Marketplace Leaders

Forty April Fool's Days--An Unfinished Seven Mountain Story

 

What I've Done With My Life So Far Instead of Going to Seminary

 

Almost bastard son of a third generation whore and an at least second generation alcoholic, or so I was told.  Details are fuzzy, but that’s not surprising, and doesn’t much matter anymore. (I gave up trying to divine the true version of family stories a long time ago.   All I really know for sure is that my brother and I were caught in the middle of fights that started twenty years before we were born.) When I was five, we were adopted by my biological mother’s foster parents, who were also her aunt and uncle.  Grew up farming. 

 

Dad’s family was Catholic, run out of southern Germany by the Reformation and never forgot it.  Settled in Switzerland.    

 

His mother’s side and my mom’s side both fire eating Methodists.  Grew up winning and losing my salvation on a fairly regular basis.  (Gotta be extra careful when you’re born with “bad blood”…know what I mean?) Slid away early into Alan Watts and American Zen with a healthy dose of rock and roll and a lot of what goes with it. Got saved on April Fools Day 1971 when I was hijacked to a “Jesus People” gathering near my home in northern Ohio. My best friend, and drummer in the band I was playing in at the time, just shook his head and mumbled “Ten thousand singers in northern Ohio, and they’ve gotta pick on mine.”  Not too long after, I decided to go to Bible College to learn about what I’d gotten myself into. I visited two, and picked the one in Michigan because the food was better.  Discipled in the Grace Brethren denomination and through a L’Abri-like Christian Community called Grace Haven.

 

I was, and am, obsessed with experiencing and growing in the Presence of God moment by moment, and finding ways that the “good news” really can be good news to the poor.  I also sought out ways to keep my faith mixed with a healthy dose of edgy folk, blues, and rock and roll.  After two years, the Bible College decided I’d be happier at the Reformed school down the road. 

 

Graduated with a degree in history, philosophy, and theology (indecision is a terrible thing). Became a builder.  At least that’s how I paid the bills .  Usually.  I’ve worked in the non-profit sector, community organizing, publishing, housing development (both for profit and non-profit)…run and lost my own building business and then restarted it, twice…and had a somewhat less than stellar track record getting along in the very political world of “christian” organizations. For over twenty-five years I did light commercial and residential remodeling, civil construction, and construction management. About five years ago I went for a major career and paradigm shift and am now in the insurance and financial services industry.

 

Always had my hand in some sort of ministry. Street ministry, mentoring, writing, teaching, worship and intercession.  Trying to make music that doesn’t drip with sweetness.  ( I really wanted to write “music that doesn’t suck”, but was afraid I might offend someone.)  I never found it possible to keep work and faith in their tidy separate compartments.  Tended to annoy a lot of people that way.  Many of them Christians.

 

You see, I believe my relationship with Jesus Christ needs to be the central defining factor of my being.  And I remain convinced that faith needs to form and inform all that we do, in every aspect of life.  Far from being a personal private matter, it belongs on the street, in the coffeeshop, in the marketplace.  Honest. Engaged.  Dilletante.  Meddling in simply everything. 

 

I’d like to say that my life and world have been miraculously smooth since becoming a Christian… but can’t.  Never lost my faith, but I have lost hope on a few occasions.  In 1977, I lost my Dad (one of my only real heroes) to leukemia. Sad to say I stayed drunk most of that next year.  Met and married my wife Beth not long after I started getting sober.  We both had our share of “issues”…still do…don’t we all?  But we have two gorgeous and amazing daughters, 27 and 23, an amazing and brilliant son, now 9, and and four equally amazing and wondrous g…gra….grrrr…offspring 2.0.  

 

Heaviest front-line spiritual battle I’ve experienced to date was in March of 1997 when my younger brother died of AIDS.  Beth and I spent the last week of his life in the HIV Hospice of Northwest Memorial in Chicago.  During that time there was a spiritual reality to the war occurring that put a fog over the physical surroundings.  There was a series of visible and tactile deliverances that took place that will never be totally explainable to one who was not there.  Lacking oil, at one point we were anointing Rod (my brother) and his room with intensive care lotion!  Even down to the last seconds of his life, there were demons that held on!  One in particular left just before he died.  I can say with certainty that he died free.  But I can also say with certainty that the media will never present an honest account of what this is like. When driving back to Michigan, mostly silent, Beth and I would periodically just look at each other and say, “we’ll never be the same…nothing will ever be the same.”  I am not being dramatic or figurative when I say that I have seen a spirit of death, a spirit of homosexuality, and have looked the Destroyer in the eye.  This is why my spirit leaps and roars at the word of the restoration of all things in Jesus, and an end-time release of resurrection power that will finally put to flight the very powers of death. 

 

Sometimes I am so full of the fire and presence of God I don’t know what to do.  And at other times, I feel so empty and devoid of worth that I don’t know what to do.  I keep going forward, often in deep joy and inexpressible gratitude.  I keep seeing and hearing. Seeing and hearing.  I can’t go back.  There’s nothing for me back there anymore.  I can’t say I understand the back side of the desert, but it does seem like you run into a lot of burning bushes back here. 

 

I hope this isn’t too intense…or transparent. There is always that lingering fear, though.  Of being too honest. Isn’t  there?  And then there’s this emerging business of the prophet being the prophecy.  Well, if this speaks to anyone, then it’s enough.

 

Some ask to what degree I have been influenced by the spiritual renewal movement that began in Toronto a few years ago, given our close geographic proximity.  I am sorry to admit it, but I haven’t been to Toronto since 1976. I’ve always wanted to go back. Nice city. Many of my friends have been there, to Airport Fellowship, and back when it was Vineyard, so there has been some cross pollination here to our region. But my personal circle of acquaintances and ministry associates has been influenced as much by the prophetic movements in Kansas City and Charlotte, as well as having been significantly impacted by teaching from the Rhema/Tulsa stream, the Brownsville revival, and PRMI/Dunamis. 

 

Myself, I’ve never really been a party line kind of voter. I was saved through the Jesus People movement, discipled in early apostolic awakening/body life/L’Abri influence, nurtured in dispensationalism, both Grace Brethren and Baptist, attended a Baptist college until their administration decided I would be happier at the Reformed school down the road, was courted by and occasionally still dance real slow and cozy-like with radical Dutch Calvinism and a related philosophy taught by Kuyper and Dooyeweerd, was dragged kicking and screaming into the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the charismatic movement, and yet have known for over twenty years that I would be part of a restoration of sorts involving apostolic and prophetic ministry. Along the way, I’ve found kindred spirits in radical catholics and Anabaptists and evangelicals who have cast their lot with the poor and the refugees, and those on the streets.

 

In other words, I guess I would hesitate to hold myself out as representative of anything, unless it is that God seems to be breaking down barriers and doing a lot of cross pollination in this time. Perhaps He is demonstrating in the lives of individuals what He wants to demonstrate in the church…that when the walls come down, a lot of sharing and growth and cross-influence (unintended double meaning, but I’ll leave it…I like it) can occur. And this is His heart. 

 

None of these folks or influences is more or less dominant for me. In truth, I don’t find that I have time to be so immersed in any as to be terribly influenced. Fed occasionally, maybe. It’s not that I ascribe to a cafeteria-style spirituality. I simply have never been in a place, geographically, financially, or spiritually where I was terribly inclined to seek out Meccas. The greatest value and revelation to me (and I really hope this doesn’t sound arrogant) has been in finding that the things the Lord has been teaching me are confirmed by the witness of these other men and women of God. It has been immensely valuable in confirming and adjusting the track that HE has set me on, and in confirming to me that it is in fact HE and not this or that teacher who has sent me in the direction I am headed.

 

I continue to keep my membership in the Christian Reformed Church, as has been the case for most of the last thirty years. I remain convinced that the reformed tradition offers deep wells of biblical truth and commitment to historic orthodoxy which the church as a whole desperately needs.  And it offers a grounding in historic truth which is deeply needed by many of my charismatic friends.  At the same time, the current renewal movement offers a depth of experience in the presence and power and fire of God which is longed for and desperately needed by many in the reformed stream. 

  

Militant Worship. Warfare praise and prayer. The Restoration of the Tabernacle of David. These notions, for me, go back quite a way. The concept is quite simple really. The devil hates praise and the Word. So if you really want to annoy him, praise. The most profound form of spiritual warfare is worship. David, dancing before the Lord with all his might (in his underwear, no less).  Mary of Bethany, utterly devoted to the “one important thing” of just hanging with Jesus. On our faces, abandoned and don’t care what anyone thinks, crying out in praise and adoration, crazy in love with the lover of our souls worship.

 

Real authority that causes the devil and demons and disease to flee is not and will not be some presumption of a legal position we assume in Christ as a result of the work of the cross and resurrection. It will be the Presence of God the Holy Spirit in power as the Shekinah Glory filling His temple, His people…you and me, as a result of the work of the cross and resurrection. And this occurs in the context of living radical militant worship. When this happens, the heart of God becomes our heart, and the vision of God becomes our vision. When and where He loves, we love; and when and where He roars, we roar. One of the words for worship in the OT means to travail and roar and whirl. So when I talk of warfare praise and worship, or warfare prayer, I am simply talking about resonating with the warrior heart of God. I remember hearing once that Jehovah Jireh literally meant the Breasted Warrior. All kinds of provision wrapped up in that one, eh? Ray Hughes and Kim Clement have both impacted me in this regard, as both are talking a lot about a Sound of Heaven, a new and newing sound which when we hear it sets our spirits resonating with the Roar and Song of God. 


It’s true that we must be careful not to touch His glory. It is His and His alone, for He alone is worthy! Yet there is a fine line here that can sometimes only be seen by the Holy Spirit as discerner of the thoughts and intents of our hearts. I fear that sometimes we can be too careful, not realizing the implications of our Lord’s prayer in John 17 that as the Father gave His glory unto the Son, so the Son desires to give His glory unto us, that we in receiving and moving out in that glory, the clothing of His Presence, might glorify Him in the fulfillment of His heart’s purpose and design.

 

Ultimately, that’s what this whole “marketplace movement” is about, isn’t it? 

 

So now, here I sit.  April Fool's Eve forty years after starting this journey.  Feeling alot like Joshua or Caleb.  More than anything in the world, I still simply want to be His man. To my family. To my church. To those I come in casual contact with. I want to be a reflection of His face, and to live out the desires and passions of His heart. To be consumed in His Presence and will for this time and place. That’s how I would want to be remembered.  Trying with everything I am to be transformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ as I work and live and love and think in the twenty-first century.  And maybe making a difference.

    

 

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