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.