Chapter 16: A Heart for the Battle
IF you are ever to see True Life expressed on the streets and in the gatherings of God’s People, you will have to pay a price to see it. As our Commander once said,
“The Kingdom is entered forcefully, and the violent take it by force.”
Whether the “battle” is attempting to bring Life and Integrity to a religious system, or desiring to bring Saints already on that road to higher ground — in either case, it takes energy (“energeo”) to see it through! In one case we are trying to find the “liberty of the Spirit,” and in the other case we are trying to keep that Life from waning in our midst when things are getting out of line. In either case, we must “take it by force.” It doesn’t just happen.
Be strong and be overcomers, not survivors or victims. Let the attitude of the victorious Ancient of Days Life within each of you be evident at whatever gatherings that you have. Let me emphasize this point again. Whether during meals together, or in others’ homes, or in small or large gatherings, spontaneous or planned, live in reality, expressing the Life within you. There’s no way we should be talking about the deep things of God in meetings if the life of Christ isn’t exchanged during meals together, with two, five, or ten people. If we are walking in reality and our lives are intermingled, then why would we wait until a whole‑church gathering to be “spiritual?” If we wait until the meeting to be “spiritual,” it’s not spiritual at all. More likely we are driven by something other than Christ. Since true spirituality crosses all time and circumstance lines, you should be just as likely to have a dynamic, heart‑rending conversation out of Leviticus 23 after dinner (“off the cuff”) as you are at a meeting…if it’s the real thing. Watch, and take a reading every once in a while. Check the pulse of private times together. Whether two, four, six, sixty‑two, or six thousand people are together, small talk won’t mark the bulk of the conversation if we belong to God in Truth. Don’t “crank out” spirituality because you are “supposed to,” but simply live your life in Christ and you’ll be naturally consumed with the things of God in or out of a meeting. And when a gathering does come up, you won’t have to cross any lines and “put on” a spiritual mind‑set. Understand?
What should you do when you are not in the “ideal situation” in the church that you are a part of currently?
Hide your own life in Christ. Spend time with other people who have hidden their lives in Christ. Search out “equipping for the works of service” from those who are obviously born of the Wind and Authority of Heaven, and the Lamb.
Draw others one by one into that circle. It won’t happen by wishing it were so. Draw yourself to the people who emanate the heart of Christ. Bring people to Christ Jesus and a reality of relationship with Him one by one, and that circle will expand. God will begin to knit your life together with others who care.
If you are “attending” a religious organization that has very little in common with the Church of the Bible, you have, no doubt, been shuddering with trepidation as you have tried to envision all of the above in your environment. Don’t run from the situation you’re in just yet! Learn the way of the Cross first. Let it be said of you, as your Lord was able to say, “I did nothing in secret.” Don’t slip out the back door with complaints in your heart. Be able to say, honestly, “I would have gathered you as a hen gathers her chicks, but you would not.” Be honest. Be open. Be considerate. But don’t think that that means you’ll need to spend the next 100 years subjecting yourself and your family to a “form of godliness that denies the power.” God said clearly how to respond to religious form that is not from Him: “And from such people turn away!” This being true, still very few have ever truly laid down their lives for others — giving all to make a difference.
In the end, regardless of your heart, as you speak up and break religious protocol, challenge the superficial and carnal and the shadows…you’ll likely experience the same fate as Jesus in one way or another. “If they hated me, they will hate you also.”
Don’t allow men that refuse to obey Jesus put a guilt trip on you of “Division! Division!”
or, “Stay! Be patient!”
“How long?” you reply.
The unspoken answer in virtually every situation I’ve encountered is “Until you die of old age or your children get lulled into spiritual bankruptcy and corruption.”
No way. Life is too short to be blackmailed by compromisers.
Maybe, just maybe, (lest we have the attitude of the prodigal’s older brother, or those who despised the “eleventh hour workers”) God will bring that camel through the eye of the needle, and a total transformation will take place where you are (if that is necessary from God’s perspective). The leaven (1Cor.5:6‑13) will be blown from the batch, the Life of God will pulsate in every family and gathering, and God will get all of the Glory! Do you have a heart for this?
If, instead, to your surprise, there is great resistance to the Light of exposure (John 3:19‑21; 1John 1:5‑9) you will be shown the door and, by God’s Grace, be able to join yourself to a church that does not run from the Light. It will be worth an 80% cut in pay and a 2000 mile move, if necessary, as many on every continent can attest.
When there’s work to do for our Lord, no matter what kind of group you are currently a part of, be strong and courageous and defiant of the devil who would have you be weak, dishonest, and fearful of mere men. The temptation is to keep quiet if the conversation (and “church”) seems worldly, and to be frustrated or angry or depressed. If no one is honest enough to say what they are thinking, the result is a critical attitude. You know already that God can’t work through that. There has to be enough honesty to shed light on the situation so that the Holy Spirit might convict and instruct those with honest hearts.
To expand on a previous point, if you do find that the nature of the time together (or the church as a whole) is somehow disappointing or even oppressive, let me encourage you again to have the Wisdom, Compassion, and Fortitude of heart to try to DRIVE it to a higher level, rather than judge or complain. It is the same no matter what type of christian group you are in. It’s just that when you speak God’s Word in a Filled‑With‑Christ‑Jesus Church, you will be hugged instead of mugged.
It is far easier to point things out than it is to take responsibility to lead God’s Lambs. Go vertical rather than horizontal. In other words, learn to let Jesus work through you to solve problems, rather than leaning on the natural and intellectual realms. Cry out to Him to use a tool (maybe you!) to draw God’s Lambs up to Higher Ground. From the overflow of your communion with God you can gently lead His Family into His Truth, Prayer to Him, or Worship of His Majesty. Show your brothers and sisters and neighbors an Awesome God and Tender Father, and they’ll know what to do next! Asking “why?” things are too low may be right at times, but it’s better by far to lift all of us Higher by taking us there.
A horizontal demand to “not be boring anymore” may backfire and add a pressure to perform. Rather than birthing Isaac (“Laughter”), this kind of horizontal pressure to have “a better meeting” will more likely birth Ishmael (the ungodly product of man’s desire and man’s methods to accomplish our perception of God’s desired end). If Ishmael is force‑birthed, someone will eventually take it upon himself to start a pep rally or be a self‑proclaimed prophet to enliven and enlighten us.
As you find yourself in the midst of a lifeless gathering or group of believers, ask yourself these questions: Is the source of alienation from the Head found in unconfessed sin in the Assembly? Or might the separation from the Head be a general fatigue from consecutive late nights or even busy‑ness “about the Father’s Business?” (In this case, get some sleep!) Or maybe the source of the (perceived?) void of the Spirit is lack of a prayerful life or preparation on the part of those in the church? Possibly the drought or pain is simply a “season” of dryness from God. He designed the deep valley for us to drive us to our knees, that we might ultimately move to a higher mountain than we’ve ever visited before.
I’m going to emphasize this point just a little more, so bear with me! We must all have discernment and deep conviction of the need to break through into reality in gatherings. Without conviction, we will not have the energy and wisdom necessary to break the curse of complacency and spectator religion that is so ingrained in us. To leave a lasting impression, I’ll restate these things.
Whatever happens, please don’t fake your lives together. It’s not honest to pretend to have a good meeting (by hype and smiles and goo‑goo faces) with everyone about to go away empty. Don’t fake it. There’s no merit in it and God doesn’t like it anymore than we do. Please call satan on the carpet by stopping it right there and applying reality, truth and honesty to the situation. That holds true whether it’s in a larger gathering or at someone’s house. Take responsibility to make a difference. And, in God’s timing, if it comes to this, don’t be afraid to say (with respect and humility), “This is what I’m observing. This time together is really missing something. It seems so temporal (due to jabbering or selfishness or worldliness, or just hollowness).” However, be oh-so-careful that you are not indicting others (or a gathering) on evidence more related to your mood, hormones, your own spiritual emptiness, or unproven discernment about spiritual matters. And, as was previously stated, better than pointing out fallacies, it is a much higher way to help others by drawing them to higher ground. Don’t simply diagnose what they may already know. Overflow into the church from your storehouse of relationship with the Father!
In addition, if you do speak up about things that seem out of order, be careful not to carelessly offend anyone. Though it can be done, it’s a rare case when you would boldly rebuke someone in public. In 1 Timothy, chapter 5, Paul taught of rebuking the elders publicly (when there were two or three witnesses) so that all the others would fear. Paul rebuked Peter publicly for being prejudiced against Gentiles. In public letters, Paul and John both called out specific men by name that were causing trouble. Jesus publicly denounced religious leaders who were not doing their jobs, in front of their “flocks.” There definitely is a time for public confrontation, but be careful not to offend unnecessarily in public. Far better, when possible, to take it “to him and him alone.”
Stop satan in his tracks by prayerfully and humbly opening a situation that God has called you to be involved in, and applying truth, reality and transparency. You shall know, you shall penetrate the Reality, and the Reality will set you free (Jn. 8:32). Try it. Stepping out of the show into reality and talking about what is happening at that moment in time — cracking the glossy, superficial shell — has been a vital missing ingredient that has quenched God’s Spirit and ravaged the people of God.
I remember one of the first times I noticed the tragedy of being mesmerized and enslaved and robbed of our roles as a “Kingdom of Priests” by religious protocol and fear of men. This particular situation involved a brand‑new christian. We were “attending” a meeting in a “church building” and having a “Bible Study.” Our “devotional” had three songs and a prayer and six different people giving little mini‑talks; a wonderful “spiritual” event — and someone in the back row sobbing almost all of the way through it. Here’s the tragic part: nobody budged. We were orchestrating such a grand show that we didn’t have time to care for a sister who was having a hard time. She told me at that time that she was ready to walk out and not come back! She said, “I don’t get it. I can’t handle this anymore. I just don’t get it.” Now look at her! (She was sitting in the room where we were, three years later, full of Life!) There MUST be enough honesty and truthfulness to just talk!
Be the people of God; be brothers and sisters. If somebody was crying at the dinner table, I don’t think we’d say, “Pass the peas, please.” I don’t think that we would ignore it and go on eating, do the dishes, and leave that hurting person sitting there crying at the table. Do you? I don’t think that would happen there, so it shouldn’t happen in a gathering of God’s Family either. If somebody was crying in our living room, do you think we would ignore it? Can you even imagine that? Can you conceive of the possibility of having guests over for an evening, someone breaking into tears, and the conversation about the weather and the latest Cub’s score continuing on and on? You would NEVER see that happening in a true family. And there’s no reason why we should be performing a religious show and ignoring reality in true Family gatherings either. And don’t wait for outward tears — even a look of disappointment or boredom or frustration should be sufficient to stop the externals in order to get to reality in a life.
“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.”
Please refuse to allow ritual and false religious etiquette to hypnotize you, shanghai your walk with your God, and weaken your service of brothers and sisters!
58 These gifted men may have their impact on you via booklets, cassettes, and videos…but personal relationship with them on the front line of battle is really where the joy and power for effective equipping is found. Write for Foundations and Patterns for more on this. Back
59 Matthew 23. Back