The Reverend

“Satan fell through force of gravity.”

~G.K. Chesterton

My Dear Hognut,

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.

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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.

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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!

Photo by Trinity Kubassek

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.

Photo by Rafael Serafim

The division and distraction that ensued was delicious!

This pairs well with what I urged in a previous post about inspiring our clientele to focus on their differences and to quickly take offense.  In short, train your client to be quick to speak, slow to listen, and quick to outburst in anger, for this is near sure as Hell to bring about the outcome we so deeply desire.  

That turn of phrase has a ring to it!

“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…”

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.

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There is a long line of underlings, who would be overjoyed to step into your strong-smelling shoes.

Tenderly yours,

“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?

If you’d like to talk more about disciple making that multiplies, reach out to us...

Roy Moran

Marcus Constantine

Alarming Spiritual Trends

“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.”

~C.S. Lewis

Dear Hognut,

I cannot tell you how elated I am that my previous posts cast a long enough shadow, creating the buzz necessary to reinstate myself into a supervisory role in our organization.

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.

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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.

Photo by Francesco Ungaro

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?

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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.

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Each of these pitfalls have the potent allure of quicksand, pulling hard and holding fast any who would stumble or stride into them.

Make sure that portions of the Book, like those aforementioned, are hidden from your client.  Of course, he can read and even teach them, but ensure they remain veiled.

He is free to explain them away by complicated reasoning, suggesting they are only applicable to the earliest disciples or via some other convoluted theological or, otherwise, logical arguments.

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If he is completely convinced in his own mind, those who hear his profound explanations will equally be either thoroughly convicted or confused.  Either is our delight!

More on this soon.  Keep me updated on your progress.

“If he is completely convinced in his own mind, those who hear his profound explanations will equally be either thoroughly convicted or confused.  Either is our delight!”

Breathing down your neck and looking over your shoulder (at times, quite literally),

Preptor S.

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If you’d like to talk more about disciple making that multiplies, reach out to us...

Roy Moran

Marcus Constantine

The Other Side of the Fence: Boundaries & Healing the Wounds of our Past

As a part of a message in 2016, I shared the first public reading of The Other Side of the Fence 🐑 (shortly after it was written and illustrated).

4 years later… we’re excited to share it’s now available on Amazon! This week as part of a Kindle Countdown Deal (it’s $3.99 today)…

We’d love to hear your thoughts as you read it and interact with this message! 📚

What life lessons have you learned through disregarding boundaries?

In what ways have healthy boundaries protected you from what might’ve been on The Other Side of the Fence?

asphalt countryside crossing daylight
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I will…

In recent years, we’ve been on a journey, discovering more and more of what it looks like to follow our Lord Jesus in loving obedience.

James is a great book on this topic filled with Jewish-style wisdom from a Jesus-loving Jewish leader, James the brother of the Messiah.  His focus isn’t primarily doctrine or logic but the practical outworking of our faith, how faith works out in everyday life.

According to Dr. Gordon Fee, James is “…the New Testament counterpart of the Jewish Wisdom tradition, now in light of the teachings of Jesus.”

My heart’s desire is to grow as a disciple of Jesus, following in His footsteps (1 John 2:6).  As I spend time in His Word, I’m developing the habits of:

  1. identifying a specific way “I will…” put into practice in my life what I’m learning. 
  2. sharing with someone else who might benefit or be encouraged by something I’m learning.

I recently shared a message on some of these themes from James 1:19-27 at our dear friend’s church in Rochester, NY.  I pray hearing it will stir in you a similar desire to walk out your faith.

As you listen…

~What’s your “I will…” (your next step of obedience)?

~Who do you feel prompted to share with?

United We Stand

As we began our revival history tour, I couldn’t help but feel the minister at Park Street reminded me of George Whitefield or Jonathan Edwards (but without the white wig).  His message was from John 17

Whitefield & Edwards with wigs
George Whitefield & Jonathan Edwards

Rev. Kris Perkins-Park Street

…Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son so He can give glory back to You” (Jn. 17:1).

The night before, our group gathered around a table and shared what brought us on the trip.  We each expressed a passion for prayer and a heart for revival.  Though from many different backgrounds, we were united in mission.

Park Street Church was founded in 1809 by handful of people, who united to address Unitarianism.  They were clear about their purpose, emphasizing biblical theology, revival and spiritual renewal, and worldwide mission.

Park Street Church

As a congregational church, they’ve consistently emphasized mutual accountability and the priesthood of all believers (1 Pet. 2:9-10).  As a church that loves the Gospel, they’ve hosted great revival preachers through the years like Jonathan Edwards, Charles Finney, D.L. Moody, and Billy Sunday.  They gathered 40,000 on the nearby Boston Common to hear Billy Graham.

Graham on Boston Common

As a missional church, they were part of sending some of the first cross-cultural American missionaries, who sailed to India in 1812.  In 1819, Park Street commissioned its first team of missionaries to the Sandwich Islands.

Sandwich Islands Mission

Living out their faith through social action, William Lloyd Garrison hosted anti-slavery meetings at Park Street, and the American Educational Society was founded there.  They were among the first to provide Sunday School for those without access to formal education, during a time when this was looked down upon as “working on the sabbath.”  This calls to mind Jesus’ question: “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath?” (See Luke 6:7-11 for His answer).

Bicentennial Quilt

Each week, 40-50 different nations are represented by those who gather to worship King Jesus at Park Street.  I was blessed to worship beside a brother in Christ from Nigeria.

How could a local church be true to her mission for over 200 years?

“I have revealed You to the ones You gave Me from this world. They were always Yours. You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word.” ~Jesus, John 17:6

As we worshiped with this biblical, Gospel, missional church, the minister spoke from John 17 on what Jesus wants for us.  The night of His betrayal, just before His suffering and death, Christ prayed for our unity.  Let’s not miss the significance.

“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in Me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as You and I are one—as You are in Me, Father, and I am in You. And may they be in us so that the world will believe You sent Me.” ~Jesus, John 17:20-21

This was Jesus’ last prayer for us before the dawning of a new era.  The season of the Spirit was about to be inaugurated through His death and resurrection.

Jesus could have prayed for many things.  Just as Park Street’s message that morning could’ve covered many topics.  But Jesus prayed and the minister preached on unity in mission.

“I have given them the glory You gave Me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and You are in Me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that You sent Me and that You love them as much as You love Me.” ~Jesus, John 17:22-23

Preaching at Park Street
“Let’s follow Christ’s example and pray for unity!” ~Rev. Kris Perkins, Associate Minister at Park Street Church

We so often allow differences to divide.
We underscore what makes us different instead of our Gospel commonalities.

We attempt all sorts of programs and expansions while neglecting Scripture, prayer, and mission.  And we wonder why modern religious methods fall so short…

Will we learn from a 200-year-old church who has stayed united and true to her heritage?

Memorial to God's faithfulness at Park Street

“O righteous Father, the world doesn’t know You, but I do; and these disciples know You sent Me. I have revealed You to them, and I will continue to do so. Then Your love for Me will be in them, and I will be in them.” ~Jesus, John 17:25-26

Chime in.  I’d love to hear from you…

In what ways are you pursuing Gospel unity and missional priorities in your community?

Unintended curriculum

The speaker shuffled his notes and feet uneasily. Impressionable young eyes stared back at him—some clouded with pain, others glowing with life.

He cleared his throat and told a “funny” story from his youth of a time he’d been intoxicated. The speaker went on to present a well-polished sermon. At the end of this youth meeting, a gray-haired woman waited patiently to address the speaker.

When her turn arrived, she gently questioned, “Were you trying to teach the kids that being drunk is fun?”

“No!” he snapped. “I was teaching from the Book of James.”

Shaking her head sadly, she sighed, “What about your opening? You had ‘em laughing intensely about being drunk.”

“That was just my opening illustration! It was meant to be funny. Didn’t you hear me qualify afterward that being drunk is a sin?”

“Let me be clear. I’m not saying you should hide the fact that you’ve been drunk before, but that story was merely intended to make the kids laugh. It made light of a serious issue in the lives of those learners.”

The true rarity in the story above is the woman’s wise, gentle rebuke. Thoughtlessness on the part of speakers is widespread and can be deadly. 

As a young student, leading the Bible club at my public high school, I read an article on unintended curriculum that confronted my attitude toward using my words. The article questioned, what do you teach without meaning to? What do you lead hearers to infer and what conclusions do they draw from your words? Our curriculum includes both our content and our attitude.

To avoid any unintended curriculum here, let me clarify. I’m not saying we shouldn’t share stories of past sin or present struggles. Growing to be wise and confident in self-disclosure is actually a mark of Christ-like maturity. However, always avoid speaking with an attitude that glorifies sin, sickness, or Satan. The shifty, shiny speaker in the story above neglected this for the sake of humor. As a result, his hearers were fed attitudes that may have led them into temptation and the very lap of evil. 

I have liberty to tell stories and to answer any sort of question. It’s a matter of what I say and how I say it. I often ask myself, “What will listeners hear and learn from what I speak out?” In group settings, I tell stories that lift up Jesus and speak truth clearly. In one-to-one conversations, I aim to communicate with a respectful spirit.

Afterward, I ask the Holy Spirit to convict me of any sin. He is faithful to do so. That’s part of His mission (Jn. 16:7-11). And I’m grateful for it. In fulfilling His mission, the Holy Spirit empowers us to fulfill our great commission. Thank You, Holy Spirit, for convicting and holding us accountable. Thank You, Lord Jesus, for sending Your Spirit in power. 

The Lord judges teachers more strictly, because our words hold the power of life and death for listeners (Jm. 3:1; Prov. 18:21). Oh, let us speak boldly and wisely. Whether an aged saint is present to confront us or not, every time we speak, let us do so with knowledge that we are held accountable for what we teach both intentionally and unintentionally.

Uncalled for: a call for discernment of God’s will

Junior year at our public high school, English class included a unit on media and society. I was surprised when my teacher, a Christ-follower, showed an episode of a popular cartoon television comedy.

As a young believer, I was appalled. The pseudo-humor denigrated women, depicted soft-core porn, cursed, blasphemed the Lord’s Name, badmouthed family, dishonored parents, and more…

After a conversation with her, I realized my teacher’s wisdom: what a clear way to portray the potentially poisonous effects of media on society. I couldn’t wait for group discussion; now my classmates would certainly understand.

However, to my utter dismay, the majority gushed about how they enjoyed the episode and hoped we’d watch another next class. After all, “it might not be good for children, but it’s perfectly fine for me.” I was troubled by their double standard.

Most of these class members were not believers in Jesus. But many professing Christians similarly lack discernment. It’s concerning and can be quite dangerous.

In Philippians 4:8-9, the Holy Spirit speaks through Paul: if it’s true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy let it into your head, so you can think about it (vs. 8). Whether we like it or not, what we let in our heads sinks down into our hearts and begins to flow out in what we say and do. When you put Christ-honoring things into your heart and into practice, there’s a promise: God will be with you (vs. 9).

Is this passage written centuries ago to a group of Philippians really intended to serve as a filter for modern-day Jesus-followers? That depends on whether or not we want God to be near to us. It depends on how much we desire to walk closely within His will for our lives.

Christian liberty and grace are not licenses to love the things of the world, pursue youthful lusts, or naively believe everything we hear (Rom. 6:1-4; 2 Tim. 2:22). I’d like to sound the alarm and call for discernment.

Discernment is not only required for entertainment choices. It enables believers to test teaching and counsel. We must hold every truth claim up to the standard of the Bible, as the Bereans did (1 Thes. 5:21). They didn’t even take Paul’s word for it; they tested his teaching according to God’s written Word (Acts 17:11). Let’s be wise and not believe all we hear. Let’s not do everything the world around us does.

If we follow Christ, let’s ensure His message is never compromised. Guarding our hearts yields clear minds to hear the Holy Spirit’s voice (Prov. 4:23). Then we can discern the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God (Rom. 12:2). When we discern His will, we ready ourselves to carry it out.  Let’s gear up for the journey!

What has your experience been like with hearing the Spirit’s voice and discerning God’s will?

Do you have any specific media intake boundaries that you’ve set for yourself or decided on together as a family?

We’d love to hear from you…

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