A Passionate Prayer Life

passionate_prayer_lifeA PASSIONATE PRAYER LIFE
by: Sandy Domelle

1 Samuel 1:1 – 2:11

I have always loved studying the women of the Bible. Recently the Sunday school lessons at our church have been on several different women in the Bible. I love digging into the lives of these women because by their actions they set the example of what I need to be. In some cases, I learn from their great characteristics, and in others I learn by seeing the mess they made of their life and how careful I need to be in doing right. Time after time you see how their actions and decisions affected their family’s lives for generations.

One of my favorite women of the Bible is Hannah. When you look at many of the great men in the Bible and of today, many of them have come from homes where they had a godly mother who influenced them for right. I think that’s why it’s so very important that we

as women are in our Bibles and praying like we should. We are the Holy Spirit of the home, and we influence our families strongly in every area. I want to be very careful to be influencing for the right and not for what is easy or what I prefer over what God’s will is for us. Hannah was a godly mother.

When we read about Hannah’s life, we see that she could not have a child and desperately wanted one. This was something that she wanted so much that her heart was grieved to the point that she wept and went without eating. This was something that obviously consumed her. Her husband, Elkanah, had a second wife whose name was Peninnah, and we see in verse 2 that she had children. As we read verses 6-7, we see that Hannah lived with an adversary who provoked her because she couldn’t have a child. “And her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the Lord had shut up her womb. And as he did so year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord, so she provoked her; therefore she wept, and did not eat.” The word “adversary” is single, and many believe her adversary to be Peninnah. I can’t imagine how hard it was for Hannah to live in the same household, day after day, and seeing Peninnah’s children about, seeing how she dealt with her children, seeing her loving on her children. This had to be part of what grieved Hannah. Deep inside of her, she felt the need to have a child of her own.

You can’t help but think that Hannah might have had that woman’s intuition that we seem to have that she was to have a child, so her desire is what pushed her to keep begging God for a child. I love that she put action to her desire. She was so intent on having this child that the Bible says she wept sore at the temple. She knew if she wanted a child, the only One Who could give it to her was God. She was so intent in her prayer, so consumed and wrapped up in her prayer, that Eli the priest thought she was drunk. Hannah vowed to God that if He gave her a man child, she would give him back to the Lord. In verse 11 it says, “And she vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head.”

God heard her and gave her a son, Samuel, and she kept her promise to give him back to the Lord. There are so many truths that can be learned through this story, but the one thing that stands out the most to me is Hannah’s passionate prayer life. Do you have something you need answered today? We all know we have a great God Who can answer any prayer we have, but sometimes He wants to see how badly we want it.

Here’s a few things I learned from Hannah’s passionate prayer life.

1. Pray specifically! She knew exactly what she wanted, and she prayed exactly for that. She didn’t get sidetracked, she was consumed by it. When you read 1 Samuel 1:11, we see that even though God knew everything about her, she still was specific in asking Him, “if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid,” She wanted to tell Him about her closed womb, and was specific in telling Him her affliction. Yes, God knew about it, but she was reminding Him. She then asked the Lord, “and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid,” She knew that there were many people with needs and sorrows, but this prayer request was so important to her she wanted God to remember her and not forget her. She was also very specific in asking for a son, “but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child,” She didn’t ask for a daughter, but a son whom she could give back to Him, “then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head.” How specific are you in your prayer life?

One thing I’ve learned in the past few years is to be more specific with my prayers. As a parent, we can have a child come and ask us for something they think they need. Sometimes that need may seem very frivolous to us and they may ask flippantly at first. But, the more specific they are in telling us why they need it, the more important we see it is to them, and even see more of the need of why it will benefit them, the more apt we are to help meet this need. I want to go to God and be so detailed and specific with Him that as I pour my heart out to Him, He understands and sees my need. I’m presenting a detailed case before Him.

2. Pray Persistently! Hannah was persistent in her prayer life. I can say that most of my prayers I don’t feel are answered immediately. Many of them take time. I’m like most women, we aren’t very patient, and we are always trying to speed things along in our day. The benefit of praying persistently about something is that it grows us. With our daughter, I don’t always give in to something she may want. But, when she persistently comes to me about it, I am more apt to give in because she is persistent, and I see how much it means to her.

When I am tempted to give up on something I am praying about, I always tell myself the answer is around the corner. I love that saying, God’s answers are rarely early, never late, but ALWAYS on time.  In our family we’ve prayed for other family members for years to get saved. I think often of how many of them may not be in Heaven had we all quit praying and not been persistent with the Saviour. How sad it will be when we get to Heaven and find out that there were many answers to prayer we could’ve had if we had just been persistent.

3. Pray Believing! I believe there is power in prayer! I know I personally cannot see answers to prayer unless I believe God can and will do it. The verse I choose to use as my life verse is Luke 1:37, “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” As humans, we often look at the things we are praying for and can’t figure out how in the world they can be answered. It’s not up to what we think, but up to the One Who can do far more than we can ask or think. Ephesians 3:20 says, “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,” There are days when I have to claim every verse I can think of, there are days I feel that I just don’t understand. But, when I lean on different Scriptures like, Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” I realize I have to keep believing God will come through even when I don’t understand. Hannah prayed until she got an answer from God. She believed God could and would answer her. I’m sure there were times when she looked at Peninnah’s children and wondered if God was going to answer her prayer. She just had to keep believing that God was going to hear her. Do you believe God can and will answer your prayers?

Here are some additional things that I learned from Hannah’s life.

Praise God for answers to prayer! Once she received the answer to her prayer, she didn’t forget about God until the next time she needed something. Hannah praised Him in chapter 2:1-10. Be sure that when you see answers to prayer you praise God and thank Him for what He’s done. Don’t be afraid to share with others what God has done for you! There’s no greater way to encourage others to keep praying than to share your answers to prayer. I love hearing how God answered someone else’s prayer. There’s an excitement in hearing what God has done that motivates me to keep praying and waiting to see what God will do with what I am praying about.

Don’t be selfish! Hannah wasn’t selfish with what God gave her. She made a vow to God that she would give Samuel back to Him and she followed through. Because she did this and followed God’s will for her life, God used her to produce the greatest prophet in the Bible, Samuel, who was known as the “king maker.” Samuel anointed both kings, Saul & David, and from David’s lineage came Jesus. You can’t help but see the blessings that came to Hannah for following through. Not only did God bless her with Samuel, but if you look in 1 Samuel 2:21, “And the Lord visited Hannah, so that she conceived, and bare three sons and two daughters. And the child Samuel grew before the Lord.” God did bless her with more than what she could’ve asked.

Do you have some prayers you need answered? Do you desire to see God work through your prayers? I encourage you, read through the life of Hannah, claim the things above and get passionate with your prayer life!

Oh No, Not Another Proverbs 31 Article!

By: Bette Owens

How many times have we tried to be the “SUPER MOM?” Yet, end up frustrated, yelling and snapping at everyone. The world of being a good wife and mother is no different from any other area of our Christian life. The reason we feel frustrated is because we are frustrated. There is not one area in our lives that we don’t need God’s Word to change us and His strength to help us live our lives.

I have read many articles on the Proverbs 31 woman, and to tell you the truth, I get tired of them. It seems as I read them, I always fail to do everything perfectly right. God’s Word is not just a repair manual. Fix this part, do this activity a little differently, add this ingredient; is that really what Proverbs 31 is all about? God’s Word has a 100% guarantee; if we follow the instructions, we will get the results. The instructions I understand from His Word are to seek Him daily and let Him work through me and change or repair me.

When I read Proverbs 31, I see a woman who fears the Lord. A woman who has a lot of wisdom from spending time in the Bible. She is a woman with a strong work ethic, and a lot of character. A woman with this kind of character has to have a close walk with God. A woman with this kind of character will have a husband who sees his wife as a woman who fears the Lord. She will look beautiful to him because of her commitment to the Lord. We have a very bad tendency to get this all backwards.

We make a list of all the things that the Proverbs 31 woman did and we try to do them. Then, we add other requirements that sound good to us. After all, the Proverbs 31 woman is a “SUPER MOM.” She works so hard, her house is always spotless and her family is “perfect.” Let’s not add to God’s Word.

Does this list sound familiar?

Her house is never dusty.
You can eat off her floors.
She does all the housework herself while her children play on the Wii.
Her children never fight.
Her children are never rude.
Her children are all straight “A” students.
Her hair is always fixed perfectly and she never has a hair out of place.
She never makes a bad decision.
She is a Sunday school teacher, nursery worker, helps at school and volunteers for everything.
She stays up late and gets up early.
She does everything and never even needs help (she doesn’t really need her husband).

No wonder we snap and feel frustrated! Do you remember reading about Mary and Martha? I wonder if one of them had a list like this? We need to tear up this list and grab our Bibles. If we are spending time in His Word and in prayer, sitting at His feet and letting Him work through us, our lives will reflect what we read in Proverbs 31. It is not doing these things that make us a Proverbs 31 woman. It is a right heart, it is a walk with God. There are many unsaved and ungodly women who accomplish many things on this list, and some even strive to do this list and more, but they are not Proverbs 31 women.

In Proverbs 31:30 it says, “…but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.” We become a Proverbs 31 woman by loving the Lord and serving Him. It’s not a list of things we do, but it is Him that puts these qualities in our lives. Can’t you see it is Him working through us? We just need to get to know Him. Without Him these things don’t mean anything. When we get this in the right order, God first, then all these things we are supposed to be and do, He makes possible. He gives us the wisdom and strength to be the wife and mother He wants us to be.

Did God tell us about this amazing woman in Proverbs 31 so that we would strive to be like her? No! Perhaps, if we walk with God, have godly wisdom and love Him, the result will be a Proverbs 31 woman. Proverbs 31 doesn’t say who can build, make or accomplish a virtuous woman. It says, “Who can find…” You can find yourself being one if you walk with Him, love Him and seek His wisdom.

Proverbs 31:30-31 says, “Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.”

Bette Owens
Pastor’s wife
Westside Baptist Church
Pacifica, CA

Surviving in a Split Home

surviving_split_homeSURVIVING IN A SPLIT HOME
by: Tim Forgy

Living in a split home often creates situations that defy anyone to survive, much less thrive and flourish. Step moms, step dads, step siblings, new personalities, separate houses, different rules, divided loyalties – these are some of the unique challenges that many children face today as a result of desertion, divorce, death, or even the incarceration of a parent. How is it possible to successfully navigate the minefield of a home that seems, just as you figure out how to get through the field without setting off any explosives, the pattern of the mines gets shifted around on you and BOOM! you’re lying on your back wondering what happened this time?

It’s not possible to guide you step-by-step around each mine, but maybe we can look at a principle or two and a few practical tips that will help you figure out where the explosives are buried and help you avoid setting them off. Wouldn’t it be great if you were a SURVIVOR of a split home, and not just another wounded casualty who couldn’t make it through?!

Things work out best for those who make the best of the way things work out.

“Hey! Wait a minute! Don’t put pressure on ME to succeed! I didn’t create the minefield. It’s not my fault this happened.” I hear you…and you’re right. You didn’t wish for the home situation you are in, but you ARE in it. There’s no sense in denying your reality or fantasizing to escape your reality. The only rational approach to survival is to face your situation and deal with it as it is, not as you wish it would be. You’ve got to get over the self-pity attitude that will trap you in the prison of failure and unhappiness. (And by the way, anger is just an aggressive form of self-pity, so don’t think you’ve risen above feeling sorry for yourself if you are angry at your situation.)

The facts are what they are. If you are in a split home, then you must make the most of it if you want to survive. Stop wishing things could be like they were or like you want them to be. God will walk you through your situation, and bring you through with grace and joy if you will (A) acknowledge your reality, and (B) acknowledge Him. (Proverbs 3:5-6) What a fantastic promise from God that “He will direct your paths…” even through the minefield of a split home.

Dealing with divided parents:

Ok, if you’re still reading, I’m assuming you are mature enough, or at least curious enough, to want to know how to survive in a split home. Let’s look at how we should relate to the authority in the home first. Depending on your situation, you may be dealing with a single parent, divided parents, or step-parents. Whatever your specific situation, don’t forget the very first principle we discussed: “Things work out best for those who make the best of the way things work out.” Working to make the best of your situation always brings a better result and smoother relationships than whining and complaining and pouting about it.

Single Parent

If life has left you in a single-parent home, you face some challenges that, if overcome, will cause you to grow and mature quickly in many areas. Parenting can be a stressful job in the best of situations, but one parent trying to fill both roles could stress even the wisest and most patient human who ever lived. Try to understand that they are carrying a load that you cannot even begin to understand. I understand that you also are carrying a heavy burden, but you are going to have to grow up, get over yourself, and cut your mom or dad some slack!

A single parent faces financial uncertainty, emotional stress, peer pressure, and the constant feelings of being inadequate to fill two roles. It would be in your best interest NOT to be another source of stress for your parent. They are carrying a double load. It’s time for you to grow up and step up and start helping to carry some of that load instead of complaining that they are not doing it well enough! Help remove some of the stress by repeating these words as often as you are asked to do something – “Yes, Ma’am” or “Yes Sir.” Look for ways to ease the burden instead of adding to the burden. Sacrifice some of your own rights and pick up some more of the responsibility that has to be carried. If you will defuse the stress of any one person carrying too much of the load, you can avoid the destruction that could come from a “pressure” explosion.

Divided Parents

Whether you live with one parent and occasionally see your other parent, or you have some form of split living arrangement, interacting with both parents separately provides some unique challenges. Divided loyalty is a very common pitfall you will need to avoid. Choosing a favorite parent and measuring the other parent against that standard is unfair and ungodly. Most often, the favorite parent is the one who lets the children do as they please without setting any boundaries. Keep in mind that good pet owners don’t let their dogs roam free, and good parents don’t let their children walk through life without any restraint. Regardless of the reason, don’t play one parent off the other, and don’t mistreat one parent to punish them. Obey Bible principles in both houses, and you will strengthen your relationship with God and your ability to stand for right.

It is not necessary to have a favorite parent in this situation. You may feel that one of your parents is the reason for the split – don’t fall into the trap of judging what you are not wise enough to discern. Love both of your parents equally and treat them with equal respect. The beauty of love is that you can give all the love you have to one parent, then still have more than enough love to give to the other parent. Follow these steps and you will avoid the explosion of hurt feelings and resentment.

Step Parents

A step parent brings another set of unique challenges to face. It is very easy to take out your anger, your hurt, your sadness, your bitterness, or even your guilt on a step parent. They are an easy target simply because they are going to make enough mistakes trying to find their place in the home and in your life, that you will have no end to the list of reasons you can use to justify using them as a target for your negative feelings. Let me give you several quick helps for dealing with a step parent:

  • Give them time to get to know you.
  • Move toward them — show some interest in getting to know them and letting them get to know you. Don’t make them work to love you, make it easy.
  • Don’t be easily hurt or offended by them. Step parents are in a tough spot—trying to be your friend while having to be your boss, while you often want them to be neither. Understand that they are doing the best they can, and are probably not intentionally trying to ruin your life or make you hate them.
  • Be happy that your other parent is happy. Don’t resent that they have filled an empty spot in their life, while your emptiness remains unfilled. Be happy for them. Hey, go ahead and live unselfishly for a change – it’ll do you good!
  • Submit to both of the authorities in the home as if they have been placed in your life by God – they were! Submitting to a step parent that you don’t feel you should have to obey is just like submitting to God. Refusing to submit to a step parent is the same as refusing to submit to God. (Tough, but true.)
  • Be a peacemaker in the home. There will be plenty of natural conflict in a step-parent situation. Look for ways to sow peace.

Dealing with step parents requires you to look past your own feelings and behave in a mature, selfless manner – much like Jesus must have done. If you learn to do that well, you will avoid the constant explosions that selfish living brings about.

Step siblings

Many of the tips for dealing with step parents also apply to dealing with step siblings. Here are a few others that may help you:

  • Do not be jealous of them.
  • Have an open mind when they join your family (or you join theirs).
  • Be friendly. If you want a good relationship, a little friendliness and good manners go a long way.
  • Be kind.
  • Don’t make it a competition in any way. Find your place in the home, accept it, and make the most of it. You are an important part of the family. Don’t feel either inferior or superior.

Your feelings

If you are in a split home, then you are probably struggling with several emotions that you cannot seem to control sometimes or simply cannot make sense of. Anger, resentment, guilt, depression, uncertainty, abandonment, jealousy, and any number of other emotions may burden you down. Let me encourage you to do two things to help you with your emotions.

First, talk to God about them. No one can comfort and strengthen like God can.

Next, talk to a wise, godly counselor about them. Your mom or dad would be a great person to go to for advice. If for some reason, you don’t feel you can go to them, go to a wise, godly counselor who can help you navigate your feelings.

One principle to help you in this area is “never let your feelings control you; YOU control your feelings.” I understand that your feelings may be overwhelming you right now, but your goal should be to get to the point where your feelings do not have power over you. That is not only possible, but it is necessary in order for you to not just survive, but to thrive, in a split home.  What an opportunity you have for God to prove that He can help you through any situation! Other people have flourished and succeeded in the same situation you are in…will YOU?

Tim Forgy
Youth Pastor
Longview Baptist Temple
Longview, TX

Inspire a Generation

inspiring_generationINSPIRE A GENERATION
by: Timothy Cron

I love watching the Olympics every two years. This year the venue was London. This is the one time every couple of years when our nation, the United States of America, rallies together to yell and cheer at their television for the great Red, White and Blue.

There is much time, money, practice and planning that goes into each Olympics. The estimated cost of the London Olympics was around $45 billion. Over 10,000 athletes trained their whole life for a gold medal in London. Over 200 countries are represented by these athletes. These athletes competed in over 20 different sports and close to 300 events.

I remember watching the Olympics when I was I child. The dream to excel in some sport and to receive a gold medal was something I coveted. Some of the greatest memories that I remember revolve around “The Dream Team.” In my opinion, there was never a better USA basketball team than they. They are the best of the best. One of my childish goals was to be on “The Dream Team.” You have never really heard of me because I never went to the Olympics.

If you think about what the Olympics does to an individual and a country, it really does “Inspire a Generation.” In the Christian life, each Christian has the opportunity to influence and inspire others. You will inspire those around you. Each Christian has a race to run. Paul referred to the Christian life as a race. People are watching you. How can you “Inspire a Generation?”

1. Run Well

Paul says in Galatians 5:7, “Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?” Paul says the church in Galatia started running the Christian race well. They had standards, they believed the Word of God and they served God. However, Paul tells us that there came a time where error crept into their church and they began believing and doubting some of the things they were taught. They dropped their standards from their strong convictions. They didn’t care. They had liberty.

Run well, Christian. People are watching you. Don’t listen to the “new” stuff from the “preachers” on TV, radio or Internet. Listen to the Word of God. The way we run our race could hinder or help someone who is struggling in theirs. Run Well!

2. Run with Purpose.

Galatians 2:2 reads, “And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.” Paul says again in Philippians 2:16, “Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.” Christians should be running the Christian life with a purpose, but not because they are made to or because of what someone would say about them. We don’t run in vain because all we do is done to glorify God. Other people older and younger than you are watching to see why you do what you do. The younger children in the church are wanting to be like you. The older Christians desire for you to be a faithful solid Christian.

If we run in vain, we have wasted our run. It is empty. It is of no value to run. We should not be running empty. We should not be running in and of ourselves. We should be running in the Spirit. If I do not run with a purpose, I will not be able to rejoice in the day of Christ with Paul and many other faithful Christians. Run with a Purpose!

3. Run in a different direction.

Peter states in 1 Peter 4:4, “Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you.” As a Christian, do you realize that we have a different purpose and we go a different direction than our unsaved family, friends, and the world? When we trusted Christ as our personal Saviour, we became a new creature; we got new life; we received a new desire. All that we received at salvation points us in a new direction.

A Christian doesn’t smoke, drink alcohol, do drugs, or party; at least we are not supposed to. These things are not found in the new direction. The new direction is one that is like Christ. We are named a Christian. God has written His name on us. Our direction is the total opposite of the direction of the world. Run Well. Run with a Purpose. Run in a Different Direction.

4. Run with patience.

The writer of Hebrews wrote in chapter twelve, verse one, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” The race ends when Christ comes back, or when death comes knocking on our door. Christ never says the race is easy. Actually it gets quite tiresome at times. We get weary and sometimes discouraged, but the Author says to be patient. Just keep running on. Why? Well, there are others who are watching, in Heaven, but also here on this Earth. God will be there every step of the way. Christ is our biggest cheerleader. He knows we can do it. He knows we can finish strong. Just keep on running. Don’t Quit! Run with Patience.

5. Run with your eye on the prize.

“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body and bring it into subjection: lest by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” (1 Cor. 9:24-27)  “Brethren I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:13-14) When the end of our race nears, there will be a prize that we will obtain. This prize is not earthly, but spiritual. We will receive crowns for what we did on this Earth. Several crowns are mentioned in the Word of God.

We should run well, run with a purpose, run in a different direction than the world, run with patience and run with our eye on the prize so that we will not be counted as a castaway, one who did not finish strong, or one who did not get the prize. Every Christian can be a winner for God. We are so wrapped up in our self that God and the things of God are put on a different shelf. Paul said that in the race he was running he was fighting himself to stay in the race. There are many people who are injured, sidelined, and spectating. They got selfish, they got discouraged, they got bitter or whatever it might be, they are now out of the race. They won’t receive the prize.

I think the greatest accolade to receive from Almighty God will be to hear Him say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” That I pleased my Heavenly Father, ultimately above all else, will be worth it all.

If Christ would come back right now, would you receive the prize, based on your life and present actions? He can come back at any moment. Are we running the race to “Inspire a Generation?” It could be your generation, the one before you, or the ones behind you.

You will “Inspire a Generation,” whether you like it or not. Everyone is watching you to see what you will do in the good times and the bad times. How will you respond to life? How will you “Inspire” others? Christian, run well! Run with a purpose! Run in a different direction! Run with patience! Run with your eye on the prize! “INSPIRE A GENERATION” for God!

Timothy Cron
Assistant Pastor
Heritage Baptist Church
Jeannette, PA

Choosing a Pastor

choosing_a_pastorby: Allen Domelle

As I write this article, there are many strong churches that are without a pastor. It is amazing to me how many churches have recently had a man of God step down and have been thrust into the process of choosing a pastor. This scares me because many churches have never been properly trained on how to look for a pastor. Throughout the years I have helped many churches go through the process of choosing a pastor. The one thing I always caution them with is that they want to find a man of God, the man whom God wants for their church.

I remember Dr. Jack Hyles telling the story about how he was called to be pastor of First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana. He was pastoring a thriving church in Dallas, Texas, when he received a phone call from a man who asked him if he would candidate for the First Baptist Church in Hammond. He didn’t want the job and told them he wouldn’t consider it. After contacting Bro. Hyles many times,

they asked him if he would at least pray about it. He promised that he would at least pray about it. Bro. Hyles said that he really didn’t want to go, but he prayed a short prayer and told God he prayed about it. Through a series of events, Bro. Hyles eventually took the pastorate at the First Baptist Church in Hammond, and the rest is history. If this church would have been as careless about finding a pastor as many churches are today, they would have never had Bro. Hyles as their pastor and many would not have been influenced in a mighty way under his ministry.

Let me remind you that God always has a specific man of God for a specific place. You can get any man of God to pastor a church, but you want the specific man of God for your specific place. David was the specific man of God for Israel. Elijah was the man of God Israel needed. Elisha was that man of God to take over after Elijah went to Heaven. God prepared Moses to guide Israel through the wilderness, and He also prepared Joshua to carry them into and through the Promised Land. God will always have a man of God; it is your job to get God’s mind to find that man of God for your place.

One of the most important decisions that a church will ever face is the process of choosing a pastor. The man whom you choose to be your pastor will determine the future of your children and grandchildren. This decision should never be taken lightly. Too often churches rush through this process only to choose someone they later regret. If they would have been more deliberate in the process of choosing a pastor, they would have found that right man.

The desire of every church should be to find a man of God. The choosing of a pastor should not be a beauty contest, but it should be a quest to find the man whom God has prepared to pastor your church. You must be careful about who you even bring in to candidate because you don’t want the church to fall in love with the wrong man. If those who are in charge of finding a man do their work before, then the wrong person will never be brought in to candidate. This doesn’t mean that the first person that is presented to the church is the right man, but if the man is vetted before he is brought in, then you won’t have a man who will change the direction of a church.

The process of choosing a pastor should not be a quick process. I was a member of a church in the past that was too quick in choosing a pastor, and they chose a man who changed the direction of that church. The direction of the previous man of God was biblical, but because they were too quick in the process, they chose a man who didn’t have the same direction that they were taught for years. Let me make this clear, one of the most important things you learn about a man before you bring him in is his direction. His direction will ultimately determine where you will end up spiritually. Whenever you look for a pastor, I believe there are several things you should consider about this man before you even ask him to come candidate.

1. Start the process out with prayer.

I am amazed how this is the most avoided part in the search for a new pastor. Choosing a new pastor should never be approached flippantly. It should be such an intense search that you start it out by getting God involved. I believe that before the pulpit committee ever discusses one man that they should have a prayer meeting for God to guide them. I am not talking about a five minute prayer of guidance, I am talking about the whole purpose of the first meeting should be to pray for God’s wisdom and guidance in the choosing of a pastor. Matthew 7:7 says, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:” God will never help you to find the right man if you don’t ask in prayer. Furthermore, James 1:5 says, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” You need God’s wisdom to find the right man, and you will only get it through prayer.

Moreover, I think it is wise that the church calls several prayer meetings so that the church can get the mind of God in choosing a pastor. These prayer meetings should be for nothing else other than praying. No one needs to bring refreshments, it is a time of prayer. It is not a preaching service, but a prayer service. The church needs to pray that God would prepare the man’s heart who He wants to pastor their church to accept their invitation. They also need to pray that God will prepare their heart to accept this new pastor.

2. Don’t accept any resumé of a man who called wanting the position.

It is imperative that you understand that anybody calling wanting to be your pastor should immediately be taken off the list for consideration. The man you want will be busy in his own ministry. He won’t be looking for a “step up” in the ministry. If a man is willing to look around for another church while he is pastoring, then you can rest assured that he will look for a “better place” once he has been with you for awhile. God says in Proverbs 25:6-7, “Put not forth thyself in the presence of the king, and stand not in the place of great men: For better it is that it be said unto thee, Come up hither; than that thou shouldest be put lower in the presence of the prince whom thine eyes have seen.” The right man will not be looking to go somewhere else, he will only be looking to do what he is supposed to do in his present place.

3. Get at least three men to consider.

The search for a pastor should not be a beauty contest, but it should be a search for a man of God. However, I believe before you call a man to candidate, it would be wise to consider at least three men. In the business world it is a known fact to get three bids before choosing a bid. Likewise, you need at least three people whom you would consider looking at to be a candidate for your pastor. Let me make this clear, you will only bring in one at a time, but I believe a list of men would be good to talk about.

When you gather a list of three men, after you have researched each man you should put them in the order of which you believe is best. Then you start at the top of the list and ask that man to come and candidate in your church. The church will then vote on that man, and if he doesn’t get enough votes or if he declines the invitation to pastor, then go to the next man on the list.

4. Do you know this man?

Now I know that the pulpit committee won’t know everyone, but they should have some wise men who have been around the fundamental Baptist movement for years who know this man. If nobody knows about this man, then this should bring concern about with whom he has been associated. I believe the pulpit committee should have wise men from the outside who gain nothing from this process to give them names. This will help you to bring in people who are of the same philosophy and direction of your church.

5. Have you seen his work?

It is important that you know what this man has done before you call him to candidate. If this man is currently pastoring, then have a couple of men who the church trusts to go and see the work. If he is not currently pastoring, then ask seasoned men of God about this man. They may know something about this man that you will never find out on your own. Call previous churches where this man has pastored and at least find out why he left. If he is an evangelist, then look at that man and see what he has built. I have a good pastor friend in Texas who was an evangelist for many years before he took the church he now pastors. This church could see that this man was a solid fundamentalist who had built a great ministry. It is imperative that you look at the man’s past work.

6. Do you know what he believes?

DON’T EVER call in a man if you don’t know what he believes. You should never consider a man of God if no one knows where he stands on the main doctrines. Philippians 4:5 says, “Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.” The word “moderation” is talking about one’s beliefs. A man of God who hides what he believes is a man of God who can’t be trusted. If you call in a man who has the wrong beliefs, you risk the church falling in love with him. Then you will have a problem!

7. Have you heard him preach?

In the technology world in which we live, there is no reason that you shouldn’t be able to get some sermons that this man has preached. You should listen to several sermons and not just one. One sermon doesn’t define a man. However, you can find out a lot about the man if you will listen to four or five sermons. Listen to a Sunday morning and Sunday night sermon. If you can, get a Wednesday night sermon as well. Listen to three or four weeks of sermons so you can find out what kind of preacher he is. Is he a topical preacher or a preacher who goes verse by verse and exegetes the Scriptures? My opinion is that a topical preacher is the best preacher. My reason for saying this is because you wouldn’t go to a doctor who goes through his medicine cabinet and picks up the next medication on the shelf. The next medication may hurt you, or it may not help your current problem. A topical preacher is like the doctor who diagnoses the problem, and then give a prescription for the sickness. The topical preacher will weekly give the people what they need for that week. You don’t need a preacher who simply preaches a sermon, you need a preacher who will preach the message from God that the people need that week.

8. Is he a personal soul winner?

This will knock out many men. Proverbs 11:30 says, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.” Sadly, there are many preachers who rarely lead anyone to Christ. I recently talked to a pastor who asked missionaries how many people they led to Christ in the past year. He told me that there were many preachers who only led ten people to Christ. That is sad! If the preacher won’t be a soul winner, then the church won’t be a soul-winning church. If the preacher isn’t a soul winner, then he won’t have the wisdom necessary to help his church. You want a man to lead the church who has a burden for souls. The degree of a man’s soul winning will determine the degree that he has an outward vision verses an inward vision that is looking more for transfers than he is new converts. Personal soul winning should not be an option. It is a must in choosing a man of God.

9. Does he understand Sunday school philosophy?

Sunday school is the ministry that goes hand-in-hand with the Great Commission. Part of the Great Commission is discipling. Having a good understanding of Sunday school is important if you want your church to grow. Thriving independent Baptist churches are built on soul winning and Sunday school. Soul winning gives you prospects to fill the Sunday schools so that you can train them to send them back out. Sadly, very few men have a good understanding of Sunday school. If they only have a few Sunday school classes in the church where they currently pastor, then I can promise you they don’t understand Sunday school philosophy. If a church averages a couple hundred, but only has a couple adult Sunday school classes, then again they probably don’t have a good understanding of Sunday school philosophy. If you want your church to continue to grow and reach the lost for Christ, then the man you choose needs to have a good understand of how to build the Sunday school.

10. What are his standards?

A man’s standards are important because they will define whether this man practices biblical separation and holiness. The man you choose to be pastor should not believe that standards are only for church, but he should believe that standards are for the home as well. Don’t choose a man who has lower standards than the church currently has. If anything, choose a man whose standards are higher. I would rather a man pull me up to his level than have a man who will pull me down.

11. Who would he have as guest preachers?

Whenever choosing a pastor, it is important to find out who he would invite as guest preachers. This is important because pastors usually choose their friends to be guest speakers. If they would invite men of God who are weak, then that means he is considering a weaker stance. Ask him to give you five names of preachers he would want to invite as a guest preacher in your church. Who he puts on that list will highly define his direction and philosophy of ministry.

12. What colleges would he suggest?

Bible colleges show a man’s direction. I don’t believe that a man only has to have one college that he pushes, but I do believe you need to know where he would counsel your children to go to Bible college. If he promotes a college that is liberal, then you can rest assured that he will eventually take the church in that direction. The colleges a man pushes define his school of thought.

13. Is he a builder?

You don’t want a man who will only maintain the work, but you want a man who will build the work. A man who will maintain lacks in vision and work ethic. A man who has great vision will desire to take the church to new heights. He won’t be satisfied with the present size of the church, but he will want to take the church to new heights by building it.

14. Does he have a good family?

When you choose a man to be your pastor, you are also choosing his family. If he has family problems, then your church will be infested with family problems. One of the requirements of a pastor is that he “…ruleth well his own house,…” (1 Timothy 3:4) This man must not have the idea that the ministry goes before his family. This is detrimental to all! He must be of the philosophy that family comes first before the ministry. I have watched too many men of God who have put the ministry before their family to the detriment of their children and marriage. You want a man of God who is strong on the family, for the strength of the church is the family.

Choosing a pastor will be one of the most important decisions you will make in your life. Don’t take anyone’s word about a man, know these things for yourself. Choosing a man of God will affect your family for generations to come. By the way, these principles will apply when you are moving your family to a church. When you choose the right man of God to lead your church and home, it will lead to God’s blessings. Be very deliberate in your choosing of a man of God to pastor your church.

Who’s To Blame?

whos_to_blameWHO’S TO BLAME
by: Allen Domelle

This past month, one of the most horrific events happened to four American citizens when enemies of the United States attacked our embassy in Libya. Immediately after the attack, the blame was instantly placed on a YouTube movie put out by an American who made a mockery of Mohammed.

The immediate response from the State Department and from the President was amazing. The president simply said, “I strongly condemn the outrageous attack.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described this attack as a “senseless act of violence.” The harshest language was not directed towards the enemies of the United States, but it was directed towards this filmmaker by both the

administration and news media. In the USA Today newspaper, a liberal professor suggested that the filmmaker should be arrested. The President said concerning the film, “WE reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.” Hillary Clinton said, “The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.” Not one time did they talk about how disgusting and abhorrent these attacks were.

Furthermore, the Obama administration criticized Mitt Romney for his strong condemnation of the attacks and of the administration’s response to the attack by going after the filmmaker of the film and not those who attacked our citizens. Romney’s statement concerning the attacks were, “I’m outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi,” He continued by saying, “It’s disgraceful that the Obama administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.” You would think that Mitt Romney and the filmmaker were the evil one’s by the way the Obama administration and the news media responded.

As an American, I am concerned with President Obama’s policies towards the Middle East. He seems to be more interested in appeasing the terrorists who hate Americans than he is about standing with Israel who is our friend and ally. The response to condemn those who practiced free speech instead of condemning the enemies who killed Americans in Libya is simply unacceptable. Every American should be outraged that our embassies were attacked. Every American should be incensed that free speech is the enemy and not those who put the lives of American citizens at risk. I have never seen the film, and probably never will, but the film is not the issue. The issue is that American citizens were killed and that the Obama administration is more interested in appeasing the Muslim world than they are with defending their citizens.

The Scriptures are very clear that a nation has a right to defend itself. Ezekiel 33:6 says, “But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand.” The purpose of the watchman was to get the troops ready when they saw the enemy coming. The watchman was to warn the people to get ready to fight when they were attacked.

God gives a nation the right to defend itself when attacked. Genesis 9:6 says, “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.” The government is responsible for defending its citizens. God goes further to show that He holds people accountable for their actions in Romans 14:12 when it says, “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” God commands the government to hold those accountable who shed innocent blood.

I believe the Obama administration has done the American people a great disservice by attacking free speech and not those who shed the blood of American citizens. The Scriptures clearly teach that God will hold those in leadership accountable for how they deal with the shedding of innocent blood. This administration should stop worrying about political correctness and the elections and do the job that they were elected to do, keep the American people safe!

Building a Bridge to Mecca

Buidling-a-Bridge-to-MeccaHOW TO WITNESS TO A MUSLIM
by: John Johnson

When I go soul winning and someone tells me they are a Muslim, usually I get stuck with what to say next. This article is not intended to lead Muslims to Christ. This article is to help soul winners smoothly get the Gospel to Muslims. I suggest using a plan of salvation that is familiar to you, but your lead into the Gospel will be slightly different.

As soon as the conversation reveals that they are Islamic, use a compliment, something like, “I wish all Muslims were like you” to remove fears they might have. Then ask, “Do you believe in Shariah (Islamic law) that states that thieves must have their hands cut off, apostates must be killed and men can beat disobedient wives?” Shariah has several brutal laws that will separate the moderate Muslim from their core beliefs. Other brutal laws in Shariah would include:

Rebellion against Muslim leader – Death
Adultery – Death
Fornication – 100 lashes
Drinking alcohol – 80 lashes

Your object is not to berate Islam, but you must cause the Muslim to admit he doesn’t follow the brutal laws. Because Shariah is based on Muhammad’s words and actions, to deny Shariah is to deny Muhammad. You have separated the Muslim from Muhammad without berating him.  Again, assure him that you wish all Muslims were like him.

Next, ask him, “Do you believe that Jihad is a struggle within yourself?” If he replies yes, tell him, “God’s Word (God’s Word is a term that is recognized by the Muslim, and therefore will speak to their heart) speaks of jihad and how I can have victory.  Would you let me show you what God’s Word says about jihad and how to win this struggle?” When he replies in the affirmative, you open your Bible to Romans 7:15, 19, 24 and show him Paul’s description of the “inner struggle.” Then go to Romans 8:1, and show him the solution to the struggle while emphasizing the “in Christ.”

The next question you would ask is, “Would you like me to show you how you can be ‘in Christ’ and win the ‘Jihad’ between your flesh and spirit?” Now go right into the plan of salvation that you regularly use.

At some point, you must emphasize the deity of Christ. When dealing with followers of false religions, I usually put the deity of Christ at Romans 5:8. When witnessing to a Muslim, begin this stage with, “I know you’ve been taught that I am a ‘polytheist’, but I want to assure you I am not.” A polytheist is a term used in Islam to describe those who believe in many gods (poly—many; Theo—God). It is vital to cause the prospect to grasp the truth of the Trinity. Without the acceptance of the Trinity, you have denied the deity of Christ, and this will not allow salvation (John 8:24). There are many illustrations of the Trinity: water, sunlight, egg, apple and others, but an effective illustration that can be used at this time is the human. When I explain the Trinity with a human illustration, I tell the prospect, “God showed us the trinity in every human being. Did you know that you were created in the image of God? (Genesis 1:26) Just like God is a 3-part being, you also are a 3-part being. First you have a body that communicates with nature. You taste, see, hear, feel and smell things. Second you have a mind that communicates with other men. You think of ideas and express them. Third, you have a spirit that communicates with God in prayer and Bible reading. Your body, mind and spirit are all 3 separate, yet are all 3 in 1. Do not proceed if they reject the deity of Christ (John 8:24). You can show them passages that teach this truth (1 John 5:7; John 1:1; Philippians 2:6; Colossians 1:16 with Genesis 1:1; John 20:27-28; Revelation 1:8; Isaiah 9:6 and many others, but they must accept the fact of the Trinity before you continue.

If they reject the deity of Christ, challenge them to study the passages above, along with the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5, 6, and 7), and let the Holy Spirit work with them. Those that acknowledge the fact that Jesus is God can be helped as you would any other prospect.

Another illustration that can be very useful in winning the Muslim is to remind them that according to Mohammed’s teaching, the most sure way for a Muslim to enter Paradise (Paradise is a term that is familiar to the Muslim, and is a Bible term, Luke 23:43) is to die in jihad (Sura 61:10-12). In other words, Allah wants his followers to die for him. Then show the prospect in Romans 5:8 how God has died for His followers so they could come to Paradise with Him.

When witnessing to Muslims, as with all unsaved people, you cannot humanly reach them. They must be reached by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:32).  Seek His guidance before, during, and after your presentation, and realize that a “scratch” lovingly placed in the Muslim’s heart may later be used by another soul winner to bring a harvest (1 Corinthians 3:6).

John Johnson
River Lake Baptist Church
Waverly, TN