[shoulders] SHOULDER TO SHOULDER #44 ---- 11/16/98

Message: < previous - next > : Reply : Subscribe : Cleanse
Home   : November 1998 : Group Archive : Group : All Groups

From: lifeunlimited@...
Date: Sun, 15 Nov 1998 23:09:07 +0000
Standing Shoulder to Shoulder With You In The Trenches
As We Fight The Good Fight



TITLE: "Patterns Of Purification" (Part One)



Dear Fellow Servant in Christ Jesus:



EVER WONDERED:

John Palmer is a pastor in Des Moines, IA ---- the pastor of our daughter
and her husband who are serving as missionaries in Bogota, Colombia.  I
consider him a friend ---- a good friend, even though we seldom see each
other and seldom correspond; he's just that kind of guy.  He's the kind
every dad would want for his daughter's pastor.  I'm glad he is.  Really
glad.

Well, Jo Ann and I correspond regularly with Cindy, Kevin, and
Christopher via e-mail.  Some time back she sent me the following piece
which John had apparently used in the "pre-sermon" portion of his
message.

It really made me wonder.

I wonder if it will make you wonder.

"Have you ever wondered . . .
 . . why there are interstate highways in Hawaii?
 . . why there are floatation devices rather than parachutes under
airplane seats?
 . . if nothing sticks to teflon, how they make teflon stick to the pan?
 . . why "phonetic" isn't spelled the way it sounds?
 . . why we drive on parkways and park on driveways?
 . . why the word "abbreviation" is so long?
 . . if it is possible to be "totally partial"?
 . . why we never hear about gruntled employees?
 . . why they don't make the whole airplane out of the same substance as
that little indestructible black box?
 . . if olive oil comes from olives, where does baby oil come from?
 . . why there are braille dots on a drive-up ATM machine?
 . . if 'con' is the opposite of 'pro', is 'congress' the opposite of
'progress'?"

Well, that got me to wondering, too ---- about other things.

I wonder . . . . . . 

Hope you enjoyed that!



I DO WONDER:

Jo Ann and I are seeing a very interesting and encouraging trend of late.
 Most of the revivals and conferences in which we have participated this
past year have been optimistically different from many in the past. 
Other itinerant evangelists I know are saying the same thing.

There are hopeful signs.  God is indeed doing a new and fresh work in the
Body of Christ, and it is affecting many ---- not all, but many.  I do
wonder just what all it will involve, just who will be affected, who will
embrace it, and who will reject it.

Only God Himself knows for sure.

I am terribly tempted to write you today on the subject of revival, but
the Holy Spirit is directing me to another subject; though related to
revival, it seems to perhaps be taking precedent ---- preceding that
undertaking.

I must encourage you today on the subject of "Patterns Of Purification
---- The Pathway To Revival".  

In my efforts to keep my letters much shorter, I will take the next two
to four letters to cover all I want to say.



THE BACKGROUND:

It is hard for me to realize that I have spent over 60 years within the
framework of a preacher's home, 42 of them in the ministry myself, and
the past 32 years having followed a dramatic revival and spiritual
awakening of extraordinary proportion which touched a church ---- even
more so, a town.  More importantly, however, ---- it touched me and my
family.

During these years since that revival outpouring, I have been both
intrigued and burdened over some very disturbing patterns I have seen
within the Church.  

It seems that so frequently, just about the time a local church appears
to be experiencing significant growth and the blessings of God, either
the pastor resigns (often for no visible reason), the church gets side
tracked on some kind of tangent, or a problem or conflict erupts within
the church itself.

The latter happened in two churches where we ministered recently, leaving
both pastors badly battered and deeply discouraged, the faithful members
fearful, and the churches by and large in a state of tentativeness,
fragmentation, and confusion.

In studying such phenomena over the past years, particularly during these
past 18 years of itinerant ministry and being in churches of varying
sizes and denominations, I have come to the following conclusion, which I
call . . . .



PATTERNS OF PURIFICATION:

I first developed this material as a Bible study at a pastor/wife retreat
in the Puget Sound area of Seattle, WA back in 1984.  It was met with
such enthusiasm that I later outlined it on paper in 1987, and have
shared it with many churches, pastors, lay leaders, and denominational
workers.  However, this is the first time I have been prompted to share
it on such a large scale.

Here is the conclusion at which I arrived:

***  When a church first begins, or when it calls a new pastor, or when
it makes a definite decision to move toward revival and spiritual
awakening, the following patterns will generally be experienced:
1.  Honeymoon Adventure
2.  Stabilization and Plateau
3.  Re-grouping and Digging In
4.  Decision Toward Collapse or Commitment

Unfortunately, pastors and/or members often do not recognize the
patterns, and most certainly do not usually see them as actually
containing God's Hand at work.  As a result, . . .
1.  Pastors leave far too soon,
2.  Members of the Body get hurt,
3.  The church becomes bewildered or discouraged,
4.  Unbelievers are turned off to the Gospel,
5.  Church members get angry and leave,
6.  The church shuts its doors (literally or figuratively), and . . .
7.  Revival Never Comes!

It is my firm conviction that most pastors who resign churches do so far
too early in their ministry.  I have yet to see a healthy and effective
church that has been pastored by short-tenured pastorates.  

When there is a premature aborting of leadership within a church, then
whatever it was that God was doing has to start all over again ---- both
in the church and in the life of the pastor.  

Frankly, that is a discouraging thought at best, and a scary one at worst
---- the thought that it's going to happen all over again.

One of my own pastorates was in a church that had nine pastors in twenty
years.  Now, I pastored there seven and a man two predecessors back
pastored four.  That means that during the remaining nine years, the
church had seven pastors.  My immediate predecessor could take it only
nine months.

It is impossible to have either a healthy church or a healthy pastor with
such a pattern.  It is impossible to create confidence and hope in a
pastor's life (and that of his Family, I might add) or in the life of the
church if every 18 to 36 months a new name is on the sign and a new face
is in the pulpit, and there is a new location (or NO location) for the
departing pastor.  Just what are we thinking when we conclude that is to
be the norm?

It is not!  And yet, the average pastorate in evangelical church circles
is less than two years in duration.

I realize there are many dynamics involved in ministry changes, but to a
large extent these things are allowed to happen because we have a
thoroughly distorted and perverted concept of what the Church is and the
role of ministry within it.

Now ---- if a pastor, a member, or a church can recognize these patterns,
can see the cause, and can anticipate the outcome from a Biblical
standpoint, I believe it will create a greater sense of confidence,
peace, and expectancy that God is actually doing a mighty work through
which He fully intends to bring them all to victory.  

We Must see what is happening ---- with Spiritual eyes, and not with the
eyes of the world.  We Must understand the dynamics from Biblical truth
and Divine revelation rather than human intellect and the world's
standards.



SOME BIBLICAL SPOTLIGHTS:

Preliminary to explaining the four-step pattern to purification and
revival, in this letter I call your attention to six passages that are
impregnated with Biblical truth that spotlight some extremely significant
principles which we must acknowledge are uncompromisable truths:

1.  Ephesians 4:11-16.    Paul is clear that the primary role of these
"gifted gifts" (Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor, Teacher {or
Teaching Pastor}) are specifically to Equip believers for the work of
ministry ---- and NOT to do all the work of ministry themselves.  Yet,
this is one of the most compromised scriptures in the Bible ---- and it
is often compromised by the leaders themselves, either out of
frustration, discouragement, or fear.

The end result of this pattern of church leadership is a mature church
that looks like, smells like, and acts like Jesus.

2.  Ephesians 5:25b-27.  While there is certainly instruction on marriage
here, the greater truth is that Christ loves the Church unconditionally
and has devoted Himself totally to His Bride in order that she might be
set apart for effective service, will manifest a life of holiness and
purity, and will one day be presented to the Father spotless, ageless,
and blameless.

Therefore, it is the responsibility of every church leader and member to
strive toward that goal.  Anything that detracts from it should be
discarded.  Anything that enhances it should be embraced.

3.  Hebrews 12:18-29.  This is one of my favorite passages, because it
shows the difference between a "Mt. Sinai Church" and a "Mt. Zion Church"
---- one built on human performance and legalism, and one built on
Spirit-driven praise and service.

The write makes one thing crystal clear ---- Everything ---- Everything!
---- is going to be shaken.  The Church is not excluded.  It is God's
intent that the only thing that will remain is that which manifests the
presence, the character, and the power of Jesus Christ.  Everything else
will be ground to powder.

What we fail to recognize, however, is that often the problems,
conflicts, and struggles we go through are as much or more God shaking us
as they are human personalities trying to control or Satan trying to
destroy.  When we fail to ask, "Lord, what are You wanting to accomplish
through this?", we miss a great opportunity to move through the situation
into a new manifestation of God's activity and power.

4.  Jeremiah 29:11-14.    As in Israel's case, God often allows us to go
through a "Babylonian captivity" of our own in order to get us to do the
same thing He wanted Israel to do ---- Seek His Face ---- Exclusively,
Earnestly, and Expectantly.

Whatever else you may need to realize, my friend, it is this ---- "I will
be found by you, declares the Lord!"

5.  Joel 2:18-29.    It is in God's heart to send refreshing, revival,
restoration, and renewal.  There is no doubt about that.  It is His
intent that your ministry be fruitful again.  It is His plan that the
years the locust have eaten will be restored to you.  It is His
commitment to make sure the latter rain is longer, bigger, heavier, and
has greater results than all the early rains of your ministry.  And, it
is His ultimate plan that His Holy Spirit will be poured out on all
mankind in world-changing ways.

That is the promise of revival ---- Whenever it comes!

However, it must be preceded by a fast and a solemn assembly
characterized by repentance, humility, and brokenness (15-17).

6.  Hosea 6:1-3, 11.  God's promise is clear ---- though you may have
been torn, wounded, and left for dead, He intends to heal you ---- to
bandage you ---- to bring you back to life!

So ---- know that, my friend!  Press on!

Why?  Because "His going forth is as certain as the dawn; and He will
come to us like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth."

"Also, O Judah (O 'Praise') ---- there IS a harvest appointed for you!" 
God WILL "restore the fortunes of [His] people!" 



IN CONCLUSION:

I talked with a pastor, in his 70's, just recently.  He was on the verge
of resigning.  He has held numerous pastorates.  By his own
acknowledgement, every pastorate he had was a troubled one.  When he told
me that I wondered just what had gone through his mind in the past
concerning his own effectiveness, his own sense of value, his questions
about what God thought of him, the misgivings he might have had about how
his own family felt about him and whether or not they trusted him and
respected him.

It is a horrible thought to imagine having every area of ministry be
characterized by conflict ---- no matter who was responsible for it.

As we fellowshipped together over a period of days, and as I shared
healing and restoring truths from God's Word, I watched him change.  I
stood back and watched as God reached down deep inside and pulled several
attitudinal patterns out by their roots.

By the end of the week, he was a changed man.  Humility, a quiet spirit,
and peace were evident in his mannerisms, his speech, and his
countenance.

I gave him a copy of "Patterns of Purification".  As he read it, he said,
"I've been there, done that."

Now, however, revival is coming.  Restoration is on the way.  The latter
rains will fall on the latter years of his ministry.  I am so excited for
him!  And for his wife!  And for his church!

Thank you, Father, for marking out the Patterns of Purification that open
up the Pathway To Revival!

Join me, my friend, as we journey that direction together.  Next week
I'll pick up with the "Honeymoon Adventure" and go from there.

In Christ's Bond,

Bob Tolliver
Copyright November, 1998.  All rights reserved.

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

P.S.  Pray for us this week.  We are in two churches ---- Sunday through
Wednesday in a very small church in a dying community (they had 10 in SS
yesterday), and then Thursday through Saturday in a small church with a
big heart in a small town of 40 people where the church runs triple that.
 The first desperately needs hope and a fresh touch from God; the second
is already seeing extraordinary moves of God weekly.

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

        Hang in there!   I'm with you!

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



___________________________________________________________________
You don't need to buy Internet access to use free Internet e-mail.
Get completely free e-mail from Juno at http://www.juno.com/getjuno.html
or call Juno at (800) 654-JUNO [654-5866]