Sometimes you just need to remember with pleasure the glory days. For Some people, its football. Some its a job or a great vacation or a band they used to play in. For me, its a group of men and a Church. I got a call from Jeff today, one of those men. It brought back memories. And then:
I read in todays Wall Street Journal Personal section that men hate Church. That most denominations are losing men. Theres a reason. Men see church as sissy stuff because for many men it feels that way. So, many churches try to make up for that loss by having football or baseball games. Chili cookouts. Tailgate parties. Men stuff. It always fails. Its a poor imitation for the real thing.
I never go to those things.
I know what its like to be a man among men in a Church of men, how that feels sounds and smells. I long to be there again. I may be getting close.
It was in the early 80's. I hadnt been saved that long. I joined a charismatic church in Fargo ND. I met the other men. We were all in our mid 30s. All married. All with kids. All working and all full of the Holy Ghost and fire. A few of us came together and became a team of sorts. We never had meetings. We never had strategy sessions. We only knew one thing. We believed God and we hated the devil.
There was Lee (He's gone now). He had been a Rock and Roller. He was pure Gospel. He believed what it said and thats that. There was Jeff, strange and wonderful. He was a cop. He brought a cops sensibilities to the Church. He believed in the power of prayer. Not some namby pamby prayer. Power Prayer. Hell shaking heaven-reaching prayer. No missing his gender. There was Gaylon. He was an engineer. He could teach. But he would prophecy and demons trembled. If he looked at you funny you knew he knew everything you had done. He probably didn't but it kept you from stupidity. There was Pete. Pete was a body builder. Binding and losing. Take back territory from the enemy. No holds barred. Ex Military, he was tough. He now goes to Ukraine and takes back territory, starts churches, and never quits. He ducks bullets and gets thrown in the slammer a lot (in Ukraine) but he never quits. Then there was me.
Jeffs brother Curt was at that time a pastor in the Church. My brother Steve came and developed the media (TV) ministry. Pastor Dan (Really operating as an Apostle) kept an eye on all of us. It is wonderful being in submission to an Apostle who says sic em and you know if it gets weird you can trust him to keep it on course. There were men who could move mountains with direct faith like Mike Johnson and Pastor Nate. When we had a men's retreat things happened. Good Things. Radical life changing things.
I remember Pastor Dan saying to me, "With the men we have in this Church nothing is impossible for us". I knew what he meant. It was a heady feeling. We were all submitted but we had a spiritual swagger that John Wayne would have envied. We didnt know that there was anything but victory over the enemy.
Every time we had a meeting, sometimes late night Friday prayer meetings, sometimes on Sunday nights, there was a sense that Jesus might just show up bodily. We had no idea what might happen. Every service was different. It was always a surprise. It was always supernatural. We wished that they would bring the dead so they could be raised up. Sickness, infirmity, demons in need of being cast out, nothing was impossible. We had a growl in our Spirit that made demons run when we walked in the room. Jesus was so big in us that we didnt see ourselves. We saw only him and what he could do. Any devil in hell that tried to rise up against the power of Jesus was dead meat in seconds.
Oh we werent perfect. We were MEN. In ALL ways. But we believed God for a practical tangible line of attack. Nothing theoretical. We read Mark 16 and looked for scorpions and snakes to step on. We didnt wait for the Devil to attack us. We looked for the Gates of Hell because we believed that they would not prevail when we attacked. We read it in the book so we attacked.
But most of these men moved up or out and new team members pulled punches a bit. Like the 85 Chicago Superbowl Bears who became the 95 and 05 Bears, same team name, not the same team.
I was so acculturated in this radical faith that when I moved to Chicago and began attending Church here it was a shock. One time (because I was a weird believer in the Power of God) I was asked to pray for a woman with Parkinsons who shook badly. Is the Name of Jesus above Parkinsons? YES! So, cinched up the armor and took out after this devil. About 5 minutes into this a pastor from the Church came and asked me to stop. He didnt want to get her hopes up that she might be healed. What?? Thats exactly what I was hoping to do. Faith is the substance of things HOPED for.
I then began to realize what most Churches and many pastors (including this large Charismatic Church we joined when we first came to Chicago) didn't really believe in the supernatural power of God. Form of Godliness, no power.
Where are all those men today? All who are still alive are still in ministry. Some full time, some not. But still kicking the devils behind and loving it. Were all late 50s or 60s now. That Church is not the same. It has evolved in to a good church but lacking the fierceness, passion and fire of those days. Oh, it'll grow. Fierceness frightens the women and women go to church and then men lose interest and then they leave and..... Thats a pattern many churches go thru. Chili Suppers and Tailgate parties don't attract men. Being on the team and kicking devils in the butt does.
I'm not critical as much as pitying. I long to get back on the team. A team of Manly Men of GOD who believe, who run to the battle. Men with spiritual swagger who have Holy Ghost fire deep in their bones. I'm like Sampson, just once more Lord, show me those Doorposts. Let's bring the house down. I really miss those days. Once more Lord, just once more.