I just returned from tremendous simultaneous revival meetings in Chattanooga and Cleveland, Tennessee. Five churches banded together to host the meetings. Many churches surrounding each of those five churches joined with their people. I was privileged to speak, along with my father Henry, Sammy Tippet of Sammy Tippet Ministries, Byron Paulus of Life Action Ministries, and Francois Carr of Heartcry South Africa. During the mornings, we taught church leaders at two different locations. The meetings saw God do many things during the week. Couples that had been separated found salvation and were baptized together that week. A man who had been estranged from his mother for nine years was reconciled. People came forward to pray while the sermon was still being preached. Others came forward to pray and get right with God during the offertory! It was a tremendous week of watching God put peoples’ lives back together and back into close fellowship with Him.
During the teaching time, I felt led to teach from Jeremiah chapter 23. Here are some of the verses that challenged us as leaders:
“’Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture!’ says the Lord. . . You have scattered My flock, driven them away, and not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for the evil of your doings. . . ‘” (Jeremiah 23:1-2).
“Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophecy to you. They make you worthless; They speak a vision of their own heart, not from the mouth of the Lord. They continually say to those who despise Me, “The Lord has said, ‘You shall have peace”; And to everyone who walks according to the dictates of his own heart, “No evil shall come upon you.” (Jeremiah 23:16-17).
“I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran. I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in My counsel, and had caused My people to hear My words, then they would have turned them from their evil way and from the evil of their doings. ‘Am I a God near at hand?’ says the Lord, ‘And not a God afar off?’ Can anyone hide himself in secret places, so I shall not see him?’ (Jeremiah 23:21-24).
“The prophet who has a dream, let him tell a dream; and he who has My word, let him speak My word faithfully. ‘What is the chaff to the wheat?’ says the Lord. ‘Is not My word like a fire?’ says the Lord. ‘And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?’ (Jeremiah 23:28-29).
“’Behold I am against those who prophecy false dreams’ says the Lord, ‘And tell them, and cause My people to err by their lies and by their recklessness. Yet I did not send them or command them, therefore they shall not profit this people at all.” (Jeremiah 23:32).
A very sobering chapter of Scripture indeed. Every parent with children to shepherd into God’s ways needs to read this. Every Sunday School teacher, Christian business person, church leader and pastor needs to examine these verses and ask if they have been standing in God’s counsel, hearing God’s mind and heart, and then faithfully sharing it with those under their care.
Recently, I have been reading the biography of Mark Twain. He was a delightful writer who made many memorable comments such as:
“Familiarity breeds contempt – and children.”
“Good breeding consists of concealing how much we think of ourselves and how little we think of the other person.”
“A classic is something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read.”
“How little a thing can make us happy when we feel that we have earned it.”
“I am not one of those who in expressing my opinions confine themselves to the facts.”
“The worst loneliness is not to be comfortable with yourself.”
“Under certain circumstances, profanity provides relief denied even to prayer.”
“A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”
“Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.”
“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.”
“It takes your enemy and your friend, working together, to hurt you: the one to slander you, and the other to get the news to you.”
“Man is the only Animal that Blushes. Or needs to.”
“A banker is a fellow who lends you his umbrella when the sun is shining, but wants it back the minute it begins to rain.”
“Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.”
“Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.”
“Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.”
“I am opposed to millionaires, but it would be dangerous to offer me the position.”
“I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying that I approved of it.”
“I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.”
“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”
“If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man.”
“If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything.”
“It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”
“It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare.”
“It is easier to stay out than get out.”
“It usually takes more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.”
“Most people are bothered by those passages of Scripture they do not understand, but the passages that bother me are those I do understand.”
“Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.”
“Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.”
“The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”
“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”
“The man who doesn’t read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.”
“The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.”
Sadly, Mark Twain never recovered from the death of his brother Henry on a river boat. Twain became bitter and cynical toward God and especially religion. Much of his life he critiqued the church and its adherents. Like so many, he was unable to reconcile a tragic event with a loving, omnipotent God. Many today need help in understanding why a loving God allows people to suffer. These people don’t need simplistic answers. They need thoughtful, biblical, compassionate responses to their suffering. Easter provides such an answer!
I pray the Lord gives you a wonderful Easter season. May you experience Christ’s resurrection power in your life.
|Finally, let me encourage you to join me with your church or ministry staff at The Cove August 18-19. I’ll be teaching on leadership and team work. You’ll have time to process the truths with your leadership team as well as have time to hear what God is saying to you. Information is on our web site. Hope to see you there!|