Sermon Transcript



I’ve titled this morning’s message “The Secret to a Growing Church.”  And I want to read Acts 9 beginning in verse 20, and we’ll go through verse 31.  “For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus.  And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, ‘He is the Son of God.’  And all who heard him were amazed and said, ‘Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name?  And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?’  But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ.  When many days had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him, but their plot became known to Saul.  They were watching the gates day and night in order to kill him, but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket.  And when he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples.  And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple.  But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus.  So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord.  And he spoke and disputed against the Hellenists.  But they were seeking to kill him.  And when the brothers learned this, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.”  And now verse 31, “So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up.  And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.”



I want to talk to you about the secret of a growing church.  I’ve been to a lot of what you might call church growth conferences over the years.  And all of them are good at some level.  You go to a conference like that as a pastor, you chew up the meat, and you spit out the bones.  You realize that not everything that a church might be doing in another context fits your context.  You look for those transferable principles.  All of that is good.  But I’ve always come away from conferences like that and come to a text even like Acts 9 and see some principles that could greatly reduce the time I spend at a conference like that.  Because I’m going to share with you the secret to a growing church, at least some of them, in about 30 minutes time.  Not three days, not seven days, not a conference length.  The inspiration for the title of this message I received from verse 31, one of those summary verses in Luke’s book of Acts where he talks about how the church multiplied one more time.  And we’ll get to some of those secrets there.



But I see some other secrets in the verses leading up to that, the verses that I read starting in verse 20 all the way up to verse 31.  I see some things related to leaders in the church that are vitally important to any growing church.  I see something about the people of the church.  And I see something about the vital role of the Holy Spirit.  So let’s come at it that way.



The first secret to a growing church that I see is that strong, godly leaders never quit.  Let’s pick up where we were last time in Acts 9 where we told the amazing story of one of the greatest religious conversions in human history.  We’re talking about Saul of Tarsus, Saul the terrorist of Tarsus, who was walking along the road to Damascus carrying papers that gave him the authorization to terrorize the Christians who had made their way to Damascus.  And, boom, the light of glory, the shekinah glory of God stopped Saul in his tracks, blinded him for a period of time.  And Saul miraculously and dramatically came to faith in Jesus Christ.  We call that the road to Damascus experience.



But what happened thereafter?  Well, putting together the chronology of Saul’s early ministry is a little bit of a challenge.  We get some of that chronology immediately following in Acts 9, but we also have to go to Galatians 1 to fill in some of the gaps.  And from that we can come up with a pretty good chronology.  In your notes I’ve given you a chart as to what happened, where it happened, when it happened, and scripture references that kind of bounce back and forth between Acts 9 and Galatians 1, even Galatians 2.



And let me give you just a summary of what happened.  Saul comes to faith in Jesus Christ.  He is blinded.  He is led into Damascus.  And he’s there for three days, and he’s praying.  He’s fasting.  Three days later the scales come off his eyes.  He is baptized, and then a guy named Ananias comes and welcomes him into the family of God with that phrase we talked about last time, “Brother Saul.”  And Saul immediately starts some ministry in Damascus.  That makes sense, doesn’t it?  Well, he ended up in Damascus.  He ends up ministering in a way that he didn’t intend when he first set out for Damascus.  But the Bible tells us in verse 20, “For some days Paul was with the disciples in Damascus.  And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, ‘He is the Son of God.’”  And naturally people were a little bit surprised by this, because they knew Saul of Tarsus’s reputation.  And now he is talking about Jesus in ways that people didn’t expect him to.



But generally speaking, this early ministry experience in Damascus was relatively easy, somewhat fruitful, but at some point—and now we are factoring in Galatians 1 that we’ll get to in a moment here—Saul leaves Damascus and goes to Arabia.  We don’t have a detailed account of what happened in Arabia or what he did in Arabia.  My guess—and most Bible teachers align with this idea—is that Saul realized he needed some further training.  Not from the seminary professors.  Not from the feet of Gamaliel where he learned his Judaism.  But he needed to get alone with God.  He talks about receiving the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ in Galatians not from men, but from a revelation of Jesus Christ.  And Saul, who knew the Old Testament well…I mean, he was Saul of Tarsus, a Pharisee of Pharisees, advancing in his Judaism beyond even his won contemporaries.  He knew the old scriptures well, but he probably needed some time with Jesus alone in the Arabian Desert for Jesus to connect the dots that Saul knew about the Old Testament to who Jesus was and all that had happened.  We don’t know the exact period of time that he spent there, but we know it as less than three years, because the totality of time he spent in Damascus was three years.  So he starts his ministry there.  It’s relatively easy.  He goes off to Arabia.  Then he comes back to Damascus.



Now, let’s go to Galatians 1 and hear how Saul describes this.  Beginning in verse 11, “For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man's gospel.  For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.  For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it.  And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers.  But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.  Then after three years…”  Three probably from his conversion.  “Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days.”



So follow the chronology here and stay with me for a moment, because I have a point in all of this.  He comes to faith in Christ on the road to Damascus.  He stays in Damascus for a period of time and begins proclaiming Jesus in the synagogues.  They’re a little bit, you know, taken aback by that, but it’s a relatively easy time of ministry.  He goes off to Arabia for some time alone with Jesus to receive a revelation.  I love that he says, “The gospel that I received I did not receive from men.”  You know, it’s one thing to reason in our own minds and come up with something, but human reason always has its limit.  The gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is not based upon the reasoning of any human mind.  It’s the revelation of God.  Never forget that, friends.  And so even as Saul came to a great understanding of the gospel and Jesus connects all the dots for Him in Arabia, he then comes back to Damascus and continues his ministry.  But things get a little bit harder.  It says there in verse 23, “When many days had passed…”—now I’m back in Acts 9—“…the Jews plotted to kill him, but their plot became known to Saul.  They were watching the gates day and night in order to kill him, but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowing him in a basket.”



Now back then, cities had walls.  How interesting that we have a lot of discussion in our politics today in our walls.  But ancient cities had walls.  Nations had walls.  They were meant to protect the inhabitants of the city and to guard who came in and out of the city.  And in ancient cities those walls were oftentimes as wide as a chariot to that a chariot could drive around the wall as the watchmen protected the wall.  And there were maybe some rooms or some places to meet alongside the wall.  The plot rose up against Saul.  Less than three years into his ministry as a minister of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, a plot arises to kill him.  And the disciples hear about it.  And they take Saul in the middle of the night to the wall and to a room where there is a window perhaps.  And they let him down in a basket, where he now escapes to Jerusalem where he catches up with some other followers of Jesus.  Less than three years into his ministry.



By the way, do you know that the average length of stay for a pastor in a church these days is three and a half years?  Because it takes about that times for something, some plot to rise up.  We’re trying to break that record here.  Okay?  And we will.  That is my intention.  But I find it interesting.  It didn’t take very long at all for ministry to go from relatively easy for Saul to now it becomes more difficult.  And it becomes increasingly more difficult as he goes to Jerusalem.



It says in verse 26, “And when he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples.  And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple.”  They are still, after three years, questioning the man’s conversion to Christ, saying, “Ah, I’m not so sure about this,” because he had such a strong reputation in the past of being a persecutor of the way.  And he goes to Jerusalem.  And Barnabas takes him aside.  We’ll talk about that in a moment.  It says a little bit later that, “he went in and out among them in Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord…but they were seeking to kill him.  And when the brothers learned this, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus,” where, according to Galatians 2:1, I believe, in the chronology, he spent the next 14 years of his life in Tarsus. Just a reminder of what Jesus said to Ananias about his plans for Saul.  Do you remember this in Acts 9?  “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine, for I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”



Now, I want you to hold your place here in Acts 9 and go with me to 2 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians 11.  Just turn there with me in your Bibles.  I believe…and many other Bible teachers do…that the verses I’m about read hear as Paul describes his hardships in the ministry are probably reflective of his time in Tarsus, or what he says in Galatians, Cilicia.  Same region, okay.  It wasn’t easy.  He went from an easy time in Damascus, then to Arabia, back to Damascus for a hard time with a plot to kill him, off to Jerusalem in the humility of a basket outside the city walls in the dark of night.  He gets to Jerusalem, another plot rises up to get rid of Saul, and now he is back to his hometown in Tarsus.  And he has been ministering there for probably up to 14 years.  And he says in the middle of his letter to the Corinthians, verse 23, “Are they servants of Christ?  I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death.”  He says, “Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one.  Three times I was beaten with rods.  Once I was stoned.  Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers…”…I’m waiting for Rodney Dangerfield to show up in this list, too, you know…“…in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.  And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.”



Anybody ready to sign up to be a follower of Jesus?  Remember, Jesus says, “If you want to be My disciples, deny yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow Me.”  It’s a nice way of saying strap on your seatbelts.  This is not a Carnival cruise ship.  Paul was a chosen instrument of God and would have to go through many, many sufferings. Tradition tells us his life ended in a prison in Rome as Nero severed his head from his body.



Why do I go through all the chronology there?  Simply to say this- that one of the secrets to a growing church are strong, godly leaders that never quit.  Not once do you hear the words of retreat in Saul.  Not once did he ever say, “This is too much for me.  I just can’t handle it.  This wasn’t what I signed up for, God.  Come on now.”  No, he just kept pressing on.



It reminded me a little bit of the words of Winston Churchill during the first 10 months of World War II.  There is a famous quote that comes from stories of Churchill.  He was asked to come back to his alma mater, a school named Harrow, and kind of give a commencement address.  And that’s where he gave the famous “Never give in, never give in, never, never, never give in” speech.  But I looked at it this week in the broader context.  Listen to what Churchill was saying.  And keep in mind, this was only 10 months into World War II.  And they were facing great challenges as a nation.  He says, “You cannot tell from appearances how things will go.  Sometimes imagination makes things out far worse than they really are.  Yet without imagination not much can be done.  Those people who are imaginative see many more dangers than perhaps exist, certainly many more than will happen.  But then they must also pray to be given that extra courage to carry this far-reaching imagination.  But everyone, surely, what we have gone through in this period, surely from this period of ten months this is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty - never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.”  He goes on to say, “Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.  We stood all alone a year ago, and to many countries it seemed that our account was closed, we were finished.  All this tradition of ours, our songs, our school history, this part of the history of this country, were gone and finished and liquidated.  Very different is the mood today,” Churchill says.  “Britain, other nations thought, had drawn a sponge across her slate.  But instead our country stood in the gap.  There was no flinching and no thought of giving in; and by what seemed almost a miracle to those outside these islands, though we ourselves never doubted it, we now find ourselves in a position where I say that we can be sure that we have only to persevere to conquer.”



Aren’t those great words from history?  I mean, it just sends tingles up and down my spine to hear (0:19:00.1) Churchill say, “Never give up, never give in.”  And I ask myself, where are the leaders in the church today?  Where are the people in the church today who have that kind of tenacity?  Who say no matter how hard it gets, no matter what the challenges, no matter what the hardships, we will never retreat from the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.  No matter how many times it seems overwhelmingly that the enemy is conquering.  Oh no, we are more than conquerors in Jesus Christ.  Greater is He that is in us than He that is in the world.  And we never give in.  We never give in.  Never, never, never, no, never.  Jesus said, “When you follow Me as a disciple, put your hands to the plow and do not look back.”



And the history of the church has a leader like that in Saul of Tarsus, who became the great apostle Paul.  (0:20:00.0) Ministry started out rather easy, then it got difficult, then it got next to impossible.  And you wonder, is the gospel even advancing?  Oh, when you read the book of Acts and even in the midst of great hardship and great conflict, plots to kill some of the leaders, the church of Jesus Christ marched forward.  And here we are today.



That’s the first secret, I believe, to a growing church as it relates to leaders- godly leaders, strong leaders that never, ever quit.  And then secondly, faithful leaders that always encourage.  Let me shift gears a little bit here and shift tone.  And let’s go back to Acts 9, and let’s focus on verse 27.  It says when Saul got to Jerusalem and some of the people were wondering, you know, about the authenticity of his conversion, it says, “But Barnabas took Saul and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus.”  God bless Barnabas, and may his tribe increase.



You know, every church needs one or a whole herd of Barnabases and whatever the female version of Barnabas is.  I don’t know.  But Barnabas means “son of encouragement.”  And if you read and know anything about Barnabas in the book of Acts, he was just that.  He was a guy that was just dripping in encouragement.  Encouragement is like oxygen to the soul, somebody said.  And in the absence of encouragement, the soul just shrivels up.  But Barnabas was one of those guys that came alongside the apostle Paul.  I’m calling him Paul now.  Came alongside Paul.  And when others were firing bullets at him, came alongside and said, “No, no, you need to understand something.  This guy’s faith in Christ is genuine.  He’s the real deal.  And he met the Lord on the road.  And he spoke to Him.  And I was there when he was preaching in Damascus and preaching boldly that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”  It as Barnabas that smoothed the way for Paul, even among the believers in Jerusalem.



Now, throughout Paul’s ministry he had some people that caused him harm.  And he wasn’t afraid to call people out in his letters and mention them by name.  In one of his New Testament letters Paul just simply says, “Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm.”  No details, but just an honest moment.  I can tell you I’ve met Alexander and his twin cousins, all right.  There is an Alexander the coppersmith, you know, seemingly everywhere.  He says, “Demas, having loved this present world, has forsaken me.”  And that’s in another one of Paul’s letters to Timothy, and it’s at a time that just drips in loneliness.  I mean, Paul is lonely.  He says to Timothy, “Come before winter, and just come be with me because Demas has forsaken me.”



Turn with me to 2 Timothy 1.  Let me read you a passage where there’s several names that are mentioned, some that have caused him harm and others that have just been a refreshing encouragement to him.  2 Timothy 1 beginning in verse 15.  Paul says, “You are aware that all who are in Asia turned away from me.”  You ever had people just turn their back on you?  You just felt the pain and the loneliness of that?  Paul did, and maybe that was part of the suffering that he experienced for the name of Christ, the fellowship of the sufferings.  Because Jesus had people who turned away from Him.  “Among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes.”  He’s not afraid to name names and to call these guys out.  They turned their back on Saul.  But he goes on.  Listen to this.  “May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains, but when he arrived in Rome he searched for me earnestly and found me—may the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that day!—and you well know all the service he rendered at Ephesus.”  Just like I say three cheers and God bless Barnabas, God bless Onesiphorus.  You’ve probably never heard his name before.  He’s one of the unsung heroes in the New Testament and was such a refreshing, encouraging presence in Paul’s life that he gets mentioned here.  Paul was in Rome.  And he was under house arrest.  And it got lonely there.  Onesiphorus heard that he was in Rome.  He gets to Rome, and he seeks Saul out.  He comes after him.  It was just a chance meeting somewhere in the streets.  No, he seeks Saul out at great risk, no doubt, just to be a refreshing encouragement to Paul.



I have a few Onesiphoruses in my life, one in particular, Colonel Henry.  He is a friend of mine in D.C.  And at a difficult time in my ministry when I needed some encouragement and I didn’t even know the man, a letter shows up in my mailbox from Mississippi.  He and his wife spent some time in Mississippi part of the year, and the other part of the year in D.C. where we were serving.  And he just reached out like a refreshing brook of cool water, refreshing me and encouraging me.  And to this day we are friends.  We just had a conversation four or five days ago.  He is my Onesiphorus, and he knows that.  And we often talk about that experience eight or ten years ago where he sought me out…didn’t even know me…and was refreshing.



I’m just saying that in growing churches there are not only strong leaders who never quit and never give up—there is a tenacity to their leadership like the apostle Paul—but there are faithful leaders who always encourage, always refresh.  Do you have a Barnabas or an Onesiphorus around you?  Or are you that to somebody else who needs encouragement?  Believe me, in the church of Jesus Christ today, in the world today, we are encouragement-starved.  We’re on a respirator, as it were, because there is so much criticism that can come in our world today.  It’s just all over.  Just turn on the news.  It’s one person attacking another person, and another person attacking that person.  It’s this for that.  Be an encouragement.  Be a Barnabas.  Be an Onesiphorus.  And fortunately in this church there are hundreds of them.  I could never feel more encouraged as a pastor because of the atmosphere of encouragement in a place like this.  And I say three cheers to Atlantic Shores for that.



So strong leaders who never quit.  Faithful leaders that always encourage.  Number three, people who fear the Lord.  This is one of the secrets of a growing church.  And now we get to the verse that inspired the title of the message “The Secret to a Growing Church.”  It’s verse 31.  Follow along as I read.  It says, “So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up.”  Notice how the gospel has been spreading, just as Jesus said to His disciples, “You’ll be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, the uttermost parts.”  The plan is unfolding.  And then it says, “And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.”



Verse 31 is one of those summary statements that we run across in Luke’s account in Acts.  The first one we came to was Acts 2:47, “And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.”  And there are summary statements like that about how the church was growing and even exploding in growth.  And we’ve talked about how the math changes from “the Lord was adding to…”…well, this is the second time the reference is to multiplication.  The growth is so exponential that now we have to change the math.



And I look at verse 31, and this takes me back to the church growth conference.  If I were speaking at a church growth conference, it would be a short 30-minute talk about the kinds of leaders that we need in a church- those that are strong, godly leaders that never quit and never give in, and then those that are faithful and always encouraging.  And this is something for all of us to embrace- people who fear the Lord.  You know, Proverbs tells us the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge.  What is the fear of the Lord?  Does it mean we cower in His presence and we’re afraid of Him?  Well, if you're not a child of God by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, well, to some extent you need to understand that our God is an awesome God, like a consuming fire.  And if I could scare you out of hell, I would.  The Bible also talks in one sentence about the goodness and the severity of God in the same sentence, in the same breath.  So yeah, to some extent.  But if you're a child of God by faith in Jesus Christ, “there is now therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ.”



And fear, the fear of the Lord, takes on a different meaning.  It means respect.  To fear the Lord is to have such an awesome respect for how He is and what He says that we put it into practice.  We don’t argue.  We don’t negotiate with Him.  We don’t say, “Yeah, but…”  No, there is just an awesome respect for God, the fear of the Lord.  It permeated the body of Christ in the 1st century.  And I think it was one of the keys.  Certainly Luke thought it was to mention it here.  One of the keys to church growth and multiplication was there was a prevailing atmosphere of the fear of the Lord and awesome respect for who He is.



You know, our culture has completely lost the fear of God.  We started as a nation grounded in biblical principles.  Our founding documents say that.  But in the last generation we have jettisoned the fear of the Lord.  There is very little respect for God in the public square.  And when that happens, it’s a slippery slope.  And not long after it becomes the loss of respect for law and order.  And we’re experiencing that right now.  There is very little respect for authority in our culture today.  Children are being raised in homes where they’re not taught in a proper way respect for parental authority, for the authority of teachers and coaches, even law enforcement.  We’re tearing that down.  And it begins with the loss of the fear of God in a culture and awesome respect for who He is, what He says, and what He says about us and how we should live.  And we need to be careful as a church that that loss of the fear of God doesn’t creep into our midst and we’re disrespectful to the God-given authority figures that He has placed even in our lives, starting with the Lord and the lordship of Jesus Christ.  His is the first authority that we submit to, right?  And as a follower of Jesus Christ, we say, “Not my will, but Thine be done.”  We say, “Not my agenda, but Yours,” and, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done.”  And we lay all of our other dreams and aspirations and “yeah, buts” aside, right?  There was something in the early church where you got a sense of the awesomeness of God and respect for Him that is missing in a lot of our culture today.



And then finally, the comforting presence and power of the Holy Spirit is mentioned in verse 31.  “And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit,” the church multiplied.  I say in a growing church there is something about the leadership, there is something generally about the people, and then don’t ever forget the role of the Holy Spirit.  You can’t the book of Acts without seeing that certainly Jesus Christ is the main character.  But He ascended to the Father and sent the Holy Spirit.  And on the day of Pentecost He comes to empower the church.  Ephesians 3:20, “Now unto him who is able to do exceeding and abundantly beyond all that we ask or imagine, according to the power that is at work within us, to him be glory and honor through his church.”  What power is he talking about?  Well, it’s not personal power, or self-power, or the power to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, or the power to reason in your minds and to figure out how to do this thing called church.  No, it’s the power of the Holy Spirit, friends.  You and I will fail miserably in the Christian life if we try to live it in our strength, in our own reason, in our own ingenuity, to think we’re smarter than and we got this figured out.  We’ll fail every time.  But it’s the Holy Spirit living in us.  The Holy Spirit that indwells every believer in Jesus Christ.  That means we have the resources to do this well and to do it successfully.



The question is, are we submitting to Him?  Because as I read the New Testament, positively we can walk by the Spirit.  We can live by the Spirit.  We can keep in step with the Spirit.  John 15, “Abide in me,” Jesus says, “and let my words abide in you.”  All of that very similar language.  Or we can grieve, quench and resist the Holy Spirit.  And when we do the latter, things don’t go well.  When we do the former, things go well.  Yes, in the midst of conflict and hardships and difficulty.  Saul was filled with the Holy Spirit, even as he ministered in these places, and yet there were dangers all around him.  Never confuse the dangers with you’re not on the right track.  Usually it means you're on the right track because the devil doesn’t want the church to succeed.  Right?  So we just never give up.  We never give up to the overwhelming threat of the enemy.  And we know that greater is He that is in us and we are more than conquerors in Jesus Christ.



Simple.  I just saved you three days and a conference fee in a 30-minute talk here, the secret to a growing church and the secret to a life that is full of fruitfulness and all that God would have for us.  Strong, godly leaders who have the tenacity, who never retreat from the gospel no matter how hard it gets.  Faithful leaders that encourage and refresh.  The people of God who fear the Lord and who walk in step and in stride with the Holy Spirit.  Friends, that’s the kind of church that I want to be a part of, and I know you want to be a part of, too.  Let’s take these secrets and put them into practice, live them out.  It doesn't require a Ph.D. to figure this out.  We just have to read the Word of God and read it carefully, and then apply these principles to our lives.  Amen?



“Every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.”

Romans 8:28 MSG