Read an Excerpt
By JOHN BEVERE
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2001 John Bevere
All right reserved.
Chapter OneIntroducing Under Cover
Often the painful words, not the smooth ones, ultimately bring the greatest freedom and protection.
Under cover-this phrase can apply to a vast number of situations. In its simplest form it could describe a small child nestled under the warmth and protection of a blanket, or behind the protective frame of a parent in danger. A civilian description may include a city under police or military protection. It could describe an animal hidden away in a thicket, cave, or subterranean refuge. Or it could describe a family enjoying the shelter and safety of their home while a storm rages just outside.
As a child I remember living in an area where we experienced frequent storms. We would watch the dark clouds roll in from our picture windows to the accompanying beat of distant thunders. In a matter of minutes the storm was on top of us in full force. Lightning flashes were followed by immediate explosive thunders. The rain sounded like thousands of tiny hammers pounding away at our roof. The storm actually made our house feel that much more safe and secure. Everything outside the windows was wet, cold, and in danger of fatal lightning strikes. Yet inside we were safe and dry shielded by our roof fromthe tyranny of the storm. We were under cover.
Taking this point further, we can pull these two words together and come up with another term-undercover. This term describes the safety found in hidden identities. An agent who is undercover can move freely about without being apprehended by his enemy. His government has put him under the cover of an alias, and he is a free agent in a hostile area. In short, no matter how we use this word or phrase in it's vast applications, they all seems to include protection and freedom.
But how does this term Under Cover apply to Christians? David writes, "He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, 'He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust'" (Ps. 91:1-2). Again we see protection for those under His cover. However, from the initial words of his statement, "He who ...", we discover the all important question, Who is under His cover? The book you hold in your hand is a quest for this most important answer. To put it briefly, the one who is under cover is the one who is under God's authority.
Adam and Eve enjoyed freedom and protection in the garden under God's cover. However, the moment they disobeyed they found themselves in great need of the very thing they had voluntarily slipped out from under ... it was the need, "to cover themselves" (Gen 3:7 NLT). Their disobedience to God's authority robbed mankind of the sweet freedom and protection they'd once known.
Let's face it. Authority is not a popular word. Yet by rejecting or fearing it, we lose sight of the great protection and benefits authority provides. We shudder because we don't see it from God's perspective. Too often our attitude toward authority reminds me of a situation that occurred with my third son.
When Alexander entered first grade, he had a bad experience with his teacher. She was constantly on edge with the class-grumpy and out of control, yelling and screaming at the students frequently. Too often Alexander found himself the focus of her outbursts because he is a creative and energetic young man who would rather talk than be still. To him school was a wonderful social gathering. Needless to say, his approach to school clashed with the teacher's personality and impatience.
Many times my wife and I ended up in her room after school for consultation sessions. We worked with the teacher, encouraging Alec to submit to her rules and to cooperate, but the whole stressful process hindered his love for structured academic learning.
Then we moved to a new state, and Alec moved into the second grade. He had a very different teacher. She was almost overly nice and extremely sensitive to the happiness of her students. She thought Alec was adorable, and with his disposition, he probably fell in love with her, but got away with about everything and learned very little. Alec seemed to be slipping through the cracks of academia, so we moved him to a wonderful charter school that stressed academics.
He felt lost and frustrated there. He was in the midst of children who had excelled in learning for their first two years. Alec was now under the tutelage of a good and kind, but firm, teacher. It was soon discovered that he was behind the other students. Again, there were frequent, but this time beneficial, meetings with his teacher. Lisa and I got more involved with his work.
Going to school all day and having parents breathing down your neck at night can become overwhelming. Many times Alec would just shut down. Tears frequently flowed as he felt like he was drowning, even though he was actually making progress.
One day the bottom fell out for him emotionally. His brothers were going to a school roller skating party, but he had to stay home to do some unfinished schoolwork he had hidden in his desk. He was missing out on the fun due to his stack of work from the teacher! He could do nothing but weep. It was time for another daddy-son talk. After a few words, I could easily see the problem. In his eyes the whole thing was utterly hopeless. The tears of frustration continually flowed, and he just wasn't hearing what Dad was saying. There was a time of silence with both of us out of words. He just hung his head and sobbed.
I'll never forget what happened next. He straightened up, gained his composure somewhat, and wiped his face dry, then looked at me with those big chocolate brown and now confident eyes. An idea had obviously dawned on him, one that would solve his problems and dry his tears. He straightened up and crossed his arms. With a grave voice he said, "Daddy, I want to tell you something. Did you know Jessica in my class ... she doesn't believe in doctors?" He hesitated, then added, "Well, Daddy, I don't believe in teachers."
It was hard for me to refrain from smirking or laughing. He had successfully surprised me with this one. He continued, "If Jessica in my class can not believe in doctors, well I just won't believe in teachers." I couldn't contain my laughter any longer. If he had spoken this out of frustration, it wouldn't have been so humorous. But it was his tone. He really thought he was letting me in on a new revelation that could solve all his problems. He was as serious as someone testifying in a courtroom.
Of course, I took the opportunity to explain to him where he might be if he did not have teachers. I shared with him what it was like when I went to Angola, Africa, the previous year to work at feeding stations for starving young children. How those children would have given almost anything to trade opportunities with Alexander! They would have jumped on the chance to learn because they understood its importance in one day providing for their families. After my lengthy explanation, he reluctantly released his newfound philosophy and returned to the kitchen table to conquer his stack of work.
For the next several weeks I kept thinking about this encounter with my son and couldn't help drawing the parallel between it and the way that some people look at authority. Too often there is a history of unpleasant experiences with authority; some, because the leaders they were under were unnecessarily harsh; others, like Alexander, out of sheer frustration have come to view authorities hindrances to their enjoyment or to what they believe best for themselves when, in reality, they have fine leaders and authorities over them. But out of these distasteful experiences has developed a subtle attitude: I just don't believe in authority, or to put it in more adult terms, I'm just not going to submit to authority unless I first agree with it.
But what is God's position on all this? Are we to submit to authorities even if they are unfair? What if they are corrupt? What if they tell us to do what we perceive as wrong? What if they tell us to sin? Where can the line be drawn? Besides, why should we have to submit? Are there any benefits? Couldn't we all just be led by the Spirit of God?
The Word of God holds specific answers to all these questions. I believe this is one of the most important books the Lord has commissioned me to write because it deals with the root cause of many difficulties people currently experience in the church. What caused Lucifer to fall? Rebellion. What caused Adam to fall? Rebellion. What causes many to drift in their walk with God? Rebellion. What is really sobering is that most rebellion is not blatant, but subtle.
In this book I have shared examples of my own failures. I am not a power-hungry leader who desires to beat his sheep, staff, or family into submission. I have a wonderful staff and family. And I am not a pastor. So I write as a man who has made many mistakes or, more accurately put, sins. I served under two international ministries in the 1980s, and from these experiences I draw most of my errant examples. What is most sobering about each incident is that I believed with all my heart I was right in each one when, in reality, I was wrong. I am so grateful to our Lord that His Word exposed my motives.
My heartfelt desire is to see you learn from my hardships and avoid the same mistakes. I pray you'll draw instruction and godly insight from my foolishness, and reap the benefits. For what I later learned as a result of my experiences and the truths revealed in the process was both beneficial and wonderful. Through repentance came safety and provision.
I believe the same can occur with you as this book unfolds. As you read the biblical and personal examples, light will be shed on your heart as well. Some points may strengthen what you already know, while others will set you free. In either case, I pray you will receive His word with meekness, for that is truly my heart in bringing it.
Confronted with truth, we can respond two ways. We can become angry and defensive, like Cain, Adam's son, and forsake the very revelation we need (Gen. 4). Or we can be humble and broken, like David when challenged by Nathan, and let the pain and repentance raise us to another level of godly character (2 Sam. 12). Let's have the heart of David in this matter and reject the pride endeavoring to keep us from God's plan of provision and protection.
As you embark on this path, remember that often the painful words, not the smooth ones, ultimately bring the greatest freedom and protection. As a child, right before I received my second grade immunization shot, a friend told me how much it hurt. After hearing that I was determined to avoid the needle at all costs. I fought with two nurses until they finally gave up. Then my parents sat me down and explained to me what could happen if I didn't get the tuberculosis vaccine. I had already watched my sister die of cancer, so I knew they wanted only my protection. I knew the shot would be somewhat painful, but it would keep me from experiencing much greater pain from contracting a dreadful and possibly deadly disease. Once I understood, I willingly went back for the shot.
Remember this example when you encounter any uncomfortable, or even painful, immunizing truths from the Word of God. Know your heavenly Father's ways are perfect, and what may at times look presently detrimental or hurtful will actually be His positioning for protection, blessing, or another's salvation. Never forget His love for us is pure, complete, and everlasting!
Before we begin our journey, let's pray:
Heavenly Father, I desire truth in my inward parts more than I desire comfort or pleasure. So I place my heart and soul in Your hands, knowing that Your ways are perfect. You love me enough to send what was most important to You, Your Son, Jesus, to die for me that I might have eternal life. If You love me that much, You surely desire to complete the work in my life, that You have begun. As I read this book, I ask that You would speak to me by Your Spirit and show me Your desired ways for my life. Open my eyes to see and my ears to hear Your Word. Reveal Jesus to me greater than I have ever seen Him before. Thank You in advance for what You will do in me through Your word in this book. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Chapter TwoIt's Hard to Kick Against the Goads
It is hard to understand kingdom principles with a democratic mind-set.
A challenge now looms before me, one perhaps impossible without the grace of God. Mine is to attempt to teach authority in the midst of a world that increases daily in lawlessness. Therefore, a lot of what I outline in this book will go against or resist the very reasoning processes of this world. In so many ways we have been programmed to think differently from the foundational truths we are about to encounter. Yet this is the exact tactic of Satan, the enemy of our souls-he loves to make what brings us into bondage appear desirable and even good while portraying what is liberating as bondage.
That is how it all started in the first place. Remember the Garden; his method worked so well, he hasn't changed it since then. That is why we are urgently warned, "Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren" (James 1:16), and "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God" (Rom. 12:2).
My experience has been that Westerners (dwellers of democratic nations of America and Europe) are some of the most resistant people to truly hearing the word of God. The reason is fundamental. It is hard to understand kingdom principles with a democratic mind-set. Democracy is fine for the nations of the world, but we must remember the kingdom of God is just that-a kingdom. It is ruled by a King, and there are rank, order, and authority. The laws of His kingdom are not superseded by, or subject to, popular opinion, voting, or polls. The laws are not swayed by what we believe to be good for us, as Eve was so cleverly deceived into thinking. Therefore, just as Samuel "explained to the people the behavior of royalty, and wrote it in a book" (1 Sam. 10:25), we must be instructed in kingdom principles today since our society does not foster in us kingdom ways.
If we attempt to live as believers with a cultural mind-set towards authority, we will be at best ineffective and at worst positioned for danger. Our provision as well as protection could be blocked or even cut off as we disconnect ourselves from the Source of true life. It could be likened to playing baseball in life while God is directing a football championship. We could compare it to attempting the use of an electric appliance without plugging it into the power source.
Too often today, if we don't agree with authority, we can challenge it through complaint or protest. After all, government should be "of the people, by the people, for the people," right? This and other democratic mind-sets have trickled into our Christianity and marched many down the deceptive path of self-rule. As this path continues they go beyond challenging authority to blatantly resisting it. Then there are those who have developed a greater degree of contempt for authority, which they display by totally ignoring its existence. Thus, they betray a complete loss of the fear of God.
But none of these approaches will bring the very freedom we seek. For the Scripture says,
If they obey and serve him, they will spend the rest of their days in prosperity and their years in contentment. But if they do not listen, they will perish by the sword and die without knowledge. (Job 36:11-12 NIV)
"Him" is none other than God. Notice the promise: provision and protection in exchange for our submission to His authority. Also note the impending danger that accompanies our ignoring His government. The freedom we seek when resisting authority we lose in our insubordination to it. My wife has a saying, "There is freedom in submission and bondage in rebellion." It sums up what we read in these verses from Job.
Some may say, "I submit to God, but not to man, unless I agree with him." This is where our upbringing and incorrect church thinking can hinder us. We cannot separate our submission to God's inherent authority from our submission to His delegated authority. All authority originates from Him! Hear what the Scripture admonishes:
Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. (Rom. 13:1-2)
Excerpted from UNDER COVER by JOHN BEVERE Copyright © 2001 by John Bevere. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.