Saturday, September 30, 2006

General Conference Edition - Columbus, Ohio - Saturday Morning - Passing the Mantle


The weather here in Columbus this morning was cold and rainy. The temperature was 48 degrees and the rain was pelting down at a steady downpour. A number of my friends have already left and some are leaving this afternoon. I would be less than honest if I said that I was not ready to head home.

This morning’s service will be perhaps the highlight of the conference. Its theme was “Passing the Mantle.” Apparently the thought started with our General Superintendent Kenneth Haney. His vision was to pass along to a younger generation a greater sense of responsibility concerning the heritage of Apostolic doctrine. I had talked with Stephen Williams earlier via cell phone and he was holding me a seat when I walked in. We were a little ways back and so I went up and scouted around a bit and managed to get us a front row seat. After it was all over, I was thankful for that front row seat because the service was incredible. I might add that we are a little happier than we look. The fellow who took the picture caught us off-guard!

The service was started with G. A. Mangun followed by his son, Anthony Mangun, who was followed by his son, Gentry Mangun. All of these men read portions of Scripture from Joel and Acts 2. To watch the progression in this particular family further reiterated the very crucial importance of what we are passing down to generations.

After this beginning, there was a medley of songs that were sang by a varied group of singers. I wish that I would have written down the songs but I did not. We started with the old hymns and then ended with a praise and worship chorus.

Following the singing, Jesse Williams told of how that the Lord called him to Fayetteville, North Carolina. He spoke of leaving his home with two teenage sons and two small daughters and making the trek to establish a church in that city. Since it was near Fort Bragg, Bro. Williams was able to make inroads to the military community. Since 1966, over 20,000 men and women have been baptized in the name of Jesus with many of these being transient military members. As I digested all of this, I understood that this church established by Bro. Williams has not just effected a mass of people but it has literally impacted our world.

Pastor Mike Williams of Apopka, Florida followed Bro. Jesse Williams. He spoke from the standpoint of being a son. Initially, Bro. Mike Williams wasn’t too happy about being uprooted and taken to this city in North Carolina but he said that as the burden of his parents, particularly his father, begin to consume, he along with his brother, Patton, started reaching out to the lost.

Following Mike Williams was Darryl (or maybe Derrick, as I am uncertain of the name) who is a grandson of Bro. Jesse Williams. He spoke of the treasure that had been passed on to him and then spoke of the responsibility of that treasure. With every treasure there must be a sense of care of what has been passed along to us. It is so important for the following generations to find the value and the vigilance that is associated with such a blessing.

Following this trio of men, we broke out and sang a song that many of the younger generation did not know. However, since we are fairly acquainted with all the old songs in Dothan, “The Waterway” was not a huge challenge for me to sing even with my limited abilities at singing. What was a little funny though was turning around and watching all the ministers who were 40 and under having great difficulty singing because they did not know the words. I will admit that I like some of the new 7-11 P&W (7 words sung 11 times, praise and worship) stuff but I also believe that some of the old songs of Zion helps to keep us rooted to our boundaries.

There was a very great liberty of the Spirit all the way through the service. It was very emotional and yet there was a great burden that I personally felt to continue to faithfully uphold my calling. I always do my best to make further and greater commitments to the Lord at these sorts of events and I did so again today. What this world has to offer is so insignificant in contrast to what God has for us and will reward us with when we make that final step.

Our General Superintendent then stepped to the pulpit and introduced on of the great stalwarts among us. J. T. Pugh has personally affected my life in more ways than one. You can read about them here and here. Bro. Haney also said that Bro. Pugh had deeply affected his commitment to God with his preaching, his character, and lifestyle over the years. Bro. Haney said that when he was 15 years old he heard Bro. Pugh preach for the very first time.

Bro. Pugh had a great word from the Lord for all of us in the house. He preached about “The Sons of the Second Crossing” and took his text from Joshua 1:1-9. I did not take notes while he preached (which is not my usual practice) because I wanted to try to absorb everything about his message. I will go back and listen again to this great message.

Following this was a drama of two men who were impersonating the Apostle Paul and Timothy. The gist of the drama was that Timothy was trying to shirk his responsibility into doing the will and purpose of God for his life. He was going to pursue a much lesser goal of becoming a physician and serving that ancient age in that role. The last question that “Paul” uttered was “Timothy, who else is going to take this mantle if you follow this path?” At that moment, “Paul” and “Timothy” both froze and Bro. Haney walked down and said, “I will take this mantle!”

Bro. Haney then took this mantle and begin to speak of men who have passed on to their reward in the last few years. Two that were mentioned by name were S. W. Chambers and N. A. Urshan. Both of these men were former General Superintendents and both of these men left quite a legacy. I am too young to remember Bro. Chambers but I will always remember Bro. Urshan. He signed my General License back in 1992.

Seated behind Bro. Haney were several hundred men who were honored as elders. In this group of men were my pastor and father-in-law, Joe Patterson, and my District Superintendent. I lost sight of Bro. Patterson as the elders wound around the front seating area but I did see Bro. Lewis. So when we were directed to go to an elder, I went to Bro. Lewis for the passing of the mantle. Bro. Haney had already read a charge to us (I will try and get a copy of that from someone) and we had accepted it. Now was the time when the elders would not only pass the mantle to us but would lay hands on us and pray for us. It was a very moving time. I believe that much will be accomplished in our lives from this service.

Throughout the extended altar service, not only did Bro. Lewis pray for me but I also prayed with Bro. Patterson and Bro. Mike Patterson.

Afterwards, I saw Eddie Sermon from TBC, Michael Ensey (Texas District Youth President) who went to school with Mark Harrelson and Stephen Williams, and I also briefly saw Rodney Leamon who I have developed a friendship with in the last year or so.

I came away from this event with a huge amount of respect for the elders of the United Pentecostal Church. I did also manage to briefly see Anthony Mangun who always has some very kind words of encouragement to give to me. I literally ran into Stan Gleason also. Very ironically or rather providentially on Monday of this week, I pulled his message out of my tape library that he had preached at Because of the Times (2002, I think) and had listened to it twice. It is a message called “Let My Preacher Grow.” I don’t believe this was simply coincidence. When I told Bro. Gleason this, he very fervently prayed for me. I intend to follow up on this at a later point. We cannot take too lightly how important that encouragement of others really is!!!

I came away from this service with a heightened respect for the elders and I also came away with a greater love for the United Pentecostal Church. We cannot allow division and disunity to disrupt our purpose for this world.

On a closing note, I did manage to finally meet Don Ryan, who is a fellow pastor and RN. He pastors a church in Mount Vernon, Ohio. It was very good to meet him and you owe it to yourself to check out his blog also. He gave me directions to some used bookstores in Columbus and so I spent the rest of the afternoon chasing books. . . . you will be very surprised to know that I was quite successful!

Friday, September 29, 2006

General Conference Edition - Columbus, Ohio - Friday



Today started extremely early at 6:15 AM (CST) because the primary business session started at 8:00 AM (CST). One major difficulty about the early rising is the late howling. I have stayed with Brent Rashall the last two nights at the Baymont Inn and we have talked a lot later than what we should have. However, I have come away from our “talks” with some good positive things. One of the things that has been stressed is that if we are going to have a Book of Acts church, not only will there be the power of God present but we will also have to contend with a real-live devil who will attempt to work through carnal people. Just as there will be men like Paul and Silas in the church, we also will have to confront those like Simon the Sorcerer and Elymas. The powerful thing is that in the end, the power of God won out and the Church prevailed.

I cannot say that I have a total understanding but I have scratched a surface understanding of the power of God operating in an Apostolic Church. The focus and intent of our prayers are being answered and God will bring His Church out very victorious.

The business progressed along and the main concern with the touted Resolution # 6 ended up being placed before a committee. It will be duly dealt with in Tampa, Florida at next year’s GC. I fully support this idea although I was prepared to vote against it had it come to light today. When I look at some of the voices of the elders in my own life, I cannot “unlearn” the wisdom of their advice that I have gained over the years. I very clearly can believe that men like N. A. Urshan, James Kilgore, Charles Grisham, and Joe Patterson are godly men who have been led by the Spirit.

Anyway, enough of the business ends of the GC. The General Youth Division had an outstanding service today. For all of the Dothan gang, we placed 16th in the nation. We were about $3000 off to break into the Top Ten. The top SFC givers were the Pentecostals of Alexandria. No surprise there!!! Bro. Gaddy explained that POA had led SFC giving for the last 8 years. My hat is always off to Pastor Anthony Mangun and the POA.

The speaker for the GYD service was Carl McLaughlin who pastors in Euless, Texas. Bro. McLaughlin preached a message entitled “Bound by Bandages.” He worked through the resurrection of Lazarus and preached a very good message. Woven into the message was his own personal testimony of how that he had received the Holy Ghost and been baptized in Jesus name. Very powerful youth message!

The evening service was presented by the Home Missions Division. They started out with a bang with a choir from Tampa Florida (sorry I cannot remember what church). There was a great powerful presence of the Lord in the service.

Next there was a patriotic themed presentation and then Pastor Wayne Huntley basically “preached” the offering. I am unsure of the final totals of the offering. Then we were presented a very good message from Pastor Jerry Dillion from Mississippi. He preached the house down until he got to the end and then he had to get mixed up with a bunch of palaver about Dothan (not Alabama). I am saying this in jest! However, I do believe that I am going to settle down and find a message about the magnificent things that did happen in Dothan. Frankly from my very biased point of view, Dothan is one of the greatest places on the earth.

You will notice the pictures scattered about the blog. I saw Sean and Monique Libby along with their children. I again ran into Stephen and Laurie Williams. I then spent quite a bit of time with my brother Mark, milling around in the book section (I know that is a surprise to the Dothan crowd). I then ran into Rev. J. R. Ensey who was the president of TBC when I was there in 1989-92. We had a very good time of fellowship and I was again reminded of how valuable that my Bible college years have been to me.

I told Bro. Ensey that my Bible college days have motivated two overwhelming passions in my life. The first is to preach. I know that sometimes I take it a bit too serious but I love preaching, not only when I am preaching but when I hear other men skillfully take the Word of God and send it deep into my own soul. Secondly, I was given a passion to study the Word of God. The more I study and write the more that I discover how little that I really know about the Word. Bro. Ensey, A. B. Keating, Kelsey Griffin, David Hunt, and Ken Gurley were my mainstays of teaching me in my Bible college days. I am profoundly grateful for their contribution to my life.

Lastly on the way back to the room, I stopped by a Rally’s (similar to Checkers) and I juiced up all the folks there. I asked them if they were Ohio State fans. This brought three of them to the window and they all told me how fantastic that Ohio State was in college football. Then I asked them if they knew who was number two. They all were unable to tell me. So I informed them that Auburn University in Alabama was. I then told them I would make a deal with them. They had to remember my name and who I was because at the end of 2006, Ohio and Auburn were both going to be undefeated and that they would play for the national championship and that Auburn would knock the stuffings out of them. Auburn is due for a national championship! This wound them up and they all got a little rowdy with that. It was all in good fun and they took it well. Honestly enough, I am not certain if Auburn is ready for OSU.

Good night. . . .

General Conference Edition - Columbus, Ohio - Thursday Night


We came to the service tonight and before the service concluded much of the floor was completely filled. A large portion of the side risers and the first level balcony was filled also. I sat with Mark and Stephanie Harrelson for the Thursday evening service. This service was reserved for our General Superintendent to speak.

I would note that Jerry Jones was re-elected as the General Secretary for the UPCI. Several other elections of note were Greg Wilbanks (Eva, AL) who was elected to the Minister’s Appeal Council and Robbie Knox (Somewhere, KY) was elected as the Secretary of the Sunday School Division. Several years ago, Robbie came and preached a revival for us in Dothan. We can now say that we know someone famous in St. Louis.

The choir did a stirring song. The Ohio District All-State Choir sang and Mickey Mangun sang with them on “We Lift Him Up” and it was quite powerful. That is one of those songs that stirs way down deep on the inside whether you know the song or not. I did go outside because I had been informed that the Ohio District had rented the Jumbotron outside of the Nations Arena for the night services. However, when I went to check an insurance ad was on the J-Tron. Perhaps they are going to begin tomorrow.

On my way back in, I did meet Pastor Ron Macey (who has allowed Stephen Williams to work with him for the past seven years at Royalwood) and talked with him for about 20 minutes or so. I am certain that you know the content of that conversation. . . You guessed it. . . books and sermons. I came away from that conversation with a few more nuggets.

I have already gathered a good amount of “nuggets” along the way since I left Dothan. My 12 ½ hour ride up was a good time for the Lord to “download” some things for me and I paid attention while He spoke.

Tonight’s message by GS Kenneth Haney was very good. Bro. Haney preached from Luke 10 and about the importance of the harvest. He really focused in on the ministry for each local congregation.

Here are some odd and end notes that I scribbled down as he preached. Note-taking at GC is always a little cumbersome to me, but I struggled along. Here are the thoughts:

-If there were a greater dedication to the cause, then there would be less compromise and less prevarication from what we are supposed to be working toward accomplishing in this generation.

-The way that a dedication is strengthened is by finding your focus on your calling. Never forget that any calling will have it’s times of agony and of tears. This is way that our calling is designed.

-Our North American lifestyle of affluence has really caused us to lose the burden of the call.

-Bro. Haney made reference to the old song, “Must Jesus Bear the Cross Alone.”

Must Jesus Bear the Cross Alone

Text: Thomas Shepherd and others
Music: George N. Allen

Must Jesus bear the cross alone,
and all the world go free?
No, there's a cross for everyone,
and there's a cross for me.
 
How happy are the saints above,
who once went sorrowing here!
But now they taste unmingled love,
and joy without a tear.
 
The consecrated cross I'll bear
till death shall set me free;
and then go home my crown to wear,
for there's a crown for me.
 
-Then we were challenged by this haunting question:  Where is the Cross in your preaching?
 
-We live in a generation that wants “Gospel Light.”  This is a Gospel that tastes great and is less filling.  It is a Gospel that feels good but is taking this world nowhere!
 
-We can never forget the sacrifice of yesteryear.  We have a great obligation to the elders who forged on ahead of us with this powerful and glorious Jesus Name message.
 
-This generation need not have the situation that Ezekiel had of the missing man.  God sought for a man but could not find one.  
 
-Fight against that affluence that wants to choke the life out of the anointing in your life.  The affluence of this age causes us to take paths and travel far away from the Cross.
 
·         You are marked.
·         You will be required to give much.
·         You will have to live the consecrated way.
·         You must always force yourself to keep your heart right.
 
-When David stayed home from the battle, a great statement was made about his calling.  His calling had become so unimportant and insignificant that he had lost the great passion for God and now he answered to the whims of his flesh and ease.
 
-Judas found himself with a sellout bargain.  You do not have to look very far to find a lot of “sellout” going on in this generation.
 
·         When do we fast and pray?
·         When do we call ourselves away for a time of separation from people and from this world?
·         What are we set apart from?
 
-Every morning when we get up we must again affirm the fact that there is a calling in our lives.  Bro. Haney said that prayer is crucial to those who are in leadership in the church.  Don’t lay your hands on those who are kicking up dust!  Pray for them!  God will take care of them and there will be incredible damage in the end if they do not find a place to get their heart and spirit right with God.
 
-We must plead the blood at every turn in our lives.  My call is crucial.  Remember that you will have to fight to maintain a right spirit (Bro. Haney was very focused on this particular thought).
 
-Nothing is like the anointing of the Spirit.  This anointing can break yokes and bondage in the lives of people.  I need to be vigilant in my life concerning this anointing.  We need the anointing of the Spirit in everything that we do in our ministry.
 
-Don’t let the friction that comes from carnal people distress you.  There will always be friction between the anointed and the “un-anointed.”  It was like this between Eliab and his brothers versus David.  Eliab wanted to scoff at the attempts of David to slay the giant.
 
-The Eliab’s and their ilk will never understand the methods of the anointed.  
 
-Saul was once anointed but was now no longer aware of what the anointing was really like.  When you lose your anointing, you will lose your purpose of God in your life.
 
-We have to affirm:
 
·         Our Call.
·         Our Mission.
·         Our Weapons.
·         Our Anointing.
 
This message was followed by a very good prayer meeting.  I did notice a small minority that begin to head for the exits.  By and large, the majority of the congregation did stay and pray.  It was a very good message to hear from the General Superintendent.  I trust that what was gained tonight will carry over into tomorrow’s very important business session.
 

Thursday, September 28, 2006

General Conference Edition - Columbus Ohio - Thursday



I have made it safely to Columbus. I drove 825 miles in 12 ½ hours on yesterday. If my wife is reading this she will be happy to know that I did not run over anyone or get run over by someone else and no tickets!

I will try to keep the Dothan crowd updated as to whaive-streamingt is going on up here. You can keep up with General Conference on a live webcast.

I did meet with Brent Rashall who has been a good friend of mine over the years here in Columbus. We ate at Carrabba’s Italian Grill way too late last night but had a good time of catching up.

Today we got up and made it to the business session. However, before I ever got into the business session, I ran into Bro. Kelsey Griffin. I spent about 25 minutes or so with him talking to him about his world travels. He has now been to all fifty states and forty-seven countries in the world and will be leaving very shortly after this conference to Barbados. Not only did Bro. Griffin tell me about his travels, he also loaded my computer up with a lot of notes that he has continued to work with over the last few years. I told someone that I could now leave Columbus and feel like I had been blessed already. These notes run in E-Sword which is a free downloadable Bible program.

I then ran into Stephen Williams who is here representing South Texas as their district Youth President. Shortly after that I ran into Mark Harrelson, who is my smarter and better looking younger brother, who is representing Alabama as their district Youth President. I also have managed to see Greg Wilbanks (Eva, AL) who introduced me to the renowned Nate Wilson (Sacramento, CA). I have also seen our Alabama District Superintendent Roger Lewis (Mobile, AL) and our District Secretary Earl Bodiford (Semmes, AL).

I then spent a fairly lengthy time with Mike Patterson solving the world’s problems and other minor difficulties. If we could run this world, would be a much better place. I have also seen Kay and Daniel who are roaming around the Exhibit Hall. I managed to get some pictures with Kay and Bro. Patterson.

I also have seen Rodney Leaman (WeeWawhitchka, FL) and his father, John Leaman (previously of the Foreign Missions Division).

Tonight, our General Superintendent Kenneth Haney will be delivering his annual address to the United Pentecostal Church.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

A Day In Gainesville -- Refuge From Despair


As I had mentioned in a few earlier posts (The Five Year Pass & Formula for a Downpour), on September 5, 2006, I had the opportunity to go to Gainesville, Florida and spend several hours with Pastor Jeff Arnold. For more background you can link to the two previous posts so that I will not have to backtrack with some previous things that Bro. Arnold told us about Because of the Times.

I asked Bro. Arnold which message really stood out to him over all the years at Because of the Times. He mentioned two of them, “Refuge from Despair,” and “I Will Not Die In My Dilemma.”

When he mentioned “Refuge from Despair” I wanted to delve into that one a bit more. I do not remember exactly what year it was preached but I do remember the saber-rattling that it caused. If ever there was a message about the mysterious grace of God, this would have to be the one. I really wanted to dig this message out of the archives and listen to it again before I wrote this post but I have not been able to do so because I cannot find it.

I distinctly remember the very challenging aspect of that message. This message literally forced you into one of two categories: (1) a grace giver or (2) a grace holder. Each of these categories has high stakes and whether we willingly admit it or not, to be a giver or a holder of grace means that we will have to pay a certain price. Therein lies the great challenge. To give grace probably will mean that you will have to relinquish some of your pride and possibly a little self-righteousness. To hold grace will lead to a path of bitterness and anger that will clutch at you for the rest of your life. Somewhere you have to learn to let go. . .

When we give grace, there is that huge obstacle that we must leap over called justice. Justice demands retribution. Justice demands a penalty. Justice demands a “pound of flesh.” There is not a lot of margin of error when you begin to embrace justice. Yet, to give grace means that we are willing to grant forgiveness for the mistake and in the long run be willing to forget the injustice (this is totally opposed to justice).

However, to hold grace will become far more challenging in the long-distance of life’s marathon. As miles pile up in life, so will the difficulty to change. The further that life goes on, whatever small adjustments that were needed to have been made, that which is not changed will be drastically exaggerated in the direction of our life. To hold grace will cause you to become an angry old soul. Those who hold grace are constantly in a quarrelsome state of mind.

I asked Bro. Arnold how this message came to him and I have to admit that I was very surprised as to how the Lord gave it to him. He said that generally when he gets to Because of the Times that he may or may not have an idea of what he is going to preach. He said that for him preaching is very hard work.

In a past conversation with him, he told me that when he starts hanging around with Pastor Wayne Huntley, he gets disgusted. He told me one time that Bro. Huntley has sermons rolling out of him all the time. It doesn’t matter where Bro. Huntley is, he can preach! Bro. Arnold told me one time that they could wake Bro. Huntley up at 3:00 AM and he could preach in his pajamas (this was quite funny to hear Bro. Arnold tell it in his unique way). Bro. Arnold said that he has to work hard with his preaching. I have to admit this was refreshing for me to hear because I sweat and fret with own preaching too!

When Bro. Arnold started telling us how he “got” the message for “Refuge from Despair,” the hair on the back of my neck and my arms was literally standing up. The Spirit sort of descended on that little table there in Sonny’s BBQ while he was telling us this story.

Bro. Arnold said that he told the Lord that he needed something to preach to BOTT. He said that he was in the motel room and had been praying and reading and had stopped to get a cup of hot tea. As he was walking back from the coffee pot to the little table by the window, the voice of the Lord came to him.

He said that the Lord told him, “I have something for you to preach but you will be greatly maligned and misunderstood for the content of the message. You will have to endure much criticism for this Word but I am going to be at your side throughout all of it.”

Bro. Arnold said at that moment, he knew that he was in for one of the most life-changing events he had ever experienced. As he sat down at the table, he said that it felt like the glory of the Lord had literally filled the room. He said that he felt a strong breeze that seemed to stay in the room as God downloaded the message to him.

He said that he was directed to the following verse passage:

1 John 3:20-21 KJV For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. [21] Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.

He said that he begin to weep as never before in his life. He said that he grabbed a legal pad and started trying to scribble out his message and he said that the tears were rolling from his eyes in such a way that he could not even see. He said that through all of it the Lord directed him from one passage to another. Amazingly the prevailing theme in all of these passages was the mysterious yet overwhelming grace of God. He told us that when all of this was going on that he knew he was in for a message unlike any that he had ever preached before!

I again want to reiterate to you that while Bro. Arnold was telling us that the hair on my arms and neck was literally on end. Sonny’s was full of folks at tables all around us but we may as well have been a million miles away because I felt a majestic presence of the Lord during that time. If we had only driven down to hear Bro. Arnold tell us this, it would have been worth the trip!

Bro. Arnold said that once he got the message that he knew how radical that it was going to be and that he really begin to question God and somewhat second-guess himself. However, he went ahead and preached that message. I can still remember when he got through preaching it and the response of the whole house. There was a quietness that hung in the sanctuary at POA. Admittedly, I was still sort of young and little naïve about exactly what had occurred in that room on that night. I noticed that people were going in two directions, some were heading for the exits and some were heading for the altars.

Looking back and having Bro. Arnold share the ins-and-outs of this message with Bro. Sims and myself, there is quite a clearer understanding about what was going on during that moment. The house was being divided into grace-givers and grace-holders. Needless to say (but said anyway), this is one of the greatest challenges of our spiritual walk with God. Because there is still a flesh to contend with, there is a certain portion of us that wants to keep score. But to keep score is to become bitter! We must give grace and not hold grace. I cannot tell you how challenging that this is.

I am fearful that we Pentecostals can sometimes get so caught up in the action of worship (the feeling, the singing, excitement of worship, etc.) that we forget the mechanics of worship (Romans 12:1-2 which is living it out and fleshing it out). God is not going to judge me on all of the gifts of the Spirit that I have in my life but the fruit of the Spirit that is present in my life.

Bro. Arnold said that later on that night that some of the speakers were gathering at Bro. Anthony’s home. When he walked in the door the first person he met was David Bernard. He said that Bro. Bernard was sitting on the piano stool and when he saw Bro. Arnold come in he told him, “Bro. Arnold that was the greatest message that I have ever heard in my entire life on grace. No one has ever preached it greater or with more power than what you have tonight.” Bro. Arnold said that when Bro. Bernard told him that, he felt that maybe it was not going to be as rough as he had thought it would be. However, Bro. Arnold said that Bro. Bernard was not finished speaking. Bro. Bernard then said, “But. . . . I know the people. . . . and the people do not understand grace. . . . and what you have preached will not be received. . . nor will it be granted to you!”

Bro. Arnold said that this was somewhat disheartening to him but he thought that he would be able to make it. What he did not realize was that it was going to be a rough year. Before he got home from Alexandria, his phone had been ringing off the hook and people were leaving all sorts of messages (some derogatory) for him. He said that he had thirteen Camp-meetings that he was supposed to preach that summer and every one of them were cancelled. He said that ten districts personally called him and told him that he was not welcome to come and preach. Three districts did not even contact him on the phone, they simply mailed letters that stated that he could not come and preach that they were cancelling him for their district.

He said that people would call him on the phone and not even identify themselves and tell him that he had preached heresy and false doctrine and they would then hang up. Bro. Arnold told us that during this time that his wife was his biggest supporter.

He said that the cloud begin to lift several months later. He said that one morning he received a call and a man who had broken English came on the phone and asked, “Is this Pastor Arnold?” Bro. Arnold said that the had gotten so many calls like that before that he almost told the guy, “Yeah and you can go ahead and complain, I’ll listen.” But he said he did not say that, he just said, “Yes it is.” Then this man begin to pour out in his broken English and tears that he wanted him to know that they had shown the “Refuge from Despair” video to his church (who knows where!) and that a minister who had been backslidden for quite some time had been restored back to God and to the Church. Bro. Arnold said that at that moment the cloud begin to lift for him.

A friend of mine brought to my attention that the very next year that Bro. Arnold preached “The Greatest Need” which is being right with God. Obviously, the criticism and maligning that Bro. Arnold had been forced to endure again benefited those who were at BOTT.

I feel sure that I am going to find this message from the archives and listen to it and I may take notes from it and post them in the coming days for your benefit.

By the way, the comments have been a little dry lately. . . Is this blog helping or hurting?

ADDENDUM: Thanks for the comments. Comments from Jay Jones has helped me to find the place where you can hear this message on the Internet. It is located at here. Scroll halfway down the page and you can listen. Thanks a bunch Jay!!!!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Wednesday Wisdom for September 13, 2006

I am going to take a slight break in blogging about Pastor Jeff Arnold’s sage advice that he passed on a few days ago. You can read the first post and the second post if you desire. His “five-year pass” principle is a very valid time test that all who are involved in ministry have to take.

I have good intentions of trying to bring a little more encouragement to this blog by placing different quotes that will hurt and help at the same time.

When I was in Bible College (located in Houston at the time), I signed up for the two hour study hall on Wednesdays. The reason that I did this was to help me catch up with homework, reading assignments, and other odds and ends that presented itself during the week.

By the time everything was said and done, there was a whole, whole lot more said than done. However, it was during these “Wednesday Wisdom” sessions that I forged some very close friendships. It was there that Paul Jacks, Bryan Aaron, Robert Esquibel, and I would convene with great world-changing plans. Occasionally, we would have guests to appear to have some input, argument, disagreement, or agreement. Those occasional drop-in guests to our “round-table” would be the brilliant Greg Butter, the humorous Clyde Wyatt, the genial Lauren Brooks, and the total package, Rob McKee. As you can imagine, we managed to get into some pretty intense conversations although much of the content of those times has escaped me.

As you are obviously aware, our plans have not changed the world, but our friendships have somewhat endured. I have pretty much lost touch with Bryan. I periodically talk to Greg on the phone. I occasionally see Robert at BOTT. The last time that I saw Rob McKee, he stole my watch and was probably going to pick my pocket for my billfold. As for Paul, he and I have remained pretty tightly knit over the years. Although I don’t see him as frequently as I would like, I talk to him on a regular basis. I have preached in his church and he has preached here in Dothan on a number of occasions.

Thus the “Wednesday Wisdom” ticket! I do remember that there were a few times that at this “round-table” talk that we had almost pin-pointed the identity of the Anti-christ. But alas, something would happen to take our front-runner out. But the “wisdom” that poured off of this table and on to the floor was amazing.

Today’s quote comes from Charles Spurgeon, who was dubbed “The Prince of Preachers.” Most preachers at some point have treasured from his writings. The following quote for this post is from the sermon, “How Saints May Help the Devil.” It is Sermon #264 and it comes from Volume 5 of the New Park Street Pulpit.

Spurgeon is addressing the cold state of worship England and he makes a comparison to Wales where he had been preaching the week before:

When I was preaching in Wales this week, I could not but observe the power which attended the ministry, when there was a living congregation and an earnest company gathered together to hear the Word of God. We have become accustomed to sit in a kind of solemn silence to hear the gospel. Not so in Wales. There is to be heard the voice of acclamation; every person expresses the feelings of his soul in audible prayers and cries to God; and at last, when the Spirit has descended, you hear the loud cries of Gogoniant,” — “Glory to God.” As each precious sentence drops from the lips of the preacher, it seems to be taken up and fed upon by the people, while they shout aloud for joy.

Then Spurgeon picks up and begins to speak on the effect that lukewarm saints and churches have on sinners:

And now what says the world to all our coldness? Why, it says — “Ah, this is the kind of religion we like,” says the worldling; “we don’t like those raving Methodists; we can’t stand them; we don’t like those earnest indefatigable Christians of the cars of Whitfield; oh! no, they were a raving set of folks; we don’t like them; but we like these quiet folks.” “Yes,” says the worldling, “I think it is quite right that every man should go to his church and his chapel on a Sunday; but I never could go and hear such raving as Mr. So-and~so gives.” Of course you could not; you are an enemy to God, and that is why you like a Laodicean church. That very church which the world likes best is sure to be that which God abhors. The world says, “We like everything to go on smoothly; we like a man to go to his own parish church, and hear a good, solid, substantial sermon read; we like to go up to the meeting house, and hear a sober, eloquent divine; we don’t like any of this furious preaching, any of these earnest exhortations.”

No, of course you like that of which God has said, “Thou art neither cold nor hot;” God hates such, and that is why sinners love it. But what effect does all this have upon the worldling? Why, just this. He says, “I like you, because you don’t rebuke me; I like that kind of religion, because it is no accusation against me. When I see a Christian hot and in earnest about being saved,” he says, “it rebukes my own indifference; but when I see a professed Christian just as indifferent about the salvation of men as I am, why, then I say, it is all a farce, nonsense! they don’t mean it, the minister does not care a bit about whether souls are saved or not, and as for the church, they make a great, deaf of noise every now and then at Exeter Hall, about saving some poor blacks far away, but they don’t care about saving us.”

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A Day In Gainesville -- Formula For a Downpour


In yesterday’s post, I wrote about our trip last Tuesday (September 5, 2006) to Gainesville, Florida to visit with Pastor Jeff Arnold. I have already written about what he termed the “five-year pass.” It was recounting some of his early days in Gainesville and some of the things that he had to personally overcome.

I have written on the BarnabasBlog about the impact that several men have had on my life and ministry. One of those men is Anthony Mangun who pastors in Alexandria, Louisiana. Since 1983, a conference convenes in Alexandria called Because of the Times. Over the last 20+ years it has been responsible for a lot of good things among the United Pentecostal Church and has greatly contributed to a lot of personal growth among revival-minded men. Bro. Arnold is one of the mainstays at BOTT and has preached there every year since its inception.

Because of the powerful change that has occurred in me over the years, I was curious as to how Bro. Arnold got involved with BOTT. When he was telling us about his initial encounter with Anthony Mangun, Bro. Sims and I laughed at another of Bro. Arnold’s “dilemmas.”

Bro. Arnold said that he went to General Conference in 1982 (which would have been the fall before the first BOTT) and standing outside the doors were Bro. Mangun and Pastor Mike Williams from Apopka, Florida. Bro. Arnold said that he knew Bro. Williams but did not really know Bro. Mangun. They were both passing out small flyers with the dates and a brief explanation about what BOTT was about.

He said that Bro. Anthony gave him a flyer and told him that he would really like for him to come to Alexandria the following year for the conference. Bro. Arnold said that Bro. Anthony told him, “It’s a conference for young preachers.” Bro. Arnold said that he felt like he was in that category but was uncertain if he would be able to make it. So, he told Bro. Anthony, “I’ll think about it and do my best to be there.” He said that Bro. Anthony looked at him and said, “Well, you better do more than just think about it because you are the preacher who is closing out the last service.”

Bro. Arnold said he looked at Bro. Anthony, then he looked back at the flyer, looked back at Bro. Anthony and then back at the flyer. He then looked up again and asked him, “Do you know who I am?” Bro. Mangun replied back, “No not really, but the Lord told me that you are supposed to preach the closing service!” Bro. Arnold said, “Must be some mistake. . . Do you know how many I had in Sunday School last Sunday?” Bro. Anthony said, “No. How many?” Bro. Arnold said, “62!!!! And I see on this list that you have yourself, Mike Williams, Vesta Mangun, T.F. Tenney, James Kilgore, Wayne Huntley, J.T. Pugh, and some others. I am not even in the same boat with all of these fellows. And you want me to come preach?” Bro. Anthony said back to him, “Yep, the Lord has already spoken to me about it!”

Bro. Arnold told us then that he had never felt so unworthy as he did at that moment. He told us that he showed up at that first BOTT and he said he was nervous, excited, and felt the full swing of emotions on either end of the spectrum. He also told us that he was so intimidated by all of the “big” ministries that were surrounding him. He said that he went to his motel room and started begging God to give him something to preach.

He did not tell us the content of that first message but he did give us the title, “Formula for a Downpour.” He said that the rest of it is history. He related to us that every year, he tries to beg off from preaching and just wants to be there for the conference but Bro. Mangun won’t let him off the hook. He did tell us that he had gotten into some trouble for rubbing the cat’s fur the wrong direction a few times (I am saving that story for another post). But all in all, BOTT was something that launched Bro. Arnold’s preaching into a lot of younger minister’s lives.

I asked him if there were any that really stood out to him over the years and he mentioned, “Miracle Looking for a Vessel” and “Coming Out of A Cave.” He also mentioned “Refuge from Despair.” As he was telling us how that God gave him that message, there was an incredible touch of the Spirit that I felt in Sonny’s BBQ in Gainesville.

He also told us that the message that has probably helped more people than any of the one’s that he preached in the BOTT venue was “I Will Not Die In My Dilemma.” I am going to use both of those messages to write about in a few days.

As for Bro. Arnold’s preaching, the Pentecostals of Gainesville website has a new catalog that will provide all sorts of inspiration if you are a minister. It has over 2200 messages that are available for purchase. I got an incredible rush of inspiration just rambling through all the sermon titles that are listed.

Bro. Sims’ was once in close contact with the fellow who ran the sound equipment in Gainesville. This man was also responsible for the tape ministry. Bro. Sims has a a series about Abraham that contained 29 messages. In that series Bro. Arnold basically preached through the life of Abraham and took his initial text from Hebrews 11:8-10. The series title is “In The Steps of That Faith." The actual messages of this series are listed under the "teaching series" at the website.

Blogging on. . . . . . .by faith!

Monday, September 11, 2006

A Day In Gainesville -- The Five Year Pass


Last Tuesday (September 5, 2006), I was invited by Pastor J. B. Sims from Foley, Alabama, to go to Gainesville, Florida. The whole reason for the trip was to spend a half-day with Pastor Jeff Arnold, who pastors the Pentecostals of Gainesville. Bro. Sims and Bro. Arnold have been friends for quite a number of years. During his early ministry days, Bro. Sims would drive from Tallahassee to Gainesville to see Bro. Arnold on a fairly routine basis.

We managed to get up a lot earlier than normal to make the trip. Bro. Sims left Foley around 3:30 AM and I left Dothan around 6 AM and we met in Marianna, Florida and rode together the rest of the way. We went by their church and took a brief tour before meeting Bro. Arnold at Sonny’s BBQ. Before the day was over, I had driven 500 miles and Bro. Sims had driven and ridden around 800 miles. However, after the day had concluded we both decided that it had been very much worth the early rising and the drive.

I have secured Bro. Arnold’s permission to write about some of the things that he talked with us about on that day. What you will have to remember that the things that Bro. Arnold shared with us were spoken by him but all of what he said has to be processed through my own thoughts and words. So the disclaimer is this: If something may seem out of sorts as it shows up on this blog, it is not his fault, it is my own process of reporting it. I did have a micro-cassette recorder in my car but did not bring it into Sonny’s so what Bro. Arnold shared with us was reduced to some index cards and my weak memory.

One of the things that he told us about was what he called the “five year pass.” Bro. Arnold told us that when he came to Gainesville that the first five years were perhaps his most difficult (outside of an incredibly challenging building program). Prior to pastoring, Bro. Arnold had been an evangelist for eight years and had been basing out of south Florida. Memory fails me as to exactly how he was introduced to the fact that Gainesville needed a pastor.

However, he did go and preach and in the process of being voted in, some opposition started rising in his life. The opposition actually was coming from a district board member and it threatened to get a little difficult. It appeared that this district board member did not want him to take this church. Bro. Arnold said that he really begin to have some problems with this because he thought that it frankly was some political maneuvering to box him out of pastoring.

He took a little side route on this thought and said that at the time the problem was not the district board official but with his own perception. Bro. Arnold said he really thought that this man was trying to axe him. What he did not understand was that this man was actually trying to protect him from a difficult situation that was brewing in the church. Bro. Arnold said that now looking back 20 plus years, he realized that this elder really at heart loved him. He knew that Bro. Arnold was about to get a tiger by the tail. He was concerned with Bro. Arnold’s spiritual well being and knew that whoever went in would face a fight. Bro. Arnold said that many thought the church needed a seasoned man instead of a “rookie.”

Bro. Arnold cautioned us about how crucial it is that our perception is during times of ministry transition. He said the ultimately a ministry is going to be deemed successful on two counts:

1. Did you stay connected to the Source (God)?

2. Did you live out your Purpose (God’s intent and design for your life)?

He told us that one of the most challenging things about the purpose of your life is that we fall to the sway of the seducing spirit of the devil which usually works to distract us. The danger of distraction is that it alters our perception of the “big picture.” When we lose perception, we will lose focus. When you lose your focus, you can easily get disconnected from the source. At that point, you will become like a very harmless and laughable Samson.

He said that his perception became altered of what this man was really trying to do to him. As the years passed, Bro. Arnold said that this man became one of his biggest supporters and closest friends. Bro. Arnold said that in later years that this district official told him that there were things that he could not tell him at the time because of his official position. Bro. Arnold again cautioned us to be careful as to how we looked at those who opposed us because it very well could be that they are trying to look out for our better interests and the salvation of our own souls. Bro. Arnold spoke positively of district boards and men who are in places of leadership. This is a little amazing considering that after he preached “Refuge from Despair” at Because of the Times, that he took a very significant flailing from 13 district boards. I am going to use that situation that he told us about for another post. It will be massively encouraging to you to know that every story has two sides.

Despite all of this political opposition, Bro. Arnold was voted in as pastor and he said that his pastoral theology began in earnest. Bro. Arnold said that the never had the opportunity to attend a Bible college or seminary and a lot of his pastoring in those early years was spent begging in one direction and yelling in another direction. He would beg God to show him the way and he would spend the rest of his time yelling at the devil.

He said that the old building was literally in shambles. It seemed like everywhere he turned something was needing repaired, refurbished, or remodeled. It was not long until he discovered that he was going to have to repair a leaking roof. He said that one day he was up on the roof patching the roof and several motorcycles pulled up in the parking lot. He said that they looked like a bunch of washed out hippies full of tattoos and had a regular look of degeneration about them. What he really said was that he thought that the Hell’s Angels had showed up. He said they piled off their bikes and looked up at him and asked him what he was doing. Bro. Arnold said he wanted to ask them back what kind of stupid question that was but he didn’t, he said he just told them that he was the pastor and that the roof was leaking and he was trying to get it fixed so they could have church. He said they just kind of nodded at him and crawled back up on their bikes and roared off.

Bro. Arnold said that he asked the Lord, “You want me to build a church with that sort of folks?” He said the Lord answered him that was exactly what He had in mind. Bro. Arnold said he then told God that He ought to at least send him some folks who could pay their tithes! I don’t recall him saying to us what God said back to him about that.

Bro. Arnold said for the first five years in Gainesville, that every time he turned around he was sending someone to get a bucket so they could cast the devil out of a person in the altars. He said that if he wasn’t literally fighting the devil then he was fighting with people. The first five years liked to have killed him. He said he would preach until his socks would fall down and the people would sit there and watch him. This was terribly frustrating to him.

He talked about having difficult times with musicians who could not get along with each other. He told us about people who would openly oppose him in everything that he tried to do. He told us that outright and obvious immorality by “church” folks was literally flaunted right in his face. They were unrepentant and bold in their opposition of him.

He said that in these early days that one of his closest friends was Patton Williams (who is the current Florida DS). He told us that he would call Bro. Williams on the phone and tell him his woes and church troubles. He said they would sometimes cry together but he said the majority of the times that Bro. Williams had great mirth and enjoyment out of Bro. Arnold’s dilemmas. Bro. Arnold then told us that this was the problem with most of his “friends,” they all seemed to enjoy his dilemmas. I have to confess that while Bro. Arnold was telling all of this, that I and Bro. Sims enjoyed some huge laughs.

He did say that during this time that the district official that he thought had opposed him came to his rescue and was a huge help to him. He said that if anyone was in his corner he knew that this man was. It is important for every young man to have an elder in his life. Elders provide a couple of things for us: Stability and Experience.

Then, Bro. Arnold homed in on the point of all of this little chapter in that three hour time frame. He said that every man has to get his “five year pass.” He said that sometimes the “five year pass” will be variable as far as time is concerned but for him it was five years before things really settled in and he begin to see the progress that he knew that God was trying to accomplish. He told us that if we did not get the five year pass that the test would cycle back around again and each time it came around it would get bigger and more difficult to overcome.

He told us that one of the great difficulties with a lot of modern-day leadership books and seminars is that fail to measure God’s purpose. While they are useful for organizing and perhaps setting goals, he said that basically that all of these tools do is to show you how to build a church without a work of the Spirit. I have to admit that I found myself properly chastised with this. I am firmly coming to believe that organizing, planning, and all that other stuff is a necessity in building a church but at times we are too dependent on these “tools.”

Bro. Arnold did not come out and say what I am about to write, but I did infer this: Far too many pastors/preachers are becoming “bored” with prayer and the ministry of the Word. Bro. Arnold told us that he gets paid to “talk.” He said that he has discovered that when he doesn’t pray and study that his “talks” aren’t real good. He also told us that he has come to understand that there is nothing like a mixture of the Word and Spirit. He said he has watched the Word and Spirit wrestle down some of the devil’s most powerful opposition that presented itself.

He urged us to remember that every man has his “five year pass.” God is looking at what we do with purpose and source in that “five years.”

I will probably spend my next few posts to share with you some of the very helpful things that Bro. Arnold said to us.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Tour de SFC Wrap-Up

On yesterday, September 9, 2006, we finished our Tour de SFC. This year we rode a new route that was significantly more challenging but a lot safer. It was much more challenging in the amount of hills that we had to endure but much safer in that we did not have a lot of traffic to contend with.

We pulled out shortly after 6 AM under foggy conditions and a 70 degree temp. It didn’t take long for the “peloton” to get leveled out. In the front and there all day long was Mark Harrelson (Alabama District Youth President). He managed to ride the 62 ½ miles in 3h:39m. Pastor Kenny Rogers from Moulton, Alabama, finished about 70 minutes behind him with the rest of us trickling in.

The results from the ride were as follow:

1st -- Mark Harrelson (Mobile, AL)

2nd -- Kenny Rogers (Moulton, AL)

3rd -- Nathan Harrelson (Dothan, AL)

4th -- Wayne Worley (Dothan, AL)

5th -- Philip Harrelson (Dothan, AL)

6th -- Jeff Jefferson (Mobile, AL)

7th -- Shayne Ulry (Dothan, AL)

8th -- Cara Loveless (Dothan, AL)

9th -- Johnny Loveless (Dothan, AL)

From all three churches represented the total SFC offering was $7200+.

We went through right at 12 ½ gallons of Gatorade, 8 Powerbars, 6-8 packs of JellyBellies, and 3 gallons of water. We rode past 20 dogs, 350+ cows, 47 goats, one snake (alive), and fourteen confirmed cases of road-kill. We rode beside the Chattahoochie River that is the border between Alabama and Georgia and could see and hear the roar from the power dam nearby. We had serious leg cramps on three devastating hills and rode about 15 miles on some flats that were well paved and we managed to crank out 20 mph on these flats to catch up on the lost time.

The sag wagon was managed by my wife, Teresa, along with Mark’s wife, Stephanie, and Kenny’s wife, Angela. My little girl, Lauren, was in supervision, or so she thought. There was a few times along the way that when we saw that van, we knew that some good things were in store at the break.

The only mishap was Jeff Jefferson who managed to get confused with the road markings and turned to ride the 100 mile route instead of the 100 kilometer route. He was finally caught riding by himself just before he crossed into Georgia. Other than that, no crashes or scrapes or bruises and we are thankful for that.

We will still take your money, if you would like to sponsor us although it is now post-Tour de SFC.


Thanks for all of those who helped make this a success.




Time for a Peanut Butter Powerbar.













Wayne Worley and Nathan Harrelson at a sag stop.





Shayne Ulry climbing a big hill.
















Shayne Ulry 1/2 mile from the finish.












Wayne Worley and Nathan Harrelson about to "sag."