Dear Friend,

     Do you have certain biases or pet peeves you can’t get past? Are there wrong attitudes that stand in the way of your spiritual growth? What obstacles like these are in your path?

      All of us have mindsets from our upbringing, or from negative experiences, that can prevent us from making progress in our relationship with Jesus Christ. As it says so succinctly in James 3:2: “For we all stumble in many things.” Moving forward despite issues that block our path is vital for us. Often, it requires us to look beyond the barrier.

A Word of Explanation

     To help you understand the anecdote I am about to present, I need to be transparent about a prejudice I have always battled. For my entire Christian life, I have had a hang-up with religious ornaments and pageantry. When I see vestments, processions, cassocks, ornate crosses, banners, and hanging censers, I fight the urge to run the other way.

     This tendency could stem from my childhood upbringing in one of the more formal “frozen chosen” denominations. Or it could just be an aspect of religious practice that doesn’t suit my taste. I have Christian friends who find beauty and meaning in these formalities and liturgical decorations. Far from being critical of these friends, I simply have to admit that, for some reason, such items are off-putting to me. I freely acknowledge that it is my hang-up.

     So, you can imagine my surprise when the Lord used an encounter with these very ornaments to teach me a valuable lesson in my spiritual growth. Here’s how it happened.

A Quick Exit?

     A few years ago, after the completion of one of our regular DPM board meetings, a visiting board member stayed on for an extra day. She invited me to attend the Sunday service of a local church with her and have lunch afterward with friends. Actually, I already knew the interim pastor at the church we were to attend. He and I had enjoyed wonderful conversation and fellowship at various leadership meetings in the past.

     When we arrived for the service, this interim pastor was the one who greeted us at the door. As we shook hands, he and I took a few moments for a warm exchange before I took my seat in the sanctuary. That’s when the trouble began.

     Just as the service was about to start, I looked back to the rear of the sanctuary. There was my pastor friend with his team of acolytes—ready to make their procession toward the altar up front. He was dressed in full priestly vestments, and the robed acolytes were also wearing their denominational regalia, holding banners with religious emblems and ornate crosses on poles. My reaction to all this formality? One resolute thought: “I’m outta here!”

“Look Past the Vestments”

     I was about to lean over to the board member seated next to me to make some lame excuse—any excuse—for making my exit. Instead, just as I began to lean over, the Lord spoke to me as clearly as I have ever heard Him speak. In that moment, He said to me, “Look past the vestments. I’m here.

     I can only describe what happened next as a time of personal visitation. I sat back in my seat as worship songs began the service, and I started to weep. The tears continued to flow freely as I experienced one of the most intimate times of interaction with the Lord I have ever known—sitting right there in the pew of the church I had wanted to bolt from.

     True to what He had said to me, the Lord was there in a dynamic way. That service—despite my reservations about the religious paraphernalia—turned into a holy moment with the Lord. If I had bolted as planned, I would have missed it entirely. In truth, for me to experience that precious time with Jesus, it was necessary for me to look beyond the barrier.

Dealing with Obstacles

     The Apostle Paul was a wonderful example of how you and I must move past obstacles to fulfill God’s destiny for our lives. In 1 Corinthians 16:9 (NAS), when he spoke of “…a wide door for effective service” that had opened before him, Paul also remarked, “and there are many adversaries.” By saying “and,” it was as if Paul was observing that there will always be adversaries to deal with as we move forward in God. But none of those opponents ever seemed to deter Paul from his work for the Gospel. Shouldn’t the same be true for us?

     We see Paul’s same “look-beyond-the-barrier” attitude expressed in Philippians 3:13–14 (NAS): “but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching toward what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

     Paul knew what it was to push past the obstacles strewn before him, resolutely moving forward in the purposes of God. He knew how to look beyond the barrier.

Our Supreme Example

     The supreme example in this matter is our Savior, Jesus Christ. The writer of Hebrews encourages us in chapter 12:1–2 (NAS) to move past every impediment: “let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin that so easily entangles us.”

     He obviously knew it would be normal to run into these kinds of roadblocks. But how are we to respond? By running our race with endurance, “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross.”

     What a lesson to us! We look beyond our obstacle to Jesus—just as He also kept His focus on the joy set before Him. Our Savior has taught us how to look beyond the barrier.

The Barrier of Prejudice

     How important is it for us to get past our prejudices? In a message called “Limitless Resources for Total Outreach,” Derek Prince points out that wrong mindsets can cause us to miss what God has for us. Certainly, that would have been true in the experience I related earlier. Had I allowed my biased over-reaction to drive me out of that church, I would have missed out on that amazing experience of fellowship with the Lord. In the excerpt that follows, Derek speaks of our need to deal with the stronghold of personal bias.
     I think, in a sense, one of the biggest problems with Christians is prejudice. The apostle Paul speaks about casting down strongholds in people’s minds. Well, I think the most characteristic word to describe those strongholds is prejudice.

     People have their minds made up, and they simply cannot hear what God is wanting to say. The truth cannot get past those fortresses that have been built up in their minds.

     When I look back on my own mistakes and try to learn from them, this is the conclusion I have come to. It wasn’t so much that my understanding was incorrect as that it was incomplete. That wouldn’t have mattered until I began to act as if it was complete. That’s when I got into trouble.

     There is not one of us who has a complete understanding of all that God wants to say to us. Do not close your mind off and say, “I’ve nothing more to learn.” Those who say this are the only people who cannot learn.

A Deliberate Response

     What will be our response to what we have seen so far? Will we get stuck in our prejudices, or will we look beyond them and move with determination to fulfill the Lord’s will for our lives? As with so many spiritual matters we encounter, the initiative rests totally with us. We must make the choice, and how we decide determines the outcome.

     Would you like to pray together right now, telling the Lord you want to move forward?

     Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for the amazing example You have set for us. You were able to look beyond Your suffering at Calvary, fixing Your gaze on the joy of what Your agony was accomplishing.

     Lord, I want to follow Your example. Instead of being distracted by the obstacles in front of me, many of which are petty and selfish, I want to look beyond. Please enable me to place my focus upon You and Your plans for my life.

     Help me, Jesus, to lay aside every encumbrance. You taught us to set our gaze upon our greater destiny. You taught us to look past the roadblocks to see the bigger picture of Your purpose and calling.

     Lord Jesus, I will follow Your lead in this matter. For the sake of Your higher plans for me—the joy set before me—I will look beyond the barrier.

Fixing Our Gaze

     It is always a good step to place your focus on Jesus Christ. That is what you and I have done with the prayer we have just offered. The Lord knows the end from the beginning, and He will help us sort out our response to the obstacles and roadblocks we face.

     All of us here at DPM want to be involved in that sorting process as well. Barriers come in all shapes and all sizes, and it’s not always easy to know what steps to take. One fact is for certain: The Lord wants you to focus on Him. We would be glad to guide you through the library of Derek Prince’s teaching to help you fix your gaze on Jesus and His purposes for you. Thank you for every prayer request, every contact, every prayer offered on behalf of DPM, and every gift which enables us to continue this ministry. Our greatest hope is to be a blessing to you and a helpful partner in your spiritual journey.

Hearing the Lord’s Voice

     I hope the story I told at the beginning and the teaching that followed have been an encouragement to you. The greatest lesson I’ve learned from what I have shared is that despite my own limitations, my own biases, and my own stubborn behavior, the Lord is always near. He is always saying, “Look past the roadblock you are facing. I’m here.”

     The Lord is far more gracious to us than we deserve. His heart always seems to be towards us, even when our hearts are hesitant to obey. Too often, the problem lies with us. Sometimes the obstacles loom large. Yet, in every situation, the Lord is on the other side of the impediment, beckoning to us and calling to us: “Look beyond the barrier. I’m here.
All the best,
Dick signature

Dick Leggatt
President, DPM–USA