Thursday, November 08, 2007

Something Borrowed, Something Boo-Hoo

Alright, so part 1 of my Manifesto has been posted and the chips will fall where they may. Though I can't endorse the movie, we all know what happened to Jerry McGuire when he wrote his manifesto. God help me.

But, in part 2 of my latest ramblings, I will actually be borrowing from John Bevere. Everytime I get my feathers ruffled about something, Aaron always says "You need to read 'The Bait of Satan'". Aaron is so good about just letting things roll off his back. Me, not so much. I'm working on it, with God's help.

So, I took it upon myself to read (some of) it. It's good. Really good. I really like John and Lisa Bevere - moreso Lisa because John can be a little doom and gloom for me sometimes... but still, they are REALLY awesome. Yes, I used the word awesome.

So, here is an excerpt that particularly spoke to me:

There is a deceptive, deadly trap that imprisons countless Christians, severs relationships and widens breaches between us. It is the snare of offense, and many believers are unable to function in their calling because of these wounds and hurts they have received. They are handicapped and hindered from fulfilling their God-given potential. Jesus made it very clear that it is impossible to live in this world and not have the opportunity to become offended (see Luke 17:1). If you breathe air and walk this earth, you will have a chance to become offended—guaranteed. Therefore, it is important for us to be prepared and armed, for our response to offense determines our future.

Ok, so that slapped me in the face. Here I thought I was being passionate. Turns out that sometimes I'm taking the bait of satan. Ouch.

Here is another part I liked:

The enemy uses offense to bring people into captivity. Paul says, "And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition…so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will" (2 Timothy 2:24-26 NKJV). Wow! Those in quarrels or opposition fall into a trap and are held prisoner to do the devil's bidding. They are unaware of their captivity and don't realize their hearts are spewing out bitter waters rather than pure. When people are deceived, they believe they are right even though they aren't.

Another word for that is "delusional". It's so easy to see when someone ELSE is being deceived or delusional... very much harder to see it in ourselves. Ouchy wowchy.

And my last little excerpt:

The truth of offense is this: Those you care about the most can offend or hurt you the most. You expect more of those you care about, and the higher the expectations, the greater the opportunity to be offended and fall into the devil's trap. In Psalm 55:12-14 David laments, For it is not an enemy who reproaches me; then I could bear it. …But it was you, a man my equal, my companion, and my acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, and walked to the house of God in the throng (NKJV). Most often it is a fellow believer who has hurt you, and this causes the offense to go deeper; it feels like a betrayal.

The other plague that results from offense is the sin of lawlessness, which, simply put, is disobedience to authority. A person who has been offended by an authority figure will shy away from authority to avoid being hurt again. This is the reason Jesus says that in our day lawlessness will abound, and as a result the love of God in the hearts of believers will grow cold; but he who endures to the end will be saved (see Matthew 24:12,13).

After ministering in thousands of churches, I have had the opportunity to see the direct correlation between lawlessness and offense. One of three things happens when a person is offended by someone in authority. First, they'll avoid all forms of authority. This often comes in the form of leaving churches, marriages or places of employment in order to escape the chance of being hurt again. Second, they become spiritual vagabonds or wanderers. They will stay as long as those in authority behave exactly as they desire, but if they don't, they run again to the next relationship or organization. The third behavior of those who will not let go of an offense is that they become spiritual zombies. They may stay in the place where the hurt occurred, but they never reach their potential because they refuse to forgive and release the person who hurt them. This is tragic because life holds so little joy for them, and others miss the blessing that their lives were intended to bring.

Alright, so I know this was a little long, but it's good. God, help me not to take up offenses for myself or others (i.e. Aaron) so that the enemy may use me. God fights for us. He hates injustice more than we do... and HE is capable of righting every wrong as He sees fit. Yes, it hurts to be treated unfairly... to be spoken of untruthfully... but Jesus went through the ULTIMATE betrayal and humiliation in our place.

I'm going to try and rest in that knowledge today. :-)

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Late-night, cold medicine Manifesto, Part 1

Ok, so Aaron is teaching on the life of Moses right now and it's got me thinking. Poor Moses had to put up with an incredible amount of grumbling and complaining. Hmmm. So then I got to studying Luke 6 and Philippians 2 and that got me thinking some more. What has happened to us - the modern day Christian… specifically those of the charismatic vein?

Lately, I have found myself getting wounded and exasperated with people who call themselves Christians and yet show no signs of being "Christ-like" at all. What I see is selfishness, hate, unforgiveness and judgment…just to name a few adjectives. Aren't we supposed to be different? Aren't we supposed to be the ones who love? Ugh. Puke. Where is Christ in our version of Christianity?

Oh, wait. Am I not supposed to say things like this because I'm a pastor's wife? Well please bear with me. I'm a human. I would like to believe I'm entitled to some raw emotions. And don't think that I'm necessarily talking only about the people in our church...

There is such an overwhelming sense of "I love you... as long as you are meeting my expectations" and "I love you... if I feel like it" or my favorite: "I love you... as long as you never do ANYTHING to piss me off because if you do then I will forever keep a record of it in my mind and things will never be the same between us." Are you getting the picture? What happened to grace? What happened to preferring one another? [Zechariah 7:10-13: 'Treat one another justly. Love your neighbors. 
Be compassionate with each other. Don't take advantage of widows, orphans, visitors, and the poor. Don't plot and scheme against one another—that's evil.' "But did your ancestors listen? No, they set their jaws in defiance. They shut their ears. They steeled themselves against God's revelation and the Spirit-filled sermons preached by the earlier prophets by order of God-of-the-Angel-Armies. And God became angry, really angry, because he told them everything plainly and they wouldn't listen to a word he said.]

Grrr, of course I'm preaching to myself right now, too. And I know my husband is going to be like "Oh, Beth... why?" But I can't help it. I see these things and my heart cries out "NO!" If we have to walk on eggshells around each other and can't speak the truth in love, then what have we come to? [Luke 6:26: There's trouble ahead when you live only for the approval of others, saying what flatters them, doing what indulges them. Popularity contests are not truth contests—look how many scoundrel preachers were approved by your ancestors! Your task is to be true, not popular.]

Yes, it’s easier to just keep quiet. You don’t step on any toes like that…but that’s not the way God made me.

Anyway, here are some passages I’ve been studying and meditating on tonight. First is Philippians 2…

1-4 If you've gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don't push your way to the front; don't sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don't be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.
5-8 Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn't think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process.
14-15 Do everything readily and cheerfully—no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society.

Next is in Luke 6…

31-34 "Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back? Run-of-the-mill sinners do that. If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that. If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that's charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that.”

And now I am very tired and must go to bed. I love God’s people. I really do. It’s just church people that exasperate me sometimes. ☺