THE FORGOTTEN POWER

No matter how thin you slice baloney, it’s still baloney.  And, almost everything pastors are told about church growth is baloney. Most of it leads to frustration and disillusionment. Think about it.  Most pastors have taken those trendy courses on church growth. If that is true, then why are so few churches growing?

Here’s the big lie: Fix your organization, your brand, and your staff, if you want your church to grow.  And, hasn’t this worked in many cases?  In many cases? No.  But has it worked in some cases?   Yes, but only because even a blind dog finds a bone once in a while.

How then can we explain the overnight success of some church-plants? If what you mean is more like a franchise then, yeah, that’ll work—because they pour millions into establishing a franchise copy of an existing mega church.   Hello?  Is anyone offering you millions of dollars and vast expertise to help you build your church?

Given enough marketing money, I could get a thousand people to come watch yogurt mature. But is it a crowd you want, or is it a Holy Spirit-built army of Christ-following converts?  To paraphrase Paul, “If I master all the tricks in the how-to-fill-a-church seminar, but do not have a congregation who deeply loves Jesus, I am just another mega-church. If I have a room full of a thousand spoiled spectators, it profits me nothing.”

Some of our good friends shake their heads at the advertising we use for our tent crusades. Our cards say, “Come and experience the love and power of Jesus Christ.” Our friends almost feel sorry for our lack of salesmanship and seem embarrassed that we are being so obvious about our intentions. What they don’t see is what kind of crowd we want. We want people who are hungry for a miracle.  We are not trying to hide anything, and people are weary of being tricked. But more importantly, our cards are soaked in prayer. The crowds come for the right reason—because they have been drawn by the Holy Spirit.

I have many things to say about how churches can grow, but I am going to focus on my favorite factor in growth—one that is greatly underrated: THE EXCITEMENT OF THE PASTOR. Here are the reasons an excited leader is both powerful and crucial.

 

1. Excitement is infectious. A sincerely excited leader has an amazing impact on people. The electricity of a leader who is genuinely excited will draw the crowds without any gimmicks or hype.

Here is an example: Transit authorities in the Northeast have spent a lot of money on advertising, begging people to use their services, and they still can’t get commuters to use public transportation. Meanwhile, millions pour into Disneyland to ride trains that don’t go anywhere. The difference is excitement.

Fresh vision chases away depression. Even eloquence is at the mercy of excitement.  We don’t need more teaching seminars. I fear we’ve been taught to death. We need to pour gasoline on our sermons, and light them on fire.

2. Excitement finds a way. The changes in culture are dizzying. The challenge to build great works for God today is daunting. However, if you leave the challenge in the hands of genuinely excited vessels of God, they will find a way. They have the relentless will to conquer by the simple use of prayer and obedience.

3. Excitement doesn’t care about things that don’t matter. The excited leader is not just living their dream, they are a walking miracle. Imagine Lazarus the day after he was raised from the dead. You couldn’t offend him. You couldn’t scare him and you couldn’t make him feel insecure.

Beloved brother and sister in the ministry, we are not far from being a Lazarus! The truly excited pastor doesn’t care about criticism—doesn’t need the approval of men—doesn’t dread a lack of funds. Paul wrote, “Yea, in all these things we are more than conquerors…”

If an excited pastor is a boon to a church, then there is nothing more devastating than a discouraged and broken hearted shepherd. The last thing that leader ever needs to do is go to a church growth seminar. Any pastor who is wounded and broken from the thankless task of ministering to a fickle generation takes a terrible risk by going to a church growth seminar. Even if they get some growth from the shallow advice being given, it will gravely disappoint them because a wounded heart won’t feel any joy in success.  And, if they don’t see any growth, it could be devastating since it reinforces hopelessness and can lead to despair.

Have you ever broken a pastor’s heart? If so, the damage went far beyond what you realize.

Hebrews 13:17 says, “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give an account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.” Unprofitable to say the least!

If I could blend the fresh fire that is in the heart of a first year Bible college student with the wisdom of a pastor who has been forged in the crucible of battle, I would have a weapon that is guaranteed to shake the very timbers of hell!  Get your excitement back—by the power of the Holy Spirit—and church growth will happen!

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The Secret Reason

These are the ugliest days I have ever witnessed in America. They are capable of trapping the child of God in a web of anger, depression, despair and exhaustion. Satan’s plan is to destroy your sleep. He is fiercely pursuing your peace. He even wants to use your love for God against you.

We have entered a season in American life that is the worst that Christians have ever known.  There are forces crashing against our spirits that are unheard of by prior generations. Satan wants to keep you angry, depressed and exhausted. He wants it for a different reason than you know. He is using fake news, political correctness, and the insane behavior of people around you to crush your spirit.

It is ironic, but, it is those who are the central core of God’s people—those who hold to their convictions—who are under the greatest attack. They are being assaulted by the withering lies of the devil, and these attacks seem to come from every direction.

This remnant is suffering from isolation: Since they are not at home in the compromised church, they feel isolated and even punished, for dropping out of the shallowness.

They are also under attack at their jobs, where their stance against immoral living makes them a target of outright hostility and false accusations of being judgmental, or hateful.

They are the special target of Satan for a reason that is hidden. They are marked by evil to be attacked more viciously than lukewarm believers.

A verse I’ve read for decades recently revealed to me the secret reason for Satan’s attack upon you. Satan is trying to crush the spirit of the ones whom God has chosen to endue with power in these last days.

What the devil fears most is your destiny, your assignment in the Kingdom of God. If he can preemptively end your calling, he will.  Martin Luther said “Satan only attacks those he fears.

Here is that verse: in Luke 21:34, Jesus said, “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap.”

To me, that means the trap of missing my assignment by letting these end times vex me to the point of ineffectiveness.

In this message, I will show you three things to do that will enable you to conquer all the fears, feelings, and emotions that are under attack. You are here for a very important reason. Satan wants you trapped, so that you will miss the day of God’s power. Satan wants to keep you from reaping the harvest you were promised—from experiencing the revival you have yearned for—and from receiving the outpouring you have expected.

But know this: God has more than provided for this attack!

The enemy of your soul knows your calling, and wants to keep you trapped by emotions, and yes: by addictions! Many Christians who are on fire for the Lord are shocked to discover that Satan has been trying to use their broken, discouraged spirit to trap them in drugs and alcohol. They are shocked to find themselves reeling under this temptation after years of fiery dedication to Christ.

It’s a trap! The devil wants you out of commission on the day of God’s power…but now, we will rip the mask off this attack and defuse the bomb that is threatening your emotions. It is time for a special miracle to take place in your spirit in these last days!

It is time for an infusion by the Holy Spirit of supernatural emotions! The three things I will ask you to do are tied to one single victorious and defiant declaration…

This declaration will—if you let it ignite in your soul—not only save your life, but give you power you never imagined.  It will make all of the difference in the world to your health physically and mentally.  There is one declaration that will pave the way for you to conquer anything that the future holds.

What is the declaration that must come roaring out of our spirit, that would give us the upper hand over all of the insanity of these last days?

Declare this, in the Name of Jesus:

THE END TIMES ARE NOT HAPPENING TO ME.  I AM HAPPENING TO THE END TIMES.

You are declaring that you are happening to the end times when you do these four things:

 

1. Become catalytic. A catalyst is any substance that changes what is around it without itself being changed or consumed. The hellish events of today cannot change you or consume you.

2. Look at God. He gives special grace for these last days.  Grace is not just favor.  It is not just forgiveness.  It is the combined power of the resurrection and the righteousness of Jesus Himself.

We read in Daniel 11:32b, “…the people who know their God shall be strong and carry out exploits.”  We often hear that verse quoted, but we may be failing to see the real good news contained in that promise, and its direct bearing on what you are going through right now.

Because you know God, you are protected from the corruption of these times.  Because you know God, you will be stronger than these times.  Because you know God, you will not merely survive these times, you will exploit them.

3. Declare God’s power over your physical health. He will restore your energy. He will oversee your immune system and guard your heart so that your resistance to disease will be awesome.  Obamacare cannot begin to match the benefits of what Christ is offering to you now!

Psalm 103 says, 1 “Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! 2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: 3 Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, 4 Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies, 5 Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

Isaiah 40: 31, “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

James 5:14, “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.”

You do not have to dread long lines at an emergency room when you claim Christ as your doctor and the guardian of your health!

 

  1. Let supernatural emotions remove your fear of bad news, headlines and threats.

It is time for the people who quote, “Greater is He Who is in me than he that is in the world,” to also confess “Greater is He Who is in me than what is happening in the world.”

Psalm 112:7-8, “He will not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.”

God wants to give us supernatural emotions.  Isaiah 26:3, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed upon You, because he trusts in You.”

John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

God wants you to walk in the knowledge of His supernatural protection. “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one.”

-John 17:15)

 

Luke 10:19, “Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.”

What shall we say to these terrible, evil, stressful things?  We shall say:

THE END TIMES ARE NOT HAPPENING TO ME. I AM HAPPENING TO THE END TIMES!

Is this an arrogant boast, or worse, a delusional boast?   Absolutely not.  You must take your position in the heavenlies. When the anointed of God take their proper stance in the heavenlies, the circumstances of the last days must bend to their destiny.

Their emotions must be at peace. And they must find their strength in the joy of the Lord!

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A WORD

You held on to your integrity.  When the trendy shortcuts for having a big church were offered to you—the Holy Spirit told you to stay out. Somehow, you never had the stomach for big screens, skinny jeans, and fog machines. Silly you! You wanted to keep singing some of the old songs—songs about the Blood of Jesus!

The devil tried to make you feel like a fool. You poured blood, sweat and tears into a community for many years. Along comes a slick marketer who creates a buzz. Overnight, they get a crowd.  The enemy attacks you and says, “They are blessed, and you are not!”

Let me be so bold as to appropriate Psalm 73 to describe the emotions you faced:

Psalm 73:2 “But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled; my steps had nearly slipped. 3 For I was envious of the boastful, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.”

The evil one whispered to you, “if you had left out those negative verses, like they do—if you would finish your sermon in twelve minutes—if you would only tell people to quit raising their hands—if you would only…” Well, you know the spiel.

Suddenly, envy tries to grip you and these words from Psalm 73 fit your turmoil and temptation:

Psalm 73:4 “For there are no pangs in their death, but their strength is firm. 5 They are not in trouble as other men, nor are they plagued like other men. 6 Therefore pride serves as their necklace; violence covers them like a garment. 7 Their eyes bulge with abundance; they have more than heart could wish.”

But these are the words that apply most: verse 13, “Surely, I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocence. 14 For all day long I have been plagued, and chastened every morning.”

The devil again whispers, “What have you got to show for all your diligence and integrity? All your prayers, all your faithful preaching of the Word of God no longer works. You have stayed pure for no reason.”

Then people you’ve known for years turned on you. Like the Israelites who begged for a king—prominent people in your congregation told you they want the bells and whistles of modern church marketing.  “We want to be like all the other churches.” And when you wouldn’t change, they left and took their tithe with them.

It all became too much.  You and your family were broken hearted. Still you did not speak out loud what you were feeling. Verse 15 says, If I had said, “I will speak thus,” behold, I would have been untrue to the generation of Your children.”

You, like David, thought about the young pastors who are coming up. You thought, “They can’t hear us saying the Word of God no longer works!”

It has all become too painful! How can you try so hard, for so little result, while those who cheapen the message are booming? Here is the Word of the Lord, beloved pastor: 16 “When I thought how to understand this, it was too painful for me—17 until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end. 18 Surely, You set them in slippery places; You cast them down to destruction.”

Hold on, men and women of God! America is changing! A nightmare of anxiety and emptiness is changing appetites!  When a nation gorges on sin, they begin to yearn for purity and cleansing.  Nothing can protect the sin-sick soul from disgust, nausea, and the unholy hangover.

A convicted heart can reach the point where a slick church concert, outfitted with lights and fog, or a canned motivational spiel, can repulse them just as much as the sin they are trying to escape.

A soul soaked in the sludge of our current time can yearn to collapse at a simple wooden altar, sob deep tears of remorse, and welcome the warm hand of a true pastor on their shoulder.

In fact, at this moment, heaven is releasing power for miracles, words of prophetic might, and great resources to do the work of God.  Those who have kept their integrity, who have labored in obscurity and have not seen any results, will receive great power and multiplication.

Americans will want to come in from the storm. They won’t feel safe in a shallow church. In a hurricane, you don’t rush to a flimsy building. Many man-made worship centers will collapse like a house of cards. They are the ‘slippery place’ that God spoke of. They will be too easily damaged by the coming storm.

Daniel refused to change—even when they threatened his life. When magicians and false seers were all the rage—Daniel held to his convictions. Then King Nebuchadnezzar has a nightmare and loses his appetite for half-baked entertainment.  Now he desperately needs an answer—and so will America.

The most attractive force on earth is about to flood your church building: THE PRESENCE OF GOD! His Spirit not only attracts better than entertainment—it does something infinitely more valuable—it brings people in for the right reason! They will become disciples! They will not be fickle ‘lookie-loos’—the kind that leave as soon as they find something more interesting.

The same preaching that the devil mocks today will be the right preaching in the coming hour! Don’t change! The way you pray, the way you love people, the way you raise holy hands and worship the Lord − everything they make fun of now, will be perfect for the coming harvest!

Hold on! Hold tight to every promise God gave you! Tell the devil he is a liar! Confess to your people, “God has His hour of power, and even now it is at the door!”

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