Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Crowd Or The Cloud: Part 2



* Be sure to read Part 1 to understand where this picks up.

Fear of the Unknown. This is why those who have tasted and seen must share what we have found! How will others know of this lifestyle of daily intimacy with the LORD if those who are living it do not inform others that it is real? Of course it is scary to venture out into unknown waters! When my wife and I stopped attending services each week, I didn't know what to do with myself. I felt guilty. I felt like I was doing something wrong. I thought that I would spiritually die. After all, this is what had been drilled into me my entire life! But, my response is what determined my result! I chose to cling closer to my Father than I ever had. I chose to study who I am in Christ. I chose to surround myself with a handful of others who I trusted and knew were seeking the LORD. What I found was that I grew more spiritually in one year of this environment than I did in thirty-plus years of "church attendance" (and yes, sadly, this even includes my few years of being a youth pastor). Without the support of others who were on this journey with me and most importantly, the LORD honoring my willingness to embark into the unknown, I would not have made it. Fear is a powerful tool of religion, but it is a lie. The LORD has not given us a spirit of fear! One cannot excuse away the shackles of bondage if the key to their freedom is in their very own hands.

Fear of Rejection. The fear of rejection is likely even more powerful than the fear of the unknown. Imagine paring venturing into the unknown with doing so alone! No one likes to go it alone all of the time. Even I, who doesn't mind independence whatsoever, greatly desire to fellowship with others who are hearing what the LORD is speaking. It is a necessary component for spiritual growth, without question. The Body is a unified Body made up of parts, functions and gifts. Oddly, weekly acquaintances have given masses of Christians the false feeling of acceptance and Body life. It is a poor impersonation of what the true Body is to be. In order to stand up and question what the majority embraces as truth, one must determine whether or not they're ready to be rejected. For me, one question sums it all up - is what I believe so valuable and true that I'm willing to be rejected and ostracized for it? If what one embraces as truth can be laid down in order to be accepted and approved by men, it has no real importance to them in the first place. While I don't desire to be labeled a heretic, I'm learning to stand tall despite opposition or ridicule. One must be determined to stand up and cling to what the LORD defines as acceptable, even if it labels you as an outcast.

The truth of the matter is this - most will continue to follow the masses. Most will stay within the walls of the positional church and just do whatever they are told. It is easy. It is simple. Following the cloud takes great faith. It takes a pioneering spirit. It takes a willingness to go where few others are going. The Word prophesies that many will be led astray and not even know it. Many will just follow the masses, assuming they know the way. I understand this, yet my cry will remain the same - will you dare to look and see? Will you follow the quiet call of the LORD over the loud cries of men? Will you at least walk outside of the gates and see what awaits you there?

What great treasure was ever found by a prospector who never unearthed any dirt? What lands were ever discovered by an explorer who remained in his own homeland? What invention was ever created by one who never dared to do what no one else had done before? Is it not the same in the spiritual? Venture out! Dare to believe that there is more! Leave the crowd and follow the cloud my friend! No words could ever express what beauty, purpose, joy, anticipation, and life awaits you there! You can do it, if you are willing to study and leave ignorance behind, abandoning the errant teachings of days gone by. You can do it, if you lay aside your personal objections to the idea and seek to understand what true Christianity looks like. You can do it, if you can leave the comfort zones of conformity and embark into new territories, relying on the LORD for strength. You can do it, if you can journey into the unknown, daring to believe that there is more out there than what you've known. You can do it, if you lay down your fear of rejection and your desire to please men above the LORD. You can do it! Ask the LORD what He would speak to you on this matter. Study His Word and know why you believe what you do. Unplug from the things of this world and envelope yourself in what strengthens your inner man! Now is the time. Tomorrow is almost here and will soon be gone itself. Seek the LORD while He may be found. Will you dare to venture out my friend? Will you leave the crowd and follow the cloud?

13 comments:

Harriet said...

This is THE best of the best Joel. God has given you words of Truth with the power to transform lives in them.
Praise His most holy name!!

May hearts be opened!!!!

Anonymous said...

This is dangerous as we will give account for every word. Encouraging people to exodus is noble. You are of coarse leaving out the pain and incomparable cost in doing so. Do you plan to pastor all the readers that take the 'leap of faith' out of their respective caves?
Progressive. I applaud your critical eye to see the unfruitful boughs of the church tree. Garden much? I applaud your acute sense of smell to distinguish the stench of fly-filled oil. Apothecary much?
This is what I mean, I'm sure you hope I get to the point soon: Many 'young' Christians are easily 'driven' toward something 'new' and 'different'. The thing is, you can't drive sheep, you lead them.
Baaaaaahhhhhhhh Baaaahhhhhhhh

NINA said...

This is so true. I have grown more in the last year or so than I ever have in "the crowd". Yes I learned the basics behind the four walls but I was at a stand still and my walk had become monotonous. I thought I would spiritually die if I walked away as well, but the truth is that I was being smothered to death inside of that small box. It was as if I was digressing, or on the verge of it anyway. You can tell when you are ready for the next level because error becomes very much evident and you start having that "been there done that" feeling.You feel as if you are just going through the motions and you start to question your own beliefs. You notice that certain thing JUST DON'T ADD UP. That's when you know that you have to break away and rediscover yourself and get a personal and separate relationship with God so you can build a strong foundation and are assured in your belief.I have tried to defend the 'familiar' and guilt tries to tell me that I am on sabbatical or leave of absence, but whenever I return to the norm 'it's not enough'.There's like an unquenchable thirst. Sometimes I feel like I am in the matrix where an option was given to take the blue pill or the red bill. If you take one, your life will go back to "normal", if you take the other, you can never turn back and your life wont ever be the same. I took the last pill and I wont lie, sometimes I wish I had picked the first pill. Things have been revealed to me and I have been places that I sometimes don't feel worthy of going.I've been tested on a higher level.And to be honest, it can get really lonely in those clouds.:-) The funny part about it is that when I am around acquaintances and family who are a part of the body of Christ they assume that I am "backslidden"(smile) or that I have "lost my way". They sometimes talk down on me or around me like I am no longer a part of the body or am not ready for certain types of conversations. But the truth is that "I have boldly gone where not many men have gone before". However when people are so stuck in their ways you learn when to keep quiet and just be still to keep the peace. I know that I am who God says that I am and people had no part to play in my creation."For I consider that the the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the Glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God."

NINA said...

ANONYMOUS-BTW- I kinda agree with anonymous. [There is that pastoring thing again. (LOL)] However, I believe that every shepherd has been given a flock and those who should read these blogs will read these blogs. Every shepherd has a flock and people have to be lead by the spirit. The sheep knows the voice of the shepherd and they follow. Every one has been given their own ministry,and as a result,they were anointed accordingly; so they cant adjust that anointing to meet the the universal needs of the people. We have to do that which God has set OUR hands to do and trust that God is in control.Yes we do have to give account for every word we say, but we also have to give account for every word we DON"T say. I'm not sure how to deal with that. But I do know that the sins of commission are just as great as the sins of omission. So what do ya do? Pray and let God lead you I guess?? BE BLESSED

rave.n said...

During a study of 1 Corinthians Paul gave a small rant of being put on display by Christ (1 Cor 4:9) followed by examples of how he acted differently that the very Christians he was addressing (verses 10-13).

At the Dinner and Discussion group I couldn't get passed this feeling Paul had of being singled like on stage at a freak show. So we discussed and discussed.

Was God keeping the apostles from riches, homes, food, safety? Is that why they were feeling like spectacles?

No, we realized that because the apostles were sold out as slaves to Christ, their life didn't match the other Christians. They were so full of the Holy Spirit they didn't need to prove themselves wise, powerful or popular. Instead they operated in gentleness, patience, and self-control. This made them appear very foolish, weak and even laughable.

Paul got his power for living from God, not traditions and rituals.

Thanks for the post.

Joel Spencer said...

Harriet: Thanks for your encouraging words!

Anonymous: I'm a little unsure as to what you're saying within your commnet, but I'll attempt to respond as I see it. First of all, I see no "danger" in encouraging others to adhere to Scriptural Christianity. It is simple Truth that must be discussed.

Secondly, no I do not intend to "pastor" everyone here. My purpose, my goal is quite simple - expose the errors of what has been errantly deemed "acceptable" Christianity and then allow the written Word of God to define what it really means to be a born from above Believer. On the other hand, I personally respond to many personal emails and questions from readers that are never even discussed here.

I am not "driving" anyone into anything. A shepherd leads others where he has been. He knows the way, he knows the path. As I have stated within this post, I have seen a better way - the only way - Jesus, the Christ. Not programs, not rituals, not hum-drum self-centered religion. When others see the real, they have no use for the impersonation - I have seen it with my own eyes.

There is one Shepherd that all must rely on first and foremost - He is Jesus, the Christ. If we all took our eyes off of all of this worldly religious order, perhaps all of this would make alot more sense.

Nina: Don't you know that if you don't attend church, you have to backslide? (smile)

Call it pastoring, call it shepherding, call it just walking out your daily life in submission to the LORD, I don't care. Let's just get to doing what we are called to do. :)

Raven: Great point Raven. If we simply lived a life that exudes Christ, it would be more than enough to cause us to standout. We wouldn't have to try to be different, we actually would be. We're on the right path - let's just keep going.

Jeffrey E.W. said...

Hey Joel,

Just wanted to let you know I'm enjoying the series. Excellent work!

-Jeff

Joel Spencer said...

Jeff: Thanks for stopping by! I'm glad you enjoyed this short series. It is a constant challenge to see where the LORD is leading as opposed to just simply following the majority.

Anonymous said...

I have to say, from one who has left the crowd to follow the few... it is very hard. Few that I know dare to believe that it is better on the outside than on the inside.

But you can't get people who are inside to come out. They have to choose to take that step. We didn't have any idea about walking outside until someone revealed it to us.

It's truly a simple matter. You can go this way or that way. One way is towards Christ, the other way isn't. I don't know why we get all "gray-area" when it comes to church. Does that Bible leave room for gray? No. Does God's Word leave room for man's opinions? No. But do the majority of people who call themselves Christians know this? No.

Every day, our life is about choices. I can choose to be this or I can choose to be that. I can choose to do this or I can choose to do that. Personally, as hard as it may be to do this, I'm really striving to be like Christ and do what He instructs in His Word.

Everything else is a farce and is unacceptable to Him.

Joel Spencer said...

Anonymous: I personally believe that God is the one who calls us out, not people. I would however agree that others who have embarked down the road less traveleled can surely assist us to understand what it looks like. As you said, noone can be forced "out".

It is awesome to see the LORD calling others out right now from the religious form of godliness. Freedom awaits whoever will step out and dare to believe that there is more.

Thanks for your comment!

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Anonymous said...

So true Joel, I wish others could see it as the truth and see what Constantine really did to us back in 300's. He lead us to believe that the system was the way to go. He copied the Pagan religion and now that is what we go by. What in the world will people do when the Jesus return gets closer and can't go to a building and hear their "pastor"? I guess we will see one day.

Joel Spencer said...

Anonymous: I know that the LORD is drawing. That is surely not the issue. But will Believers respond and be willing to let go of traditions that produce little more than religious comforts? That is the question.