Once, a number of years ago, my wife and I were visiting my family in Virginia.  While there, we borrowed my dad’s truck and headed north to look at some belongings we kept in a storage facility we were planning to clear out.  It was late at night and long since sundown when we were driving back to Virginia, roughly a three-to-four hour trip, made longer and slower by a rainstorm.  We had crossed over the state lines and were officially in Virginia, on a long stretch of highway that was only two lanes.  Traffic was stalled, and we were entirely unsure why—but after almost an hour of mostly sitting there and inching forward, we discovered that in the storm, a massive tree was struck by lightning and had fallen across the road.

Well, after having waited there for so long, none of us were willing to sit and do nothing until someone else came to rescue us.  I and a number of other travelers began looking through the tools with us (I opened my dad’s truck box to see what tree-destroying goodies he had packed) and we began to dismantle the tree bit by bit.  It was slow going, especially since no one had come prepared to cut a tree away from the road, but there were a good dozen or two of us either sawing and/or hacking or helping pull large pieces of brush away from the trunk once freed—all done by the yellow light of car headlamps.

The event itself was somewhat fun in spite of the setback, and even the wet shoes and clothes from being outside in the rain playing with tree limbs weren’t enough to kill the overall enjoyment in the midst of what was an otherwise frustrating situation.  Truth be told, it just felt adventurous.  Not only that, but the overall atmosphere and attitude of all involved was pretty positive.  We all just pitched in to help out, working with total strangers as a team to reach a common goal, long before we had “sanctioned help” from the authorities.

Eventually the police did arrive and brought workers with them who began sawing up the main body of the trunk, and this time with the right tools.   Even *while* they were clearing the road, they turned traffic away and sent them somewhere else.  We found a back-road nearby and made an educated guess that it would take us where we wanted to go, since cell service was nonexistent at that location and using a GPS map was out of the question.  Eventually we got around the roadblock and back on the highway.

Reflecting on that time, I couldn’t help but see this as a picture of many in the Body of Christ.  At least in the Western Church, we have been taught this notion that many things are the job of “Big names” and “Ordained ministers” when in reality, even if those we view as authority figures in the Body don’t step up, we are still going to get the job done.  Furthermore, even when the authority figures do get involved, usually pastors and other leaders, there tend to be a lot of restrictions on who is permitted to do what.  The police were much like this when they came to manage the fallen tree.  The rest of us were already working on getting the job done, and not only did they cast us aside, but they didn’t even let us remain on the road, knowing full well that a single lane would be cleared shortly.

There are a few different responses we can have to this type of event when it happens inside the Body of Christ.  The first is to give up, get bitter, and decide to stop moving forward.  The second is to give ourselves over to the authority figures, give up our vision, and join them with whatever they are doing, regardless of where we were headed previously.  The third option is to simply continue on our journey, bypassing those who are supposed to be on our side but ultimately are setting themselves in opposition to us, and keep advancing anyway.

That’s not to say that all pastors or other leaders are bad.  Many of them have been put in positions of influence due to the call of God on *their* lives, and are faithfully walking in what the Lord has called them to do.  Nevertheless, they are just as human as we are, and prone to the same mistakes and oversights as anyone else.  If you have felt passed-by or looked-over by those in positions of influence within the Church, don’t let that stop you from walking in all that God has intended for you.  In the same way that we began to dismantle the tree without “official” approval, you too can begin to dismantle powers of darkness and release the light of Christ into your surroundings regardless of who is for or against you.

For those who haven’t read Gemstones From Heaven, I explain in the first chapter that many of the encounters in that book came from hosting meetings at our house.  My wife and I didn’t need a stamp of approval from someone else; we simply opened our home, invited people, and let God do the rest.  If you feel like God is calling you to step into something, I encourage you to pray for clarity, then walk boldly forward on the journey.  It’s going to be exciting!

10 Comments

  1. Donna

    I choose option three! I also think it is healthy to move ahead. Ministers are to follow Jesus’ example. He washed His disciples feet. He also had a tremendous call upon His life. A cross was before Him. I think we need to always look at Jesus and see Him. He is our pattern Son. And, it’s not about us. It is about Jesus. Aren’t you happy about that? That is what makes it all doable and why we are called. Flesh has to die. Friction caused by flesh has a purpose. Walk with Jesus. It won’t make you popular a lot of the time. But it is the best walk in this life. Headed for the prize. The Lord bless you and your wife.

  2. Deborah Robbins

    Boom!! Great insight… #3 I would move forward … and obliviously desire/pray expediently for a great move of God to be so evident PRIOR to when the “Leadership” catches on and then they would join in on the obvious “breakthrough” with a celebratory heart.

  3. Dirt Road Cowboy

    Great post Michael. I agree completely, and have personally chosen option 3.

    I don’t believe that Jesus intended for us to remain in organized religion (aka church buildings). The 5-fold ministry was meant to send mature Christians out, not keep them babies (or cash cows) in order to grow the local “church” into a mega-church where everyone but the chosen few are ever noticed. (He also never instituted the position of worship leader/head cheerleader! You know: Stand up, raise your hands. Clap your hands, put ’em down. Jump down, turn around, pick a bale of cotton . . . LOL!)

    In the military, you start off in basic training. You learn how to fight, get conditioned for warfare, and then you are deployed into combat as a well trained soldier. They don’t remain perpetually in basic training (the local church under a pastor)! We aren’t supposed to remain under any man! (The scripture in Galatians 4:2 that talks about the son being under tutors is talking about the OT Law and the Prophets, not the 5-fold ministry!) Jesus is our head and final authority!

    The local church should be training the “baby Christians” to hear God for themselves, not to go to the pastor or prophet to hear for them. That kind of dependency is what Jesus came to set us free from! He came so that we could have a relationship with our Father, and hear from Daddy ourselves!

    My brother didn’t die so that we could remain in religious bondage to the traditions of men (aka doctrines of devils)!

    There is also a big misunderstanding of what the Apostolic Church really is, mainly because Christians don’t know where the term Apostle came from. In the Greek, and later the Roman empires, when a nation was conquered, the king would send in ships full of people and things that were part of the empire’s culture. They would transform the culture of the conquered culture to match that of the king (or emperor). When the king came to see his new addition to the empire, he couldn’t even tell that he left home.

    That’s our job, to transform the world into looking so much like Heaven that Jesus won’t be able to tell the difference when He gets here! Stop looking for a rapture, make a place for the King to return to!

    • Anny

      Ah but the military is a well-organized machine… No one acts on their own volition. Everything is about hierarchy and order…
      While the church is no such thing (hierarchy and order) per se, it is interesting to observe what happens when we decide to go rogue, as lone wolves in the faith. We lose contact with others. It’s isolating. We never really worship or sing or pray together, we drift away in form even if in theory our faith is strong.
      I am actively looking for a place where I fit, because many years of non-church, unchurch or whatever you call it has taken a toll on me and my family. My teens don’t have a foundational “worship house” and while I model charismatic faith best I can, share beliefs readily and read a lot, it is theory to them.
      I totally agree with transforming the world, but I lean towards transforming my world, one-on-one encounters, friendships, modelling love and faith, encouraging without even calling it prophesying etc…

  4. Ginny Wilcox

    No pictures, sadly, but interpretive dances being performed whilst typing this.
    I”m going with and have done door #3 for some time now. We were told to GO, not wait for permission. At least that’s how I read my commission.
    I do love the story of the tree and the correlation to authority, etc. Thanks, Michael.

  5. Lynn

    Door #3 here, too, as Ginny put it. I’ve read Gemstones from Heaven, and that’s where my heart is also.

    Although, a couple of years ago, I missed worshiping in a corporate setting. I visited around and settled on a small church nearby. The atmosphere is free, although I’m way more “active” than most.

    After attending fairly regularly for two years, the pressure was on to be “all in”, as the pastor calls it. I have my own online ministry and know that getting “plugged in” there and inevitably burned out—again, is not God’s plan for me.

    Two weeks ago, I went but sat in the back. I felt restless and finally decided I had to leave.

    The next day, I felt badly about it, wondering what was going on with me. A friend of mine who also attends sometimes, messaged me. I told her what happened. She asked, “so, you didn’t hear Tim’s prophecy?” (Not his real name.) She sent me the clip she recorded on her phone. The gist was, “If your feel like you should leave or God tells you to leave this church, you are free to go. Don’t look for a reason. You don’t need a reason. I bless you and your family.”

    Whoa! I know the pastor really well, and I’m sure he cringed big time. I’m so glad I’d already left.

  6. karenspeaksblessings

    Door #3 is the one that I choose. Interesting story.

  7. Samuel Vang

    Door 2. I’m a good ole conventional pew warmer. JK. My wife and I are going to start a church here soon all about discipleship and enjoying the presence of God.

    • Lynn

      Samuel, I’m confused. Door #2 is “The second is to give ourselves over to the authority figures, give up our vision, and join them with whatever they are doing, regardless of where we were headed previously.”

      I would go for your option. I think we need to come up with an additional door number.

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