The Only Way Forward In America Is Through Forgiveness

When we forgive others, God forgives us.

Though I did not personally commit these sins – I can ask for forgiveness for my forefathers to the people groups who they did hurt. In return, I can promise you that if you will forgive our sins against you – God will also forgive your sins and He will heal our land!

To the American Indian – I ask forgiveness on behalf of my fathers who slaughtered your people because of their blindness and their wicked greed. I pray that God will bring supernatural justice and bless your people with extraordinary favor and life. I honor you as the first nation of this land. Will you receive the blessing that comes from forgiving your (former) enemies?

To the African American – I ask your forgiveness on behalf of my fathers who enslaved you, beat you, and murdered you. I ask you to remember my fathers who gave their lives on the battlefield in the civil war to set you free. I ask you to forgive us for still not having a fair justice system or education system for your tribe. I cry out to God that He would raise up a deliverer to finish the job of MLKJr. I see you. I have not closed my eyes to the work that still needs to be done until we are equals! Will you receive the blessing that comes from forgiving your (former) enemies?

To the other nations who have been oppressed in America – the Irish, the Japanese, the Chinese, the Jews, Hispanics, and more – you helped to build our nation, and we rejected you and devalued your contributions. I am so sorry that my fathers did not see you as equal. I want you to know that you are equal in every way, we have the same Creator. I honor each of your heritages for laying the foundation in the United States of America. I ask for God to restore any inheritance both natural and spiritual that was stolen from you by my fathers. May His hand of mercy bring you justice. Will you receive the blessing that comes from forgiving your (former) enemies?

To the women who helped to build a nation but never received credit, to the women who remain under the glass ceiling… I am sorry that my fathers saw you as second-class citizens. They were wrong to not give you representation from the start. They were wrong to see you as property. They were wrong to put a lid on your rights. I know there are still strides to make until we see equality in every area – but I cry out for you to receive accelerated justice from God! I cry out for equality for God’s daughters! Will you receive the blessing that comes from forgiving your enemies?

To the righteous men who are innocent and yet have been blamed for our society’s problems – I am deeply sorry. It was not your fault. We know that it is the enemy of this nation – the devil who is dividing us and tempting us to accuse each other falsely. If you are angry at being falsely accused of being a racist, a bigot, a misogynist, and so on – I want you to know that it is the Father who sees your heart and knows your motives. Please don’t let the devil harden your heart. I ask God to defend the righteous men in our nation. We want to be unified with you – don’t pull away. Will you receive the blessing that comes from forgiving your accusers?

To the Baby Boomers, I’m sorry we have devalued your opinion and not listened to your wisdom. Please forgive us?

To Generation X, I’m sorry that abortion took 31% of your generation, and then we abandoned the rest of you. Please forgive us?

To the Millennials, I’m sorry we have stereotyped you and made fun of you. Please forgive us?

To Generation Z, I’m incredibly sorry for the example we are being to you right now. Please forgive us?

I know that our nation cannot be fixed with a social media post – but it CAN be fixed with forgiveness. Will you consider doing your part to ask forgiveness from others and offer forgiveness to those who have hurt you?

God is a God of justice. But He gives us justice according to His kingdom, not ours.

Remember how much He has forgiven your debts – then please hear my request to forgive the debts of my forefathers.

There is hope. American can be saved. Let the dead be raised through forgiveness.

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. Matt 6:14

www.TishaSledd.com

The Root of Racism Is the Sin of Mastery

Jesus told us in the last days that nation will rise against nation. (Mt.24:7, Mk 13:8, Lk 21:10)  In the original Greek the actual terminology is “ethnos” will rise against “ethnos”… or race will rise against race.

We are seeing this play out before us in our news.  Unfair and biased police brutality by a few leading to vengeance against white cops by a few.  Most of our country is shocked by the images of violence that we have seen as of late.

But history is full of such images.  One race rising up against race.  Brother rising up against brother.

It began when Cain picked up a rock and threw it at his brother Abel’s head.  It began when Cain considered himself better than Abel and instead of mastering his own sin, he decided to be the Master over his brother.

Cain was full of pride.  He was jealous that the Lord did not receive his offering but DID receive his brother Abel’s offering.  He fell into depression and was pouting when the Lord corrected him with these words: "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast?  If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it." (Gen. 4:6-7)

Cain did not humble himself.  Instead he lured his brother out into the field and he threw a rock at his head and killed him.  He believed the lie that he was better than his brother and took advantage of him.

Sounds just like racism doesn’t it.  One human being thinking they are better than another.

When human beings become prideful like Cain was and believe that they have more worth than their fellow human beings, they put themselves on a throne and and crown themselves as the Master.  This directly contradicts the nature of Christ:

Have the same mindset as Christ Jesus. Who, being in very nature God,  did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;  rather,

he made himself nothing

by taking the very nature of a servant…he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!  (Phil 2:6-8)

I was praying one day and asking the Lord about where the root of slavery began in our nation. I wanted to plead the blood of Jesus over that root and war over it to see racism began to be healed…but the Holy Spirit surprised me by showing me that the root of slavery was called “Mastery.”

Mastery – when one person takes the place of Master or King over another. 

Every single war that has ever been fought has begun because one person or group thought they were better than another person or group.

Racism, misogyny, slavery, extreme feminism – all of these began because of the sin of Mastery.

As believers we must begin the process to healing the divide in our nation by humbling ourselves and acknowledging that we are not better than our fellow man.

Whites are not better than blacks.

Blacks are not better than whites.

Men are not better than women.

Women are not better than men.

Democrats are not better than Republicans.

Republicans are not better than Democrats.

The Haves are not better than the Have-Nots

The Have-Nots are not better than the Haves.

Police are not better than the citizens they protect.

The public citizens are not better than police.

Let the Holy Spirit bring to mind someone who you think is the most undesirable person in your community.  You are not better than this person.  You are equal in the sight of God.  The same blood was shed for you on the cross.

Anyone you think you are better than… you have put yourself on a pedestal above them.

Even someone who has sinned the worst sin you can think of:  Pedophiles, rapists, murderers, drunkards, prostitutes, drug addicts and so on and so forth… you are not better than they are.

Your “little” sins require the same blood to pay for it.

Paul talks about stepping down off of his “Mastery” throne becoming a servant to gain Christ in Philippians 3:5-9:

If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.

…But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.

Elitism is a form of pride.  It is this pride that lies to us and says it is OK to call ourselves better than our brother.  If we continue down this path of pride without forgiveness and humility we will find ourselves in another civil war.

The answer to our deep divide in the nation is not to prove which person(s) have committed the most sins against each other…  This leads to an ongoing pendulum of Victim and Bully.

The answer is to acknowledge that we have all committed the sin of Mastery at some point in our lives.  The answer is to humble ourselves before the Lord and acknowledge our complete dependence upon God.  Apart from Him we are but dust.

I urge you today to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any sin of Mastery that you may have in your heart.  Do you think that you are better than your brother?  Do you think your race is better than another’s race?  Do you think that your sins aren’t as bad as another person’s sins?

Remember that we do not have a righteousness of our own by observing the “law” but our righteousness comes from God and is by faith.

STEPS TO WHOLENESS:

Lord we humble ourselves before You and ask You to begin to heal the divide in our nation.  Begin with me by revealing any sin I may have in my heart.  I want to master my sin not my brothers!

(I have written a book that goes more in depth about the sin of Mastery.  It is called The Battle for Peace: Who Is Your Master?  You can read a sample on Amazon by clicking this link.)

Five Signs Your Church Might Actually Be a Cult

Five Signs Your Church Might Actually Be a Cult

A church becomes a cult when people allow a human being and/or a specific teaching to be put on a pedestal.  The sheep begin to follow the person or doctrine instead of Jesus. 

Seek FIRST the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.  Matthew 6:33

As churches begin to seek after a pastor or leader to get their direction – the slide into worshiping a system or a person takes over.  As believers we are warned not follow men.  We are to follow Christ. (1 Cor. 3:3-9)

A church that has become a cult perverts the gospel of Christ and uses it to manipulate others to demand unholy devotion to a person, a principle, or both.

Most of these cults started out well.  They had right motives but somewhere along the way they refused correction or rebuke from the Lord and began to build a kingdom for themselves instead of a kingdom for God.

You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? Galatians 5:7

Here are some warning signs that a church might actually be a cult:

1. There is no accountability for leadership.

This happens when leaders only allow those they know agree with them into leadership positions.

It is biblical for a church to have elders in place.

But they need to be mature elders – not puppets of the pastors.

The elders are the buffer between the shepherd and the sheep.

  In fact elders are the basis for the New Testament church and as Paul planted churches he appointed elders (plural) in every church (Acts 14:23). 

If your church leaders refuse to allow a mature elder board to be put into place – your church might be a cult.

2. The pastor/leader is ALWAYS right.

There is no tolerance for questions or critical inquiry.  If you disagree with church leadership then you are told it is your issue because you have to learn to submit to imperfect authority.  Whenever you bring a legitimate, biblical issue to leadership, they find a way to turn it around on you and point out that you are wounded and therefore have no right to question them.  Whenever they are questioned they make you feel bad for “persecuting” them.  There is a fear of approaching leadership with correction because you may be ostracized from the group.  Friends – even Jesus allowed His disciples to question Him.  If you “fear” your leaders – your church might be a cult.

3. Everyone is stripped of their own identity in order to serve the vision of the church.

I know of a congregation that quotes the church’s mission statement every Sunday out loud in service.  Not scripture… their mission statement.  This is a form of brainwashing disguised as “vision casting.”  This same church warns its members about a “spirit of individualism” and asks its people “What are you doing to serve the church’s mission statement?” 

If your church talks more about its mission statement than about how you can fulfill your own purpose – your church might be a cult.

4. Authoritarian leaders insist that if God has called you to the church you are required to blindly follow the church fathers/mothers.

I have heard church leaders berate their sheep and insist that the sheep serve the shepherds in order to prove their allegiance.  This is upside down to say that the sheep are called to serve the shepherds, the opposite is true.  Shepherds are called to watch over the flock but not lord their position over the sheep. (1 Peter 5:2-3)

J

esus did not come to be served, He came to be a servant.  When church leaders tell you that you are not being obedient and insist that you submit without question to their leadership and their vision because God place THEM in charge – they have become wolves.

Jesus NEVER insisted anyone follow Him.  He invited.  It was always voluntary submission.  He even opened the door at one point for His disciples to leave if they wanted to.  (John 6:67) Jesus came to serve – not be served.  If your leaders are focused on building their church more than the Kingdom of God – your church might be a cult.

5. Economic, sexual, and other exploitation of the sheep by leaders.

If your leaders put undue pressure on you to give financially to the church, they are using manipulation.  If they tell you that you are not good “sheep” unless you give – they are exploiting you for financial gain.  God loves a cheerful giver and He does not want us giving under compulsion.

If your leaders pressure you to answer sexual questions in pastoral counseling sessions – you need to run!  It is 100% wrong for a male pastor to ask a woman about her sex life without her husband present.  You have every right to say NO to your pastor!  This is a form of spiritual rape.  Do NOT submit to this kind of questioning.

If your leaders tell you that you are not being a good “sheep” unless you are serving in the church in the capacity they want you to.  If you are not “free” to serve – rather “compelled” to serve by leadership then they have become your slave masters.  God gives free will and NEVER requires us to be His slave.  He invites us to serve Him.  And if we choose not to serve Him, He does not reject us or shun us – His love is unconditional.

If your free will has been taken from you in these areas – your church might be a cult.

As a Believer you are called to seek FIRST the kingdom of God.  If anyone in your church pressures you to put your loyalty to your church above your loyalty to God - you have every right to refuse to obey.  You are called to obey GOD first!

If you think your church might be becoming a cult - Here are several articles for more help.

http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/the-plumb-line/15953-would-you-recognize-a-christian-cult-if-you-were-in-one

https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/250-how-to-identify-a-cult

http://andynaselli.com/sociological-characteristics-of-cults

http://www.mikebickle.org.edgesuite.net/MikeBickleVOD/2012/20121118_How_To_Recognize_Cults_7_Characteristics.pdf

Life Beyond Thunderdome: When Heroes Become Tyrants

  This song has been playing in my head recently.  I think it reflects my thoughts about our current political and cultural climate. 

♫ Out of the ruins, out from the wreckage

Can't make the same mistake this time

We are the children, the last generation

We are the ones they left behind

And I wonder when we are ever gonna change it

Living under the fear till nothing else remains

We don't need another hero

We don't need to know the way home

All we want is life beyond the thunderdome ♫

Tina Turner sang this theme song in 1985.  It was for a movie called “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.”  In it, Tina Turner played the ruthless ruler of a post-apocalyptic civilization.  The creator of the movie, George Miller, said in an interview that they wanted to give the sense that she was a genuine hero before she built her town.  But because she became a  “holdfast”and would not let go of her world in order to allow the next, natural change to happen she had to become a tyrant to keep it all in order. 

“Today’s tyrant is yesterday’s hero.” – George Miller

This thought of a  “holdfast” is intriguing to me because we are surrounded by people who are holding fast to their positions of power or authority that give them false identity and ultimately keeps us enslaved in a “Thunderdome.”

Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler were both  “holdfasts.”  They started out as heroes but ended up tyrants who were enthralled by their power. 

As I am a lover of the geek world, I submit to you that Darth Vader is a great example of a “holdfast.”

 In the story, he originally was the hero, but his pain made him grasp for power to fill the void and his identity was given over to “the dark side.”   In the Word, King Saul was a “holdfast.”

  The first King of Israel, who was chosen by God, loved being the hero so much that he attempted to hang onto his power by killing his successor, David.

In the Church, a  “holdfast” is an elder or pastor who has been in a particular position FOR-EVER, never letting go of their seat on the board because of the power they hold.  Their time on the board has long surpassed the time that God intended for them to have because they loved the power that it gave them.  If these leaders keep their power through fleshly efforts, they will end up being authoritarian and will use fear and control to keep their position.

In the family structure, parents hold on too long to their children.  When our children are young, we ARE their heroes.  But there is a certain age at which we must cut them loose to be the keepers of their own lives.  If we hold fast to our children too long – we will end up becoming their tyrant and possibly driving them away because they feel controlled. 

Some are holding fast to the political authority.  This is why we have people in congress for 40 years at a time.  They are cogs in the wheel who have outlived their allotted time in office yet refuse to move from their seat to allow the next generation their appointed time at the helm.  In the meantime, they have become ineffective at their job because if they are not called by God to the seat in which they are sitting they have to manipulate to keep their authority.

That’s why John the Baptist was such an enigma.  He didn’t care about his power.  He didn’t care what people thought of him.  He was willing to step down from ministry and “become less” because of the natural order of the Kingdom.  John was a representation of how the flow of leadership in the Kingdom of God is supposed to go. When Jesus showed up, John stepped down. The Pharisees and Sadducees are the representations of the  “holdfast” tyrants of Jesus’s time.

In fact, these religious  “holdfasts” of Jesus’s day, ended up crucifying Him because they were holding so tightly to their power.

Friends – we must renew our thinking about position and power in the Kingdom of God.  We don’t need another hero who hangs onto his power so long that he becomes a tyrant. 

The key to lasting freedom in our churches, in our families and in our nation is to let God’s natural order take its place.  God’s natural rhythm is evidenced in the word of God when Jesus comes to take over for John the Baptist.  When God’s next choice for leadership comes, we must let that leader become greater while we become less.  Holding onto power out of season will affect your eternal reward.  If you serve the living God, this world is not your kingdom, it is His.

Joshua instructed the Israelites in Joshua 23:5-8:

“But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you: to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to keep his commands, to

hold fast

to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

As Believers the only thing we are to

hold fast

to is God.  To hold fast to anything else will cause trouble and hardship to ourselves and others.

John the Baptist did not need power.  He did not need man’s approval.  He did not need anyone to like him.  He prepared the Bride for the Bridegroom but did not accept the admiration of the Bride.  He did not consider himself a hero.  He was simply carrying out the duty given to him… to prepare the way of the Lord.

If you are convicted of  holding fast to something that you are not supposed to, repent now and put it into God’s hands.  Lay down whatever it is in this world that you are holding onto and wrap your arms around God and hold fast to Him.

It is my prayer that our nation can rise up and find life beyond the Thunderdome in which we are now living.  The tyrants of government and pop culture are getting old.  A revolution may be in order – but let us remember that we will repeat the mistakes of the past if we hold onto power too long.  Let us not escape Thunderdome in order to create another one.  May the generations to come have the wisdom of John the Baptist.  “He must become greater, we must become less.”