Monthly Archives: November 2015

Acts of the Apostles [2:44-47]

         And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.

         Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people.

         And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved. [1]

         [SEE COMMENTS]


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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Leaving the Grateful Dead and Creating Great Wineskins: An Oil Field Story (2)

         And He was also telling them a parable:

         “No one tears a piece of cloth from a new garment and puts it on an old garment; otherwise he will both tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old.

         “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined.

         “But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins.

         “And no one, after drinking old wine wishes for new; for he says, ‘The old is good enough.’” [Luke 5:36-39]

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         When the Lord Jesus prepares to bring real revival He must first create a real community.

         Since He only works with and through people, such people must be real disciples. They must be born again. They must be new. They must be filled with His Spirit. Without willing, obedient, and fully submitted participants—new wineskins—He cannot work, create, or pour out new wine. We know this from His Word.

         Creating the new necessitates leaving the old.

         And He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” But He said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.” [Luke 9:59-60]

         Though it is obvious that the Lord Jesus is all-powerful and can do whatever He wants whenever He wants, it is also the case that He has given human beings a free will. People must choose. People must choose Him. Otherwise He cannot bring forth new life.

         Therefore, free will restricts God.

         Strangely enough, though, what most people don’t know is that free will also restricts free will.

         Let me explain.

The Lucas Gusher at Spindletop Hill, South of Beaumont, Texas. January 10, 1901SPIRITUAL DYNAMICS OF THE OIL FIELD

         I have worked many years in the oil fields of Texas. When I was a rookie learning operations and equipment I became aware that much of the stuff we were using was old and outdated. The old stuff was still in use for two reasons: It still functioned and to replace it would cost money.

         The oil field is different like that. Because of the nature of ongoing boom and bust cycles, those who make their living in the industry have long since developed a traditional corresponding attitude. Those smaller companies who are invested in old equipment that still functions continue to use it even though it is outdated and advanced technology has created upgrades. It is the effort to work on the cheap and maximize profits while the getting is good.

         During a boom when a lot of money is available, one would think the equipment would be upgraded. But I noticed that money was at such a premium even when it flowed that few wanted to use it to make upgrades as long as the old equipment still worked. People feared the inevitable bust and were afraid to spend, not sure if they would ever get their investment back. In other words—in a classic case of the counterintuitive—in times of plenty wallets often got even tighter.

         Why spend money on new stuff when the old stuff still worked? Why upgrade the method when the existing method has worked for decades? Why treat people well when you could save money by treating them like cattle? Instead of thinking about spending for the future, a much greater price is paid in great inconvenience, more effort, more repairs, and more headaches.

         Sound familiar?

        Of course, the larger companies had capital to spend. Some newer companies began with the latest technologies. Their initial investments were in the best equipment and rigs of the time if they could afford it and had relatively long-term contracts. But for smaller operators, it was always a matter of using the past in the present.

         I remember one day in my first year, when working on an old rig that had been cobbled together in the yard from parts going back decades, I asked a worker with much more experience what had occurred to me early on: “Why are we still doing things this way?” I’ll never forget his answer:

         “Because that’s the way they did it in the fifties.”

         It was then that I noticed a completely different phenomenon. Not only did the people who were invested in old, outdated equipment insist on using it until it was scrap beyond any possible repair, they also insisted on doing things “the old way.” There was great reluctance to adapt to anything new.

         From this I learned three things:

         (1) The old-timers who spent a lifetime working their way up from the bottom in much toil and misery and had gained a better position of employment with greater authority and salary only knew what they knew. They knew a lot, of course. They had a ton of experience. They knew how to run a rig. But they knew little that was new.

         They had a hard time learning and adapting to new technologies. Their entire beings, brains, and brawn was an incredible collection of everything done in the oil field from many decades past to their present.

         Though they had worked extremely hard and learned it all, they had become hardwired to history. It was all they knew.

         (2) The second thing I learned from this strange dynamic is that it was like pulling dinosaur teeth to get anyone on a rig site to clue me in on a few things so I could do my job better and easier. There were so many times early on that I had to go through my work in the dark, just barely aware of my surroundings and how everything worked. I was trained enough to do the job just barely—that’s the way training was done. A man learned the basics quickly and then broke out into the field. So I had to learn a lot on my own on rig sites.

         My employers were happy. They liked me. I was a great worker. I did my job. But they also would only invest so much. They invested in the minimum toward their employees. If you couldn’t hack it you were gone. I hacked it. I was forced by the culture to learn my job the way everyone else had always had to learn. Unless you knew somebody or were born into the oil field with a supportive family or friends, you were on your own. No one who knew anything was talking.

         Also, nobody wanted anyone else to know how little they did know. People acted like they knew more than they did. So, on top of not knowing and wanting to know, one could not reveal that they didn’t know or they would lose rig site credibility. Cred is very important in the oil field. But one had to earn it. Low level rig workers would clue me in to some stuff here and there, as long as things were worded right and all the protocol was respected. They had had the same problem and could relate. But the higher ups were generally clammed up.

         You know why? It wasn’t just to make the new guys squirm and feel like idiots, and for the joy that such actions brought them. It wasn’t just because men had to earn respect by working their butts off and figuring stuff out on their own. No one ever helped most of them when they were coming up and they were bound and determined to do likewise.

         (3) It was mainly because they didn’t want anyone taking their job. They learned as rookies that knowledge in the oil field was power, and the more one knew the better off they were regarding the constant competition from new workers. Whatever they learned they put into practice but they never shared the information.

         If you wanted to learn you would have to learn the hard way as they did. You would have to man your post the best you could though feeling like an idiot much of the time but never letting anybody know it. It’s how you climbed the ladder. You would have to be treated with supreme disrespect and indifference by condescending closed-lipped and close-minded rascals. You would have to be an idiot until you figured it out on your own.

         Once you did figure it out you gained respect. I reached a point where it suddenly all came together. All the puzzle pieces fit. I saw the big picture. I got the big idea. I went from working in the dark to walking fully into the light. I learned it all the hard way, and it was very hard. Once a man goes through that process, he can afford a little swagger. I arrived at a place where I demanded respect without saying a word and I got it.

         Whoever does not understand this is still in the dark.

         Regarding Unreal Christianity, it explains everything. It explains why Unreal Christianity is still in the Dark Ages. It explains why it rejects the New Wine of the Spirit and why it refuses the Lord’s real community.

        Rather than leave dead works and dead religion, the grateful dead thereof have invested everything they have in Old Wine, Old Wineskins, burying dead fathers, and spiritual darkness.

         “If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” [Matthew 6:23] [1]

         [To Be Continued.]

         © 2015 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


 [1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Americans Deciding with Their Feet: The Ongoing Exodus from Traditional Christianity (1)

         Several years ago, an elder relative was bemoaning the state of his traditional church. “It’s nothing but a few old people,” he said.

         Of course, he was one of the old people. The church was dying.

         This phenomenon has been happening all across the country for several decades now, as traditional churches fight to maintain their existence while also fighting to resist any change for the better.

         In big metropolitan areas the problem is not perceived as much since many churches manage to keep the pews full. The problem, however, remains. It does not go away simply by increasing or maintaining attendance, because many of these churchgoers are mere new transplants from elsewhere or the next generation of existing families. There are extremely few new converts in these places.

         Regarding the next generation, a new Pew Research Center report  reveals that only 27% of Younger Millennials attend religious services on a weekly basis. Younger Millennials are American adults born after 1990:

         “As older cohorts of adults (comprised mainly of self-identified Christians) pass away, they are being replaced by a new cohort of young adults who display far lower levels of attachment to organized religion than their parents’ and grandparents’ generations did when they were the same age.” [1]

         For the past twenty-five years I have been writing and teaching about this subject, and warning that American Christianity’s insistence on maintaining a dying status quo would cost it severely in the future. Few listen. Many who are listening have been deciding with their feet, regardless of any warnings. They decide to leave because American Christianity has been dying a slow death for many decades. They notice this phenomenon, as those with vision notice any obvious institutional pretense, in that the ones who buy into a false, unsustainable, and dying method are blind to its relatively short life expectancy.

         American Christianity of the twentieth century had devolved into saying one thing and doing another as standard operating procedure. It had adopted the enterprising spirit of the times, in that success was measured in the same terms that businesses and professional sports teams are measured—there must be backsides in the pews and the backsides must have healthy wallets.

         For those who did not have the wherewithal, as did the Catholics and large Protestant denominations, to build large buildings to house their flocks, some new Christian enterprises bought giant tents and moved them from city to city.

         Regardless of what appeared on the surface as decidedly different approaches to Christianity and completely different belief systems, the one thing that stayed constant was that “Christianity” must possess large containers (church buildings) and put large groups of people in the containers on a regular basis (congregations), and these people must be willing to support this non-Biblical concept monetarily.

         However, the Lord Jesus has always had a different plan—the right plan—and He began revealing much spiritual light in the very midst of, and against, the enterprising, false “Christian” revival which was based on the popular political propaganda of those times.

         It was in the bustling and burgeoning post-war 1950s when this populist form of American Christianity reached its peak, and it was toward the end of the 1950s when the Lord Jesus made His move toward real revival… [To Be Continued.]

         © 2015 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] © 2015 Pew Research Center: U.S. Public Becoming Less Religious