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?
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.
In recent years, I’ve been invited to share 5 Father’s Day messages with 5 different local churches in Wisconsin and New York!
I think God may be trying to tell me something…
This message, a conversation with Jim Corbett of the Family Rescue Campaign, is one of my favorites. There is nothing that can heal and transform our hearts like encountering the heart of our Heavenly Father!
I pray you’re inspired to seek God’s heart. As you do, may you discover who He is in a fresh and transformative way!
There is nothing that can heal and transform our hearts like encountering the heart of our Heavenly Father!
I’m blessed to be sharing a message this Sunday in Junction City, WI on “Making Disciples Who Multiply!” Praying through the Scripture I’ll be sharing from this weekend reminded me of themes I touched on in a message on “The Gift & Call of Singleness.”
No matter your relationship status or your season of life, I pray these thoughts will encourage you to be a multiplier who gathers others for Jesus-like disciple making friendships!
Have you ever tried to take a walk in someone else’s shoes or to see from behind another’s eyes?
I try to do this whenever I’m involved in drama (whether on or off the stage). It’s the best way I know to emphasize, to feel another’s pain, to suspend judgment, and to listen well.
In preparation for a 40-day journey leading up to Resurrection Sunday, I saturated myself in the Gospel according to Mark. Trying to get into the heart and mind of John Mark was a powerful experience for me.
I pray you’ll discover much as you hear and see his story unfold in the first person. May you get a taste of the sweet fruit that this walk in another’s sandals culminated in for me.
The Bible teaches that marriage was designed by God to be a picture of the relationship Jesus has with His Church. The Church is a living body made up of people — men, women, and children — in right relationship with their Heavenly Father, who have trusted in the Lord Jesus and surrendered their lives to His saving grace.
Each of us has broken God’s Law, the Ten Commandments, by lying, stealing, hating, and lusting. Our relationships with others so clearly reveal our need for forgiveness. Jesus taught that if you’ve been angry with your brother or called him a name, you’ll be held accountable for it when you stand before God on Judgment Day (Matthew 5:21-22). When you hate someone, you’ve murdered him in your heart (1 John 3:15). Human anger is often tainted by selfishness and ill motives. “…Man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires” (James 1:20).
Jesus knows every secret thought and attitude of our hearts. He views all lustful thoughts and actions as adultery (Matthew 5:27-28). If we come to God expecting to earn a place in Heaven because of our good works, we are in for a terrible surprise. We deserve only God’s judgment in Hell. However, He wants us to experience His love and a union with Jesus that marriage was designed to reflect. He offers it to you today.
The good news is that God came to earth as Jesus. He lived a perfect life, died on the cross, and rose to life again. Like a Groom coming to claim His bride, Jesus will return again for all those who have turned from sin and put their full trust in Him. Jesus gave His lifeblood because of His desire to become united with those He loves. He paid the bride price with His own life. Husbands likewise are called to serve their wives by dying to themselves and making personal sacrifices that their wives might draw closer to Jesus Christ. Wives are called to respond in self-giving love by serving their husbands — that together the couple might be a ministry team for the Master.
Jesus is calling you today to join His Bride, the Church. “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that He may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus” (Acts 3:19-20). Jesus has promised to return to bring His Bride home to be with Him forever. Have you trusted Jesus? Have you surrendered your heart and life to Him? He’s calling you today.
Together, Bridget and I desire to create a home and marriage that reveals to all who encounter us, the beautiful heart of Jesus for His Bride. Would you join His Bride, the Church, today by turning from sin and trusting fully in Jesus to save and heal you?
He was parched. For more than a month, He had plastered His footprint around the barren desert. He walked during the cooler parts of the day and found rest during the darkest watches of the night. The sun beat down upon His brow with intense heat. Sitting to rest and pray was necessary to go on. In this wilderness, He was tempted by Satan, but the Holy Spirit had sent Him there (Mk. 1:12). He was with wild animals, but angels cared for Him (1:13).
He had fasted 40 days in the desert. Jesus needed food, right? After all, He was hungry. A hungry man needs food. Satan used that exact argument: “You need food! Turn these stones into bread.” Jesus answered, “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every Word that comes from the mouth of God” (Mt. 4:4). A hungry man needs a higher sustenance that goes beyond natural food.
When you bore down to the deepest level, we all need this sustenance. What do you need? You need whatever will sustain you to accomplish God’s will for your life. But where does that sustenance come from?
Of course, you need to be eating properly and caring for your body. But food alone will not sustain you. Satan later tried to tempt Jesus with worldly riches (Mt. 4:8-10). Do you need money? We’ve heard often that Jesus clothes lilies and watches over sparrows. Luke records that He feeds the ravens too (Lk. 12:24). This is gripping because, according to Jewish law, ravens were ceremonially unclean birds. These birds could not be given as an acceptable sacrifice. Yet the LORD provides even for them. He sees your need. He knows what will sustain you. We are not to set our hope on “the uncertainty of riches but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy” (1 Tim. 6:17).
Are you too dependent upon important people in your life? I’m not saying you should neglect other relationships because you have Jesus. When you follow Christ, you learn that He often encourages and speaks through others in His body. But we must be able to spend time alone with Him, to look to Him first, as we wait upon and listen to Him.
Philippians 4:19 speaks of God meeting all of the believers’ needs “according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” In His wilderness time of need, Christ’s sustenance came through the Holy Spirit, the Bible, and the ministry of angels (Lk. 4:1, 4; Mt. 4:11; Mk. 1:13). Followers of Jesus have access to all three of these (Heb. 1:14).
Ultimately, Jesus Christ is our sustenance. In other words, when you introduce someone to Jesus, you give her everything (Col. 3:11). Paul learned to be content in all circumstances, because he trusted the One who always provides (Phil. 4:11-13). The writer of Hebrews states, “Be content with what you have” (Heb. 13:5). But how? The verse continues explaining we’re content because the LORD says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
You have only one true need. It’s not food or drink, riches, or even friends. If you will hold fast to Jesus, He will provide your daily sustenance that you might carry out His will. Find delight in His presence. He will use whatever means necessary, whether food, people, or supernatural strength during 40 days in the desert, to sustain you. In Christ alone, you truly have all you need.