Turning Pointer Perspectives

Obedience vs. Freedom, Responsibility vs. Performance

Generally, there are two errors people fall into regarding their relationship with God: a perverted freedom or a perverted obedience. Both are exemplified in the story of the prodigal son. A lot of times we forget there are two brothers in the story, and they are both in error. They are both broken and incomplete because they don't understand the love of God. 

Of course we remember the prodigal son, who takes his inheritance and spends it in wild living. This is a perversion of the freedom that we should find in our relationship with God. He thought he was free in his self-expression. But he ends up in the muck with the pigs, where everyone who heads down that path ends up eventually. That’s the way it is with the flesh and Satan. They offer an imitation of the real, promising pleasure and freedom but instead deliver discontent and bondage.

We also have the older brother who dutifully carried out all his responsibilities. But when he saw his father's generosity and mercy toward the younger son, he complained that the father never gave him anything. So what was wrong with the older brother? He was doing what he was supposed to do, but he did it with the wrong motive, which in the final analysis makes it wrong. This brother was trying to gain the father's love through his works. This a perversion of the obedience that we should find in our relationship with God.

In a healthy relationship with God, we have a proper understanding and implementation of freedom and obedience. When we pervert these, we either end up with the pigs or embittered. There are many in the Church who are the older brother and don't know it. They go to church whenever the doors are open. They don't smoke, drink, cuss, dance (or whatever combination their group bans). They may even be involved in religious activity (witnessing, praying, leading a Bible study). All that stuff's good, right? Well, if they're doing it because they want to stay "inside the box" to make sure God loves and accepts them, then it's insidiously WRONG and over time they will break! I think that's why most preacher's kids break at some time. The emphasis is so much on performance that the acceptance and love of God gets lost. 

Let’s look in this story at the father’s response to each of the sons. 
He knew the son who ran off would experience pain and heartache because of his actions. But he let him go anyway, because that’s what love does. Then every day he looked down the road for the son’s return; he knew the consequences of that lifestyle choice will be disastrous, and he hoped the son would return home. When the son did return home in realization of his sin and in repentance, the father gladly received him again.
How about the son who stayed? He basically said to his father, “I’ve been working and working but haven’t gotten anything from you.” The father had to remind him that everything the father had was already his. He could have had a young goat to celebrate with his friends at any time, but he didn’t ask. The brother was so focused on performing and earning approval that he needed to be reminded everything he was looking for was already his. It’s very easy for people who are faithful in church and involved in ministry to get so focused on the mechanics of making everything work that they forget the promises and relationship of the Father.

Responsibility vs. Performance. They look the same in implementation, but the motivation behind them is totally different. If you're responsible, you are doing what you are. If you are performing, you are doing so that you can become. God doesn't want performing. It's very unhealthy.

Mike Fitzpatrick is a worship leader, a board member for TPMI, and a former NASA Space Shuttle flight coordinator

Do THIS In Remembrance...

“And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.' ” (Luke 22:19)
Jesus was partaking in what is known as the Last Supper. The disciples were having their final meal with the Lord (unbeknownst to them). And in prayer, Jesus lifted the bread and the cup and gave thanks. Then told His disciples, “Do this in remembrance of me.”

Throughout my life I was taught and understood that Jesus was commanding His disciples to do what we now call “communion” together. And rightly so. Jesus set the example for us to follow in His steps. But I've discovered I overlooked something here. When Jesus said to “DO THIS in remembrance of Me,”  was he just talking about communion?
If you look at the first part of the verse, He told us, “This is My body given for you…”  What does communion represent? It is not just the act of sharing bread and wine together, it is an act representing what He did afterward. His body is represented by the bread, His blood represented by the wine. He gave Himself over to be crucified, to be put to death for the remission of our sins. His body was broken and His blood was poured out for us (verse 20). 
So when the Lord commanded us, “Do this in remembrance of Me,” I don't believe it was just the act of communion He was speaking about. We must do what it represents as well. We are to give our lives for the Lord’s sake, for His Kingdom, as a witness to testify of who Jesus is. 
Jesus said in Mark 8:34, “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.”  We are to die to self, we are to live for Him. Paul said, “I die daily” (1 Corinthians15:31), meaning he died to his fleshly desires. We must do the same. We must take up our cross, the painful cross, the heavy cross of life, and follow in His steps. 
Communion is symbolic of Jesus offering His body and blood as a sacrifice on the Cross. Jesus commands us to do the same. We are not just to remember what He did for us, we are to DO it as well. We are to give of ourselves sacrificially and lay down our lives for Him, in response to His great love for us. This, my friends, is what we are to DO! 

Divine Hydraulics

For the land which you go to possess is not like the land of Egypt from which you have come, where you sowed your seed and watered it by foot, as a vegetable garden; but the land which you cross over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water from the rain of heaven, a land for which the Lord your God cares; the eyes of the Lord your God are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the very end of the year.
(Deuteronomy 11:10-12)

Divine Hydraulics is a phrase coined by George Otis Jr. and the Sentinel Group. It’s a phrase that has captured the imagination of my father-in-law and others as they contend for transformation in their communities. These hydraulics have been put on display in dramatic ways in various places throughout history. One of the occasions the effect of these divine hydraulics was seen was in 1949 on the remote Hebrides Islands off the west coast of Scotland. Concerned about the spiritual decline they were observing and looming oppressive cultural ideologies, a small group of saints began to press in to rediscover the ancient patterns that release the glory of heaven on earth in an unmistakably majestic way. These moves are marked by deep awareness of God’s holy presence and conviction of sin, leading to heartfelt repentance that leave lasting transformation in those communities sometimes for generations.

The idea of “divine hydraulics” is different from crusades and evangelism and other valuable approaches to outreach. These of course have their place and are very important. In situations where outreaches have been championed, seeds have been sown, yet the spiritual condition of the region remains headed toward lawlessness – this is the ideal climate for divine hydraulics. (Ps 119:126)

Fascinated by these types of moves of God, I have found myself on a journey to understand these ancient patterns or protocols that were revealed to these saints in their desire to see the kingdom of heaven manifest on earth as in heaven.

We’ve visited the Hebridean Islands, we have contended all night in prayer, we have also been part of Solemn assemblies like The Call and The Response USA that the Lord appears to be using to “teach us how to pray” and help us walk together as we understand and recover these ancient truths.

We were in Cleveland, Ohio, for the most recent Response on July 16. I shoot video of the events helping document the team’s preparation behind the scenes. We were staying in the Hilton Garden Hotel within walking distance of the Wolstein Center, the venue selected for the event. Due to some air conditioning issues we were moved to a meeting room called the Armington Room for our preparations and team meetings. The team gathered the Friday before the event to pray and cover final details.

I was certainly caught up in the prayer time. In three days. Cleveland was poised to be the scene of the Republican National Convention. Preparations to lockdown the city center were underway. It had been an interesting political cycle, with much concern regarding the candidates. On the news, racial unrest and violence against police officers was a constant theme, along with a brutal Islamic terrorist attack in Nice and a staged political coup in Turkey. I was glad to pray. There was a focus and intensity of agreement to the prayer time that dispensed the fragrance of Jesus into the atmosphere.

As we continued to pray, I was reflecting on this pursuit of “divine hydraulics” that many others and I have been on. Believing the Lord had “another arrow in his quiver,” as my father-in-law says, were we wasting our time chasing a revival fantasy? Or were we heading in the right direction?

The reason the Armington Room had this name was because it was the location of the Armington Crane, which was capable of lifting 15 tons. This historic crane, which had loaded electrical power transformers, was now preserved and its name plate embossed in gold. I was intrigued by our location and stirred by the agreement of the individuals I found myself praying with at that critical time. I asked the Lord if the 15-ton inscription had any significance and felt compelled to read Psalm 15, which speaks to the heart posture of those who are given access to the mountain of the Lord.
It is worth remembering that the Psalms are the prayer book of the scriptures. The five books of the Psalms are our prayer response to a conversation initiated by the Father in the five books of the Hebrew law (or Torah). Eugene Peterson calls prayer “technology” and the psalms “tools” -- tools not so much for doing, but tools for becoming. Intentionally praying the Psalms, I have come to recently believe, is the key to us becoming or maturing into the people of God. The Psalms reveal the majesty of the voice of the Lord.

I started this blog quoting the verses from Deuteronomy, the fifth book of the law, where Moses is reminding the people that the land he is taking them into will be different from Egypt. It is a land of mountains and valleys, a land where they must understand and remain aware of their need of His partnership – divine hydraulics. Trying to do things like Egypt in this land will not have positive outcomes. If they want this holy assistance, they must understand they need to love Him and hold fast to Him by keeping his commandments “...for if you carefully keep all these commandments which I command you to do – to love the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, and to hold fast to Him – then the Lord will drive out all these nations from before you …” (Deuteronomy 11:22-23)

Deuteronomy 11 is a powerful chapter given to a nation poised to enter the promised land. God is in essence saying, "If you want access to Me and the divine hydraulics, you must love Me and hold fast to Me." The words hold fast can be translated cleave. Here we sat, preparing for The Response in Cleveland under the Armington Crane, letting God know that we were not looking to a political party or candidate for the answers we needed. But we were humbly cleaving to Him.

Mike May is pastor of Pipeline Church, director of Somebody Cares Humble, and a member of TPMI's Somebody Cares Houson network. He has produced numerous videos for Somebody Cares America and television specials for TPMI.



Words Hurt

The old saying goes, "Sticks and stones may break bones but words will never hurt me." Uh, yeah...they do!

In school I was a stoner and a bit of a bully. I didn't mean to be, but I just didn't care much. If you didn't hang with me getting high, I was not very nice. I was going through life's stuff, and I dealt with it by doing a lot of drugs; everyone else was either with me or against me.

Fast forward 30 years, and I am so sorry for those I pushed away or never gave a chance to become a friend. I know now that others were going through life's stuff, too, and my words, my remarks did hurt.

So how do I fix it? Well, on July 16, 1988, I cleaned up off of drugs and alcohol. In 1995, I got involved in ministry.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. (Romans 12:1-5)

I can't fix all of my hurtful past, but through Christ I can change my future. I am sorry for everyone I hurt. I am a changed man who loves people today.

Please remember people, sticks and stones can hurt but your tongue can kill.

Death and life [are] in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. (Proverbs 18:21)

Click here to read John & Debbie Ojeda's TPMI story!


Vision, Perseverance & Destiny

Destiny is an investment of time, sacrifice and much labor. In the book of Nehemiah, it says that the people assembled together for the duration of the work. It took a village to rebuild a city. It took servant hearted workers that also stood guard as soldiers. To achieve success and victory, they had to stand united, even when it seemed as if the odds were against them. It was imperative that they all took ownership for the completion of the journey. 

Nehemiah was a strong leader, committed to the call and task; but he could never accomplish this alone. God called faithful ones to his side as dedicated co-laborers. This was not just Nehemiah's vision and burden; it was God's.

The enemies that surrounded them despised this "kingdom building work" - knowing that one day the Glory of the Lord would shine so powerfully from that place. These foes tried to discourage, disillusion and divide the team. Seems the Enemy knows that there is power in numbers when people remain on a given course that brings Light into the darkness. The Enemy will then seek for the dismantling. 

Too many good and even great works are lost because people lose vision and leave their posts prematurely. To fortify even a significant work of God takes time and longevity to the service of corporate and communal building. A visionary without those who stand as pillars along their side will find their arms and their heart grow alone and weary, possibly even falling from the burnout. 

Perhaps to be a flame, you must first learn to burn along with the fire or you may easily be extinguished when burning on your own. We need movements of the entire Body to make a greater impact and take more of the spaces needing to be claimed and restored. Isolated limbs have a beauty of their own; but they are stronger when attached to a core that is moving together as one.