Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Ministers New Clothes!

I have such a tough time keeping up with the fads of being a youth communicator, conference speaker, and church revivalist. I find myself at Buckle, and Abercrombie looking for the coolest, trendiest, thinnest looking, most uncomfortable clothes so I can be the guy on stage I am expected to be. Boy, do I miss cargo pants! In the day of skinny jeans, and small v-necks! And what makes matters worse is that I hate shopping! Thank goodness Karen has me covered on that!

Why cant we be like the Israelites? Their clothes didn’t wear out!
Nehemiah 9: 21 (NIV), For forty years you sustained them in the wilderness; they lacked nothing, their clothes did not wear out nor did their feet become swollen.

No wonder they didn’t go into the promise land. The men didn’t want to have to shop for clothes!

In ministry it is so easy to be dressed sharp and yet naked on stage!
God has called us to look different! I am not speaking of what we actually wear, but more concerning our spiritual image!

Isaiah 61:10, 
I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

Every leader fears over exposure to the reality of how your really dressed!
I have prayed more than once: “Please Lord, Don’t let them see the real me. The real me is tired, weary, and at times very carnal. Lord please cover my nakedness. Clothe me God with righteousness!”

So often we get dressed for the world and forget to be clothed to meet the savior!

Remember when Ruth went to meet Boaz- She got herself ready to meet her kinsmen redeemer.

Ruth 3:3, 
Wash, put on perfume, and get dressed in your best clothes. Then go down to the threshing floor, but don’t let him know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking.

Look at what happen when Noah was seen Naked:
Genesis 9:20-22 (NIV), Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded[a] to plant a vineyard. 21 When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent. 22 Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father naked and told his two brothers outside.

I will come back to Noah and his sons at the end of this teaching, but I want to plant a seed that every leader ends up naked at some point. Every leader finds themselves uncovered and others get to see what is hidden under the leaders armor!

Nakedness is always a metaphor for a spiritual state.

God is looking to clothe us with His blessings!
Psalm 3:8
(msg), Real help comes from God. Your blessing clothes your people!

I. Adorned with self!
So many leaders hear the words: I love your mantle! You’re the man! You are Gods chosen! We twitter how great we are! We facebook our newest message! We promote our ideas. We declare we are voice to a generation. Yet, we rarely get honest about our own spiritual state.

Joel declares it is time for a change:
Joel 2:13-14, (msg) “Change your life, not just your clothes. Come back to God, your God. And here's why: God is kind and merciful. He takes a deep breath, puts up with a lot, This most patient God, extravagant in love, always ready to cancel catastrophe. Who knows? Maybe he'll do it now, maybe he'll turn around and show pity. Maybe, when all's said and done, there'll be blessings full and robust for your God!”

Recently, I was with a dear friend in Ohio ministering. We were sharing how easy it is to be fooled by our own success!

He began to remind me of story I had heard years ago.

The story is called the “Emperors New Clothes” that is why I have called this blog: "The Ministers New Clothes!"

There once was an emperor who lived his life to wear the fanciest clothes he could buy. It so consumed him that he never focused on his Kingdom. He never worried about protecting the kingdom, the advancement of intruders, or the business of an emperor!

One day two fakes came to the gates of the city. They declared they the best clothes a Emperor could wear. They were brought to the emperor. One before him they shared how they could make the most beautiful clothes ever made for a large sum of money and gold. They said the secret to their clothes was two things: Only the smartest could see the clothes, only those who belonged in their positions could see the invisible clothes.

The Emperor said please I beg you make me the clothes. The two acted is if they were making the clothes. They continued to ask for more money as they worked in secret at their imaginary loom. The king sent advisors to see the clothes. When the fakes showed the invisible clothes to the Emperors advisors they bragged and declared aren’t they beautiful. Of course the advisors couldn’t see the clothes, but in fear of not being smart or not belonging in their position they told the emperor the clothes were just amazing. Finally, the Emperor was invited to see the clothes, but he also could not see the clothes. As the fakes acted is if they were putting the clothes on him everyone saw how naked the emperor was. Yet, the emperor dare not utter that he couldn’t see the clothes or else it would mean he was not smart, and he didn’t belong in his position. Naked the emperor went before the people. The people knew the rules about the clothes and so they cheered as if they could see the clothes. Yet, as the naked emperor led a parade for his new clothes a little boy screamed out, but he is naked!
There is so much to learn from this metaphorical story!
In ministry we can become just like the Emperor.

Is it possible:
  • To be so self indulgent that you refuse to realize when your naked?
  • To have people around you that are so worried about position that they wont be honest with you.
  • To be so wrapped up in image that you ignore the kingdom?
  • To be so overwhelmed with self that your fear of failure never allows those around you to se the real you?
  • To be so self absorbed that the enemy can deceive you into purchasing an identity that leaves you nude?
  • That is the midst of your parade people are singing your praises while the children see the real you?
  • The Emperor bought into the lie that was above the ability to be transparent. 
  • Therefore, he ended up naked!

II. Our approach must change!
There is a stirring in my heart for a cleaning up of the priesthood.
We have created such an image that if we fall the people will just move on to a new celebrity.

The world wants priests that look like them, act like them, and even lead like them.

In John 18: 40- The people declared Give us Barabbas- Remember, the people didn’t want Jesus, but instead they wanted a murderer. No not him! Give us Barabbas! Give us somebody that looks like us. He is much easier to look at than Jesus. Because Jesus reminds us what we should be, while Barabbas gives us the excuse to say- I’m not that bad.

The church has become the talk show! We no longer guard the treasure of the call! We must grab the overwhelming Grace of God!

1 Timothy 6:20-21, (message) "And oh, my dear Timothy, guard the treasure you were given! Guard it with your life. Avoid the talk-show religion and the practiced confusion of the so-called experts. People caught up in a lot of talk can miss the whole point of faith. Overwhelming grace keep you!

We stand and declare what we are, because we can no longer share from the revelation of who He is!

Job 40:10
 Then adorn yourself with glory and splendor, and clothe yourself in honor and majesty.

We live in a generation where we have now created superstar leaders that we have exalted higher than God.

I am amazed at how when we look upon a stage we see the shimmering armor of Modern Day Knights, and yet they never allow us to get close enough to see the scarred areas of battle!

King David’s Fall from Grace- I am reminded of King David’s mighty fall. In II Samuel 11 he had become so isolated that while everyone was off at battle he hid himself in his ivory castle as sin approached and pounced on him. In his brokenness he would cry out to be made new.

Psalm 51:4-6 (message bible), “You're the One I've violated, and you've seen it all, seen the full extent of my evil. You have all the facts before you; whatever you decide about me is fair. I've been out of step with you for a long time, in the wrong since before I was born. What you're after is truth from the inside out. Enter me, then; conceive a new, true life.”

Do you think maybe David fell because at one point he forced another leader to be naked?

Remember, when David cut off Sauls robe while Saul was in the cave most likely using the restroom?

1 Samuel 24:4-7 (NIV), The men said, “This is the day the LORD spoke of when he said[b] to you, ‘I will give your enemy into your hands for you to deal with as you wish.’” Then David crept up unnoticed and cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. 5 Afterward, David was conscience-stricken for having cut off a corner of his robe. 6 He said to his men, “The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the LORD’s anointed, or lay my hand on him; for he is the anointed of the LORD.” 7 With these words David sharply rebuked his men and did not allow them to attack Saul. And Saul left the cave and went his way.
David of course repented, but it is said that Saul’s backside was uncovered when he came out the cave. Humiliated, Saul humbled himself. I wonder if the part of the robe that David cut off represented his own covering that was now gone and could have protected him on the night he fell into sin?
16 years old- I am reminded of praying one morning: God took me back in my mind to the place where I cried out for the anointing at age 16. He then said, “Pat, if you play with the anointing an abuse it I will find another 16 yr old crying out and give it to him”

Yet, the longer I am in ministry I have realized that with each situation that is sent to distract or even invited in to disrupt I have a choice to either add to my armor or remove a piece of armor!

Yet, so many of us our naked and no will tell us the truth.

Like the emperor everyone can see our nakedness, everyone knows we are making a full of ourselves, but out of fear for position or intellect those around us stay quiet!

III. We must get dressed as priests again!
Psalm 132:16
I will clothe her priests with salvation, and her faithful people will ever sing for joy.

The bible has much to say about how we should dress spiritually.

Ecclesiastes 9:8, 
Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil.

The white represents the call to purity, innocence, and cleanliness. We are called to be clothed different than the world.

In fact it is when Adam and Eve sinned that God found it important to cover their nakedness.

Genesis 3:21
, The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.

Psalm 30:11
You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and 
clothed me with joy.

Look at how Solomon describes the proverbs 31 woman:

Proverbs 31:25
, She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.

God is calling His people to get dressed again! Remember what he said to the Laodicean church?

Revelation 3:18 (message), "Here's what I want you to do: Buy your gold from me, gold that's been through the refiner's fire. Then you'll be rich. Buy your clothes from me, clothes designed in Heaven. You've gone around half-naked long enough. And buy medicine for your eyes from me so you can see, really see.
God is calling His leaders back to transparency and purity. We must not ignore those around us who can tell us when we are naked.

There is a stirring for the Samuels to arise!

The John the Baptist that will wear the clothes that hurt!

The Jeremiahs that will role around in mud in order to be baptized as priests.
God created us in the secret place. There we were naked before Him! Leaders that do not visit the secret place forget when it is important to wear clothes!
Revelation 16:15
, "Keep watch! I come unannounced, like a thief. You're blessed if, awake and dressed, you're ready for me. Too bad if you're found running through the streets, naked and ashamed."

IV. Give us Sons and Daughters that will cover our nakedness!
Remember, Noah and His sons? Noah gets drunk on his new vineyard.

The vineyard represents the land your called to take. It is so easy to get indulged and drunk off the fruit we have produced.

It is so easy to get drunk off our own success while our children stand outside our place of rest. We are all subject to self-depravation as we lock people out of our tents

Noahs son Ham see’s his dad lying naked. He begins to mock and laugh.

I have learned the people enjoy our anointing, but cannot handle our humanity.
Genesis 9:20-29 (NIV), Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded[a] to plant a vineyard. 21 When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent. 22 Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father naked and told his two brothers outside. 23 But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father’s naked body. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father naked. 24 When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him, 25 he said, “Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers.” 26 He also said, “Praise be to the LORD, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem. 
27 May God extend Japheth’s[b] territory; may Japheth live in the tents of Shem, and may Canaan be the slave of Japheth.” 28 After the flood Noah lived 350 years. 29 Noah lived a total of 950 years, and then he died.

Dad wakes up! In Gods mercy he will always awaken his leaders from the drunken stupor of our self intoxication.

Noah- who represents the father of the newly created humanity. All that is left on earth is Noah and his family.

Ham made fun of his dad- Now Noah in anger curses Hams son Canaan.
When Noah awoke and "knew what his younger son had done to him", he pronounced the curse, not on Ham, but on Ham's son Canaan. Canaan was condemned to be a "servant of servants" to the other sons of Ham, as well as a servant to Shem and Japheth.

But the bible says that Shem and Japheth so honored their father they went in backwards so as to not see their dad, and they covered his nakedness.
We must have those around us that will still honor our nakedness and cover us in our season drunken sleep.

Hams act of selfishness and disrespect caused his son to be a slave to everyone.
Ham’s disrespect of the Father caused his own son to serve the two who knew how to cover the nakedness of a leader!

Why did God curse Ham and instead curse his son Cannan?

Because, God had already blessed the dad in Genesis 9:1, and would not revers it. In other words what you do today to protect, and honor a leader determines the blessing your children receive.

What have learned? No leader is above ending up naked in front of the congregation, but hopefully we will have sons and daughters that will cover our nakedness.

Today, we must dress ourselves in the Full armor of God!