What would I say:
If I could compress the sum total of what I have preached and taught over the past 50 years into the next 30 minutes?
If I had only one message left to preach before I leave here and go to Heaven?
If I could tell you the one thing that would see you through every human experience… no matter what. Life. Death. Sickness. Sadness. Depression. Defeat. Trial.
After decades of Gospel Ministry, both here and in other lands, in all kinds of conditions and in all kinds of circumstances… I have learned some basic Bible Principles that, when acted on and really believed, will be anchors that hold… no matter how vicious the storm or how serious the situation. In times of trial and in times of seeming defeat and failure, these revelation truths have held me in safety and confidence. Many times God, through His Word, literally set a table before me in the very presence of my enemies.
I learned these truths in actual life experiences. I did not read about them or study about them or hear about them in some other person’s life, but I actually experienced them in real time and in real places. This ministry is a living testimony that what I stood upon and held to, actually held me and kept me and preserved and blessed this work to the glory of God.
I was defrocked by the local Southern Baptist Association and kicked out of their fellowship. All because Pat and I sought and received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and chose to testify to its reality and teach it to our local church on Lott Road. I was rejected from the friendship and fellowship of my Baptist peers (some of whom I studied with through college and seminary) and became isolated and quarantined as if I had some infectious and contagious disease. But these Anchors I am about to present to you Held. And God prevailed.
On more than one occasion, I found myself surrounded by defeat. The church on Lott Road split and we were left with only a handful of faithful believers who stood with me and Pat. As a result of the decline in membership, financial disaster loomed. We could not pay the bills. Often I had to meet with staff and explain that there were no funds in the bank account to cover their salary checks. We opted to sell our dream home to pay church bills.
We were victimized by unscrupulous building contractors who at one time, took our initial building fund (thousands and thousands of dollars) and left town with it, never to be seen again. We became the laughing stock of those who delighted in our defeat.
I sat in bankers’ offices and listened to the threats of foreclosure more than once. And every time my Anchor held. We defaulted on our 4 million dollar bond payments and were inundated with threatening and angry phone calls from irate investors… accusing and shaming us for failing to live up to our commitments. My Anchor held and God prevailed.
I can’t count the painful times I faced abject impossible situations. I mean totally impossible. No way out. No answer for the situation. No money. No help. Nowhere to turn. No one to look to. In the development of Faith Academy. In the growth of Life Church. In the overwhelming challenges of mission needs and missionary support.
There were also times when plans were shattered and hopes dashed. We headed out thinking we were following the Will of God only to find ourselves at a dead end.
I remember the time we were about half finished with the present High School building and were preparing to move the student body from the Lott Road site to the present one. Again we met a financial crisis. Over budget and no money left. The building was unfinished. Time was running out. I drove my truck right down the isle of the unfinished building, parked about where the foyer is today, stopped the engine, hung my head and began to cry. Disappointed and confused. Unsure and uncertain. Nowhere to go. Did I miss God? Where did I go wrong? What happened? Again my Anchor held. God came through (later than I wanted Him to but none the less He showed up) and, as you can see, the building was finished and the work completed. Hallelujah!
SICKNESS and DEATH
And four months ago, I kissed my sweet Pat good bye until the Resurrection. My life companion for nearly 60 years. My high school sweetheart and teenaged bride. The awesome mother of our 5 children. My partner in ministry. She suffered almost a year and fought bravely to overcome liver cancer. We called the elders, we anointed her with oil and we prayed. And we prayed. And we prayed. But she died. How? Why? What went wrong? Honestly, I have no answer for you today. But I do have an Anchor. And it held and is holding. My God Reigns. His Word is Truth. His Presence is real.
What about those anchors?
Anchor number one: GOD IS FAITHFUL
1Co 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
Jos 1:5 There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.
De 31:6 Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.
God means what He says and He says what He means. He does what He says He will do and He is Who He says He is. Others may (and will) forsake you and leave you when you need them the most, but God is always there. Just like He says He is.
Many years ago, during the Charismatic “controversy”, this church was going through some developmental stages. At one of the lowest points, it looked like we would fold up and fail. People were leaving by the droves. The pews were empty. The bills were going unpaid. The future looked very bleak. And I was confused, depressed and ready to give up. I remember the day God gave me The Word. His Word. I was sitting in our old Chevrolet in the parking lot of Dairy Queen in Crichton. Pat and the kids were inside getting some treats. I stayed in the car because I really did not feel like eating ice cream. While they were inside, I picked up my Bible and randomly began thumbing through it. Then a particular page in the Book of Revelation showed up and my eyes fell on a specific verse. God was in the car with me and He had a Word for me. This was it:
Re 3:8 I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my Word, and hast not denied my name.
“I know thy works…” “You have a little strength left…” “You have kept my Word…” “You have not denied my Name….” Wow! I was stunned that God thought that about me.
Then the promise He gave me:
“I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it…”
“No man can shut it!” I received my Word and took it to heart. Open Door. Not a folding and failing church. No man. None of the flak coming my way or the criticisms or the threats or the lack of funds or the departing members…. “NO MAN can shut the door that I have opened for you!! “ This was one of the first revelations God gave me of His Faithfulness. He will never fail. We will survive all the attacks from the devil. We will overcome every obstacle and every challenge and every circumstance and every impossible situation.
God is Faithful.
Remember Israel at the Red Sea? God is faithful.
Remember Daniel in the den of lions? God is faithful.
Remember the Hebrew children in the red hot furnace? God is faithful.
Remember David and his giant? God is faithful.
Remember the Widow and her lone pot of oil? God is faithful.
Remember Paul and Silas in prison? God is faithful.
Remember the Empty Tomb?
God is faithful.
Often now, in my transition into being alone and without my life partner after all these years, I will start to feel the waves of sadness and unbearable grief pressing in and roaring toward me. Then… as I remember, “I will not fail thee nor forsake thee…” The sweet Presence of the Holy Spirit will sweep in and I know that I am really not Alone… and will never be. My grief and loneliness become bearable and my hope springs forth again. My Anchor holds. God is Faithful.
Anchor number two: THE WORD IS POWERFUL
Let’s talk about the Word for a few minutes. The Word is more than a book. It is more than pages with ink on them. It is more than literature or history or poetry. It is the only written down will of God we have. It is infallible. It is inerrant. It is flawless. It is inspired. It is God-Breathed. It is eternal. It was inscribed by men of old who were full of the Holy Ghost. They heard from God. They were selected by God. They were touched by God. They were Supernaturally guided and empowered to literally write down what God told them to write down. Exactly. Without human influence. Without the possibility of flesh and blood mistakes or errors or inconsistencies. It is a written down miracle. Nothing can compare with it and nothing can destroy it. It is as Powerful as God is powerful. It is as Eternal as God is eternal. It is as perfect as God is perfect.
When I enrolled in Seminary I was warned by some who had gone before that my faith in the Bible would be tested and tried. I was informed that all the teachers and professors did not feel about the Word as I felt about it. With a bold determination and an absolute resolve, I declared that their attempts to sow doubt regarding the reliability of the Word of God would only serve to fuel my determination to “defend it to the death…” However, the Word does not NEED my puny efforts to “protect” it. It is totally capable of standing on its own merits. I came into the ministry with a call to preach the Word, preach all of it, preach it right, preach it powerfully, preach it convincingly and preach it unapologetically. It has never failed me. It has never fallen short of what it declares, what it promises and what it warns. It is our plumb line. It is our immutable standard. It is unequivocal Truth. It is our Hope. It is our Help in ages past and our Hope in years to come. It is our Mirror of God.
I think the one greatest contribution of the Word is that it is our Revelation of God. It tells us Who He is. What He does. How He thinks. It declares His Character and His Nature. It takes all the mystery out of God. We learn of His Goodness, and of His Grace, and of His Mercy, and of His Forgiveness.
It clearly reveals Him as a God Who is Good and Who is not bad or mad or sad. It shows us His Omnipotence, His Omniscience, His Omnipresence and His Immutability.
The Word of God is Alive.
The Word of God is filled with Power.
The Worlds were literally framed by the Word.
Our saving Faith comes by the Word.
The New Birth is only possible through the Word.
Our mind is renewed by the Word.
Believers are sanctified by the Word.
The Church is chastened by the Word.
The heavens were made by the Word.
We are Overcomers by the Word.
We will live eternally and forever by the Word.
The Word working in us makes us like Jesus.
Death is defeated by the Word.
The Word is God and God is the Word.
The Word creates.
The Prophet Isaiah declared as He spoke in God’s behalf:
Isa 55:11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish(ASAH create) that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
When God sends His Word out it brings something back. It never returns empty or void. When YOU send His Word out in faith, it brings something back. God's Word is a Carrier. It Carries stuff. It brings things in and it takes things out. God's Word will never "not do" something... it ACCOMPLISHES (Creates, Makes, Does).
God's Word will accomplish what pleases God.
What is it that pleases God? Jesus said: "Fear not little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom..." Luke 12:32 God wants to GIVE YOU (us) the Kingdom. Can you believe that? God wants to literally give us His Kingdom. And when we take it (by faith) it pleases Him. It is what makes Him glad. When we take what He freely gives, that brings Him pleasure.
The Word is alive.
The Word is filled with Power.
The Word is loaded and ready to produce.
The Word has Heaven-Potential in it.
Whatever is in Heaven is in the Word.
There is Life in the Word.
There is Healing in the Word.
There is deliverance in the Word.
There is prosperity in the Word.
The Word is God.
When it is believed and spoken with the mouth, in faith, it will produce what God produces. There are no restrictions in the Word... nothing is held back that is good. "For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly..." Psa 84:11. The Word is Powerful. My Anchor holds.
Anchor number three: THE HOLY SPIRIT IS RELIABLE
When you need God He shows up. You can rely on the Holy Spirit. Anytime. Every time. All the time. What we need done in us, around us, through us, and for us cannot be done by might and power.
Zec 4:6 Then he answered and spake unto me, saying,… Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.
Human energy and human strength are just not enough. Our might is not mighty enough. Our strength is not strong enough. Our knowing is not knowledge enough. Only by and through the Holy Spirit can we be kept from being swept away by the storms of life. The Holy Spirit is an Anchor that Holds.
Many years ago at the birth of this present church, I was held responsible for drafting a new government for the present and future functions of this body. The former democratic and “deaconcratic” form of government was done away with forever by the vote of the congregation. But someone had to draft the principles and practices and order of a new form and a new type of church government. I had no precedents or patterns to follow.
We were in a new place and a new time and we had to have a new government. In the midst of this dilemma, God led me to study the book of Acts and focus on the type of government the early church had. I saw the pattern and I saw the plan. It only had to be adapted to a modern day setting. I went to the altar one night over at the old site. I took with me a pen and a yellow legal pad. I knelt and began to pray and seek God. As I prayed God began pouring into my spirit things to write down. Who are the leaders to be? To whom will I be accountable? How will we conduct business? What about our finances and our transparency to the congregation? Who will decide the issues and make the decisions? Since there are now no deacons and deacon recommendations or presentations to the congregation that call for voting and reporting… just how will we govern ourselves?
As suddenly as each question was raised, God instructed me by the Holy Spirit what to write on the legal pad. Then I kind of felt like a Moses… it seemed as if the Hand of God was moving across the pad and that my fingers and my pen were being supernaturally manipulated by the Holy Spirit. Folks, as fast as I could write, almost without thinking, God led me to write down and list a detailed but simple Scriptural plan that He wanted for Life Church. We chose this pattern to revamp our governing process.
We have been operating by this type of government for nearly a half century, and we have never had to change it, amend it, alter it, add to it, or delete any of it. We have a legal and legitimate constitution and bylaws. It is in place today. It has stood the test of time. We have handled multimillion dollar legal transactions and I don’t even know how many building programs and mission projects and home church needs. You can count on the Holy Spirit. He is Reliable. Every time.
Needless to recount… over the decades of pastoring this church, I have been in meetings with bankers and lawyers and financial master minds… The Holy Spirit has always been there. He has spoken. He has shown. He has guided and He has comforted. He is reliable. He spoke prophetically and out loud through the most unexpected vessels in some of these meetings and totally shocked some of these professional financiers. He led us as we flew to banks and lending institutions in other states seeking ways to resolve our debt problems. The Holy Spirit was there. He is here today. He is with us in times of trial and uncertainty. He is an Anchor that Holds.
The Holy Spirit creates The Anointing. This anointing is the one most important thing in any preacher’s life. The Anointing energizes the Call. It is the most important thing in my life. The Anointing is Jesus flowing out of me in Power and Compassion. It is His Heart being revealed and reaching out to the hurting and the needy. It causes me to feel with the feelings and emotions of Jesus. It causes me to minister with the Mind of Christ. It causes me to flow in the Power of the Holy Spirit… to operate in the Gifts of the Spirit. Without the Anointing I am nothing. The ministry is nothing. And I can accomplish nothing. The Anointing of the Holy Ghost is the ONE THING that gives credibility to any ministry. It is the ONE THING that guarantees success in Kingdom Work. The Anointing makes preachers preach and the ministry produce lasting results.
Standing here today, I can look around and I can see (you can, too) that the Holy Spirit is reliable. This building says so. That building over there says so. The Kindergarten buildings say so. The new office building says so. The athletic field says so. The new High School building says so. The new baseball complex on Zeigler says so. The new parking lot says so. The 40 acres we just purchased on Schillinger says so. The fact that 70% of our FA graduates this year received scholarships worth over four and a half million dollars, says so. The thousands and thousands of people being blessed right now by this church in other nations and other places say so. Look in my eyes as I stand before you preaching four months after Pat, my high school sweetheart and wife of 59 years slipped away to heaven, and friend, that says so.
The Holy Spirit is Reliable. My Anchor Holds.
Anchor number Four: THE CHURCH IS INVINCIBLE
Mt 16:18 And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this Rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Re 3:8 I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my Word, and hast not denied my name.
The Church was born in a blaze of Holy Ghost Power. There was a demonstration of the Glory of God. Fire fell from heaven and enveloped the disciples in the upper room. The sound of a raging category five hurricane blew into the room and over those inside. God rested on each individual and as He did, they began to speak in Tongues… and preach the Gospel in languages they had never learned. Those in Jerusalem on that glorious day had never seen anything like this. This, friend, was the birthday of the New Testament Church.
Jesus Himself declared that the gates of hell could not and would not prevail against it. The King of kings and Lord of lords said the church of the Living God would never fail, would never be overcome, would never be defeated, and that it would last forever. That is the Church. This is the Church! You are the Church! We are the Church! The Church is here this morning and it will be here tomorrow next week , next year and forever. It will “be” (exist) on earth during the millennium and in heaven forever!
I was blessed to preach a daily radio broadcast sponsored by this church for over 25 years. The fifteen minute broadcast was called “Living by Faith” and hundreds of those tapes are now filed in our audio archives. After one of those broadcasts many years ago, I received a phone call from an elderly widow in a neighboring suburb of Mobile. She listened every day because she was unable to attend her church. She said to me, “ Brother Dick, could you please come to my house and pray for me? And when you come, I’ll have an offering for you.” Well, I was very busy. I really did not want to go. The flesh began to argue with my spirit. It was a long way over there. But she wants me to come.
So I drove over across town to her little hut of a home, knocked on the door and she came and invited me into her “parlor.” Stooped with age and walking slowly, she sat down and offered me a chair. We chatted for a few minutes, I wound down the conversation because I was in a hurry and stood by her and prayed for her. As I started to leave she dug in her purse and pulled out a small checkbook. She placed it on the table and then asked me if I would please fill it out for her. Complying with her request, I began to write. She told me to make the check payable to Lott Road Church. I began to write “Lott Road Church” on the payee line then there was a pause as I was to write the amount. Finally I asked “How much do you wish to give?” She said make it out for ten. Ten dollars. Twenty miles. Two hours. What a trip. Then I asked, “Ten dollars?” She smiled real big and said, “No sir, ten thousand dollars.” I repented. In shame, I realized God really has some odd ways to insure His Church is invincible.
The Church is here. Look at it. Feel its vibrancy. See its success. Rejoice in its Power. It is preaching the Gospel and reaching into nations across the earth. It is expanding and it is God’s Will being done on earth today. We (the Church) are the extension of God’s power and Heaven’s glory here on this earth in real time and in three dimensions. And it will live and function throughout eternity. You and I are part and parcel of the Only Thing that is guaranteed by God Himself to never fail. Businesses will fail. Corporations will fold. Economies will crash. Nations will falter. But the Church of the Living God is invincible. Hallelujah!
When we were in the darkest hour of this ministry and failure seemed inevitable, God said: “The gates of hell shall not prevail….” “No man can shut it…” The Church is Invincible. My Anchor held. And my Anchor holds.
Anchor number five: WITH GOD I AM UNSTOPPABLE
God really speaks to individuals. Maybe not in some spooky way, but by and through deep urgings and promptings in the human heart. I have always battled a poverty spirit. Raised at the close of the Great Depression, my dear family struggled to exist at times. They always provided for me, and did the best they could, be we saw some very lean seasons. Those lean times seem to have left a lingering fear somewhere deep inside of me.
About 40 years ago, we were hosting a Bible Conference at Lott Road. Dr. Richard Carter, a bona fide prophet (you can ask Scotty about him) was preaching and he seemed to look right at me and said: “Someone needs to sacrifice their Isaac…” In other words, somebody needs to lay down what he is holding to the strongest.
To me, the financial security and material wellbeing of my family was the very thing I held to the strongest. My income. My salary. My money. I got the word and it was a hard word. The next Sunday, after the conference, I announced that we were giving up our salary (Pat had already sacrificed her salary as a public school teacher and was working as Faith Academy’s first principle without any remuneration). I told the congregation that the church secretary was not to write anymore salary checks to me. We would totally trust God to supply our needs. I placed an offering box at the entrance of the church auditorium and stated that those who felt led to support our family were to place offerings in the little box.
After the first week of this “faith venture” I opened the box and found seventeen dollars and some change in it. Quite a decrease from the comfortable salary I was receiving each week. I can’t begin to tell you what the devil was saying to me when I counted the contents. But…. God had promised that He would make us unstoppable. Even with no fixed and guaranteed income. During these times when the “box” was not enough, I often would strangely find twenty dollar bills in my office desk drawer. The office was locked when I was out. No one entered or left without my knowing it. But the money would be there. Then at times I would be studying and reading the Bible from which I preached, and there inserted between the pages would be twenty dollar bills. But God…..
When the box wasn’t enough, God supplied in other ways. Groceries would be left anonymously at our front door. I opened our home mail box one day and found a check in it for over $1300. As the church grew, the offering envelope replaced the little box at the entrance.
For more than 40 years, God met our every need, paid every bill, and blessed us more financially than we could have ever thought or dreamed. Certainly more than any salary contract would have provided.
We were unstoppable…. Even without a payday.
Now what does God have to say about you? You who are caught up in the vortex of impossibilities; situations that are stubborn and demons that are raging? Relationships that are crumbling and financial challenges that are constant? Who are you anyway? Let’s see what God says about you. Will you believe Him? Will you dare to accept by faith what He says about you? He sees you as unstoppable. He sees you as victorious. He sees you as more than a conqueror.
Php 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
Mr 9:23 Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.
Lu 10:19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
Isa 54:17 No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of Me, saith the LORD.
Ps 1:3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
Josh 1: 5 There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: … so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.
Re 3:8 …behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my Word, and hast not denied my Name.
1Jo 4:4 … greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.
Php 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Ro 8:37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.
There is a popular Christian song on the airwaves today… I believe it’s being sung by the NEWSBOYS…. listen to the lyrics:
My God’s not dead, He’s surely alive,
He’s living on the inside, roaring like a lion.
God is on the inside and He’s roaring like a lion!
I am unstoppable. My Anchor holds.
Anchors that hold…..
God is Faithful
The Word is Powerful
The Holy Spirit is Reliable
The Church is Invincible
You are Unstoppable.