We did it!
I was so overjoyed on Sunday…man…I can’t even begin to describe how pumped I was after the services on Sunday. For two reasons:
#1 We made history by moving forward with Elder Leadership (we now have three)
#2 The church is excited about prayer and fasting
Let me explain.
#1 The Vote
For over six years I have taught the church what the Bible has to say about Biblical leadership. Without question, the Bible speaks of a plurality of Elders. This means a shared and equal responsibility of leadership, not just one man sitting at the top of some hierarchal pyramid calling the shots. You might remember that I shared with you back in June about Dale’s desire to help me and Brad lead in the church…
Here’s Dale and his wife Lori and their daughter Chloe…
Well, I’m excited to announce that the church embraced elder leadership and chose a man from their own at a 96.4% vote (291 to 11)! That’s huge folks! I only got an 82.5% vote. Yikes!!
Now let me tell you what this means to me. It means that we are serious about following Scripture. It means we saw the Biblical model of plural elders in Scripture (Acts 14:23, 1 Timothy 3:1, Titus 1:5, 1 Peter 5:1, etc.) and we said, “We’re going to follow that pattern, not the traditions of man and not the business (organization chart) model.” Thus, Mt. Pleasant now has three Elders. We all three have different gifts and different focuses in our work and ministry in the church, but there is no question that we are equal in the eyes of God. I will still lead in the majority of the teaching, because that perhaps is my greatest gift and it’s what I love to do most. Brad will lead in music and looking after the facilities (because that’s where he’s most gifted) and Dale will help and lead with Missions, pastoral care, counseling and visitation, because that’s where he is most gifted. Isn’t it cool how the Lord works all of this out? He did all of this right in the body.
So, things are going to be better for these two guys going forward…
Isn’t that hilarious? That picture was made almost seven years ago to the day. Brad and I both look a wee bit different today. Ha! But, the church is a WHOLE lot different. We’ve grown from around 285 per week to over 500 and it’s just been the two of us! But, no more! We hung in there and taught what the Bible says about Biblical Eldership. We fought the temptation to put an ad in the Biblical Recorder and bring someone in here from the outside. We wanted to do this “right.” And the only “right” way is the Biblical way.
You see, the vote for Dale on Sunday brought to fruition the fact that not only were we voting to add another pastor/elder to the church, but we were also confirming the Biblical model of church leadership on how the church should be structured and led according to New Testament teaching. Truly, it was a referendum on whether we would follow the traditions of man, or go the way of Scripture.
It was also a referendum (to a degree) on my leadership. Was I nervous? Honestly… Yes. I felt like I was giving birth. (I know you ladies are thinking… “You have no clue.”… You’re right… I don’t…but you get the point.) I woke up several times Saturday night and I was bombarded with doubts. Even Sunday morning Satan was hammering me with doubts. It was so bad before the first service started that I thought I was going to be sick. But, it was more than just about the vote. It was more importantly about what we’ve called the church to do. Reason #2.
#2 Prayer and Fasting
I don’t know how you feel about it… But, the Church in America is very, very weak. We are weak not because Jesus is weak. No. We are weak because we are not living by the Spirit. We are walking in our flesh and we have allowed Satan to short-circuit our power by making us B-U-S-Y. Do you know what that spells? Buried Under Satan’s Yoke. We have gotten so busy chasing the American Dream (prosperity, success, happiness, comfort, pleasure, etc.) that we no longer pray.
You say, “Wait a dog gone minute… I pray.” I know you do, and so do I. But, do you really pray? I mean REALLY pray? How serious are you about sin in your life? How serious are you about lost loved ones? When is the last time you were brought to your knees in humble, brokenness before the Lord? Hey…I with ya! I’m not pointing the finger at you. Up to today, I’ve only had 14 posts on this blog on prayer. I ought to just take the category off the list. So, I’ve got three fingers pointing back at me. I get this…
So, in our study of 1 Thessalonians, we were brought to chapter 5, verse 17. You’ve heard the verse a million times…
…prayer without ceasing.
But, I asked the question: “How in the world can we do that?” How can we prayer without ceasing? I mean…come on! We’ve got to live and work and eat and sleep. How do we possible do this? I explained the condition of this type of praying. To prayer without ceasing is more about an attitude of prayer, then being on our knees 24/7. It literally means to be in a state of mind and spirit that you could break out into prayer at any moment…without any hesitation… It’s being so conscious of God’s presence in your life that you are capable of calling on His name without reservation.
But here’s the deal folks… We can only do this if we are living in obedience to that which the Lord has shown us. You see, God is a holy and righteous God and He cannot and will not go against His character and honor our requests to Him if we are living in known, disobedient and unrepentant sin. This is why most of our prayers don’t make it above the ceiling. We are cussing, fussing, fighting, cheating, lying, looking at porn, hating people, gossiping…and somehow we expect God to bless us. That’s like me telling Clara to clean her room and she refuses and then asks me to go to Chick-Fil-A. Can I take her? Of course not? I would be raising a brat if I did.
The Psalmist tells us:
18 If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened
You and will never be in a position…condition or state of mind…to expect anything from the Lord if we are living with known sin in our lives. Quite simply our relationship with the Lord will be greatly hindered. Truly, there can never be divine power in the life of a believer who is living in known sin. Never!!
Now, certainly I know that none of us are perfect and NO…we’ll never be completely rid of sin in this life, but if there is known sin in our life and the Holy Spirit has brought it to your mind and you blatantly refuse to give up and you refuse to repent of it, then you should NOT expect to hear from God.
So, I asked the church to come alongside me and repent. I asked the church to do something that is very unpopular today. CONFESS OUR SIN! You see, confession is simply acknowledging and admitting that which God already knows. But if we confess our sin, the Apostle John tells us that something really awesome will happen…
1 John 1:9
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
We can be cleansed!! Wow!! Simply because we confess and repent of our sins. But, I believe there are many Christians (like me) who have major blind spots.
That’s where the green car is…
I can’t see it! If I pull into that outside left lane, I’m going to wreck us both! So, we have to ask the Holy Spirit to show us our sin. And once that happens, then we can really get serious about praying.
Praying for what?
People need Jesus and they are all around us. They are blind to their need as well.
2 Corinthians 4:4
4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
In the spiritual realm, we wrestle not with flesh and blood. You know there is a war going on for souls in the spiritual realm that you and I can’t see.
12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Daniel, chapter 10 describes this in great detail. It’s an awesome account of how Gabriel was held off by a demonic Prince for 21 days (Daniel 10:12-14) until Daniel’s prayers caused Michael (archangel) to come to his aid. Wow! Gives me goose bumps just thinking about it!
Do you think Satan liked me preaching that message this past Sunday? No sir! And he tried to scare me in my mind and spirit. He sent wave after waves of doubt to my mind right before I was to speak in the first service. It shook me for a few moments. But, then I remembered who I am in Christ. I’m a conqueror and I quoted Scripture: “Get behind me Satan, for it is written, ‘You will worship the Lord your God!'” I resisted him as James tells us to do and he left. Will he be back? Sure he will. He already has. But, I rest in my yoke. I’m yoked with the Lord Jesus who tells me that his yoke is easy and his burden is light. Oh thank you, thank you, thank you Lord! I don’t carry this alone!
Folks, we’re in trouble and it’s time we get serious about prayer. I saw even more pointedly the seriousness of the condition we are in as Southern Baptists.
Did you know according to last week’s Biblical Recorder, that last year (2013)of the 46,000 SBC churches in America 11,000 churches had ZERO baptisms! ZERO… In a whole year! Get this… in another 9,000 of the 46,000 SBC churches only 1 PERSON was saved in a whole year! Cumulatively, that’s over 20,000 churches or 44% of the SBC churches baptized 1 person or less in an entire year. Do you think Satan has some strongholds in our churches? And get this… it was reported that almost 60% of our SBC churches didn’t baptize a single teenager last year!
We are losing the battle folks! Horribly!!
So, we have called the church to a season of Fasting and Prayer, Sept. 7-14.
I will be preaching about Fasting and Prayer on Sunday, Sept. 7th and we as a church are going to fast and pray during that week leading up to Sunday, Sept. 14. We are going to be praying specifically for two things. #1 that we might see the Lord break spiritual strongholds in our lives and #2 that we might see people come to Jesus. We have determined to get serious and we are going to intentionally go before the throne for one another and for the lost. And we are going to try to share this experience together.
On Wednesday, Sept. 10th as a church family, we are all going to try to fast something during that day. Obviously, in Scripture, “fasting” is typically going without food, but for some…because of medical reasons…this won’t be possible. Yet, we are asking people to decide to fast something else. Perhaps they could fast soft drinks or their morning cup of coffee. Perhaps they could fast TV that day or using the internet. But, whatever it is…we are asking that during the time they would normally be occupied by that task, person or thing, that they might use the time to call on the Lord to break spiritual chains in people’s lives.
I am planning on a three-day Esther fast that week, leading up to Wednesday. I am accustomed to fasting. I fast one day per week for my children, their spouses (current and future) and for God’s will to be done in their lives. Some might fast like Daniel and eat only vegetables. Whatever the case might be…I’m super excited to see what the Lord is going to do.
Now are we twisting God’s arm when we fast? No. We are simply exchanging one appetite for another. We desire God to work and do the miraculous more than we want food. It’s that simple.
So, I’m overjoyed and ecstatic about all the Lord is doing! I can’t wait to see what the next several weeks hold for us! Hey…join us! The more the merrier! 🙂