It was early 2004. I was just short of 61 years old and was nearing the conclusion of three decades of Christian ministry as a pastor, church planter, and bible college teacher. I was beginning to think about retirement from full-time ministry, which I did on my 63rd birthday in May, 2006.
As I pondered what lay in store for my wife and me in the upcoming retirement, some things were obvious — do some traveling, spend lots of time with our children and grandchildren, be faithful to a good local church, and above all keep serving the Lord to the best of our ability. Beyond that, I had no leading at all concerning what I could do personally to keep bearing fruit in the Lord’s Great Commission. I had found fulfillment in serving the Lord as a pastor for 22 years. And twelve years of bible college teaching had been especially rewarding and personally joyful. Now I was wondering: what next?
That morning in 2004 I was in my garage preparing to drive to the church that I was pastoring in southern Oregon. Out of the blue my wife spoke those words: “Why don’t you start a website?” Now you must understand, I was almost 61 years old and was definitely low-tech. From using my computer on the internet, at least I knew what a website was. But I did not have the faintest idea how to actually design one and put it on the worldwide web. But … inside me, somewhere deep in my spirit, I had a strong conviction that I had just heard what many Christians call “a word from the Lord.” The only correct response to God’s guidance was to obey.
My good friend and co-laborer, Pastor Tom Ware, had often encouraged me to write down the truths I had learned from the Scriptures over the years. But for some reason, that thought was not “clicking” in my spirit. All I could think of was traditional book writing. Then, when the word from God came about my starting a website, all of Tom’s past encouragements came strongly into focus. Not books, but a website! That’s how the Lord wanted me (in Pastor Tom’s words) to “write it down.”
A further confirmation that this was the Lord’s leading came from another source. My good friend, Christian scholar and author George T. Kurian, once told me something quite fascinating about a man named Apollos. The bible called this preacher of the Gospel an “eloquent man, well versed and mighty in the Scriptures” (Acts 18:24, Amplified). Imagine that — an eloquent preacher with an excellent grasp of the Scriptures. And yet, as my friend George reminded me, we do not have one word of what that great preacher spoke. Why? Because Apollos didn't write it down! You see, God was using my friends Tom and George to be confirming witnesses to me of God’s will — that is, that I was to “write it down.”
In the days ahead, the Lord made it very clear to me that He wanted me to design and publish a website to bring written sermons and bible studies from my several decades of ministry onto the internet. I began to see that this was a way the Lord was giving me to stay active, and hopefully continue to bear fruit for Him, in my pastor-teacher callings, but without being locked in to “office hours” and the additional demands of leading a local church. And best of all, there was no age limit! As long as my health permitted, I could continue expanding the website and getting the word of God out to the worldwide web from the quiet and privacy of my own home.
So I began the years-long process of moving from a rank amateur web designer (2004) to what I would call today (2015) an acceptable level of ability in web design and publication. To summarize the nearly 11 years from that first word from the Lord to today, my website —
About eight years ago I received a second revelationary word from God. My wife and I were in church, and during the worship service I turned to my wife and said, “God just spoke to me!” I told her that He had said to me, “You’re going to reach the world with the word of God.” I was stunned and also humbled. At that time the visitors to the website’s sermons and bible studies were what I could honestly call a trickle. But I took that second word from the Lord very seriously and to the present time have continued pursuing this calling upon me into my senior years. And, all thanks to the Lord, His promise of reaching the world with His word is coming to pass. Of the 42,000 monthly visitors to “Pentecostal Sermons and Bible Studies,” about 14,000 of them each month are from outside the USA.
Two themes have been impressed upon me by the Holy Spirit as dominant emphases for the website’s sermons and bible studies. These two topics reflect what I believe to be God our Father’s intentions for the website.
Why have I written this short personal testimony? What is the ‘takeaway’ for you? Simply this: We can plan, rationalize, and intellectualize the Lord’s work until we’re blue in the face, yet still get very little done for the Lord. Or we can listen to Him, listen for God’s voice daily, even moment by moment, and get those “words from God” that can change our lives dramatically for the better. I am blessed in these, my retired senior years, to have heard a word from God that allows me to continue to serve and honor Him, and hopefully bear some spiritual fruit, consistent with the declining energies of my older years.
You too, no matter what your gender or age, can hear from God, not just occasionally, but throughout your life. Remember that even our Lord Jesus Himself said, “The Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing” (John 5:19) … and “whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say” (John 12:50). Jesus received an ongoing divine revelation of what God the Father wanted said and done. We believers are “joint-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17). We too can hear from God concerning His plans, purposes, and callings for our lives.
Open your hearts daily for a “word from God” to direct your path, your words, your actions. It doesn’t need to be God thundering mightily from Mount Sinai! It will most often be His “still small voice,” as Elijah heard it (1 Kings 19:12). It may come from His word the bible, in times of prayer, during worship at church or by yourself, or simply in the course of everyday activities. Remember, I heard a word from the Lord that changed the course of my life while standing in my garage! Stay open … listen for Him … dedicate and sanctify each day to Him … and you may be amazed at the remarkable plans that He reveals to you for your life. God bless you on this exciting journey!
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©2015, James H. Feeney.
Pentecostal Sermons and Bible Studies
by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.