Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Special Thanks to Pastors

"And I will give you pastors according to Mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding."
Jeremiah 3:15 KJV

Did you know that October is Pastor Appreciation Month? We were really blessed to spend the first Sunday of this special month at Victory Christian Center in Rancho Mirage, California with two dear friends and pastors, Jeff and Melissa Walker. We love to visit their church when we're in the Palm Springs area, because we so love to hear their hearts and see their love for their people. Being with the Walkers got me thinking about the pastors who have made a significant difference in my life. So, bear with me as I give them a little appreciation.

The first is Pastor Chuck Swindoll who is the senior pastor of Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, TX. Now, Pastor Chuck doesn't know me from Adam, and in fact, we've never met. But, because of his daily national radio program, he served as my first pastor. You see, I didn't get saved in church, so I didn't know the value of attending church and having a pastor. I would listen to Pastor Chuck on the radio in my car as I traveled around Western Michigan. What an outstanding teacher of the Word of God! Man, I can remember like yesterday how God would use him to make the Word alive and relevant to my life in so many ways. I owe a lot to him. You see, because of him, I developed a hunger and desire deep within my heart to someday do the same for others. Thanks, Pastor Chuck—if I don't meet you here on earth, I'll see you someday in heaven and give you a huge hug!

The second is Pastor Dave Williams, who is the senior pastor at Mount Hope Church in our hometown of Lansing, Michigan. When I finally realized my need to have a pastor, I began to attend Mount Hope. Pastor Dave is a gifted communicator in so many ways, and his love for Jesus and the Word is contagious. Another outstanding attribute about Pastor Dave is his love for lost people. Not only is he an incredible communicator, he is a gifted evangelist. I'll never forget the night that he taught on the importance of financial planning, and how you needed the right kind of insurance, and then gave a simple altar call...and tons of people gave their lives to Jesus. It was amazing to watch God use him that way, and it helped me to have a heart to always connect with lost people. Thanks, Pastor Dave—because of you and your love for Jesus and His lost sheep, we're doing the same thing in Kalamazoo.

The third pastor in my life is Pastor Kenneth Hagin, Jr., who, along with his wife, Lynnette, pastor Rhema Bible Church in Broken Arrow, OK. He'll never know the special significance that a message he preached called, "A Place Called There" had in my life. It was 25 years ago and I was in business but felt a call to leave that world and pursue a life of ministry. Well, I can tell you, I must have listened to that message 100 times. He spoke on the importance of finding your current "there" and how God has provision for everything you would need..."there." He talked about how some folks miss all that God has for them because they get so comfortable in their "here" that they won't go "there." Well needless to say, his message helped to give me the faith to get "there" and attend their Bible School and for Pastor Hagin to be my pastor for all these years. Thank you, Pastor Ken and Lynette—for all you have done for me—and so many others who are making a huge difference around the world. We cannot be defeated and we will not quit!

Finally, there is Pastor Jeff Arnett, who is the senior pastor of Thornapple Valley Church in Hastings, Michigan. It's a long story, but when Beth and I moved back to Michigan to start a church, things didn't go the way we had expected, and we found ourselves struggling to figure out what to do with our lives. We were unsure of who we were and what God was calling us to do, and then we visited Jeff's church. I will never forget how God used Jeff to show me what was in my heart. I saw how Jeff loved God and loved His people, and realized that was also inside of me. It was one of those "a picture paints a thousand words" deals. I actually saw what I couldn't explain with words, and from that point on, my life has never been the same. Thank you, Pastor Jeff—for just being who God called you to be and for helping me to see who God called me to be.

So, who are those pastors in your life who have made a difference for you? When was the last time you took the time to drop them a note, give them a call, or just say a prayer for them? These are the men and women who God gave you to show you His heart and His love for you. A little appreciation would go a long way to encourage them.

Thank you Lord for giving us Pastors after Your own heart.



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