By Pastor Stephen Piersall
God's Preservation Ministry, http://www.gpmsc.org/
My Grandmother and Grandfather raised me during my first five years, and they were very religious. In fact, they named me “Stephen” from the book of Acts. Grandmother always said that I would be in the ministry one day and was so impressed when I accepted Jesus at the age of 12 in 1964. I know my grandparents are looking down from Heaven and fulfilled of the fact that I achieved a lifelong goal of becoming an Ordained Pastor. For my critics, NO, it was not an online buy a certificate program ministry.
Through the next several years, including 21 years in the USAF and to the present, I have been in and out of many distinctive denominational churches depending where the Air Force sent me and my family. Participation was important in raising our children, as we all got caught up in some sort of capacity with children’s church, Sunday school teacher, youth activities, prison ministries, visitations, etc. I believe that exposure helped me see things in a diverse world view perspective.
As a result, January 2010 God answered prayer and led me to start an online ministry “God’s Preservation Ministry Soul Care” (gpmsc.org/), which has a focus to help people with Salvation, Repentance, Deliverance, Restoration Healing, and soul care. Soul Care is where many churches fall short as when a person accepts the Salvation, Jesus offers, or members stop showing and perhaps are backslidden. Is there a program like this at your local church? Please contact me. I would love to hear how other churches do so. I am very Blessed; at my local church, they have such a program already in place.
This is the path God has led and has resulted in helping many individuals and families thus far. Sharing with my staff some course material we now have made an advancement to stay focused on our journey on God’s path to be like the apostles through setting up a Rule of Life program for us, and our clients for aftercare follow up. We are striving to attain a balance and the flexibility for all involved and always looking for more experienced people to join with us.
Personal Responsibility for Soul Care really hit home for me. Caring, assisting, volunteering, and reaching out to people has always been a characteristic that God has groomed in me over the years. In addition quiet time is taking our two pugs for walks several times a day, which provides the opportunity to exercise and converse with God. It also provides a friendly reminder of praying for our neighborhood and for the darkness in the homes to leave and let God’s light shine in.
Since striving to be a perfectionist starting from early childhood from years of being an abused child and never meeting the unattainable expectations of my parents, I have always carried the guilt of past imperfections. Learning that it is more important to understand and focus on the progress, and not the perfection has already helped in my spiritual journeys.
Since I am a Disabled Veteran, I have much time available for me, and yet I struggle at times with trying to get everything accomplished. The steps in balancing busyness with my ministry, family, medical issues, local church and continuous ministry course work, are a work in progress. My wife Karen and I do a family Bible devotional around 6 pm each night, and set aside the rest of the evening for each other and our dogs. Family time with rest and relaxation is important to have with everyone’s busy lives. I have come to the conclusion that people today are no different than back in the Biblical days where we want to have our cake and eat it too. I will say, as Christians who doesn't want to be like Jesus? Fewer want to do the work of maintenance to be humble, caring, forgiving and healing. People in general want to accept God into their lives, but offer much resistance to the required lifestyle changes. This has compelled me to be stronger in my faith and seek continued discernment in prayer, so I know how to help them in a way that would be acceptable for them at their season with God. I do not take their rejection personally, and accept that God gave us “Free Will” and not everyone I witness to will accept Christ. Perhaps I am planting the (mustard) seed, and someone else will come along and help cultivate them in their spiritual life.
Accepting each day as a new beginning and thankful for the trials and blessings make me eager to want to learn more and share the Gospel with those in need. Every conversation I have with people I always find a way to speak of God and try to remember to end the visit by telling them “God Blesses." Amazing on how many people will say it back to you and some seemed stumped and do not know how to respond. That leads me to believe there is another lost soul and gives the opportunity to speak with them at length when time and opportunity permits again.
Contemplative spirituality and flexibility go hand in hand. Jesus showed us many times the importance of having quiet time with God. Even before appointing the twelve disciples, Jesus went and prayed to God in solitude. Just as we are to pray for all things, I do much better when I pray and let God control the steering wheel of my life. 2 Timothy 2:15 “be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” This Bible verse reminds me to be like a Berean at times and to seek out the truth, but does not use that truth to condemn others. Learning about Formational reading has opened up another approach to the study of God’s word and has helped me not to feel guilty when I am unable to complete the scripture reading I planned for the day. It is no longer important on how many times reading the Bible in a year are compared to the closeness gained by reading scripture and praying about it.
Jesus, throughout the four Gospels gives us excellent examples to develop a regular habit of finding times for solitude and prayer seeking his guidance and discernment. When reading what Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 “pray without ceasing” is more than words. Having God continuously on my mind all day long for me is peaceful, comforting, and secure. God has shown me that continued grace, forgiveness, discernment and the plan that he has outlined and dedication on my part must be consistent. Therefore, going forward my personal goals are to increase my reading time in God’s word, covering more material repeatedly at a quicker pace and set aside time for Formational reading as well. May this find you blessed and in favor of God’s grace