Ask and You’ll Receive

December 11, 2008

I had a recent appointment with a young pastor who came to to ask me questions about the ministry. As we spoke together, he brought out a notebook and asked, “You have been in the ministry for a long time. If you could have done anything differently, what would that be?”

I told him that I would make sure to take a day off every week.

When I was a young pastor, I did ministry seven days a week. I loved the Lord and I had a lot of energy. I wanted to do everything possible to help others know that Jesus Christ is alive. I warned this young leader that a person can get into trouble doing too many good things, just like we can get ourselves into trouble by doing bad things. As we grow older, our vision for what we hope our lives will accomplish continues to grow, but our energy level drops. If we continue to live at a pace that is too intense it wears us down and robs us of our health. I learned this lesson the hard way and spent four weeks in hospitals in 1994 recuperating from exhaustion.

I encouraged my new friend to guard his marriage. Staying close to your wife is essential for a healthy marriage. Ministry has many blessings as well as temptations. Some leaders blow up their marriages because they have lost touch with their spouse in the busyness of ministry.

A lot of what people perceive success in ministry as simply the recognition of men. All of us who abide in Christ bear fruit for the Lord. It appears that some are much more fruitful than others; but in reality, we are all sharing in the great work of building the body of Christ and we will all be rewarded by God for our labor.

After our talk, I was left with a strong impression of this young pastor. It is not what I told him that will make all the difference in his life. The fact that he is seeking wisdom from other leaders shows something special about him. The fact that he is humble and wise enough to make an appointment, ask the questions, and take down notes, gives me confidence that God will reward him with insights and understanding.

Jesus said, “Ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened.”

May we all keep asking, seeking and knocking on the Lord’s door.

The Lord of heaven wants to give us wisdom and understanding because he is committed to the expansion of His kingdom. He loves to bless us. That is why God sent Jesus to give his life for us.

A Healthy Local Church

November 26, 2008

A friend asked me recently, “Did you ever think when you started Living Streams in your living room that it would become a church this big?

“Yes”, I replied, “I just never thought it would take this long.”

My desire from the day we started Living Streams, with one other family on the last Sunday in September 1984, has been to plant a healthy local church. A healthy church has members who love God and love each other. A healthy church should have people from every part of the local community; young and old, rich and poor. Every race and ethnic group should be represented in the family of God.

We have grown into a healthy church over these past years, but it has taken longer than I expected. I have learned that God is not in a hurry for us to accomplish His purposes. Healthy growth cannot be hastened. It has a pace that can be sustained without compromising character or integrity.

Jesus said that the Kingdom of God is like a man who plants a mustard seed. It starts as a small seed and grows into a big tree where the birds of the air can make their nests. Big trees need deep roots to support the tree when the wind blows. Sooner or later, strong winds of adversity blow against us all. When it seems like we are not able to grow outwardly, it is often because we are in a season that requires us to get deeper roots if we are to stay healthy.

The Lord has a big plan and a long term strategy for the growth of His kingdom on the earth. He wants us to bear fruit that remains, so that we leave a legacy of fruitfulness. None of us can bear this fruit alone. We have been placed into the family of God so that we can bear good fruit together.

Every believer is called to do ministry and every ministry has great significance. The Spirit inspires us with dreams and visions that motivate us to pursue God’s purposes. No matter how long your dreams take to be fulfilled, remember the power and faithfulness of the Lord will bring them to fulfillment.

Now to Him who can do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Galatians 3:20-21.