Dr. Paul Chappell is the senior pastor of the Lancaster Baptist Church and president of West Coast Baptist College in Lancaster, California. His biblical vision has led the church to become one of the most dynamic independent Baptist churches in the nation.
Sometimes, given the overwhelming nature of ministry, we tend to default to one of two extremes: giving up or pushing forward in our own strength.
Both are doomed to failure.
God does call us to fight:
Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.—1 Timothy 6:12
I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:—2 Timothy 4:7
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.—Jude 3
But He call us to fight in His strength:
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.—Ephesians 6:10–12
Even David, as he faced Goliath, did it with the courage of a warrior who knows the battle is not dependent on him, but on the Lord.
And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hands.—1 Samuel 17:47
So if you’re overwhelmed today, remember that the impossible-seeming battles can bring us back to the place we should always be—depending on the strength of the Lord.
Yes, we are commanded to fight, but we have to remember that the battle is the Lord’s, and we are already on the winning side.
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.—Romans 8:37
Just after Spiritual Leadership Conference concluded in Lancaster last week, Terrie and I got a call that my 100-year-old grandmother was nearing Heaven, and we should come see her soon. We came as quickly as we could, and she entered the presence of Christ last night.
It is hard to imagine all Grandmother experienced in her life. She was married to my grandfather at the age of sixteen, and together they cleared land in Southwest Colorado and developed the farm that has been such a great part of our family legacy until today.
Grandmother endured many hardships including times of drought, recession, depression, and war. But the greatest decision she made in her lifetime was to accept Jesus Christ as her Saviour. She and my granddad were both saved in the 1940s as the result of an American Sunday School Union missionary who went from farm to farm in Southwest Colorado.
Over the past few days, I’ve been reading the letters she has sent me over the years. All of them express prayer for me and for our ministry. In fact, I’m convinced that her prayers for me have been the unseen source of many of God’s blessings at Lancaster Baptist Church and West Coast Baptist College.
But all of her letters also express a soulwinner’s heart. When healthy, she regularly went into the community to share the gospel with others. And when in the hospital or homebound, as she was the last several years of her life, she witnessed to every nurse who came to her home…and she led many to Christ.
One of her letters, written while in her eighties from a hospital bed, reads, “Paul, I haven’t been able to lead anyone to the Lord since I left home.” Her passion for the souls of others stirs me. Every time I’m in Cortez, invariably, someone tells me, “Your grandmother led me to Christ.”
I suppose a lot of things could be said about our lives after we enter eternity, but to hear people say, “I will be in Heaven because of this person’s faithful witness” is an amazing testimony. And I believe that the joy Grandmother is experiencing now as she is reunited with my granddad and many of those whom she led to Christ over the past seven decades is second only to the joy of seeing her Saviour.
I recently sat down with Niranjan Sundararaj to discuss the challenges and opportunities of reaching the 10/40 window with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Niranjan is a former vice president of American Express International. In his business role, he has traveled much throughout the region of Asia and has seen the desperate spiritual need of people without the gospel. Through a unique set of circumstances, God put a burden on his heart to support and enable soulwinning, discipleship, and church planting in the 10/40 window.
The Lord crossed my path with Niranjan several years ago, and God knit our hearts together with a shared desire to bring spiritual leadership training and equipping to faithful ministry leaders laboring in the 10/40 region. God has allowed us to conduct three Spiritual Leadership Asia Conferences in the past several years, and He has blessed that effort in a miraculous way.
In this episode of the Spiritual Leadership Podcast, we discuss the needs in the 10/40 window and how we can work together with American churches, Christian businessmen, and Asian national pastors and missionaries to shine the light of the gospel into this area of spiritual darkness.
Reaching the 10/40 window - YouTube
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I’m excited about this upcoming week and am asking the Lord to work in a great way in all of our lives as we focus on the theme “Alive in Christ.”
Our church family has been praying around the clock this past week, and we look forward to welcoming many pastors and guests from across the country and around the world.
If you are coming for the conference, or if you are not able to be here but want to participate as much as possible, here are three ways to be a part:
The Spiritual Leadership Conference app (available on both iOS and Android) provides helpful, updated information on session times and titles, information on speakers, nursery locations, and a campus map. The app also provides (for Android users) a link to the live stream and (for iOS users) direct access to the live stream.
For conference delegates, the app also includes a concierge service, a personalized conference schedule, and the ability to ask questions for the discussion panels directly through the app. Enable notifications to receive updates on schedule changes or other helpful information.
Conference Live Stream
All of the services and the sessions that take place in the main auditorium will be live streamed at lbclive.tv.
Below is a schedule for the live stream. All times are given in Pacific Daylight Time (UTC-7). A full conference schedule is available at slconference.com.
Sunday, June 9, 2019
—Celebrating the 33rd Anniversary of Lancaster Baptist Church
8:30 am – Early Service
11:00 am – Morning Service
5:00 pm – Evening Service
Monday, June 10, 2019
6:00 pm – Pre-service Interviews
6:30 pm – Evening Service—Paul Chappell
Tuesday, June 11, 2019
8:00 am – General Session—Kerry Nance
9:45 am – General Session, Stewardship and Oversight of Local Church Ministry—Paul Chappell
2:30 pm – Spiritual Leadership Conference Asia panel
6:00 pm – Pre-service Interviews
6:30 pm – Evening Service—Tyler Gillit, R. B. Ouellette
Wednesday, June 12, 2019
8:00 am – General Session—Dr. Don Sisk and Gabriel Ruhl
9:45 am – General Session, Leading in a Broken Society—Paul Chappell
We’re using the hashtag #slc19 across the social media platforms, so whether you are attending in person or watching live stream, join the conversation to share how the Lord is using the conference in your life!
This coming Sunday, Terrie and I will celebrate thirty-three years of ministry at Lancaster Baptist Church. I’m looking forward to Anniversary Sunday and the Spiritual Leadership Conference following. (And I hope you’re planning to join us!)
Before guests arrive for the conference, however, I wanted to share with our church family some of convictions regarding ministry that I am as convinced of today as I was in 1986. This past Sunday evening, I preached a message titled “This I Believe” in which I shared four such convictions.
Whether you are just starting out in the ministry or have been preaching the gospel for decades, remembering and holding to these truths from God’s Word will keep you going during seasons of challenge and difficulty.
These convictions aren’t helpful because you believe them, but they are truths that help you when you believe.
1. The Power of the Gospel
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.—Romans 1:16
Following Romans 1:16, one of the great declarations of the power of the gospel, the Apostle Paul describes the darkened, hardened hearts of a culture in need of the gospel. We see many of these marks of depravity in our culture today.
Thankfully, at Lancaster Baptist Church, we’ve also seen the power of the gospel to change lives—one person at a time.
The fact is that the gospel is more powerful than the dark hearts, false worship, vile affections, and reprobate minds described in Romans 1.
If you don’t believe in the power of the gospel, you will become discouraged or jaded in ministry. But when you believe that the gospel is the “power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth,” you want to continue to preach it. You rejoice in every life it changes. And you never lose hope for those who still need salvation.
If you don’t believe in the power of the gospel, you will become discouraged or jaded in ministry. But when you believe that the gospel is the “power of God,” that changes everything. Click To Tweet 2. The Potential of Children
But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.—Matthew 19:14
One of the blessings of spending over three decades in one church is performing the weddings of those you prayed over on baby dedication Sundays. It is watching the spiritual fruit in the lives of young families who were once children attending Sunday school. It is seeing God shape new generations of biblically-committed, Spirit-filled, Christ-centered Christians in this world.
But whether or not you’ve had the privilege of being in once place for a long period of time, the reality of potential in children is there. This is why a Christ-centered church must be a child-inclusive church that nurtures and disciples hearts for God.
A Christ-centered church must be a child-inclusive church that nurtures and disciples hearts for God. Matthew 19:14 Click To Tweet
We must continue to bring children to church—by discipling parents who already come and by sharing the love of Christ with children whose parents are not yet saved.
We must also teach children. Paul affirmed to Timothy, “that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15). Children face unrelenting indoctrination from a corrupt culture. We must point their hearts to Christ and equip their minds with the truth.
Children face unrelenting indoctrination from a corrupt culture. We must point their hearts to Christ and equip their minds with the truth. Click To Tweet 3. The Priority of the Church
But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.—1 Timothy 3:15
The local church is a body of believers that is supposed to function as a place of teaching and building up (Ephesians 4:11–16), encouraging and loving (Acts 2:46), and holding sound doctrine (1 Timothy 3:15, Titus 1:9).
As a family, the local church has challenges. If it has real people, it has messy people. That’s just the nature of life and the process of sanctification for all of us. But the church is to be a place where sin is confronted (1 Corinthians 5:1–5) and the fallen are restored (Galatians 6:1–2).
The local church is God’s plan for reaching the world with the gospel (Acts 1:8). Above all, it is the place where Christ is to be given preeminence (Colossians 1:18).
Although there are certainly times when those of us who lead in local church ministry become weary, remembering the priority of the church—to Christ who loved it and gave Himself for it, to those within our church families who need the church to grow into Christlikeness, and to a lost world in need of the gospel—reminds us of the greatness of any ministry that is part of the local church.
Although there are times when those of us who lead in local church ministry become weary, remembering the priority of the church and all Christ designed it to accomplish reminds us of the greatness of any ministry that is part of the local church. Click To Tweet 4. The Provision of God’s Grace
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.—2 Corinthians 12:9
God’s grace is sufficient.
It is sufficient for your family. It is sufficient for your financial challenges. It is sufficient for your trials. It is sufficient for your ministry. It is sufficient.
When you face challenges in your life or ministry and consider if you can continue, the answer is always yes. Yes, you can.
If there is any group of people who should believe in the dignity of every human because they are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), it is Christians. Indeed, Bible-believing Christians believe that regardless of any physical, national, or social differences, all people are created equal at birth and should be treated with dignity and respect (Romans 10:12). Furthermore, within the church body, we believe that the ground is level at the foot of the cross. We all come to Christ the same way—through Jesus—and there is no difference in any Christian’s worth to God or inclusion in the church body (Galatians 3:28).
These are the ideas the Founding Fathers had in mind when they wrote in the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights….”
But these are not the same ideas behind the Equality Act currently working its way through the Untied States Congress.
Seeking to amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equality Act makes two serious errors:
It makes sexual orientation and gender identity protected classes. The Civil Rights Act outlawed discrimination on the basis of “race, color, religion, sex, or national origin” in public accommodations. But the Equality Act changes the meaning of “sex” from its basic biological meaning of male or female and specifically defines it to include:
(A) a sex stereotype;
(B) pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition;
(C) sexual orientation or gender identity; and
(D) sex characteristics, including intersex traits.
It eliminates use of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) which was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The RFRA provides protection to religious exercise (already protected under the US Constitution).
The Equality Act passed in the US House of Representatives by a 236-173 vote. On May 20, 2019, it was received in the Senate and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, where it remains at the time of this writing.
Why should Christians be concerned?
1. It categorizes basic Bible beliefs as discriminatory.
Bible-believing Christians have always taught that
God created mankind in His image and in only two possible genders—male and female, which are the core of who we are on a created level (Genesis 1:27).
God created marriage as a union between one man and one woman (Genesis 2:24.
God created sexual intimacy as a beautiful part of marriage but forbids any sexual acts outside of marriage (Hebrews 13:4) and specifically forbids homosexual acts (Romans 1:26–27).
These are convictions that Bible-believing people have held for thousands of years. They are not recently-made up to discriminate against any person or group of people.
But the Equality Act sees any real conviction on these in a way that might impact a person’s conscience or a church or religious group as categorically discriminatory.
This could impact churches, Christian colleges, or other Christian organizations’ hiring processes. It could force Christian adoption agencies to place babies in homes with same-sex couples. And this is just the beginning of the far-reaching ramifications when the government takes it upon itself to define basic religious beliefs as bigoted and intolerant.
2. It endangers children and removes parental protection for minors.
The bill specifically states: “an individual shall not be denied access to a shared facility, including a restroom, a locker room, and a dressing room, that is in accordance with the individual’s gender identity.’’ One of the reasons we as a society have gender-segregated restrooms is to provide protection and privacy for women and girls. This bill removes that protection allowing a man who identifies as a woman to enter a women’s restroom, locker room, dressing room, or any other shared facility. “Shared facilities” could even include domestic violence shelters.
Even more egregious, because of the broad-sweeping definitions in this bill, it could also limit parental protection for children who are confused regarding their gender identity, literally requiring doctors to give them life-altering medical treatments without their parents’ consent. An article by the Heritage Foundationgave specific incidents where this is already happening in states that have imposed a similar law. This simply must not be allowed to pass at a federal level.
3. It suppresses religious liberty.
Religious liberty is one of the great gifts of the American Constitution. When that Constitution becomes radically redefined to enforce the subjective identification of a person onto the objective reality of others (such as a man who identifies as a woman into a woman’s restroom), objective personal freedom is left unprotected. When the government takes it upon itself to define basic Bible beliefs as discriminatory, religious liberty is thrown under the bus.
James Dobson called the Equality Act “a thinly veiled attempt to finish off religious liberty in America once and for all, which ought to be plainly obvious based upon a cursory reading of the First Amendment.” In the same article, he further explained, “This decision demonstrates a frightening willingness by those on the left to advance a radical social agenda at a time when our nation already faces so many other divisive challenges. Simply put, by creating a protected class of citizens out of the LGBT community, this bill places Christians who believe in traditional marriage at grave legal and civil jeopardy.”
So while Christians have always believed that every person should be treated with equal dignity as image bearers of God, they should stand in opposition to this misguided bill. The Equality Act does not protect people from discrimination; it suppresses religious liberty, endangers children, and discriminates against basic Bible beliefs.
I would encourage you to pray that this bill is defeated and to also call your US Senators to ask them to vote against this bill.
If your schedule is anything like mine, from Thanksgiving to early June is booked. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, starting off new school semesters, winter revival, stewardship emphasis, Easter, graduations…. It fills up pretty fast.
Because I know this happens every year, I have adjusted my personal goals for study and growth to be primarily concentrated in the summer months.
Summer often allows for a little extra downtime that sometimes the schedules of the school year prohibit.
However, this kind of growth doesn’t happen automatically. It takes intention.
If you, too, are looking forward to some extra opportunities for growth this summer, here are ten ideas—in no particular order—to help you:
Read—I keep a growing list throughout the year for summer reading and typically read a couple dozen books from June through August.
Bible study—This is a great time to delve into a particular topic, book of the Bible, doctrine, or area of contemporary theology. I work a book or two on whatever topic or doctrine I want to study into my summer reading.
Learn or enjoy a hobby—Sometimes those of us in the ministry forget to live with rhythms of work and rejuvenating. A healthy hobby can help bring balance to our over-extended lives.
Listen to preaching—Whether it is when you are visiting another church on vacation or listening to messages on a morning jog, it’s encouraging and helpful to hear other preachers. Those of us who preach multiple times each week especially benefit from time to simply hear God’s Word preached for ourselves.
Spend extra time with the Lord—Get up an hour earlier one day each week to get out in nature and spend time in prayer. Block off half a day or a whole day to just read your Bible and pray. Perhaps there is a spiritual discipline you noted at the beginning of the year you want to grow in. Take some specific steps toward that growth this summer.
Spend extra time with your family—Take advantage of the later hours of sunlight for family time. Make memories with your wife and children. Take a day trip to go fishing or hiking. Get outside together, and have fun.
Invest in friendships—Schedule coffee with a friend. Plan to read the same book with someone and schedule time to connect to discuss it. Think, too, through who you could invest in as a encourager or mentor this summer.
Evaluate ministry needs—This is a good time to step back and with some clarity look at the processes, trends, or roadblocks you may be experiencing as a church family. God promises wisdom when we ask Him for it (James 1:5), but His wisdom often comes through insights as we step out of the current long enough to hear His voice.
Study a specific area—This also relates to summer reading. Consider any personal or family needs or an area of need for your church. Find two or three highly-recommended books on those topics, and commit to studying and learning.
Attend a conference—Attending a conference like Spiritual Leadership Conference gives three days of preaching, fellowship with other pastors, ministry-specific training, and resources. With SLC being early in June, it can jump start your summer of growth, giving encouragement and direction for you personally and as you lead your church family.
Perhaps the most important tip for summer growth is to plan for it. If you’re not careful, summer will come and go, and it will be the end of August before you realize you missed the opportunity for focused growth.
Broad Street, Oxford, England: The stones in the center of the street mark where Latimer and Ridley were burned at the stake.
Every summer, I attempt to read a dozen or more books. And in my reading, I always include a few biographies.
There’s something about a well-written biography about a great Christian’s life that stirs my own passion for God and desire to live more fully consecrated to Him.
Truly, we have a rich Christian heritage. Our history is replete with men and women who followed Christ, hungered to know Him, and gave their lives to make Him known. Some gave their lives through martyrdom, some through service. All gave because the love of Christ constrained them.
You’ve heard it said,” The men and women who have changed the world have been the men and women the world could not change.”
This is a true statement, but it doesn’t mean the world didn’t try to change them. It did. Sometimes desperately.
The world has threatened, offered bribes, ignored, scorned, and even martyred various leaders in an attempt to make them like itself. Yet throughout history, there have been courageous men and women who have followed Christ “outside the camp” (Hebrews 13:13), standing outside the religious and cultural norms of their day, in order to propagate the gospel.
Over the years, the Lord has allowed me to visit many of the locations where these leaders have come to faith in Christ, preached the gospel, or given their lives for Him.
…walked down Broad Street in Oxford (pictured above) and seen where Latimer and Ridley were burned for preaching the gospel,
…or stood at the River Lamat in Zürich and seen where Felix Manz was drowned for his belief in believer’s baptism,
…or touched the prison door behind which John Bunyan spent twelve years for his conviction of preaching,
…or stood in the pulpit of John Newton who preached the gospel in Olney, England, after an amazing encounter with God’s grace,
…or sat at the desk where George Müller recorded his many answers to prayer for ten thousand orphans,
…or toured Westminster Abbey and seen the prominent burial of David Livingstone who opened the continent of Africa to the gospel…
…or visited the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London where over six thousand people came to hear Charles Spurgeon weekly,
…these encounters have stirred me, and I’ve wanted to share them with others.
I’ve done so in my newest book. It is titled Outsiders: 15 Leaders Who Followed Christ and Changed the World. Each chapter features an overview of a life that has profoundly touched mine. I am excited to introduce these leaders to you. Their testimonies will stir your faith, strengthen your commitment, and renew your dedication to Christ.
I pray this book will be an encouragement to every Christian who reads it. I hope it will give a greater appreciation for those who stood for our faith, and I hope it will challenge readers to likewise take a stand for Christ.
Especially, I hope many young people will read it. Many have no idea of the sacrifices that make up their heritage, which is why I’ve asked my own grandchildren to read it and why we will be using it as a textbook in our Christian school next year.
The book releases from Striving Together Publications on May 14. You can read the introduction and first chapter here.
Additionally, Striving Together is offering a few bonuses for those who order during the release week (May 14–20):
Order one or more copies, and receive…
Access to a behind-the-scenes video interview with the author, exploring the people, locations, and photos related to the biographical sketches in the book.
Order ten or more copies, and receive…
The behind-the-scenes video interview.
A discounted price of $10/copy.
Presentation slides and study questions to use in group study or Christian school classroom.
“Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.”—Hebrews 13:12–13
The month of May holds several special days to remember our fire service, law enforcement, and emergency medical services personnel. Early in the month (May 3) is International Firefighters Day. The second week is National Police Week. And the third week is National EMS week. These make May a good opportunity for Christians to show appreciation to local law enforcement and first responders.
For many years, our church has held an annual First Responders Appreciation Sunday the first Sunday in May, as we did this past Sunday. It’s an honor to be able to honor those who serve us day in and day out.
First responders serve with very little thanks—and often much criticism. A thank you note sent to their offices or homemade treats are always appropriate and appreciated.
But one of the ways we can daily serve our first responders is simply by praying for them. Here are four specific ways you can pray for first responders.
Pray for their families.
It’s difficult for first responders to dismiss what they see at work. It’s not as easy to switch from your work life to home life when your work life involves continual contact with emergency accidents, domestic abuse, and trying to help in situations that involve the worst a community encounters.
Pray that God will help them strengthen their relationships with their families, love their spouses, and invest in their children’s lives. Not only do their families need them, but they need their families as well.
Pray for their safety.
Imagine if every incident at your job could turn into a combat zone. Law enforcement personnel face this daily. A simple traffic stop can become a shootout. Even a seemingly straightforward 9-1-1 call can become a life and death situation.
Pray for wisdom.
On the streets, in emergency rooms, at scenes of tragedy, first responders are constantly making split-second decisions that involve their safety and the safety of others. Pray for them to have wisdom in every decision.
Pray for salvation.
Pray that if they don’t already know Christ, they will hear and understand the gospel and be saved. And pray if they do know Christ, that the Lord will give them opportunity and boldness to share the gospel with their brothers and sisters in uniform.
In this episode of the Spiritual Leadership Podcast, I am joined by Pastor Jeff Amsbaugh and West Coast Baptist College professor Tobi England. We discuss a number of contemporary issues including Calvinism, progressive sanctification, the Gospel-centered movement, and collaboration.
Does our position in Christ allow us to dismiss the moral teaching of Scripture, or does our position in Christ compel us to holy living?
What is the role of apologetics in evangelism?
Is God more concerned with “affirming” us or “fixing” us?
These are just a few of the topics we addressed. I enjoyed our discussion, and I hope it will be an encouragement to you and equip you to better answer some of these important questions as you minister for Christ.
Neo Calvinism, Progressive Sanctification and More - YouTube
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