I pray it blesses you too! 🙂
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.
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
(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
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.
-What have these 3 blocks done to my relationships?
-How have they affected how I feel about myself?
-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!
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.
What do you do when your church is shut down due to the Corona virus or persecution?
The systems may crash, but…
There is actually new opportunity! I see the church shifting in beautiful ways…
***This link below was originally posted in Feb 2018.
Notice the title of the post?
Since the Corona Virus, this has become even more valuable to use in BEing the Church… (and you can EASILY do this interactively via phone or video chat during quarantine as I have been doing with my fellowship groups.)
This is my confession.
I’m sorry… To all the people who I once pastored in an institutional church… I am sorry that I didn’t know then what I know now. My church and Bible school experience did not adequately prepare me to walk you to complete freedom in Jesus’ name. Nor did I disciple you how to do what I’m going to share below…
Today, if you read the Gospels and the book of Acts over and over, you most likely will notice that what happened in the Bible, does not happen in the lives of many church goers.
Back in 2016, when I rested from formal pastoral ministry, I began to ask God why the vast difference between what I read in the Bible and what I had experienced so far. I began to ask Him to show me more of who He is… out of the box. (Dangerous prayer. :D) He began to take me on adventures…
Today, my life looks so much different… When I pray, people are healed of cancer, kidney disease, arthritis, or set free from oppression, from hearing multiple voices, from depression, anxiety, etc… often in a few minutes.
Why? I pray differently than I was taught. I pray as Jesus did. I join with Jesus in what He is doing.
Miraculous things only happen when His followers step out in faith. I began to worry less about God’s reputation if I prayed and He didn’t come through in the way I prayed. I figured He could handle His own reputation. 😉
This was my past week….
Today, I ran again into the woman I prayed for this year who was healed of cancer. She threw her arms around me with the biggest smile. When I first met her walking on my street, she was discouraged and diagnosed with cancer. Jesus strongly spoke to me to command the cancer to leave her body. It did. We now have interesting conversations about Jesus.
Today, I walked past the house where my 6 year old neighbour was healed of juvenile arthritis after I taught her siblings age 8, 4 and 2 how to command her illness to go in Jesus’ name. The next day she woke up with no pain and now is involved in gymnastics!
One night this week, I prayed with a woman with multiple personality disorder. I led her through praying forgiveness over abusers. She was back to speaking in one personality. She heard Jesus say – “It is finished!”
Another night, a woman was delivered from Hindu worship 3,000 years in her family line. She felt anger, hopelessness, and voices laughing at her. She went through repentance of generational worshiping specific Hindu gods, practicing blood sacrifices. She coughed things out. Stuff went 3,000 years back in her bloodline and then she had a vision of Jesus with His arms reaching out and He said the house is clean! We prayed Holy Spirit to fill her and she was overcome with laughter and deep joy! She lingered with Jesus in His glory. She was powerfully transformed!
Another night, I prayed for a woman with chest and shoulder pain. As we prayed, Jesus took her to her childhood at age 3 when anger and bitterness first entered because of her parents’ actions. I led her in forgiving her parents and all the pain was gone!
Another night, I led a woman through healing of panic attacks. We let Jesus take us to the root issue …all coming from a lie that the enemy told her years ago in a certain situation, that she was not safe. We dealt with that lie at the cross, and Jesus transformed the painful memory. Now, when she thinks of the memory, it’s minuscule and instead she has visioned Jesus there with His arms shielding her. Her panic attacks are now gone.
When I began to cut out relying on merely my familiar church tradition a few years ago, I began to truly grow in my level of faith. Since walking in doing what Jesus did in the Bible, and what He invites me to do, I am discovering what it really means to follow Jesus.
Please forgive me. If I only knew then, what I know and do now… you may be unstuck today.
I invite you to re-read the Gospels and the Book of Acts with fresh eyes, without your glasses of church tradition.
It is a beautiful thing to follow Jesus, not merely believe in His teachings. He walked in the supernatural and then called His followers to do the same. He didn’t command them to walk any different. Jesus didn’t ask us to teach information and that’s it. It’s one thing to believe in Jesus, it’s another to follow Him.
These days, I have the honour of meeting with people who are reaching out and asking for me to lead them through healing and freedom and to disciple them in what I have been learning and doing. They are on fire and hungry for more! Many are prayer walking around churches and neighbourhoods to also join the fire! Will you?! It’s truly amazing! 😀
A few responses below…
“I will not accept the apology because it is not needed, not to me. You did not stop leading and inviting me into deeper relationship with Christ when you left traditional pastoral ministry. I am sorry that this is an accurate representation of the state of my and so many churches and of my own faith experience. I know it isn’t right and yet I dont know how to get out of it. I was struck again by the need we have to see Jesus in action during (Bible Study) this week where we studied Acts and Peter could NOT keep quiet about the things which they had seen Jesus do. I feel like a person who understands Jesus but does not believe in him (not fully it would seem) because believing in something means you go beyond knowing to acting on that knowledge. If I believe that God can save an eternal soul, a physical body should be nothing to him and yet I do not trust enough to pray aloud for that healing because I have not seen it. Thank you that you DO pray this way and that you keep inviting me to see it more for myself… this semester has been hard as my soul cries for THAT Jesus and my time is instead devoted to knowing a Jesus constrained to paper. Please do not apologize but continue to pray – and to act – that I can make the leap of faith to belief that shows in my life, my time, my choices, and my actions if trust in him.”
“Thanks for sharing your walk with the Lord wherever He leads you and what He is doing in and through you. I’m glad you have found the freedom Christ offers and are sharing it with others. I have never felt lead astray or that you were not meeting any expectation. I have been encouraged by your leadership and enriched by our friendship. Your humble servant attitude is evident and I love that you are allowing the Holy Spirit to guide you and use you to reach out and be God’s hands and feet. Blessings my sweet sister in Christ!”
And another on a similar journey…
“Makes me think of a vision one lady shared with me- The Lord was leading her down a long hallway of people sitting along the walls and she wanted to stop and help every one! She could see each of their needs clearly! But the Lord said… ‘Don’t!! Don’t even touch a door knob that I don’t specifically instruct you to touch.’ As she neared the end of the hallway she looked back down the hall to see many many behind tending to those she was asked to pass by. Possibly they are someone else’s assignment!!? Bless your heart … that you would want to make all things right…”
I am blessed by these initial responses. God is stirring! I have released the burden to Jesus – our Ultimate Burden Bearer…
May each of you reading this… listen to His voice and follow Him on sweet adventures He has all planned for you… even it takes you ‘out of the box’! 😀
If your faith is based on the persuasive words of men, your faith will not go deep. When life difficulty comes, your faith will fall. But, if your faith is based on the power of Holy Spirit, the kingdom of God in your life will be unshakable.
Jesus didn’t merely share information, nor motivational speaking. Jesus always brought the power of His kingdom. He is relational, not informational. Jesus does not rely on the persuasive words of men to reveal Himself to the world. Instead, He invites us to declare and show the world who He is. Yes, there is power in Jesus’ words. But, He calls us to live out His words and demonstrate His power.
“When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith would not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.” – 1 Corinthians 2
First, be with Jesus.
Hear His voice.
What He invites you to do, go and do.
Not by your own strength, but in His.
AND, do it according to His timing.
Show the world, Jesus is very real and alive. 🙂 Like this…
Just over a month ago, I led 3 neighbour kids to pray for their sister with juvenile arthritis… well, this past weekend I ran into the mom and kids. Mom said that the next day, her 6 year old daughter had no pain!! They went for an MRI and it’s completely gone!! Jesus is our healer!
We had her siblings all put their hand on her ankle and we prayed for Jesus to heal. Beautiful. Absolutely precious.
She said she saw Jesus as we were praying – and everything was filled with a flood of light.
Again, she is 6, and now enjoying being a 6 year old including being in gymnastics!
Her siblings are 8, 4, and 2! 😄💗🎉
Another amazing thing happened this past weekend in my city… 2 pastors from 2 different churches confessed to their congregations that the way they have been doing church is all off. That followers of Jesus are ALL called to be pastors and should be going out as Jesus taught, not bringing people to church programs and relying on a human to feed them, but rather Holy Spirit to teach and lead them out. Wow! Sounds like a great shift is going to happen in institutional churches in our city!