In mid-September, 1,100+ pastors, leaders and their wives gathered at the 2022 Calvary Chapel Association (CCA) West Coast Pastor & Leaders Conference at CC Golden Springs, CA, for refreshing in the face of increasing ministry challenges.
Over the coming months, Calvary Chapel Magazine will present summaries of the conference teachings by presenting pastors. Our desire is that these inspiring messages will encourage and bless all believers.
Story by Jim Culhane
Photos by Josh Larson & Tom Price
Pastor Josh Lawrence Teaches—Resting in the Power of God
Josh Lawrence, senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Eldoret, Kenya, reminded leaders in his teaching that real power comes from God, and that He often displays it through weakness.
For the last 12 years, Josh and his wife, Kelsey, have lived in Kenya; their three children—Layla, Zephaniah, and Jael—were born there. Josh was 24 years old when they moved there, and they didn’t know the culture. Kenyans are very polite when you first meet them. The first day that Josh went out to invite people to a Bible study and share the Gospel, every one of about 100 Kenyans said they would attend that first study. Two people showed up besides Josh, Kelsey, and their baby. Since then, they have seen many born again, baptized, and discipled; churches are being planted.
In 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:5, the power of God is mentioned many times. The New Testament contains many references to power: the power of the Gospel, the power of Christ, the power of God the Father, and the power of the Holy Spirit. This makes an immediate appeal to a society and to a church that is positively obsessed with power.
We see this thirst for power in politics, industry, public life, and primitive societies. In Kenya, the witch doctor trades his power for money. Unfortunately, the desire for power in the church results in denominational top-level power struggles, and in local churches and para-church organizations that dream of expanding into world empires. We see it in the pulpit—a very dangerous place for deep desire for power.
In Matthew Chapter 20, James’ and John’s mother asked Jesus to give them powerful seats of authority in Jesus’ Kingdom. When the other 10 disciples heard this, they were angry. But Jesus told them that whoever desired to be great among them needed to be their servant, just as Jesus came to serve.
God is omnipotent. We need to be reminded of this as governments surround the church, trying to take it out. They’re no match for the church, they have no ability to take us out, and they never will. We know this to be true because in Matthew Chapter 16 Jesus says the gates of hell will not prevail against the church.
In the New Testament, Jesus prophesied to His disciples, “Guys, I’m going to go prepare a place for you; but don’t worry, I’m going to send the power of the Holy Spirit to be upon you and in you. This is going to happen: I’m going to be arrested, be tried, die on the cross, [and] I’m going to rise.” Jesus was demonstrating the power He has over creation.
In John Chapter 19, one of Josh’s all-time favorites, Pilate is so confused by this guy who’s not begging, blubbering, or pleading for his life. Pilate says, “Do You not know that I have power to crucify You?” Jesus says in verse 11, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above.” Essentially what Jesus just told Pilate is, “You would have no power except I gave it to you.”
Paul’s major theme even in the Corinthian letters is divine power through man’s weakness. There were really three divisions: power through the weakness [perceived foolishness] of the Gospel, 1 Corinthians 1:17-25; power through weakness in God’s people, 1 Corinthians 1:26-31; and power through weakness in Paul himself.
Paul divides people into three groups: Jews, Gentiles (called “Greeks”), and Christians.
The Jews expected the Messiah to push the Roman Legions out of their land and to re-establish Israel’s sovereignty. They demanded a sign of power to meet their Messianic expectations, but instead Jesus said to them that a wicked generation seeks after a sign. He would only give them the sign of the prophet Jonah: as Jonah was three days in the belly of the fish, so the Son of Man would be three days and nights in the belly of the Earth.
The Greeks searched for wisdom. They had a long history of brilliant philosophy. Has the church become like the Jews, demanding signs of power? Or like the Greeks who in their oratory emphasized style over substance?
We see the power in the weakness of the Gospel, this crucified Savior. Jesus Christ is our standard of what it means to have power in a weak presentation by His physical body. He left the glories of heaven to take on human skin. But in Revelation 17:14a, it says of the world’s empires, These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them.
Secondly, we see the power through the weakness in God’s people in 1 Corinthians 1:26. It is the genius of God to use the weak things of this world.
The world sees qualities like wealth, great speech, boasting, and self-confidence as usable commodities—God does not.
Handsome guys or beautiful women capture attention when they walk into a room and are more likely to be hired. We do these things in our own churches. If the handsome guy stands in the pulpit, the crowd would respond to him greatly: “Oh, man, he’s dynamic. I think we need him.” Well, this other person is actually real holy. They’ve been serving the Lord for years. And this handsome guy has some red flags: “Yeah, he’s immature but he’ll grow.”
Thirdly, we see the power of God in the weakness of Paul. In Paul’s human weakness, he relied on the power of the Holy Spirit.
“I am completely inadequate to do the work of God’s ministry in and of myself,” stated Josh. “Without the Holy Spirit we can accomplish nothing. Some of us have begun to trust in the things of the world to have a successful ministry. God forbid that be my heart as we go forward.”
Josh expressed, “May I rest, and may you rest, in the power of God through the weakness that we are. And may we see the demonstration of God’s power through the Holy Spirit in His Word once again.”
Visit the website of Pastor Josh Lawrence’s church: Calvary Chapel Eldoret, Kenya
Watch Pastor Josh’s teaching in its entirety at: Josh Lawrence, CCA West Coast Pastor & Leaders Conference
Sponsor Message: Calvary Bible Institute is a one-year program designed to equip those who are called to serve the Lord in full-time ministry. Visit CBI’s website to learn more about their programs at calvarybi.com
© 2022 Calvary Chapel Magazine (CCM). All rights reserved. Articles or photographs may not be reproduced without the written permission of CCM. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.® Used by permission.