I wanted to give my readers some more-than-supplemental resources for this oh-so-controversial topic on women in ministry and so I introduce to you one of my favorite bloggers/theolgians, Amanda Beattie. Though I don’t know Amanda super well, she was my Core Leader during my IHOP internship. Amanda is one of the most meek, humble, peace-loving women of God I have met in my life. Her example has set a high standard for me in ministry. Not only does she have an awesome heart, I would consider Amanda a theologian… and one who definitely knows her stuff. She is a graduate of FSM and has an insatiable desire to study the Word of God. She is also a very talented and entertaining writer. Please read on… you will find some incredibly powerful material here.
Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the One who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him. John 7:18
I’ve been feeling a little troubled lately. It’s a good kind of troubling. The kind where we can either choose to give into it or die under the weight of it. It’s about the subject of honor. Not about honoring eachother, because we know this is a must, but about the subject of honor for ourselves.
I find myself consistently battling the tendency to desire honor for myself from others. It comes in all forms: boasting, defending myself, competition, etc. The Word clearly says that we should seek honor. But honor from whom? Not from fellow believers, not from the world… but from God.
You see, God wants to give us honor. It’s His joy, actually. It’s the kind of honor He gave Daniel when Daniel chose to not let his heart be affected by the king’s compliments. Daniel still operated in his gifts but had the sense to not promote himself. He didn’t demand honor from others when operating in these gifts. He acted as if it was a gift to even have these abilities.
I want honor from God but my grappling for honor from others has so muddied the waters of my heart that I’m not even sure how to obtain this honor from Him. What does His honor look like, anyway?… and how do I get it? These are important questions that I insist on finding the answers to.
So I’m beginning a series that Mike Bickle taught on the Life of David. You can find these teachings HERE. I’m putting my Jeremiah studies on the back-burner for awhile because I feel that I am in a season where I could learn a lot from this great King of Israel. So though I am going to get right back into Jeremiah when I’m done, I felt like this study is a necessary precursor.
I think a lot of times we can see something that is truth… but our reaction will still not be a godly reaction because our heart is not aligned with His. In his first session, Mike talks about how David first and foremost had a revelation of God’s heart and an understanding of what God’s heart is like. And because of this, He had a desire to obey God’s heart. That makes sense, you know? Before we can be really obedient to God, we need to really understand how God feels and what His heart is for the situations and people around us. An understanding of His heart is the motivation we need to remain in obedience. If we don’t carry ourselves with the heart of God, even though we may be walking in truth, we can do more damage than good in some cases. I know I have been guilty of this. It’s human nature and that’s why our lives have to be a constant discovery of the facets of who God really is.
Saul and David were two very different characters in the history of Israel. As Bickle explains, Saul was a form of judgment on the nation of Israel for walking outside the will of God. They demanded a king before it was time for them to have a king and thus were rewarded with a demonized king. God already had in mind to put David on the throne because He knew that David had a heart after Him. However, God used the tyranny of Saul as a training period for David to be the best King he could be. Good leaders are often bred under situations like David’s. How absolutely terrifying this truth is! The trick here is to make sure that our heart for the Lord remains the same as David’s does during those awful periods of time. David made a lot of mistakes during this time but when he made mistakes his grief was more about how he had offended God than how he had been exposed… which was very unlike Saul’s reaction who really just cared about preserving himself.
I’ve grown up in the church my entire life and I’ve heard the term ‘hypocrite’ thrown around a thousand times and recently have heard this word thrown around even more (ok. So this post is inspired by some Tweets by Cory Copeland). Most people associate a hypocrite with someone who calls themselves a Christian yet lives in outward sin. The people who were clumped together under this label included those who called themselves Christians but were alcoholics, had pre-marital sex, looked at pornography, cussed like a sailor, or beat their children. Jesus didn’t put up with hypocrites… but when he talked about hypocrites, outward sin was not what He was referring to. It all involved the condition of our hearts. So I pulled up some scriptures to help us dissect what is actually being said about hypocritical behavior.
1. It’s all about their “Image”.
So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. Matthew 6:2
And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. Matthew 6:5
When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. Matthew 6:16
People who are hypocrites are ones that are tormented with the fear of man. They are more concerned about their reputations than about the hearts of the people around them… not to mention the condition of their own hearts. They crave honor from other people so they put on a facade of spirituality to make people think they are something they really aren’t. Their motives in loving and serving weren’t to please God but to please men and be honored by them. Serving and giving are all about ‘the heart’. People can talk about love all day long and not really love. They talk about it to make themselves appear generous, good, and compassionate when in reality their heart is full of wickedness, jealousy, and pride. These people are hypocrites.
2. They like to point out everyone else’s sin but never deal with their own.
You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:5
But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Matthew 22:18
Watch out for people who point out the flaws of others more often then they are transparent with their own flaws… especially if they seem to be getting enjoyment or some sort of rise out of it. The truth is, everyone has junk in their hearts to deal with and we should all be ready to confess it (with safe people in our lives). If you are gossiping about someone else’s sin then there is a huge chance your heart probably isn’t right either. In fact, you probably use your judgment of others in an attempt to prevent sin in your own heart from being exposed. So before you go ready to pounce on someone about their issues, try sitting before the Holy Spirit and asking Him to examine your own heart first. If you don’t do this, then sorry… you are a hypocrite.
This doesn’t mean that we don’t call sin what it is. I’m not talking about tolerance of sin in any way here. God has laid out some pretty clear definitions of sin and we are not to ignore them because if we do, we are harming not only ourselves but the body of Christ at large.
3. They try to earn their salvation through works instead of resting in the provision of the cross and resurrection.
You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:
These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
their teachings are merely human rules
Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.” Matthew 15:10-12
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. Matthew 23:13
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are. Matthew 23:15
The Pharisees had a ton of stupid rules and a majority of these rules had to do with food, hence the jargon about what goes into a mouth. True, God did send a few of these rules down during the old covenant but the Pharisees added a ton to these rules. They added a bunch of ridiculous legalistic… CRAP (pardon me)… that had nothing to do with God whatsover. They simply wanted a way to prove to everyone how ‘holier than thou’ they were. I have heard these man-made rules over the years as well. Some of them consisted of “television commercials are evil”, “cabbage patch dolls are evil”, “getting married is not very spiritual”, “short hair and pants are a sign of a worldly woman” or some much more unspoken rules like “if you don’t dance, you don’t have freedom”, “if you don’t raise your hands, you must not love God”, etc. Some think that the more you “do” for God the more you are going to please Him. BOLOGNA. NOW… that being said, if the Lord tells you to do something… it’s probably best to go do it or if you WANT to do it out of your love for God, of course– but don’t do something to please someone else or to make yourself look good to the people around you. That is called Fear of Man.
God is looking not for those who put on a facade of worship through external activities but He is looking for those whose hearts are sincere and who draw near to Him. He cares about us having a deep friendship and intimate relationship with Him as well as the condition of our hearts… MUCH more than He cares about the mounds of activities we’re involved in. This is conveyed all through scripture… Luke 10:30-42, Matthew 7:21-23, John 6:28-29, Romans 3:19-23, Romans 3:27-28, Romans 4:1-3, Galatians 2:15-17, Galatians 3:5-6… okay. There happens to be many more but I simply don’t have all the time to record each verse… because they are EVERYWHERE! This is not a cop-out to say that we are automatically released from all of our responsibilities but the Lord does talk about doing things out of obligation. Because we are His sons and daughters we should never feel “obligated” to work for Him… “Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness” Romans 3:4. Remember that Paul is not talking about the actual work but your heart behind the work you do. In Matthew 23:23, Jesus doesn’t tell the Pharisees that tithing is bad, He just tells them that they should have tithed AND practiced justice, mercy, and faithfulness.
Leaders who shame others for not being perfect are usually the ones committing the deepest sins– as the Pharisees were. The best leaders are the ones that are leading by example. They are displaying the fruits of the Spirit in their own lives and it is contagious to those who are following them. Not that leaders aren’t suppose to confront sinful behavior, but if they feel the need to control and demand more than they are capable of doing themselves, then there is a huge problem. For example, my pastor, Pete, is a great example of faith, vision, and the leadership of the Holy Spirit. I want to follow His example in this. Mike Bickle, a former leader of mine, has amazing character and true humility. As the old Nike saying goes, because of this, “I want to be like Mike.” My own Dad is also my “spiritual father”. He is a man of prayer, mercy, and compassion for others that few can replicate and he has a true heart of a shepherd. The Pharisees weren’t pointing people to faith in the supernatural grace and power of God, they were pointing them to an absolutely impossible salvation through “doing”. And they were publically rebuked by Jesus for leading these people into slavery!
Now… hope. Thankfully, there really is a simple solution to our hypocritical behavior. Get to know Jesus. Read His Word and ask Him questions about it. Ask Him for revelation on true intimacy and obedience. Take some time to sit and adore Him… without other people around. Shut yourself in your bedroom (Matthew 6:6), put some worship music on and pour out your heart to Him.
And I disagree with Cory. Not all Christians are hypocrites. HAHA.
12 You are a garden locked up, my sister, my bride;
you are a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain.
Song of Songs 4:12
Yes. I’m still on this Song of Songs journey and yes… it is still what I would consider “brutal”. There have been awesome, powerful encounters during this season and dry desert times and times of testing and times of waiting.
I’ve come to two conclusions: following Jesus is really hard and I’m not very good at it.
But you know what? He knew I wasn’t good at it when I began this journey (the technical version) two and a half years ago (oh my!). But who is really good at it? If you say you are good at following Jesus, than I’m sorry… you are a liar. Because none of us are good at it… our righteousness is like filthy rags to Him.
This journey is about Him turning us into lovers… both of His Son and of the church and of those that are lost and broken.
Now back to the “locked garden”.
I just have to say that I am so glad He helps me with things. I was thinking this weekend as I was spending time with Him by the lake that I will never ever be able to figure Him out. As hard as I might try… His greatness is truly unsearchable. It goes way beyond anything that I will ever understand. And even though I don’t see the whole picture, I want so much to really believe the truth… that He sees it. He sees right through all of the cloudy mirrors that I can’t get past.
I discovered this morning during my time in prayer that this is the season of the “locked garden” for me. What does that mean? A couple of weeks ago I received a word of knowledge that I was in a season of protection. That the Lord has exercised so much protection over me. This I have already known. I have seen the hand of the Lord in my life so clearly guiding and protecting me from bad situations… even if the rescue was painful at the time.
Now let me make things clear. I don’t think He’s guarding me from a bad situation right now. I think He’s thwarting any efforts for me to have my way because there is much healing that needs to take place. I also believe He’s taking this moment to speak to me about my destiny and to cultivate other things in my life. He is locking His garden of enjoyment and keeping me all to Himself for now. I’m okay with that. Like I said in the earlier post. This is a season of preparation and what better way to prepare than to know Him more?
As I was sitting on the floor in my bedroom this morning I heard the Lord ask me a question… no He shouted a question to me– “Do you know who you are???!!”, He said… “Do you know that you are My destiny?!” Wow. We are all His destiny… We are His prize… it is because of us that He endured the cross… we are the Joy set before Him. I want to give to Him the enjoyment that He was after as He hung on the cross. I want to believe that I am as enjoyable to Him as He says I am. I want to be the garden of His delight.
My sleep was slightly disturbed last night… okay massively disturbed by the probing of the Holy Spirit. I found myself frustrated, confused and condemned with the state of my heart and life. For the past couple of weeks, I have felt a distance from Holy Spirit. There are times when Jesus withdraws His presence from us to motivate us to seek Him out and then there are times that we allow our hearts to become so dull that His presence seems like a distant dream. You see, I’ve been having a running dialogue with myself for some time now.
I’m going to figure this out my way. I’m going to make things happen without His perfect timing and this is how I’m going to do it. I’m going to do this so that I can be a better person… wait oops, I made a mistake again so I suck and now He’s mad at me and there’s nothing I’m going to be able to do about it except try not to do it again. Wait, okay, what are some other ways I can stop doing this? How can I make myself learn to love more? How can I stop myself from being afraid? How can I trust God? How can I not put walls up? How can I not react to this person’s behavior? How can I not be sad when I disappoint someone? How can I stop disappointing someone? How can I get them to see me for who God made me to be? How can I love people that are difficult to love? Am I good enough to do this? Am I talented enough? I give up. I can’t do this. There’s no way…….. it’s impossible. Here I am going to that dark place again and I’m not fully sure how I’ll get out of it.
And the dialogue continued without end and the more it continued, the more withdrawn I felt. Last night I realized that there was something massively wrong. I wasn’t suppose to be having conversations with myself. Why hadn’t I even breathed a word of these thoughts to Jesus? Why did I continue to wrestle with myself and not wrestle with the One who loves to wrestle with His children? And in the dark frame of mind that I found myself in He whispered me back to an awake state:
You’ve forgotten that you need a Savior.
Then the image appeared again; an image that burned itself on my heart many years ago and has never quite faded from existence. It is the image of my Savior, hanging, bleeding, suffering and it wasn’t so that I could live life trying to pull myself up by my own bootstraps and combat sin and weakness and pain on my own. You see, people, the church is so afraid of appearing imperfect. We like to point out the failures and inconsistencies in the lives of others but we ourselves never fully realize the glory of partaking in the sufferings of Jesus, of feeding off of His flesh and blood, of partnering with Him in our daily lives… of relying on Him for nourishment and grace and healing. It’s because of unbelief that we continue to grasp for some kind of humanistic approach to holiness and righteousness. We don’t fully believe that He is there with us at all times. We feel abandoned by Him. We don’t trust in His goodness and kindness. It’s our belief in the tiny whispers of the enemy that God is withholding from us. That He is unpredictable (which He is to us, but not to Himself) but also erratic with our lives, ready to pull the rug out from under us at any moment.
But oh, He’s not that way!
We have to repeat the truth, in our mouths, in our heads in our hearts… to each other and ourselves.
For You are the living God, and steadfast forever…. you deliver and rescue and You work signs and wonders in heaven and on earth Daniel 6:26-27
“With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matt 19:26
And whatever we ask in Your name, that You will do that the Father may be glorified in the Son. John 14:12-14
But as for me, by Your abundant lovingkindness I will enter Your house. Psalm 5:7
Your gentleness makes me great. Psalm 18:35
Though the Lord is on high, yet you regard the lowly Psalm 138:6
As for God, Your way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless Psalm 18:30
Behold Your eye o Lord is on those who fear you, on thos who hope for your lovingkindness Psalm 33:18
Lord all my desire is before You; And my sighing is not hidden from You. Psalm 38:9
You have taken account of my wanderings; Put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book? Psalm 56:8
O Lord, You have searched us and known us. You know our sitting down and our rising up; You understand our thoughts afar off. You comprehend our paths and our lying down and are acquainted with all our ways. Psalm 139: 1-3
“The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin…” Exodus 34:6-7
But those who seek the Lord shall not be in want of any good thing. Psalm 34:10
Now didn’t that feel good? Couldn’t you feel the war going on as you read through these scriptures? I could. Happy are those that recognize the worth of their Savior. Not just who He is to us but who HE IS. He does not change. He is perfect in every way. Flawless in character. Does not show favoritism. Beautiful and Fascinating. Loves completely and perfectly and is always always always available. How lucky we are to depend on such a God.
Last night I was speaking with a group of friends about the issue of fear when someone made a profound statement: “Fear and faith are the same thing. They are both expectations of something. Fear expects something bad to happen while faith expects something good.” Romans 8:14-16 says,
14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
It all comes down to whether we really believe who God says He is. Do we believe He is a good Father who wants good things for His children or do we believe he is a neglectful, passive Father who doesn’t care about the needs of His kids? Truthfully, the Father wants extravagant things for us. He wants to see us succeed. He wants to provide for us. If we continue to expect bad things to happen, we will become self-fulfilling prophets.
We have to believe that we are no longer slaves to fear but are adopted by a generous, kind Father in heaven. We cannot believe the lie of self-protection any longer. Trying to protect ourselves with resistant, emotional walls is sin. It is sin because we do not trust in God’s protection or leadership over our lives.
Last week I had a dream about the subject of fear. I was invited to go swimming in a pond with someone. We were both excited about hanging out with eachother but as soon as I got to the edge of the water, I started to feel that familiar hesitation. I was terrified to get in the water with my friend. What was underneath the water? Would something hurt me? Was the water too dirty? Fear consumed me. My friend went out a little ways into the water and waited for me to meet them. Finally, I faced the fear and waded slowly in. Eventually, both my friend and I were swimming through the water that I had once been so afraid of.
Taking steps to face our fears is a crucial passageway to wholeness. We have to first remind ourselves who God is and that He is much bigger than our fears and we have to worship and declare who He is even while we’re facing those fears.
Because we have all been born with a sin nature, we cannot expect others to treat us perfectly at all times and others can’t expect the same from us. If our identity is grounded in the love of God for us, than the actions of others should not affect us.
I was reading 1 Corinthians 13, or what is also know as the “love chapter”. One of the verses has been on my mind all week: “Love believes all things”. So much of my fear comes from my expectations of the pain I may recieve from others. With certain friends, I am always expecting to get hurt– always expecting to be disappointed. But instead of expecting that they will treat us badly, we should instead believe the best about them– to see them with the eyes of love, through the lens of Holy Spirit, rather than with our own fallen eyesight. In a way, when we expect unkindness from our brothers and sisters, we are walking in judgment, when the Lord has asked us to walk in love. And we must walk in love without walls and without hardening our hearts in self-protection.