Tag Archives: mercy

The Lie that Fuels the Pride of the Church

I remember when I was in the prayer and fasting peak of my life.  I prayed with authority, knew more bible verses than I ever had, probably had the least amount of joy in my life and that’s when God cut me with his words.

I will share a little background with you to help understand what he said to me.  I know a man who has been a drug addict since he was 14 years old.  He engaged in promiscuous sex,  began dealing drugs, was in and out of courtrooms and almost killed himself through driving while super strung out on drugs…three times.  He was my age.

God said to me in that little prayer room where I was giving up my life serving the poor, “I love him as much as I love you.”  You might think this would have been a comfort, but I tell you, it was an offense.  I had been taught by leaders in the church that God held a special place for people like me, the good ones.  That he loved the saint more than the sinner.  I didn’t notice the arrogance towards others that crept in under this teaching.  I believed I truly was better than those other people.  That is what I believed.  And that is the lie that God wanted to root out of me.

There is sometimes a stench that comes in religious environments and its the stench of pride.  When people move in the power of God or feel his presence or know his word or obey his commands, sometimes there is a smelly lie that accompanies this that we have earned his favor.  That we deserve it.  We are no longer like those unreligious secular commoners, we are the fingers of God and deserve the better than them.  Surely we are better.


I can feel the slithering feeling of these garments of pride even now as I imagine it.  Even now as I remember it.  This is the stench the world hates.  And let me tell you, it is also the stench Jesus hates.

Jesus did not separate himself.  He did not pride himself on his spotlessness.  He did not cast judgment, nor condemnation.  The thing he openly rebuked is what I have written about above and it was alive and well in the reigning religious order of the time.  There will be offense in heaven and it won’t be at God as a terrorist, it will be at God as a merciful king.

Teaching parables, “I will pay the wages I want,” he says as he pays someone who barely worked at all the same amount as the one who worked the hardest, causing offense at all of their efforts.  “Let me give everything I have to my careless son,” he says to the offense of the dutiful, obedient, older brother.  “Cast the first stone,” he invites to the guilty condemners of a whore, leaving them with nothing left to throw.

God is offensive.  His love is offensive.  His generosity is offensive.  His mercy is offensive.  Get ready to be offended by God, not by his judgment but by his mercy.  No one has earned his love.  No one deserves his favor.  No one has maintained their own innocence.  No one in Christ is treated as they deserve, they are only ever treated as Christ deserves and nothing less.

God the father didn’t wait for your life to change before you were worth dying for.  No, it was the other way around.  He wanted to correct me that his love truly is free to all right now in full, not just to those who climb the religious ladder.

God doesn’t love in part, love is who he is and we are his dream.  All of us.  We get to treat all people with dignity whether or not they have forgotten it.  We aren’t invited by God to love every kind of person because he asks us to, we are invited to love every kind of person because they are worthy of it because his shed blood says so.

God wanted me to see that nothing I had of him was ever earned of my religious efforts, therefore none of him could ever be taken away from me.  All of my religious-performance-self was offended.  God loves the man I mentioned in the beginning of this piece as much as he loves me still to this day.    Maybe one day we all will believe this and then the world will truly recognize followers of Christ by their love.

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Not 1% Less

So I want to share with you a journey I have had in the lasts few years.  It began in a bad place.  It really didn’t have to be that bad but there was one move I made that I will not make again.

People make mistakes.  Maybe you never have.  Maybe you have never made the wrong decision or never said something hurtful to anyone or said anything negative behind someone’s back.  Maybe.

It all began when I made a series of mistakes.  I concluded something and it was the wrong conclusion, which led to the wrong behaviors.  I can’t change that and I’m okay with that now.  But that’s not my point in this article, what I did that I will never do again, is turn my back on myself.


I have become very familiar with these thoughts inside our heads that will replay mistakes, or wrong words, or wrong conclusions.  At first I believed them because I thought they were true.  For example, I was wrong, therefore I should like myself less.  This equation is not true in heaven.

I was wrong!  And it really affected people.  And I still have permission to love myself today!  I thought I was worth being thought less of.  In a way, I was punishing myself because I thought that’s what I deserved.  I questioned myself and doubted my partnership with God.  BUT did you know there are no mistakes in heaven?!?!

Did you know that maybe I was setup to experience this whole in my character so that God could build a new thing there??  Learning requires humility to not know something to begin with.  All of these things are okay and never have to involve the self-destruction of shame, guilt, condemnation, or exclusion.

Did you know God still loves you and values you?  He never thinks less of you based on this learning journey you are on??  Did you know he speaks of your value, your worth, and your ability to always brush yourself of and dive right back into life.  SO….

In conclusion, you may be having other thoughts.  Even small incremental thoughts that get you to like yourself just a little bit less, maybe even one percent.  I don’t believe these thoughts anymore.  None of them.  For any conversation, presentation, appearance or decision.  Not one percent less.  They are not from heaven, and God will rebuild in your life, wherever you tear yourself down.  I will not partner against his work any longer.

You and I walk with a breastplate of Christ’s righteousness on that doesn’t let any accusing arrows through.  Not one.  There is no hole in his righteousness, no gap, no interruption, or weakness.  His righteousness is a perfect FREE GIFT that I have experienced more now than ever before.  Do not make room for any thoughts about yourself that get you to like yourself even one percent less.  They are not from Him.

Relationship

Ya know how sometimes you listen to wisdom and it benefits you, and then there are other times when you don’t and you end up going down a mutli-year journey of not listening to wisdom only to find out that that truth is still true but now its burned into your heart through experience, and hopefully you won’t be too dense to forget it too quickly anytime soon?  This is a story of one of those.

 

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I think sometimes the most vulnerable times in my mind are sometimes when I spend time with the Lord.  Looking back I think over the course of some years I grew calloused in my personal interaction with the holy spirit in hopes to avoid some pit of confusion or condemnation, both of course concerning religious thoughts even, for example, theological uncertainty amidst opposing schools of thought in my mind such as, personal doubt based on insecurities in my performance before God, or contrarily my arrogance in entirely ignoring my spiritual performance before God believing only on that of his son not opening up myself for dialogue about it to protect myself from the afore mentioned accusations, along with the lack of spiritual aperture to be able to keep it all afoot in my mind, casting blame towards myself in that if I was really spiritual and tight with God I wouldn’t be having any of these intellectual roundabouts.

 

Unfortunately the affect of this disclarity and self-accusation was an almost removed protection in my prayer times with the Lord.  I came to take great comfort in the work of Christ and the declaration of his goodness over all of humanity because that gave peace to my soul and confidence before God.  I know this might sound peculiar and odd to some but it was almost as if I was positioning myself in comfort with a theological viewpoint rather than in God himself.

 

I took safety in my relating to someone else’s conceptual soundness of God’s nature and that worked for me for a time.  But as time passed I could feel unrest in the heart of me and I would think it’s because I’ve forgotten the truth:  the truth about who God is, the truth about who I am, and I would once again almost methodically remind myself of these truths to bring comfort.  While this is good, for me, it was still lacking.  It was as if I had lost relationship with God and positioned myself hiding behind the concept of his goodness for protection, which worked…but didn’t.  I was still missing out on the reason I was created.  Let me continue.

 

As time passed I grew in the freedom of these truths I was learning, both in identity and experience but my one on one relational interaction with the Lord had somehow faded.  I was no longer surviving on a tough mission field wrestling against principalities–because he called me to rest from that–and afterwards I guess there was recovering time to be had in my relationship with the Lord after what I had made our interaction out to be and the pendulum swung the opposite way.  If God wasn’t breaking strongholds and releasing strong prophetic acts in the earth and ministering powerful words through me to people and I needed a break from all that, what was left of he and I?  On the other side of that, if I’m at complete rest and nothing depends on me because he’s all sovereign and powerful and in control and I can completely rest in him in retirement what purpose remains left in the exchange?  To what purposes have I reduced our intimacy to?

 

And so with this ominous void of recreational communication in our relationship, the doubt about ‘us’ would come around all the while I knew with certainty my unshakeable position that Christ had obtained for me.  It was almost as if I always knew we were legally married but had lost intimacy of our enjoyment of one another as people and the shared experience of this life together, except as silent shipmates or something.  Don’t get me wrong, the gratefulness was always there, the wisdom was sometimes there, the comfort was there, but face time was still missing.  As I continue to live this life, more and more I’m discovering God relentless and unconditional goodness despite my end of participation in this relationship.

 

And so in this season in my relationship with him, his abounding goodness continued in full force.  It continued to confirm to my mind who he was, but it was almost as if there was a lack of connection of the heart.  And in this, life continues.  Can anybody relate to this?  I know I’ve heard at least one person say to me, ‘I remember what it felt like when I was experiencing the Lord more back then…what happened?’

 

Another contributing factor to this felt internal distance was pride on my part, even though I could see it was there.  Where the directions you keep looking lie to you and make you feel like you well off with God.  I already knew I knew nothing, I already comprehend my comparative nothingness in light of everything that it generous and extravagant being God himself.  I at least I thought I was well off enough in that line of thought. 

 

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Turns out God doesn’t care if I know right answers, even though he taught us them.  God doesn’t care if we think we know right answers when we obviously haven’t even barely begun to know anything really.  Although God continually relates to me as my teacher, and the disciples never graduated from being disciples, he doesn’t care that about my accumulated experiences with him.  He doesn’t care if I’m still being faithful and loving people well and whether I’m using the giftings he’s trained me to use.  All of this means nothing to him. 

 

He continues to be good, he continues to be faithful, he continues to show up on my behalf, but there’s so much more that what I’ve made it.  There so much less that matters when it comes to his heart than we seemingly radical believing empowered christains have made it out to be.

 

Relationships are just humility and dependency.  Independence–which is a reactionary weakness of mine that finds it way into my relationship with God is a false form of protection and comfort.  Thankfully he’s ballsy enough in our relationship to shake that for me.  Because our experience has taught us such, so often we try so hard for so long to do things on our own; even when it comes to our relationship with God, our interaction with him, and our expectations of ourselves as well as of him.  Sometimes this creates some aspects of a relationship with God that has become sterile, formal, ritualistic, or stale, even in the midst of powerful corporate experiences.

 

Interacting with God is not about work.  Let me say that one more time.  Interacting with God is not about work.  Relationship is just being yourself with someone.  Giving them enough credit to be honest with them without any pretense or predisposed concept of who they really are without giving them a chance to show you or tell you who they are.  God is really good at interacting with us as adults even when we’re acting like children.

 

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Humility involves recognition of need.  I think its one thing in your mind when you know that you could absolutely do nothing without God and then its another thing when humility is walked out in the way in which you dialogue with the Lord himself.  Spending time with him, being vulnerable, listening, communicating need, asking questions, being teachable, discussing the painful stuff and actually listening rather than reacting out of emotion–all these things flow naturally out of humility before God.

 

After my brief years of doing life with God I think I’ve come to appreciate a hearty dose of perseverance and steadfastness and resolve in protecting connectivity with the Lord regardless of anything; not letting discouragement or accusation or confusion or distraction keep me from coming and being with him.  He has always been and will always be for me.  Always.

 

Let’s move fears out of the equation.  Your relationship with God is not looming and threatening to end resulting in eternal destruction.  He’s not going to reject you.  He is good and will continue to be good.  There’s no whirlwind of justifications, excuses, memories or enemies.  But the wonderful part I’ve discovered about our existence in this journey of mine is that I was created to experience love.

 

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I was not created to know of it, I was not created to experience it at one time, I was not create for a one time event of salvation, I am created with a need to experience the ongoing relationship with a living God that expresses love for me and towards me in an active and ever present way and reality.  Nothing less will do in this life.  It’s okay to need to be loved.  He wants to spend time with me.  He wants it.  I still have things to be taught, I still have things to learn.  But even the purpose of learning is not about obtaining the answer, which is good, its about the experience of exchange.  For in the giving, is the receiving of love.

 

The most vital thing you can give someone your in relationship with is your attention.  Withholding it simply not doing relationship.  Relationships require time and space for them to happen.

 

I get to participate in union.  I get to choose it.  At one point God referred to Psalm 81:9 with me, ” You must never have a foreign God; you must not bow down before a false God.”  I asked him to clarify his point to me at the time and he said that’s when you ‘run to someone or somewhere else for comfort other than me.’   He’s so good at being our everything, he wants us to experience nothing disappointingly less than himself.

 

And so, his mercy’s are new every morning.  This was one of my journey’s that took too long to be reminded of but have found solace in his relentless pursuit of reminding me of what he and I are all about.  He’s loves loving me and it’s not some concept in order to form a workable theology around.  He enjoys relationship with me and his best for me is my daily face to face experience of that with himself.  It’s what I’ve been made for, its what I’ve been saved for, and it’s the joy of my waking reality.  My only strength is found in him.  Peace.

 

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