Each time I would go back to the drawing board, I still didn't get it. I was absolutely convinced that I was supposed to do some great thing for God! Even after I saw the horror of what we were doing with the perfect church, it was more that we had messed up by trying to stamp out sin forever among God's people.... ending up controlling them, laying guilt trips on them and telling them what to do with the rest of their lives.... hearing us as God's Oracles instead of cultivating their own personal walks with Him.....
As Hitler gained control in Nazi Germany, the Lutheran Church there was as irrelevant as the churches in America today. My friend Bodie reminded me recently of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's (a Lutheran pastor) stand against Hitler, who was sent to prison and martyred 3 weeks before Berlin was liberated, at age 39. He wrote some letters from prison which were later published.
This is an excerpt from a letter he wrote from prison to his nephew who was to be baptized.
The we in "we are not alone"means whole bunches of people like myself who are of like mind.... who are seeing the same things, saying the same things and it is happening all over the world. For years I was thinking I was the only person in the world who saw it. Old Elijah, the prophet, had that same problem just like old Philip here, thinking he was all alone, crying out to God (having his own little pity party) and what did God say..... “I have kept for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” So much for being alone! :)
All that hot shot stuff? Just the beginning......'cause I saw a problem here. Remember that network of churches? All those thousands of hurting, wounded, bleeding people calling the 700 club for prayer every night? I really wanted to help them. To me, they needed more than just someone to listen to their problem for a couple minutes and pray for them. That was like sticking a band-aid on some huge gaping wound.
I told you about that one.......being destined for greatness. It is powerful. I talked about it a couple days ago..... its power comes from the truth behind it. God has made you great...but greatness in His Kingdom is totally different from the greatness Satan is offering. It isn't Marlon Brando in that great scene from On the Waterfront where he is in the car with his brother Charlie and explaining how it was Charlie who convinced him to take the dive for the mob instead of trying to win the fight.... "Chahlie....I coulda been somebody"...
I started that first business with my dad back in 1961.....really thought I was some kind of hot stuff. We were selling materials handling equipment. In 1964 we started manufacturing the smaller overhead traveling cranes we had been trying to sell that had to ship in from Chicago making them very expensive. It was just too competitive locally with all the iron shops around and this seemed the only way we could get any of that area of the business. It worked.... really went well for 2 years.
The temptations never stop.
"and when the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.”
The temptation is finished when we make the right choice.... it simply just goes because we refused it.....but... Satan returns the next opportune time. I promised you some stories to illustrate. I'll start with this one and see where we go.
Did you ever get an impression that somehow you were destined for greatness? That you are a very special person? There is just enough truth to that, to make this a very powerful temptation to that old first Adam in each of us. Each and every one of us is actually very special. We are created in the image of God. We are very special to Him. He sent His Son to die so we would once again be able to walk and talk with Father in the gardens of our lives!
It was a valid offer. He offered Jesus the kingdoms of this world. They belonged to him...... they had been handed over to him by Adam's disobedience..... until the second Adam (Jesus) refused the same offer and took them back by His obedience to Father. And now......"The kingdoms of this world, they have become the kingdoms of our God and of His Christ". Jesus took them back, making it possible for us, by His life in us, to make that same choice, refuse Satan's offer by choosing to obey Father as well.