Tag Archives: prayer

Keeping Watch at Night

“And it came to pass that night, that the word of the LORD came unto Nathan…” (2 Samuel 7:4)

2:30 a.m.,etc.

Believe me, I am not one who enjoys getting out of bed before the sun does. If it were up to me, I would prefer stumbling to the coffee pot in daylight. But that’s not my life – I’m a school bus driver; 5 o’clock mornings have been my norm for the last 10 years.

But I am also a pastor. A “shepherd.” And because I am a shepherd of souls, sometimes I have to do like the shepherds of old, keep watch over my flock by night. That requires being on call all the time, including the dark times. And when I say “dark times,” I mean that literally and figuratively.

In the Christmas story, we read of shepherds “keeping watch over their flock by night” (Luke 2:8). Have you ever wondered why the shepherds stayed awake? Simple: because wolves and thieves work the night shift, too! Sometimes shepherding involves looking out for your sheep while they sleep. Often it is in the dark times that pastors and intercessors are needed most.

Because of my shoulder surgery, I have been woken up by pain nearly every hour every night this past week. A few of those times I decided to pray while awake, and that got me to thinking.

The Night

It was in the night that “the word of the LORD came unto Nathan.” What would have happened if Nathan had refused to wake up? What would have happened had he refused to listen, but instead said, “I have GOT to get some sleep?”

This morning, like a lot of recent mornings, the Lord placed a prayer on my heart long before any alarms were set to go off. He gave me a “vision in the night.” I could have griped, rolled over, looked at the clock, and asked, “Why now?” Instead, I sat up, forced myself to thank God for the pain I’ve been enduring, and began to intercede for certain individuals and the ministry in which I’m involved.

What would have happened had Nathan decided to go back to sleep? We can only guess. What would have happened had I brushed away God’s nudging? Only God knows. But if history is any kind of teacher, disobedience in even the smallest of things can be catastrophic; going back to sleep might have fed a wolf.

Your Call

Just the other day I mentioned to my wife how that I didn’t want to miss what God was wanting to teach me through this painful recovery. When I told her about David, Nathan, and my inability to get more than an hour or two of sleep each night, immediately she replied, “Looks like you’ve found your lesson.” As she pointed out, since I can’t do much else right now, God is calling me to pray more – especially in the night.

Have you ever woken up at night with another person on your heart? When that happens, what do you do? You see, dark times come at all times, especially when it’s most inconvenient. As a matter of fact, the “darkness” may even be a difficult time in your life. It may be in the wee hours of your “night” that God chooses to speak.

God wouldn’t call in the middle of the night if it wasn’t important.

Don’t ignore Him.

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Filed under Christian Maturity, Christmas, Life Lessons, ministry, Preaching

A Pastor’s Worst Day

Every once in a while I try to share some down-to-earth insight into the pastorate, or ministry in general. Granted, my perspective is limited, being I have only pastored smaller, bi-vocational churches; therefore, I can’t speak for all my brothers who lead larger congregations (200+).

However, some things are pretty consistent with those who regularly stand behind the pulpit (or beside a table, if that’s your thing). Many of the stresses are similar, as well as the spiritual battles we must fight. Whether the battlefield be small or large, our weaponry and armor are the same (Ephesians 6:10-18), and so is our adversary (1 Peter 5:8).

Therefore, all things being equal as possible, I believe Sunday nights – not Saturday nights or Mondays – are the worst times of the week for a pastor. The following are two excellent reasons why I feel this way.

First, the pastor is his own worst critic, especially right after the sermon. After a long Sunday, he may find himself looking back and wondering things like… “Did I give it my best?” “Was I used by God?” “Did I preach in my own strength?” “Did I pray enough?” “Why did God call me?” or, “How much does a truck driver make?” 

Any pastor who cares about his preaching ministry will concern himself, to one degree or another, with the proper exposition and delivery of his sermon. But if he gets no “amen’s,” sees no conversions, rededications, or even a few approving nods, it’s not going to be long before the poor man will question his abilities, maybe even his calling. A lack of visible response can take the wind right out of a preacher’s sails.

Seriously, stop and think about it. If you were to build a small, wooden toy, you could hold it in your hands when finished, admire it, nod with approval, and say to yourself, “Good job! Well done!” Clean a dirty kitchen and how do you feel? A sense of satisfaction, correct? But when a pastor is done preaching, more often than not there is nothing tangible to show for it, especially if there is little feedback; the “well done” will have to wait till later.

So, since the “job” is never done, and much of the fruit of a man’s labor won’t be recognized until eternity, it’s easy to be critical of one’s self. Sunday nights are when we can be the most critical.

Secondly, a pastor expends a lot of mental and spiritual energy over the weekend, especially if he works another job during the week and preaches more than one sermon on Sunday. Believe it or not, some pastors (especially bi-vocational ones like myself) never – yes, I said “never” – get a day off. By the time Sunday night rolls around, you’re looking at a physically and spiritually drained individual, and Satan knows it.

Therefore, because our enemy is not stupid, he knows the best time to attack us, and that’s when we are tired and vulnerable. He is far less likely to defeat a man of God while he’s charging into battle or waging a righteous war against the forces of darkness; it’s when he’s coming down from a spiritual high, or when he’s depressed and down over a perceived failure behind the pulpit, that the preacher’s at risk. No, our Enemy is sneaky and stealthy; he lurks in the shadows, waiting for just the right moment when our guard is down and our frailties are exposed.

So why do I share this? Not for your sympathy or pity, that’s for sure. As the lyrics of a song go, “It’s a battlefield, brother, not a recreation room…It’s a fight and not a game,” so I am well aware of what I’ve gotten myself into (or, rather, what I’ve been called to do). The reason I share this is to encourage you to pray for your pastor…especially when the church services are over…when he’s tired…when the Enemy is most lethal.

Don’t wait until Sunday morning to pray for your pastor and his family.

Don’t wait until Saturday night to say a quick prayer that he’ll do “a good job” the next morning.

Start right now! Pray! Interceed for your spiritual leaders, for they watch for your souls and must give an account (Hebrews 13:17). Their challenges are unique, and the consequences of failure can be far-reaching and eternally catastrophic.

Brethren, pray for us. – 1 Thessalonians 5:25 

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Filed under Church, Depression, General Observations, ministry, Preaching

Bedtime Prayer of the Saved by Grace

“Now I lay me down to sleep.

I KNOW the Lord my soul will keep.

And if I should die before I wake,

Then, HALLELUJAH! That would take the cake!

Thank you Jesus! Amen! Praise God!”

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Filed under Christianity, Faith, grace, iPosts, Life/Death, salvation

Have I “Gone Pentecostal?”

I love you guys, and I thank you so much for reading my blog. No joke. That is why I am taking just a moment to give you a little update.

First, I have been publishing guests posts by David Fuller as part of an attempt to bring “speaking in tongues” to the floor for honest examination and debate. However, unlike what some have begun to assume, David Fuller and I don’t see eye-to-eye on this subject. No joke, a personal friend, Paul Norman Judd, sent a note to me on Messenger that read: “Good morning Anthony. Are you turning Pentecostal on us?”

No, Mr. Judd, I’m not (and I will likewise submit an “lol”). However, I would say I’m a bit more gracious on the subject than some. It’s not like I consider those who speak in tongues to be akin to unregenerate heathen, or something. Some people think that way, you know – I used to.

So, I have in the works a response to Mr. Fuller’s post, but it is something with which I am taking a little more time. You see, this is a very sensitive subject, and I cherish the friendships I have, and that is why I desire to choose my words and arguments so not to offend.

Secondly, it is possible that I might have had a response to the latest “Got Glossolalia” post from David Fuller, but my dear wife has been sick for the last 2+ weeks, and nothing that has been prescribed has made a difference. It has now gotten to the point that her potassium levels are dangerously low, and that has me very concerned. I would appreciate your prayers for her and the doctors as they search for a reason.

I must admit that I am a little selfish…my 50th birthday is this Sunday, and I want my wife with me in church and at the fellowship (church word for party) afterwards.

And if you think praying in tongues will make a difference, then you go right ahead 😉

All I ask is that you make your requests and petitions known to the One who never wastes a tear.

– Anthony

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Filed under blogging, Struggles and Trials

When you hear the sound of the trumpet…

Nearly seven years ago (Oct. 28, 2010) I wrote the following post. Now that a new school year is upon us – and now that I’m actually pastoring in Soddy Daisy, TN, it seems appropriate to be reminded of some some things that are as true today as they were back then.


Last night (10/28/2010) I had the honor to participate in an event of community prayer.  I was invited to speak by a student at Soddy Daisy High School.  If you don’t know what happened, a whole bunch of people gathered together in the park to celebrate our right and freedom to pray, even though it was recently mandated that prayer be stopped before football games.  This meeting was organized by students who decided enough was enough.

In my closing remarks (I spoke for 7 1/2 minutes) I brought up the story of Nehemiah, specifically a part in chapter 4, verse 20. Nehemiah, in response to threats from enemies intent on stopping them from rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem, set people on the wall as lookouts.   Being that the wall was big and spread out, and being that there were few people, Nehemiah came up with a plan.  He said :

“The work is great and extensive, and we are separated far from one another on the wall.  Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there.  Our God will fight for us.” Nehemiah 4:19-20 NKJV

To me, and I am just little ol’ me, there should have been a lot more people present last night.  Why?  A trumpet was sounded for the body of Christ to come to the aid of not only Soddy Daisy, but for all of Hamilton County.  An attack on our freedoms, as both Christians and Americans, has come to our soil.  Why is it that our schedules and programs and our own sections of the wall are more important than stopping the enemy somewhere else?

Last night was your typical “Wednesday night prayer meeting” night.  Besides the fact that prayer is rarely the object of attention at a lot of these meetings, what would have been wrong with jumping in the church bus and heading to where the trumpet was sounding?  Where there may have been 500+ at this event last night, there should have been 1-2000.  Why were they not there? Because it was more important for local congregations to remain safe and snug in their own little sections of  “the wall.”  

Here was a prime example of LEGALISM in action, for many did not want to participate in an event that featured speakers who weren’t part of a particular denomination.  

Here was a prime example of LAZINESS, for it may have been difficult to get people together to go somewhere on a weeknight, especially if it wasn’t to Ryan’s (the local steak house) or the bowling alley.  

Here was a prime example of DENIAL, PRIDE, and APATHY, for there were others who did not attend because they either didn’t think there’s a problem, it wasn’t their idea, or they just really didn’t care.  Folks, what has been “typical” needs to be trashed.

This past Sunday I told my congregation that I would be in Soddy Daisy on Wednesday night because a trumpet had been sounded.  I went to stand in the gap with my brothers and sisters who cared enough to make a public stand against the tyranny of a few over the wishes of the people.  

In the future, when other trumpets sound,  I pray that the churches of our county and our country will rally together in defense of the few walls we have left in this nation… a nation that, for now, claims to be “under God.”

May our God truly fight for us, for we don’t seem to want to fight for ourselves.

…Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses. – Nehemiah 4:14

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Filed under baptist, Christian Living, Christian Unity, General Observations, Independent Baptist, legalism, Southern Baptist, World View

Tongues and the Church Today


A Guest Post by: David Fuller (Non-Cessationist)

 

The gift of tongues in Acts is always associated with the baptism in the Holy Spirit. The promise of the Father, baptism with the Holy Spirit, filled with the Spirit, and references to the Holy Ghost being poured out or falling upon believers are terms used interchangeably in Scripture with one exception which R. A. Torrey notes: Baptized with the Holy Spirit, is nowhere used in the Bible of any experience but the first and suggests an initial or initiatory experience.(65) He suggests we therefore use this term only to describe the initial filling of the believer with the Holy Spirit.

This point is generally agreed upon even by those who reject tongues, since the New Testament clearly and repeatedly admonishes believers to be filled with the Spirit. The points of contention are whether the initial filling necessarily happens to every Christian at the moment of regeneration, and whether or not tongues should still be expected as a necessary sign of it. This debate necessarily narrows down to the purpose of speaking in tongues. Given Luke’s relatively cursory mention of this gift, one could ask what his purpose is in mentioning it at all?

Luke’s purpose in writing, as stated by himself in Luke 1:1-4, was to set down an orderly account of those prophesies concerning the Messiah and His church which had been fulfilled before their very eyes, in order to strengthen the faith of Theophilus. In Acts, he shows how the church fulfilled not only O.T. prophecy, but Christ’s commission as well. Since Jesus Himself, in referring to the enduement with power as the promise of the Father, as well as Peter in Acts 2 and Paul in 1 Cor. 14:21, each indicate that the gift of tongues is a fulfillment of O.T. prophecy concerning the church and the last days, Luke includes it in his account; documenting its part in the fulfillment of Christs commission as well. Thus, the fulfillment of prophecy and of Christs commission are the only two purposes for tongues with which Luke is concerned, since this is the focus of his writing. An extensive treatment of the purpose of tongues in collective worship or the spiritual life of the average believer of that day would be a departure from his point.

Also, since he is writing for Theophilus, not for us, he naturally would have excluded extensive information about subjects with which Theophilus would undoubtedly have been all-to-familiar, such as the structure and events of a typical early-church worship service.

We know from Paul’s testimony in 1 Cor. that apparently quite a number of the believers in Corinth spoke with tongues, as did Paul himself. That the Ephesian believers spoke with tongues is indicated by his admonition that they should pray in the Spirit (Eph. 6:18 cf. 1 Cor. 14:15). The fact that Luke mentions only three major instances of tongues, and relates them to the spread of the gospel to the major people groups, while neglecting their mention in ch.8 and the many other salvation accounts, does not mean they did not occur in these instances. Luke may have just been avoiding redundancy (especially in light of that days paper costs) and sticking to his purpose, which was to chronicle the fulfillment of prophecy and Christs commission.

Luke also chooses not to teach us of the Eucharist in Acts, so we base our understanding of it on Christs command and Paul’s teaching on the meaning of and procedure for observing it, given to the Corinthians because of their abuse of this ritual. Likewise, we must look elsewhere for detailed treatment of the gift of tongues; and we find it from the same sources. In Mark 16:17, Jesus states that tongues are a sign that will be manifested in those who believe. Luke leaves us wishing for the testimony of one who was there as to what part, if any, tongues played in the individuals spiritual life and collective worship at that time. Paul gives us exactly this, and again his most detailed treatment is directed toward those who were abusing it. Thank God for the Corinthians! Is it not comforting to see how God can use even our shortcomings to the benefit of His church?

What does Paul tell the Corinthians (and us) about the correct purpose and use of the gift of tongues? Citing Isaiah 28:11, he says that tongues function as a sign. Just as the strange tongue of the Assyrians was to be a sign to Ephraim of Gods judgment, so the gift of tongues in the N.T. served as a sign to the Jews of Gods involvement in those events as well. There is, however, a further purpose for tongues. Paul says the gift, when properly used, is intended to edify the individual and, when interpreted, the church body.

But how is this accomplished? What is the point, after all, of speaking a language even you yourself cannot understand? Paul answers this question in 1 Cor. 14:2, For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God. In verse 14, he states, For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth (emphasis mine) and continues in verse 15 with, I will pray with the spirit and, I will sing with the spirit. In verses 16 and 17 Paul indicates that tongues are used to bless and give thanks to God. Instead of being in the form of a message directed toward the church, which is always the case with prophecy, it is intended to be a form of worship and prayer. This worship and prayer interpreted generates participation on the part of other members of the body, and thus it becomes a means of edification equal to prophecy, In prophecy the edification springs from the Spirit-quickened Word, while in tongues and interpretation the edification springs from Spirit-quickened worship and prayer.(Brandt, 55).

The speakers in tongues in Acts 2:11 were proclaiming the wonderful works of God. In the house of Cornelius, they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God.(Acts 10:46). In Acts 19:6, who were the speakers in tongues addressing? Paul, who witnessed the event, tells us that he that speaks in an unknown tongue speaks not unto men, but unto God. Furthermore, he encourages the Ephesians to pray in the Spirit(6:18), and Jude likewise tells us to build ourselves up in our faith by praying in the Holy Spirit.

According , then, to both the record of Luke and Paul’s teaching, the gift of tongues serves two primary functions. It is a sign to the unbeliever of Divine presence and activity, and a means of building up the believer and the church through Spirit-inspired prayer and worship.

Although some contend that the gift of tongues was meant only for the early church, Scripture nowhere states that this is so. In fact, there are two quite strong statements to the contrary: Paul’s command in 1 Cor. 14:39 to forbid not to speak in tongues, and Peters statement in Acts 2:39, For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call (emphasis mine). Taken together with Christs statement in Mark 16:17, as well as the various admonitions to pray in the spirit throughout the N.T. , I see no scriptural reason for believing the gift tongues is not meant for believers throughout this church age.

Works Cited

Brandt, R.L. Tongues, the Greatest Gift?; Bridge Publishing, c.1981

Torrey, R.A. Baptism With The Holy Spirit; Revell, c.1897

Link to R. A. Torrey

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Filed under Christianity, Church, Guest Posts, Prayer, worship

Parsonage Update for July 21st

Greetings, everyone!

Below is a video I put together on Friday, July 21, at the parsonage where we will soon be moving – I hope.

As many of you already know, we are in a time of transition. The house we are in is being sold, and the house to which we are moving is being made livable (I could say “restored,” but that would be stretching it just a little).

A lot of work has been done, but a lot more needs to be done. The scary part is that I have no idea how it’s going to happen. As of right now there are not enough funds to do certain necessary repairs, the most expensive being roofing, windows, and something other than one wall-mounted window-unit air conditioner.

Yet, God is bigger than any of our problems. If He owns the cattle on a thousand hills; if He can raise up kingdoms; if He can speak to the storms and make the wind be still; if He can have a man catch a fish to pay his taxes; if He can part the sea one day, then walk on it another; if He can create time; if He can speak the world into existence; if He can save this old sinner and make me righteous in His sight; then He should be able to bring together what we need for some old block house in Soddy Daisy!

Can I get an “amen”?

Anyway, I’d appreciate your prayers for my family, our ministry, and this parsonage project.

(By the way, my special thanks goes out to all of you who’ve submitted guest posts to keep this blog active.)

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Filed under Church, community, Prayer