September 18 2017

How To Forgive: Steps To Freedom From Pain And Shame

Last week I wrote a post about forgiveness, and I would like to follow it up with a post on how to forgive. Learning to forgive can be quite difficult for some people. It can seem as though forgiving someone is excusing every bad thing they have done to you. However, that is not how the Lord sees forgiveness. Jesus came to set us free from oppression and death, and when we hold on to unforgiveness, we are holding on to the very things that strive to keep us in bondage.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Romans 8:18

Step 1: Admit you have a problem

For some, admitting that there is a problem is harder than forgiving the ones who hurt you. It is much easier to live in a place of strong denial, where you keep a firm belief that everything is just fine; nothing is wrong at all. You are not hurt or angry. You have moved on and nothing can keep you down.

This is exactly the stance the enemy would love you to keep, because it is in that denial that you are kept in his bondage. Forgiving those who have sinned against you is a cornerstone of Christian faith. To forgive is to be set free. We cannot be set free from anger, pain, spite, vengage, rage, etc, when we refuse to connect to those emotions. We tell ourselves they aren’t there, and when we flare up into a rage and someone calls us out on it, we smile warmly and say we’re not angry.

There is no hiding from unforgiveness. It is bondage that allows the demonic to work through us to keep us in pain and harm those that we love and that we have issues with. You may need to ask the Holy Spirit to help you see where you have unresolved issues causing pain, anger, etc.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9

Step 2: Repent for your anger

Once we verbally admit we are angry, hurt, jealous, spiteful, envious, hateful etc. , then we are ready for the next step, repentance. Repentance means to turn from evil and turn to good instead. Acts of hate, anger, and all the other feelings that come when we don’t forgive are the same as making agreements with the enemy. It is going against Christ in us, and agreeing with our sin nature, which was born out of rebellion and partnership with the enemy.

When Adam and Eve decided to rebel against God in the Garden, they were actually agreeing with the devil and his lies. Therefore, it was like a contract and partnership, which cost all humanity. We do not understand the depth of what sin means until we see it in these terms. To sin is not just to simply do wrong, and that is why it is so important to repent of it. God has already forgiven us, and we do not repent in order to gain His love or approval. We repent in order to align ourselves to the Spirit of the God Most High, and flee from the devil and his ways.

Have the Holy Spirit lead you through the act of repentance. Repentance should be done out loud, because you are making a declaration for the whole spiritual realm to hear. Repentance can be as basic as “I repent for my anger at ____. I repent for all my evil or negative thoughts about ______. I repent for all my jealousy and acts of division towards ____.”

Just be sure to let the Holy Spirit bring all of it to mind. Do not be ashamed at your actions as He reveals them. Your Father in heaven loves you more than you could know. He is not mad at you. He has already forgiven you. He knows your heart and knows you are not evil. You are repenting because you seek to free yourself from the bondage that has kept you in alignment with hell, not because you are bad.

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Ephesians 4:31-32

Step 3: Forgive those that have hurt you

To forgive does not mean to permit sin. Forgiveness is the act of extending the blood Jesus shed on the cross to pardon us to those who have done us wrong. To forgive is an act, not a feeling. It is like a verbal contract between yourself and God, allowing His grace and mercy and love to flow freely to you and to those who have sinned against us.

The act of forgiving should be spoken aloud. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you with the words. It can be as simple as “I forgive ______ for not being there when I needed them. I forgive _____ for not listening to me. I forgive ______ for stealing from me. I forgive ______ for saying hurtful things to me.

You may still have to work through some of the reasons for your pain, anger, etc. towards others after you forgive them. Often times things that happen to us now are a trigger (something that reminds us of a traumatic event from our past) to unresolved pain from our past. When we have traumatic events happen in our lives, which are wide and variable between different people, we store up the pain deep inside our psyche and keep reliving the wounds when they are triggered.

Ask the Holy Spirit to help you work through any unresolved feelings that linger. You may find there are more things that need to be forgiven as time goes on. It is important to be patient and loving with yourself, forgiving yourself just as you are forgiving others. God does not expect you to be perfect, and knows you have done wrong in your life. We all fall short of the glory of God, and that is why Jesus came. We just need to keep surrendering and humbling ourselves continually, so that we can break free from this bondage and grow closer to God.

 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.

Romans 12:14

Step 4: Bless those who have hurt you

Once you have forgiven those who have hurt you, it is important to then bless them. People who hurt are most likely just hurting themselves. We are all broken and living in a broken world, trying to make it through the best we know how. Sometimes we do mean to hurt others and sometimes we don’t. Either way, we all deserve the forgiveness of Christ and the cleansing righteousness it brings.

To offer blessing on those who have sinned against us, no matter how severe it is, is the final act when we forgive. It releases us to move forward and know that we have truly aligned ourselves with the heart of God. His heart is so full of love for every one of His children, and He wants to see each one of us come into repentance so we can be who He truly created us to be. We must not fall prey to pride, thinking that to forgive is enough, and to bless is too much.

By blessing those who have hurt us, we are opening our hearts up to be blessed as well, and bringing the gates of heaven to these people who need Jesus so bad. No matter where they are in life, you can never have too much Jesus.

The act of blessing is as simple as “I bless _______. I bless their life, their home, their family, their finances.” And whatever else the Holy Spirit would have you pray. He may have you pray intercession for them, because they may be in dire straights, and we do not know.

For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

James 2:13

We are not striving for perfection, but for the Father’s heart. As we continue to forgive ourselves and others, we can continue to grow in His mercy and love. We are to be ambassadors of His grace and mercy, and as we forgive, we are doing mighty work for His Kingdom. No matter how hard it seems, you can do this. I have had to forgive the most heinous of acts, on many occasions, and it has only brought me more and more freedom.

Your Father in heaven is so very proud of you and where you are at right now. Keep fighting the good fight of faith, my beautiful brothers and sisters!

September 11 2017

The Power of Forgiveness

forgivenessForgiveness has been something that I have struggled with all of my life. From the time I was born, I was being physically and sexually abused by my family and at the Mormon Church. I grew up feeling worthless and abandoned; constantly lied to and betrayed. I was beaten down for having gifts from God to see and talk to Him, and was taught that I was generally stupid and altogether evil. All these things shaped the core of who I was. Instead of growing into a tender young girl who loved the Lord, and wanted to help and serve others, I became devoid of love, focusing instead on hate.

Hate is a power that has driven me for most of my life. Hate, so I was told, was going to protect me, like a weapon or a coat of armor. It was going to drive away all of the evil, because self hatred would keep me in constant self flagellation. I could drive the evil out of my self, and keep the evil of others away, if I would just use the powers of hate.

I was only a little girl as these penetrating lessons were taught to me. As hard as I tried to cling on to what I knew of Jesus, it was ripped away from me, step by step, until I could no longer bear to even hear His name. Jesus name became a swear word to me, because His name now represented hate, anger, and pain to me. Jesus not only abandoned me, but took part in my abuse, as men would dress in His likeness and tell me they were Him.

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

John 15:18-19

As I grew, my life constantly reinforced these beliefs of hate. The rejection and abandonment I felt in my own home was enough to leave me feeling utterly hopeless. I turned to attempts of suicide and later, drugs and alcohol, to try to numb the pain that swelled within me. Nothing could truly take away that pain, but at least I could continue to face another day with a crutch to help me hobble through.

It was not only my family and church that reinforced the message that people will hurt and betray you. It was also relationships outside of the home, with friends and boyfriends. Each friendship I had, I ended up being hurt and betrayed. Each boyfriend I gave my heart too, used and abused me. Again and again my heart received the message loud and clear: People are evil and are always going to hurt you. No matter what you do, you must protect and defend yourself.

My drive to hate just continued to grow throughout my life. With no outlet for healing, the pain would just get shoved further down and bottled up. As I entered early adulthood I began having problems with anger and rage. Physical abuse in my romantic relationships caused me to in turn become violent. I had to defend myself from the pain and attacks, and so physical fights became normal with men.

For the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

James 1:20

I wanted desperately to be free from all of this anger and pain. I tried over and over again to forgive my parents for the abandonment I felt all those years. I wanted to start over and just love them for who they were. It worked for a time, as long as I ignored every longing I had for approval and affection. My parents were just as abused as I was, and they absolutely did the very best they could. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to fill the cries of my soul for the love I so desired.

It wasn’t until I came to a place in my life where I was able to finally meet God again. To remember that He is real and not a God of pain and torment. That led to me being able to take a closer look at Jesus. This Jesus that I had to reject in order to protect myself. As I read the Gospel message of His love, something I had been previously deprived of, I realized, this is the love I had been missing out on my entire life. This is the man I needed but could never find all these years.

I gave myself wholeheartedly to Jesus Christ. I wanted nothing more than to allow His Holy Spirit to transform my broken pieces to a beautiful vessel of His love. However, I was still so very shattered and the pain was still constant. Jesus brought me to a place where I was able to have the grace to begin to see people from His point of view. The grace to begin to love and open up to others in a way I never had before. His love was overflowing through me, and I wanted nothing more than to share it with the world.

The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

Psalm 103:8

That is not the end of the story, however. As I began my season of inner healing, the grace to love others unconditionally had to make way for the grace to face my pain. My pain was like an endless ocean, raging like a storm within my soul. As I lay bear all my pain, fear and shame, I came to a place of complete and utter brokenness. All my strength was gone, and all I could do was rely on Jesus to even make it through one day. It was all I could do to keep living.

While some saw this as a sign of disaster, I knew in my heart it was what I needed. I could continue to live in the undercurrent of pain, never knowing when it would swallow me whole, or I could face it head on, with the help of the Holy One, and receive healing and hope. When you have never had hope and get a taste of it, you always want more.

Through my inner healing, the real work of forgiving began. I knew about a lot of pain and rejection in my life, but I had no memories of the worse of the abuse. Once those began to be uncovered I had to dig very deeply to learn to forgive. Forgiving felt like saying everything bad that ever happened to me was OK. What Jesus taught me is that forgiving never means evil become good. What it means is I am allowing Him to be Lord over the circumstances that brought the pain, and then give all the pain to Him.

Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.” Matthew 18:21-22

I was never meant to carry such a heavy burden on my own. I was never meant to spend a life grieving what should have been. I was meant for freedom and for love. Things that had been stolen away from me in my innocence. All the hate and vengeance and anger I had been using as a weapon did not make me evil. In my heart I only wanted to protect myself from more torment. Jesus had already forgiven me, and so to forgive all the people who had hurt me was only going to set me free.

I no longer had to carry around the weapons of hate. Weapons I had fashioned out of fear and pain, but nonetheless weapons. What I hadn’t realized is that the weapons I was carrying were all actually aimed at me, and being used by the devil to hurt me even more. Once I began to hand over all of my weapons of hate, pain, shame, anger, rage, etc to Jesus, I saw the truth about who God made me to be. I am a light in this world, and a light on a hill cannot be hidden. I was no longer in need of hiding, because Jesus was setting me free.

All of us are carrying around some degree of pain and anger towards others, and self, that we are using as weapons. And just like me, you never meant those weapons for harm, but for protection. Jesus knows your heart and knows who He created you to be. So today, it is time to lay them down at His feet, cast every one of your burdens down before Him, and let the Truth set you free. There you will see what it looks like from a heavenly perception. A place where love, grace and mercy rule, and shame is put to the grave, forever.

He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.

Psalm 103:10-14

May 22 2017

Armor Of God: How It Protects You, Piece By Piece

armor of godThe Armor of God is an important part in the Christian walk of faith. It is described not only as a valuable asset against the schemes of the enemy, but also for faith, truth, righteousness, peace and prayer. When we put on the full Armor of God, we are putting on the strength and might of the Lord Himself. In this world we are up against rulers and authorities of the Second Heaven, and only through the power of God are we able to fight against them.

Each piece of the armor correlates with areas of weakness and where we are most vulnerable to attack from the enemy. If we are careful to put on the full armor every day, we will find the strength we need to keep fighting the good fight of faith. We will find ourselves better able to persevere through times of trial and affliction. We will begin to understand our areas of weakness, and how to allow the Lord to shelter and protect those vulnerable areas from being trampled on by the snake.

The Armor of God consists of seven pieces, which is the number of completion and perfection. The seventh piece is the most overlooked piece of the armor, which is praying in the Spirit. Some translations of the Bible make a crucial mistake of separating this last piece of the armor from the rest, which is exactly as the enemy would have it. Praying in the Spirit is our heavenly connection to God, interceding on behalf of ourselves as well as our brothers and sisters.

Here I have listed each individual piece of the armor and what area it protects, and how it protects us.

The Helmet of Salvation protects our belief systems, how we see the world, our mind, including how we think and judge things around us. When we wear the Helmet of Salvation we are protecting our minds from the thought processes and belief systems we are inundated with daily. The enemy would love to get a hold of our minds and program us into his way of thinking. He would have us put ourselves first, seeing ourselves and the most important thing.  That way we would put God and others underneath ourselves, making of ourselves an idol. We would never recognize this self worship, because our thoughts and beliefs would already be centered around self, making it seem perfectly normal.

The Breastplate of Righteousness protects our heart, will, mind and emotions. With the Breastplate of Righteousness covering our heart, we are protecting our very soul. The soul is the center of our mind, will, emotions and heart. Our soul is also the very thing the devil wishes to capture the most. If the enemy take hold of our soul, then he can take us with him into the pit of hell with him. The devil hates us more than anything, and would love to see us go down in suffering on that last day with him, when he is finally cast down by God’s judgement over him. The enemy will stop at nothing to find ways to capture our hearts, especially through manipulation. If he can turn our thoughts and feelings to things of this world, the things the he tells us are good and righteous and pure, then he has full access to our soul. We will stop believing in God’s Word and instead believe in what we feel is right.

The Belt of Truth protects our thoughts and our self-control. It holds the armor together. The Belt of Truth is especially important, because without it we become grounded in the lies of the devil. Once we begin to believe his lies, they take root in our hearts, and create false belief systems within us. Our beliefs are an integral part of who we are, shaping our thoughts and actions. Beliefs are not a conscious thought, but are the core of who we are. If we do not let God shape our thoughts, the devil will surely take up residence in them, steering them in the way he would have us go instead.

The Shoes of Peace protect our relationships, our interactions with self and with others. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is our peace. It is the message of love and hope that keeps every Christian going in a world where things seem hopeless and desperate. It is that knowledge of God’s goodness that shapes our relationship with God, as well as with yourself and others. When the message of the Gospel gets distorted by listening to the enemy lies, it begins to deteriorate our relationship with God. We begin to see God as a God that will judge us for every wrong choice we make, or abandon us because we aren’t good enough. Once our relationship with God begins to fall apart, then it affects the way we see ourselves. We begin to believe we are worthless and unlovable. This in turn affects the way we interact with others. If the God that created us can turn against us, then who should we really trust? The Shoes of Peace are vital for Christians to walking the path side by side with Jesus Christ.

The Sword of the Spirit protects our relationship with God, including our worship, praise, scripture reading & understanding and praying. The Sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. The Word of God is not only the living words of the Bible, but also Christ Himself. When we stand firm in the knowledge and understanding of God’s Word and follow Christ’s leading in our lives, then we walk in righteousness with Him. This is the way we were meant to live. Without these things we begin to lose our ability to connect with God and hear His voice. We begin to lose interest in worship, praise and reading the Bible. Without the Sword of the Spirit the enemy can twist God’s truth just enough so it seems true, but is actually distorted. Just as he did when he tempted Jesus in the desert. Jesus showed us how to use the Sword of the Spirit to fight against the enemies attacks.

The Shield of Faith protects our spirit and our spiritual self. The Shield of Faith can extinguish the fiery arrows of the evil one. These arrows are enough to pierce us through. Even when we pull out these arrows, we cannot pull out every piece. They always leave behind bits of hate, malice, anger and revenge. They begin to corrupt our spirit and allow our soul to take over, leaving us ravaged by our soulish desires. Our flesh wants to have its way, to be at the center of the stage, and if we don’t protect our spirit, the devil will feed every one of these fleshly desires until we are gorging ourselves on his evil ways. It is only with faith that we can walk in a world as a spirit. God is spirit, and so is man. Faith is what sets us apart from the rest of the world. Faith in a God that is greater than any evil, greater than our own weaknesses, and greater than even death. While the enemy seeks to corrupt us daily, we walk with a faith that is unwavering through the Shield of Faith, allowing us to let the Spirit guide us, not ourselves.

Praying in the Spirit activates our armor and brings us to completeness, as well as heightens our awareness of the Spirit. We are commanded to pray in the Spirit at all times. Praying in the Spirit is an act of humility on our parts. We are praying in a heavenly language that we cannot understand, and in doing so we are giving our requests and praises to God. We are fighting an unseen battle with our heavenly prayer language, and interceding not only for ourselves, but for our brothers and sisters in Christ. When we do not use our prayer language, we are missing out on important connections to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit edifies, encourages and speaks to us through these prayers, lifting up our inner man and strengthening our spirit. We often don’t have words to say to express our innermost being, and our prayer language can truly break strongholds and bring freedom to our hearts. When we don’t have words to pray for others, our spirit can lead the prayer through our prayer language, and it is very powerful. We must not let the enemy convince us that using the prayer of tongues is wrong, evil, strange, or of demons. That is exactly what he would have us believe, because this is the prayer of warfare. Without it, we are missing a vital link to the throne room of heaven.

prayerAll of the pieces of the armor of are individually important, but collectively, they are an unstoppable force. They represent the best of what God has for us. A righteous relationship, walking in the full power of the Spirit of God, sowing good fruit and caring for all of God’s creation. We must work daily to pray the armor on ourselves, whether it is as simple as “Father please dress me in my armor”, or more complicated by putting each piece on, one at a time. It does not matter how we do it, as long as we do so.

By putting our armor on daily we are reminding ourselves of the important connections we have through God’s weapons of warfare. We do not fight as the world fights, but as mighty warriors who rely on the strength and wisdom and understanding of the Father of Lights. It takes humility and patience to walk with the Lord, using His armor to bring peace and stability into our lives. Take every day to learn more about your Father in heaven, and allow Him to mold and shape who you are, so you can learn to stand strong and fight.

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

1 Corinthians 10:3-6

May 15 2017

Hope In The Fiery Trials of Life

hopeWe all go through seasons in life. Some up and some down. Some good and some trying. God is always with us through all of them, no matter what. However, sometimes it really seems like He is much farther away than at other times. Sometimes it seems that He is completely silent when we need Him most. I have had many hard days in my life when I was very sure God was very far away. The circumstances of my life and the suffering I was enduring was a clear indicator that God no longer cared about me.

I think we all go through season in our lives where we believe God does not hear our cries. We look for evidence in our circumstances that God is listening. When we don’t see tangible proof of God moving, we feel abandoned and lose hope. For me, it has been very easy to lose hope. I have been in many hopeless circumstances, and have brought that hopelessness with me into many seasons of my life. What I didn’t know was that even in the most hopeless of circumstances, God is still moving.

I know for many people, they have given up on hope because they feel God is silent. They have been praying and praying and begging God to fix their circumstance or heal their pain, but nothing ever changes. If God is really moving, if God really does answer our prayers and hear our cries, then why do we not see any changes in our lives? Maybe it’s because we don’t know what we are supposed to be looking for.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:18

Recently I went through a bought of severe affliction in my life. I am no stranger to suffering. I have seen my share of suffering, time and again. However I have taken great pains to go through deliverance and healing, and to give myself over to the Holy Spirit for renewal as often as He has asked. So why then, as a Christian who has been promised an abundant life, was I finding myself once again in the midst of suffering?

At first my affliction wasn’t so bad. As the days turned into weeks, my physical pain became greater. As the weeks turned into months, my physical pain turned into emotional anguish. My begging and pleading turned into anger and despair. I was certain God had given up on me once and for all. If He would not spare His servant, who has been so faithful to to Him, from this kind of suffering, then surely He was no longer listening to me. If God did not care for me, then I had no reason for hope at all.

Even in the midst of my despair I continued to seek healing from God. I have inner healing session weekly, and several times I addressed my affliction. I went into deep places of emotional trauma from past events that were directly related to my current suffering. Each time I was sure it was enough and waited for the healing to come. However, instead of healing I would only see temporary relief and then actually get worse.

I have refined you, but not as silver is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering.

Isaiah 48:10

How does a person go into that level of healing and not get better, but get worse!? I could not fathom it. It only drove me deeper into confusion and despair. As upset as I was, I was unwilling to completely give up on God. While part of me was dying inside, another part of me was willing that I should fight for the truth and God’s promises over my life. So I continued to seek God and answers to why my trials would not end.

Finally, when I could take it no longer, the dam burst open and heaven itself poured out over my heart. I had to be willing to look into the darkness in my soul and see things I never wanted to know, but Jesus met me there. It was in that dark place where I was willing to humble myself, that Jesus was able to open His arms wide and let His healing rivers of Living Waters flow. It was not that He could not before, it was that I had to keep fighting to get to the root of the problem. Without getting to the root, the wounds were continuing to fester and swell through out my life in unmanageable ways.

Many times Jesus has shown me where He was in the midst of my afflictions and trials. Even when my physical being could not detect Him, He was there. God is spirit, and He does not move in the ways of man. He moves in the ways that protect our spirit. Our spirit is eternal, and can either be dammed to hell or have everlasting life in heaven with the Father. If we forsake our spirit, then we will find the consequences unbearable. Jesus is not willing to see that happen, and so behind the scenes, He is working in unimaginable ways to protect and provide that for us.

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
    for in you my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
    till the storms of destruction pass by.

Psalm 57:1

We have to understand that the enemy is going to do whatever it takes to convince us that God does not hear us, or has abandoned us. That is why we must live by faith and not by sight. Our emotions are going to deceive us because our hearts are wounded and betrayed by the world. If we continue to live by allowing our souls to lead, we are going to miss out on some of the best moments in the presence of God.

God is in the midst of every trial and tribulation in this life. Jesus never promised us an easy life, He promised an abundant life. What does an abundant life look like? A life led by the Spirit of God, and full of His presence, grace, compassion, mercy, hope and love. A life led with trust in our Father and intimacy through His Spirit. Abundant life means the abundance of His Spirit in our lives, filling it to overflowing with all these good things He provides without measure. Heaped on and poured out endlessly, if only we will open our hearts to receive Him.

I did come to a point of total healing in this particular trial. It taught me one very important lesson, one which I gleaned from the Book of Job. When Satan came into the throne room of God, He didn’t ask for God’s permission to test Job. God Himself pointed Job out to Satan. He said “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?”

But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.

Job 23:10

Why would God point out Job to Satan, when He knew Satan would want to immediately target Job for destruction? The reason God wanted to bring attention to Job was because He was proud of Him. God knew that although Job had some issues with pride and self worth, He was indeed a true lover of the goodness of His Father God. He knew that through some refining in the fire, not only would Job learn to become humble, but that it would build His faith and relationship with God. He knew that even through the fire, Satan could not turn Job from God. It was simply impossible.

So a testing and refining from the trials and tribulations of life actually bring us closer to God, and further from ourselves, and the plans that enemy has to destroy us. What could possibly be a better outcome? By the end of my trial I was able to cry out, thank you Lord, that you have deemed me a blameless and upright woman of God, who turns away from evil. Thank you God, that you have brought me through the fire and refined what needed to be purified, so I could be closer to you. Thank you Lord that your love is stronger than any testing of the devil, and that in your strength, I will overcome.

Let this be your prayer and cry today. Your Father is standing with you right now. You need only to believe it.

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Romans 5:3-5

 

 

May 8 2017

The Dangers of The Dead Church

dead churchWhen I first began attending a Christian church regularly four years ago, I had no idea there was such a thing as a dead church or even a church that is full of the Spirit. I didn’t even know what the Holy Spirit was. All I knew was that my soul was like dry bones and my spirit was crying out for the life quenching living waters. I had been desperately seeking God for years, I just couldn’t bring myself to call a higher power God. My whole life had been nothing but pain and despair, and as far as I was concerned, God was a major factor in all of it.

That first morning we sat in the pews of this strange place where I never thought a sinner like myself could fit in, I felt strangely at home. The worship band played rock-like music and the sermon was comfortable. A couple of weeks later however, the service changed from its norm and the Senior Pastor asked everyone to kneel at their pews and take a moment to think about our sin and ask for forgiveness. I had never had an opportunity to sit and think about the things I had done recently to hurt others in my life, let alone offend God.

Yet here I was, in a silent church hall, repenting of the sins against my husband, and family, and even to this God who I wasn’t even sure how I felt about. I was sobbing uncontrollably, thinking about the damage I had caused to my loved ones, and how terrible I had been towards God. I walked away feeling lighter; freer. There is something absolutely wonderful about coming to grips with the fact that you have not been perfect and you don’t ever need to be. You just need to be forgiven.

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

As we attended services weekly, I became used to a certain style of service. I am a creature of habit, as I am sure we all are, and so I enjoyed the stability I became accustomed too. Then a few months later they changed the location of the service from the sanctuary to the gym. I was very unhappy about such a move, because I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to have a church service in a gym, when they had a beautiful sanctuary instead.

So my husband and I decided, reluctantly, to attend the earlier service, which was dubbed the ‘classic’ service. The classic service had a different feel to it, with a choir and hymns, instead of a worship band that played rock n roll style music. It also had an older congregation with less people our age. Neither my husband nor myself knew any of the hymns, but we soon grew to love the classic service as much as the modern service.

I came to see such a clash between the generations at this church. While the modern services were held in the gym, at the same time the classic service was held in the sanctuary. The older generations attended the classic, while the younger generations (for the most part) attended the modern service. The two generations hardly came into the same room, unless it was an all church service. It became very disconcerting to me, that the church was so full of strife.

from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Ephesians 4:16

People fought and were angry about so many trivial topics, I was completely astounded. Some people were angry because the modern service had doughnuts and coffee, while others were angry because the service ran to long. Some were angry because they didn’t like the music and others were angry that the service was too casual. There was a war within the church and none of it had to do with Jesus at all, yet everything was done as if it was all for Him.

When we left this particular church I began to realize that the problems of the church extended far beyond this one church or even denomination. I saw so many wars and so much conflict on issues that absolutely tore people apart. People truly believed that the issues they were deeply concerned about were issues that affected God Himself. If God was unhappy with these issues, then they could not rest. What these people did not realize is God only has one issue He is concerned with: our hearts.

It was extremely painful to leave this church body. It had become our home, our family, our life. However, we had so many problems with witchcraft and spiritual abuse we had to leave. Once we began to get some healing and space from church in general, we began attending a new church. This church was the polar opposite of the previous church we attended. Each service was exactly the same. Same speaker, same songs, same casual attire. All ages and races were together, and everyone worshiped together without strife.

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21

We really enjoyed the new atmosphere of this church, because there seemed to be more unity. However, we quickly began to notice that church seemed more like a show or entertainment event, then a church service.The stage was always set with a light show and a fog machine. The worship team and church leaders went out of their way to be casual and hip, so they could connect with a younger crowd. They premise was to create a counter culture to main stream church, but what they were really doing was creating a culture to a new god. Self.

While I enjoyed the new found freedom I had to move and express myself through worship, I also began to be filled with thoughts of self instead of thoughts of Jesus. It took me a long time to realize that the atmosphere was not truly creating a place of ushering in the Spirit, but of worshiping self. By creating an atmosphere where we are focusing on being comfortable and casual, we were really fostering self gratification.

When the worship leaders and the pastors become our idols, there is no room for Jesus to be the main attraction. We start putting our souls on the center stage, and ushering in the spirit of the anti Christ, not the Spirit of God. The church appears to be alive, because there is excitement and shouting and action all around, but the truth is for all the seeking we were doing, we were never connecting with the Holy Spirit. We were connecting with spirits of the anti Christ that appear to be like Christ.

This is not a new phenomenon. In fact, the dead church has been around since the Book of Revelation.

“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars.

“‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.  Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.  Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy.  The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

Revelation 3:1-6

This is a warning to the churches of this age. If they do not wake up and repent, the churches that are on the verge of death are going to fall out of God’s grace and favor. Too many churches are relying on being led by the soul and not by the Spirit. They put on a show of being alive, but inside the walls are thousands of dead people, looking for hope and grappling onto the church out of blind desperation.

They are ever seeking, but never finding what they are looking for. They are being filled up, but wondering why they still feel so lost and confused. They are searching for the truth, but only finding more lies. The dead church is feeding on the people, instead of feeding the people. It’s spirit is crushing and manipulative, because it is soul driven. It is leading people astray, instead of leading them into life.

Death cannot heal or bring the power of resurrection. It can only bring more death. It is time for the church to wake up and recognize this mass movement is counter cultural to God Himself. Each one of us needs to seek the face of God for ourselves, so we can find out who He truly is. We need to stop relying on the church to teach us who God is, and start allowing Our Father to teach us instead. Only then can we begin to rebuild the church on the foundation of the Holy Spirit, and bring it back to life.

 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.  If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw,  their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward.  If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

1 Corinthians 3:11-15