New Wine for New Wineskins October 2012

By , September 30, 2012 10:45 pm

Over The Top (Part 4)

 

over the topto an excessive degree; beyond reasonable or acceptable limits

In the First World War the phrase “over the top” was used by the British to describe the infantry emerging from the safety of their trenches to attack the enemy across open ground. More recently the phrase has come to describe excessive or foolhardy actions.

Remember – OTT people don’t just wait for people to come into church before they minister to them – they go out looking for them!  Jesus said that he came to seek and to save the lost!  And so, OTT people engage every enemy and opposition to the salvation, healing, and deliverance that Jesus purchased for all people on open ground!  The open ground is the world that exists around us outside of the safety of the church building or our own homes!  Jesus said to go into all the world!  The Son of God was manifested to destroy the works of the devil!  He said that we would do the same stuff that that he did and so I reckon that if we are going to do what he did, then we will do it the same way that he did it – employing the same methods!

As I have said previously, I believe we need to grasp the importance of touch and the spoken word in connection with ministering the power of God to heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, and drive out demons.  If we are going to do what Jesus did then we will do it the way Jesus did it.  So let’s take another look at how he did it!

In this part of the series it is important that we realise that as we go over the top we position ourselves in the firing line and place ourselves in danger of being hurt, wounded, offended, rejected, betrayed, etc.  Jesus came over the top of heaven and discovered before he was a few months old that the devil wanted to kill him!  When he came over the top of Nazareth to begin his public ministry and engage the enemy on open ground they tried to throw him off a cliff, stone him, plotted ways to kill him, and then he was ultimately betrayed by one of his own disciples and arrested, before being condemned by a kangaroo court that was supported by a screaming crowd declaring that they would rather have a murderer released to them, and the end of it all he was subjected to a criminal’s death and crucified!

Going over the top involves crossing over to the other side in order to engage the enemy and take the open ground – setting the captives free by healing the sick, cleansing the lepers, raising the dead and driving out demons!

Mark 4: 35 – 41; 5: 1 – 20

35 On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.”     36 Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. 38 But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” 39 Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. 40 But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” 41 And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!”

When you choose to go over the top and cross over to the other side you should never be surprised to discover that you have woken up the opposition and that all hell has broken loose around you! At that point, every reason why you should not be where you are and not doing what you are doing will begin to assault your mind!

1 Then they came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gadarenes. 2 And when He had come out of the boat, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, 3 who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no one could bind him, not even with chains, 4 because he had often been bound with shackles and chains. And the chains had been pulled apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces; neither could anyone tame him. 5 And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones.

Then you get to the other side and all of your worst fears are confirmed!  Unless you have the firepower!  John the Baptist said that Jesus would baptise us with the Holy Spirit and fire!  The most powerful force in the universe is the love of God!  When we have the fire of his love burning in us it is the fuel that ignites and empowers our faith – faith works and is energised and made effective by love!  That fire should be burning in our eyes!  God’s love can stare down any opposition!

Jesus said that we would receive power (dunamis dynamite, explosive power) when the Holy Spirit comes upon us and that the power would equip and enable us to be witnesses to him – to do what he had been doing the same way that he did it – in a local, regional, cross-cultural, and international context.

If we set out without the right equipment we will fail, but if we recognise that there is a universal language that crosses all boundaries and barriers then we will succeed!  What is that language?  It is LOVE!  Only LOVE never fails!

6 When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him.

It doesn’t matter how far gone someone is they can still be reached!  For the first time in years this man sees someone advancing towards him without fear or anger or carrying chains!  He recognises love personified and he runs to embrace it!

This was a cross-cultural mission for Jesus because Gadara was a city comprised mainly of Gentiles.  Sometimes the toughest cross-cultural missions are when we cross over into the subcultures that exist within our own society.  As a result, those on the fringes of our society are often ignored and neglected.  Even a foray into youth culture is out of bounds for a lot of us!  If they choose to come into our trench and join us and learn our ways then that is fair enough but we could never be expected to cross over to where they are!  But Jesus said, “As you go…”  He didn’t say, “As they come…

What about gang culture?  David Wilkerson (a third or fourth generation pentecostal preacher) left the security of a cosy church in rural Pennsylvania to cross over into the gang culture of New York City, and fully equipped with the supernatural firepower of God’s love saw a young man called Nicky Cruz who had been dedicated to the devil at his birth completely set free. Both of these men went on to engage in powerful international ministries that have continued bearing fruit for over fifty years!  One particular ministry that grew out of that first “crossing over to the other side” – Teen Challenge – is still effectively setting people free from the bondage of addiction and every other manifestation of sin and misery in many countries all over the world!

What about drug culture?  Jackie Pullinger’s book, “Chasing the Dragon” gives some interesting insight into what happens when you cross over into that sphere!  The drug barons in the Walled City in Hong Kong were bringing the worst cases of hopeless addiction among their workers and dumping them on her doorstep because they recognised that she was the only one who could do anything for them!

Is there a possibility that if we ignore cross-cultural outreach we will limit our ability to effectively go international!

Reaching out to a subculture of our own culture can be a major challenge in another way because it builds a two-way bridge in close proximity to where we live and hang out!  These folks might cross over in all their weirdness and uncouthness into our cosy little holy huddle!  And we wouldn’t want that, would we?

Remember when Jesus was having dinner at Simon the Pharisee’s house?  Jesus had been crossing over all of the religious boundaries for a Rabbi and so he had opened up the way for wicked sinners and people of dubious and despised backgrounds to come to where he was!  And so, here Jesus was having dinner with some of the religious elite when in comes a woman with a bit of a negative reputation.  She has an alabaster jar of perfume and as she is standing behind Jesus her tears are falling onto his feet so she gets down and dries his feet with her hair and then pours perfume on them!

If Jesus had shown embarrassment or even flinched when she touched him he would have blown up the bridge and she would have fled!  But Jesus knew that there are four basic needs in every person – the need for unconditional love, security, acceptance, and purpose – and so even though his host had a major problem with what was happening, Jesus, at the end of this encounter told this woman that her sins were forgiven and that her faith had saved her.  He told her to go in peace – perfect shalom – nothing missing and nothing broken!

Have you any idea what that woman would have used her perfume for previously?  And so, if a young person comes into our company with blaring music that grates our flesh and jars our hearing are we going to flinch – or even worse command them to turn it down or get out?  Or are we going to show them unconditional love, security, acceptance and give them our blessing to fulfil their purpose of glorifying God in their generation?

7 And he cried out with a loud voice and said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me.” 8 For He said to him, “Come out of the man, unclean spirit!” 9 Then He asked him, “What is your name?” And he answered, saying, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” 10 Also he begged Him earnestly that He would not send them out of the country. 11 Now a large herd of swine was feeding there near the mountains. 12 So all the demons begged Him, saying, “Send us to the swine, that we may enter them.” 13 And at once Jesus gave them permission. Then the unclean spirits went out and entered the swine (there were about two thousand); and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and drowned in the sea. 14 So those who fed the swine fled, and they told it in the city and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that had happened. 15 Then they came to Jesus, and saw the one who had been demon-possessed and had the legion, sitting and clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid.

Do you want to see strongholds come down and see people set free?  Are you willing to go over the top and cross over to the other side?  You need to understand that the biggest hindrance is fear!  And only love can overcome fear!  Remember – we have not been given a spirit of fear but a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind!  It’s time to go over the top and cross over to the other side!

16 And those who saw it told them how it happened to him who had been demon-possessed, and about the swine. 17 Then they began to plead with Him to depart from their region.

You have to be prepared for the fact that not everyone will be immediately happy to see you!  But if you can even get one convert in that subculture then you have planted a seed that can multiply!

18 And when He got into the boat, he who had been demon-possessed begged Him that he might be with Him. 19 However, Jesus did not permit him, but said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.” 20 And he departed and began to proclaim in Decapolis all that Jesus had done for him; and all marveled.

Jesus always had the best and most effective strategy because he never did what the flesh would dictate but was continually led by the Spirit!  Later on Jesus returned here and was welcomed because this man’s testimony of salvation, healing, and deliverance had prepared the way!

Are you ready to go over the top and cross over to the other side of every subcultural divide armed with the firepower of God’s unconditional love?

Matthew 10: 7 – 8

7 And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.

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