I absolutely believe that divine judgment is in the earth today, and I reject the teaching that states that from the cross until the Second Coming, God’s wrath will not be poured out on the earth. There is a substantial amount of New Testament evidence that stands against this doctrine.
At the same time, we better be very careful before we start calling specific events “divine judgment.” It is dangerous and unwise to bear false witness about the Lord.
Recently, a caller to my Line of Fire radio broadcast stated that the Boston Marathon bombing was a divine judgment, one of the main causes being the legalizing of same-sex “marriage” in Massachusetts in 2004.
I’ve been helped by a lot of books in my lifetime. The Bible has helped me more than any other book—by several orders of magnitude.
Here is what the Bible claims it can do for you:
1. It will inspire you. When I read the story of David killing his giant enemy with nothing but five stones and a sling, I start to think that maybe I can conquer the giants in my life. When I read the story of Daniel rising to become prime minister of a large foreign country, I think maybe I can do a little more than I am right now.
For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you.— Luke 14:28-29
One of the most recognizable landmarks in Washington, D.C., is the Washington Monument. This 555-foot tall obelisk in the middle of town provides a spectacular view of the city and surrounding areas. It also has a rather fascinating story regarding its construction.
Work on the monument began in 1848, but six years later, members of the Know-Nothing Party (the nickname of the American Party) stopped the flow of funds, leaving an unsightly stump in the middle of town. It would be 25 years before construction resumed. Visitors can take note of this by looking at the color of the marble used in the building. A lighter shade is used for the first third of the monument, while the remaining section is darker.
I'm thankful that the Washington Monument was completed. It wouldn't look too good unfinished! And neither will our Christian lives if we don't consider the cost of following Christ.
With a large crowd following, Jesus told a story illustrating how costly faith is. No one would build a tower or go to war without first considering whether the endeavor would be successful. If the builder decided to plunge into these activities with reckless abandon, the results would be disastrous. Faith is not just reserved for church services but has a part in every decision we make at work, at home, and at school. It affects our choices of entertainment, our comments to other people, and how we spend our spare time. It reveals what our true beliefs about God are.
The cost of being a follower of Christ is immense. In fact, judging from the parable of the treasure hidden in the field (Matt. 13:44), the cost is total. But it pays huge dividends in the end. And we will be complete, instead of unfinished.
The late great American preacher Clarence McCartney recounted ministering at the funeral of a young husband. He stood by the coffin and listened as the young widow poured out her soul in grief. Finally he said to her: “God will give you strength and faith, and out of this will come good.”
“No,” she answered, “good will not come out of this.”
McCartney later reflected that no matter how much God wills it, good would never come to that widow unless she also willed it.
When ministering in a church, the prophet should have a specific area the Lord has revealed that needs correction. Jesus gave each church a specific place of constructive criticism.
It’s important at this stage to determine if the message should be given to the senior leader publicly or privately. Most words of correction should be judged by leadership before their delivery over the congregation. The interpretation and application of the prophetic word is at the discretion of the senior leader. The senior leader must filter the partial, progressive and conditional part of the prophecy.
Time magazine for May 20, 2013, devotes an entire page to “assessing the creative spark,” a rarity in newsmagazines.
Now, I’m no authority on creativity or anything else, but I have long been fascinated by the subject and attuned to writings dealing with it.
“Creativity is that ineffable match-strike, that flash in the dark that comes to you from, well, it’s hard to say where. You can’t summon it on demand, though inclining your mind to a task does help.” —Time (Jeffrey Kluger, writer)
I know a little about this right-brain activity, being a preacher, a writer, a cartoonist and a storyteller.
Here’s something of what I have learned about creativity:
Just because I’m a pastor, that doesn’t mean I don’t continually learn things about God. It’s a daily process for everyone. Here are some things that I have learned or am learning about our Heavenly Father:
Sometimes God opens doors simply to show me that He can. I’ve seen it many times. God seemed to provide an opportunity, only to later make it clear that’s not the right one for this time. It’s always though an encouragement than when He is ready He can and will make a way.
God’s plan for my life is always bigger than mine. Every. Single. Time. I have underestimated Him all my life. You’d think I’d learn.
I’ve been called a lot of things in my life but I never thought I’d be called the “Anti-Fat Pastor.” Not me, the one who for years wouldn’t go to bed until I’d eaten my nightly giant bowl of ice cream as I sat in my La-Z-Boy™ recliner.
“The Anti-Fat Pastor,” who me? The one who weighed in at 340 pounds and suffered with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes? Wow! Has my life changed!
Someone once said a journey begins with the first step. My journey began with a prayer to God for guidance with my weight and health issues. My first step was the decision to live better once my heart was impressed with a passage from the scriptures that would inspire me to change.
Have you ever thought about the fact that the biggest giant David ever faced was not on the battlefield but actually the one in the mirror? In an idle, unguarded moment, the “man after God’s own heart” left his spiritual mindset to pursue “forbidden fruit”–if but for a fleeting moment. That’s all it took. The luster of his kingdom would be forever tarnished. David’s biographers have used different phrases to describe the consequences of the king’s fatal attraction to Bathsheba:
Charles Gulston observes, “he fell a great distance.”
F.B. Meyer considered it “the sin of his life.”
Chuck Swindoll called it “the most distressing episode in David’s life.”
In my past few blogs, I’ve talked about conflict—why people avoid it and why it’s better to lean into it.
One thing I’ve learned about working with teams of people: When two or more are gathered, there will be conflict!
Why? Because we all have our opinions about how things should be, and we’re rather attached to our opinions. Conflict is a reality of leadership. I’ve been all over the map on how to lead through conflict, from completely avoiding it to plowing through it and leaving a body count behind. Let me tell you, neither approach works out well.
Pastors, we tend to share a lot throughout the year. Some of you are preparing two or three messages and presentations every week. When you repeat that process 52 times in a year, life gets exhausting. How do you stay motivated to keep going?
Let me share with you how I’ve managed to motivate myself. Here are 17 things you can do to keep yourself motivated.
1. Put your plans on paper. Write out what you want to accomplish. Spell it out. Dawson Trotman said, ”Thoughts disentangle themselves when they pass through the lips and the fingertips.” If I can say it and I can write it down, then it’s clear. If I haven’t written it down, then it’s vague.
Every week it seems there is another scandal breaking out with a high-profile person, whether in politics, sports, media or the church. A person could have done much good their whole life but with one act of passion destroy everything they have built.
Proverbs 22:1 teaches us that a good name is worth more than riches. One of the things I have found out through the years is that a person’s name and reputation are their greatest capital in regard to opening doors and having influence in the world; this is a quality people look for even more than gifts, talents or leading a successful enterprise or ministry. This is because people know success built upon gifts and talents and not on the foundation of character and integrity will not last in the long run. All of us are tempted to fall and have the capacity to fail because of our sin nature.
If you’ve been tracking my posts recently, you know that I have just returned from speaking at a conference in Australia. I understand the significance of conferences and their service to the body of Christ, but as a pastor, it is very easy to get caught up with the hoopla and adrenaline that big gatherings bring.
It is also very easy to get by with lowered standards because conferences—particularly large ones—keep people at a distance. By that, I mean people don’t get to see you up close. In a local church, regular interface with members and staff reveal the good, bad and uglies about you.
That’s why I am writing this post: to remind myself of the noble call of God on my life and the high standards that come with it. Paul, in his letter to Timothy, writes:
About 20 years ago, you might have seen me with a cape and a huge “S” on my chest that stood for “Superpastor!” Well, maybe not literally, but you might have wondered if I thought I could run meetings faster than a speeding bullet, preach more powerfully than a locomotive and leap ministry issues with a single bound.
You probably know the routine: Our church had plateaued at a few hundred people, and I was the reason. I did almost everything: counseling, coordinating, leadership of all meetings, etc. If our church was to change, I needed to change.
Since I have my pilot’s license, God used that to teach me my primary role in the church. Simply put, He focused my attention on three aspects of flying: 1) communication with the controller; 2) navigation of the plane; and 3) speed and altitude. Similarly, as a pastor, I needed to 1) keep in touch with “the controller” through prayer and study; 2) prayerfully and creatively navigate our direction through the grid of the church’s vision; and 3) strategically determine the pace and spiritual altitude of the congregation.
Core Values:The ideals and values we hold that are non-negotiable, that serve as filters for all of our efforts to accomplish our mission. (My working definition.)
The story of Jehu in 2 Kings 10 came in front of me recently, and reading it again, several things really struck me.
Jehu found Jehonadab coming to meet him. He greeted him and then asked, “Is your heart one with mine?
Unity. We can’t accomplish the mission God has given us (helping people find, follow and be- like Jesus) if there is division in the ranks. Without unity, you will be thrown back two steps for every one you think you’ve made.
Dan T. Cathy, president and COO of Chick-fil-A, spoke briefly at the EQUIP 2020 Global Conference in February 2012, held at Christ Fellowship Church in West Palm Beach. Chick-fil-A is more than just the fast food restaurant that made cows famous for saying, “Eat more chicken.” It is one of the largest family owned and successful businesses in the U.S. today with more than 1560+ units in the chain. Personally, I love their waffle fries!
Though the conference focused on biblical leadership, and specifically training international Christian leaders, Dan Cathy spoke on customer service—something all good leaders must be reminded of. I was struck by how well he had personally embodied the vision and how brilliantly he communicated it. From employees walking around the dining area asking if they may “refresh your beverage” and offering pepper from a large pepper mill for your salad, to coming outside with a large umbrella to bring you in from the rain.
"Aren't the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar, better than any of the rivers of Israel? Why shouldn't I wash in them and be healed?" So Naaman turned and went away in a rage. But his officers tried to reason with him and said, "Sir, if the prophet had told you to do something very difficult, wouldn't you have done it? So you should certainly obey him when he says simply, 'Go and wash and be cured!'"— 2 Kings 5:12-13
In 1962, the Mariner I space probe was scheduled to travel to Venus and provide information to NASA scientists. It never got there, as it plunged into the Atlantic Ocean four minutes after takeoff. An investigation was launched into the cause for the crash and was later traced to the computer program directing the spacecraft. It turned out that somewhere in the program a single minus sign had been left out.
For some people, living out the basics of the Christian faith isn't exciting enough. Too insignificant. Not brave enough. However, the way a follower of Jesus handles small things, both in attitude and execution, determines to a large extent how they will handle larger things.
Naaman learned a lesson about this in today's passage. He was a mighty warrior of Aram but had leprosy. After getting permission to visit Elisha the prophet, he planned out in his mind exactly what would happen: Elisha would meet him, wave his hand, and call on God to heal him.
Instead, the prophet sent a messenger to Naaman, who told him to wash in the Jordan River seven times. Naaman was upset with this cure. He wanted something with a little more fanfare. But his officers called him on his attitude and encouraged him to take Elisha at his word. When Naaman decided to bathe in the Jordan, his small act of obedience cured him of his leprosy.
So take the time to get to know God through consistent prayer. Read about the characters in the Bible and their triumphs and failures. Make the most of the opportunities the Lord presents, no matter how insignificant they may seem. After all, little things do matter.
I’ve been in the business of buying and selling talent (a nice way of saying “actors”) for about 30 years now. When I came to Hollywood in 1984, I was blissfully ignorant of the structures of power and fear that are so often the foundations of the entertainment industry.
I was also blind to the fact that God loved me and had a plan for my life in Jesus Christ. All these things would be revealed in time. In short, God found me, claimed me, saved me—and then asked me to become a talent agent. Through the hard-knock years of this profession, I’ve learned some lessons that have played dual roles in my life as a Hollywood talent agent and an associate pastor.
In my years leading in business and churches, I have known many people who claim to be leaders, but they are actually nothing more than controllers of people. There is a huge difference in leading and controlling.
In fact, the differences are almost exact opposites.
Here are some characteristics of environments that lead people: