Sheep Pen or Discipleship Den

Is your church the cool place to be or the correct place to be? Both places will result in a death. ‘Correct church’ will cause your flesh [carnal, selfish nature] to die so you can live in your divine purpose and ‘cool church’ will cause your destiny to die so that your flesh can live.

I feel it is time to release this word to those who call Jesus, ‘Lord’, but who are trapped in sheep pens instead of being raised to maturity in a discipleship den.

I have written and spoken often about the truth that society’s snowflakes did not start on college and university campuses in the late 20th or early 21st century. The snowflake syndrome began in seeker friendly and sensitive ‘spiritual’ environments in the mid to late 20th century where large pens were constructed to attract as many sheep as possible. Maybe the ‘spiritual’ leaders picked up on the post World War II hope for peace and the “let’s all try to get along” mentality.

Friends, if you will still call and consider me your friend, there can never be a spiritual detente with the devil. There will never be a cease fire with the fire of hell. There will never be a time to take it easy. And there will never be a season where the Holy Spirit will take a vacation from His vocation of equipping the saints for His mission, message, mandate and method of ministry.

Under the guise of “‘we believe” in the supernatural but we are not going to focus on it” or “how can we disciple people if they are not here” these under shepherds of God’s flock take them from the mountain of the Lord to the hill of man believing on the lower level of exertion they will find rest. If you compromise Biblical truth to trap people in your pen of coolness you will have to trick them with pseudo spiritual language so they will not discover the vastness of pasture that the Great Shepherd wants to lead them out to feed in.

David, the forerunner shepherd to the Shepherd was deceived out of his promised bride who was his soul mate. His virtuous bride was given instead to another man whose name mocked the man God had chosen to lead His covenant people. Merab [increase] was given to Adriel [flock of God] the Meholathite [meadow of dancing]. This marriage made in the mind of a mad man resulted in death of the offspring of Saul’s offense.

David handed the five sons born out of deception over to the Gibeonites [little hill] who “hung them in the mountain before the Lord” in the “first days of harvest” [2 Samuel 21:9]. This is a prophetic warning to every leader who uses deception to deprive true shepherds of their rightful increase.

Look at what Jeremiah prophesied about this type of leadership, “6 My people have become lost sheep; Their shepherds have led them astray. They have made them turn aside on the mountains; They have gone along from mountain to hill and have forgotten their resting place.  7 All who came upon them have devoured them; And their adversaries have said, ‘We are not guilty, inasmuch as they have sinned against the Lord who is the habitation of righteousness, Even the Lord, the hope of their fathers.'” [Jeremiah 50]

Anytime we reduce the mind of God down to the mind of men we open ourselves up to satanic seduction and devilish deception that will ultimately lead to someone’s destruction.

How can you tell if you are in the correct church? One way is to ask Jesus, the Head of the Church?

1 Corinthians 12:18

But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.”

Have you ever considered where God desires you to go to church? Did you even know God has desires? Did you know God has desires for you? “[God], who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” [1 Timothy 2:4].

Salvation is not to get you into heaven as much as it is to get you into truth and to get Truth into you. Jesus said of Himself, “I am the way! I am the truth! I am the life!” The way to real life must go through “the truth.” Jesus came that we may have life and that [life] in abundance. Modern Christianity has reduced abundance to a life of comfort when its original context called for extreme sacrifice to fulfill divine purpose.

People flee “correct church” to go to “cool church” so they can escape the process of preparation to their purpose. While there is spiritual abuse that can never be tolerated or justified many accusations of mistreatment are nothing more than not being able to manipulate the people God has called them to submit their personal process to promotion to.

All of a sudden God ‘speaks’ to them to change addresses and their new address is usually with a leader who will never address their rebellion, immaturity and irresponsibility.

“Cool church” has all the programs a person or family needs. “Cool church” has the cool looking facilities. “Cool church” even customizes their services so no one will be inconvenienced in time or expectation of growing up. The messages are customized to the least mature or the least committed so as not to offend anyone.

Catering to a congregation [a collection of people in the same place] instead of assembling [placing people in their rightful place] sanctified saints these relevant revelers do a great injustice to the ones justified by the One who justifies all who by faith in and faithfulness to the Father live their lives.

Another way to tell if you are in ‘correct church’ is – are you becoming more comfortable or more comforted? Christ does not want us to be comfortable. He sent the Comforter to comfort us as we go through the process of dying to self so that we can pursue our divine purpose on purpose. The Comforter leads us into all truth. Too many Christians find their comfort level in the truth they have always believed and resist being established in present truth.

Jesus is the Head of the Church and He is the good Shepherd of the sheep. As Head of the Church He is Commander and Chief of God’s army of kingdom advancers. His kingdom suffers violence by those who refuse to live the que sera, sera Christian life. The status quo is sickening to those who desire destiny instead of sympathy. The Shepherd Jesus leads the sheep in and out of the fold [pen] to find pasture.

That sounds like an oxymoron to me. Why would sheep need to find pasture in the pen? The answer is found in the Greek words in the verse and in verse 3, “To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.”

Here is what verse 9 says, “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” Confusion comes in by not studying the Greek words in the verse. The same Greek word is used for the English translated words ‘enters’ and ‘go’. The words ‘in and out’ after ‘go’ are not in the original Greek. The Greek word is eisérchomai [ice-er’-khom-ahee] which means ‘to enter’ and ‘to go in and out’. The translators in verse 9 added ‘in and out’ because of the use of the word ‘enter’. Their interpretation, in my opinion, was biased.

I believe the translators would have been more accurate if they would have maintained the theme Jesus set in place in verse 3. Here it is again, “To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.”

Shepherds lead sheep out to find pasture and lead them into the pen for greater protection. To me this is where the analogy of a believer in Christ Jesus as a sheep begins to break down. Sheep are basically dumb animals that need to be watched closely and led around or they will run off and get lost. In other words, sheep cannot think for themselves and keep themselves safe.

There are pastors [shepherds] who believe their people [sheep] are not capable of functioning without them. I was sitting in a service years ago when the pastor told his people, “You need me to be your pastor.” I was shocked! That kind of attitude proves the pastor has not empowered his people to mature. That attitude proves the pastor has taught his people what to think not how to think. That attitude proves the pastor needs people who are not as spiritually savvy as he is because he needs them to need him. That pastor served for his own needs not the needs of those he was supposed to be leading ‘out’.

Going back to John 10:3 we will find the words “them out” are not in the Greek. The Greek text ends with “leads”. Leads means – to lead out, away from, and to a goal. It comes from a root word meaning – abundance, exceedingly above and beyond. Jesus wants His ‘sheep’ to move out into the abundance that He came to give them. Jesus wants His ‘sheep’ not to stay in the pen but to reach their goal. What is the goal Jesus wants His ‘sheep’ to reach?

Paul tells us in Philippians 3:14 – ” I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Every believer’s goal should be Christ Jesus and the call of God that is in Christ Jesus. Nothing short of that is satisfactory for the true saint who is set apart to the purpose God has them on the planet.

Pen

A small enclosure where animals are kept, or where people are confined. A very restricted space.

God’s people are systematically herded into spaces where they are confined in their present level of maturity. This severely restricts them in them understanding their responsibility as believers in Christ Jesus. Even those who attend church in a large building with large open spaces are susceptible to the pen mentality of leaders who see people as sheep and not soldiers.

A great way to tell if your leader is limited in their understanding of their responsibility to lead is they allow their people to choose whether they will develop into disciples, and what timetable they will develop if they indeed ever do develop. Jesus did not leave maturing to chance. He immediately brought change to a culture that produced unproductive kingdom citizens.

Integration in immigration is critical to keeping the community of the believers pure and powerful. We are seeing how this has severely weakened our country [USA] as we have treated illegal immigrants as rightful citizens. If we have no common core values [a Constitution] we are not a genuine country. If we have no recognizable boundaries [borders] we are not a legitimate country. If we do not have a plan to integrate how can we expect to legitimately protect our land.

Terrorism does not have to be bombastic. It can be simplistic. A case in point is how in less than a generation in the USA people have become fearful of holding to, expressing and expanding Biblical Christianity into every sphere of influence.

The same is true in our church communities. If we allow people to come into our communities who do not have our common unity of core values then the level of commitment begins to drop to their level. This is especially true if we do not present to them the standard of excellence Christ expects of everyone and desires to hold them to.

What about the shepherds who have compromised God’s core values for the sake of their position, a promotion and a pay check?

“Our citizenship is in heaven” which means we must have, maintain and protect our common core values. Our core values are based in the Constitution of God’s kingdom, which begins with the Sermon on the Mount and the continued revelatory teachings of Jesus and those who followed Him in the first century.

Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount [Matthew 5:48] – ” You are to be perfect just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Now, there is no timetable in that statement but there is a definitive goal of perfection. Well maybe there is a timetable. Jesus expected these men to mature to the place of fatherhood in the three years He would spend training them before He would ascend back to His Father’s side.

In most modern or post-modern churches the modern mindset of Christianity is perfection is not possible so full commitment to Christ is optional.

Look at what John the apostle said about personal responsibility and development.

1 John 2

“1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. 3 By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; 5 but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: 6 the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.

12 I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake. 13 I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father. 14 I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.”

In these verses we find four levels of personal maturity. They are ‘little children” in verses 1 and 12, “fathers”, “young men” and “children” in verse 13, “fathers”, “young men” in verse 14.

So we have little children, children, young men and fathers. You may be asking why have I listed children and little children separately? In the Greek New Testament there are four levels of maturity in the childhood stage of development. ‘Children’ is the third level and ‘little children’ is the fourth. Then we have young men and father’s. All four have distinct characteristics of maturity.

Let’s take a cursory look at the characteristics of each level of maturity beginning with the children level found in verse 13.

Children, according to John, are those who know the Father. Keep in mind this is the third level of maturity in the childhood stage of development. ‘Father’ is capitalized so John is talking about the heavenly Father. This is so critical to our understanding of the truths being presented in this Blog. Remember, Jesus said we are to be just like our Father. John is revealing that what makes it possible for Christians to mature to the perfection of Father is we know Him personally and experientially as children.

Next, in verse 1 John writes that little children can learn that sinning is not permissible. What does that do to your theology? Do you automatically begin to argue with what John wrote 2,000 years ago. Remember, John was the one who laid his head on Jesus’ chest and is known as the apostle of love. John said he wrote to the little children so they would know they “may” not sin. John did not say, “can not sin.” This is a huge truth that must be accepted and embraced in order to pursue such a possible feat.

John then addresses young men. These “young men” I believe coincide with the second level of maturity called sonship [sons and daughters]. These young men are strong. These young men have God’s word in them. And these young men have overcome the evil one. These young warriors no longer pray, “Deliver us from the evil one.” Now that they have progressed in maturity to the point that the devil prays, “Deliver me from these young men.”

Lastly, John writes to fathers who know God who is from the beginning. What beginning is John alluding to? Maybe John is talking about “in the beginning” of Genesis 1. Or maybe, as I believe, John is talking about knowing the God who has been with them the entire process of maturing from childhood to fatherhood.

The key verse to me in this wonderful chapter of 1 john is verse 6 which says, “the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” John puts the onus on [all of] us. “If” we “say we abide in Him” then we “ought to walk in the same manner as Jesus walked.” That my friends separates genuine Christianity and genuine Christians from religious Christianity and religious Christians.

In the New American Standard New Testament we find the word sheep as it pertains to people 39x and the word soldier as it pertains to believers 5x. Once we move out of the Gospels those numbers change considerable to sheep 4x and soldier 5x. Paul the apostle is the only New Testament author connecting saints to soldiers. That may be because he saw his mission of advancing God’s spiritual kingdom in a hostile natural world as a military campaign. After all, the word ‘apostle’ is taken from the Greco-Roman world of military warfare.

Den

A wild animal’s lair or place of habitation. Our modern understanding of a den is a comfortable place where a person can pursue an activity in private. ‘Den’ comes from a Germanic word meaning ‘threshing floor’ which certainly does not present comfort. A threshing floor is a place where chaff is separated from wheat or some other grain used for feeding people. The process of threshing at times is violent in nature as the fruit [core of the kernel] has to be separated from the husk by crushing and then further separated by blowing wind. For this blog lets think of comfort as a place we feel at home being comforted by the Comforter in His making us uncomfortable in our call as Christians.

All Christians begin as ‘wild animals’ who need to be trained in righteousness. One of the main places of training is the proverbial threshing floor of discipleship where we are supposed to learn that purity and power are two main characteristics of a true Christian.

Discipleship is about becoming like the Lord who all Christians are to be discipled to.

Are you being discipled to the leader who lets you stay in your pen?

Or are you being discipled to the Leader who wants you to get out of the pen and be discipled in the den where threshing creates thriving and purpose gives you vision to endure the pain?

Are you being discipled to the leader who wants you to stay a child so they can feel important and even superior to you?

Or are you being discipled by a leader who is not threatened by your maturity and wants you to grow into manhood?

Your future awaits you but you will have to decide in the present what is going to die.

Will your destiny or your carnality die?

You ultimately determine your destination!

Dr. Kevin M. Drury, DMin

Keep HIS Passion, Power, Presence, Purity and Purpose!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s