About Me

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I am married to the wonderful Michelle Karr. We have been blessed with eight children; Josiah, Katie Jo, Eli, Janie Beth (who was born December 29, 2009 and went home to be with the Lord December 30, 2009), Joy Michelle, Timothy, Joshua and Jeremiah. My passion is writing books and study materials about, and teaching people how, to live as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.


God's Simple Witnessing Tract

While hanging out in God's word the other day I had one of those cool moments.  It is something I have known for years, but perhaps God just needed to remind me of it once again.  I am in the process of developing a new book that explores some of the basics of the Christian faith, utilizing the analogy of God's Community of Faith; a local neighborhood (the church) made up of individual houses/temples (the believers).  I am always amazed when I look at God's plan for His people and how clear He has sought to make it in His word.

Well, as I was working on my outline for the chapter dealing with having something to share as we seek to grow this community of faith, I was looking at what would be my starting passage for the chapter.  I sat there thinking about what I learned in seminary about the key elements to a witnessing plan: God's Love/Plan, Man's Sin, God's Provision, Man's Response...and then of course what comes next when a person receives Christ into their life.  Great basic plan, but where to start in Scripture for this chapter?  There is always the Roman Road to Salvation that is so popular.  And then there are the Four Spiritual Laws used by such great groups as Campus Crusade for Christ.  But none of those seemed to me to be where I should start.  And then God just seemed to say to me that He has it all right there in one simple, well known verse.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only
begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should
not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

Nearly all of us have heard that verse, quoted that verse or been exposed to that verse in one way or another.  But did you ever notice that it is the basic witnessing plan right there in one sentence?  Explore it with me....

For God so loved....

That is the starting point of any search for salvation.  To know that God loves each and everyone of us. To know that He has not only a plan for your life, but a keen interest in what happens to you and what your future may hold.  God loves us...WOW!  The Creator of heaven and earth loves you.  The One who can speak a universe into existence loves you.  GOD LOVES YOU!!!

...the world...

Have you ever sat back and truly looked at the world around you?  It is broken and full of sin.  Sin is, of course, anything that goes against God and His will.  You can hardly turn on the news, or boot up your computer without being hit in the face with the evil that pervades our world.  And to make it even more personal...you and I are part of this fallen world.  We have sinned.  We have failed God.  We need a Savior.  We need this God who loves us.  GOD LOVES YOU...A SINNER OF THE WORLD!!!

...that He gave His only begotten Son...

God does love us, even though we are a world of sinners, He still loves us.  So what does He do to prove His love to a sinful world?  He send His only Son as a gift for us.  Sin demands a punishment.  Sin will always have consequences.  And this God who loves us so much chose to pay those consequences and that penalty for us.  God has made a provision for our sin...and it was His only Son dying on a cross for you and for me.  GOD LOVES YOU..A SINNER OF THE WORLD...AND SO HIS SON DIED FOR YOU!!!

...that whosoever believes in Him...

To believe in Him is to cast total trust in Him.  To have the faith to come before Him and respond to His gift of love.  To have the faith to place your self into His capable hands.  To believe is to move from a knowledge of the head and a feeling of the heart...right into a life that trusts Him, the One who loves you so very much.  GOD LOVES YOU...A SINNER OF THE WORLD...AND SO HIS SON DIED FOR YOU...YOU NEED TO CAST YOUR FAITH ON HIM!!!

...should not perish, but should have everlasting life.

Why did God show His love for us and give us a chance to find forgiveness?  So that we can enjoy the fullness of a living relationship with Him.   To not perish from our sins, but to find life; eternal and abundant.  To find hope and a future.  God Loves Us For A Reason...That We May Have Life.

And my friends, this is the good news of Jesus Christ in one simple verse.  Sometimes we try too hard to find cute and creative ways to express the gospel message.  When the reality is...God's witnessing plan is far easier to remember and no one could have said it better than God.


Burnt Roast and The Spirit of God

Some years ago I was going to a revival with a friend who was a PK (preacher's kid).  He shared with me this following story.

When he was a child his father had preached one of those impassioned messages that stirs the heart and moves the soul.  When the message was over this pastor went into the invitation for people to respond.  Well, he was so convinced at the power of the Spirit in his message that the invitation just went on and on with no end in sight.  After all, in any given congregation there will be people who need to respond to God in some way.  The only problem was that no one seemed to be stepping out of their pews.  After about the second or third time through I Surrender All suddenly there was movement.  Out of the pew steps this pastor's young son.  You can imagine the scene.  A collective set of "aws" from the congregation.  And, as he moves to the altar a tear can be seen coming from the eye of the pastor - his son was responding to God's call.  Our young friend gets to the altar and, as his father leans down to embrace him, he whispers to his father: "Dad, Mom wanted me to tell you that the roast is burning."

Do you ever catch yourself trying to tell God what He should do and when He should do it?  Sometimes those of us who are preachers will be so impressed with what we have to say we will assume that God is going to move people to respond.  Often times Christians will assume that since they love God and are seeking to walk with Him on a daily basis, surely He will do all that we ask and more.  But the reality is that it is important for us to allow God to do His work in us...and for Him to do so in His timing.  We must learn to trust Him and His Spirit.  To be sensitive to His movement, and not our desires.  I know as an evangelist I want people to "get saved" or experience "renewal" every time I stand in God's pulpit.  What I have had to learn, as do we all, is that what we really must wait for is God's working in us as we live our lives of faith.  In Galatians 5:5 we are reminded:

"As for us, our hope is that God will put us right with him; and this is what we wait for by the power of God’s Spirit working through our faith." (TEV)

Tell me, are you trusting the Spirit of God by simply serving the Lord in faith?  Or, if God does not do things the way you want, do you just keep pushing until He does or you just finally have to give up?  Are you being sensitive to the Spirit of God, or are you simply letting the roast burn?  May God always find me and my ministry faithful to His leading and not my personal desires.


The Big If

I have heard churches bemoan their lack of growth and say "if God would only move."  I have seen how the world hurts and struggles and heard the cry "if there was only hope."  "If only we could get people to be saved."  "If only we could get people to not go out the back door of the church as fast as they enter the front door."  IF....IF....IF....IF   There are just so many ifs in our world.  Yet, that first if I mentioned resonates so with me, as I have heard that plea for God's hand to move in His church and world.  And with this mass of ifs I would share with you God's big if.  You see God so wants to move in our churches and world.  God has such big plans for us as His people, and even more importantly, for you as an individual.  And as He looks at His church and the houses of worship we build He says these words:

"If My people who are called by My name will 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." (2 Chronicles 7:14)

And that is God's big if.  Do we truly want to see God move and do great things in our midst?  Do we truly desire a fresh word from God?  Are you serious about seeing God change our world and save the lost within?  Then He has laid it out plainly and clearly for you in this passage.

God is looking for His people, those who call themselves by His name, to do four vital things:

1) Humble Themselves...to lay yourself on your face and admit to God that without Him you can do nothing.  It is not about how big a building you build or how much money you give.  It is not about how important you are.  It is about God and His work.  So, are you willing to humble yourself before God?

2) Pray..you would think that this is really quite simple.  But I find that we talk about seeing God move.  We express our desires for revival and renewal to happen in our midst.  But when it comes down to truly coming together as a united body and praying for God to do whatever He deems fit...we shrink away.  Why?  Perhaps it is because if we truly ask Him to move, it might take us out of our comfort zones.  He may ask us to step out in faith, and that is so hard to do.  Pray people pray for God to move in your midst.

3) Seek My Face..."those who seek Him find Him."  To actively seek the face of God is to look into His glory and be moved, forever changed.  Like Isaiah of old, when you come before the glory of God you too will say, "here am I, send me."  When we seek Him we discover all the possibilities of His wonder working power.  "Seek the Lord while He may be found, call on Him while He is yet near."

4) Turn From Their Wicked Ways...bottom line, true revival begins in the hearts and lives of God's people.  Until we are willing to come before Him and confess our own sins (be they actions or attitudes) we will never experience the power of God's work in our lives.  Face it, we are all sinners and have those times when our sins creep back in.  Repent and find victory in Jesus.

I would like to point out that God's big if is a conditional statement.  It is not until you as a church or individual have done these four expectations that you will see revival take place.  God promises that when we do these four things "THEN I will hear from heaven, and forgive their sins and heal their land."  In other words.  THEN revival will happen.  Then you will see the hand of God at work in your midst.

It is my prayer that God will bring His people to their knees, seeking His mighty hand in their midst.  The great revivals of history began with a group of people on their knees before God, seeking His face, and repenting of their own sins.  When they lived out 2 Chronicles 7:14 God kept His end of the bargain.  May we be like the disciples of old who gathered in one accord in an upper room to seek out the promise of God.  When they did business with God all heaven broke loose.  Let it be so in us dear Lord, let it be so.


One Element Of Church Decline

As I was preparing to write my first blog post for this new ministry I was confounded as to what to say.  There are so many directions I could go: the call to vocational evangelism, to key element to spiritual renewal, and so forth.  Yet there was one topic that keeps pressing in on my thoughts, and it is a realization that I had just yesterday.  Let me try to explain.

I have watched and observed churches for nearly three decades of ministry.  One thing I have noted is that many churches seem to be in a state of decline: be it in actual attendance, spiritual growth, or the number of people coming to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.  And I had to ask myself - why?  There are so many reasons that church growth experts have studied, that it would take volumes of blog posts to even touch the tip of the iceberg.  Yet, in the research I have read one element of church decline has never been mentioned.  Quite frankly, we as a church have ignored something that Christ Himself ordained as a part of His plan for His bride, the Church.  And if we are going to ignore or look past something He designed, then why should He bless our efforts at kingdom building?  In Ephesians 4:11-12 we read these words:

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ....

I would like to point out a couple of obvious things from this passage at the outset.  First, did you notice that the Holy Spirit is not given credit for these particular gifts?  This is the one time in the New Testament that we are told that Jesus Himself gave this particular gift set.  I have come to call these gifts the "Gospel Gifts."  Each of these gifts have one central element in common; they were designed to make the gospel of Jesus Christ alive and relevant to His people. (Now the following is a very shortened version of a five session seminar I teach on the Spiritual gifts.) The Apostle was the ambassador for Christ, charged by Him to spread His message.  It was the Apostles that Christ used to pen the inspired Words of God.  Second, you have the Prophets.  These are the men that Jesus especially gifts with the call to take the words of God and speak forth His mind and counsel with power, conviction and inspiration. Third are the Evangelists, called by Christ to share the gospel in that powerful way, bringing people to the point of response to God's call of salvation.  Fourth are the Pastors, His shepherds in the daily living out of the gospel's call.  And fifth, the Teachers, who enable the believer to apply the gospel principles to daily living.  It has to be understood that each of these gospel gifts was given for a specific reason...to equip God's people for ministry.  And it is not until God's people are equipped and involved in ministry that we will experience true growth, edification and unity in the church.

Yet, in these verses there is an element that never really stood out to me until recently.  It is hard for me to imagine that the Lord (with the exception of the unique role of the apostle as God's bridge from the earthly ministry of Christ to the age of the church)  would give a gift He did not intend to be used in the church.  Still, we do this very thing regularly.  Let me try to help you understand what I mean.

In the modern church...how often do we have times of focused effort at revival and renewal?  Once a year?  Twice a year?  Once ever few years?  And then, what do we do?  We schedule a "one-day" revival and tell God, "ok, we have given You this special day...do Your stuff."  And to make matters worse, we will call some Pastor friend to come help us out, if his schedule will allow.  And then be amazed that there was not some great out-pouring of God's blessings.  Hear me loud and clear.  God gave the church the Prophet and Evangelist for a reason.  Could it be, and I may be totally wrong here, that we have boxed in God and said we will allow Him to revive our church, but we do not want to go to the hassle of finding a reputable Prophet/Evangelist of God, it is so much easier to have a Pastor pal do it for us.  Or, our church is busy and our people are busy, so we will try to fit time into our hectic schedule to "allow" God to get us focused on revival and renewal.

When the church takes seriously that God has a special purpose in mind for setting aside these gifted men for this vital calling, then I believe we will begin to see God do amazing things again in our midst.  Naturally the are always other factors that must be involved for true revival to break out in the church.  I will be blogging about these in the days to come.  But I begin with this point because it is dear to my heart.  We need to pray that God will raise up men who will be His prophets and evangelists for our time.  And while we are at it, pray that our Pastors will have the boldness and conviction to trust God's plan and utilize the Prophets and Evangelists that are there to be a part of the equipping of the church for God's glory.