As I look out my living room window upon Lake Ontario, the calm waters shimmer with the light of the almost full moon. It is peaceful. The last few days she was ferocious and wild as only the Great Lakes of North America can be. We watch as in the distance the large tankers slowly come to the harbour, a number of kilometres west of us, to load up with dry concrete powder at the huge lak side plant. It is hard to believe the anger of a storm can churn waves violent enough to break these massive floating steel wonders like the the Edmond Fitzgerald. Thanks to the ballad written and preformed by our famous Canadian Gordon Lightfoot, the world has learned of one of the lakes most famous tragic maritime disaster. But tonight she is siren. Across the lake, on the other side there is another type of storm. A tempest far more destructive than what nature can throw at us through earth, wind or fire.
These messages on taking ownership by leaders are absolutely crucial. We must be in the safety of the Lord. If you are not alarmed at the social engineering of politicians and so called intellectual elite experimenting on our children, maybe you should rethink your vocation.
If you cannot see the need of repentance over the fact that we the church have let corrupted fantasies and perverted ideas take form before our very eyes in our nation, then I guess you should sit tight, don’t rock the boat and if there is money at the end of your career, you can live off your pension.
However, the world may not offer a fun place to spend it.
We are on the precipice of one of the greatest wonders ever to be on the face of this earth. The rise of the Church in Jesus Christ. The excitement in this adventure will surpass all our imaginations and supersede even the most incredible experiences from Creation till now. To enter this realm one must have permission. Without meeting the qualifications this new dimension could be life threatening. Can oil mix with water or darkness survive in light?
Few in the leadership of the church will admit they are basically insecure. This is not a negative reality, actually it is a basic truth, even a requirement to serve. God’s strength can only grow in us as we acknowledge the best we can do is say “I surrender to your Love."
To say “I am weak and He is strong,” is far, far more than a nursery school song. Unfortunately, personal weakness in those who will not acknowledge it is hidden by pride. Those who take ownership of their weakness and come to the Lord will not be disappointed nor rejected. Actually our Father has been waiting for you to come to this point. He has organized every situation and encounter to bring you to the point where life becomes greater than you can handle and it breaks you. He comes to pick you up not reject you. Our submission to true honesty about ourselves opens us up to the very heart of God to fill us. His benevolent embrace brings us out of our brokenness into a new state of being. The Kingdom of God, the bible says, is “Righteousness, Peace and Joy in His Spirit.” The Kingdom is not a place but is a condition. He brings to the humble the very qualities of Heaven. I believe this wonderful Truth. God is not trying to get us to Heaven but He through Jesus, has brought the Kingdom to us here on the earth where we really need it.
Not all will allow the painful revelation of personal inner weakness to lead them to the true restoration that only the Father can give. Without being Fathered by God, what do we have to give this confused world? It can only be manufactured concepts with no redeeming value resulting in false images of God. All mankind has weakness. When leaders have not had an authentic encounter with God and do not know His continuous abiding Presence, there is an emptiness that demands to be filled with something. The choice is to swallow pride and call out to God to heal the soul, or erect a religion empty of redeeming eternal values.
The church in many places is ready and wanting to move deeper into God’s Love and purposes but are blocked at the door. This blockage is also a stumbling block to the many who listen to what we “preach.” One stumbling block comes in the statement, “don’t tell us what you have, show us.” Have we not yet been admonished by Shakespeare, “You speak an infinite deal about nothing.” Merchant of Venice? I know this for the most part is not the reality but it is for the on looking world. We must take responsibility for this historical disconnect.
Of course there is an enemy that hates Truth but to say the devil has distorted our message really just does not cut it. Some of the visual disconnect is found when we have said, "it’s the devil." Why did we not perceive this? Perhaps this is a significant reason why many come in the front door of our buildings drawn by promises only to find a lack of substance so they leave. I have in my past realized that I was more style than substance.
We promised rain.
The great cloud laden with wonderful rain came. The thunder roared. We stand waiting to be refreshed with the deluge of cool life promoting rain. The cloud paused above us and like an enormously cruel tease, it passed on. Not a drop descends as we stood in the dry dust. My understanding, and I believe this to be true, God is not going to encourage old wine skins to be filled.
We should not have stood there and cried, we should have followed the cloud! For this we must, as the church, repent. We have promised much not realizing heaven was not backing us because we were not ready. We then decided to plant the church on the dry plains rather than follow the cloud which would lead us to Truth and Love in the lush valley with still waters. There is pain in change but to walk in the Glory of God we must follow the cloud and not dictate where it should drop it’s rain. Let's remove this blockage and ask forgiveness for hindering the gospel of good news from reaching the world. May we join together in our desire to follow the cloud. God wants to give us the ability to change, to lead and to be filled with the wonderful substance of heaven. We together are changing the perception of the world towards the Loving Lord and His people.
I purposely am calling the church the "peoples church" for a very important reason. Somehow in church history an important aspect was lost. The church began as an exciting adventure led by selfless leaders who were humble and compassionate, wise and honourable. We have such leaders today. I wish for more, and that I too may be found among them. It is evident something very precious that makes the church the most wonderful experience is missing. What was it and where did it go? The church is made up of people who God has Loved into being. He has given important gifts to each of us to help us grow into a marvelous wholeness not found anywhere else in this world. Where did these gifts go? They were lost to the over emphasis of the pastoral role and a distorted authority passed down from decades past. The early church lived in harmony like a symphony with the Spirit as the conductor. As time passed the instruments in the symphony, the people, became more and more silent. The Life giving flow from the Holy Spirit over time became less. The qualities of love and tenderness among church members were overtaken by a desire to have a king. The king came in the form of pastors. This resulted in the church serving the single vision of one man or a denomination. The peoples church was lost.
Religious systems teach and, in different degrees, dictate a hierarchy order that must be obeyed.
Let me start by saying not all churches have been courageous. There were times I have not been brave. However, there is a big difference between the fear of telling people that Jesus knows and loves them than criticizing groups of believers who think different. I came to know the saving Love of Jesus in 1972. That’s 46 years! It’s been a life time of observation. Many times I have complained to the Lord saying, I did not sign up for this. Many times my head fell in shame as He showed me that I too was not innocent. So please do not think I am self righteous. I call on God’s mercy to help me overcome both seen and unseen wrongs that lie within.
One of the most humbling things I learned was that I can be absolutely sincere, but sincerely wrong. In these cases I need someone to help me see correctly, not cut me with a religious sword.
If you live by the sword, you will die by the sword…Choose Love as your weapon.
Kindness of God brings repentance. 2018 will be great. The sides of our tent are being widened. He is going to impart to us His very essence of incomparable Love and Kindness beyond anything we have previously experienced. We will enter 2019 with an endtime fragrance that will erase the influence of empty rules, traditions and works of self promotion. There has been a stench that caused church pastors to be less acceptable than a bartender or used car salesman. It has been a long time since we were well accepted and even honoured by society. Now we face derision and suspicion. Many churches have had the courage to assess what kind of fruit they are. With a brave heart and honesty, they will comprehend how far we have fallen into our own standards of religious submission. These churches, through repentance from using their own strength to bring about God’s will, are becoming ready for the battle against the father of all lies. I belong in such a church.
It seems like a significant number of believers are biting at the bit. We often use the term, ”biting at the bit” but do we really know what this means? My oldest daughter started riding horses at 10 years old and continued until she went to university. One of the horses she had was absolutely wonderful. She won the Canadian championship on this horse. We loved to see the two of them together. Another horse she had was called Squirrel. Now this horse she bought from the race track. She did not like men. My daughter had a wonderful way with this horse. Not so with me. She would walk the track calculating moves and jumps. I was left holding holding Squirrel. With the skittish horse dancing on the end of a rope, I held onto with all my might.
I never thought that I would call suffering my friend, I sit here with fractured ribs, vertebrae in my neck warn out, recovering from a broken back, dealing with an auto-immune disease called PMR, an uncooperative chemical system, and living with the side effects of some pretty harsh drugs. There is much more in this list, but I don’t like to give sickness too much attention. Suffice to say, I have almost lost my life several times. I know many of you are saying, pray for healing. My answer is I have. It seems the harder I pray the worse I get. Now I have believed in total healing for probably longer than you have born in this fallen world. I have forgotten what a painless life is like.
I will not roll over and quit. So what do I do? I press into God’s Mercy. I have at times felt as weak as a kitten and I wish I was healthy. I always wonted a healing ministry. I have probably seen more sickness and death more than most. Ten years working in chronic and palliative care, six years doing pathologic autopsies on the dead searching for the cause of death, five years with eight mentally adult women living in my home. Through all this I was pastoring some of the most difficult people. This just scratches the surface of my involvement in suffering. I am tired of it! But I would not trade any of the, morbid experiences for anything.
One thing I can testify is that I have not been short-changed by God who says he heals and delivers. It will come. In the mean time He comes to me in my weakness. God’s Love and Kindness makes me love Him back. Sickness takes a back seat. I heard this story a long time ago. A man was jailed because of his faith. They whipped and beat on him terribly. Then he mercilessly was thrown in to his dark and filthy cell. There alone with no medical help covered in blood and bruises the Lord came to him. He felt the warmth and Love of Jesus running his hand up and down the torn flesh of his back. What he said next brings me to tears. “He was so wonderful. His love was greater than the pain of the whipping and beatings. It was so wonderful. I had a strange feeling that I wanted to be tortured again just to feel His love and touch.”