"Suffering is not a popular subject.
It’s one I would like to avoid myself!
But God has a way of using suffering to strengthen His people.
Ask the Lord to help you draw near to Him in your suffering."
- Luis Palau
Don't read this blog if you don't want to be shaken up a bit. God has been talking to me about words now for about a year. It is a serious thing on his heart.
Luis' quote sparked more in my heart on this topic of words.
WHY do we avoid the topic of suffering? And even more so ....
WHY do we also avoid talking about and addressing ... the subject of persecution as it relates to how the Pharisees (Jesus' religious community) persecuted Jesus?
And .... WHY do we fail to address spiritual abuse, fear and the use of control in the church?
WHY don't we all want to ask God where we live as a Pharisee and where does the real Jesus shine in us and through us?
WHY is the subject so taboo?
WHY do people fear confronting evil, darkness or sin when it is consuming our churches, our ministries and our organizations?
Do we fear - being thrown off a cliff and cast out of our communities as the Pharisees tried to do to Jesus?
WHY do we ... as leaders and as people ... have the temptation to talk behind closed doors to others about an issue or a person .... rather than talking directly to the one we need to be talking to?
We all do it.
But, is it right? Is it Godly? Is it what He wants for us?
Life and death IS in the power of the tongue. Proverbs 18:21.
Look at these pictures and ponder the influence that our words can have in the life of someone else.
WHY do we not see EVERY frustration as an opportunity by God - to bring God into that place or into the life of that person?
WHY do we not see it as God giving us the opportunity to bring the fruit of HIS Spirit into that relationship and/or into that organization and bring about the change HE is yearning for?
What if instead of talking/gossiping - God wants us to bring His fruit of the Spirit there and help others to feast on Him?
Say for example (hypothetically ... just a made up example .... ).....
There was a leader in a church who worked closely with a senior leader. And this leader, by working closely with this senior leader - was able to see a few ungodly issues in this man and in the organization due to this man's influence.
This example could be the same in any relationship we have .... or even in a marriage or in how we parent. Spiritual abuse and the fruit of it can be alive in any sort of relationship.
This leader, who wanted to keep his job, keep his position and he wanted to keep advancing in his career and reaching people for Christ ....chose not to say anything or do anything that could be life-giving and would bring about a spiritual change - because he didn't want to rock the boat. He didn't want to become like Jesus and risk being thrown off a cliff for speaking the truth where need be.
With this man, he was afraid of what would happen to him. He didn't want to get on the bad side of this man because this man had a ton of influence. This man could open or close doors for him (or so he thought).
This man, in his eyes, could make or break him.
And because people trusted him - people in the organization would come to him to talk about "the issues" they saw in this senior leader.
No one could really see ... that the organization was filled with spiritual abuse. Fear and control was on every side. Decisions were made from control rather than truly seeking the will of God as revealed in the Word of God.
This leader would listen to their concerns ... which then turned into gossip and slander of the senior leader. He would try to help them by listening.
But, he never really helped them at all .... because the Bible says the only solution for conflict and to restore spiritual health and well-bring is to go directly to one another and be reconciled.
But we rarely really do this - do we?
It says, confess your sins to one another so you can be healed. We don't really do this either, do we? To where we truly take a humble position to hear the hearts of those we have hurt. To weep in our sin with Godly sorrow.
When sin is running rampant in an organization - the only way to make it spiritually clean again is through repentance and forgiveness and to remove the ungodly beliefs that have entangled the whole organization.
So often, when spiritual warfare rises in a church - we call out the intercessors! We call forth the church to pray and to fight. When all along - maybe it is simply because we are not addressing issues of corporate sin?
We need to be asking God to show us how fear, control, pride, rebellion, idolatry and all these things are getting a hold of us corporately.
Now with this leader - instead of truly addressing the spiritual issues at hand and bringing the fruit of God's Spirit here - he chose to talk to the people about the issues and about the senior leader. This only breeds more negatively and ill-will. More offense.
This leader never ended up creating the space for people to go directly to the one who they had the conflict with - the senior leader.
He did a lot of talk about him but never created the bridges - which means getting people into the same room to talk about the elephant in the room.
This is how dysfunctional families work. Churches or ministries are no different.
This leader ended up becoming a powerful conduit for gossip rather than a bridge for reconciliation.
People thought he was kind because he listened well to them ... but he didn't bring any spiritual health to the organization. He didn't bring the fruit of God's Spirit, he didn't transform it from the inside out.
When talking about others without bringing both parties together - only breeds a spirit of gossip and division and never builds a bridge of unity or reconciliation.
People might never be the best of friends, but when Christ stands in the middle - His love can't help but to be present.
To the senior leader - he acted as if they were best friends ... but behind closed doors, his heart was negative towards him.
Grumbling, negative, complaining. Not seeing the senior leader through God's eyes and what God truly wanted to do in the church. He failed to see His divine assignment - bringing God's Spirit into the lives of those He was called to lead.
The negativity in people's hearts were never brought to the light - because no one was willing to have that hard and awkward conversation that will bring light, love and healing to the places of offense, pain, ungodly beliefs, etc...
True Biblical reconciliation IS true unity.
The same principles we use for our own healing are the same ones needed for corporate healing.
The senior leader thought this man, this leader was trustworthy and yet - he truly wasn't. None of us are truly trustworthy without Christ. All of us are in the process of learning how to be more like Christ.
But being trustworthy has nothing to do with what we say to a person - it means how we are willing to live in the light with others. How willing are we to allow people to see the depths of who we are - flaws and all. And to live with that place on the outside?
Yep, it means - we are willing to let people truly know us and see us - flaws and all and love them - just as they are - a person in process with their God.
We don't hide our past, we don't hide our mistakes and we don't pretend we are perfect. We don't expect people to always respond perfectly or put the bar of the law over their heads. We create atmosphere's of grace. Of growth. Of failure and of learning.
Being trustworthy - doesn't even mean we will not make mistakes. And sometimes we will make some pretty big and stupid ones. Ones that God knew we would make and ones that will teach us more and more about being more like Christ. This is the beauty of one being in process with their God. This is spiritual formation; this is spiritual maturity.
It means - when we make the mistakes, will we humble ourselves before God and truly repent. We are trustworthy because we know we have the temptation not to be.
When we drop an atom bomb on others - are we willing to wash their feet and do what is necessary to restore them to Biblical love?
When we speak out words of death that destroy someone's calling or their heart or their hope in God (because we represent Jesus or the heart of the Father to others) can we truly see how dark our words are and can we repent and be reconciled?
Can we take a time out to invest in the redemption of that person?
Being trustworthy means we are not a different person behind closed doors than we are in public.
It means - we live with our brokenness and our flaws with the world to see and we do so - because we know we are kept in God's love ALWAYS! We know our value to the Father, to His Son and to His most precious Spirit!
WHY? Because we have a God who knows we are in process with Him!
The problem is - this hypothetical example could be any of us. Myself included! I see myself in various aspects of this story.
I remember being on a team once - and there was so much ungodly talk about the senior leader when he was not in the room - that eventually I had to step off the team. I was weak and I had no guts in me to address the elephant in the room. I was a coward.
I was in a mess just like the one I described above. I never told the senior leader why I really quit the team - but I couldn't handle how the people talked about this senior leader nor could I handle how they jokingly mocked certain leaders in our region.
I didn't want to be the one to tell him the condition of the hearts of all those he trusted; those he called friends.
And I didn't want to be that kind of Christian and yet, I found I was becoming more and more like that.
Not judging them at all - I just didn't want to be in the muddy water of Christianity any more.
I could feel that I was becoming dark by listening to the ungodly chatter. Words have the power to create atmospheres. Godly or ungodly. Life or death.
We either release .... Godly life into the atmosphere and around people .... or we have the power to release a tsunami of spiritual death.
This IS a spiritual reality. Read James 3 if you don't believe me! James describes it as a destructive forest fire. Burning away all life.
Where God's words reign there is freedom.
And where words driven by selfish ambition exist ... there is witchcraft and all sorts of evil (read the book of James again)!
If you are having a rise in witchcraft or evil in your church, don't just call out the intercessors - maybe it is time to have a corporate strategy to talk about the issues of self and selfish ambition!
The Bible is clear - when people put self above God and others - evil will rise up in our churches and on our teams. This is pretty blunt my friends, but this is the Word - not me speaking. The Word says, "where there is selfish ambition - there you will find all sorts of evil."
As a result of being on that team, I could feel that I was beginning to see people through the eyes of those words rather than through the eyes of God.
And I don't like when this happens. I can feel a darkened lens go over my eyes and I begin to see people or that one person .... differently.
This is not God's heart. And I think this makes Him weep more than we could ever imagine!
AND .... I was just a much a part of the problem as those sitting at that table who were doing the talking because I chose to do nothing.
I did nothing because I had SO MUCH fear of man (and specifically, men in authority) - I was afraid to challenge them towards a more Godly living.
I allowed fear to dominate what I knew was right and honorable. My heart was weak and I didn't know how to bring the fruit of the Spirit into those conversations.
I was afraid to stop the subtle forces of gossip and slander and to encourage us to live Ephesians 4:29 - to let NO unwholesome talk come out of our mouths.
To challenge us all - to see other as God does.
To use my no. And to use it strongly and with an exhortation and rebuke if necessary.
Jesus didn't have a problem in rebuking the Pharisees, the disciples and even Peter.
But, I sure did.
I didn't have the courage or the confidence to be that one person who says - we have an elephant in the room and WE NEED to talk about it now.
To be the one person who would go up stream to say that there are forces trying to destroy our spiritual organization and it was coming from within and it is coming from US; and it is coming from our words.
They have creative power.
I was too afraid to be that voice.
So, I walked away. In silence.
Just last weekend, I had the opportunity to speak to a group of people on this topic. I was not on "the agenda" for this event but the Lord woke me up that morning and told me to rebuke/challenge the whole room for any slander of this one man. The party was being held in his honor and for the team that he led.
So, I told the person running the meeting what God wanted me to do - and so they made time for me to speak at the end of event. The Lord was really clear with me that He did NOT want another day to go by with this man carrying the heaviness of those creative words (of death).
This was not the kind of assignment I wanted from the Lord - but he asked me to do it.
At first, I argued with Him some ... because who wants to be the one carrying that message? I would rather carry, the "you are special" message. But you know what the Lord told me when I grumbled and told him I wanted that message instead? He smiled at me with that one smile he does when He is asking us to do a hard thing and He said, "Lori, this IS a 'you are special' message - because I ONLY rebuke and discipline those I loves! Every good parent discipline's their child. How else will then learn if no one tells them what is right and wrong and what is life-giving and what is death? Now, go and tell them what I am asking you to tell them!"
Ok. How can you argue with God?
I was a bit worried though ... about how to share the message He wanted me to share - but He was faithful to show me HOW to say it and He ended up showing me a word picture that would help to describe what words have the power to do.
So instead of just rebuking them - I told them a story ... to describe what the creative power of words do in the life of the one we are gossiping about.
Mid-way through my short talk - I looked around the room and people were sobbing. The Holy Spirit was definitely moving in hearts. I then led a prayer time over the man who was slandered and called everyone up to bless this man with words of life. During this time, God really moved. Some people were crying at his feet repenting and asking for forgiveness. Others spoke out words of life. The atmosphere around him and in him began to change.
Immediately, the cloud of death that began to surround him due to the gossip and slander and the effects of those creative words began to depart and instead life began to flow around him and in him once again! Thank you JESUS!
But let me ask you - how many people out there - are walking around with clouds of death around them due to ungodly chatter? How many lives have been destroyed by the forest fires of our tongues or the tongues of others - and we sit by and let the match be lit and we do NOTHING to stop it?
I am being serious here - how many? God is asking me this every day.
How many Lori? How many?
I have also been the one to talk about others while processing my heart through a wound or a hurt. I am sure many of do this.
And women, love to process our hearts even more so than men do. We feel we need to talk through every angle of it with others rather than really processing through it with God.
I think we need to ask God more about this - and how we can live in a more Godly place with our words and in our discussions about people - even when it comes to the need to process pain as we move towards healing.Why? Because when we do "talk" - we can put a lens onto the hearts and minds of others.
That lens can be our wound, our filter, our offense, our bitterness, our own judgments - can become the filter of the one we end up sharing details with.
We place a filter over them that will affect how they view that person.
A mature person can see this and listen and understand that this is just someone's hurt talking. They know how to listen objectively and they can lead someone out of the hurt and back to having a Godly perspective.
But for those who are immature, they will pick up and carry the offense of others. They will take up that lens of judgment and it will become their own. They will begin to fight, to slander and to do whatever necessary to defend that one that was hurt. They fail to see everything from God's perspective.
They will jump on the bandwagon of judgment, offense and bitterness. And they will partner with darkness in the destruction of others.
This is NOT God. Let me say it again - this is NOT what God wants.
In Ephesians 4:29 and in James 3 ..... we are exhorted on the use of our tongues.
And it is serious.
The damage we can do in the hearts and lives is powerful.
Words are creative. For good and for evil.
Words act as an atom bomb or as life-giving water.
Jesus did not intend for this to be ONLY the words we use in public - but he also meant - that ALL our conversations - and every one of our words that we use ...
- even the ones we say behind closed doors
- the ones we send in an email
- the ones we use in a discussion about others due to "pastoral" reasons
- the ones we use while laying in bed with our spouses while discussing those who drive us nuts at work or in ministry ...
I seriously think of all of the ways Satan can and will destroy God's church - it will be through how Christian's use words.
They are THE most divisive means the enemy will use to destroy God's church and it will come from the inside out.
It will not be the Satanists or the covens that will bring havoc on God's church - it will come from the inside.
It will come from Christians who do not carry or walk in the fruit of the Spirit.
It will come from those who have not learned to bridal their tongues and those who do not know how to partner with God's heart for people!
To see as He sees, to feel as He feels and to call forth HIS Kingdom purposes in the lives of others.
It will be those who listen to the voice of Satan, to those negative thoughts about people ... and then ... they will begin to move and partner with those words in order to destroy the life of someone else.
In 17 years of ministry, I have seen this played out so many times.
We as God's people must truly live .... to bring the FRUIT of God's Spirit into those difficult places, those difficult meetings and we must not be afraid to address any elephant in the room.
To leave this elephant in the room - will lead to a spiritual death for the ministries we lead.
The church that will stand in the coming days will be the church who who pursues God above all else and chooses desires the fruit of the Spirit and Christlike character above all else.
If we put the gifts, the healings, the miracles above truly living like Christ - we will be shaken and devoured. Love must become our grounding force. And I don't mean just saying we love others!
The Bible says the world will know we are Christian's by how we love one another!
We seriously can't preach to the world to love others and preach on unity ... and then as the same leader - send hateful emails to people ... and sit at a lunch with other pastors slandering other Christian leaders (so you can gain favor) and think God will honor this! This sort of church will not stand in the coming days if it is void of love deep on the inside of our hearts.
We must ask God to empower us to live by the fruit of the Spirit - in ALL our conversations and in every encounter we have. We MUST choose the fruit in those secret meetings and in those conversations we have in bed with our spouse.
If we think those conversations are not heard by God - we are seriously fooling ourselves and we are in deception.
The churches and ministries that will not stand will be the ones who sit around a table mocking another child of God. Those who will stand will be those who choose love.
Can we truly see ourselves?
Can we hold up a mirror to ourselves and see this stuff?
I am know I am deeply asking God to make me into a real Christian. To remove ANY of the Pharisee in me so that the real Jesus can stand up.
Mocking people .... deeply grieves the heart of God.
Read the letters to the 7 churches and see God's heart towards his church.
This should deeply humble us - the next time we want to mock one of God's anointed ones - which is EVERY believer, EVERY child of God. EVERY conversation you or I have about anyone - is either releasing LIFE towards them or a cloud of death. Like seriously!
I know this is a strong exhortation today - but God is shouting this message to me. In every conversation - think about your words. And think - they are either putting a cloud of death around someone or they are bringing a rain of life-giving water that will bring spiritual nutrients to them.
The Lord keeps asking me - do you Lori understand JUST how much spiritual power, how much creative power is in your words and the words of others?
He really wants me to understand this. We've been in discussion on this topic for a year now ... since I had an atom bomb dropped on me during the time when I had my brain surgery. (which I will be blogging on soon).
May a Godly sorrow fall on us and may we truly see what we have done in the lives of others - through our words and ... even with the silence of no words. Silence can be just as hurtful as the words that we share.
We should drop to our knees and take an adequate inventory of how we have used our tongues to destroy the lives of others (even if it was in a secret meeting or in an email).
A great prayer to pray is ...
"Lord, begin to show me - all through my life, how words have affected what has been created in my life - for good or for bad. Help me to see the words that have been spoken over me and the words I have spoken over myself and help me to see HOW I have partnered with them. Remove the affects of death and bring me back to life!
God, may this next year - be ALL about untangling any words that do not align with Your Word, Your Holy Scripture over my life. May I see You more clearly. May the life of God be fully alive in me and through me. May any words of death go in the powerful name of Jesus. May the ONLY thing that remains standing in and around me are the Words of Life, the power of Your Word and Your Most Blessed Holy Spirit. Amen."
I am telling you - God hears those words .... and those words have creative power to release a demonic storm in the lives of those you talk about - even the words you speak over yourself. So, slow down and listen to the words you are thinking and the words you are speaking.
Take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ!
PERIOD. If you are having a thought or saying something that doesn't align with God's Word and His heart towards you or others - throw out that word. Slow down and test the words and thoughts that you are having about yourself or others - and keep only the words that contain LIFE.
God, forgive us.
God, make the words of our mouth, the meditations of our heart be pleasing to you - always. May we take off the masks and get real with you. Get the Pharisee out of us so that the REAL Jesus can live in and though us! That your fruit of your Spirit in us - can change any atmosphere. May we never fear man again and only fear you! (Isaiah 8 & 9). Amen.