My New Job

The Lord told me,
“Shout out loud. Do not hold back.
Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Tell my people that they have refused to obey me.
Tell the family of Jacob how much they have sinned…

[ Isaiah 58:1, NIRV ]

March 4, 2011 was many things to many people. To Libyans, it was another day of fear and turmoil. To the residents of Christchurch, New Zealand, it was another day of coming to terms with the destructive power of the earth. For hundreds and thousands of men, women and children around parts of this world, it was just another day rummaging through the vast garbage dumps they call home – trying to find some trash to turn into money for food. Sometimes, they even eat the rotting food they find as they search for salable plastic bottles, or the holy grail of dump diggers – copper wire.

So why, then – amid all the ongoing suffering, death and horror of this world – did I think March 4, 2011 was an appropriate day to use my Facebook page to call one church leader a ‘wolf’, and suggest that another church leader is possibly on the slippery slope towards wolf-hood? And why, on March 5, 2011, do I still think it was appropriate – and am still planning to continue ‘showcasing’ such things?

I was literally horrified by some of the responses to this thread on my Facebook Wall. Horrified. And I am sure that in turn, there are going to be people who are horrified that I am continuing this discussion in this manner on my blog. Why do I think that this is so important that I am willing to risk offending, upsetting and perhaps even alienating people I love and care for very much? I am so arrogant that I think my thoughts and insights (such as they may be) are worth jumping up and down about – loudly, and in public?

Firstly – why am I horrified? Among other reasons, people I still look up to and respect verbally jumped all over me in public. I am horrified that what I said (and will continue to say) offended and upset them so much that they felt it was appropriate to respond in the way that they did. I am horrified at what their response means. It means that they do not understand how desperately serious and deeply rooted the deception in the contemporary ‘Christian church’ is. I am horrified that they don’t realize what Rick Warren is, and what John Piper may be becoming by associating with Rick Warren.

Secondly, what happened after I stopped commenting on the Facebook thread yesterday afternoon? I went to pick up my wife from work, told her what had been going on, asked her to read everything (including private communication in our email accounts), and told her I valued and cherished her opinion and was not going to continue the discussion until she had an opportunity to challenge me if she felt I was in error. So we arrived home, and I went for a ‘lie down’ (my head was a bit sore by this time!) and opened my Bible for my daily reading. I freely admit that I am by no means fully consistent in the daily plan I am currently following, but I always realize that I am making a mistake when I miss a day or three along the way. Daily immersion in God’s Word is unfathomably important for all Christians! Before I opened my Bible, I asked the Lord to show me something… anything… that I needed to see in connection with the ongoing Facebook saga. And then I opened the Word to the start of my day’s section…. The verse I quote above was the opening verse.

Now, is that the end of the story? Absolutely not. I am incredibly wary of this method of receiving direct instruction from God. I am both absolutely convinced that it can and does happen, AND that it is endlessly abused by those seeking some sort of justification for their actions. What was I to do? As I lay there, the events of the day (and the possible consequences of them) ran through my head. I am utterly committed to following God’s will in my Christian walk, but of course I know there are plenty of times when I don’t. I miss things, misunderstand things… but I am confident that God is forgiving. We confess our errors, receive forgiveness, and move on.

With all this churning in my head, I returned to the computer to find a private message from a dear friend. Without going into details, I responded, he replied, and I had before me a wonderful example of how God spoke to this individual in the same way. Direct message, perfectly relevant to a pressing situation, given via a daily reading from the Bible.

So I discussed everything with my precious wife, who I know God brought into my life to be a helper, comforter and encourager… who I know from many experiences will tell me exactly what she thinks…. who I know prizes her relationship with her Lord and Savior more highly than she prizes her relationship with me….

I am confident that I have received a new job from the Lord. Maybe not new as such, but a new confirmation that I am being asked to publicly, loudly and directly highlight areas where God’s people are being deceived into rebellion against God and His word.

Wow. Me? I am a baby Christian. Although I have been a sinner saved by grace for many years, I have stubbornly and repeatedly laid around in the weeds of laziness, ignorance and comfortable living. For most of my teenage and twenty-something life, I hardly exercised my spiritual muscles at all. I was content to be all snuggled up, warm and cozy, inside a cocoon of easy faith. God had done everything for me – I knew that. I knew there was nothing I could or can do to add to the salvation I had accepted. So why bother? Why challenge the world? I wasn’t of it, so why get out and about in it? If I did, I knew I would meet things that would force me to take a stand. And who wants the stress or embarrassment or cross-bearing that comes with that?

Not me. I still don’t.

But I slowly came to the understanding that if I didn’t grow in my faith… in my knowledge of God – who He is, what He has done, and what He is going to do… if I didn’t above all grow in my personal relationship with the One who gave His life to save my soul, then I may as well jump under a bus for all the use my life would be. God wants His people to pick up their cross and follow Christ. He wants His people to know, grow and show. We have God’s Holy Spirit dwelling in us!

I don’t think the Holy Spirit enjoys lying around in the weeds of my laziness, ignorance and comfortable living.

So if I believe that God is telling me to do something, I need to do it. Not because it in any way adds to my ‘goodness’ or makes me a ‘better person’. Never. I need to do it because I love God, and when you love someone – ya do your best to please them without expecting anything in return. I believe God is asking me to shout out loud and don’t hold back. I’m to use my life as a trumpet, screaming in the ears of people I love, respect and admire. People I have perhaps placed on pedestals. People who disagree with some of my theological musings as I grapple with understanding this incredible gift of salvation that we have. People who are older, stronger, and far more productive in their walk than I have ever been.

OK God. I will do the shouting, but please – PLEASE – give me the words to use. This is not about me. This is not about my brothers and sisters in Christ. This is not about Rick Warren, John Piper, Tony Blair or Oprah Winfrey. This is not about anything other than Your will, Your glory, and the precious name of Jesus. Use me, break me, mold me and make me into a channel through which your truth can flow. I believe I am going to be talking about many things that are facts wrapped up in lies. Things that if mentioned in many Christian circles would get a blank stare at best, and a swift dismissal and rebuke more often than that. But there are facts that need to be found and presented so that Your people discern the signs, so that Your people are not destroyed through lack of knowledge, so that Your people can be like the Issachar family – men and women who understand the times and know what to do.

This job has been given to me, but I can’t do it. You have to do it through me. Your wisdom, not mine. Your thoughts, not mine. And above all, Your love, not mine.

I am in Your hands.

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6 Comments

Filed under Daily-ish Thoughts

6 responses to “My New Job

  1. Nisa Crutchfield

    Dear, dear Alister: First of all–I love you as a dear brother in Christ. I see your heart and your yearning to do God’s will, and I thank God for you. Please believe me when I tell you that I am truly sorry for reacting as I did to your postings. No doubt about it, it was a reaction. Sheldon commented that in this whole disussion “there has been more heat than light generated.” I believe that is true, although for me the discussion has forced me to do more research, think more deeply, examine God’s Word more carefully. God’s Word has confirmed that what He has shown me is indeed true and while this does not lead me to accept your position (because it would betray what I believe God’s Word says), it has lead me to see that my brothers and sisters in Christ may reach a different interpretation and as such I need to accept that. And I do. Having read your blog, I trust that what you feel God has led you to do will be truly what you read in Scripture and not be an open forum for attacking other brothers and sisters in Christ who may have a different opinion that for them is also Bible-based. That is primarily the reason I reacted as Idid. No excuses, but simply an explanation. Last night during my daily Bible reading, God also spoke to me through His Word, from Psalm 26:2 (ESV) “Prove me, O Lord, and try me; test my heart AND MY MIND.” So my heart was tested and found wanting–offended by your remarks concerning other brothers in Christ. But MY MIND ? ? In this context I wrote to a dear friend about all that had happened, esp. the remarks about the Desiring God conf. and the decision by John Piper to invite Rick Warren. He directed me to the site that I posted on FB a few hours ago. I listened and was again re-affirmed that God does indeed want our minds to be challenged and to do that we must ask Him to do so. While I was on that site and after listening to John Piper’s explanation, I decided to access some of the messages given at the conference. I was actually trying to find what Rick Warren had to say, but somehow couldn’t find it. So instead I turned to one of the other speakers on a topic that was alluded to in one of our FB discussions, esp. having to do with Muslims. And I will confess to you, Alister, that for many years I have held a deep-seated fear, mistrust, and great antipathy towards Muslims. So–knowing that I had this built-in resistance I was reminded of the verse God so forcibly impressed on me last night, about testing my mind. I clicked to listen to a message given by someone I had never heard of: Thabiti Anyabwile. I was surprised to see that he was an African American, but was even more surprised and challenged by what he had to say. If you have time, I would encourage you to listen to his message (and no, he doesn’t go into the free will vs. God’s choice debate). The end of his talk was especially challenging as he emphasized the power of the Gospel. So–why I am telling you all this? I believe God has given you a good mind. Don’t be afraid to be challenged by God in using it! Use it to build up God’s people, not to tear others of God’s saints down. Don’t be misled into thinking that God has called you to warn about others in the Body when there are so many other things that need to be addressed so that we might “equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the fullness of Christ, so that me may no longer be chidren, tossed to and fro by the waves carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped…makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” Eph. 4:12-16. BTW, Sheldon keeps looking for a response to his e-mail to you.

  2. For the record, I hope you know that everything I have written has not been in a spirit of offense or upset, but with a lighthearted smile on my face (which I can manage because I trust in God’s sovereignty 🙂 ). I hope I have written and spoken clearly and with respect, because I do respect you!

    As far as in public, if what you write is in public, I think it is okay to respond in public. I am not offended or upset. I am confident in God’s Spirit’s work in your and my life – knowing I am not Him 🙂

  3. sorry to horrify you!

  4. Dear Sarah —
    YOU don’t horrify me! You are my sister in Christ, and are obviously dedicated to serving your Savior and Lord above all.
    It is some of the things you SAID that horrify me, because they make it very clear that even the most dedicated servants of the Lord are missing some very important signs about what is going on behind the scenes of religious, political and social life on this planet.
    I believe that the Holy Spirit has confirmed what my heart, mind and some trusted advisers are telling me, which is that it is now my job to unwrap (for anyone who is interested) the lies from the facts hidden inside what are dismissed as ‘conspiracy theories’. Many of these theories involve religion – especially Judaism and the woefully misunderstood Zionism.
    I truly appreciate your involvement in this process, and of course we both understand how God uses times in our lives like this to bring us kicking and screaming a little bit closer to the image of His Son.
    Please be assured of my love in Christ, and please also continue to be involved in this process in my/our life as much as you feel able!

  5. Oh, and I love that verse above – being grafted into ‘Jacob’ means we can apply this verse to us today right? (Back to hermeneutics!) I didn’t realize you went with covenant theology after all!
    Wow!

  6. Thank you Alister. I happen to have picked up a book just before this whole discussion because I had heard some negative rumours about RW, and thought it would be an interesting read. I recommend it to you, along with an unrelated book because I think it addresses other issues every Christian should be aware of: Rick Warren and the Purpose that Drives Him and The 10 Dumbest things Christians do. Chapter titles are:

    #1 – Slinging Mud on the Bride of Christ.
    #2 – Winning People to the Church Rather than to the Lord.
    #3 – Living Below the Level of Our Beliefs.
    #4 – Speaking Above the Level of Our Knowledge.
    #5 – Hopping from Church to Church.
    #6 – Fighting Among Ourselves.
    #7 – Missing Golden Opportunities.
    #8 – Settling for Mediocrity.
    #9 – Allowing Wolves to Live Among the Sheep.
    #10 – Accepting the Unacceptable.

    You can read reviews here:
    [MODERATOR’S EDIT: After private communication with Sarah, in which I expressed my concerns about the author of the book “Rick Warren and the Purpose that Drives Him”, Sarah agreed that I should remove the link as I am not willing at this time to directly promote it from this blog.]

    and,
    http://www.amazon.com/10-Dumbest-Things-Christians-Do/dp/0785211489/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1299476478&sr=1-1l

    I wish every Christian would read the latter. We’d be a healthier body if we did.

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