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.
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.
*Taken from Streams in the Desert by L.B. Cowman
“Sorrow is better than laughter; for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better” (Eccles. 7:3).
When sorrow comes under the power of Divine grace, it works out a manifold ministry in our lives. Sorrow reveals unknown depths in the soul, and unknown capabilities of experience and service. Gay, trifling people are always shallow, and never suspect the little meannesses in their nature. Sorrow is God’s plowshare that turns up and subsoils the depths of the soul, that it may yield richer harvests. If we had never fallen, or were in a glorified state, then the strong torrents of Divine joy would be the normal force to open up all our souls’ capacities; but in a fallen world, sorrow, with despair taken out of it, is the chosen power to reveal ourselves to ourselves. Hence it is sorrow that makes us think deeply, long, and soberly.
Sorrow makes us go slower and more considerately, and introspect our motives and dispositions. It is sorrow that opens up within us the capacities of the heavenly life, and it is sorrow that makes us willing to launch our capacities on a boundless sea of service for God and our fellows.
We may suppose a class of indolent people living at the base of a great mountain range, who had never ventured to explore the valleys and canyons back in the mountains; and some day, when a great thunderstorm goes careening through the mountains, it turns the hidden glens into echoing trumpets, and reveals the inner recesses of the valley, like the convolutions of a monster shell, and then the dwellers at the foot of the hills are astonished at the labyrinths and unexplored recesses of a region so near by, and yet so little known. So it is with many souls who indolently live on the outer edge of their own natures until great thunderstorms of sorrow reveal hidden depths within that were never hitherto suspected.
God doesn’t see as man sees. Imagine yourself as an older brother with several runts below you in age and stature. A famous prophet comes to your parents home looking to anoint a new king. Of course, you’ll get the title. The king is ALWAYS the firstborn. Everybody knows this. There is no question that you are the most qualified. But instead the prophet comes, sizes you up, and moves to the next oldest brother… then the next… then the next… then the next. After he has made his way down the row (and you are still seething that he did not choose you at first glance) the prophet asks where your very youngest brother is. The puny little brother, David. This is the brother that is so below you that his job in the family is to hang out with the smelly sheep all day, which was almost equivalent to a slaves position in that day. You try to rationalize why in the world God would choose David, of all people, and you finally come to the conclusion that the only reason David is chosen is because he’s a good-lookin’ kid… which makes you even more angry. So what do you do to make yourself feel better? You accuse him of pride and arrogance. I mean who does he think he is? He thinks he’s soooooo spiritual hanging out in the fields singing to God all day. He really thinks he’s something else. Spiritual pride. That’s what David has.
…… and this is the reason God did not choose Elia, David’s older brother. In fact, Elia had the same spirit as that of Saul, the current wicked king. What a train wreck Israel would be if Elia had gotten the position that he had wanted. He was full of jealousy and pride, himself… and God knew exactly what the state of his heart was.
David, on the other hand, had qualities that his family refused to acknowledge. But God saw them and chose Him because of these qualities. God looked at David’s heart and his family rejected him for it. God saw that David’s desire was to please Him and Him alone. His desire was to be holy… to not trust in his own accomplishments or talents but to trust that everything he had was given to him by God. David sought the Lord instead of the power and prestige of man. God chose David for His own pleasure. He knew David loved to sit under the pleasure of God and He knew David was grounded in the identity of His delight. This is what God looks for in a leader.
Over and over I have seen God choose those that others have rejected. In fact, in most cases, God chooses on purpose, and anoints those that have experienced rejection… at least the ones that refuse to have a bitter spirit. I have seen it in my own family, in fact. My great-grandfather, John Turner, was rejected and kicked out of his own home… he was ostrasized from His family as David was because of his true encounter with the living God. God went on to choose my great-grandfather to be the first spirit-filled missionary to northern India where the Lord used him to bring many to Jesus. Joseph, in the Bible, was rejected by his family and accused of pride. Every single one of the true prophets of Israel were rejected because of their rebukes to the leaders of Israel and accused of pride… and often murdered for speaking truth.
Bob Sorge in his book Dealing with Rejection and the Praise of Man, says that if you have a prophetic call on your life, chances are you will be rejected time and time again by religious leaders. Rejection is a training period for those who have a prophetic identity.
I know in moments of rejection in my own life… and I am currently still dealing with some of it that has happened recently… I have to really run to the Lord to learn how to walk out love and to continue to position my heart before the Lord, being careful not to grow bitter or to allow offense in my heart. It is rather difficult and I have repeatedly messed up but I know that without allowing the Lord to change my heart and help me to grow in love, I will not be pleasing to the Lord.
I sat in a sideroom of the prayer room one Tuesday afternoon during a fasting meeting and listened as one of my prophetic mentors explained to me that I was about to enter one of the most pivotal, horrific, and beautiful seasons of my life. That was in November of 2008 and on the previous day I had an absolutely disrupting encounter with the Lord. Today I remembered a part of that conversation. She explained a similar encounter and journey she had years before.
“It was the most difficult season of my life. It had a lot to do with love. A lot of ‘Sermon on the Mount’ type stuff.”
A lot of ‘Sermon on the Mount’ type stuff. That sounds nice. That doesn’t sound too bad.
Boy, was I wrong.
I don’t care who you think you are, but if you think you are good at the Sermon on the Mount, you are delusional and probably arrogant. I’m pulling no punches here. I love Jesus, but this Sermon is absolutely the most flesh-killing tool He operates with not to mention the fact that it is completely offensive… in a good way :/.
This weekend I was driving down the road with my new friend Rachel who was visiting for our Winter Gathering. She told me she felt the Lord wanted to free me from the bondage of worry (ahem) and that He wanted to free me from the bondage of the ‘need to be right.’ Oh yes. That’s what she said. And the problem with this is that Rachel happens to be the sweetest person I’ve ever met in my life so I couldn’t accuse her of impure motives.
But here, I realized what the Lord was saying was that that all of this really wasn’t about who is right or wrong… it was about self-preservation. Do I care more about preserving my reputation or do I care more about pleasing Him and becoming a humble peacemaker? It’s not the question that is so humiliating but the fact that my answer is so obvious when I allow the Holy Spirit to examine my heart. It is moments like these that I don’t want to waste. Moments that I know the Father is doing something so beyond the actual circumstance I’m in. He sees so far ahead and we stand there, grasping for control when we will never really have it. We really think we’re ‘big stuff’ and then we realize that we have no idea what we’re doing. We’re idiots. Idiots with a great inheritance. Sometimes God doesn’t actually care if we’re right or not. Sometimes He just wants to show us the idol of approval in our lives.
It makes me feel like a child. Like a two year old being potty-trained.
Oh yeah. That’s how I’m suppose to feel.
Which brings me back to another incredible vision I had this weekend.
Dancing. Dancing in my pink bedroom with the ruffled canopy bed in the background. I was eight. And I was worshipping. And He was dancing too.
And then we were in a field of flowers, dancing wildly, spinning and spinning and spinning. Then a drastic change in scenery.
Suit of armor, like Joan of Arc. Swinging my sword, cutting off the heads of demons, challenging the forces of darkness.
Back the camera up. I’m not Joan of Arc. I’m a child. I’m a little child wearing a miniature suit of Armor and the Father is standing right beside me and He’s huge. HUGE.
A massive dragon flies toward me. It was not nearly as big as the Father but it was A LOT bigger than me. I thrust my sword through it’s belly and it was forced backward with ease. I threw that silly creature back so effortlessly as the Father looked on in pride… even though I knew He was giving me all of the power to do it in the first place. It was more like He enjoyed the very sight of me… not so much that I was some crazy, skilled warrior.
There happens to be more to what I saw but I’ll keep it to myself for now.
The point is this– He’s God. I’m man (lady). Whether you’re a retired 78 year old worldwide evangelist or a four year old child, we are children of God and children have a very limited understanding of what our Dads are up to; why they do the things they do. We just go with the flow and let Him handle it, knowing that whatever happens it is for our good…