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Should I Change?

A fellow minister wrote me not long ago. He was telling me that sometimes it’s hard to reach the parishioners in his church. He likened it to “leading a horse to water but you can’t make them drink”. Another pastor wrote, “Too many "preachers" are just talking! Without the Presence and power given by a true Holy Ghost anointing, it's just words spoken and there's no power to change anything in that. But under the anointing preaching can be powerful and life-changing. I pondered these statements for a while and then I prayed about it. Being a pastor is not easy. If you’re pastoring a church that is not making an impact then maybe you should ask yourself one question. Should I change?

Uncertainty:

The lack of sureness about something or a situation because of unknown factors and the lack of adequate information.

Are we content in our callings to remain somewhat aloof, preaching a gospel that separates people to a mystical world apart from sin, rather than a gospel that overcomes the sin where we live. Dan Davidson, a writer for Focus on the Family, writes: “It is interesting that, when God chose a method of ministering to His fallen creation, he did not come as either a hovering archangel of judgment or a withdrawn guru offering the meaning of life only to those who took the initiative to seek him out. He mingled with his beloved. He became one of them. Not that he took on their sinful nature or dabbled in their weaknesses. But he got involved in their lives and communities, doing so as one filled with both compassion and mission. He certainly was not a compromised shepherd.”

Revival:

An improvement in the condition or strength of something.

An instance of something becoming popular, active, or important again.

Rick Warren put it this way: “When the pastor changes, the church changes.”

For a country to be revived, a state has to be revived.

For a state to be revived, a city must be revived.

For a city to be revived, a church has to be revived.

For my church to be revived, I must be revived

Revival starts with me.

Many people pray for change. They want things to change as long as it is them that do not have to change. You cannot have one apart from the other. There was a man who was having trouble with his leg so he went to the doctor. The doctor told the man he had gout and for him to give up smoking and drinking. The man said, “Why? Just so I can walk a little better?”

We are just like the man; we do not want to give up anything we want, no matter what the consequences, do we? But there are certain things we need to stop doing in our lives if we are serious about being Christians.

The church need not stagnate. Sometimes we feel content in our callings to remain somewhat aloof, preaching a gospel that separates people to a mystical world apart from sin, rather than a gospel that overcomes the sin where we live.

The next time you feel as though you’re not making a difference ask yourself this question. Should I change?

Be blessed:

Pastor Jeff

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The Church

I remember growing up we had a weekly schedule for church. Sunday school started at 9am and ended at 10am then there was a gathering in the fellowship hall for coffee and Kool-aid. At 11 the service began and ended promptly at noon. Sunday night there was a service, too. On Wednesday night the choir would practice and there might be an additional service that night.
The service began with the choir, in their royal blue robes with gold collars, singing and the congregation picking up a hymnal from the pew in front of you and singing a hymn, or two. I'll never forget the chill that would run up and down my spine when they would play "Holy, Holy, Holy". The pastor decked out in his finest robe would stand at the pulpit and gave a sermon which, usually, lasted about 20 minutes. A good pastor could knock out a nice sermon in that time. The only time church lasted longer than an hour was if there was a baptism or communion. Everything was on schedule. During the week the pastor was always available for counseling. He had an office there with regular office hours.
Well, as time went by, we began to see change happening in the church. The older folks liked the structured service. They enjoyed the traditional hymns and frowned upon secular music.
In the south, where I spent my teens, you could find a church on every major road. On Sunday's the parking lots were full and the people were always dressed in their Sunday best.
In the 1970's, we began introducing worship music to church. The contemporary sound would sometimes upset the older members of the church, but the youth enjoyed it and pastor's knew that the youth were the future of the church.
Times change things and pretty soon the structured services went by the wayside. The pastor now wore a suit. The choir got rid of the robes. The congregation started wearing more casual attire. The parts of the service which you could count on remained. Singing of hymns, recitation of The Lord's Prayer and The Apostle's Creed, and now a worship song sung by a soloist with a guitar were acceptable before the sermon.
Well, church the church changed. Look at the services at Elevation Church, LifeChurch, or any of the mega-churches. Gone are the hymns of old, the pews, the people dressed in their Sunday best, Sunday school, Wednesday night services, choirs, hymnals and older folks.
The music is performed by Christian Rock Bands called worship teams. The congregation might bring a Bible, or they can read it off the main screen in the auditorium or from their smartphone. It's impossible to meet with your pastor for counseling; they have volunteers for that. The pastor is hardly ever available for hospital visits or funerals. The close-knit bonds people had in the smaller church settings were all gone; except for a few small group studies.
Now when I'm driving across the country, I see small churches pretty much abandoned scattered on the landscape. Parking lots that used to be full and fellowship halls filled with activity are empty. A pandemic has come. Government officials say that we cannot gather in our sanctuary to worship our Lord. What we are witnessing is sad. But is it?
“…I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:9
The Lord has embraced technology! That’s right! I say that the Lord has embraced technology and He is using it for His glory. We see the church differently now. The government says we cannot assemble, God says watch what happens. There are many churches now holding services using Zoom, Messenger, Facebook and YouTube. What’s even more interesting is people are watching! They are singing worship music and digging into the word. Bible studies are popping up for adults, teens and children.
What’s even better is to see families together. Not just in church but at home. They’re eating together, playing together, singing together and worshiping together. Could it be God’s plan to bring families back together?
Now, people are wanting to get back to normal and I wonder, if we haven’t begun to see God’s “new” normal.
Don Moen wrote a song about it:
Oh, God will make a way
Where there seems to be no way
He works in ways we cannot see
He will make a way for me
When I see the changes, I often think this ain't the church I grew up in.
Have a great day!
Pastor Jeff Godsey
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It is Well

Good morning, good afternoon and good evening prayer warriors.

I hope that this message finds each of you doing well. Recent events around the world have many people troubled. Will I be able to feed my family? Will I be able to pay my rent or my mortgage? Will I be able to work? These are all good questions and it is important that we remember that whatever is going on in this world our God is in control and He sees each, and every, one of us.

What is important is that we find that amid all the gloom and doom we see in the news, in the marketplace and, unfortunately, sometimes in our homes that we are called to be in prayer.  In 2 Chronicles 7:4 the word says: “if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

I have been encouraged by recent advertisements that have been aired on TV by Franklin Graham, Interstate Battery and a new app you can download for your phone called “PRAY”. I’ve been encouraged by the number of churches who, despite the order to practice “social distancing” have become quite inventive. A mega church in Nashville calling members of their congregation to come and worship in their cars in the church parking lot while worship music is played, and pastors preach from a safe distance. Oh, to hear the voice of the people outside the walls of the church! Others have embraced technology like Faith Tabernacle Church in Colville, Washington whose livestream messages are reaching around the world.

This morning as I was praying the Lord reminded me of the story of Horatio Spafford who lost his 4-year-old son in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. He lost his fortune in the economic downturn that followed. Two years later he planned to travel to Europe with his wife and two daughters, but his departure was delayed. During the cruise the ship his family was on sank rapidly after colliding with a sea vessel. His wife survived and sent him a telegram with these words: “Saved Alone”. As he traveled across the ocean to meet his wife, he penned the hymn that has touched many lives as he passed by the area where his daughters met their fate. Now, as many of us are feeling the effect of this deadly virus that is plaguing our world maybe it’s time that we can find comfort in the words that he wrote.

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll,

Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know

It is well, it is well, with my soul.

 

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,

Let this blessed assurance control,

That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,

And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

 

May God’s peace be upon each and everyone. May His love surround you and your loved ones. May you see the beauty and not the ashes. And if you have never fully committed your life to Christ or felt like maybe you would get by on God’s grace until you fulfilled the desires of your life before making that decision. I encourage you; no, I implore you, to do so now so that you can say these words “It is Well with My Soul”.

God bless you,

Pastor Jeff Godsey

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The Struggle of Being a Pastor

For years I struggled, trying to get a grasp on what exactly God wants me to do in my ministry. I can tell you that I knew where I was in my ministry was not where God wanted me to be.  I honestly felt as though the Lord was not going to give me a sign. What frustration. Things were not right, my world was not at peace, (notice I said “MY” world), it was clear to me that there was something more that I needed to be doing…but WHAT?
A few years ago I accepted a friend request on Facebook. I could see that the request was from a fellow minister but I didn’t know him. I figured that he’d just friended one of my current friends and thought “what the heck, I could use another contact.” Boy was I wrong.  This guy started contacting me. When my wife was struggling with her decision to go back to school he would IM me with a prayer for her. No one had ever really done that. Then, when my doctor sent me to have some testing he prayed for me, again through IM. This happened over and over again. I thought this was nice. It actually felt good that someone that I’d never met would pray for us.
One day, I get a phone call, and it’s from this contact. He was very concerned about me. He told me that his ministry was a healing ministry and that he was blessed with the Holy Spirit and had several gifts…one of them was healing.  And I thought, interesting! (That’s my Spock voice coming out). You see I was born into the Presbyterian Church, at 13 I accepted Christ, I was never exposed to healings, demonic influences or anything that he was dealing with. My father and mother left the church and started going to a Nazarene Church and I eventually chose to go with them.  This was my first exposure to a “holiness” church. They weren’t Pentecostal but they were spirit filled which made for an interesting first few visits. I’ll get more into that in another post. But it was obvious that my family was moved by this new denominational group and, eventually, so was I.
I got my first exposure to demons at age 16. I’d come home one night and my mother, who’d suffered with manic depression, was awake. It was late and she was in our living room chanting when I walked in.  She asked me if I was “right” with God and I told her “sure am.” Then she spoke to me in a different voice; a deep scary voice. She started telling me that I was never going to heaven that she wasn’t going to heaven and then her voice changed back and she said something was wrong. That Satan was attacking her. She was sweating profusely. I tried to comfort her. I touched her forehead and I nearly burned my hand. It was as if I’d touched a hot burner on the stove. I was clueless. I didn’t know what to do so I just prayed that God would help her fight Satan and that he leave my mom alone.  A few minutes later, mom was fine. She was back to her normal self and went off to bed.
A few months later I felt “called” to go into ministry.  I told my pastor and I began working at the church in the music department. I would lead the choir, performed many solo performances, sang in quartets…guys, I was hooked.  I liked the music and the people really responded to what I was led to sing. I was encouraged to go off to Trevecca Nazarene College (now University) in Nashville, TN. However, I never pursued any form of ministry.
In my 40’s I got the call again…this time I answered.  I knew I was ready. My wife was supportive and so were my kids.  I knew that I was human and that I had a bad temper. Someone would cut me off on the highway and I’d accidentally blurt out a cuss word.  My daughter would bring me back in line by saying, “bad pastor!” I’d laugh and tell her that, no matter what, I’m still human. Honestly, now when I look back on it.  She was right! I was a bad pastor. Things weren’t pulling together like I wanted it to. (Notice, I said “I”).
Anyway, here’s this new influence coming into my life. He’s a healing minister. He speaks in tongues. I read his posts and think, wow, this guy’s good.  He begins to work with me and praying with me. He knows that something’s not right. My eyes weren’t open. My heart wasn’t ready to accept this new direction in ministry. He told me, it wasn’t going to be easy for me because of my formal education. You see, I wasn’t praying and teaching in the “spirit.” I was dealing with all the feel good aspects of ministry and avoiding the dark forces that are plaguing many who want to believe. I trusted that God had given us psychiatrists to deal with those problems.  I was wrong.
Last night, I got it. My eyes were opened and I saw, firsthand, what he’d been trying to teach me. Last night, I was helping someone close to me who’s been fighting demons for nearly her entire life. With his help, he walked me through every step to help her. We’d stop and pray that God would open my eyes and ears so that I could see and hear the demons when they spoke. Let me tell you…it was truly awesome to see God work. This morning I had a song in my head and, for the first time, I listened to the words.  It was written back in 1895 by Clara H. Scott. Here are the lyrics and I’ll close this post with this song:
Open my eyes, that I may see
Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me;
Place in my hands the wonderful key
That shall unclasp and set me free.
(Refrain)
Silently now I wait for Thee,
Ready my God, Thy will to see,
Open my eyes, illumine me,
Spirit divine!
Open my ears, that I may hear
Voices of truth Thou sendest clear;
And while the wave notes fall on my ear,
Everything false will disappear.
(Refrain)
Open my mouth, and let me bear,
Gladly the warm truth everywhere;
Open my heart and let me prepare
Love with Thy children thus to share.

Have a great day!

 

Pastor Jeff Godsey

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