Great day today in our final day of District Council. Tonight we had dinner with Keith and Joy and Peter & Tammy. Good times as usual. The longer I live the more I appreciate friends in ministry. Mine have been the healing balm for my soul or the catalyst for me to laugh again more times than I can possibly count.
I have been so blessed by the messages in the services. Last night was missions night and Dan Betzer (our asst. sup and pastor of one of the greatest churches in existence today) did an absolute "knock it out of the ballpark" night as he usually does on missions night. This year was especially different. He spoke on hurt and betrayal in ministry. He has just experienced his worst in his entire ministry in the past month. You can tell, his heart is absolutely broken. Larry and I are still shaking our heads shell shocked at the whole thing, as well as a lot of other people. But God's grace to bear up under it is nothing short of amazing. Bro. Betzer shared about how in a total miracle of God despite this trial he and the church have been faced with, they just went above and beyond their goals in raising the finances to build churches in India. What a communicator he is and having him stand up and bare his heart before the pastors and open up as he did was just amazing. Two important things he also shared about attack, betrayal and hurt in ministry were that first of all Paul went through it...he said, "I bear in my body the marks..." and the other thing is with the armor of God you are only protected on the front, as you FACE THE ENEMY HEAD ON. Good stuff there. I'm telling you, I was amazed at how God moved. Last night in one evening we raised $2,510,000 for the India project!!!
Tonight, Steve Brown, District Sup from South Carolina was the speaker and we were all so blessed by his message. Here are some takeaways from his message tonight:
- Paul was very transparent about going through stress in the ministry. He admitted to being stressed, being scared, etc.
"We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many." II Corinthians 1:8-11
- There are principles in God's Word for dealing with pastoral stress. The Bible says Paul dealt with beasts in Ephesus. (And not four legged ones!)
- It is at the limits of our strength and resources that we encounter God's strength and resources.
- Why should God give us any more power when we aren't using the little we already have?
- Ask yourself: what in your ministry experience have you ever done that has extended your faith further than ever before?
- When dealing with Goliath, the people thought, "he's too big to kill" while David thought, "he's too big to miss!"
Three things you need to be able to step into the supernatural power of God:
- 1) Willingness to live on the edge.
- 2) Willingness to press on to tap into the inexhaustible resources of God.
Past deliverances provide assurance of future hope.
God uses difficult people in our present or past to prepare us for difficult individuals that we will deal with in our ministry in the future.
Paul said, "...He saved us from the threat of death..." there are things you can't learn from a book, only by experience.
"Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:21-23
- 3) Turn to other ministers in the body of Christ - lean on one another.
Question: How are you? Answer: "I'm fine..." "Great..."
We say these things yet we are bleeding inside. Remember, top flight leaders are not born or even made. Circumstances reach in and pull them out to stand in a place and time to see victory!!
- Remember leadership is not only an honor, it's an adventure!
- Keep dreaming... your dream can never be too ridiculous when you are acquainted with the one who knows no limits. The sooner you get to the end of your capacity the sooner you'll discover His.
These were great thoughts tonight from Bro. Steve Brown and we couldn't amen them enough. Good stuff. After service we went for coffee and dessert (translation for Larry and I - water and orange slices and salad!) with a bunch of friends and talked til 1 am...now I'm blogging and hitting the sack. It's a little after 2 am now...in the morning we'll get up and come back to life in Tampa. We've been working from the road and in between meetings a bit however we have a LOT of loose ends to tie up for this weekend at Northside. It helps much that we have been spiritually refreshed in our time here in Orlando.