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A Future and a Hope by John Myer Discussions regarding this groundbreaking, bellwether work in progress

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Old 07-22-2008, 10:23 PM   #1
Peter Debelak
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Default The SkyScraper and the Pipefitter

I have some rambling thoughts which spring-board from John's latest chapter. These thoughts expose my problems with "action" etc...(which is a really stupid thing to have a problem with, so take me in the right way). I wrestle quite a bit in this area, so my thoughts here probably expose more about me than they are a critique of what John is conveying, but anyways... Here's John in blue - I follow in black...

Well-versed LC members have for many years heard about the primacy of the church and the necessity of building it up. Some may wonder why, if the Lord’s four-fold gospel mission is truly comprehensive, He didn’t include “Go build up My church” among His parting commands. But looking at the “preach-repent-feed-disciple” mission and not seeing in it the building up of the church is religious blindness. It is like observing all the things on a construction site—excavation, electrical wiring, plumbing, steel and concrete work—but not being able to perceive in them an emerging skyscraper.


I’ve done construction work, and I am currently – in part – trying to make an income form making furniture. I have always had my eye on the “skyscraper”, the “vision”. Usually, when I do that, I do shotty electrical work. I don’t sand all the way to 220 grit. I don’t do the 7 coats of Teak Oil that I should, I stop at 4. I’m too anxious to see the final product.

I have no problem with “perceiving” the final product, the “skyscraper.” No, let me restate: I have no problem knowing that there is, in fact, a skyscraper being built. Because that calls you to something. But problems arise when people claim – or worse, when you claim – that you know what the skyscraper is supposed to look like, that you’ve seen the blueprint. Consider 1 Corintians 12 and the giving of gifts. We could look at this list of gifts in a top-down fashion. The “apostle” sees it all and the rest fall in from there. Or we could see the diversification of gifts as evidence that no one sees or could implement it all. It requires many talents (in both sense of the word). It requires “all the saints” for comprehension, for the multifarious wisdom of God to shame the and awe the principalities and powers.

To use John’s analogy of building a building… I was a pipefitter for some time. I can’t say that once my interest in my job was inspired or stifled by what the final product would be. It was what I was called to do and doing that work met my needs and also met the needs of the “architect”, owner and general contractor. Would I be a worse or better pipefitter if I “knew” what I was building? I’m not sure it mattered.

Admittedly, the Christian life is not pipe-fitting. But Paul’s experience is instructive (no, I’m not making that kind of comparison). After being knocked off (and on) his ass on the road to Damascus, he did not confer with flesh and blood. He didn’t go to Jerusalem, despite knowing that, if anywhere, that’s where the “blueprint” was. He knew simply that the believers were Christ and knew to obey the Lord’s call. Yeah, he got “vision” of the blueprint at some point. But not before he subjected himself to someone likely far less schooled (Ananias) and having no feeling to immediately join those who did “know” (in Jerusalem). The wilderness was where God called Him. The antithesis of “vision” or “skyscraper” – just as it was for the children of Israel. He did not first learn a vision. He first learned obedience. The “vision” was a fruit of that.

There is something important to the knowledge that Christ is building something in these calls to obedience He asks of us. Short of that, our prayers for those around us will tend toward wish-lists. Knowledge that He is building a skyscraper, and we are joined to Him in that endeavor, enables prayer that desires His will be done. That’s the prayer. But that isn’t our action. The prayer has the broad scope. Our action has the most narrow scope possible: that to which He calls us. Whether we see how it fits into the “skyscraper” or not is irrelevant – because to insist that its relevant is to presume a perspective that only God has.

Perhaps this is God’s way. To give us commands that are less than His whole. We’re not entirely sure how they’ll all fit together. We simply have faith that, if I and you and all of us obey those small commands (to preach, to shepherd, to feed, to disciple) – regardless of whether those efforts have a cognizable effect on the ‘skyscraper’ – that Christ is still Building His church. And it is far more dynamic and “sky-scraping” than our version of the blue print could be.

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Old 07-23-2008, 05:47 AM   #2
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But problems arise when people claim – or worse, when you claim – that you know what the skyscraper is supposed to look like, that you’ve seen the blueprint.
This often repeated analogy of "blueprint," citing Moses' time with Jehovah on Mt. Sinai which resulted in the building of the tabernacle in the wilderness, has served to calcify the thought processes of those in the LC's. Thus, by this analogy, WL/WN have already "spec'd out" in fine detail every matter of significance related to "erecting the skyscraper."

PD, you mention a matter of grave import. Is God more interested in our functioning as "pipefitters," or is He more concerned with a "leak-free" system. Let me give a "for instance" for discussion. The new way door knocking program of the late 80's was so spelled out that the comment was made that an "unbeliever could have been hired" to do this great work. God was basically removed from the "process" because the procedures were codified for mass production. In fact, the trainers were using "statistical analysis" from the results of Door Knocking sessions to determine the spiritual condition of each team. Are "specs" such as these really in the "blueprint?"

You already mentioned the dilemma of removing obedience to the Lord from the "pipefitter's" job description in lieu of program directives in the form of "blueprints." Another rotten side-effect of the "blueprint pill" is the eventual production of ordinances and traditions. We just don't care what the Lord is doing in you, only that you are doing well to build the "skyscraper." Don't tell us that the Lord is leading you to try a "new procedure" for "connecting pipes," we have already "recovered" the proper way.

Translate this thought into today's real life conflicts. The "blueprint" must include "piano only" music for our worship to God, because drums are worldly "gimmicks," which violate the "blueprint specs." Hence, "drums" are a "breach of contract" similar to using "aluminum" instead of "steel." Once detailed plans of the "blueprint" have been "signed-off" by the powers that be, they are finalized for production. Imagine the lengthy "change order" process that is involved with something so serious as introducing "electric guitars." Since the original "architect" has passed away now for a decade, who in their right mind would "sign-off" on a change of that magnitude? The whole building might collapse!

Thus, the entire LC movement is hardened in time by some imaginary "blueprint" by self-assumed "founding fathers." Every spec they passed on to us has become an unchangeable ordinance. Add up all the ordinances, and we have "traditions of men" superseding the word of God.
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Old 07-23-2008, 06:10 AM   #3
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The blueprint is to love God with our whole heart and our whole mind and our whole strength, and to love our neighbor as ourself. This is God's plan for us. We are wise not to meddle in God's affairs. I will tend to my affairs and let God tend to His. My affair includes loving and caring for the person God has placed next to me. My responsibility includes speaking words of life to the christian or seeking one whom God arranges into my path. Yes, we have the books of Daniel and Ezekiel and Revelation, but these are books of wonder, mystery, and above all, enjoyment. I enjoy the mystery, and speak the mysterious enjoyment to others.

Those who would convert God's living Word into a plan, a move, a way, replace God with an idol. We started out following Christ, remember? Eventually we follow the "God-Ordained Way", or some such. How about following the Spirit instead, wherever He shall lead us?

I don't know how to make it any clearer. The "God-Ordained Way" is to believe in Jesus Christ, and to love the believer that God has placed next to you. Anything else is human intention, and is leavened. I don't care how many Bible verses you may cite.
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Old 07-23-2008, 07:06 AM   #4
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Thanks PD,

Its a good picture and shows where faith needs to come in, for if we profess to know the blueprint the end result will look like we perceived it; and probably not the way God intended it.

Faith comes in when we labor on what lies before us, giving ourselves to the insignificant part of the building with our whole being, trusting that what comes from our labor will become one faucet of the whole diamond.

Blessings to you and your family,

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Old 07-23-2008, 08:47 AM   #5
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In fact, the trainers were using "statistical analysis" from the results of D-K sessions to determine the spiritual condition of each team.

What is a "D-K session"?

"Don't-Know" maybe?

"Doctrine-Knowledge?"

"Dead-Killed?"


I never heard this term.
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Old 07-23-2008, 09:40 AM   #6
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What is a "D-K session"?
Door knocking session. Sorry.
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Old 07-23-2008, 10:20 AM   #7
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Door knocking session. Sorry.
Ah.

See, when I got the boot, it was mostly for failing to fill out this newly required paperwork.

Keeping spreadsheets on the dispensation of the divine life was just not part of my concept for some reason....
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Old 07-23-2008, 11:16 AM   #8
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The "God-Ordained Way" is to believe in Jesus Christ, and to love the believer that God has placed next to you. Anything else is human intention, and is leavened.
What about loving unbelievers?


Quote:
I don't care how many Bible verses you may cite.
That is a dangerous attitude. We should all take care to consider Bible verses others cite to correct us.
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Old 07-23-2008, 01:55 PM   #9
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OR,

I would agree that the command was to love your neighbor, whoever that is. And when asked about our neighbor, the Jews listening got a story about a Samaritan on the road to Jericho. Surely they didn’t consider a Samaritan to be their neighbor.

But your comment about aron not caring about the number of verses sited is problematic. Neither he nor you mean exactly what was said.

I understood aron to mean that cherry picking verses, especially out of context, is not meaningful. He is correct. The context and purpose of the verse must be considered before it is presumed to mean what any particular person wants it to mean. Lee quoted a lot of verses that were irrelevant to his points. But everyone was impressed with the amount of verses. He also would often wrest a verse from its context and apply meaning not otherwise found. In these kinds of situation, the quoting of verses is meaningless.

But, on the other hand, you are correct. We can never simply ignore verses. If they are quoted and we disagree with the way they are applied, we can demonstrate the error in reasoning. But we cannot merely ignore the verses. Those verses may correct us. They may also be contained in the meaningless rantings of madmen and therefore subject to being ignored after determining the error in use. The problem is that we are seldom confronted with clearly correction or clearly madmen. We must take the verses and consider them and their applicability.

I would say “ consider their true applicability” except that we may all have some slight variation in what that means. While I would agree that we should be able to gather together, and with the Spirit’s help come to a useful and accurate meaning of a verse, without that joining of minds and spirits, we may continue to disagree.

So maybe saying “ignore” verses is too much, but we may correctly determine that a suggested application of a verse is worthy of no serious consideration. Within that framework, aron can rightly say that the number of verses sited is not relevant unless they are actually instructive in the manner the one seeking to correct us asserts.
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Old 07-23-2008, 03:54 PM   #10
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aron: love the believer next to you.
What about loving unbelievers?

aron: I don't care about how many verses you cite.
That is a dangerous attitude. We should all take care to consider Bible verses others cite to correct us.
Loving believers vs. unbelievers: I was referring back to Peter D's ideas on 'building the church', which I take to be believers. Romans 15 says we should receive those whom God has received in Christ Jesus. So I transposed Jesus' commandment to 'love your neighbor as yourself' into the 'church building' idea. Love the believer God has placed next to you. The church is the assembly of the called out ones. God has called us out of darkness and gathered us with other believers. Receive them, and care for them as God cared for them by sending His Son. That was my context (mostly unstated, sorry). Yes, we should also love the unbelievers. Thank you for pointing that out. A necessary addendum.

Not caring about how many verses: I am speaking here about love. Love God and love the person next to you (your neighbor). If you don't have love for one another, verses are useless to me. That was all I was trying to say. Again, probably not very well stated. I will try to be a little more clear and/or complete next time.
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Old 07-23-2008, 04:03 PM   #11
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I understood aron to mean that cherry picking verses, especially out of context, is not meaningful. He is correct. The context and purpose of the verse must be considered before it is presumed to mean what any particular person wants it to mean. Lee quoted a lot of verses that were irrelevant to his points. But everyone was impressed with the amount of verses. He also would often wrest a verse from its context and apply meaning not otherwise found. In these kinds of situation, the quoting of verses is meaningless
I seem to like bald overstatements, which seem wonderful in my head. Occasionally, I get lucky and look wise. Often, like now, I have to say, "What I meant was..."

The religious Pharisees and scribes liked to beat people up with scriptures. But they didn't love or care about people. Jesus said the publicans and harlots were going into the kingdom of God before they were. (Matthew 21:31) They had Bible verses but they didn't have God. That was what I was trying to say.
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Old 07-23-2008, 05:29 PM   #12
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I think I over-reacted to Aron's statement .
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Old 07-23-2008, 06:06 PM   #13
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I think I over-reacted to Aron's statement.
Well, I have a penchant for grand, sweeping statements which are often in retrospect a little too grand and sweeping. It is very helpful to have people to call you on your assumptions and generalizations! If there was a misunderstanding, it was at least half mine.

Witness Lee could have used a djohnson or two. What a different world we would have found had Lee been just another brother with a Bible and an opinion. In the welter of public discourse he would have done quite well, I daresay -- that was one sharp cookie! -- but we all might have been spared some of the excesses and painful failures we are here discussing.

And here we are! Didn't one of the christian writers say of the Jews that "their missteps/stumblings have become our opportunity"... so discuss we on...my discourse on the real "God-Ordained Way" was just my way of saying "amen" to Peter D's original post (Probably that wasn't as self-evident as I assumed it was).

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Old 07-24-2008, 05:29 PM   #14
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I have some rambling thoughts which spring-board from John's latest chapter. ... Here's John in blue - I follow in black...

Well-versed LC members have for many years heard about the primacy of the church and the necessity of building it up. Some may wonder why, if the Lord’s four-fold gospel mission is truly comprehensive, He didn’t include “Go build up My church” among His parting commands. But looking at the “preach-repent-feed-disciple” mission and not seeing in it the building up of the church is religious blindness. It is like observing all the things on a construction site—excavation, electrical wiring, plumbing, steel and concrete work—but not being able to perceive in them an emerging skyscraper.


.... problems arise when people claim – or worse, when you claim – that you know what the skyscraper is supposed to look like, that you’ve seen the blueprint. Consider 1 Corintians 12 and the giving of gifts. We could look at this list of gifts in a top-down fashion. The “apostle” sees it all and the rest fall in from there.

...[At the beginning Paul] knew simply that the believers were Christ and knew to obey the Lord’s call. Yeah, he got “vision” of the blueprint at some point. But not before he subjected himself to someone likely far less schooled (Ananias) and having no feeling to immediately join those who did “know” (in Jerusalem). The wilderness was where God called him. The antithesis of “vision” or “skyscraper” – just as it was for the children of Israel. He did not first learn a vision. He first learned obedience. The “vision” was a fruit of that.

... Our action has the most narrow scope possible: that to which He calls us. Whether we see how it fits into the “skyscraper” or not is irrelevant – because to insist that its relevant is to presume a perspective that only God has.

Perhaps this is God’s way. To give us commands that are less than His whole. We’re not entirely sure how they’ll all fit together. We simply have faith that, if I and you and all of us obey those small commands (to preach, to shepherd, to feed, to disciple) – regardless of whether those efforts have a cognizable effect on the ‘skyscraper’ – that Christ is still Building His church.
To start with the last bolded point first -- the realization is that Christ is still building His church. We are not building the church -- Christ is. When I realize that, it takes a lot of pressure off me. Jesus said, "On this rock I will build My church" (Matthew 16:18). The foundation of the building is the realization that Jesus the Galilean is the Christ of God, that God furnished proof to the whole universe by raising Him up from the dead. That is my job -- to believe that God is. God has a purpose, a plan. My part of the plan is to believe into Jesus God's Son, and receive life eternal.

Okay, what then? Well, rejoice, for one. Pray, for another. Read and consider God's word, for a third. Receive the ones who also have received Christ. Repent when I go astray, and be willing to make full restitution, if necessary. Forgive those who likewise err, and repent. Speak to others concerning the hope that now dwells in me. All of that, to me, is 'local', and somehow fits into God's master plan for the universe. The further I get from 'local' the further I get from reality, and thus the further I get from the reality of God's 'universal' plan.

God wisely gave each one of us a portion, a measure. If we stay within the boundaries God gave us, and labor there, we will be rewarded. If we bury the gift, obviously we will lose. But if we go beyond our measure, and stumble others, we will likewise lose.

John Myers makes the interesting point about a 'local congregation' having a collective mission, or vision. He says that the congregants in Ottumwa, Iowa may have different collective sense of purpose than in Chicago, Illinois. Good point. But how far is that from the "one size fits all" policy from Anaheim? This is an example of the error of the "Master Plan" ministry. Witness Lee was not an apostle like Paul. Sorry, LSM people. My vision comes from the Bible, and not the Living Stream Publishing Company.

If people realized that God wants them to be 'local', to take care of the ones He has placed next to them, both believers and unbelievers, and leave the 'master planning' to Him, life would be a lot less confusing for them, and for those whom they care for. Look at the confusion, the division and dissension that has followed Lee the "wise master builder", with disheartened saints and snickering unbelievers. No, take care of the ones next to you, and be one in spirit with all of God's called out ones. And God will do a mighty work that the earth has never yet seen. It requires some faith to do this, some trust, and some patience. But it can be done. Jesus said, "If two or more of you believe it, and ask(declare it), it will be done." (Matthew 18:19).I believe it. Does anyone else?

p.s. It was not until years after I left the Lee system that I got my personal 'vision', or realization, of what I am supposed to be doing to serve God and the people God has placed in my path. First I had to learn to think independently, and then to seek God desperately and concertedly and diligently. Eventually I found my personal vision, which immediately started giving me very good feedback as I began to implement it. In other words, the 'action' and the 'reward' were immediately linked in the doing. I didn't have to wait to go to heaven; God showed me immediately, "Yes! Do it again" with the external responses I got, and the pleasure I felt in the doing and the receiving feedback. I experienced a "flow" that I felt could have only come from my touching my part of God's "Master Plan".

But the Lee system never allowed me the luxury of finding my gift. There, I was too busy trying to follow orders from Headquarters. Good enough when I was an 'infant', but eventually I got an itch I couldn't scratch in their system and I left. Some in the Lee system quite probably do find their gift there, but in my experience, I had to go away from the 'Ministry noise' for a while until I could clearly hear the voice of God within. I got my vision 'in the wilderness', not listening to the exhortations of a Benson Philips or an Ed Marks.

Last edited by aron; 07-24-2008 at 08:20 PM. Reason: addition
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Old 08-08-2008, 05:02 PM   #15
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All,

I respect the fact that John has been willing to publically put forth his thoughts and considerations regarding his past Local Church experience and his searching to go forward as a congregation. After 10 years of the same process I think I can say that he hasnt said anything yet that I havent thought at one time or another. I think I actually told him that once.

My point is this: I do believe that these writings are an exhibition of a process of considering and reconsidering, accepting and rejecting, etc. I dont think anyone would want to start labeling this book as new doctrine, or new light, or a new way, or how to go on.

I do think it is good for us all to reach way down and realize that God's Word is truth, that all things do indeed work for good for those who love God and are called. So, may we all continue to maintain that love for our Father.

Thanx

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