So many churches today are limited in their outreach because they have no power. They go through the motions because they have pastors and leaders with no power who do not grow, bear no fruit and, many times, get stuck in a rut.
But please know I am not here to cast stones. I am here to throw out a lifeline and to tell you it's not too late, but time is of the essence.
There IS good news for you. If God were done with you, you wouldn't be here, and probably wouldn't still be in your place for ministry. Quite simply, you know the solution as well as I do. We have two natures, the flesh and the spirit and the one we feed is the one that will prevail. The second bit of good news is that our struggle is nothing new. Paul puts it like this in his letter to the Christians in Rome:
"For what I am doing, I do not understand, for I do not practice what I will to do, but I do the very thing I hate. But if I practice what I do not will to do, I agree with the law that it is good. So now it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwells no good thing, for the will to do what is right is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good I desire to do, I do not do, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who does it, but sin that lives in me." (Rom. 7:15-20, MEV).
But his struggle and final conclusion is timeless and worthy of your consideration:
"I find then a law that when I desire to do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God according to the inner man, but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then, with my mind, I serve the law of God, but with my flesh, the law of sin" (Rom. 7:21-25, MEV).
I think that sometimes we lose sight of the fact that we are in a war and our mind is the prize for the enemy. It may not feel like war in your favorite chair late at night, television clicker in hand. But it is in those hours of rest and solitude that we are often most vulnerable to attack.
I have put together a short list of questions that, if fully considered and weighed carefully, could serve to shed light on the dark places where Satan hides. I challenge you to carefully consider each question and then to actually put pen to paper and answer these questions.
- If Satan wanted to keep you from drawing near to God, what would he do?
- If Satan wanted to keep you from God's Word and quality prayer time, how would he do it?
- If Satan knew where to tempt you, where you are most vulnerable to temptation, what would He do?
- If God wanted to tell you everything you need to know, how would He communicate that to you?
I want to leave you with two very powerful thoughts to consider in the form of two final questions. Too many pastors have what is referred to as a "messiah complex." This, when played out in actuality, basically means that you feel if you were to be gone for a period of time or miss some part of your church life, then everything would fall apart, offerings would plummet, and attendance would suffer greatly.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that too, my friend, is carnality—an emphasis on your efforts and your presence and what you bring to the table—and thus your church or ministry will never grow beyond what you are able to do.
Two Powerful Final Questions
- When is the last time you truly felt renewed?
- When is the last time you truly felt transformed?
Renewal is so critical to your leadership and your capacity for dealing with the many things that come your way—the daily and weekly grind. Transformation requires that you continue to grow, that you continue to go deeper. It requires seeking and knocking and worship and acknowledging the simple truth that there is more. There is always more, a next season, and another dimension to your God that you have yet to discover.
I believe God sits ready to reveal more and more to you and continue to transform you as He prepares you for all that He is about to do through you. That is why it is more critical than ever to have clean hands, and a pure heart.
I would like to leave you with a final suggestion. As I began to embark on some of the projects I am involved in right now, I became overwhelmed at the gravity and weight of being responsible for representing and carrying the presence of God to others. I felt compelled immediately to consider holiness and purity and clean hands as imperatives.
This meant that carnality could not be a toy I tinkered with or a place I could visit the way I had been doing. And while my temptations and vulnerabilities may not be yours and vice versa, we all have our something.
It was in this thought process and prayer that the Lord reminded me of the priests that would have to enter the Holy of Holies and minister in the very presence of God. Some could not keep themselves pure or were too casual in their approach to a Holy God, and subsequently they would die—God would simply end their time of service in a very final way. So what they had to do was to put bells on the ankles of the priests, and as long as that bell was ringing, the people knew they were still alive.
Call me crazy, but I went out and purchased a bell. Actually, I went to the local craft store and purchased several small bells. One is a pretty good sized one, about three inches tall, that sits in front of my television set. Then I have a few other small ones that I have placed strategically as well. And then there is the one in my pocket. Most are so small that most people do not notice them in my office or even next to my bed, but I know they are there and I know what they mean. They are there to remind me of the importance of clean hands, and a pure heart. They serve to remind me that I do not simply want to have the form of godliness. I need the power. So do you.
Renewal. Transformation. Holiness. Confession. Repentance. Focus. Discipline. Love. These are the signs that mark the path we must follow. They light our way and make us vessels of light in a dark, dark world. I pray your bell continues to ring for many years.
Rich Rogers is the editorial director for Jentezen Franklin's Kingdom Connection Free Chapel. He is also the author of Next Level Living and Next Level Parenting (both Charisma House Books).
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