Leadership Blog

03 Jul Smile! You’re the Focus of God’s Picture!

I don’t know about you, but when I am included in a group photo, the very first person that I look for when I see the picture is myself. At first, I forget about all of the others in the picture. In fact, I really don’t care what the others in the picture look like because my primary focus is on me. (Now, don’t get some cocky, hotty-totty attitude. Whether or not you will admit it, you do the very same thing.)

Evidently, God knows about our “me” mentality. In reading the Word, when God takes a “picture” of a crowd, we find over and over again God making a promise and immediately directing the attention and pointing His finger to you. In other words, in God’s estimation, you are standing out in His picture.

Here are just a few examples of you standing out in His “picture” of the sending of the Holy Spirit … (note – the capitalization is mine)

“And I will pray the Father, and he shall give YOU another Comforter, that he may abide with YOU for ever …” John 14:16

Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with YOU, and shall be in YOU.” John 14:17

“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach YOU all things, and bring all things to YOUR remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto YOU.” John 14:26

“But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto YOU from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which procedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:”  John 15:26

There are just a few of the Holy Spirit snapshots. And, I might add that the “you” in each picture sure looks great. It’s no wonder why He made you the focus of the picture. You look simply marvelous!

Now that you’ve located yourself in God’s pictures, go share these pictures with others and be sure to tell everyone that you’re the one that God Himself is pointing to and announcing that powerful things are in store for this all-important person!

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26 Jun What God Expects When You Minister

Want to know God’s expectation for every pastor, children’s/youth ministry pastor, Sunday school teacher, and mid-week Bible club teacher? It doesn’t take paragraph after paragraph to tell His purpose for you stepping into a ministry opportunity. Smith Wigglesworth said it best …

“Now, beloved, I am out for men. It is my business to be out for men.
It is my business to make everybody hungry, dissatisfied.
It is my business to make people either glad or mad.
I have a message from heaven that will not leave people as I find them.”
~ Smith Wigglesworth “Faith That Prevails”

Nothing more needs to be said!

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19 Jun Heaven’s Prayer Elevator Operator

The Holy Spirit constantly finds a way to amaze me. I was baptized in the Holy Spirit when I was just 10-years-old in a Royal Rangers meeting and here it is ** years later (I’ll leave it to your imagination just how old that I am) and He is still revealing things about His personality and desires that I have never seen before. For example, early this morning I was awakened with Him talking to me and giving me an illustration that made me all the more thankful that I have a relationship with Him.

Here is what He showed me. One of the Holy Spirit’s many assignments and unofficial titles is the Prayer Elevator Operator. In His speaking to me, He showed me that there are different levels (floors) of prayer. For example, we start on the Ground Floor, also known as the Perfunctory Prayer Floor. You know what I’m talking about. This type of prayer is when you mindlessly rattle off a bunch of religious words that you feel obligated to say … the prayer over your meal, the prayer at an early morning prayer meeting that you have to attend, etc. We have all prayed this type of prayer, right? The Prayer Elevator Operator showed me that as the Prayer Elevator moves up a few floors, we arrive at the Limited Knowledge Floor. Again, we’ve been to this floor many times. On this level, we say words like, “God, you know what is needed” or “God, you bless them right now” because we are clueless about what is needed. Then, we can get back on the Prayer Elevator and move up a few more floors until we arrive at the Biased Prayer Floor. It is on this floor that we pray with our prejudices and quirks. Perhaps you have heard that there are three sides to every story … your side, my side, and then the truth. Too many times, we have heard only one side of an issue or problem which makes us want to call down fire from heaven on a person or situation. With these biases, we can totally miss out on what God wants to do. Have you been on this floor before? The final floor that the Prayer Elevator Operator showed me this morning is the Perfect Prayer Floor. It is on this floor that we as believers bypass our mind (understanding) and allow our spirit to connect with the Holy Spirit. As we pray in other tongues and at times groanings, we begin to present the perfect will of God to heaven’s throne and things start happening. (Romans 8:26-27)

What I’ve shared isn’t original with me. The Holy Spirit gave this to me. So, please, please, please share this with as many believers as possible. It will revolutionize their prayer life as they allow the Prayer Elevator Operator to transport them to a whole new realm of powerful, effective praying.

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12 Jun Afraid of a Supernatural Demonstration of the Gifts of the Spirit?

I am one blessed person. I was raised (and reared … but that is for a different blog post) in a Christian home by two Jesus-loving, Spirit-filled parents who knew the importance of continually being in church services (again … another possible future blog post) where the Holy Spirit was a resident and not a guest (another possible future blog post). Because of constantly being in an environment where the Holy Spirit was free to speak and demonstrate His presence, I know what the New Testament “norm” is for Church. Speaking and worshiping God in tongues in a church service for personal edification? It’s the norm. The gift of tongues and the interpretation of tongues during a worship service for the benefit of the Church? It’s the norm. The gift of prophecy? It’s the norm. The gift of … I could go on and on and answer with the same answer. It’s the norm. This constant exposure forever sealed in my spirit how Church should be done.

Is this happening in your services? If your answer is no, I can probably guess what your reason might be … a fear that the people and especially the visitors won’t understand the movement of the Spirit. I fully understand your concern. After all, this is a supernatural manifestation of God’s presence and power and, with many people unaccustomed to this, you have a fear of them quickly looking for the exit door. Am I right? Because of this, few leaders today desire and/or allow the New Testament norm to be their norm.

How do we address this situation? The answer is quite simple. The Bible demonstrates that the supernatural workings of God always needs to be followed with an explanation. We see this in Acts 2 when Peter answered the “What meaneth this” question. In Acts 4, Peter had to explain the supernatural power of God (the gifts of  healings and the working of miracles) to the Sadducees. In Acts 11, Peter had to explain to the leaders of the Church about the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit upon the Gentiles. Paul’s letters to the Corinthians are both an explanation and correction about working together with the Holy Spirit.

I’ll admit up front that this was taught and demonstrated throughout my upbringing. After there was a manifestation of one of the gifts of the Spirit, my pastor B.B. Hankins would always (and I do mean always) give a brief biblical explanation for what had just transpired. For example, if there was a message in tongues followed by the interpretation, Brother Hankins would immediately follow with an explanation to the effect of, “For the sake of those who might be visiting our service today, allow me to explain what just transpired. From God’s Word, we see that Jesus told His followers just before His return to heaven that the Father would be sending the Holy Spirit (John 14:16) to help and strengthen and encourage God’s children. We read in I Corinthians 12 and 14 that one of the ways that the Holy Spirit supernaturally comes to our aid is by His speaking directly to us through supernatural utterances.” Or, Brother Hankins might say, “For the sake of our guests today, let me explain what just transpired. The Bible show us in 1 Corinthians 12 and 14 that our supernatural God uses supernatural means to care for His children. What you’ve just seen and heard isn’t something new. The apostle Paul wrote that God would use these gifts to edify, exhort, and bring comfort. And, from the message that just came after the utterance in the heavenly language, you can easily see that God did speak to us.” It was never a lengthy sermon but rather a simple, short, helpful explanation.

Let’s be New Testament. We have no reason to hold back on the Pentecostal expression of worship. Our bold embrace of singing in the Spirit or praying in the Spirit (1 Corinthians 14:15) in a corporate gathering will show what should be experienced in private at home. Our freedom to allow the gifts of the Spirit to operate in a public gathering shows what the Holy Spirit wants to do in your congregant’s workplace.  But remember, an explanation is of the utmost importance.

One more note … what I’ve shared must be the practice THROUGHOUT the Church … children, youth, AND adults. Children’s Pastors/Student Ministry Pastors, make the New Testament norm your norm. It’s not “weird” to be filled with the Spirit and pray in a heavenly prayer language. (1 Corinthians 14:2,4,14). It’s not “weird” to sing in the Spirit. (1 Corinthians 14:15). It’s not “weird” for God’s gifts to be seen in your service. ( 1 Corinthians 14:26). It will cause both your people to grow spiritually and your congregation to grow numerically. Example … Acts 2 – 3,000 people added to the Kingdom … Acts 3 and 4 – 5,000 added to the Kingdom. The gifts with the explanation will ALWAYS produce growth.

I apologize for the length of this blog post. But, I am convinced that this is one of the most important blogs that I have written. It is both needed and timely for today’s Church. I’ll look forward to reading your response.

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05 Jun Your Children … Filled with the Holy Spirit

Before you get into reading this blog post, I need to apologize. I know that what I am going to share is so, so simple and yet, perhaps so simple that it is overlooked and ignored in many children’s ministries. Here are some facts …

  • If a child is capable of understanding God’s gift to the sinner (salvation), then a child is capable of understanding God’s gift to the believer (the Baptism in the Holy Spirit).
  • If a child is capable of receiving the gift of salvation, then a child is capable of receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit.
  • If a child is capable of knowing that they have received eternal life, then a child is capable of knowing that they have been filled with God’s Spirit.

If all three of these statements are true (and they are), why aren’t all of the children in our Sunday school classrooms and mid-week Bible clubs and children’s church auditoriums baptized in the Holy Spirit? If the truth be known, if asked about God’s greatest gift to the Christian, most children in our ministries would be absolutely clueless. Am I right?

God has not changed in His desire to fulfill His promise (Joel 2:28; Acts 2:16-18, 39) to give the Holy Spirit to all those who ask. (Luke 11:13). This “all” includes every child in your ministry. God has been waiting to hear the sound of a child’s voice asking to receive the fulfillment of His promise. But, this only happens when you and I as leaders act as though the three facts are actually true and are put into practice.

Here is a brief overview for what is needed to see every child receive the infilling of the Holy Spirit:

  • Since a child is capable of understanding about God’s gift to the believer, we must prepare the way through the preaching and teaching. We see that Jesus just didn’t tell His followers to stay in Jerusalem and wait for the Holy Spirit. He first taught about this Comforter (John 14 – 16) before giving the opportunity to receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5).  Over a period of a few weeks, introduce the Person of the Holy Spirit, tell of His assignment, and giving illustrations/testimonies of who He is and what He does in your life.
  • Since a child is capable of receiving the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, after the foundation is laid, boldly provide the opportunity for the child to ask. Have a service that is almost totally dedicated to altar ministry. Be sure to spend time with those working alongside of you to insure that they know how to pray with the children.
  • Since a child is capable of knowing that they have been filled with God’s Spirit, show them from God’s Word the biblical evidence as seen in Acts 2:4; Acts 10:45-46; Acts 19:6. Really, this should be a repeat from what was taught in the preparatory teachings. But, it is important that this truth is emphasized as a way of confirming what God has done.

I hate the self-imposed word limit that I use in writing this blog. (Honestly, I have already exceeded it.) If space would allow, I would share about the importance of using these three facts to be the launching of a series about the value of the walk of the Spirit and another series about the necessity and benefits of praying in the Spirit. In other words, to me, it is critical that what was accomplished around your altars doesn’t become just an entry into their diary as a spiritual “experience”. Instead, it needs to become the beginning of a new-found relationship with the Holy Spirit and you are there to help nurture this relationship. Perhaps I will post blogs about this in the weeks to come. (I know that it will be in an upcoming book.)

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