When We Say, “I Can’t” & God Says, “You Won’t”

In his weekly installment, J. D. Greear discusses the small areas of disbelief in our hearts that lead to large areas of disaster in our lives. Here’s an excerpt:

Here’s a question we should all ask ourselves: What small area of disbelief is lurking in my heart? Where am I saying, “I can’t” but God says, “No, you won’t”? You see, every one of us has unconquered “lands of Canaan” in our heart. Lurking in every crevice of our lives are little pockets of unbelief and sin. And left alone, they will do more damage than the iron-clad Canaanites ever did.

Read the full post here.

The Phases of Leadership: Adjustment

In this series of posts concerning five phases a church must learn and experience in order to either move toward or remain in a state of growth and health I have identified the first three: Assessment, Identification, and Vision Development. Now comes the fourth phase, which is often the most difficult. It is called Adjustment.

In the Adjustment phase leaders are finally forced to make real decisions. Based upon the research done in Assessment, the profile created through Identification and the new plan established in Vision Development, it is now time for real action. The theoretical and theological meet the practical.

It is not enough to simply come up with a plan. I have seen far too many churches work through a Vision Development process, come up with pithy and clever banners and bumper stickers and then never put anything into action. One of the reasons I believe this occurs is they miss this crucial next step. The last phase is Implementation which I will discuss next time. Many want to hop right to that and at best, they often see short term results only. That is because they did not prepare the people and the pathway first. Adjustment does that.

In the Adjustment phase, certain things might have to be stopped or started. People, programs, projects, budgets and more might all need to be moved and tweaked in order for the actual vision plan to work. This process includes both spiritual and practical adjustment. This level of honesty and leadership requires courage and faith and frankly, guts.

It is crucial that a legitimate Assessment and Identification phase be carried out to prepare the church for the most objectively biblical process at this stage possible. Adjustment cannot be based on subjective opinion. That is how wars begin. Instead it must be based upon the careful study and teaching of Scripture already conducted in these earlier phases leading to the development of the new plan. That provides the best chance for people to understand why change is needed and what change is going to need to take place.

I strongly encourage you to bring your lay leaders along with you during this entire process so that when this point hits, they are on the same page with you. Teach and warn your people about the process that is taking place so they will be ready also. Then, based upon the best knowledge you could research, begin to change those things that will sit on the tracks and prevent the train from moving forward.

You must develop clear pathways to defined standards and outcomes. But then you must actually determine and engage in a process to walk down those paths. How many obstacles stand in the way? What are they? What has to be done to remove them? Adjustment means I identify these existing barriers and start and stop to get them out of the way for the vision plan to be implemented. Sometime read Isaiah 62:10. Hear the prophet declare how the stones must be removed so a highway can be built up for the people. Stone removal. I call that real Adjustment!

Marks of Revival Movements for Leaders

In 2014 current SBC President Ronnie Floyd issued a call entitled  Pleading with Southern Baptists  calling for a focus on revival prayer. Last fall Dr. Floyd asked me to address almost 100 SBC leaders about the need for and nature of revival. I shared with them five marks of awakenings gleaned from past movements. These do not represent an exhaustive list, but in my mind are critical for our times. The first two marks would surprise no one familiar with God’s work in past revival movements. The next two may surprise some, and the final mark surprised me, as it represents an aspect of awakening I missed in my years of study but saw clearly in seasons of real revival in my own experience and in that of friends.

1. Deep, burdened, desperate prayer. Matthew Henry said, “When God begins a work, He sets His people to praying.” John Knox prayer, “Give me Scotland, or I die.” As a boy, Jonathan Edwards made a booth in the woods and prayed five times a day. No wonder he wrote a treatise on prayer in the middle of the First Great Awakening.

Baptist pastors Stephen Gano and Isaac Backus sent a circular letter in 1795 to pastors of all denominations in New England calling for a concert of prayer, using Edwards’ treatise on prayer in their exhortation. Within a few years the Second Great Awakening came. A group of college guys prayed under a haystack in 1806; as a result the first movement of global missions on American soil was born out of this “Haystack Revival.” Jeremiah Lanphier experienced a prayer revival out of a prayer meeting in 1857 in New York City. On and on the examples go.

Leonard Ravenhill said when it comes to praying for revival, God does not answer prayer, He answers desperate prayer. For what are you praying in holy desperation?

2. A radical passion to win the world to Jesus. Movements of revival send believers into the culture to win people at all costs. John Wesley, a proper, Oxford trained Anglican, wrote in his journal that he doubted whether a person could be saved outside a church building. But when revival came he found himself reaching a whole population by preaching in the fields. Edwards noted that when rescuing people from a burning house, they had no time to fight one another. In the same way, when we focus on advancing the gospel, we build each other up instead of tearing each other down. In the Jesus Movement, a trio of pastors in their pressed suits came upon some Jesus freakish hippies sharing Jesus on the street.

“What are you doing?” A pastor asked a young man. “Sir, we are doing what you just talk about,” the young believer replied. Ouch. When is the last time you were so broken for a lost person you became less concerned about methods or being proper and more broken to show and share Christ?

3. Youth play a vital role. Jonathan Edwards said the Great Awakening was mostly a youth movement. I’ve read countless primary accounts of revival movements from history; youth figure prominently in around 90% I have read. Spurgeon preached to thousands in London in his early 20s. Whitefield preached across the colonies at 25. Brainerd and McCheyne died before they turned 30 yet we remember well their valiant ministries.

If you are middle aged or older, be aware: you and I are not likely to be the people who start a revival, but we certainly have the influence to kill one. What are you doing to involve young people and to allow them to lead?

4. Social justice: in awakenings, people are reach, churches are planted, and orphanages are established. Whitefield spread the Great Awakening across the colonies. He also founded an orphanage called Bethesda in Georgia. Spurgeon, Spener, and others had orphanages as well. Numerous other social enterprises had their genesis in revival movements.

Millennials love causes. If we want to impact a younger generation note this: before they will join in our causes we have to care about theirs. What are you doing about the brokenness in our land and in your community?

5. Here is the one I missed: in revival, leaders get right. Isaiah was the most godly man in the land, yet he was ruined by his own sin. Edwards wept in his church as Whitefield preached. Brainerd lay in the snow, coughing up blood from tuberculosis, begging God to save the Indians.
Leaders can so easily isolate themselves from accountability and thus from confronting their own sin.

Who is in your life that can call you out? Note: you can be in the middle of the activity of God and miss Him. I know I am experiencing revival personally when I stop confessing the sins of others and look in my own heart. When is the last time you were broken personally and sought God to revive your heart? God is stirring the hearts of many. Let’s join together, seek the Lord, and be available for His Spirit to use us.

Note: I’ve written a bit on this topic.  See Firefall 2.0 and Revival Revived.

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