Are You In The Right Troop?

I grew up with a great dad. When my brother and I were young, he and a friend of his started a Boy Scout troop for their boys, primarily so they could take us camping a lot. For several important years as I was growing up, we went camping eleven months out of every year.

During the first few years, we were pretty enthusiastic, but not at all skilled. But before long, we developed some actual skill at camping. After a few years, our monthly camping trips got to be less of a trial and a whole lot more fun, our meals more interesting, and we no longer worried about coming back wet, cold and defeated, and we looked forward to the week-long 50- or 70-mile trip in the summer. We didn’t earn as many merit badges as some troops did, but we camped more, and probably had more fun.

One of my friends in the troop was an Assistant Patrol Leader named Bill. He was getting pretty good at cooking over a fire and converting a flat spot in the woods into a comfortable campsite for the weekend. But Bill was not content: his goal was to advance to the rank of Eagle Scout. We’d never had anyone in our troop who was real focused on advancement before.

Before long, Bill figured out that he was among a band of brothers who were fun to camp with, but who had different goals and values from his. He needed to either realign his goals to match his circumstances, or realign his circumstances to match his goals. He chose the latter, and Bill left our troop to join another one that didn’t camp as much, but which raised up Eagle Scouts by the dozens.

Before King David became king, he ran for his life from Saul and hid in the Cave of Adullam. But while he was there, a whole bunch of people left someplace else and joined David’s troop.

1 Chronicles 12:1-2,8: Now these were the men who came to David at Ziklag while he was still a fugitive from Saul the son of Kish; and they were among the mighty men, helpers in the war… Some Gadites joined David at the stronghold in the wilderness, mighty men of valor, men trained for battle,

It’s possible to look at this as disloyalty: “I can’t leave my own people and join with another group, because that’s abandoning my people.” We see wars built on “These are my people and they’re better than another people.” Think of Northern Ireland or Somalia or Iraq.

Sure, there will always be flakes – self-centered opportunists – who wander like cows from one pasture to another, always grazing and never leaving more than manure behind. Get over them. Jesus said, “You will always have the poor among you.” Those people are not “ours” in the first place, they’re just spiritually “poor” and unwilling to change. I’m talking about people who know who they are in Christ, and who have a clue about following His leadership.

If I’ve always been part of the chess club, and I begin to develop more of an interest in backpacking than chess, then maybe it makes some sense for me to depart the chess club and join with the backpacking club.

If my church fellowship is great on teaching the Word, but doesn’t care about worship, then maybe it doesn’t qualify as the be-all end-all supply of God’s resources for me. Maybe I can help them develop a value for worship. Maybe I can start a home group that worships passionately, and so fan the flame in my own heart. Maybe I can visit another group on Friday nights who worships passionately, and maybe I can help my church value worship. But if they decide that they’re happy the way they are and don’t want to grow or change, then perhaps I need to join a troop that values worship.

Or should I stay there, ignore the paucity of spirit growing into spiritual apathy and complacency, simply because I have always been part of that group?

If I do leave the chess club and join the backpacking club (like when Bill left our troop to be part of the troop that understood about advancement) I will leave a set of established relationships and I’ll be starting over with new relationships. It’ll take years to develop good relationships. I’ll be leaving a house where I am known and presumably trusted, and I’ll be joining a group that I have common interests with, but no history of relationship. I’ll be starting over. That’s a real cost, and I need to weigh the cost.

But if the president of the chess club, or some of the young nerds in that club, were to prohibit me from leaving the club, that would be a problem. If I tried to keep Bill from leaving our troop to join the other troop, then I’m screwing up on several levels: I’m abusing Bill’s trust in me, I’m putting my interests above his and demeaning him. More than that, I’m condemning his dreams to the abyss. I may tell myself and him “Hey, our troop has more fun,” but his goal is not fun; it’s advancement, and frankly it’s a higher goal.

Obviously, I’m not writing about Boy Scouts or about chess clubs. I’m writing about the church. We can see the abuse clearly when we talk in terms of Boy Scouts or chess clubs, but sometimes we justify the same abusive behavior when it comes to churches. God is the Commander-in-Chief of the Church, and He has the right to re-assign His soldiers as He sees fit, and who in Heaven’s name do we think we are if we try to hinder His servants from obeying Him?

(Obviously, the question arises of whether the departing church member is in fact hearing God, and hearing Him correctly. I would argue that if we have taught her to hear the Master for himself, then we best not stand in the way of her obedience; if we have not taught her to hear God’s voice herself, then we’ve demonstrated our self-centeredness and affirmed the wisdom of her departure. It’s her decision: her opportunity to succeed or fail. That’s the main lesson of Philemon.)

Someone will bring up the question of the tithes of the family leaving, and since church budgets (and therefore pastors’ salaries) come from tithes, that’s a hot-button issue. “We can’t let them leave because I have a car payment and a kid in college.” Wait a minute, who is my provider? Is it this brother or sister who believes they’re obeying God in leaving, or is God my provider? And do I really believe that? What right do I have to put my budget ahead of her obedience to God?

Enough of the rant. This is a season when we’re approaching the front lines of the battlefield, and General Jesus is transferring soldiers – and high ranking officers – from one battalion to another. We’ve lived with separate streams for a while, and He’s cross-training among the streams now. He’s moving leaders from within a stream that’s strong in worship, but weak in mercy and he’s putting them in a stream that has a need to understand worship and the need for intimacy with God. He’s moving teachers to groups that understand intimacy, but lack a Biblical foundation.

When they (or you, or I) hear the call to a new assignment, certainly it’s appropriate to confirm the matter by the testimony of two or three witnesses. And if I just want to leave because this congregation is challenging me in a place that’s uncomfortable, then I’m in danger of becoming one of those cows wandering from pasture to pasture. That would be a mistake.

But when God is leading, let’s be quick to obey. And let’s encourage our brothers and sisters to obey. If we’re going to err, let’s err on the side of extravagant obedience, not on the side of timidity and security and fear. Let’s look at the bigger picture.

So are you in the right troop? Are they obeying their Master’s call? Can you help them follow their call? Can you become who God has made you to become while you’re there? Or has it just become comfortable? Are you being lulled to sleep?

Wake up! It’s time to be about His business! Plug in with people who are passionate about the stuff God is calling you to! If the people you're with aren't going where you're going, then don't go with them. Find a people going where you want to go, and go with them.



(This week's post is in outline form. That's just how it came out. Let me know if this works for you.)

Plundering the Darkness
Your Reward for the Battle
Imagine a bet: I come to you and I offer a bet:
If I win, you pay me $1000.00
If you win, I don’t pay you anything.
Who’s up for a bet like that?
Imagine a war: One country attacks another (say, the war in Iraq)
If our army wins, you submit to us, we establish the government we want, etc.
If your army wins, we’ll just pretend this never happened.
Who can imagine a war like that?
Imagine a spiritual battle: the enemy attacks us in some way.
If the enemy wins, he gets some level of dominion; something comes under the control of hell.
If I win, nothing happens. I just wait for the next battle.
Often, the church has had this picture of spiritual warfare:
We’re on the defensive.
If the enemy wins, we lose ground.
If we win, we don’t lose ground.
Not losing ground is a good thing.
But that’s not all that’s at stake in this battle.
We’re battling for revival
Revival in our own lives
Revival in our families
Revival in this region.
Ultimately: for “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.”
The Principle:
1 Corinthians 15:46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural , and afterward the spiritual.
“First the natural, then the spiritual”
First the Natural:
Joshua 8:24-27: And it came to pass when Israel had made an end of slaying all the inhabitants of Ai in the field, in the wilderness where they pursued them, and when they all had fallen by the edge of the sword until they were consumed, that all the Israelites returned to Ai and struck it with the edge of the sword… 27 Only the livestock and the spoil of that city Israel took as booty for themselves, according to the word of the LORD which He had commanded Joshua.
2 Chronicles 20:22-30: Now when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated.... 25 When Jehoshaphat and his people came to take away their spoil, they found among them an abundance of valuables on the dead bodies, and precious jewelry, which they stripped off for themselves, more than they could carry away; and they were three days gathering the spoil because there was so much.
(see also 2 Chronicles 14:12-13 & Numbers 31:7-11)
There’s a line in the movie Pirates of the Carribean where two pirates are talking. Their salute is this:
“Take all you can! Leave nothing behind!”
Why should I be concerned about plunder? I just want to live my life quietly.
Three Reasons:
1. The enemy will steal from you. Do you want it back?
What do you have that you’re willing to be stolen from you?
What part of your life are you willing to have destroyed?
Look around you:
· Pick out the ones that you want to leave to the devil’s captivity?
· Who are you willing to let the devil destroy or kill?
2. It brings praise to God
My spirit just can’t help it: when I hear about someone healed of cancer, or set free from bondage, I can’t help but worship.
Free people worship better than people enslaved.
3. It freaks out our enemies.
Think of David after he defeated Goliath.
He took Goliath’s sword, killed Goliath and cut off his head. Then he fought Philistines. Afterwards, he reported to King Saul
He was still holding Goliath’s Head! The enemies saw the one who killed their champion. He was carrying their champion’s sword in one hand. He was carrying their champion’s head in the other, and he was chasing them. How do you think they felt?
What is plunder?
There are 3 types of plunder :
Let’s think about this for a minute:
· When the enemy comes to fight against you, these three things come with him.
· When you win, these three things are lying on the ground, waiting to be taken as plunder.
· Your job is to take them.
People: They took slaves: usually everyone who wasn’t a warrior. Sometimes women & children. Sometimes only women. Sometimes none at all.
· Have you known people that just won’t come to the Lord no matter what happens?
· Is there an area of your own life that you just can’t get under control, no matter how hard you try?
Provision: They took gold and silver, cattle and sheep, fine clothes and weaponry.
· Do you know someone that no matter how faithful they are, they can never get ahead?
· Have you been faithful in your tithes and in your finances, but you’re still broke or in debt?
Places: They took cities and farms, entire nations.
· Do you know cities or regions where darkness seems particularly sticky and present?
· Do you want to have authority in your community? Maybe your name will never be in the newspaper, but when you pray for your neighborhood, it always happens?
So are there any New Testament examples of plunder?
Matthew 12:28-30
28 But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29 Or how can one enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.
According to Jesus, what do we do when we encounter the strong man?
1. We bind him. (We overcome him & we defeat him.)
2. We plunder his house. (We take back the stuff he has held captive)
Who is this strong man?
This verse is in the context of deliverance ministry: Jesus is casting demons out of people. It is not the devil himself. This strong man is whatever demon or stronghold you are facing right now.
How do you take plunder?
So you have defeated the enemy. Now how do you get your hands on his plunder?
Principle: First the natural, then the spiritual: In the natural, how do you get plunder? Do you finish off the enemy, and hold your pocket open, waiting for his riches to fill it? No, you take plunder. You look for what is there, and you take it!
** Principle: Plunder is never given; it is only taken **
In the spiritual:
I can’t give you an outline on “here’s the way you pick up plunder in the spirit,” but let me share a couple of stories:
· People:
o David Andrew and the spirit of homosexuality. After his deliverance, the local “gaydar” expert boasted, “I can tell a gay person instantly; no gay people here!”
o Jill and her miracle daughters (you’ve heard her story)
· Provision:
o I could tell you story after story about people who give extravagantly, and they seem to get into a giving-competition with God: provision is rich and abundant.
o Steve: In debt, wanted to get a big TV for Christmas. God said “no more debt”. 3 days later: same size TV for 40% less money, and God provided the money. Result: a surprise blessing on his finances: he paid off 2 credit cards and nearly paid off his car loan.
· Places:
o Drug dealers on V Street. After prayer, they all mysteriously vanished.
o Town in Argentina (Transformations Video). When they turned to God, they experienced 65% to 92% of the town becoming Christians, incredible prosperity instead of poverty, and the jails closed down because there was no crime.
What if I don’t win the battle?
Romans 8:37-38
37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
1 Corinthians 15:57
57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
If you’re afraid of losing the battle, you need to read your handbook.
If you’re not winning, then you’re not fighting your battles the way God says to. He always wins.
Ask your brothers and sisters for help.

Once you find the plunder:
Take all you can! Leave nothing behind!


The Miracle Truck

I drive a miracle truck. Here’s how it happened.
I’ve been looking unsuccessfully for a truck for about the last nine months. I’ve checked all of the car lots, watched the papers, had professionals look for the right truck. I’ve even prayed extensively for a truck. During an extended time of prayer one weekend, I told the Lord specifically what I wanted in a truck, and I listed about fifteen very detailed specifications that were on my heart. I was specific about the year, the mileage, the engine size, the bed size, the number of seat belts (5), and even the color.
After two years of this, I concluded that this desire for a truck was not God’s desire; that this was my flesh rising up. So I confessed it, repented of it, and renounced the desire. I expected the desire for the truck to leave.
No such luck. The desire grew. The more I renounced it, the more the desire grew. Aargh. I couldn't get away from the desire for a truck. THIS specific truck on my prayer list from months earlier.
One day, I was trying hard NOT to observe this nice truck that fit most of my specifications, and I heard a little voice say in my mind, "I can give you a truck like that." Now, I didn’t know God's voice as well as I thought I should, but that did NOT sound like His voice, so I rebuked it in Jesus Name, and asked God to shut the mouth of the devil. Besides, that wasn't the kind of thing God would talk to me about! ...Was it?
About this time, God began speaking to me about my prayer life. He instructed me to pray a little less along the lines of “Oh God, would you please….” and more along the lines of, “Move! In the Name of Jesus, you’re coming down!”
You know, this didn’t settle all that well with my Calvinist upbringing. But I wanted ALL that God had for me, so I began to seek Him about it. The more I prayed, the more I felt like I ought to at least TRY praying that way before I wrote it off. I was willing to risk my understanding of "How God Does Things" if that was what He really was asking me to do.
So one afternoon, I got a little bold. Amidst many prayers of “God, if this isn’t of you, don’t hold it against me, OK?” I decided to try this kind of "commanding prayer." I had several things on my mind to pray for, some that were real significant eternally, and that I felt that I wanted to pray for. If this was going to work, I wanted to use it on something Really Important. But it seemed that God was leading me to pray for a truck. THE truck. The truck on the list.
So I did. I commanded the truck to be released, in Jesus’ Name, from whatever was holding it back. It wasn’t their truck anymore, it was mine, and it was time for me to take possession of it!
Ok. That was wierd. But as long as I was experimenting, I added, “And I want it here by Friday!”
In the intervening days between then and Friday, I had to wrestle doubts to the ground a couple of times, and that was a challenge. On Friday morning, I realized that I hadn’t specified a price. Then I reminded myself that if God had a truck in mind, He’d know my budget, too. And if He didn’t have a truck in mind, then I’d know that I had bigger problems with my theology than I did with my finances.
To make a long story short, I bought the truck on my lunch hour that Friday. It matched EVERY ONE of the specifications on my list--even the color!
That was several years ago. I still can’t get into the truck without thanking God for His faithfulness!