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
roymoran.com

Marcus Constantine
livingtruth2.wordpress.com

Prayer as a Way of Life: Pray & Pray With…

It was a sweet blessing to host this Groups Connection Coaching Huddle with Darnell Robinson of the Milwaukee House of Prayer.

This conversation about the power of prayer strikes me as so relevant to this moment in history! Especially at times like these, it’s essential that we develop a prayerfully dependent way of life and learn to be led by Holy Spirit.

Especially at times like these, it’s essential that we develop a prayerfully dependent way of life and learn to be led by Holy Spirit.

I was struck by Darnell and Donna’s teachable, humble hearts and their obedience to Jesus, even when it cost them…

What stands out most to you? How are you developing rhythms of personal and corporate prayer in this unique season?

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A fresh outpouring

It’s Pentecost Sunday, and now more than ever, we need a fresh outpouring of God’s Spirit to bring peace to our cities, comfort to our hearts, and healing to our land.

Together, let’s pray…

“If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

2 Chronicles 7:14
I shared this message on getting to know the wonderful Person of the Holy Spirit on Feb. 23, 2020.

Now more than ever, we need a fresh outpouring of God’s Spirit to bring peace to our cities, comfort to our hearts, and healing to our land.

I pray you will encounter His love, peace, and power today as you hear these words…

dove nestled on palm branches
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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?

Wedding Symbolism

The marriage covenant is an eternal promise based on the truth of God’s Word, rooted in Christ’s love, and centered on His steadfast character.

*Marriage as a picture of the Gospel relationship:
The Bible teaches that marriage was designed by God to be a picture of the relationship Jesus has with those who love Him (Ephesians 5:29-33).  Each of us has turned away from right relationship with the God who loves us.  God’s Law, the Ten Commandments, clearly reveals our selfishness.  By loving others more than the LORD, lying, hating, lusting, and refusing to forgive, we have pushed ourselves away from relationship with Him.  
If we come to God trying to earn His love or to deserve a place in Heaven because of our good works, we will never know Him.  Our sin has separated us from Jesus, and we deserve only God’s judgment in Hell.  However, He wants us to experience His love and a close relationship with Jesus that marriage was designed to depict.
The good news is that Jesus, God in the flesh, came to earth.  He lived a perfect life, died on the cross, and rose from the dead!  As a Groom coming to claim His bride, Jesus will come again for all those who have turned from sin and put their 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 sacrificing for the good of their wives. Wives are called to respond in self-giving love by cooperating with their husbands – that together the couple might be ministry partners for the Master.
Jesus calls 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, Jesus” (Acts 3:19-20).  Jesus has promised to return to bring His Bride home to be with Him forever.  Are you in right relationship with God?  Have you fully trusted your heart and life to Jesus?  In an act of bold love, He invites you to do so today.

 

assorted signage decors
Photo by Craig Adderley

*Bridal party walking down the center aisle in participation:
Walking down the center aisle is based on a tradition from the Bible.  The LORD made a promise to bless Abraham, who was a forefather of Jesus Christ.  In Genesis 15:9-21, the LORD instructed Abraham to sacrifice several animals, cutting them in half and laying them on the ground.  Two parties making a covenant would confirm their agreement by walking between these two halves of an offering that had been split in two.  In Genesis 15, only the LORD walked down the center aisle, because it was His sole responsibility to unconditionally uphold His promise to Abraham’s descendants.  Abraham was asleep.  We walk down the center aisle today as a symbol of involvement, either as participants or witnesses, in this marriage covenant.
*Vows as terms of our covenant:
In the Bible, the LORD made many promises to His people.  God is always faithful, perfectly upholding His vows to love and provide.  In Exodus 20, after the LORD delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, God and His people exchanged vows.  We call these vows the Ten Commandments.  In verse 1, He begins by stating who He is and reminding His people that He set them free from their bondage.  The ten commands that follow are the vows that His loved ones promised to uphold in the relationship that they would enjoy with their God.  Today, the New Testament provides many examples of promises that the Lord Jesus made to His Bride, the Church.  Our vows today are the terms of our life-long covenant relationship with each other.

 

love rings wedding bible
Photo by Caio

*Rings as visual symbols of our lifetime commitment:
We have chosen to exchange circular wedding rings as a continual sign of our marriage, serving both to announce to others and to remind us of our vows.  A circle is a shape without starting or ending point.  It symbolizes the eternal nature of God, who is without beginning or end.  The Trinity – the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit – has always existed and always will (Genesis 1:26).  This eternal God created marriage (Genesis 2:18-25; Matthew 19:4-6).  He empowers us to remain faithful in our marriage, as He has first been faithful to us.  1 John 4:19, “We love because He first loved us.” 
*Salt covenant as a sign of irreversible partnership:
In biblical times, when two people wanted to make a covenant promise of loyalty, each would take some salt from a pouch carried on the belt and sprinkle it into the other’s pouch.  Both would then shake their pouches, intermingling forever the grains of salt.  Just as the individual grains of salt could never be taken back, their covenant would never be broken.  The LORD also included salt in covenants that He made with His people (Leviticus 2:13; Numbers 18:19; 2 Chronicles 13:5).

 

bright burn burnt candle
*Unity candle as a symbol of our new united family:
The Bible records that Eve first introduced sin’s darkness into the human heart (Genesis 3:6).  However, God also brought Jesus Christ, the Light of the world, through a descendant of Eve, a woman named Mary (John 8:12; 9:5; Luke 1:30-35).  As followers of Jesus, we have been called by Christ to be light in this world (Matthew 5:14-16).  Because they brought us into the world, we have chosen to have our biological mothers light candles representing all of our family relationships.  In a beautiful way, we leave and cleave to each other, forming a new family of our own, which includes our extended families.  The unity candle in the center represents this union of two people and two lives joined by Jesus Christ to become one.

 

heart shaped candle
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