The Way Of The Lamb

Now glory be to God! By His mighty power at work within us, He is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope." Ephesians 3:20....."My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9...."Over time, we have come to see that the way of power commended in Scripture is not the way of power we have seen in evangelicalism." Kyle Strobel...."Instead of hearing God's vision of redeeming all things in Christ by the power of His Holy Spirit, we hear of the pastor's vision to grow an even bigger church that does bigger things so that he can be powerful and we can be powerful with him." Jamin Goggin 

 

Since the fall of humankind in the Garden, we have been obsessed with having and exercising power. Nothing has been allowed to stand in the way of our achieving it. Oceans of blood have been spilled to gain  and keep it. The history of the human race is a testament to this. Indescribable suffering has been the result, as the quest for power has reached everywhere in the cultures of the world. It has also reached into the very culture and fabric of His Church. I know it reached me. Has it also reached you? In so many ways, the Church has embraced and promoted the power concepts of the world. We seek the high places just as fervently, in some ways even more so, than our counterparts in the world. In truth, in this regard, we are the world.

 

I began my pastoral ministry in the Texas panhandle city of Lubbock, Texas. My church was the smallest on my district, and it had a horrible reputation. The district office published a monthly newsletter and one of the features was a listing of church attendance, largest to smallest. Ours was dead last. I was determined that this would change, and I set about to channel all of my energy and effort, coupled with "prayer" of course, into that change. We did grow, and as our numbers rose, so did my visibility. At a gathering of preachers where one of the General Superintendents of our denomination was present, my District Superintendent introduced me to that General as "one of my most prized young preachers." I remember the pride I felt, I was on my way. Not long after though, our numbers declined a bit. I was not looking for that, so I began to seek for another church with more potential. I believed I had found it in a church in Virginia. I moved there, and continued along in my quest for ministry success. Yes, I desired to see people saved, and minister to them, but I wanted to succeed, be recognized as well. I had deeply mixed motivations. My heart desired Him, but it desired the high places too. In my pursuit, the unexpected happened. My marriage collapsed, and so did my ministry. I was humbled, but as time would prove, not enough.

After about a year, in His mercy and goodness, He opened the door to return to the ministry by way of a friend who brought me on as his associate at a church in New Jersey. Two years later, He opened another door to return to Virginia and plant a church. In many ways I was a different man. In too many ways I was also the same man. I embarked on another crusade to achieve, to prove myself, to be recognized, to lay hold of the high place. My efforts seemed to bear fruit. We became one of the fastest growing churches on our district. By our fourth year it seemed like there were no limits for us. Recognition was coming, people were noticing. I felt wonderful, and more, a real part of me felt I deserved it. I'd been faithful amidst deep pain and adversity. I would never say it, but there was a real part of me that believed He owed me this. And then He proved He owed me nothing....but I owed Him everything.

I pastor in a highly transient area, as well as one where His Light and the enemy's darkness clash mightily. I never expected to see half my congregation to transfer out of the area to new jobs and other places and churches. I never expected formerly happy people to suddenly become unhappy and leave....but they did. All our momentum was lost...and I grieved the loss....and agonized....and put all of my efforts into reversing it.....but I couldn't. I, we, entered a desert, and nothing I or the church did seemed to "work." We would gain, then we would lose. The man who strove to be something and somebody, was looking more and more like nothing and nobody, which was exactly where He wanted to take me. Our flesh would rather be anything but, but Alicia Chole asks the question, "Do we have the strength to be nothing?" I never wanted such "strength." Only the Father and eternity will judge if I have gained it.

Kyle Strobel, writing in the book, "The Way Of The Dragon Or The Way Of The Lamb," said of his ministry, "Beneath the surface we were desperate for power. God led us into the truth of our hearts, revealing how deeply and pervasively pride drove our lives and how much we relied upon our own strength." I have come to see how deeply pride has driven me through most of my ministry life. I have more often walked the way of the Dragon than of the Lamb. His Word says His power is perfected in our weakness, but few of us ever want to be weak. That's why the way of the Dragon is so appealing. It seduces us. Has it seduced you? I write from the perspective of my ministry, but the way of the Dragon seeks to lay hold of His people in every walk and profession of life. None are immune to it. Not many of us seem to really hear the call of the Way of the Lamb.

The way of the Dragon still calls me, and the way of the Dragon still sounds within the Church. It calls you too. Can you hear the call of the Lamb and His Way? The Way of the cross. His Power is perfected in our weakness. Suffering, loss, being people of no repute or reputation. All are part of His Way. Will we walk it? It has no high places other than being seated with Him. That is the highest place, but it holds no appeal to our flesh. We want to be seated up on the dais, seen by everyone. He calls us to be seated with Him, and the only One seen is Him..... So I close with this question; what and who rules our desire; the way of the Dragon, or the Way of the Lamb? The Dragon, or the Lamb. Who do we hear? Who do we really follow?

Blessings,

Pastor O

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