Tag Archives: prayer

But the Church Prayed

It Happened In Acts

It may come as a shock to some of you, but, believe it or not, there’s a lot more to the book of Acts than chapter 2.

As a matter of fact, the book of Acts is full of exciting, foundation-rattling accounts of God moving through the Church by the power of the Holy Spirit. Chapter 12 is no exception.

In Acts 12 we read Luke’s account of how Herod Agrippa (the 1st) thought he’d found a way to demoralize and ultimately defeat the young Church. After seeing that killing the apostle James made the Jews happy, he then arrested Peter with the intent of doing the same. It seemed like a fool-proof plan…

…but prayer was made without ceasing by the church unto God for him” (Acts 12:5).

That was the hinge on which the door swung…the church prayed.

Think of all the insurmountable obstacles we’ve encountered. How many times have we (as the Church or individuals) been faced with situations where there seemed to be no way out, no positive solution, no hope? What has been our usual response? Has it been fervent, unceasing, continual prayer? Not usually.

Imagine what would have happened to Peter had the story been more like: “Herod was going to kill Peter, but the church hired the best Gentile lawyer from Rome.” Or, maybe Acts 12:5 could have read like: “Herod was planning on killing Peter, but the church hatched a full-proof escape plan.”

No, the Bible says that the church in Jerusalem did what all of us should do – but we usually don’t – they prayed without ceasing.

If Acts is supposed to be an example of how the Holy Spirit can work through the Body of Christ (the Church), then I have a feeling we’ve lost a lot of battles by ignoring our most powerful weapon – PRAYER.

It’s Happing in Soddy Daisy

Well, my friends, I pastor a small church in Soddy Daisy, TN, that needs a few miracles. We need some locked doors opened…some chains to fall off…some manna from heaven…some pioneering workers for the field.

We need people who will work. We want to see souls saved. We want to make an impact on our community. We want to build the Kingdom. We want God to receive the glory for rescuing what many have deemed a lost cause.

So, we’re praying.

Every evening we are meeting to pour our hearts out in prayer. Every evening we are asking God to meet our needs. Every evening I am hoping others will join us, preferably in person. You are invited.

This past Sunday (May 6) I preached a sermon that laid out the context for Acts 12:1-5. I then called upon our congregation to join with me in serious, desperate, concentrated prayer for the rest of the month. You can listen to the sermon by clicking on the link below or the picture of our church sign.

Let us look forward to what God is going to do, but don’t be too surprised if He answers in a way that has never even crossed our minds.

“Now About This Time: The Church Prayed”

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Filed under Church, community, Prayer, Preaching

They Did Believe, But…

I’m on my last day of “vacation” in Charleston, S.C., visiting with our oldest daughter and her husband, but I’ve still found time to sit and quietly study. As a matter of fact, I’ve had some wonderful times of peaceful, uninterrupted periods of reading and note taking. 

Which brings me to what I want to share with you this morning, while I have a moment and it’s fresh on my mind. 

I’m good friends with a legendary Church of God gospel group, the Branham Family. In one popular song that Donna Branham (Coleman) wrote, she sings about the story of Peter being released from prison (Acts 12:1-19), then coming to the house where the church was praying. In short, the song makes the argument that even though they had been praying all night, because they were shocked to see Peter at the door, they must have not really believed the prayer would be answered. 

Then, as the title of the song describes, the chorus leads us to acknowledge that “someone in that house believed when they prayed…” because the proof was that Peter did get released. The assumption, then, is that because the people were amazed to see Peter at the door they must have not really believed God would deliver him from being executed the next day. 

And honestly, that’s what a lot of people think about these early Christians. They tend to detract from the fact that they were in one accord pleading with God all night long for Peter’s life, and then describe the prayer warriors as “faithless.”

I disagree. 

You see, as I have been studying Acts 12 (along with the rest of the book), it doesn’t appear that the church that prayed for Peter was faithless; it’s just that they were shocked at how God answered. 

Think about it, just because Peter and the other “apostles” experienced a similar angelic deliverance in Acts 5, that doesn’t mean they were going to assume it would happen again. After all, both Stephen and James had now been killed, not delivered, so why were they to assume the doors would open on their own for Peter this time? 

Yet, they did pray all night for Peter, which is far more than we might see today. Could it be that what they were praying for was Peter’s life to be spared, and possibly by changing the heart of Agrippa? 

I guess what I’m trying to say is that there is a message to the Church in Acts 12, and I think it’s more than “believe when you pray.” 

I believe the message to us today might be more like, “Don’t be amazed when God answers your prayers in an unexpected way.”

I mean, the church might have been expecting to wake up the next morning to hear word that Herod Agrippa had accepted Christ as his Messiah, or something. But I think it’s unfair to judge this fearless and committed group of early believers as unbelieving pew-warmers just going through the motions.

They DID believe, but they never expected how miraculous the answer would be. 

So, keep praying and believing; you might be surprised at what God has planned. 

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Filed under Bible Study, Church, Faith

“If You Could Pick Your Dream Career…”

In my last post, I gave you an update regarding my shoulder surgery and a head’s up about a job interview. Let me tell you a little about the interview.

The Interview

First of all, I am not at liberty to tell you where I had a job interview, at least I’d rather not at this point. I feel it’s best to keep a possible future employer’s name out of the conversation and off the internet; I’m not sure how they’d appreciate it, and I’d hate to jeopardize anything.

Let me just say that I met with several people during my interview, each one representing a different department in the company, including a person from their HR department. The atmosphere was intended to be low-pressure and rather casual, but it did start off a little stressful, at least for me. It was the first job interview I’d been on in a long time and the first time with an employer of this size, so it took a few moments to find my stride.

But after a few moments, not long after introductions and the first question or two, I was able to settle into some confident conversation. Since I was not there to be quizzed on my knowledge of their company or industry, only to be questioned about myself and my abilities, I did my best to present the best version of me I could. If I was the product being sold, I think I sold myself well.

The Question

Now, there was this one question they asked that really brought out some passion. The Human Resources lady asked, “If you could pick your dream career, no limitations or restrictions, what would it be?”

I didn’t have an immediate answer. I was at a loss for words.

Even now I can’t think of anything akin to a “dream job,” at least not one like what you might think. I mean, to be honest, I am doing what I want to do – I’m a pastor! All things considered, there’s nothing else I really dream about doing.

You’re probably wondering if I’m already a pastor, then why would I look for something additional to do? A simple answer is that I want to provide for my family, and sometimes – if not most of the time – little churches don’t have the means to do that.

Is my “dream job” a big church? No, not at all. I’m really happy to be where I am.

So, what was my answer?

“I want to make a difference.” When I die, I want to be missed. I want to know I’ve made an impact on people’s lives. And should it be possible to make a lot of money doing that, I could live with it, sure.

Then I narrowed it down a bit. I said, “I love to teach…I love to see the look on someone’s face when they get it.”  I love to take something complicated and make it simple. My perfect job is one where I can create passion in others so they can do the best they can at what they do.

A gentleman then asked if I thought I could stand before a group of 200 drivers…from all walks of life, with varying degrees of desire and commitment…and convince them of the importance of understanding “driver fatigue.”

“Absolutely,” I replied with a grin. Then I explained how.

Keep Praying (and giving)

I do appreciate the well-wishes and prayers so many of you have offered. Should I be hired for the position being considered, believe me, life would be a little more comfortable and less stressful; it would be a game changer, for sure.

I’ve yet to receive any feedback from the interview, but when I do I will certainly let you all know. Just keep praying God’s will be done.

Remember, because of my surgery, it’s now been over a month that I’ve been out of work. If you would like to help alleviate the financial burden we are under, please consider going to the sidebar and clicking the Paypal donation button.

Every little bit helps.

In the meantime, I’ll just continue being the one-armed pastor of a little church where God is doing great things! 🙂

P.S. At one point I did say, “Being the President would be a good gig, but it only lasts eight years, so…” 😉

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Filed under current events, ministry, Struggles and Trials

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