jonathan stone's blog

. . . posts on faith and life

our response will dertermine our future

The church is sick. The illness is very serious, perhaps even terminal. We tend to want to hear a prognosis from the Lord. In this we think we will be able to decide the fate of our future. However, while we are waiting on the Lord, the Lord is waiting on us. He is waiting to see how we will respond to the sickness. It’s our response that will actually determine the prognosis, and in turn determine our future.

In 1999 my former pastor had a dream. He eventually shared the general contents of the dream in a sermon entitled “Mockery or Mercy.” In the dream he was in a large meeting with other CoG ministers. While waiting for the meeting to begin he noticed that on the stage was a long folding table that looked like it was set up for a panel discussion. The meeting began when some men assisted the speaker out on to the stage. My pastor recognized the man as the General Overseer of the CoG, and new that he really represented the church as a whole. The General Overseer was wearing a hospital gown, and was obviously weak. When he was finally seated at the table he was exposed underneath the table and everyone could see this quite clearly. A lot of people were looking around trying to figure out what to do. My pastor was in a near panic himself. Then he heard a commotion over to his left. As he looked he saw that there was a group of ministers wearing these crazy hats. And they were standing there pointing at what everyone had noticed. They were laughing and making jokes about it. My pastor looked around to see if anyone was going to do anything to help the situation on the stage. But no one seemed to know what to do. Then he woke up.

My pastor was so disturbed by the vivid contents of the dream that his first response was a deep burden for the CoG. He felt like the Lord had showed him that it was deeply ill. Eventually the Lord settled him in his spirit and spoke in his heart that the key point of the dream was not on the stage, but in the audience–that it had to do with the ministers with the “crazy hats.” From this the Lord spoke a word into his heart that the church was sick, but that the Lord was waiting to see if we would respond with mockery or mercy.

There’s a story in Genesis 9 about Noah getting drunk and passing out naked in his tent. Ham discovered his father, and went and told his brothers about it. However, the two brothers, Shem and Japheth, walked into the tent backwards without looking upon the nakedness of their father and covered him. This brought a curse on Ham’s life, and a blessings on the lives of his two brothers. In II Kings 2:23-24 we are told that children came out of the city and mocked Elisha. They told him to “go on up” like his mentor had done and called him a “bald head” (a form of nakedness). This brought down a curse on them that had very swift consequences. Forty two children were mauled by two bears that came out of the woods. The Hebrew Bible is filled with this theme, that younger ones should cover (honor) their elders, and that it will bring a blessing to their lives. But if they mock and expose (dishonor) them it will bring a curse upon their lives. It pervades the whole Old Testament, which ends with these words, “Behold I will send my prophet Elijah…and he will turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse” (Malachi 4:5-6).

Everyone has nakedness–weaknesses about which they are ashamed. Often others see our nakedness more clearly than we do. Chances are that you feel comfortable that you are not a mocker. You consider yourself to be merciful in your response to the nakedness of the church. You consider your words to not be uncovering. But I challenge you to take a moment right now and ask the Lord what he thinks. Ask Him to show you if He considers your responses to be mockery or mercy. Your response just might determine our future.

9 comments on “our response will dertermine our future

  1. Laz
    March 17, 2008

    Hey Jonathan,

    Thanks for your comments and yes, it is great to meet you too!

    It’s been awesome to read some of your posts, you have amazing insight mate, keep it up, its encouraging and challenging.

    I admire that your a mate of Steve’s it takes a bit to get into his “inner circle of trust” so that makes you one cool bloke! hahaha!

    Anywho mate I’ll be catching ya online!

    God Bless

  2. The Boyds
    March 17, 2008

    This is Good stuff! It is something we all need to hear and take to heart.

    It’s essential when pursuing change, reformation, revival etc. that we do so in humility striving to stay in step with the Spirit.

    This post reminds me of the book, “A Tale of three Kings,” by Gene Edwards. A must read!

    There is always a temptation to fight the battle with the weapons of the flesh. Once a person goes down that road it is difficult and rare for one to get back in step with the Spirit and in the end they turn into who or what they once fought against.

  3. Jonathan Stone
    March 18, 2008

    Thanks Matt, and well said. I think we could all benefit from reading and/or re-reading “A Tale of Three Kings!” I have a resolve to move forward and fear of the Lord about moving too quickly. If I can keep that dialectical tension I think I will stay in a “safe place.”

  4. The Boyds
    March 18, 2008

    I think that “safe place” is where Jesus was when he was nailed to the cross!

    How do you like that for a dialectical tension?

    The most dangerous place in the world to be: “In The Center of God’s Will.”

    Peace My Friend!

  5. Johnny Taylor
    March 18, 2008

    Good recollection of the dream from our former pastor. It definitely has the signature of the Lord upon it. I am always amazed how, especially among “the ministry,” familiarity breads contempt. It seems as though that nothing is sacred. It reminds me of other service professions such as law enforcement, social work, nursing, etc. and how after a while people become hardened and insensitive in their work. As a very young man, I remember thinking I would do everything I could to not become like that. As a middle-young man I realize it is easier said than done. Oh, Lord deliver us from self-centered, comfort-seeking living. Let be as children once again. If the elders become as children in their hearts perhaps the children will become elders in theirs and our future will be secure.


  6. Jonathan Stone
    March 18, 2008

    Matt, ouch! There’s no greater dialectical tension than that!

    Johnny, thanks for what you shared, it’s very helpful. It also reminded me about something. I was talking with Rickie last week and he mentioned how that Word given in ’96 about cancer in the breast was a “good” word for the children (“I will not let the children die”). I was one of those children. I was dying from malnutrition. But God intervened that year, and did it when Rickie came and spoke to one of my classes at Lee. Rickie went on to say that there’s another word. And it will be a hard word for us (those of us who were children then). Because God does not leave us children. And the word that calls children to become elders is a hard word.

  7. m.d. mcmullin
    March 18, 2008

    This whole post and the last comment has really struck something inside of me. A hard word to children that calls them to be elders. wow.

    It was in ’95 and ’96 that I attended a Seminar in Ministry at the COGTS where I heard a message by Rickie Moore and another by David Franklin that called me to the seminary. It was also in ’95 and ’96 that I had a series of dreams about the Church of God that changed my life.

    I hadn’t forgotten about these things but I feel very tender right now remembering all of this. I feel like something is coming. This season is very pregnant.

  8. Jonathan Stone
    March 19, 2008

    Mike, thanks for sharing that. I have a strong sense of pregnancy too. My friend Johnny Taylor was the first person to tell me about the “transition stage” of labor. That point where the baby is turning and the doctors and nurses tell the mother to stop pushing. By that point the instinct is to push, but pushing could actually endanger the very life the mother is trying to birth. Part of me wants to jump ahead, but part of me wants to wait, sensing that we are in a time of transition.

  9. corum deo vida
    May 7, 2008

    i hear ya….and yet…a good friend of mine once asked me (after i quoted this story i had heard/lived), “how many blankets can you lay on one man? how do we even know who is underneath that blanket anymore?” it was not an arrogant or irrational question…it was from a place of pain and real struggle.

    what i have to wonder is this: when does covering become condoning?

    i refuse to condone what i have witnessed and suffered. i do not hate nor laugh at the circumstances or illness. i grieved and i still grieve. i pray for mercy. i pray for wisdom. i pray for grace on all sides. but i will not condone it.

    how do we reconcile Gen. 9 with Heb. 3 that warns us not to die in the deserts with the fathers who are hard-hearted? moreover, does narrative=holy? we don’t exactly see Yahweh sign off on Noah’s curse, do we? there are plenty of narratives that, i think, we all can agree are not holy actions nor are they sanctioned by God(Judges 11 and 19 to name a few). i find it dangerous to develop a hard and fast rule based on this understanding of Gen. 9. it can (and maybe has) lead to abuse.

    i do not have any answers just some convictions and questions…thanks for putting this out there.


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This entry was posted on March 17, 2008 by in crisis, faith, intergenerational, issues, sustainability.
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