Publication: Pastoral Letter, July 2007
Dear Friend in Christ:
Life is defined by the doors that we recognize and enter. Therefore, understanding the nature of doors is vital. So what is a “door?” I could simply characterize doors as entrance to opportunities, but I believe that doors are more than that. Doors are people who give us opportunities. Those who look for opportunities but fail to see people, we call “opportunists.” They will use you.
Bob Mumford described what he called “Coke-bottle relationships.” They drink the contents and throw away the bottle. That sums up how many people view relationships. That however, is not God’s view or the Kingdom way. He said, “I’ll never leave you nor forsake you.” We cannot fully appreciate that until we feel that our contents have been consumed and we have been tossed aside.
But the Lord is still there.
There are multitudes of people in our world who feel “used up”, and many have been. Religion doesn’t seem to prevent that. Even pastors and church leaders often feel that way. After giving all, they too are cast aside. And certainly many members feel used to build someone else’s vision. Why is this true and how can it be changed? Let’s begin by seeing the person and not just the opportunity that they provide.
Jesus describes Himself as “The Door” in John chapter 10. That is, He is the entrance to His “flock.” One must relate to Him in order to enjoy the privilege of relating to His people and to enjoy Abundant Life. He warns against “some other way” or climbing over the wall to get the benefits. The entrance is not a doctrine or formula, the entrance is a person_Jesus Christ. Recognizing and trusting Him is essential prior to enjoying the results.
Jesus is not only “The Door,” He is the One who opens doors. Revelation 3:7-8 tells us that He has the keys to all doors; He opens and no one can shut those doors. In other words, He is the Door to other doors. Are those other doors people also, or merely opportunities? I suggest that all doors involve people, who also need to be recognized and not merely used.
The apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 16:9 that the Lord had opened for him a great door in Ephesus. Was that merely an opportunity or was it people? When Paul came to Ephesus, it was exceedingly idolatrous, and prostitution was part of their religion. I cannot imagine a less opportune place. However, upon arrival he met some disciples of John the Baptist whose hearts the Lord opened to the Gospel and the Holy Spirit. The apostle ministered to them and these people became the doors to a great successful move of the Holy Spirit. Paul’s ability to relate to those disciples was the key to abundant life for thousands of people in that city (see Acts 19). Paul went on to spend three years training more disciples to become doors to Christ and His Kingdom.
The “Door Opener” has opened doors for each of us. Sometimes we recognized and appreciate them, sometimes we just “drank the contents and cast them aside.”
I want to recognize just a few of the people who have been doors of blessing in my life. My parents were doors to the Kingdom for me. They taught me who Jesus is. Mr. and Mrs. Claude Jackson were doors into the arena of hard work; they taught me both to work and the value of it. Coach Douglas opened the door to sports and competition; Mrs. Loriman opened the door to public speaking; Dr. Seaver opened the door to my first pastorate; Ken Sumrall opened the door to the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. Recently, Dr. Larry Brock opened the world of nutrition to Carolyn and me. I could go on.
No doubt, I have missed some doors that people would have opened and closed others by my own failure. But my life has been vitally affected by the people that saw something in me that I did not see in myself. God opened their hearts to me, to give me entrance into their world.
We have many books on “How to ….” We need more books on “Who to ….” It is really not what you know, but who you know and who knows you. That is certainly true of Jesus. We would all do well to sit down and consider who has opened doors for us and if they are still living, thank them. It is part of our gratitude and recognition of the Lord’s grace. He uses people to open doors.
We live in a culture of manipulation, and flattery is one form of manipulation. But honor and flattery are distinctly different. Flattery is shallow, in word only. Honor is manifest esteem. Manifest means that true honor is shown in gratitude and service.
God says, “Those who honor Me will I honor” (1 Samuel 2:30). He also describes those who draw near with words but their hearts are not in it. God knows the difference between lip service and heart-felt gratitude and service. Eventually, people will tell the difference as well.
The Scriptures tell us to give honor to those whom honor is due (see Romans 13:7). But it also tells us not to seek honor (see Matthew 23:6). Hamaan, in the Book of Esther, sought honor by scheming, but ended up on his own gallows.
Honoring those who have the power to open doors opens their hearts to us. Such honor is manifest in gratitude and service. Those are qualities that train us to be good stewards once the doors are opened. Manipulation and scheming will lead us into places where we are beyond our level of grace and unprepared to steward greater resources.
Luke 17 records the story of the ten lepers that Jesus healed. Only one returned to give thanks and that one was a Samaritan. The one who understood being an outcast as both a Samaritan and a leper best understood what he had received. He recognized “The Door” to his new life. I believe he became a better steward of it – probably a more merciful and grateful person.
SEE THE DOOR
It is probable that many people look past Jesus to the possibilities that He or religion afford. After all, we probably advertise those possibilities. But we can become so keen on the rewards that we fail to see the Rewarder. In such cases, we misuse the rewards. We are like a son who gets a phone, credit card, TV, and sports car and disrespects the parents who gave it all. He will be bad steward – a prodigal.
We are well-served to continually behold the Lord and recognize Him for who He is. The writer of Hebrews says, “We see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone (see Hebrews 2:9). We see Jesus.
Habakkuk 3:17 says, “Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls – yet will I rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.”
Such worship demonstrates that one loves “The Door,” not just the rooms to which He gives entrance. That is love, not mere manipulation. Job’s wife, when she saw the loss of all said, “Curse God and die.” Job said, “Though He slay me yet will I trust Him. Job knew the door, she only knew the blessings.
Of course there are benefits (see Psalm 103:1-3). We can worship God for both who He is and what He does. But seeking who He is must come first. The God of the mountain-top is still God when we are in the valley. His goodness and mercy transcend all situations!
The Lord saw people not just principles. That is mercy. He both knew them as they were and loved them as they were. If we walk in Him, He will enable us to do both. He called to “whosoever”, but He chose some to be His disciples. Notice whom He chose: impetuous and violent Peter, angry James and John, crooked Matthew, the zealots and doubting Thomas. Jesus was able to look beyond the obvious and see open hearts. These men would have been overlooked by someone of lesser insight. But those that He chose changed history because He saw into the people.
Many people of great spiritual potential languish because no one sees into them. Their hearts are invisible to the church. Seeing the Lord better will enable us to see people better. There is a door in there, if we can recognize it. And if we can see their aspirations they may open to the Lord and to us.
Those that saw something in me, that I did not see, opened a door for me. Later, I saw them as door openers. This is most true of Jesus. He saw something in me and caused others to see it. Only later did I realize and appreciate who they were in my life. Realizing that Jesus is “The Door,” and the door opener, has made me want to open doors for others – though they may not see me that way at the time – maybe never. But it is not only about them; it is about Him.
Some saw the gangs; David Wilkerson saw young men with open hearts. Some saw pagan Indians; David Brainerd saw people. Some saw pagan Chinese; Hudson Taylor saw people. Some see Muslims; others that I know see people. Some see a subdivision; others see people whose hearts may be open.
Some saw Paul, an angry legalistic man; Jesus saw an apostle. Some saw Gentile pagans; Paul saw a harvest. Some saw idolatrous, adulterous Ephesus; Paul saw an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. He did not see Jews or Gentiles, bond or free; he saw people.
MORE THAN DOCTRINE
The Bible is about more than doctrine, though it is about that. However, it is primarily about people – people who become doors for other people to enter the kingdom of God.
Our culture is desperate for a Church that can see people and appreciate that all of them are created in God’s image, and He is not willing that any should perish. If we can see the Lord more clearly, we will see people more clearly. If we can honor the Door, we can become doors for others to enter the abundant life of His Kingdom.
I am grateful to you for allowing us to enter your life and to receive your love and support. I deeply appreciate your letters and feedback. Please keep CSM in your prayers and in your budget this month in a special way. I pray that the biblical Truth will open doors for you into His Kingdom’s riches.
Also, please continue to pray for our family. My brother, Riley, went home to be with Lord on June 4. My dear wife, Carolyn, continues her battle with cancer and our daughter, Charlyn, and her husband, Enrique, expect a baby in July. This is a significant season and we deeply appreciate your openness to pray for us.
Scripture Reference: John, Revelation, 1 Corinthians, Acts, 1 Samuel, Romans, Matthew, Romans, Luke, Hebrews, Habakuk, Psalms,