Reproach:1. blame or censure conveyed in disapproval: a term of reproach.2. an expression of upbraiding, censure, or reproof.3. disgrace, discredit, or blame incurred: to bring reproach on one’s family.
4. a cause or occasion of disgrace or discredit.
Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed;
Neither be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame;
For you will forget the shame of your youth,
And will not remember the reproach of your widowhood anymore.
God hates sin. I don’t think there are many believers that will argue with me about that. The one thing that can strengthen us to keep ourselves from sin is the power of the grace of God in our lives. Without grace, which was provided by the death and resurrection of Jesus, we are helpless to combat sin.
So why is it that we have such trouble with it? Well, sometimes it is just plain rebellion. We like to sin because we lie to ourselves that feeding our flesh is worth the damage it does to our hearts. Even empowered by the grace of God, we still have the choice to give into that flesh. And as we continue to choose sin over grace, He decides to pull the grace from us… and shows us just how “fun” it is to live without His power in our lives. So we sin and then sin again… and then we mess up SO bad that we are forced to see the wickedness that lies in our hearts.
Many famous revivalists and preachers lived a life of supernatural power with effective ministries but were secretly living in sin for years before they were exposed. In their spiritual pride they chose to continue in sin, thinking that their superiority in spiritual matters cancelled out their secret sin. Awhile back, I confronted a guy that was a fairly known preacher. I spoke to him about his judgmental attitude and the bitterness that he carried in his teaching. Instead of trying to walk in humility and admitting his actions he chose to deny it and responded by giving me a list of his “credentials”– all of the famous preachers he has worked with and ministered with. Really? Because you have worked with all of these people, you think you’re getting off scott-free when you continue to lead others into the same sins you are committing. It’s arrogance.
You see, we need to stop depending on ourselves to overcome sin. Spiritual pride and other forms of pride keep us from seeing the real issues in our hearts and worse yet… they keep us from relationship with God. Leaning on our Beloved to help us overcome sin is one of the most intimate experiences we can have with the Lord. He loves the vulnerability we have with Him when we acknowledge our weakness before Him.
I love some of David’s Psalms when I am combating shame in my life. He is so raw and honest before God. And I love this the most because David knew the heart of the Lord more than any person of his time and yet he was so… human. He was weak and frail and acknowledged this easily to God, constantly asking for His help. David was the mighty leader and king of Israel yet he was humble enough to become unglued before God and admit his sin.
A lot of us say we want to be like David but when we say this we are usually talking about the loving, worshiping David who had so much freedom before the Lord. Rarely are we talking about David’s vulnerability. Rarely do we speak of his humility. And rarely do we admit that we are as frail and weak as he was. Rarely do we admit how much we need Him.
For more on this topic, check out Mike Bickle’s message on the Spirit of Revelation. It’s a powerful message and I highly recommend it.
It’s been a weird week. It has been really easy for me to become distracted with anxiety, anger, and sadness as I have been wrestling with how to confront the last two years of my life. So much so that I have been finding myself spending less and less real time with the Lord, filling that time with listening to messages and reading books. Sometimes it feels safe to hang onto all of my bitterness and I suppose my subconscious realizes that sitting before the fire of God’s love will probably expose the darkness and pain in my own heart. Not so comfortable, you see.
I can look at David’s life and notice a pattern that he had in seeking God. When walls of despair enclosed around him, he didn’t cower in fear. He just made a decision to avert his gaze. Instead of dwelling on the pain, confusion, and anger, he just looked at God and talked to Him about it. And in times where he could have spent his time thinking about all of the yucky stuff, he instead focused on his beautiful God. This kept David strong and steady throughout his life. He didn’t live a perfect life and failed miserably several times but David knew God enough to know that He would never give up on His favorite one. Knowing the truth of who God is kept David from giving up on himself and helped him to continue to pursue God for the rest of his life.
In Psalm 103:4 David writes about God saying He is the one
Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies
David didn’t really care too much about the crown that gave him earthly authority. He knew that his crown was the love and compassion of his God. This is what he put his pride in. He found his identity in God’s love and mercy over his life and in discovering the beauty and revelation of the knowledge of God.
I think a lot of people consider a transformed mind having to do with dwelling on what we can do in order to change our mindset and have healthy thinking. If we simply stop thinking negative things and turn our attention to thinking positive things we’ve got it figured out. But I don’t think these people have the whole picture. I think it is simply turning our attention onto who God is. Having the revelation of the beauty of God makes us beautiful, you see. Examining scripture and allowing our minds to become consumed with who He is, destroys the lies that we have built up in our mind.
We believe so many lies about Him! And because we believe lies about Him, we believe lies about ourselves and it darkens all of our understanding about the world around us. Meditating on the truth of who He is gives light to our understanding, and transforms our minds and spirits into life-giving products. Believing that God is love and that love lives inside of us transforms us into lovers. Believing that God is mercy and that mercy lives inside of us transforms us into being merciful. Carefully meditating on all of these attributes of God and knowing and understanding that this power lives within us will cause us to look more and more like the One we worship.
So as I’ve said this before but the Lord has been taking me on a journey in say, the last three years or so, through the Song of Songs. It started with a dramatic angelic encounter in 2008 and he has taken me piece by piece through this book as I’ve experienced my walk with the Lord alongside the Shulamite. I’ll read the next passage when He says to read it and stop on it when He says to stop. In the last couple of months I happened to have landed on Song of Songs 5:7. Needless to say, this passage is one of the most painful experiences the Shulamite has in the entire book and I knew it was going to happen. The Lord told me it was going to happen months ago (read blog below and you might give a tiny clue)… and well it DID happen.
What I have to ask myself and the Lord in all of this is what do I need to learn from what has happened recently in my life? What part of it was me and what part of it wasn’t me? It’s immature not to ask those questions of the Lord. In everything in life, I want to grow… I want to learn. I know I have made mistakes and not handled situations in the best way I knew how. I’m not here to defend myself, but simply processing what is truth and what is lie in all of the recent pain. This blog is not the place to share the answers to those questions but hopefully these statements will provoke you to walk with the Lord when you go through a time of testing as well. I will say that the result of our obedience (mixed in with some mistakes) doesn’t always have triumphant results here on earth. If you look all throughout the Word of God, this is repeated over and over again throughout scripture. Job, Paul, Jeremiah, Stephen– all obeyed God and they didn’t see the results until they reached heaven (except for of course Job, at the end of his life). They were brutalized, stoned, etc., etc.,. I guess this type of ordeal is God’s tool to shape our character and to teach us humility if we just submit to His leadership.
I can see the Shulamite when she’s calling out for her Beloved in the midst of a really massive trial. Everyone has abandoned her, accused her and she is broken and defeated. She is desperate to see the One she loves but He’s not showing up. I can hear the longing in her voice as she describes Him to the Daughters of Jerusalem. She is indeed lovesick. When she doesn’t have Him, she recalls just how amazing He is. Over and over again, she sees new attributes that she has not discovered before. The pain has made her so desperate for Him that He is all that she can think about.
That’s when He shows up. He shows up and is taken by her faithfulness to Him in the midst of her trial and tells her just how beautiful she is, speaking identity and truth over her– restoring her heart and the places of brokenness that she has neglected. So right now, I am waiting for Him that moment with Him. I know He’s here. But I need truth from Him. I need restoration. I just need Him. Him Him Him.
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.
I’ve made the mistake recently of looking back on my past recently and envying the people that are still living the way I use to. What I figured out is that if you look past the thin veneer of knowing all of the “right people” or people recognizing you when you’ve never met them in your life… or you get past the ludicrously superficial conversations that only happen in bars… or the van trips with stinky musicians who, in order to keep their sanity, are bent on trying to out-do eachother with practical jokes… or recieving degrading comments by random drunk guys… or spending days at a time laying around a girlfriends house whining about your broken hearts over a couple of Shiners…
“Well, Brooke… if you put it THAT way…”
Yeah. And that’s only the surface stuff.
Along with all of that amusement also comes seperation from God. All that stuff in the paragraph above… well that’s called disobedience. That’s called choosing your own path. It’s also spelled “D-E-A-T-H”. And knowing you’re choosing death instead of choosing eternal life, friendship with the living God, hearing His voice, a love that will not… EVER relent… knowing your choosing death (aka your own stinkin’ flesh) is depressing. There is nothing more agonizing, nothing more painful, nothing more despairing than choosing to be seperated from the presence of Jesus.
And then one day I figured out this simple truth: It isn’t about me! Granted, occasionally I slip back into this silly lie but one day I woke up and said… “I haven’t dug myself a hole so deep that Jesus can’t pull me out of it”.
The relentess stuff that I wrote about earlier. That’s actually the most painful part though when we’re in the thick of it, we don’t really see it that way. I know I interpreted that part as God forgetting about me or not caring about me. Basically, He allowed my life to become completely miserable. Sounds like fun, huh? Jesus is kind… He is gentle but he will use the least amount of discipline to provoke your heart in the deepest ways imaginable. Sometimes we’re so stubborn or so full of fear that His version of discipline might as well be Guantanomo Bay.
We were created to have this amazing communion with God… with a Jesus who is ALIVE and wants friendship with us. And if we don’t do what we were created for we will spend our whole lives trying to find our purpose in other things and we will never… ever find it because it’s not there. It’s with Him. And that is… beautiful.
I unfortunately missed about half of Shelley’s class Friday (prophesying in the end-times) but have been savoring all weekend, a little nugget of wisdom she imparted to us this afternoon. She spoke about how Holy Spirit, in the early years of her redeemed life, confirmed over and over again her assignment to a few dangerous countries. Shelley went on to explain that she thought at the time, that she would be sent out immediately. In fact, she told of a time that she had her tickets and was ready to fly out with some leaders when the Lord prevented her from going. There were several instances when she tried to make the move herself and Holy Spirit would not allow her. She relayed that it was a frustrating experience but she also realized that it was not in the timing of the Lord yet and that she, as a follower or Jesus was not yet prepared to accomplish the task Jesus had for her in the future.
My heart sunk into my stomach. As most of you know there are two cities that God has confirmed over and over in dreams, prophetic words of the exact cities from three very seasoned prophets and even a couple of open visions. The last year I have realized my lack of “readiness” to be sent to these cities. It was almost frustrating to hear from Shelley’s own mouth that she was not ready for what God had in mind for her. If Shelley is not ready (she’s been waiting for ten years), than I am most certainly not ready, either. The process of maturation is going way… too… slow. I almost can’t take it and have to remind myself daily to not give up.
God has given me abundant grace in this season. Last week when I was having an especially rough time and felt like I didn’t have an ounce of endurance in me, he brought along three leaders to come alongside and encourage me and pray for me. Intercessors need prayer as well!!! I first recieved an e-mail from my prophesy team leader explaining that the Lord placed me on her heart in the prayer room and asked me if there was anything wrong. I spilled my guts to her a bit and then she promptly signed me up for prophecy team that Friday night. Guess what the team prophesied over me? ENDURANCE! It was perfect. On Sunday night I recieved another e-mail from my fasting team leader who has been out of the country for three weeks. She basically sent me an identical e-mail with the same statement followed by the same question: “you’ve been on my heart a lot this week. How are you doing?”
See… this is what I’m talking about. A community of intercessors who go out of their way to encourage and uphold each-other through the storms of life. Both of these women are great examples of good leaders who strengthen those around them even when they don’t feel strengthened themselves. They set an example for me to follow and provoked me to do the same for others around me.