Thursday, April 25, 2019


Whether one is a pastor, public speaker or professional "life-coach", there is one common denominator. The principle is this - no preparation, no power.

Not being a full time pastor, but a bi-vocational ministry leader for a couple decades now in area-wide men's ministry in Central Illinois, affords increasing opportunity to share the message of the Kingdom, in various venues (including secular ones).

Recently, the privilege to speak at my first Good Friday service was such a time. It demanded a level of preparation and prayer which has led me far into a place, I have never previously been. In reflection, it should have been the first stop. I was asked to speak on Statements 3 and 4 of the Seven Final Statements, which Christ delivered from the Cross. He made those statements just minutes before He paid the ultimate price for all sin, of all mankind, for all time.

For weeks, I struggled with how to present Statement 3 from the Cross, which can be found in John 19:26b-27: "“Woman, behold, your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” That is, until days before I was to speak, I cried to Jesus and asked Him "Lord, these are Your do I present them at this service?"

As I sat outside the church in my car, half hour before the noon service, in tears, the enormity of what had occurred during Holy Week, how I got there and what it took was just too overwhelming. Operating within the confines of the Word and the Holy Spirit is not only empowering, but liberating at the same time. In essence, it drives us to even more distance between us and the foolishness of this current world. In practice, it moves us towards Holiness.

Several lessons were taught to me which can be universal, if observed by anyone who is called to inspire, encourage and/or move others to action in service of the Kingdom of God. In short, here they are:
     -  Jesus has all the answers! We may think that we are wise. We are nothing outside of Christ. It does not matter if you are "Reverend Dr. So and So", or a seminary dropout like me - without His Knowledge and Power, we can DO NOTHING!

     -  Humility is key. You can read all the Hebrew and Greek and google Bible passages on every topic under the sun. Until we realize that we are like the disciple in John 19:27 who was "volun-told" by Jesus "Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” From that hour the disciple took her into his own household.", we are operating in pride.

    -  Put your own agenda to the side. One of the greatest speakers in America in 1863 was the former Secretary of State Edward Everett. On November 19, 1863, on the National Cemetery Dedication at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. He spoke for 2 hours at this event. The very next speaker spoke for only 2 minutes.  That final speaker was President Abraham Lincoln, whose two-minute "Gettysburg Address" remains one of the greatest speeches in history.  We, who speak in the Name of Jesus, from the Bible, represent the King. We are commissioned, from Scripture, as His Ambassadors. We are not here to promote ourselves, our products or our performances. We are to proclaim the Savior and love His people, by encouraging them. Strangely, this sounds like the Two Greatest Commandments!

     -  Listen, then follow directions. The Holy Spirit is not just the Power of God living in the lives of authentic born-again disciples of Christ. He is God. When He speaks, we should listen. We all have ignored the prompting of the Spirit's leading too many times to count. When we do listen, however, the results are incredible. The key to listening is all of the above: Jesus, humility and putting Him first. All three items above reduce our tendency to operate in the flesh, to even sin and to remove obstacles which prevent the Spirit's free flow in us. When we ask a question in Prayer, He will respond 100% of the time. Then when we pay attention AND DO what He says, the fruit is immediately obvious. 

It is really this clear-cut. The simplicity and beauty of the Lord and the Kingdom, to which where ordinary men and women are fortunate to be blessed to be called, are not to be dismissed. This brief discourse may seem elementary and ho-hum or even trivial to the over-educated or the weak and non-believing, but yet, it remains the internal combustion which ignites great men of great power and preaching like D.L. Moody, Billy Graham, Luis Palau and Greg Laurie to lead countless millions in total, over a lifetime.

Do not neglect the basic road map to the exciting life in His Kingdom. This road map will surely direct our journey towards the life powered by prayer, to a place called "the realm of Holiness". Many will seek, few will find. Those who are wise, will shine.

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