do Your Kids Know God’s Voice?

It's so easy to get verbose and use too many words and overexpress (see how I am doing this?) when I speak of a subject that really needs very few words. Here is the thought. The God who is still in the talking business loves to speak to children. But sadly, many if not most of the children in our ministries fail to recognize His voice. If you and I would be honest, we would admit to seeing the account found in 1 Samuel 3 being repeated today in our ministries. We have classrooms filled with children who haven't been taught how to hear and recognize God's voice. If God is still in the talking business (and He is) and the words that He is sharing are powerful, wouldn't it behoove us to teach our children how to hear and heed that voice? There's so much that I could say but it isn't really necessary. You already know everything that I could share. Let me encourage you to go against the trend in many popular children's ministries and have some time in your service to be still and quiet. Mother Theresa had it right. "We need to find God, and He cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence." It's in this still and silent time that the children will hear His voice and know that He is God. (Psalm 46:10) Let this be the generation who will declare, "Speak Lord, your servant is listening."  ...

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