Preparing the Bride: What is Babylon and how to come out of it?

We must be preparing the Bride for the return of Christ.  It is pertinent that we get ourselves ready!  Jesus deserves a spotless and wrinkle free Bride.  But I have had several dreams which indicate that she is not getting herself ready.  You can read about those dreams

HERE

and

HERE.

In an attempt to help my readers get themselves ready, I will begin to write from time to time on different things we can do to prepare ourselves for Christ’s return.

I know the book of Revelation can be hard to understand – even worse, we have theologians who continually argue about the interpretation of some of John’s visions.  All of this confuses us, and we end up washing our hands of the book of Revelation and say to ourselves, “It’s too hard.”

But it’s not too hard.  It can be easy, as long as we take one bite at a time and not try to eat the whole piece of steak at one time.  When we read other books of the Bible, say Colossians, it’s easy to read it in one sitting.  But you cannot do that with the Book of Revelation.  Revelation has to be cut into small pieces and then chewed like a good piece of steak!

The piece I want us to chew on today is the difference between Babylon and the Kingdom of God.

God clearly tells us to come out of Babylon so we will not share in her sins or receive her plagues.

Revelation 18:4-5

Come out of her [Babylon], my people,’

    so that you will not share in her sins,

    so that you will not receive any of her plagues;

for her sins are piled up to heaven,

    and God has remembered her crimes.

So just what is Babylon and how can we know if we are tangled up in her web?

Babylon is a system of thinking that is contrary to the Lord.

Babylon, essentially, is worldly thinking that was planted in Adam and Eve by the devil in the Garden of Eden.  Its root is fear, and its fruit are greed, selfishness, pride, and mastery (ruling over other people).  

The system of Babylon is trusting in one’s self to provide power, significance, and provision no matter who gets hurt in the process.  People use other people to get what they want - and say whatever they think the other person wants to hear in order to get their needs met.  This is a form of prostitution. When this system grows into an entire culture, the people at the bottom of the system are enslaved by those at the top.

The Kingdom of God is built upon love, self-sacrifice, equality, and dependence upon our Creator for provision and significance.  This system sees other people as equals and is built on servanthood. People volunteer to serve others. When this system grows into a culture, the people are set free to live their lives in liberty and peace.  They are free to follow God’s plan for their lives if they so choose.

Babylon is a forced master/slave system.

God’s Kingdom is a voluntary father/son relationship.

We come out from Babylon by examining every relationship in our lives. 

The basic question is this: Are we a slave to it?  Or is it voluntary?

Are you a slave to the opinions of friends and family or are you free to be yourself?

Are you a slave to your local church or is it voluntary?

Are you enslaved to money, power, greed, selfishness, anger?  All of these things are the foundation of the Babylonian system.  It is time to get yourself cleansed from all of them!

How do we come out from Babylon?

We first need to have our minds renewed about the difference between Babylon and God’s Kingdom.  We need to feel the fire of God about how serious He is about purging Babylon out of us!  Ask Him to show you His heart on the matter.

Then we need to take very seriously the call to come out of Babylon.  This means we sit with the Lord and have Him reveal to us where Babylon is planted in our hearts.  We take our time and pull up EVERY single weed until it is finished.  This will take diligence and perseverance but it will be WORTH IT!

Pray for God to reveal every relationship that is built on the wrong kingdom.  Ask for everything in your life that is not in His will to be uprooted.

Let the Lord show you what people you need to break ungodly soul ties with.

(Click HERE for the Breaking Soul Ties prayer.)

Break generational curses with sins that you can see have been passed down

(Click HERE for the Breaking Generational sin prayer.)

Ask God to reveal any strongholds that still need to be brought down in your heart then spend some time repenting and asking God to deliver you from the stronghold.  He is MIGHTY to save!

Continue this process of cleansing until the Lord releases you.  After you spend time with God cleansing yourself, be sure to pray the sealing up prayer each time when you are finished.   

(find the “Sealing Up” prayer HERE.)

Let us not be apathetic in preparing for the King.  He deserves so much more!  Get yourself ready!

The Ugly Side of the Evangelical Church

I am guilty of everything I’m about to write.

I have participated in each and every ugly bullet point below.  And I repent for it.  I was wrong.  I was selfish. I followed Paul and Apollos instead of Jesus.

The following article is not an attempt to shame anyone.  I forgive every person in the Evangelical Church who has hurt me.  This article is a call for repentance.  I am attempting to hold a mirror up to the evangelical church and asking if they like what they see.

I am going to use coarse language to describe my sin.  The Bible uses coarse language to describe Israel’s sin.  But if coarse language offends you – you should stop reading now.

I know that many people have been hurt by the Evangelical Church – personally, I have been hurt and I have also been the one who caused damage.  I am sorry for those I have misled and I ask for God’s great mercy to heal anyone I wounded.

I have attended a total of seven Evangelical Churches in my 44 years.  At different times, I was a Director of Worship, Bible Study Leader, Youth Leader, Prayer Ministry Leader, and Women’s Ministry Leader. I am still an Evangelical.  I hold fast to the Word of God.  It is my foundation.  I also believe in all of the gifts of the spirit.  I am, what I would call, a Charismatic Baptist. 

My husband has helped me greatly in understanding my calling and has fully supported me throughout our 24-year marriage.  When I refer to “husbands” below – I am not referring to him personally.

I don’t always write heavy pieces – I mostly just want to help people become whole from their emotional trauma.  But it is the TRUTH that sets people free.  So the band aid must be ripped off and the veil pulled back - everything in the dark must be exposed to the light.  I am blowing the shofar (the trumpet) concerning the ugly practices of a good portion of the American Evangelical Church. 

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Whores

I was a whore.

I was a spiritual whore in several of my Evangelical Churches.

It’s what I was trained to be.  I was a woman who was not truly allowed to have power. My job as a church whore was to allow the men in my life to use my giftings, revelations, and talents to make them look good.  I was expected to have a man approve all of my decisions.  In my home, in my workplace, and in the church, if I did not have the OK from a man - the church considered me “out of order.”  I was trained by the church to believe that a man was always required to have the final say in my life in order for me to be one with Jesus.

So, to have any source of significance in the church, I was forced to be a whore – “one who sells themselves.”

I sold myself and my giftings to the church for acceptance.  My worship leading, my teaching gift, my administration gift – all of it.  I sold it to the men in my Evangelical Churches and took no credit at all.  I thought it was my duty to let them use me.  I just wanted to be holy.

I grew up being told that a woman’s place was to submit to men.  So then – when it came to my giftings I was forced to use them for men’s glory.  In the home – the church said I had to let my husband shine brighter than me.  So when we would go to be with church people, I would beg him not to be an introvert, because I would take the heat for it. 

In the church – I had to let men, in general, shine brighter.  On several occasions, pastors stole my revelations (new understandings from the Bible) for their own sermons.  As the Director of Worship, I would sometimes completely produce an entire Sunday morning with two services all by myself. Behind the scenes – I was the one who made the church look good.  But I would never take credit – nor be given credit for all of my hard work.  I believed the lie that I was supposed to give away everything for free so that the pastor could take the stage and he could shine with his gifting.

I look back now and see how differently I felt when I was working outside the church because the world mostly sees men and women as equals.  There wasn’t the pressure to perform to make my boss look good.  I was given credit when I achieved something or created something good.  But the pressure to stay home with my kids was another way to demand that I conform to the Evangelical Hive Mind.

I wanted desperately to please the  Hive Mind (read more here). I wanted to belong.  But to belong I had to play the role of whore:  Make the men in my life look good.  Make men feel good about themselves.  Sacrifice my self-respect.  Don’t make waves.  Just perform.  

In some kind of twisted way, I believed that “performing” for my pastors and elders in my church gave me some sort of power.  Somehow –  if I “performed” well enough they would see my worth and give me credit for my maturity and wisdom.  But it didn’t.  It just inclined them to use me more…

And so… I became a Madam.

Madams

A Madam is one who keeps the other whores in line.  She’s the one in charge of the whorehouse. Did you know that most Evangelical Churches who are “complementarian” have a Spiritual Madam?

It’s a necessary position.

I would correct women who weren’t letting their men shine brighter than they were.  I would reprimand women who weren’t taking a secondary role in the marriage.  I would warn the pastors about women who were “usurping” authority.  

In essence, I was the one insisting that women allow men to be their Masters.

In the complementarian Evangelical Church, if the men are not the Masters over women then they have no “man-hood.”  It is a stain on their masculinity if they are married to a strong willed, gifted woman.  We are directed to serve THEIR calling while ignoring our own.  We are controlled by contrived gender roles.

One time I had a Church Madam come to me and tell me that the Lord wanted me to submit my personality to my husband.  She said that if I would just tone it down a little that it would help my marriage.  So I was not free to be who God intended for me to be, I wasn’t allowed to have the outgoing, fun-loving personality God gave me – My husband and I were expected to manipulate our marriage so that we fit into the cookie cutter that was set forth for us by the Church.

There is a lie STILL perpetuated after all of these years that there is something inherently wrong with a woman and she cannot truly lead.

Because – you know what happened in the Garden of Eden don’t you?  It was “That woman’s” fault. (Genesis 3:12)  The perpetual lie is that we are still under the curse from the garden.  So women shall continually have men “ruling” over them… and if men are not ruling and women submitting, then we are not truly one with Jesus.  Never mind that Ephesians 5:21 comes before Ephesians 5:22.  As a Madam, it is important to ALWAYS start in verse 22.

The problem with this thinking is - that if the curse of gender roles from Genesis 3 is still in effect then the blood of Jesus was not enough to roll back the curse completely.

Somehow part of the Evangelical Church believes that the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus was enough to roll back the curse of death – but not gender roles.

If we believe the lie that men must still rule over women – then a Church Madam is necessary to force the women to comply.

The Good Old Boys Club

The Good Old Boys Club in the Evangelical Church is the one that gets together behind closed doors …and decides.

They decide everything.

I hate to tell you this but most of them don’t seek the Lord.  They are putting their own plan in motion.  Because as far as they are concerned – they are the leaders the Lord has appointed so whatever is in their minds must be from God.

Sometimes it’s the Elder Board who makes up this club and sometimes it’s not.  Sometimes it’s just a few who have the Pastor’s ear.  They have invisible puppet strings attached to the pastor and they use him for their own purposes. 

When the pastor is a peacekeeper – He is never the true leader of the church – the Good Old Boys Club is the one in charge. 

Sometimes the pastor is the leader of the Good Old Boys Club.  When a pastor is overly insecure in his masculinity having this Club makes him feel like a man’s man.  As a woman in church leadership, I let this Club take advantage of me – because I thought it was the righteous thing to do.  I had no idea at the time, that I was being a whore.  I let the Good Old Boys Club use my gifts, talents, and influence to keep their positions as the Masters of the Church.

I will tell you a sad story that illustrates the Good Old Boys Club:   After I came out of my deception of being a Madam, I was part of a church in which it came to my attention that one of the pastors was asking the women he counseled if their sex life with their husband was satisfying.  The women didn’t feel like they could evade the question so they answered and the pastor proceeded to give them pointers on how to make it better.  He told them sexual positions to try and lingerie to buy and even websites to look at… all of this without their husband’s knowledge.

I approached the leadership of this church with proof and three witnesses about what this man was doing in his private meetings with women and nothing happened to this man at all.  He still retains his position.  He was not corrected nor reprimanded. He never asked for forgiveness from anyone.  This is because the Good Old Boys Club protected him.  They cared more for the reputation of this pastor than the women whose marriage beds had been violated.

I have witnessed a few Evangelical Churches where there was no Good Old Boys Club – but it was only because the pastor was humble enough to obey the Word and strong enough to disobey the Club.  Sometimes he survived – other times the Holy Huddle crucified him because he dared to rock the boat.

Holy Huddles

In many Evangelical Churches, peace is to be valued above all things.  It is the highest calling of the church to be at peace.  We believe the lie that if we are not at peace then we are not one with the Lord.  Because Jesus is peace.  Therefore, be quiet.  Do not disagree.  Do not point out flaws.  And especially do not point out sin.  If you point out sin – you will be ostracized and labeled a troublemaker.

I used to be a keeper of the peace.

I would tell people “Don’t rock the boat.  Be quiet about your complaint – it’s actually your issue.  Don’t judge. You’re being critical.  Have you really prayed enough for that person?  You are causing dissension…”

I really wasn’t keeping the peace.  I was forcing everyone to sweep their issues under the rug and be quiet about it.

For the most part, the church doesn’t really value peace.  We value quiet.

We value having our Holy Huddles where everyone pretends everything is all right.  Because peace is put on a pedestal and worshipped, anyone who causes conflict and doesn’t pretend everything is alright is not tracking with the Hive Mind.  Anyone who doesn’t value peace (or the absence of conflict) is put out of the Holy Huddle.

Sometimes dissent is allowed.  Usually only once.  But after that – after you’ve presented your case to the elders – now you are just whining.  Doesn’t matter how much scripture you have to back up what you are saying…  dealing with the actual issue will cause the boat to rock.  And we must have peace – or we are not one with Jesus.

Peace – whether it is real or false – must be abided by at all times!

In many of the Evangelical Churches, you must serve the Holy Huddle – or move along.  Unless you have money, if you have money – we will adapt the Holy Huddle to you.

Money Prostitutes

I wish this weren’t true, but it is.  I wish I had not participated, but I have…

Here are the bullet points of being a money prostitute in the church.

The “givers” in the church must be tended to.  Give them special treatment.  Take their phone calls.  Answer their questions. Give them leadership responsibilities.  Name parts of the building after them.

The Church service must not only please the givers it must also reach the young people.  There are rules and regulations about worship.  If they are not abided by, people will withhold their money.  So we listen carefully to the comment cards of those who give more money.

One time at an Evangelical Church I attended, I had taken steps to start a 7 days a week Prayer Ministry.  The pastor had been very supportive, it was growing and people were coming to prayer meetings we would have every single day at the church.  I was excited to actually make some headway into ministry and be able to fill a hole that was sorely needed at this church.  Until one day, I spoke from the platform about something God had laid on my heart in prayer and I offended the Church Madam whose family gave a great deal of money.  She complained to the pastor and I was brought in to his office – not to make peace with her, nor even to face her.  The pastor brought me in and gave me an ultimatum to face Church discipline or to step down from ministry.  I knew I had done nothing wrong and that this pastor was bowing to money.  So I stepped down.

Jealousy and greed are ugly.

Most Evangelical Churches are struggling for money.  So when we cannot raise enough money within the church to do what we would like to do, then we look to the world and use Babylon’s methods like grants and fundraisers to find enough money to keep our Church dream alive.

Because addressing why people aren’t truly tithing would cause waves – and we must have peace above all things.  Addressing why there is a financial famine from the God who owns the cattle on a thousand hills might cause us to have to address our own sin.

So we manipulate and find the money to at least give the perception that we have a “Picture Perfect Church.”  Money helps us to keep our veils in place.

Veils

The Evangelical Church believes that the church needs to appeal to the consumers in the community.  Instead of actually being the church, where we REACH OUT and clothe the poor and feed the hungry and offer mercy, we focus on what kind of veils will attract the community to our church.  When you are caught up in the consumerism of church, it is hard to see the truth beyond the veil that God doesn’t consider His Church to be made with bricks and mortar.  He considers His Church to be made with people.

There are several kinds of veils to keep people interested and oblivious to what is actually happening behind the scenes.

There are veils of “niceness.”

We don’t really speak the truth to one another – that would upset the delicate balance of peace. Conflict means that we are not one with Jesus.

So we’re nice.

We either ignore complainers.  Or tell them that they are completely right – but we never change the thing they bring forth.

We placate.  We may wine and dine the complainers for a moment – hoping they’ll be quiet.  We do it in the name of love.  But really we’re doing it so they’ll fall in line.  We’re doing it to placate our own soul.

And then…whether or not the dissenters listen, we have been nice.

We want to be one with Jesus and Jesus would have been nice.

There are veils of “worship.”

Take it from me, as a former Director of Worship…if we can pull of a killer worship service, people will overlook a lot.  If we dress it up and make it sound semi-professional, if we make people feel a little bit lighter because of the worship service, they are willing to look past some of the more unsavory things happening just to get their weekly dose of peace.

This is similar to David singing and worshiping before King Saul.  It brought him a little peace from his torment.  He would get a little relief from his demon but never truly repent.  In a way, this is what a worship veil does.  We give the people a little relief from their torment – but never truly pull back the veil of the cause of their torment, which is sin.

We also used to do a huge Easter production every year and the whole church would be filled with Believers, being blessed by the story they already knew.  When we shifted it to an outreach type of program, no one came.  No one brought anyone.  We were a consumer church with the wrong priorities.

There are veils of “outward appearance.”

Going to a church with a really nice building appeals to the consumerism of the world – so we build really nice facilities to cover up any flaws in the internal structure of the church.

We offer the latest and greatest programs, which again, appeal to the consumers who are looking for a church – but offering them a beautiful building and dynamic programs instead of Jesus causes people to worship their own comfort and peace. 

The veil of outward appearance leaves us with a shallow church who does not truly know the Man they claim to be serving.

In a way, this veil allows the people to accept Jesus, without turning away from the world.  But the truth is –  you can’t have the Kingdom of Heaven without repenting.

Calling people to repent of their sin rocks the boat and disturbs the peace of the status quo – and the Evangelical Church is all about their (false) peace.

Sin is messy.  It takes courage to call people on their sin – especially in this day and age when you will be called judgmental or unloving.  But Jesus called people on their sin ALL. THE. TIME!

When I was a whore to the Evangelical Church, I was more concerned with the appearance of the church than I was with the hearts of people.  I did not want the world to hate us.  I wanted them to want Jesus and think He was cool.  So I helped to create veils that would make Christianity inviting.

I did not preach Christ, nor the truth that accepting Him includes forsaking the world.

When I was a whore, I pretended to play church but I really didn't build His Church. I built a comfortable "paneled house" but His true Church was left in ruins. This is why there is a drought in the American Evangelical Church.  We are guilty of the same sin of the Israelites after they returned from exile.  We're building ourselves a house - but not Him.

2 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord’s house.’”

3 Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: 4 “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?”

5 Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 6 You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”

7 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 8 Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord. 9

“You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house.

10 Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. 11 I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the olive oil and everything else the ground produces, on people and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.”  (Haggai 1:2-11)

Epilogue

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry for playing my part in all of these ugly things.  I’m sorry for insisting on false peace.  I’m sorry for insisting on cookie cutter Christianity.  I’m sorry for being a whore to the Evangelical Churches who had a Hive Mind instead of the mind of Christ.

Women should be completely equal to men.  If they are not – then the fullness of the cross will never be realized.  Jesus paid the price for ALL sin, including Eve’s.  In doing so, the cross wiped out the curse from the Garden of Eden. There is no male or female in Christ.  Women are not second class citizens.  We carry half of the image of Christ – without women in leadership, the Church does not really have the whole picture.

When Paul said women should be silent – he was speaking to a specific group of women who had gotten rowdy.  Jesus told women to speak up – specifically, He told Mary Magdalene to go and tell his male disciples that He had risen.   A woman was the first preacher of the gospel.  So, obviously, Paul did not mean ALL women should be silent and “not be permitted to teach men.”  Jesus told a woman to go and “teach” a new revelation to His disciples.

When the Evangelical Church separates men and women like this they become guilty of spiritual homosexuality.  Spiritual homosexuality happens when only men are allowed to “birth” things in the church.  Only men are allowed to make decisions.  Only men are allowed to do the teaching.  Having only men in Church leadership means that there is only one gender that is allowed to “spiritually parent” the Church.

There are hearts in the Church who are crying out for true mothers.  Not whores, but Spiritual Mothers who have authority to comfort and correct and teach and nurture.  There is a GREAT need in the Body of Christ for the comfort that only Spiritual Mothers can bring.  The only roles that were given to the genders in the Garden of Eden were that of a Father and a Mother.  Both are necessary to create life.  Both are necessary to raise healthy children.  Right now – most of the Evangelical Church is only allowed to have Spiritual Fathers.  True Spiritual Mothers aren’t kept behind their husband as though they are invisible.  True Spiritual Mothers work alongside the Spiritual Fathers and have equal say over the raising of the children.

God’s original intention and Christ’s subsequent redemption was that men and women would be one flesh and rule over the earth together.

God needs us to become one.  We need both male and female to spiritually birth things.  This is not achieved by females becoming invisible so that males can lead.  We need each other.

Once, God used me to correct a young man from his sin and then him free in a miraculous way at an Evangelical Church.  It was truly an amazing thing to witness God’s presence as He led me in using my gift of discernment and my tools of deliverance to set him free from his sin.  But after the amazing awe-filled evening, I was told that I couldn’t take any credit for what happened.  I was told, “God did it… not you.”

I was stunned for a moment that this elder was not even going to give me any credit for what he had just witnessed.  I had taken great risk to call out this young man’s sin.  I had used a gifting that came from God but that I spent years developing my character to use.  I had also trained myself to use tools of deliverance.  Yes, God did it – but He was able to use me because I was mature enough to use them.

I was a Spiritual Mother to this young man because I cared for his destiny more than I cared to upset him.  But the elder can’t afford to give a woman credit for setting this man free.  It would upset the apple cart of the spiritual homosexuality that he and the Good Old Boys have so carefully preserved.  I was a better elder to this young man than the male elders had been.  They knew he was sinning and no one was willing to cause conflict in order to set him free.

I know it’s ugly.

But it must be dealt with.  I am sorry for my part in oppressing women in the Evangelical Church. I’m sorry for promoting spiritual homosexuality.  I’m sorry for manipulating people for their money. I’m sorry for creating a Holy Huddle of self-righteousness.  And I am sorry for covering all of it with a veil of “niceness.”   I hope that through this confession that some will see behind the veil and repent.

There is nothing in this life that I take more seriously than Judgement Day.  When I stand before the Lord and bow my knee, I want to hear “Well done, good and faithful one!”

It is for this purpose – wanting my brothers and sisters in the Evangelical Church to hear “Well done!” – that I dare to rock the boat.

Are you willing to give up your false peace in order to take a long, hard look into this mirror?

As a woman in the Evangelical Church, I want to be united with men.  I want to be of one heart and one mind.  I don’t want to be “over” men – I want to rule alongside men, the way the Lord intended.  

I want to be Mary Magdalene who comes and tells you a new revelation that God has given me.  But if you ignore me the way the disciples did Mary… if you steal my revelation from God and claim it for your own… if I’m invisible and you think that women should be silent and only here for the lifting up of men – you relegate me to being a whore.

And I refuse to be one anymore.

 

Should Christians Boycott Movies, Stores, and Products? A Different Take

The culture wars have hit Christianity hard.  They have hit us so hard that we seem to be floundering about how to answer the demands of “Babylon.”  The WORLD has come knocking at the door of an immature Church demanding that we bow to the golden idol of their choosing or else be thrown into the fiery furnace.

From Duck Dynasty to Target to Starbucks to Disney Movies and Disney TV shows, from HGTV to the Grammys…  Christianity has been told if they do not compromise and agree with the WORLD’s new morality then they will be targeted with fiery words aimed at making us comply.

Some Believers have nobly called for boycotts of these brands.   Others have rightly argued that we are called to be in the world and influence it – how can we do that if we remove ourselves from the equation.

There has arisen a great divide on this issue among the Church.  Some demand that we are not good followers of Christ if we continue to frequent businesses that serve this Babylonian idol of immorality.  If we would all simply boycott – that we would weaken Babylon’s resolve.

 Others have sharply disagreed that we are not unholy by patronizing businesses of the WORLD.  We are called to be the light in dark places.  If we boycott the WORLD, we are hiding our lights under a bushel.

I have friends on both sides of this issue.  There are Biblical merits for both arguments. As I have been seeking the Lord about His direction for my own life, I’d like to offer a different take on whether or not God requires us to boycott in order to obey Him.

He actually addressed this issue right in His word.

Romans 14

As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. 2 One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. 3

Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats,

for God has welcomed him. 4 Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

5

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.

6 The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. 8

For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord.

So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's. 9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; 11 for it is written,

“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,

    and every tongue shall confess[b] to God.”

12

So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.

If we boycott, we boycott to the Lord.  If we do not boycott, we do it unto the Lord.  For we each are responsible to our Master.  We are not the “master” of one another.  We each submit to the Head, which is Christ.

Boycotts sometimes work.

 But not every Believer is called to boycott.  Some are called to work within the system to see it changed.  Others may be called to minister to the people within those organizations by frequenting their establishments.

We are to let each of our consciences submit to the Lord without passing judgment on one another.

Personally, I have joined in some boycotts and I have not joined in others.  I have listened to the leading of the Spirit each time.  I am at peace with my decisions because I am bowing my knee to my God – not to the god of Babylon – nor to the letter of the law.  I am bowing my knee to what God is asking of me, personally.  And I urge you to do the same.

Back to the very heated question:

Should Christians boycott movies, stores, and products?   

Answer:

Follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, but do not expect every Christian to get the same answer.

When the Church Marries Babylon

This article was originally published in The Courier Times - Religion Op-Ed on May 9, 2014
By Tisha Sledd

I believe that God speaks to His people through dreams. The other night I had a dream that I was at a church conference and I kept hearing about  how wonderful the coffee was. In the dream, I kept
wanting to try the coffee, but every cup I picked up already had lukewarm coffee in it. I had a terrible time finding an empty cup to put hot coffee in.

I believe the Lord was showing me that sometimes the people and ministries that are spoken highly of are often times in His opinion – lukewarm.

In college I learned to
sum up the Kings of Israel in this way: Saul had no heart for God, David had a whole heart for God and Solomon had a half heart for God. Of course, we know that King Saul disobeyed the Lord and was rejected as king. King David was called “a man after God’s own heart,” even though he had committed some egregious sins. King Solomon’s lukewarmness is what I’d like to focus on. He followed God until he married wives from foreign countries. Solomon eventually allowed his love for his wives to water down his fear of God and His commandments.

“Thou shalt have no other Gods before me” is the first and greatest commandment since the entire Kingdom of God hinges on this precept.

Recently I have been contemplating the restoration strategies in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. Their walls were broken down and their sanctuary was destroyed because they had disobeyed God. They had been in exile for 70 years. I find that this strategy for restoring the walls and temple of God is much like God uses today with His Church.

In a simplified way, the restoration process is like rewinding the devastation. First they repaired the structures, then they remembered the commandments of God, and finally they repented from marrying foreign wives like Solomon did. Nehemiah 13:23-27, Ezra 9, 10

God is doing a work in the church. He is restoring His bride by rebuilding her structures and bringing His bride to repentance. But the restoration process will not be fully accomplished until His bride repents from marrying foreign wives.

How do we marry foreign wives, you ask?

When we use the worldly strategy to promote our churches by focusing on numbers and advertising in worldly ways, we are using the system of Babylon to grow a church. When we use a worldly system to grow a church we are married to a counterfeit - we are married to Babylon instead of Jesus.

When we use control or manipulation to get people into our church we marry Jezebel. If we make people in our church feel guilty for visiting other churches this is a form of control. If we pull strings to get people to do ministry to make our church look good. This is manipulation. When we begin to think that we are the only church to get God’s Kingdom correct, we are walking in pride. “For the eye cannot say to the hand I don’t need you.” 1 Corinthians 12:21

When we use fancy buildings, fancy programs, or guest speakers to pack our pews, it is similar to using make-up, jewelry and finery to trap people with our beauty. When we use this form of batting our eyelashes, we have married the prostitute.

God does not build His church with Babylon, Jezebel or prostitutes. He builds His church with the Holy Spirit. He doesn’t need a Babylonian spirit to advertise His church.

He spreads His good news through His disciples who are living a righteous life. He doesn’t need a spirit of Jezebel to control the people in the church.

He uses love and relationship to bring people willingly to each congregation. He doesn’t use a spirit of prostitution to come up with fantastic perks for joining a church. He calls people to serve in His Kingdom.

The reason we have married these foreign wives is because we have become like those lukewarm cups of coffee. If the church would become enthralled with the One who matters, we would become hot cups of comfort to our community and the Lord would build His church by His Spirit.

Let us ask God to search our hearts about our lukewarmness. The bride has everything she needs in Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is well-able to build His church.  Let us begin to lay down our fleshly methods and just see what He can do!

The One Commandment We Break All the Time!

Here in the United States, we are constantly on the go.   We FILL our calendars with events and meetings and kids activities and entertainment.  There are various reasons that we do so. 

Sometimes it is because we want to keep up with the Joneses (especially if the Jones kids play

sports!).  Sometimes it is because we don’t draw healthy boundaries and our lives run away with us.  Sometimes it is because our eyes are on an earthly prize rather than the eternal one.  Other times having a full calendar silences our pain and if we keep busy enough then we don’t notice our pain as much – we use a ‘busy’ life as a numbing agent.

No matter the reason that

we fill our lives with so much activity – the truth remains that we are constantly breaking the command of the Sabbath rest.

"Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”

  (Exodus 20:8-11)

Working 6 days – Resting 1 day.  It is the pattern that our Heavenly Father set up at the beginning of creation.  We are commanded to cease from laboring on the 7

th

day. 

Sabbath

: a holy day of rest, as God rested from creation.

I am not bringing up this subject in order to argue the hermeneutics and doctrine of the Sabbath.  I simply want to shed light on a personal experience that I have had over the past few years.

About three years ago I was drop dead tired … ALL. THE. TIME!  I also had sleep issues and would have insomnia several nights a week. 

I was fortunate that I had recently closed up a small business that I had owned for a few years and I had the opportunity to rest.  I would do a few things around the house in the morning like dishes and a load of laundry and then I would just be worn out.  I had some tests done and came to the conclusion that I had Adrenal Fatigue.  My adrenals were worn out and mad at me so they simply stopped working.  They stopped producing the hormones that I needed so my body didn’t have the correct balance of hormones in order for me to function.

Honestly the only way to heal my body from Adrenal Fatigue was to REST.  I took a full two months and allowed myself to only do the bare minimum.  I worked through my guilt feelings and told myself that I would be a better mom if I simply rested.  I watched a lot of TV.  I did some crocheting.  I surfed the net. I

pinterested

.  And I slept.

It was during these two months that the Holy Spirit was able to convict me that I was not observing the Kingdom Principle of the Sabbath.  I was 100% GO at all times and never took time to rest.  He showed me that the body was not created for 100% stress all the time and that if I did not make this correction at 38 years of age – I would be much sorrier later in life.

So I had to let the Holy Spirit teach me how to observe the Sabbath.  Jesus does not expect us to keep the Sabbath in the same way that the Israelites did.  They weren’t to do work of any kind, even baking bread.  They were only allowed to be with family and go to temple and study the Torah.

The New Covenant is not like that.  There aren’t any RULES anymore – the New Covenant is based on RELATIONSHIP.

So when I observe the Sabbath it doesn’t even have to be a specific day.  It simply needs to be ONE day out of seven.  Being in ministry I sometimes have necessary meetings on Sundays.  So there are times when my Sabbath Day cannot be on Sunday.  So I usually find a quiet day during my week and put boundaries around it so that nothing is scheduled on that day.  The Sabbath Day varies from week to week because of the nature of ministry life. 

I have found such a freedom in allowing myself to not have to be “ON” for one day of the week.  I can see a stability come from observing the Sabbath. I look forward to doing NOTHING!  It alleviates my guilt because I'm required to.

I believed the lie that if I was not constantly working toward a goal that the goal would suffer and not be completed on time.  The truth is, if God has given me a goal to attain, be it family related, ministry relate or business related, He is the one who is tasked with seeing it to completion, not me.

The “fields” I have been assigned to work in will be better off if they have a rested worker to work them.  My success relies on my obedience to God – not on the work that put into the field.

The Israelites were also told to give the land a rest once every seven years.  They were told to harvest the 6

th

year and let the land lie unplowed and unused on the 7

th

. (Exodus 23:10-12)  They did not observe this Sabbath for 490 years.  The Lord ended up sending them into exile for 70 years.  One year for each seven year cycle that they refused to let the land rest.  They were forced into letting the land rest for 70 years while they were in Babylon.

In a strange way that was what happened to me when the Lord made me take a Sabbath after my Adrenal Fatigue.  It took me almost a full year to feel normal again and to recover good sleeping patterns.  I had refused to observe the Sabbath in a New Covenant sort of way and God delivered me by making me rest for a WHOLE YEAR.

I know the benefits of tithing.  I have seen this Kingdom Principle at work: 90% of your income goes a lot further than 100% does.  It is a supernatural thing that happens when we tithe 10% of our earnings to God’s Kingdom.  There seems to be an abundance of that 90% to go around.

I have come to the same conclusion about the Sabbath day of rest.  Six days of work goes a lot further than seven days of work.  I promise!  You have got to try this!

Here are a few practical things that I suggest:

1) Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you how to take a Sabbath when it comes to the rhythm of your life.

2) Don’t make hard and fast rules.

Observing the commandments is about your RELATIONSHIP with God and with your family.

3) Pick up your phone less often to check it on your Sabbath.

Or turn it off completely if you can.

Sometimes I just make up my mind to put it on the charger all day.

I might check it once.

And I can hear it if there is an emergency.

4) Focus on turning off your mind to the world. Focus on God and focus on your family.

Focus on doing something you WANT to do instead of something you HAVE to do.

5) If you cannot take an entire day for a Sabbath – take little Sabbath’s throughout the week.

I find that I can take 2 hours Sabbath’s here and there and I am wonderfully refreshed because I chose to rest.

(Sometimes I take a whole day of rest PLUS little 2 hour Sabbaths here and there!)

6) Do not get distracted on your Sabbath.

Do what needs to be done but don’t get pulled back into the digital world or into work because you ‘perceive’ an emergency.

Always get permission from the Holy Spirit when breaking your Sabbath to answer a phone call or text.

7) Ask the Holy Spirit to hold you accountable.

God wants you to succeed and to reach your ultimate purpose.

If he is telling you to rest or to take a vacation, obey Him – it may very well lengthen your life

J

Remember six days of work goes a lot further than seven!