So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.
1 PETER 5:16 NLT
I forget many of the things God has said to me, but He reminds me of them from time to time, and I appreciate it and need it. In the Old Testament, God would speak to His people, and then later He would remind them of what He had said to them. Take Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, for example. God spoke to each of these men, telling them of the covenant He was making or had made, and would then speak to them again, going over what He had said, remind- ing them of what He had told them earlier. How thankful I am to be reminded by the Lord from time to time of those things that He has spoken to my heart. Of course, God speaks to me each and every day when I read the Bible. He speaks to me when I’m preparing a sermon to teach the congregation. He speaks to me when I have the opportunity to go to a conference and listen to a fellow pastor expound the Word of God to us.
What a blessing to have the Lord speak to us; and what a blessing to see the Lord not only speak to me but to see Him actually carrying out those things that He has said He would do. It’s my prayer that God will help me walk in humility before Him and to simply keep busy with the work of serving Him and doing those things He has called me to do. My wife, Gayle Grenier, and I are both excited about this period in our lives and ministry. We feel like these are the best years of our ministry, and the days ahead are days of promise and hope that God’s Word will bring forth abundant and lasting fruit. It’s our prayer to occupy until the Lord comes for us and to be busy about our Father’s business.
I don’t know how long I’ll live, or when Jesus will come back for me, or how long I’ll be able to minister here at Calvary Chapel Visalia, but I do know that I count being a pastor as the single greatest blessing a man could have in his life. With all my heart, based on what the Bible says, I know that being a pastor-teacher is indeed a gift of God, given by Jesus Christ to the body of Christ. My love for the Bible has soared over the years, and especially in these last few years. It’s alive, and it’s life-giving. It’s God’s precious Word. How I love to teach it. What a blessing it is to teach it! How I thank the Holy Spirit of God, who opens it up to me day by day and week by week to share it with God’s people. I could teach it for hours if they would let me get away with it, but it has to be just one service at a time.
Pastor Chuck Smith has always set the example for me in the Word of God. To this day, I listen to Pastor Chuck teach the Bible. What an example you are, Pastor Chuck! Thank you so much. I believe it was Charles Spurgeon, the famous preacher, who is speaking about the Word of God and the ministry, said something like this: “If I could not go to heaven when I die, but had to be in some state for eternity, let it be like I find myself so often, there in the pulpit with the Word of God, teaching it and preaching the truth about Jesus Christ.” I can say a hearty “Amen!” to that. It’s the greatest joy and delight in my life. I thank God for making my life a miracle. “Lord, Your grace shows that you can take a common and very normal man and save him, and then call him to serve You and bless his ministry. I love you, Jesus. Thank You.”
Only God knows what lies ahead. I do know that what lies behind is the clear and unmistakable hand of God in my life … His grace, comfort, guidance, provision, forgiveness, power, fruit, and blessing. “Lord, You alone know the future. My prayer is that You would help me to be faithful to You in whatever You have for me, for my wife, and for the ministry here at Calvary Chapel Visalia. We love you, Lord God.”
Just a final note here about the present and the future: One thing that I’m very encouraged by is the fact that prayer in our church and in our city is taking place now, more than it ever has. When I look at our society and our own community and the direction in which they are going, I realize that only God can make a difference for the future. Only God can truly change societies by changing the people within those societies — that is, causing them to be born again by turning to Jesus Christ to be saved. I know that prayer is effective, and the Bible is full of accounts of revival and renewal that have taken place. Whenever God’s people have gotten into the Word of God and turned to God through prayer, God has moved and brought the needed change.
As of this writing, 2008, we are having our fifth community-wide prayer meeting. These meetings have been held quarterly over the last thirteen months with an average attendance of 1,000 or more at each meeting. Imagine that! 1,000 people coming to a prayer meeting! We started with about nine churches pulling together, then 15, then 22, and now there are around 30 or so, with some being para-church organizations. Different pastors in the community are asked to lead the meetings and to do so as they are led by the Lord.
What we do is pray for one hour, with worship sprinkled throughout our time together. The pastor who leads the evening of prayer will ask about four other pastors to join with him in directing us to pray. They pick the subjects that God has put on their hearts, and they then encourage us from the Word of God. We break up into small groups of four or five and pray for several minutes about the assigned topic. Then we worship in song and are directed by the next pastor to another subject.
Imagine if every city in America would have a prayer meeting and ask God to work and save our communities! It’s incredible to think what could happen. There have been many moves of God like this back down through history, and we are praying that He will move again in this day and in this hour. We may never see a powerful city-wide change take place, but, then again, we also may. God could do it. And from what I know of history, whenever the Lord has moved in a powerful way, you can find prayer as a part of it all. Who knows? By the time this book is printed and you read it, many thousands of lives may have been changed right here in Visalia, California. I sure pray that it happens.
When you see a life changed by God, it’s a sample of what He could do to an entire community. In our own church, we are learning about fasting and praying. We are praying that we become a church that prays. We are having more and more prayer meetings throughout each month. I do want to thank Pastor Mike MacIntosh for his example and his encouragement to fast and pray. He has graciously invited us and included us in prayer meetings with his congregation and many others across the United States and around the world, with live connections via the internet, in real time.
Both Gayle Grenier and I are going to the finish line with Christ. Regardless of what the future holds (i.e., a great revival, a renewal in our city), we know that He is at work and believe in His promise. Hebrews 12:2 — “… looking unto Jesus, the author, and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”