How to Love People Without Strings Attached

One of the hardest things we have to learn as Believers is how to love people with no strings attached.

It's hard to love people when they don't love you back. It's hard to love people even when they desert you. It's really hard loving the gossips and slanderers without giving them an evil eye and hating them in your heart. And it's hard to love the people who use you for their own gain without storing up rage in your heart.

Loving these people requires a "Jesus kind of love."  

Jesus loved the people and even His enemies with no strings attached.  He didn't require them to wash His feet. He didn't force anyone to follow Him.  He didn't hate them in His heart when they nailed His hands and feet to a cross.

At one point, thousands of people left Jesus's ministry because His preaching got too hard for them to accept. (John 6:66)

But Jesus didn't get mad and think "you people owe me! I healed you! I fed you! I delivered you!"  He let them go and celebrated the ones who stayed.  Jesus wants willing followers.  He wants us to know that He will love us, even if we walk away for a season.  He also wants us to love others like that!

Jesus didn't demand honor like the Sanhedrin did.  Instead, Jesus knelt down in love and honored his friends by washing their feet....even ones He knew were fair weather friends.  Peter still got his feet washed by Jesus, the night Peter betrayed Him, no strings attached.

Jesus loves you right where you are at.  He may not be pleased with everything that you are doing - but you are free to sin or not.  Even then, you cannot make Jesus not love you.

As Believers, we are called to become like Christ.  We are called to love as He did... this means we love others without expecting anything in return.

If people want to walk away from a relationship with us, we let them go, and we do not demand that they stay.  We put the relationship in the hands of grace, and we allow the other person to have free will 

(even if those people are family members).

We lay down our hurt, forgive them, and let them go.  Pride demands an answer or an apology.  Humility says they owe you nothing.  

When people who have hurt you, come back and truly repent - love opens an avenue to restoration.  Jesus gently restored Peter after he fell. And 50 days later 3000 people gave their lives to Christ because of Peter.

The prodigal son's father had no strings attached.  The prodigal still paid a price because he had already spent his inheritance.  But his father RAN out to meet him, an example of our Heavenly Father's love.

The brother of the prodigal had strings attached to his love.  He demanded his own kind of justice.  But that is not the way of Jesus and therefore, it cannot be our way either.

Perfect love casts out fear because there are no strings attached. Jesus's kind of love is without condition.  Now that doesn't mean we don't use wisdom and it doesn't mean we are doormats, Jesus certainly wasn't. But we allow people to come and go in our lives without forcing or demanding anything.

The gift of salvation is free.  Once you come into the family of God, you are IN! You are loved.  Perfection is not demanded. 

As the Body of Christ, we must mature in our love for each other. The Kingdom of God is not a kingdom of slavery... it is a Kingdom of Sons!  We are free to walk out our own salvation with fear and trembling...  

Since we have been loved with an unconditional love from our Creator... how can we truly be His children and not walk in His ways.

We love... because He first loved us.  1 John 4:19

Steps to Wholeness:

If you need to lay a person or group down because you are demanding justice in your heart, don't be afraid of approaching the throne!  God wants to help you to love with no strings attached.  He wants to give you unconditional love for others.

Ask the Holy Spirit if there is anyone you need to put in the Hands of Grace?

One by one hand forgive them and hand them over to Jesus.

Then get on with whatever God has called you to do.  Life is too short to worry about someone who "owes" you.

We'll all be completely free one day in eternity... if you have to let go of a relationship until then, so be it.  You've got a race to run and talents to gain for the Lord!

Believers: Are You Willing to be Crucified for This?

During this Easter season the Lord kept pointing to a new revelation.  It wasn’t really new.  It’s always been there. But it was new to me and I’m so glad He pointed it out to me.

My life verse is Philippians 3:10-11 

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

It is my deepest desire that I might know Jesus in His sufferings.  Every time I go through a trial or tribulation I ask the Lord to help me to know Him in His sufferings.  How did He feel when people mocked Him?  How did He feel when He was falsely accused?  How did He feel when one of His best friends denied Him?

If I can understand His sufferings, then I can know Him.  I don’t want to know about Him – I want to know His ways and His character so that I can become like Him.

So I constantly pursue to know Him in His death.

This Easter season He made a revelation plain to me.

There was only one reason that they crucified Jesus.  It was because He refused to give up His identity.

As I read over the crucifixion story in the different gospels, I kept seeing it over and over again.  “Who are you?”  “Who do you think you are?”  “Where does your authority come from?”  Are you the king of the Jews?” “Are you the Son of God?”  “Aren’t you the Christ?  Save yourself!”

Jesus did not fear them.  He was humble and stood boldly.  He did not back away from who He was. He did not deny Himself.  He let them mock.  He let them spit.  He let them beat Him.  He let them nail Him to a tree.  But He would not submit to their demands that He deny who He was.

Jesus refused to bow His soul to the Pharisees and to the worldly government that had him crucified.

If you want to know Christ in His death and become like Him… you will have to be willing to be crucified rather than giving up your identity as a child of the Most High.

Are you willing to live as a martyr every day?

Are you willing to take the beating and the mocking and the spitting in your face as you fulfill the purpose God has you here for?

Mark 8:34-38 If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it

. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 

For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

Jesus was willing to let them crucify Him, rather than giving up His soul.  If He would have bowed down to them and let them bully Him out of His identity – He would have failed in His purpose.

Are you letting other people tell you who you are?

Are you letting people bully you out of your identity?

Are you afraid of what men will do to you if you refuse to bow your soul to their demands?

My friends, it is time reclaim our souls that we have forfeited to the world.  It is time to reclaim our souls from the Pharisees who have demanded our compliance in order to be accepted.

We are sons and daughters of the Most High God!  We are proud of the central figure of our faith. We are not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Rise up people of God.  Let them crucify you if they want… but never, NEVER, NEVER bow your soul to them!!

Know who you are in Christ.  Then hang onto it with everything you’ve got.  Your identity in Christ is the most important thing you own, don’t give it away!

There Are Only Two Kingdoms, Which One Are You In?

I remember my friend telling me a simple, yet amazing revelation that her son stumbled upon. He had been struggling with giving his life completely to Christ.  He was young and had a bit of rebellion in him.  He didn’t want to be a bad kid – he just didn’t want to have to do life God’s way.  He had this thought that if he could just go into outer space and settle on a planet out there, that he could rise above the choice.  In his mind, if he didn’t live on this planet – he wouldn’t be subject to choosing Christ or not.  He could just live his own life in peace.

My friend was very good at homeschooling her boys in the Word.  So as they read the book of Revelation she could tell that he was quite pensive about the things they were reading.  One day he said, “Mom, it looks like there are only two choices doesn’t it?”

You see, this young man wanted there to be a third choice.  He didn’t want to go to hell.  But he didn’t want to choose Christ either.

What an amazing revelation…

There are only two choices.

You and I deal with these choices every single day.  We choose between the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of light.  There is no third choice.  The devil may try to trick you into thinking there is a third choice… but there isn’t.

Some of the churches I have attended don’t realize it but they have not chosen Christ and His kingdom.  They have chosen their own kingdom.  They have chosen to tolerate sin.  They have chosen to bow down to manipulative people.  They have chosen to be prostitutes with the giftings God has given them.  They make converts through a means of seduction.  They wink at the sin of those who are “elite.”  And they let every wind of teaching blow them about.  They have not chosen the Kingdom of God.  They have chosen their own kingdom. 

Individuals can do exactly the same thing.  They don’t necessarily want to be bad people – but they don’t want to follow Jesus either.  They want to enjoy perceived freedom of the world and all it has to offer.  As Believers, we fool ourselves into thinking that God will overlook our sin because He “loves” us and his “grace” covers us.  We deceive ourselves by believing the lie that we don’t have to lose EVERYTHING to follow Christ… we can just lose a little and keep the rest of it.  Because, you know, God is grace and God is love.  He’ll understand. 

This compromise of a Believers life is actually a deadly one.  It is a fence-straddling decision that leads to death.  The life of a fence-straddler is a lukewarm one.  And God will clearly spit you out of His mouth if you continue to choose “both” kingdoms. (Rev. 3:16)  You may be hot about a few things in God’s kingdom, but you are cold about others. This is how we become lukewarm.  We only choose half of God’s kingdom.  The other half is the kingdom of “self.”

Choosing the kingdom of “self” is the same as choosing the kingdom of darkness.  There are only two kingdoms.  You can’t say, well at least I’m a little warm about this part of the Kingdom of God.  It doesn’t work that way. 

Light and darkness are becoming more distinct.  The two kingdoms are making an obvious dismissal of each other.  The kingdom of darkness revolves around a forced submission, rooted in bullying.  In the kingdom of darkness, you are a slave, either to your flesh or to the world.  The counterfeit kingdom says “Bow to me, or you are worthless.” 

God’s Kingdom says, “You are free to choose.  You are so deeply loved that the price has already been paid for you.  But it is ALL voluntary and of your own free will.”  This is the biggest difference between the kingdom of darkness and the Kingdom of God.  In the Kingdom of God, salvation is free of charge.  Your worthiness is already explained through the price that was paid on the Cross.  In the Kingdom of God, your obedience is considered an act of love.  Obedience is a free will response for the One who laid down His life for us. 

God extends His hand to the whole world.  It’s an invitation, but not a demand.

However, to not accept His invitation… means that you accept the other one: the invitation to the kingdom of darkness.

There isn’t a third choice.

Steps to Wholeness:

Father God please show me any place in my heart that is still sitting in the kingdom of darkness.  I want to choose You.  I want to choose Your Kingdom.  I do not want to be lukewarm.  I do not want to be half-hearted.  I want to be completely Yours.  Reveal the condition of my heart Lord.  Show me any compromise that I have allowed to have a foothold, then renew my mind and cleanse my heart.  

Ruin my selfish plans.  Destroy the idols of my heart.

Refine me in Your cleansing fire until I am completely Yours!

The Dark Night of the Soul - There is a reason for your valley

I remember heading into my “Dark Night of the Soul” at the age of 26.  I knew the Lord was telling me that I needed a season of discipline and I could see the valley just ahead.  I remember seeing the depth of darkness and the immaturity of my heart and knowing that I needed a time of cleansing.  I had no idea at that time that it would be a fifteen-year valley.  I specifically remember the Lord using Steven Curtis Chapman’s song “I Will Be Here”  to announce the beginning of my season of discipline.

Tomorrow morning if you wake up,

And the sun does not appear, I will be here

If in the dark we lose sight of love,

Hold my hand, and have no fear, Cause I, I will be here

I will be here when you feel like being quiet

When you need to speak your mind, I will listen and

I will be here when the laughter turns to cryin'

Through the winning, losing and tryin'

We'll be together 'cause I will be here

Tomorrow morning if you wake up,

And the future is unclear

I will be here

It was a few days after this announcement that God began to use a series of incredibly difficult circumstances to weed out the issues of my heart.

My heart obviously had some closets that needed to be cleaned out.  I had some pride in places I didn’t even know existed.  I had some deep seeded rebellion in my heart.  I had some wounds that were so deep – I didn’t know if I would ever find the end of the pain.

I believed a plethora of lies.  Some of them were lies about God.  Others of them were lies about me.  Nevertheless, these lies kept me separated from my Good Father.

Up to that time, I had thought of myself as a non-selfish person, but the valley reveals all kinds of hidden sins.  I was completely selfish and self-centered.  I wanted MY way.  I wanted MY plan.  I wanted MY life to go MY way… the easy way.

It is in the valley that we learn to regard His ways as higher than ours.  We learn how tiny our plans are compared to His.  It is in the valley that we get a tiny glimpse of the suffering that Jesus went through on our behalf.  It is in the valley that we become ONE with Him.  It is the place where we learn no matter what life throws at us that we say “It is well, with my soul.”

Don’t get me wrong – just walking through the valley won’t actually change you.  You have to submit to the valley for it to have an effect on you.   If you pout all the way through the “Dark Night of the Soul” – you won’t learn everything you should learn through it.

But if you accept the valley time as a time of discipline, it can become the most amazing and intimate time of your life with the Lord.  The loneliness becomes aloneness.

The “Dark Night of the Soul” is hard.  It’s painful.  It’s even dehumanizing… but the point is not to actually dehumanize us.  The point of the Dark Night is to strip us of our flesh in order to become His.

There is a pearl in the very difficult “Dark Night of the Soul.”  There is a gaining through the losing. The pearl we gain is Jesus.

If you let the pain of the Dark Night forge you, the prize is that Jesus becomes your life.

If you waste your pain with fear or self-pity, you’ll still have to experience the pain without any prize at the end.

The Dark Night of the Soul is meant to be the place that Jesus actually conquers us… then He makes the most beautiful thing out of our lives.  It’s the place where we learn to completely trust in His ways.  We become willing to pay the same price Jesus did by carrying our cross without complaint.  It’s the place where we learn to wait upon Him, the place where we learn to bleed for Him, the place where we learn to love – no matter what is thrown our way.

The Dark Night is the place where we gain authority to stand in the middle of the storm and command it to be still.  It’s the place where we learn to BELIEVE God! 

We learn what the words the “I AM” really mean.

We learn that the I AM can see us through anything.  We learn that the I AM is sovereign over EVERYTHING.  Nothing escapes Him.  He is the God who sees!  It is in this fire that we learn to keep our eyes on Him no matter what.  We don’t turn to the right or the left no matter what is trying to seduce us off the path.  We may fall but His grace picks us back up dusts us off and encourages us to keep going.  He never leaves us or forsakes us.  He helps us to carry our cross.

Some of you might be going through a really difficult valley and wondering why God has seemingly handed you over to Satan.  Please hear this truth and take it to heart:  Your loving Father has not so much handed you over to evil as much as He is revealing everything in you that is in agreement with the evil one.  When we become dead to our flesh – truly dead – then Satan cannot touch us.  This is the reason for the Valley (or Dark Night) that you are in… to completely rid you of your flesh.

God is using the “Dark Night of the Soul” to remove everything that is not from Him – because He loves you and wants to live in you!

Romans 8:5-8

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.  The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

THOSE WHO ARE IN THE REALM OF THE FLESH CANNOT PLEASE GOD!  Let the discipline of the Lord do its work and cleanse you from your flesh.  There is a reason for your valley!

Jesus Did Not Come to Bring Peace…

“Aren’t Christians supposed to try to get along with everyone?”

A few years ago, I was in a heated debate with some local officials about the use of some public property for a Christian festival, and I was not taking the matter laying down.  They were wrong about how they were going about it.  I was within my rights to demand what I was demanding.  The Secretary in the meeting questioned me with these words:  Aren’t Christians supposed to try to get along with everyone?

“No!”  I said, “We’re supposed to stand up for righteousness and what is happening here is pure politics.”

It’s unfortunate that so many Christians have been paralyzed by the same sentiment that we are supposed to be quiet and keep the peace.  This is a lie from the pit of hell.  Christians are not called to be “nice” when there is unrighteousness happening before our eyes.  We are not called to lay down and be door mats simply to keep the peace.

We are called to be bold and speak the truth and to shine the light on injustice.  We are called to preach “REPENT for the Kingdom of God is here.”  We are called to make waves when necessary.  

We’re not called to be passive little peacekeepers.  It is KIND to speak the Truth!  It is a KINDNESS to point out injustice and demand something be done about it!  It is KIND to preach repentance because repentance leads to TRUE peace with God.

Jesus did not come to bring peace on earth.  He came to bring a sword. (Matthew 10:34)

There is a mistaken understanding that Jesus who IS the Prince of Peace came to bring peace between men.  This is not true.  He came to make peace between God and men.

Matthew 10:34-39  Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth.  I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.  For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.  And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.  Whoever loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.  And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.  Whoever finds his life will lose it and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

The words in Matthew 10 are written in red.  They are spoken by Jesus Himself.  He said that He came to bring a sword which would cause family members to war against each other.  We don’t hear this taught much do we?  We don’t hear much about standing with the sword of Christ in the middle of your family or the world?

Unfortunately, much of the Church teaches that if we are not playing the role of “peacekeeper” that we are being unChristlike.  This kind of teaching neuters the Truth of Christ.  We are not called to bring peace to the world.  We are called to bring Christ, then Christ brings the world true peace.  No matter what we lose, no matter what kind of war it causes in our lives among our family and friends. We are called to shine the light of Christ, even if we make enemies because of it.  How can true peace come from man?  It can only come from Christ.  And it can only come once there is a repentance toward Him.

Somehow there is a counterfeit teaching in the Church that says if anyone hates you that you are not being a good Christian.  This is not true.  When people hate us for preaching the Good News of Jesus, we are fulfilling the words of Jesus.   

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.”  John 15:18

We cannot love our family or our friends more than we love the Lord or His gospel message.  People will hate you for speaking the truth.  People will hate you for preaching what Christ preached.  But being hated does not mean that you are not being Christlike, it means that you are doing it right.

Pointing out that people need the Lord and His righteousness is actually preaching PEACE!  Because Jesus came to be the Prince of Peace but not to bring peace the way the world defines peace.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  John 14:27

Jesus came to bring peace between God and man.  This kind of peace brings an “absence of war” within ourselves because we have been reconciled to God through the sacrifice of Jesus.  There will never be an “absence of war” on the physical earth until Jesus comes back.  (Matthew 24)

As much as people hate you for preaching the truth of Christ, many more will be forever grateful that you do.  Eternal peace and salvation is the goal.  Jesus warned that we would have to draw a sword to preach the truth and lose relationships because of it. 

Being at peace with your fellow man is not the hallmark of a true Believer, being at peace with God is.  And pointing people to the Prince of Peace is how we become true peaceMAKERS – not just peaceKEEPERS.

Do not be paralyzed from speaking God’s truth, firmly and in love!   Being hated is a sign of belonging to God’s Kingdom! 

Steps to Wholeness:

Jesus, I pray that You would be my Prince of Peace.  Completely reconcile my heart to You.  I ask for boldness to preach Christ to my family and friends.  Remind me that there is a reward for being hated because of the gospel.

Four Ways to Not Waste Your Trials

This past week four of my girlfriends have been walking through storms.  I’ve been so impressed that each one has been using their trials to grow in the Lord I thought I could use their examples to encourage you not to waste your trials!

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  James 1:2-4

One of my friends has been sick and under a spiritual cloud of depression.  One of them is struggling with choices made by family members.  The other two are struggling in their marriages.

None of their struggles are easy.  They each have their own emotional triggers.  The enemy seems like to poke them right where it hurts.  But they are overcoming!

They have each chosen a different way to deal with their trials, and I want to share each one with you.

1: Not Believing the Lies

One of my friends has made up her mind.  She is NOT going to believe the lies that keep coming at her.  She refuses to stay under the influence of the spider web that seeks to devour her.  She is praying for God to show her the truth no matter how much it hurts.  She is submitting her tongue to the Lord and trying to only speak God’s words and to use His tone. 

2: Not Giving into Self Pity

Another friend refuses to feel sorry for herself.  Even though her circumstances are grim and the storm raging over her seems that it will never end.  She has made up her mind not to whine and feel sorry for herself.  She has closed her mouth to complaining.  She is remembering that God is good no matter what if “feels” like right now.  She is remaining thankful for the good things and holding her tongue when it comes to the hard things.

3: Perseverance

Sometimes there is no magic prayer to get out of a storm.  Sometimes the mountain doesn’t move when you speak to it.  Sometimes the storm doesn’t stop when you tell it to be quiet.  There are times that the only way through is to outlast a storm.  One of my friends has decided that she is going to keep walking toward the Lord until the storm is over.  She is not going to quit.  She knows God is with her no matter how the storm winds blow.  She’s going to persevere.

4: Prayer and Praise

One of my friends is really struggling in her marriage.   She and her husband aren’t communicating very well.   She is struggling with hopelessness.  But in the cloud that seems never to lift over her home, she has decided that she is going to believe the Lord and praise Him.   She told me it was time for war and she was done letting the enemy win.  She decided not to pout but to seek the Lord in prayer and in praise.  There is power in praising the Lord!

In the past, each one of my friends has let the storm win.  I have prayed with them as it seemed too big for them to overcome.  But  I noticed a pattern this week as they each told me about their storms.  They had hope that they refused to let go of.  They are refusing to waste their trials.  They have set their minds on persevering and in the long run – they will be so glad that they did…because the fruit of perseverance is maturity and closeness with the Lord.

There is an eternal reward for buckling down in a storm and learning what you can in the midst of it!

Don’t waste your trials! 

The Difficult Decision to Wipe the Dust from Our Feet and Walk Away

Sometimes you just have to move on.

You’ve done everything you could to bring reconciliation to a relationship.  You’ve done everything you can to be heard.  You’ve prayed.  You’ve fasted.  You’ve humbled yourself – but the relationship is still broken, and there is no peace.

Sometimes God’s answer to a broken relationship is to simply move on.

I have stayed too long in a relationship before.  I tried too hard.  I felt like it wouldn’t be “loving” for me to walk away.  I believed the lie that perhaps I wasn’t being patient enough.  Perhaps I simply needed to wait for exactly the right time so they could actually hear what I was trying to say.  Maybe I needed to pray harder.

I remember a relationship with a friend that I tried and tried to make work.  I did everything to try to be reconciled to her.  Finally, the Lord gave me a vision of His perspective on the relationship.  The vision was of an invisible wall in between us.  I was standing on one side – in color.  She was standing on the other side – in black and white.  Then the Holy Spirit spoke to me.  He said, “She’s not coming with you.  You need to move on.”

This broke my heart.  Because I really loved my friend.  I wanted her to come with me.  But she was seeing life in black and white and I was seeing life in color.  There was no way to reconcile our relationship because we were living in different worlds.

I had spoken truth to her.  I had loved her well.  I humbled myself before her.  I had forgiven her sins against me.  And now I had to wipe the dust off of my feet and move on.

This was hard.  It left a hole in my life.  But if I was going to go with God, I had to leave her behind.  I had to put God first and leave the relationship with my friend in His capable hands.

The same is true of churches.  Sometimes our relationship with a church is so broken that it is simply time to move on.

Maybe we’ve been part of a church for a while, and God has given you something to say to the leadership, but they can’t hear you… or refuse to hear you.  It is a really hard place to be.  Your friends go to this church.  Your family might really enjoy this church, but something isn’t quite right, and you can’t overlook it anymore.

It might be time to wipe the dust off of your feet.

It’s very difficult.  It’s painful.  But if you are not where God wants you to be, you’ll have to put Him first and walk away.

One time a friend had a dream about me because I was having difficulty walking away from a church in order to go with God.  In the dream, I kept muttering to myself, “It’s too hard!  I can’t do it!”  I had been given a choice to go with the pastors of the church or to go with Jesus, and I was wavering.

I am so grateful that God gave me correction through my friend’s dream.  I didn’t realize that I was struggling so much to put God first in my heart.  I was loving the church and the leadership more than I was loving God.

I did choose to go with God.  But it was costly.  It cost me my reputation with some.  It caused some public slander by others.   Wiping the dust off of my feet and leaving the church was like picking up my cross and following Christ.

If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.

  Matthew 10:14

The final place where God may be calling you to wipe the dust off of your feet is with family.  This might be a new thought – but God calls us to put our relationship with Him above our relationship with our family.

If you have family members that you are in a co-dependent relationship with, sometimes the only answer is to wipe the dust off of your feet…until they get free from their cycle.  Walking away from family can be one of two things:  It can be excruciating, or it can be liberating. Honestly, sometimes it can be both.  Excruciating because we are conditioned to love our “tribe” and to protect them.  Liberating because when the Holy Spirit asks us to put our family members in His hands and walk away, it is usually because we have become enslaved to their way of life.  Walking away brings us freedom.

Remember this truth:  We are not the savior.  We are not the rescuer.  Only the Lord is.  We put our trust in Him to rescue our friends, church, and family.  Our job is to love Him FIRST.

“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

  Matthew 10:37-39

Steps to Wholeness:

God show me if there are relationships in my life where you are calling me to wipe the dust off of my feet.  I will follow You.  I will pick up my cross and follow you.  Help me to put You first.  Help me to seek Your Kingdom first.  I want to hear “well done” from you at the Judgment Throne, help me to lose my life that I might find it.  In Jesus name,  AMEN

If you find it especially hard to let go of relationships, you may need to break soul ties with people or churches.  

Because the blood of Jesus came to set us free, it is very easy to break an ungodly soul tie. Simply pray and ask the Holy Spirit to bring to mind where the ungodly soul ties need to be broken. Then pray this prayer out loud.

“I ask forgiveness for having an ungodly soul tie with _____________”

“I break all soul ties with ___________ and I sever all influence from _____________.”

“I give back to _______________ the things that are his/hers.”

“I take back the things that are mine, and I wash them in the blood of Jesus.”

"Father God I pray that you would remove all twisted thinking I believed - replace it with wiring from the Holy Spirit according to the Kingdom of Heaven."

"Please give me back my soul. In Jesus Name."

When you are finished breaking soul ties, remember this is essentially doing spiritual warfare so you will need to seal up the victory by praying the

Sealing Up Prayer found HERE

.

Be Real. Because Fake is Exhausting.

As I have reached middle age, I find that I have much greater peace about who God created me to be.

I like me. 

I’m okay with me.  And I don’t mind what others think or how I come across to them.  I am the authentic me.  What you see is what you get.  Some people are going to like the authentic me.  Some people are not going to like the authentic me.  But God loves me.  He created me to be His. 

I’m a little quirky, a lot bold and definitely bull headed.  But if all of those things are sanctified through His cleansing process – then they can all be used for His glory.   I like the me that God created.

It’s a great place to be.  Because it hasn’t always been that way.

In elementary school and high school, I tried to be what my classmates were.  I tried to be cool.  I tried to fit in.  But I never seemed to crack the code on what “cool” really was.  As I look back now, there were actually only two people who were “cool” the rest of us just tried to be like them every day.  That gets exhausting!  Trying to be someone else is draining! 

Trying to figure out what to wear and how to act and being educated about the latest sports/entertainment news in order to fit in was a bit comical at times.  Eventually, I got tired of being fake and simply decided to be me.

I decided my own taste in clothing.  I decided what I wanted to say.  I decided what I wanted to be entertained by.  I found the real me and that was good – but it was an unsanctified me.

As I grew in the Lord, I submitted who I was to Him.  I let Him sand me off.  I let Him set boundaries for me (and my bold mouth).  I let Him show me where my mind was not lining up with His (which is an ongoing process).  Instead of being me, I wanted to be Him.   My desire to become like Him became insatiable.  I wanted my words to be His.  I wanted my tone to be His.  I wanted to think like Jesus.

Part of that sanctification process becomes difficult when you realize how far away from His image you really are.  But once you are on your knees and willing to accept the truth about His ways, it becomes addicting. 

Becoming like Christ is the hardest and most satisfying experience of all.  And what you realize is that you didn’t really know Him as well as you thought you did. Because He is more loving, more holy, more fearsome, more patient than you could have ever known.

I like the sanctified me.

I don’t care if other church people think I’m too bold.  I don’t care if they think I’m a little too fierce. I don't care if the world thinks I'm too religious.  I am authentic.  I am His child.  I only answer to One.

The same is true of you.  God’s people don’t get to define who you are.  The world does not get to define who you are.  Only your Creator gets to do that.  No one can tell you the box that you have to fit into.  We're not created to be cookie cutters.

The you God created is perfect.  You don’t have to pretend.  You don’t have to be cool.  You just have to be His.

It’s high time we all took our masks off and learned to become like Jesus.

Be real.  Because fake is exhausting.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  Psalm 139:14

Steps to Wholeness:

Father God help me to become who You created me to be.  Let the opinions of men fall to the ground.  I want to be a sanctified me.  I want to become like You in every way.  I kneel before Your throne for the sanctification process.  Make me Yours.

How We Hurt God's Heart With Our Golden Calf Syndrome

The Israelites were in slavery for 400 years.  It was a slow process.  First, they were welcomed in Egypt because of the great wisdom that Joseph brought to the nation. He saved them from a seven-year famine because of his relationship with God and understanding of dream interpretation.

But there came a time that the Egyptians forgot what the ancestor of the Hebrews had done for them.  Eventually, the Egyptians began to take advantage of the Israelites and pretty soon they found themselves in chains to Pharaoh and his plans.

They were indoctrinated in the ways of Egypt. And even though they told the stories of the Hebrew God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob He must have seemed like a weak God to them.  Bitterness and doubts of God's goodness probably set in among some of them. 

When Moses showed up as the "deliverer", they still had trouble believing it was really real.  They didn't truly know the I AM because they had only ever heard stories about Him.  They knew about God, but they didn't know Him in personal experience.

They understood the gods of Egypt. They understood the shallow worship of their slave masters. It was the only other kind of worship the Israelites had ever seen. The kind where you bowed down to a carved image.

When the I AM delivered them from Pharaoh with such amazing displays of the plagues and the Passover and then the Red Sea… the Hebrews finally experienced the magnificence of their God.

On the other side of the Red Sea, they were still full of the ways of Egypt.  They built a golden calf in the style of Egypt and bowed down saying behold the god who brought us out of Egypt.

Exodus 32

2 Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” 3 So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. 4 He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”

What the Israelites failed to understand was that He was nothing like the earthly gods they had seen Egypt worship.  He is too big and holy to be confined to an earthen vessel. But the Israelites wanted to be like Egypt.  They wanted a god they could define.

We too wrestle with wanting to be like the world in how we worship. We bring God down and try to encase Him in an earthen vessel.

We make the same mistake every time we worship a pastor because of his preaching ability.  We make a golden calf to him and say behold the earthen vessel that set me free! 

We make golden calves to great worship leaders or a song writer or a Christian author and say behold the earthen vessel that helped me through my dark night!

We make golden calves when we worship people who have been instrumental in teaching us great revelation or Christian programs that have led us to freedom.  We do the same to those who work in miracles and healing. Whenever we give an earthen vessel the glory for delivering us from bondage.  We have set them up as a false God, and we completely have missed the point.  The point is that the I Am is the One who sets us free. He will not be brought down to our level… He will not be contained.

It's time to check your heart for golden calves! Have you put a program or a person on a pedestal and said: "Behold the god who set me free?"

God doesn't share His glory with earthen vessels or with golden calves.

Anything that has set you free and built you up in the Lord has originated from Him, and He is the only One who deserves your praise!

People and programs are not meant for pedestals!   

Steps to Wholeness

Father God we pray that You would reveal any programs or people that we have put up on pedestals.  We repent for giving earthly things the glory that only belongs to You.  We ask You to weed out of our heart the tendency we have to worship golden calves.  You alone deserve the praise and glory.  In the name of Jesus, we ask these things! AMEN

The Secret for Drawing Nearer to God’s Heart

The more you grow in the Lord, the more magnetic He seems.  The more you spend time with Him, the more you need Him.  The more you understand Him, the more you see your own nakedness and blindness.  The love of our Creator is constantly drawing us nearer to His heart. 

There is pain involved the closer we get to Him.  Because nothing that is unholy can remain in us the closer we get to His glory.  We fix our eyes on our Father, and we lose whatever is necessary to climb ever closer to His heart.

There is a secret for drawing nearer to the heart of God.  It’s hidden in plain sight in His Word.  Inside the layout of the tabernacle and the temple, we see God mapping out a way for us to come closer to Him by showing us the process for approaching the Holy of Holies.

It all begins in the Outer Court.  The Outer Court is a representation of THE WAY to God’s heart.  Once we enter in, we lay things aside.  We ask forgiveness for our sins (the altar) then we wash ourselves clean in the blood of Christ (the laver). 

We then walk into the Holy Place we honor THE TRUTH with our worship.  We let the truth of God’s light shine on us and reveal anything in us that does not line up with His Kingdom (the Lampstand).  We let all of the worldly things be replaced by the bread of life (the Show Bread).  We learn to communicate with God through prayer (Bowl of Incense).

All of these things will bring us closer to the heart of God.  But there is still more.  We’ve experienced THE WAY and THE TRUTH.  But we have yet to experience THE LIFE.

The secret place where God dwells, the place where His presence and glory abide, the place where we fully come to know Him and the life that He gives is in the Holy of Holies.  The Holy of Holies is where the Ark of the Covenant was stored.  This is where the presence of God dwelt during the time of Moses and David.

The death of Jesus opened the curtain that separated regular people from the presence of God.  It literally split in two and opened up the Holy of Holies to us.  But to enter into the Holy of Holies, we also must die.

Of course, I’m not talking literally.  I am speaking of our flesh. We must die completely to our flesh to enter the Holy of Holies where the heart of God resides.

Most of my readers have already experienced the process of the forgiveness and cleansing of sins in the outer courts.  Most of you have already experienced the process of letting your heart, mind, and soul be exposed to the light of God for Him to transform into His image.  You are learning to let Him be your living bread, and you are learning to communicate with him in a deeper way.

But there is still more.

Some of you are feeling this call to go into the Holy of Holies, but you cannot figure out what is in your way.

This is the revelation I want to bring to you today.  Sometimes we can’t seem to enter into the Holy of Holies because there is “perversion” blocking the entrance.

When we have gone through the process of the Outer Court and then the Holy Place, we so desperately want to enter the Holy of Holies, but we are not yet ready because we still have some counterfeit beliefs about the character of God.

I have found that when I am mis-believing God about who He is, I am unable to get close to His heart.  I cannot enter into the fullness of His presence if I believe a lie about who He is.

If I believe that He is all Lamb and not a Lion, I am believing a perversion about His character.

If I believe that He is a hard taskmaster like a Pharoah, I am believing a perversion of who He really is.

If I believe that God requires me to work in order to be accepted as a Son, I am misunderstanding His heart.

If I believe that He looks the other way at my sin and there is no consequence, I am not fearing the holiness of His character and my understanding of Him is perverted.

To truly enter into the Holy of Holies we must allow every perversion of His character in our hearts and minds to be purged. 

To enter into the glory of His presence, we must ask the question: "Where is my heart not seeing you accurately Lord?"

Then we must allow our thoughts and our ways to die and allow the true character of the Lord to be planted in our hearts and minds.  We must allow God to renew our minds when it comes to His character.  Because His thoughts are not our thoughts and His mind is not our mind.

When we remove the perversion from our thinking and lay down everything, we may have been taught by others about the character of God we can see Him clearly and are allowed entrance into the Holy of Holies.

If you want to enter into the heart of God we must pray this prayer diligently: 

Father God, show me Who You are!

Becoming More Excellent: An Easier Way to Keep Your Goals

I used to go through seasons of excellence followed by seasons of mediocrity.  I used to decide to set my mind to being excellent and after a week or so (sometimes even a few days) I would find myself back in my old ways.  Living a life of mediocrity wasn’t what I WANTED to live, but I couldn’t seem to shift my life into the excellence mode that I was reaching for.

Part of my problem was that I was giving myself too much grace.  I made a goal for myself to be more excellent but wouldn’t keep it.  Almost like I wasn’t keeping my word to myself. 

I made goals to spend more time with God.  I made goals to read the Word more.  I made goals to keep my house tidier.  I made goals to be a stricter parent and mean what I said the first time.  I made goals to exercise.  I made goals to do more fasting.  I made goals to journal faithfully.  I made goals to pray for everyone I said I would pray for.

However, after a few days of living my new goals of excellence, I would “reward” myself because I was doing so well at attaining my goals.  I would give myself a day off.  <----- greasy grace.

Then I would get back to my goals for a few more days and give myself another few days off.  <------ really greasy grace.

After all, God loved me whether or not I kept my goals.  He wouldn’t be so hard on me.  He loved me unconditionally, so I could just rest in His grace.  Right?  Isn’t this what we tell ourselves when we don’t keep our own pledge.  “Oh well… God loves me – I don’t have to keep my word.”

The Body of Christ in many ways is not excellent because we don’t really mean what we say – and we give ourselves way too much grace… more than the Lord would give us.

God wants us to be excellent.  He doesn’t want us to keep rules and regulations to be excellent – but He does want us to keep our words.  He does want us to be disciplined.  He does want us to obey Him.

Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.  (John 14:21)

During a season of discipline from the Lord, I struggled to live a more excellent lifestyle.  I had been trying to keep my new goals – but I was doing it as though they were rules.  The Lord helped me with this by giving me a huge revelation that really helped me to do a complete shift into excellence.

He said, “Tisha, follow through with the words you say and achieve the goals you set simply because you love Me.  Do it out of our relationship…not because you are following rules.”

This really helped me.  I began to keep the goals I set to read the word and spend time in prayer because I loved the Lord, not because I was following a set of rules.  I began to pay attention to my words.  When I promised someone that I was going to pray for them – I either wrote it down, or I prayed for them right then so I wouldn’t forget.  If I set a fasting or an exercise goal,  I looked at it as though I was accomplishing a task that would bring me closer to the Lord, not as a punishment.

If I had a directive from the Lord, I would do it immediately!  I obeyed immediately because I wanted to show Him that I loved Him.

Did you see that in John 14:21 that there is a reward for obeying the Lord?  If we obey Him, He shows Himself to us.

This reward is so worth it!  God reveals Himself to those who obey Him!  As I have sought after excellence and disciplined myself in the Lord, He has revealed Himself to me, and I now know Him better… simply because I obeyed!

Become more excellent!  Mean your words.  Keep the goals you make. Run this race of life in order to win the prize!  The prize is Jesus!

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.”  1 Corinthians 9:24

Green Beans Aren’t in the Bible

I first published this article about a year ago.  I felt the Holy Spirit nudge me to publish it again because I have run into several people who are struggling to get free of the "circumcision" doctrine.

The divisive and paralyzing doctrine found in Galatians 2 and Titus 1 - is a doctrinal belief that our relationship with God should rest on the "law" of the Word instead of the freedom Holy Spirit.  If we are unbalanced and legalistic about the Word of God and give no room for the Holy Spirit - we have become part of the Circumcision group.

I hope these words help you to find Liberty through the Holy Spirit while remaining safely in the parameters of God's word.

I have a deep love for the Word of God.  It is a treasure to me and a symbol of safety.  I love when I can bring someone new understanding by using Scripture to unfold a revelation to them.  I also have come to love the Spirit of God.  Having the immediacy of the Holy Spirit to guide and direct me is a pearl to me and I will never let it go!  As Believers, we must learn to walk in the balance of the Word and the Spirit.

A few months ago, I had a friend ask about where our prayer about “breaking soul ties” is found in Scripture. 

(click here for the Breaking Soul Ties tool)

We have had amazing testimonies about what can happen after using this tool.  Personally, I have been set free from some major strongholds by breaking soul ties.  The tool basically is a declaration that you are no longer in agreement with a person or group that you used to be in agreement with.

I decided it would be a good thing to go and find the scriptures for ALL of the tools we were using in our Victorious Prayer sessions.  As I sat down to pray for some scriptures, I had a vision of Jesus sitting in a vegetable garden in between the rows of green beans.  As I was praying about the vision, I asked the Lord why was He sitting in the green beans?

He spoke to my spirit and said,

“Green beans are not in the Bible.”

I said, “Yes, Lord I know.”  (I did a quick search on Biblegateway.com to make sure I knew what I was talking about.)  I didn’t find green beans, tomatoes, or cucumbers.

J

The Lord again spoke to my heart,

“You don’t have to prove that everything is in the Bible.  You simply have to NOT contradict the Bible.  Green beans are not in the Bible but they don’t contradict it.  The way you are doing deliverance ministry may not be specifically in the Bible – but it doesn’t contradict it.

You will put yourself in a “Bible prison” if you have to prove everything is in the Word.  I told you that you would do greater things that I did… therefore some of the things that you are going to do in your generation will not be in the Bible.  You just need to be careful to not contradict it.”

John 14:12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

This thought really set me free.  If we are going to do greater things than Jesus, then some of what He will lead us to do will not be found in Scripture.  However, we must be careful when we walk by the Spirit to not contradict what is already written. 

The Word of God will keep us safe but it is not meant to put us in a prison.  This will keep us between the

ditches on the Path of Life (Click here

).  One ditch would be requiring everything we do in the name of the Lord to be found in the Word.  The other ditch is doing something in the name of the Lord that contradicts the Word.  I am grateful for the very safe boundary lines He gave us for us staying on the Path of Life.

It is my prayer that the Body of Christ would come to know the Word of God and the Spirit of God on an even deeper level than we already do.  This is where our safety lies.

How to Become Bolder for Christ

It’s exciting to see the Body of Christ wake up and begin to be bold about the things of the Lord.  You can be sure that the enemy of our souls is not happy about this awakening.

One way that the enemy is trying to silence us – is to make it “not cool” to preach the truth of God in a public place or on social media.  He can’t afford to lose a hold on the people who are living in his darkness.  It is the truth that sets people free.  The Spirit of the Lord dwells where there is LIBERTY.  

So our adversary is pulling out the oldest trick in the book to make us intimidated by using the “disapproval” of the world.

The world keeps shouting “BE KINDER!”   But what they really mean is “BE QUIET, because if you don’t agree with me – you are not being kind.” 

Their shouts are actually meant to subdue us from preaching the truth of Christ.  Somehow the enemy has twisted the preaching of God’s truth as unkind.  But really it is just the opposite – it is a kindness to the world that we boldly proclaim the truth, even if they do not listen.

Peter and John ran into the same thing in Acts 4.  The religious aristocracy commanded them to not speak or teach in the name of Jesus.

The response of Peter and John is notable and it is the very key to being bold for Christ.

Peter and John replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God, For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”  Acts 4:19-20

They were more concerned with what God thought of them than what man thought of them.

This is how we become bolder for Christ:  We obey God, not men.

When I was first venturing out to speak more publicly about Christ I remember trembling because of what “man” might think of me.  The Lord helped to put my feet on the rock instead of sand by helping me to BELIEVE this verse in Psalm 19:14.

“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in YOUR sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

The only person who has to be pleased with your bold words is the Lord.

We should seek to accomplish two things as we step out and speak boldly about the Kingdom of God and His truth.  We should seek to have His words and His heart.

If we have God’s words but not His heart – we can become a clanging cymbal.

If we have His heart but do not speak His words of truth – we can actually be disobedient.

Ezekiel struggled to give the message of truth that the Lord wanted him to prophesy to Israel.  He had the Lord’s heart but resisted speaking His words.  The Lord said, “You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious.” Ezekiel 2:7.

Later in Ezekiel 3, the Lord tells Ezekiel that if he does not preach the truth to people in order to turn them from their ways that God will hold Ezekiel accountable for the sin of the people.

Youch!!

That one stings!

If you have a truth from the Lord that you do not speak because you are afraid.  You will be held accountable at the judgment throne.

Let us press on to be bold for the Lord and be willing to be rejected because of our message about Him.  Let us learn to fear the Lord more than we fear men.  It is by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony about Jesus that will ultimately help us to overcome!

This is my prayer for you:

“…that whenever you speak, may words be given to you so that you will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel,” (Eph. 6:19)

Struggling to Give Grace to Your Enemies? This Will Help

When someone has rejected us or hurt us, we tend to regard them as our enemies.  When we have been abused or dishonored, when we have been disrespected or someone has stolen from us, these are the people that we find the most difficult to love.

One of the hardest verses the Word of God is about loving our enemies.

Jesus said in Matthew 5:44-48:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

How difficult it is to love a spouse who has wronged us.  How difficult it is to love a parent who abandoned us.  How difficult it is to love someone who has gossiped and slandered us.  Yet these are the enemies God calls us to love in Matthew 5.

He wants us to love them and pray for them.  He wants us to greet them in public and not shun them.  This is so difficult because of the pain they have caused us.  The pain makes us want to avoid them instead of love them.

But I want to give you a thought to help open your mind about why Jesus commanded us to love our enemies.

When we are wronged – we tend to see our enemies in black or white.  The sin they committed against us makes them the bad guy in our mind.   But when we apply a judgment about their entire lives based on their sin against us we are being legalistic and judgmental.  This is why it’s hard to see them like God sees them because we assume that people are either all good or all bad.  Bitterness takes root because we are still passing judgment based on their hurtful actions toward us.

But that’s not how God sees our enemies.  He sees them in color.  He sees everything in their hearts and minds.  He knows that there are times others have hurt us out of ignorance.  Sometimes people hurt us because they are deceived.  Sometimes people hurt us because they are operating out of fear.

Jesus’s enemies crucified Him on the cross and then mocked Him.  But while He was on the cross He prayed for His enemies.  He saw their hearts.  He saw them in color, not black and white.  If they really knew what they were doing - they would have NEVER crucified Him.  This is why He prayed, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.” 

It was because Jesus did not want their one sin against Him to define their entire life.  He did not want the one moment of betrayal against God to steal the rest of their life. 

Because Jesus did not condemn His enemies on the cross, neither can we condemn our enemies.  We must have an understanding that everyone has bad moments.  Everyone has made decisions based on fear.  Everyone has rejected someone else in their life – even if they didn’t know it. 

Personally, I do not want my poor fruit moments to define me.  I don’t want my whole life condemned because of a season of deception I may have walked through.  I also have good fruit.  And I have fruit that is somewhere in between good and bad.

It is this revelation that helps us to forgive and let go of the bitterness toward our enemies.  Having compassion for our enemies and knowing that we need the same compassion toward us – helps us to stop seeing everything in black and white.  Knowing that we ourselves, need forgiveness from our poor decisions helps us to obey Jesus’s command to love our enemies.

No matter what your enemies have done to you.  You must see them in color.  Seeing in black and white will only keep you chained to bitterness.

Steps to Wholeness:

Forgive your enemy again.

Ask God’s forgiveness for holding onto bitterness.

Ask God to sever ungodly soul ties and ungodly influence between you and your enemy.

Ask God to remove any wrong thinking from your mind about your enemy.

Ask God to give you His thoughts about your enemy.

Ask God if there are any lies you are believing about your enemy. Renounce the lie and ask for God’s truth.  (Let the God’s truth about your enemy replace your opinion.)

Bless your enemy by praying for them.

Six Practical Tips on Ministering to the Poor

I spent four years working in a local food pantry.  I was privileged to serve the poor.  I learned a lot from my years there.  I got to witness first hand the cycle of poverty, and came to understand that the Body of Christ doesn't really understand how to reach out and minister to the poor in an effective manner.

Since my years in the food pantry, our ministry has developed a discipleship program to the poor in our community.  I was thinking through my relationships with those I have ministered to over the years.  I was pondering how I could equip those who want to minister to the poor but don’t know how.  Here are six practical way that the Body of Christ can minister to the poor.

1.

Consider them your equal.

God created all people with the same value.  He paid the same price, the blood of His Son, for every person on the planet.  See them through the blood of Christ.  Even though they are poor – they have something to teach you.  Remember that every person on earth has a slice of God that you don’t have.  Take upon the nature of a servant – not a benefactor.

2.

Give them a hand up – not a handout.

Sometimes Believers unknowingly give money, food, and presents to the poor, and it simply keeps them in poverty.  I would point out that Jesus only fed the multitudes twice – then he gave them a hand up by giving them a glimpse of the gospel. (John 6)  That is a hand up.  

Instead of giving the poor handouts, give them something that will improve their view of themselves.  Encourage them.  Be willing to teach them something they don’t know.  Show them how to sign their kid up for little league or soccer.  Invite them to a movie at your church.  Be willing to take their children to Wednesday night kids church.  All of these things will help them to make their lives better.  Only giving handouts keep them in the cycle of poverty.

Giving money or food or clothing is good – but giving them Jesus is better.

3.

Be patient.

Love is patient.  Jesus is patient.

I learned this one through handing out food over and over and over in the food pantry all of those years.  It gets hard when the attitude of entitlement is so entrenched in their foundations.  But Jesus is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. (Luke 6:35)  His patience is limitless.  Ask for the Lord to show you His attitude toward the poor and then change your heart to line up with His.

4.

Do not demand immediate repentance.

Repentance takes time.  Discipleship takes time.  I have found that the Holy Spirit is excellent at convicting people of sin!  If we will keep our mouths shut about sin until the Holy Spirit prompts us to point it out – it works out much better.  By letting God work through us and only doing what we are led to do by the Spirit, we have a much higher rate of people repenting.  (John 12:49)

If you point out sin in a legalistic way and demand immediate repentance – you will lose them.  Lead them to love God… then God will begin to work on the weeds in their heart.

5.

Do not be embarrassed by them.

The root of embarrassment is pride.  If you reach out to a poor person and begin to bring them to church or simply to have a relationship with them – you must NEVER be embarrassed by them.  Jesus isn’t.

Even if they take forever to begin to climb the mountain of maturity – never let that be a reflection of you.  Their walk with God is their walk with God.  Just love them.

If they continually fall back into old patterns – just love them.

6.

Do not take on their problems.

One of the things I have had to learn to do – is let their problems be their problems.  I am not their savior – Jesus is.  There are a myriad of issues in each person and in their families.  If you set aside time to minister to the poor, simply use that time to minister the love of Christ.  But leave their problems on their doorstep and do not take them home with you.

Jesus loves them more than you do.  He is much better at taking on their problems.

I hope these practical steps help you in obeying the Lord.  We are called to reach out and preach the good news to the poor.  The Church needs to become better at this.  We need to be equipped with effective ways for discipling them.  Be careful when ministering to the poor that you are not doing it out of selfish ambition.  Do it because the Lord asks us too.  Serve them as though you were serving the Lord…

                           …because you are.

“Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”  Matthew 25:40

Steps to Wholeness:

Father God, please forgive us for not reaching out to the poor.  Forgive Your Church for not obeying You.  Forgive our laziness.  Forgive our passiveness.  Forgive our judgmentalness.  Forgive our lack of patience.  Forgive us for treating “the least of these” with disdain. 

Help us, Father!  Renew our hearts for the poor and needy.  Take from us our heart of stone and give us a heart of flesh.  Let Your Holy Spirit teach us afresh how to follow Jesus by preaching the good news to the poor.  In His name we pray, AMEN!

Why Believers Need to Be Willing to Hurt Other's Feelings

Sometimes God speaks to me through what I call a “spiritual jukebox.”  It is a playlist of songs in my mind that the Holy Spirit will use to impart a specific thought to me.

A few weeks ago I could not get a phrase from a song by Randy Newman out of my head.  The phrase was “human kindness is overflowing, and I think it’s gonna rain today.”

Over and over in my head this phrase kept playing.  I pressed into the Lord to understand its meaning.  It took me several days but God unwrapped a really important piece of wisdom.

It is because of human kindness that evil is reigning in our nation.  Human kindness doesn’t confront controversial subjects.  Human kindness winks at sin and says “don’t judge.”  Human kindness says do whatever feels right.  Human kindness leads us to comforting the flesh of others.  Human kindness is political correctness and it is reigning in our nation.

God’s kindness, in contrast, leads us to repentance.

God’s kindness doesn’t mind to confront a woman at the well who has been married five times.  (John 4) God’s kindness doesn’t mind to knock a Pharisee named Saul off of his horse and blind him for three days in order to get him to repent. (Acts 9) In Revelation 1-2, Jesus uses some pretty harsh words to bring His church to repentance.  But these cutting words are meant to be a kindness.

There was a season in my life where God was teaching me to be bold and speak truth to people without apology.  Up to that point whenever I would confront someone in sin but I would pour a lot of sugary words over what I said and would even express regret for having to bring the word in the first place.  My feet were planted in the fear of man more than the fear of God.  I was operating out of human kindness.

God used Ezekiel 3 to train me to aspire to God’s kindness instead of human kindness.

“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood.  But if you do warn the wicked person and they do not turn from their wickedness or from their evil ways, they will die for their sin; but you will have saved yourself.  “Again, when a righteous person turns from their righteousness and does evil, and I put a stumbling block before them, they will die. Since you did not warn them, they will die for their sin. The righteous things that person did will not be remembered, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the righteous person not to sin and they do not sin, they will surely live because they took warning, and you will have saved yourself.”  Ezekiel 3:17-21

This was a really hard mindset for me to shift into alignment with the Kingdom of God.  I very much disliked warning people not to sin by stepping out of the will of God.  However, these verses from Ezekiel 3 forced me to open my mind that if I did not warn someone not to sin that on Judgment Day, I would be held accountable for it.

I really needed to overcome my fear of man.

There was one instance I failed that cemented in my heart the need for warning people no matter how much my words hurt them.  It was a difficult lesson that I hope will save some of you from making the same mistake.

A good friend of mine was about to marry a man I knew was not from God.  She was caught up in his web.  She had previously cut off the engagement because the Lord showed her his character was lacking, but she ended up opening the door again to him and he swept her off her feet.

When she told me she was going to be married I gently said, “Friend, didn’t God show you his character was lacking?”

She said, “Well yes, but I feel like I have His blessing now.”

That is all I said, because I didn’t want to hurt her – or lose her as a friend.

As soon as the honeymoon was over, he began emotionally abusing her.  He controlled her and cut her down with his words.  She tried to make it work, even going for counseling but it was to no avail and she had to file for divorce a short 18 months after they married.

As God was restoring her I reminded her of the conversation we had before her marriage concerning his lack of character.  She looked at me with pain in her eyes and said, “Tisha, why weren’t you more forceful than that?  Why didn’t you tell me that God showed you this man wasn’t His will?  I might have listened to you if you would have used sharper words in your warning.”

This cut me to the heart.  I lightly warned her because I feared losing her friendship.  Instead I could have used sharp words and it would have been a kindness.  My sharp words could have led her to repentance.

God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance.

Romans 2:4b (NIV)

Failing this test caused a new boldness to rise up in me.  The Lord allowed me to take another test of using God’s kindness to warn someone they were about to sin by stepping out of His will.  Fortunately this time I passed.

A friend of mine was a foster mom.  She wanted desperately to adopt the current children she was fostering.  I knew in my spirit that these kids were not the ones God had planned for her.  I trembled because I knew I would have to put my relationship with her on the line to warn her.

I did warn her.  She was greatly offended.  She felt like I was trying to control her. It ruined our relationship for a time.  But the Lord used Ezekiel 3 to encourage me not to back down.  I was warning her to save her from sinning by stepping out of God’s will.

God did bring her to repentance.  She let go of the children and as they grew up they caused great harm in the subsequent foster homes.  She repented to me and said, “The Lord showed me that the enemy wanted to bring that harm into my home through the generational sins of the foster kids. But He wanted to save my family from the destruction.”

I was so glad that I feared God over fearing the loss of a friendship.  By using God’s kindness - my friend was brought to repentance.

Human kindness says don’t cause others pain.  God’s kindness says I am willing to use pain to bring you to repentance.  Let us shake off the fear of men and align with the Kingdom of God.

God loves every person in the world, but He will not bend His Truth to make people more comfortable in their sin. - Michael Youssef

The Devil’s Lie About Performance-Based Acceptance

Fear is the Devil’s number one tool.

I believe this is why it says in the Bible 365 times – “Do not fear.” (one for each day of the year)

In my experience of discipling others, I have come to understand that a large percentage of our fear is because we care too much what other people think.  We want to be accepted by the people around us.

“You aren’t good enough,” is a lie that perpetuates a cycle of fear in our lives.  It’s the one that keeps us captive to constant insecurity.

If you’ll just perform in this manner, you’ll be accepted.

If you would just pretend to be happy, everything would be alright.

If your kids would just behave, people would think well of you as parents.

If you would play the role we give you, you’ll be accepted.

If you get straight A’s, you’ll make us look good.

If you would just behave, you wouldn’t embarrass me.

If you would wear your hair this way, you would have more friends.

If your house would be clean, you’d be a mom that has it together.

If your kids would be good at sports, you would have clout in the community.

If you will just perform – you’ll be accepted.

These are all cultural lies that we have bought.  If we feel pressure from these lies it is because we are seeking to please men instead of God.  It can be a very hard lesson for some.  But if we are to become “little Christs,” we must be OK when the world rejects us for not conforming to it.

Jesus ran into this with the Pharisees.  Almost all of Matthew 9 is made up of the Pharisees wanting Jesus to “behave” (or perform in a manner they approved of) to be accepted.

“You can’t forgive sins!”

“You can’t eat with tax collectors!”

“You must fast according to our rules!

They laughed at him for believing He could raise a girl from the dead.

“He drives out demons using the power of Satan.”

Jesus refused to conform to the rules of men.  He did not need the approval of the Pharisees. He didn’t care if they accepted Him.

This is an area we MUST fight to become like Christ.  We MUST overcome the fear of men and their performance based acceptance.

Focus on God’s truth about who you are.  God does love you and has a plan for your life.  Just like Jesus did not conform to the ways of men but obeyed the Father in all things – So the Father wants us to become like Christ.  If we are constantly trying to be “enough” for the people in our lives we could very well miss out on God’s perfect will.

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” – Galatians 1:10

You are a child of the One True King.  The only thing you have to conform to is His will.

There is absolutely no reason to fear the lack of acceptance from men.

Live to please only One.  Let everyone else’s expectations fall to the ground.

Here is a song that might help you through breaking off these chains!  

No Longer Slaves

Why God Wants You to Stop Doing Things For Him

It was going to be awesome!  At least nine churches were involved in it.  It was a great idea and now all we had to do was work together to see it through.  God was going to be so pleased with our citywide Unity Service for Pentecost Sunday.  We rented out an auditorium and a more up-to-date sound system.  We got the best speaker from a near-by Christian college.  The pastors of the involved churches were supposed to get together and pray regularly and handle the logistics.  As one of the worship leaders, I would meet weekly with the other music pastors spending time in prayer and then planning a blended service that would touch each of our respective congregations. 

I was spending a lot of time personally in prayer for this move, asking God’s blessing, direction and grace. Praying for souls.  Praying for our city. And praying for those who weren’t involved to get onboard.

There was an associate pastor in my church that expressed the uncomfortable feeling he had about the coming city-wide service.  Outwardly the signs seemed to be that all was going well.  Everything was falling into place nicely.  Still I greatly respected this pastor’s discernment but he could not put into words why he was uneasy about it. 

I was praying on the way to one of our worship leader meetings and thinking about why my associate pastor was uneasy.  And I heard the voice of the Lord say, “This service is something that they are doing

for

Me.”  This repeated over and over in my head.  There was an emphasis on the word “for.”  “ …Something they are doing

for

Me.”  I had been learning about being a vessel for the Lord and learning to allow Him to do things

through

me. So I knew exactly what He meant.  The pastors who had come up with the citywide unity service had done so out of their own intellect and will (and maybe even their own pride). 

It was not something that had been born from the Spirit.  And the fruit that followed had no lasting effect.  Even though we spent hours planning and praying, the service itself was somewhat of a disappointment.  Only about 60% of the congregations from each church came to the service.  There was no salvation, no repentance.  The unity that it was supposed to bring brought only offense to the leadership in the end.  Pastors who claimed they were in charge offended other pastors who thought they were in charge.  No one could agree with what to do with the remaining money generated for the service.  Some volunteers got paid for their job, while other volunteers didn’t.  There has never been another Pentecost unity service since then.

I know you might say – wouldn’t God be pleased if we were doing things FOR Him?  To answer this question let’s take a look at what Jesus said about how He served the Father.  Did Jesus do things FOR the Father?

In John 14:10 Jesus says, “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? 

The words I say to you are not my own.  Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.”

The Father…living in me…doing his work.

Numerous times in the book of John, Jesus makes the point that He’s only doing what He sees the Father doing.  He’s only saying what the Father has told Him to say.

John 8:28 – When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that

I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me

, I speak these things.

Jesus didn’t heal every person he saw hurting.  In John chapter five, at the pool of Bethesda there were a great number of disabled people lying there.  But Jesus only called to one to be healed.  He only did what he saw the Father doing.

There were many wicked tax collectors in the crowd the day Jesus passed by.  But Zacchaeus was the only one he called out to.  Jesus was in tune to the prompting of His Father’s bidding.  And he did not step outside of what he was commanded to do.  See what Jesus says here in John 5:17, 19-20

My Father has been working until now, and I have been working….Most assuredly, I say to you,

the Son can do nothing of Himself; but what He sees the Father do

; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.  For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does.

We must humble ourselves like Jesus did.  We must come to a place that we only do what we see the Father do.  We follow the commands of the Lord.  We do not take action unless we are given a directive by the Lord…. And then we let Him do His works through us.

As children of God, every aspect of our lives should be the Father working through us.  Our jobs, our homes, our businesses, our ministries should ALL be works that God does through us. 

Just like Jesus we can do nothing of ourselves, but what we see the Father do…. for whatever the Father does, we also do in a like manner.

It might be a lofty idea to attempt a Pentecost Unity service for your community.  But if that idea has not been born from the Lord’s heart, then we are not following in Jesus’ footsteps – because He didn’t do anything that He didn’t see the Father do.   When we birth something from our own minds, thinking that we are going to do something FOR the Lord, we have separated ourselves from the Vine and the fruit we produce will never last.

The example that Jesus gave us was to not move on anything unless the Father told Him to.  And then even more than that the Father was the one to accomplish the works THROUGH His Son.

John 14:10  - the words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but

the Father who dwells in Me does the works.”

The Father…dwelling in Me…does the works.  This is why God doesn’t want you doing things for Him.  The works that are born in the heart of the Father and that we allow Him to carry out through us are the works that we will get a “Well done” for!

The Father…living in me…doing his work.

Stop doing things FOR God.  Remain on the vine and begin letting God do things THROUGH you!

My Divine Appointment at a Donald Trump Rally

I was blessed to be offered VIP tickets to the Donald Trump Rally in Westfield, Indiana on July 13th. We got there early enough to be on the VERY front row... only there were no chairs. So we got there at 5:15 and Mr. Trump was supposed to speak at 7:30 (But didn't actually take the stage until 8:30).

There is nothing left to do but stand and talk to your neighbors...for what ended up being more than 3 hours!

My friend and I met some people around us and I was specifically intrigued with the woman next to me who was in a wheelchair.

She was in her 40s and her husband had the biggest servant's heart toward her. She exuded joy and didn't want people to go out of their way on her behalf.

As I observed them, I was especially touched by their relationship and how he tended to her. He was gentle and and attentive and yet not helicoptering over her. My friend and I had introduced ourselves but as the night wore on and we had come to the end of things to talk about.

I silently prayed for God to help me encourage this woman who was in the wheel chair... Knowing what I was about to hear - He probably smiled at my prayer.

I bent down and made a more concerted effort to get to know my new acquaintance. I started off with complimenting the person who had earlier prayed for our country from the podium. She agreed it was a powerful prayer and that our country certainly needed it. She asked what I did and I told her I had a ministry in my hometown.

She wrote down the name of it and then asked me a few bold questions about the ministry. Since she was courageous to ask me some personal questions... I asked if I could also ask some personal questions. And I will forever be grateful that I found some gumption to ask!

I asked why she was in the wheelchair and how long she had been in it. She said that she had Multiple Sclerosis and that she had had the disease for 20 years but had only been in the wheelchair for the last 2. I went on being bold and asked if there was any chance that her condition would get better. She said no there wasn't - outside of a miracle she would deteriorate until her death.

As she told me this there was not a hint of self-pity at all. She was thankful for a believing husband who had a strong relationship with the Lord. She said, shortly after she was married that her doctor told her that he did not recommend that she have kids. She said, "Are you telling me I can't have kids?" He said, "No. I said I don't recommend it."

She went home to her husband quite distraught and told him that the doctor recommended that they shouldn't have any kids. She said she cried and threw a little pity party. As she was telling me the story she smiled really big. She said, "But my husband said, 'Honey we don't ask the doctor if we can have kids. We ask the Lord.' So we prayed."

One month later she was pregnant.

And since then she has had 6 children altogether! Ages 14 to 3.

(You could have knocked me over with a feather!)

She said, "I was always going to be here with my condition. I was always headed for a wheelchair. But I was going to be here whether I had children or not. I am so glad that I was able to have six kids along the way."

She of course wants the Lord to heal her. But trusts that He knows what He's doing and He sees her and has a perfect plan for her and her family.

I asked if I could pray for her and I did pray that God would heal her body...but I added "Nevertheless not my will but Yours be done."

My problems seem a little less serious today. I'm leaving my self-pity at the cross.

------------------------------------------------------

If you would, pray for my new friend Jennifer who is battling MS.  Pray for her healing and pray for her strength.  Wouldn't it be simply amazing to see her healed???

Building a Kingdom-Minded Business

(This is my monthly article for Cindy Jacob's ministry )

Several years ago, I asked the Lord for an idea to help my family make some extra money. I wanted something original, something that was His idea.

One day, as I was praying, I came upon a billboard full of chocolate candies. It was a sign—literally and spiritually! I already had the skills to make chocolate candy; I simply needed to gain understanding about how to turn my skills into a trade.

It was a fun few years of learning and gaining understanding. Keeping my endeavors small at first allowed me to make small mistakes, which cost me $20 instead of $2000. I learned that the biggest trap of a small business is taking too big of a step in the growth cycle. I learned about taxes and employees and advertising. I learned about the politics involved in community commerce.

After about 5 years, the Lord asked me to lay it down for a season. Looking back now, I see that He had some other things to teach me, especially in regards to running a business according to His kingdom, not according to the world.

Two Clashing Systems

The Lord gave me a dream about running a race in a public arena. There were grandstands of people watching the road where we were racing. We made several turns, and the people were cheering. Before I reached the finish line, Jesus was standing in my lane with a stop sign, so I stopped, while the rest of the people finished the race. He pointed to a door under the grandstands, and I followed Him through it. Inside, there were little stations of people hand-dipping chocolates. They were people who I used to minister to in the food pantry where I worked. In the dream, I knew I was employing people who needed jobs and job training, instead of using machinery.

The Lord spoke to me and said, 

You’ve been doing business wrong. You are not supposed to do business in order to be seen by the world. You are supposed to do business to grow My kingdom. You’ve been programmed to do business by a Babylonian system; now I want to show you how to run a business according to My kingdom.

This really made a lot of sense to me because, in the process of building my chocolate business, the only thing I had to lean on was a worldly system. There were very few resources dedicated to helping a Christian understand how to seek God’s Kingdom first when it specifically came to this area.

A Babylonian system shuts out the leading of the Holy Spirit and establishes itself through pride, greed, and an unhealthy ambition for wealth and power. In Revelation 18...

(Click HERE for the rest of the article)