Freedom in Obedience - Guest Post by Michelle Daugharthy

I'm so pleased to introduce my friend Michelle Daugharthy to you.  Michelle is a beautiful person inside and out.  She has allowed God to take her mess and create a beautiful masterpiece from her life.  She is a wonderful wife, mother, and actress!  She acts in commercials and small films AND she writes!  Enjoy this piece of wisdom that she has written for us.

I am going to say something that may sound counter-intuitive.

There is FREEDOM walking in obedience.

We were actually created this way.  We crave safe boundaries; it creates security.  A child will continue to push against any boundary you put in place to see if you really care enough to mean it.

“Yes! If you don’t play in the street, then you are FREE to stay alive! That is how much I love you!”

“Yes! If you are home by curfew and do not go to your boyfriend’s house alone, then you are FREE to not be burdened with the guilt that weighs from sexual sin! That’s how much I love you!” We can often fear that if we agree to walk in obedience to the Lord, He will ask us to give up something we love or do something really hard.

And He might. BUT, trust me, if He asks you to give it up, it is because there is something better in store!

A few years after my divorce, I was dating a man long distance for almost two years. It was a challenging relationship. He was a good, Christian man, but had some deep struggles with being OCD and over-critical that were less than life-giving in our relationship.  We broke up a few times, and each time I felt like we were supposed to get back together. He had so many of the qualities I longed for in a husband.

The thing is, he had a reeeeaaallly hard time committing to marriage because he was afraid he would regret his choice later. I always went back and just tried to “work harder” on our relationship. The deeply implanted wounds and issues were not healed, and things got very bleak and hard again.

When I was praying about what to do, I felt the Lord ask me, “If you knew I had something better for you around the corner, would you give him up?” I actually did not have to think too long…”Yes, Lord. I will do that and trust you.”

So I broke it off for good. He pleaded and pleaded with me to give him another chance, but I calmly held my ground. It was hard. I gave something up I really wanted. And it hurt. But I also felt peace in the midst of that because I knew I obeyed God. I felt more free out of that relationship! I was even able to get to a place of being ok if I did not get married again because I knew the Lord was enough and He was taking care of me.  Six months later, I met a man whom I was pretty smitten with right away.

Friends, God is SO good.

He knew what I needed in a mate, and I believe He had this man in mind for me. (God just had to perform a minor miracle and move him back to our city!) Long story short, we married about 2 years after we met. Now we have been married almost 9 years and have added two kids to our family, in addition to my daughter I have from my previous marriage. Is it perfect? No.  Do we sometimes struggle?  Yes. But it is GOOD.  So good.  And don’t we all want what is good, the best for us?

God is a good father and knows how to give good gifts – the best gifts!

That is what He loves to do! In fact, His word tells us how He likes to give gifts: “ …which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”  (Matthew 7:9-11.)

Freedom does not mean just getting to do what we want.  Freedom is defined as the state of being at liberty rather than in confinement.  Friends, sin leads to confinement, to bondage….to slavery.  Obedience is for our protection, and for our promise for freedom!

Walking in obedience to God will always lead to greater joy, peace, and freedom! Will you follow and obey Him today?

HE LOVES ME, HE LOVES ME NOT SYNDROME - Coping with a traumatic childhood

My entire life I have wrestled with a pendulum of emotion of going back and forth between the feelings of being loved and then unloved.

My traumatic childhood plays into this pendulum.  I was born loved. My mother died when I was four. My very young mind translated this as being unloved.  My father married my wonderful step mother. I was loved.  Four years later my father divorced her and sent me to live with his brother. I was abandoned and unloved.

This “He loves me/He loves me not syndrome” was a pattern that developed in my spirit.  It was programmed into my blueprint.  “Sometimes I’m loved but it will always swing back to being unloved.”

This became my blueprint for a relationship with the Lord.  Sometimes I could feel His deep and unending love for me and then a few days later I couldn’t find His presence anywhere!  In my fear of being abandoned by Him, I learned to go to extreme lengths to get God to love me.  Excessive Bible reading, excessive prayer and worship sessions were all I knew to do please God so He would not leave me.  Of course, I simply wore myself out looking for something that I already had… I was already perfectly and constantly loved.

It did not matter how hard I tried to get off the pendulum.  It did not matter how much I prayed.  It did not matter how much I read the word, the feeling of being abandoned by God would always come back.

I wish I could tell you that there was one pat prayer that took away my “He loves me/He loves me not syndrome.”  It was not one big prayer that delivered me from this syndrome… it was a thousand little ones.

As I came to understand what the enemy did to my spirit, how he planted a false blueprint inside of me, I began to ask God to pull it up little by little.  I was honest with God about how I felt in the “He loves me not” portion of the pendulum.  He let me pour out my complaint (sometimes through angry words and hot tears).  He was more patient with me than I have any right to expect.  But He saw that I had been programmed with a wrong blueprint and He stayed through the ugliness to redeem what was good.

It was a long road… a VERY long road to scrape up that evil blueprint off of my spirit.

There is only the tiniest residue still on my spirit from those early days.  The evil blueprint has been replaced with the correct blueprint that God’s love for me is perfect and I can’t do anything to make Him love me more.  And I can’t do anything to lose His presence – for He will never leave me or forsake me.

Maybe some of you feel abandoned by God.  Maybe some of you suffer with the same “He loves me/He loves me not syndrome.”  I hope that this testimony encourages you that there is light at the end of the tunnel.  There can be an end to the pendulum.  I wish I could wave a wand and deliver you from it… but it takes perseverance and faith to get the false blueprint out of your spirit.

I’m actually grateful for the long walk to freedom.  I know God’s character so much better.  I know His still small voice and my faith has increased a 1000% since being on this journey.

Friends… God loves each of us right where we’re at and He is ready and willing to heal us from our false blueprints.

Take a step toward Him today and ask for the truth about anything false that the enemy might have programmed in your spirit.  Ask Him to imprint His Kingdom blueprint on your spirit instead and then persevere!

I ask God to quicken your spirit to understand the true depth of His love for you!

Belle is being released to set the Beast free! (A WORD FOR WOMEN OF GOD)

God is calling the women of His Kingdom to rise up.  He is calling His daughters to go on an adventure with Him.  He is making a way for His Beauties to RISE.

But this “rising” is not a worldly revolution – it’s a reformation.

God has been speaking to me through the movie “Beauty and the Beast” lately.  The heroine of the movie is tired of her “provincial” (unsophisticated, narrow-minded) life.  She longs for MORE!  She longs to break free of the town that thinks she is “odd.”  They have decided that she is indeed beautiful – but she is just too strange for them to accept.  She is a misfit.

However, the longing of her heart is fulfilled when she is taken on the adventure of a lifetime.  She ends up becoming a captive of the Beast.  She is a prisoner in his cursed castle that is in a perpetual winter season.  But she “rises” up through her strength and patience and grace and she LOVES the Beast until the curse is broken and he becomes the royalty he was meant to be all along.

God is calling the women who are tired with the mundaneness of the provincial life.  He has put a seed of Holy Dissatisfaction within His daughters who have been calling out for adventure.

For the Lord would say:

“Daughters, I have need of you in this hour.  I need for you to rise up and love the Beast.  Many of my sons have taken hard hits because the enemy of their souls has tried to take them out.  Some of them are prideful because of deep wounds.  Some of them roar because they are broken inside.  Some of them are suffering from neglect and don’t know how to be tender or gentle because they were never taught.

I am asking you to look beyond the mask of My sons.  Look beyond the outward appearance and look to the hearts of My sons.  They are longing to be loved.  They are longing to have communion with people, but the curse that is over them prevents it.

Will you allow yourself to follow Me on this adventure?  You don’t have to be a doormat.  You don’t have to be their slave.  Do not let them be your “Master.”  Let Me be your King... and simply follow Me!

I need my Beauties to be strong and patient at the same time.  I will show you when to stand up to the Beast.  I will show you when to nurture him.  If you follow Me and die to being offended, together, we can break the curse!

The adventure will be daunting at first, but I have equipped you with the Holy Spirit, and you have everything you need to release life over the castle.  Put on the whole armor of God.  Stay close to Me.  I want to restore the authority that Adam and Eve had in the Garden of Eden.

Are you willing to enter the fire, in order to set the Beast free?  When men and women come together as ONE – My Kingdom will be unstoppable!

Let’s go on an adventure and bring reformation to My Kingdom!”

#MisfitsRising

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.

 

Overcoming the Spirit of Abandonment

 I know it sounds crazy that I believed this lie for so long…but it felt soberingly real.

Growing up, I always felt like God would abandon me at any moment. I lived in constant fear that He would simply walk away and leave me.

It was a lie the enemy planted in my soul at the age of eight. I was suddenly abandoned by my earthly father. So that transference implied that my Heavenly Father would be exactly the same.

For me, the feeling of powerlessness caused me to be very works based in my relationship with Father God. I felt like if I was “good enough” He wouldn’t leave me.

That, of course, didn’t work. I was never “good enough.” Whenever I wasn’t excellent at something like getting B’s on my report card instead of A’s – I feared God would abandon me. It took me forever to let go of shame when I sinned. I felt like I was responsible for keeping God close to me.

The problem was, I had wholeheartedly swallowed the lie that my Heavenly Father was like my earthly father. And even though the Word of God said, I will never leave you nor forsake you – that truth could not penetrate my heart and take me to freedom.

It’s the truth that sets us free. But my little eight-year-old heart rejected the truth that God never abandons us -- because of my experience with my earthly father. The lie had a STRONG – HOLD on me. It became a STRONGHOLD that the enemy used against my soul. He played havoc with my emotions again and again because I believed this lie. I see it like this. He would whisper in my ear the lie that Father God was going to abandon me and it would spin me around on a sit and spin.

When we untangle ourselves from a STRONGHOLD – we are using the authority that Jesus gave us to get off the sit and spin. When we are able to exert our power because of the blood of Jesus, we take away the foothold of the devil to whisper lies into our souls.

If you suffer from the fear that God will abandon you – all you have to do is erase the lie by using these tools below…

Break Ungodly Soul Ties with anyone who conditioned you with a spirit of abandonment.

(I had to do this with my earthly father.)

1.            Lord I forgive _______________ for their sin against me. I ask you to forgive me for my sin against them. 

2.            I sever ungodly influence from them.

3.            I sever ungodly soul ties from them.

4.            I give back to__________________ the things that belong to them.

5.            I take back the things that belong to me.

6.            I wash them in the blood of Jesus.

7.            Remove all faulty thinking from my mind.

8.            Transform me by renewing my mind according to the Kingdom of Heaven.

9.            I ask You, God, to set ________________ free from all of their wrong thinking.

10.          Give them back their soul.

11.          I ask You, God, give me back my soul.

Break a Generational Sin of abandonment.

Breaking off generational sin is important to untangle any sin from previous generations that still has a right to influence a generational line.

1. Repent

“God I ask your forgiveness for myself and my parents and every past generation concerning the sin of __________ .

2. Rebuke

I apply the blood of Jesus and I break this sin off of my generational lines both maternal and paternal all the way back down to Adam.

3. Replace

I replace this sin with LIFE and a generational blessing of ____________ (opposite of curse) In Jesus Name!

4. Release Blessings

I pray for the release of revelation and generational blessing that has been held up because of these sins.  May they be released into my life and every future generation.  I pray for more intimacy with you and for the grace to become like Christ.

Command the spirit of abandonment to leave you and go to the feet of Jesus Christ.

You have just done Spiritual Warfare so be sure to pray the sealing up prayer! 

(Click Here)

God's Word says… You have permission to like yourself

Sometimes we get caught up in the do's and the don'ts of God's Word.  But truthfully, if we would take a longer look, there's a lot more freedom in the Word than you may have been led to believe.

Jesus came to set you FREE from the law and free from your shame.

Use every freedom His cross has afforded you!  The blood of Jesus paid for your freedom.  There is LIBERTY in being in Christ.

The Word of God says…

You have permission to like yourself.

You have permission consider yourself a winner/champion.

You have permission to think you are beautiful (handsome).

You have permission to consider yourself royalty.

You have permission to be who God created you to be instead of who others have told you to be.

You have permission to think of yourself as God’s favorite.

You have permission to run the race like you are going to win!

You have permission to fully embrace the call of God in your life without feeling prideful.

You have permission to fail and not get mad at yourself.

You have permission to lay down past shame.

You have permission to raise your head and straighten your spine no matter what your past sins have been.

You have permission to have a sad day here and there.

You have permission to rejoice even during your worst day.

You have permission to fail forward.

You have permission to pour out your complaint to God.

You have permission to walk away from negative people.

You have permission to draw boundaries with people.

You have permission to tell people NO.

You have permission to not agree with everyone.

You have permission to get angry when people sin.

You have permission to be hated.

You have permission to tell God YES even if people try to convince you otherwise.

You have permission to speak openly about what God has done for you.

You have permission to speak the truth even if it hurts another person’s feelings.

You have permission to reach out to the “undesirables.”

You have permission to step out on the water, even if you sink.

You have permission to be a bright and shining lamp that fills an entire room.

You have permission to take some time for yourself and rest.

You have permission to eat dessert.

You have permission to be single and still whole.

You have permission to not have children and still be whole.

You have permission to not apologize for being you.

You have permission to dance while you worship.

You have permission to enjoy your life.

You have permission to believe in yourself and who God created you to be!

Dealing with Trauma Between the Layers of Our Soul

When my mother died from breast cancer, I was a mere four years old. I don’t have many memories of her that I can recall. I remember going to get her a blanket. I remember making a cake with her for my fourth birthday party. I remember my aunt and dad telling me she had died. At four years old, my cognizance wasn’t quite developed yet. I didn’t understand.

While my mind wasn’t able to hold onto those early days of my life nor to the trauma of my mother’s departure…my soul remembers all of it.

My soul remembers questioning “Where’s mama?” My soul remembers questioning “Why is grandma crying?” My soul remembers everyone being so sad and people feeling sorry for me. My soul remembers the words that people spoke over me. “Poor Tisha.” My soul remembers every detail, every lie, every pain and every sorrow.

The problem is my soul remembers…but my mind doesn’t.

Later my dad remarried and then divorced when I was eight. It was again traumatic and I got caught up in an emotional storm that was not my fault. Emotions and reactions and selfish motives by adults sent me spiraling once again into a feeling of powerlessness that hid itself in the pages of my soul.

I tried to eat to comfort myself and gained weight. I couldn’t process my pain – so I reached for comfort. I didn’t know that Jesus could hold me or that I could go to Him with my pain. So I turned to an idol of food instead. An idol that stayed with me for many more years. But it was an idol that betrayed me (as they all do).

A secret comforter found its way into the layers of my soul. Food was my friend, only that’s what the devil deceived me into believing. My idolatry had consequences. My dad told me I was getting fat… more rejection, more darkness planted in the recesses of my soul.

I was sent to live on a farm with distant family members who lived a completely different lifestyle than I was used to. It didn’t make sense to me. I had no words to explain my emotions. I never fit in, even though I tried, the farm just never made sense to me.

I was adopted into a family who already had three girls. I ended up to be a dethroned first child. Self-pity was a thick layer in the foundation of my soul. Poor Tisha.

I never really connected with my adopted dad. He was a good provider, but I wasn’t really his daughter and we both knew it. The layers of darkness that the enemy continued to compound into the pages of my soul were being deposited there and I didn’t even know it.

Lie after lie was being planted into my story.

“I’m not good enough.”

“I’ll never be normal.”

“Why can’t I just belong?”

“No one really wants me.”

“I’m a burden.”

“Life will always be a string of suffering circumstances.”

“I’ll never be beautiful.”

“God wants me to suffer.”

“I’m being rebellious if I speak up.”

“I’ll be just like my birth father if I’m not careful.”

“Poor Tisha.”

“I’m powerless to change anything.”

Most of these lies I didn’t even realize were being planted… but my soul knew.

This twisting of my identity was exactly what the devil wanted. He wanted to confuse me about who I was in the Lord. He was trying to steal my God-given purpose and render me ineffective.

I pushed the rejection and lies into a corner of my mind and shut the door to them in order to function. But I dealt with pretty steep bouts of depression. I didn’t realize it but I was in a deep dark prison in my soul. I didn’t understand how the devil had a foothold – or more than that – how to get free from the bondage I was in.

When our minds don’t recall a specific trauma or lie, we are unable to process it, grieve it, find the truth and ultimately let it go.

One of the main reasons I could not process my trauma was because I was too young and didn’t remember. Another reason was because I was in denial and had put the trauma on lockdown in my heart. Denial is a coping mechanism that is part of the grieving process. But if we deny there’s been trauma for a long period of time there is no way to truly address it. Ultimately, we must acknowledge that there are hidden things in the pages of our soul that need to be loosed from it in order to be set free. It is the truth that sets us free. It is the denial of truth that keeps us in bondage.

I’ve met people who were violently raped – who had no way to process their pain – so they stuck it in the dark recesses of their mind trying to forget it.

But denying and forgetting the pain doesn’t work.

It must be processed. Just as if you had been shot by a bullet. The bullet of the trauma must be removed if healing is going to happen. If the bullet remains inside the body, the wound will never heal right.

But if the bullet is extracted the wound can be addressed and true healing can begin. Think about this… the bullet itself is not the wound. The bullet causes the wound but then lodges itself into our hearts. The bullet is a lie or sin inside of the wound that keeps us in constant suffering.

The devil is not stupid. He is cunning, and he has been around thousands of years to know what it takes to paralyze God’s people. There are many ways to get us to feel powerless against him. Lies, fear, witchcraft, generational curses, soul ties, idolatry, bitterness, jealousy and so on and so on.

One of the ways the devil incapacitates us is to wound us when we are young. Then he uses the opportunity while we are wounded to plant a weed in our hearts.

Until the weeds are uprooted we remain injured, and that injury can cause all kinds of havoc in our lives and to those closest to us.

In the midst of suffering, we can become bitter and full of rage. We can even rage at the Lord for allowing the suffering. The enemy knows exactly how to get us all twisted up in our souls.

He even knows how to separate our minds from our souls so we can’t seem to find out what it is we’re mad about. It’s like he’s able to put us in a prison of pain through legal footholds he has gained through sin and lies. And then he covers up the prison with a veil over our minds making us feel powerless to get free.

One of the biggest lies that the enemy has planted in our hearts is that getting free from trauma and sin has to take a long period of time. This is not true.

We can be delivered.

We can be healed and made whole.

The cross paid for it.

But we must BELIEVE it!

Steps to Wholeness:

The first step to healing from the trauma in our soul is to pray for deliverance.

You can pray the Psalm 143 to the Lord. Ask Him to find the weeds of darkness between the layers of your soul and deliver you from any weeds that are planted there.

Psalm 143  (ESV)

My Soul Thirsts for You

A Psalm of David.

Hear my prayer, O Lord;

give ear to my pleas for mercy!

In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness!

2 Enter not into judgment with your servant,

for no one living is righteous before you.

3 For the enemy has pursued my soul;

he has crushed my life to the ground;

he has made me sit in darkness like those long dead.

4 Therefore my spirit faints within me;

my heart within me is appalled.

5 I remember the days of old;

I meditate on all that you have done;

I ponder the work of your hands.

6 I stretch out my hands to you;

my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah

7 Answer me quickly, O Lord!

My spirit fails!

Hide not your face from me,

lest I be like those who go down to the pit.

8 Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love,

for in you I trust.

Make me know the way I should go,

for to you I lift up my soul.

9 Deliver me from my enemies, O Lord!

I have fled to you for refuge.

10 Teach me to do your will,

for you are my God!

Let your good Spirit lead me

on level ground!

11 For your name's sake, O Lord, preserve my life!

In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble!

12 And in your steadfast love you will cut off my enemies,

and you will destroy all the adversaries of my soul, for I am your servant.

Why Women of God Need to Transition from Princess to Queen

I remember a few years ago when the Holy Spirit was calling me higher into maturity.  One of the things that I had to overcome was my mindset of being a Princess.

During this season the Lord gave me a picture of a chess board.  He kept pointing to the Queen and said, “I need for you to be this!  The Queen is the most versatile piece on the chess board.  You are not living up to your authority.  You have more power in the game than you realize.”

I desired to be Deborah.  I desired to be Esther.  I desired to be a bold Prophet.  But I had no idea how far away from truly being a Queen that I was. 

In my mind, in my heart – I was a Princess.

…but I was not a Queen.

To climb higher I had to allow the Lord to shift me from feeling helpless to being powerful.  I had to shift from the one being saved to the one doing the saving.

Before God called me higher, I thought of myself a bold and strong and certainly not helpless.  But I came to the conclusion that I felt way more “helpless” than I realized.

The Lord began to deal with the lies in my mind.  They sounded something like this:

Lie #1:  As a woman, I am weak and it is a man’s job to save me.

Truth:  The whole word of God is applicable to women too.  God warns us that we will stand before synagogue rulers and authorities, He will give us what to say. (Luke 12:11)  We are called to confront sin, even sin that is committed by men.  We are called to be Apostles, Prophets, Pastors, Teachers and Evangelists – this means we LEAD!  We are also called to business like Lydia (Acts 16:14) or the Proverbs 31 woman.  We cannot always expect the men to do the leading.  Women are also called to lead.

Lie #2  I need permission from people to be strong and powerful.

Truth:  As a Queen in God’s kingdom, I do not need another human’s permission to be strong, powerful, or to lead.  My King is Christ.  I obey only Him.  Of course, we never undermine God’s established authority unless we are given the directive by God to so.  God ALWAYS trumps earthly authority, we must simply know with certainty that He is calling us to exert His authority. 

When our power or authority is not received from others, we do not throw a fit, we do not control the situation, we do not demand anything – we simply speak the truth and if it is not received we wipe the dust from our feet and rest in the truth of where our authority comes from.  A Princess feels rejected but a Queen does not get offended.

Lie #3  I must be concerned with my reputation.

A Princess is focused on “me.”  A Queen is focused on those she leads and their welfare, even if her reputation takes a hit when making noble decisions.  A Queen is not a people pleaser and is OK with saying “no” to people.

Lie #4   I need the praise and recognition for my accomplishments.

A Princess compares herself with others, having a need to be better than other women.  Therefore, she lives on the praise of others.  But a Queen knows who she is, a child of the Most High.  She is not spoiled in any way and receives praise with elegance and humility.  A Queen never needs recognition.  Any recognition she does receive is immediately put in her King’s account.

The women in the Body of Christ must make the shift from Princess to Queen.  The Body of Christ has great need of you daughter of the Most High!  We need for you to carry a scepter of authority in the spiritual realm and the natural realm.

 Ask the Lord if you are believing any lies?

Ask Him to make you bold and to help you rise up to your full potential as a Queen!

Steps to Wholeness:

My prayer for the women of God…

Father God I ask You to shift your daughters from being Princesses to being Queens.  I pray that every lie that is keeping them from rising up in their authority would be uprooted from their minds.  Renew their minds to be strong and bold and courageous.  I pray that Deborah’s would rise up and bring righteous judgment to the earth.  I pray for Esther’s to rise up and save her people from evil.  I pray for Lydia’s to rise up in the business world and to impact the world through wisdom and understanding.  I pray for the true understanding of the boldness and fearlessness of the Proverbs 31 woman.  May all of your daughters fully embrace the call to rule and reign!

The Glorious Gift of Rejection

Consider it PURE JOY my brothers whenever you face trials.

I used to roll my eyes at this verse from James 1.  I didn’t want to hear it in the middle of my painful trial.  I hated reading those words in the midst of a season of rejection.

Being rejected by the people you love is the WORST!  Being rejected by people who you assumed were your friends can be paralyzing… especially when your heart was pure and you meant no harm.

You start to ask yourself, “What is wrong with me that so many people reject me?  What is the game I must play in order to not be rejected by those close to me?

Rejection can come in many forms.  It can be a literal disapproval and subsequent distancing of those who have decided that you are not good enough.  Rejection can be felt when people move on to new seasons and leave you behind.  It can also come because we have decided to step closer to God and the people closest to us do not want to take the step with you. 

There is rejection in divorce.  There is the feeling of rejection when the kids leave home.  And though it might seem strange, we can feel rejected through the death of loved ones.

It is important to discern and divide what “feels” like rejection and what truly is rejection. 

Sometimes God is the one who separates people.  Other times people make a conscious decision to walk away.

Once you separate the two, it will be easier to understand why I am declaring that rejection can be one of the most glorious gifts and trials that we face on earth.

If people constantly reject you – take heart.  They did the same thing to Jesus… and He was perfect.

None of us walk perfect lives, but Jesus did.  And He was rejected by His disciples, His followers, His religion, and His nation (people group).  Yet, He accomplished all that God had for Him. 

Rejection doesn’t keep you from your destiny.

How you handle rejection does.

Look at David.  He was rejected by his brothers, his father, his king, his mighty men at Ziklag, his wife as he worshiped and later his son, Absalom.  But David forgave and he kept his eyes on his maker.  He didn’t let the rejection of men deter him.  He knew that rejection was a gift that kept him focused on what was truly important… pleasing his Heavenly Father.  He became a friend of God and a king whose kingdom will never end.

Look at Joseph.  He was rejected by his brothers and sold into slavery.  He used his gifting to help Potiphar build his house but was later rejected by Potiphar and his wife.  He helped the cupbearer in a time of need but he forgot about Joseph for another two years.  But in all of that time Joseph came to understand that no matter who rejected him, God never left Joseph.  God never rejected him.  God saw to it that Joseph completed his destiny.  He saved his own brothers and generational lineage by walking through rejection with forgiveness in his heart.

Look at the Woman at the Well.  She was rejected by her entire town because she was “unacceptable socially.”  And yet when this woman met the Messiah – all of the anger in her heart melted and as soon as she understood who she was talking to, she ran to her enemies to bring them the good news.  It was BECAUSE of her rejection that she led her entire town to the Lord.

In the Kingdom of God, rejection… if handled correctly… is a gift.

“You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.”  Matthew 10:22

 “Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.  Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven.  For that is how their fathers treated the prophets.”  Luke 6:22-23

We really do need to rejoice when we face trials.  Because when our faith is tested and we persevere through it – we are being shaped into the image of Christ.  The perfect One who was rejected by His very own creation, persevered to bring the very ones who rejected Him eternal life.

Forgive those who have rejected you.  Recognize that neither the praise nor the rejection of men has anything to do with fulfilling your destiny on earth.  Live for the praise of your Heavenly Father.

Forgive.  Learn.  Love.  Persevere.  Mature.  <--------------  This is why rejection is a gift – It actually prepares us for our destiny!

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

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!

Benevolent Patriarchy – is still Patriarchy

I have been around the block in the Church concerning the role of women. In my lifetime, I have experienced churches that have wide differences in how they see women fitting into the Kingdom of God.

Some churches believe women should adhere strictly to all of the cultural laws spelled out for women in the New Testament. Head coverings, not speaking in church, only allowed to teach children, no seats on any leadership team. Their husbands are the “head” of the home which is interpreted to mean “boss.” Men have the final say on everything, in the church and in the home.

Some churches believe in the fullness of women’s rights inside the Kingdom. “No male or female in Christ” is interpreted to mean that a woman can take on any duty in the church from janitor to pastor. The term “One Flesh” is taught to mean that a wife is equal to a husband and that they mutually submit to one another.

Most of the churches I have attended fall somewhere in between those two parameters. The middle of the road churches try to straddle the fence on the woman question. Can a woman be an elder or a pastor in the New Testament?

If you have followed my ministry for any length of time you already know where I stand on this issue.

I do not believe in Patriarchy or Feminism in the Church. (click here for more)

Scripture says we are all created equal and also were given equal authority in the Garden of Eden. When Christ died on the cross, he rolled back the curse all the way to the Garden of Eden and Men and Women should now rule over the earth together in the same way Adam and Eve did.

I know that the Church struggles with scripture when it comes to male headship. They feel that if they allow women to be elders or pastors that they are not adhering to scripture. Elders being the “husband of but one wife” is taken literally. Therefore, no women can be elders or pastors because Paul’s verse in 1 Timothy 3:2 was directed to the male gender. They also interpret the verse in 1 Corinthians 14:34 without any cultural background, therefore they believe Paul was saying that women should remain silent in church this meant that they cannot preach.

Except if we look more closely at New Testament scripture we find that Junia was an apostle. (Romans 16:7) Priscilla taught men and was in charge of a church alongside her husband. (Acts 18:23) (1 Corinthians 16:19) And Mary Magdalene was the first preacher of the gospel message. (John 20:17)

The Old Testament has plenty of examples of women in leadership Deborah, Huldah, Miriam, Ruth, and Esther.

God needs women. We are one-half of His image. He is going to pour out His spirit on us and we are going to prophesy and dream and see visions and do miracles and do spiritual warfare and LEAD!

Women are going to LEAD in this end time harvest. It doesn’t matter what the leadership of churches decide to do or not to do with their elder boards. Women are going to lead whether or not they have permission from men… because we have permission from God. If you don’t let us lead inside the Church then we’ll lead from outside of the Church.

Some men pat themselves on the back and say – “Well at least we let women on the stage, or at least we let women be in charge of the youth, or at least we let women be Trustees or Deacons, or at least we let women give a word on Sundays – We’re not as mean as other Patriarchal churches.”

What they are really saying is "at least we’re benevolent."

They say – “We may not allow women to sit at the elder table or preach but at least we’re nice about it.”

This my friends is still Patriarchy. When women are not given their full rights that Jesus paid for on the Cross because men believe they are still the “boss” of women – this is Patriarchy, no matter how nice you are about it.

Women have been set free from being second-class citizens in the Church. Jesus did it. His blood is enough. It’s time to get off the fence and allow women to have full liberty in God’s Kingdom.

*******

A new wave of revival is coming. But God is going to have women sitting at the leadership table this time.

And if you don’t let women have a seat at the table – then God will bring revival through them and you’ll have to get to go through a woman to get to the River!

Benevolent Patriarchy is still Patriarchy.

Feminism Off the Rails: Reclaiming the Fight for Equality for Women

I remember in my third grade Sunday School class meeting a new little girl who was a guest.  During the class our Sunday School teacher asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up.  The little girl said, “I want to be the President of the United States.”  My first thought was,

that’s stupid, girls can’t be President.

But as her words haunted me I remember my thought pattern shifting,

why couldn’t a girl be President?

It’s amazing that women in the US have only had the right to vote for 100 years.  As I have researched the waves of feminism that have swept across our country since its inception, I have been inspired by Christian women in our history who have stood up and demanded equality with the opposite gender.

Women have achieved so much in the past 100 years.  We are equal when it comes to the government recognizing our rights.  We are not so equal in other areas as Patriarchy still has its clutches in  some churches and in the hearts and minds of some men in the marketplace.  (I have experienced both of these personally.)   We are still making progress and I expect that by the time the good Lord takes me home that Equality for Women in our nation will be fully realized.

The goal of feminism used to be to strive to be equal to men.  The goal was to have a say in the world we lived in. The goal was never to be the “Masters” of men or to have abortion on demand.  It was to be valued as equal people having equal say and equal pay.

The new Feminists seem to be purporting the idea that they cannot feel truly free unless they are the ones who are ruling over men.  The pendulum swings both ways – both Patriarchy and Feminism are now in a ditch.  And both of these ditches are in error.  Feminism was supposed to be about claiming equality for women… but it has turned into a hate spewing, lawless, prideful, female "b*tch fest."

Listen, it was definitely true that women were held back by the decisions of men who chose to hold the reins in the beginning of this nation.  There are still pockets of men ruling over women in our society.  There are still pockets of men who overly objectify women and think that women are for their sexual pleasure.  Each of these pockets is in need of warriors who will fight the inequality.   

But today’s feminists have gone completely off the rails by not recognizing their own fault in some of the areas that they still lack equality.  You cannot glorify some of the things that Hollywood puts out and then whine because you are being objectified.  If we are truly going to be equal then we are going to have to stop being victims.  We already know of an “equality model” that works.

Martin Luther King Jr. showed us how to fight effectively for change.  First and foremost we must believe that our rights come from God.  And we believe that He wants women to be fully restored to the rights we had in the Garden of Eden.  We are equal to but not “over” a man. 

As we look at MLK’s example, we need to practice civil disobedience when necessary – but we do not use violence.  We let justice do its work.  We point out inconsistencies where women are not being treated fairly, but we do not become offended and lose our cool.  We don’t get off message.  We don’t let someone into power who uses the position for their own gain.  (Unfortunately, after MLK died, people who used their position for dishonest gain railroaded the fight for equality for African Americans.  Now racism is a business and corruption and greed keeps the fires alive.)

Women still have some ground to gain in this fight for equality but the word “feminism” is too tainted for us to use anymore.  We must return to the original intent and fight for Suffrage on all fronts.  We must fight for Suffrage (the right to vote/have power) in the home, in the church, in the government, and in the marketplace.

In an ongoing conversation about our fight we must remember these things if we are going to be successful:

1. The fight for suffrage cannot be a single-minded cult.  Equality includes free speech and free thought.

2. Male strength is not bad.

3. Female strength is not bad.

4. Not all men are guilty.

5. Gender equality must also include equality for men.

Men and women can both be powerful, through mutual submission and a healthy fear of the Lord.  I invite men and women to seek the Lord for their role in seeing the powerfulness of Adam and Eve becoming One Flesh again!  The blood of Jesus paid to reverse the curse all the way back down to the first sin.  Men need women and women need men.

Let us reclaim the fight from the bitter and angry women who have taken it hostage!  Let us fight for Suffrage instead of Feminism.

(Men, we can’t do it without you.)

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.  (Galatians 3:26-29)

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 Patriarchy and the Five Fold Ministry Cannot Co-Exist

I’ve been pretty clear before about my views on Patriarchy.  You can find my previous articles

HERE

and

HERE

.

I wholeheartedly believe that women and men are equal in the church.  God did not assign gender roles to Adam and Eve.  That only occurred after the fall.  Since Christ has redeemed us from the curse – it is our right to live in the full Liberty of all that He bought for us on the cross.  This means redemption from the all of the effects of our sin in the Garden of Eden.

Recently in my articles, I have been focusing on the Five Fold Ministry and how they work and flow in today’s church.  You can find an explanation of the

Five Fold Ministry for Beginners HERE

and an explanation of how the

Five Fold Ministry flows together HERE

I now want to explain why the Five Fold Ministry and Patriarchy cannot co-exist.

Patriarchy is the basic presumption that Men Rule.  Husbands are the rulers of the home and men are the rulers in the church.   In Patriarchy, men have the final say.

However, God gave women the gifts of the Five Fold Ministry.  There are women who are gifted to be Apostles, Prophets, Pastors, Teachers, and Evangelists.  In the New Testament, Junia was a female apostle (Romans 16:7), Phillip’s daughters were prophets (Acts 21:9),  Phoebe had the gift of pastor (Romans 16:1) as did Nympha (Colossians 4:15), Priscilla taught Apollos (Acts 18:26),  the woman at the well was the first female evangelist (John 4:28-29).

The promise of the outpouring of God’s spirit is given to both men and women. 

Acts 2:17-18 In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.  Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.

And Paul states that we are all one in Christ all nations and both genders.

Galatians 3:28  There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Women who are called to be apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers and evangelists cannot also be subject to Patriarchy.  Husbands do not get to rule over the gifting of their wives.  The gifting came from God – He is the ruler over the gifting.

My husband has never desired to rule over me – he has always wanted to be partners.  I know I am blessed to have a husband who understands this.  My husband’s gifting is pastor.  He is a very good pastor.  He cares for the hearts of the sheep.  He shepherds our sons and he shepherds his friends at his workplace.  When we do ministry together, I can always count on him to give me a pastor’s perspective on where we are headed.  I am grateful for his gifting – because it is not mine.

My gifting is more apostolic and prophetic.  I have a governing and guiding gift in which I have a deep desire to hear from heaven and govern in a way that leads us toward God’s Kingdom.

If my husband and I lived in a patriarchal home – I would constantly be submitting my apostolic/prophetic gifting to a man who has a pastoral gift.  I would have to get permission to use my gifting from someone who doesn’t understand the gifts that I carry.  This would be a disaster!

It can be the same thing in a church.   If a woman has a teaching gift, but she must submit that teaching gift to a man first, it takes away her freedom to follow the Lord.  It puts a man between the Lord and the woman.  This should never happen.  The Lord is the head of woman too.  He is the head of the Church. 

Women should be free to use their gifts without having to get a man’s approval first.

I have seen women leaders in the church get an assignment from the Lord, but instead of carrying it out – they didn’t want to hurt their husband’s ego.  So they gave their assignment to their husband, who did not have the gifting to carry out the assignment.  The assignment from the Lord ended up being spiritually aborted because of Patriarchy and the fear of man.

Patriarchy and the Five Fold Ministry cannot co-exist.  Because the Five Fold Ministry must be carried out by both men and women.    To fully understand God’s plan, we must have His full image.  

Men are half of the image of God and women are the other half.  If only men are allowed to have the final say through the Five Fold Ministry – you will only get half the image of God, and it will end up in spiritual abortion.

Neither men nor women are complete without the other gender.  If we are going to fulfill the call of Ephesians 4 … if we are going to truly equip his people for works of service and build up the body, we must include men and women in the Five Fold Ministry without insisting that men have the final say. It is only then that we will all reach unity in the faith and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Guest Post: Surviving My Abusive Marriage - What I Am Most Thankful For

I'd like to introduce you to my friend Jessica Devine. She has survived one of the most horrific stories of marital abuse I have ever heard.  God reached down into her pit and pulled her and her three girls out of it.  He continues to restore them.  He continues to pour out His revelation about His goodness and His grace to her.  Enjoy some of Jessica's wisdom as she writes from the other side of the pit.

“Every choice you make has an end result.” -Zig Ziglar

I never thought I would be in a place where someone cared about what I had to say.  I’m not sure that I ever really thought I would get the chance to actually say it. But that’s the thing with God…He surprises you.  He takes you farther than you ever dreamed possible.

I was asked to write about the thing I am most thankful for after surviving an abusive marriage. What a hard thing to write about. How can I make that choice?

But that’s just it…I am most thankful for the freedom of choice.

I remember being alone on my couch thinking of ways to kill myself. I wanted to die so badly and be free of the life I was living. I thought of ways to kill my husband. I wanted a normal life.  I remember lying on the floor with my Bible, crying because I couldn’t survive another day, praying God would hear me.  He did.  He took me to Joel 2:25-27.  

“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—

the great locust and the young locust…You will have plenty to eat, until you are full,

and you will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has worked wonders for you;

never again will my people be shamed…. Then you will know that I am in Israel,  

that I am the Lord your God,

…so I chose to believe.

When I left my marriage after many years of abuse, I was terrified.  I was alone with 3 little girls to take care of, but I wasn’t in any shape to take care of myself.  I was so dependent on Him, not because He actually took care of me, but because I was convinced I couldn’t take care of myself.  My self-esteem was so low that I looked to any man to make me feel loved, which never worked. I was drowning in depression with no way out…

…so I chose Jesus

Finding out what my husband had done to my girls was the hardest thing I have ever had to hear.  

Hatred, anger, and guilt filled my entire being. I couldn’t sleep.  I cried all day long. I felt so many different emotions all at once and had no idea what to do with them.  While sitting in church one Sunday morning, I felt the Lord telling me what to do. I argued with Him as I walked down the aisle to the front of the church. I did not want to do this. My ex-husband definitely did not deserve it, but I had to obey.

…so I chose to forgive.

Every day I have to wake up and make a choice. I will not let what happened to me negatively affect my future any longer and you don’t have to either!  God’s Word is full of promises and full of hope. We just have to choose to believe what it says.  Jesus is greater than our circumstances and more powerful than any army that rises up against us. We can live in confidence knowing that God is always fighting for us. With him by our side, we will not be shaken (Psalm 16:8)! 

I could have given up when things got bad, and they were very bad, but I didn’t. I chose to fight. I chose to chase after victory with everything that I had and I’m still chasing it! Don’t believe the lie that says God has abandoned you or the lie that says you are stuck where you are (Daniel 3:17).

Before there was freedom, I had to choose to live. Before there was victory, I had to choose to fight. Before there was love, I had to choose to forgive.  Nothing was possible without first making a choice. 

Jessica Devine

is a survivor of an abusive marriage.  She wants to be a light to hurting women and men in this world. Her story is one of great pain, but also great hope. The Lord's restoring power is helping her to reclaim the years that were eaten up by abuse.  After her divorce, she is now married to Joe, a wonderful, Godly husband.  She and her husband and three girls live in New Castle, Indiana. Jessica shares her story of restoration on her blog “Restoring the Years.” 

Follow her on Facebook HERE.

Follow her blog “Restoring the Years” HERE.

Practical Steps for Processing the Pain of Hurt Feelings

The other day my friend sent a text that hurt my feelings.  It probably wouldn’t have hurt your feelings…but it hurt mine.

I had sent a text inviting her to run an errand with me to a specific specialty store that we both like to go to.  Her reply said this:  Thanks but I’ll pass this time.

These words cut my heart and I had a “feeling” of being rejected.  It was not the truth. My friend was not rejecting me – it was simply a “feeling.”

She had errands of her own to run.  She didn’t have time to go with me.  But the words she used to “pass” on my invitation brought me pain.

At this point I had three choices.

1.

I could do nothing and let the pain of my hurt feelings continue.

2.

I could confront my friend about how those words hurt my heart and to please not use them again.

3.

Or I could figure out where the root of my hurt feelings came from and completely pull up the weed in my heart.

Choice #1 - If I do nothing, I will continue in the cycle of “feeling” rejected.

Choice #2 - If I confront my friend and ask her not to use specific words that hurt my feelings – I put 

pressure on her to abide by rules and regulations that I add to our relationship in order to not feel pain anymore.  In essence,  I put up a wall and say, please abide by this boundary so I won’t feel pain.

Choice #3 - Or I can process the pain of my hurt feelings and figure out where the root of the emotional pain is coming from.  Once I figure out where the seed of rejection was planted in my heart – I can pull out the weed that is causing me pain.  And those words will never hurt me again, no matter who uses them.

Since I have learned to process my pain – I ALWAYS choose #3!

If we find out where the seed of our emotional pain is and we neutralize it with the truth and with the blood of the lamb – we take our power back and we repair the chink in our armor.

The Process

So here is how I processed my emotional pain from the text I received.

DEFINE THE PAIN

I asked the Lord to help me understand the emotion I was feeling.

Answer:  When someone uses the phrase “I’ll pass” it stirs up the “feeling” of rejection.  

I know that the feeling of rejection is a lie that says “You aren’t good enough.”  And “You don’t measure up.”

FIND WHERE WAS THE SEED PLANTED

I asked the Lord to show me where in my timeline where this seed of rejection of not feeling good enough or not measuring up was planted.

                Answer:  The Holy Spirit brought up a memory from a very tumultuous time in my life about 10 years ago when a very good friend used the phrase “I think I’ll pass” and it was like a spear to my heart.  The enemy planted a lie at that point that when people use the words “I think I’ll pass” it means I’m not good enough to be their friend.

The truth is that I wasn’t wearing my armor during that tumultuous time in my life.  My shield of faith would have deflected the spear easily.  But in the midst of that season I was so tired and weary that I was vulnerable to the lies of the enemy.

The wound that I got from my friend 10 years ago was not healed.  So I needed to go back and pull the weed out from 10 years ago and this would allow me to see the truth more easily.

HOW TO HEAL THE TRAUMATIC MEMORY (OR PULL UP THE WEED)

I forgave the first friend who “rejected” me with her words.  I asked God to forgive me for believing a lie that I wasn’t good enough.

I renounced the lie out loud:  God I renounce (or break) the lie that I am not good enough.

I asked for God’s truth.  And this is what I heard:  People declining my invitation –  should not impact my worth.  There are many reasons why people decline invitations.  Even if I really am being rejected by another person - I am basing my worth on their opinion.  If my worth is not based in who I am in Christ, then I will continue to get my feelings hurt.

PLANTING GOD’S TRUTH WHERE THE LIE HAD BEEN

In understanding the truth that my worth cannot be diminished by people “passing” on an invitation from me… I am set free.

My armor is healed with forgiveness and I am protected with the truth.  The enemy may try to use the spear to get me to feel rejected by having close friends use the words ”I’ll pass.”  But I can easily bat them down with my shield of faith because my worth only comes from my Creator!

Now I am not feeling any rejection or emotional pain.

I didn’t have to give my friend any “relationship” word rules.

My faith has increased and I am less likely to get my feelings hurt again.

PROCESS COMPLETE!

The Problem with Feminism and Patriarchy in the Church

I’ve been in some form of church leadership for most of the past 18 years.  I’ve been a witness to both patriarchy and feminism in the church.  I’ve been knocked over a few times by the pendulum that swings back and forth between them.

A patriarchy culture

is centered around men and their view point.  In short, patriarchy says, “Men have the final say.”  This culture believes that the Bible gives men and husbands the ultimate authority in the home and the church.  Their interpretation the Word is that God has made men “the boss” and if they are not “the boss” they are being disobedient to the Lord.

A feminist culture

is centered around women and their view point.  It leans towards the feminine part of God’s character and seeks to emasculate men, forcing them to be more feminine in how they relate to God and how they depict Him.  Women who have suffered oppression tend to fear powerlessness, so they seek power in order to feel safe.  When the culture is centered on the female gender, it makes these women feel safe.

The problem is that both Feminism and Patriarchy are perversions of what God intended for the relationship between male and female to be.

He intended for males and females to work together.  He did not create one more important than another.  After the fall, there was a curse of imbalanced relationship, but after Jesus died… he rolled back the curse.  ALL of it - to before the fall.

If the church is centered around one gender, and there is only one viewpoint represented at the leadership table, then we only have half the image of God.

If the church has only men at the leadership table and does not include women who are anointed by God to also lead – they only have half of the game plan.  Because there are women in the congregation with the other half.  You cannot see all of God’s vision for a church without having both male and female perspectives on what He is saying.

If a church is heavily influenced by female leadership and doesn’t allow for the wild and boisterous side of men, if churches try to tame men into being more feminine, they too, only have half of the image of God.  If they don’t allow for the warrior part of who men are to influence leadership, they are not seeing the complete picture for their church.

When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female and blessed them. And when they were created, he called them "man.”

  Genesis 5:1-2

The likeness of God has two parts.  One of them is male.  One of them is female.  One without the other is incomplete.

I have witnessed churches who were built on a Patriarchy foundation have struggles within the church, who were in need of a solution.  But they missed God’s solution because there was a woman in the congregation that had the answer to their struggle.  They either refused to listen or she simply didn’t give it to them because she knew her instructions were not welcome.

I have also witnessed worship services that lean heavily toward the feminine part of God while ignoring or even demeaning the fierce lion part of His masculine side.  I’ve seen preachers who have been emasculated from preaching with a warrior passion from the pulpit because it might offend some.

We must allow both the male and female characteristics of God to have its full expression in the church if we are going to experience the fullness of God’s glory.

We need both fathers and mothers in the church.  One is not more important than the other.  They are both necessary and they should both have equal influence. 

Jesus was neither a feminist nor a proponent of patriarchy.  Jesus was a suffragist.  He took the cultural restraints off of women during His ministry on earth and gave them the right to vote in His kingdom.  Jesus gave women the right to have influence in His church.  When the veil was torn as he died on the cross, it opened the Holy of Holies to both men and women.  We now have equal access to God through the blood of Jesus.

Not a Patriarch:  Jesus Trusted Women With His Message

The first person to have witnessed the resurrection and understand the gospel of Christ was Mary Magdalene.  Jesus told her to “Go and tell my brothers” this new revelation she just received. (John 20)

But the brothers wouldn’t listen to her.  She had a true revelation from God but they refused the female message of the resurrection. 

“He  [Jesus] rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.”

 Mark 16:14.

Jesus meant for his own disciples to LISTEN to a female about her revelation.

Not a Feminist:  Paul Corrected the Women of Corinth

The Corinthian church lived in a feminist culture.  The goddess Diana was worshiped in their pagan community.   The female persuasion had more influence than it should have in the kingdom.

Paul corrected the heavily female influenced church in 1 Corinthians 14:34.  He brought correction to the women for disrupting worship and for talking when they should have been listening.  The women needed to be rebuked and brought into a unity with the men instead of bringing distraction. 

(I would argue that Paul did not mean that all women should be silent in church and only speak to their husbands – this would contradict the message that Jesus gave to Mary Magdalene and also it would mean that the rest of 1 Corinthians 12 and 14 would only apply to men.)

No Male or Female in Christ

If we are truly going to rise up and be a unified Church, we must come to the understanding that men are not the masters of women and women are not the masters of men.

We are equally the image of God.  And we are equally necessary for the Body of Christ to function.

God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.  If they were all one part,

(or one gender)

where would the body be?  As it is, there are many parts, but one body… God has combined the members of the body… so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.  1 Corinthians 12:18-25

(emphasis mine)

If each person is in the right place in the Body of Christ – there is no reason to be jealous of anyone else.  There is no reason to try to be the master of another.   Men should not feel emasculated by a woman in leadership and women should not feel that the culture must be focused on them in order to have worth.

Our identity must come from Christ.  Together we are His image.

Jesus was neither a feminist nor a patriarch.  He called for mutual submission of the genders.  The church will be all that it was called to be once we have the full image of God represented in His house.

This is my prayer,

Lord in these last days pour out Your spirit on both men and women and arrange us to form the Body You need for us to be.  Lord please make us one.

For more on the difference between a feminist and suffragist click HERE.

Exposing Spiritual Rape in the Church

It really breaks my heart to write this article on Spiritual Abuse and Spiritual Rape in the Church. It is such an ugly subject and reflects so poorly on Christ that I really wish I could escape writing it.

But there are so many people who have experienced abuse at the hands of unaccountable rulers in the church that we must deal with it in the open.  The spirit of control must be broken from over God’s church.  The Bride of Christ must become spot free and wrinkle free in order to prepare for the Jesus’s return.

The only way to overcome the authoritarian type of church rulership is to shine a light on the deeds done in darkness.  I dare to broach this subject because of my love for God’s people and a deep desire to see both sheep and shepherd set free from a false hierarchy in the Body of Christ.

(As a side note: I have counseled women who have experienced the horrors of physical rape.  I want you to know if you have experienced this despicable evil –  I in no way want to offend you by using the word rape in this manner.  I use it to express a secondary definition of the word rape -  “an act of plunder, violent seizure, or abuse”)

Let me start with this premise:  The word of God says to seek FIRST the Kingdom of God. (Matt 6:33)  It does not say seek church leadership first.   God’s will must always come FIRST in our lives.  Church leadership doesn’t get to tell us what our calling is.  They are not our creators or our masters.  

In all things we seek Christ FIRST… and after that we submit to Church Leadership.  But God’s direction in our lives is ALWAYS higher than that of Church Leadership.

Spiritual Rape happens in the church when controlling leadership decides they have the right to put themselves in a position as our Holy Spirit, which turns the “seek first” commandment upside down.

Shepherds are meant to help guide us but never meant to be our “Masters.”  There is only One Shepherd and One Judge who has the right to sit on the throne of our lives. 

In the cases of spiritual abuse and spiritual rape I have witnessed, I believe all of the leaders who are guilty of abuses started out well and had pure hearts upon entering ministry.  But they stumbled into control.

Galatians 5:7

You were running [the race] well; who has interfered and prevented you from obeying the truth?

Somewhere along the way – checks and balances were never put in place – and their absolute power corrupted them.  The enemy was able to use their weaknesses to turn Davids into Sauls.

Pastors and Church leaders are mere humans.  They should never be elevated above the rest of the congregation.  Spiritual abuse begins when leadership takes the throne as “Master” over the sheep instead of servant.

I humbly write these words as I know that some of the circumstances I expose today were committed by very well meaning men and women.  The enemy has simply taken them captive to do his will.  We are ALL susceptible to the devil who prowls around looking for a person to devour.  As Rick Joyner says, “Anyone can fall from any level on the mountain of maturity.”

So I approach this subject with great humility – understanding that we all (me included) are capable of slipping into a spirit of control if we do not have the proper accountability.

Spiritual Abuse

is when leaders in a church operate out of a spirit of control.  They mistreat and manipulate the membership through a false belief system in which the pastor is the sole authority.  This belief system that the pastors should have unquestioned authority is put on a pedestal for the church to worship – thereby usurping God’s authority and becoming an idol.

The people in the church are programmed to worship the belief system instead of God. 

These belief systems are heavily rooted in control and micro managing.  There is great attention given to keeping the sheep in line and properly worshiping the system.  They are shamed and rebuked publicly if needed.  There are leadership lieutenants who are in charge of keeping everyone in line.  

The rebuking may not come directly from the head leadership – it can also come from those who have pledged their loyalty to the “head” and from those who see it as their job to protect “God’s anointed.”

Passive aggressive bullying is the way these churches keep their flocks in line.  If you comply you are rewarded with flattery but if you are not compliant you are punished by being “marked and avoided.”  In cases like this if a person brings an issue to discuss with leadership, the issue gets twisted and they find a way to turn it around and make it about you.  Therefore you leave feeling worse than when you came in.

If you completely leave one of these groups (even if you leave gracefully) you are labeled “divisive” or in “rebellion.”

All of these things are spiritual abuse.  God gave free will to man.  Jesus did not label anyone who left His ministry.  Jesus did not demand people’s loyalty.  Jesus allowed His disciples to question Him.  They were free to leave at any moment and He received them freely when they came back.  Jesus always gave people a choice.  He never violated people’s free will.  Jesus also confronted authoritarian Pharisees in public.  He wasn’t being “rebellious” – he was addressing the sin of the elite Pharisees who saw themselves as the “Master” of the people.

Spiritual Rape 

is committed by someone you’ve been emotionally vulnerable with and they use the opportunity to strip a person down to their very core and leave them powerless.  Spiritual Rape happens when leadership strips you of your identity and manipulates your giftings for their purposes. 

It is easier for me to explain spiritual rape by sharing some examples that I have seen through my 17 years of ministry.

Rape by Sabotage

A man was hired as an assistant pastor and when the senior pastorate became vacant the head elder of the church sabotaged the assistant again and again.  He didn’t want this assistant to become the senior pastor.  He wrote the assistant pastor a demeaning letter telling him he was unfit for the job.  The elder threatened to have him kicked out of his rental home if he caused any waves.  When the assistant pastor tried to be reconciled with this elder, the elder took the opportunity of vulnerability and told the assistant no one liked his preaching and that he was a broken and wounded man.   The elder told lies to the entire congregation turning them against this assistant pastor.  The other elders ended up joining in the chorus and this man was forced to resign.  The elders raped this man of his calling, his livelihood and his home because he wasn’t the “packaging” they wanted for a senior pastor.

Gang Rape

At a separate church an assistant pastor was seeing great discrepancies between the words and actions of a fellow pastor and asked the Senior Pastor if she could have a meeting attempting to bring accountability and reconciliation.  During the meeting instead of the Senior Pastor being neutral, he took the side of the pastor who was being doubleminded and they ganged up on her and told her it was because she had issues and wounds.  They said over and over – we are in charge here and you are nothing.  Since you have “baggage” and wounds you have nothing to say.

No Accountability

At still another church, the pastors have been continually questioned about why there is no elder board in place.  Why is it just the pastors in charge of everything and no accountability? Their answer is always “…because we are in charge and we don’t believe we need elders.”  Or they twist the Scriptures to make it seem they are in compliance with a biblical structure when really they are not. They wrongly assume they only need counsel from a few members – not the accountability of an elder board.

Financial Rape

A pastor knew he was going to be leaving a particular church and systematically brought all of the financially wealthy people into his office.  He told them his side of the story about why he was going to have to leave the church and how terrible the elders were.  Then he asked them to give to him financial support on a monthly basis.  Thus, he financially raped the church and the sheep.

Spiritual Rape in Pastoral Counseling

A pastor would counsel women alone in his office and ask very intimate questions about their sex life with their husbands.  The women felt trapped because he was the pastor and he posed the question in a way that didn’t give them a choice but to answer.  Once he asked the question and the women answered, he would give sex advice to the women without their husbands present.  When the pastor’s actions were finally exposed there was a veil removed from the mind of the women and they realized that they had to confess to their husbands what the pastor had been asking them.

Professional Rape

A Christian businessman was extremely authoritarian about the way he ran his business.  He would belittle his employees in front of each other.  He would constantly tell them they were not good enough.  Though there was a board, this man did not allow the board to hold him accountable.  He demanded long hours from his employees and held it over their heads that he was a Christian and they should submit without question.  This is a “rape” of a person’s profession and more of a slavery than a job.

These kind of abuses are not sanctioned by God.  God does not demand that we submit in order to show our worthiness.  The Kingdom of God is one of voluntary submission not forced submission. 

The prophet Ezekiel called out such pastors in Ezekiel 34:4

"'The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them'"

The following traits are common in spiritually abusive churches:

  1. “We are the leadership and we are in charge.” 
  2. “You are nothing. Who do you think you are to ask us those questions?” 
  3. Even if there was lying and deceit, the answer is “We are in charge.” 
  4. “You have baggage and wounds – so you have nothing to say.” 
  5. They do not fight fair. 
  6. They use shaming and sarcasm to win conversations. 
  7. They confuse uniformity with unity. 
  8. They shower newcomers with time and attention, then makes heavy demands when they become followers. 
  9. They seek to disempower other leaders. 
  10. They constantly declare how spiritual/godly/humble/wise they are. 
  11. They insist on submission. 
  12. If you question them they say you have an issue with authority. 
  13. They label those who do not comply with demands as rebellious and controlling. 
  14. They have double standards for those who are in the inner circle and those who are not. 
  15. They use spiritual elitism by using an “us-and-them” mentality. 
  16. The leader surrounds themselves with “people pleasers.” 
  17. The Church is set up like a pyramid, or hierarchy – with a single man/woman at the top. 
  18. Anyone who asks questions about practices or teachings is considered “divisive.” 
  19. When problems are brought before leadership – YOU become targeted as the problem – instead of addressing the real issue. 
  20. Leaders are very good at shifting blame instead of listening to valid concerns. 
  21. Leaders insist that their interpretation of scriptures is higher than yours. 
  22. Leaders insist that they hear from God for the entire congregation. They teach that only the shepherds can hear from God for the Church. 
  23. There is no transparency in church meetings. There are never any congregational meetings where opinions can be freely expressed. 
  24. Leaders employ “public shaming” of individuals and/or families in order to control the people. 
  25. Leaders use counseling sessions to manipulate and program people to be spiritual drones with no personality or individual thoughts. 
  26. Leaders use information from counseling sessions to dishonor and discredit people they deem to be challenging their authority. 
  27. Leaders command, force, coerce, extort and manipulate financial giving from their people. 
  28. Leaders or ministry helpers lie to you or try to cover up the lies of others leaders. 
  29. You are told by your leader(s) that no financial board or elder board is needed.

So listen – I know I have hit this subject pretty hard with a pretty sharp sword but I want to express to you the importance of no matter how bad things are in a church we should never be bitter or unforgiving. When I have been involved in churches were there is spiritual abuse, I have always tried to love them deeply. Even when that love was not returned, it was incredibly important to bless the abusive church. Forgive them for any offense. Remember but for the grace of God, you might be in their shoes. We are all susceptible to the wiles of the devil.

Keep this at the forefront of your mind… if I was in their shoes and I was the one deceived, how would I want to be treated?

Ask God to put His love in your heart for them, ask God for His grace to see them through His eyes. Remember that spiritual abusers were probably victims of abuse earlier in their lives.

As you seek the Lord for His will, some of you might be asked to confront leadership in love one last time. Others of you will be asked to quietly withdraw from the church. Still others will be asked to stay and be a Christ-like mediator in order to bring God’s truth to the situation. If God calls you to stay, He will protect you. Just like David remained in King Saul’s house while Saul was abusive, David remained safe because God put a hedge around him. But you’ll have to remember this: God gives His people free will. No man should be your “Master.”

The lie from the enemy is that your pastor belongs on a pedestal, this is the furthest thing from the truth. Your pastor deserves honor but he doesn’t deserve to be on the throne of your life.

When you get to heaven your pastor will not be standing before the judgment throne with you. It will be you and you alone that will answer for your life. If you have allowed your pastor to rule over you and be your Master instead of Jesus, you will be confronted with idolatry at the judgment throne.

Again, the word says “Seek first the Kingdom of God and all of these things will be added unto you.” It does not say “Seek your pastor first…” Your loyalties should lie with God, not man.

If you find yourself in a toxic church and want to begin to recover this is an excellent article to help you start the process…

http://www.readingremy.com/how-to-recover-from-spiritual-abuse/

Here are some additional resources on spiritual abuse in the Church.

http://www.marydemuth.com/spiritual-abuse-10-ways-to-spot-it/

http://www1.cbn.com/biblestudy/beware-of-%26quot%3Bspiritual-abuse%26quot%3B

My Journey Out of Bondage to Male Headship

(It is impossible to fully share one's heart in a 1200 word blogpost.  To get a clear understanding of my take on church leadership and the role of women in it  - read THIS article on Patriarchy in the Church first by clicking HERE.)

My husband and I both grew up in “Patriarchal” homes.  Our fathers were the “head” of the home in the sense that they believed it their job to be the “boss” of the home.  My husband Tom will write about his own journey out of the Patriarch Matrix (the false belief system where men are required to rule over their homes) in the coming weeks.

Today I will share with you my journey out of the Prison of Male Headship.

I always loved music.  I grew up taking band and choir every single year in school.  I majored in music education and enjoyed teaching general music and choir at a K-12 school in rural Indiana after college. 

After my first son was born, I knew it was time to walk away from teaching.  At the time, I thought God was calling me to be home with my infant son, but in hindsight that was not His plan.

I began leading worship once a month at the American Baptist Church I belonged to.  I simply fell in love with leading worship.  It was the 90s and we were just transitioning out of the “all hymn” mode.  There was new life in church worship as new songs were being released all the time.

My worship leading turned into an internship and I was soon hired as the Director of Worship at my church.  So now, four months after I leave teaching, I find myself in church leadership.  I was 26 years old.

Looking back, I understand now that the Lord wanted me to begin to learn about church leadership in all of its beauty and warts.  I had zeal back then but not real knowledge.  My naiveté was actually a blessing as I made mistakes that were purely out of innocence in not knowing the “rules of male headship” in church leadership.

My father had a glass ceiling for women.  There were rules and regulations we were “programmed” with growing up.  We were taught that “head of the house” meant we were at his beck and call.  He was the boss and had the final say - there were no arguments.  We were women.  We were beneath men and we were reminded of our place.  We were to learn to serve our husbands, this was what we were created for.

I thought to myself –

well it’s just because of how my dad grew up.  He’s just not wise to the modern age of women.  Surely the church would embrace me and allow me to be free to climb to my purpose.

How wrong I was!  My immaturity about the glass ceilings for women in the church was about to be remedied.

In my late 20s, I pursued God with everything that was in me.  I prayed. I worshiped. I fasted. I read the word.  Pretty soon, I was getting downloads of revelation from God.  God would give me scripture verses to give to other people.  (This is the Baptist way of prophesying.

J

)

My husband did not hit his spiritual growth spurt until his 30s.  I remember pondering in my heart that I should put my spiritual growth on hold until my husband caught up because I didn’t want to be out from under his “covering.”  The Holy Spirit spoke to me in such a strong way that made me fear the Lord, He said, “Tisha you cannot wait for your husband.  You must grow now to receive all that I have for you.  I will bring him along in time.  But do not stop growing in Me!”

I felt these words of conviction so strongly that I set aside my desire to be one with my husband in order to be one with God.  I had several other promises from God that my husband and I would be equally yoked one day but I could not wait for him in the meantime.  And of course – we are now more equally yoked than ever and

I am really enjoying our One Flesh relationship.  (Read more about that HERE.)

Well – let me tell you – the church was not at all happy that I was more spiritually mature than my husband.  It was just crazy the things people would say to me!  I believed some of these lies for awhile, but as God kept calling me higher, there came a point that I could no longer abide by the rules of men and still grow with God.  So I chose to go with God and I scorned the shame that was being thrown at me.

“Do you have your husband’s permission?”

  (am I a child?)

“You must let your husband spiritually lead you.”

(but he can’t at this stage)

“As a Godly woman, you should desire to be at home with your children

.” (but I am called by God to lead outside the home)

“Tisha, you need to submit your personality to your husband.”

  (So I am to lay down who God created me to be so my husband can have the perceived limelight?)

All of these lies come from the distorted view that the “headship of men” makes them the boss of women.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.  God did not create one gender to be the master of another.  (side note: neither should women be the “masters” of men.)

As I reached the end of my 20s, God kept calling me higher than men would allow me to go.  There were a few times I told God He was being “unbiblical” about what He was calling me to do.  But He kept bringing more and more scripture to light that completely debunked the “accepted interpretation” of the male headship scriptures.

He reminded me that Ephesians 5:21 came before Ephesians 5:22.  “Submit to one another out of the fear of the Lord” (v21) came before “wives submit to your husbands” (vs22)  But whenever male leaders would quote this passage they would start with verse 22 and skip verse 21.

He showed me that the Proverbs 31 woman did not ask for permission from her husband to buy and sell land.  He showed me that Mary Magdalene was the first preacher of the gospel in John 20.  She had a revelation of Jesus that his own disciples did not yet have and she was TOLD by Jesus to go and tell them the revelation. 

The phrase One Flesh is used in the Bible 8 different times when describing marriage.   This is what my husband and I have pursued… a One Flesh relationship.  The Holy Spirit has said to my husband that his job in fulfilling “headship” over the home is to be the “overseer” not the “boss.”  This brings great freedom to me as I pursue my calling in the Lord.

However, when it comes to the church leadership, male headship is defined as “boss.”

I had a vision one day of climbing a ladder and continuously hitting glass ceilings. There was a ladder far across the room that had a lower glass ceiling than the one I was climbing.  I instinctively knew that the ladder across the room was my earthly father’s ladder and the ceiling was low for women. The ladder I was on was the ladder of my spiritual fathers.  The ceiling was a little higher than that of my dad’s.   I was stuck because the Lord kept calling me higher but there was a big chunk of ice on my ladder that kept me from climbing any further.

I beat on the ice with my fist and said, “God I hear you calling but I cannot climb any higher!”

I then saw a ladder being laid next to the one I was on.  All I had to do was step over to the new ladder.

I heard the Holy Spirit say these words.  “The answer to the glass ceiling is … get a new ladder!”

There were no glass ceilings at all on this ladder – I knew it was the ladder of the Lord.  I did not have to submit any longer to the rules and regulations that “male headship” said I must follow.

I am free to climb at the Lord’s command.  Every time I hit a glass ceiling I realize I am not on the right ladder and I do not complain.  I do not whine.  I know I am not powerless.  I simply get on God’s ladder and keep climbing.

As a woman I know stuff.  I know stuff about the Kingdom that no one else does.  Because, just like everyone else, I have a slice of God that no one else has. I have a message from the Lord for both men and women.  They are free to listen or not.  I will not be judged by how many hearers I have.  I will be judged according to whether or not I completed my assignment.

Male headship is biblical.  Man’s interpretation of male headship is a prison for women.