The days in which we live are interesting and intriguing. I find myself moving from a sense of God’s Spirit to wondering why He isn’t moving like I thought He would. I’ve had this feeling many times during my life as a pastor. Many times we’ve walked to the edge of the Jordan, only to stare at the land of promise and turn back. I’ve eaten more dust than any Arabian in the desert.
Some have turned back because of fear. We are afraid of losing control, afraid to let God take over, afraid to take God at His Word, afraid of a few on the fringe of excess who scare us off from the genuine experience of the Holy Spirit and fullness. Afraid of what our peers might think if we stop eating the dust of mediocrity and compromise, afraid of the enemy who always struts…but the gates of hell cannot prevail against God’s church.
Some turn back because of sin: the sin that so easily besets us, the sin we aren’t willing to let go of, the sin that we refuse to confess and judge. While we are willing to claim 1 John 1:9 and ask God to forgive us, we are unwilling to judge that sin and put it away.
Others turn back because they don’t know if crossing the river is the “Baptist” thing to do. They are more concerned with traditions and appearances of religion than true Christianity. Some are bound by their experiences and blind to God’s promises.
Some dear souls are waiting for a feeling, when they just need a filling. They want God to sweep over them with a moment of emotional ecstasy that will carry them across the river in bliss and blessings.
A few report that there are giants in the land we seek to enter. They see with eyes of flesh rather than the eyes of faith. Yes, revival and renewal brings a new set of problems, but it’s better than eating dust.
Many want to know, “Will it cost me money to cross over?” Rather than being obedient to the Scriptures, they steal from God and then wonder why God cannot lead them to a new level of obedience and blessing. You’ll never cross the river if you don’t invest yourself and your substance in building the bridge of faith.
So where do we go from here? We can eat dust like our ancestors. We can be a good church with great programs, excellent staff, a strong prayer ministry, new buildings–and miss God. We can wander around from program to program, event to event, Sunday to Sunday and never experience the fullness of all we have in Christ Jesus.
We can look around and wait for some other church to cross over and send back messengers to tell us what it is like. We can contact denominational headquarters and ask them if they have a program on crossing over. We can listen to those who say, “Why cross over; don’t we have it better than most?” We can sit down and meditate on our past and praise ourselves for all we’ve done. We can point to churches who don’t even know there’s a place to cross over and thump our chests about how spiritual we are. These are options–but not really.
The only real option is to cross over. I may never live to see revival in America, but I can have a revival in my own heart. I may never pastor a church where the majority are walking in the Spirit, but that doesn’t mean I can’t walk in the Spirit. I can choose to be a part of the remnant, the kindling wood, the Gideon’s crowd that is stronger than any might imagine.
I’ve decided I’m moving on. I’ve already packed my tent, my feet are in the water, and I’m ready to go. I really don’t care who is behind me, or even with me. I’m going. I’m tired of waiting on people who will never view Canaan as an option. I’m weary of trying to talk to people into five-star living instead of Motel-6 Christianity. I won’t waste another day worrying if you will approve of me crossing over. I will not turn back and eat dust for fear that the carnal might be offended. Let those who want a nice, quiet religion that doesn’t disturb the status quo join a funeral home. This pastor is calling this church and other like-minded believers to a whole new level of obedience, commitment, and understanding of lordship. I don’t believe that God intends for me to spend my life attempting to please the carnal who will never be pleased. I’m going to cross over.
I’m fully aware that a pastor is to be a shepherd. Too many Christians have an unbiblical view of Jesus as meek and lowly (meaning weak). They long for a Jesus who looks effeminate, wears white, and never has dirt under His fingernails. No, the Jesus of Scripture rebuked dead religion. He said to the Pharisees (the most pious, religions, self-righteous, self-justifying people who ever lived), “You are of your father the devil.” He called them whitewashed tombs.
Jesus was a Shepherd in his heart, a Shepherd to people who wanted to know and love God. Jesus loved sinners, but He never backed off on the Pharisees. He knew their hearts. The Pharisees have a large gene pool. They are in every church. They seek to tie the hands of the pastor, they rain on every fire from heaven, and they rally people to themselves instead of to the cross. They are, in reality, goats, not sheep. Too many sheep let goats run their lives, run the church, and run off the Holy Spirit. The shepherd has every intention, as long as he lives, to kick every goat he sees–as far as he can.
If you aren’t giving, you are either a goat or a dust eater. If you aren’t serving, you are either a goat or a sheep with cancer, drawing all life out of the body to feed your deadly infection. If you are taking in but not giving out, you need to be sheared…or saved.
The Lord is calling us to cross over. He won’t wait until we are ready–He’s ready right now. The train is leaving the station. The plane is pulling away from the gate. The boat is leaving the dock. The sheep who want to walk with the Good Shepherd are crossing the river. The meter is running. Time is wasting. When it’s all over, which side of the river are you going to be buried on? It’s your choice–you have to make it now.