Showing posts with label passion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label passion. Show all posts

Thursday

How Does God Feel About The Cross?


I was driving home from work the other day, and I found myself thinking about the Cross again. I’ve studied that center-point event of human history for half a century, and I’m constantly aware that there’s more to understand about it. 

I was reflecting what a bloody, violent, dark day that was: the creator of the planet was gasping, bleeding, nailed to this hunk of wood stuck in the ground. Evil men were sighing in relief. Disciples were shaking their heads in confusion. Demon hoards were cackling with delight.

I paused to ask Father how he felt about that dark day. After all these years, he still surprises me.

He reminded me of a day in my own life. 

I was standing next to my friend who was my pastor. My brother was standing next to me, and he and I were both wearing tuxedos. There were some other men and women with us, standing in front of a large crowd of people; music was playing somewhere. There were flowers, I think, and maybe some candles.

I saw none of that. There was a woman down at the other end of that  aisle. She was dressed in white and it seemed that all the light in the room came from her radiant smile. And she was looking at me. At me! She began walking quietly, confidently down that aisle. Toward me. I could barely breathe.

I had been looking forward to this day for years. I didn’t know a whole about my life and what I would do with it, but I knew, I knew I must share my life with her, we must do this together. She was my dream come true. 

And here she was. She was going to, willingly, without any coercion, join her life with mine. This woman, she loves me! Me!

And now it was happening. It was actually happening! My whole life was just now beginning, this day! She walked toward me, through that crowd that neither of us saw. She stepped forward and stood next to me and looked into my eyes. I was undone. My eyes were wet and my knees were weak.

And Father whispered hoarsely, 

“That. 

That’s how I felt that day.”



Tuesday

Lessons on Giftings & Callings From an Unlikely Source


I learned some things recently, and it’s not exactly rocket science.

This fellow looks like an eighteenth century British scientist, kind of like Sir Isaac Newton. Both were knighted by the queen (different queens), and they’re both astrophysicists, but this fellow is way more well known than Newton, though not primarily for his astrophysics.

Sir Brian May is better know as the guitarist and co-founder of a band that the Guinness Book of Records says is literally more popular than the Beatles ever were. He’s also a Doctor of Astrophysics, a 3-D stereoscopic photographic authority and a passionate advocate and campaigner for animal rights. (https://brianmay.com/brian/biog.html)  

I was listening to a song he wrote in honor of a flippin’ spaceship of all things (it’s a wonderful song: https://youtu.be/j3Jm5POCAj8), when some interesting thoughts wandered by.

• Your reputation does not determine who you are, or what you get to do with your life. (There are exceptions.)

• Your gifts and skills, even your gifts, do not determine who you are or what you get to do with your life. (Though they may provide some limits.)

• If you have great skills in one area, don’t be afraid to use those skills. (Planet Rock rates May as the seventh greatest guitarist of all time. [https://nwp.link/2FvwYoa])

• If God blindsides you with success in an area, don’t be afraid of changing your path. (May was in the midst of his doctoral thesis on the Motions of Interplanetary Dust when his side gig, a band called Queen, suddenly found some success. He quit his studies to play guitar.)

• If you follow the blessing of God, don’t necessarily let go of your previous dreams. (After a 30-year break for rock-and-roll super-stardom, May finished his thesis, and got his PhD in 2007.)

• You can still follow other interests, too. Your job or your studies (or your ministry) is not your entire life. (May started a stereoscopic imaging publishing company, was a University chancellor for a few years, and was a collaborator with NASA for the New Horizons Pluto mission.)

My sense is that some people (I decline to comment about whether this includes myself or not) have sometimes felt, “Well, I have some gifting [or some success, or some training] here, I guess this is what I’m going to do with my life,” as if the gifts of God were a life sentence.

Stated in more blunt vocabulary, a lot of western believers seem to be awfully religious about their life choices, choosing a career because of religious expectations, or following a path of failure (of one sort or another) just because they see it as their religious “duty.”

I’m not saying your choices will lead you down an easy path. Most of God’s paths aren’t rosy: look at Jesus’ example. But if Jesus isn’t on the path, maybe you shouldn’t be either.

If you’re looking for Biblical support for this, consider how Jesus walked away from successful ministry (Luke 4:43), or how Paul bypassed part of the Great Commission for his ministry choices (compare Matthew 28:19’s commands with 1Corinthians 1:17).

Walk with Jesus. Know him well. Love him well. Then do what you want, what you feel you should do. Do what actually works for you.


Thursday

Anointed Worship: What Does That Really Mean?

I had an interesting revelation recently. I’d like your take on it. This might be a little convoluted, so follow close here. This took me down unfamiliar paths; perhaps they’ll be new ideas to you as well.

I was worshipping in the morning, and I was using a track from one of my favorite worship bands. The track was a very popular worship song: everybody and their bass player has covered it.

I found myself drawn into that place of intimate worship. I was thankful for such an anointed song to help lead me into the place of the sacrifice of worship. 

And it began to dawn on me that yes, there was an anointing here, but it wasn’t on the song. Hmm. Yes? Tell me more. 

I considered for a while the possibility that some songs might not carry an anointing on them, but people using the song for anointed purposes still produces an anointing.

That didn’t quite fit right. Why would this song be anointed, and that song not be anointed? (Yeah, I know: there are answers for this, but that’s not the path my meditation took this morning.) Might the anointing on a song vary with the anointing on the songwriter? Or the anointing present during the songwriting.

Then I recognized a feeling in my spirit: That’s not the right path; you’re getting distracted. (Have you ever played “hot & cold” [“You’re getting warmer…..”] when your parents or someone hid something for you to find? We did that with Easter eggs. This was like that.)

So I backed off and just listened in my spirit, watched to see what Holy Spirit might be highlighting for me.

After a bit, I realized that while He uses songs, it’s not songs that He anoints. Hmm.

The infinitely personal Spirit of the Immortal God doesn’t anoint melodies or harmonies with His presence, nor lyrics, though he’s quite happy to use them all. He doesn’t anoint the guitar solo, or the percussion mix, or the click track. It’s not the song’s arrangement, or the engineer’s mix of the song or use of equalization and reverb that carries God’s presence. Neither is it the choice of instruments nor the choice of microphones. It’s not the physical CD, or the data of the .mp3 or .wav file that He anoints.

God anoints people. God’s anointing is on people (and Biblically, you can make a case that he’s not all that particular about which people, believers or not), not on people’s tools. My tool is mine; God doesn’t typically anoint my stuff. God anoints what’s his: you and me.

I’m still working through the question of whether God anoints the tasks that we do; for the moment I think not, that His anointing is on people as they do the tasks, but the jury is still out on that one.

And here’s where it gets personal. This means – if I’m understanding His heart correctly – that when I sense God’s anointing on a worship song, as I did in this morning, that I’m mistaken.

I can think of a couple of directions that could go:

  • I’m pretty sure that very often what I mean when I say “It’s an anointed song,” is that I’m remembering experiencing His anointing while engaging Him with that song in times past. Our emotional memories are really powerful, and it could be those emotions I’m remembering.

  • Or when I experience an anointing in the context of a song, it may be that my own spirit (and perhaps my soul, too) is trained, conditioned to quickly and smoothly enter into the place where I experience his anointing. I can think of worse conditioned responses.

  • Closely related to the above, I think I’ve experienced times where my spirit is so thirsty that it leaps with joy at the barest hint of an opportunity to worship my Creator/King/Lover, and I mistake that leap toward Him for His anointing. I guess this one speaks to the quality of my private worship times. I confess, I love it when my spirit leaps to worship, but it is a sign of lack of spiritual nutrition in my life. Hmm.

  • Since I’m trying to be honest here, the possibility also exists that I’m deceived, too. It is a real possibility that when I experience something associated with a song which I’ve used for spiritual purposes, that I’m actually engaging a religious spirit. Let’s be honest, there is a lot of manipulation that happens in some times and places where we worship God. Looks like I need to keep my discernment ears on.

  • Or something else may be going on.


But God’s anointing is on people. Not tools. 

Running Ahead of the Pack

Forerunners move out from the crowd they've been running with, to a place ahead of the crowd, where they are an example for others. As a result, it is not uncommon for forerunners to feel isolated, alone.

You need to know that that’s not isolation: that’s forerunning: it’s part of the job description of a forerunner – running ahead of the crowd, not with it – and that solitude is part of God’s provision for you. (Remember how Jesus sought it out? eg. Mark 6:45-46)

Others among the crowd see your example and move forward to join the forerunner or to even move beyond you. So the forerunner will have an empty spot, a vacuum, behind you, where others used to be, where others used to be. The more effective a forerunner is at bringing others forward, the greater the vacuum. Anyone trying to pull away from that vacuum will feel the vacuum pulling back.

Forerunners, that’s one of the things you’re fighting: you need to stay out of that vacuum; you may feel forces pulling you back. Resist the influences trying to pull you back to where you used to be. You need to keep pressing forward, keep reaching for the high calling in Christ Jesus. That’s who you are; that’s how you’re made.

There are others who need to move forward to fill that space behind you, who need to draft behind you, who will be encouraged to keep the pace you set.


Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…. (Hebrews 12:1)



Lukewarm Laodicea?


I’m tired of people looking at Jesus’ letter to the Church in Laodicea and misinterpreting it.

“So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.”

So many preachers preaching from this passage, saying it’s better to be hot or cold. That’s fine, but then they drive right into the ditch. “Hot,” they say, is a person who’s “on fire” for God. And “Cold,” they say, is the opposite, someone who’s turned off on God. But people that are just “meh,” people who aren’t really passionate one way or the other are said to be “lukewarm,” and, they proclaim boldly, “God hates lukewarm!”

The encouragement to be passionate for God is wonderful. The thought that God likes atheists or passionately anti-Christian activity more than half-hearted Christianity? Yeah, that’s balderdash. You can argue that a half-hearted lover of God is better than a hater of God, or you can argue that God loves ‘em all the same, but you CAN’T argue that God loves haters better than folks that are tired of trying.

The root of this whole metaphor comes from Laodicea’s city water supply. This isn’t about half-hearted people. This is about water.

Laodicea, you see, had no reliable springs, no reliable city water of their own, so they imported their water.

They imported water from two other cities: Hierapolis (about 6 miles south) and Colossae, about 10 miles east.

Hierapolis was famous for hot springs, and the water they got from there was still hot if it was fresh. They were (and still are) famous for hot springs, for healing waters, where people can sit and soak their wounded or aging bodies.

Colossae was in the mountains and the water they got from there was cold if it was fresh. Since Laodicea spent summers consistently above 100ºF (38ºC), cold, refreshing mountain water was wonderful and refreshing and invigorating!

Both sources of water had a fair bit of minerals in them: they actually invented something like manhole covers to get into the pipes and clean them out regularly, because the minerals would build up and keep the water from running freely. When the pipes were clogged, the water sat in the pipes, rather than flowed through the pipes.

If the water had been sitting, stagnating, in pipes or in a pond or cistern somewhere, it was neither hot nor cold: it was lukewarm. It was also probably unsafe, so spitting it out is a really good thing to do.

But the statement here isn’t that God vomits out people who aren't passionate enough, though the call to passionate following is appropriate. The statement here is “Be who you’re called to be.”

If you’re going to be a healing person, where broken people can come and soak away their pains, great. Be that!

If you’re going to be a bracing drink of cold, mountain water, that’ll wake folks up and get them motivated, great. Be that!

Don’t sit in the pipes so long that you just gum up the works and nobody gets good ministry. And don’t sit and stagnate. That’s not good for anybody.


Whatever you’re called to do: do it. Be passionate about it! Don’t just sit and stagnate. 

Clean Off Your Boots

Father has had something on my heart for a few days, now. I’d like to share it, in case this is talking about you.

Some folks are in a formidable war, and they know it, but they’re misunderstanding the war.

Some of the battles are about overcoming a sin that’s been besetting you. You’re fighting back, and mostly you’re succeeding, but you surely wish the temptation wouldn’t be so strong and so in-your-face.

Some of the battles come in the words of our neighbors, our leaders, even our brothers and sisters, but they are surely not God’s words. Instead they’re words of accusation, words of manipulation and control, words of rejection and abandonment. You keep shaking them off, but it’s hard to dismiss them entirely.

A small number of the battles are when we’re pressing forward to walk in the fulfillment of God’s promise (and maybe you’ve heard God well, or maybe you’ve missed some of it, it doesn’t matter here), and you encounter opposition and discouragement and ridicule and slander. But still you still fix your eyes, if not on the promise itself, then even better: on the giver of the promise, and you are trying to press forward into your calling.

 Some of the battles that we’re fighting aren’t even our own battles. We’re fighting for sons and daughters who, despite our prayers, are still making foolish choices, partners who have chosen to no longer partner with us. Some of us are fighting on behalf of those who have hurt us, and may still be hurting us. They seem to be trying to fight off our prayers and reject our best intentions for them, and how discouraging that is.

Some time ago, Father spoke to me as I woke, and he’s been bringing it back to my attention recently.

“Tell them that they need to clean off their boots,” He said.


“Wha? Hunh?” I mumbled reflectively. I hadn’t had any coffee yet.

“Tell them to clean off their boots. They’ve been kicking the devil’s ass for so long that their boots carry his stink.”

So I tell you: you need to clean your boots. The devil has told you that you’ve been losing the fight, that you have no hope of winning this particular fight. The devil has been lying to you. (Imagine that!)

The devil has been hiding from you the fact that you’ve been making hamburger of his hindquarters, and he can no longer walk straight because of the beating you’re giving him. He wants you to think you’re losing, when in fact, he’s already lost, and you are, in fact, successfully enforcing our victory over him.

I tell you that you have been more successful in your battle against the evil one than you can know. Keep fighting, he cannot maintain the illusion forever.

His promise is certain: “I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”

He’s talking about you. http://nwp.link/1SjebvW


Monday

Finding God's Will God's Way

I was talking with a friend recently about “finding our life’s purpose in God.” 

That’s a tricky one, isn’t it? We want to know what our calling is for, so we can spend our energy where it’s useful, and where it’s not. And fairly often, for example when we read the parables of the talents or the minas, we feel a real urgency about the topic. Sometimes, it feels like we’re just bumbling around in the fog, instead of actually changing the world. And all of us, whether we admit it or not, want to have an impact on the world.
 
I’ve been battering this topic around rather a lot. I grew up reading stories like God’s Smuggler, where the heroes heard God say, “Go do this!” and they went and did it, and there were miracles. I want to be that guy: the one that gets to walk confidently in God’s leading and in God’s miraculous provision.

I know other folks who have had a prophetic word that’s way bigger than them, or a vision of something big and effective, or just a longing for “more” in a particular area of working with God.

We want God to make that happen. Here’s the problem: I’m not sure that’s a realistic expectation.

I’ve watched folks around me for some decades as they matured in Christ, and I think I’ve discovered some trends. Obviously, there are some folks who are not really attentive to their purpose in God; they just bumble around in one degree of contentment or another, attending conferences, complaining about difficult things, consuming resources and not really impacting the world around them. I’m not talking about them today.

But among those of us who are concerned for what God is planning for us, I think I see three broad categories:

a) Servants: These are the ones to whom God gives a good roadmap, and leads them along the way to the end of the line, sometimes step-by-step. These people often have amazing stories to tell of God’s leading.

Frankly, I suspect that some of these folks are asking out of immaturity (servants ask permission, sons not so much). But some seem to be mature in it, though I myself don’t see many of mature saints in this category.

b) Sons: These people have a rough idea of their calling, and they know their Father, so they just run off and do the things that are consistent with that calling. Most of the time, they learn more about their calling along the way.

The apostle Paul was in this category. Occasionally, God would give him a dream (“Go there!”), but most of the time, he just went. And he planted churches everywhere he went, because that’s who he is. I know an apostle who’s planted churches and Bible schools on three contents, and he says that God hasn’t told him to start any of them. That’s just his calling, and so he’s started hundreds of churches and dozens of schools by now, just being who God made him to be.

c) Useful: There are a lot of folks who would have a terrible time describing their calling, but instead are big on “do what’s right in front of you.” Is there a need to meet? Then meet that need! There are ALWAYS needs right in front of us; which ones we see, which ones we’re drawn to, may be a clue to our calling, but knowing the calling is less important than just “taking care of business” with the things around us. These people make “bumbling around in the fog” a means to being effective in ministry!

I’ve spent decades as one of these people, and it has seemed to work out pretty well. Over the course of meeting those needs right in front of me, I’ve discovered that the needs that I see, the needs that I’m most comfortable meeting, fit into categories, so I’ve moved from a category c) guy to a category b) guy, just by virtue of continually bumbling along.

It’s easy to pooh-pooh the Bumbling Around Method of Finding Your Calling. A lot of us want the kind of direction from God that we’re used to with the matters of this world: a clear email, or an owner’s manual, or even a quick-start guide. We want clear, easy-to-follow directions. Bumbling around in the fog is uncomfortable, darn it!

But God doesn’t very often do that. Even his specific instructions to Paul (Acts 9) were pretty fuzzy: “This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” That’s pretty vague.

Sometimes God gives us a vision or an understanding of something really cool, really mature, and very often it’s a lot of our heart’s desires.  For me, it involved Brother Andrew and God’s Smuggler, and it involved Corrie Ten Boom and The Hiding Place. For others, he speaks to them, like he did with Paul, about the end game:  This is who you’ll be when we’re all done. Sometimes it’s just a vision or a dream, or a longing that’s hard to get rid of.

And we want God to wave his magic wand and make that happen. Or at the very least, to make the Treasure Map appear, with the great big X that marks the spot.

Yeah, no. I’ve never once - not in my life, not in the life of anyone I’ve ever known or heard about, and not in the life of anyone in Scripture - ever seen God wave his wand and make people into the thing they see in the vision, the experience. I don’t think I’ve ever known anyone for whom God gave them any Quick Start guide that was more than that initial prophecy or vision or longing.

Even the apostle Paul! God knocked him off his ass and blinded him for 3 days, but then he took him into the wilderness for perhaps as many as seventeen years, where he trained and mentored him.

He gives the glimpse (prophetic word, vision, longing, whatever) of the end of the process for three key reasons that I can tell about:

1) That glimpse is a target, it’s to help us make choices to aim at that end result, rather than aiming for something that’s not consistent with the way he’s built and accessorized our lives. For example, my glimpse, my longing, is always about equipping saints, and that helps me not try to focus my life on interpreting tongues or mercy ministries. Those are important and valuable, and they are not my area of calling.  

2) It’s to give hope: this is where he’ll take you, provided that you’ll walk with him. I’m of the opinion that hope is under-valued in our world today. Some years ago, God spoke to me about a “worldwide ministry of teaching about the Kingdom of God.” The internet had not even been invented then, so it was hard to imagine a worldwide influence, but the hope of being able to influence saints in favor of participating in God’s Kingdom kept me moving through some times where it would have been easy to crawl home and hide under a rock. (“I can’t do that, there’s this vision out there for me!”)

That illustrates a key principle: what the end result looks like will probably be remarkably different than what we thought it would look like, what we still think it should look like. I think God does that on purpose, because if we saw the end result too clearly, we'd likely rely on our own skills to get there, rather than relying on walking with him to get there. 

3) I think he’s just so excited about our future that he just wants to share it with you! Like any good daddy, he’s terrifically excited about sharing his secrets with his kids, particularly the kids that are going to grow up and inherit the family business.

Paul says, in Romans, “... whatever is not from faith is sin.” So if God just handed us the Complete Guide to Your Eventual Ministry Once You’ve Grown Into Maturity, we wouldn’t need it. And we might not even grow into maturity. If we saw our path to that goal so clearly that we knew every step of the process, then our faith would be superfluous; we’d walking by sight, not by faith.

And “Faith,” it has been said, “is spelled R-I-S-K.”

The process of getting from where we  are now to the place of mature ministry of our vision or prophecy will involve risk. It will involve asking ourselves, “Did God really say that?” and “Is God really leading me in this direction?” And every step of the way - whether we get it right or get it wrong - is moving us to that goal, as long as our heart is set on following Him!

Besides, once we’ve read the last book of the Bible, we get a good understanding of how important it is (to Father and to ourselves) to be an “Overcomer.” And how shall we ever become overcomers if we don’t have doubts, questions, obstacles, enemies to overcome? 

Maybe bumbling around in the fog isn’t such a bad thing. Maybe that’s the best way, the fastest way, to reach our goal after all.

Onward! Through the fog!

Thursday

It’s Christmas Eve


It’s Christmas Eve. My home is filled with laughing children. My son is making something wonderful in the kitchen. My wife has forbidden any entry into the bedroom until the last few presents are wrapped. A video game is blaring in the living room, and power tools are finishing up a last-minute gift in the shop.

My home is a very busy place. And honestly, I love it.

But as much as this night is about family, it’s even more about a Birth. I stepped outside to visit with Father about it, to remember that Birth with Him.

Immediately, I had an image of Him, as eager as a grandchild would be, clapping happily, dancing from foot to foot: this is His Happy Dance!

For me, the laboring woman and her not-quite-husband are separated from me by twenty centuries. But as God is Lord of Time (among many other things), He is right this minute, dancing with joyful anticipation over this impending Birth.

God, being omniscient, knew of the failure of man in the Garden before He even spoke the words, “Let Us create man, in Our image…” Before he ever even scooped up mud and shaped it and prepared it to hold His Own breath, he knew that man would fail the test, would eat of the wrong tree, would submit to the wrong voice, and would be doomed to death.

But God, being the best in the universe at planning ahead, already knew that He, Himself, in the flesh and blood of humanity, would die a gruesome death in a backwater, occupied nation in the geographical armpit of that planet in order to establish a New Covenant with them. How he looked forward to that!

And He knew that before God could die for man, God would have to become a man. And this! He looked forward to this with such joy!
And tonight is the night!

The most patient Father that has ever existed has been eagerly, joyfully anticipating this night! This is the beginning of the Covenant that He’s longed for since the Garden: when he would have a nation of Kings and Priests who would know his Father’s heart and love Him as freely as He loves them!

The cross? That torture, that pain, that indescribable humiliation? That was nothing! Nothing! Less than nothing! He would pay ANY price for the privilege of whispering of his love to his wayward children. If there could have been a greater price that could ever have been paid, He would have paid it without hesitation for the children that He treasured above even His own eternal, omnipotent life!

And tonight is the night that it all began.

Tonight! As Mary is breathing hard and sweating heavily, as Joseph is wringing his hands and feeling nearly (but not quite) useless in the face of The Birth, God Himself is dancing with joy! Angels are ministering to the new mother and anxious dad, but God is laughing and jumping and shouting his joy to the heavens!

Tonight it begins. Tomorrow He gets to walk – well, to crawl first – among his wayward children! The beginning of the Via Dolorosa begins in this little, sweaty barn, on the unknown edge of a tiny, powerless nation. This is the beginning of walking among them, and even more, this is the beginning of setting them free from everything that holds them back!

This is the night! This is THAT night.

Do you feel his joy? Can you feel his anticipation? 


Outraged at Outrage

Our world, and especially our media, are obsessed with outrage. If we are outraged, others pay attention to us and join in the outrage. We feel empowered when we are outraged, like we are making a difference. We are deceived.

We all know what outrage is. Outrage is defined as “an extremely strong reaction of anger, shock, or indignation.”

Let's be outraged by the death of a wild animal. Let’s be outraged at the loss of our constitution. Let's be outraged about killing babies and selling their body parts to the highest bidder.

And the silliest of them all: Let's be outraged that people aren't outraged by what gets me outraged.

With the obvious exception of the last one, most current targets for outrage are legitimate issues, legitimate problems. And they deserve legitimate solutions. They deserve change.

The problem that I have with outrage is that it betrays us. Outrage lies to us.

First, outrage betrays us by pretending to be an appropriate response. It convinces us somehow it is socially conscious to feel powerful emotions, to shout at others with those powerful and controlling emotions, and to post snarky statements and memes online. And if I manage to get others to join me in my powerful emotions and snarky online posts, I’ve improved the world. That’s not actually change, is it?

Outrage betrays us by substituting bitter words and indignant feelings for actual action. I’m not saying the feelings are inappropriate or that strong feelings are an error. I will say that if the words are focused on finding fault or pointing out foolishness, that yes, I do consider that to be inappropriate.

But the reality is that as satisfying as those emotions and those witty memes are, they don’t change anything. There will be people who kill animals, people who abrogate constitutional rights, and people who kill babies in order to sell their body parts for profit. My powerful emotions won’t change that.

Outrage also betrays us, because it’s a tool being used to manipulate us. Talk show hosts and producers intentionally manipulate their content in order to entice outrage in their audience, so that they’ll remain a loyal and participative audience. Advertisers use outrage to sell you their products. Political groups use outrage to persuade you to fund their groups, but even more, they use outrage to direct your attention away from the things that they don’t want you to see. It’s this last one that really irritates me.

Yes, it is legitimately sad that a lion was killed somewhere in Africa. It’s sadder that the hunter who killed him is the target of so much hatred that his life, his family and his business have been destroyed. Personally, I find it saddest of all that more people get more upset about a dead animal than about the murdering-babies-and-selling-their-body-parts industry. I don’t think they deserve the same attention.

But that’s the success of outrage: there are people who support the business of killing babies, and they don’t want to be the focus of this much media attention, because then their secret might get out and their billions of dollars of income might be reduced a little. So let’s focus everybody’s outrage on an animal that was literally on the other side of the planet, in a nation that none of us has ever visited, and that was hunted and killed legally (at least by local law), and let’s get everybody to focus on that dead cat so they’ll stop asking questions about our profitable baby-murdering business.

And it’s working, isn’t it? (And it’s working so well that I’ll bet I get people outraged over the lion who defend their outrage in the comments.)

I'm really tired of outrage. I’m tired of being emotionally wound up. I’m tired of being manipulated by the purveyors of outrage. I’m tired of having others tell me what I should feel strongly about. I’m tired of reading snarky and self-serving accusations and character assassinations of people who think differently than we think they should. I’m tired of having complex issues reduced to black-and-white caricatures so that they produce increased outrage.

Forgive me, but I won't be participating in any outrage this week. Please don't be offended that I won’t be joining you in yours.

“So what could we do instead of willingly volunteering to be emotionally manipulated? Is there an alternative?” I’m so glad you asked. Yes, there are a number of responses to things-that-are-wrong other than mere outrage.

The most important first step, I suppose, is to decide which issues are worth your attention. Don’t let the news media or social media tell you what you should care about. You decide. Cheat if you want: its OK to pray about this decision. It’s an important one, partly because this decision is the beginning of you taking the control of your emotional responses away from those who have delighted in controlling your emotions for you.

Second, I recommend sorting your emotions out. What are you actually feeling, and why does this issue trigger those emotions? Which emotions are actually yours, and which have been sold to you by others? And listen to the emotions: what are they suggesting needs to be done?  I’m not saying “don’t feel emotions.” I am, however, saying “don’t stop with feeling emotions.”

I recommend asking the question, “Is this actually any of my business?” If it isn’t, then this isn’t the place for you to get involved, except perhaps by prayer. And some will argue that our prayer might be less effective in causes that are none of our business. But that’s none of my business, so I’ll move on.

And once you’ve decided that there is an issue worthy of your attention, then take action. Here I’d argue that prayer is an excellent first action to take, and that may be the extent of your action regarding this issue. If you go no further than to pray, then you can at least know that you’ve freed yourself from being manipulated by others for their own, possibly nefarious purposes, and you’ve brought God’s attention to the matter. That’s not insignificant at all.

And further action may be appropriate after you’ve prayed. I recommend considering where your greatest influence lies (Consider which of the Seven Mountains your influence reaches the most) and take action in that arena. But take thoughtful action, don’t just write or shout outraged words: leaders of industry, government, culture know that outraged words are meaningless, and they are generally ignored, if they don’t respond with attempts to further manipulate us with outrage.

This is my attempt to respond in a method other than outrage to what appears to me to be an outrageous error in our culture. This is my attempt to bring some attention to the actual problem (the futility of being emotionally manipulated by people who don’t have your best interest in their minds) and to offer an alternative (choose what to be moved by, and how to move in response).

So now it’s your choice. You can be outraged at my suggestions. Or you can actually make a difference. It’s up to you.



Too Much Talking. Not Enough Listening.

I need to speak (again) about things that I lack expertise on, and therefore about things wherein I am NOT an expert. This isn't so much about the issue, as it is about the process of addressing the issue. 

Recently, I posted about a revival I’m beginning to see in the homosexual community. One of the things that makes this subject hard to sort through (and yes, it happens on many other subjects as well) is that both sides are talking at the other, and neither side is trying to listen: it's polarizing an issue that doesn't need to be polarized, or not so much as it is getting. 

In that article (http://nwp.link/1A6zNVd), I attempted to avoid taking sides, because I’m trying to propose a better response: we need to love one another.

It's really interesting when I chose to step outside of the polarization, and declined to take one side or the other in this controversial topic. First, it's really hard to see the actual issues clearly through all the rhetoric. And second, when I declare myself (as I attempted to do with that article) as not on either side, then I get passionate emails from both sides, saying, "This is what I believe, and it's true!"

I received a pretty large number of messages of this sort from “both sides” of the issue, and they all pretty much assumed the same conclusion: “I’m right, so you must agree with me!” inferring, of course that “Anybody who sees this differently is deceived!” I was honored to be approached by both sides. I was disappointed that most of those approaches were attempts to convert me.

I deduce that since the two groups – both declaring that their viewpoint is true! – are declaring what are sometimes mutually exclusive opinions, it is conclusive that there is a measure of deception involved. And the odds are – as we are dealing with humans, here – that there is deception in both camps. (And the guys like me that are trying to stay out of either group – by virtue of our humanity – are NO less prone to imperfection than anyone else.) 

I've been walking with God and with his people for more than half a century, and one thing I've learned is that when everybody's insisting that they're right and the other guy is wrong, that’s not an environment where we can find a common ground. It's only when we quit telling others what they must believe, and start listening to what they DO believe, that we have any chance at all at finding a small place where we agree that we can start building some relationship. Besides, me telling you what you must believe is clearly not loving you. 

So here’s a challenge: if you have an opinion about the subject of Gay Christians, I challenge you to shut your mouth and listen to the other guys. I don’t care if you’ve got eleventeen Bible verses that conclusively prove that you’re right and they’re wrong, I maintain that shouting at someone about their wrongness will never encourage them to hear you, and that’s what we want: people actually hearing each other.

So I encourage us to stop talking on this topic, and listen to someone else’s point of view. And after you’ve listened, make sure you’ve heard them right (“I think I heard you say this… did I hear right?”) because we’re not used to hearing real people: we’re used to hearing out-of-context sound bites that our own side uses to prove the point you already believe. Both sides do this, and it’s normal. It’s also messed up.

After you’ve tested what you’ve heard, and you know you’ve heard them right, then still keep your mouth closed, and think about what they’ve said. Consider their heart. Consider the wounds they’ve endured from you and your friends (this has happened on both sides!). Consider that God loves them every bit as much as he loves you! And maybe, if you dare, consider asking God what HE thinks and how HE feels about those people who don’t agree with you. (If you can do this in less than a week, you haven’t done a good job.)

And one final challenge: Consider not telling others what you believe, until and unless someone has asked for your opinion. Then go out of your way to not alienate others. 

This is a place where Saint Francis’s sage advice is priceless: “Preach the gospel at all times. If necessary, use words.” In other words, once you’ve demonstrated the good news of the gospel, once you’ve loved until it cost you more than you wanted to pay, once it’s become necessary (ie, they’ve asked), then consider the gentlest, most loving way to share how God has led you. And then listen some more.

I guarantee that Westboro Baptist won’t find you acceptable in this. And I guarantee you won’t get a smidgeon of support from the mainstream media: they both thrive on controversy, but controversy isn't actually our goal. 

But you'll hear Fathers heart better. And maybe you’ll make your Father (who loves both of you) smile.

And his smile is ALWAYS worth the price! Always.


Killing Terrorists?

I admit: the murderous persecution of Christians in the Middle East is an ugly thing. I’ve seen photos that make me want to throw up, and I've heard stories that make me want to send an army to the Middle East to bomb them back to the stone age.

I’ve been talking to other believers who have been arguing in favor of responding to terrorist violence with a violent (eg military) response. I understand that there are good and responsible arguments that can be made for using force against terrorism.

I'm not saying we should or shouldn't. I suspect that there are good arguments on both sides of that conversation. I am fortunate in that I don’t need to have the answer to that particular question.

However, I’ve been observing that when the Church faced its first terrorist, God didn't kill the terrorist. In fact, that terrorist, a maniacal Pharisee named Saul, became the apostle Paul, the greatest evangelist for the Kingdom of God in the history of the planet.

I'm not saying, "use force" or "don't use force" against terrorists.

But I think I'm ready to say, Whatever you do, pray for their conversion. Pray for a Damascus Road experience for whichever terrorist group has your attention right now.

If it is true (and it is) that "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church," then there is going to be a revival of epic proportions in several places in the Earth as soon as those seeds hatch.

We'll need passionate people to lead it, and we'll need more of them than we have now.

Shoot them or don’t shoot them, as your conscience leads you. But for Heaven’s sake, do pray for them. Pray for their conversion. Pray that they meet the God of the Universe. And pray that he uses them in His Kingdom, like he used Paul.

That’s a response to terrorism with a good track record.

--

Come join the conversation at https://www.facebook.com/northwestprophetic.

Walmart: To Shop, or Not to Shop


A few years back, a familiar and none-too-pretty tale was played out yet again in the Northwest. (It is by no means exclusive to the Northwest, except that I am more in touch with what happens in the Northwest than other areas.) I’m going to use Walmart as an example, but the issue is not about Walmart. It’s about us.

It started with an announcement that Walmart was considering building a store in a modest-size town. The next phase was outrage from a great portion of the community, various lawsuits filed, for which Walmart had amply prepared and easily won, and sales of bumper stickers proclaiming, “I don’t shop at Walmart!”

Behind the scenes, Walmart built their store, stocked their store, hired employees and quietly opened for business. The Walmart haters still hated. People bought stuff. Employees earned paychecks. Life went on.

It strikes me that there are legitimate reasons for communities to not love Walmart’s influence in their community. Walmart does business differently, and that has social and economic effect on the community.

There are also legitimate reasons for Walmart to do business the way it does, and those business decisions have made Walmart incredibly successful.

And there are people who legitimately need the infamously low-paying jobs that Walmart offers, if only because they can get work nowhere else.

Father whispered to me about the protests recently:

o          If I refuse to shop at Walmart, then I have judged Walmart in my heart and in my actions. That’s not actually good Christian behavior, partly because it opens me up to judgment, and I’d rather that didn’t happen.

o          If a community joins in loud and apparently united outrage against Walmart, then we make its employees (and applicants) outcasts from the community. We create a caste of “untouchables” in our community. I don’t think we really want that to happen, either.

o          If we declare that “Walmart is evil!” (as I’ve heard many times), then we’re also making declaration that they become evil, and we’re releasing the power of evil into those people who are part of Walmart; we’re giving evil a measure of freedom to work in our community. I surely don’t want that to happen!

o          If there’s truth in the declaration, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also,” then the prayers of my heart regarding Walmart will be more effective if I spend a bit of my treasure there. I bought some supplies there this weekend; I consider that an investment in my prayers for this economic powerhouse in my community.

In fact, I’ll confess: I’ve been praying for and prophesying to my local Walmart since the very first announcement that they were going to build. I’ve walked through the building’s foundations, declaring that this store, at least, would be founded on righteousness and truth. They had to cap a well to pour that foundation, so I declare  springs of living water in them, particularly that they would be a spring of life to their employees.

I don’t spend much of my treasure there. I believe strongly in doing business with companies that are locally owned, and Walmart doesn’t qualify for that one. Besides, I don’t love the quality of a lot of the products they sell. (There’s a difference between “inexpensive” and “cheap.” I tend to prefer the former.)

Now, I am absolutely NOT trying to tell others whether they should shop at Walmart or how to spend their money. I’m describing some results of our choices.

I was actually shopping at Walmart when Father began to speak to me about this. It was funny, but I felt his blessing flowing through me to the store, it’s employees and its very interesting customers.

But as he spoke to me about Walmart, he included other issues in the conversation. The movie Noah was one. There are many others.  We’re giving away influence in the marketplace when we protest market leaders for acting like market leaders.

We believers have the freedom to spend our money where we wish. But there are real effects to the words of our protests, and there is an authority in our prayers that follows the spending of our treasure.



Monday

Whose Limits? Whose Understanding?


“You can have a life of understanding and live in a small world, or you have heaven’s peace and live in a world without limits.” Bill Johnson, Redding

I’ve been reflecting kind of a lot on this: If I insist on understanding, staying in the realm where I do understand, then I am limited to a world the size of what I am able to understand. I’m a pretty bright guy, but I am not all that!

The alternative is to trust someone who’s so foolishly in love with me that he died horribly and wrongly accused, just for the opportunity to woo me, someone who really is  all that, someone who doodles in the sky while he’s thinking about me, and creates a masterpiece of a sunset. Sometimes, he doodles at night, and creates a masterpiece of the stars. I’d use the word “lovesick” if he had the capacity to be sick.

The cool thing about that is this: when I trust his understanding instead of my understanding, then we’re working with the kind of capacity that’s labeled, “omniscience.” There are no  gaps in his knowing. 

On top of that, it’s tied in with a little thing called, “omnipotence,” that completely outshines my own capacity to deal with the few things that I do understand.

And if that weren’t enough, when I trust him with the storms that I call “my life,” then he takes personal responsibility for peace in my life, at least insofar as I will let him. He provides for me a great big overwhelming mountain of peace, of His grace (and it's a beautiful mountain), just for me, so that wherever I walk, I get to be in the midst of Heaven, in his own presence; wherever the sole of my foot touches this planet, Heaven itself is planted and grows, if for no other reason, then just to make a place of sufficient glory for his son to walk.

I think I’m impressed. I think I’m in love. 

I think I’ll trust him and live in his world, even in this world.

Run to Win!


“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.”  ~1 Corinthians 9.24.

I was reflecting on this today, and Father drew my attention to the fact that this is a race. Once we’ve entered the narrow gate of the Kingdom, it’s easy to be entranced with the beauty and the riches and the glory of the route we’re on. It’s easy to look at our life as a saunter in an amazing park on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

But it’s in exactly that context that the apostle writes: “Guys, don’t forget! This is a race! If you’re not pressing yourself beyond what you’re comfortable with, you’re not even in the race! Run in such a way as to get the prize! Run to win!”

I don’t know if we get to saunter in the park later or not; the evidence isn’t clear, but it suggests that we’ll be “ruling and reigning,” and that sounds like work.

If it wasn’t clear enough, he goes on:

“25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”

This does NOT say, “Never rest,” nor does it say, “Do this in your own strength,” which are the two ways the American church has generally interpreted it, and why the American church has ignored the command altogether.

If we’re not pressing forward, if we’re not stretching ourselves, if we’re not more deeply invested than we think we can handle, we may not be even in the race.

Run to win.

A Biblical Perspective on the Bible

A number of folks I hang around with that are asking hard questions about the Bible and its place in the life of the child of God.

These conversations have been among friends, believers, individuals who are passionately committed to the Bible as the foundation for life, and who confidently acknowledge its profitability for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness. I have heard many honest people asking honest questions and expressing both conventional and unconventional points of view. Some of those perspectives are kind of weird. Some are troubling. Some make a lot of sense. A few qualify as “all of the above.”

Such is the way of mere mortals as we learn new truths. We poke and prod and ask questions; we wobble around and stumble; we get up and give it another try. I’m thankful for honest friends who are willing to help me in that stumbling. They’re not, WE are not questioning the foundation of the Bible, not in any way, shape, or form, but we are questioning the traditional ways God’s people have related to God’s word.

I’ve come to the realization that while the Bible is the First Word, while it is the Standard by which everything else is measured, it is not the Last Word. Sacred Scripture has nothing to say about flush toilets, social networking, pornography, pro sports, abortion, personal computers, masturbation, public schools, motorized transportation and ten thousand other topics (though it may speak to topics tangential to these). If we limit our thinking to only what the Word says, we’ll never be “prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks us.”
 I believe God is calling his Bride [hear me carefully here] to stop treating the Bible as a limitation, and to employ it more as a launch pad.

The Bible itself is filled with directives (eg John 3:8-10, 14:26, 21:25, even 1 Corinthians11:14), instructing us to extend our learning beyond the foundation of this magnificent, foundational Book. The Bible is our foundation, our starting point. But a foundation is useless unless one builds on it.

Several New Testament writers bemoan an unwillingness of Christians to grow up. Hebrews 6 clearly describes the “milk” the new believers’ curriculum of the first century: “…not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.” These are the baby steps (“milk”) of the apostle’s teaching. After we learn these, then we must move on to the “solid food” of the ways of God. Unfortunately, the apostle could not write about the meat that was on his heart, because those to whom that book was originally written were unready for real meat.

Someone wise has said, “It’s hard to expect the results of the first century church when we rely more on a book they didn’t have than the Spirit that they did have.” And we clearly do not have the results of the first century church. When measured by the 1st century standard, our 21st century church, which is well-grounded on the Book, has been an utter failure at changing the world around us. When was the last time you saw a spontaneous, accidental revival meeting in the streets of your hometown, with thousands coming to faith in Christ? When was the last time that your church saw someone so convicted of sin that they fell down dead? How many people have you raised from the dead? We are (mostly) well-grounded in the Word, but we are mostly powerless.

If sola scriptura (“doctrine that the Bible contains all knowledge necessary for salvation and holiness.”) were enough, we’d be walking in way more power, way more holiness, way more intimacy than we are.

Someone else has said, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.” If you are content with what you and your church are experiencing in God, then well and good. Keep up the good work!

Many believers, however, are not able to say, “Wow, my church is amazing! I can’t imagine things any better!” We want to find that “better.” My church, after twenty centuries of “growing,” should not lag so ridiculously far behind the beginners, the absolute rookies of Jerusalem and Antioch, who are the subjects of the Book of Acts: we’ve had two whole millennia of the Holy Spirit in our midst, but not one church in a thousand lives up to the first century, our “beginner’s standard.” If your church is that one, then hallelujah! Mine is not, I’m afraid. And I WILL NOT SETTLE FOR THIS WIMPY, POWERLESS CHRISTIANITY.

I will give everything I have to see the church in my region grow up into that which Jesus died for. I have already spent my fortune. I will risk my respectability, my reputation, my understanding, my sanity in order to attain to the high calling that is still un-touched before us. I will guard vigilantly against error, but because I am going where nobody that I know has ever gone, I expect I will make mistakes, I expect I will fall. But I will fall towards the goal, the high calling in Christ Jesus. I will NOT settle back in my pew, put another check in the plate, and pretend that we’re living up to the “greater works” that Jesus promised.

I haven’t raised a single person from the dead yet, but I’ve tried several times. I’ve not transported from here to there like Elijah and Philip and maybe even Jesus did, but it’s not for lack of trying. I have visited Heaven, as Jesus did. I’ve never walked on water like he did, but I’ve gotten soaked trying. I have changed the weather. I have sat with the King of Heaven as He fell in love with me and sang me love songs. I have plundered hell and brought back spoil for my King and my co-laborers. I have embarrassed myself more times than I can count, pressing forward to apprehend what has been promised to me.

Someone will say, “But you could get it wrong! You could make a mistake! I must warn you! I must protect you from the possibility of making a mistake!”

To which I answer: Of COURSE we’ll get it wrong! Of course we’ll make mistakes! We’ve never gone this way before. We’re rookies, for pity sake! We are NOT experts at this! But we’re not afraid of mistakes; we embrace them because they show progress. I’ve made a bundle of mistakes already, and I’ll bet you I’m not done yet. (Wonderfully educational things: mistakes.)

I will further answer that I will absolutely listen to the warnings and the encouragement of the Holy Spirit. That’s where we’re headed: “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” [emphasis added] He’s talking about us! We as a people are called to being blown by the Spirit anywhere He wishes. That is not the church that I’ve grown up in, not the church that I see today. I am not content with where I am.

I will also listen to warnings from my friends and companions who are running this race with me. If you feel the need to warn me, come run with me for a while; I’m sorry: I won’t pay much attention to people throwing stones, to people calling me names, to people trying to kill me or my reputation. And I won’t listen to Pharisees. If you want to be heard, this won’t work. I will not stop to have conversation with those trying to stop me from running the race that He has set before me.

I’m comforted knowing that Jesus faced people who were content to judge him, and he didn’t listen to them either. They were so content with their system that they opposed, and then they killed, the King of Glory. They murdered a whole bunch of His followers, too. Those are not the people whose counsel I will be seeking in this race.

We often talk about how every movement of God is opposed by the participants of the previous move of God: it’s true. There are likely to be Christians – our own brothers and sisters – who oppose our march toward “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven!” It’s sad, but it is a reality.

I invite you to join us. I invite you to leave your traditions, your respectability, your doctrines and join in this mad passionate pursuit of Heaven! If you are satisfied, if you don’t understand, or if the price is too high for you, that’s OK: we offer no condemnation: stand aside, and watch us march, run, wander, fall, get up and run again toward the finish line.

If you choose to be one of the naysayers, please don’t be offended if we don’t stop and take notes on why you think that the things we’re doing are impossible. Please don’t feel hurt if we don’t defer to your contentment or your fear, or if we don’t abandon our passion for Jesus in favor of your restraint and hesitation. I’ll try not to hurt you as I march past. But I will not stop to listen to your fears.

I’m pressing forward. Lead, follow, or get out of my way. 

Tuesday

Realistic Risk Assessment


There has been an accusation that has come against a number of saints who have been walking with the Lord for a few decades: the accusation is that you’re not as “cutting edge” or as “willing to risk” as you used to be, and the accuser probably will add that you’re “becoming lukewarm” because of that. He may add a sense of disappointment, failure, or hopelessness to that.

While there may be some believers for whom that is a true story, I believe that most who are hearing this accusation are hearing a lie. 

The truth is that we’re measuring wrong; the enemy is pushing us to measure our experience. It used to be that we could tell when we were taking a risk by the level of adrenalin (or fear, or excitement) that it produced. It used to be true that we could tell that we were “cutting edge” because the people we hung out with stretched us. That was the old way.

But this is not that day. Many saints who have walked with God for many seasons have learned the lifestyle of walking with God, and as a result, the decision to “risk” with God is no longer scary, no longer “edgy.” It’s just the way you live. It's like an old married couple: you're comfortable in that relationship, and comfortable deferring to your spouse.

“Risk” (particularly the risk of actually believing God, rather louder, better publicized voices) is part of your daily life now, so adrenalin or fear is not part of the conversation. Of course you walk on water (metaphorically, at least); that’s how you get from here to there. It’s just a commute now. Will I really trust God’s provision instead of either the regular paycheck or the unemployment check? Of course! Next question.

There are a few reasons why risk doesn't appear as risky as it used to:

The first is simply experience. You’ve learned that it’s safe to actually trust God, and you have a number of years behind that trust. I've known some people who base jump: they first time was scary; the thirty-first time is not so much. It's fun, but now it's comfortable. The risk isn't nearly as apparent as it once was.

You’ve also changed your perspective. As John put it, “You know Him who is from the beginning” (1John 2). When you’re used to seeing Him, the threats of the world aren’t as impressive. You're not apathetic, but "This could be it!" doesn't mean as much when you're used to walking with the Creator.

But there’s a purpose that’s bigger than you in all of this. Whether you are aware of it, whether you can even see it, you’re breaking trail for others behind you. There are others who are watching you, watching to see if the life of walking with God that you’ve chosen will actually work in this day and age. There are youngsters following you, some close, some at a distance, and a few from the bushes where they hope you can’t see them, but they're learning how to walk with God by watching you walk with him.

If you’ve been paying attention (either to the Spirit or to the news, or both), you can see that "the times, they are a changin’!" Let me be blunt: God has been preparing you for these times. You’ve learned how to walk in victory even when things are hard, even when the way is obscured. That’s how you developed confidence with Him. The young ones following you haven’t needed to do that yet, but they will. Some of them have considered it a great trial when their iPod battery wears out, and they don’t even know how much they need to learn about following God when the world goes sideways.

Jesus said, “In this world, you will have tribulation” (John 16:33), and he was quite serious. You’ve learned that the rest of that sentence is also true, and you can teach the young ones. “But be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

The exhortation is twofold:

First, reject the accusation that you're l
ukewarm. (Unless you are, of course.) Don’t even waste your time with the topic. You’re following God, and you’re pressing in, but it isn’t as scary as it used to be, because you’ve got history together. Keep up the good work!

Second, pay attention to the youngsters (of whatever age) that are following you. God has given you to them because they need you. And frankly, they’ll encourage you; they are, after all, part of your reward.

“…let us throw off everything that hinders… and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Hebrews 12