Leadership Blog

15 Apr Praying in the Spirit Illustrations – Part 15

Over my almost 40 years of ministry, many Pastors, youth/children ministry leaders, and parents have told me that teaching on the subject of praying in the Spirit is such a challenge. To help ease their (and perhaps your) frustration, I am sporadically posting blog posts to share solid, biblically sound, simple-to-teach, simple-to-do illustrations to use while teaching on this all so important subject.

Let’s look at the next illustration to teach about these benefits. Once again, I will give a brief, skeletal overview of the illustration. Then, with the Holy Spirit’s help, you can personalize and modify the illustration to become a powerful teaching tool.

The Importance of Praying in Other Tongues
Part 15 – Remind Ourselves that God is a Promise Keeper

Even though you are bad, you know how to give good things to your children.
How much more your heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Luke 11:13 (New Century Version)

“This promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away …”
Acts 2:39 (New Century Version)

Note: While every Bible translation does a tremendous job of sharing the original content of the King James Version, I chose the New Century Version for its easy-to-understand language for children. For this illustration, you will need a Bible, a grocery bag with a few “essential” food items, and a small piece of bright-colored yarn.  

Here is a fact that I know all to well to be true. From time-to-time, we can all forget something important. After all, life can be busy and our attention is pulled on by so many, many things to the place that we just simply forget. For example, there have been times that I have gone into the grocery store to get a needed food item like a gallon milk and later leave the store with important things like (show grocery bag and then begin to pull out the food items as you list them) a bag of Cheetos, two or three bottles of Dr Pepper, a bag of Oreo cookies, a bag or two of M&M’s, and a few other essentials. You already know where I am going with this. When I would get home, reality kicks in. I didn’t buy the gallon of milk. (Show empty bag). I just simply forgot.

Has this ever happened to you? Well, I have great news. I have the answer. I have found that if I have some reminder like a piece yarn (show yarn) that I tie around a finger (tie around your finger), as I am shopping, I can look at the yarn and it will cause me to focus and remember that I have something that needs to be remembered!

In our Bible (show Bible), we find that God made a promise that He would bless those who ask Him with a special gift from heaven, the baptism or infilling of the Holy Spirit. (Read scriptures). When believers in the Bible received this special gift, we find time and time again that God provided them with what I call a spiritual “piece of yarn”. They all began to pray in a special heavenly prayer language. This is so exciting. Just as the piece of yarn would jar my memory when I was in the grocery store, hearing us pray in this unknown-to-us prayer language reminds us that God is a promise keeping God. 

Oh … one more benefit about this spiritual “piece of yarn” reminder. If God has kept this promise, we can KNOW that He will keep EVERY promise that He has given us!

Read More

08 Apr Don’t Exclude the Babies!

I recognize that in the vast readership of this blog, I have people involved in so many different forms of ministry. I try to write with that in mind. But, for the past few days, I have felt an urgency to do something that I rarely do. I want to target just a small portion of the readership … those in leadership positions in the church and, to be even more specific, those giving leadership to and/or ministering in the church nursery, 

Before I go any further, let give this disclaimer. I know that I haven’t personally been to  your church or spent time in your church nursery during a service. That’s a given. But, with that established, I can with little reservation guarantee that those working in your church nursery want to reflect our Father’s heart to these precious babies, right? The decor in the nursery is bright and colorful. The cribs and rocking chairs are up-to-code. Background checks have been run on each person working in the nursery. The cabinets are packed with diapers, cleaning supplies, and air-fresheners. Everything is 100% set to take care of these precious little angels … or is it?

From what I have just described, your nursery is a second-to-none, loving child care facility. But (here’s the reason for this blog post) God wants His Church to be more than a child care facility. Our Father truly wants this to be a nursery MINISTRY. I won’t write paragraphs to tell you what you already know to be true about the world and homes that many of your babies live in. I will suffice to say that in many cases, your time with the baby is their only, only, only opportunity to receive life-giving, spirit-changing ministry each week. Ministering to babies is not an afterthought in God’s mind. Babies aren’t to be excluded from the supernatural ministry of the Holy Spirit!

Here are two important ingredients in having an anointed, Holy Spirit empowered ministry to babies. In EVERY service, those ministering in our nursery would hold a baby in their arms and …
1. Pray over each individual baby. Because the needs go far beyond what you know or can imagine, as you pray, pray with your understanding AND in the Spirit. (Romans 8:26-27, 1 Corinthians 14:15) Your prayer “has great power and wonderful results”. (James 5:16, New Living Translation).
2. Speak a biblical blessing. While Vickie and I were children’s pastors in South Florida, our incredible nursery ministry coordinator, Elsie Wilson, came up with a powerful way to minister to our babies. She created a list of biblical blessings to be spoken over our babies each service. To help our Master Teachers and volunteers, each blessing was printed using large, colorful fonts on individual sheets of paper, laminated, and then posted on our nursery walls. Each week, a different reality from God’s Word is to be spoken over the babies. Here is a list of Elsie’s 36 suggested blessings. CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD

I know that you will agree that our babies are too, too important to only have great care each service. They must also have a powerful, destiny-establishing, anointed ministry! I would ask you to print this blog post and/or forward a link of this blog to those MINISTERING in your nursery MINISTRY! 

Read More

01 Apr Praying in the Spirit Illustrations – Part 14

Aren’t you thankful that God is still in the “I will pour out of my Spirit” business? (Joel 2:28-29) Today, all around the globe, children, youth, and adults are receiving the promise of the Father (Acts 1:4) and enjoying the enormous benefits that come from this baptism.

Let’s look at the next illustration to teach about these benefits. Once again, I will give a brief, skeletal overview of the illustration. Then, with the Holy Spirit’s help, you can personalize and modify the illustration to become a powerful teaching tool.

The Importance of Praying in Other Tongues
Part 14 – Advance Your Spiritual Progress

“The one who speaks in tongues advances his own spiritual progress …”
1 Corinthians 14:4 (The Passion Translation)

For this illustration, you will need a Bible, a skateboard or scooter, and a Slurpee cup. (For the explanation, I will use a skateboard.) Note: If your community doesn’t have a 7-Eleven, substitute some other cold treat. It could be an ice cone from Dairy Queen (print a picture of the ice cream cone) or a bottle of ice-cold Dr Pepper from a local convenience store.

It is difficult to find a person who hasn’t experienced at one time or another the joy of riding on a skateboard (show skateboard). Put together a sunny day, some good asphalt or concrete, and a skateboard and you will have the makings of a great, fun-filled, incredible memory-making time. Better yet, put together a sunny day, some good asphalt or concrete, a skateboard, AND a Slurpee (show Slurpee cup) from a nearby 7-Eleven and you will have the makings of a really great, really fun-filled, really incredible memory-making time. If you will close your eyes, you can easily imagine what I am describing. (You might walk around and ask about the favorite Slurpee flavors.) In fact, I had better move on with this teaching because some of you are beginning to want a Slurpee right now!

If I wanted to go to the nearby 7-Eleven to get a Slurpee (show Slurpee cup), I would need to put this skateboard (show skateboard) down on the ground (place skateboard on the ground), stand on the skateboard (stand on skateboard), and then begin to move by pushing with one foot while the other remains on the skateboard (demonstrate). Notice this. Each push or action (demonstrate) will move me closer and closer to my desired 7-Eleven Slurpee machine destination. Did you get that? An action on my part is required to advance my progress towards where I want to be. Oh, one more thing. It should also be noted that no action (stand on the skateboard and do nothing) equals no advancement. 

According to our scripture verse (open Bible) when I pray in other tongues, I am making it possible to move in the direction that I need to go spiritually. We read, “The one who speaks in tongues advances his own spiritual progress …” It could be said this way, “Each and every word said in my heavenly prayer language powerfully moves me in the direction that God wants me to go.” I purposefully said “each and every word” because, just as with our skateboard, it’s not just one action (push) that will get me to my destination. It is a continual series of actions, right? The same can be said of our praying in the Spirit. It must be day after day.

Let’s not stand still. Let’s start kickin’ into action by daily praying in the Spirit!

 

Read More

25 Mar It’s Really Easy Peasy!

I will readily admit that I am not the smartest person in the world. But then again, that might be open for debate. I do remember that I was so bright as a child that my mother called me son (sun). Brilliant or not so brilliant, I must confess that when I was in school, I loved taking tests that were open-book tests with the answers being easy to find in the book. In these type of tests, no thinking was required. All that I needed was a little bit of time and the ability to read. To use a Vickie colloquialism, open-book tests were “easy peasy”. 

When it comes to the subject of the infilling of the Holy Spirit, I am thankful that God’s Word takes away all of the guesswork and plainly shows our Father’s heart. In other words, the answers to any and all questions about the Holy Spirit are easy peasy. It’s all open-Book.

Take for example this question. Who does God want to baptize in His Spirit? You might think that this is a trick question because it actually has three answers. Open up your Bible and you will quickly find that the answers are …

  1. Individuals! The Book of Acts has so many examples. But, let’s look in Acts 9. Three days after Saul of Tarsus had his encounter with Jesus Christ while on his way to Damascus, God sent a believer named Ananias to connect with Saul for a two-fold purpose (Acts 9:17) … first that Saul might regain his sight and then second that this newly converted Saul could be baptized in the Holy Spirit. We later read in 1 Corinthians 14:18 Paul stating, “I thank my God that I speak with tongues more than you all.”
  2. Family and Friends! We find this answer in Acts 10. Peter was sent from Joppa by the Father to minister in Caesarea at the home of centurion named Cornelius. Upon arriving at his home, Peter discovered that the house was filled with family and friends. In verse 44, we read that the Holy Spirit “fell on all of them which heard the word”. The results were “… on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.” (Acts 10:45-46)
  3. The Church Congregation! We’ve gone from one individual to a houseful and now the third and final answer, the whole (ready for another colloquialism?) kit and caboodle. In Acts 8:15 we see that Peter and John were sent from Jerusalem to Philip’s church in Samaria for the sole reason of the congregation being baptized in the Holy Spirit. God poured out His Spirit “Then laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 8:17)

Let me summarize this teaching by making it even more easy peasy. Who does God want to baptize in His Spirit? Every born again person. The number and location are not determining factors. It can be just one person or one family or one congregation. It can be with you being away from home (as with Saul) or at your home (as with Cornelius) or at a church service (as with Philip’s congregation). It just can’t get any easier peasier. (How’s that for a new colloquialism?)

The open-Book test is now over. You know the answers. You can close your Book. Oh, and by-the-way, with these three correct answers, you’ve scored a 100 on this open-Book test!

Read More

19 Mar Thank God For the Word “ALL”!

Warning …. only read the following few sentences if you are seated. I am about to amaze you. Ready? In the King James Version of the Bible, the word “all” appears 4,664 times. Of those 4,664 appearances, 982 are in the New Testament and 3,682 are in the Old Testament. Are you impressed? Wait … there’s even more. Stay seated. No matter the original Hebrew or Greek word that was translated into our English word “all”, in each and every usage, “all” means “the whole amount, quantity, or extent of”. Simply put, all means all! Okay, I’m through with trying to impress you. You can begin to move about again.

Here is the significance of the word “all”. In the days of the Old Covenant, God only connected with a few select people on a few select occasions. I challenge you to read through the Old Testament and list the number of times that God visited or communicated with individuals or groups of people. The reality is, unless you were of the likes of an Abraham or Moses or Jeremiah or David or Isaiah, there was no one-on-one interaction with God. But, on the Day of Pentecost, the “all” as in “I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh” kicked in. This “all” changed everything. The days of the select person for a select situation restriction were history.  And, here is what excites me. This “all”, “the whole amount, quantity, or extent of”, includes Y-O-U! 

I’ve shared this post for this one single reason. God wants you to know that you are a humongous part of His “all”. You don’t have to be on the outside looking in. God wants to have a personal, one-on-one relationship with each and every Christian that can only come through having a relationship with His precious Holy Spirit. This relationship can begin here and now. The newfound relationship begins with a simple request on your part. (Luke 11:13). Upon asking, God WILL respond with a heaven-size “YES” and will make sure that you know that He has responded to your request by giving you an evidence. He will give you a new prayer language (Mark 16:17) that arrives when you are filled with His Spirit. (Acts 2:4) The evidence is realized as you simply open up your mouth, begin to use your voice and allow this new prayer language from heaven to flow from within. I will share more with you in upcoming blog posts about how to enjoy the fullness of this relationship and the importance of this new prayer language.

Thank God for the “all”. Thank God for “the whole amount, quantity, or extent of”. Thank God that through this “all” we are qualified to have a supernatural connection with God through being filled with the Holy Spirit. Hallelujah!

 

Read More