You Can’t Do It Without Him - FBIMA Valedictorian Address

Julie Powers gave the senior class valedictory address, “You Can’t Do It Without Him,” at the September 1, 2019 graduation of the Faith Builders International Ministerial Academy (FBIMA) in De Soto, KS. The audio and transcript of the address is available below. You can also view the full church service in the video at the end of this post (Julie’s address starts at timestamp 9:00).

graduation2.jpeg

Turn with me to John 15. The purpose of this academy is to prepare its students for their ministry calling. And it does this very well. All the homework, all the lectures, all the book reports and speeches have given me a tremendous grounding in the Word of God. I am grateful for this, and I want to thank my pastors for the foresight and follow through that brought about this academy.

But as I stand here in cap and gown, there is something that has become crystal clear to me over the last two years. It is simple and overarching. It is this: You can’t do this life without Jesus. You can’t have a successful and enduring ministry without Him. You just can’t. Jesus said this Himself in John 15: Verse 5.

5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” 

For without Me, you can do nothing. That is an absolute statement. But, it is even worse than that. Verse 6: 

6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.

A life without Jesus is a meaningless, withered life that will eventually end in ashes. Every one of us knows that we are meant for significance. Humans are special, powerful, and relational beings. We were made that way and deep within each of us we know this. A life that ends in ashes as John 15:6 concludes is a universal and eternal waste. Deep inside each of us, we know this is true. 

Without Me you can do nothing. But with Jesus, we are significant, special, powerful, relational beings. Life in Christ is something important and eternal. My relationship with Jesus gives me power and insight that I cannot generate on my own or tap into by any other source. My life’s purpose, my ministry’s purpose, is to bear fruit, to have an impact, and to draw others into their own relationship with Jesus.

The academy coursework culminates in a ministry positioning paper. This paper is the road map for my ministry. My ministry is bigger than me, but I am not afraid of it. Even though I can do nothing without Jesus, with Him, I have all the resources I need. I have the Holy Spirit. I have everything salvation bought for me and everything the Bible promises me.

In talking about the true value of salvation and how men will tend to resist it, turn to Mark 10:26-27. Jesus just told his disciples that it is really hard for those who depend on themselves – on their money or their intellect or their own strength – to be saved. The disciples acted the same way we do. Well, if the connected and educated can’t be save, who can?

26 And they were greatly astonished, saying among themselves, “Who then can be saved?”

27 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.”

With Jesus, all things are possible. With salvation, your real life begins. Accepting Jesus as the Lord of my life not only guaranteed me a place in heaven, it gave me access to everything I need right now to have an impact, to be fruitful.  

You can’t do this life successfully without Jesus, so stop trying. Whatever has been rolling around in your head that is making you hesitate about Jesus, those things are not real. The worries and the fears and the pride are all lies. They completely disappear when the light of Jesus is ignited in your spirit. You have nothing to fear and everything to gain when you ask Jesus into your heart. You can do it!  Pastor?    

Prayer of Salvation

Heavenly Father, I come to You in the Name of Jesus. Your Word says, "Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Acts 2:21). I am calling on You. I pray and ask Jesus to come into my heart and be Lord over my life according to Romans 10:9-10: "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God has raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." I do that now. I confess that Jesus is Lord, and I believe in my heart that God raised Him from the dead.

I am now reborn! I am a Christian—a child of Almighty God! I am saved! You also said in Your Word, "If ye then being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: HOW MUCH MORE shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?" (Luke 11:13). I’m also asking You to fill me with the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit, rise up within me as I praise God. I fully expect to speak with other tongues as You give me the utterance (Acts 2:4). In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

(Source: https://www.kcm.org/real-help/salvation/pray/prayer-salvation-and-baptism-the-holy-spirit)


graduation1.jpeg
graduation3.jpg
graduation4.jpeg
graduation5.jpg

Don't Give Up!

If you read Four Weeks, you noticed a lot of content on prayer. This topic was a bit of an obsession with me for many years. (What am I saying? It still is an obsession!) Just ask most of my friends and family members. I asked the ones I knew were inclined to pray these kinds of questions: “How do you pray? What do you pray for? Did you think your prayers were successful?” I got mixed responses.

In addition to my “highly scientific” survey, I read books on prayer, scanned the Bible for examples of prayer, and attended many prayer groups. The goal was to get better at it, to be more effective in my prayer life. I have certainly become more effective in my prayer life, and I intend to share with you some of the things I learned in the next few blog posts. (See the first post in this series, “Pray First, Act Second” here.)

prayer02.jpg

One very important thing I learned about prayer was not to give up on it. There are several reasons why people give up on prayer. One reason is they never learned how to do it in the first place. Or they are so intimidated – afraid they will say the wrong thing or violate some prayer protocol – they never try to pray in the first place. I have done this.

Another reason people give up is that their prayers appeared to be ineffective. This response often follows a deep disappointment where their best efforts at prayer didn’t stop a disaster from happening – the relationship ended anyway, the cancer took the loved one, the ministry failed. They haven’t gotten results, so they conclude prayer doesn’t work, and they quit wasting their time on it. I have done this.

There is another type of “giving up” in prayer that we don’t always recognize for what it is. The people who pray like this think they are praying correctly, but actually, they have just given up. I am talking about the use of the phrase “Thy will be done.” This is often tagged on to the end of legitimate petition to God for divine intervention in a situation. Like this:

“Father God, please intervene tomorrow and allow the judge to be lenient with my son. His heart has really changed, so let the judge see that. But, if you think he should go to jail to learn a lesson, then thy will be done. Amen.” 

This seems like a good, humble, submitted prayer, but it is not. It is a “giving up” prayer. The person who prayed this prayer just gave up, even before the word “Amen” left their lips. They knew what they wanted, but they didn’t know God well enough to be confident of what God’s will was for their situation. So, instead of finding out what God wanted and praying in line with His known will, they just threw up their hands and essentially said “Whatever, God. Your ways are unknowable, so You figure it out and I’ll just accept whatever outcome.” I can assure you this is a very ineffective prayer. Why do I know this? Because I have done this. But, I don’t anymore.

We can’t be lazy when it comes to prayer. We have to figure out what God’s will is in that situation and pray according to it. The problem with our prayers is not God. The problem is always us: our approach, our level of faith, our knowledge of God. How do you find out what the will of God is for your situation? You go to the Bible and find it. If you are not really familiar with the Bible, here is a way to get started: 

  1. Imagine in your head what a totally loving, merciful, gracious God would want to happen in your situation. Think of the words that describe your ideal outcome or the details of the situation. In our example of the son before the judge, these words might be: mercy, compassion, pity, forgiveness, a second chance, truth, hope, children, rebellion, return, restore, etc. Hint: Ask God to help you think of words about your situation. 

  2. Go to a bible app or website that allows you to search the Bible for different phrases or words. I use Bible Gateway, but there are a lot out there. Selecting different bible versions as you search is helpful, too. I frequently use King James Version (KJV), New King James Version (NKJV), The Amplified Bible Classic (AMPC), and New International Version (NIV).  I know a lot of people who also use The Message (MSG) and the New Living Translation (NLT).

  3. Search for the words you imagined above. Read the verses that the search app brings up. Then, go to the Bible and look that verse up and read it in context. Keep at this until you find the verse(s) that ring true for your situation. You will “know” when you have found the verse(s) that are most appropriate. It is your loving God’s will that mercy, truth, and compassion reign. God will not ignore justice, but He will show mercy (see 1 Kings 21:17-29 or Jonah 3:5-10).

  4. Insert the verse(s) you found into your petition to God. Boldly remind Him of what His Word says and ask for what you want. If you have accepted Jesus as the Lord of your life, you have a right to come boldly to the throne room with your petition and have Jesus mediate with the Father on your behalf. See Hebrews 4:16. Don’t pretend to be too humble to ask God for what you want. Put it out there plainly.

Going back to the example of asking God to intervene with the judge on behalf of a son, here are some applicable verses:    

Psalm 145:8 The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy.

Ephesians 2:7 That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

John 8:10-11 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

Isaiah 49:25 But thus says the Lord: “Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, And the prey of the terrible be delivered; For I will contend with him who contends with you, And I will save your children.

Below is an example of a prayer that is more in line with the known will of God. This prayer is much more effective and will bring the one who prays it much more peace.    

“Father God, Your Word says that you are gracious, full of compassion, and ready to show mercy. I am asking you to intervene in the court proceedings tomorrow that the judge will see my son’s change of heart, that the truth of this situation will be fully known, and that the judge will show unmerited favor towards my son. Just as Jesus did not impose the just punishment on the women caught in adultery, grant the same mercy to my son. Your Word says that you will save my children and return them from captivity. I believe Your Word. I praise you in advance for a favorable outcome tomorrow. I thank you that my son is walking with you and that you have a plan for his life. In Jesus’s name, I pray these things.  Amen.”    

DON’T GIVE UP!

Pray First, Act Second

The other day I was thinking about a saying I used in days gone by. “If you can’t do anything else, at least you can pray.” It was my way of telling myself that I was not completely powerless. I had one last option when none of the other options worked. It was innocent enough, but it is time for me to purge this out of my vocabulary. Prayer is never my last resort. It should be my first option! 

garden.jpg

I wonder how my life would be different if I had made it a habit to pray first, before I took any action. Doesn’t it make sense to seek the wisdom of God first? Pray first, then act? Pray first, then send that text message. Pray first, then make that phone call. Pray first, then apply for that job. 

When I act before I pray, I only tap into one source of knowledge/information/wisdom: me.

When I pray first, I have another source of wisdom. As King Solomon put it in Proverbs 3:5-6:

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. (NKJV)

When I have the presence of mind to pray first, I pray for wisdom. I pray for the truth to come out in the situation. I pray for favor from both God and man. When I pray first, wisdom prevails - if I trust the answer I get from God. The wisdom I get is simple, everyday practical bits of wisdom. Sometimes, wisdom is not sending the text message at all. Or deleting that photo. Or waiting until tomorrow to buy that pair of shoes. When I pray before I get ready to send an email at work, I usually make better wording choices. (But not always, just ask my boss.)

How do I know it is from God? You will know if you do this often enough. God is talking to us all the time. And He is happy to supply us with all the wisdom we ask for. James 1:5-6 tells us how God feels about being asked for wisdom:  

5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting. (NKJV)

There is another saying out there. “If you don’t have time to do it right the first time, you don’t have time to redo.” I may think I am too busy to pray over the little decisions of life, but I have discovered that seeking God’s wisdom first saves a lot of time, effort, and heartache. My new saying:

“Pray before you do anything else.”