1. When Stress Renews

    August 7, 2014 by Paul Chappell

    It doesn’t take long for the ministry to wear us out—to break down our strength and bring us to a point of exhaustion. Physically, emotionally, spiritually—the ministry is draining.

    In my last post, I highlighted the importance of taking periodic time out of the current to renew from the rigors of ministry. But the truth is, God’s process of renewal doesn’t always come through less stress or work. In fact, if the Apostle Paul is an example, renewal often comes, not through relaxation, but through rigor. God sometimes brings stress into our lives for the very purpose of renewing us in His strength.

    In this video, a morning sermon preached during Spiritual Leadership Conference, Dr. John Goetsch brings us to 2 Corinthians 12 to discover God’s four-fold process of rigorous renewal.

    (If you cannot see this video in your RSS reader or email, you can watch it here. If you would like to download an audio mp3 of this message, you can do so here.)

    Note: All messages and videos from Spiritual Leadership Conference 2014 are available here.

  2. 7 Blessings I Found out of the Current

    August 4, 2014 by Paul Chappell


    One of the blessings of serving the Lord is the grace that He gives in intense seasons of ministry. And the older I get, the more conscious I am of my need for and the sufficiency of God’s sustaining grace during these busy seasons.

    Because of the nature of being a pastor and of specifics related to our ministry here in Lancaster, December through June seems to move at breakneck speed from one outreach or ministry event to the next. It’s a joy to be part of what God is doing here, but by the end of June, I’m running on fumes!

    Over the last few years, in particular, the Lord has been teaching me the necessity of periodically stepping out of the current, disengaging from the busyness of ministry to refuel for the road ahead.

    Over the past few weeks, it was a blessing to take some time for vacation with Terrie and our family, followed by a season of focused study and preparation for the fall. Yesterday, was my first Sunday back in my own pulpit, and what a joy it was to be back with our church family!

    Looking back over the past few weeks, there are at least seven specific blessings the Lord gave me through these days out of the current: (more…)

  3. Vacation Bible School Patriotism Disallowed by US Military

    August 1, 2014 by Paul Chappell


    Since the inception of our nation, churches have supported the American military in its efforts to bring and preserve freedom. Since World War I, one way this has been shown has been by placing American flags in our church auditoriums.

    While I am aware that there is a larger discussion related to patriotism in the church, I am a patriotic American who is grateful for the biblically-rooted American belief of liberty. And I do believe that expressing that in church has its place.

    Yet in a strange twist of logic and the devaluing of American pride, as our nation seems bent on moving as far as possible from God and Christian values, federal leaders of our military apparently feel threatened by churches’ support of the military.

    Just last week, a church in Carthage, Missouri, received what amounts to a “no thanks for patriotism” message from the National Guard. In a news article posted a few days ago, reporter Todd Starnes shared a deeply concerning story. A Baptist church who chose a patriotic theme for Vacation Bible School “invited troops from the nearby armory to drop by with one of their Humvees” to honor and thank the service members.

    Earlier in the week, local paramedics, the fire department, and the sheriff’s department had all come and visited with the kids. But the National Guard said they couldn’t come. And it wasn’t because they were engaged in other duties. It was because a federal regulation is protecting their freedom from religion. To quote the pastor in Starnes’ article: (more…)

  4. What to Do When You Need Renewal—Part 2

    July 28, 2014 by Paul Chappell


    In the previous post we looked at three steps to take when you find yourself empty and depleted. By way of a quick recap, here they are:

    1. Retreat—Make time to initiate a renewal process.
    2. Assess—Ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart on every level.
    3. Repent—Respond to the Holy Spirit’s conviction, calling sin what it is.

    Identifying the problem, however—while a great start—isn’t enough. Where do you go from here. I have found two final steps to be needful:

    4. Realign

    It does little good to assess if there is no resulting change. Based on the assessments you made with the help of the Holy Spirit, what do you need to realign moving forward?

    And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.—Psalm 139:24

    For me, the realignment I need is usually in one of these four areas, and so I immediately look for potential adjustments in these: (more…)

  5. What to Do When You Need Renewal—Part 1

    July 24, 2014 by Paul Chappell


    It’s easy to explain why we need renewal because all of us can easily identify with the all-too-familiar sense of depletion.

    But what do we do when we come to this point? How do we renew?

    When I’m aware that I’m running on fumes, I follow this five-step process. (We’ll look at the first three steps in this post and the last two in the next.)

    1. Retreat

    Renewal doesn’t happen on a treadmill. We need time out of the current to regain focus. Jesus Himself is our example in this. Even in busy ministry with people clamoring for His time, Jesus carved out time to spend with the Father.

    And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.—Mark 1:35

    How often should you retreat? Every day—minimum. This is your daily quiet time when you still your heart before the Lord and seek His face. Spend time in His Word, ask Him to search your heart, and evaluate the coming day in light of His priorities for your day. (more…)