I have had a lot of 4 am mornings lately but let me tell you, it’s not because I’m ultra-disciplined. It’s because Holy Spirit keeps waking me up and for the life of me, it is impossible to get back to sleep at that forsaken hour. I woke up from such a tender dream that the Lord gave me in those early morning hours and I laid in bed, hearing over and over Jesus speaking His love over my heart– speaking identity over me about who I was to Him. I think that is a good start to this blog about identity. I’m starting with the conclusion in the first paragraph… the answer to all of the issues I speak of below. It is His voice of love that drives out every other false voice.
At 6 am I finally crawled out of bed, dragging my journal and Bible into the living room. I read the story in 1 Samuel 17 that everyone that has ever been to Sunday School is familiar with: David and Goliath. This is a story of inspiring triumph. If David can defeat Goliath, I too can defeat the Goliaths in my life, we’ve all said. I wonder how many self-help messages have been preached from this passage. But something in this story pricked my heart in a way it never has before. Here, we see this young kid who kind of seems to be on an ego-trip. He actually has the balls to suggest that he might be the giant-killer… out loud. It does seem a little cocky, now that I think of it. I kind of identified with his brother Eliab who looked at him in disdain. I probably would have thought the same thing… who the heck do you think you are? I’m bigger, older, and wiser than you and even I know this is impossible. But David doesn’t receive his brother’s insult– or label of himself.
But then Saul hears about this mischief and calls David into his chambers. Saul of course, sides with Eliab. David is not making sense. He’s a child. How in the world could he make this happen? But knowing that there was no way he could talk David out of it, he finds some armor for the young boy to wear into battle. He places on David what He believes is the right thing… Saul’s identity, not David’s. But David refuses the armor. It’s just not me, David says. He felt uncomfortable, bulky and it’s just not how things rolled with him. Both Eliab and Saul have tried to place what they conceive as David’s identity on David’s shoulders. Instead of seeing his value from the lense of the Father, they are only seeing David through their own flesh and expectations.
I have had some wonderful people speak into my life over the years. In that, I have been very blessed but unlike David I haven’t always believed that I was as valuable as what they spoke over me. When you hear promises and worth spoken over you and you resist God’s Word and walk in unbelief, the enemy can easily come in and snatch the Word from your heart. It can open the door for the enemy to use others to reject our value and worth and place false identities on us. When we believe a lie from the enemy, we carry it around with us. It’s placed on us just like a piece armor and it sends messages to those around us. If we believe we are worthless, unwanted, and undesirable, that’s what others will see us as. The lie becomes embedded in our hearts, creating walls and separating us further from the heart of God. There really is a demonic element to a lie that influences relationships and creates an atmosphere of deception.
What I want to start doing is resisting those false identities. As new creations (I don’t care what your theology says, that’s what we are and everything else is a lie), we aren’t the negative, worthless, stubborn, sinful beings that people speak over us. Even if we behave in a way that is sinful… that is not who we are. Yes, we need to deal with sin, weakness… whatever but that is not our identity and I want to start acting like David who REFUSED to receive that false armor upon himself. He refused to conform to someone elses identity because that wasn’t who God created Him to be. He didn’t do things like Eliab or Saul did them. Maybe Saul fights best with a suit of armor on but David doesn’t. Get over it, Saul. Let David, be David. He refused to give into other peoples misunderstood conceptions of who he was in the kingdom.
Another thing to remember: trust Jesus to deal with the Sauls’ and Eliabs’. Nothing shows more unbelief and insecurity when you feel the need to fight for your own identity. David, just simply told Saul what he was gonna do and he did it. He calmly told him that the armor wasn’t going to work and he went out on the battlefield and “did his thing”. We don’t need validation from others. We get our validation from God. Only from Jesus.
Several years ago when I was still in Kansas City, in fact when I was in my internship there, a friend of mine had “let me have it”. She confronted me about a weak area in my personality and I was mortified that she had noticed some of my “issues”. For days I paced the empty aisles of the nightwatch prayer room like a woman on fire, pleading with Jesus to help me be more like Him. Jesus, you have to help me. Just get rid of this thing. Change me! Help! I wanted Jesus to make me like some of my fellow interns who were sweet and gentle all the time. You know, the ones who are quiet and don’t try to pick a fight with the cute guys in the internship. I wanted to not want to talk all the time and I definitely didn’t want to be loud and aggressive. Finally, the Lord had had enough and he spoke back to me, Brooke. I made you like this. I made you to be aggressive and communicative for a reason. I don’t want you to change who I’ve made you to be and I need you to trust me with the things that aren’t working. I gave you a sense of justice and a passion to make wrong things right. I made you an excellent communicator. I’ll fix the rest of it.
I confess that I am still, after all of these years, a work in progress. I put up walls of sarcasm and pride, get irritated easily and if I see some injustice happening, I consistently move ahead of God in resolving the issue instead of waiting for His timing and His heart in the matter. But I have come to learn that as frustrated as I become with myself sometimes, faith involves knowing and believing He is resolving those things in my heart that need to be healed and sanctified. I have come to the conclusion that He is the one that developed my personality and to covet someone elses personality would be an injustice in itself.
I think we can apply this to many areas of our lives. We can also covet a gifting that God has not actually given us. This is harmful for both the individual and the body of Christ. While someone is trying to operate in a gifting that the Lord has not given them, there is a deficit in another area of the body because they are using all of their energy trying to be someone they aren’t and not walking in the things the Lord has called them to do. A church wouldn’t hire a children’s pastor that feels awkward around kids. They wouldn’t let someone cook at church functions if they can’t boil water. When we fail to recognize we aren’t gifted in an area, we may end up being the one who serves cornbread that tastes like soap and making everyone in church gag (ask me about that story sometime).
The point is, don’t try to be someone you would like to be but just… aren’t. If several people have repeatedly told you that you are not gifted in what you are doing, first pray about it and ask Jesus if it is true. Listen honestly to the voice of the Holy Spirit and remain humble. It may be that there are areas you need to grow in before you are released in that area or maybe it’s something you would just really like to do and aren’t gifted at. That’s okay. It’s not the end of your life. The Lord has given you awesome gifts to serve the body, you just have to figure out what they are! This is an incredibly fun journey to have with the Lord. And whether you are shy and quiet or loud and obnoxious, remember that the Father created you with certain personality characteristics and you should own them! Yes, you may still need to work out a few weak spots but don’t walk in shame because you think you need to be someone else. He loves who you are!!
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.
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’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 like to argue sometimes… especially about theological and doctrinal matters. As long as it doesn’t get ugly (and unfortunately sometimes even if it does), I enjoy a nice intellectual debate from time to time. If you get me around an unbeliever or a traditional church member and the subject of God comes up, I always have fun trying to convince them with my words and sharp statements about “truth”.
But about a year ago I realized that though this kind of debate can be helpful at times, mere conversation and bold statements are usually not the ideal tool to convince others. I was attending a weekend conference with a speaker who is probably one of the most prophetic people in our nation today. He pointed me out of the crowd and spoke to me saying “young lady. You like to convince others with your words and through debate but the Lord is going to make you into a presence carrier. It will be the presence of God in your life that will draw others to the truth.”
The problem I see with many who are always trying to be shocking by “shaking the church out of their slumber” is that most of the time they actually enjoy being offensive… being able to cause reactions… and you can tell. I’m sure many of them are convinced they are prophets like Jeremiah who have come to speak “truth” to the church gone astray but rarely do they have the heart of the prophet Jeremiah who loved his people deeply and was very troubled by the call God had on his life. He didn’t spout off the judgments of God to look smart and profound. He pleaded with God to relieve him of his prophetic duties.
I have been a little troubled myself, after seeing some of the ways people have put themselves on a pedestal in the name of “truth”. Why are we spending so much time rebuking the church (I mean do we really think we’re that perfect ourselves?) when we could be convincing them of how great and wide and high and deep the love of God is for them? If we really think our words are going to shape church culture than we have it wrong. It is the all-surpassing, passionate, jealous, consuming love of God that is going to shift the state of the church in our day. If we want to be reformers then this is the message we must, must, MUST bring to the church. If we believe that God needs our words to change things… well than who gets the glory there?
It is not our words but His presence that ignites a fire in a dead church.