Now it came to pass upon a day, that Jonathan the son of Saul said unto the young man that bare his armor, Come, and let us go over to the Philistines’ garrison, that is on the other side. But he told not his father. And Saul tarried in the uttermost part of Gibeah under a pomegranate tree which is in Migron: and the people that were with him were about six hundred men; And Ahiah, the son of Ahitub, Ichabod’s brother, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eli, the LORD’S priest in Shiloh, wearing an ephod. And the people knew not that Jonathan was gone. And between the passages, by which Jonathan sought to go over unto the Philistines’ garrison, there was a sharp rock on the one side, and a sharp rock on the other side: and the name of the one was Bozez, and the name of the other Seneh. The forefront of the one was situate northward over against Michmash, and the other southward over against Gibeah.” (In other words, he was between a rock and a hard place.) ‘And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armor, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the LORD will work for us: for there is no restraint to the LORD to save by many or by few. And his armor bearer said unto him, Do all that is in thine heart: turn thee; behold, I am with thee according to thy heart (I Samuel 14:1-7).
In one of the most famous passages in all literature, Charles Dickens began his classic novel of the French Revolution with these words, “It was the best of times, and it was the worst of times.” Dickens’s comment on life is so profound and so profoundly famous because it is true. Life is a constant tension between good and bad, up and down, positive and negative. Any time things are good, things are going to be bad. Any time the Lord works, it should not shock us to discover that the devil is also at work. Any time great revival comes, there will also be great struggle.
We are witnessing just such a time upon our earth today. Where sin doth abound, grace doth much more abound. Where hell seemingly is having its unbridled way in our society and world, I am glad to report to you that we are enjoying unprecedented revival around the world.
This is illustrated in a dramatic way by something that happened last Easter. On Easter Sunday, CBS News reported that the United Pentecostal Church International is an offshoot of the Catholic church. They also reported that every four years our general superintendent makes a pilgrimage to the Vatican for an audience with the Pope to receive our “game plan” for the next four years. This was reported by CBS News and also placed on their Web site. They never apologized or explained why they did this. Thankfully, they did take if off their Web site at our urging, but they sure got it wrong.
But on the same day that CBS News reported that the United Pentecostal Church is traveling to the Vatican every four years, MSNBC at least five times (some say it was seven times) aired a thirty-minute program that was entitled, “Pentecostals: Moving Millions.” This report stated that in many nations of the world, especially in Central and South America, the Pentecostal church is outgrowing and out-moving any other religion in those nations. In fact, there are now countries where the United Pentecostal Church is the largest church group. The Pentecostal movement is growing larger than the Catholic church or any other church.
The story behind this is that a few years ago an independent producer, who produces documentaries and other features for MSNBC and other cable networks, approached us about attending our general conference in Birmingham, Alabama, and doing some interviews and taping for a proposed project concerning the Pentecostal movement. We, with some trepidation because our experience with the veracity of the news media had not been very good, allowed them to come.
This man and his crew came but didn’t do what we asked. They taped what they wanted to tape, interviewed several of us, and then disappeared. For a while, we heard nothing from them.
Finally, their piece came out on the same day as the CBS mistaken report. MSNBC didn’t get everything right but what people saw was our general conference, people with good sense with their hands in the air praising God. They saw our preachers preaching about love and inclusion and the power of God that will deliver alcoholics drug addicts, and help those who can’t help themselves. They heard Brother Scotty Teets tell about God healing him of a deadly disease.
Their presentation was one of the most positive things that has ever happened for us in the media MSNBC has given us hours of free publicity, and their message is simple. “The United Pentecostal Church is growing, reaching, and caring because of the power God in their midst.” Even a well-known, charismatic television personality was interviewed and was asked, “Why are the people we are seeing here growing and reaching and so many others are not?”
His answer was, “Well, going to church for most people is about like going to the dentist. Yet for these people, it is exciting, powerful, and real. You ought to go.
Even former-President Bill Clinton in his biograph – says that if you get a chance to go to a Pentecost – church, you should go.
I don’t know how to explain it, but God is giving _.favor in our time. It is our day.
After the MSNBC report, my phone started ringing, people began sending me videotapes, and my family called me and said, “You are on television.”
I said, “Oops! I didn’t plan on it.”
The Bible says that the church kept us by the power of God. When we were on the other side of the tracks, in the brush arbors, people were throwing tomatoes at us and marching with their shotguns to tell us that we weren’t welcome in their towns, God kept us by His own power. He did not keep us for our sakes or because we were so good. But the Bible says that He kept us that He might reveal us in the last time.
Hang on to your hat! It is going to be a wild ride from here to the Rapture because God has taken us out of the cupboard of history and has put us front and center on the dining room table. He is telling the world to come and dine.
I believe we are in a revival that will usher us higher and higher until the Rapture takes us out of this place.
It is the best of times.
I would rather be a Pentecostal preacher today than in the first century. I would rather be right where I am now, preaching in the beginning of this Pentecostal century. If they think the last century was something, they haven’t seen anything yet. This is our day. This is our time. We have been kept in the wings for this day and time. It is an exciting time to be serving God.
I remember when a big United Pentecostal church had two hundred people. Two hundred and fifty people meant a big, big church. Today, we have churches with thousands of members gathering every Sunday. We have some of the most fabulous church facilities anywhere. There are many towns where our churches are the finest, nicest, biggest, fastest growing, and the most exciting churches in town.
This is the best of times.
But it should not surprise us that it is also the worst of times. If you think the devil is going to take all this sitting down, you have another thought coming. He is going to do all that he can to defeat and destroy us. This is his last chance. He has had his way a long time, but because of revival, his plans are going awry. He is going to do all that he can to destroy us.
The enemy understands some things that we don’t always comprehend. He understands some things about tactics and strategy and how to defeat, overcome, and destroy. He knows that if you cut off the head, the body dies. So it should also not surprise us that in the midst of the greatest revival, the greatest period of growth and progress that we have ever enjoyed, and our ministry is uncle: attack more than it ever has been.
I travel all over the world and meet Pentecostal preachers everywhere. I am in camp meetings, district conferences, local churches, prayer conferences, men.-conferences, and even ladies’ conferences, and I meet preachers who are hurting and struggling. These preachers are under attack every day. They get up every morning knowing that the enemy is lying in wait for them wishing to destroy them.
There was a time in the United States when being member of the clergy, being a preacher, was something for which you could hold your head high. When you people and they asked you what you do, you weren’t hesitant to say, “I am a preacher. I am a minister.” It meant something.
In those days, when you told folks you were a minister, their heads would go up, their eyes would widen, and a certain amount of respect would come into their voices. They might have been saying things they shouldn’t have been saying, but when they discovered that you were a minister, they would apologize.
Those days are rapidly becoming history. The well-publicized failures, the sniping, and the criticism that we find in our media and in our society make it hard sometimes to confess that we are preachers. Being a preacher is not an ego trip; it is a costly sacrifice of giving of yourself Sunday after Sunday, denying yourself so many things that others enjoy. Thank God for men and women who will respond to the call of God on their lives and preach this gospel.
Jesus came to build a church. He came to build the church in this world, and when He comes again, He is not coming after a scattered bunch of mavericks that are doing their own thing. He is coming back after a church that is without spot or blemish, a church that has made itself ready.
How does the church make itself ready? It is by the preaching of the Word of God. In the United Pentecostal Church, preaching is still the highlight of every service. Everything moves toward the preaching. Our biggest, most popular, best attended meetings are still preaching meetings, where men and women come early in the morning, sit there all day, and come back that night to listen to preachers preach the Word of God. It has pleased God, not you and not me, but it has pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. Not just to get them to believe, but to save them after they have begun believing. It is preaching that builds us up, strengthens us. You need to read your own Bible. You need to be able to give an answer for the faith that lieth within you, but don’t ever forget anointed preaching and its powerful impact in our lives.
You need your preacher! You are not going to heaven without a preacher. You will not make it without a pastor. This “me and Jesus got our own thing going, me and Jesus got it all worked out, me and Jesus got our own thing going, and we don’t need anybody to tell us what it’s about” has been a lie from the day it was penned. It was a lie every time it was sung, and it is still a lie today.
You need a preacher. Your family will not make it without a preacher. Your children aren’t going to survive in this world without a preacher. Thank God for them preaching corps of the United Pentecostal Church. Thank God for preachers who love God and love truth, love their people, and stand up in this hour and proclaim tire Word of God.
The pastor is not just a preacher. Battles are not of fought in the pulpit, but in the prayer room, in the preacher’s office, at his home as he walks the floor, weeping as he intercedes for his people. The Bible describe the preacher as a shepherd who guards the sheep, who keeps the dangerous predators away, who will even g his life for the sheep. The preacher is also described watchman on the wall who warns of impending danger. Finally, the Bible describes your preacher as a warrior who gives of himself, risks his own life, and lays everything to stand between you and the destroyer. He is the one who fights the devil of discouragement and doubt that would come against you and yours. Thank God for our preachers who watch for our souls.
I want to plead a case for our preachers, our pastors, our evangelists, and our missionaries, for those who are giving themselves, fighting valiantly in this great cause. I want to preach about what each of them needs more than anything else. If they are going not only to succeed but just to survive in this day in time, what every warrior, every pastor, evangelist, missionary, what every preacher needs today is an armor bearer who will fight the battle with him.
No preacher who faces the devil ought to have to worry about what is happening behind him. He ought to have someone with a shield in his hands who is saying, “Pastor, while you preach, pray, and guard, I will watch your back. I will stand with you, I will fight beside you, and I will give of myself as surely as you are giving of yourself.”
The armor bearer has a dual role to play. The first is that he carries the armor. The armor has one design, one purpose. It is designed to protect. The ancient armor bearer would carry the shield, putting himself between the warrior and harm’s way. This function is absolutely vital and defines the role of the armor bearer. He was not just the one who used a Brillo pad to keep the armor shined. He was not just the one who helped buckle armor on the warrior, but he walked in the battle alongside the warrior. When danger approached, he protected his warrior, even at the cost of his own life.
Sometimes it is easy to be an armor bearer. The enemy is weak or disorganized. The warrior hardly needs defending. But sometimes it is hard. The enemy is cunning and strong. Sometimes it is costly and dangerous to defend the warrior.
It is important to remember that the armor bearer does not choose the fight. In the Bible story from which my text comes, the Philistines had invaded Israel. King Saul had gathered an army of about six hundred men, but then lost his nerve to fight. He marched the army as far away from the enemy as he could, sat beneath a pomegranate tree and began to feel sorry for himself.
Prince Jonathan watched his father wallow in fear and pessimism for as long as he could stand it, then turned to his armor bearer and said, “Let’s go see what is going on.” They slipped out of camp with no one the wiser and made their way to a cliff towering into the sky above them. At the top of the cliff, the enemy was encamped. Jonathan looked toward the top of the cliff for a moment; then he said, “Let us go over to the Philistines garrison that is on the other side.”
Maybe the armor bearer did not understand. Maybe he didn’t have the whole picture. Maybe he didn’t think this was the time and place for a fight, especially with the odds so decisively against them, but if so, he never expressed his hesitation. This armor bearer had something that made him a hero; loyalty to his warrior. He said, “If you go, I am going with you. Wherever you the line in the sand, I’ll stand beside you.” He did not choose the fight, but he was willing to fight anyway.
The armor bearer does not choose the tactics of the battle. Jonathan stood at the base of that cliff and said, “We are going to show them that we are here, and if they tell us to wait here, we are going to run. If they challenge us to climb the cliff to fight them where they are, we climb.”
Now there were only two, Jonathan and his armor bearer, and the Philistines had a huge army of warriors. Plus there was a cliff face to climb to get to where the Philistines were. Jonathan said that if they invite us to the battle, we are going to climb the cliff to get to the battlefield. He didn’t seem to care that it was two against thousands. The armor bearer might have said, “Preacher, I don’t think that is the best way. There are only two of us and thousands of them; we can’t win! And besides that, even if we stood a chance, your tactics seem a little strange. I think you have it backwards. Instead of us exhausting ourselves to climb to them, let’s make them climb down to us if they want to fight!”
But, even if he thought them, the armor bearer said none of those things. Instead he said, “Whatever your heart says we’ll do it. You follow your heart and I am going to follow you.”
Once I pastored in an area where there was a fellow who was well known for causing disruptions in church. I was warned that he usually came to a church whenever there was a pastoral change. Sure enough, I had not been there very long when he showed up. I told the ushers to keep their eyes on him, because he would probably do something stupid before long. But, until he did, maybe, just maybe (everybody thinks they can do what no one else could do), we could help him. For a few weeks everything rolled along pretty well. He was loud during the worship and yelled amen in the wrong spots during the sermon, but it wasn’t that bad.
One Sunday evening just before prayer time, I was in my office when one of the ushers came in and said, “Pastor, we have a problem.”
I said, “What is that?”
“You know that man we have been watching? He is running through the foyer slapping people, not hard, but running up to people and slapping them, and laughing like a crazy man. We have several visitors who just arrived, and he slapped one of them.”
I said, “Go get him, even if it takes ten of you, go get him and get him out of the foyer away from the people coming in.”
Of course, they brought him to the only place they could; my office. I tried to talk to him, and the more I talked, the crazier he acted. He was bigger than me and so tried the intimidation route, getting in my face.
I told Brother Todd Gaddy, my assistant at the time, to call the police and tell them that we had a disturbance. I did not feel I could handle it.
When this man heard me say this, he went ballistic. He began calling me every name he could think of as he shook his fist at me. I’ll be honest; I wasn’t sure what to do or where to go.
While this situation was developing, several of the men of the church began hearing about it and started congregating. By now, I had gotten him out of my office and into the church office. He had me backed against the wall and was waving his arms, shaking his fist and telling me all the bad things he was going to do to me. Suddenly one of my good men, Brother Frank McGarvey, who was about six inches shorter, twenty years older and forty pounds lighter than the guy who was railing on me, stepped right between us, shook his finger at the startled man and said, “You shut your mouth right now. This is my pastor, and you are not going to talk to him like that!”
My first thought was, “Sic him, Brother Frank, get him!”
My second thought was, “Oh, Lord, when the cops get here there is going to be a brawl going on in the church office.”
If that man had said one more word, I believe Brother Frank would have decked him. He was so upset! It never came to blows. Brother Frank was full of the Holy Ghost and equipped with the full and complete armor of God. He raised that armor and told that man that it was time for him to go.
I thought the man was going to hit him, but he stood there, blinked at that little old man standing in front of him and said, “I guess that I will just leave.” He then turned around and stalked out of the church.
Maybe your pastor isn’t under a physical assault like I was, but every day the devil tells him that he is no good, that he can’t preach, that he will never amount to anything, that he is not a good pastor, and that his people don’t love him. Isn’t it time for some armor bearer to step up, look the devil in the eyes and say, “That is my pastor, and you are not going to talk to him that way”?
Sure someone might want to criticize and say that you are the pastor’s pet, but the Bible says if we resist the devil, he will flee. It is time to put on the armor, stand in the gap, and fight beside our pastors.
I know that he is no hero and I am certainly not trying to engender some sympathy for him, but you do know that Goliath had an armor bearer. You also know that David did not kill Goliath. The Lord killed Goliath. He just used David to do it. Thirdly, you also know the stone did not kill that giant. The Bible says that after the stone put him on the ground, David ran up, jumped up on him, pulled Goliath’s own sword (the Bible makes a point to tell us that David had no sword or spear), and smote him with that sword.
Goliath was not dead lying there on the ground. The giant was beheaded, slain, smitten with his own sword. Here is my question, “Where was the armor bearer?”
Here is a shepherd boy without a sword, without a spear, who walks up to a warrior who is six cubits and a span tall, pulls the warrior’s sword out, cuts his head oft and carries it back to the Israelite trenches. The armor bearer was nowhere to be found. I would submit to you that Goliath was killed, overcome, defeated, destroyed by two things, a shepherd boy who had the courage and a slingshot, who put them both in the hands of God, and by an armor bearer who was cowardly and afraid and who ran at the first sign of trouble.
The Lord knew that he had to get rid of Goliath armor bearer, and He did it. The devil knows that to get at our pastors, missionaries, and evangelists he first has to get through the saints of God who stand beside them and protect them. We must be arm to arm, shoulder to shoulder, so that we can protect the preacher as he fights the battle so that victory can be ours. Be an armor bearer stay in the fight, be loyal; you can make all the difference!
The armor bearer not only carries the armor, he also armed. It is sometimes overlooked that the armor bearer carries weapons. His duty is not just to defer. That is his primary duty, his first calling to defend, to refuse to be manipulated to refuse to criticize, second guess, or find fault, and to refuse to repeat anything can be quoted to use against the man of God, to refuse – be an Absalom (“If I were in charge, if I were king”).
Most of our folks at the church in Metairie, Louisiana, where I pastored, were new converts. I learned a les-son, you’ve got to watch the “move-ins.” You’ve got to be careful when people show up. There may be a reason that they “moved out.”
We had a family move into Metairie who wanted to attend our church. I called about them and couldn’t find out much. I didn’t really know what was going on. But I knew they were troublemakers. I don’t know just how to describe that I knew, but I just knew.
For some reason, they were afraid to take me on, but they decided to attack my wife. That is a stinking, lowdown, dirty trick. Thank God they had one of my armor bearers over for supper one night. Brother Mike and Sister Susan Craft were over at this family’s home eating, and I guess this new family thought it was time to start feeling folks out. This lady announced that she had noticed some things about my wife. She told Brother and Sister Craft that she didn’t think my wife did anything.
My wife is the greatest lady who has ever been. After five and a half years of evangelizing, we went to the Metairie church when there were only nine adults. Our first Sunday we only had twenty-one people. We lived in the church’s evangelist quarters and my wife cooked in the church kitchen. Because the church had such a large indebtedness, we sold lunches twice a week, made hot tamales on Friday, and peddled frozen pizzas. We even tried our hand at peanut brittle, but no one would buy it because we didn’t know how to fix it. We had no musicians, so my wife tried to teach herself to play the organ. It wasn’t her fault that “I’ll Fly Away” and “Amazing Grace” all sounded the same. She was doing her best. She prayed in the altar, she prayed for those people, went with me on hospital calls, and when I couldn’t go she would go to the hospital alone. She was there when they needed her. And here was this enemy of the church masquerading in sheep’s clothing, telling this couple that Sister Jones did not contribute anything to the church.
Thank God for armor bearers. Brother Mike Craft jumped up and said, “Sue, get your purse; we are getting out of here. I am not going to sit and listen to somebody run down my pastor’s wife.”
Two weeks later, the move-in family had packed their suitcases and moved on to the next church. We need someone who is going to defend us and stand behind us.
Armor bearers also join in the fight. Armor bearers do not choose the battlefield, but they fight anyway. They do not choose the tactics, but fight anyway. They do not choose the time, but fight anyway.
Jonathan and his armor bearer revealed themselves to the enemy. The enemy said, “Come up here and we will show you a thing or two.” Jonathan nudged his armor bearer and said, “Let’s go!” The armor bearer said, “I am with you according to your heart!”
So up the face of the cliff they went, jumped out into the middle of that little place (about half acre of land and they began to fight the enemy. The armor bearer fighting shoulder to shoulder with Jonathan.
Your preachers need prayer warriors in the pew, alter workers in the altar, and Bible study teachers teaching Bible studies. The armor bearer shares the battle, he shares the blood, he shares in the sacrifice, but he also shares in the victory.
The Bible says that the Lord saved Israel that day because of Jonathan and the armor bearer!
We need saints of God who selflessly pour out their energy and their strength to stand with their preacher and win a world to Jesus Christ. I am not saying these things just for the benefit of the preacher. You do not become an armor bearer just for the preacher. Wonderful things start happening when together everyone functions in his rightful place. We need a church whose pews are filled with armor bearers. We need armor bearers who will fight the battle, stay with us, and know that we are human and that we are people trying to do the will of God.
Nobody relates to Paul’s plaintive cry more than we do, “Who is sufficient for these things?” We know that we are nobodies, but we are doing our best. But, oh, what a difference if we have an armor bearer who will speak up in the heat of battle and say, “Stay in there, preacher. Keep on preaching, God is going to do it. We are going to have revival here. God is going to pour out His Spirit. We are going to get this building built. We are going to get this congregation moving. We are going to see this community on fire for God.”
Give us an armor bearer, and good things will start happening. Others will be inspired to join the battle. And they will come from some unlikely places.
After Jonathan and the armor bearer slew twenty Philistines, it frightened the rest of the Philistine army. When they saw two Israelites, only one of whom was a warrior and the other armor bearer, they began running down the hill, shaking the ground as they fled. Something happened that was unbelievable. “And Saul and all the people that were with him assembled themselves, and they came to the battle: and, behold, every man’s sword was against his fellow, and there was a very great discomfiture.”
There are many folks in your church who are just afraid. They are waiting for somebody to say, “I don’t know about you, but I am sticking with the preacher. I am going to get with the pastor and shout when he preaches. I am going to pray when he prays and I am going to believe God with him.” Then the others will join you.
When General Bee at the first battle of Manassas saw the Confederate lines breaking all around him, he pointed to a man who would later be nicknamed “Stonewall” and said, “There stands Jackson like a stone wall; rally around the Virginians!” They did so and turned the tide of battle.
We can bring revival to our churches when we get with the preacher!
Here is an even more amazing thing. “Moreover the Hebrews that were with the Philistines before that time which went up with them into the camp from the country round about, even they also turned to be with the Israelites that were with Saul and Jonathan.”
The Bible says that some backsliders were making camp with the Philistines. Until now they had not been involved, just kind of hanging around. Maybe they felt the Philistines would win and they wanted to be on the winning side. Maybe they just had grown weary of the But when they saw the armor bearer fighting beside warrior, they turned, drew their swords and said, “I want to be like them. I want to fight with them.” Right always inspires. Your standing with the man of God will spark a hunger in those who have drifted to come back.
Finally, “the men of Israel which had hid themselves Mount Ephraim, also followed hard after them in battle.” People you never expected to join will join in the fight. Those who have been defeated, those who have long abandoned the battlefield, those you never thought would stand up, will stand, if one armor bearer will stand with his warrior.
The army swelled with recruits coming from everywhere, from Saul’s discouraged and fearful army, from those who had run and hidden in the hills, even from those who had joined the other side, and the enemy was vanquished. All because of one warrior and one armor bearer who were not afraid to fight.
A preacher in Tennessee told me a heartrending story. The church he pastored had begun a building program and it didn’t go well. They had underestimated and overspent. They couldn’t borrow any more money and the people grew discouraged. He said, “I would go to work, come home, and go to the church to hang the Sheetrock by myself. I would try to run wire by myself and pound nails alone every night. I would then go home and fall into bed, exhausted. Nobody helped me. I have good people and I think they love me, but no one came. One day I got into my car and drove away. I didn’t know where I was going. The truth was, I forgot my name, who I was, or even where I lived. When I came to myself, I was in a mental institution. They said that I had a nervous breakdown. No one came to see me and no one called. I was alone. The devil told me that I would never get better and that I would never preach again. I believed it. He told me that I had lost my church, my family, everything, and I believed it all. Then a Methodist preacher came to see me. He came in, sat down and began to talk to me. He said, ‘I know what you are going through and I want you to know that it is going to be all right. You are going to get better. You will preach again. You will have a church.’
“I don’t know why I believed this Methodist preacher: after all, he didn’t really know me or my situation. But I did believe him, and I got better. That was three years ago. The church is finished now and God has given us revival. We have that little church nearly full. Through that terrible time I learned something. I cannot do it alone. I cannot make it by myself. I don’t try to go it alone any more. I know I must find someone who will be there with me, walk beside me, and hold up my hands.”
Every warrior needs an armor bearer, whether he pastors ten thousand or ten. Every evangelist, missionary, or even young preachers who are just starting out need somebody.
Aunt Nell Carney was my armor bearer. I never saw her when she didn’t say to me, “I pray for you every clay I know that she did because when the going got tough and I felt all alone, I felt the strength of her prayers. And because of that I knew that I could make it.
God has called some people to this vital task: nor be preachers, but to bear the armor, to stand between the preacher and the destroyer, the hater, the enemy. If y are to be that armor bearer, commit yourself to always stand beside him, to fight with him, to hold him up in prayer, and to make sure he will never have to go it alone.
The above article, “What Every Warrior Needs” was written by Jerry Jones. The article was excerpted from chapter fourteen in Jones’s book Amnon Had a Friend.
The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes