“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13
“This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” -Matthew 15
Why is it a norm in the message to travel so far to church every Sunday and Wednesday? Often driving two or three hours one way sometimes twice in a day. Goodness, don’t miss, whatever you do, don’t miss a service. Your spirituality depends on it. Or more pointedly- your reputation does.
You dare not darken the doors of those “denominational churches”. It is simply not an option to go to a non-message church.
I know people who pack their lunches to stay for the evening service. They nap in their cars, the nursery floor, or wherever they can. Some go without food until they are home. Arriving back home on a Sunday can be as late as midnight just to get up for work and send the children off to school the next day.
Just recently I have read of message believers stating their loneliness and lack of connections in their churches. Something is terribly wrong. Those who don’t think so are more than likely in the ministry and on the “receiving” end.
Most sacrifice much to attend each service. They might sing a song or two, smile, nod, shake a few hands, drop off their tithes, and then they go home. The majority quietly asks within themselves, “What did he say?”
Those who “Amen!” the loudest every single service and sit on the front row (generally as their wives are in the nursery) are like the babbling brook. They make a lot of noise, but they just don’t go deep.
They have fallen into a routine of the same songs, same sermons, and same quotes. Guest ministers are invited on occasion for “special” weekend services. I call this stirring the pot or pulpit swapping. To make it more enjoyable a potluck is often held in between a set of services. More than likely, it’s the most fellowship the people have had since the last “special” meeting.
Another favorite is the beloved camp meetings. As a young vulnerable teenager there is nothing quite like a minister counting to ten calling everyone in the room to the alter attempting to strike fear into you. But you go, look your best, and hope to meet “the one” before the week is over.
Message ministers preach for hours. They take off their jackets, loosen their ties, take a swig of Gatorade, and off they go. You know you have a while to go; he just isn’t loud enough yet. At least when they choose to play a tape you can count to see how many pages are left.
If you happen to attend a smaller church, you have the opportunity to view the tithes being dumped into the pastor’s wife’s purse for her to total the moment her car door closes. The larger churches are a bit more discrete about it. They receive a hefty salary and then hire family members to collect the rest.
Afraid to ask questions or doubt, concerned they didn’t “feel anything”, no one says a thing. They dare not, after all they should have come “expecting.”
“Brother, sister, what you need is a genuine refilling of the Holy Ghost!”
“I’m not sure when He left?”
When was the last time you left church and said:
“Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” -Luke 24
Growing up I only heard the negative concerning churches of the “world”. We were taught they were harlots. They didn’t worship Jesus, they rejected the true word. Imagine my surprise when I got over my bias and heard a sermon from one of these “foolish virgins”. I got more out of their 25 minute sermon than many, many, many three hour message sermons.
There are ministers, which are true students of the word, who actually know how to explain the scriptures. No quotes, no handed down pulpits of family ministry. God called men with a true heart for His people. They serve the people without making themselves authoritative. Rather it was prayed, “Let my tongue be as the pen of a writer.”
Tapes have been played and used to pull quotes, topics, and context to inspire message minister’s sermons for nearly 50 years. People no longer study their Bibles; instead they listen to regurgitated words. And you wonder where the anointing is? The voice? The tapes? If that’s so, tell the minister to step down and save your 10%. You’ve got your stored up food. You’ve got your mp3 carcass.
What then do you do with Jesus’ words telling you to take care of the widows, the orphans, or feed the poor? You can’t even agree on the interpretation of the tapes, let alone minister to the body.
“God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.” – 1 Peter 4
More than likely this concept of ministry is foreign to you. The body of Christ is many members in one body. Gifts are for the building and encouragement of the saints. The body does not consist solely of ministers nor is the ministry the head of the body. Christ is the head. At least He should be. But you allow a man to replace that. You sit under a ministry that tells you not to speak. Just say “Amen”. You are told it is blasphemy to question the prophet.
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.” – 2 Timothy 2
“Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” – Acts 17:11
Facebook and the internet is the undoing of those ministers. It’s giving the people back their voice. It tells them to reason and searching of the scripture is not only encouraged in the Bible, but they are admonished to do so. Perhaps you should listen to your ministers: “Stay off of Facebook” and do not venture onto the websites full of material for your benefit.
Sunday service, a time we have traditionally set aside to worship, to be refreshed, to be encouraged… it has become a defense mechanism. A taxation upon the people, a burden on their wallets and their time, all while the minister spends all of his time unsuccessfully defending William Branham and neglecting the call to ”Feed my sheep”.
People are frustrated. They are in a fog of confusion and lulled to sleep with a soothing voice. They’ve lost their absolute. Rather than the edification of the body, commandments of men are preached. Rules, standards, regulations, a law without grace.
Sure, they will tell you they do not worship a man. They will say, “We don’t pray to Jesus via Brother Branham!” Maybe not. But you take his words over Jesus’. So who’s your mediator?
Stream into any message church, you will hear the defense of this message spoken with loud words and red faces. The topic is what not to do, who is doing wrong, and who you shouldn’t be listening to.
You challenge the ex-message believer and you ask, “Where can you go now?” You say, “They left to be free to dress any way they want and live any way they want.”
Allow me to clarify a bit of that.
We go to church, we worship the living God…. we are encouraged. We look forward to the next service because we did leave and say: “Did not our hearts burn within us?”
No, we didn’t leave to be free to wear pants, cut our hair, or have a drink. The freedom we speak of that we have found in Christ- that freedom allows us to be led of the Spirit and hold the Bible as our Absolute. It allows the man to be the head of his home and Christ to be the head of His church.
You think you have that? No. Your head is your minister. It’s the tapes. It’s the words of a man and another private interpretation of it. Those words are your standard. They are your absolute. Your understanding is based upon indoctrination. Remember, “Just say what the tapes say.”
You think you are respecting authority. That’s not respect. It’s fear. Don’t believe me? Try challenging it. It was said, “To find out who rules over you, simply find out who you’re not allowed to criticize.”
Sunday services should hold joy. They should be looked forward to with anticipation. Worship should be enthusiastic. You should leave edified, encouraged and refreshed.
I’ve experienced the message churches far too long. I was told denominations and their membership was the mark of the beast. Miss American church twisting to rock and roll attending her social club.
I’m amazed, those songs you are so fond of singing, who wrote them? That “Christian” radio station you like, wonder what Jesus they serve? The Christian book store you like to shop at, I wonder, who inspires all that they sell there? Those authors you may like to read… just what God are they serving? The movies you deem clean to watch, surely those are not ‘true’ Christians, no. Sort of saved. Almost. But… you know… just not bride.
I am sure you are very familiar with those words. How many times have you sang them? These words touch the heart. You cannot help but sing them with great emotion. It cries out for every believer. It speaks for the redeemed. You sing this song. It moves you. And yet, the man who wrote it, you would say: “Is he saved? Oh, Yes. Sure. Bride? No, no. Not bride.”
One body, one Spirit. Many members. All through the blood of Jesus. All by grace.
Christ is the head of the church. His church is not contained within the walls of a building. Its not a select group of people with a secret revelation for their day. The body of Christ is whosoever will. If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior then you are a part of His body. You are His hands and His feet. Go, and minister unto the needs of His body. Build up and encourage. Speak life.
“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” -Hebrews 10
So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! - 2 Corinthians 5
As a child, I never dreamed it possible to have come so far in life. I never imagined my self a teenager, let alone a mother with children, Each New Year’s Eve from as far back as I can remember I have closed out the year in prayer on my knees. From a little girl I would be found in the living room with each family member kneeling over a chair praying. My prayers consisted of reflection over the year, repentance of any wrong, and a promise to pray more. After all, this would more than likely be the year of the rapture.
A memory from about the age of eight or nine years old comes back to me, kneeling in prayer attempting to pray and not to fall asleep; I placed my head on my hands with eyes closed letting my mind wander. A loud gunshot went off jolting me back to reality and fear settled over me, I began to pray with great fervency. Repentance for being lax and pleading, “Please dear Jesus, take me too.” Tears streamed down my little cheeks as I peeked around making sure my daddy was still there. His gentle voice praying uninterrupted soothed me somewhat as I waited for us to finish.
As the years have passed I have kept the family tradition of praying out the year. I’ve not missed once. As 11:30 rolled around I would quietly sneak away and find a place to kneel and pray. I wanted to be ready for the new year, I wanted to be found prayed up and conditioned for the coming of the Lord. While I believe my heart was sincere, this year I have stopped to re-evaluate this tradition.
There is no better way to start the New Year than with prayer, however, my motives have changed. This holiday season I have spent much time reflecting on this last year and just what this new year will be to me. 2013 was certainly a year of discovery for me. A year of searching, study, and change. As I reflect on where I was at last year and where I now stand I have to confess I am not the same person. I have let go, I have learned to bend while standing. I have accepted that I am complete in Christ despite any circumstance I may find myself in. There is no super power that comes with hidden knowledge, revelation, praying one’s self up, or anything one might attempt to do to draw themselves into a higher spirituality. It simply is not earned.
The love of God is immeasurable. His grace is sufficient. His blood covers all sin. You don’t need an extra dose of blood for one sin or less for another. He won’t love you more if you belong to one group and less if you do not. He loves me because I am His. I can’t earn it, I can’t do anything to deserve it, I can only accept it and lowly confess I am nothing without Him. “Oh God be merciful to me a sinner!”
I have let go of all the old doctrines and in childlike faith I have come to Him and said, “Lord my hands are empty, my heart is broken, I am lost, and I need you. Be merciful to me Oh God, forgive me, and teach me Lord. Fill my heart’s desire to know you in all truth.” I have started over. I am teachable, willing to learn, bend, and change.
Change I have, I am stronger in many ways. I have acquired a boldness backed by confidence in His word. I have learned that I will disappoint those I love, but I can love them all the more. I have learned that through His unmerited favor and grace I can be who He called me to be and do what He has called me to do. I do not belong in a box. I am no less or any more than anyone else. I am who I am because that is who He made me to be and I need Him.
This year is a new year full of new beginnings. Old things are passed away and I am being made new. A new heart full of love, concern, and a burden for people like never before. A new mind: teachable, willing to learn, and change. A new Spirit: Christ’s alone. I am a new creature.
Last night I made a conscious effort to break my tradition. I did not pray as the clock changed to midnight. I was not found on my knees. I didn’t pray out the old year and condition myself for the new. As the clock ticked, my mind reflected back on everything I had been through this year and what I wanted for the new year. I was handed a card to fill out my resolution for the new year and I couldn’t think of one thing. Not one. I had Jesus and He was enough. Lord I can’t ask for anything, I can’t vow to be more than I am. My friend saw me pondering my blank card and laughed, telling me she hadn’t meant for it to be so difficult. I smiled, if she only knew.
Embracing the changes of 2013 and all that has been made new to me, holding all who were dear in my heart, I wrote down one word. For me it represented everything drifting through my mind, continually spinning and refusing to stop. In that one word I took all of it and placed it in a promise and a request, God give me strength to take the next step.
If I were to make a New Years resolution I would say I will no longer allow myself to be influenced by the thoughts and opinions of a particular person. I will not base my decisions upon their ideas. I will not let them influence me or persuade me. I will not look at the ministry as some type of mediator or “higher calling” above the laity, but rather, as another part in the body of Christ through which we can be edified and blessed. I will look for the Spirit of Christ and I will seek the scriptures. No longer will I allow a standard of law to be placed in my life that removes grace.
Be disappointed, be hurt, cry. Unfriend me, stop speaking to me. Call me an apostate, tell me I can’t be bride; I’m over it. I’m following Christ. If it’s not in His word [the BIBLE] it is of no concern to me. Keep your quotes. Keep your revelations, keep your ministry… anytime the ministry is placed above the people instead of for the people I will run from it. This year, I will be me in honesty and and authenticity. I will strive to find the place to not offend my brother and yet stand firmly and boldly in truth. This year… I may ask, “Just who is my brother?”
Jesus replied, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” Then he looked at those around him and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. Anyone who does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” - Mark 3
Welcome New Year. Welcome 2014…. I’m embracing it with peace knowing I’m walking in His grace. Yes, the old life is passed away and a life has begun.
I reached a place in my walk, where I became broken. I felt so vulnerable. I was scared and I couldn’t see what He was doing. At that time, I just wanted answers.
I first wanted answers that lined up with what I knew, my own thinking. I wanted God to back me up. This was the beginning of my brokenness. Desperation set in. I couldn’t find what I was looking for, so I began to ask for anything. “Lord, you told me to ask and you promised to answer, you told me to knock, and you would open the door.”
I had to be in a place that when He answered me, I could receive it, whatever it may be. He prepared me to receive an answer despite what I wanted the answer to be or thought it already was. I couldn’t see what He was doing, but as His answers came they brought peace and the courage to face another day.
I asked for truth. He gave it to me. It wasn’t what I was expecting, and it was hard to accept it. I can’t say I didn’t try to push it away or reject it, I did. But He kept bringing it back to me over and over. I started to feel like a child at the dinner table. It wasn’t what I wanted, but when you get hungry enough; you will eat it.
I guess being human we can’t help but ask “Why”? Sometimes we don’t know, but we just believe there is a purpose. We don’t understand but we trust Him. We know trials help us grow; they build our faith and mold our character. This trial, seemed to have no end in sight and my question of why grew stronger each day. I prayed, “Lord, I can’t see what you are doing. I don’t understand but, I trust you and I know you are with me. I believe your word, help my unbelief.”
That was my prayer for months. All the while things were surfacing and coming up before me. Feelings of anger, bitterness, past hurts and heartaches, memories of things I hadn’t thought about in years. Words would tumble out and catch me completely off guard, “Where on earth did that come from?”
When God breaks us, everything we are holding inside of us begins to spill out. It’s a flood of emotions and they rise up one by one. Circumstances and words that hurt us, the moments that we buried deep inside of us never wanting to think about again begin to tumble out. Sometimes they come as an emotional outburst; other times it’s something someone else is going through that you are relating to. However they may come, God is bringing them forward in His time and He tells us, “I want to heal that”.
Broken. Let it all spill out, empty everything you’ve held inside. Let go of the weight you have carried. You might try to hold onto it, but He steps in and takes it from you. You may think you’ve got this- I’m here to tell you, you don’t.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.” Jeremiah 29
You think you understand. You think you know. You think you have it all figured out; you in your own understanding. You have all the answers, you already know what is right. You begin to walk and push forward and your weight gets heavier and heavier until you are so bogged down you can’t go any further. All the while, He has been walking beside you saying, “Let me take that, let me carry that for you.”
But you aren’t listening to Him. You are too busy giving all the answers, making your point, defending your stand, you can’t hear Him. Did He not tell us to be still, that we might know that He is God?
Pride holds all that inside. Pride speaks back and says, “No, I got it.”
Grace walks beside our pride and waits for us to fall. It picks us up and carries us. It takes all of our broken pieces, heals us, sets us back on our feet, and goes before us. With each shaky step it’s ready to catch us like a safety net. It surrounds us.
With each step strength finds us. Not our strength, His. We couldn’t go any further. We fell. We cried out, “God! I can’t do this. Please, take this. Help my unbelief.”
Courage brings another step. This is just where He wants us. Broken. Dependent upon Him, and in need of all He wants to give us. He can’t fill you up and set out His plans for your life until He empties you out. We are so full of ourselves there isn’t any room for Jesus. We have our own path, our own ideas, and our own plans.
“For I know the plans I have for you!”
Jesus set this example for us, “Not my will but Your will”. Jesus was broken. He gave everything; He submitted His will to the Father completely. Jesus demonstrated what we are called to. God can’t use us when we think we are strong. God can’t move in our lives when we are so full of pride and callused over with hard hearts. We must be broken and emptied out.
In that emptiness and vulnerability we can say, “What do you want for me?” We can offer Him everything we are, all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. What do you give a God who has everything? He wants you, all of you; broken and empty, and ready to be filled with His plan for you.
When you can say to Him, “Lord I have nothing to give you but me, I am nothing. I don’t deserve you, but I need you. I can’t do this without you. Lord, I’m human, I’m weak, and I need you. I don’t want anything but you. Be real to me, reveal yourself to me. I’m so unworthy Lord, I have nothing to offer you but me, use me Lord. Let me serve you.” You are just where He wants you to be. You are weak, that in your weakness He can be your strength. You have nothing, that He can be your supplier. You give Him you, that He can use you as He desires and planned from the beginning.
You are called for this moment to be placed into His body, under His headship. You are called to serve Him. You are called to be an active member of the body of Christ. If you aren’t active, you aren’t living. There isn’t a part of your body that would want to see inactive or dead. I don’t care if it’s your toenail. You think that’s insignificant? Go ahead and rip it off.
You are His that He might use you. Let Him be glorified in your life. Surrender to all He has for you and serve Him. Become broken before Him, let Him empty you out and heal you so He can fill you up again.
You aren’t happenstance, you aren’t an accident, you aren’t insignificant; you are created for a purpose. He knew you before the world began; He has called you by name. “For I know the plans I have for you.” There is no age discrimination with Christ. You are neither male nor female. You were created for a purpose; He has a plan for your life.
David said, “My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.”
If you are asking why, if you are feeling broken; this is the beginning of healing. This is the beginning of restoration. This is the beginning of an awakening.