Revd Dr Michael Lloyd, Principal of Wycliffe Hall, speaks on everything from the Big Bang Theory (the US TV sitcom, not the theory itself) to Vladimir Putin’s dreams as he unpacks the theme of how love trumps hatred, and why we should have confidence in the Church’s mission. This talk formed part of the February 2015 Diocesan Synod – for more information please visit www.bristol.anglican.org
[00:00:00] Hey everyone, its Skye. I am not here with Phil or Christian. In fact, I’m not even here at all because this week I am away traveling and speaking. I’ll be in Hawaii at the YWAM base in Kona to teach a class? And then I’m going to Palm [00:00:15] Springs, California to teach a church Retreat and thankfully I have my lovely wife with me for the whole week. So we’re taking this sort of as a vacation as well. So on this week’s episode. We have something a little different for you. We’ve got a sermon that I preached earlier this year at Mission [00:00:30] Hills Church in San Marcos, California, and I thought this message might be a good fit for the holy post audience because it deals with a number of themes that come up repeatedly on the podcast this sermon is all about how should Christians be thinking about the way we relate to the culture and even [00:00:45] though Phil and I don’t talk about this explicitly on many episodes. We do actually have an agenda behind the holy post apart from the ridiculous banter and some of the more interesting interviews are real agenda is to help you get a ravishing vision of your life with God and
Figure [00:01:00] out how to live in a culture that is moving beyond Christian faith into a pluralistic society without resorting to fear or anger this sermon tackles a lot of those same themes. So I hope you enjoy it. I hope you find it helpful and we’ll be back next week with a regular episode [00:01:15] of the Holy post. What’s the news that you like the most? Who’s your favorite podcast host if it’s breakfast get your toast it sky and fill in the Holy post sky [00:01:30] and Phil and the holy post and sometimes Christian. My name is Skye. I’m delighted to be with you and grateful for the opportunity to share with you. I’ve been looking forward to this. We have a lot of ground to cover this morning. We [00:01:45] are going to look at the Old Testament and the New Testament. We are going to look at a lot of history. We’re going to talk about Mexican prison riots and Hollywood socialites. We’re going to talk about marriage and bad tattoos. We’re going to look at Medieval.
And [00:02:00] monkey trials all kinds of interesting stuff. So buckle up.
I want to begin with fashion.
And a fashion battle that I witnessed when I was a college student. So about 25 years ago. I was a college student at [00:02:15] a large State University in the Midwest and my freshman year a couple weeks into the end of the semester fall was coming. It was getting cooler outside. There was a group on campus called the glba. So for the gay lesbian bisexual Alliance and [00:02:30] in the fall every year they had a gay Awareness Week where they’d bring different speakers on the campus and have different events to kind of raise awareness for their cause and they started putting posters up around campus announcing jean day.
Jean de the poster said was [00:02:45] Thursday and it meant any students who supported gay rights were to wear jeans to show their support.
Now immediately everyone knew this is obviously a ploy because jeans are like a second skin for most college students and it was a way for the glba to inflate the perception [00:03:00] of their support and no one paid attention. There were dozens of groups on campus at all had their cause that always did these kinds of things no one paid attention until there was a conservative student group on campus that put up their own signs, which said if you do not support gay rights wear a shirt on Thursday. [00:03:15] So you have the silliness of the glb ace tactic was met and surpassed by the stupidity of the conservative groups play. So Thursday comes most students didn’t carry and they just go on with their lives. However, they were going [00:03:30] to dress that they didn’t pay attention to it. But some students took this very seriously. I was walking to class that morning and in the middle of Campus was the glba students all wearing blue jeans and no shirts including the women.
[00:03:45] And then there were the conservative students who were all wearing khaki pants and in some cases multiple shirts right to uphold, you know, conservative Traditional Values and find no one paid attention to get everyone on their lives and there’s day but in the middle of the [00:04:00] day around noon in front of the Student Center, these two groups got a new a clash and it was nasty. I mean the shouting the screaming people were trying to hold them apart from each other. It was the shirts versus the Skins. It was the khakis [00:04:15] versus the denims and as I’m watching remember, I’ve certainly been on campus for a few weeks. I’m a freshman. I’m like what on Earth is going on and I had the voice of my high school history teacher kind of echoing in my head because on graduation day. He told me Sky you’re going to do just [00:04:30] fine in college if you remember one thing college is not the real world.
And sadly in the 25 years since the real world has come to look an awful lot more like my college experience than I would have liked.
And we’re not screaming at each other [00:04:45] in the middle of a quad in front of the Student Center anymore and said were screaming at each other on cable news.
Or on radio programs or on Twitter social media or screaming at each other at school board meetings or in front of City Hall arguing about whether or not you can put a nativity scene [00:05:00] in there. Whatever.
Is this really how it’s supposed to be?
Is this supposed to be my tribe against your tribe or my group against your group? And if you’re not with me, you’re against me and all these different groups displaying their loyalties fighting [00:05:15] with one another about who’s going to dominate the Public Square who’s going to dominate Washington who’s going to dominate our policies and regulations and who’s going to get their way and who’s going to lose? Is that really what were called to
And not just as Americans, [00:05:30] but is that what we’re called to as Christians?
That’s what I want to talk about this morning. How are we as followers of Jesus supposed to engage our culture particularly as our culture becomes increasingly secular pluralistic and post-christian.
[00:05:45] Are the options before us either run away and Retreat from the culture or to fight and try to dominate and control the culture or is there another option?
To get into history a little bit throughout the 20th [00:06:00] century. There were primarily two ways that Christians viewed cultural engagement and a dramatic shift that happened in the middle and to describe that shift in these different postures are models of cultural engagement. I want to draw from to very [00:06:15] pivotal stories in the Old Testament. And the first is the story of The Exodus you remember Sunday school or you’ve seen Charlton Heston in the Ten Commandments every year and you know, the basic story of The Exodus the background is God’s people are slaves in [00:06:30] Egypt and they’re being oppressed and persecuted by pharaoh and his regime and God hears their cries and he sends Moses and he rescues them out of Egypt Remember The Parting of the Red Sea and all that stuff.
That’s The Exodus the exit of God’s people out of slavery in Egypt [00:06:45] and as they’re on their way to the promised land God gives them his laws and his instructions but a lot of these laws and instructions were designed to preserve the the special quality of God’s people as they are surrounded by all these Pagan cultures including Egypt, [00:07:00] he gives them instructions like you’re not to worship the same God that they worship you’re not to make idols and worship them you aren’t to eat foods that are different than what the Nations around you eat. You know, they all have these Pagan Kings you’re not going to be like that you’re going to have [00:07:15] an ethical system that values people who are poor or who are immigrants or who are slaves among you because you know what it’s like to be mistreated. So he had all these rules and regulations that were meant to keep the Israelites separate and distinct from the cultures [00:07:30] around them. That’s that’s the Exodus idea and it’s an idea that dominated much of 20th century Christian cultural engagement are really more properly labeled disengagement.
Let me give you a little background in the early 20th century. There [00:07:45] were all kinds of new ideas that were infiltrating our culture many of them coming from Europe.
Darwin scientific ideas new ideas about the Bible and about scripture and are [00:08:00] Miracles really possible and can you really trust the authority and historicity of the scriptures all these ideas are kind of flooding into North America and it caused what historians refer to as the modernist fundamentalist controversy if you want to research it on your own look it up on Google or whatever but [00:08:15] here’s the basics one side of the church said hey, all these new ideas that are coming in and Science and Technology and on and on we need to adapt to those things and realize that our faith needs to adapt and we need to abandon old ideas and really absorb these new things. They were called the modernists [00:08:30] the fundamentalist on the other side said no way we’re sticking to the fundamentals of the faith and we’re not giving an inch and this caused all kinds of riffs and turmoil in the culture and in the church and historians look at one particular event in 1925 is kind of a turning point. You [00:08:45] may remember this from high school history class the Scopes Monkey Trial remember that
This was a trial where a high school teacher intent in Tennessee was put on trial for teaching evolution and it became kind of this proxy battle for everything else [00:09:00] that was going on in the culture. Well coming out of that trial in 1925. A lot of Christians came to the conclusion that there’s no saving the culture is basically going to hell in a handbasket. It’s all downhill from here. So what we ought to do is completely disengage [00:09:15] withdraw from the culture.
And around the 1920s and proceeding a lot of Christians withdrew from politics from government from the academy from arts and entertainment from all kinds of sectors of [00:09:30] the of the Public Square. They withdrew into these safe enclaves, where were they their families their churches their institutions could be isolated and protected from the influence the Big Bad Evil influence of the culture around them. This is The Exodus approach be separate [00:09:45] be distinct protect yourself from the influence of the world around you it was also in this time period that a lot of American Christianity started to develop its own parallel subculture where we started our own colleges and universities. We started our own publishing [00:10:00] house as we created our own Radio Networks, and then eventually television networks, and now movies and there became this whole parallel Christian subculture that looked a lot like the regular culture, but it slapped a Jesus sticker on it.
That’s what happened in this time frame.
[00:10:15] But I want you to recognize is that this Exodus approach of separation is largely predicated on a fearful view of the world.
That it’s a dangerous and threatening place. And the best thing we can do is guard ourselves [00:10:30] circle the wagons and isolate.
In the Middle Ages, there was a theologian named Thomas Aquinas amazing. Brilliant theologian.
And he talked about how fear in the Christian is a Contracting posture [00:10:45] of the Soul. It kind of draws Us in word and it makes it so that were primarily concerned about ourselves rather than others and he compared a fearful person or fearful Community to a medieval city under siege. If again, you know your history when [00:11:00] an invading Army would come against the city all the peasants in the surrounding Countryside would gather all the resources they could as quickly as they could and then they’d run into the city walls and they barricade themselves behind the Gates hoping that the resources they had amassed inside [00:11:15] the city would Outlast the resources of the invading Army that would Siege the city of all around the wall the longest Siege of medieval history lasted 26 years.
But that’s an image of kind of The Exodus approach like we are going to hunker down [00:11:30] and protect ourselves our schools our families our churches our way of life. We’re going to guard our resources at it kind of makes us into a rather self-centered narcissistic view of things. It’s all about surviving.
And in much [00:11:45] of the 20th century the attitude of a lot of Christians was don’t worry about politics. Don’t worry about culture. Don’t worry about law to worry about the Arts because the end is coming and Jesus is going to rescue us out of here. So this just hunker down and play it safe.
But then about 50 [00:12:00] years into this Exodus approach a big shift happened.
In the 1970s a whole bunch of Christians realize this ain’t working and maybe we need to take a different approach and they came rushing back in from the cultural [00:12:15] Hinterlands to re-engage the Public Square and politics and government and everything else in 1976 Newsweek magazine actually had a cover declaring it the year of the evangelicals because so many of them had seemed to come out of the [00:12:30] woodwork and we’re re-engaging now question is why?
What happened that led so many Christians to decide this Exodus approach wasn’t the right way to go.
Well dancer that let’s go back into the Bible and the Old Testament. There’s [00:12:45] another incredibly important story in the Old Testament that explains the new way that Christians came to engage culture many centuries after The Exodus God’s people had been settled in the Promised Land.
And can’t get into all the details but [00:13:00] in 538 BC the Babylonian Army invaded the holy land they destroyed Jerusalem destroyed the temple and as the Babylonians were prone to do in their march across the known World when they conquered a people they would enslave those people and bring them [00:13:15] back as captives to Babylon. It was a form of assimilation. This is where you get the story about Daniel in the Lion’s Den and all that kind of stuff was happening during this Exile time. So there is a season for which the Israelites were captives in Babylon. They couldn’t go [00:13:30] home and a lot of the Israelites believed that this captivity would not last very long and so they weren’t settling in they weren’t kind of planting Vineyards or doing anything. They were just like, okay. When do we get to go back to our home when we get back to Joe to Jerusalem and the Lord spoke [00:13:45] to his people this is the passage that we heard read earlier. He spoke to them through the Prophet Jeremiah.
and essentially what the Lord said to them is you guys are going to be here for a while so settle in
Marry off your kids have grandkids [00:14:00] plant some Vineyards build some houses. You are going to be in Babylon a lot longer than you think now eventually you’re going to get out of there, but for now settle in and really important is what he says in Jeremiah 29:7.
[00:14:15] He says seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile for in its welfare. You will find your welfare. Sorry, that’s Jeremiah 29:7. Is that what I said? Yeah, 27 in other words.
[00:14:31] Make lemonade on a lemon out of lemons you’re in this horrible circumstance. You didn’t want to be here. But here’s where you are make the best of it.
And as you seek the well-being of the city that you find yourself in it’s going to go well for you. This [00:14:46] Exile approach is the posture that a lot of Christians have taken since about the 1970s. The attitude has been like oh my goodness, you know, we withdrew from the culture back in the 1920s 50 years has gone by Jesus hasn’t come back yet [00:15:01] things are getting worse, maybe instead of withdrawing. We need to engage. We need to participate we need to we need to have a role in this Babylon in which we are captives to make sure things go well for us.
This [00:15:16] has become a really popular model. In fact this verse Jeremiah 29:7. I encounter it so many places. I half expect to watch a football game and have some guy holding up Jeremiah 29:7 at some point. It’s just become this mantra for a lot of Christians. When we need to engage in the culture. We need to engage in politics. [00:15:31] We need to engage in government all these other things. So what was it about the 1970s that led to this shift?
Well, there’s kind of a popular narrative and then there’s the unpopular narrative the popular narrative is that the sexual revolution of the 1960s [00:15:46] which became codified into our laws in the early 1970s? Particularly row v Wade in 1973 kind of drove a lot of Christians to re-engage in the Public Square.
There’s some truth to that but it’s not the whole truth when you really study this issue [00:16:01] and get into the weeds of it you realize it wasn’t primarily the sexual Revolution movement of the 60s that led to Christians re-engaging. It was actually the civil rights movement of the 1960s and I don’t want to get in all the details here, but suffice it to say there [00:16:16] were a lot of Christian communities in the south in particular who were not happy about desegregation.
And they were motivated to re-engage government in the Public Square because they didn’t like what the government was doing with integration. So [00:16:31] they came roaring back into the Public Square for various reasons and decided we can no longer isolate ourselves. We can no longer be safe in our own communities. We can’t just be white in our communities anymore. So we need to fight back and we need to mobilize and [00:16:46] so they came back into the Public Square and they used this Exile vision of the world is turned into Babylon America is off of its judeo Christian Moorings and if we don’t fight to get it back it’s not going to go well for us and everything is going to [00:17:01] fall apart for our families and our kids and our schools and our institutions and and out of this came this language and you’ve probably encountered it in various forms this language about how Christians need to change the world.
I remember seeing that as a Seminary Student all [00:17:16] the time many years ago. We’re here to change the World to Change the World to Change the World. It’s become a mantra. There’s a fascinating book called to change the world that was written by James Davis and Hunter some years ago where he’s describing. Where did this idea this rhetoric of world-changing come [00:17:31] from for contemporary Christians? And here’s what he concludes the rhetoric of world-changing originates from a profound angst that the world is changing for the worse and that we must act urgently there’s a sense [00:17:46] of panic that things are falling apart and if we don’t respond now, we’re going to lose the things we cherish the most what animates this talk is a desperation to hold on to something.
When the world no longer makes sense.
[00:18:02] So for about the last 40 50 years the posture has been Christian engaged the Public Square engage the world because if you don’t things are going to go really really bad for you your community your family your [00:18:17] school would ever change the world to protect yourself.
All right. Now here’s the important part.
Despite this dramatic shift from disengagement in The Exodus mile model to re-engagement through the Exile model. [00:18:32] There’s a massive shift in strategy. What I want you to recognize is that underlying that strategy there was actually no significant shift in the way Christian see the world.
Both Exodus and Exile were [00:18:47] predicated on viewing the world as a fundamentally dangerous and threatening place.
Now assuming you took high school biology, you’re taught that when an organism feels threatened it will respond in one of two ways, right? [00:19:02] What are they?
Fight or flight that’s what we see here Christians feeling threatened by the world. And in the 1920s. The attitude was flight Let’s Escape. Let’s run away from it and isolate ourselves. And then [00:19:17] in the 1970s and onward the attitude became fight, let’s re-engage and dominate so that we can make sure it goes well for us but under both of those Visions is fear.
It’s an idea that we are under attack and we are afraid this goes [00:19:32] back to what Aquinas said when we are afraid. It contracts our souls. It makes us turn inward. We’re not concerned with loving others and serving others and blessing others were concerned about. How do I protect myself?
[00:19:47] How do I protect my tribe my family my community?
It’s all predicated on fear.
So let me take you back to Jeremiah 29:7 because there’s a detail in that verse [00:20:02] that you may not have noticed before that. I want you to see.
Jeremiah the Lord through Jeremiah says for the Israelites seek the welfare of the city where I’ve sent you into exile.
For in its welfare, you will find your welfare [00:20:17] now notice.
What motivates the Israelites the seek the welfare of Babylon?
Are they really interested in loving their Babylonian Neighbors?
Are they really wanting to see this Pagan Empire with all kinds of pagan [00:20:32] deities really flourish and Thrive because they just love Babylon so much.
Know the motivation in this text is very clear. It’s self-interest.
Seek the welfare of Babylon [00:20:47] so that it goes well for you.
This is an attitude that I think a lot of Christians have today. They’re not genuinely concerned about their neighbors who aren’t Believers or caring about a land that they don’t plan on sticking [00:21:02] around in very long because God’s going to rescue them out of it or take them home. It’s it’s out of self-interest rooted in fear and a desire for control. Now, this was an appropriate command back in the time of the Exile with Jeremiah because [00:21:17] the Lord needed to preserve His People Israel long enough in order to fulfill their purpose was the coming of the Messiah so they had a reason why they needed to preserve the way they were but if this is as far as we get in our understanding of cultural engagement, I would argue. This is a sub Christian view.
[00:21:33] Rooted in self interest in fear, and we’re called the far more than that.
So, why does this persist why do we keep coming back to this attitude?
Well, we have to remember that fear is one of the most Basic [00:21:48] Instincts of our species. It’s the easiest most efficient way to motivate people. It’s what most advertisers do it’s what most politicians do they make us afraid.
But we have not been given a spirit of fear. The Apostle John tells [00:22:03] us but a spirit of power and freedom.
And fear is not a quality that leads us into the kingdom of God.
There are all kinds of voices in the culture today who claim to be Christian some of them cultural [00:22:19] leaders some of them Christian institutional leaders some of them political leaders and they use fear to try to motivate us fear of that group or this issue or that policy and heaven forbid that this law passes or this person gets [00:22:34] on the court or this one gets elected and they use fear all the time to try to motivate us because it’s so easy and efficient, but let me tell you something if someone is leading you with fear, they are not leading you by the spirit of Christ.
In fact, I don’t think it’s [00:22:49] an overstatement to say they are leading you by the spirit of antichrist.
Where the fires of fear and anger are stoked the warm inviting glow of Christian love will not long endure.
[00:23:04] As Henry now and said fear only engenders fear it never gives birth to love.
And it’s so much in our church these days.
Is driven by fear and you wonder why [00:23:19] the culture react so negatively to so many Christians.
Because they see us a self-interested.
People who go on the attack against the perceived enemy shirts versus skins denim [00:23:35] versus khakis.
Were called to something more.
So if it’s not Exodus and it’s not Exile, what is the third alternative?
We got to get to the New Testament because there we [00:23:50] find a completely different vision of cultural engagement.
In the New Testament, we see a motivation far greater than just making lemonade out of lemons better than just tolerating a terrible circumstance better than [00:24:05] self-interest or just get by as best. You can we see a far deeper more profound understanding of the world, you know, when you read the gospels what you find there is interesting despite our bias toward total pragmatism is 21st century [00:24:20] consumeristic Americans. Jesus doesn’t actually offer a lot of practical advice in the gospels. You don’t see a lot about you know, here’s three steps to a better marriage kind of stuff in the gospels. It’s not there. Why
Because a lot of what Jesus did both [00:24:35] his miracles and his Parables were not primarily designed to be instructive. They were designed to be inspiration. They were designed to Open the Eyes of his disciples to see the world differently because Jesus understood if you [00:24:50] see the world the way he sees it you are going to act within the world the way he would act.
So he wanted them to see a world in which it made perfect sense that the first would be last. The last would be first a world in which the marginalized and [00:25:05] the forgotten neglected were actually entering the kingdom of God ahead of the religious leaders in the Pharisees. He wanted them to see a world in which it wasn’t the rich who were considered blessed by God and righteous but it was this poor Widow who puts just a penny into the offering he [00:25:20] wanted them to see a world in which even a child the most powerless and neglected in the society was considered great in the kingdom of God.
He wanted them to see a world where even a messiah who surrenders himself to the most cruel [00:25:35] and unjust system. The world has ever seen and is killed by that system rejected by everyone. We’re even that Messiah is raised up and given the name above all names.
He was turning everything upside down.
[00:25:50] Because he knew if his followers saw that world they would act differently within it.
Let me tell you a story about a place not actually too far from here.
Just South of the Border near Tijuana is [00:26:05] La Mesa prison, one of the most notorious prisons in Mexico home to 6,000 inmates. Mostly hardened criminals murderers drug lords the worst of the worst.
But in that prison for over 30 years there was one unexpected [00:26:20] occupant they called her, Mother Antonia.
She passed away just a few years ago in her 90s, but she spent over 30 years in this prison among these prisoners. She loved and cared [00:26:35] for them. She met with them and counseled them and prayed for them. She tried to get as many prisoners as she could to reconcile with their victims and seek forgiveness. She advocated for the prisoners making sure that they had food and water and medicines. She was a go-between between the prisoners [00:26:50] and the guards.
She even cared for the guards and their families she would go visit the families of the prisoners out in the community to make sure that they were cared for but the remarkable thing about this little nun wasn’t all those incredible things. She did. It’s that each [00:27:05] night.
When the prison was being shut down she didn’t leave.
She had a cell for herself. She wasn’t a prisoner. She voluntarily stayed there every night and slept with these hardened criminals. They [00:27:20] came to call her mama. She called them her sons.
Here’s the crazy part.
Mother Antonia didn’t enter La Mesa prison until 1977 before that. Her name was Mary Brenner [00:27:35] Clark and she was a blonde socialite in Hollywood.
She had been married twice divorced twice the mother of seven children when her children were grown. She felt a calling from God to enter a religious [00:27:50] order and to care for the poor and the marginalized but being Roman Catholic and divorced twice there weren’t a whole lot of religious orders for her to enter. So she packed up her station wagon drove South of the Border and entered Lamesa prison where she spent over 30 years serving those inmates.
[00:28:06] Ten years ago in September of 2008 despite the remarkable transformation of that prison. It was still a dangerous place and a riot broke out. The prisoners were upset that they weren’t getting their basic necessities met and somehow they got hand the cache of weapons and went [00:28:21] on a rampage and took hostages. This all happened when Mother Antonia was not in the prison and when she came back that night she found that all the electricity has been cut to the prison and the entire place was surrounded by soldiers.
She went to one of the soldiers and [00:28:36] beg to be let into the prison and they were like, there’s no way we’re letting an 85 year old woman into this prison with armed criminals and hostages.
Explain the risks you would be taking and she said I don’t care. I am not afraid.
[00:28:53] And she was a persistent little woman and they finally agreed to let her enter this prison.
The middle of the night she entered is completely dark. All the electricity has been cut.
And she finally found a prisoner. She knew named Blackie.
[00:29:08] She fell at his feet and began to beg him to end the riot and drop the weapons. This is what she said to him.
She said it’s not right that you’re locked up here hungry and thirsty we can take care of those things. But this isn’t [00:29:23] the way to do it. I will help you make it better. But first you have to give me the guns I beg you to put down your weapons.
Blackie responded to her mother as soon as we heard your voice we drop [00:29:38] the guns out the window.
Mother Antonia Mary Brenner Clark
Represents a different vision of engaging the world not Exodus [00:29:53] get me as far away from danger and discomfort as I can be not Exile. I find myself a prisoner here. I might as well just make the best of it. No, she represents the way of Jesus.
Which is the way of embrace?
[00:30:09] in Philippians chapter 2 the Apostle Paul tells us
had an attitude that we are all to have and he describes it this way though. He was in the form of God. He did not count equality [00:30:24] with God a thing to be grasped but emptied himself.
By taking on the form of a servant being born in the likeness of a man and being found in human form. He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death even [00:30:39] death on a cross.
Jesus came and embraced this world willingly.
This posture of embrace is different than Exodus and exile for three [00:30:54] reasons briefly cover. These the first is that Embrace is a choice.
This is important think back to Exodus in Exile Exodus and Exile were ways of responding to circumstances that you don’t [00:31:09] choose or like the Israelites did not choose to be slaves in Egypt.
They didn’t want to be there and they got out of there. And God said stay away. Don’t don’t go back to that kind of thing. Right? They didn’t want to be Exiles in Babylon, but [00:31:25] they decided based on God’s word. We’re going to make the best of a lousy situation until we get to go home that tends to be the attitude. A lot of Christians have about the world today man. This place stinks. This culture is terrible. Look at all the problems were having look at all the post-christian stuff [00:31:40] that’s going on. Look at the way. We’re all slipping away from Christian Morality In the Public Square and it always used to be so much better. We always talk about the culture so negatively like if we had a choice we would we wouldn’t be here.
[00:31:55] But Jesus chose to come and enter this world isn’t like he showed up in Bethlehem as a kid. I was like, oh my gosh, I can’t believe I’m here. What a mess. Right? Look father. Why did you drop me in this mud hole. Why am I you know, he [00:32:10] didn’t have that attitude.
Is that it stood was I want to be here I choose to identify with you. I embrace the realities The Temptations of the struggles and the Pains of this world.
[00:32:25] Because I love you so much.
Think about the messages that we send to our culture.
We meaning the church in general what the culture tends to hear from us as Christians of one is one of two things either man things used to be so much better.
[00:32:41] Or they hear someday things are going to be better again when Christ returns and everything is made right, but they don’t hear us talk to well about the present do they could you imagine if you’re a parent? Could you imagine if the messages that your children here are only like you used [00:32:56] to be so cute.
You used to be so much more adorable and loving or someday. I hope you really make something of yourself. Like if those are the only messages children ever hear. How do you think that’s going to affect them?
[00:33:12] Nothing about the message that the culture here is from the church and used to be so much better someday if we get control you’ll be okay again.
But they’re not hearing in affirming thing about today that [00:33:27] we want to be here that we choose to be or now. You might be thinking. Hey, wait a minute Jesus chose to empty himself. It says and take on the form of a servant he chose to enter the world and do what he did. I didn’t choose to be born. Now. I didn’t choose [00:33:42] this place unless you’re an immigrant. Maybe you chose this place. But how does this idea that to embrace the culture as a choice? How do we reconcile that with the reality that we don’t actually choose? Well one of the most important lessons I’ve [00:33:57] had to learn over the last I don’t know how many years
Is that real freedom and real Joy comes when we learn to choose what we did not choose
Let me explain that.
A couple years ago. I [00:34:12] was mentoring a college student who’s actually a graduate student wonderful intelligent guy named David and he called me up one day frantically and he’s like I have to get together with you. I need to talk to you immediately. Can you drop whatever you’re doing and meet me at the coffee shop. So make sure you sounded panicked. So [00:34:27] I show up at the coffee shop. We get our drinks you sit down at the table and he’s just beside himself and he’s like, I didn’t know who else to talk to. Thank you for coming here. He’s like I have something I have to ask you and I promise no matter what you say. I won’t tell anyone.
[00:34:42] It’s like, okay. What is this about?
Turns out that he had been dating a young woman for a while. It was getting serious. They were talking about getting married and he was about to pop the question and get engaged and he was getting cold feet.
So he leans [00:34:57] in like this cone of silence right over our table and he says Sky. I need to know honestly, do you ever regret the decision to marry your wife?
And I [00:35:12] was like, this is too much fun. I couldn’t just let this go easily. So I leaned into David I said
I didn’t make the decision to marry Amanda and he looked at me like what are you talking about? This is crazy. And he knew that I’m half Indian. My father’s [00:35:27] from India. My mother’s mostly Swedish and Norwegian. I’m a huge mess. But he he he’s like was this an arranged marriage what you didn’t tell me that I didn’t realize I said no. No. No, it was an arranged marriage. I said, I didn’t choose to marry Amanda.
I said [00:35:42] the sky from 19 years ago chose to marry Amanda. I now live with the consequences of his decision every day.
And to be completely honest most days. I’m [00:35:57] thrilled to be living with those consequences, but there are days when I’m not it’s hard.
But now by God’s grace. I find the strength to choose that which [00:36:12] I did not choose.
He had this big ugly tattoo on his arm.
He was looking at me dumbfounded the point. I said David you didn’t choose that tattoo. Your younger probably inebriated self chose that tattoo and [00:36:27] you now live with the consequences of it every day.
You didn’t choose this culture. You didn’t choose this time that place to be born.
But nonetheless God is inviting you to choose what you didn’t choose. Do [00:36:42] you want to be here?
Do you want to have the neighbors that you have? Do you want to be facing the challenges that our world today is facing. Do you want to be a man or woman of God following Jesus in this time [00:36:57] in this place, or do you do it kicking and screaming?
I think if we do it Kicking and Screaming not only does that communicate to our neighbors that we don’t really love them and care for them, but it’s actually an affront to God’s sovereignty who chose to put you in [00:37:12] this time and this place.
Do you choose this as the place where God has called you?
Because if you do choose it, you will find Freedom and you will find joy and you will find the grace [00:37:27] to act as he’s calling you to act. So that’s number one. Number two, the way that Embrace is different than just Exile or Exodus.
Exile in Exodus were or postures of cultural engagement that were [00:37:42] primarily self-centered. It was about protecting ourselves protecting ourselves from the influence of these Pagan Nations around us or protecting ourselves so that we can get back to Jerusalem. Once the Captivity is over protecting ourselves from the deterioration of the society [00:37:57] by withdrawing into our institutions and churches and schools or whatever protecting ourselves by seeking to dominate Washington DC and politics and policy right? It’s all about protecting ourselves, but Jesus is different.
He makes it clear that the reason [00:38:12] he showed up the reason why he came and entered into our Human Experience to dwell Among Us.
Was so that he might seek and save the Lost?
He came and declared that he didn’t come to be [00:38:27] served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many Embraces different because it’s motivation is for others.
Not for ourselves and one of the things that has tainted the witness [00:38:42] of the church in our age today is the perception is that we are all about ourselves. We’re about defending our rights our institutions our values our liberties.
But we’re not about to fight [00:38:57] for the other team. We’re not about to give ourselves away for them and their goodness. We’re not about to actually love our enemies. I mean who would have thought of something so stupid is that
but that’s exactly what we’re called to do.
If our Christian [00:39:12] cultural engagement is only about preserving Christian ideas and values and institutions than something is wrong.
Martin Luther King jr. Of course famous Civil Rights leader, but he first and [00:39:27] foremost considered himself a minister of the gospel and the gospel influence the way he went about his calling.
Obviously he fought hard.
For equal rights for African-Americans for desegregation and for the end of various [00:39:42] forms of institutional racism, but when you read his sermons and you read his writings you discover, there’s another element of his motivation. That doesn’t get as much play doesn’t get broadcast nearly enough. He frequently talked about what he called a double victory.
[00:39:59] And in his mind the double victory was this.
Not only would African-Americans be set free from the the dehumanizing effects of racism and segregation but he believed that segregation and racism dehumanized the white people [00:40:14] who practiced it
And he said my goal is not just to free African-Americans. I want to free my white brothers and sisters from the evil of racism in the way. It shrinks their souls and he says that is the double [00:40:29] Victory. It’s not just about rights for my group are my people. It’s I want to see those who consider themselves my enemies liberated and set free as well.
That is a mark of true Christian engagement. It’s [00:40:44] what Jesus did as he hung on the cross and looks at the very people who are executing him and says father forgive them.
because they need forgiveness to
Are we out there? Just defending [00:40:59] our rights?
Or are we willing to sacrifice ourselves even for those who hate us?
Are we only interested in defending religious liberty for Christians?
Or will we defend religious liberty for Muslims?
[00:41:15] for Jews for atheists for Hindus
Are we only interested in our right to speak freely?
Or will we defend the right of our neighbor whom we disagree with to speak freely.
[00:41:31] The vision of a church that’s only interested in itself is a contradiction to the witness of Jesus Christ.
And it’s rooted in fear rather than love finally last one Embraces [00:41:46] different than Exodus or Exile because Exodus in Exile were primarily concerned with survival.
Let’s just get through this so that we can get to the other side. Let’s just get through this Exile in Babylon because eventually we’ll get to go home to Jerusalem, right? It’s just perseverance [00:42:02] to get through a lousy circumstance.
Unfortunately lot of Christians also have this attitude man. I’m just passing through I’m white-knuckling it until I can get out of here either in a casket or in the Rapture right one way or another I’m out of this place. That is not a [00:42:17] new testament vision.
don’t have time to get into why I wrote a whole book on it, but
When Jesus showed up was his attitude. Okay. I just maybe 30 33 years. I can get out of this mess, right?
[00:42:33] Everywhere Jesus went he didn’t just help people survive.
He brought flourishing.
He brought things to their ultimate amazing abundant goodness. He didn’t just say hey, I’m here to make sure you guys survive long enough to [00:42:48] get to the kingdom. He said no, I’ve come that you may have life and have it abundantly.
When people didn’t have a meal when they didn’t have enough food because they were sitting around all day listening to Jesus. What did he do that? He get him like some Lunchables and get them by for the day bread [00:43:04] and fish multiplied so their stomachs were distended like this and they had twelve basketfuls of leftovers, right and they weren’t even Americans they were gorging themselves on all this food when he shows up at a wedding and runs out of wind as he go. All right. Well, [00:43:19] let’s bring out the cheap stuff in a box. No, no. No the best wine they’d ever tasted is what he provided Jesus brings flourishing. Remember that story of John and Peter when they’re going to the temple and encountered that lame beggar.
And the Beggars asking for some money and beaters [00:43:34] like money, you know, we follow Jesus we got no money.
But what I do have I’m going to give to you. He says stand up and walk did that beggar stand up and walk? No, it says he leaped he started dancing jumping.
[00:43:51] Where the power of Jesus comes in people don’t just survive they flourish.
And our calling is not just a get by in this world are help a couple people make it as best. They can we are to see the fullness of the potential of lives expanding [00:44:07] and the reason for this is Jesus and his church and his followers are called to take pieces of the coming Kingdom and make them a reality in the present.
It’s not just about surviving until we can get off this rock. It’s [00:44:22] about bringing heaven to this rock.
To get a foretaste of the Kingdom that is yet to come.
So here’s the question.
What makes you afraid?
What makes you turn inward [00:44:37] to shrink to circle the wagons to barricade the walls to think only about your cells or your Institution?
And what kind of Grace do you need to move from Exodus or exile to a posture of embrace?
[00:44:52] I actually love this world. The way God has called us to to embrace this world to choose this world to seek its flourishing not for your sake but for your neighbors knowing that in Christ, you are perfectly safe. Not a Roman [00:45:07] Cross or an Assassin’s bullet can ever separate you from the love of God in Christ. And so you have been set free we have been set free.
To love the world as he has loved us.
Let me pray.
[00:45:24] our heavenly father
I pray for this church for my sister’s and brother’s here in this place that you have put them that they would be equipped.
[00:45:39] to love sacrificially
to bring flourishing and goodness
every home and school and office and hospital and every place they go in this community.
[00:45:55] I pray Lord that you would set them free from Fear.
They may walk in Freedom and joy and truly be that City on a Hill that light in the Darkness.
I pray that there would be a new [00:46:10] birth of Grace in this place.
So that many come to see you as you are.
Recognize the love you have for them through us.
[00:46:25] We ask all of this in the name of Jesus Christ Our Lord who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit as one God now and forever. Amen. The holy post podcast is a production of Phil vischer Enterprises. That’s Phil’s [00:46:40] company and Sky pilot media that Sky’s company production assistants by Sean McDuffie edited by Jason rug help us create more thoughtful Christian Media by supporting us at patreon.com forward slash. Holy post. Also be sure to leave a [00:46:55] review on iTunes. So more people can discover thoughtful Christian commentary plus ukulele and occasional but news
Good morning, Church. Good to be here with you this morning and experienced with you what God is doing here in our midst and to those of you that are connecting online. I trust that you’re experiencing his presence as well, and we’ll experience what he’s yet wants to do in our time together. Merry. Merry Christmas to you. I didn’t have a chance to share that with you before I trust you had a merry Christmas, then are looking forward to a great new year. You know, Jesus Christ, as your Lord, you have reason to anticipate a great new year ahead of us. I I’m really expectant. In light of what may yet be ahead of us in this year twenty nineteen, I really believe that it’s going to be a breakthrough year. I’ve had lots of confirmations that God’s wanting to break through in some great ways. In twenty nineteen Austin, bless you. And you’re going on May the Lord breakthrough ahead of you on, and I just wanted to share that on January nine. There’s going to be a breakthrough here in our county, where YWAM is going to have their first tract of ground in Lancaster County for awhile. Lambaste here in Lancaster County. So January nine, we’re going to be a part of be part of a commissioning, a time of inviting what God wants to do here through the sending ministry of YWAM, I really believe for God to come through in great ways. This morning we were challenged by the story of Daniel. Daniel lived in a dark day was not an easy day, but Daniel postured himself and the Lord through many great ways. Through the move of his holy spirit in and through Daniel, there was breakthrough. There was awakening that happened through many different experiences, through signs and wonders, beyond ability to describe that cat that catches our attention. Yet today, with fire not touching and leaving unscathed, the people of God, the lion’s mouths being kept closed signs and wonders in amazing ways that awakened even Nebuchadnezzar, the most powerful man of that day to the reality that there is a living God in the same God that shut the lion’s mouth and quieted The power of the fire is living among us. Yet today, and even yet today, as we as we hear our living post Pentecost were living in a day that the Lord was very clear that he has pouring out his spirit in our day, which I mean which I believe is, is for us to anticipate that whatever God has done through mighty men and women of God in the Old Testament, we can anticipate Just as much, if not more, in our day as we live in the day of the Lord pouring out his spirit. This morning, I’m gonna be bringing a message that has been burning in way for least seventeen years. It’s only this year that I’ve been at a place that I feel like I’ve been released to be able to, to share this this message. And Nevin and I were talking about it several months ago, and he invited me here this last day of this last Sunday of twenty nineteen. Well, in the outset of a new year to bring and share this message. As you say in two thousand won, there was a group of US leaders in LMC that we’re sensing that we need a breakthrough. We need the Lord to lead and come through in our church or we’re in trouble. We need More of what he wants to do. We did experience him in greater ways, or away is a church or in trouble. And there was a group of us to start gathering once a month as a prayer gathering. There was many seventy people that came together and you heard some of this story, but I’ll be sharing more of it because it’s still this morning. We got just still unfolding and as we gather there in the conference center, thinking about the church thinking about our congregations thinking about what God wants to do, We said, Lord, show us, Is there anything standing in the way of you pouring out your spirit again over your people, the Mennonites, over your people, the Anabaptists? You have done it before. Is there anything standing in the way of you doing it again? And as we cried out to the Lord, we went into small rooms and small groups and came back and shared our findings as we listened to the Lord and in answer to that question, and as we shared our findings, we put him up on a white board, and as we looked at it, we said, Whoa, is there something developing here that we need to pay attention to? And as we analyzed it more carefully, we we outlined it as a as, uh, an answer to our prayer that there are some strong holds over us as a church over us as a Mennonite, people over us is Anabaptist that have been affecting us, and we define these these strongholds in several different areas in several different ways.
- And one of them was a fear of sharing our faith. Way recognized that that was not true at one time of the Anabaptist people. In fact, they were so bold, so courageous and sharing their faith that they were being burned at the stake. But while there are others still sharing their faith in the midst of that happening, it didn’t shut him down and inquired him until a certain day it wore down, and we became known, particularly here in America as the quiet of the land. So we recognize that has a strong
- We recognize another stronghold as being having a fear of being too open to the work of the Holy spirit, of fear of the work of the Holy Spirit. So we pondered that one for a while.
- We also recognize the stronghold of of having a facade of peace, where we portray that we are people apiece. While we have many unresolved issues and lots of unforgiveness within us in such a way that we’re not able to to experience that realm a piece where God inhabits and and his praises come forth from as we as we prayed about this as we studied our Anabaptist history over sometime who came to this place of realizing that this fear of sharing our faith has some roots back in our old land in Switzerland, in the area of Zurich, where the persecution persisted for two hundred years and a war down. This courage and boldness in such a way, and we realized that there was never any forgiveness that was shared between the people group. So the perpetrators of the persecution and the recent and the victims of it there were they never came together. And as we sought the Lord on this, we recognize this profound understanding that’s not just true over a body of believers, but it’s true and each one of her lives. It’s true in her own families that unforgiveness is a seed bed for the enemy strongholds that where unforgiveness persists, were on forgiveness exists. It opens us up to allow the enemy to come in and established his headquarters establishes operating power in our lives. And we recognized that something has to happen in we, you know, some of the story of how forgiveness was processed there with the Lutheran Church. Their forgiveness was process with the state Reform Church, and that was quite a journey. But then we have this question in front of us. What about this sense among us? What about this? This prevalence of a fear of the Holy Spirit when we are a people that claim to be believers in the Trinity? Is that right? I think that’s our understanding of Scripture. Our confession of faith is very clear on that, that that we believe in the father, the son and the Holy Spirit. And yet, as we think about our own life and experiences, it seems as though they’re there is there is something. Maybe it’s not with you, but it’s has been prevalent across the church that we recognized in our study of the culture of the Mennonite church for for five hundred years, ever since the Reformation, the greatest outpouring of the Holy Spirit of believe since Pentecost and Weah’s Ah, Anabaptists were very much a part of that. In fact, if you listen to people in in Europe, they would say that the Anabaptists were really the hosts of the power of the Holy Spirits. Outpouring of the Reformation leaders of churches and the ecumenical people in In in in Europe would recognize that the Anabaptists became the host of this power of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in that day. But what would have happened, What happened, What transpired in order for a change to happen in such a way that, uh, it’s somewhat unimaginable for us today to be the people of Daniel to be expecting God, to move in our behalf in such a way that signs and wonders become part of the story, become part of the revelation to the world around us. And there’s an awakening even of world leaders to the reality that there is a living God. We’ve been serving the wrong card because the the God of Daniel, there’s a living god. I believe God’s wanting to do a great move in our day, we could be critical about what’s happening in our day, and we can look at the the political environment and we can. We can look around us in our communities and all the violence and all the of the chaos in our world today. It’s time for an awakening, and I believe that I believe, God Assume is much on the throne. Today is what he was two thousand years ago when he said Jesus into the world as there was a need for an awakening in that day. He’s just a CZ much on the throne today. I believe he desires Justus much an awakening from the people of God through the people of God. As we open ourselves up to understanding this, this reluctance in regards to the Holy Spirit that we realized was a a developing nature among us as a church. It’s not just with me, it’s not just with you. It’s been a developing nature in the life of the Anabaptist church, the Mennonites, the Army, the Brethren, brethren in Christ, those of us, that and and actually it goes even beyond that now share a little of the reason for that a little bit later. But we recognized that there is a time in his three when this changed and there was a place in history where this change took place. And as we experience the unveiling of this revelation, we found ourselves in Munster, Germany, and our I im here to share a little bit off this story with you this morning. Because our our our prayer and our our our sense of need for this to be resolved our sense for healing in regards to these wounds and Munster, Germany, we’re so important, so significant, that we had to believe and hold on for God to bring about this resolution. This is something that caught my heart over there over the last seventeen years since that prayer gathering and in two thousand, and one that gripped me with such a sense in such a passion in such a mission that I cried out to the Lord and said, Don’t allow me to be taken Don’t allow me to be taken away from this land until this mission is fulfilled because I believe that the Lord’s wanting to bring a new day to the life of his church and to break off any resistance in anything that may hold us back from experiencing what God wants to do in and through the church in our day. So the journey began and I, along with a team of other individuals, have found ourselves and Munster, Germany over the last over the last fifteen years, at least four or five times. We’ve been there praying and seeking the Lord, meeting with leaders there, connecting with the Catholics who is the issue that developed was an issue primarily between the Catholics and the Anabaptists that transpired there, and Monster I believe that the Lord wants to. Move in and threw us in our day. And I invite you to turn to Romans. Chapter eight gonna share here from versus ten to seventeen. I believe. That all of us would agree that the Holy Spirit is not meant to be feared. We know from Scripture that this is true and it should be understood in that way that Justus, we believe in the father and open ourselves up to him. Justus, we believe in his son Jesus Christ and want to create space for him. And we’re so thrilled to be able to celebrate his birth again here just a few days ago. So two, we should have the same sense of of openness to the Holy Spirit. Because we know that that he is one person as he is Father, son and Holy Spirit, there’s nothing within us. That should have resistance to what God wants to dio in and through his spirit. Let’s read here room’s gate starting first ten. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin. Yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the spirit of hammer raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal body through his spirit. Who lives in you? Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation. But it is not to the sinful nature to live according to it, for if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die. But if by the spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. Because those who are led by the spirit of God of God, our sons of God, for you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear. But you receive the spirit of sun ship and buy him. We cry, Abba. Father, The spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we’re God’s children. Now if we our children, than were Ares Ares of God and co heirs with Christ if indeed we share and his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. We believe. As Christ lives in us, His spirit is alive and living and brings life to us as a people and as the Scriptures would say here, for you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear. But you received the spirit of sun ship. I believe the gods wanting to do something today to bring new life, a new courage into us as his people, to trust him, to be able to trust him in new ways to be able to trust him, that when we go out on a mission strip that we can know that he’s going to go ahead of us, he’s going to be there. Whatever our circumstances are going that we’re going to encounter, we can trust him. He’s faithful and he and he will show us his his love and reveal himself to us in his power. And in our day today, if you’re listening to new songs that are being written today, I believe the spirit burst. No revelation of father’s heart for different times and seasons in are in the life of the church. And right now there are many, many songs that are being written that air coming through about overcoming fear being no, no longer a slave to fear. And right here we have this understanding It’s based in this understanding right here in Romans. Ate for you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear. But you received this a spirit of sun ship that I believe the Holy Spirit wants us to be an overcome er in the areas that fear wants to limit us from experiencing the greater things of God. Let’s go to our story of how I believe the Lord is wanting to break through in our lives and through the church in a new way. The story of Munster, Germany and Munsters Minster Germany is known among the Anabaptists and Man A Baptist history as the city of the cages. And this is the story as persecution broke out. Bear with me in in sharing a little bit of this history. I’m not much of a historian, but I see God at work in the midst of history That, I feel is is significant for us to get a grip on here today. And there will be aspects of this story that will be new to you in ways that I trust will give you hope, as it is giving me hope in light of what gods wanting to do in our day. But his persecution broke out in Switzerland in fifteen twenty five, and the Anabaptists were pressured out of the country as they were as they were being pursued, that they migrated north into the northern lands and particularly Germany. And as they were moving, the spirit of the Lord was upon upon them and whole cities were being swept and a baptism as they were, as many were coming to a place of new faith in Christ. And they were being re baptized. And this this movement kept moving north until it found a resting place in Munster, Germany, and Monster became the center of the bold preaching of that day. The profits of that day and I say profits. Because the early Anabaptist leaders were known as the the profits of that day. They were the they were the bold creatures. But they were also sharing new revelations out of dreams and visions that they were experiencing. And as the word was coming live in them, they were profits. I ng on the streets, observe before the ever left Switzerland. There was a prophetic anointing on those early leaders, and this was this was bring a new life to the people of Europe in that day that tens of thousands of people would come to monster. Those monster was this place where this where the where the fiery preachers were sharing. And then there’s this new freshness about what God was doing in that day, even to the point that there were thousands being re baptized on the streets of Munster, Germany. Uh, and in these early days, we’re talking about fifteen thirty one right now. These these these Anabaptists leaders in that day became so affirmed, and we’re so warmly supported in that day that they became the leaders. They they were given space on city council. And this is this is just within a year or two that they moved into this city that the Anabaptist now have have the majority of the seats of City Council in Munster, Germany. It was from it was from there that that they I saw this greater opportunity to establish there what they were seeing in in there many dreams and visions that they were having having about God, wanting to establish in this city a city of Zion, a special place even for his return. Ah, special place for the kingdom of God to be revealed. These Anabaptist leaders, many of them found themselves experiencing dreams and visions. And over over some time, they lacked the credibility of always testing this and checking this with the word of God. And there became Ah eh? No on infiltration off practices that did not necessarily align with Scripture in time that they were so zealous about establishing this new kingdom of God there. And they had their places of power in the city and and they started moving in the direction of forcing baptisms and forcing re baptised, re baptism. The leaders open themselves up to polygamy and the main leader, Yuan one Leyton, took on sixteen wives for himself to propagate this new kingdom that that they had a sense that God wanted to bring to monster. And this went on over the next year, to the point of them mandating that anyone who wanted to live in the city had to be re baptized. This was a Catholic city. So this man a decision for the Catholics that were there, and the Anabaptist leaders eventually pushed everybody out of the city, including the main, the main bishop that was head of the large cathedral. There’s a cathedral there in the city of Monster that covers probably two acres of ground. It’s that large. But this bishop that was head of that sanctuary there was was pushed out of the city, and all of those that were not accepting re baptism were pushed out of the city and it was a double moated city. It had high walls. They locked the city gates. And now we can establish this great city of Zion. The bishop of this of this cathedral was also the head of the military of that day because the church and the state were together. So he posted his military troops around this city of Munster, Germany, and over the next year and a half, he cut off their force food supply. And many of the Anabaptists starved that were in the city. After a year and a half, the head marshal of the military of the calf of the Catholic Bishops Army broke through the city. Gates came in and executed about eight hundred of the remaining Anabaptists. All except the three leaders, those three leaders, they stopped each in a cage, that four foot square, about six foot high. For the next six months. Paraded them around Europe as a message to the world, saying that if you open yourselves up to this way, the new move of the spirit this is likely what will happen to you to scare people back to the structure Church of that day he brought after six months, they were brought back to the city of Monster. They were executed in those cages and those cages were hung several hundred feet high on the steeple of St Lombardi’s Cathedral. There in Munster, Germany, those cages are still hanging there. Yet today, five hundred years later, sending a message to the world yet to all those that are looking at, look up there. Yet today, three hundred three hundred years, around eighteen thirty, that the last of the remains of these three leaders fell through those cages. As we prayed, we realize that we have some responsibility in regards to what happened there in Munster, Germany. Many writers of men tonight history have have have created some portrayal of these individuals and these leaders in Munster as not being necessarily mainstream Mennonites depends on how you look at it. You might say I might be able to find some convincing evidence of that, but the reality of it was these were crucial Mennonite leaders. Anabaptist leaders of that day. Meno, Simon’s brother, was a part of this movement. We don’t know for sure, but he may have been one of those that was executed in the city. After was taken over Meno Simon’s was very observant toe what was happened there. And as a Catholic monk, I was so drawn to the way that the spirit of the Lord was moving in Monster, that he was awakened to the reality of a living God through what was happening in the early days of Monster. What was happening there in its early days was a riel outpouring of the spirit of the Lord. The spirit of the Lord was moving there in great ways, but it became perverted and it became all came off track and miss, like what God really wanted to do and what he wanted to finish it. And and it it’s so impacted the world that that new Thor himself as he observed at Martin Luther, who was, though what was really though the the founder of the one that God used in in birthing the The Reformation. It’s Martin Luther looked on with what was happening in there and monster with the Anabaptists, he said. My church will be a church of the word on ly, not a church of the spirit. And this was likely something that was also embraced in the Catholic Church as it became embraced in many ways, even across their Mennonite church. About this question. This reservation about the work of the Holy Spirit. Somehow the enemy found a way putting a lid on what God really wanted to do through this experience. This encounter this atrocity in wind stirred Germany. We believe the Lord wanted to heal this, so we knew that there had to be a time of reckoning with the Catholic Church. So through much prayer and many supernatural developments, there was a coming together. In May of twenty eighteen as this, the bi annual convention of Catholics in Germany was hosted in the City of Monster. So there were forty thousand Catholics gathered for four days in this city of Munster. And this was a time when the Catholics, as they reflected on the history of Monster, They they recognize themselves that there was something that needed to happen with the Anabaptists. So they invited Anabaptist to be part of the discussions for these meetings in May. And out of those discussions, some of us that were on this journey for some time we’re invited two Monster. It was in St Lombardi’s Cathedral. Here’s the picture of Catholic, a Catholic Luther and too many nights. One of the many nights is Keith Flank, Bishop of Lincoln. Mr Conference, who was part of our team that was there. Keith stood in the gap for the Mennonites of this day and acknowledged, are wrong in our misrepresentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and our misrepresentation to the world of the work of the Holy Spirit. A misrepresentation of the Church of Jesus Christ. We were acknowledged this to the Catholics into the leaders and ask for forgiveness in the midst of this setting. And there was a reciprocating of that as there was expression of regret and not acknowledgment of wrongdoing from the Catholics. Even a message, even a message from the pope in regards to his regrets for the way that the Anabaptists words we’re treated and mishandled. This was This was the day that we were longing for, for four years this day, of recognizing the need for forgiveness in the midst of this journey. This journey. You go on to the next light crystal. Here’s a picture of the streets of Munster while we were there in May, and it was likely right here somewhere where we’re standing here in this street where the baptisms and re baptisms were taken place in those streets of Germany, those streets and monster. Fifteen, thirty, fifteen, thirty one. Okay, next line. How did we How did this door open up for this? For this forgiveness to happen, God has his ways of opening up doors. In two thousand and seven, there was a group of us that were invited to Germany because there was a group of leaders in Germany, these air business leaders, these air church leaders, these air community leaders that meat every meat on occasions just to come together, to pray and to seek God’s heart for the country in the nation of Germany, to pray for their leaders. And this group of individuals started wearing this burden for the healing of Munster, Germany. And they dedicated a four day period of time just to pray for this healing of this episode. The Anabaptist Catholic collision of Munster, Germany, and believing for a new day that would come out of this as that healing happened. So they wanted a group of Anabaptist to come, and they found out that there was this group of us here in the US that we’re connected with some Anabaptists in in in Europe as well. And they invited us to come to this meeting this gathering before I left for that for that conference, Elaine was along with Mia’s. Well, before I left, I got this picture of a key, and it was a skeleton key, like an old key to an old house, and I knew I was supposed to put it, put a key in my pocket and take it along with me. For some reason, I didn’t really understand why. But as a search for a key, I couldn’t find one. I couldn’t buy one. I couldn’t find anyplace that they’re available. Then I thought about one in a closet in our upstairs bedroom of our two hundred year old log cabin, and I went upstairs and look at that key and said, That’s just the one that I saw in that picture. I stuck it in my pocket, not knowing exactly what I was to do. With that. So we’re in. We’re in Germany were meaning with this group of seventy leaders were having times together. We had just visited Move Munster, Germany together the day before and we’re third into that third day. Elaine and I were ready to leave our lodging quarters to go to this meeting again for the day when I thought about it. I still have this key in my pocket. So I asked the Lord, What should I do with this key? And immediately I sense the Lord say already showed you this morning already. Told you. What did I hear? What did I miss? So I went back through my morning and I found myself reviewing my devotionals that morning and I found myself. Guess where I found myself in Daniel. That was my devotional that morning. Then in Daniel, Chapter ten, it talks about Prince Michael. And that’s where I read in my reading that morning. It was about Prince Michael. And all of a sudden the lights came on because I realized there was a Prince Michael in this group. In Germany, they have royal families. Yet in Germany, noble families that have been part of the the heritage of that country for years, and they all have their castles yet that were passed on from generation to generation. Man. Prince Michael and Princess Philippa were in this meeting and I didn’t know them. I hadn’t met him, but I knew that there of a royal family, and I knew my mission. I knew that I had something in my pocket that Prince Michael needed. So that morning we were together in a prayer time and we were We were going to join in small groups in a prayer time, and I was assigned to a small group. And guess who was in that small group? It was Prince Michael. As I went into the small group, there was a chair empty right alongside of Prince Michael. So I take my chair. After the prayer time, I introduced myself and said, I have something for you. That I sense the Lord is saying that you need this key to represent the key that you will be and opening up the way for Anabaptists and Catholics to come together for this healing. I shared with him that this key represent a closet door because we is Anabaptists. Have a skeleton in our closets that needs to come out needs healed. And this key comes from the closet door. Oven Anabaptist Leader. And I’m sharing it with you because the Lord has has a mission for you. That will be very significant. I left it with him. Continued to pray. And over the last years, our connections with Prince Michael and Philippa, his wife, diminished. And then I really felt burdened to go to Germany just last fall in twenty seventeen, at the five hundredth anniversary of the Reformation, and I was in a gathering there. Then a CZ worship was beginning in this gathering of of of a naked man ical gathering of reformation, reformation, entities. Here, somebody, two people walk in through the door. And it was Prince Michael and Prince Philip. I said, Yes, this is a new day because at that time we already do that. We were invited into conversations with the Catholics in May, just six months later, and Prince Michael was going to have a key in this, and I was able to share with him about what was unfolding, and he said yes to it. He said We got it and he became a very instrumental person in opening up the doors for this healing and forgiveness to happen. Facts. Um, it was It was a matter of couple months later. We got a phone call, Our email. I believe it was from Prince Michael. He says I’m coming to Silicone Valley in California. He’s a large business owner in in, Ah, in in Germany, said Um, group. Bring a group of business leaders, the Silicon Valley to meet with the apple in the Google people, and we’d like to stop in at your house. Could we do that? So Prince Michael and Prince is Philippa showed up at her house and I was able to take him up to the door that the Lord was using as an example, how he was going to be a door opener to open up the way for what God was going to do and and there they invited us that when we come to prepare for ourselves for this gathering in Ah because there were further developments by this time of this gathering in May, he said, You can come to our castle. We can have a Mennonite gathering there at the castle for several days so we can pray together and that weaken prepare ourselves for this. This a healing ceremony in Munster that we went. We gathered at his castle for several days, and from there they provided provisions for us. So through other royal families, for us, too, be lodged in a another castle in a near Muenster during our time of this healing event. And I don’t share that to bring any any particular glory in regards to our ability to connect in this way or to have this privilege. But I share it because I believed God was so pleased, so so pleased to open up this way for this healing that he rolled out the red carpet for there to be a royal welcome into this place of all of this healing and and forgiveness as we you go on the next. This is a picture of his castle where we stayed at next line. There’s another picture of a castle where our team from the US here the A number of bishops there that were part of this healing ceremony. And three of us were Lancaster Conference bishops. Next life. We found ourselves invited to a reception there. And this is a CZ. We went to this reception. Uh, we had no idea who was there. Why we were going to this castle for a reception. This was the night before the healing ceremony. As we went in, there was a group of about seventy people there and we realised that these were city leaders of Munster, Germany. These were Catholic church leaders. These were these were priests. And and then they start sharing their story. And here we realized that we were actually standing inside. We were being hosted in a castle that was no constructed by the proceeds that the Catholic bishop gave to his head marshal of his army. This this castle was built by the head marshal of his army as a reward for him overtaking the Anabaptists people and recapturing the city of Monster. So we were there in this setting, and as we gathered around a reception table that healing began to begin as we start acknowledging our wrongs and start confessing and start forgiving each other right there in the middle of that setting next side slide, please, as we were ready to leave. After this healing ceremony, and I could share much more about developments and happenings there. But we needed a place to stay at the airport before we flew back home. They’re the Frankfurt airport and Prince Michael said, Well, my castle is right close to the airport. As you would know, you could just stay at our castle for the night before your flight departure. So we accepted that invitation. I said, there’s only one thing we will not be able to be there, but we’ll give you the key to the castle. So there was just this small group of us from the US were given the key to this castle. They said, Just take any room that you want Help yourself to any food in the in the kitchen. That’ll be fine. That night, as we retired, there was an Amish bishop along with us. As he you chose his room. He found that the lighting in the room was in his bedroom, was too low to bail to read, so he chose to take a chair into the bathroom. And as he was sitting in the bathroom reading, he heard a commotion over his head. And there he looked up as he gets showered with plaster. And here there’s a hole in the wall of this old castle right above his head and their electrical wires protruding through the wall. Really unusual kind of occurrence. Just so happened this castle’s over a thousand years old, and it happens in this moment when he’s sitting there the next morning we had a little time of worship, and he brought this experience to us, he said. I need to serve, but we need to ask the Lord what this meant and as we prayed, NASCAR Lord, the Lord said the power my power is going to break through and these old historic walls will no longer be able to hold it back. That’s a word that I believe is a revelation. It’s an indication of what he’s wanting to do. He’s wanting to break off whatever these ceilings are. That these limits that we put on to him through what he wants to do through his spirit in our day. And he wants to break through those walls that we build up and said You could do so much in my life. But you can’t do this. You can’t do that. I only believe for this and only bleed for that. He’s got, he reigns. He’s the God that comes to us in his might and in his power he comes to us through his holy spirit comes to us as our counselor. He comes to us as our comforter. It comes to us to produce the fruit within us of love, joy, peace. He comes to us to fill us with his love. He comes to us to be the revelation to a world that’s looking for answers. He comes to us. How does he come to us? He comes to us through the spirit of Jesus. He comes to us through his Holy spirit. He comes to a church that he wants to be C B, an expression of who he is through his character, but also through his power that there could be an awakening in our world. There going be awakening to the reality that there is a god of Daniel. There is a God that’s among us. There is a god of the Metzler Church. There is a God who is who is deserving of our respect and our honor. Just three weeks ago, I was asked to share this very story with the group of hungry, spiritually hungry Amish and abating north of New Holland. And there was a group gathering there for a weekend meetings that called. They called the meeting’s impact. It was impact weekend, and they want Mohr and I. There was a group of twelve twelve leaders that they invited to come and share with them through this week this weekend, a meetings, and as I was sharing there on Saturday afternoon of this experience, and as I shared of this word that came to us through this hole in the wall, it’s electric wires protruding through it that I believe that God is wanting to do a greater work, and I just started praying over this group and a start. And as individuals, there is a Aziz a start exclaiming, We want to see a new day. We want to see way, want it. We want to see these areas of walls broken, throw in ways that we can experience the mohr that God has for us. As we prayed there in that moment, we sense the spirit of the Lord moving. And it was an hour later that way you received a text from the leader’s house after I was finished praying when the leaders of these meetings came up and he, too, affirmed that guys wanting to break through and he continued praying into that. And an hour later, from his house, we got a text over the picture on that. In his study in the place where he experiences God, the study in this new house said he just finished building No, the place where God meets him over and over again. There’s this picture of wires that sprung through a wall in his study. It was behind a wall hanging on the wall hanging. Call it. Fire was burning. Brother and sisters. It’s not about a hole in an old castle wall. It’s not about a wall hanging, burning in a conservative church. Leaders study. It’s about a God who reigns. Talk about a guy who wants to get our attention. You got it. It’s about a guy that wants to awaken us to the reality that we can trust him. We need him. We don’t need only just trust him. We need him. We need strength beyond our strength. We need it for the situations and the circumstances that were encountering in our world as young people as old people, as we get a Zoe get older in the situations that we experience in those days we need, we need his power. We need his strength. And he wants to know what he wants to bring. A revelation of the fact that as we open ourselves up to him that the normal is not normal for his people. He is a god of the supernatural. He’s a god that desires to reveal himself in and mighty and powerful ways. They asked questions about who was Jesus in his day. And the re witnesses said, Well, the lame, well, the blind. See, he’s the same Jesus In our day He’s looking for a church that says, Come Lord Jesus, come and take your place in our day in whatever way we have made, We may have held him back. I believe he is. He is desirous and listening. For acknowledgement of that people. I believe that he has more for us in these last days, and we need him. And he has not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power and of love in a sound mind. Hey, hey, hey desires for us to come beyond being a slave to fear but received his spirit of sun ship. So what is the answer for us? What is the answer for us in overcoming this? What is the answer? I believe it is that it is in our finding our place in his son ship as his sons and daughters as his children. As it says here, the spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now we’re children. Then we’re Ares Ares of God and co heirs with Christ, I believe is we find our place. We confined that whatever the Lord has had for Christ to experience, I believe that we can know is for us. He said it was It was good that he leaves this or if he came to thousand years ago. But as he left, he said, It’s good that I leave if I do not leave. Guess what? The Holy Spirit will not come. He desires for us to allow room for that place in our lives for him to rein. We’re on the threshold of a new year. If you’re here today, there’s something that resonates with this in this with you. In whatever way that you are here, and you have even the smallest little sense within you that there’s more. I invite you to let God bring that revelation of that more to you in whatever way that resonates with you, that we have our ways of putting a little and the Lord in the work of his spirit, whatever ways we have put put, put him into a box and say, It’s all right for that You’d do that over here. But I’m not sure that I’m comfortable with you in that way. Just think about it for a moment. What that might say to the father that loves you so much and wants you to experience the greatest of victory, the greatest of overcoming strength, not only for you, but for your family, for your neighbors, because he is our answer in our day, he’s full of transforming power. Yet today he is among us to bring a new day let’s come before him here. So we open ourselves up as his children. May we be able to say no longer a slave of fear? I’m a child. I am a child of God. Come Lord Jesus. Thank you. Thank you. You have not overlooked us in our day. Thank you. That we can anticipate what you have for us. Here is a church that Metzler What? Whatever. Church. You might be a part of your here today, but you have faith for the new that God wants to do among us in this day that we could be the church that allows for a world to recognize that you are the living God, Father, in whatever way that we have put limits on you. And we have questioned the work of your Holy Spirit as we have done that as a body of believers as Anabaptists. But we say we’re sorry. Forgive us, Lord, whatever way any of us here today are able to enter into that and say I don’t want to align myself with that fear of the spirit. Lord, may you hear that cry. May you bring us to a place. Of allowing room for you for your work, wherever that path may be, wherever that path is that you lead us on. You give us the grace to trust you. Whatever might lie ahead in this next year You give us the grace to trust in your strength and the power of your holy spirit For you is your word says your kingdom is not a matter of words but of power. Lord, may you break through in my world in new ways A new way that brings life brings light and pushes back the darkness in a way that you could be seen for who you are. It’s the reigning lord working. Now you hear our prayer here today. Take us, Lord, while we say we don’t know exactly what this means. I don’t know exactly what we’re saying even as we’re opening ourselves up to this. Thank you, Lord, for your faithfulness that we can trust you. We can trust you for this walk this way in this revelation of who you are so lord here today we declare. That your power will break through and these old walls, we’ll no longer be able to hold it back. Whatever those walls in our lives have some history to them. To the extent it’s five hundred years, Lord, we pray for the breaking off that breaking through that we declare a breakthrough. You know, his thoughts are coming. Two individuals minds here, right now of hopes and anticipations. Father, we invite you to bring breakthrough. May you direct us, lead us in the way that leads to break through in ways that brings you glory. For yours is the kingdom and yours is the power. And yours is the glory forever and ever and ever. Amen. Amen. Any of you feel a need for some further prayer. There’ll be somebody here that would pray with you in the front of the church after we have our dismissal, really right for you, the direction to our clothes. There’s one stands there that will sum up Not some momentarily, but it’s related to the message this morning in two hundred forty four in the red hymnal two hundred forty four. The last stand zone talks about, uh, we I can no longer fear. And I’m confident that I am a child of God. Uh, my God is reconciled. My thank you, Lloyd, for coming and sharing your heart and with God has called you to share with us. This morning, I would just repeat what Lloyd said and closing after the dismissal. Prayer benediction, David leaders in a typical closing verse of song. But if what Lloyd shared this morning has spoken to you and you would like to pursue that, spend some time together sharing and praying together or invite you Justin, meet here in the front and others Khun Congar there around and pray together and share together no further that stand for placing prayer. God, you are a god of order. You’re God of creation. You have made everything, and it is on your control. So Lord, help us. It’s your people to know what that means in very personal ways. In ways that are meaningful for this congregation, we just invite it continued work of your holy spirit among us. Lord, As we leave here this morning, may we go with that full awareness that you have filled us with all of who you are that we may be completely aware of your presence and your leading in each of our lives? Lord is not about us. It’s not about what we can accomplish. But it’s about how faithful we can be and walking with you. So go before us. Bless our ways for yours is the kingdom and the glory and the power forever. Amen.
See link in first post of discussion. Sermon begins around 41 min 15 sec. (Lloyd Hoover)