• Mark Ledbetter

TIME FOR TRANSPARENCY, some personal disclosure

A Lamentation.

In a conversation with Rhonda I told her I don’t like being a depressive being. She replied, “You mean like Jeremiah.” I responded, “Yes, or more like ‘the men who sigh and moan over all the abominations which are being committed in its [the Temple’s] midst’ (Ezekiel 9:4).” I take some comfort, however, in the fact these sighers and moaners receive a “mark” on their foreheads and escape the destruction that is coming, somewhat like the 144,000 of Revelations 7:4-8, who have the name of the Lamb and His Father written on their foreheads (Revelation 14:1).


Some people describe an optimist as seeing a glass half full, a pessimist half empty. I see the glass shattered. I can be moody, silent and hard to live with. It is a good thing God has given me a loving, caring wife, and who balances my somewhat doleful disposition.


I have more in common with Elijah and John the Baptist. When pastoring I told people if they want to know the truth, come to me. If they want a hug, go to Rhonda.


I believe we need positive messages, messages of hope and joy and peace; but I also believe there must be a sounding of an alarm, a message that oftentimes contradicts the message of “peace and safety” when sudden destruction is will come like “labor pains upon a woman with child” (1 Thessalonians 5:3; Jeremiah 6:14; 8:11).


When everyone is declaring a bright future for America, I am told the course of our nation is the way of all nations, that both the nation and the Cultural Church (I’ll define below), has been measured and found wanting.


While some prophesy a bright and prosperous future, I see a giant shadow cast upon our nation, judgment – the flood of immigrants crossing our borders with reckless abandon, first the Covid virus and then its resurgence, the rioting and insurgency seizing our nation’s cities, the sexual scandals across the board including Hollywood, Politicians, Protestant and Catholic clergy, and the humiliation of another failed “war”, i.e., Vietnam, Iraq (yes, it has failed), and now Afghanistan (not to mention the War on Drugs, War on Crime, War on Violence, the War on Poverty, the War on the Family, and the War on the Church).


The Cultural Church is defined by the Church that accommodates the ways of the world, that seeks to accomplish God’s work using the world’s methods, Salt that has lost its “saltiness” (or, also meaning, “Played the Fool.”). It is defined by having lost its first love (Ephesus), incorporated the doctrines of demons and idolatry and sexual indulgences (Pergamum and Thyatira), having the reputation of being alive and vibrant with sprawling campuses, charismatic preachers and singers, live streaming, programs and ministries for every need and cause but are dead (Sardis), and are smug and self-sufficient (so they think), but are “wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked” (Laodicea). [See Revelations 2 & 3]


This is why I sign and moan. I am burdened for brothers and sisters who share the lot of Smyrna (Revelation 2), who are being persecuted for the cause of Christ, and who daily join the ranks of those found “underneath the altars,” those who are beaten, imprisoned, and executed “because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they” maintain (Revelations 6:9).


Yet, I rejoice for the true Church, the Church that has kept God’s word (observed, “watched over”) and have an open door, and am thankful that they will be kept during (observed, “watched over,” not kept from) during the “hour of testing” that is coming upon the whole world (Revelation 3).


So, this is my burden – my gift from God, for anything He gives, even a burden, is His gift. Included in this gift is the call to proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom, the good news of salvation and redemption through the Cross of Jesus Christ, the hope of the resurrection, and the promise of Jesus’ Return.


TOZER’S “The Prayer of a Minor Prophet”

I add to this long lamentation excerpts from A.W. Tozer’s, “The Prayer of a Minor Prophet.” After reading it you may think I’m presumptuous; nevertheless, it is the prayer of my heart:


“O Lord, I have heard thy voice and was afraid. Thou hast called me to an awesome task in a grave and perilous hour. That are about to shake [and I add are now shaking] all nations and the earth and also heaven, that the things that cannot be shaken may remain.


“My God, I shall not waste time deploring my weakness nor my unfittedness for the work. The responsibility is not mine, but Thine. Thou has said, ‘I knew thee – I ordained thee—I sanctified thee.’ and Thou hast also said, ‘Thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee I shall speak.’ Who am I to argue with Thee or to call into question Thy sovereign choice? The decision is not mine, but Thine. So be it, Lord. Thy will, not mine, be done…


“It is time, O God, for Thee to work, for the Enemy has entered into Thy pastures and the sheep are torn and scattered. And false shepherds abound who deny the danger and laugh at the perils which surround thy flock. The sheep are deceived by these hirelings and follow them with touching loyalty while the wolf closes in to kill and destroy. I beseech Thee, give me sharp eyes to detect the presence of the Enemy; give me understanding to see and courage to report what I see faithfully. Make my voice so like Thine own that even the sick sheep will recognize it and follow Thee.


“Lord Jesus, I come to Thee for spiritual preparation. Lay Thy hand upon me. Anoint me with the oil of the New Testament prophet. Forbid that I should become a religious scribe and thus lose my prophetic calling. Save me from the curse that lies dark across the face of the modern clergy, the curse of compromise, of imitation, of professionalism. Save me from the error of judging a church by its size, its popularity or the amount of its yearly offering. Help me to remember that I am a prophet – not a promoter, not a religious manager, but a prophet. Let me never become the slave of crowds. Heal my soul of carnal ambitions and deliver me from the itch for publicity. Save me from the bondage of things…Lay Thy holy terror upon me, O God, and drive me to the place of prayer where I may wrestle with the principalities and powers and the rulers of darkness of this world. Deliver me from overeating and late sleeping. Teach me self-discipline that I may be a good soldier of Jesus Christ…Teach me to use whatever I receive in such manner that will not injure my soul nor diminish my spiritual power…


“I consecrate my remaining days to Thee; let them be many or few, as Thou wilt. Let me stand before the great or minister to the poor and lowing; that choice is not mine, and I would not influence it if I could. I am Thy servant to do Thy will, and that will is sweeter to me than position or riches or fame and I choose it above all things on earth or in heaven.


“…I pray Thee, therefore, my Lord and Redeemer, save me from myself and from all the injuries I may do myself while trying to be a blessing to others. Fill me with Thy power by the Holy Spirit, and I will go in Thy strength and tell of Thy righteousness, even Thine only. I will spread abroad the message of redeeming love while my normal powers endure.”


Amen.

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