Wednesday, June 17, 2015

God Says ‘Go’ But I Say ‘Whoa’

What happens when God moves faster than what you’re ready to move?  What’s your first response?  Is it ‘Let’s go!’ or is it ‘Wait God, I need more time’?

I’m in the process of preparing our Bible studies for next year’s Community Groups at The Bridge in which we’ll begin going through the book of Acts—the story of the 1st Century Church.  In the first few chapters of Acts, I’m struck with the quickness of how God moved and how many people were added to the church in such a short amount of time.  I’m sure none of the church leaders had planned or anticipated that. 
Last night, my wife and I had a meeting with a core group of people in Jiggs (about 30 miles from where I live).  God had been preparing the soil out there for the past six months to begin a new church work in this ranching community (a satellite campus of The Bridge).  I didn’t have to cajole, convince, or plead for the group to do something.  As I met with these folks and we discussed timing for our first church service—the group overwhelmingly wanted to start next month. 30 days from now!
My first internal reaction was: ‘Are you crazy?!’  I thought of all the things on my to-do list.  All the tasks and responsibilities I already have on my plate. Everything else that I considered a priority. Besides—who in their right mind starts a church during the summer? Haven’t they read all the books about strategic church planting? 
But the Holy Spirit grabbed my tongue and I allowed myself to be swept along with the wave that God was obviously creating.  In reflecting on the events of last night, I realize more than ever that I must yield control to God so that worry and anxiety don’t become my thought-partners over the next 30 days.
I have been a part of so many churches over the years that quench God’s Spirit by putting on the brakes and slowing down when God is moving. Usually, it is because what is happening is beyond our ability to control and manage it. It moves us outside of a comfort zone of ‘standard operating procedure’ that no longer are we able to recognize and respond to the revival call of God.
I am grateful to be part of a church at The Bridge Baptist Church that is willing to venture into the unknown and ‘surf’ the wave of the Holy Spirit’s moving.  Go God!

(If you want to be notified of future blog postings, friend me on Facebook 'John Schmidt'.  Also, my recent sermons in audio format can be found at


Thursday, June 4, 2015

Why I Care About Elko (re-posted)

This is a re-posting of a previous blog (the subject which I made reference to at the GREAT Network prayer meeting last night):


Why I Care About Elko, NV

My wife and I moved to Elko, Nevada a year ago.  In that time, we have enjoyed the rugged beauty and pace of life in a rural environment--but that is not why I care about Elko.  We have many friends and are part of a great family at Cornerstone Baptist--but that is not why I care about Elko.  Why I care about Elko is based on something written almost 2,600 years ago.

In 586 BC, Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed by the Babylonian army.  All of the politicians, educators, religious leaders and other persons of note were dragged off to Babylonian exile.  Settling in Babylon, this Jewish remnant was discouraged, frightened and didn't know what their future held.  Their natural tendency was to withdraw into their own 'safe' Jewish community to preserve what little religious and sociological culture they had left. 

But God had a different idea. He sent them some specific instructions that are found in Jeremiah 29. In verse 7, we read this, "Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have sent you [carried you into exile]. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper."

The Hebrew word shalom is a word rich in meaning. We often translate it using the word peace, but it means so much more than the absence of conflict.  It can also be translated (and often is depending on context) to wholeness, completeness, peace, prosperity, health, wellness--that which is a gift from God.  Using shalom in its original context, verse 7 reads as...

"Seek the shalom [wholeness, completeness, prosperity, health, wellness, peace] of the city to which I have sent you. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it has shalom, you too will have shalom."

I care about Elko because God cares about Elko--and He has commanded me (and every other follower of Christ) to care about the shalom of our community.  Shalom involves so much more than just the spiritual--it also includes the physical, psychological, emotional, and relational aspects of our community.

I read in the paper daily about the problems we have in our community--there are many.  But as lovers of God, we are to insert ourselves into the community to be salt and light.  When we become actively involved in being shalom-makers, we not only benefit as members of our community, we have positioned ourselves as a people who can "give a reason for the hope that we have." (1 Pet. 3:15)

For that reason, I was involved in recently chairing a Community Ad-Hoc Homeless Task Force. We issued our report last month (you can request a copy from me at  I organized this group specifically because I saw a need (after God revealed it to me) where I could bring some leadership to bear and be an instrument for bringing shalom.  I do not know how God may use this report--but I do know that the experience was invaluable for the community connections that were made as well as the opportunity for my own personal growth and understanding of this tremendously complex issue.

Being a carrier of God's shalom usually means that one has to go into the community because the community probably won't come to us.  Love God, love others, love Elko.

(If you want to be notified of future blog postings, friend me on Facebook 'John Schmidt'.  Also, my recent sermons in both an audio and video format can be found at

Strongholds in the Church

Last night was the first prayer meeting of the GREAT (GReater Elko Area Transformation) Network. We used 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 as our foundational text for last night’s prayer. In this passage, Paul talks about how our battle is waged in the spiritual realm and, as such, we need to pray to demolish strongholds.  Because of our love for the local church and The Church of Elko/Spring Creek, we identified specific strongholds fighting against the unity that Jesus prayed for us to experience (John 17:20-23). I thought I would share our list that we created last night (admittedly, this is only a partial list and many of the items overlap or are related to each other):

Complacency/apathy/loss of first love
Self-centeredness/pride/lack of humility
Fear of change, getting hurt
Relational brokenness
Independent spirit
Lack of servant hearts
Lack of God-vision (we become comfortable with our own vision)
Lack of commitment to relationships
Bad leadership (prideful, abusive, ungodly/unspiritual) – pastors, elders/deacons, others
Concern about self-image (i.e., more interested in pleasing people than pleasing God)
Lack of knowledge (i.e., ignorance)
Unconfessed sin
Lack of love
Past hurts giving rise to unforgiveness, bitterness, distrust of leaders, anger, suspicions, misunderstandings, rumors, gossip, assuming the worst in others, etc.
Church splits (which we love to call ‘church starts/plants’) arising from disagreements, unresolved conflicts, pride, selfishness
More interested in building our individual church kingdoms than His Kingdom

My experience has been that this list could apply to almost any city in this country. Satan doesn’t have to employ any other strategies because the above list is all he needs to render the church spiritually impotent.

‘God help us’ is more than a cry out in desperation—it is a recognition that only He can provide the power necessary to break the strong-hold on our city (and your city). God help us!

(If you want to be notified of future blog postings, friend me on Facebook 'John Schmidt'.  Also, my recent sermons in audio format can be found at




Thursday, March 19, 2015

On Being A Shrewd Christian

When we hear the word shrewd, we have a tendency to think of it only in the negative (devious, abusive, severe). Yet, in giving instructions to His followers in interacting with the world, Jesus said that we are to be “as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” (Matt. 10:16).  Additionally, in Jesus’ Parable of the Shrewd Manager, He commended the manager, not for his dishonesty, but how he had acted shrewdly (Luke 16:8), noting that believers often have difficulty in properly relating to the world. Jesus’ use of the word shrewd was obviously not to give a license to sin but was to encourage us to be discerning, deliberate and intentional in our dealings with those in our community who don’t know Jesus.

In bringing the Kingdom of God and its message of transformation into our community, we as believers need to understand the mindset and value systems of the world as well as the tactics of the enemy.  A community and its culture will not be changed unless people are transformed from the inside out.  How can they be transformed unless they accept and respond to the Good News? And how can they embrace it if they haven’t seen/heard it?  And how can they embrace it if they don’t like the messenger?

Most people will automatically reject a messenger’s message if they don’t want to listen to the messenger. Christians have a hard time understanding that we only have as much influence in people’s lives as they are willing to give us.  If they don’t like us (for the wrong reasons) or think very highly of us—our ideas are rejected and our ability to influence true change is lost. Any persuasion we attempt to do beyond our boundaries of influence are seen by the world as manipulative and irrelevant.

One aspect of being a shrewd Christian is understanding that the enemy seeks to reduce our circle of influence in the world so as to contain the message of Good News which can transform lives and a community.  There are many tactics the enemy employs.  I would like to briefly mention three of them:

1.      The enemy wants us to focus on doing things that may sooth our conscience but are ineffective in influencing others to repent and seek after God. We intentionally do things to offend the masses, thinking we’re taking radical stands for righteousness, when all we are really doing is pushing those away who need to hear the Good News the most. When this rejection occurs, we then like to think of ourselves as martyrs of the truth, furthering a sense of subtle self-pride.  This rejection can often be the sought-after goal rather than seeking to introduce people to a loving, holy God.

2.      At the other end of the spectrum are those that seek to avoid offending anyone. Christians will either withdraw into their ‘Christian bubble’ where all of their interactions and relationships are only with those who think and believe like them (thus, not ever running the risk of offending anyone) or the truth of God’s Word has been altered so as to embrace sin.

3.      Many Christians believe that community transformation primarily happens by passing certain laws or legislating certain moral guidelines. But this approach fails to realize that culture is a reflection of the heart—not the law.  When one focuses on the heart, the law falls into place. This was the whole emphasis of both the Old and New Testament.

What is our option as believers? To learn how to sincerely love and embrace our community with agape love (see 1 Cor. 13) while still disagreeing with someone’s sin.  We need to reexamine our motives, our strategies, our relationships so that we can be a God-honoring, shrewd follower of Christ.

(If you want to be notified of future blog postings, friend me on Facebook 'John Schmidt'.  Also, my recent sermons in audio format can be found at




Friday, February 6, 2015

No Man Is Greater Than...

Read this recently that I wanted to share with you. I read it over and over and just let it sink in.

"No man is greater than his prayer life.
The pastor who is not praying is playing.
The people who are not praying are straying.
The pulpit can be a window to display one's
talent--the prayer closet allows no showing off. 

Poverty-stricken as the Church is today in many things, she is most stricken here, in the place of prayer.
We have many organizers, but few agonizers.
Many players and payers, few pray-ers.
Many singers, few clingers.
Lots of pastors, few wrestlers.
Many fears, few tears.
Much fashion, little passion.
Many interferers, few intercessors.
Many writers of books, but few fighters.
Failing here, we fail everywhere. 

We...mistake action for unction [the pouring out of God's Spirit], commotion for creation, and rattles for revival."
(Leonard Ravenhill, Why Revival Tarries)


(If you want to be notified of future blog postings, friend me on Facebook 'John Schmidt'.  Also, my recent sermons in audio format can be found at



Thursday, November 20, 2014

Church Bullies

It's been a little while since I've posted a blog. No excuses--just been busy!

I've been preaching through the book of Nehemiah looking at some of his experiences/responses that we can apply towards rebuilding our lives/rebuilding our churches. This past weekend, we spent some time talking about the bullies that Nehemiah was dealing with in rebuilding the wall (focusing on Nehemiah 6).  Among a number of applications, I mentioned dealing with bullies in churches.

We all have seen bullies in the church (maybe some of us have even been a bully!). Bullies are those who give ultimatums: "There will be trouble if ____________ doesn't change!"  or  "I will withhold my giving if _____________"  or  "I'm going to leave if ______________".   Pastors often have to deal with real or implied threats if people don't get their way.  This is a subtle (or not so subtle) attempt to intimidate (i.e., bully) the pastor or other leadership into getting their way.

But there is another type of bullying that is even more common and more insidious to the unity of the church: rumors/gossip (which, by the way, Nehemiah was dealing with also).  We don't often think of this as bullying but consider some of the characteristics of rumors/gossip:

1. The source is rarely quoted. [I heard that...]

2. Exaggeration and inaccuracy are involved.

3. They are designed to hurt rather than build up.

4.  Almost never shared in the proper setting (i.e., face-to-face with the involved party).

So how to deal with church bullies who spread rumors/gossip:

1.  Understand the real enemy behind this. It is not the gossiper/rumor spreader--it is Satan himself (John 10:10).  This is spiritual warfare--and must be approached as such.

2.  Practice loving rebuke (Eph. 4:29).  Refuse to listen or participate. Lovingly rebuking someone at the point of gossip/rumor is the most loving thing you can do for the gossiper (allows the Holy Spirit to do a work of conviction) and for those being gossiped about.

3.  Make a choice to not yield to temptation. Yielding to listening to gossip/rumors or responding to them in the flesh (e.g., anxiety, frustration, depression, anger, desire for revenge) all play right into the enemy's hands.

4.  Persist and experience God's strength. If one is in the middle of God's will, keep on doing and being what you have been. The power to harm and to divert you is stripped away from those who gossip and spread rumors.

God has already given us a road map for dealing with the sin of bullying (see Matt. 18:15-20).  Let God deal with the bully--He will always be much more effective than you could ever be!

(If you want to be notified of future blog postings, friend me on Facebook 'John Schmidt'.  Also, my recent sermons in audio format can be found at


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Experiencing A Different Kind of Marriage

This past weekend, I got married again--sort of.  The church I am pastoring voted to merge with another church--creating a brand new church, The Bridge Baptist Church. I will have the privilege of being the pastor for this new endeavor as the pastor of the other church is retiring.

As a pastor, I have seen my fair share of unhealthy relationships and unhealthy people (spiritually, emotionally, psychologically, relationally, physically) during my life.  One truism that almost always holds: unhealthy relationships can only breed additional unhealthy relationships (i.e., an unhealthy person cannot easily pass 'health' on to another person). The Bible refers to this dynamic as generational sin. What is true of people is also true of churches.

In this day and age, far too many new churches are born out of church fights, splits, disagreements, and general disgruntlement.  Unfortunately, these unhealthy births have a tendency to breed unhealthy churches.  And unhealthy churches breed more unhealthy churches.

Too often, Christians enter church relationships with the same mindset that the world has towards regular marriages--"If it doesn't work out, we'll just get a divorce." But just as a Christian who desires to honor God enters a marriage relationship with the mindset that divorce is not an option, believers should enter into relationship with one another with a mindset that this relationship cannot be easily walked away from.

Yes, God permits divorce in a regular marriage when there is a gross violation of that covenant relationship (i.e., adultery), but His heart is still on reconciliation. For Christians, our covenant relationship with fellow Christians in a church should be taken seriously as well--short of a gross covenant violation (e.g., heresy), divorce (i.e., walking away) should never be an option kept on the table as a possibility. Rather, God's heart is for reconciliation and restoration.

As we begin this new journey of a post-merger church (i.e., a new marriage), our desire is to live out the hope of a God who can bring restoration and renewal even from the brokenness of the past.  Bucking the trend and uniting rather than sub-dividing is something I hope we see more and more of in the Kingdom in the future.

Christians setting aside their differences and opinions. Christians willing to give preference to others over themselves. Christians holding on to heritage and traditions loosely--willing to let go when God moves. Christians stepping out into the unknown because God told them to.

Wow--will that make God smile!

(If you want to be notified of future blog postings, friend me on Facebook 'John Schmidt'.  Also, my recent sermons in audio format can be found at