Although he was initially angry at God for allowing him to suffer through a life-threatening medical emergency, Pastor Robert Morris says he later realized that God's mission for his life is to get as many people to Heaven as possible.
Morris, senior pastor at Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas, who returned to the pulpit in August following complications from hernia surgery, talked about the importance of spiritual warfare at the opening session of Gateway Conference 2018.
The conference brought together several Christian ministry leaders to engage on important topics concerning the Church and society at the Texas-based megachurch.
"This is especially true for leaders: Satan is a strategist, so we can't underestimate him. When you sign up to be a leader, you sign up to be a target. Satan always attacks right before or right after a great victory. When Satan attacked Jesus in the desert and Elijah after the false prophets fell — they were both physically tired. God gave Elijah practical advice (to avoid attack): stay refreshed physically and spiritually, don't be isolated, and do what you were called to do. Remember, God is greater than the enemy," he preached on Monday.
The megachurch leader added that prayer works, recalling his daily prayers and petitions to God. He further insisted that God has a plan, noting that the helicopter rushed him just in time to the hospital, where he received emergency surgery for internal bleeding.
The pastor admitted that he was upset with God during his recovery and didn't understand why he was being put through the ordeal, but heard God telling him, "I'm not finished with you."
Morris added that the experience gave him a renewed vision and a calling to get as many people as he can to Heaven.
Morris was later prompted in a Q&A session to talk about how pastors can protect themselves from mistakes.
"Here's the thing: I've never gotten a phone call from a pastor who said, 'Pastor Robert, I've been spending too much time with the Lord, with my family, and resting, and now I've gotten in trouble.' It's always 'I've been too busy.' It's so important to plan time off and figure out your schedule to include rest," Morris advised.
"What causes more problems than anything else is busyness. We just get so busy that when the enemy attacks us, we are too tired to win the fight."
Pastor Miles McPherson of Rock Church in San Diego, California, was asked in the same session to compare his responsibility as a leader with God's responsibility.
"Be faithful in the little things, so God will trust us with the big things. Every night when you lay your head on the pillow either God or the devil is going to say, 'Well done faithful servant.' Do the part you can be responsible for — water and plant — and let God do the rest," McPherson answered.
Jimmy Evans, the lead apostolic senior pastor at Gateway Church, was asked about how he would define success.
"Comparison is tormenting. We all do it, but it's tormenting. Jealousy is not trusting God with another person's life. It's saying that I have to help God manage everyone else and do it on my own, but contentment is trusting God," Evans said.
"If you promote yourself, you have to keep yourself there because God didn't put you there. What I see in the Church is a lot of division and strife being created by a lack of trust in God to promote to get us there."
McPherson later talked in a separate session about racism and how it still manifests itself in society.
The Rock Church pastor argued that beyond the labels of racism, some people might have an "unconscious bias," and urged them to reach a place of unity by focusing on God.
He advised believers to recognize what divides them in the first place, and how people are self-selected into their own groups, while thinking of others as falling into separate groups.
"Acknowledge your blind spots. You don't know what you don't know. Be slow to speak and quick to listen," he said.
McPherson called on people to see others as their brothers and sisters, but at the same time asked them not to use phrases such as "I don't see color," which he said is invalidating.
Morris closed out Gateway Conference on Tuesday by urging believers to preach the Word, reminding them how in the early days of Christianity Roman emperor Nero began persecuting and torturing Christians.
He recalled Paul's letter to Timothy as described in the Bible in 2 Timothy 4:1–5, which includes the charge to preach the Word regardless of what it costs.
"Preaching the Bible is the only thing that changes people's lives. The Bible is our standard, not a work of literature. You don't interpret it, it interprets you! The Bible is inspired, infallible, and inerrant. The grass withers, the flowers fade but the Word of our God stands forever (Isaiah 40:8)," Morris urged.
"To build a healthy church, preach the Word, but make sure you do it in an entertaining way. It needs to be exciting! Include humor and people leave joyful. They will talk about the jokes, but they remember the truth! Scripture not only changes people, it brings understanding, order, and life!" he added.
"Inhale the Word of God, and when you speak, you breathe out what God spoke. When you simply read the Bible, you'll be filled with so much power. Then you can feed the people the Word of God, not just preach good sermons."