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.
Many years ago I connected with Ed Underwood (and I have referenced his resources before on this blog). He recently wrote this post… (which is addressed to pastors but is for ALL OF US in ministry….)
Pastor, the Shocking Contrast Between Legalism and Grace.
We can choose to define ourselves as pastors by what we’re doing or not doing to please or displease legalists.
Or we can choose to focus on our personal resources and giftedness in Christ obtained only by grace.
Carrying around a to-do and a to-not-to-do list that self-proclaimed church hall monitors think you should maintain enough is exhausting.
Still, many of us seem afraid to launch out into what the legalists warn us is the wilderness of grace.
But, if we consult the New Testament we’ll see that there is a shocking contrast between grace and legalism.
I always thought you had to be FOREVER faithful to people, programs, and institutions to the very end. (One of my key values is loyalty and integrity.) Sadly, I learned the hard way some things and relationships must come to an end. Ouch. Sigh. After years of investing in some thing and someone, if there is no fruit, one must seek the Lord on what to do. Sometimes, He calls us to release.
We are called to be faithful to Jesus first and foremost.
“Endings are necessary, but the truth is that we often do not do them well. Although we need them for good results to happen and for bad situations to be resolved, the reality is that most of us humans often avoid them or botch them.
• We hang on too long when we should end something now.
• We do not know if an ending is actually necessary, or if “it” or “he/she” is fixable.
• We are afraid of the unknown.
• We are afraid of hurting someone.
• We are afraid of letting go and the sadness associated with an ending.
• We do not possess the skills to execute the ending.
• We do not even know the right words to use.
• We have had too many and too painful endings in our personal history, so we avoid another one.
• When they are forced upon us, we do not know how to process them, and we swing or flounder.
• We do not learn from them, so we repeat the same mistakes over and over.”
– Dr. Henry Cloud
A few years ago, I read Henry’s book on “Necessary Endings”. It set me free from some slavery to unhealthy situations, after two attempted mediations.
If this sounds like your situation, you may want to read his book too…
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.
“Mr Moody, there must be more prayer. The speaking here is excellent but there is too much of it in proportion to prayer. We do not have time to pray. We get tired when going to meetings, listening to men. We must have more time to speak to God and to listen to Him.” – Andrew Murray to D.L. Moody (founder of Moody Bible Institute)
I just came across this quote above written in a book on prayer in 1915.
I love seeing this shift over and over with more people hungry to hear God and less what others say about God or on behalf of God. This is why I love teaching people how to hear God’s voice.
People ask me, “What do you think? What should I do?”
Let’s ask Jesus.
After we pray together listening to God, we always test it…
Does it line up with Scripture?
Does it line up with the fruit of Holy Spirit? (If I did what He told me, would it produce love, joy, peace…)
More of Him.
Less of me!
(There is a time for a sermon, but when a sermon is your main course meal and only meal, you lack knowing how to go to God to be fed. You miss out on a direct relationship with God and you have put your pastor in His place. Oops. That is idolatry.)
Jesus wants to be in fellowship with us and that is one reason He gives us His Holy Spirit—so we would never have to be alone. One of the things Jesus promised us is that the Holy Spirit would speak to us, so that we could maintain our intimate relationship with Him. (1 John 14:16-21).
But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. (John 16:13)
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” – John 10:27 (NIV)
Are you a spectator or a participant in building God’s kingdom?
Years of sitting in traditional church has not prepared us to be the church in the manner described in the New Testament.
We have been taught to come.
To watch and listen to what others have prepared.
(Someone described it as “sit, soak and sour”.)
This is Spectator Church. And it is no way to train believers to be priests.
By contrast, the churches described in the Bible engaged in Participatory Church. This kind of church requires preparation on the part of all of it’s members.
This is new.
We haven’t been taught how to do this.
Therefore, some retraining is in order.
Read: John White’s article – How to Prepare for Simple Church
This morning on St Paddy’s day, my family and I gathered for communion and then reflected on a portion of his famously penned prayer…
I arise today, through God’s strength to pilot me,
God’s might to uphold me, God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me, God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me, God’s hand to guard me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptation of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill, afar and near.
Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
Then, we did a little reflection together…
What follows is a reflection based on the second half of St Patrick’s Breastplate (Prayer). Some of us may not wear combat gear in our daily lives but this prayer/reflection on St. Patrick’s Breastplate may function as divine armour to protect against the difficulties we may face in life.
Silently, become aware of what is going on around you. Close your eyes and sit in a comfortable upright position in their chair. Become aware of your breathing. Once you are in a prayerful state, keep your eyes closed and listen openly to the reflection.
Christ with me – Invite Christ quietly into your heart.
Christ before me – Think about events or things coming up over the next few days/weeks that you may be worried about. Ask Christ to help you face these challenges that lie ahead.
Christ behind me – Consider moments in your past that you may have found difficult. Spend a few minutes thinking about how Christ was present in these moments.
Christ in me – Spend now some quiet time deepening your relationship with Christ. Talk with Him and listen to God who is always with you.
Christ beneath me – All of us need help at points in our lives. It is at the lowest points that Christ is there carrying us through. Ask God now if there is anything you need help with.
Christ above me – Just as an umbrella protects us from the rain, Christ protects all of us. Think about somebody close to you that needs God’s protective care at this moment. Ask God to help them.
Christ on my right hand – Christ uses your hands to help and comfort others in today’s world. How can you use your hands to further God’s kingdom here on earth?
Christ on my left hand – God is always by your side even though you might not realise it. Thank God for never giving up on you even during those moments when you have turned away from him.
Christ when I lie down – Even when we sleep God is there watching over us and protecting us. Thank God quietly for his loving protective presence in your life.
Christ when I arise – When you wake up in the morning do you notice the beauty of the world around you? Thank God for his beautiful gift of creation.
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me – Recall a kind act that someone has done. How have they been the light of Christ to you?
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me – If someone who knows you really well were to give an honest answer to the question – What is the best thing about your friend? What do you think their answer would be? Would others say the same about you? Ask Jesus what He says about you.
Christ in every eye that sees me – Imagine that somebody took a photograph of you this morning interacting with your family/friends without you realising it. Do you think you would be happy with what the image captured? Did you speak kind or harsh words to a loved one? Did you help your family member/friend or were you angry with them? Talk with the Lord about this. Ask Jesus what He sees when He looks at you.
Christ in every ear that hears me – Think back over the conversations you have had with others this week. Have you been kind and thoughtful in what you have said or have your words been hurtful or damaging to others? Talk with the Lord about this. Ask Jesus how He hears your heart.
St. Patrick came to Ireland to help people discover your loving presence. May I take comfort from the fact that whatever challenges I may face in life you will always be there at my side to help and guide me through. Help me to be your witness in the world, showing others your loving presence through my words and actions.
Source, adapted from: https://decandsusan.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/st-patricks-breastplate.pdf
Tears of healing began to roll down my face. I didn’t know what was happening in me at the time, but I found myself in a culture of honour – observing and experiencing men honouring women and vice versa. It was so powerful JUST WITNESSING IT. I wept deeply… I began to feel a deep healing of much of the diagnosed psychological, emotional, and spiritual abuse I had experienced with some male leaders in my church that led to my health crash years ago. My doctor had ordered me to leave the church leadership situation immediately and my church conference insurance paid me for two years of resting.*
When I left that church environment several years ago, I entered a time of rest and detox.
My time of rest included a visit to a different church – one with a culture of honour. It was there, tears rolled down my face when I saw it was indeed possible for men to honour women in leadership. I sensed Jesus smiling over it all. My heart, my mind, and my spirit began to welcome the healing.
Years later, after some incredible healing rest… I get to walk pastors, ministry leaders, and lay people (both male and female) through healing of unfortunate abusive ‘church’ experiences.
When we try to ‘do’ church led by fear, instead of ‘being’ the church led by Holy Spirit, the damage is painful. When we walk in fear, rather than Christ-like love, we unknowingly or knowingly cause damage.
When a church is led by fear, the fruit is damage.
Thankfully, Jesus loves to restore and heal – revealing to those who are wounded and doing the wounding, that He has so much more.
Men who honour women, and women who honour men – is what Christ calls us to.
Let’s choose to walk in love and honour…
Recently, I was blessed with this below… Sadly, it described something that had been foreign to me.
Honor All People
Hi, this is Bill Vanderbush. I pastor Community Presbyterian Church in Celebration, Florida. I want to talk to you a little bit about honor. When you think of honor, people think about academia, or academic achievement. The honor roll, honors society, or maybe you are one of those people where the closest thing you ever got ot honor was, “Yes, your Honor, no, your Honor.”
I want to define it a little bit differently today. Honor is where you live to make somebody else like a genius. It is where you actually treat somebody as if they were Jesus. You may think, “That sounds kind of blasphemous. I can’t treat anybody like that.” We are all image-bearers. We are all made in the image and likeness of God. I believe God is calling us to be a culture of honor, to release honor everywhere we go.
1 Peter 2:17 says, “Honor all men.” Honor all people, actually it means. That is actually where he stops. He finishes that thought. Honor everybody without reservation. Honor is not to be given as a reward, it is given as a gift. Think of it like this, God doesn’t honor us because we are good. He honors us because He is good. He doesn’t love us because we are good, He loves us because He is good. He releases love, and honor, and grace because that is what He is like. That is what He has called us to do. He has called us to release honor because we are an honorable people.
How do you release honor over somebody that is dishonorable? That might be a difficult thing to do, but the reality is that when you release honor, you are actually digging for the treasure that is inside of a person. You are seeing them from Heaven’s perspective. In Matthew 13, Jesus goes home to His hometown – the Son of God. He tries to perform miracles and people get offended at Him. It says they became intellectually offended at Him. They said, “We know His mom, we know His brothers, we know His sisters.” They said, “How is this guy doing what He is doing?” They became offended at Him. Jesus responds and says, “A prophet is not without honor except in His home country, in His own town.”
I think a lot of times God calls us to begin ministry at home because He wants us to learn to do it without honor. He doesn’t want us to stay in a place of dishonor. The result of that is He could do no mighty work there because of their unbelief. Here is the thing about dishonor. Dishonor shuts down the anointing every time. In 25 years of pastoring, I have never seen a revival birthed in a culture of dishonor. Dishonor often times shows up in the middle of a revival and we wonder why the revival shut down. God is calling us to protect one another, to speak encouragement over one another.
There is a thin line between honor and flattery. We don’t want to get into flattery. Honor is calling out the gold in a person. It is coming into agreement with how God sees a person and shifting our perspective to Heaven’s perspective. Beginning to speak honor over their life. In doing that, we suddenly become a culture where from the outside looking in, there are people who are orphaned in their mind and their heart. They look at the Body of Christ and say, “I want to be loved just like that.” If we grab a hold of the culture of honor like this we would see the nations shaped and changed. In a generation or two there would be people that would once again know that God is to be famous for love.
I pray that you would become a person of honor. You would release honor in your words and your declarations. In everything you do, you would demonstrate the honor of Heaven. From a prophetic standpoint you would put Heaven on display in all that you do. I believe we will see revival breaking out all over our nation. Amen. Source: God Today – http://www.getgodtoday.com
*My doctor wept when I initially answered her intake questions. Clearly, I had endured more than I thought. I had been putting up with abuse, giving grace to the men over and over around their behaviours with women. I had loved my brothers in leadership. Looking back, I saw the potential in the men and kept forgiving them – until it caused my health to crash when I witnessed their treatment of another woman.
Seeing how they treated another woman with public dishonour was a shock to my system; literally.
I was assigned a medical team to interview me. Learning that the behaviour was abusive was a wake up call. My brothers had started off so encouraging in the beginning but, over the years, looking back I now see how their fear of man replaced their fear of God and this turned their behaviour into control, manipulation, and abuse of women. The Conference Minister, who admitted something was wrong with the church to have so many leaders burnout, asked what I learned about myself. I told him: I learned that I can endure years of abuse but when I see other women experience mistreatment, that’s when my body shut down.
Thankfully, God has a way of turning painful situations into redeeming ones. As mentioned above, having gone through my experience and falling in love with Jesus because He showed me more of who He is outside of the box, I now am a life coach and spiritual director for pastors, ministry leaders and lay people as they walk their way out of church abuse, burnout and depression. God indeed raises the dead! Then, he teaches them to share new life! 😀
How do you know if you’re in a false ‘church’ ?
Today’s lent devotional (below) was extremely timely as I walk several clients through ‘church’ abuse in multiple churches in my area. When churches practice witchcraft – control and manipulation, there is even trauma around reading God’s Word.
Breaks my heart.
Thankfully, Jesus loves to heal! His message to a very religious culture of His day was freedom!
This reminder was good: “…rule of thumb: if someone arrives claiming to be a prophet, but asking for money, they are false. We might expand that into the usual trio: money is so often linked with sex and power.”
Hmmm…basically : “Do as I say… and give me your money.”
I often find myself saying to clients – “What does the fruit tell you? That gives you clues as to the kind of tree.”
My prayer: Jesus, Thank you for freedom through your shed blood on the cross! Pour your Spirit on all churches and burn up what is not of you! Yes & Amen!
Here was the devotional today… (Source at the bottom.)
WEEK 1: WEDNESDAY
One of the great lies of our time is to suppose that because Jesus brings forgiveness, and urges us to be forgiving people, meek and gentle, there is no sharp edge to his message. To hear some people, you’d think the whole of the Christian message was simply a call to accept one another, never to judge another person. Indeed, doesn’t Jesus himself tell us not to judge, at the start of this very chapter (Matthew 7.1)? That verse is quoted again and again by people who would do well to ponder this present passage.
Jesus is quite clear that there are such persons as false prophets, as people who appear to be his followers but who in fact have never known him. Life would be a lot simpler if we could tell at a glance who the true and the false prophets were, but the only guide Jesus offers is the picture of the tree. Sooner or later — and it may be a lot later, or it may happen quite suddenly — the fruit of someone’s life will appear, and then you can tell whether they were real or whether they were fooling themselves and others.
In Jesus’ own day there was no shortage of such people. Jesus spoke more than once about people who would turn up and declare that they were prophesying in his name, or in God’s name, and would lead people astray. The second and third generation of the church faced the same problem, and developed an interesting rule of thumb: if someone arrives claiming to be a prophet, but asking for money, they are false. We might expand that into the usual trio: money is so often linked with sex and power. Some false teachers offer their followers sexual licence in contrast to Jesus’ rigorous standard, as in 5.27—30, 15.19—20 and 19.3—12; part of the lie, today, is that Jesus didn’t mind about such things. Others are eager for personal power, as you can tell when someone challenges them. And, yes, some today are in it for the money.
When Jesus uses the image of the tree, he is drawing, as so often, on an ancient biblical picture. The first Psalm speaks of God’s true people like trees planted by streams of water, which will produce fruit at the right time, while the wicked are like chaff blown around by the wind. Jeremiah develops this picture (17.8), thinking of the tree that sends out its roots to look for the water it needs. Lent is a time when we should be doing that: sending out our roots to look for the water of life. The challenge of these verses isn’t simply one of learning to recognize true Christian teaching from false. The challenge is to become, ourselves, trees that bear good fruit, people who not only say ‘Lord, Lord’ when it suits us, but who apply ourselves to the much harder task of discerning and doing God’s will.
Read this beautiful passage below:
(Interestingly, Jesus gave me this passage over and over on my Sabbatical in 2015 when I was in pastoral ministry.)
Here it is… Matthew 7:15-29
Gracious Lord, draw our roots to yourself, the living water, so that we may grow strong and bear good fruit.
SOURCE: day 8 of the YouVersion plan ‘Lent For Everyone’. https://my.bible.com/reading-plans/83-lent-for-everyone
RELATED POST: Tears of healing began to roll down my face. I didn’t know what was happening in me at the time. I found myself in a culture of honour… https://followingtrusting.com/2019/03/13/a-culture-of-honour-men-and-women/
What are we trying to revive when it comes to the Church?
“I was at a prayer meeting for revival in England. For three hours, people prayed for God to do something. Then suddenly, a young teenage boy stood up and gave a prophecy. I shall never forget it. In a penetrating voice, this shy boy— I found out later that he was quite retiring, not the sort who would get up, raise his voice and correct his elders — just got up and said, “Thus says the Lord: ‘I will not revive what I never built,’” and he sat down.
It transformed the entire prayer meeting; it came with such authority in the Spirit.
That word came ringing through. We realised we were really asking God to revive what we had built.
God was telling us that he would not revive what he never built and I cannot help but believe that while the Church is deliberately disobeying the commandments of the Lord, and has compromised in so many areas, there is no reason why he should answer prayers to revive it.
That is my problem.
The state of our nation is due to the state of the Church and we must take responsibility for what is happening around us. We are to be the salt and light but we need to acknowledge that we have not lived up to this ideal, and that we have compromised on the Word of God in so many ways already that it is almost impudence to ask the Lord to revive us.”