“The Hourglass of Life”

James 4:14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.There was a time in my life when all my priorities were out of order. However, I was very unaware of those shortcomings until I started seeing my life swirling around as if it were in a whirlpool. I spiritually swam myself to safety and began to reevaluate my fate. When I asked myself how this had happened, I remembered something I had heard as a novice Christian. That statement instilled a warped mental impression of what the ministry really is. I remembered listening to a boastful young pastor declaring that he was so committed to the ministry that he had accepted a speaking engagement on his honeymoon night. At that time, I thought he must be a dedicated man of God. I now realize that he was missing God by a country mile, because his priorities were out of order.For years, I esteemed my pastoral ministry and church above everything else in my life, sometimes even God. I had unknowingly established a doomed lifestyle. I had placed the ministry above the mission and I now know that will never work or produce fruit for God’s Kingdom. I had put the “I’ve got to’s” above the “God’s want to’s” in my life. I positioned the local church and the ministry above God, above my wife, my children and above my personal time with the Lord. I’ve since learned that when your value system is out of order, everything and everyone associated with you suffers. As I began to peel away the layers of my mixed-up life, I saw that it was me that was out of sync rather than everyone else. Before the scales of deception fell from my eyes, all I saw were people that appeared uncommitted to God by not being committed to the church. I was unable to distinguish that the cause of Christ and commitment to the local church were two different facets of ministry.The sand was sifting through the opening of my life’s hourglass rapidly and I had to do something fast—I prayed. I prayed for the Lord to help me put things in proper order. First, God had to become number one in my life if anything else were to fit into my life’s purpose. I had to humble myself and ask Him to allow me the chance to change before all the sand was drained from the top to the bottom of my life’s hourglass. I was ashamed as the Father began to reveal all the wasted days and wasted ways that led to nowhere. He gave me the opportunity to change.It wasn’t easy to let go of my self-motivated, performance-oriented lifestyles, nonetheless, when I surrendered to Him, the Holy Spirit started directing my every move. God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit became my pivotal point and everything else had to revolve around them. Next, after God, came my wife; I must never elevate or esteem anyone or anything above her–not our children, not our grandchildren, and certainly not my job. If I were going to accomplish what God purposed for my life, then my wife, Mollie, had to be by my side standing with me as one. Then after my wife, came my children and my grandchildren. Bringing up the rear was my job, which for most of my adult life, I had held in first place.

Since getting my priorities in order, my purpose has now become focused. First, I am to be a loving, caring and committed husband; one that leads his wife as the Lord directs. I am to be a godly example and father figure to my family. Last, I am to be a caretaker of all the Father has so graciously entrusted with me and be a good provider for my family. I am still watching as the sand sifts through the hourglass of my life, but that has become one of the least of my concerns. I am now living and loving life to its fullest and very aware that when, “My hourglass of this life runs out of sand, I will not be able to turn it over again.” I think I’ll go tell Mollie how much I love her and then I’ll call the kids tonight.

Father, I thank you for the opportunity to serve You in the 3ABN Pastoral Department and for all the necessary priority adjustments.

  Pastor Hal Steenson

“Home Free”

John 14:2 (Amplified Bible) “In My Father’s house there are many dwelling places (homes). If it were not so, I would have told you; for I am going away to prepare a place for you.”

The telephone pole under the streetlight was our Hide and Seek home base, Burt Coley was “It” and I was hiding behind Daddy’s 1956 Buick Century. I knew he would eventually have to move away from home base and start searching for all of us hiding in the shadows of that moonlit summer’s night.

Burt was fast, but I knew that I was faster—all I needed was for him to venture a little farther away from the pole and I would run like the wind. I would streak from the darkness and run toward the light. Even if he caught me, he still had to hold onto me, count to 10 and say, “You’re It.” However, he didn’t stand a chance; I was too fast and in a few seconds, I’d be “Home Free” and rejoicing in the light.

Like a speeding bullet, I shot out from behind the big Buick and headed for home base. Unfortunately my friend, Porky had the same idea and clobbered me from the left side. We both  screamed in pain as Burt headed toward us—one of us was going to be “It” and I didn’t want it to be me. However, I only weighted about 75 pounds and Porky topped out at over 150 pounds, so guess who was left sprawled on the ground? I was an easy mark for Burt and Porky made it home free along with the rest of our gang.

That was 55 years ago and I’m still heading for home base; however, it’s not the home base of the light pole. I now press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. I’m no longer concerned about the “Porky’s” of life that try to blind-side me, leaving me stunned, discouraged or defeated. I just continue towards the light, and that light is my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I’m no longer fearful of the “Burts of life” trying to hold me back and making me the “It” of my own insecurities–because Jesus has given me all power over the enemy.

I now have a big brother, His name is Jesus, and He’s already run interference for me and He’s standing there encouraging me to run to the light. He has my home base prepared and He’s there waiting for me to come out of the darkness of this world, touch Him and shout “Home Free.”

1 Thessalonians 4: 16-18 “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”

  Pastor Hal Steenson

“Is It Too Late to Stop?” Part 9

The voice on the other end on the phone was almost frantic. Danny thought it was his engineer friend, Clarence Larson, but it was hard to tell with all the panic in his voice.

“Is it too late to stop the building?” Clarence asked.

“Yes, it’s it too late. Why?”

“We may have made a terrible mistake—a horrible mistake,” Clarence continued, “and I’m feeling responsible because I’m the one who should have seen it!”

“Slow down, Clarence. What’s wrong?”

“I just realized we’re going to need three-phase power for the satellite uplink, and I don’t think there are any of those power lines anywhere near the property! What earthly reason would anyone have to put three-phase power in the middle of nowhere? You’re going to have to pay half the cost to get industrial power to your site—a mile and a quarter off the highway! Do you realize what four large cables, plus power poles, and all the construction will cost you? This will bankrupt you!”

“Well Clarence,” Danny replied, “I’m not going to worry about it. Either God has already figured out who’s going to give us the money we need, or the three-phase power is already out there, and we don’t know it.”

Clarence was still skeptical. “I don’t think there’s three-phase power way out in the middle of a cow pasture in Thompsonville, Illinois, Danny. I can’t believe I didn’t think of this sooner! I’m not going to rest until I know where the closest three-phase power is.”

“Well, then let’s go right now and see for ourselves.”

It was nine o’clock. As they drove down the road together, Clarence beamed his powerful flashlight on every pole. No three-phase power. The farther they got from the highway, the more discouraged he became.

“I knew it wouldn’t be out here. There are only a few trailers and a farm house on this road, and they don’t need all that power.”

Coming to a sharp righthand turn in the road, just a few hundred feet from the new 3ABN turnoff, Clarence’s flashlight beamed up the next pole.

“That’s it! That’s it! There’s the three-phase power—right here! This is impossible!” he exclaimed. “There’s nothing out here that requires it!”

The next morning they went back out to make sure they hadn’t made a mistake. To their great amazement, they found that the three-phase power lines cut through a field off the highway right to their driveway, and then made a sharp turn, heading off in a different direction. There seemed to be no rational explanation for this, either.

Clarence explained that two electrical companies supplied power to this area, “and the way things are going for you, Danny, it’s probably the cheaper one,” he added. “Call them and find out why there’s three-phase power running through the middle of nowhere and see if we can hook up to it.”

Sure enough, the power lines belonged to the less expensive company, and 3ABN was able to connect for less than two thousand dollars.

“Why is there three-phase power out in the middle of a field?” Danny asked the power company representative.

“I have no idea,” he said. “Thirty or forty years ago our company ran three-phase lines in order to provide power for our own systems. That may be the reason, but all I can say is you’re a lucky man.”

“I think it was more than luck,” Danny replied. “I believe God had His hand in your plans years ago.” Then he began to tell the man about the 3ABN project, and some of the miracles God had provided.

Actually, before the three-phase power lines were ever laid through Thompsonville, Illinois, they were already laid as a part of the 3ABN vision by the Three-Phase Power Company of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

  Pastor Hal Steenson

The Real Thanksgiving

While contemplating the real meaning of Thanksgiving Day, the Lord quicken to my heart a passage found in Luke 17:11-19. It’s the account of the ten lepers who were healed by Jesus. According to God’s Word, there were ten lepers healed that day, however, only one returned to give thanks to the miracle Man called Jesus. All ten of the lepers had to have been thankful for their restoration, but I questioned in what sense were they actually thankful and how was their thanks expressed. This caused me to examine what real Thanksgiving entails and what truly defines it.

I came to the awareness that there are two different types of thanks-givers in this world and they are diametrically opposed. First, there are the selfish, self-centered, it’s all about me group. They are like the nine lepers that didn’t return to thank Jesus, but continued on their way for priestly approval. In the second group are those who are true thanks-givers, such as the one leper who returned in humility and adoration.

I pondered the difference between the two groups and about each one’s grand finale. The only difference that I could see was the direction of their appreciation and the motive of their thankfulness.

The nine that did not return with accolades for the Healer had praise for no one but themselves. They were self-absorbed and praised themselves for their underserved blessing. They had finalized their “give me that and give me this, on their never ending shopping list.” It’s true, they were cleansed and healed, but healing was all they received. The one returning leper got more than just a physical healing. He received a spiritual healing of eternal proportions.

God’s Word says, “he saw (realized) the gift, turned back (from his own selfish way), glorified God, and fell down at Christ’s feet, giving Him thanks… thy faith hath made thee whole.” Although the one leper was healed of his leprosy, he was not whole until he experienced the salvation of the Savior. Now I know what real Thanksgiving is all about and whom it’s all about—it’s about the salvation from our Savior.

The question I pose to you today is what kind of ‘thanks-giver’ will you be during this Thanksgiving season?

  Pastor Richard Pinero

Critical Mass

Webster’s Dictionary defines “Critical Mass” as the minimum amount of atomic material that can sustain a nuclear chain reaction under a given set of conditions or the minimum amount or number required for something to happen or begin. So it won’t work to tell God that you’re only one person and unable do much for His Kingdom because God has placed His inherent power within you. If you are born-again, you are a “Critical Mass” for God.

So what are you waiting for to accomplish the great commission? Jesus said in Matthew 28:18-20 “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” He didn’t say I have some power or I have a little power; He said all power is given to me. He then said “therefore”—whenever you see a therefore, look and see what it’s there for. It was there for the disciples to receive the power that Jesus was bestowing upon them.

I know there are times when we feel we’re not accomplishing anything for the Kingdom of God. However, it’s not because we aren’t a “Critical Mass” for Christ. We have the power to overcome any and every obstacle Satan may put in our paths. Another thing Jesus said was, “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” (Luke 10:19) This Scripture is misunderstood because many people don’t realize the words power in this text are two different words. The power Christians have is Exousia, which means the power of authority (influence) and of right (privilege.) The power that is designated to the enemy is Dunamis and it means strength, power or ability.

Now let’s look at this from your point of view, together with Christ, you are a “Critical Mass.” Let us suppose that Satan is a 100,000 watt light that is shining on our dire circumstances as he tries to manipulate us with his power—however you, as a “Critical Mass” are the switch that has the authority to turn that light off. One little flip of your switch of authority will turn off all the wiles of the enemy. This is where you must come to the knowledge of your Critical Mass authority. This is where you must start flipping the switch on Satan.

God has seen fit to give us all power and authority and requires us to acknowledge that it is His power working in and through us. 2 Corinthians 4:7 “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”

So why are you still sitting there doing nothing? Put your finger on the switch, turn Satan off and go out and win the lost. I challenge you to not be fearful of serpents or scorpions or any of the power of the enemy, because with Jesus, you are much more than just a “Critical Mass.”

  Pastor Hal Steenson

God’s Building Plans – Part 8

As Danny Shelton began to see God work miracle after miracle at just the right time, and with just the right amount of money, his faith soared. On Friday nights and Sabbath afternoons, the little group of family and church members gathered at the 3ABN building site to pray and sing, “We Are Standing on Holy Ground.” Those were hopeful days. They had so little—and needed so much. Nevertheless, like explorers, their sights were on their goal, instead of the tremendous hurdles that lay before them. And they kept moving forward.

The group had no idea how large a building to construct, so Danny started out with plans to build a small, 40 by 70 foot building. But this was where he learned that faith and common sense were not the same thing, and so he enlarged his plans to 50 by 90 feet.

Finally, as he and his brother Kenny walked out on to the land to stake out the building, God laid out His plans in Danny’s heart—at least as much of it as his finite faith could handle at that time.

Danny put a stake in one corner of God’s holy ground, and as Kenny held the tape measure, he started walking in the opposite direction—going well past the ninety feet he intended!

“Do you think this is big enough?” he called back.

“It looks fine to me,” Kenny answered.

But God was saying, “Go a little farther son; go on, use your faith, and not your common sense.”

Danny kept walking—almost to the end of the tape! Finally he stopped at 150 feet. “What do you think about making it this big?” he called back.

“Okay,” Kenny hollered.

As Danny pounded the stake, I believe God smiled.

They did the same thing to determine the width of the building, ending up with a 60 by 150 foot building. If they built most of it in two stories, there would be a total of about 16,000  square feet. It looked really big to Danny as he looked at those stakes in the middle of an empty field. In fact, he’d never built anything that big—especially without a penny to do it!

In those days, I was sure that none of them had any inkling of the magnitude of the work they were starting. When I looked at the building stakes for the first time, my only comment was, “It’s not nearly big enough! Why are you building such a little building?”

Within a few years, my prediction came true. By 1994, 3ABN began building a new office and production facility that would be three times larger than the original, and when it was completed in 1996 it became 3ABN’s major Production Center and the network’s world headquarters.

The original Uplink Building, with one production studio, was used only as the Master Control facility, but later it housed the offices and production equipment for 3ABN Radio Network.

3ABN now has a state-of-the art Sound Center, as well as a large Call Center. In 2003 Master Control was moved to 3ABN’s headquarters, the Production Center, as well. Then, a new 1,500-seat Worship Center was built across from the new Thompsonville Christian School and gymnasium. And, oh yes, let’s not forget the new production studio for 3ABN’s Kids’ Time programs, or the SonBeam, Proclaim, International, Russian and Dare To Dream channels. As you can see, the construction hasn’t stopped as 3ABN continues to grow, following God’s building plans. When we follow God’s building plans, we can never build big enough, because God has a world vision.

Danny may have only had a tape measure in his hand when he walked across that first plot of land, but he had God’s vision in his heart. 

  Pastor Hal Steenson 

The Eyes of Your Heart

Ephesians 1:17-19 (Amplified Bible) “[For I always pray to] the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, that He may grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation [of insight into mysteries and secrets] in the [deep and intimate] knowledge of Him, By having the eyes of your heart flooded with light, so that you can know and understand the hope to which He has called you, and how rich is His glorious inheritance in the saints (His set-apart ones).”

Years ago, when I was in school studying for the ministry, I was privileged to teach a short course on street evangelism and home visitation. One of the five key principles of this teaching was, “If you’ve been where they are, tell them that you’ve been there and have experienced the same thing.” In our effort to reach people with the truth of God’s Word, we must not hesitate to tell them the truth of our lives as well. I’ve heard it said that every saint has a past; however, every sinner has a future. Too often we forget that God hates sin, but loves the sinner and we seldom admit that we had the same problem as the person to whom we’re witnessing. We need to be open and honest, especially if we’ve been set free from the bondage that person is experiencing.

Many of us have a fear of rejection, especially to admit to the drug addict that we were also once in bondage to drugs. This is the point where unjust judgment is birthed and we attack what they’re doing instead of relating to them with a compassionate heart. I thank God that He saw fit early in my Christian infancy to allow me to experience a life-lesson about seeing past someone’s sin and seeing God’s love for that sinner.

I had been born-again about 3 months when I started attending a friend’s church. My friend didn’t shared with me that the pastor was physically blind loosing his sight from a fall when he was 6-years-old. Pursuing his education, he attended a noted school for the blind and excelled in almost everything he endeavored, especially people’s hearts. Because of his commitment and compassion, he was asked to visit one of the Elder’s brother and sister-in-law, who were alcoholics and needed Jesus in their lives before it was too late.

I hope I will never forget that night of visitation when I drove Pastor Ray Speakman to the couple’s home—down an old muddy road, stopping in front of a dilapidated shack where mounds of trash was thrown from the house and laying next to the front door. There were at least 5 or 6 junk cars in the yard and several old dogs barking loudly. The real shocker came after we knocked on the door and it was open by our elder’s brother. He was standing there or rather staggering there with a bottle of Vodka in his hand wearing the filthiest clothes I’d ever seen. Ray told him that his brother had asked us to come by for a short visit. The man asked us in and I had to lead Ray around the piles of beers cans and empty liquor bottles on the floor. We sat down at the kitchen table and I watched as the man poured his wife a glass of Vodka while he kept drinking out of the bottle.

I’d been where he was, so I was going to straighten him out about the evils of alcohol–all I could see was the sin and I hated it. I failed to see the sinner that God loved and Jesus had died for. However, it was a divine appointment time for 3 people that night—that husband, his wife and me. Pastor Ray began to share Jesus with them and the anointing was so strong that I began to weep along with those pitiful looking alcoholics as tears rolled down their cheeks. The next thing I knew, we were all on our knees, praying and asking for God’s mercy and forgiveness. When we got to our feet, the man walked to the sink and poured his alcohol down the drain; he thanked us for coming, for praying and for introducing them to Jesus. He assured us they would be in church the very next service.

As we drove away from their home, Pastor Ray asked me if it was just him or had I smelled alcohol in their house. That was when I realized I was really the one that had been blind that night, blind because I only saw with my natural eyes, while Pastor Ray saw with “the eyes of his heart.” I didn’t want to lie to him, so I told him the only thing that matters is that they are new creatures in Christ.
It’s been years ago, but the last I heard about that couple was that he was a deacon and his wife was teaching children’s church, because a blind preacher saw that couple through the eyes of God.

  Pastor Hal Steenson