Christian Life

I’m Resigning (Kind of).

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Before you panic, I am NOT resigning from my role as the Lead Pastor of Renovation Church. Now that I have hopefully alleviated your fear (or disappointed you) – read on!


I have been in pastoral ministry for 8 years; for 6 of these years I have been pastoring the same church here in Garretson (first as the Campus Pastor and now as the Lead Pastor). I am currently 26 years old and suffer from chronic acid reflux (multiple times a day), regular insomnia, and elevated blood pressure (and didn’t take any vacation time for all of 2019). For the past three years I have been addressing these issues on the physical side of things by exercising regularly and, just recently, watching my diet in order to lose weight for competitive boxing.

This past Sunday evening – during one of my bouts with insomnia – the Holy Spirit led me to the realization that one of the biggest flaws with my leadership is that of over-functioning. An article by Charles Stone does an excellent job by defining this as:

The pastor who overfunctions is usually an overachiever who takes ownership and responsibility for the emotional well-being of others, often trying to make up for the perceived deficiency in somebody else’s functioning.”

While explaining the characteristics of this type of pastor, Stone goes onto explain:

“Very hard worker, seldom asks for help, tries too much to help, assumes increasing responsibility for others, tells others what they need to feel/think/do, does for others what they should do for themselves, often demands agreement from others, can foster learned helplessness in others, often highly approval oriented.”

If you know me personally and have seen my leadership, you are likely nodding your head to both of these descriptions. Let me make it clear – I am the only one to blame for the position I am currently in. This is a failure of leadership – I am not a victim. 

Because of my failure of leadership in this particular area, Renovation Church has become too dependent on me. I justified this to myself in the beginning by assuming that as a church planter, I needed to wear many different hats. I realized that this is a bad justification because we are three years into this journey and instead of delegating some of these “hats” I have simply put more on! Below are a few of my weekly tasks/areas I lead on behalf of Renovation Church.

1. Core Areas: These are the areas I am passionate about and believe God has truly called me to do – 

  • Preaching/Teaching: My goal is to provide the people of Renovation Church with expository (verse-by-verse) sermons with depth and meat to them. These are generally 40 minute messages that take a significant amount of thinking, researching, and planning. I generally spend anywhere from 15 – 20 hours/week on sermon prep.
  • Discipleship: My other passion is 1-on-1 discipleship. I am usually meeting with 5 – 8 people each week for the purpose of discipleship. Each of these meetings last a little over an hour. I love helping people understand how relevant the Bible is for their lives.
  • Counseling: I see counseling as a form of discipleship. When people are going through a rough area in their life, I often have the honor of listening to them, praying with them, and doing my best to point them to Jesus. I genuinely enjoy the counseling aspect of ministry – it is what informs much of my preaching.
  • Relationships: The other core aspect of my ministry is building relationships with those outside of the church – especially non-Christians. One of the primary ways I do this is by hosting a weekly podcast for Garretson and a few other surrounding towns. These podcast episodes are 20 minutes long but the conversations usually last over an hour as I get an opportunity to enter into people’s lives and hear their stories.

Below are some of the areas I justified to myself by saying I would only lead them for a season. As you can see, they have steadily been increasing:

2. Scheduling: I schedule all of the volunteers for the following areas:

  • Children’s Church (including running all the background checks for volunteers)
  • Nursery (including running all the background checks for volunteers)
  • Coffee Bar
  • Ushers
  • Greeters
  • Sound Team
  • Set-Up Team
  • Meals (Our monthly breakfasts and any special events such as lunch after outdoor worship services – I schedule and order all the supplies).

3. Administration: I serve as the administrator for many of the background details of the church:

  • Social Media
  • Marketing
  • Web Design
  • Updating the website
  • Recording & Posting Sermons
  • Responding to all phone calls/requests (my personal cell is the church phone)
  • Finances (i.e. paying bills – I don’t count/deposit the offering)
  • Meetings (I schedule member meetings, create the agendas, record the minutes, and then e-mail the information out to all the members)
  • Adding people to Planning Center (the software we use for scheduling volunteers).
  • And every other administrative/business task that goes with running a church on the legal/business side of things.

(And, as a pastor, I never clock out – I am always on call).

There’s more I could add but this post is already too long (and you probably get the point). Once again, the reason I am doing all of these things is because I have failed in my leadership, refused to delegate, and exercised an unhealthy control over ministry. In my strive for excellence, I have sinfully hoarded the leadership of Renovation Church to myself – and I am paying the consequences for doing so. Here’s what I have been recognizing with the help of counseling and a few key mentors in my life – the way I have been doing ministry is not sustainable. If I do not make some serious changes to my philosophy of ministry (i.e. learn to trust God more) I will literally sacrifice myself to the false god of ministry success.

Thankfully, God has not allowed my leadership to succeed. It seems that the harder I try to control ministry and the greater “excellence” I provide on a Sunday morning, the less people who have been attending our church. This is a great thing because God has used it to expose idolatry in my heart.

So… what’s the solution?

Honestly, I don’t know for sure. I do know on the basis of the New Testament that a church is healthiest when there are multiple people leading and providing input for the ministry. I also know that my “core” areas that I shared above will be much more effective when I can focus on them entirely and learn to delegate the other areas to those who are gifted and called to lead in them.

So – here’s my resignation – I am resigning from doing all of the scheduling and administration I am currently doing beginning April of 2020. The church belongs to God – not me – and if God does not raise up leaders to take over some of those areas, they will simply get dropped. I am trusting that whatever areas He does not raise up a leader for, it is because that area of ministry is unnecessary in this season. I fully realize this will cause people to (probably) leave our church but I also trust God is in control of all things – including this.

Here are some suggests on how you can help:

If you live in the Garretson area but currently attend a significantly larger church (such as one in Sioux Falls) can I prayerfully ask you to consider joining our team for a season and providing healthy leadership? Please only do this after speaking with and receiving the blessing from your pastor.

If you are part of Renovation Church already, prayerfully consider taking a leadership role in our church. Please do not do this out of a sense of guilt or as an emotional response to this post – instead, seek God’s will and if he so leads you to do so, I am looking for people to step into a leadership role for a 1-year term (so there’s a light at the end of the tunnel if you hate it).

Finally, if you are currently leading an area in our church – thank you so much for your sacrifice and dedication. I do a terrible job at appreciating you for everything you do; I am praying that God raises up more people like you to help carry the weight of the ministry.

 

 

 

Evidence of True Discipleship (Message)

As many of you know, I have the opportunity to teach verse-by-verse through the Bible ever Sunday at Renovation Church. These messages are recorded and then posted to our Facebook page and church website for others to benefit from. I decided it may be helpful to also post them on my personal blog – My prayer is that they help you understand the depth of God’s love for you a more.

(If you are reading this in your e-mail, you will need to go to the actual page to see the video of the message).


 

Acts 4:13-22 (CSB)
13 When they observed the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed and recognized that they had been with Jesus. 14 And since they saw the man who had been healed standing with them, they had nothing to say in opposition. 15 After they ordered them to leave the Sanhedrin, they conferred among themselves, 16 saying, “What should we do with these men? For an obvious sign has been done through them, clear to everyone living in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. 17 But so that this does not spread any further among the people, let’s threaten them against speaking to anyone in this name again.” 18 So they called for them and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.

19 Peter and John answered them, “Whether it’s right in the sight of God for us to listen to you rather than to God, you decide; 20 for we are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

21 After threatening them further, they released them. They found no way to punish them because the people were all giving glory to God over what had been done. 22 For this sign of healing had been performed on a man over forty years old.

Dear Church – Don’t Give People What They Want

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In our American culture we are obsessed with size and outward success. This has infiltrated the church and encouraged pastors to use any means necessary to pursue numerical growth for the church. In many ways this is a good thing – more people getting connected to the body of Christ is always positive. Unfortunately, the means that we have used for many years for this growth has caused more people to attend but less people to be disciples. I would even argue that the American way of doing church has given people a false hope of salvation for they have trusted in a false Jesus.

Before you leave an angry comment, let me explain.

This past Sunday I had the honor of teaching through the miraculous healing of a man who had been unable to walk since he was born – over four decades. His livelihood consisted of being carried to the temple each day so that he could beg for money from those coming to worship. On a seemingly ordinary day, he encounters two leaders in the early church – Peter and John.

These men have likely seen this beggar numerous times – the text says he was at the temple daily asking for alms. According to Acts 3:3, when he saw Peter and John about to enter the temple, he asked for money. This is how Peter responds to this man’s request, “I don’t have silver or gold, but what I do have, I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk!”

Peter offered the man what he needed – not what he wanted.

If we could sit down with this beggar in the first century and ask him what his greatest need on that day was, he would have said it was money. He needed money to purchase food, he needed money to pay rent, and he needed money to simply survive.

What if Peter and John simply gave this man what he wanted? What if they did a fundraiser or a GoFundMe page to raise money for the poor beggar outside of the temple? It would have been a great marketing move; displaying to the Jewish world the generosity of Jesus’ followers. It would have made the poor beggar happy – his monetary needs would have been met and he could have taken a vacation from begging outside of the temple.

But here’s the thing.

If Peter and John offered this man what he wanted, they would have missed out on the wonder-working power of God.

Might I suggest to you that our churches settle far too often for giving people what they want instead of what they need. Here’s what I mean – Most contemporary and outward-focused churches (like Renovation Church) utilize the pulpit to declare self-help messages on parenting skills, marriage tips, financial advice, as well as many other “felt need” topics. The messages generally take the pastor’s ideas or creativity as the starting point and then sprinkle in some Scripture to Christianize it – usually with a vague altar call at the end of the message.

These topics are important but they are secondary to our mission as the Church. The greatest gift we can offer the world is not corny motivational talks but Gospel-centered and expository (i.e. verse-by-verse) preaching of the Bible. If we want to see people truly transformed by the radical message of the Gospel, it begins by introducing people to the richness found in the Scriptures. Life transformation isn’t the result of a 3-week motivational talk on finances and tithing; it’s the result of the Holy Spirit working new birth through the clear exposition and proclamation of God’s Word.

On theologian said it this way, “I don’t go to church to have my needs met, I go to church to figure out what my needs are.”

Pastors, leaders, and church members – quit giving the culture what they want and instead offer them what they need. In the name of Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, and through the faithful exposition of God’s Word – give them Jesus in all of his beauty, glory, and majesty.

Renovation Church – 2019 Giving Letter!

churchlogoBelow is a copy of the letter that will go out to everyone who has given financially to the ministry of Renovation Church in 2019. If you fit that description, you will receive a physical copy of this letter with your giving statement in early January!


Dear Renovation Church Family,

I want to take a minute to thank you for your incredible generosity. In our third year as a church, we have been able to give nearly $14,000 to outreach – both locally and internationally. For context, that is roughly three months of expenses for our church. This is only possible through the generous giving of those from inside and outside of our church who believe in and support the mission God has given us.

One of the passages I have been meditating on recently is 1 Corinthians 1:26-29. In this passage, Paul exhorts the church in the famous city of Corinth to boast in Christ alone. Specifically, he reminds them of their calling and purpose by writing:

“Brothers and sisters, consider your calling: Not many were wise from a human perspective, not many powerful, not many of noble birth. Instead, God has chosen what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen what is weak in the world to shame the strong. God has chosen what is insignificant and despised in the world—what is viewed as nothing—to bring to nothing what is viewed as something, so that no one may boast in his presence.”

In the eyes of many people, Renovation Church is foolish, weak, insignificant, despised, and viewed as nothing.

  • We are a small church in the very small town of Garretson
  • We have no church building and instead rent from the local school.
  • We have a small budget; our entire budget is less than many pastor’s total pay packages.
  • We have no paid staff outside of my role as the Lead Pastor.

Our temptation as people (and a church) is to flee from being viewed as foolish, weak, or insignificant – this is the same temptation that was facing the church in Corinth. Yet God has used our small church in our seemingly insignificant town to preach the Gospel, practice radical generosity, and make disciples who make disciples. God has used our “foolish” church to bring healing to couples in broken marriages; our “weak” church to bring freedom to those deep in addiction; and our “insignificant” church to bring grace to those enslaved by legalism and false religion.

I share all of this not because Renovation Church is awesome; instead, it is all a testimony to the awesome God whom we serve and worship. It has never been about Renovation Church or my role as the pastor – it has always been about Jesus.

As we begin a new year of ministry, if there’s anything I can personally help you with in your walk with Jesus, please reach out. You can send me an e-mail at tyler@renovationchurchsd.com or text/call me at 605-359-9486. I’d love to meet with you this year to help you study the Bible and grow in your relationship with Jesus.

Thank you!

Tyler Ramsbey

What is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit?

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This past Sunday we begin a brand new teaching series at Renovation Church through the Book of Acts. For the first message, I had the honor of teaching through Acts 1:1-8. In Acts 1:4-5, Jesus makes a remarkable promise to His disciples: “While he was with them, he commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the Father’s promise. ‘Which,’ he said, ‘you have heard me speak about; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit in a few days.’

Jesus’ promise that they would be “baptized with the Holy Spirit” has sparked considerable controversy in the Christian church. Entire denominations have split – and been born – from differing interpretations of this promise. It is clear from the immediate context that the event Jesus has in mind is Pentecost which happens in Acts 2. Nevertheless, it is also an event that continues to happen to people today (which all Christians agree on).

So, what do Christians argue about?

Mainly, is the baptism of the Holy Spirit what happens at conversion when a person calls on Jesus for salvation? Or, is it a “second blessing” that is accompanied by a sign gift (such as speaking in tongues)?

In my experience, it seems that there is a deep divide in the church between those who faithfully teach the Scriptures and those who rely too much on spiritual experiences. Those who focus on accurately expositing the text tend to downplay the experiential role of the Holy Spirit and conclude that many of the miraculous gifts ceased with the close of the apostolic era. Other Christians who emphasize the experiential aspect of the faith often veer from sound doctrine in their attempt to experience the miraculous.

What if both ways are wrong (and right)?

Let me explain.

First, we need to understand what the Bible means by “baptism.” This is the Greek work baptizo and it literally means to immerse. Picture for a moment the example of the Titanic. After striking the iceberg and when the ship was completely submerged under the water it was “baptized” in the literal sense of the word.

Keeping that in mind, when a person becomes a Christian, it is the work of the Holy Spirit. Paul makes it clear in his letter to the church in Corinth (who just happened to over-emphasize spiritual gifts) that no one can call Jesus Lord apart from the work of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:3). Therefore a person truly is “baptized” or “immersed” in the Holy Spirit at the point of conversion – the evidence is their new faith in Jesus.

Yet, I think Scripture also makes it clear that we should not only seek “second blessings” but third, fourth, fifth, and more! I get this understanding from Paul’s admonition to the believers in Ephesus not to get drunk off wine but instead to be “filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18).” In the original language, this verb has the sense of “continue to be filled” with the Holy Spirit. If the word “baptism” means to be immersed, we could paraphrase Paul’s word accurately if we say that his command is that we should continually be baptized – immersed – filled – by the Holy Spirit in order to grow in spiritual maturity.

So, I agree with both the conservative Christians but also with the Pentecostals – but with one major caveat. This teaching becomes divisive because many Pentecostal churches teach that the sign of having the Holy Spirit is speaking in tongues; therefore, if you do not speak in tongues you are not a truly “spiritual” Christian. Although I do believe in the continuation of the gifts of the Spirit, a litmus test such as this one breeds self-righteousness and division.

It’s the same exact problem that plagued the church in Corinth. This is what Paul had to say about all of this –

1 Corinthians 12:29-30
29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all do miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in other tongues? Do all interpret? 

One Pentecostal teacher I listened to made the claim that Paul expects the answer to each of these questions to be “yes.” That’s simply a gross misinterpretation of Scripture. In the wider context of this verse, Paul is making the point that the Church is the Body of Christ and like the human body, we all have different gifts that must be used together for the glory of God. In other words, there is no one person who has all the gifts. You need the Church and the Church needs you.

If it’s not tongues, what is the evidence that a person has been baptized by the Holy Spirit? This is what Paul says – But the fruit (i.e. evidence) of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). The baptism of the Holy Spirit should transform your character to look more like Jesus – only then will you be able to faithfully use spiritual gifts to build up the Church. 

Finally, how do we pursue this baptism of the Holy Spirit? Do we need a special teacher with a so-called “anointing” to lay his hands on us to transfer the Spirit to us like it’s a super power?

No.

We are baptized – immersed – in the Holy Spirit when we faithfully practice spiritual disciplines such as studying Scripture, gathering with your church community, remaining persistent in prayer, and partaking of the sacraments (such as communion). The Father has graciously given us these “means of grace” that we might position ourselves in such a way that we are transformed by the Holy Spirit rather than the spirit of this age.


What have you been taught about the baptism of the Holy Spirit? Do you find this helpful? What are some other questions you still have? Let me know by leaving a comment!

P.S. – If you want to watch the full message from this past Sunday, you can watch it below:

How To Interpret the Book of Acts

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This past Sunday at Renovation Church, we started a new teaching series through the Book of Acts. We will continue preaching verse-by-verse through this fascinating narrative on the early church, take a short break for a Christmas series, and then return to the book in early January.

One of the major things we must comprehend to faithfully read and apply the Book of Acts is the difference between “descriptive” and “prescriptive” when it comes to Biblical narrative. Unfortunately, time did not permit me to explain this concept on Sunday morning so I decided to write a short post to help you understand this in a way that is (hopefully) relevant and less scholarly.

First, let’s talk definitions. A “descriptive” event is, as the name implies, simply a description of something that happened without the intent of setting a new principle or practice. For example, when we see an event such as the early church choosing a new apostle through the casting of lots, it is not advocating that we should always and forever select church leaders by rolling a dice. Instead, the text is simply showing us how it was done in that particular situation.

A “prescriptive” event is a reality or principle that should remain true regardless of the circumstances. An example of a prescriptive event in the Book of Acts is the message found in Acts 4:12, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved.” The “name” being spoken about is the name of Jesus. This is not simply a description of a sermon in the early church; this is the reality of the Gospel. Failure to believe this claim means you are not an orthodox Christian.

Simply stuff right?

Not really.

It gets difficult when we try to teach on the gift of tongues, baptism in the Spirit, leadership roles for women in the church, etc. – These are all topics that good and Bible-believing Christians disagree on – often due to a misunderstanding of “prescriptive” and “descriptive” texts.

Truthfully, there is not a fool-proof way to discern whether a text is descriptive or prescriptive. One helpful thing we must keep in mind when we approach the Biblical text is the genre of the writing. Acts is a history (Yes, I understand it is different than a modern history text) and the primary purpose is to provide the history and story-line of the early church. For this reason, the bulk of the text is going to be descriptive and we must prayerfully discern the principles and underlying realities the Holy Spirit wants us to understand and apply from the text. Many of the Epistles (such as Romans), on the other hand, are prescriptive. There are clear commands to do and not to do certain activities. These moral and doctrinal commands are clearly rooted in the character of God and do not change with the circumstances surrounding them.

I write all of this with the primary purpose of getting you to begin asking these kinds of questions as we study the Book of Acts. I will try to make it clear in my teaching when I am touching on topics that good Christians disagree on and why I take a certain stand on the text. Nevertheless, there is room for loving disagreement. As a church, I want to encourage us to strive for this ancient ideal: “in essentials, unity; in doubtful matters, liberty; in all things, charity.”

I pray and hope each of you are off to a good week. As always, if there is something I can be praying about or if you’d just like to talk, reach out to me. If you do not have my number you can send me an e-mail at tyler@renovationchurchsd.com – Have a great week!

 

How To Survive a Lion Attack

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Tomorrow marks the 8 year anniversary of one of the craziest stories I have read about.

It begins in the small town of Zanesville, Ohio. A retired school teacher named Sam Kopchak left his home to check on a horse he recently purchased. When he saw the horse he noticed something was wrong – the horse was extremely skittish. He probably assumed this was due to the horse’s new home but as he looked out the window he saw an even stranger scene. He spotted a small black bear surrounded by a group of horses in his neighbor’s pasture.

As Sam left the barn to walk back to his home, he spotted a dangerous and terrifying sight – on the other side of the fence there was a full grown African Lion looking back at him.

This was the beginning of the infamous exotic animal escape in Zanesville, Ohio. It began with Terry Thompson, an owner of many exotic animals, releasing his animals to terrorize the Zanesville area before taking his own life. Terry released 18 tigers, 17 lions, 8 bears, 3 cougars, 2 wolves, and 1 baboon.

Imagine for a moment you lived in Zanesville and received a notification that there were hungry lions and tigers on the loose. If it was me, I would quickly make sure my family is inside my home and keep my focus outside so that if I spotted one I could warn others of the danger.

This is the type of mindset Peter is encouraging us to have at the end of 1 Peter. He is writing to Christians experiencing immense and unjust suffering as a result of their faith in Jesus. In order to encourage them to stay strong in the faith, he pens a small but powerful letter. He closes this letter with a lion warning:

1 Peter 5:8-9
Be sober-minded, be alert. Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. Resist him, firm in the faith, knowing that the same kind of sufferings are being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world.

In this passage, Peter shares with us two ways to survive a lion attack. First, we must remain vigilant and second we must learn how to fight.

1. Remain Vigilant
If you have ever watched an animal documentary, there are two things you will notice about the tactics lions use to attack their prey. First, they are most successful when they attack under the cover of darkness. They can quietly sneak up on the prey, pounce on it, and then suffocate it by gripping around its throat with their teeth.

In a similar way, this ancient lion often attacks when we are experiencing the darkness of suffering. He attacks our faith and encourages us to walk away from God when we go through the shattering effects of divorce or the shame-inducing experience of unemployment. When we are walking through the darkness, we must stay close to Jesus and focus on His Word rather than the lies of the enemy.

Second, lions never attack an entire herd of animals all at once. Instead, they pursue the weaker animal that gets separated from the rest. When the animal is separated, it becomes ideal prey for the lion.

Likewise, one of Satan’s tactics in our suffering is to separate us from the people of God by giving us a myriad of excuses why we do not need to be committed to a local church. The moment you disconnect from the local church is the moment you become ideal prey for the enemy to consume. When we experience the darkness of suffering our natural reaction is to isolate ourselves and avoid community – that is the absolute worst thing we can do. The Church is called to be a hospital for sick people; recognizing your sickness is the precise moment you need to run to the church body for help, healing, and encouragement!

2. Learn to Fight
Peter says it this way, “Resist him, firm in the faith…” What does Peter mean when he commands us to resist Satan? Well, if we keep in mind the lion imagery, one of the worst things you can do if you are attacked by a lion is turn your back and run! The natural instinct of all cats (even your house cat) is to pursue people and prey when their back is turned. It’s important that Peter does not tell us to run from Satan or to pretend as if he doesn’t exist. Instead, he says to resist him and remain firm in the apostolic faith.

So… HOW do we resist him?

Roughly 30 years before Peter wrote this letter, we see a battle between two lions in the Scriptures – the Lion of Judah and the Lion of this World (see Matthew 4). Immediately after Jesus’ baptism he is thrust into the wilderness to battle with Satan for a period of 40 days. Each of Satan’s temptations is an encouragement for Jesus to become self-dependent and achieve the glory of the Resurrection without the brutality of the cross. If anyone could stand toe-to-toe with Satan by his own authority, it would have been Jesus.

Nevertheless, do you remember how Jesus responds to each of these temptations?

It. Is. Written.

Jesus resists the Lion of this World by meditating on and quoting the Scriptures (specifically, the book of Deuteronomy). Elsewhere, the Bible is referred to as the Sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:17) by which we fight against the spiritual forces of darkness in this world. The reason so many of us have disconnected from the local church and fallen prey to the enemy is because very few of us study the Scriptures on a daily basis. The only time many American Christians open the Bible is on Sunday morning and the vast majority of the pulpits across our country preach malnourished messages full of life-tips and empty of sound doctrine and real teaching.

Hearing the teaching of the Bible one day a week and expecting it to sustain you is like having one meal the entire week and hoping it will give you enough energy for the other 6 days. It is foolish and will leave you malnourished or dead. Likewise, refusing to study the Scriptures on a regular basis will leave you spiritually malnourished and ideal prey for the enemy of your soul.

You have an enemy who is hunting you.

He hides under the cover of suffering and seeks to separate you from God’s people. Learn to fight against Him by being so consumed with Scripture and the message of the Gospel that it flows out of you in your marriage, your parenting, your friendships, your workplace, and your community. It is time to reject the Americanized version of Christianity where we sit and listen for one hour a week. Instead, let’s pursue the radical discipleship that is evident throughout all of the New Testament.

It is through the words of God (the Bible) that we encounter the Word of God (Jesus). It is through the Word of God (Jesus) that we experience the work of God (salvation and sanctification).