Enjoy the music, thoughts and images in this video and meditate on what Christian leaders have to say about prayer.
Join us for the Peace Region Prayer Summit 13-14 October 2017. Click here for the Prayer Summit registration.
Music on this video is “Song For Canada” by Lianna Klassen and is used in this video with the artist’s permission.
The song is from her album “Love in the Ruins, Hope in the Wasteland,” an impressive collection of proclamations, prayers, and testimonies that is musically and lyrically enrapturing.
© 2001 Lianna Klassen, Stone Table Publishing Dawntreader Productions. Listed with SOCAN and CCLI. Used with permission / All Rights Reserved
Lianna’s website: https://www.liannaklassen.com/
Album available on:
A father holds his child’s hand for a short while, but holds his child’s heart forever.
“ENCOUNTERS WITH JESUS” is a ministry retreat designed for Christian workers that will bring rest, spiritual rejuvenation and draw you closer to the One who gives rest.
This weekend of worship and learning will include daily sessions delivered by Dr. Lyndon Wall, founder of Refresh MINISTRIES.
There will be personal time for rest, prayer and connecting with the LORD.
Great food and fellowship with other believers is included!
WHEN: 7 April evening through 9 April noon
WHERE: Podollan Inn and Spa, 10612 99th Ave. Grande Prairie, AB T8V 8E8
REGISTER: Click here for Eventbrite Details
We would love to have you, your pastor, or your leadership team join us for this weekend of spiritual refreshing.
The desire to have the presence of God among us in more real and tangible ways is a noble hunger of our souls.
Though we know that God’s people can always be assured of his presence, too often we have long periods of time where it seems his presence is missing. Christian history records many examples of personal, church and community transformation when God reveals himself in new and powerful ways. His presence can do more in seconds than we can accomplish through years of hard work. If you have this desire for the manifest presence of God for yourself or your church, here are a few insights to give wisdom to your quest.
My thoughts come out of the story in 1 Chronicles 13 and 15 where King David is attempting to bring the Ark of the Covenant (the symbol of the presence and glory of God) to Jerusalem. His experience can add insight to our efforts to make a way for the presence of God to be among us in a greater way.
First, it may help us to realize that not all people are looking for the presence of God to be among us.
“And let us bring back the ark of our God to us, for we did not seek it in the days of Saul.” 1 Chronicles 13:3 (ESV)
These words of King David point out a stark reality. God’s people are not always interested in having him near. We are often okay with his presence being at a distance. I have found that those who want a greater reality of God in their church are sometimes frustrated by the lack of interest on the part of other believers. This story reminds us that this has long been the case.
A second insight is that we must take care not to rely on our own skill and wisdom to bring the glory of God into our lives and assemblies. David gathered a large crowd to celebrate the return of the Ark to Jerusalem and prepared a new cart to carry it to its destination.
“They carried the ark of God on a new cart from the house of Abinadab…” 1 Chronicles 13:7 (ESV)
David’s quest to bring the presence of God was noble. He made sure a new cart was prepared to carry the ark, no doubt the cart was made with the finest craftsmanship available. However, it was a lethal decision. As the cart progressed to Jerusalem the oxen became agitated and put the ark at risk.
“When they came to the threshing floor of Kidon, Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the ark, because the oxen stumbled. The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah, and he struck him down because he had put his hand on the ark. So he died there before God.” 1 Ch. 13:9,10 (NIV)
David had a great idea and he prepared carefully for bringing the ark to Jerusalem, however he mistakenly tried to bring the presence of God to Jerusalem with his own creation and plan. A plan that turned out to be a killer. Uzza, acting to protect the ark, violated the commands of God and was struck down.
There is a human tendency to try to bring the presence of God into our lives and congregations by using our own plans and creations. This does not mean that we have bad motives or that we want something unholy, but the reality is God has planned for the entrance and greater reality of his presence in our lives. He has set forth principles to follow and going with his ways can keep us from unnecessary casualties. We likely won’t see people struck down like Uzza but the death of hope, faith and love can easily happen. Many people have become discouraged in their faith by unsuccessful attempts to bring in a greater reality of God’s presence. Sometimes those who use unsanctioned means may give up the quest all together. It is possible to have a well intended but ill-fated plan.
David soon learned that God had prescribed a way to bring the ark to Jerusalem.
“Then David said that no one but the Levites may carry the ark of God, for the LORD had chosen them to carry the ark of the LORD...” 1 Chronicles 15:2 (ESV)
Later, David speaking to the Levites said, “Because you did not carry it the first time, the LORD our God broke out against us, because we did not seek him according to the rule.” 15:13. (ESV) God was happy to presence himself among the people but he reserved the right to say how his presence and glory should be handled. The same principle applies today.
The question then arises, how does God say his presence is to be invited? In the Old and New Testaments we find a similar theme that answers this question – repentance and prayer. Take for example the words of the Old Testament found in 2 Chronicles 7:14:
“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.” (NIV)
Compare that with the New Testament scripture of Acts 3:19,20:
“Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” (ESV)
We also note that the disciples prepared themselves for Pentecost by giving themselves to prayer (Acts 1:14). Prayer was a major factor in the expansion of the church (Acts 2:42). The believers were filled with boldness after a time of prayer (Acts 4:31). Peter’s vision regarding the gospel going to the Gentiles took place while he was in prayer (Acts 10). And the fasting, praying and worshipping leaders of the church of Antioch heard the Lord calling them to send out Barnabas and Saul. (Acts 13:1-4). These few examples point us to the simple pattern that the presence of God was experienced anew when his people humbled themselves and prayed.
There is no doubt that the Lord calls us to utilize new strategies and make good plans. However, never let us be fooled into thinking that a new plan can replace the timeless principles which open the way to the renewed presence of God. In my 25 years of ministry I have noticed an endless stream of new ideas, strategies and plans being offered as the way to bring life to the church. New worship styles and new organizational strategies have brought more enjoyment and comfort to our congregations, and that has its place. However, one thing I have noticed is that seldom have the new plans brought a greater level of transformation in people’s lives or a greater experience of the presence and authority of God. Yes, people may enjoy church more but the presence of God is as distant as before. Like David, we may desire the presence of God among us, and like David we think we can get it there by building a new cart. Like David we can get a lot of people excited about bringing in the presence. But again and again, God providentially agitates the oxen to derail our well intended plans. Things may go well for a time but in the end God insists on us following his ways.
So I encourage each Christian who reads this article and who desires a greater presence of God in their life or ministry. You have a great desire, it is a godly desire. Just remember, a renewed sense of God’s presence is invited by repentance and prayer not a new creation of our own hands.
- The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, (2001), Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Publishing,
- The Holy Bible, New International Version, (1984). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
© Lyndon Wall 2017
I want to share with you one of the key dynamics in understanding the cause and experience of burnout.
About 16 years ago I went through burnout. Fortunately, the church I was pastoring gave me a sabbatical time to recover and Refresh. During that time I started to explore the dynamics of burnout. The things I learned led me to found a ministry called Refresh for helping people who are going through or in danger of going through burnout. So for the last 8 years I have listened to a lot of stories from people in ministry who are at various stages of ministry exhaustion. As I have heard their stories, I have noticed some factors and trends emerge. I’ve learned one of the keys to understanding the experience, is the loss of hope.
Let me unpack that assertion a bit. When we think of burnout, most often we look to external causes. For example we may say “My schedule is too packed, my health practices are not what they should be, the people I work with are really difficult” and so on. Now I understand that these are factors and sometimes the significant factor but I have found that often the cause goes deeper. As I have mentioned, that cause is a loss of hope.
Proverbs 13:12 “hope deferred makes the heart sick” but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016).
(Pr 13:12). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
At the heart of burnout is deferred or denied hope. When hope is missing the heart becomes sick. A sick heart often affects our bodies as well.
There are a variety of hopes we have when we enter ministry. Hope of being used by God, hope of seeing lives changed, hope of helping the hurting or seeing people become believers in Christ. There are other hopes we have for ourselves personally, and for our families as well. One hope we have that perhaps most powerfully affects us in regard to burnout is the hope we have to change our world.
I have found again and again as I talk with people who are struggling with burnout is that they have lost hope in how they think God has called them to change the world.
We generally enter ministry with a vision and hope of how God is going to work through us to make a difference. A pastor may believe God has called him to preach sermons that bring life change yet Sunday after Sunday very little change is evident. A missionary may have a calling to rescue orphans in a needy place in the world yet find that the community they work in isn’t all that excited about their rescue plan. A youth pastor may believe he is called to reach unchurched youth in the community but finds little progress. Little by little the realities of ministry fly in the face of what a person believed they were called to do and the impact they were expecting to have. After a while this begins to erode hope. The confidence of a positive future ministry degrades into a fatalism of a lack of impact. A quiet sense of despair can begin to set in. This can result in a number of physical and mental dynamics. Loss of physical energy, chronic health problems, a loss of joy in going to work, a pessimistic view of people and of God easily develop in these times.
One of the interesting things I have found is that this switch from hope to despair can happen in in a moment. It just may take one discouraging comment or event that moves a person from hope to despair. It’s as if at that moment the valiant battle of faith the minister has been fighting is given up. It’s like the straw that broke the camel’s back. Often when I ask a person if they can pinpoint the moment when it seems their burnout began, they often can identifiy it quite quickly. In that moment it’s like they switched from hope to despair. It’s a moment where the hopes of their calling look impossible to ever be fulfilled.
The recovery from burnout is a process. Usually physical rest is essential, a time of being still and in solitude with God so you can hear the gentle quiet Spirit of God is a must and a willingness for honest reflection at how you got to this point is unavoidable.
If you are at the point of burnout or in recovery, here are some starting questions to consider to help you start on your way.
First, ask yourself….
What is my understanding of my call to impact the world? See if you can write it out in a sentence.
A second question is…
What is my hope level of this happening? Rate on a scale of 1-10. One meaning little hope, 10 fullness of confidence.
Thirdly ask How has your ministry experience affected your belief in yourself, other people and God? Has there been a sliding toward negative attitudes in any of these three categories?
A fourth helpful consideration is consider the difference between faithfulness and impact. Which was your calling to? Often when we are called to a certain ministry, we add our own assupmtions about how that ministry is going to change the world. When our assumptions don’t pan out we move easily to despair.
Fiflly, reflect specifically on how your practical belief about God has changed? I have yet to meet a person in burnout who has denied their professed faith, they will still affirm their doctrinal stand. However, there is often a change in their practical belief. So for example, a person may affirm God provides but practically they may believe “he doesn’t provide for me.” A person may affirm that God is all wise, but practically believe “in my life he doesn’t know what he is doing.” The pressing and disappointing circumstances of ministry often lead to a shift of what a person really believes about the Lord. These shifted beliefs are often at the heart of the despair and lost hope.
Lastly, ask God to show you how to move forward in preventing and recovering from this loss of hope. This will most likely include at least two aspects. The first aspect is that of repentance. Though we don’t like to hear or admit it, we often have attitudes, practices we need to change our mind about and seek God’s forgiveness. A second aspect is that of our practical beliefs. If we practically believe, for example, that God is wise but not in our life, that idea will have to be informed with the truth of scripture through meditation, prayer and the support of others. To leave this unattended, will keep us locked in burnout and in the clutches of hopelessness.
The wonderful news is that there is an escape from the burnout trap. God is able to restore your hope as our practical belief finds its bearings in the truth of God as revealed in Scripture. Times of refreshing await those who seek the Lord.
Click here => to Listen to Lyndon on this topic:
All across this country are people who are known as pastor. They come from all walks of life. Some grew up knowing the sweat and hard work of farm life, others had their formative years in the small towns of our land, still other cut their teeth in the faster pace of large cities. The pastor’s of our land are from a wide span of age. There are young pastors in their early twenties, just learning the ropes of ministry, often newly married and taking the first steps of parenthood. Some are in their thirties, their optimism is matched by their youthful energy and they are getting a sense of what ministry all entails. Some are in their forties, starting to hit their prime. Their gifts are polished, their wisdom bank is filling and their impact increasing. Some are in their 50‘s and 60‘s, the wisdom of years of leadership is giving them an authority they never enjoyed earlier. Some pastors have made it to their 70‘s. Retirement is not for them. They want to finish well.
Some are evangelists, they can share the gospel, even imperfectly and things happen for good. Some pastors have to work at evangelism but can open a passage of scripture in a beautiful way that edifies those who hear. Some are gifted in administration, others in pastoral care. Some are visionaries with a relentless drive for growth and some are contented shepherds, caring for their small congregation is the strongest aspiration of their heart.
Some are handsome, some a unique in their appearance, some are bold and confident, some are timid and shy. Some are self employed, some live on almost nothing, others are well paid.
Yet with all the variety there is among pastors they all have something in common. They are all in a war. Our common enemy is doing all he can to take them out of the game. He will spare no means to bring about their destruction.
For many pastors, Satan’s weapon of choice is discouragement. His relentless accusations like arrows team up with criticisms levelled by other people. These arrows find soft spots in the pastor’s heart. They sink in deep and stay there. Many clergy are in an unending battle with condemning voices that tell them they are not good enough at their job. They are not a good enough person to be in ministry and on it goes.
For some pastors, Satan’s weapon of choice is conflict. Conflict in the home or conflict in the church. The purposes of God seem forever thwarted. The Evil One mixes up communication, gets good people to do hurtful things and after a time of this turmoil many pastors just want to say “enough already, here has got to be other ways to live out my years.”
Satan’s weapons of choice include pride. He loves to tell some pastors how important they are and how great they are, how indispensable they are. As their sense self importance grows their prayer life shrinks. As their confidence in their own strength increases the power of the Spirit is diminished and they find themselves struggling to see anything happen for God.
Some fall prey to the arrow of satisfaction. Satan wars against these pastors by making them content with the status quo. There is little desire to challenge the kingdom of darkness. Meanwhile the people of their community are on their way to a Christ less eternity and their lives falling prey to moral chaos.
Another favourite arrow of the Evil One is that of relentless demands. The 24/7 pastor is always on call, always available, always doing something for the church. There is always just one more good thing to do. Exhaustion comes sooner or later. Some catch it in time, some don’t and leave the work.
The thing about war is though there are many triumphant soldiers who can march home in the victory parade, there are also casualties. Some need encouragement to stay in the fight or wisdom on how to fight better. Others need care to recover from their injuries. Some injuries are self inflicted other injuries are through no fault of their own. There are those who have been maimed in the war. Some can’t walk without assistance, some move through life with a limp. Some need a hospital to recover. From time to time as I am visiting with a pastor I sense a Spirit prompting to simply say to them “you are a good man” and your doing a great job” It is not uncommon for them to tear up a bit and say something like “I almost never hear that” or “no one has ever told me that.” These are fine people, not perfect people but godly people who are serving the Lord well in their calling yet they seldom hear appreciative comments. As a result there is a festering discouragement in their heart.
So if you are a pastor remember you are at war. The Evil One is firing arrows all the time. If you meet a pastor today, speak a word of encouragement, it may be what is needed to help them battle another day.
“Be strong in the LORD and in his mighty power…and take up the shield of faith.” (Ephesians 6:10,16)
Jesus is the one in charge of the miracles.
“Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”
Have you ever heard God speak to you?
The Bible is full of stories of God speaking to people. God spoke to Adam and Eve in the cool of the day and instructed them to enjoy all the Garden of Eden except for the tree of the knowledge and good and evil. God spoke to Cain, warning him that he was in danger of making a bad choice. God spoke to Noah, instructing him to build an ark to save the human race. One day the voice of the Lord got Abram’s attention and told him to leave his country and people. God spoke to Jacob the night he was fleeing from his home, giving him a vision of heaven and promises for his life. Joseph was a young teen when God spoke to him powerfully in a dream that pictured the future. God spoke to Moses on the day he was caring for sheep, calling Moses to lead his people out of slavery.
Throughout the Old Testament – the first part of the Bible – we see again and again God speaking to people. Specific words on specific days. Men and women would be going through life living the average challenges of an average day and God would speak.
In the New Testament, we again see God speaks to specific people on specific days. God spoke to Mary and Joseph about being the parents of Christ. He let Joseph know that Herod was coming to kill Jesus. God spoke to Zechariah about the birth of John the Baptist as Zechariah served in the temple. God told Simeon that he would not die until he saw the Christ. God spoke to Peter about including the Gentiles in the Gospel. And, on a specific day God blinded Saul on the Damascus road, calling him to be a servant of Christ. As the church of Antioch was having days of prayer and fasting God spoke saying, “Set apart Barnabas and Saul for the work I have for them.” All through the Bible we see God speaking to specific people on specific days.
The Bible is solid on the fact that God speaks. It is also solid on the idea that we can hear God speak. “Today, if you hear his voice,” the writer says. The concern of the author is not to establish the idea that God speaks but that you and I respond wisely when he does. “Do not harden your heart,” counsels the writer.
Just as the Bible records God speaking it also records how people responded to his voice. Some people hardened their heart to God’s loving words. Adam and Eve resisted God’s voice and lost the paradise where they lived. Cain ignored God’s words of warning and ended up committing murder. The Nation of Israel ignored God’s voice and as a result wandered in the wilderness 40 years instead of enjoying their promised land.
Positively, many people heard God’s voice and heeded what he said. Moses listened and led a nation out of bondage. Joseph and Mary listened and escaped Herod’s plot to kill their child. Saul listened and was transformed. He became known as the Apostle Paul and led the spread of the life changing message of Jesus to the known world. Whenever God speaks the person who he speaks to can accept or reject the message.
How do you respond when God speaks to you? The most important matter God speaks to us about is his Son Jesus. Jesus came to earth to restore our relationship with God. All who trust in his death for their sin become part of God’s family and have an assurance of life with God after death. In our response to Jesus, spiritual life and death hang in the balance. Because of God’s great love for us, and because he does not want us to miss the great blessings that await, he speaks to us about Jesus. Has God ever put on your heart the need to accept Jesus as your Savior and Lord? How did you respond?
God also speaks to us about daily life. Our relationships with family and coworkers, temptations we face or decisions we need to make are matters within the scope of his care. He desires that we live lives guided by wisdom and is willing to help us.
So if God speaks to you today, don’t harden your heart. Heeding what he says opens the way to the life he desires you to have both now and in the world to come.
“Look to the Lord and his strength,
seek his face always.”
1 Chronicles 16:11
Sometimes one sentence of advice can steer our life in wonderful directions. David’s words at the celebration of the Ark’s arrival in Jerusalem stand for all time in the category of great advice. This wisdom, if followed, will serve to lead your heart to a place of strength, rest and refreshment.
“Look to the Lord and his strength…” David was encouraging his hearers to make a choice, a choice about where to look and find strength. We look many places to find strength. We look inside ourselves, we look to other people, we look to money, and we look to tradition to clothe ourselves with the power to live daily life. Unfortunately, sooner or later these sources of strength end up insufficient. David reminds us that where we look for strength is a choice and that there is a better choice than we are naturally inclined to make. The Lord, creator of heaven and earth has unlimited strength available for those who look to him. His vast reservoirs of strength are never drained empty. “Seek his face always,” David said. David had learned that there was great reward in seeking the face of the Lord. David knew that the Lord was “good and that his love endures forever” (Ps 100:5). The writer of Hebrews echoed this by saying, “he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Heb 11:6). The Apostle Paul enjoyed the strengthening of the Lord (Phil 4:13, 2 Tim 4:17).
With this in mind, David encouraged his people, and through his words encourages us also to develop the habit of seeking the Lord always. Not only are we to seek God’s strength, but we are to seek his face. We are to seek to know him, encounter him and know him intimately as the Lord of the universe and Lord of our lives. It is as we know him that the riches of his power are released in our life. At the end of this devotional book, ask God for this grace. Ask him to give you a heart that will seek him always.
Prayer starter: Lord, grant me the grace to establish the habit of seeking you.
About the Author: Lyndon Wall served as a pastor in Alberta, Canada for fourteen years. He has also served the Jos, Nigeria mission community by providing pastoral care. Lyndon is the founder of Refresh Ministries, which is dedicated to helping people in ministry enjoy “healthy souls.” Lyndon earned a Doctor of Ministry Degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
This excerpt is from Lyndon’s devotional book “Refresh“. Lyndon wrote “Refresh“ specifically for pastors, missionaries, and ministry workers whose souls have been parched by the stresses and tests of life. Stress is a reality of life. It can harm and drain us of vital energy. It must be responded to wisely. This devotional book was written to help you encounter Jesus Christ, the great refresher of the soul and give insights that will help you live with a renewed and joyful heart.