I am overflowing with thanksgiving today, reflecting on the extraordinary time Saturday night at Charlotte 24/7.
First I'm thankful for the hard work of Lisa Koons and her team, to get the facility ready for our gathering. We actually considered canceling the event out of concern that the prayer room would not be ready. That would have been a big mistake.
We began with a time of spontaneous prayer and praise. The prevailing current was a desperate cry to our Father to reveal His glory.
We also spent time getting acquainted. It was encouraging to hear from people from all over the Charlotte region: Hickory, Valdez, Wingate, Rock Hill, SC. All of them with the same heart: to acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus individually and corporately.
Steve Crosby ended with an incendiary message, "Overcoming Disillusionment". Here are some of the highlights:
Crosby began by explaining the background for the book of Hebrews. The book was written to believers who were disillusioned... people ready to "chuck it". The remedy was a fresh unveiling of Jesus Christ. When the author referred to "looking unto him" the idea is a constant looking, or gaze.
This is where we often offer the wrong solutions. Counseling is ineffective. The issue is not a perfecting of our methods or a better idea.
Crosby continued, even as we look at an emerging citywide expression of the Church in the Charlotte region, the goal is not a better managed "prison camp". Nor is it linking a series of carefully managed prison camps. What we need is vision adjustment.
In Romans 13:11 we are told to awake from sleep. It is a challenge to come out of a hypnotic state. Now Steve began sharing 3 manifestations of a "life" in that state:
1. When we are haunted by echoes of our past. This can also be the pain of our past. Victory is found in living with Jesus in real time. Here Steve presented two interesting formulas:
pain + old creation nature = reaction
pain + new creation = redemption
Walking through pain as a new creation is redemptive. The Lord uses that pain to conform us to the image of Jesus. In fact, the power of our gospel is the fact that Jesus spoke from the cross. Similarly that is where the power of God is revealed in us, when we speak from the cross, not merely about the cross.
Going further, in Romans 10:2, Paul gives props to people trying to kill us. When Christ is in us we will be willing to bless even those who cause us harm. We have the power to release any emotional i.o.u's.
2. Defending our present. Too often we're tempted to defend our views and convictions. They can be idolatrous lords over us.
People who have identities that are not healed have to defend what they are doing to others. My identity is not in the moment. We must not let our methodology become an idol.
Maturity is a mandate to lay down my life for others. Feed my sheep has nothing to do with pulpit ministry. It means I exist for others to feed on. My heart is open. My wallet is open. my home is open. This is the meaning of being a living sacrifice. My life is available for divine disbursement.
By contrast people who love principles more than God we will hurt people. Steve warned that people who preach hard on something have a problem. The strength of sin is the law. Principles do not save. God sent a Son, not a rule book. In the past He spoke through prophets, but now he speaks through His Son.
Jesus died to make us relational with Him and one another, not just to make us "right". All too often living merely by "principle" is a mask for relational dysfunction.
Idealism and perfectionism are formulas for disaster. Maturity is evidenced by our wilingness to pursue the ideal, while accepting reality at the same time. We must also be careful to let people have their own seasons in the Lord. We must not try to make people conform to our "standards" or perceived level of maturity or experience. If we are wise we will manage our expectations of others.
We also have to avoid trying to find deliverance in the wrong places. The answer for everything is not another sermon or counseling.
3. The final stumblingblock is fear of the future.
Steve referenced the obsession among many believers with eschatology and calamity. There are believers hoarding supplies, including guns. He repeated one friend's question to another who is buying into this madness. He appropriately asked, "What are you going to do, shoot someone in the name of Jesus?"
Steve reminded us that our call from the Lord is to prepare to be a means of redemption for lost people, not to withdraw from the world for our own "protection". May the Lord help us walk out this word.