October 28th, 2004

Church/Prayer Request

Church last week was better but this week God has been dealing with me all week about how things are going to be this Sunday. There is a gloom that hangs over this body, an oppressive spirit, that keeps everything dead. There are two problems that I have been slowly growing aware of and God has told me how to deal with them.

1. The people that were in this church when we came are oppressed with the failure of the previous congregation and the growing darkness that has taken the church. Huge rooms that were used for Sunday School classes sit empty. A dining hall that I'm sure used to be filled with laughter aznd fellowship has been empty and practically unused for years. They have had many preachers in recent years but no pastors. The church has dwindled to 5-10 members on Sunday Morning from 80-100 a few years back. They have heard promises from other preachers about how they would stay and raise their kids in this church, pastor the people, etc., etc., but when a bigger church becomes available through the AG they bolt. There is a tangible oppression that hangs over the place that needs to be broken and I have thought that somehow my brilliant teaching and our wonderful worship would turn things around. Forgive me LORD. I thought we would be making up the ground 1 step at a time like "the longest journey begins with one step" kind of a thing. Nope. Can't cross a 50 foot chasm one small step at a time. It takes a leap of faith and a miracle to reach the other side. We know someone who does miracles though.

2. The 2nd problem is that the people that came with us (us included) are all coming out of times that were dark and oppressive. We all spent the last few years either out of church or just hanging on to church with no real fellowship and no pastor or spiritual leadership. We come to church on Sunday Morning with this oppression hanging over us and we try to sing a few songs and preach some text of the Bible to inspire people and we ignore the big demon lounging by the back wall laughing and telling us "Nothing we can do will change the situation". Everyone is weary. Everyone is dry. Everyone has lost faith in God to actually change anything. And yet here we are stubbornly sticking to the same drudgery of trying to sing and preach. We have talent. We have amps, microphones and stands. Keyboards and guitars. I have bookcases filled with commentaries by Matthew Henry, Jameison-Fawcett-Brown, and the like. I have Bible handbooks by half a dozen men, Greek Exegesics and word studies. And demons hanging off the rafters.

This Sunday is going to be a little different. I have always felt that the preaching is a chore because as long as I am preaching it pushes back this veil of darkness but as soon as I shut my mouth it falls in around us again. Ah, but this Sunday we are not setting up the mike stands and keyboards and amps. I'm not going to get up behind the pulpit and battle the oppression there. Ezekiel stood at the valley of dry bones and God said "Can these bones live?". Ezekiel does not answer yes or no saying, "You know". He seems to express uncertainty, but not doubt. Uncertainty does not become doubt, or sin, until God speaks and we stay uncertain. If then the uncertainty remains we are in trouble. God tells him to begin to prophesy and he does.

I may have wrestled with some uncertainty because they have never voted and made me the pastor officially but God has spoken now and Sunday I am going to begin to prophesy over this congregation the things that God has been speaking to me in prayer the last few weeks. Zechariah's account of Joshuah and Zerrubabel in Zech. chapters 1 through 4 is amazing stuff dealing with Israel's return from captivity and what they had to do to reestablish the Temple. "Not by might, not by power, but by my spririt saith the LORD". "Who art thou oh great mountain? Before Zerrubabel you will become a plain". Me, and another man there who God has shown me, are going to annoint each person in the church and pray for a fresh annointing Sunday. Bondages are going to be broken, things set right. There's no room for a bully in the church and he has to go. And if it doesn't work we'll do it again next Sunday. And the one after that. But when we're done we are going to "have church" as they say in the South.

As you know this is going to be a matter of resistance and so I ask you to pray for us. I have been a preacher to them, and a pastor. Sunday I become a Shepherd that drives away the predators so they can lay down in peace and feast at the table of the LORD. The man who will be helping me asked in Sunday School a couple weeks back what the big stick was for that the Shepherd carried. He's fixin' to see.