Chapter 1: Motivation for Risk
ARE we all, I wonder, thoroughly convinced of the extreme need of our day? I read a study, only two hours before writing this page, that ought to guarantee that church‑going parents are shocked into radical action in their churches. A full 75% of the young teenagers from across the country who are part of churches, “admit to such [sexual] practices as ____, ____, and ____.” (I don’t want to even mention them here.) Even nearly one out of every ten 12‑year‑olds in the churches have lost their virginity. Only God Himself knows how much is happening that the children in the “teen groups” and “young professionals’ groups” won’t admit. Have we learned yet that the answers don’t lie in a “better youth program” or even “more Bible Studies on morality”? It is very clear that no matter how great the “worship time” is and no matter how articulate and challenging the sermons are, the statistics are the same. Frightening!
The prime motivation for writing this book is that, in spite of what many preachers have told their congregations, there are real answers available to the disastrous spiritual decline of the last two thousand years. Men and women who care about the systematic destruction of their children and families and churches by the world and the prince of the world system…needn’t give up hope. This book is not about innovation. It’s about Life and death.
Admittedly, the thoughts contained in this writing are as different, for many of the same reasons, as Luther’s were to the world in which he lived. No matter how true and necessary from God’s vantage point the things that Luther said may have been, there were still fourteen hundred years of momentum against him. Then, as in many cases now, Clergy’s appetite for control of the masses, and the general complacency of too many (“for my People love it to be so”), have resulted (and do result) in “a police state of religious look‑alikes.” This has intimidated and robbed God’s Lambs in ways indescribably tragic. Yet not everyone is satisfied with the status quo. This writing is for those who want desperately to find real solutions, not just another dramatic or critical assessment of the problems that we face.
It has seemed to me, as I’ve cried out to the Father for understanding, that our failures are often‑times not necessary. God wants to build local churches where He might manifest His Presence and delivering Power. He desires to have a corporate “habitation” for His Presence. He desires a Pillar and Foundation — a church that is walking in Light Together. He wants a body to carry and distribute the Life of His Son, poured out on flesh. He still wants to build a church that the gates of hell cannot triumph over at will. We need each other for all of that! Of course we can still fail if we are committed to a course of self‑indulgence and don’t agape the Truth in our hearts. Adam failed in the “perfect” environment. But our situation is that we have been trying to grow orange trees in Alaska for so long that we have accepted (and built a “theology” to substantiate) the idea that “we’re all just weak sinners and one day Jesus will come back and bail us out of our pathetic poverty.” Brothers, “it ought not be so!” Jesus came that we could not only experience His Mercy and unwarranted forgiveness, but that we might also “overcome the works of the evil one” and demonstrate His Divine Power by the Spirit that rose Him from the dead!
Not everyone is willing to accept a fragmented, powerless life and church, but few know anything else is possible. I received a letter today from a young woman. She wrote of her father, and his search for Truth through the streets of pain and confusion. She found him on the verge of despair and collapse as she spoke with him on the telephone. This is what she said of her conversation with him:
“He says he goes to church and pretends to worship God with a bunch of other people who pretend to worship God. They chant cliched prayers, take communion, and he walks out with the same undealt‑with sins that he walked in with.”
God never meant for us to live this way. And there are real answers. To find them, we’ll need to explore together, and yield to, God’s Word and God’s Ways. And, above all, we must cry out to the source of the Treasure of “all Wisdom and Revelation”…God’s Son, Jesus. We need to explore and experience more of both the “Good News of Jesus Christ” and the “Good News of the Kingdom.” Together.
Let me take another angle on why we really need to reconsider the entirety of how our recent generations (the last nineteen centuries) have lived out the idea of “church.”
Jesus once said: “When a student is fully trained, he becomes like his teacher.” He spoke of the catastrophic end of a blind man leading others. And of course, the benefits of following the only One who can see much more than “in the mirror dimly,” are obvious. “When a student is fully trained, he becomes like his teacher.” Preachers, Pastors…the reason for this book is related to this question: “Do you really want all of those who are listening and watching you to turn out just like you?” I contend that no matter who you are, this is far too low a target.
In these last days (according to Jesus, Paul, John, Peter, and the writer of Hebrews), God’s Son is the Teacher, the Standard, the Alpha and Omega. The reason it is paramount that we learn to let the King run His Own meetings is that “when a student is fully trained, he becomes like his teacher.” I want to help my brothers and sisters learn to walk with Jesus Himself — so that He is their ceiling, not me! I buffet myself that I might be all that I can be for Him with no compromise whatsoever…but on my best days, I wouldn’t for a minute want to distract any attention away from the One Who “fills everything in every way.”
Jesus is not much like me. I am devoted to Him, and desire to radically confront everything in me and around me that is not in His Likeness — but I’m not about to presume to stand up and preside over a group of Believers and give a lecture on this or that subject as if Jesus is far, far away rather than standing right there with us. Are you? I want my Family to know HIM, that I might decrease. How about you? Do you wish to stand in for Jesus (by pre‑programming the events of a gathering in such a way that He is the topic, but pushed aside, in practice, as the Head of the Church)? Or might it not be worth considering, for the sake of His Lambs and His Name, that Jesus Himself can lead our gatherings “in His Name?”
I would not dare to consciously make myself to be the Standard to “lead men into all Truth,” yet if I become the “teacher” because of my “classes,” gimmicks, programs, and speeches — those that are subjected to such things will all become “like their teacher.” If I’ve learned, however, to let the King run the meeting, captives can again be “set free.” Honestly. Doesn’t that sound good?
This crazy idea of risking by turning to Jesus to lead us in gatherings is supremely important! Talking about Jesus and singing about Jesus isn’t enough! He’s Alive! He really is! He rolled back the stone and galloped out on His white horse, Faithful and True — the Conqueror of sin and death. He’s now very much alive and committed to the Headship of a Living Body! We’re not trying to “use His teachings and methods to get His results.” We’re taking men to HIM to be discipled! Don’t be guilty of leading those around you to be like you through all of the programming and religious choreography (for reasons of insecurity, ambition, or ignorance). If the Son sets men free they shall be free indeed! “When a student is fully trained, he becomes like his teacher.” Let’s all gather around Him and not just for Him.
“You are not to be called ‘rabbi,’ for you have only one master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and He is in Heaven. Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one ‘teacher,’ the Christ.”
This book was meant to provoke and encourage you to go far deeper than perhaps you’ve been — into the Journey of God the Father, through His Blessed Son, by His Holy Spirit, and with His Family, the saints of God. I want to point you, in practical ways, towards the Adventure of walking now in the Light and Love of Eternity, by the Spirit of our Pioneer, Jesus. In His Church.
7 Shattering the Silence: Telling the Church the Truth About Their Kids and Sexuality, Lewis, Dodd, and Tippens, Christian Communications, 1990. Back
8 A man of significant insight and considerable name‑recognition recently exclaimed to a large gathering of God’s People that the last days would see at least two major changes in the Church:
One, that the world would grow to have a totally different opinion of the Church…one of respect and awe, rather than indifference or mockery.
Second (and very much related to the first in my estimation), that Christianity itself would be expressed in ways that are totally different from today’s expression. Amen. A description of a “New Wineskin” (new, but Ancient) that will prayerfully bring much Glory to God is what this book was written to offer to God’s People. It is just an offer — you test and see if God could be calling us to such as is contained in these pages, and what your part may be. Back
9 Ephesians 2:19‑22; 1Corinthians 3:9‑17, 12:12‑31; Romans 12:1‑18; 1Timothy 3:15; Matthew 16:18. Back
10 The application: Except by God’s Sovereign command (that would, as with Paul, bypass the means of Ephesians 4:11‑16 and Hebrews 3:12‑14), men and women the caliber of Stephen, Philip, Timothy, Silas, Luke, or Priscilla can not be cultivated in any environment or habitat other than “daily in public and from house to house,” “bearing one another’s burdens,” “confessing sins one to another,” “admonishing one another daily so that none are hardened by the deceitfulness of sin,” “when one part of the body suffers, every part suffers with it,” etc. Artificial lighting and reading a book on plants to the orange tree will never suffice. Back
11 1John 2:12‑14, 5:3‑5; Romans 6:5‑14, 8:1‑39; 2Corinthians 2:14‑16, 4:6‑18, 6:4‑11; Ephesians 1:18‑23; 5:25‑27; 6:10‑18. Back
12 I contend that John 14:9‑26, Matthew 18:20, and many other similar passages are TRUE! Thank God that they are! Of course speaking to Saints or the unregenerate about Jesus and His Truths is a good thing, but we have seemingly slipped into the world system’s way of dealing with things, rather than the Ways of Jesus, through His Father and by His Holy Spirit. Consider it? Back