Volume 19 Issue 10
Thanks for your note. First of all, things will get better and make more sense as you move forward, so stay encouraged.
You are right about the times being difficult; but all ages, eras, and periods have faced their own difficulties. And don’t forget that all of us live out our lives without full historical perspective or experience. Much of life is inevitably a lonely walk and there is a whole bunch of things about which it could be said, “ye have not passed this way heretofore” (Joshua 3:4).
You mentioned your age with some regret. The Apostle Paul made it clear that youthfulness is not an obstacle to be overcome (1 Timothy 4:12). Just be an example “in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” This ends the “age” discussion. The issue is not about one’s age. In fact, age itself is no meaningful destination. Be certain that an old fool is no better than a young one, and in fact is actually worse.
The old and the young do not exist in two separate parallel worlds. There is one world consisting of complex societal dynamics. As Christians, you and I both are facing the realities of this generation, and we must stay focused and clear-headed. This requires relentless prayer, thoughtful observation and the courage to acknowledge that at the end of the day all conflicts are worked out internally, in our spirits, guided by the Holy Scripture alone. By the way, there is such a thing as fantasy football; but there is no such thing as fantasy church. None of us is living a virtual life. This is real life in real-time and there are no resets or do-overs. No one is holding you back from success or keeping you from accomplishing great things for the Kingdom. Young people are restrained from greatness, achievement and wisdom only by deficits in their own talents and level of commitment.
I will mention a couple things that trouble me about our times. It is likely I will not live out this age in the same way you will, but for now we face the same evils and we need one another. Admittedly, I have the advantage of experience so I may sound a bit preachy, but I do respect you and what you are facing. I understand the basis from which you form your arguments and I know you have worthy dreams.
Every generation wants to do new things and dreams of building new paradigms. I thought that way myself. But it is possible that in attempting to do some “new” thing, one may risk burning down the whole forest, or getting ahead of his supply lines. Some of my old buddies lived for the cause of the moment, roused up a following on this issue or that, cherry-picked a few like-minded souls to rebel against, let’s say, “holiness standards.” (I don’t like that phrase but we know what it means.) And what organizers they were. Yet, they organized a structure that they themselves could not survive in. Two reasons come to mind: first, they drew their power from people who wanted a sweet-talking prophet who had no real conviction and who did not require too much commitment. But when the newness wore off and they were asked to pay the bills, their followers fled the coop. Which led to problem number two: one runs out of those kinds of people pretty quickly because the half-hearted, half-backslidden people in churches who have “itching ears” are not the same as the brokenhearted sinners who are looking for a real alternative to sinful living. What most of these self-serving compromisers fail to demonstrate to the world is the real alternative to worldliness. In time, church-hopping and member-swapping runs out of steam within every local church culture. This, dear friend, is not what you really want. It may provide certain types with a professional title and some short-term success, but pure service to God’s people and the calling to preach a true redemptive message to a hungry world is lost.
This letter is already too long, but I must mention one other thing. You and I do not control the nature or the occasion of destructive forces. We may cause them but we don’t control them. America could not control the destructive forces that toppled the World Trade Center on 9/11/01. Historians will debate for centuries the causes, discussing this scenario or that scenario about how certain actions among men of the West and East laid the foundation for the Middle East/Western wars. The real truth will likely never be known. But we should try to understand this much, at least: that all things, both evil things and good things, generate consequences. And you, my good man, must think about this every day. Your ethics, your attitude, your preaching, your thinking, your fellowship, your motives, your disobedience, your disrespect toward others, your morals, and all such things have the power to bring about destructive forces. Once unleashed, these forces cannot be controlled. If we sow to the flesh we “shall of the flesh reap corruption.” (Galatians 6:8) Likewise, once one has compromised and preached false doctrine, its destructive reach is unpredictable.
There’s no need for you and me to rehash the “method versus message” debate. But be careful! There really is a danger in losing the message in the method. In reaching your dreams you may be tempted to casually disregard what has been given to you in sacred trust. I see some, and thankfully not you my dear friend, who are inheriting churches that were built by three generations of Pentecostal believers with the Lord’s tithe and love offerings. But they are recklessly taking possession of these churches as if they were their own, and with deceptive words and cunning craftiness they are leading the flocks back into worldliness and distracting them from dependency upon the Holy Spirit and the anointing of God. The force of destruction that is released by such behavior will be felt for generations. If God cannot trust us to be faithful we will lose our anointing; and I fear we will be left with “church business” while another carries the torch of revival.
Thanks for writing, and let’s stay in touch. There is much more we should talk about.