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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

How do I Pray?

One of my Facebook friends asked people in her friends list how they pray. I shared this on her post. Not that my prayer patterns need to be exactly the same for you, but still I thought it might help someone else who's struggling in prayer to encounter God more fully, so here it is:

I pray randomly as I go through my day... about everything.
1 Thes. 5:16-18 16 Rejoice evermore. 17 Pray without ceasing. 18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

That isn't personal enough for me though so I also try to spend time alone with God as I can, and I like to pray uninterrupted for more than an hour because it seems that is when my breakthrough comes. I'm not sure, but this is perhaps because it takes me that long to get my mind on more spiritual things and off the distractions of everyday life.
Matthew 6:6-8 "6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. 7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. 8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him."
Matthew 26:40-41 "40 And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed [is] willing, but the flesh [is] weak."

I also try to pray according to the "pattern" (not a repetition of words, but according to the method) that Jesus gave His Disciples, because this is HOW He said to pray: Addressed to the Father, with Praise, seeking His will over my own, then with petition (requests), asking in a repentant spirit, asking for deliverance from the plan of Satan, and finally more praise.
Matthew 6:9-13 "9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as [it is] in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen."

I pray in faith and under the authority of Christ. Faith is based upon the word of God not upon my wishes or my hopes. Hope is like the soil, but faith is the seed. If my prayers are based on what He has promised in His word, I can be confident that they are His will. (I usually have my bible right with me for reference.) "In His NAME" is not just a proper ending for a prayer, but a statement of authority... I am asking IN his authority, as He has given me His name and His authority comes with it..
Mark 11:24 "24 Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them."
John 16:23 "And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you."
1 John 5:14-15 "14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him."

I also like to have some paper and a pen close by, in case the Lord speaks something to me I want to remember. This also comes in handy if I want to make a list of requests or promises that I want to continue to bring before God later. Satan will steal your God given thoughts if given the opportunity, so I do my best to combat that by writing down what I want to retain.

There's much more I could add, but this is a good start. Hope this helps someone!
Pastor Jerry

Monday, August 28, 2017

Born Broken

As many of you probably know our oldest daughter Lindsey recently graduated college, accepted a position in a local school district, and has begun to teach.  She has a double major, but took a job as an Intervention Specialist working with kids in the K-3 age range.  She has her first week of working with these kids behind her but a whole career ahead of her.

In relation to education, Intervention Specialist is a relatively new term for most of us who aren't involved in the educational system. The position operates within the field of special education, with a focus on children who generally have more severe physical, cognitive, behavioral or communication delays than the majority of other kids. This can be caused by a host of reasons, so each child has an individualized education program (IEP) and at first, their goals are usually more developmental than academic.

As a new teacher, and especially as a person with a very soft and loving heart, Lindsey is struggling greatly with the fact that so many of these kids seem to be so broken at such a young age. Not only are they difficult to reach, but her heart breaks for them because of their circumstances.  This could be seen in her tears earlier this week.

Many of these students are in their current quandary due to poor parental choices, apathy, or unconcern. Others have dealt with, or are dealing with, neglect or abuse from someone in the home. Some it seems, were not given a fair chance to succeed even from birth because they have not experienced proper love from a parent. Some of them have developmental disabilities or other struggles that have put them behind the majority of the students. Perhaps their struggle is even because of a genetic trait that pushes them toward a disability. Whatever the reason, because so many things are stacked against them, they falter. It's almost as though some of these kids need someone to save them from themselves.

Lindsey's job is to help them get on track, help them develop properly and even catch up if possible, or in other words, to give them a fighting chance.  Her main task is perhaps to let each child know that someone believes in them, someone is fighting for them, someone is with them. Although this assignment is very heavy and extremely difficult, I believe that given time she will absolutely excel in her task.

Thinking about the difficulty of her job in the first full week of school, and the struggles that the kids are dealing with today, I recently shared with her that I feel that she has been placed with these hurting children by design.  I think the Lord has called her to this. She's made for it!  And, if that is the case, then He has also equipped her to succeed.

Thinking of the struggles and brokenness that so many of these kids seem to deal with caused me to realize that, honestly, we are all born broken. Sin has broken our relationship with God. Sickness, depravity and addictions are real inherited conditions. Racism, hatred, elitism, divides us from one another and causes us to act in a character unlike God. We find ourselves in spiritual disability, needing someone to save us from ourselves. We need to know what love really is. We need someone to believe in us and show us there is hope. We need someone to come alongside us and fight for us, someone who believes in us.

Thank God for Jesus! Thank God that we have access to all that and more, in Him!! Also, thank God for godly men and women of character who will come alongside us to teach us, or mentor us, in the ways of Christ and help give us a fighting chance! Thank the Lord for people in the Kingdom of God, who like an intervention specialist in the education system, will take the time and effort to fight for us and with us, to see that we succeed. We were ALL born broken, but thank God, we are born again through Christ and with His help and the help of others we will develop into His likeness!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017


Sustainability... I was thinking today about sustainability. What if we, the church, had kept all the ground in the world that we had once claimed for the Kingdom of God? Great Britain, for example, was once well evangelized but now has become what is called a ‘post Christian’ society. It needs to be evangelized again, but now has become somewhat resistant to the gospel. What if we had held the ground we had gained?  The answer is the whole world would likely have been evangelized by now.

What if we had sustained the great moves of God through the years past? Revivals have broken out numerous times through the history of the church but only lasted for a relatively short period of time, usually they only covered a specific region, and then they fizzled out. A few of those revivals were so powerful that whole nations were changed! Now though, here we are in the 21st century. We are in a time when the church in much of the world seems to have lost its fire for God. This is especially true of the American Church. We are lukewarm and with the exception of the occasional flame in one place or the other, it seems the church is growing colder and colder. What if the church could have sustained those great moves of God from the past?  Again, the answer is that our assignment would likely be accomplished by now.

Some would say that only God can sustain a move of God.  I understand that sentiment, but I disagree based on my observations of the Word of God. I personally believe that every move of God in this Earth comes solely because of a great hunger in God’s children which causes them to pursue Him.  In turn, our pursuit brings His nearness.  I believe God is ALWAYS willing to pour out His Spirit upon us.  Look at these scriptures to see His willingness… If WE seek Him with our whole heart we will find Him (See Jer. 29:13). “Draw near to me, and I’ll draw near to you” (James 4:8).  Acts 2:17 even tells us “And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh…”  If God is willing to pour His Spirit on us if we seek Him, then He clearly must also be willing that we see a sustained move of His Spirit.  He didn’t call us to win this world for Him, to only lose ground once again to Satan.

Here is an observation that parallels with this type thinking. Pay close attention: “IF it was God’s job to sustain His movement in the Earth, it would be sustained. If it was God’s job to hold the ground that has been taken for the Kingdom of God, it would be held.”  God never fails at anything. I clearly see it as our job to create an atmosphere of sustainability. Here are a few another scriptures to support my view that WE are responsible for the sustaining of God’s work.  Matthew 5:13a tells us,  “You are the salt of the earth…”. (Salt preserves.)  Hebrews 10:13 (NASB) says that Jesus was seated at the right hand of God and He is “waiting from that time onward UNTIL HIS ENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET.” The KJV tells us He’s “expecting till His enemies be made His footstool”.  Also, we’re told in the parable of the Minas (Luke 19:13) that a Nobleman (Jesus) gave to his servants and told them to “occupy” until I come.  The word ‘occupy’ is a military term which speaks of holding the land!

It’s our job, church, to seek God and thus birth the move that He desires to bring to our city and our world.  It’s also our job to prepare for that move, so that we might sustain it.  So how do we sustain a move of God? It takes prayer, fasting, study of the word, spiritual warfare, evangelism, worship and the list goes on… but I can condense the description of what it will take to one word.  Sustainability in the Kingdom of God requires “discipleship”.  We can have a revival that shakes our region, but if people aren’t discipled to carry on the work properly, it will be short lived. 

Let me ask you two questions. “Are you willing to do your part to welcome and sustain a move of God?” “Will you be discipled, and then help to disciple others so that we might pass the torch to the next generation of Christian and see sustainability in the Kingdom?”  Count the cost, but if so please get to work! 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Missing Link in Modern Christianity...

I have been in a time of extreme pursuit, for clarity of God’s plan for our church, Abundant Life Tabernacle, Mansfield, Ohio. I have prayed, searched the Word and looked deep within my heart to see what God was saying and what I was missing, or even resisting. I feel like I have heard some things.  Some of them are hard to accept and some are pleasant.  I am about to share many of these things during the next few Sundays (from the time of this writing), but you may or may not have heard the crux of them by the time of this printing so I want to share a few things here.  What I am sharing today deals with Discipleship.

One of the missing elements of the modern church, Christianity’s missing link if you will, is a real focus on discipleship.  It's been lost as a focus it seems, for more than 100 years. Remnants remained until about 40 to 50 years ago, but those have mostly been lost now as well.  Sure, we do some discipleship naturally because of relationships that form within the Body, and that’s great!  Discipleship should happen naturally. But in large, it seems to me that it has been missing from the majority of the Body of Christ for a very long time. 

Biblical Discipleship has been so ignored in the modern Church that few even know what it is now.  I recently saw a study that was done by the Barna Group and published by the Navigators.  In the study, a host of things were explored but the question was also asked, “What is discipleship?” The researchers found that it was unclear, to much of the church, what a good definition of Discipleship is.  Many disagreed upon the particulars, as we Christians so often do.  It was found that most in the church didn’t particularly like the term either, preferring “Becoming Christ-like” or “Spiritual Growth” to the term “Discipleship.”  And that’s okay, these are valuable terms, and the Bible doesn’t particularly use the term “Disipleship”. Still these terms fall somewhat short of the biblical idea of a disciple. Furthermore, the ‘principle of Discipleship’ is clearly biblical whether the exact term is found or not.  Jesus called followers to himself and then told them that if they were not willing to forsake everything, they were unfit to be disciples. Certainly, He’s still looking for people who will put Him above all else! So, what is discipleship?

I’ve done my own inquiry into the subject and I’ve found that ‘it seems’ that Abundant Life has a little better understanding on the subject than most, but then again the Barna Study said that pastors often think that (lol).  Our experience in understanding Discipleship, in general, has been that most people have understood it from the perspective of a weekly Bible Class, or a short term class on Christianity; the art of being Christian, if you will.  Another very good thing, yet it falls short. Some will say that discipleship relates to progress in their own spiritual growth.  Progress in spiritual growth is always a wonderful thing for a Christian, but it’s about half of what is Biblical Discipleship. Many people feel that discipleship is the same as evangelism; preaching and winning the lost to Christ.  It can certainly be argued that it falls within the same category, but I don’t think they are the same.  Discipleship is for already-believers of the Good News, while evangelism is to reach not-yet-believers with the Good News.

So what is discipleship? The study I’ve mentioned has said that from the results, “it’s unclear”.  However, I think Jesus made it very clear. He exampled it boldly with His life and then He told His followers to go make other disciples (Matt. 28:19a), “teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you”(Matthew 28:20a).  Jesus took twelve believers into a relationship with Him. He spent time with them.  He ate with them.  They did life together!  He lived His life pointing consistently toward the Father.  He corrected them, when they were wrong.  He applauded them when they did well.  He held them accountable and He taught them everything He could possibly teach them in the time they had together.  He doubtless felt sorrow when Peter denied Him and I’m sure felt sadness when Judas betrayed Him, but He didn’t reject the remaining disciples.  He kept on loving.  He kept on pouring into them and He believed that they would accomplish even greater things than He had accomplished in ministry (John 14:11-13).  Jesus lived it, He taught it, and that’s what discipleship looks like.

So, discipleship is not just about my OWN spiritual growth or just about ME becoming Christ-like. It’s ALSO about helping others do the same.  There is a ‘revival’ of discipleship beginning to happen in the world. I am excited to see it!  I believe that God is taking His church back to basics in many areas and again I’m glad to see it!  There is also a new movement of discipleship about to happen here at ALT, and I’m thrilled.  I am fully in favor of the disappearance of the 'missing link in modern Christianity', or I could say I'm excited for the return of biblical discipleship.  Why am I so excited?  Discipleship properly links members of the Body to one another, it links our past to our future, and it's a return of biblical doctrine to the modern church.  I think we are going there!  (Stay tuned…)

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Seasons are changing! Harvest is coming!

“Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.” –John 4:35 (KJV)

We’re probably all relatively familiar with this scripture.  Jesus had just ministered to the woman at the well and she had just left her water pot, and had gone running to tell others about Him.  His disciples were perplexed. First, they didn’t think He should be talking to a Samaritan.  Secondly, they were sure He shouldn’t be talking to a woman, and certainly not this one with such a reputation.  And thirdly, they thought that He should be hungry, but He had made a statement that they didn’t understand about having “meat to eat” that they didn’t know about.

Jesus is often very perplexing, even today.  He doesn’t see things as we sometimes do, through the eyes of doubt, fear, unforgiveness, prejudice, racism, sexism, carnality, or any of these other human discriminating traits that we so often struggle with.  He has the ability to see things from the Father’s perspective.  Of course He does!  He is God after all, even though He was in human flesh.  Yet, His way of seeing things is very hard to comprehend from our perspective.

When Jesus spoke this sentence above to His disciples.  I suppose it must have been in late winter or early spring of the year in His region, nearly planting time.  I say this because He specifically mentions four months until harvest season.  He told His disciples not to say there was “yet four months… then cometh harvest.”  

Related imageThe disciples were ‘stuck’, seeing things through human eyes.  While Jesus saw things from the divine perspective.  Men cannot make the harvest come at planting season.  It’s even somewhat hard to even imagine it.  For us in Northern Ohio, it would be like expecting a crop of corn or beans to mature in May.  It is not going to happen in the natural.

Jesus, however, knew some things that the disciples didn’t.  He knew that God’s timetable isn’t like our own.  He knew that ‘spiritual seasons’, can change instantly! You can be in mid-winter, and one breath of God can change the season to harvest!  He, also knew that seeds which had been sown by others before, were ready to spring forth. They were only waiting for a catalyst to bring forth the harvest, He was that catalyst!

Let me urge you all, stop looking through eyes that are dimmed by carnal prejudices and limited earthly expectations.  Begin to see things as God sees them!  Listen to what He is saying.  Even if it perplexes you because it isn’t what you imagined, trust HIM! Jesus is the catalyst! Seasons are changing! Harvest is coming!