February 2015

23 Feb A Cry from the Holy Spirit

I've been blessed in my 35 years of ministry to travel to and minister in a lot of nations. During these trips, I have seen the diversity of cultures, the uniqueness of foods and the preparation of foods, and the beauty of God's creation in these places. I'm a blessed man! In these travels, I've seen a lot of funny things. You have to remember that I'm a person that finds humor in almost any situation. If allowed, I could conduct a funeral service and have people laughing the entire service. One of the things that I saw on the trip to Trinidad was a horse being transported in the back of a Toyota truck. To you, this may not seem funny. But, to me, I laughed and laughed until I was hurting. I knew that I had just seen one of the most pampered horses in the world. We've all heard the phrase about putting the cart before the horse. I had just witnessed the horse ON the cart. Way to go Trinidad! Early this morning, I sensed the Holy Spirit speaking to me about the condition of children's ministries and student ministries. For many, revival isn't on the radar. I sensed the Holy Spirit telling that there is a major hindrance to the last great outpouring of God's Spirit. Unlike the Toyota truck in Trinidad, the horse isn't on the truck. Our ministries have gotten the cart before the horse. Let me explain. When I first entered into children's ministry back in the late 1970's, there were very few curriculums available. Some of you have been around long enough to remember how in the late 70's and early 80's Bill Wilson's Train Depot changed everything. Then, Willie George entered the curriculum scene with some exciting teaching series. Today, curriculums are plentiful. You have series that teach about every imaginable subject and are packed with the technology and the bells and whistles. It's a far cry from the early days of our ministry. This morning, I sensed that the Holy Spirit was telling me that today we've placed the cart before the horse. In this plethora of curriculums, I am finding few if any that are themed to teach radically falling in love with Jesus, learning to devour the Word, or being filled with the Holy Spirit. I'm finding today that children's pastors and student ministry leaders are crying for the next new 4 week series that they can quickly glance over and then master the icebreaker game, download the video and PowerPoint slides, and then walk into the service. While the topics in all of these series might be Bible-based and relevant, without kids first falling head-over-heels in love with Jesus, being passionate about consuming the Word that was given to be a lamp unto their feet and a light unto their paths, and being overflowingly filled with the Person that empowered Jesus to be Jesus (Luke 4:18; John 5:19; Acts 10:38) these kids have no foundation for the subjects being propagated in the current curriculums. I'm not advocating that we quit publishing the curriculums. I'm just hearing the Holy Spirit instruct us to get things in the right order. Lay the strong foundation. When we lay this foundation, sin isn't an issue with people who are intimate with Jesus. Confusion is eradicated for those who know the Word. Spiritual assaults are minimized when people are filled with the Holy Spirit. Then we can add the current curriculums and they will be effective. I apologize for the length of this blog. It isn't the norm. But, one of my callings is to be a voice for the Holy Spirit to this generation of leaders. Let's harken unto His cry and get the horse back in front of the cart. Selah!...

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16 Feb The Danger of Too Much Polish

Here are a couple of honest questions that need to be answered by everyone working in any arena of ministry. Is there room in our ministry for the spontaneity of the Spirit, or, to use the King James vernacular, "and suddenly"? Have we become so polished and programmed that the Holy Spirit has to fight to interrupt our agenda for an opportunity to speak or change our overly-prepared schedule? Years ago, I heard a joke about a group of preachers discussing their sermon preparation. The Baptist minister stated that because of preaching three sermons a week, he would immediately begin working on the sermon for the next service after concluding the current sermon. The Methodist minister stated that his sermon preparation was derived from the current book that he was reading. The Presbyterian minister said that he had few problems in preparing sermons because they were sent from the denominational headquarters at the beginning of the year. The Pentecostal minister looked at his fellow ministers and asked, "What do y'all do during the song service?" In asking my original questions, I'm not suggesting that we go into a service unprepared and just wing it. Paul wrote Timothy and told the young man to study to show himself approved unto God. In other words, be prepared. But, have we become so programmed and down-to-the-minute regimented in our service that we would push aside the spontaneous prompting of the Holy Spirit in order to complete the order of service check list? When I entered into children's ministry, we were taught to put 90 minutes of material into a 60 minute service so that we wouldn't lose children's attention. And, we were determined to get through each and every item on the list. Today, it's not much better in the church as a whole. There have been times in services where as a person in the congregation I've sensed the wooing of the Spirit to stay longer where we were and not move on. But, sadly, it appeared that the well-oiled machine leading the service had, to quote my television hero Larry the Cable Guy, to "git-r-done" and blazed on in the service. My spirit felt grieved. This might be a good time to talk to the Holy Spirit. For some, it might be a time to repent for allowing the program to override His leading. For others, it might be a time to recommit to follow His leading and prompting. Selah.  ...

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09 Feb Do You Have Eye Problems?

Vickie and I are soon approaching our 36th anniversary of being in children's ministry. I typed the number 36 and so please don't treat me like I'm just a few years younger than the Bible's oldest person, Methuselah. I know that there are plenty of people that have been in this ministry far longer than we have. (Please don't press me for names because right now my mind is drawing a blank.) And, I'll go on record and state that there are MANY more great, powerful years ahead of us. Whether you are in the category of "ancient of days" or "please burp me and change my diapers" (wait, that could be an older person too), here is a quote from the great apostle of faith Smith Wigglesworth that should be a mainstay in your ministry. "I am not moved by what I see. I am only moved by what I believe." Smith Wigglesworth What a powerful statement. Every children's/youth ministry leader needs to have a resolve that God is pouring out His Holy Spirit upon the children/youth in THIS generation. Circumstances and other's opinions may be loud and constant, but they have no influence on what we know to be true. We know that THIS is the generation of God-fearing, Word-believing, Spirit-demonstrating children and youth. Not the next generation. THIS generation. THIS generation includes the children and youth in OUR ministry! What we see with our physical eyes doesn't shake or shape what we believe. We are convinced that this TODAY Holy Spirit is at work orchestrating something that history has never witnessed and this causes us to dare to believe God and act out this belief. Check out your "believer". Has it been influenced by circumstances? Have other's opinions caused you to waiver?  If so, then come to this resolve ...

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02 Feb A Reminder

Sometimes, the best thing that I can do for myself is to take a 5 minute sabbatical from life and remind myself of some things that I know to be facts. Let's face reality. At times, "reality" and circumstances can be daunting. And so, escaping for those 5 shorts minutes can help me to place things back in perspective and help me to regain focus. Here are some things that I have to tell myself: * There is a God * There is a God and I'm not Him * There is a God and I'm not Him who loves me, provides for me, and directs me * There is a God and I'm not Him who loves me, provides for me, and directs me and He has strategically placed me where I am * There is a God and I'm not Him who loves me, provides for me, and directs me and He has strategically placed me where I am for this strategic assignment This may seem far too simplistic for you. But, it keeps me on the right path. It is a reminder that God in all of His infinite wisdom has strategically placed me where I am to strategically do what He has told me to do and it is His responsibility to provide all that is needed as He works in me and through me. After hearing this again, it makes it easier to pick myself up and once again begin to willingly obey His leadership and promptings, in other words, to keep on keeping on. For some of this vast readership, this is a right now, just in time word from God. So, close your eyes and take 5 minutes. Tell yourself what you know to be true. Then, go back and march again to His drumbeat. You have a job to do. Go do it....

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