This lesson comes after watching a lot of late night BUZZR TV. I am watching classic game shows and thinking whatever happened to these people and their "BIG WINS"? Did the prizes change their lives and for how long? As I thought on that I wonder how many of us think of our Christian walk as a game show? We temporarily enjoy the "prize" or salvation and it soon fades to a memory. Do we know that others are searching for answers to life's questions and WE have them? This lesson was prepared for teaching a Seniors group at my church. I hope you find some enjoyment...some strength...and some conviction in it.
Stephen Hample is the Pastor of Family Ministries at Calvary Chapel of Gloucester County NJ. He has been writing and speaking on spiritual growth for over 30yrs. The articles have been distributed nationally under the titles of Monday School, Razzles and The TNL (The Next Level Ministries) by Contemporary Christian Concepts since 1995. Steve had traveled nationally with various CCM artists as their production tech and often as guest speaker. In more recent years he and his wife have spoken at various churches, camps and school with emphasis on revival, growth and discipleship. He and his wife speak separately at both men and women groups as well as hosting studies together with an emphasis on preserving marriages and avoiding divorce through repentance and restoration.
Along with these trainings/writings currently being used internationally in churches they have also developed small community home groups as well as Steve leading a small rag tag local weekly men's group (saved/unsaved and multi-church) at Legacy Diner, Audubon NJ, for over 10yrs. His wife is camp Director at school year program, Club Koinonia as well as Camp Koinonia, a weekly summer program for kids, with Steve in charge of opening exercises, missions projects, music and games.
Stephen and his wife, Caroline have been married for 30+yrs. They have 5 children, 2 in-law children and 5 grandkids.
With that said, when people ask me why I write...in a sense they are asking for a mission statement. While reading a book by Charles Finney from the mid 1800's, I found what I believe was a fabulous response that I would like to use as an explanation of my calling/ministry. While some of you, myself included, may not agree completely with Rev. Finney's doctrine, I find this a fitting text for why I write for The Next Level.
"The circumstances of the church and the state of spirituality unavoidably led me to discuss some points we would rather have left alone. Yet the mission would not have been true to our purpose: to reach and stir the church, which is fast falling into decay. We do not claim infallibility on this or any other subject. We give our own views. We do not pretend to have exhausted the subject or to have spoken in the best manner possible on points discussed. We are too well acquainted with the state of the church, especially with the condition of some of its leadership, to expect to escape criticism. We have felt forced to say things we fear will not always be received as kindly as they were intended. But whatever some may feel about our speaking the truth, we believe praying people will receive and benefit from what has been said. We realize that a certain potion of the church will not understands or receive what has been expressed on the subjects. Nevertheless, 'he who has ears, let him hear.' " *
*paraphrased and "Hamplified" for our application
The Next Level Ministries has existed for over 20 years to help grow and encourage you in your daily practical Christian walk, to be applicable when possible, teaching soundly along the way..."continued growth even after the Sunday service is over" as our tag saying would say at the end of an "e-votional".
God has called us to be faithful in the little. Too often we have BIG WANTS we think God has for us and skip the BIG NEEDS God wants us to go through to complete our calling and His will. Stephen lived his BIG WANTS and crashed and burned. It wasn't until God put him through the BIG NEEDS that he fully got the concept that "God's 5-10 year plan" starts with being faithful and in His will simply for TODAY and leaving tomorrow to Him.
I have had the pleasure of working with Steve Hample on various Christian fronts over the past 8 years, including developing / refining men’s ministries, teaching adult Sunday School classes, small groups, and retreats. Over the years I been a student and then a teacher in classes during which Steve’s written material was utilized to explain the Bible’s core lessons as well as the effects those lessons are expected to have on a believer’s life. Without a doubt or reservation, his material is thought-provoking, belief-challenging, inspirational, and encourages believers to step their faith up to the next level. E. Joseph Wade, Jr. BS