~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
It wouldn’t be helpful to anyone involved to go into all the details of where the content of these posts originated and how they came to us. In rough sketch, they were intercepted on the dark web. If it wasn’t for a friend who works in cyber security, we probably would’ve never stumbled upon them.
Our friend felt that these posts were important enough, even potentially helpful, for us to be aware of that he passed them on…
“There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight. The sort of script which is used in this book can be very easily obtained by anyone who has once learned the knack; but ill-disposed or excitable people who might make a bad use of it shall not learn it from me.”
I post this open letter in hopes that I will increase the girth of not just my waistline but my influence, during this strategic season of my career.
Through many decades of practicing my profession, I have learned quite a few tips and tricks of the trade. I trust these principles will prove invaluable to those less experienced and less effective than I at shepherding souls toward the greater light—which some have so ignorantly called the darkness.
Out with the old in with the new
An important update that I feel impressed to announce is that our organization has ceased use of the term “patient” and instead has replaced it with the more desirable designation “client.”
After all, who would feel honored to know she is referred to as a patient?
It brings to mind the poking, prodding, and all manner of procedures that often accompany unpleasant medical tests. Of course, while you and I may think fondly of such torturous treatments, most of our clients do not.
In a very real sense, we are here to please. And so we must update our language as the higher-ups deem compulsory. This serves both to address the changing tide of societal norms and to shift the sands of popular opinion in our favor.
We do have a responsibility to do both after all.
We influence environmental conditions, inspire value systems, and establish human partners, which will instigate people movements toward our liking. We also respond gleefully at times to the downward trends that the mass of humanity chooses entirely for themselves.
People do so often make deliciously destructive choices that propel them in our direction like swine over a cliff.
Tangentially, another deterrent of the word “patient” is its similarity to the term “patience.” Though for different reasons, “patience” too is quite loathsome—both by virtue of its inherent power and how often it is asked of our Enemy, as in:
“I pray for more patience…”
Instead, our organization has wisely opted for the term “client.” A memo has gone out to all high-ranking supervisors, which prominent department heads like myself had clearance to access. And we have been charged to instruct our subordinates—those of lower rank such as I assume yourself—to amend our language immediately.
Lest you stumble over our specific choice of words, you will do well to observe that our work is as much art as it is science.
We do tend to deal in extremes. Here is what I mean in 4 bite-sized points…
Lest you stumble over our specific choice of words, you will do well to observe that our work is as much art as it is science.
1. Of course, it is useful to encourage a client toward viewing the world amorphously (think: The Blob).
The less aware they are of a grander story, purpose, and connection in their lives, the more likely they will tend toward hopelessness, depression, and the insatiable pursuit of that which temporarily quiets their inner pangs for greater meaning.
2. If you cannot inspire a client toward viewing the world in extreme shades of gray, absolute black-and-white thinking can serve our purposes just as well.
Ensure your client is unable to see from another’s point of view and is fully entrenched in opinions he has held for as long as he can remember. This will near guarantee his inability to learn, grow, or discover so-called truths that might pull him toward maturity and out of your tender, loving grasp.
3. Whether a client has an excessively fluid or intensely rigid view of the world, their denial of the tensions between most truths in life will lead them to a discomfort with themselves, others, and ultimately with the Enemy.
This will leave them no choice but to pursue numbing activities to lessen their perception of pain and the inevitable approach of their impending death—which cannot come soon enough from our perspective.
Sometimes their self-medicating will take the form of addictive behaviors that you are well aware of, such as substance abuse, sexual extremes, or overeating—to name a few. However, equally powerful can be more subtle workaholic tendencies, religious extremism, or compulsion toward a certain brand of do-gooding.
4. If there is a road to be driven on, ensure your client falls into the ditch on one side or the other.
This will keep her from safely arriving at a destination dangerously nearer the Enemy and the values of his realm.
Ensure your client either is so busy with what he deems important pursuits that he has no time for rest and quickly wears out like a threadbare garment. Or conversely, that he so gives himself to leisurely pursuits that he slowly eats, drinks, amuses, and sleeps himself to an early death.
If there is a road to be driven on, ensure your client falls into the ditch on one side or the other.
Now, I will address those working with clients who are already religious.
Ensure traditional and sacramental types are so off put by the evangelical claim to have a personal knowledge of God that they give themselves all the more fully to the ornamental and superficial.
Ensure the self-proclaimed evangelical so emphasizes his “personal relationship” with the Enemy that he neglects meaningful connection with others and becomes all but deaf to the cries of the world around him.
Keep them all focused on buildings and budgets, dollars and donors, nickels and noses.
Ensure neither camp opens the Enemy’s dastardly Book.
If by chance you fail in this regard, and they are somehow exposed to its words, ensure they glance at it only ritually or out of obligation. Discourage any sense of expectation to hear from the Enemy, or perhaps worse, to apply what is read in their daily lives.
The more lifeless the Book can appear to them the better. The collection of copies upon copies in various versions and styles will be just fine, as long as they all remain largely untouched, unread, and dusty on some high, hard-to-reach shelf. Even an occasional display copy on the coffee table is just fine, as long as it goes unnoticed like a forgotten carving in the woodwork.
Discourage any sense of expectation to hear from the Enemy, or perhaps worse, to apply what is read in their daily lives.
It goes without saying that electronic versions are permissible, as long as they remain unread and forgotten once downloaded. Ensure they don’t discover the ease of accessing the Book on mobile devices. If by chance they do, ensure alerts pull their attention to other pursuits, which I like to call delectable distractions.
Abounding busyness is sure to set in again soon.
In short, keep your clients blissfully unaware, as they slowly lull themselves to sleep with the hum and whir of their many machines.
Ever Yours, a True Expert,
Distinguished Former Department Head, Messenger of Light Inc.
(Currently furloughed. Seeking contract work.References available upon request.)
Keep your clients blissfully unaware, as they slowly lull themselves to sleep with the hum and whir of their many machines.
I recently heard about a local church with financial problems that looked to their mission budget as an easy target for cuts.
Sweet Bridget and I served for a time in Africa. Having made such meaningful memories in South Africa, Malawi, and North Africa, part of our heart has been planted there (1 Th. 2:8). It’s heartbreaking to think global mission could be viewed as a low priority.
Last month, we heard Larry Osborne of North Coast Church teach from his book Mission Creep. Jesus gave us one mission (Matt. 28:16-20). But Larry explained the process of drift. When we consistently miss His target of multiplying disciples all over the world who obey Jesus, we tend to shift our aim toward whatever we think we’re good at.
Insert: _______________ …programming, music, food, ad nauseum.
Larry acknowledged North Coast won’t be around forever. He soberly stated, once it’s reached its lifespan, like any human organization, it will cease to exist. Its meeting space will likely be used for another purpose. But the kingdom of God, which they sought to advance, will live on… eternally. Toward kingdom unity, Larry charged church leaders to consider a local missional gift to a neighboring church in need, even one of another denomination.
Jim Cymbala & the Music Conference choir ~ Brooklyn Tabernacle, New York City (10-7-19)
I was in an elder meeting once where a slight mission budget cut was proposed, which would’ve eliminated support for some of our faithful missionaries. I’ll always remember the words of a seasoned elder:
“What message do we send to our church and to our young people if we defund our mission?”
For local churches:
Consider your missionaries an extension of your staff.
Partner based on shared mission and kingdom values.
Feature image credit:
NASA, “On October 7, 2018, an astronaut aboard the International Space Station (ISS) shot this photograph while orbiting at an altitude of more than 250 miles over Australia” (Earth Enveloped in Airglow).
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…
…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.
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.
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.
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).
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 hermission 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
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?
“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?
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?
“Dependence is a dirty word.” That summarizes several comments posted on my Facebook status. My status read, “In life, you have two choices: either become independent or fully dependent on Jesus.”
The unbelieving world deems the college years a period when youth should become independent. As usual, the world is wrong.
I, a dependent college student, wager the college years are an opportunity to become utterly dependent on the Lord Jesus. Yes, students usually leave home and family; In Chicago, I’m 600 miles away from mine. Sure, they often become self supporting, more responsible and mature. Of course, battle plans and personal goals are refined. However, independence should never be the aim of a Jesus-follower. He calls His disciples to complete reliance on Him.
Christ-loving students should expect college to be a stretching, painful experience wherein the Lord of Glory trims the fat from their lives. I propose God does this on purpose. That way, absolute surrender to Jesus and connection with the Body of Christ arise as the only antidotes to our need.
Let’s euthanize the myth that students should church hop and sample as many local assemblies as possible. Plug in. Be dependent on Christ’s Body. Be faithful. Commit yourself to a local church family as soon as possible. You’ll be obedient to Jesus and set yourself up to experience the operation of spiritual gifts in the context He intended.
If I aim to become dependent on Christ, I must learn to redeem the time for “the days are evil” (Eph. 5:16; Col. 4:5). Every second two people die, and there’s nothing I can do about it. Unless of course, I surrender to Jesus and in the power of His Spirit declare the Gospel in and out of season, making the most of every opportunity (Acts 1:8; 2 Tim. 4:2).
A dependent disciple of Christ is driven by the will of God and not the needs of man. One who attempts to meet everybody’s needs commits ministerial suicide. Those who depend on Jesus must be attentive to the Holy Spirit’s voice minute to minute and do what He says.
I am dependent on the only Source, who can always provide (Take that, the world, the flesh, and the Devil!). And I plan to keep growing in that dependence until the day I see Him, Face to face.