BY: ROBERT D. TORANGO
I Cor 14:40 Let all things be done decently and in order. (KJV)
I Cor. 15:22-23 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. (KJV) Col. 2:5 For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ. (KJV) Recently Charlotte and I received a letter from Stephen Earll, who lives and works in Austin, Texas. Stephen is a Spirit-filled Baptist and Charlotte and I had the privilege of being one of those who layed hands on Stephen when he received the evidence of tongues. I will always cherish that night when he spoke in eloquent tongues and danced and leaped all over the building praising the Lord with pure joy and thanksgiving. It brought back my feeling of love and joy when I first experienced the evidence of tongues. Little did we know what great things would come out of that night though. Stephen has been on fire for God and has become a prayer warrior and instrument of God in a prominent Baptist Church in Austin. Quite a few have already experienced tongues through Stephen’s ministry and he has been given permission to lead a seminar on “Praying for Spiritual Awakening.” What really thrills me about Stephen is his commitment to making himself available to the Spirit to use him in his own home Church and at the same time, using wisdom to show his pastor that he is not some goofball, but is sincere in his walk with God. Indeed, he has been made a deacon and I am sure will be used mightily in the future. In the letter we received from Stephen he was given a word from God that I would like to pass on to you. “A couple of weeks ago I asked the Spirit in prayer how to handle a minor conflict that I had. Someone believed I should do something one way, while I was led to go a slightly different way. So, I wanted God to tell me how to solve the conflict without anyone getting loud, upset, hurt, or offended. He quickly responded with an answer. And to this day that answer continues to confound me because of its divine simplicity!
By the voice of the Spirit came the answer: ‘Holy Spirit Propriety.’ The meanings of “propriety” (as published in Webster’s First New Collegiate Dictionary) astounded me because of their spiritual application. Highly significant! Def. – 1. The quality of being proper, fitting, or suitable; fitness. 2. Conformity with what is proper or fitting. 3. Conformity with accepted standards of manners or behavior. I praise God for this word. It solved my problem and He gave me another message to spread, to encourage those who need the abundant life, the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives.” Stephen quotes the following scriptures: Gal. 8:6-10 (NIV); I Cor. 7:7 (KJV); II Cor. 10:12-14 (NIV); Luke 12:40-43 (NIV); Titus 2:11-15 (KJV); Eph. 1:11 (NIV); Rom. 8:28-29 (KJV).
This word that Stephen received from the Spirit really blessed me. I saw how each realm and order has its own standards of propriety and as we progress from realm to realm we must be taught proper etiquette in that new realm. The word that came to my mind when I read his letter was “protocol”. It means “the forms of ceremony observed by diplomats and heads of state”. I feel very deeply that God wants us to learn protocol. For one thing, we are being promoted by Him into a relationship that will minister to every realm in heaven and on earth. The protocol is given so that we do not offend other cultures (traditions) in the Spirit. I have found that every group of people that worship God day in and day out by themselves in their local Church setting without contact with other Churches, develop their own little order of things.
Some have a set order of service, (Worship, Special Song, Announcements, Offering, Sermon, Prayer or Altar Call) and others don’t have any order at all. Each one has developed their own order of things. Some of these Churches actually believe they have come into an order that is higher than any other order and feel sorry for the other unfortunate Churches that can’t know God like they know Him! I wonder what God thinks of our foolish ideas and concepts? I hope it seems humorous to him, for it is a fearful thing to be in the hands of an angry God! At any rate, Charlotte and I have had to learn proper etiquette to flow in with all the different groups the Father sends us into and not offend anyone. The bottom line is, whether in truth or error, God is worshipped in all the different orders and to Him belongs the glory throughout all ages, amen. The objective of every ambassador is to be able to attend the host country and participate in their ceremonies without offending their customs.
Every United States Ambassador has had to go through instructions on protocol concerning the specific culture he will be addressing. Some very famous goofs have developed over the years involving our heads of state, even a few Presidents. The reason for these blunders is someone failed to properly instruct the officials of the etiquette of the culture. What is totally in order in one culture can be viewed as extremely offensive in another and the other way around. This is why I feel a responsibility to the younger ministry to instruct them in the ways of protocol and equip them with a wisdom that would keep their word from becoming non-effective. What good is it to have the gift of preaching if you are not affecting someone’s life for the better? We older ministry need to take responsibility for the younger ones and be more than teachers of doctrine, but raise them up to know the ways of the Lord.
I Cor 4:15, 16 For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me. (KJV) We have been faithful to teach them the WORD of God, now let us teach them the WAYS of God. I would like to make a statement without seeming to be bragging. I have always been able to preach at the drop of a hat. I recognize it for what it is, a gift from God. But when I think of the gift itself, I shrug and say “Big deal, so I can preach.. That puts me in a class that includes some real melon heads, thugs, conmen, and saints.” What I really am blown away by is the thought that God would put so much time and effort into building my character. The gift came instantly, but the character came the hard way. In other words, He wants my life to match up with my word! I have the gift, but the gift needs a vehicle of expression that measures up to the office. The Levitical priesthood guaranteed a certain office to a certain tribe by birth, but many times the vessel ruined the effectiveness of the office. In the Melchizedek order, we are not so concerned with OFFICES as we are BECOMING what those offices represent.
When we see an unruly child, who do we judge? The child, or the parents of that child? The parents are usually to blame for the behavior of the child more than the child itself. The child does what it is taught. Paul said for us to put away our childish things. Grow up and quit your whining and crying. Quit lugging around that security blanket, go wipe your nose and clean your room. The ministry is being held responsible for the behavior of their spiritual offspring. Charlotte and I have been diligent in the last few years to make sure we didn’t raise some unruly kids that brought a bad light to our word. Because ultimately it puts a bad light on God. If you are around us any length of time, you will know what we think your actions should be like. Not in the natural, that’s the job of your earthly parents, but we do want to be an influence on your spiritual walk and teach you propriety and protocol in the heavens.
Things are changing fast in the Word of Life circles and I think we need some serious training in how to present this word to other orders. For a long time, we have been under the influence of an attitude that isolated us from other orders. That attitude caused us to feel we had the goods and we weren’t going to give them to anybody else until they apologized for their injustices to us. Beaten and abused by a religious system, lied to about escaping this earth and made to live in fear of the judgments of God sending us to an eternity without knowing Him, this people left their abusive home, so to speak, and we have made our own way without the help of our religious parents. We have gone a strange way to a foreign land, like Joseph, and we have entered into a realm of revelation and truth. We found out we can be self-sufficient if need be, and many of us actually like it that way. But I believe we are about to hear from our lost family, who are in the midst of a famine for the hearing of the Word of God and we are going to have to learn how to be a part of a family again. A psychologist would have a field day with most of us! Inferiority complexes, guilt, feelings of rejection, abuse (both financial and spiritual), we are a soup of neurosis and paranoia. Pretty good huh? Just lie down on my couch and pay me at the end of the month! Ha. But the truth is we need help and God is going to give it to us. We are rich in some areas of God but poverty stricken in others.
In one service years ago, a man jumped up in service and started jumping around and yelling, “I’m a manifested Son! I’m a manifested Son!” Charlotte, after a while, stood up and said, “You’re a manifested Mess! Sit down!”. Lord help us to get rid of all our extra baggage and be true ambassadors of your kingdom.
David, before his ascension into the literal throne of the kingdom, wandered around with a band of men made up of outcasts and outlaws. Although having had the word given to him by Samuel that he was the King of Israel, and even having the anointed oil poured over his head, he still was not ready to take the throne. He showed his character formed in him by the years shepherding Jesse’s sheep and worshiping God in song in the cool of the night, when he had several chances to take the kingdom by force and kill Saul, but refused to touch the “Anointed of the Lord”. However, when he did take the throne, I am sure he behaved differently than when he was on the run from Saul. He learned protocol and how to administrate the affairs of an entire kingdom of people. I feel sometimes that we have had to run with outlaws for a season, and to be identified with the cutthroats of this word, until we make our entrance into the world and be made manifest openly as the Shepherd Boy who was made a King. But even David knew that association was only temporal and that eventually he would have men of valor around him.
Be patient dear ones, a new people are on the horizon, and they are being prepared of the Lord to help us bring glory to God and salvation to the ends of the earth. Have you ever seen the movie, “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington”? It is plain to me that I am getting out of my league in the Lord, (have been for quite a while) and many times I feel like a country bumpkin. Our homegrown etiquette won’t be proper in this formal setting. In the natural if you were to suddenly be put into a situation where you had to attend a very formal dinner party, most of us wouldn’t know what to do. When I eat at home, I get one spoon, one fork, and one knife, and one glass to drink from (optional depending on if I am drinking a soda from the can). At a formal dinner you have several of all of these accessories and they are set at your table in a certain order of usage, depending upon the number of courses you will be served.
At our house we have only one order. Let’s eat! You can see how embarrassed I would be if I was put into that situation. However, once given the proper instructions and taught the proper order of things, I would be able to function with propriety and bring honor to my host and not shame. I want to be schooled by the Spirit to be able to move in any realm or order that God uses me in. The Lord is going to put some of us “commoners” in the company of bigwigs and we must be ready to be “all things to all men.” We have all been in situations where we have seen someone lacking in good manners and proper raising. When our daughter was young and in school she would be allowed to have a friend spend the night every once in a while. Sometimes there was a conflict of propriety with the way her friends acted and the way we wanted her to act. Everyone has their different mores of behavior and we judge by those standards that we set in our own lives. I was brought up by my folks to never talk back to my parents. If I had yelled at my mother like some of my friends did when I was at their house, there wouldn’t be enough left of me to bother burying.
My mother and father certainly weren’t religious but they practiced the verse that says: Deut 5:16 Honor thy father and thy mother, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. (KJV) As long as I did not talk back, it went well with me. When I did, not so well. I have carried this etiquette over into my spiritual walk.
I honor every instructor and spiritual parent I have had over the years and have always tried to be gentle with them even in disagreement. I think this is just good manners. I also was made mindful at my house to eat properly. Lip-smacking was frowned on and no food throwing or food wasting. I am sure you all have heard of the hungry Chinese and how they would gobble up your brussell sprouts if they were offered them! True or not, it taught me that you were thankful for what you had and to eat what your parents thought was good for you. In the Spirit I have had to eat some distasteful things that my nature rebelled against, but I am thankful now that I held my nose and swallowed, because I really did need what the trial had to impart. I learned not everything good for you felt great and was joy, joy, joy.
Some things in God hurt our self-man and bring consternation to us. But in the end result we are freed from our fears and learn to be an overcomer. I had the good fortune to grow up in the ministry under the guidance of some very powerful ministry in the Western part of the United States. I will always look at Rev. Dale Davis in Burbank, CA. as one of my first fathers in the Lord. I owe a large debt of gratitude to this man of God for his patience and care in taking me under his wing, back when I was full of vim and vigor but little else.
One thing I will always remember is how Brother Dale would allow each one of the young ministries in his meetings time to express the Lord. It was during these exercises of our ministry that we learned to get lost in the Spirit and minister out of the Spirit of Life and not ourselves. I loved the conventions we were a part of and was dragged around by the ministers when they went to eat after and before the services.
These were precious times, sitting and listening to men like Ronald V. Sittser, Arthur Pratt, B. S. Westlake and others. I didn’t know what they were talking about most of the time, but I learned that there was more to the services than what met the eye. I learned to listen to what was being said, not just how it was being said. I also learned to hold for Truth and take a stand for what is right even if it is unpopular. These were and are men to be reckoned with in the Lord and I will always be in their debt. In closing, I pray that I will never neglect to take a young minister aside and teach him or her what I have been taught by my peers. Not just the Word, but also the Walk. I received my revelations from God, but I learned protocol from the heroes of my youth.
PROTOCOL [Robert D. Torango] 1