Devotionals, Letters

Finding God’s Will God’s Way

I was talking with a friend recently about “finding our life’s purpose in God.”
That’s a tricky one, isn’t it? We want to know what our calling is for, so we can spend our energy where it’s useful, and where it’s not. And fairly often, for example when we read the parables of the talents or the minas, we feel a real urgency about the topic. Sometimes, it feels like we’re just bumbling around in the fog, instead of actually changing the world. And all of us, whether we admit it or not, want to have an impact on the world.
I’ve been battering this topic around rather a lot. I grew up reading stories like God’s Smuggler, where the heroes heard God say, “Go do this!” and they went and did it, and there were miracles. I want to be that guy: the one that gets to walk confidently in God’s leading and in God’s miraculous provision.
I know other folks who have had a prophetic word that’s way bigger than them, or a vision of something big and effective, or just a longing for “more” in a particular area of working with God.
We want God to make that happen. Here’s the problem: I’m not sure that’s a realistic expectation.
I’ve watched folks around me for some decades as they matured in Christ, and I think I’ve discovered some trends. Obviously, there are some folks who are not really attentive to their purpose in God; they just bumble around in one degree of contentment or another, attending conferences, complaining about difficult things, consuming resources and not really impacting the world around them. I’m not talking about them today.
But among those of us who are concerned for what God is planning for us, I think I see three broad categories:
a) Servants: These are the ones to whom God gives a good roadmap, and leads them along the way to the end of the line, sometimes step-by-step. These people often have amazing stories to tell of God’s leading.
Frankly, I suspect that some of these folks are asking out of immaturity (servants ask permission, sons not so much). But some seem to be mature in it, though I myself don’t see many of mature saints in this category.
b) Sons: These people have a rough idea of their calling, and they know their Father, so they just run off and do the things that are consistent with that calling. Most of the time, they learn more about their calling along the way.
The apostle Paul was in this category. Occasionally, God would give him a dream (“Go there!”), but most of the time, he just went. And he planted churches everywhere he went, because that’s who he is. I know an apostle who’s planted churches and Bible schools on three contents, and he says that God hasn’t told him to start any of them. That’s just his calling, and so he’s started hundreds of churches and dozens of schools by now, just being who God made him to be.
c) Useful: There are a lot of folks who would have a terrible time describing their calling, but instead are big on “do what’s right in front of you.” Is there a need to meet? Then meet that need! There are ALWAYS needs right in front of us; which ones we see, which ones we’re drawn to, may be a clue to our calling, but knowing the calling is less important than just “taking care of business” with the things around us. These people make “bumbling around in the fog” a means to being effective in ministry!
I’ve spent decades as one of these people, and it has seemed to work out pretty well. Over the course of meeting those needs right in front of me, I’ve discovered that the needs that I see, the needs that I’m most comfortable meeting, fit into categories, so I’ve moved from a category c) guy to a category b) guy, just by virtue of continually bumbling along.
It’s easy to pooh-pooh the Bumbling Around Method of Finding Your Calling. A lot of us want the kind of direction from God that we’re used to with the matters of this world: a clear email, or an owner’s manual, or even a quick-start guide. We want clear, easy-to-follow directions. Bumbling around in the fog is uncomfortable, darn it!
But God doesn’t very often do that. Even his specific instructions to Paul (Acts 9) were pretty fuzzy: “This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” That’s pretty vague.
Sometimes God gives us a vision or an understanding of something really cool, really mature, and very often it’s a lot of our heart’s desires.  For me, it involved Brother Andrew and God’s Smuggler, and it involved Corrie Ten Boom and The Hiding Place. For others, he speaks to them, like he did with Paul, about the end game:  This is who you’ll be when we’re all done. Sometimes it’s just a vision or a dream, or a longing that’s hard to get rid of.
And we want God to wave his magic wand and make that happen. Or at the very least, to make the Treasure Map appear, with the great big X that marks the spot.
Yeah, no. I’ve never once - not in my life, not in the life of anyone I’ve ever known or heard about, and not in the life of anyone in Scripture - ever seen God wave his wand and make people into the thing they see in the vision, the experience. I don’t think I’ve ever known anyone for whom God gave them any Quick Start guide that was more than that initial prophecy or vision or longing.
Even the apostle Paul! God knocked him off his ass and blinded him for 3 days, but then he took him into the wilderness for perhaps as many as seventeen years, where he trained and mentored him.
He gives the glimpse (prophetic word, vision, longing, whatever) of the end of the process for three key reasons that I can tell about:
1) That glimpse is a target, it’s to help us make choices to aim at that end result, rather than aiming for something that’s not consistent with the way he’s built and accessorized our lives. For example, my glimpse, my longing, is always about equipping saints, and that helps me not try to focus my life on interpreting tongues or mercy ministries. Those are important and valuable, and they are not my area of calling.
2) It’s to give hope: this is where he’ll take you, provided that you’ll walk with him. I’m of the opinion that hope is under-valued in our world today. Some years ago, God spoke to me about a “worldwide ministry of teaching about the Kingdom of God.” The internet had not even been invented then, so it was hard to imagine a worldwide influence, but the hope of being able to influence saints in favor of participating in God’s Kingdom kept me moving through some times where it would have been easy to crawl home and hide under a rock. (“I can’t do that, there’s this vision out there for me!”) That illustrates a key principle: what the end result looks like will probably be remarkably different than what we thought it would look like, what we still think it should look like. I think God does that on purpose, because if we saw the end result too clearly, we'd likely rely on our own skills to get there, rather than relying on walking with him to get there.
3) I think he’s just so excited about our future that he just wants to share it with you! Like any good daddy, he’s terrifically excited about sharing his secrets with his kids, particularly the kids that are going to grow up and inherit the family business.
Paul says, in Romans, “... whatever is not from faith is sin.” So if God just handed us the Complete Guide to Your Eventual Ministry Once You’ve Grown Into Maturity, we wouldn’t need it. And we might not even grow into maturity. If we saw our path to that goal so clearly that we knew every step of the process, then our faith would be superfluous; we’d walking by sight, not by faith. And “Faith,” it has been said, “is spelled R-I-S-K.”
The process of getting from where we  are now to the place of mature ministry of our vision or prophecy will involve risk. It will involve asking ourselves, “Did God really say that?” and “Is God really leading me in this direction?” And every step of the way - whether we get it right or get it wrong - is moving us to that goal, as long as our heart is set on following Him!
Besides, once we’ve read the last book of the Bible, we get a good understanding of how important it is (to Father and to ourselves) to be an “Overcomer.” And how shall we ever become overcomers if we don’t have doubts, questions, obstacles, enemies to overcome?
Maybe bumbling around in the fog isn’t such a bad thing. Maybe that’s the best way, the fastest way, to reach our goal after all.
Onward! Through the fog!
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Devotionals, Letters

Finding God’s Will God’s Way

I was talking with a friend recently about “finding our life’s purpose in God.” 

That’s a tricky one, isn’t it? We want to know what our calling is for, so we can spend our energy where it’s useful, and where it’s not. And fairly often, for example when we read the parables of the talents or the minas, we feel a real urgency about the topic. Sometimes, it feels like we’re just bumbling around in the fog, instead of actually changing the world. And all of us, whether we admit it or not, want to have an impact on the world.
 
I’ve been battering this topic around rather a lot. I grew up reading stories like God’s Smuggler, where the heroes heard God say, “Go do this!” and they went and did it, and there were miracles. I want to be that guy: the one that gets to walk confidently in God’s leading and in God’s miraculous provision.

I know other folks who have had a prophetic word that’s way bigger than them, or a vision of something big and effective, or just a longing for “more” in a particular area of working with God.

We want God to make that happen. Here’s the problem: I’m not sure that’s a realistic expectation.

I’ve watched folks around me for some decades as they matured in Christ, and I think I’ve discovered some trends. Obviously, there are some folks who are not really attentive to their purpose in God; they just bumble around in one degree of contentment or another, attending conferences, complaining about difficult things, consuming resources and not really impacting the world around them. I’m not talking about them today.

But among those of us who are concerned for what God is planning for us, I think I see three broad categories:

a) Servants: These are the ones to whom God gives a good roadmap, and leads them along the way to the end of the line, sometimes step-by-step. These people often have amazing stories to tell of God’s leading.

Frankly, I suspect that some of these folks are asking out of immaturity (servants ask permission, sons not so much). But some seem to be mature in it, though I myself don’t see many of mature saints in this category.

b) Sons: These people have a rough idea of their calling, and they know their Father, so they just run off and do the things that are consistent with that calling. Most of the time, they learn more about their calling along the way.

The apostle Paul was in this category. Occasionally, God would give him a dream (“Go there!”), but most of the time, he just went. And he planted churches everywhere he went, because that’s who he is. I know an apostle who’s planted churches and Bible schools on three contents, and he says that God hasn’t told him to start any of them. That’s just his calling, and so he’s started hundreds of churches and dozens of schools by now, just being who God made him to be.

c) Useful: There are a lot of folks who would have a terrible time describing their calling, but instead are big on “do what’s right in front of you.” Is there a need to meet? Then meet that need! There are ALWAYS needs right in front of us; which ones we see, which ones we’re drawn to, may be a clue to our calling, but knowing the calling is less important than just “taking care of business” with the things around us. These people make “bumbling around in the fog” a means to being effective in ministry!

I’ve spent decades as one of these people, and it has seemed to work out pretty well. Over the course of meeting those needs right in front of me, I’ve discovered that the needs that I see, the needs that I’m most comfortable meeting, fit into categories, so I’ve moved from a category c) guy to a category b) guy, just by virtue of continually bumbling along.

It’s easy to pooh-pooh the Bumbling Around Method of Finding Your Calling. A lot of us want the kind of direction from God that we’re used to with the matters of this world: a clear email, or an owner’s manual, or even a quick-start guide. We want clear, easy-to-follow directions. Bumbling around in the fog is uncomfortable, darn it!

But God doesn’t very often do that. Even his specific instructions to Paul (Acts 9) were pretty fuzzy: “This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” That’s pretty vague.

Sometimes God gives us a vision or an understanding of something really cool, really mature, and very often it’s a lot of our heart’s desires.  For me, it involved Brother Andrew and God’s Smuggler, and it involved Corrie Ten Boom and The Hiding Place. For others, he speaks to them, like he did with Paul, about the end game:  This is who you’ll be when we’re all done. Sometimes it’s just a vision or a dream, or a longing that’s hard to get rid of.

And we want God to wave his magic wand and make that happen. Or at the very least, to make the Treasure Map appear, with the great big X that marks the spot.

Yeah, no. I’ve never once - not in my life, not in the life of anyone I’ve ever known or heard about, and not in the life of anyone in Scripture - ever seen God wave his wand and make people into the thing they see in the vision, the experience. I don’t think I’ve ever known anyone for whom God gave them any Quick Start guide that was more than that initial prophecy or vision or longing.

Even the apostle Paul! God knocked him off his ass and blinded him for 3 days, but then he took him into the wilderness for perhaps as many as seventeen years, where he trained and mentored him.

He gives the glimpse (prophetic word, vision, longing, whatever) of the end of the process for three key reasons that I can tell about:

1) That glimpse is a target, it’s to help us make choices to aim at that end result, rather than aiming for something that’s not consistent with the way he’s built and accessorized our lives. For example, my glimpse, my longing, is always about equipping saints, and that helps me not try to focus my life on interpreting tongues or mercy ministries. Those are important and valuable, and they are not my area of calling.  

2) It’s to give hope: this is where he’ll take you, provided that you’ll walk with him. I’m of the opinion that hope is under-valued in our world today. Some years ago, God spoke to me about a “worldwide ministry of teaching about the Kingdom of God.” The internet had not even been invented then, so it was hard to imagine a worldwide influence, but the hope of being able to influence saints in favor of participating in God’s Kingdom kept me moving through some times where it would have been easy to crawl home and hide under a rock. (“I can’t do that, there’s this vision out there for me!”)

That illustrates a key principle: what the end result looks like will probably be remarkably different than what we thought it would look like, what we still think it should look like. I think God does that on purpose, because if we saw the end result too clearly, we'd likely rely on our own skills to get there, rather than relying on walking with him to get there. 

3) I think he’s just so excited about our future that he just wants to share it with you! Like any good daddy, he’s terrifically excited about sharing his secrets with his kids, particularly the kids that are going to grow up and inherit the family business.

Paul says, in Romans, “... whatever is not from faith is sin.” So if God just handed us the Complete Guide to Your Eventual Ministry Once You’ve Grown Into Maturity, we wouldn’t need it. And we might not even grow into maturity. If we saw our path to that goal so clearly that we knew every step of the process, then our faith would be superfluous; we’d walking by sight, not by faith.

And “Faith,” it has been said, “is spelled R-I-S-K.”

The process of getting from where we  are now to the place of mature ministry of our vision or prophecy will involve risk. It will involve asking ourselves, “Did God really say that?” and “Is God really leading me in this direction?” And every step of the way - whether we get it right or get it wrong - is moving us to that goal, as long as our heart is set on following Him!

Besides, once we’ve read the last book of the Bible, we get a good understanding of how important it is (to Father and to ourselves) to be an “Overcomer.” And how shall we ever become overcomers if we don’t have doubts, questions, obstacles, enemies to overcome? 

Maybe bumbling around in the fog isn’t such a bad thing. Maybe that’s the best way, the fastest way, to reach our goal after all.

Onward! Through the fog!

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Prophecy

Dealing With Bible Thumpers

Someone asked me how I respond to Bible Thumpers. Boy did that make me think.
Yeah, that’s a big issue. It’s big enough that Wikipedia has a definition of a Bible thumper (aka “bible basher”):
“Someone perceived as aggressively imposing their Christian beliefs upon others. The term derives from preachers thumping their hands down on the Bible, or thumping the Bible itself, to emphasize a point during a sermon.”

In my experience, this very often manifests as people blindly quoting scripture in conversation, mistakenly believing that this proves their point. Most people can tell when they’ve entered a conversation. And unfortunately, it seems to happen at holiday gatherings more and more.
I used to be a bible thumper. I’m in recovery now. Here’s how I try to respond to bible thumpers. I hope it helps bring freedom to you. It’s a tough one.
I can’t say “Here’s how to do it.” I can only say, “Here are some things I’m trying.” Some are working better than others.
* Make peace with myself about not needing to have all the answers. This one was huge for me.
* When I give answers, I try to speak from experience, including my experience with the Book and my experience with what went wrong, rather than just quote a platitude from the Book.
* If I have to quote a verse as if it were a platitude, I explain quickly how this applies in my world.
* I do not look to thumpers for help; I do not expect them to minister to the real issues of my heart, and I do not let down my defenses to let their religious spirit have access to my soul.
* If someone quotes verses at me, I sidestep the verse. “I’m not interested in your skills with copy and paste [or with quoting verses]. I want to know what you actually think.” Thumpers find this confusing, but a few get it, some sooner than others.
* Occasionally, if I sense it might do some good, I’ll try to bring some sense into the conversation, asking them to support the doctrine they’re proclaiming. Very often, just looking at the context of (verses immediately before and after) the verse they’re wielding is enough to take some of the wind out of their sails.
* If the thumper gives me permission, or if the topic is a big deal, and there are lots of people by the thumpage, I’ll attempt to correct their abuse, either by addressing the topic with more than verses and stale doctrine, or by talking about what actual conversation is like. I hate doing this because I don’t love confrontation, but some situations call for it.
* Then afterwards, I try to go out of my way to make conversation with the thumpers whose thumpage I have just upset. My goal is to hear what they actually think on the topic, and to engage them on why they hold that so strongly, but I’ll take small talk if that’s all I can get.
Note that I am absolutely NOT trying to minimize the effect of the Scriptures in my life, as some thumpers have accused me. Not at all. But I want the Scriptures to work in me, guided by Father’s hand as the living and active scalpel that they are (see Hebrews 4:12).
I’m not willing to submit to someone – anyone, really – wielding scriptures as a bludgeon on me, any more. And as far as I can make a difference, I’m not willing to let others bludgeon those around me either.

So. How do YOU respond to bible thumpers?

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Devotionals, Letters

Dealing With Bible Thumpers

Someone asked me how I respond to Bible Thumpers. Boy did that make me think.

Yeah, that’s a big issue. It’s big enough that Wikipedia has a definition of a Bible thumper (aka “bible basher”):

“Someone perceived as aggressively imposing their Christian beliefs upon others. The term derives from preachers thumping their hands down on the Bible, or thumping the Bible itself, to emphasize a point during a sermon.”

In my experience, this very often manifests as people blindly quoting scripture in conversation, mistakenly believing that this proves their point. Most people can tell when they’ve entered a conversation. And unfortunately, it seems to happen at holiday gatherings more and more.

I used to be a bible thumper. I’m in recovery now. Here’s how I try to respond to bible thumpers. I hope it helps bring freedom to you. It’s a tough one.

I can’t say “Here’s how to do it.” I can only say, “Here are some things I’m trying.” Some are working better than others.

* Make peace with myself about not needing to have all the answers. This one was huge for me.

* When I give answers, I try to speak from experience, including my experience with the Book and my experience with what went wrong, rather than just quote a platitude from the Book.

* If I have to quote a verse as if it were a platitude, I explain quickly how this applies in my world.

* I do not look to thumpers for help; I do not expect them to minister to the real issues of my heart, and I do not let down my defenses to let their religious spirit have access to my soul.

* If someone quotes verses at me, I sidestep the verse. “I’m not interested in your skills with copy and paste [or with quoting verses]. I want to know what you actually think.” Thumpers find this confusing, but a few get it, some sooner than others.

* Occasionally, if I sense it might do some good, I’ll try to bring some sense into the conversation, asking them to support the doctrine they’re proclaiming. Very often, just looking at the context of (verses immediately before and after) the verse they’re wielding is enough to take some of the wind out of their sails.

* If the thumper gives me permission, or if the topic is a big deal, and there are lots of people by the thumpage, I’ll attempt to correct their abuse, either by addressing the topic with more than verses and stale doctrine, or by talking about what actual conversation is like. I hate doing this because I don’t love confrontation, but some situations call for it.

* Then afterwards, I try to go out of my way to make conversation with the thumpers whose thumpage I have just upset. My goal is to hear what they actually think on the topic, and to engage them on why they hold that so strongly, but I’ll take small talk if that’s all I can get.

Note that I am absolutely NOT trying to minimize the effect of the Scriptures in my life, as some thumpers have accused me. Not at all. But I want the Scriptures to work in me, guided by Father’s hand as the living and active scalpel that they are (see Hebrews 4:12).

I’m not willing to submit to someone – anyone, really – wielding scriptures as a bludgeon on me, any more. And as far as I can make a difference, I’m not willing to let others bludgeon those around me either.


So. How do YOU respond to bible thumpers?


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Devotionals, Letters

Dealing With Bible Thumpers

Someone asked me how I respond to Bible Thumpers. Boy did that make me think.

Yeah, that’s a big issue. It’s big enough that Wikipedia has a definition of a Bible thumper (aka “bible basher”):

“Someone perceived as aggressively imposing their Christian beliefs upon others. The term derives from preachers thumping their hands down on the Bible, or thumping the Bible itself, to emphasize a point during a sermon.”

In my experience, this very often manifests as people blindly quoting scripture in conversation, mistakenly believing that this proves their point. Most people can tell when they’ve entered a conversation. And unfortunately, it seems to happen at holiday gatherings more and more.

I used to be a bible thumper. I’m in recovery now. Here’s how I try to respond to bible thumpers. I hope it helps bring freedom to you. It’s a tough one.

I can’t say “Here’s how to do it.” I can only say, “Here are some things I’m trying.” Some are working better than others.

* Make peace with myself about not needing to have all the answers. This one was huge for me.

* When I give answers, I try to speak from experience, including my experience with the Book and my experience with what went wrong, rather than just quote a platitude from the Book.

* If I have to quote a verse as if it were a platitude, I explain quickly how this applies in my world.

* I do not look to thumpers for help; I do not expect them to minister to the real issues of my heart, and I do not let down my defenses to let their religious spirit have access to my soul.

* If someone quotes verses at me, I sidestep the verse. “I’m not interested in your skills with copy and paste [or with quoting verses]. I want to know what you actually think.” Thumpers find this confusing, but a few get it, some sooner than others.

* Occasionally, if I sense it might do some good, I’ll try to bring some sense into the conversation, asking them to support the doctrine they’re proclaiming. Very often, just looking at the context of (verses immediately before and after) the verse they’re wielding is enough to take some of the wind out of their sails.

* If the thumper gives me permission, or if the topic is a big deal, and there are lots of people by the thumpage, I’ll attempt to correct their abuse, either by addressing the topic with more than verses and stale doctrine, or by talking about what actual conversation is like. I hate doing this because I don’t love confrontation, but some situations call for it.

* Then afterwards, I try to go out of my way to make conversation with the thumpers whose thumpage I have just upset. My goal is to hear what they actually think on the topic, and to engage them on why they hold that so strongly, but I’ll take small talk if that’s all I can get.

Note that I am absolutely NOT trying to minimize the effect of the Scriptures in my life, as some thumpers have accused me. Not at all. But I want the Scriptures to work in me, guided by Father’s hand as the living and active scalpel that they are (see Hebrews 4:12).

I’m not willing to submit to someone – anyone, really – wielding scriptures as a bludgeon on me, any more. And as far as I can make a difference, I’m not willing to let others bludgeon those around me either.


So. How do YOU respond to bible thumpers?


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Columns, Devotionals

Grant us Repentance, Lord!

I had been spending the afternoon with the Lord a few weeks ago, reading, praying, worshiping and listening. The Lord had been telling me lately, "Just be yourself" although 'just being myself (in Christ) has gotten me in a lot of trouble over the years!  lol

Later that evening, I decided to watch the movie, "Tomorrowland,"  It's the story about a young girl who picks up a button and is immediately transported to a future world where everything is bright and modern.  As the story continues, she meets George Clooney, who tells her that something has happened and Tomorrowland is never going to come!  She immediately begins to declare and come against that and when she does, George gets a glimpse of Tomorrowland.

Her words bring him new hope and he begins to fight again for Tomorrowland.

As I'm watching this movie, God is speaking to me that I (we) are the girl and as we speak the Truth of God and come against the enemy's plans to stop what God is bringing, we bring the Kingdom into the earth. The presence of God was all over me as I watched this movie and then I hear God say again to me, "Just be yourself."

Then George says to the girl, "Just be yourself!"  I about fell off the couch!

I was reading in Luke 11:37-54 this morning and a Pharisee asks Jesus to have lunch with him.  Jesus sits down at the table without ceremonially washing His hands (Fence Laws) and this offends the Pharisee right off the bat.  Then Jesus begins to attack the Pharisees for their impure hearts.  A lawyer who is present says, "Teacher, when you say this, you insult us too," and Jesus begins to attack the lawyer.

I laughed out loud!  How many of us have imagined how amazing it would be to sit down with Jesus! But I wonder...would we be Mary, who sat at His feet and Jesus defends us saying we have chosen the righteous thing?  Or would we find out we were a Pharisee who had presented the world a Christian facade but in reality, we were dead inside?

And I'm also amazed that Jesus didn't worry about offending these men!  Jesus never sinned. His intent was not to offend but to share the Truth of God.  These men chose to become offended instead of repenting of their sin. How many times have I wondered if I did something wrong when I have shared the Truth of God with other Christians and they have become offended?  God help me.

The Word says in John 8: 32 that you will know the Truth and the Truth will set you free and I always want to add 'but first it might make you really mad!' Ha!  Jesus said, "Blessed is he who is not offended by Me." (Matthew 11:6)

Are you hearing God today?  Have you chosen to hear with an open heart and are you willing to ask God, "Judge me and correct me"?  If someone corrected you today would you receive it with humility, seeking God, and repent of sin?  Or would you become offended?  Have you remained teachable?

Pride is the throne where all our sin resides.  Pride will cause us to defend our sin instead of repenting.  We need to ask God to grant us humility and repentance, for all of us have fallen short of the Glory of God.

Love and blessings~




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Columns, Devotionals

Grant us Repentance, Lord!

I had been spending the afternoon with the Lord a few weeks ago, reading, praying, worshiping and listening. The Lord had been telling me lately, "Just be yourself" although 'just being myself (in Christ) has gotten me in a lot of trouble over the years!  lol

Later that evening, I decided to watch the movie, "Tomorrowland,"  It's the story about a young girl who picks up a button and is immediately transported to a future world where everything is bright and modern.  As the story continues, she meets George Clooney, who tells her that something has happened and Tomorrowland is never going to come!  She immediately begins to declare and come against that and when she does, George gets a glimpse of Tomorrowland.

Her words bring him new hope and he begins to fight again for Tomorrowland.

As I'm watching this movie, God is speaking to me that I (we) are the girl and as we speak the Truth of God and come against the enemy's plans to stop what God is bringing, we bring the Kingdom into the earth. The presence of God was all over me as I watched this movie and then I hear God say again to me, "Just be yourself."

Then George says to the girl, "Just be yourself!"  I about fell off the couch!

I was reading in Luke 11:37-54 this morning and a Pharisee asks Jesus to have lunch with him.  Jesus sits down at the table without ceremonially washing His hands (Fence Laws) and this offends the Pharisee right off the bat.  Then Jesus begins to attack the Pharisees for their impure hearts.  A lawyer who is present says, "Teacher, when you say this, you insult us too," and Jesus begins to attack the lawyer.

I laughed out loud!  How many of us have imagined how amazing it would be to sit down with Jesus! But I wonder...would we be Mary, who sat at His feet and Jesus defends us saying we have chosen the righteous thing?  Or would we find out we were a Pharisee who had presented the world a Christian facade but in reality, we were dead inside?

And I'm also amazed that Jesus didn't worry about offending these men!  Jesus never sinned. His intent was not to offend but to share the Truth of God.  These men chose to become offended instead of repenting of their sin. How many times have I wondered if I did something wrong when I have shared the Truth of God with other Christians and they have become offended?  God help me.

The Word says in John 8: 32 that you will know the Truth and the Truth will set you free and I always want to add 'but first it might make you really mad!' Ha!  Jesus said, "Blessed is he who is not offended by Me." (Matthew 11:6)

Are you hearing God today?  Have you chosen to hear with an open heart and are you willing to ask God, "Judge me and correct me"?  If someone corrected you today would you receive it with humility, seeking God, and repent of sin?  Or would you become offended?  Have you remained teachable?

Pride is the throne where all our sin resides.  Pride will cause us to defend our sin instead of repenting.  We need to ask God to grant us humility and repentance, for all of us have fallen short of the Glory of God.

Love and blessings~




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Prophecy

Do We Still Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem?

Recently, a friend asked me, “Are we still required to pray for the peace of Jerusalem?” (as Psalm 122:6 says). I stopped to think about that question, and about Zionism in general. Here’s how my thinking went.
When the Old Covenant was in place, it was between one family – the children of Jacob – aka Israel) and God. (In fact, they resisted being called a “nation” until the 20th century.)
When the Old Covenant was in place, that family was the vehicle by which God related to the rest of the world. We’ll overlook the fact that Israel failed miserably in that task: it was their task. (Note that “The Law” was the “terms & conditions” of that Covenant. Note also that Israel failed so completely at that, that God was required by the terms of that covenant [which the people proposed, it was not God’s proposal] that he was required to judge them and punish them for failing to keep their covenant with Him. See http://nwp.link/1Ggenc6.)
And because Israel was the one primary means by which God related to humanity, they were the victim of many attacks, both political and demonic.
In that context, praying for the peace of Jerusalem – Jerusalem being in proxy for the nation/family of Israel – was praying for peace in the conduit between God and man. If Israel was at war, then Israel could not well represent God to the nations.
The Old Covenant is now over. It was “obsolete and growing old [and] ready to disappear,” [Hebrews 8:13] two hundred decades ago. And it was completely obliterated, totally eliminated when Jerusalem was destroyed in AD70 (the mortal wound: the destruction of all genealogical records of who’s qualified to be priest or Levite).  
Fortunately, 40 years earlier, the Old Covenant was replaced by a New Covenant. In contrast, the New Covenant is not between God and one family, or between God and one nation, or between God and ANY nation. The New Covenant is between God the Father, and God the Son, and we’re included in the Covenant by being “in Christ,” in the Son.
In the New Covenant, there is only one commandment: John 15:12: “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” That’s it.
Paul, expounding on our covenant, urged Timothy, “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.” This is, in his estimation, part of how we “love one another,” and he’s right.
So the question is: “Is Jerusalem part of “all men”? Are there leaders who qualify as “all those who are in authority”? Do they need prayer? In my perception, the answer is “Yes!” to all three.
So yes, we pray for Jerusalem, for the same reason, and in the same way that we pray for Tehran, or New Orleans, or Milan or Pretoria.
We pray “on behalf of all men,” and we pray “for kings and all those who are in authority.”
But really (and I suspect some people won’t like this), Jerusalem is no more special than your hometown, and Israel is now no more special than Iraq or Dubai. And simultaneously, no less special.
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Devotionals, Letters

Do We Still Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem?

Recently, a friend asked me, “Are we still required to pray for the peace of Jerusalem?” (as Psalm 122:6 says). I stopped to think about that question, and about Zionism in general. Here’s how my thinking went.

When the Old Covenant was in place, it was between one family – the children of Jacob – aka Israel) and God. (In fact, they resisted being called a “nation” until the 20th century.)

When the Old Covenant was in place, that family was the vehicle by which God related to the rest of the world. We’ll overlook the fact that Israel failed miserably in that task: it was their task. (Note that “The Law” was the “terms & conditions” of that Covenant. Note also that Israel failed so completely at that, that God was required by the terms of that covenant [which the people proposed, it was not God’s proposal] that he was required to judge them and punish them for failing to keep their covenant with Him. See http://nwp.link/1Ggenc6.)

And because Israel was the one primary means by which God related to humanity, they were the victim of many attacks, both political and demonic.

In that context, praying for the peace of Jerusalem – Jerusalem being in proxy for the nation/family of Israel – was praying for peace in the conduit between God and man. If Israel was at war, then Israel could not well represent God to the nations.

The Old Covenant is now over. It was “obsolete and growing old [and] ready to disappear,” [Hebrews 8:13] two hundred decades ago. And it was completely obliterated, totally eliminated when Jerusalem was destroyed in AD70 (the mortal wound: the destruction of all genealogical records of who’s qualified to be priest or Levite).  

Fortunately, 40 years earlier, the Old Covenant was replaced by a New Covenant. In contrast, the New Covenant is not between God and one family, or between God and one nation, or between God and ANY nation. The New Covenant is between God the Father, and God the Son, and we’re included in the Covenant by being “in Christ,” in the Son.

In the New Covenant, there is only one commandment: John 15:12: “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” That’s it.

Paul, expounding on our covenant, urged Timothy, “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.” This is, in his estimation, part of how we “love one another,” and he’s right.

So the question is: “Is Jerusalem part of “all men”? Are there leaders who qualify as “all those who are in authority”? Do they need prayer? In my perception, the answer is “Yes!” to all three.

So yes, we pray for Jerusalem, for the same reason, and in the same way that we pray for Tehran, or New Orleans, or Milan or Pretoria.

We pray “on behalf of all men,” and we pray “for kings and all those who are in authority.”

But really (and I suspect some people won’t like this), Jerusalem is no more special than your hometown, and Israel is now no more special than Iraq or Dubai. And simultaneously, no less special.



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Devotionals, Letters

Do We Still Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem?

Recently, a friend asked me, “Are we still required to pray for the peace of Jerusalem?” (as Psalm 122:6 says). I stopped to think about that question, and about Zionism in general. Here’s how my thinking went.

When the Old Covenant was in place, it was between one family – the children of Jacob – aka Israel) and God. (In fact, they resisted being called a “nation” until the 20th century.)

When the Old Covenant was in place, that family was the vehicle by which God related to the rest of the world. We’ll overlook the fact that Israel failed miserably in that task: it was their task. (Note that “The Law” was the “terms & conditions” of that Covenant. Note also that Israel failed so completely at that, that God was required by the terms of that covenant [which the people proposed, it was not God’s proposal] that he was required to judge them and punish them for failing to keep their covenant with Him. See http://nwp.link/1Ggenc6.)

And because Israel was the one primary means by which God related to humanity, they were the victim of many attacks, both political and demonic.

In that context, praying for the peace of Jerusalem – Jerusalem being in proxy for the nation/family of Israel – was praying for peace in the conduit between God and man. If Israel was at war, then Israel could not well represent God to the nations.

The Old Covenant is now over. It was “obsolete and growing old [and] ready to disappear,” [Hebrews 8:13] two hundred decades ago. And it was completely obliterated, totally eliminated when Jerusalem was destroyed in AD70 (the mortal wound: the destruction of all genealogical records of who’s qualified to be priest or Levite).  

Fortunately, 40 years earlier, the Old Covenant was replaced by a New Covenant. In contrast, the New Covenant is not between God and one family, or between God and one nation, or between God and ANY nation. The New Covenant is between God the Father, and God the Son, and we’re included in the Covenant by being “in Christ,” in the Son.

In the New Covenant, there is only one commandment: John 15:12: “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” That’s it.

Paul, expounding on our covenant, urged Timothy, “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.” This is, in his estimation, part of how we “love one another,” and he’s right.

So the question is: “Is Jerusalem part of “all men”? Are there leaders who qualify as “all those who are in authority”? Do they need prayer? In my perception, the answer is “Yes!” to all three.

So yes, we pray for Jerusalem, for the same reason, and in the same way that we pray for Tehran, or New Orleans, or Milan or Pretoria.

We pray “on behalf of all men,” and we pray “for kings and all those who are in authority.”

But really (and I suspect some people won’t like this), Jerusalem is no more special than your hometown, and Israel is now no more special than Iraq or Dubai. And simultaneously, no less special.



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Prophecy

Too Much Talking. Not Enough Listening.

I need to speak (again) about things that I lack expertise on, and therefore about things wherein I am NOT an expert. This isnt so much about the issue, as it is about the process of addressing the issue. 
Recently, I posted about a revival I’m beginning to see in the homosexual community. One of the things that makes this subject hard to sort through (and yes, it happens on many other subjects as well) is that both sides are talking at the other, and neither side is trying to listen: it’s polarizing an issue that doesn’t need to be polarized, or not so much as it is getting. 
In that article (http://nwp.link/1A6zNVd), I attempted to avoid taking sides, because I’m trying to propose a better response: we need to love one another.
It’s really interesting when I chose to step outside of the polarization, and declined to take one side or the other in this controversial topic. First, it’s really hard to see the actual issues clearly through all the rhetoric. And second, when I declare myself (as I attempted to do with that article) as not on either side, then I get passionate emails from both sides, saying, “This is what I believe, and it’s true!”
I received a pretty large number of messages of this sort from “both sides” of the issue, and they all pretty much assumed the same conclusion: “I’m right, so you must agree with me!” inferring, of course that “Anybody who sees this differently is deceived!” I was honored to be approached by both sides. I was disappointed that most of those approaches were attempts to convert me.
I deduce that since the two groups – both declaring that their viewpoint is true! – are declaring what are sometimes mutually exclusive opinions, it is conclusive that there is a measure of deception involved. And the odds are – as we are dealing with humans, here – that there is deception in both camps. (And the guys like me that are trying to stay out of either group – by virtue of our humanity – are NO less prone to imperfection than anyone else.) 
I’ve been walking with God and with his people for more than half a century, and one thing I’ve learned is that when everybody’s insisting that they’re right and the other guy is wrong, that’s not an environment where we can find a common ground. It’s only when we quit telling others what they must believe, and start listening to what they DO believe, that we have any chance at all at finding a small place where we agree that we can start building some relationship. Besides, me telling you what you must believe is clearly not loving you. 
So here’s a challenge: if you have an opinion about the subject of Gay Christians, I challenge you to shut your mouth and listen to the other guys. I don’t care if you’ve got eleventeen Bible verses that conclusively prove that you’re right and they’re wrong, I maintain that shouting at someone about their wrongness will never encourage them to hear you, and that’s what we want: people actually hearing each other.
So I encourage us to stop talking on this topic, and listen to someone else’s point of view. And after you’ve listened, make sure you’ve heard them right (“I think I heard you say this… did I hear right?”) because we’re not used to hearing real people: we’re used to hearing out-of-context sound bites that our own side uses to prove the point you already believe. Both sides do this, and it’s normal. It’s also messed up.
After you’ve tested what you’ve heard, and you know you’ve heard them right, then still keep your mouth closed, and think about what they’ve said. Consider their heart. Consider the wounds they’ve endured from you and your friends (this has happened on both sides!). Consider that God loves them every bit as much as he loves you! And maybe, if you dare, consider asking God what HE thinks and how HE feels about those people who don’t agree with you. (If you can do this in less than a week, you haven’t done a good job.)
And one final challenge: Consider not telling others what you believe, until and unless someone has asked for your opinion. Then go out of your way to not alienate others. 
This is a place where Saint Francis’s sage advice is priceless: “Preach the gospel at all times. If necessary, use words.” In other words, once you’ve demonstrated the good news of the gospel, once you’ve loved until it cost you more than you wanted to pay, once it’s become necessary (ie, they’ve asked), then consider the gentlest, most loving way to share how God has led you. And then listen some more.
I guarantee that Westboro Baptist won’t find you acceptable in this. And I guarantee you won’t get a smidgeon of support from the mainstream media: they both thrive on controversy, but controversy isn’t actually our goal. 

But you’ll hear Fathers heart better. And maybe you’ll make your Father (who loves both of you) smile.

And his smile is ALWAYS worth the price! Always.

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Prophecy

Avoid Evil, not the Appearance of Evil

The Bible doesn’t actually tell us to avoid every appearance of evil.
It says to avoid evil, not the appearance of evil. We avoid the evil itself.
Yeah, the translation from 400 years ago (King James) mis-translates yet another passage. The language today is different than it was in 1611; the words mean different things nowadays. (This is why I cannot trust any teaching that relies on the KJV to support it.) This is one place where that change makes a difference. 
Four hundred years ago, “every appearance” was kind of like “every kind” of evil. Our instruction is to avoid evil stuff. Avoid evil when it appears: avoid the appearance of evil: avoid every appearance of the evil.
And that’s how EVERY othermajor English translation of the Bible presents this: “Reject every kind of evil,” (NIV) or “Abstain from every form of evil” (NKJV and NASB). Even the King James usuallytranslates this word “shape.” “Avoid every shape of evil.”
We’re called to avoid evil. The call is not to avoid anything that looks like it might be considered as evil by somebody. Don’t be fussing about stuff that might look bad. Don’t be fussing about your reputation.

Jesus surely didn’t. He hung out with porn stars and filthy rich tax thieves and the most unacceptable people of his day. He went out of his way to connect with Zacchaeus the tax collector and all his tax-collector friends.

He wasn’t afraid to have a rich hooker spend thousands of dollars worth of perfume that she massaged into his bare feet, wiping them with her prostitute hair and kissing him all over his feet. When she was done, he smelled very much  like a hooker, and he defended her actions!
Jesus avoided evil. He never sinned. But he spent so much of his time with the sinners that offended the “good Christians” of the day, that his reputation was “The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’” Jesus had a reputation as a party-goer.
The reputation that Jesus had was that he was the favoriteguy of the people who were stuck in sin.
That’s our call: to bring life to those people. These are the people who need what we’re carrying! 
Our call is NOT to avoid the appearance of evil and hang around with the good people. Church kids surely don’t need the grace that we’re carrying quite so much as the untouchable people who are caught in their sin.

That’s why he said, “Go ye, into all the world!” Because it’s allthe world that needs what we’re carrying. 
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Prophecy

Becoming Overcomers.

One of the most distasteful spirits is the Religious Entitlement spirit: it is the one that insists that everything we say or everything we write must be sanitized for the least mature person who might be listening. It’s the same Politically Correct spirit, but on Religion.
I don’t love this demon.
It’s why so many churches have replaced wine in Communion with grape juice: so that some recovering alcoholic doesn’t fall of the wagon during the Lord’s supper.
Here’s the problem: we’ve taken responsibility for that person’s sobriety away from them, and we’ve made it OUR responsibility: WE must avoid wine in order that THEY won’t stumble. And in the process, we’ve made a substitution in the instructions the Son of God gave, and required that every person in our midst must submit to this religious compromise!
And when we discuss the idea that Holy Spirit sometimes speaks about things that are not actually found in the pages of Scripture, we’ll get several people jumping up and railing against it, not because of what was said (that part is ignored, generally), but because someone might stumble and think less of The Bible.
The problem is the: we’ve taken responsibility for that person’s maturity away from them, and we’ve made it OUR responsibility: WE must avoid mature topics in order that THEY won’t stumble! And in the process, we’ve eliminated any controversial topics, or any topics where someone might disagree with me, from the curriculum: and we’ve required that every person in our midst must submit to this lowest, safest, common-denominator pablum.
In the pages of Holy Writ, these elementary, rookie-safe, simple (and often simplistic) teachings are called “milk.” By contrast, the teachings that we need to chew and digest for ourselves, teachings that stretch us and make us think are called “meat” in the King James, or “solid food” in the modern translations. The word is “τροφή” (“trophe”) and Vine’s Expository Dictionary defines it as “deeper subjects of the faith than that of elementary instruction.”
How in Heaven’s name will we learn to be “Overcomers” if we are never faced with something to overcome?
***We pause five seconds for the obligatory warning: Yes, scripture says to guard against causing a brother – an individual – to stumble *in*the*context*of*personal*relationships*. I’m not speaking of that.***

In the context of the whole community, Scripture is rather specific: focusing on milk is a failure. We must grow up. We must eat meat, too.

Paul, in 2Corinthians 3, rebukes the immature Corinthians pretty bluntly: “I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly.” Note that those who still need milk: well it’s the apostle Paul’s judgment that they are worldly. Apparently (and this is an inference), the way to get beyond worldliness is to teach people how to eat meat and then to give them meat to eat.
Hebrews 5 emphasizes it this way: “In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!” and follows up with “Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity.”
That’s something of a scathing rebuke, but he gives the answer to this failure: “But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” The author declares that the way believers become mature is by training THEMSELVES to distinguish good from evil. Their maturity is THEIR responsibility. Not mine. Not yours.
Except in the case of the child who still poops in their diapers, it is never in anyone’s best interests for others to take responsibility for their choices. And in truth, it is never in anyone’s best interests to condemn an immature person to pooping in their diapers for the rest of their lives. Bigger and better diapers are not actually the goal of the Body of Christ.
When we take responsibility for others (“We can’t say that; someone immature might misunderstand!”), we’re condemning immature believers to immaturity! Their immaturity becomes OUR fault, and I suspect we will be required to give answer for it, when we get to that Day. Yikes.
Brothers and sisters, the Word of God is calling us beyond the safe “milk” topics. I intend to go there as I hear my Father bringing those topics up.
You are warned: I will occasionally speak about things that are more “meat” than “milk” and I will not try to translate every time. And because I am still learning here (News Flash: I do NOT have all the answers!), therefore sometimes I’ll miss it, too. Sometimes, I’ll explore a path that doesn’t go anywhere. Sometimes I’ll explore un-safe topics. Sometimes, I’ll ask hard questions, and sometimes I’ll probably get some answers wrong. Sorry.
That’s why you need to train yourself to distinguish good from evil: it’s YOUR job, not mine.
If you don’t want to hear these things, I invite you to go somewhere safe. This place will not be safe for you. If you need to be protected from ever being offended, I suggest you to unfriend me now, and find safer paths to travel. I make no promise of this being a safe place.
If you want to train yourselves to distinguish good from evil, feel free to join in the conversation here. I will never steer us in an unsafe direction on purpose, but I’ll bet you a shiny silver dime that I won’t get it right every single time. And there will be topics that come up here that are often not sanitized for immature minds. Occasionally, I will state opinions (sometimes intentionally) that will not pass the religious censors’ strict standards.

But it’s the less-safe paths that lead to the really interesting destinations anyway. 

The Word of God is calling us. The Spirit of God is calling us! Let’s go off the map. Let’s press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of us!

Come join the conversation at https://www.facebook.com/northwestprophetic. 
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Devotionals, Letters

Prostitution in the Church

Because of my nom de plume (“Northwest Prophetic”), people associate me with prophetic ministry. And as a result, I get a number of requests that I really don’t love.

Fairly often, someone – and it’s almost always someone I don’t know, very often someone whose Facebook friend request I’ve just accepted – will send a private message out of the blue. “I want a prophetic word. What is the word of the Lord for me?”
And it’s nearly always that abrupt. No “Hi, how are you doing?” No introduction to who they are or to their life and ministry, no respect for me as a human being, or as a child of God. Nearly always, the phrase “please” or “thank you” is not involved. Just “Gimme a word!” (and yes, sometimes it is that blunt). I’ve talked with some other prophets, and a number of them – especially those in social media – report similar experiences.
Our culture has a vocabulary for this, for when someone wants people to meet their urgent needs, but has no interest in relationship, or even common courtesy. We use words like “prostitute,” or “hireling,” or “servant” to describe the people that we disrespect, but we want them to meet our needs.
Honestly, I have to tell you, I don’t love prostitution. I really don’t love being propositioned to prostitute myself and my gift.
[I need to interject: asking for help from others in the body is NOT prostitution. But demanding that others meet your need, without the barest pretense of interest of them as a person, as a brother or sister, well, that sound a lot like prostitution to me.]
I was praying about this the other day (OK, fine! I was grumbling!) and Father listened quietly before he spoke. “It’s not just you, you know,” and he brought some others before my memory.
He pointed out that yes, prophetic people are dealing with this, but because the prophetic movement is relatively new, this prostitution of prophets is also relatively new. But the church is not new to prostituting her people.
Worship leaders, for one, have been prostituted for much longer than prophetic folks have been. Whenever Christians get together, there’s this urgent need that we Must Have Worship. Larger churches hire one (or more), and expect them to always be ready! I would argue that if our interest in them is only in what they can do for us, and not in them as a person, then we’re guilty.
It’s tragically funny when smaller groups, or outside-the-building groups get together, watching as they scramble to find someone able to Lead Worship. I can’t tell you the number of worship musicians who have described one measure or another of the prostitution syndrome. Recently, I invited a worship leader to a gathering in my home. When I suggested leave his guitar at home, but bring his family instead, it sounded like he almost cried.
We could go on and make a list, and it would include children’s workers, intercessors, youth pastors, sound guys, and others: the “little people,” people who often aren’t seen or thought about until somebody has an urgent need for something.

And of course, some groups, some people, some churches are more abusive and others are far more civilized. And of course, nobody (or perhaps “nobody in their right mind”) aspires to be a prophet or sound guy or children’s pastor or an intercessor for the money or for the respect. They follow that path because they can’t NOT follow that path, lest they shrivel up and die.

But it’s remarkably rare that these servants are respected anywhere nearly as the “real” leaders of the group. And if one of these folks has other gifts, those are pretty much ignored, unless that other gift is also on this list. (I’ve heard church boards look for youth pastors with a wife who can lead worship, so they can meet two urgent needs for the price of only one! I want to … speak firmly … with them for demeaning God’s children fn favor of their own desires!)
Lest this become a full-fledged rant, I’m going to change directions here.
First, I want to express my appreciation for the good people who serve God in these roles, despite the dishonoring ways of the people among whom you serve. Thanks for honoring our Father, and where you could, honoring your brothers and sisters.
Then I want to tell you that you are, in fact, every bit as important and as valuable as the trustees or the home group leader or the senior pastor or the TV preachers or the author or guest speaker or whoever. Your value as a child of God – your value as a human being – is equal to their value.
Finally, I’d like to invite all of us to treat our brothers and sisters with honor, with respect, with value. Our Father does. They deserve no less.

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