Thursday, December 29, 2005

21 Days of Prayer and Fasting

Once again we are offering encouragement and support to our ministry partners who want to join us on this 21-day spiritual adventure of prayer and fasting. Even if you can only fast for a small portion of this time, we want you to participate. The journey begins on Monday, January 2 and ends Sunday, January 22nd. A free prayer and fasting guide is available via the following link:
PDF Download: 21 Days Prayer and Fasting Guide

The Spirit-Enabled Church

Over the past five years the theme of the "Spirit-enabled" church has occupied a lot of my thinking. There are a lot of good "ways of doing church" being promoted these days, but Pentecostals in particular would do well to consider the possibility that the greatest "model" of ministry has been within their reach all along.

What is needed?

Programmed approaches to ministry have become burdensome. Copying the ideas of other popular and successful ministries can seem a bit shallow. The "Seeker-Sensitive" approach has a lot of merit, but sometimes it feels like Somebody is missing. The "Purpose-Driven" model has benefited many, but even that approach falls short of integrating some of the essential ingredients of New Testament ministry.

Allow me to jump to the heart of the matter. Ministry must function through an intimate and dynamic relationship with God. To state the point another way, true New Testament ministry calls for the intentional inclusion of the dynamic of the Holy Spirit. I am talking about deliberately engaging Him in everything that we do.

Oh, most of us probably realize that an intimate and dynamic relationship with God is important for our lives, but we often fail to carry that dynamic over into the way that we conduct ministry.
We know how to be spiritual in our personal walk with God, but why do we think that something different or more is needed for the practice of ministry? We run to corporate business models for our answers. We search the Internet for the latest ideas. We browse the Christian bestsellers list for the most popular trends.

Why not the Spirit? Why not His gifts? Why not His presence and His power?

I believe that the twenty-first century church can effectively and faithfully reclaim the person, presence and power of the Spirit in the conduct of ministry.

For the past six months I have been relatively silent on this subject. My aim for 2006 is to fully embrace the calling to carry the message of the Spirit-enabled church.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand

This morning while having coffee with my wife, she asked this simple yet profound question: "What would happen if we all would just start being exactly what God wanted us to be? What would happen if we would just start doing what we know we should be doing?"

"You know," I responded, "It's much closer than most of us think. It is 'at hand'."

'The kingdom of heaven is at hand!'" This proclamation was the message of John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, and the first disciples of Jesus. It was most often preceded by a call to repentance: "Repent... start thinking and acting differently... turn around... do a one-eighty... for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!"

Sometimes we may feel like we are a million miles from where we need to be in our walk with the Lord, when in fact, if we would just make a slight turn, we would be right there. The kingdom of heaven is that close; it is "at hand."

Be encouraged. The distance between where you are right now in your walk with the Lord and where you should be is probably a lot shorter than you think. Just take one step in the right direction, and see what happens.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The Spirit of Intercession

Let me describe to you this morning's chapel service here at the Seminary.

Our campus pastor, Lee Roy Martin, stood to read the opening Scripture passage from Exodus 2:23-25,

"And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage.

"And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.

"And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them."

Then Dr. Cheryl Johns stood to call us to prayer, exhorting us to intercede for those for whom we were burdened in heart.

We prayed. The student-led praise and worship began, and the Spirit of Intercession enveloped us.

People began pacing the aisles as they worshipped and prayed. Several spontaneously moved forward to the altar. Some just stood there with hands uplifted. Others fell to their knees.

I just bowed down at my seat weeping and praying at the same time -- praying some with the understanding, but praying mostly in the Spirit.

I was not entirely sure what my own desperate crying before the Lord was all about. I am not sure that it was necessary for me to know.

What does the Bible say?

"The Spirit helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered" (Romans 8:26).

Dr. Ron Cason was scheduled to preach, but all he could say was "Who am I to interrupt the work of the Holy Spirit? Come, let us intercede with desperate hearts before the Lord."

O Lord, increase in us such a work as this. May we live our lives in continual engagement with the intercessory ministry of Jesus through the power and presence of the Spirit. Amen.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Simplify! Simplify!

It is time to simplify!

I have been creating Internet content since about 1998. It all started with a site called "Church of God and Friends." Then came "DrawNear Ministries" and the launching of our webhosting and audio/video webcasting.

With our attempts at e-commerce came something called "" Of course, email bulletins/newsletters such as DrawNear Update and PrayerForce Update have continued as well.

Now I am managing the content for the Center for Pentecostal Leadership and Care plus the content for the Seminary's new online course, "Formational Leadership."

Am I boasting in my "work-aholic" tendencies? No, I'm just leading up to a point.

Obviously, all of these ventures add up to a state commonly known as "Too Much."

It is time to simplify!

What does all of this mean?

Well, for those of you who have supported us through DrawNear Ministries,... for awhile is going to point to this spot. The good news is that actually I think you will find this blog to be a lot more interesting than much of the static content on the old DrawNear site anyway.

For you who are my online students, you and I are just now meeting for the first time, so all that I have said here won't make much difference to you anyway.

For our customers, we will provide links from this page that will take you directly to the products for which you are searching.

You see, I am not really eliminating much at all. It's called consolidation... and simplification.

Thanks for being so understanding. Who knows... maybe I have even inspired some of you to simplify as well.

Monday, September 19, 2005

First Online Course Is Launched!

Monday, September 19, 2005 marks the beginning of what I believe will prove to be a wonderful journey. That is the date for the start-up of the first online course that I will have the privilege of teaching at the Church of God Theological Seminary.

What is the course? It is Formational Leadership -- a course originally developed by Drs. Jackie and Cheryl Johns.

As a result of the scholarship and ministry experience of Dr. James P. Bowers, Academic Dean for the Seminary, the online version of Formational Leadership will now take on a new dimension. We are integrating into the course much of the ministry development process that Dr. Bowers has developed for the "Sustaining Pastoral Excellence" project.

What am I contributing? I will be the primary instructor, and I will serve as the facilitator of a retreat that will be part of the course as well. I am also contributing an expansion to part of Dr. Jackie Johns' model. I have added what I call a "Prophetic Cycle" to ministry planning. This added component emphasizes listening for the voice of God and then acting on the basis of what He says.

If you are one of my new students, Welcome! If you are not one of my students, I hope that you will be soon.