Saturday, September 30, 2023



     My former pastor Bobby Duncan knows about my interest in evangelism, and he gave me his latest book entitled “Floods Upon Dry Ground”, co-written by Pastor James Jones.
     The gist of the book is based on Isaiah 44:3 which says, “For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, And floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, And My blessing on your offspring.”
     I want to share two important points, one from Pastor Duncan, and one from Pastor Jones’ “Revival Reflections” at the beginning of the book.
     First of all, Pastor Duncan wrote the following: “Revival or spiritual renewal are things that we may have difficulty intellectually grasping, but, “I firmly believe it is something we can once again experience . . . and must experience.”
     Pastor Jones reflected the following, “Revival is a heightened sense of God’s presence, and usually has brokenness as its companion.” Meaning that without brokenness and a passion for God’s presence, there will be no revival.
     Are you and I broken today? Do we have a passion for God’s presence? And do we believe with all our hearts that we must experience revival as Pastor Duncan stated?

Monday, September 25, 2023


     Last week I participated in a Mission Increase webinar through my role as a grant writer for Mission to Amish People. The webinar was entitled “Disciple Making With Church Partners”. The gist of the webinar was how nonprofits, like Mission to Amish People, can partner with churches to become effective together to make disciples.
     One of the leaders of the webinar. was Caleb Crider, the Director of Program Innovation. He said something that struck me. He said that The Great Commandments, which are two, and The Great Commission are tied together, and one cannot exist without the other.
     In my forty-six years of being a Christian, one thing has always bothered me. The churches I attended never, or rarely included a regular plea to or reasoning for reaching unsaved people with the gospel of Jesus Christ. They preached and taught many, many scriptures about the love, blessing, and power of God in each life if the listeners closely followed God and His Son Jesus Christ. People in the congregation often lifted their hands in praise to God. But I think, however, in almost all cases they forgot the punchline.
     I think that what Mr. Crider asserted in the webinar is the key to what churches are missing. I call it, “An Inextricable Connection” between The Great Commandments, which are two, and The Great Commission. (Note: Inextricable simply means “impossible to separate.”)
     Below are the two Great Commandments told by Jesus found in Matthew 22:35-40:
“And one of them, an expert in the law, asked a question to test him: ‘Teacher, which command of the law is the greatest?’ He (Jesus) said to him, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.’ "
     In simple words, we are first to love God with all the power within us. And secondly, we are to love others. These are the two Great Commandments.
     Secondly, is The Great Commission found in Matthew 28:18-20:
“Then Jesus came to them (the disciples) and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.’ "
     I want to ask you a question. Do you think The Great Commission ended with the disciples, or does it continue with us? A natural extension of loving God and loving others is to tell others about the great love He has for them, right? Jesus told the disciples to make other disciples “of all nations”.

     Later in Acts 1:8 Jesus told the disciples, 
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 
     The disciples, as we all know, weren’t going to live long enough to be witnesses to “the end of the earth”, and to "make disciples of all nations".
     The implication is clear in the following four points:
  1. We greatly love God with everything within us, as Jesus commanded us in the First Great Commandment.
  2. The great love of God then flows through us with His powerful Holy Spirit. We become an extension of Jesus.
  3. Because of this great love we also greatly love others, the Second Greatest Commandment.
  4. And because of our great love for others, we are compelled to lovingly fulfill The Great Commission by becoming extensions of the disciples, telling others about God’s great love for them.
     The conclusion is that there is an “inextricable connection” between the two Great Commandments and The Great Commission. It’s impossible to separate them.

Wednesday, September 6, 2023


     I grew up in a large Amish/Mennonite area just outside of Berlin, Ohio. One of the things that had a major impact on me was the revival preachers who came to the area from time to time. I especially remember the George Brunk tent revival meetings that were held annually in the Joe T. Miller farm field in the valley before Route 62 went up the hill into Berlin. In the attached picture you’ll see the Sturges Miller barn located to the left of the tent. Our house, unseen in the picture, was on Charm Road to the right. I remember being outside with Mom and brother Merv, perhaps playing ball, or just sitting peacefully on the front porch.

     The warm air was still, while people, most of them Conservative Mennonites, parked their dark-colored cars, and then marched their families to grab seats in the large tent. Vibrant acappella singing followed, filling the valley with sound. After that was a brief interlude of silence.

     Then finally we heard his distinct voice over the loudspeakers across the way. Reverend Brunk followed the pattern of many revival preachers, like Billy Graham. He started by speaking calmly with a measured pace to lay the groundwork for his message. His voice got a little louder and he ramped up the intensity as the sermon progressed. Finally, his voice was booming with Bible verses and pronouncements of the impending judgment upon those who didn’t give their hearts to Christ, accompanied by an urgent plea for them to do so.     
     Reverend Brunk’s loud voice didn’t seem threatening and mean—but it definitely was convicting. He was very firm in his commitment to the task God gave him of bringing people to Christ. I would describe his message as “power of God preaching”.
     I came to Christ several years after those annual revival meetings, and since that time, about forty-six years ago, I have seldom heard the “power of God preaching” as I heard from Reverend Brunk—perhaps only from Billy Graham. Preachers and evangelists like that seem very few and far between.
     One rare exception in my life is Pastor Bobby Duncan, former pastor of the Mansfield Church of God. I attended there under his pastorship for approximately six months before he retired for good in March 2020, right before the COVID-19 pandemic became very prominent. Dee and I became good friends with him and his wife Sandra. I especially appreciate his pastor’s heart and love for his people. And I missed, and still miss his “power of God preaching”.

     Pastor Duncan fills in preaching for pastors in Ohio who need some time off. He recently filled in five Sundays at the Ashland Worship Center, and I went all five times. He and Sandra were a real blessing. I told my wife and some others that I think every new pastor should sit under Pastor Duncan’s leadership and preaching for some time before they go out on their own.
     I’m going to insert three short snippets of his recent preaching on his last Sunday at Ashland Worship Center to show what I mean by “power of God preaching”. He preached on Revelation 21. Sorry about the muffled sound. Here they are:
Snippet 1: You’ll see that Pastor Duncan is very measured in the beginning to lay the groundwork for his message. (See video)

Snippet 2: Pastor Duncan’s intensity is ramping up. He’s not ramping up for the sake of ramping up, but to further get across how important is the message of the gospel. (See video)

Snippet 3: Pastor Duncan ends the sermon with a crescendo to bring people to the point of change. He powerfully exhorts his listeners to take action. (See video)
     Well, what do you think?. You can see the entire sermon and four other ones on the Ashland Worship Center Facebook page.
     I think you could strongly sense Pastor Duncan’s love for his listeners, and his desire for them to fully realize and understand how much God loves them, wants them to follow Him, and wants them to spend eternity with Him in heaven. Pastor Duncan did so by what I describe as “power of God preaching”.