final chapter

…but for David and his descendants, his family and kingdom, the final verdict is God’s peace.” 1Kings 2:33 The Message Bible

It started with an application on ChurchJobFinder.com…just one of many, many applications we’ve sent out over the past few years.  We believe, with all our hearts that God has called us and prepared us to share the Grace of Christ with the body of Christ, and for that reason we continue to seek His will in our walk.

A couple of decades back, the Holy Spirit gave us our job-description: “Open the End Rows.”

For those of you who aren’t from the mid-west – this is an agrarian term, having to do with the harvesting of grain. There is a video on YouTube that gives the best explanation I’ve ever seen of the grain harvesting crews.  What’s missing is  the “opening of the end rows.” Before the main Harvest crew arrives, a small crew comes in – with simple equipment they go through the fields, pulling the irrigation ditches closed, leveling the ground; and cutting a swath across the end rows of the fields so the gigantic combines can turn easily, clean and fast.

That’s our job.  We’ve done it for years.  God sends us into a situation, usually a small church, sometimes only a group or a family, to level the ground, and cut a swath across religious teaching and false doctrines so that when THE harvest comes the fields are prepared.  Our job is accomplished in the background, with little fanfare and often without thanks.  When we’ve accomplished God’s work, we move on – to the next farm, the next field, and do it all again.

But we’re tired.

This time, when we received the invitation to interview for a position of Pastor, our hope out-weighed our directive, and our vision out-paced God’s plan.  The place was inviting. The people were warm and accepting. The potential for buying or renting a very cool house was enticing.  We almost forgot about the end rows, getting caught up in what might be.

Often, when I want something really badly, I sort of stop listening to the Lord.  I tune out the Holy Spirit, my Counselor, and begin to focus on my wanter instead.  Looking back through my journal entries for July I found this note on the 3rd.  “Remember New Hope Church.  Remember the Church of Hall.  Remember what happens when it becomes about self.

Hindsight is 20/20!

About 11:30 PM on Monday…after it became obvious we would not be chosen to shepherd this little flock the Holy Spirit comforted me with these words:

“Open end row: 1) At New Hope Church after the first monthly prayer session in the pastor’s living room: “She prays in tongues!”  Not profanity mind you…tongues.  Profanity would, apparently, have been preferable. And then, after several months of sharing meals, meetings, prayers. triumphs and tears—just before the whole church imploded, another monthly prayer meeting where the pastor recounted a conversation with a couple leaving the church.  He was told, “We don’t WANT to spend time in the Word! We don’t have time to spend time studying during the week.  Bringing the Word is your job.”  I responded, “that is a spiritual problem, and we (the prayer group gathered at the pastor’s house for…prayer) should pray to break that spirit’s hold on them.”   Instantly it felt as if I’d dived into ice water; committing an enormous social faux pas.  Shortly after that, the pastor was fired, the church was disbanded and people were moved on to other fields.

“Open end row: 2) At the Church of Hall, when the pastor’s wife attacked our teaching with, “So…you believe Once in Grace, Always in Grace?” Well, if that’s what you’re going to teach, I just won’t come to your studies, because if you sin, you WILL lose your salvation and have to confess and repent and make amends to get it back. God hates sinners!”   That a few weeks before the entire ‘church’ collapsed and 90% of the members were either taken home to be with Jesus, or moved to another field.

“And now, open end row 3) A group who told you, on the first afternoon, about a guest who gave a message in tongues, in the church. He was silenced by their pastor with, “We don’t DO THAT here.” And, everyone except the woman who was telling us, and her husband – an elder in the church – heard an unintelligible language…they heard the messenger praying in ENGLISH and understood every word. There was, apparently, no interpretation offered. Now, a group who has been willing to spend the past fifteen years under the leadership of an interim pastor who has a problem with Holy Communion and the rite of Baptism and the Gifts of the Spirit!

“This is the third end row in the past three years where a group, or so called church, has boasted about being Word Based, Holy Spirit led and yet they “hold the form of religion and deny the power of it.”

“If the Word says, “pray in the Spirit” what is wrong with praying in the Spirit? If the Lord Jesus said, “once for all” and the Apostle Paul said, “NOTHING can separate us from the Love of Christ, then Grace IS once for ALL and NOTHING will be able to separate us from it.  If the elements of Holy Communion are so sacred that Jesus said “do THIS in remembrance of me,” and if the early church observed the Lord’s Supper each time they gathered together, how can a body of true believers settle for Holy Communion once in a while, or maybe once a year? (I’m almost positive someone said that – there was way too much information coming in to put a person or an absolute quote on those words, but the Holy Spirit did say, “maybe once a year.”)  When two people hear a message from the Spirit in Tongues and they understand it in English, how can they deny God’s voice?”

Tuesday morning I shared this with D.  Now we can SEE it.

Yes Lord!  We understand.  This WAS indeed an end row.  You never meant for us to hang around for the arrival of the harvest crew.

We move on!

We ARE Spirit beings, wholly set apart unto Jesus.  We ARE the righteousness of Christ in God (as is EVERY set apart believer in Him).  We can not – will not – compromise what you paid the price to purchase. Thank you, Jesus.  It IS finished!

“Preach the Gospel all the time. If necessary use words.” St. Francis of Assisi

One final word of counsel, friends. Keep a sharp eye out for those who take bits and pieces of the teaching that you learned and then use them to make trouble. Give these people a wide berth. They have no intention of living for our Master Christ. They’re only in this for what they can get out of it, and aren’t above using pious sweet talk to dupe unsuspecting innocents. Romans 16:17-18 The Message Bible