Dr. Vance Havner was a traveling preacher whose straight talk, laced with humor, would often empty a church rather than fill it. A prophet to Christians before the prophetic movement as well as a prolific author, he wrote such classics as Repent or Else!, It is Time and Home Before Dark.
I had the privilege of hosting Dr. Havner in 1976 in my Alabama church. He was a peculiar man! He never owned or drove a car, and he loved bananas and corn flakes after the night services. Dr. Havner was actually the preacher to coin the now-famous phrase, “The church is a hospital of sinners and not a museum for saints.”
I remember one story he told. He and his wife were traveling by bus (remember, no car) to a speaking engagement. The bus made a rest stop at a country store and gas station. There was an old woman sitting in front of the store entrance. She was dressed like something out of the 1900s. Dr. Havner’s wife said, “Look at that lady. She doesn’t have a clue about all the changes going on in our world.” Dr. Havner replied, “For God’s sake, don’t tell her!”
That story resonated in my spirit then and still does today! In spite of all the positives that change has brought across the years, change can be uncomfortable and even frightening. For a God-sized future you must move off the porch of the past into the destiny God intended.
When I was young, Mama would always get us new shoes at Easter. These new shoes felt tight and uncomfortable. My old shoes were “broken in” and easy to wear. There was something comfortable about those shoes I had gotten used to that made me not want to change. What I tended to ignore was the worn-out sole that no longer helped me to not slip and hurt myself, or the worn-out places in the leather that allowed water to come into the shoe.
Also, old shoes take on an odor that everyone can smell but the owner. I was at “The Ramp” for the men’s meeting and worship was hot and heavy. It was crowded but Karen Wheaton and Damon Thompson had graciously made a front seat available to me. Some of the younger men came up front and were dancing and jumping. One of them took off his Nikes, and the odor emptied my whole row. He needed new shoes and did not notice it.
Just like old shoes, clothes and diapers stink if they are not changed! Life can grow stale, sour and odorous without change. I want to help you put on some new faith shoes and move you to a God-sized future.
Life, business, technology and church can be like those old shoes. Nothing is wrong with them until they are worn out and become the wrong size and fit for the future. Sadly the church is often the last to embrace necessary change. Honestly, when computers came out one of our older elders opposed it because it would lead to “the mark of the beast.” Of course, Satan can use technology—and he certainly will—but so can the church.
We shouldn’t be afraid of these temporal changes, because the Lord, the Bible, sound doctrine and the Good News of Christ are unchanging. These are the basis of our faith. Yet our method of communication and our culture change. We cannot afford to be an eight-track church in an iPod world! God’s mighty movements have always resulted in massive shifts in how we “do” church! God’s transformational power in individuals always begins with life-altering change.
Change for change’s sake can be our enemy, but God-given change is our only hope! We need to embrace change rather than fear it. We need to stop fretting over lesser things and move forward into the God-sized future awaiting you. It’s time to receive a renewed vision for your life. The church must move forward and begin to take the lead in our culture. After 32 years at Abba’s House and 45 years as a pastor, I am ready for change that brings transformation renewal.
Finally, change must include a welcome to the Holy Spirit’s power, gifts, revelation and joy! To that end I send this message to all who long to see God move in power today!
Adapted from A God-Sized Future by Ron Phillips, D.Min., copyright 2012, published by Charisma House. Sharing relevant stories from personal experiences and the Bible, the author challenges you to move out of your comfort zone and shows you how to: determine the right time for change, allow God to initiate change, and harness super change through a Spirit-controlled mind, and a life of radical obedience. To order your copy click on this link:
PRAYER POWER FOR THE WEEK OF 12/31/2012
This week welcome the Holy Spirit to have His will and way in you. Thank the Lord that He is able to execute all that is needed in your life and that when you yield to His perfect will He will perfect that which concerns you. Thank Him for a God-sized future and declare that you will embrace it without fear. Ask God to help you stay focused on His Word and His way as you journey through the coming year. Continue to pray for our troops, their families and those spreading the gospel around the world. Remember Israel and pray that it fulfill all that God desires. Pray that the church would lead in repentance and prayer for revival at home and abroad. Lift up our leaders and pray that they seek God for wisdom and direction. Matt. 6:9-13