Living on the Edge with Christ

Becoming His Workmanship to Rescue His Lost Sheep    by Charles Pretlow 11/23/16

For surf-boat2by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Most Christians don’t realize that their faith is being suffocated in our culture, as the cares of this life and lust for prosperity act as anchors, dragging the many into a complacent religious rabble. Even most sincere Christians have fallen out of sync with the Holy Spirit’s leading and power to accomplish God’s will on earth. The body of Christ in the American culture needs to be rescued from carnal works, lethargy, and passivity, and very soon—before the Great Tribulation begins.

Clustered, Pampered and Confused

False and carnal leaders have brought forth powerful teachings inspired by hell that has herded millions of Christians into amalgamated groups or clusters that follow their favorite celeb teacher. Just as the Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth: “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.  For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.”  Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Corinthians 1:10-13).

And Paul wrote to Timothy prophesying this: “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,  and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

Today, Christians are told what they want to hear to suit their own passions, mostly along the lines of how to lead an elitist religious-supernatural life that produces inner peace and outer prosperity. Few are instructed on how to give themselves to the lordship of Christ and “to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ” (Ephesians 4:15).

Little semblance of unity is found in the body of Christ, rather Christians gather in splintered activism groupings where church leadership keep most Christians in a strange sectarian state of confusion—pushing and pursuing pet projects and carnal outreach campaigns that produce false conversions—all to increase support and raise funds.

In this pathetic condition, few within the American portion of the body of Christ ever become prepared for the work of ministry, to be used of God to work with the downtrodden, the wounded, and the lost.

God has many good works in mind for the everyday saint to walk in, however, few are taught to enter God’s discipline and training program to become qualified. Instead, most believers warm the bench on the sidelines or dodge the work of ministry by hiding in the bleachers cheering on glorified leaders as they minister to the healthy and the wealthy. On the other hand, millions of naïve Christians become carnally energized in hyper faith movements, blindly serving leadership’s agenda—certainly not learning to be led by the Holy Spirit.

Spectator Saints Equipped to Applaud and Excel in Praise and Worship

False teachers and gimmick teachings abound, pulpiteers deliver moving sermons that lack practical theology and the meat of the word, Christian literature overflows the market place with celebrity authors pronouncing new revelations on how to obtain a blessed Christian life, or learn the secret Biblical keys to prosperity. Thousands throng to conferences, paying hundreds of dollars to secure a seat to sit under thrilling speakers. All in the hopes to receive a download of the anointing from a famed apostle or prophet.

Few Christians trapped in these last days counterfeit-toxic ministries ever wake up from the devil’s spell. Most are content to continue as spectators watching favorite leaders, learning to applaud and say amen when the message resonates with a disguised passion of the flesh. Myths and magic-thinking teachings prosper throughout the body of Christ creating a false spiritual aura and conjuring up good vibrations from their own spirit—all to resound in beautiful and harmonious praise and worship. The saints are ministered to over and over, pampered and appeased only to create addicts to the next moving message, fellowship event, or a thrilling praise and worship encounter.

Few are given a steady diet of sound doctrine that includes the message of the cross (dying to the passions and desires of the flesh,) along with teachings on how to embrace God’s everyday discipline that produces Christ-like character within. Few learn how to become equipped for work of ministry in everyday living—growing up into Christ no longer spectators—but equipped workers in God’s vineyard.

Submitting to the Discipline of the Lord in becoming God’s First Responders

It Is hard and often messy work in helping God’s sheep who struggle in life, mentoring on learning to work with Christ in true recovery and on to maturity. Many are down and out, wounded and defiled, suffering from a sin ridden life. Many in this condition still have faith and are willing to come to Christ but are unable to get started on their own. They need a jump start. They need to encounter one of God’s trained first responders—a Christian worker properly equipped for work of the ministry—effective ministry that empowers the faith of the wounded to seek Christ wholeheartedly and how to overcome instability.

Jesus made it clear in his story of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) that everyone that loves God will demonstrate love towards his or her neighbor—not just the friendly unsaved neighbor next door, but anyone within reach who needs a helping hand to get back on their feet. No greater witness there is than extending the love that God has put within us for those suffering. Few are trained in Christ’s school of ministry to work with discernment and true compassion, giving a jump start but not dispensing toxic charity that keep the wounded dependent. Certainly, these last days are proving that the powers of darkness are working feverishly to quell true discipleship.

Not an Easy Road—God Demands we be Disciplined by His Hand

(Study Hebrews 12:3-17)

I joined the Marine Corps in 1969 in great physical condition, I had just finished my freshman year of college football. Even then I was not ready for the mental and emotional stress that our drill instructors handed out. On boot camp graduation day, while still in our barracks, all three of our drill instructors stood in front of our platoon as the senior DI said the following: “We were hard on you because all three of us have been to Viet Nam. And we’ve seen too many body bags—if you hesitate in following orders, you’ll get killed or you’ll get your buddy killed.” This was said with tears in their eyes. I have never forgotten their sincerity.

Years later my oldest son enlisted in the Coast Guard. He described his training and it blew me away—I thought the Marines were tough but this branch of service is in the business of saving people in peril of severe weather and fighting treacherous seas.

Later in his service he was stationed on the Oregon coast and became a rescue surfboat coxswain (driver). Please note the picture I added—there is absolutely no room for the slightest mistake when attempting to rescue people on ships and boats floundering on the river bar or on the ocean. Absolute perfect team work is required and is accomplished through continuous extensive and exhaustive training.

Leadership throughout the body of Christ are called to equip the saints for true team work in ministry—continuously— “until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13).

The discipline and training that the military provides is certainly appropriate to be used as an external point of reference concerning our walk of faith with Christ. Contemplate how Jesus responded to the faith of the Roman centurion whose servant was ill.

Now a centurion had a servant who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him.  When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, ‘He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.’ And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Therefore, I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”  When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well” (Luke 7:2-10).

When we enlist in Christ’s school of ministry, every aspect of our carnal nature, self-power, and selfish motives will be put to the test so that Christ-like character transformation can take place. Both the Apostle Peter and James describe trials as fiery ordeals where the devil will come in force to draw out our hidden issues, and expose the cowards, quitters, and glory hounds.

Being used of God, as described in the following passage demands that we grow up and walk in the power of God, having Christ formed within us. “But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, ‘In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.’ It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh” (Jude 1:17-23).

Are you coasting with your faith, passively watching as a spectator, or are you running on hyper-faith carnal energy? Hopefully, you have offered your life as a living sacrifice and straining to become disciplined and trained by His hand—to live on the edge—as a first responder serving our Lord in rescuing his lost sheep in the power of His might?

Pray that the Lord of the harvest train and send workers into the harvest.

 Copyright © 2016 Charles Pretlow All rights reserved

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