Monday, January 12, 2009


Last night, I began to take our church on journey. It is a journey that will cover more than 6000 years, introduce us to 40 writers, only one of which was not a Jew, and take us through 66 books. I am leading our church book by book through the Bible. This is not intended to be an "exhaustive" exposition of each book, but a synopsis of the major themes, truths, and thrusts of Genesis-Revelation. Last night we covered 2000 years, through 50 chapters, of the book of Genesis. We were reminded of the blessed truth that in spite of man's failures, God is faithful. If last night is any indication, it is going to be an exciting journey.

Yesterday (Sunday) morning, I began the book of Nehemiah. I have always loved the book of Nehemiah for several reasons. It is an excellent book to begin a New Year or any year for that matter. It is a book that provides inspiration, motivation, and prioritization as endeavor to do the work God has called us to do.

The name Nehemiah means, "The Lord has comforted." Nehemiah was a man God raised up to accomplish a seemingly impossible task. I believe the book of Nehemiah is one of the greatest books in the Bible to denote the sovereignty of God in the affairs of men. It reminds us that it is no accident that we are where we are in any area of our lives.

Nehemiah held the prestigious position of being a "cupbearer" to the king. The cupbearer would be much like a 'chief of staff' in today's world. He tasted the king's wine before he drank, and the king's food before he ate it. He was a man of impeccable character and integrity.

The Book of Ezra denotes the 1st 3 remnants of Jews who had been allowed to go home, under the decree of Cyrus, to rebuild the Temple. The Book of Nehemiah denotes the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. The temple had been completed for almost 20 years, but the walls and gates remained in ruins. The people were under great "affliction" and "reproach." There was spiritual discouragement, as well as structural depletion.

Nehemiah possessed a heavy burden for the people and the problem. He saw a need, and he cared enough to respond to the need. He wasn't content to ignore the problem and allow someone else to respond to it. He went into his prayer closet and poured out his heart to God, and petitioned God to allow him to become a solution to the problem.

What God accomplished through Nehemiah is almost hard to believe. God worked in the heart of Artaxerxes, a pagan king, and allowed Nehemiah to return home and finish the project in just 52 days. Nehemiah reminds us that when God wants to accomplish His work, He always prepares His workers. He raises up men, women, boys and girls, gives them a blueprint of His plan, and then enables and equips them for the task.

It has been well said, "God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called." Position, power, prestige and possessions have never been a prerequisite to be used of God. In most cases, such things simply get in God's way. God takes the weak and makes them a warrior; God takes the cowardly and makes them courageous; God takes the simple and makes them strong; God takes the foolish and makes them faithful; and, God takes the poor and makes them powerful.

As I said to our people, "I have learned that if I make myself teachable, if I make myself dependable, and if I make myself available; then, I will have made myself USABLE for the glory of God."

I am prayerful that God will use Nehemiah to encourage, enrich, and enlarge the faith of His people to realize that the same God who enabled him is the "same yesterday, today and forever;" and, is able to enable us to accomplish the work to which He has called us.

You may not be called to be qualified, but make sure that you are qualified to be called. Make yourself teachable, dependable and available; and, you will become qualified to be usable.

Looking to Jesus,

Pastor Steve

Friday, January 2, 2009


At the beginning of every year, I find myself reflecting upon the words of the saintly Frances Ridley Havergal:

Another year is dawning,
Dear Father let it be,
In working or in waiting,
Another year with thee.

Another year of progress,

Another year of praise,
Another year of proving,
Thy presence all the days.

Another year of mercies,

Of faithfulness and grace,
Another year of gladness,
The glory of thy face.

Another year of leaning,

Upon thy loving breast,
Another year of trusting,
Of quiet, happy rest.

Another year of service,

Of witness for thy love,
Another year of training,
For holier work above.

Another year is dawning,

Dear Father, let it be,
On earth, or else in heaven,
Another year for thee.

As we have crossed the threshold of 2009, there are several things that I have purposed in my heart to accomplish this year. I have asked God for His favor in 3 specific areas: family, integrity and ministry. I desire to be a more godly husband and father than I've ever been, giving my family the assurance that I am the same man at home that I am at church. If I am not what I am supposed to be for my personal family, then I cannot and will not be what I am supposed to be for my church family.

I desire to be a greater man of integrity than I 've ever been. When I speak of integrity, I am encompassing the gamut of sexual, moral, mental and financial integrity. I desire for truth to dominate my "inward parts." I give God permission to "search me" and "know my heart; "try me" and "know my thoughts...see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." (Psalm 139: 23-24) I want to give no room for compromise with sinful attractions, sensual affections, and sensual ambitions.

Finally, I desire to for God's favor to rest upon my ministry. I believe that the effectiveness of ministry hinges upon family and integrity. When we are real in private, God can use us in public. I have broken down my ministry into 5 basic areas, and I desire more anointing, favor, and power in each area: prayer, preparation, prioritization, preaching and pastoring.

I want to be a greater man of prayer. I want to pray big! I want to shape my will to come in line with His will. I want to stretch my expectation to overlap with God's revelation. I want to dare to launch out into the deep and believe God for things that have no other explanation but Him.

I want to be a greater man of preparation. I want to be a better student of the Word. I want to fall in love, all over again, with the Word of the Lord and the Lord of the Word. I want God to unlock the door to the deep, divine truths of Heaven.

I want to be a greater man of prioritization. I want to "redeem the time" God has allotted me. I want to say "no" to things which interfere and conflict with my Heavenly agenda. I want to say "yes" to things which lead me to the "secret place of the Most High."

I want to be a greater man of preaching. More than I desire anything else, I desire more of God's power, favor, anointing, and blessing upon the spirit of my calling. I desire for the little preacher to become smaller, and the Big Preacher to become bigger. I desire for the Living Word to step off the page of the Written Word into the hearts of people.

I want to be a greater man in regards to pastoring. I want the love of the Chief Shepherd to fill the heart of His under-shepherd. I want to see His people as He sees them. I want to love His people as He loves them. I want the care, concern, and compassion of the Good Shepherd to fill, and flood my heart for His sheep.

Yet, as I enter into this covenant, I immediately affirm that what I am unable to do, He is more than able to "perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." As the "branch" I desire to abide in the "Vine" to bear "fruit," "more fruit," and "much fruit." As the clay, I desire for the Potter to mold me and make me after His will. My answer is "YES," even before I know the question.

Another year is dawning,
Dear Father, let it be,
On earth, or else in Heaven,
Another year for Thee.

May God grant it to be so.

Holding Forth the Word of Life,

Pastor Steve