Month: February 2015

Nomad Christians Part 2

The Great Wilderness Exodus is coming for the Fellowship Weary

In the days to come true ministries and godly fellowships will start to be recognized by nomad Christians and other dissatisfied believers, including hordes of church-hoppers. With events in the world and in this nation growing worse an exodus of the fellowship weary and consumer Christian alike will begin to take place. A multitude will begin to rush towards any kind of seemingly true leadership and true fellowship desperately looking for answers and true Holy Spirit manifestations.

The issues will be many, and true leadership will be strained in mentoring and making sincere and teachable disciples into a mature body of believers prepared to minister and live in extreme difficulties. The main challenge for the nomad Christian (and those leaving churchianity) is having a willingness to submit to the discipline of the Lord. In that discipline will be the constant directive by the Lord to embrace sound doctrine brought forth by true servant-leaders who are examples, who have learned the ropes and are walking the walk.

This will be difficult for the nomad Christian who has learned to be independent and often uncommitted to the hard work of character and relationship building amongst other Christians. God calls his people to live and work together in godly body life, where other likeminded believers learn to die to the works of the flesh. A true disciple of Christ is called to relate to others in Christ-likeness, not hide from others. Those others, in healthy fellowships will also be in process learning to die to carnal motives, carnal spiritualism, insecurities, jealousies, self-reliance, competition, and other thin-skinned reactions and selfish behaviors.

Any solid last day fellowship having God’s hand upon it will strain towards unity in love and purity, making Christ head of all. This is the call of God today, making disciples who work together walking in the kingdom life (in the fullness of Christ)—to refresh your memory concerning this commission, read again Ephesians 4:11-16.

Suffering from a Skewed Wilderness Faith

Lack of sound instruction on Christ’s teachings and New Testament principles concerning fellowship and people relationships is one of the major defects in churchianity. Indeed, most church going Christians succumb to leadership idolatry, where arrogant ministers crave the accolades of men and dare not preach how to walk in godliness. The Apostle Paul exhorts, “Teach and urge these things. If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain” (1 Timothy 6:3-5).

Likewise, the lack of knowledge and training in working out godly relationships between the members of a fellowship is also a major issue with most nomad Christians. The sacrifice of learning relationship accountability is a costly side effect for the nomad Christian when they can not find a healthy church home. Granted, nomad Christians hide in the wilderness as a means of survival, learning to avoid the false and the corrupt that has invaded most fellowships—however, learning to work together in fellowship and dying to carnal motives is a vital necessity for maturing in Christ.

The inability to discern and ward off the wolves and game players that churchianity collects and even helps produce was a major reason the wilderness became so appealing. However, the safety of the wilderness does not allow a deepening of discerning skills or the development of spiritual strength for the end-of-the-age challenges of everyday living and ministry. (See John 17:15-19 and 1 Corinthians 5:10).

In escaping to the safety of the wilderness, the proverb, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17) is lost in the isolation of no man’s land. In our fellowship we give this principle our own adage—that the gunk in others brings out the gunk in ourselves.

Thus, in growing up into Christ, fellowshipping with others will have relationship challenges that, if understood will help facilitate healing, recovery, and character development. It is very important to realize, for any believer in Christ, that relationship accountability is not to be avoided. It is God’s training ground and the main arena for his discipline.

Wounded, Bitter, and Anti-Authoritarian

Renegades to any form of organized church

As mentioned, many Christians will soon be leaving false and carnal fellowships and many wilderness trekked saints will also appear at the doorsteps of solid ministries and true fellowships. With most that do come there will be great difficulties in becoming part of a healthy, growing family of God.  Most nomad Christians coming will either be unable or unwilling to see, understand, and crucify their own entrenched carnal motives for serving the Lord. To them, they have learned to be content in their anti-establishment attitude and carry a self-imposed cross where an inner martyred self-righteous stance covers up their own lack of grace, truth, and Christ-like character.

Through years of seeing national leaders fall and personally experiencing failed leadership, a bitter expectation towards authority has formed. Thus, submitting to proper authority and accountability within a true fellowship will grate against their ingrained nomad ways. (That grating will not stop unless a proper understanding is reached concerning how the work of the cross in the believer’s life is facilitated by God).

Years of disappointment makes it difficult for the nomad Christian to realize and sort out their own deep fears of rejection or being used and abused as they try to become part of a true fellowship. The nomad Christian will tend to be standoffish, making others feel uncomfortable, and then misread any carnal reactions in others as snootiness or cliquishness.  To compensate, the nomad Christian will express their knowledge of scripture to counterbalance the insecure feelings and try to assert themselves as a spiritually more advanced Christian.

These and other issues will hinder leadership’s efforts to facilitate team work and the development of Christ-like character within the body life of a fellowship under the Lord’s discipline. Unless there is a breakthrough in understanding, eventually the nomad Christian will likely recoil from embracing sound doctrine that exposes and helps crucify hidden carnal issues of the heart.

A Super-Saint’s Spiritual Pride

Faith that Lacks Grace and Truth in the Inward Being

To maintain an inner self-righteous stance the wilderness surviving believer becomes prone to project spiritual elitism that subtly elevates themselves in the eyes of others, yet they learn to deflect any praise by humble self-abasement. They appear to be on top of their sin nature and carnality by presenting an austere almost monk-like lifestyle. The Apostle Paul warned of this kind of Christian walk by stating that self-imposed mortification has “an appearance of wisdom in promoting rigor of devotion and self-abasement and severity to the body, but they are of no value in checking the indulgence of the flesh” (Colossians 2:23 RSV).

Confused within by a hidden and subtle self-fulfilling endeavor to serve God, the devil slowly diverts the zealous nomad Christian from becoming a true servant-leader. Like sword packing Peter, he had zeal to fight for Christ and clipped off the ear of one of the temple servants then later denies even knowing Christ. In similar fashion many nomad Christians pack a trouble making attitude. When they plunge into confronting the carnality in others, often they run and hide when the confrontation gets too hot and requires grace and truth in the Lord for healthy resolution. Learning to die to our own carnal zeal in serving Christ is very hard and requires mentoring from others who have succeeded in dying to an inner self-righteous stance and associated motives.

The hardest aspect of following Christ for most Christians, including those struggling in the wilderness is to understand and walkout Christ’s covenant of grace and truth. “For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.  For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:16-18 ESV) Thus, many devout believers in Christ, especially the nomad Christian will often struggle with the Old Testament laws and regulations, and the prophets—missing how these apply to us now—which should be applied only in light of the Gospel of Christ.

Few Christians today are able to work with the Holy Spirit and the written word of God in detecting hidden carnal motives that are mixed with genuine faith and obedience. 

Hidden Wounds and Defilements

Neglectful, dysfunctional, or abusive parenting during childhood poses great difficulty for nomad Christians in their attempt to grasp the grace and love of God. The need to perform in order to be approved by God becomes the central drive in serving God. This drive subtly becomes a self-righteous inner stance for all of life, especially in dealing with churchianity (a term we use to describe an apostate condition where the grace of God is trampled upon and the Spirit of grace is often outraged).

This makes the Christ-like attribute of patience and grace towards themselves and others a vague or hazy concept. Legalism and perfectionism creep into their motives in serving God and interacting with others. Thus, many attempt to become a super-saint unconsciously.

As they see the waywardness in Christians everywhere they are prone to become zealots in decrying churchianity. This zeal (to point out lukewarm-ness and apostasy in others) increases whenever the Holy Spirit attempts to convict them of any inner issues they can’t or won’t see within their own hearts. Their zeal and drive for Christ and restoring righteousness to the Church actually helps cover up their own wounds and damaged emotions that sustain their own brand of carnality and denial thereof.

Wrong Side of the Cross

Suffering from a John the Baptist Faith

Many nomad Christians look to the cross as a way of life they must enact as they carnally drive a death-to-self lifestyle and at least attempt to become self-abased and holy. However, most nomad Christians are insecure and competitive and suffer from deep jealous feelings within their secret heart. Truth in the inward being and applying wisdom toward discovering the motives of the secret heart is a threat to their wellbeing. Becoming broken of their inner self-righteous stance is akin to literally destroying their life as a super-saint. (One of the very things the work of the cross within the believer’s life is meant to do).

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of the nomad Christian’s walk is overcoming their lack of understanding how to facilitate the work of the cross within the believer’s life. (For that matter most believers in Christ are challenged in properly understanding how death to the carnal self-life is accomplished).

Note: A John the Baptist approach to following Christ becomes attractive for the sincere saint fed up with churchianity. This type of faith is used by Satan to blind the need to die to an Old Testament type of faith that John the Baptist lived. John the Baptist looked to the coming Christ and practiced the law faithfully, and that required a wilderness life of self-imposed hardships and extreme self-pummeling to suppress the desires of the flesh. That approach, like the prophets of old was to end when John the Baptist died as a martyr. John the Baptist dying signified the death of the old covenant and a handing off to Jesus the work of bringing and establishing the new covenant of grace, truth, death to the old nature, and resurrection into a Christ-like nature. (See Hebrews 8:13).

“Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John,  and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come.  He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” (Matthew 11:11-15 ESV underlined added).

The principle of the cross and its death to all self-driven adherence to the law brings freedom. Christ in this passage is setting forth a transition from the Old Covenant faith to the New Covenant faith, where newness of life, power over the sin nature, and freedom from flesh driven religion is found only in Christ. End of note.

The commands of Christ are very poignant concerning dying to the carnal life, such as “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:26-27 underline added).

One cannot choose their own death-to-self processes or circumstances. When we present ourselves as a living sacrifice (see Romans 12:1-2,) we must understand and submit to what and how God brings us into various death-to-self situations. Moreover, we must recognize each event and then pick up our cross by submitting to the situation and embracing the pain of seeing our hidden selfishness and self-glorifying motives be exposed—that we might die to them.

Another saying we often share with each other is: the flesh cannot crucify the flesh. When we try to bring death to our inner motives by way of our own volition and ingenuity, we ultimately suppress the inner carnal desire and reprogram our outer nature to live in pious control of our life. Piously controlled living will quickly impinge upon those around us—in family life, with friends, and within the family of God in fellowship.

We short circuit Christ’s work of exposing, showing, and applying his life-giving power that renews. Many Christians, especially sincere believers who are waking up to the sick condition of the body of Christ, easily fall back into carnal religious bondage—enslaved to self-imposed holiness by reprogramming themselves, only to unknowingly walk in self-righteousness. True brokenness and humility that is to be obtained in Christ’s discipline is replaced by false humility and hypocrisy.

It is God’s purpose to conform us to Christ. This is to be done in freedom from any religious self-effort, in his discipline and timing. “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:17-18).

When we try to crucify our canal passions and desires in self-strength, we open ourselves up to the hordes of false teachings delivered by teachers who claim to know the right methods in becoming Christ-like—methods that supposedly produce successful, prosperous, and happy believers. To this, a counterfeiting spirit assists the deceived with reprogramming themselves, which ultimately preempts the transforming power of the Lord.

In part three, our final installment, we will look at the more deceiving and destructive aspects of carnal driven holiness and the zealot activist approach many nomad Christians give way to. In addition, we will discuss God’s ultimate plan in calling the nomad Christian, the lukewarm Christian, and those stuck in churchianity into true fellowship as Christ restores his bride in purity, splendor, and power.

 

To be continued in Part 3

Copyright © 2015 Charles Pretlow All rights reserved

Nomad Christians Part 1

The Great Wilderness Exodus is coming for the Fellowship Weary

For years, there has been a large group of devout Christians wandering in the wilderness, disenfranchised and frustrated while in search for true fellowship. These believers wander from fellowship to fellowship in discontentment—their numbers ever increase as local fellowships everywhere slide further into the apostasy of churchianity (most fellowships are engulfed by an end-time Babylonian culture).

Totally disheartened and turned off by the backslid condition of organized Christianity, the nomad Christian gives up seeking a church home and wanders into no-man’s land, finding fellowship here and there with other disillusioned wanderers.

Most do not attend church on a regular basis, receiving spiritual food from scripture and a sincere prayer life. Some find insight and encouragement from older Christian literature and obscure ministries on the Internet. While a few may find a healthy fellowship here or there but find that they have to uproot and move to attend regularly. Many visit church after church ending up attending the least corrupt as they bite their lower lip to keep from disrupting meetings in outrage over the shallow Gospel message. Moreover, most recognize the warning signs concerning America’s moral downfall and approaching judgment that will include God’s people.

These non-conforming believers are fed up with false national leaders and the many local leaders who go along with damning messages of an easy road gospel, riding waves of popularity associated with the doctrines of men and demons. (1 Timothy 4:1-5, 2 Timothy 3:1-9, 4:3-4).

These are Not Revolving Door Church Hoppers

Do not confuse these precious saints with the consumer Christian who roves continuously looking for the best deal in fellowship amenities. The church hopper is a very different breed of believer—that is to say the church hopper looks to leadership and church staff as their tireless servants who are to provide gripping, entertaining, and never ceasing performances. These revolving door believers roam from fellowship to fellowship looking for the next fad teaching, the next carnally led revival, or the next higher-level power-leader. The church hopper thrives on the continuous search for that perfect dose of spiritual Prozac that makes all their emotional and mental anguish disappear.

To the nomad Christian, the church hopper is another by-product of churchianity, adding credence to their stand against marketing the Gospel to the undiscerning and immature. However, the nomad Christian is also at great risk of deception as they strive to know Christ in the wilderness while avoiding churchianity.

Misled in the Wilderness

The nomad Christian complains of the spiritual abuse in most fellowships they visit or attend, not realizing that they themselves suffer from their own carnal motives of heart. It is easy to find fault in carnal and wayward churches, however, in the nomad Christian’s mind their brand of fault finding is to them discernment and being led by the Holy Spirit.

In their seeing the faults they either take on each wayward fellowship they encounter or slide into anonymity, coming out of hiding now and again to check things out. This condition allows Satan to mislead and hinder a nomad Christian from becoming incorporated into a true last days ministry or a fellowship that the Lord is in the process of raising up. Many a nomad Christian is blinded by the devil in recognizing a true fellowship that is under God’s discipline, training, and sanctifying work.

As Satan misleads many sincere yet gullible Christians through popular false leaders and movements in these last days (as Christ warned in Matthew 24:4-5,) so too, these disconcerted wilderness Christians are highly prone to their own brand of deception.

For the carnally driven saint, the wilderness becomes one of the devil’s better beguiling opportunities. As these dear saints wake up to the false everywhere, in their seeing they become puffed up. Indeed, they have a true call upon their lives and yearn to become prepared to work in the Lord’s army and be ready on the day that God acts—however, they are stubbornly in gross denial of their own carnal motives of heart.

This condition of denial is similar to Peter’s, and in this condition Satan has a right to sift as many nomad Christians as possible. The Lord attempts to build up the nomad Christian’s faith in the wilderness that their faith might not fail when Satan comes to sift. (But this faith strengthening is hampered by lack of sound teachings of the work of the cross in the believer’s life and recovery from wounds to the spirit and damaged emotions).

The sifting by the devil catches them in their pride of knowing the truth and their cocky self-reliance, causing them to be led astray by a counterfeiting voice, often accompanied by false miracles. The initial Holy Spirit work of awakening them to the truth becomes a snare. At first, the Lord reveals and awakens them by revelation, with answered prayer, or some personal signs and wonders, or even with occasional prophetic dreams, yet when the Holy Spirit speaks to their own carnal issues, wounds, and self-reliance, they turn a deaf ear.

Insecurity, self-pity, and the need to prove their own validity drives most nomad Christians to withdraw, hide and bemoan the terrible condition of God’s people. Often they have been battered and torn by other Christians who are engrossed and trapped in churchianity, or ripped by hirelings and wolves in leadership. Thus, they give up trying to minister or speak out and turn to a wilderness existence similar to a John the Baptist form of reclusiveness. Then, in the power of a John the Baptist faith personal trials eventually cause that type of carnal faith to wane and then the sifting begins, causing many to backslide and even renounce Christ.

Some do find a healthy fellowship that is in the character growing process, but their ultra-sensitivity to the carnality in others becomes a challenge to their perfectionistic and grace-less expectations. In this case most allow their own insecurities and lack of grace and understanding to stir up distrust and bitter expectations that project trouble—then the trouble does come and off they go—back into the wilderness.

I would be remiss by not offering a remedy and the Lord’s ultimate goal for his wounded and disenfranchised wilderness saint. Therefore, the next installment of this article addresses how a nomad Christian can truly walk in the fullness of Christ and become part of God’s end of the age work.

To be continued in Part 2

Copyright © 2015 Charles Pretlow All rights reserved