During our season serving a church plant in South Africa, Sweet Bridget and I heard that an elderly woman who lived high in the hills was requesting a pastoral visit. She wanted to be baptized!
While this was certainly a special request, what added even more to this scenario, was the reality that this dear woman was physically disabled—unable to move her feet. Usually, our practice of baptism looks like being fully immersed under water as a picture of dying to sin and coming alive through faith in Christ (Romans 6:1-5)! We often celebrate baptism publicly, surrounded by friends and family, to announce our new life in Jesus and to commit to support new believers on their spiritual journey ahead.
We also recognized that Scripture uses the symbol of water being poured to depict the cleansing and forgiveness that Jesus provides, which has led some faith traditions to sprinkle with water in baptism (Ephesians 5:25-27, Hebrews 10:19-23).
Prepared with a water bottle in hand, we made the trek up to her hut.
When we arrived, she explained: “I’ve believed in Jesus, so I have been born of the Spirit, but I haven’t been water baptized! The Bible says unless we are born of water and the Spirit, we cannot enter the kingdom of God! I’m afraid. I don’t want to die and go to Hell.”
She was referring to the words of Jesus about being born again (John 3:3-8). We were encouraged to let her know she definitely had already been born of water! In fact, every human being has been. When the water breaks and we emerge from our mothers, we are born of water.
Jesus emphasized the need to also be born supernaturally by the Spirit through faith in Him! Once we have been born again by giving our lives to Jesus, as our Lord and Savior, a next step of obedience is to be water baptized to demonstrate we are His followers (Acts 2:36-39).
The next step for this dear woman was to affirm that her faith rested in Jesus alone to save her and to bring her safely home to Himself (1 Peter 1:18-21).
Have you trusted in Jesus as your Leader and Forgiver?Have you been water baptized to demonstrate you are following Him (Matthew 3:13-17)?
Last Monday, I got to connect with Tom Rice of Great Marriages for Sheboygan County (Sue wasn’t feeling her best, but she chimed in a couple times ), sharing wisdom and experience from 53 years of finding joy in marriage!
TONIGHT, 7-9 PM Central, I’ll get to chat with our disciple-making friend Liz Kohli ~ greater Milwaukee area team leader for the Perspectives on the World Christian Movement! How Is God at work around the world? How can we be a part?
~Nov. 2, Liz Kohli with Perspectives on the World Christian Movement ~Nov. 9, Jim Egli of New Generations — Disciple Making Movements around the world ~Nov. 16, Ross Nelson — intercessory prayer that births movements! ~Nov. 23, Dave & Rennie Garda of Cadre — real life disciple-making friendships ~Nov. 30, Christine Jacobs — effective prayer & spiritual warfare
~Dec. 7, Bill Marris of Circuit Rider Ministries — Looking thru Jewish Eyes: the Christmas Story Revisited ~Dec. 14, Avi in Israel — Finding Jesus in the Jewish Feasts ~Dec. 21, Roy Schwarcz of Chosen People Ministries — Without Hanukkah, There Would Be No Christmas ~Dec. 28, Dr. Walter Kaiser — Jewish Roots of our Faith in Jesus
~Jan. 4, Jim Corbett of the Family Rescue Campaign — The Wonder of Covenant with God & Others ~January 11, 18, 25, Q&A with Dr. Walt Kaiser — Women in Ministry Matters, Treasures from the Old Testament, Prayer & Revival
I’m certainly glad that our exchange has taken place via private electronic messages and not posted on an open forum.
Your questions and line of reasoning, in your email response to me, were nothing short of stupid!
It’s disgusting how much you need me and my guidance! We can only be grateful that I’m here for you for such a time as this.
How wonderful, on the contrary, to hear that your client highly regards the clergy-laity divide!
It exquisitely limits the Enemy’s workforce when the majority of “Christians” view themselves as passive pew sitters, punching a weekly time clock of church attendance—while the leadership is busy knocking into one another with puffed-up heads, useless debates, and endless divisions.
Reinforce this concept of spiritual hierarchy wherever it may be found, whether in church structure or personal relationships, as it delightfully divides, discourages, and disheartens.
Overall, protect your client from recognizing the strategy of Jesus, who sought to revolutionize the world by creating a level playing field where any average persona non grata can become a public enemy of concern to our organization.
Arguments about titles, roles, and rules are to be strongly encouraged! Emphasize and even overemphasize non-essential topics.
“Overall, protect your client from recognizing the strategy of Jesus, who sought to revolutionize the world by creating a level playing field where any average persona non grata can become a public enemy of concern to our organization…”
Revise and re-revise the bylaws and policy manuals until the cows come home. Underscore any religious pattern of thinking or behavior that will keep more players on the benches and little to none on the field.
Your client seems a miniscule threat in terms of equipping, training, or mobilizing people to pray or work for the Enemy. He’s securely self-focused.
His own theological training and experience nearly guarantee he will be looked to as an authority. His personality is winsome enough that he will shepherd the flock in our direction without the sheep being any the wiser.
You will also do well to ensure that any passages, referencing humility or unity are relegated as compulsory for others and applied only to his personal advantage, while your client holds tightly to his own self-righteousness.
Another hilarious thing in the religious sector (if one is given to laughter) is that with one well-placed fear, doubt, or unnecessary concern one can spin an entire conversation, conference, or series of meetings out of focus into total disarray and ensuing chaos!
Lest you doubt me, I will cite a case study.
I heard from one of our colleagues who inspired a group of church leaders to fully dissociate from one of their own and disregard this other’s so-called “success” because of his unconventional use of untrained “lay leaders” in public ministry.
This individual was part of a divergent movement, which I recognized as one of the blips of concern on the map. He was gathering everyday believers for prayer, training, and deployment in what he termed “disciple-making,” which dangerously upset the religious applecart.
Our esteemed colleague, playing on the other leaders’ fears of becoming obsolete and further underpaid, inspired a discussion on traditional ecclesial titles and roles. Those mentioned previously, like pastor and reverend, came up but even more like elder, deacon, bishop, overseer, et cetera.
This “friendly” conversation soon became a full-fledged debate with tempers flaring and increasingly more words flying. Of course, this came with the inversely proportional amount of time spent actually listening.
As they heard one another less and less, their argument became more and more heated. Lines drawn in the proverbial sand became deeper and deeper trenches between them.
The division and distraction that ensued was delicious!
In closing, be sure to keep on the forefront of your mind the fact that you are easily replaceable. And if you fail or your initial attempts suggest that you might fail, I will recommend your immediate termination.
There is a long line of underlings, who would be overjoyed to step into your strong-smelling shoes.
“The Reverend” P. Sophresh
(honorary, self-awarded title included just for the dramatic effect of it)
P.S. Those credentials are so easy to acquire online these days that as I wrote the closing words of this memo I went ahead and registered myself for one! The official certificate I printed is prominently displayed on my home office wall.
Oh, what irony and hilarity! You might well do the same if you think it would help you see from behind your client’s eyes. And who says our work isn’t fun?
“We must picture Hell as a state where everyone is perpetually concerned about his own dignity and advancement, where everyone has a grievance, and where everyone lives the deadly serious passions of envy, self-importance, and resentment. This, to begin with.”
It quite surprised me—as I am sure it did you when you no doubt heard—that I was to be removed from my post for an undesignated period.
My theory, more well-informed of course than most, is that there was a jealousy brewing among some higherups regarding my capabilities and potential qualifications to be promoted to their rank (please keep this tasty tidbit to yourself and refrain from sharing it vertically or horizontally).
I have my finger on something that few others in our organization are aware of.
While some supervisors have their heads deep in the weeds of particular cases and others get bleary-eyed looking at the grander scheme, I have noted some dangerous blips on the map, spiritual trends you might call them, which if left unaddressed could present significant problems for our overarching initiatives and long-range organizational goals.
When my findings are fully recognized, I will no doubt be promoted to a rank much higher than you could ever dream of attaining.
You may have heard it explained that the ranking system our organization employs was uniquely designed for us. Of course, humans have attempted to implement our structure everywhere from their families and corporate org charts to their religious institutions.
It is quite humorous (if one is given to humor) to observe the ensuing disunity, mistrust, and inequality that results.
Some have falsely attributed the origin of our organizational ranking system to the Enemy. Of course, it was our Chief Operating Officer, our Father Below himself, who arranged the levels and ranks for us, with himself firmly fixed at the highest office.
To say the least, I was elated, while reviewing your client’s file, to discover that he is a reverend. And not just a member of the so-called clergy, but one who insists on being addressed by exalted titles like “Pastor,” which he finds ever so much satisfaction in. What’s more, he revels in discussing his rank, experience, and education ad nauseum.
Your weak ramblings in your initial briefing and the lack of clarity in your client plan speak loudly and clearly that you have failed to grasp how simple this assignment can be for you!
This may very well become a backburner account that provides rich dividends, requiring only minimal maintenance—while you can give your attention to taking on additional clientele. In this case, your perceived enemy can very easily become your ally. In fact, he already may be an asset to our cause!
I hope you will soon wake up and smell the coffee in the fellowship hall! Realize, my pea-brained compatriot, you have nothing to fear just because your current client is “religious.”
The world of human religion is an opportunistic playground for us, as it often inherently embraces several foundational pillars, which our organization prizes. A few of which are the love of power, manipulation, domination, control, wealth, rank… need I go on?
If you have done your homework—which would be hard to believe—you may remember that our Enemy addressed this very matter during his incarnate years on this earth.
The Enemy instructed his disciples they were not to be addressed by honorific titles like Rabbi, Teacher, or Father. This was important to him because he, dangerously, knew what was in a human heart.
He recognized humankind is given toward pride. Thus, they jump when the opportunity presents itself to find identity or a sense of worth in position, power, or personal accomplishments.
“The Enemy instructed his disciples they were not to be addressed by honorific titles like Rabbi, Teacher, or Father.” ~Preptor S.
The scenes from Esther’s life recorded in chapters 5-7 of her book illustrate the power of a praying woman and God’s ability to turn even the most dire circumstances around for His glory and the good of His people!