What a strange name to give a ministry. Maverick conjures up images of the old western TV series called Maverick staring a tall, handsome card shark played by James Garner. It was an evening staple in tv watching for several seasons. For a Christian to integrate this name seems more like sacrilege bringing forth some derogatory thoughts and responses. I too thought this way.
Many years ago I was ministering at a church in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. After a meeting, Mary Jane, the pastor, said, the Lord calls you a maverick. We had a great relationship. I love her like a sister and related wonderfully with her congregation. I concluded there must be a meaning to the word maverick I was not aware of.
Did you know that a maverick is a term used to describe an unbranded animal? I remember when the wranglers on tv westerns would chase down wild horses attempting to snare them at full gallop. The goal was to get enough rope around the neck in an attempt to subdue the free ranged mustangs. We all felt sad for this incredible animal as cowboys attempted to break it by this ruthless manner. These men did not know that there was a better way where a horse can be tamed without beating the free spirit out of it.
The next step was the most demeaning of all. The branding. At the side of the breaking in pen was a fire pit with a branding iron. A long iron rod with a brand on the end. No longer was this animal a free agent of the prairies and foothills of the mountains. A cowhand would lift the red-hot brand and plunge it into the horse's thigh. This once majestic prince of the plains was now owned. If someone stole the horse with a brand on it, it could be traced back to the owner. A horse thief usually was hung.
In this process of capture and branding what happened to the inner nature of this four legged marvel? They were torn from the herd which was their family. Their most reliable protector was the stallion. In a church setting, it is the leadership. If they are stymied by identifying with a church brand, the church will be left unprotected, and more significant revelations of God would be hindered. Predators such as wolves in sheep's clothing are wise to the brands of man. The fierceness that crushes evil powers looking for a chance to usurp control of a church is found in its freedom. True freedom is the Lord himself. In our journey towards Him we cannot stop until we are entirely in The Kingdom of God, God Himself.
The majestic, formidable presence of the horse has in cruel fashion been stripped away and replaced with counterfeit religious identification. The independent, enigmatic presence of one of the most glorious free-spirited animals in the world has had this glory removed and replaced with earthly ownership. The once "Pride God" has been supplanted with a man-made brand scalded into the horse's rump. For instance, the brand could have "CR" representing "Chappells Ranch" or something like "R" burned into the horse's right front hip for USA Calvary Rifles. For the Christian leader this mark is made in his soul. This is then transferred to the leader's people leaving them distant to the heart of the Father. When religious branding takes place, the church is now owned by an earthly identification based on God's external acts and not on Him as "I AM". He gives us our ID, not the other way around.
Are you getting the analogy here? We are all branded by political parties, the marketing of goods and the adherence to philosophies concerning the social engineering of society. This list goes on forever. The most disheartening of all is church brands.
Let me explain by using an experience I had in a northern Ontario city. I was a speaker at some meetings held by a friend's church. At the end of one of the sessions two young ladies made their way towards me. They liked my message and I knew they were comfortable with me. I'm very touched by folks that show kindness no matter their background. One said she was a lesbian and the other was not sure if she was or not. I think they recognized that I had no judgement concerning their sexual orientation but there was a connection in our hearts. In my sincere and loving demeanour they felt welcomed and ventured a step further. What they asked of me was far outside my comfort zone. "Will you come with us to a gay dance tonight?" They came to see me, so how could I turn them down? My fear inside was saying no. Then, almost without permission, my lips said yes. I knew this would be a life-changing experience. I was grateful when my friend, who pastored with her husband, came with me.
There I was crammed in the back seat of a car filled with young gay people off to a gay dance! The night air was frigid. Everything was accentuated by the cold. I could hear and feel my heart pounding in my chest as the crisp snow crunched under my shoes as we walked up the stairs to this Christian forbidden zone. It was God who met me at the door. No, it was not a physical meeting, but I heard Him loud and clear. As my foot crossed the threshold, I was met with an angry, violent strum on a guitar. Everyone there knew a Christian would never dare be within a hundred miles of this secret gathering of like minded alternative living people. What was belted out by this woman with the grey brush cut and Larry King suspenders was directed to the church's history of being unkind and insensitive to the inner struggle of the gay existence. The angry strum on the guitar gave way to a pregnant pause, then at the top of her lungs thundered these penetrating and convicting words, "The church calls us an abomination unto the Lord".
I have taken great displeasure with the self-righteous attitudes condemning gays. The poisoned, nasty, derogatory proclamations have significantly hindered the trust needed to reach them with the Love of God. Mercy has been lost to piety. Our branding of them has only pushed them further from the God we profess as being loving. Am I endorsing this alternative lifestyle? The truth of God in me says I cannot. Equally I disagree with the many churches that have pigeonholed these people in an unkind manner. Mercy triumphs over judgment. Have we forgotten mercy?
The girls led me to a table on the far side of the hall. There I hoped I would be invisible. No such luck. One of the young ladies took me softly by the arm up to the front. Now, the church never taught me much about dancing with a lively group of happy gays. There I was surrounded by flashers, men dressed in feathers and all kinds of flowing colourful garments. I was attempting to dance amid men looking like women and women looking like men.
They danced around my stumbling footwork like young antelopes. The Lord continued to reveal His Heart to me. His emotions to these folks was undoubtedly not the same as we would find in many religious gatherings. I felt an overwhelming love for those who were called aberrations by the churches and much of society. How could we not understand the Love of God who came to our darkness to save us and yet would not be here at this dance. Our degrading attitudes have kept us separated from God's work in these beautiful people.
I began to see that a good number were simply lost in their souls. I now understand more than ever that Love of God resides in strange alternative societal universes. When we comprehend His heart and power to set us free from prejudice and branding, we will enter into a new and beautiful life.
There is a soul and world changing reality found in Jesus. It changes all hearts who ask. God is not leading the church to rest in its journey toward Him in a church brand. What God has in store for us is an existence far above church membership and even sexuality. In the experience of this new age coming to the church many will surrender everything for it including searching gay hearts. All of us must give up what we see as precious for the supremacy of being a Son of God. This far exceeds human imagination as well as sexual identity. Our futile attempt to be genuinely righteous and loving will be exchanged by Grace, the gift of God that supplants all self-effort.
If you are overcoming the addiction that has plagued you and ruined your life, you must fill that void with something more excellent. The most incredible transcendent experience is emerging from the ages in heaven. This will supplant many religious and ethical brands. Many of us are as sincere as we know how to be. I came to a shocking realization many years ago that to this day govern my leading teachings and even prophetic utterances. And that is that I can be absolutely sincere but be sincerely wrong. To enter where God is taking us, all things must be on the table before Him. I was being sorted out by God. If you are still with me and have not as yet called this message bunk, He is doing it in you now.
I sat down beside the young man who had sat next to me in the car. With some reluctance I asked him why he comes to these dances. "Because I don't feel judged" was his response. This environment was his home. The words, the church says we are an abomination unto the Lord, has stayed with me since this time. I had been told that many of these people dancing in front of me had come from church backgrounds.
Across from me sat a group of older women. They looked like lifeless statues. I got the feeling that they felt like groundbreakers in gay history. The ones who lived secretly in the closet always fearing they would be found out. Living memorials rejected by society and the church from a time before the church became irrelevant to society. Rejection had a big hand to bring them to look so stone faced. The churches brand, not Love, has been a part of bringing them to this state. How much have we the church added to their rejection?
The Lord continued to teach me, changing my perspectives forever. The presence of the Lord was at a gay dance and went home with each of them. Almost in an audible voice, the Lord said to me that He wants to send His people to places like this but cannot. "The churches will bring their culture and a lack of love and wisdom." He was talking about churches locked in their individual brands living in a comfort zone impeding their journey.
I think my being a Christian spy was being uncovered. I had the sense I was going to be subjected to a test. A small crowd was gathering around me as a young man was introduced. He wore a formal satin blue dress, bright red lipstick, long dangling earrings and to top it off, a floating set of falsies that he continued to adjust. All eyes were on me. Before I could figure out what to do and fall short in this test, the incredible presence of God filled me in an unfamiliar way. I stood and extended my hand. As he softly slid his hand in mine I said, "it is a pleasure to meet you". The whole experience was surreal. I felt like God was with me shaking his hand. This was the value God saw in this man.
This whole thing about culture confused me. Isn't the world made up of cultures? Maybe God's concept of culture is different than my learned definition. I asked the Lord if much life is instituted by customs and the church being no exception, then what is your brand God? I suddenly felt like Moses in front of the burning bush when God said, "take off your shoes you are on holy ground". The profoundness of His next words was for Moses as well as today's church. His answer was the most powerful word I had ever heard. "I have no culture. I AM". I was left speechless, on the ground removed from thought or response. How can the created define God as the creator? Only in the I AM can the church be one. Moses wanted a
brand that the Egyptian slave could relate to. Moses' request was refused.
In this day we too are denied. We can be like the disciples at the mount of transfiguration. Moses and Elijah, long dead in the physical realm was brought up from paradise to talk things over with Jesus. We are given the strong impression Peter's impetuous idea of building three temples for them did not impress God.
Peter was cut short of unveiling the totality of his proposal. God basically said, this is my son, boys. Your job is not to build a monument to these three but to listen to Jesus. To make sure they heard Him a cloud wrapped around them and they fell on their faces full of fear.
The clarity of this truth must be ever present with us. We are to listen to what Jesus is saying and live what He tells us. This is the road to peace and joy. The three disciples were overwhelmed by what they saw. The experience of Peter, James and John shows the futility of our imaginations trying to replicate what is heavenly by an earthly vision.
This is what I am calling a brand. Have we built monuments upon what God has done rather than embracing the ever-changing experience of living in Him?
The early church, simply known as "the way" emerged as the Roman Catholics. The Lutheran church left the Catholic church over doctrine and using Luther's name another denomination came into existence. They branded themselves as the Lutheran Church. The Baptist church branded its name after the scriptures supporting the sacrament of baptizing. The Pentecostal, the Independent, etc. have all branded themselves with a particular experience or doctrine with God to define them.
I have been told that after Luther separated from the Roman Catholics to this current date, there are around 35,000 protestant churches and sects. Most disagree with only 5% of doctrine, and none of these doctrines is critical to one's salvation. It boils down to "my brand is better or more complete than your brand". We have created distinctive cultures that keep us separated from other branded cultures. We failed to realize we set ourselves as, unknowingly for the most part, elites to those who had, in our opinion, a lesser experience. Also, when God does something that is outside our brand, we are more likely to reject it and be critical. Our brands have caused divisions and confusion, amongst ourselves and in the world we so passionately long to touch. By our preoccupation of relating our walk on our branding we cut ourselves off from the ever unfolding revelation of the Love and ongoing adventure with our Father.
I am not saying give up on your denomination or group names. It may be too late for that but do not let anything define you but the touch of the Father. "I AM" is where we find who we are. We must understand the enigma of this. Jesus said that one must become as a child to enter the kingdom of God. This statement embodies a number of truths. The reality is a child is given identification by his father, not the other way around. All of us in some way can fall into relating more to a brand than to God. As leaders we must break free from a mixture of gold and clay. Gold is purified by fire. Stand still in its flames and do not run. Then, and only then can we walk together as true Sons and Daughters of God and lead our people further into the Truth. All of creation is waiting for us to emerge in His Glory.
The world is made to respond to a Maverick. Not a brand.
Dare to be a Maverick
An unbranded Son/Daughter of God
This is a transcript of the soon to be Maverick Prophetic TV Ministries
Pray for us and be part of the Maverick team.