At the end of my third term in the Full-Time Training in Anaheim, we sought as a term how to go on and with what attitude we should have going into our fourth term. In fellowship with a trainer, we were helped to view our fourth term as our entering into the good land, but not merely to enter or enter individually, but to possess, live in, and labor on that land corporately as a term. The reality of that land is of course the Christ who is altogether all-inclusive and absolutely everything we need. To this day I thank the Lord for each of my term mates and our shared experiences, especially in that last year. We then decided, especially among us brothers, that we would enter in together, stand together, struggle together, and strive together for each other’s sake, for the sake of our entire term, for the sake of the Training, and for the sake of what the Lord desired to accomplish in and with us. Numbers 32:6b became a word for encouraging one another, “Shall your brothers go to war, while you stay here?” Eight years after hearing that word, I now realize more than ever that the entrance into, possession of, living in, and laboring on the land is not done in a way of ease, but in a way of fighting.
I want to again affirm the shared experiences our time in the Training afforded us, all of us, not just those in my term. I want to affirm the life we have been blessed to live, growing up in the local churches, even if at some point we took it, or still take it, for granted. I want to thank my own father and mother, my grandparents, my sister, and my uncles, aunts, and cousins who took this way despite and likely because of opposition and difficulties; who have been patterns to me in realizing that this is a life worth living and giving all to. I want to again thank my spiritual fathers and mothers, beginning with the elders, serving ones, faithful ones, and families in the church in Houston where I was raised, nurtured, cherished, fed, prayed for, fought for, received by after years of wandering, and ultimately sent by to the Training; and to those fathers who continue to serve tirelessly in the Training and those in the church in Orange and Southern California who have never controlled but always guided, encouraged, adjusted, and who make it possible to my wife and I and so many others, by their living, to take the way of living to Christ and His church.
We did spy out the land. We can testify that it is a land which is exceedingly good; a land flowing with milk and honey. And yet, as the Word suggests regarding Canaan, it is also a land with a people dwelling there that are strong; it is a land with cities fortified and large. To this I would like to state as a point of fact that the co-workers in the churches do not condone any form of abuse, financial malfeasance, or other criminal activity. And any perceived or assumed silence on the matter does not make one complicit, neither does it equate with neglect or negligence.
We did spy out the land. May the Lord be merciful to us that we would have a different spirit to fully follow the Lord (Num. 14:24), rather than allowing our hearts to be made to melt (Josh. 14:8). May we be strengthened in our spirit to speak and to testify of what we have seen (Num. 14:7) than give or receive an evil report (13:32—14:4). May we be those today that fall on our faces and tear our clothes (vv. 5-6) than weep, murmur against, and seek after another captain (vv. 1, 3-4).
Today, I would like to call on my term, even to all my peers, by again quoting Numbers 32:6b and 7, “shall your brothers go to war, while you stay here? Now why would you discourage the heart of the children of Israel from crossing over into the land which Jehovah has given them?” Rather, “let us go up at once and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it” (Num. 13:30b). Brothers and sisters, let us take the land that God has given us!
“O brothers, be not silent! / O sisters, cry aloud! / The sound shall tell God’s triumph / And blessings far abroad. / Now is the time to praise Him, / Yes now, at any cost! / O joy in your salvation, / And in His mercy boast” (Hymns, #1095, stanza 4).