Hundreds of pastors and ministry leaders from Palm Beach and Martin County poured into Journey Church this morning for the quarterly meeting of Church United, a movement representing over forty-three churches in Palm Beach County.
“What if [satan] can just keep them so busy, so focused on building the Kingdom of God that they lack the kingdom within?” ~Scott Baugh
Pastor Todd Mullins, Senior Pastor of Christ Fellowship Church in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, opened the meeting with updates on the work Church United is behind, such as foster programs and tutoring to second and third grade students in under-performing Palm Beach County Schools.
Joshua, from Place of Hope, spoke of the county-wide mission to find loving homes for the foster children in Palm Beach County. As of the end of December they have placed 172 children in foster homes.
Pastor Todd announced a Security Conference for churches which will be hosted at Christ Fellowship on May 5th and 6th, 2017. “In light of what’s happening in the world today, as shepherds and overseers, we have a responsibility to protect the flock that God has put under our care.” The conference will be directed by Tim Miller who served in security on presidential details.
Scott Baugh, Senior Pastor of Journey Church in Lake Worth, stepped up to the alter sharing his excitement about what is happening through Church United, “This is not just some dream that we talked about it. We are actually doing this. I’ve never seen anything like this, and I think we are about to experience something very, very special.”
Pastor Scott began his message by announcing to the pastors that he wanted to “talk about our feelings.” He shared his belief that some of the greatest mistakes that people will ever make will come down to feelings. Some of the greatest struggles of his ministry were emotional struggles.
“One of the single greatest attack points that the enemy uses to get access to our lives–people in the ministry; people that love Jesus–is our feelings.”
He reminded us of Solomon’s words, “Above all else, guard you heart because everything you do flows from it.” Above everything we do, we must protect the heart, the core, the seed of our emotions.
According to Pastor Scott, most of our emotional struggles involve three areas; ourselves, other people in our lives, and our circumstances. He posed the question, “What if there were a fourth component to this, and it was spiritual,” pointing out that the Scriptures tell us that we don’t wrestle against flesh and blood.
“One of the single greatest attack points that the enemy uses to get access to our lives– people in the ministry; people that love Jesus–is our feelings.”
King David, who could slay giants, was in the palace and in the middle of it, the enemy attacked him (1 Chronicles 21:1). Satan incited (urged, stirred up) David to take a census of Israel. A man after God’s own heart, a man who is not afraid, who battled giants and great armies, and all of the sudden, he has a thought in his head. He has a feeling or an urge that he thinks is his, but it is not. Not every thought that is in your head is from you. Not every feeling that we feel are our feelings. And here we have this mighty man of God, David, who follows this feeling. He goes down this path. When Satan can get access to our feelings and emotions, he can get access to our actions.
Giving Enemy Access through Emotions
- Emotions were the entry point the enemy used to gain access.
- The enemy attacked the specific emotion that was their greatest weakness. David’s was pride. Discouragement, doubt.
- The enemy attacked their emotions when they were at their weakest point.
David and Peter fought emotional battles they had no idea were actually spiritual battles.
The enemy goes after what we don’t like to talk about: emotions.
Pastor Scott spoke of a conference he attended when Louie Giglio asked the auditorium of pastors to stand up if they were suffering from depression or emotional anxiety, and 40% of the audience stood up.
At some point, we can’t ignore what is going on in the souls of our church leaders.
He spoke of the statistics from another conference where about 40% of senior pastors admitted to being on some kind of medication for anxiety. About 70% said they were suffering from loneliness and lack of friendship.
“At some point,” Pastor Scott said, “We can’t ignore what is going on in the souls of our church leaders. What if the enemy, in his brilliance said, “I know how to defeat this church. I’m going to go and undo this work of the Holy Spirit that He was doing and rob them of the fruits of the Spirit; love, peace, patience…emotions. What if I can just keep them so busy, so focused on building the Kingdom of God that they lack the kingdom within? We talk about this experience of changed lives that we are not even experiencing ourselves.”
There is a problem that we are living on empty, and there’s a problem that no one wants to talk about.
We are going have to stop focusing just on leadership principles and we are going to have to start focusing on Christ.
This trend has happened in the church, but it doesn’t have to be this way. We know that there is hope to this because greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world. Pastor Scott suggested that as churches, we are going have to stop focusing just on leadership principles and we are going to have to start focusing on Christ.
There has been such a trend in the church to focus on leadership, versus Christ-likeness. Somewhere along the line, we elevated leadership above Christ-likeness.
Guard Your Heart
Pastor Scott implored that we must guard our hearts, “above the next campus, the next board meeting, the messages, emails, top giver that needs to be taken to lunch.” Everything flows out of this emotional health that God wants to do in you and that has to remain on top of everything.
He had to make the choice to take things off his plate, to disappoint others. As Jesus told the church in Ephesus, sometimes we forget our first love. You’ve got your theology right, you don’t go to R-rated movies, you’ve got all these great people who aren’t doing anything wrong…all of these things perfect. But there’s one thing you missed. You lost your first love. Somewhere along the line in your busy-ness to build the kingdom you lost your first love, and if you don’t fix this, I will take it away.
The greatest kingdom God wants to build is not with you. It is within you.
The whole Gospel is about inward transformation. We in our churches, focus on the outside, and we neglect the inside. We have to learn to make difficult decisions for the purpose of protecting our hearts above all else.
When you neglect your soul too long it’s amazing what the enemy can do.
Ministry is about pouring ourselves out. Pastor Scott tipped his water bottle upside down, pouring the water onto the floor until it was empty. He asked the congregation if they ever noticed that when they are not tending to their souls, that their flesh becomes stronger and their spirit becomes weaker. You snap a little more.
We were not designed to flourish on empty.
We were not designed to flourish on empty. When we are on empty, not only do we have less to give, not only does our flesh get stronger, but it makes it so much easier for the enemy to make us fall,” and he demonstrated this with a powerful image. With one light breath, he blew on the empty water bottle, which immediately flew off of his podium and went tumbling down the alter.
He asked the question, “What fills you?”
He talked about being filled by what uniquely fills each individual person, using his wife as an example. She is filled by sitting alone in a room, praying, reading her Bible and worshiping. Pastor Scott said that he is filled by hanging out with a bunch of friends with no responsibilities, and going to watch a good movie, having some good barbecue and laughing all night long. He said that he comes home ready to take on the world.
He puts these rhythms in his life because his soul needs them. He makes sure that above all else he is guarding his heart; he is making time for Jesus and that Spirit in him so that what pours out of him is not fake.
Pastor Scott admitted that reducing his schedule and setting limits may mean that his church is small. It might mean that they won’t have another campus, but he believes that God will raise other people up to do what He wants done.
What he can say is that his marriage is better today than it was sixteen years ago. He has zero regrets with his two boys. And he is just as in love with Jesus today as he was thirteen years ago, when he started the church.
He challenged the pastors to look at their challenges, their lives, to see how they are wired to find those things that refill them. He said to work hard, do what is necessary, but take time to feed the soul and stop feeling guilty for it.
Fight by Fasting
In conclusion, Pastor Scott encouraged his listeners to fight by fasting, “If we want to fight spiritual battles, we need to use spiritual weapons.”
Pastor Scott spoke about God preparing Jesus for the temptation He would face by leading Him to the wilderness for prayer and fasting. He posed the question, “If the perfect Son of God needed strengthening and preparation, how much more do we and our teams need to fast?” He challenged the group to “fight by fasting.”
Let the Loudest Voice be Truth
In closing he said, “Make sure that the truth of God’s word is the loudest voice in your head.”
After sharing a personal story, he warned that we should beware of believing the lies. He talked about John the Baptist’s ministry, his own ministry and how easy it is to become critical and cynical, to have these emotions that the enemy can use to defeat us. “All of the defeatist feelings of unworthiness and disappointments do not mean that you are not valuable and that God doesn’t love you or that you are lesser because someone else’s ministry is bigger. All of those thoughts and emotions are not from God. They are from the enemy. Many who are first will be last. Many who appear to be rising to the top, are not really on top because God’s measuring tool is different from ours. This is why the loudest voice in our heads needs to be the truth of God or we will give the enemy access.”
He warned the crowd that he was going to say something crass and controversial. In speaking of the Comparison Trap, he used the analogy of engaging in pornography and the resulting false image of beauty. The catastrophic effect of pornography is that we begin to look at a false reality of something. We begin to look at a photo-shopped version of beauty. We get an acting version of what sexuality is. It rewires the brain and the pleasure sensors in our mind, so we are so used to the fake, the photo-shopped version–the acting–that become a reality doesn’t satisfy as much anymore. It literally warps our ability to experience joy because of this false reality.
The sad fact is, so many of these men that we idolize, attend their conferences and buy their books, when we actually get to know them and talk to their wives, we learn that they really aren’t like Jesus behind the scenes. All we see is this image of them and we compare ourselves with this false image. We can do the same thing with our staff when compare their work with others who appear successful, and it is damaging to them.
God is wanting to do this amazing thing in and through you, but because God’s voice isn’t the loudest voice in our heads, the enemy gets in our head and we covet what others have. We compare ourselves to others and get discouraged
In closing, Pastor Scott shared a list of truths about what God feels about you:
- I love you. (Ephesians 3:18)
- I am proud of you. (Revelation 19:7-9, 2 Timothy 4:7)
- I am not angry with you. (Luke 14, 2 Corinthians 5:19)
- I believe in you. (Philippians 1:6)
- I know you fully and I still chose you and called you. (Ephesians 1:4)
- Thank you for serving Me. (Revelation 19:6-8, Revelation 22:12)
- You are more valuable to Me than your ministry. (Luke 15)
- Don’t compare yourself to others because I don’t. (1 Corinthians 12)
- Don’t give up on yourself. (Romans 8:38, Philippians 1:6)
- I don’t see you like you see yourself. (Ephesians 5:27, Colossians 1:22, 1 Samuel 16:7)
The next Church United gathering is Wednesday, May 17th at Christ Fellowship, Gardens campus.