“…Not Forsaking Our Own Assembling Together…” Part 3

This is a continuing story of a confrontation I had with another brother. Before reading on you might want to read the previous two blogs. The next day I received another email:

Thanks, Wayne, for your prompt reply. As I said in my email, I would like to get together face to face, and can do that this Friday. I have to fly in and out of the Ontario airport, which I apologize isn’t very close to Ventura. Could you meet me Friday for dinner, say 5pm? I hope so, because you, godly relationships and the apostolic/prophetic foundations God is now laying for house churches in America are very important to me. Until then, I ask you to join me in prayerfully pondering and seeking God’s face on the meaning of Proverbs 10:19: “Where words are many, sin is not absent. A wise man holds his tongue.”

I responded the next day:


As I said in my email I am not inclined toward a continuing email conversation, phone call or face-to-face meeting if you are on some kind of Inquisitional quest. Nothing in your response dispels this concern and in fact your reference in Proverbs seems a bit cheeky in light of your emails earlier this week.

I do have a commitment on Friday afternoon, which would take significant effort to rearrange. Also the freeways are a nightmare in LA on Friday afternoons especially over the summer. It could take you as much as four hours to get out to Oxnard and three hours to get back to Ontario, so I don’t know if this would even work.

A day after I got this dismissive one-liner:

I assure you, I am not on some quest. I stated clearly what I meant. Clearly, you didn’t receive it. I still pray you may ponder what I said.

Convinced we were on a pretty destructive path here, I originally decided not to respond. Two days later, however, I thought our previous relationship merited a bit more on my part:

I am so sorry that we have seemingly reached an impasse here. If you are trying to be a loving brother engaging a dialog, I am totally missing it. But this does look and smell like a quest to lord over others with your point of view. Accusations, ultimatums and threats are not the language of brothers, much less apostles. Such tactics do not open a door to understanding, correction or healing.

Even so, I wanted you to know the weight I have given your concerns. I have gone back to Scripture to reassess my thoughts and how I express them. I have shared this process openly with those I walk with closely in Christ and listened to their counsel. I have endeavored to engage a further dialog with you and you have chosen not to respond. I honestly don’t know what else I can do without betraying my conscience in this matter. I have never claimed to have a complete revelation of truth and am open to anyone God might use to help me see more clearly and live more authentically in his reality. If you are ever willing to continue that kind of conversation as a brother in Christ, I am more than willing to walk this out a bit further.

And you are not alone in your passion for true apostolic foundations of New Testament community to be laid faithfully our day, but I am certain this is not the way to get there. I think we both have far more to gain by working together as brothers than the current temper of this conversation allows.

The next day he wrote me this:

I am grateful to hear that you and those close to you have pondered my words. That is what a rebuke is meant to do. There was no accusation, ultimatum or threat from me (please reread my email). If you felt that, it came from somewhere else.

Your words about “impasse” bewilder me. I was willing to come to Southern California to talk face to face, out of love, relationship and commitment to Christ, you and the body of Christ. I thought you were blowing me off when you said you couldn’t drive across town after I offered to fly across the country…obviously, I misread you. I am more than willing still to do that.

I am more than willing to continue the conversation. We have miscommunicated somehow–I didn’t know we had reached an impasse. I sought to come face to face, and thought you were communicating that it wasn’t worth working out (I was coming across the country, and you communicated that it was too much work to drive across town to meet me). I am happy to keep the communication open…perhaps we could do it by phone?

To be clear, however, I wasn’t accusing, questing, giving ultimatums, or threatening. I was rebuking you–as a brother. I copied this only to (the magazine) because I was rebuking (the editor) for his equally “loose” approach to Scripture on the matter. Brother, your teaching on this matter is out of order (by Scripture), and by your own examples that you cite it reflects your life out of order. With whom do you gathering regularly so there is real accountability and support? It has to be more than driveway conversations at your convenience, when you are in town. Perhaps there is more, but your words are not pointing a reader in that direction…if my conclusions are inaccurate, perhaps you need a better editor to help you communicate more clearly?

I look forward to talking, but probably would be best until next week…

Again I wrestled with the wisdom of responding and three days later finally decided to make one more attempt to clarify what I thought was going on:


Every email I get from you is a shift from the previous, always contains an accusation, sometimes subtle, sometimes overt. I am no long even sure you know how to be honest with yourself through this process. I’ll just try to answer a few of our nonaccusation accusations from your recent emails to show you what I mean.

>>>>Your words about “impasse” bewilder me.
Nothing I have written to you in the past week have you responded to on the merits. When I wrote out a response to your concerns and your approach in dealing with me in such a nonrelational manner, you didn’t respond at all. I even offered to intervene if someone was misusing my words to be destructive in your community. You simply warned me (using Proverbs) that I risked sinning by using too many words. How can we not be at an impasse if you choose to ignore my responses?

You said: I was willing to come to Southern California to talk face to face, out of love, relationship and commitment to Christ, you and the body of Christ. I thought you were blowing me off when you said you couldn’t drive across town after I offered to fly across the country…

You didn’t offer to fly across the country. You said you were already coming to California and that you had six hours between something in Irvine and getting back to an airport in Ontario. You were asking me to cancel a commitment and spend all afternoon in Friday LA traffic to meet with you when I had grave what kind of meeting I was getting into. (Here’s what I wrote: “I do have a commitment on Friday afternoon which would take significant effort to rearrange. Also the freeways are a nightmare in LA on Friday afternoons especially over the summer. It could take you as much as four hours to get out to Oxnard and three hours to get back to Ontario, so I don’t know if this would even work.”) How is that blowing you off? Even at that I would have moved my commitment and driven across LA if you could have assured me this was the give-and-take of brothers and not a one-way conversation to accuse and rebuke me for something I think you’ve jumped to an erroneous conclusion about. (“I am not inclined toward a continuing email conversation, phone call or face to face meeting if you are on some kind of Inquisitional quest.”) You

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20 Comments
  1. eddie September 4, 2004 at 12:21 pm

    Wow, I am stunned.

    Wayne – I just wanted to say thank you for teaching us how to live in relationship with the Father and our fellow brothers and sisters. I have learnt much more in my time out of so-called "assembling together" of both God and his children, than a lifetime’s worth of assembling under the religious mindset and order. Christ is the way, and he IS the Church and Church is nothing more than the degree that is expressed of Him when we get together, whatever form that may take. You have emerged as an elder in my life, whose council I will receive any day of the week, and all that without anyone appointing you to the job, save the Lord.

    For that, I will always thank the Father and treasure the relationship that we share. You words have set me on a course getting closer to Father as I journey home, and I love him more deeply now than ever before. Thanks for the small part you played in that.

    Much care in the Son

    eddie

    😉

  2. eddie September 4, 2004 at 3:21 pm

    Wow, I am stunned.

    Wayne – I just wanted to say thank you for teaching us how to live in relationship with the Father and our fellow brothers and sisters. I have learnt much more in my time out of so-called "assembling together" of both God and his children, than a lifetime’s worth of assembling under the religious mindset and order. Christ is the way, and he IS the Church and Church is nothing more than the degree that is expressed of Him when we get together, whatever form that may take. You have emerged as an elder in my life, whose council I will receive any day of the week, and all that without anyone appointing you to the job, save the Lord.

    For that, I will always thank the Father and treasure the relationship that we share. You words have set me on a course getting closer to Father as I journey home, and I love him more deeply now than ever before. Thanks for the small part you played in that.

    Much care in the Son

    eddie

    😉

  3. Bruce September 5, 2004 at 5:23 am

    Thanks for sharing this interaction, brother.

    It’s good to encourage one another, but it is easily and quickly converted to "lording over" when we lose sight of love.

    Human nature compels us to be right, but I think it’s God’s nature to not worry about being right… just worry about being loving.

    I appreciate your willingness to help us understand these things better.

    Love!

  4. Donna W. September 5, 2004 at 6:05 am

    Hello Wayne,

    I too want to thank you for sharing. In truth, I can so easily fall into the trap of thinking I have the answers and must at times make deliberate decisions to JUST KEEP MY MOUTH SHUT! I believe it takes the Holy Spirit to show the freedom we have in Christ as much as it takes the Holy Spirit to show us who Christ is. Institutional thinking is something very hard to rid one’s self of when it is all you have known. I use to think it my responsibility to correct and rebuke and now I know I wasn’t mature enough myself to tell anyone anything. More and more I’m learning to NOT try to do the Holy Spirits job. The last thing I would like to say is e-mail has to be the worst way to try to communicate when there is disagreement about anything. It is so easy to read your own way of thinking into someone elses words and so come to conclusions the other never intended.

  5. Bruce September 5, 2004 at 8:23 am

    Thanks for sharing this interaction, brother.

    It’s good to encourage one another, but it is easily and quickly converted to "lording over" when we lose sight of love.

    Human nature compels us to be right, but I think it’s God’s nature to not worry about being right… just worry about being loving.

    I appreciate your willingness to help us understand these things better.

    Love!

  6. Donna W. September 5, 2004 at 9:05 am

    Hello Wayne,

    I too want to thank you for sharing. In truth, I can so easily fall into the trap of thinking I have the answers and must at times make deliberate decisions to JUST KEEP MY MOUTH SHUT! I believe it takes the Holy Spirit to show the freedom we have in Christ as much as it takes the Holy Spirit to show us who Christ is. Institutional thinking is something very hard to rid one’s self of when it is all you have known. I use to think it my responsibility to correct and rebuke and now I know I wasn’t mature enough myself to tell anyone anything. More and more I’m learning to NOT try to do the Holy Spirits job. The last thing I would like to say is e-mail has to be the worst way to try to communicate when there is disagreement about anything. It is so easy to read your own way of thinking into someone elses words and so come to conclusions the other never intended.

  7. Loren September 5, 2004 at 9:48 am

    He sounds like me about six years ago! Some friends of mine returned to the simplicity of Christ while I was holding a "leadership" position in my congregation. I argued round and round with them until I was blue in the face. Everything I had believed about church leadership they were able to disprove through scripture. This left me without any arguments so I resorted to accusing them of being offended at church leaders and telling them they needed major healing. They loved me and continued to pray for me. They didn’t change their friendship with me. Well, a year later I was on the phone with them asking for their forgiveness and telling them they were a hundred percent correct. Through their prayers, God jerked the institution right out of me. And the amazing thing is it didn’t hurt our friendship at all! We are better friends then ever! I feel a tiny little bit like Saul/Paul who started out convinced he was on God’s side only to be knocked off his high horse and discover just how wrong he was. Then he went just as strong (probably even more so) for the truth.

  8. Bruce September 5, 2004 at 10:14 am

    It’s one thing to tell others what we believe, but it’s entirely another thing to tell others what they should believe.

  9. Loren September 5, 2004 at 12:48 pm

    He sounds like me about six years ago! Some friends of mine returned to the simplicity of Christ while I was holding a "leadership" position in my congregation. I argued round and round with them until I was blue in the face. Everything I had believed about church leadership they were able to disprove through scripture. This left me without any arguments so I resorted to accusing them of being offended at church leaders and telling them they needed major healing. They loved me and continued to pray for me. They didn’t change their friendship with me. Well, a year later I was on the phone with them asking for their forgiveness and telling them they were a hundred percent correct. Through their prayers, God jerked the institution right out of me. And the amazing thing is it didn’t hurt our friendship at all! We are better friends then ever! I feel a tiny little bit like Saul/Paul who started out convinced he was on God’s side only to be knocked off his high horse and discover just how wrong he was. Then he went just as strong (probably even more so) for the truth.

  10. Bruce September 5, 2004 at 1:14 pm

    It’s one thing to tell others what we believe, but it’s entirely another thing to tell others what they should believe.

  11. Dave Aldrich September 6, 2004 at 6:16 pm

    Wow, what an ordeal there Wayne. Thanks for sharing it and showing how to defend without being defensive or offensive. I have to agree that email is often a terrible way to argue a point. There is always the chance of misunderstanding. Just ask our brother, Alan. 🙂

    This came to my mind, something you shared on one of your taped messages. I think it goes:

    "When you have nothing left to lose, nothing left to gain, and nothing left to prove then you are ready to be a vessel for God to use in the world and other believers."

    That has been such an important reminder for me when I find myself being confronted with those that are more institutionally-minded and who don’t understand freedom. I used to get angry and frustrated with them for what I saw as their lack of understanding and grace. But that little phrase above has helped to keep things in check for me.Well most of the time. Some of the time? Well let’s say that Father continues to work it into me.

    I pray that His peace may rest on you, the rebuking brother, and this whole situation.

    Dave

  12. Tim Patterson September 6, 2004 at 6:54 pm

    Wayne,

    I am not sure how profitable it is for you to continue to "publish" in your Blog your ongoing interaction with the man who wants to rebuke you. I believe you have far more beneficial things to share with us than this. The Lord has ministered to me through what He has done in you. Keep sharing about His work of grace in your life with us.

    Tim

  13. Dave Aldrich September 6, 2004 at 9:16 pm

    Wow, what an ordeal there Wayne. Thanks for sharing it and showing how to defend without being defensive or offensive. I have to agree that email is often a terrible way to argue a point. There is always the chance of misunderstanding. Just ask our brother, Alan. 🙂

    This came to my mind, something you shared on one of your taped messages. I think it goes:

    "When you have nothing left to lose, nothing left to gain, and nothing left to prove then you are ready to be a vessel for God to use in the world and other believers."

    That has been such an important reminder for me when I find myself being confronted with those that are more institutionally-minded and who don’t understand freedom. I used to get angry and frustrated with them for what I saw as their lack of understanding and grace. But that little phrase above has helped to keep things in check for me.Well most of the time. Some of the time? Well let’s say that Father continues to work it into me.

    I pray that His peace may rest on you, the rebuking brother, and this whole situation.

    Dave

  14. Tim Patterson September 6, 2004 at 9:54 pm

    Wayne,

    I am not sure how profitable it is for you to continue to "publish" in your Blog your ongoing interaction with the man who wants to rebuke you. I believe you have far more beneficial things to share with us than this. The Lord has ministered to me through what He has done in you. Keep sharing about His work of grace in your life with us.

    Tim

  15. Steve September 7, 2004 at 7:42 am

    Wayne,

    I was changed by a God who loved me unconditionally but have struggled for much of the last thirty years with those who presume to know what is best for me and try to force me to believe more in what they say than in what I have in my heart and I guard my heart diligently to preserve my faith in Him. Wayne, you have helped me to trust my Father’s presence in me. May no man ever interfere with the grace of the Father that we all see in you. You have put on Christ clearly as much as any man I have ever met and I pray for you to continue to walk this simple walk of faith, after Him and in His liberty.

  16. Steve September 7, 2004 at 10:42 am

    Wayne,

    I was changed by a God who loved me unconditionally but have struggled for much of the last thirty years with those who presume to know what is best for me and try to force me to believe more in what they say than in what I have in my heart and I guard my heart diligently to preserve my faith in Him. Wayne, you have helped me to trust my Father’s presence in me. May no man ever interfere with the grace of the Father that we all see in you. You have put on Christ clearly as much as any man I have ever met and I pray for you to continue to walk this simple walk of faith, after Him and in His liberty.

  17. Allen September 12, 2004 at 6:29 am

    You really ought to re title this exchange. The real issue in the excahnge is not assembling but how the body handles diasagreement. When and how do we disagree agreeably and when is it time to "rebuke" "false teacheings" and how should that be done. The bulk of your e-mails deal with the spirit of the exchange rather than its purported topic — "meeting."

    The real issue involved in the exchange is one I am still puzzling over. I sometimes watch EWTN. I see what appear to be very Godly men with sweet spirits tell stories similar to yours in style but markedly different in result; they tell how they were protestant ministers but over time God revealed to them that Jesus’ statement to Peter in Matthew 16:17-19 was the establishment of an apostolic order (organization) with clear lines of authority that has continued to this day as the catholic church and that doing Father’s will requires submission to that order that Christ ordained and established that day in Caesarea Philippi. I see Godly men around me where I live in various denominations, all praying daily and seeking to find and do God’s will but all coming to different conclusions about various issues and all believing firmly that God has lead them to their differing conclusions. Why doesn’t God let them all in on the same truths at the same time? They are all seeking Him and asking Him to teach them.

    How about this for a theory? Jesus said the world would know his diciples by their love for one another. He also said that doing good to those who do good to you is of no value; everyone does that. The true test of love is how you deal with those with whom you disagree or who abuse you. If we all knew the whole truth, free from error and agreed on everything, our ability to get along would be no mystery or beacon in this world. We also would have little use or need for one another. But it is the fact that we are all working on understanding God, and the fact that none of us has the whole truth and some of us willbe wrong on some issues that allows our love for one another to shine and gives us a real reason for real interaction and learning from one another. Provided, we learn to work on these issues in a spirit of love as outlined in Romans 14-15.

  18. Allen September 12, 2004 at 9:29 am

    You really ought to re title this exchange. The real issue in the excahnge is not assembling but how the body handles diasagreement. When and how do we disagree agreeably and when is it time to "rebuke" "false teacheings" and how should that be done. The bulk of your e-mails deal with the spirit of the exchange rather than its purported topic — "meeting."

    The real issue involved in the exchange is one I am still puzzling over. I sometimes watch EWTN. I see what appear to be very Godly men with sweet spirits tell stories similar to yours in style but markedly different in result; they tell how they were protestant ministers but over time God revealed to them that Jesus’ statement to Peter in Matthew 16:17-19 was the establishment of an apostolic order (organization) with clear lines of authority that has continued to this day as the catholic church and that doing Father’s will requires submission to that order that Christ ordained and established that day in Caesarea Philippi. I see Godly men around me where I live in various denominations, all praying daily and seeking to find and do God’s will but all coming to different conclusions about various issues and all believing firmly that God has lead them to their differing conclusions. Why doesn’t God let them all in on the same truths at the same time? They are all seeking Him and asking Him to teach them.

    How about this for a theory? Jesus said the world would know his diciples by their love for one another. He also said that doing good to those who do good to you is of no value; everyone does that. The true test of love is how you deal with those with whom you disagree or who abuse you. If we all knew the whole truth, free from error and agreed on everything, our ability to get along would be no mystery or beacon in this world. We also would have little use or need for one another. But it is the fact that we are all working on understanding God, and the fact that none of us has the whole truth and some of us willbe wrong on some issues that allows our love for one another to shine and gives us a real reason for real interaction and learning from one another. Provided, we learn to work on these issues in a spirit of love as outlined in Romans 14-15.

  19. Marsha September 18, 2004 at 8:21 am

    I too find it frustrating that organized church goers use this one scripture Heb. 10:25 ..not to forsake our own assembling together to try to prove us wrong. We could just as easily use a scripture or two to prove why we’re right. but we are to walk/worship in spirit and truth, not walk in rules and regulations. That is what Christ came to free us from. We must listen to the Living Word who indwells us and from my understanding it is the IC people who have forsaken the assembling together in which that context is referring. People of IC can assemble all they want, but only He can change the inner man. When we see with spiritual eyes THEN we’ll see the facade of a system of church programs, weekly attendance, and worst of all ….intentionally BEGGING non christians to come and fellowship with them on a continual basis, telling them,,just ask Jesus in your heart and you’ll be saved. That is unscriptual!!! I believe the true christians in the IC have spiritual eyes to see and ears to hear, BUt at this time they are choosing to listen and see thru pulpit eyes and ears. I testify to this because I was one of them, BUT praise God called me out from the IC. I pray the eyes and ears of our brothers and sisters in IC church will see the freedom of knowing the Living God for themselves and not thru the pulpit.

  20. Marsha September 18, 2004 at 11:21 am

    I too find it frustrating that organized church goers use this one scripture Heb. 10:25 ..not to forsake our own assembling together to try to prove us wrong. We could just as easily use a scripture or two to prove why we’re right. but we are to walk/worship in spirit and truth, not walk in rules and regulations. That is what Christ came to free us from. We must listen to the Living Word who indwells us and from my understanding it is the IC people who have forsaken the assembling together in which that context is referring. People of IC can assemble all they want, but only He can change the inner man. When we see with spiritual eyes THEN we’ll see the facade of a system of church programs, weekly attendance, and worst of all ….intentionally BEGGING non christians to come and fellowship with them on a continual basis, telling them,,just ask Jesus in your heart and you’ll be saved. That is unscriptual!!! I believe the true christians in the IC have spiritual eyes to see and ears to hear, BUt at this time they are choosing to listen and see thru pulpit eyes and ears. I testify to this because I was one of them, BUT praise God called me out from the IC. I pray the eyes and ears of our brothers and sisters in IC church will see the freedom of knowing the Living God for themselves and not thru the pulpit.

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