What does God do when we repent?

Notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them!

I loved that Jesus began to teach several stories including this one to show the religious leaders their arrogance…

Parable of the Lost Son (Part 1)
from Luke 15 (NLT)

11 …Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. 12 The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.

13 “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. 14 About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. 15 He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. 16 The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.

17 “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you,19 and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’

20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.[b]

22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.

 

What do you notice about the father?

Once the son came to his senses, the father welcomed him with mercy, love and compassion. There wasn’t any shaming or lecturing. He didn’t require him to work as a slave to pay back the money. He gave his son the best and threw him a party!

What does this tell you about the true nature of God?

Once we repent, and turn to God, He immediately welcomes us with open arms and throws a party – giving us only the best!

Is there something in your life that holds you back from going to God?

Do you feel guilt or shame? Take it all to Him. He will only welcome you with open arms.

God is that good! It is religious arrogance that would shame you and guilt you. Run far from that. Run to God instead.

If you need help for inner healing, I’m happy to help…

I shared this video back in April 2020 on how pastors are being forced to pivot and throw all their methods out the window. This video continues to be VERY relevant.

If you are a pastor, here is the current shift happening I see as I coach pastors, missionaries, and congregants. Pastors, you can do this with the help of your elders and ministry co-leaders.

If your people have been mostly relying on your sermons to grow, it’s now a very exciting time to equip your people to feed on God’s Word and His Holy Spirit in greater measure. Praise God! Jesus is drawing His Bride in deeper intimacy!

For more helpful disciplemaking tools for your people to use in their homes or via zoom, visit: https://www.merriellen.com/discovery

Pastoring in a Pandemic

Help for Insomnia

Not falling asleep these days?

I’ve noticed a recent increase in people’s insomnia and have compiled a helpful resource for you to use and share with loved ones. This includes both practical information and how to pray!

If you have confessed Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, you have been given a rich inheritance. His blood and His Holy Spirit have incredible power over all things, including sickness and oppression. Sometimes oppression can come in the form of insomnia.

You can download it here…!

And tell me how it goes! 🙂

My story out of Church Bondage and Into Freedom in Jesus!

This casual conversation recorded on a rainy day in November, may challenge you, offend you, or resonate deeply with you. 

I remember once judging others for ‘leaving the church’. Sadly, I didn’t get it at the time. These days, I walk multiple people a day through healing from ‘church’ and religious abuse and showing them who Jesus truly is.

I’m learning to make disciples who multiply and make disciples while at the same time walking people through deep inner healing and deliverance sessions, or simply learning how to hear God speak.

My heart is for Jesus and I love Him more than ever before. I lead pastors, elders, missionaries and lay people out of ‘church’ burnout, laying down heavy yokes, and learning what easy yoke living with Jesus truly is. 

I see more breakthrough in one day than I did in 10 years as an institutional church pastor. God is calling us back to the basics of BEING the church, sharing the love of Jesus, healing the sick, casting out demons, and raising the dead! He called EVERY believer to know how to do this and to enjoy a fruitful journey with Jesus!

Read: John 15, Matt 11:28; Matt 10:8

These days, I enjoy sharing Jesus on the street and in coaching & spiritual direction sessions for those who desire this. God is calling His Bride to get ready! God is calling His people to draw close to His heart, in order to experience His true nature.

Interestingly, others pastors are coming to me more and more for help on how to pastor in these times. When they do, I help them seek Jesus on what His heart is for their church family. What Jesus is showing pastors is beautiful! (I share some posts in this blog on what institutional pastors are doing to help set their people free.)

(Sorry for the poor audio. It starts 7 seconds in and you will need to turn up the audio at the start…)

Thank you for taking the time in advance to hear my story…

Audio: My story of freedom from the 4 walls (opens in new tab)

To you listening and reading this today…

I bless you with more of Holy Spirit! To walk forward in what God has for you today! 💕🙏🙌🥰 

If you resonate with this story and need some help, feel free to request a session with me. Learn more about me here.

The New (Old) Wineskin of The Church

Photo by Kaboompics from Pexels

If you’ve been following this blog or my story, you will know that since 2016 the Lord called me out of the institutional church (I see now he had been warning me of this since 2010) and told me to ‘circle the wagons’ and unlearn a few things before stepping forward. After some healing and resting, the Lord took me back to the basics of church of meeting in homes and being active on the streets.

When Covid broke out in my area in March 2020, one of my life coaching & spiritual direction clients texted me:

“Oh my goodness! Did you prophesy the home church movement?”

Interestingly 2,000 years or so ago, church began as an organic house church movement. It wasn’t until a few hundred years later that it became an institution under the Roman Emperor Constantine. It went from the priesthood of ALL believers to professionalization of pastors. Today, you will find that the majority of ‘believers’ do not know how to do what Jesus called us to do.

Matthew 28:18-20 ERV

“So he came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth is given to me. So go and make followers of all people in the world. Baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach them to obey everything that I have told you to do. You can be sure that I will be with you always. I will continue with you until the end of time.”

Matthew 10:7-8 ERV

“When you go, tell them this: ‘God’s kingdom is now very near. Heal the sick. Bring the dead back to life. Heal the people who have leprosy. And force demons out of people.”

Since 2010 already while working as an institutional church pastor, the Lord poured out the phrase: “new wine” over and over for me. Here’s one of my old posts from 2010…

Then, in 2018, the Lord started partnering me with pastors, missionaries around the world who were needing coaching support. I heard their frustrations and desire for Holy Spirit to lead them. I kept my own journey to myself. When I began to ask them questions, I began to hear their hearts respond with similar statements that sounded familiar. When I shared with them what God was doing through Disciplemaking movements around the world, they were floored. In 2019 in my area, two Lead Pastors of large institutional churches admitted to their congregations that what they were doing was all off.

I continue to get pastors and missionaries asking me my perspective. Recently, a Lead Pastor sent me this:

“Hey Merri Ellen, What do you think the way forward looks like for discipleship and sharing the gospel under Covid restrictions? Just curious about your thoughts as I hear what ‘churches’ are identifying what they think is the way forward.”

It was a great question and I love that pastors are more and more hungry to find an answer in this unique season.

The beautiful thing about Covid restrictions is that it forces us to get back to the small few, the organic. One can easily meet with a few people, or use technology (in an interactive way).

I think the bigger hang up is are we willing to give up our paid pastoral positions and expensive buildings that could be keeping us from fulfilling the Great Commission? (If you’re a paid pastor, be encouraged. There’s some help below…)

But, first…

Recently, I read this article: The Death of Sunday Morning written from a perspective of what God has been doing far on the other side of my world. It forces us to ask ourselves, “Am I willing to leave an old wine skin behind in order to follow Jesus and share His Good News?”

Here’s one perspective…

Luke 14:25-27 ERV

“Many people were traveling with Jesus. He said to them, “If you come to me but will not leave your family, you cannot be my follower. You must love me more than your father, mother, wife, children, brothers, and sisters—even more than your own life! Whoever will not carry the cross that is given to them when they follow me cannot be my follower.

Matthew 19:29 NLT

“And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life.”

For many years, institutional church pastors have been taking this difficult road in leading their congregations into movement. If you’re a paid pastor, you need to learn about Roy. Roy Moran is one. In this post I share more about him.

What are your thoughts about where God is leading His Bride?

Please share below…

Are you suffering on the inside?

broken-heart-love-sad

There are 4 traditional approaches to discipleship that actually lead to bondage:

Osmosis: Get people to attend church and serve faithfully.

Academics: Teach information about the faith.

Behaviour: Establish performance expectations for church members.

Church: Train people to invite others, serve, and join a small group. 

These 4 things above may have good elements but without an actual relationship with Jesus, you will soon feel like an imposter or impersonator – you look like Him but you don’t actually know Him. You most likely become stuck in perfectionism, anxiety, legalism and other bondage.

While traditional discipleship tends to focus on the outside, heart-focused discipleship deals with what is going on inside of you!

Following Jesus is about relationship!
It starts with hearing His voice. 🙂 

This is one of my favourite things to do… I love introducing ‘church’ people to Jesus! I coach people who are stuck in legalistic bondage and into truly hearing Jesus and knowing Him.

Happy to help you…

 

(4 elements above adapted from: Marcus Warner)

My journey as a Christian Life Coach and Spiritual Director in Canada

person-walking-on-the-mountain-pathMy journey so far as a Christian Life Coach and Spiritual Director in Canada has been FAR FROM BORING.

Each day I feel like I’m walking the Emmaus Road with Jesus and my clients. 😀

I was recently asked how I got into this journey…

Throughout my life I have noticed that people have come to seek my perspective.

When I was resting from 10 years of institutional church pastoral ministry, I remember people coming to bless and encourage me. However, soon the conversation would shift. We would crack open God’s Word and bam – tears and healing would occur… in my guests! I could not believe it…

(Tears and healing happened for me too …often just the day before …because I too had been pressing into the Lord. I often wondered if God’s presence was simply lingering and they would step into that too.)

It definitely was an encouragement to see that when we are weak, God is strong.

(I had been recovering from a nervous system crash due to some trauma and so I felt pretty wimpy.)

On the very last day of my 2 years paid rest leave (it took that much time to walk and talk again normally), I told God, “Thank you for your incredible provision (of healing and His presence). I’m ready for whatever you have next.” I sat on top of a hiking hill path sitting on a rock in the sun with the Lord when I said that. It was a Good Friday. 🙂 Then, I turned back down the hill and ran into a couple who God had introduced me to years before. We hugged and prayed for each other. Just days later they invited me to join their ministry team as a Life Coach and Spiritual Director.

God sends me people who need guidance spiritually and in the natural (practical strategies). I have taken my training in numerous places – like a smorgasbord of tools to use. Yet, mostly what I rely on is my own relationship and experience with Holy Spirit and testing it according to God’s Word. Knowing Him personally and knowing His Truth has always been the key.

Each person who I meet with is on a unique path.

Psalms 143:10 was a key passage shared in our recent staff meeting…

Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God.
May your gracious Spirit lead me forward
on a firm footing.

God’s spirit leads us for each person we walk with. His wisdom, mercy, grace, and compassion for each of my clients impacts us both every time.

If you’re looking for a Christian Life Coach and Spiritual Director in Canada, or across the border, to discover what firm footing He has for you too…

Learn more about my coaching services at: www.merriellen.com and where you can read testimonials.

How can you tell if the enemy (has even subtly) gotten a foothold in your life?

woman-with-tied-hands

(I was asked this question yesterday by my students just before leading an interactive group coaching class online…)

I first pointed them to Ephesians 4.

Take a moment today to read it. I’ve seen the enemy get a foothold in people’s lives WAY too may times – as this passage explains.

Secondly, read 1 Corinthians 13.

If you find it difficult to put your name in the place of ‘love’, that is a GREAT indicator.

Thirdly, read Galatians 5.

If something jumps out in conviction for you there, listen to Holy Spirit…

Ask God, where you need to repent, forgive, etc.

Invite Holy Spirit to come and fill you to lead you in the way God has for you instead!

“16 But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.” – 2 Corinthians 3:16-18

Three Main Blocks to Your Healing and Freedom

complicated-system-of-paths-3715428

As I walk with people, I have noticed 3 major blocks to healing and freedom. These 3 main blocks are like umbrellas that cover us and keep us from truth raining down to seep into our heads and hearts.

Instead, they cover us in lies…

Here are the 3 main blocks:

Pride. : We then become self-serving, self- preserving, and self-exalting. Examples: proud of our sexual orientation, our countries (nationalism), even our church denominations (building our own kingdoms rather than God’s). It all leads to idolatry and slavery, not freedom. Pride is often a strong indicator of our deep hurt or fear. We instead need healing and deliverance.

Prejudice. : We have made up our minds before we hear facts. We are narrow, arrogant and destructive in our thinking.

Preconception. : We think we know something and presume a clear picture in our heads.

How to test if you are stuck in these?

a.) If you are agitated by any of these listed above, you probably operate in these strongholds.

b.) If you do not experience love, joy, peace, patience etc… but instead anger, bitterness, resentment, jealousy or envy, you probably have one of these strongholds.

These 3 major strongholds will continue to block healing and freedom in your life.

Ask yourself:

-What have these 3 blocks done to my relationships?
-How have they affected how I feel about myself?

Ask God:  

-What do you say about me and my situation?
-What good thing do you want to give me in my life instead of these blocks that are stealing, killing, and destroying me?

*Make sure your answers agree with the Word of God from the Bible and with God’s heart of compassion for you.

How do you dismantle these blocks or strongholds?

1.) Humble yourself. Surrender your heart, will, mind, and emotions to God – the source of love, healing and freedom. (James 4:10).

2.) Repent. Tell God – “I need you God. Apart from you, I am nothing. I choose to turn from these lies. I nail them to the cross and I turn to you Jesus. I want to receive instead your love, joy, peace, patience, kindness etc – all the fruits of your Spirit. (John 10:10; John 15; Galatians 5; 1 John 1:9).

3.) Replace lies with God’s Truth. Jesus is the Truth. Invite Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth to come and fill you and replace the lies. Read His Word to get to know who God is and how He loves you. He desires you to be free! So much so, He sent Jesus to die and defeat your sin, death, sorrows and weaknesses. (John 3:16; John 14; Isaiah 53).

Stuck and need help walking through this?

I’d be honoured to help you see what rich inheritance God has for you instead!

Learn more…

Am I Being Deceived?

adult-alone-anxious-black-and-white-568027

This past year, I had the joy of walking with a woman coming out of the New Age movement. In fact, she had once been a New Age teacher. We started with Scriptures in our sessions and took our time before we began asking Jesus questions. Her heart now was so beautifully hungry and thirsty for Truth instead of where the other road had led her to. What Jesus did for her was beautiful. She was set free!

On the other extreme, around the same time, I also walked with a woman so hard on rules from a very religious church tradition and who had very little openness to Holy Spirit. Yet, Jesus led us through healing to remove those blocks and she too experienced some incredible freedom!


We are to worship God in BOTH SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH.


“For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” – John 4:24 NLT


If we worship God without Spirit, we become legalistic, religious Pharisees.

If we worship with spirit and NO Truth, we go down the road of the New Age.

See both extremes??

Here are some things to remember with Biblical interpretation:


1.  The Holy Spirit bears witness within when you hear the truth – The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, Who proceeds from the Father, will cause a witness within your heart when you hear truth (Jn. 15:26,27)

2. The Holy Spirit guides you into truth – The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, guides you into all the truth, disclosing things of the Father to you (Jn. 16:13-15).

If you have and keep God’s commandments, you love God, and are loved by God, and God will abide with you and disclose Himself to you through the working of the Holy Spirit, Who will teach you all things (Jn. 14:21,23,26).

3. You will only see what you can handle – God will only reveal to you what you are able to bear. There is more to say to you, but He will wait until you can bear it (Jn. 16:12).

4. You cannot interpret the Bible on your own – Know that apart from Jesus you can do nothing, which includes interpreting the Bible correctly (Jn. 15:5).

5. Pray for God to open your heart – Pray that God opens your heart to respond to Him, and the hearts of those to whom you preach to respond to your preaching (Acts 16:14).



Excerpt above from the short ebook by Mark Virkler…

Am I Being Deceived? (You can click to view a free pdf version below the book.)

If you are stuck in one of these extremes, (religious bondage or spiritual deception), perhaps I can help. Learn more here.