This past weekend we attended the Penn-Ohio HNI Regional Conference hosted by Ron and Mary Merritt of Wayne, Ohio. This was the finest regional gathering of HNI pastors and wives in a number of years. The setting in Berlin, Ohio is in the heart of Amish Country with antique and Amish-made furniture shops everywhere. The horse and buggies outnumbered automobiles. Berlin is a town with NO GAS STATIONS, just feed stores.

            Overseer Jim Anderson flew in for the event and shared an interesting perspective on pastoral care and the local church. He opened with this incredible and simple analogy. He told a “Tale of Two Kitties” born to their household cat. One was born vigorous and full of life, the other was stillborn.

The mother cat began vigorously licking to stimulate the firstborn kitten to life. The live kitten had three appetites: one for air, one for nursing and one for physical activity. The dead kitty just wouldn’t respond. No matter how long the mother cat licked and attempted to stimulate the dead kitten, it demonstrated none of the three characteristics of the live kitten.

Finally, Bro. Jim had to remove and dispose of the dead kitten, because the cat was neglecting the live kitten in her futile attempts to bring to life her dead one. Then, Brother Jim drove his point in the analogy home.

“Many church members are stillborn when it comes to the Kingdom of Christ. Pastors are exhausting themselves in their attempts to revive their dead members. When in reality, they simply have not yet been “born from above.”

            Years ago statistical people warned pastors about a 92/8 problem: 8 per cent of the people will take ninety-two percent of your time. Overseer Jim Anderson’s beautiful analogy makes the point that some are simply not in the Kingdom, or have not been “born from above.” This is easily remedied by those willing to begin the arduous process of allowing the Holy Spirit to examine darkened hearts and lives with God’s revealing light. Once a person realized they have not yet been spiritually birthed, they can begin the repentance, travail and salvation process.

            Last week at our local Penn-Ohio local Unity Pastor’s Prayer Support Group, I was asked to speak the fourth night of our indoor camp meeting. Our theme for the four nights was from Second Corinthians five seventeen:

 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

Being “In Christ” is a lifelong process of abiding in the vine and being connected to Him in a life-long walk involving righteousness and holiness. This sermon explores how salvation occurs in those who are truly seeking Jesus with all their hearts.




Saint Augustine (354-430AD) spent his early life seeking to find fulfillment in sexual immorality. Finding no true joy there, he accepted the Manichean teaching (matter is evil and co-eternal with God), but later found this inadequate. He then began to despair. How could evil exist if all that God created is good? He doubted that he would ever find ultimate truth. All during this time, his Christian mother prayed for his salvation. 3

Eventually, he was exposed to the teachings of Ambrose, a Christian philosopher. Ambrose taught that evil exists only as a corruption or perversion of God's perfect creation. 4 This and other teachings of Ambrose answered much of the philosophical doubt that Augustine had in regards to the Christian Faith. In 386AD, while in a garden meditating on his spiritual thirst for God, Augustine heard a neighbor's voice stating, "Take up and read." Augustine, taking this to be a sign from God, opened his Bible to Romans 13:13-14 and began to read. This passage commands one to depart from sexual immorality and to appropriate the work of Jesus Christ to one's life. Augustine immediately broke off his immoral relationship with a woman and became a Christian. 5

Augustine became one of the greatest scholars of church history. His many writings are still widely read by Catholics and Protestants alike. This great thinker's quest for truth led him to accept Jesus Christ as his Savior. His life of sexual immorality was replaced by a life of holiness.


John Newton (1725-1807) sought lustful pleasures throughout his early life. He was also a man of extreme violence and was a ruthless slave-trader. However, this man who victimized men and women himself became a victim. His life collapsed as he himself was sold into slavery. In the midst of his despair he called out to Jesus for salvation. Once saved, his life was totally transformed. After his conversion, he was ordained to the ministry.

Today, we do not remember John Newton as one of the vilest men who ever lived. Instead, we remember him as the man who penned the words, "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found; was blind, but now I see." 6


Nicky Cruz grew up on the streets of New York. He was the leader of a gang called the Mau Maus. His life was filled with violence. He trusted in his own strength to solve his problems. But when a persistent preacher proclaimed the gospel message in his presence, the heart of this street warrior began to melt. He accepted Christ as his Savior, and his life has never been the same.

Now he speaks publicly throughout America, leading many city youths to faith in Christ. Because of Cruz's testimony, hundreds of youths have been directed off the path of destruction that he once traveled. 7


Chuck Colson was one of the most powerful men in America. He was one of the top political figures in the country. He worked directly under the leadership of President Richard Nixon. But the Watergate Scandal brought down the kingdom Chuck Colson had built. Soon, he was just another inmate in just another prison. However, this man was set free from the spiritual imprisonment of his soul. As he read a book written by the Christian apologist C. S. Lewis, he came to know Jesus Christ as his Savior.

Chuck Colson no longer seeks power over other men. Currently, he not only spreads the gospel, but also leads the fight for prison reform throughout the world. 8


Frank Morison was a journalist who set out to disprove Christ's resurrection. He proceeded to research the historical evidence in great detail. But, having examined the evidence, the skeptic was alarmed with his own conclusion: Christ had actually risen from the dead! Though reluctant at first, he decided to accept the evidence. He accepted Christ as his Savior and is now a defender of the gospel he once tried to destroy. 9



"St. Augustine said, 'Thou hast made us for Thyself, O God, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.'

"Well, I discovered that truth at the age of 33. The most disappointing fact in my life, I believe, is that I waited so long before I discovered the fellowship of Jesus Christ. How much more wonderful my life would have been if I had taken this step many years earlier!"


Paul E. Little speaks of the transforming power of Christ:

The late Harry Ironside was preaching, some years ago, when a heckler shouted, "Atheism has done more for the world than Christianity!" "Very well," said Ironside, "tomorrow night you bring a hundred men whose lives have been changed for the better by atheism, and I'll bring a hundred who have been transformed by Christ." Needless to say, his heckler friend did not appear the next night.10

March 2, 2008

Sheepfold Ministries - Pastor Phil Roland


ACTS 22:1-21

"Godly transformation happens when we are connected to and following Jesus Christ, listening daily to His voice and teaching, allowing His Spirit to control and lead us throughout our lives."                                                                            Pastor Phil


 “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 4:18



Three Transformational States of Genuine Conversion:


The Apostle Paul’s Testimony: “The things I now love I once hated, the things I now hate I once loved.”

A. Love the Word of the Lord – Psalm 119:103-105

How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”

B. Love to Worship – Psalm 84:10 – Psalm 100

“Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.”

Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands!  Serve the LORD with

gladness; Come before His presence with singing. Know that the LORD, He

is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and

the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His

courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the LORD is

good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.”

C. Love the Brethren – 1 John 2:9-11; 1 John 3:12-16;

Genuinely Love to be with God’s People

1. Hate Christian brothers, walk in darkness – 1 John 2:9-11

“He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until

now. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause

for stumbling in him. But he who hates his brother is in darkness and

walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because

the darkness has blinded his eyes.”

                        2. Evidence we have passed from death to life – 1 John 3:12-16

“Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.”


D. Love to Give – Matthew 6:19-21

1. Resources and Time

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust

destroy, and where  thieves break in and steal. But store up for

yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and

where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is,

there your heart will be also.”

                        2. Tithing is a Beginning, a Sort-of-Baseline – Malachi. 3:10

Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this," Says the LORD of hosts, "If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it.”

3. William Booth, the Salvation Army founder was asked the secret of his incredible success with conversions among the poor and wretched of London’s inner city. He replied with tears falling from his eyes, “Because Jesus Christ has all there is of William Booth.”

3. You have Jesus, but does Jesus have you?

4. He Gave His All for You. Can You Hold Back Anything from




“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;

A. No False or Exaggerated Testimonies

          1. Preface, “Let me tell you about the most wonderful thing

that happened to me”

            2. Conclude, “Has anything like this ever happened to you?”

            3. Two Minutes or Less

B. Testimonies Are Part of the Evidence of Transformation

Popcorn Testimonies

Tearful Testimonies

Self-Disclosure Testimonies

Deliverance Testimonies

Miraculous Testimonies

Eg. Guideposts, Christian History

            C. Testimony’s Power is from the Holy Spirit – Acts 1:8

"But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you

shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the

end of the earth."

            1. Greek – “Mar-tur-ious” – “Martyr” in English

            2. Ability to give the testimony to the point of death

            3. Martyr’s Power is from God – Rev. 12:11

"And they (the end-time Saints) overcame him (the Devil) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.”



          A. Evidence of a Life-Long Love-Relationship with Jesus

                   1. Life must equal your message

                        2. Personal, Marital, Family Life Must Reflect the Testimony

                        3. Testimonies must not be pre-mature, but seasoned by time

                        4. Character is Revealed Through Relationships Plus Time

          B. “RTL’s” – Radically Transformed Lives

                   1. Are You a Sheep or Goat? – See Matthew 25

                        2. Decide: One Gives Wool, the Other, Hair

                        2. “I have decided to follow Jesus”