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.
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…
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.
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…)
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…
As I meet with my Life Coaching clients, I notice that some lives transform faster than others. Lately, the Lord has been waking me up at 4:33am, 4:11am…
The theme God keeps growing in me is this…
Planting His seeds (His wisdom, revelation, healing…)
…requires first a healthy heart soil (healed heart)
…and a renewed mind.
Trying to plant seeds without good soil (healed heart and a renewed mind), won’t lead to healthy growth.
I drew 2 pictures for you…! 😀
Check them out… Picture #1:
Then, out comes the growth and fruit all from abiding in Jesus who is the True Vine (not to mention the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6)! And Father God is the Gardener. (John 15:1-2), while Holy Spirit is the Living Water! (John 7:37-39)
Pretty amazing that all 3 beings of the Trinity is carefully attending to your growth – IF you let them. 😀
Look below… (I should have added water being poured out and into the root system to represent Holy Spirit’s living water…)
Together, on this journey… (Pause and reflect on this.)
- We invite Jesus to heal our hearts.
- We read the written Word for our minds to be renewed.
- In order to receive God’s wisdom and revelation. (Ephesians 1:17-20)
This picture has come to me over and over…!
As you look at this picture and reflect on the Scripture passages, what is God speaking to you?
- Ask Him: Lord, how would you like to heal my heart today?
- Ask Him: Lord, what do you want to show me from these passages? (See references and go treasure hunting!)
- Ask Him: Lord, if I were to invite your healing power, and your Divine wisdom and revelation in my life this week, what would shift for me?
Enjoy this exercise and share your findings in the comments below… 🙂
And if you’d like to join me on this journey with my group coaching circle, learn more here. (New circles are starting seasonally!)
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’! 😀
This will challenge your every thought on:
“WHAT and WHO is a church..?”
Interestingly, I learned about this film on September 11 (2019)…
“The fastest growing church in the world has taken root in one of the most unexpected and radicalized nations on earth,” according to “Sheep Among Wolves,” the outstanding two-hour documentary about the revival that has taken place inside Iran. “The Iranian awakening is a rapidly reproducing discipleship movement that owns no property or buildings, has no central leadership, and is predominantly led by women.”
A quote from the film:
“Anytime God goes against a religious spirit, He uses women and puts them in the centre of the room.”
The stories of these women are incredible.
I am apart of a Ministers Association who supports house churches and disciple making movements. The documentary I reference (you can watch it below) explains what I am apart of, but of course on a much different scale in Canada. These women in the film are incredible heroes and makes the abuse I have walked through in North American as a female leader, nothing in comparison.
You will want to watch this on a large screen without interruptions.
So incredibly powerful and worth it…
Learn more about: Disciple Making Movements.
What I have noticed in walking with my Life Coaching clients…
Disclaimer: My thoughts are all over the place. They are like birds flying everywhere. 🙂
I’ve been processing a moral failure of a long time mega church pastor and watching the church fall apart. This man was a mentor to me from a far in many ways. It was because of him and his wife’s books, that I was encouraged to marry my husband. It was because of his books that my prayer life became more important than being busy. It was because of his books that my leadership became more courageous. And yet, I have noticed that his moral failure has not rocked me to the core. Yet, I watch as his church falls apart and I’ve been wondering if the church is falling apart because they knew the voice of him as their pastor more than the voice of Jesus?
I watch how the rate of burnout, infidelity, depression, and suicide amongst pastors seems to be increasing. Is this because people are following the pastors rather than Jesus?
One former mega church pastor said it was unhealthy that so many people relied on him. He was convicted by Holy Spirit to walk away and begin pastoring in a house church movement. Today, he equips disciples to multiply following Holy Spirit rather than to coagulate by gathering to hear his sermons.
Sometimes I hear people say:
“We go to this church because of the pastor, or because of a certain family invited us, or because of the program for my kids…”
And then, I’ve watched how the pastor leaves, or the pastor falls into moral failure, or the kids get too old for the program… and then the family leaves completely disillusioned and maybe even walks away from Jesus altogether. But, were they truly walking with him in the first place? Or just with the pastor?
Lord, are we following people, programs, or you?
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” – John 10:27,28
Yes, granted when one in our family falls into moral failure, the whole family suffers. Yet, I’ve also been pondering how when your whole foundation is built on Jesus, when there’s moral failure in your human leadership, you lean into Jesus more than ever and bounce back higher than you ever were before.
And when there’s no repentance in leadership, you need to fire this person in leadership. And if leadership refuses to fire the leader, you will have to move on. No matter if you want to forgive them or not, without repentance, you cannot move forward …as is… under their leadership. Submitting to an unrepentant leader or leadership team only brings curses upon yourself.
Just some thoughts to process… as I’m going through a paradigm shift of…
“Who is called to lead the church?”
Some people say: Men only.
But, then we read the Gospels, Acts, and the Pauline Epistles and see women leading everywhere in the church…empowered by Jesus and by Paul. Jesus selected women to be the first messengers of the Resurrection in a culture that devalued female testimony.
The fastest growing churches in the world today in Iran and China are being led and multiplied by women. Chinese pastors for years have told North American pastors their secret – “Release your women.” When Chinese government began putting male pastors behind bars, the church made women 85% of its pastoral leaders, and the church grew from one million to a hundred million in fifty years. (Source: Victor Choudhrie)
HOWEVER, I’ve been wondering if we have focused too much on people period… regardless of gender, and not enough on Jesus?
It’s not about men leading.
It’s not about women leading.
It’s about Jesus leading His Bride.
Constantine sadly institutionalized Christianity using the book of Leviticus rather than the book of Acts model, but our minds need to shift to the fact that we are called to be the priesthood of believers!
No professional pastors required.
We are ALL pastors called to share the truth, to love each other and honour each other.
Jesus is the Good Shepherd.
And He later told His disciples to wait until Holy Spirit came!
…Yet, we still seem to insist on relying only on our Theology. By the way, there’s a book called ‘Systematic Theology’, but why isn’t there a book called: “Systematic Marriage”? …I’m teasing…. We can’t put God in a box, like we can’t put our spouse in a box.
I love when the professional religious leaders of the day took note because, “These unschooled, ordinary men had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4)
There it is again… Relationship with Jesus.
Here’s another quote I heard back in 2014 which keeps coming to mind too lately…
“One day all the mega churches will fall apart, and we’ll look back and wonder what was going on in churches in North America.” – Dallas Willard
Please note: Don’t think I’m entirely anti mega-church. God can still flow and move in them. In fact, one year I made a journey to attend a mega church to discover for myself if it was legitimately led by Jesus or not…and I was actually blown away by this church culture of honour (and of family). The Lead pastor continually honoured and empowered other leaders, male or female, and was quick to share the pulpit. He knew the love and goodness of God that He didn’t feel threatened by others. Rather, he cheered them on.
I am reminded that when leaders don’t think there’s enough of God’s love to go around, and they feel threatened by gifted congregants or other leaders, that’s when they walk in fear, jealousy, control and manipulation…
But, when leaders know God’s love, they celebrate other people’s wins!
…But, here’s a thought… If this last Lead Pastor were ever to fall into moral failure like the one I mentioned at the start of this article, would this mega-church fall apart?? Hmmm, that is the question…
What are your thoughts on who should Shepherd the Church? Are we still relying too much on people and not enough on Jesus and Holy Spirit?
Thoughts? 🙂 Share your comments below…
Also… enjoy this incredible document below written by Victor Choudhrie who is multiplying disciples in one of the fastest Disciplemaking movements today… choudherie_from_megachurch_to_metachurch_2010
This morning I was reminded that I come from a history of people who were a threat to society… 🙂 Radicals.
“The Anabaptists’ reform efforts were a threat to their society, because they claimed Christianity was to be lived out in small communities in accordance with the explicit teaching of Scripture. Similarly, the first-century Christians were a threat to their society because they claimed that there was a more important kingdom than that of the Roman Empire: the kingdom of Jesus Christ. Both Christian movements spread because of the way people maintained their faith in Christ and love for others, even in the face of persecution.”
At what cost do we follow Jesus even when our ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters’ persecute us?