[shoulders] SHOULDER TO SHOULDER #42 ---- 11/02/98

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From: lifeunlimited@...
Date: Sun, 1 Nov 1998 23:13:43 +0000
Standing Shoulder To Shoulder in the Trenches,
Encouraging One Another as we "Fight the Good Fight"



TITLE:  "Half Way is No Way"



My Dear Friend:

God has reminded me just recently of two very special blessings.

One is the growing number of friends He has given me through the past ten
months as a result of this weekly letter.  And, I've been wondering about
some of you ---- how you're doing, what the latest status is on things
about which you wrote, are you still well, etc.  It is a most unusual
sensation ---- to feel a closeness to people whom I've never seen face to
face or even heart their voices over the phone.  God surely is very good!

The other is a freshening of the concern I have for so many brothers and
sisters in ministry who are going through difficult times.

I have talked with two such brothers within the past week, and heard from
another via e-mail just yesterday.  With one, the church he has been
pastoring is closing its doors.  Another has gone through two years of
very dry times.  The third one nearly resigned yesterday morning.  One is
in his 30's, another in his late 40's, the third in his 70's.

God certainly did not promise us that our ministries would be easy; but,
I wonder just how much of what we are going through are really the
by-products of this institutionalized and often spiritually inoculated
form of church life.  

My heart is extremely heavy for those of my co-laborers who struggle with
issues that seem to have little or no relationship to Biblical issues,
scriptural truth, moral failure, or heretical teaching.

Frankly, they are "non-entities" ---- irrelevant to the Biblical mandate
of the Gospel and to true New Testament church life.  

And, yet ---- those are the very things most of us struggle with ----
things that are purely temporal ---- the length of services, the color of
the carpet, the type of music we sing, the mannerisms of the pastor, the
size of the offering, the way the new people in the church dress, ad
infinitum, ad nauseum.

Somewhere along the way, we have missed both the point and the boat.



LAST WEEK'S MEETING:

A Bible conference Jo Ann and I conducted in a church last week
illustrate that.  

Here was a pastor who, by his own definition, is a plain ordinary guy
with no frills who just loves God with all his heart and loves his people
the same way.  After going through many many months of very difficult and
discouraging times, God spoke a fresh word to him.

You see, he had lost a number of families over some very fickle matters
---- all of them regarding either opinions or preferences ---- and none
of them over doctrinal or moral issues.

But, that seems to be the norm ---- people come and go primarily on the
basis of opinion and preference ---- neither of which are acceptable or
allowed by the Lord Jesus Christ as legitimate reasons to leave a church.

Just think about it:  who has left your church in the past year?

Why did they leave?

Was it because of heresy in the pulpit?  Was it because of immorality
among the leadership?  Was it because of lies about the Bible and its
content?

Probably not.

Most likely it had to do with opinion or preference.

It's almost as if the Christian experience of those people only took
"half way"  Like one guy said, "Some people have had a vaccination with
the Gospel in order to keep them from getting the real thing."



MY EXPERIENCE IN HALF WAY:

Saturday morning on the way home from that Bible conference, Jo Ann and I
passed through the town of Half Way ---- no fooling; that's its real
name.

I've been through there many times ---- as far back as 1956 when I was a
green freshman in college.  So Saturday was not a brand new experience
---- just an enlightened one.

Halfway gets its name because it is exactly halfway between Buffalo and
Bolivar ---- nine miles either way.

Saturday, though, when I drove through, I began to let my mischievous and
scheming little mind scrutinize some of the signs in Halfway.

First, I noticed the Halfway Volunteer Fire Department.

Now, that's an interesting thought: ---- if it's halfway volunteer,
what's the other half?  Paid?  Non existent?  Half way not willing to
volunteer?

If my house were on fire, I'm not sure I'd want to have my fire put out
by a group of fire fighters only halfway volunteering.

Second, I noted that a year or two ago they also had a Halfway Girls'
Softball state championship team.

That raised several questions.

Were they just halfway champions?  To me, I'd think that meant they came
in either second or third.

Or, was it halfway softball ---- and the other half something else?  Like
maybe boxing.  Now that would be an interesting game ---- having girls
not only have to get a hit with the bat, but then slug it out with the
first baseman (base-person) before they could proceed to second base.

Halfway softball and halfway skeet shooting would be a fascinating sport,
too.  Instead of ball gloves, the defensive team would have shot guns
with which to blow the cover off the ball.  I'd think I'd want my team to
avoid hitting line drives and ground balls at any cost ---- it could be
dangerous running the bases.

Or, maybe they were just halfway girls.  Now that's a scary thought. 
What would the other half be?  I don't remember ever seeing a softball
team made up of cross dressers or transvestites.  I hope I never do.

The third thing I noticed was the Halfway Meat Market.  Boy, did that
raise some questions!

And then there was the Halfway Auto Repair Shop.  I'll bet their customer
base is pretty shallow by now.

Next I saw the Halfway Baptist Church.  Now, that one I could possibly
identify with.  I was reminded of the "Halfway Covenant" controversy that
took place back in early American history.

The question came to mind: ---- "What does it mean to be halfway
Baptist?"  Does that mean that I'm half Baptist and half something else? 
Or does it mean that I'm Baptist, but only half way?

I've seen lots of both.  In fact, I've known a few halfway Baptists ----
and Presbyterians, Methodists, and lots of other denominations.

That's not nearly as bad, though, as people who try to live as half way
Christians.  Paul identifies them in I Corinthians chapter two; he calls
them "Carnal".

The last thing I saw in Halfway, though, was the Halfway Full Gospel
Church.

Now that one really took the cake!  

The first time I saw that sign, many years ago while still in college, I
remember it sat next to their building ---- a basement with a flat roof!

Last Saturday I noticed that it's the same basement with a flat roof ----
over 40 years later.

Maybe they ARE only halfway full.

I remember getting stuck one time in another "halfway" point ---- half
way between two bigger cities, but 40 miles to each ---- and with a water
pump shot in the car.  

I can tell you from personal experience that it's no fun getting stuck at
"half way" ---- and yet, that's what many of us in ministry regularly
encounter.  We're caught with a church "half way" committed (is there
such a thing as "half way" commitment?), our tanks are "half way" filled,
our vision is "half way" alive, and our energy is "half way" depleted.

It is a miserable condition.



ARE YOU HALFWAY?

I certainly mean no offense at all toward the residents of Halfway,
especially the churches.  And, I'm confident they've heard all this stuff
before, and are probably very gracious and long suffering people to put
up with all the comments for so many years.

Frankly, I don't  think I'd want to live in Halfway.  Kinda like the
little town just north of where I was born ---- Needmore, Illinois.  It
consisted of two houses and a store building that housed the gas station,
post office, barber shop, and grocery store all in one, sitting on the
curve of U.S. Route 45 between Louisville and Effingham.

Today nothing is left; they even took the curve in the road out.

The grief of my heart stems from the fact that we have so very many
"halfway" Christians ---- people who are "believers" without having
believed ---- people who have tasted of the grace of God without
accepting the duty that accompanies it ---- people who enjoy the
blessings without thanking the Blessor ---- people who want to be
disciples while rejecting the required discipline.

It's no wonder we can have conferences in churches with 400 members and
have less than 50 attend.  It's no wonder we can see bank accounts full
while people right around the corner are homeless and hungry.

And ---- that will never change, my friend, in your church or any other
---- as long as the leaders are also "halfway".  Halfway in their
discontent with the way things are ---- halfway in their desperation
before God ---- halfway in their brokenness before a healing Savior ----
halfway in their willingness to accept ALL that God has available to them
---- halfway in their discipline and self control ---- halfway in their
devotion to their families.



IT'S TIME FOR "ALL THE WAY"!

Friend, we live in an unprecedented day.  

As the prophet declared, "If the footmen weary you, what will you do when
the horsemen come?"

You can be certain that from a human standpoint, things are not going to
get better.  They are going to continue to get worse and worse.  And, if
you think you can stay at the "halfway point" in your commitment and in
the race, please, please, think again!

Halfway won't cut it any longer.

It's got to be "All the Way" that your Savior lords you and leads you.

I believe we are on the verge of the mightiest revival in world history,
and I believe it will be world wide.

I also believe, however, that many are going to miss it ---- simply
because they have settled in at "Halfway".

You see, nine miles east of Halfway is Buffalo ---- symbol of the
free-spirit, unrestrained, animal that ranged the prairie simply
satisfied to find pleasure and contentment with what was around it, and
with nothing more than instinct and size to help him survive.

Nine miles west of Halfway is Bolivar ---- named after Simon Bolivar, the
great military "liberator" of South America.  He, on the other hand, saw
the needs of his people ---- their poverty, their bondage to a foreign
power, their helplessness ---- and he decided to do something about it.

The end result was the liberation of two nations ---- Colombia, and
Bolivia.



WHAT ABOUT YOU?

What will it be for you, my friend?

Have you considered going back to Buffalo?  Back to a place of no
commitment, no demands ---- and no joy?

Or maybe you've become so discouraged that you've stopped at Halfway ----
trying to maintain a good image, but having little to offer other than
the words and a pretense.

May I encourage you, should you find yourself living in either of those
two places, to mount up and head for Bolivar ---- the Land of the
Liberator!

He will set you free!  He will heal you, wounded soldier!  He will train
you!  He will equip you!  He will recommission you!  He will empower you!
 He will lead you!  He will stand beside you!  He will defend you! ----
TO THE VERY END!



If you ever go through Halfway, ---- Keep Going!

In Christ's Bond,

Bob Tolliver ---- Rom 1:11-12
Copyright November, 1998.  All Rights Reserved.

                                __
                               /  |  \
                          (_/___\_)
                             / ^   ^ \
                          { (O) (O) }
------oOOOo--------U-------oOOOo------

        Hang in there!   I'm with you!

-------.oooo0--------------- Ooooo--------
            \      (                         )     /
               \    |                        |    /
                (_)                        (_)


Life Unlimited Ministries
E-mail: lifeunlimited@...
Ph: 417-275-4854
Fax: 417-275-4855

I COULDN'T RESIST:

I just can't resist sending you the following for your chuckles.



HOW TO TELL YOU'RE AN E-MAIL JUNKIE

1.  You wake up at 3 am to go the bathroom and stop to check your e-mail 
on the way back to bed.

2.  You name your children Eudora, Aol and Dotcom.

3.  You turn off your modem and get this awful empty feeling, as if you
just pulled the plug on a loved one.

4.  You spend half of the plane ride with your laptop on your lap... and
your child in the overhead compartment.

5.  You decide to stay in college for an additional year or two, just for
the free Internet access.

6.  You laugh at people with 14.4-baud modems.

7.  You start using smileys in your snail mail.

8.  You find yourself typing "com" after every period when using a word
processor.com

9.  You refer to going to the bathroom as downloading.

10.  You can't call your mother...she doesn't have a modem.

11.  You check your mail.  It says "no new messages".  So you check it 
again.

12.  You don't know what gender three of your closest friends are,
because they have neutral screen names and you never bothered to ask.

13.  You move into a new house and decide to Netscape before you
landscape.

14.  You tell the cab driver you live at
http://1000.edison.garden/house/brick.html

15.  You start tilting your head sideways to smile.

 16.  After reading this message, you immediately E-mail it to a friend.



A mother was teaching her three-year-old daughter The Lord's Prayer. For
 several evenings at bedtime, she repeated it after her mother. One night
 she said she was ready to solo. The mother listened with pride, as she
 carefully enunciated each word right up to the end.
 
 "And lead us not into temptation", she prayed, "but deliver us some
e-mail,
 Amen."



Finally,

TO:  All Office Personnel

Corporate has determined that there is no longer any need for network or
software applications support.  The goal is to remove all computers from
the desktop by January, 1999.  Instead, everyone will be provided with an
Etch-A-Sketch.  The reasons for this decision are as follows:

 No Y2K problems

 No technical glitches keeping work from being done.

 No more wasted time reading and writing e mails.

Thank you.


Frequently Asked Questions to Etch-A-Sketch Technical Support:

Q: My Etch-A-Sketch has all of these funny little lines all over the
screen.

A: Pick it up and shake it.

Q: How do I turn my Etch-A-Sketch off?

A: Pick it up and shake it.

Q: What's the shortcut for Undo?

A: Pick it up and shake it.

Q: How do I create a New Document window?

A: Pick it up and shake it.

Q: How do I set the background and foreground to the same color?

A: Pick it up and shake it.

Q: What is the proper procedure for rebooting my Etch-A-Sketch?

A: Pick it up and shake it.

Q: How do I delete a document on my Etch-A-Sketch?

A: Pick it up and shake it.

Q: How do I save my Etch-A-Sketch document?

A: Don't shake it.



___________________________________________________________________
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Get completely free e-mail from Juno at http://www.juno.com/getjuno.html
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