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There is a “unity banquet” at the glass pavilion (”riverfront pavilion”) in Ft Smith this Friday night (Nov 9th) at either 6:30 or 7:00pm.  They will have meal, followed by some worship (which I will be helping with) and some discussion.  This has had me focusing a little more on unity in my prayers and thoughts this week, so here’s some ”Aaron backstory” for you: 

In probably the middle of 1996 I had a weird dream where a big holographic-looking face was up in the sky sharing the gospel and could be seen from all over the area.  It was teaching and exhorting from Jesus’ prayer in John 17:19-end where Jesus is asking the father desparately that “those who would believe” would come together “in perfect unity”.  I could then see people going outside of their church-buildings and tearing down the words on their signs.  They tore down their denominational affiliations, and they tore down their own names - read “identity”.  Unfortunately, my pendulum swung more towards “anti-denominational” than “non-denominational”.

It was summer in Colorado Springs, and I was gathered in the un-finished World Prayer Center at New Life Church, praying with other leaders from around the nation who had brought various groups (mostly youth and young adults) to three days of prayer and fasting called “Prayer Storm”.  During a time of prayer, the Lord spoke two distinct things to me that I feel the weight of to this day.  First, He asked my permission to be martyred for the sake of the salvation of others; He made me say the words, “Martyr Me.”  (I don’t even like typing that, for I do not take it lightly.)  Second, He told me to “never slander His Bride.”  The expressions of faith and love that have been cultivated in people through their local churches, family, and denominations is not something we should insult flippantly - because, although even now I find it hard to believe in a lot of instances, it is still these people’s expression of faith of love, and it is precious to the Lord.

 Why is it that we can embrace the phrase, “though I’m dark, I am lovely” for those of us struggling with our same thorns and lack of personal righteousness, but we give no grace to the person who feel is too religious or hypocritical or judgemental.  Though they are dark, He calls them lovely - and, if they are willing, He (and only He) will bring them from glory to glory as He desires.  The Lord put it into this perspective for me one time:

“Aaron, you despise the ‘religious’ because they are so unloving towards the ‘green-hairs’ and pierced - but in that SAME WAY you are unloving towards the ‘religious’.  The ‘unlovable’ in the phrase ‘love the unlovable’ is different for each person, but a necessity for everyone.”

Later that summer I was at a church camp serving and during one of my quiet times the Lord showed me my tombstone.  It read:

“…his obedience to God
   helped unify the Body of Christ.”

Let’s pray that the “eyes of our understanding would be enlightened” and that the Lord would “fill us with a knowledge of His will” and with “the hope of His calling” - because praying that humbly over all of us will do far more good than arguing or even intellectual debate or scholarly reasoning.  And you know what, this unity comes with a promise from Jesus Himself, prayed by Jesus Himself, and that we can agree with (by word and action) and with which we can make a claim of fruition:

“Let them be one, as You (Father) and I are one -
so that the world will believe.

(emphasis added)

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