WAS 2020 SUCCESSFUL?

12 01 2021

SPEAKING IN THE LIGHT JANUARY 13 2021

This is the time of the year that many churches are called upon to put together their Annual Reports. The Governing Districts want to determine whether a local Body of Christ has been successful or not. Since the day I first entered full time ministry in 1982, I have always bristled at how most Christian organizations rate accomplishments. So much of the data gathered has to do with numbers and attendance and how many people sat in the seats under the roof of your facility. It doesn’t take a Rocket Scientist to observe that the God of the Bible might measure the amount of faithfulness, godliness, holiness and righteousness using tools other than just showing up.

Last year was the wildest year I have ever survived as a Pastor. Suddenly, the buildings were closed. The church of Jesus though is not a compilation of bricks and sticks but a family of blood pumping heartbeats set on serving Jesus. The doors of the auditorium might be locked but there is no weapon made by man that can imprison the Gospel. But how do you add that up on a piece of paper? Maybe God was shaking us all up so that we stop looking at statistics and start championing the stories that every individual who has decided to follow Jesus gets to share.

This past year, I preached many a weekend to a physically empty room, but online told a different story. There were actually more crowds tuning in from places that the message would have never arrived to without the addition of the world wide web. I lit a candle before every Service as a reminder that the most important One, the Holy Spirit, was still in our midst providing the power to accomplish what could never happen in the natural. New relationships were formed. Deeper connections were begun. Significant conversations were spoken. Lives were still being transformed. And the only way that will translate to a banner year for the kingdom of God is if we are willing to stop prioritizing the numbers and begin to cherish the privilege of meeting needs.

It was Mother Theresa who said, “God does not require that we be successful, only that we be faithful.” I have forever quoted the following mantra to my children from the time they could understand, “Obedience is the key to Christianity.” God is not looking for me to wow Him with my latest ingenuity. He is longing for me to just say, “Here I am Lord, use me.” As a matter of fact, if I wanted to just create a crowd, I could resort to the tricks and the gimmicks of the world system. But the Lord is calling us to become Disciples willing to die to our flesh so we become alive to His fruit. And to summarize the harvest of 2020, we are going to need a new document and I am actually grateful for that. It is time to talk about the acts of the Church of Jesus and not just be satisfied to know that there were spectators in the audience.

Let’s face it, Christians, one of the most difficult challenges for we human beings are to keep pressing on when it looks like we are making no headway at all. But God is not expecting us to pull off what only He can execute by His mighty Presence. I am teaching a Bible Study of the Book of Ezekiel every Tuesday. You can come to it in person at the Lighthouse Church or you can watch it live online. My point though is that Ezekiel trained to be a Priest for God. God changed Ezekiel’s vocation to Prophet of God. Ezekiel didn’t argue with God and lay claims to his original training. Ezekiel adjusted the load on the road and shifted his focus. Also, God made it clear to Ezekiel that there would not be many converts in this ministry. God said that the majority of his onlookers would enjoy his delivery without any intention of doing what the Lord is calling them to do. If that doesn’t sound familiar to our culture, then what does? It’s not the size of our buildings, our budgets, our bands, our Bibles, our buffets, our bells and whistles that open up the Heavens. It is the simplicity of our willingness to go after Jesus through the pandemics, the political craziness, the positives and negatives of our unpredictable circumstances that will keep us connected to the promises of God. Moses couldn’t convince Pharaoh, but God said speak anyway. The crowds stoned Steven and he kept pointing to the Truth. Paul died in prison but the legacy he left lives on through the Letters of the New Testament. When are we going to stop looking for the applause of men when all we really need is the, “Well Done Good and Faithful Servant,” from God?

I shared with our Lighthouse Church Staff that our goal is not to try to get the church back to what it was pre-Covid19. Our mission has never changed. It is to show others Jesus. We can do it with our masks on or masks off. We can do it online or in person. We can do it with words or with our behavior. Nobody can stop God’s people from praying and preaching and proclaiming His love. This may not translate to a neat and pretty Annual Report. But it will make a dent into Eternity.

Go where God sends you. Obey what God shares with you. Live the life God enables you. Carry the torch of the Truth that will set people free forever. Shine the light that Jesus ignited the day He entered into your heart. And what can’t be written on paper will certainly translate by the faith of the people. Faith is believing that God exists and He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Just make sure that you never settle for trinkets that rust when God is calling us to treasure which lasts. Our obedience to God may not always produce the things that this earth deems as fortune but when we turn our eyes upon Jesus, and look intent upon His wonderful face, the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His Glory and Grace! What is my approach to 2021? It is more than doing the next best thing. It is all about being in tune with God’s thing! No “thing” is as important as God’s thing. And let us be diligent in pursuing that kind of excellence.


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