Blog

Can these dry bones live? Speak to IT

Ezekiel 37:3-4 King James Version (KJV)

He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”
Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!

The fact that there were only dry bones left in the valley, meant that the body had not only died but had been dead for sometime. God asked Ezekiel his opinion on the matter, “do you believe these bones can live?” He was questioning his faith on the matter, even though every evidence pointed to the absence of life in the bones, He wanted Ezekiel’s take on it. He was given a diplomatic answer too “Lord, thou knowest”.

Ezekiel was then commanded to prophesy to these bones, speak to these bones, apply the Word, the precious promises to these bones. The very dry, dead bones became connected with his manual input, they grew flesh and became a large army.

Now, what dead situation or dying situation are you looking at this morning? Ministry?  Relationships? Finances? Church Growth? Marriage? Get into the Word, apply the promises found in the Word, speak them, pray them, think them. I’m believing with you that newness, life, and growth will enter that situation.

 

Through the eyes of men it seems
There’s so much we have lost
As we look down the road
Where all the prodigals have walked
One by one
The enemy has whispered lies
And led them off as slaves
But we know that you are God
Yours is the victory
We know there is more to come
That we may not yet see
So with the faith you’ve given us
We’ll step into the valley unafraid
we call out to dry bones
Come alive, come alive
We call out to dead hearts
Come alive, come alive
Up out of the ashes
Let us see an army rise
We call out to dry bones, come alive
~Lauren Daigle (Come Alive – Dry Bones)
Be blessed,  MARANATHA
img-20161229-wa0009 Lady Shaki is an eleventh grade geography teacher and youth leader for her church. She is energetic, vibrant and willing to try most things at least once. She has a heart for God and a passion for young people. Be blessed as she shares on Establish Her.

It’s Deposited in You

And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein. (Genesis 9:7)

The God who declared “let there be” and “there was” also declared to man be fruitful and multiply. He doesn’t make empty declarations, and in order to bring forth fruit, the seed must have been planted. It has already been deposited in you, potential, ability, and promise. It’s now time for you to do what it takes to multiple.

deposit
That’s why the master in the New Testament was angry with the servant who got the one talent, he just brought back the seed, he didn’t water it, nourish it, trim it, he didn’t do what it took for multiplication to take place.

15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. 16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. 17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. 18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money. (Matthew 25:15-18)

God wants increase in the different aspects of your life, increase in ministry, increase in treasures (both giving and receiving), and also increase of souls in the kingdom (witnessing and evangelism). I pray for increase, fruitfulness, and enlargement. MARANATHA

I Want It ALL Back!!!!!!

1 Samuels 30 :8
And David enquired of the Lord, saying, Shall I pursue after this troop? shall I overtake them? And he answered him, Pursue: for thou shalt surely overtake them, and without fail recover all.

David and his men returned to their home in Ziklag to find their wives and children taken captive by the Amalekites, their homes and fields destroyed by fire. They responded as expected, they cried, they were distressed, and sought someone to blame so they spoke of stoning David. Incidentally, David himself had lost his wives and children too, but after mourning for a while, he spoke to God as he had made up in his mind “I want it ALL Back”. He asked God if he was to pursue, and if he would overtake the the troop responsible for their loss. He got the green light to Pursue and the assurance that he would Recover them all and HE DID.

war

The enemy has been working overtime to kill, steal and destroy us, and some of us have been stuck at the mourning staging. Crying, weeping and distressed at our loss, but we need to move on to the “I Want It ALL Back” phase and seek the Lord.

Let’s get on the offensive, I want back my stuff, I want back my family, I want back my peace, I want back my joy, I want back my fire, I want back my zeal, I want back my financial independence, I Want It ALL Back. We need to get on our knees and fight for the things we’ve lost, don’t stop praying and pursing until we’ve gotten it ALL back. MARANATHA

img-20161229-wa0009

LADY SHAKI IS AN ELEVENTH GRADE GEOGRAPHY TEACHER AND YOUTH LEADER FOR HER CHURCH. SHE IS ENERGETIC, VIBRANT AND WILLING TO TRY ANYTHING AT LEAST ONCE. SHE HAS A HEART FOR GOD AND A PASSION FOR YOUNG PEOPLE. BE BLESSED AS SHE SHARES ON ESTABLISH HER.

It’s Gonna Rain

And Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain. 1 Kings 18:41

There was a drought for three and a half years. Water was simg-20170105-wa0007carce as there was no rain and no dew, this in turn impacted the food supply as crop failed, and the livestock died. Persons were distressed as there was limited or no food and limited or no water.

But the Man of God told the king, there is a sound of abundance of rain. The interesting thing was even as he uttered the word, the sky looked the same, nothing changed to indicate that there was gonna be rain. It seemed that only Elijah heard the sound of the abundance of rain, he alone caught the vision, he alone sensed the change and shift in the atmosphere. He declared not just rain, but abundant rain, torrential rainfall, rain to fill the rivers, the streams, the springs. He declared rain that would bring back life to a nation that was agrarian in nature, the soil would get water, the crop would strive, the livestock would live.

Have you been going through a dry season in your life? Finances seemed to have dried up, health is failing, relationships (whether marital or family) are in trouble, ministry at a standstill? Things seem stagnant, and to make matters worst, you can’t seem to get a hold of God?

It’s gonna rain, your situations might not indicate that, but it’s gonna rain, the sun might be beating down on you as you survey the dying things or seemingly dead things in your life, but take heart, IT’S GONNA RAIN. Maranatha

img-20161229-wa0009 Lady Shaki is an eleventh grade geography teacher and youth leader for her church. She is energetic, vibrant and willing to try anything at least once. She has a heart for God and a passion for young people. Be blessed as she shares on Establish Her.

In The Beginning…God

in-the-beginning-god

“In the beginning…” There’s something about a beginning that brings hope. Even for those that say it is just another day, deep inside, they know this isn’t true. We all want a clean slate. We all want a fresh start, and getting one gives us joy and brings new commitments. Most of us make resolutions. We promise to do better and, for a while, we actually believe we can. The new year is an opportunity to begin over. It is a chance to start again. This is something we all want, and we all desperately need.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)

All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. (John 1:3)

“In the beginning, God…” He is the only way to truly begin again. Without Him, the clean slate of the New Year is just an empty concept. It cannot truly happen, but with God… He makes all things new. If you are reading this and you have never really made God a vital part of your life, I encourage you to do so. Let Him give you a new start. If you have made resolutions this year for eating, fitness, work, etc. why not make one more? Why not commit to doing something great for, or with, God this year? Why not start this new beginning off with God? Why not commit your life, for the first time or for the hundredth time, to Him?

Dear God,
I give You this year. As I start it out, help me to do it by following You. You are all I really want for 2017. Take me down paths in these coming days that are far more than I could ever have imagined. Help me to follow You today, tomorrow, this year, and for the rest of my days. I’m Yours, again, for the very first time. In Jesus Name.
Amen

And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins…and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. (Matthew 1: 21-23)

I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour (Isaiah 43:11)

Happy New Year all! God Bless You

An adaptation of a beautiful passage  from Beejai @https://theriverwalk.org/2017/01/01/january-1-in-the-beginning-god/

God’s Crossed-Hand Blessing

Genesis 48:13-14

13. And Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh in his left hand toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them near unto him.

14. And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim’s head, who was the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh’s head, guiding his hands wittingly; for Manasseh was the firstborn

download

It was the custom in those days for the firstborn of the family to be given the birthright.This included the position as the head of the family along, the accompanying prestige and a double portion of the inheritance. Manasseh owned the birthright being the firstborn, and by right he should have gotten the greater blessing but Jacob crossed his hand.

This resulted in the younger son Ephraim receiving the greater blessings. Joseph their father was surprised and maybe even upset and tried to correct what he perceived to be a mistake but the crossed hand was intentional. The blessing was Jacob’s to dispense of as he pleased.

God blesses whom he pleases with what he pleases, he doesn’t necessarily give to those we think are worthy or those we prefer. He’s the God who specializes in unqualified blessings, promotions that leave the world scratching it’s head and wondering “how did that happen?”

Some of us are living testimonies of the crossed-hand blessing of God. We came from the wrong address, we’re from the wrong family, we don’t have the right look, the right qualifications but God elevated us to some positions that even us in our wildest hope and fondest dreams could not envision our present status . God’s ways and thoughts are certainly not ours and he has a way of preferring what man looks down on.

I believe he’s getting ready to bless you, do you? MARANATHA

White As Snow

Experiencing God’s Restoration from Sexual Sin and Abuse 

Hi friends, I wanted to share this post with you by Leslie Ludy. I’m sure after reading, many of you can relate. You’ve probably said or done things that have lead you to ask yourself “how far is too far?”, “how much further can i go?”….without getting caught, until i can’t feel the sting of the Holy Spirit pulling me from sin. The reality is, the further you go the harder it is…but just know, no matter how steeped you are in that situation it’s never too late to be restored and made new by Christ’s amazing cleansing blood …it’s never too late to be made as White as Snow.
God bless you ~Yan

Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.
Luke 7:47

Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.
Mark 2:17

When Eric and I were first married, a Christian leader took notice of the fact that we had “wisdom beyond our years” about spiritual things.  He felt that the reason we had been blessed with unusual spiritual insight was because we’d protected the purity of our relationship prior to marriage.  We’d listened to God’s Spirit above our own fleshly desires, and as a result we had cultivated the ability to hear His voice without the cloudiness and confusion that sexual compromise so often brings.  Honoring and protecting purity did so much more than merely enhance the romance in our marriage relationship.  It strengthened our relationship with Jesus Christ and laid the foundation for our marriage to be built upon His amazing strength.

But our lives hadn’t always been marked with sexual set-apartness.  In light of the physical purity that marked my relationship with Eric, it may seem hard to believe that we both came from very impure backgrounds.  Eric and I grew up in Christian homes and went to youth group, but like most Christian young people today we approached purity from a selfish vantage point.  We constantly asked, “how far is too far?” rather than “how far can I possibly go to please God and honor my future spouse?”  And as a result, our lives were full of sin, selfishness, and compromise.  Both of us gave our heart, mind, emotions, and bodies carelessly away in temporary flings, even though we “technically” kept our virginity.  For most of our young adult lives, saving a kiss until our wedding day would have been the last thing either of us would have considered doing.

By the time I caught a vision for the amazing purity and breathtaking beauty that marked a Christ-centered love story, I honestly felt like it was too late for me to ever experience it.  Sure, I’d technically kept my abstinence commitment, but my purity had been forsaken long ago.  I’d allowed the treasure of my heart, emotions, and body to be trampled time and time again.  I knew I was unworthy of a God-written love story.

But then, in His gentle, tender, patient way, my King began to show me that I could be completely washed clean, restored, and made new.  If I was willing toimages-3 repent and receive His forgiveness, I could be set free from all the baggage of the past, cleansed from all the impurity I’d allowed into my life.  And I could experience the fullness of a brilliantly pure, God-scripted love story, through the power of His redemption.  It seemed almost too good to be true, but it was exactly what He promised.

God-scripted love stories are not just for those who have never compromised.  In fact, the very reason that Christ sacrificed everything for us was to offer us the chance to be restored, washed clean, and given a hope and future.  Just look at this amazing picture of Christ’s heart toward those of us who have sinned:

And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, “How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

If you feel that you’ve “gone too far” to experience a truly pure and beautiful God-scripted love story, let me assure you that it’s never too late to be restored and made new by His amazing cleansing blood.

images

Repentance means turning and walking the other direction.  Once you awaken to the fact that you are heading over a cliff, stop, turn, ask God’s forgiveness, and then, by His grace, head in the other direction.  There is no reason to look back or second-guess your position as His child.  You should not expect a second-rate version of romance.  Once you have been restored by Him, you are clothed in His righteousness.  You are entitled to all the benefits of His amazing Kingdom.  Your forgiveness is complete.  Your sin is removed as far from you as the east is from the west.  It is finished.

We only need to read the Gospels to be assured that He did pay the price for our sin—once and for all. Let us not cheapen His amazing sacrifice by questioning whether His work on the cross was truly enough. 

We are either ignorant or arrogant if we believe that Christ’s death was not enough to cover our sin. At the moment Christ gave up His life for us, He proclaimed, “It is accomplished.” (see John 19:30) The price had been paid. The power of sin had been conquered. It was done. It was final. It was absolute. He left no room for us to question it. 

Don’t try to add to His sacrifice by improving yourself before you fall at His feet in repentance. Simply come to Him, in all of your sin and weakness, let Him wash you clean, and make you completely new.  Don’t focus on your unworthiness. Rather, fix your eyes on the awesome power of His conquering, redeeming, transforming blood, shed on your behalf.

(Additionally, if God brings a Christ-built man into your life, He will give that man the grace to forgive the same way that God has forgiven you – fully, completely, wholly.  Eric and I have never struggled with hurt or anger over each other’s “pasts”, because we have allowed God’s grace to equip us with a heart of complete forgiveness.)

If sexual compromise has entered your life, I’d like to offer some Biblical advice that can lead to complete restoration and healing.

1. Repent & Turn

Christ said,

If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.  And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. (Matthew 5:29-30)

Our King tells us that once we awaken to the fact that we’ve allowed sin in our lives, we are not to continue doing the things that led to our stumbling.  That means if you were an alcoholic, you should no longer hang out in bars sipping beer.  If yoimages-1u were addicted to Internet porn, you should no longer spend hours alone, surfing the Internet.  An
d if you stumbled sexually, you shouldn’t remain in intense, close contact with the one you compromised with.  You need to “cut off” the thing that caused you to sin – namely, the relationship you are in.  This isn’t to say that God can’t heal, restore, and cleanse an impure relationship and rebuild it upon a foundation of purity.  But there needs to be a re-calibration; new patterns need to be established, Christ needs to claim the throne in your life once again, and purity needs to govern your every action and thought.

When you are in the heat of an intense, emotional relationship with someone, you aren’t able to truly allow Christ to renew and re-train your habits.  You become distracted by your feelings for the other person, and it’s all too easy to fall right back into the same sin over and over again.  Even though it mi
ght be difficult, honor Christ by taking a step back from the relationship, surrendering it afresh to Him, and letting Him re-build it only after a long season of healing, renewal, re-training, and restoration has been established.

Whatever the “compromise triggers” are in your life – whether an impure relationship or impure habits – ask God forimages the grace to turn and walk the other direction.  Do whatever you must do in order to cut temptation out of your life, even if it means stepping away from an ungodly relationship, getting rid of your computer, withdrawing from unhealthy friendships, or throwing away ungodly movies.  Remember, nothing is more important that your relationship with Jesus Christ.  And if you put Him first, He will fulfill your soul far more than any unhealthy relationship or habit ever could.

2. Receive His Forgiveness

Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn He came back to the temple, and all the people came to Him. Just as He sat down to teach, the scribes and Pharisees led in a woman who had been caught committing adultery. They made her stand in the middle of everyone.

“Teacher,” they said to Him, “this woman has been caught in the very act of committing adultery. In the Law, Moses commanded to stone this kind of woman. What do You say?”…

But Jesus knelt and wrote down something on the ground. As they continued questioning Him, He straightened up and said to them, “The one among you who is without sin, let him throw the first stone at her.”

Again, He knelt and wrote down something on the ground. Those who heard left one at a time, beginning with the older ones first, leaving Jesus alone with the woman. (John 8:4-11)

The angry mob wanted to humiliate, expose, and destroy the woman who had been caught in sin. But Jesus – the only One who had the power to judge and condemn her – chose a completely different response.  Forgiveness.  Full, complete, perfect forgiveness.

Just as Jesus knew the sins of each person in that crowd, He knows every sin we have ever committed from the day we were born. It is pointless to try to keep our sins hidden from Him. Yet when we come to Him, truly broken over what we have done, filled with the soul-wrenching regret of realizing how far we have fallen, and look into His eyes, He smiles tenderly. He lifts our chin with His nail-scarred hand. And He gently says, “I don’t condemn you. Now go, and stop sinning.”

When we are washed in Jesus’ blood, we become completely clean. When He looks at us, He doesn’t see our failures and mistakes, He sees a new creation—a child of God – resorted and made white as snow, not by our own merit, but by His.

And if we truly receive His amazing forgiveness, He can take the sin that our enemy meant to use to destroy us, and use it for His glory. He can take a shattered heart and life and script a beautiful tale of His perfect love.  As it says in Psalm 103:2-5:

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases; who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with loving-kindness and tender mercies; who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

About fifteen years ago I sat down at the piano and attempted to express the heart of this amazing forgiveness through a simple song called White as Snow:

Alone and confused, your heart is bruised from sin; 
Your joy is gone from love gone wrong
And you’re longing to start again.
I know that you’ve been hurt, and you don’t know who to trust;
I won’t pretend I understand your pain.
But I can see repentance in your eyes, and I know it’s not too late;
I hear Him calling your name…

White as snow, He has made 
you white as snow;  
The moment you confessed, 
His heart forgave. 
You might think you’ve ruined all the 
plans He had for you,
But it’s for that very reason 
Jesus saves.

White as snow, He has made
you white as snow; 

Pure and innocent like a dove, 
Though you have done nothing to 
deserve His pardoning, 
You’ve been purified by Jesus’ blood—
White as snow.

The guilt and the shame, 
keeping you chained,
Not wanting to let you go;
It’s not how you dreamed,
not how you planned,
And you can’t see that still
there is hope.

Receive His healing for your bruises;
Receive His riches for your rags.
You cannot imagine all the plans
He has for you,
So take His hand, and don’t look back.

Thanks to Leslie Ludy https://setapartgirl.com/magazine/article/09-1-13/white-snow

A FRIEND OF THE BRIDEGROOM

“It is the bridegroom who marries the bride, and the bridegroom’s friend is simply glad to stand with him and hear his vows. Therefore, I am filled with joy at his success. He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less”. John 3:29-30

As Christians, we often spiritualize the idea of self-promotion.  After all, the more successful and popular we become, the better Christian witnesses we will be, right?  But surprisingly, that’s not God’s pattern at all.

At the peak of John the Baptist’s ministry, Jesus started baptizing, and people began coming more to Jesus than to John.  John’s followers seemed disturbed by this trend, and told him, “Behold, He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him!” (John 3:26).  They must have felt jealous on behalf of John, thinking, “Why is John suddenly getting overlooked?  People aren’t noticing him as much now that Jesus is around!  John should do something to promote himself and his ministry!”  And yet John knew that his sacred commission was to make Jesus – not himself – known to the world.

He told his followers, “I am only the friend of the bridegroom; not the bridegroom Himself; when the Bridegroom is ee0e98db35658c4bed8a5200113540f4seen, my joy is complete.” (John 3:29, paraphrase) And then John made a truly profound statement, completely opposite of the self-promoting messages we are so used to today.

He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).  What an amazing attitude!  His primary concern was getting out of the way, so that Jesus could be seen.  John knew that if he tried to take center-stage, Jesus would not receive the glory that He deserved.

The same is true in our own lives.  When we try to be seen and applauded, Jesus fades into the background, and people look at us, not Him.  But when we focus on getting out of the way and pointing others to Him, He receives the glory He deserves. This doesn’t mean we can never cultivate the unique talents and strengths that He has given us.  It is certainly possible to use our gifts to glorify God (in fact, that is why He gave them to us in the first place!) But first, we must ask some critical questions:  “Am I doing this for His glory or for my own applause?  When people see this part of my life, are they drawn closer to Jesus, or are they merely impressed with me?”  If we are more concerned with what others think of us than what they think of Jesus, then we have not learned how to be a faithful “friend of the Bridegroom” as John the Baptist was.  If we are pursuing our dreams in order to “get what we want out of life” rather than to lead others to the Source of true life, we are missing a crucial part of the Christian life.

Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”  (Matt 16:24)  The word “deny” here means “to forget one’s self and lose sight of one’s own interests.” What an incredibly different message from the “do what makes you happy” notion that our culture promotes!  Jesus says that in order to truly follow Him, we must lay down all pursuits of self-glory and seek His glory alone.

I once heard a true story about a young woman who left everything – all her dreams and personal pursuits – in order to share the hope of Christ among the destitute and dying in a foreign country.  One day she was walking down a filthy alley, watching several sad old men sifting through garbage cans in search of food. They were long-time drug addicts at the end of their miserable and hopeless lives; their bodies shriveled and wasting away, their souls lost and despairing. No one knew their names or cared whether they lived or died.  As the young woman watched the heartbreaking scene in front of her, she silently said to God, “It would be worth my whole life if I could just reach one of these old men for You, Lord.”

At the peak of her youthful potential, when she had her whole life ahead of her, this young woman was ready to leave it all behind just to lead one hopeless old man to Jesus Christ. Such a self-sacrificing attitude might at first seem foolish to our logical minds.  If we could speak to her, we might say, “You are such a bright and beautiful young lady; don’t throw away your life for the sake of one old man!  Surely there are better ways – bigger ways – for you to make an impact in God’s kingdom!”

But God doesn’t measure success the way we do. Mary of Bethany poured out her most priceless ointment upon the feet of Jesus without applause, recognition or fanfare, and some thought it was a waste.  Yet Jesus said, in essence, “what she has done for me is a picture of the Gospel itself.”  (See John 12:3-8)

The apostle Paul had loads of worldly accomplishments and accolades that he could have been leveraged to gain a bigger platform for his ministry. But only when he was willing to consider his earthly achievements worthless and become a fool for Christ’s sake, was he truly effective as a witness of the Gospel.  (See Phil 3:8, 1 Cor 1:27)

Jesus said that if we cling to our lives, we will lose them, but if we are willing to give up our lives for His sake, we will find true life.  (See Matt 10:39)

Instead of striving to be noticed and appreciated, we are to take an entirely different posture into every area of our life – one of humility and self-denial. Whether we are recognized and applauded, or disregarded and overlooked, it should make no difference to us.  A woman who has truly taken up her cross to follow Christ only cares about knowing Him, and making Him known.

Thanks to Leslie Ludy of Set apart girl for these words of guidance. https://setapartgirl.com/devotional/friend-bridegroom

Guarding Against Gossip

Honoring Others with Every Word

…The tongue is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.  With it, we bless our god…Out of the same  mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.
James 3:8-10

If I can easily discuss the shortcomings and the sins of any other…If I can in any way slight another in conversation, or even in thought, then [in that moment] I know nothing of Calvary’s love.

Amy Carmichael

**a little lengthier than usual, but I promise it will be worth it. God bless you **

Marci was an awkward, insecure third-grader with pale skin, countless freckles, and unkempt red hair.  She played alone at recess and ate lunch by herself.  She wore a sullen expression and gave one syllable answers to anyone who spoke to her.

Marci was the brunt of nearly every rude playground joke or lunchroom taunt that floated around our class.  I was a “new kid” at the school that year, but after a few weeks I had managed to make several friendships and was generally accepted by my peers.  Marci was not so fortunate.

I was bothered as I observed how my friends treated her.  They were constantly spreading rumors about her, whispering snide comments about her looks or clothes, and avoiding her as if she had a contagious disease.  It was no wonder that she was always so unsocial and withdrawn.

When my friends tried to gossip to me about Marci, I didn’t quite know how to respond.  Even at my young age, I knew that it was wrong to say unkind things about another person.  But I didn’t want to lose my new friends by standing up for someone that everyone else disliked.  So for the most part I simply kept my mouth shut.

But one day, over an afternoon snack of milk and cookies, I told my mom how the girls talked about Marci behind her back.  I admitted that I wasn’t really sure what to do when they tried to pull me into their gossiping antics.  She immediately reached for her Bible and gave me a passionate lecture about the dangers of gossip and slander:

There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to Him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community (Prov. 6:16-19, NIV).

The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous…whose tongue utters no slander, who does no wrong to a neighbor, and casts no slur on others (Ps. 15: 2-3, NIV).

A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends (Prov. 16:28, NIV).

My mom informed me that, according to the Bible, gossip is something God hates.  He even compares it to pitfalls such as “evil scheming” and “murdering the innocent”. For the first time in my life, I began to grasp the ugliness and the seriousness of this sin.

“It doesn’t matter what other people think of you,” my mom exhorted, “you need to do everything in your power to stand up for Marci and take a stand against gossip.”

I went back to school the next day with those convicting words ringing in my ears.  I knew I had to act upon what my mom had said, even if I was trembling the entire time.  So when friends began whispering to me about Marci in the lunch line, I replied, “Don’t talk about her that way.  God loves Marci just the same as He loves you and me.”  At first, my friends rolled their eyes, but over the next few days as they saw my determination to stand up for her, the gossip began to die down.  Encouraged by this change, I took it a step further and invited Marci to sit with me at lunch and play with our group at recess.  At first, my friends balked, but soon they began to follow my example in treating Marci as a peer and not a plague. When my birthday party rolled around, I invited Marci right along with all my other friends.  By the end of my third grade year, I was amazed to realize that Marci was being treated as nicely as any of the other girls in my class.  I witnessed firsthand the power of taking a stand against gossip. When I finally became willing to put Marci’s needs above my own fears, there was an amazing shift in everyone’s attitude toward her.

Over the years, I lost touch with Marci, especially after my family moved several states away. But one day when I was about seventeen, I received an unexpected letter in the mail.  Marci had somehow tracked me down and was writing to say thank you for what I had done for her back in third grade.

“Your willingness to stop the gossip and stand up for me truly changed my life,” she wrote.  “I felt completely hopeless; I didn’t think I’d ever be liked again.  You showed me God’s love in a way I have never forgotten.  My life has never been the same.”

I was blown away as I realized that my simple decision to listen to my mom’s advice and stand up against gossip when I was nine years old had made such a life-changing and lasting impact upon this young woman’s life. There are two significant lessons about gossip that I learned through that experience; lessons that have stayed with me all throughout my life.

First, I learned that gossip is destructive and deadly.  Though we often think of gossip as a relatively harmless activity, when we engage in gossip we become a dangerous tool in the enemy’s hands that can destroy a person’s human dignity.  Gossip should not be taken lightly, any more than “murdering the innocent” should, as Proverbs clearly states.

Second, I learned that standing against gossip is far more than not being the initiator of it.  It also means refusing to listen to gossip, rebuking the bearer of gossip, and treating the victim of gossip in the opposite spirit.  

The Bible does not mince words about our responsibility as Christians to stand against gossip.  We are told not merely to avoid speaking words of gossip, but to avoid believers who do.  Proverbs 20:19 (NASB) goes so far as to tell us, “do not associate with a gossip” and 1 Corinthians 5:11 says that we are not even to eat with Christians who engage in slander.  

In 2 Corinthians, Paul expresses deep concern over the state of the Corinthian Christians:  “For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be…I fear that there may be discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder” (2 Cor. 12:20 NIV).

This verse paints a detailed image of what happens when gossip is entertained among Christians.  Gossip left untended leads to complete relational chaos and produces believers who behave in a nature very opposite of Jesus Christ. How can we possibly obey Christ’s call to be the “light of the world” when we are engulfed in a dysfunctional mess of discord, jealousy, gossip, and slander?

As women, we must be extra guarded against the pitfall of gossip.  While men tend to express their issues with each other in a more out-in-the-open way (like engaging in a heated debate or getting into a street brawl), women are more prone toward subtlety.  Gossip is often our weapon of choice when we want to hurt another person—especially other women.  In fact, Paul’s description of the Corinthian church (discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance, and disorder) all too perfectly describes most high school cliques and college sororities.  

The good news is, even though we may be prone to drama and gossip, God has a refreshingly different pattern upon which we can build our femininity—the incorruptible beauty of a quiet spirit:  “Do not let your adornment be merely outward…rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God” (1 Pet. 3:3-4).

Have you observed a woman who protects the “hidden person of the heart” and exudes a gentle and quiet spirit?  Such a woman is the very opposite of the high-drama gossip queen that marks so many females today.  Whether she is naturally quiet or has a vibrant personality, she does not allow her emotions to lead her actions. She is busy about her Father’s work; she finds her delight in Him.  Such a woman is truly a delight, both to those around her and to the heart of her God.  By God’s grace, this can become the testimony of our lives as Christian women—as we build upon His pattern instead of this world’s.

Gossip’s Many Subtleties

Because of my mom’s faithful lectures about gossip growing up, not to mention that memorable experience with Marci, I have been very guarded against gossip for most of my life.  But a few years ago, I encountered another dimension of gossip that took me completely off guard…the subtle side of gossip.  

Allison was a Christian friend whom I deeply respected and admired.  As I got to know Allison, I was always impressed by her humility and vulnerability, and her amazing ability to express Scriptural insights.  We began meeting regularly for prayer and fellowship.  Often, she would say things like, “I don’t have anyone else that I can talk to about this,” and then begin sharing ways in which people had hurt her, or specific concerns she had about people in her life.  

Because Allison was a single woman without close family ties, I felt that I should make myself available as a listening ear and be a Christ-centered sounding board to help her process some of her difficult relational struggles.  My goal was to point her back to Scripture and Jesus Christ.  Yet, as time went on, I began to realize that making myself a “listening ear” and “sounding board” for Allison’s hurts and concerns had started to affect me in a negative way.  Through Allison’s “open and honest” stories, I was hearing details about specific people’s weaknesses and shortcomings that I would rather not know—and it changed the way I looked at them.  I found myself becoming guarded and suspicious toward some of my brothers and sisters in Christ because of things that Allison had confided in me.  I also struggled with carrying second-party offenses toward certain people because of the hurts she opened up to me about.

I knew that something wasn’t quite right in my relationship with Allison, but for months I couldn’t put my finger on what it was.  It didn’t occur to me that I was participating in the sin of gossip simply by listening to Allison’s hurts and concerns.  Quite simply, it didn’t seem like gossip because of the subtle way in which she shared her damaging information about others.  She wasn’t haughty or smug the way the girls in my third grade class had been toward Marci.  Rather, she appeared to have a genuine desire to be “real and vulnerable” in sharing her hurts with me and to truly want to love and forgive those who had wronged her.  She always prefaced her stories with statements like, “I wouldn’t share this with anyone else, but you are one of the only people I can trust” or “I’m only sharing this with you to get your perspective, because I look up to you so much as a Christian leader” or “I know that you know my heart, and that I have no desire to gossip about anyone by sharing these things”.

But despite her seemingly humble, genuine, and vulnerable attitude, I eventually woke up to the fact that Allison had an agenda in talking with me that went beyond just “gaining godly perspective”.  She was attempting to sow discord among Christian brothers and sisters with such subtlety that I didn’t even realize what was happening at first; she was marring others’ reputations and making me look at them with eyes of suspicion rather than love and grace.

I was shocked when I realized how craftily the enemy had used Allison to pull me into gossip.  I repented of my sin, and put a stop to Allison’s attempts to confide in me.  The result was noticeable and immediate.  As I stopped listening to Allison’s subtle whispers against the Christians around me, my relationships with my fellow believers began to flourish once more.  I was able to see my fellow believers the way God wanted me to see them—as partners in the Gospel instead of “problems” to be solved.  

I was taught a critical truth through my interactions with Allison: even if we are not entertaining outright malicious gossip about another person, we must be on guard against the many sneaky, subtle ways that Satan uses gossip to bring division and havoc into our relationships.  If we are ignorant of his schemes, we become vulnerable to ushering discord and disunity into the Body of Christ.  As set apart women, God is calling us to take a strong stand against gossip—even the subtle, hard-to-notice forms of gossip that the enemy puts in front of us like bait.  Let’s take a look at some practical ways that we can resist this insidious and destructive sin, by God’s grace.

1) Just Say “NO”

As a child growing up in the 80’s, I heard the famous “just say no” slogan ad nauseam from teachers and other well-meaning adults.  The idea, I think, was to drill this statement so deeply into our minds that if we were ever offered drugs we would have a clear and decisive “no” ready in response.  Not “maybe”, not “I’m not sure”, not “well, just this once”; when it came to something as harmful as dabbling with addictive substances, our answer was supposed to be “no” without any qualifiers or excuses.  

Likewise, when it comes to something as harmful and destructive as gossip, our answer must also be “no” without any qualifiers or excuses.  In other words, the very moment we become aware of the temptation to speak ill of another person, we must call upon the grace of God to say “no” to that bait; to keep our mouth shut even when the temptation to speak words against someone else is extremely strong.  Just because we have strong feelings (i.e. hurt or frustration toward someone) does not mean we need to act upon those feelings.  Elisabeth Elliot once said, “Obedience to God is always possible. It is a deadly error to fall into the notion that when feelings are extremely strong we can do nothing but act on them.”  These words express a profound truth that we must never forget:  God is ready and willing to enable us with every bit of self-control we need, if we call upon Him in the moment of temptation.

GOD IS READY AND WILLING TO ENABLE US
WITH EVERY BIT OF SELF-CONTROL WE NEED.

The same is true for listening to gossip in any form.  The moment we are aware that someone is attempting to place even the tiniest morsel of gossip in front of us, we must call upon the grace of God to say an immediate and decisive “no” even if it causes social awkwardness.  After all, disobeying God is far worse than offending the person who is attempting to pull us into sin.  So even if it seems rude, we should be ready to cut gossip off before it even starts.  This doesn’t mean waiting politely until you’ve heard all the “dirt” they have to share, and then attempting to sheepishly tell them you don’t want to continue the conversation.  Rather, it means cutting them off and boldly saying, “I’m sorry but I don’t want to hear this, please stop right now” before the person even has a chance to get started.  It means literally walking away if they refuse to stop gossiping.  And it means withdrawing from friendships that are pulling you into gossip.  Yes, this may seem hard to do.  But don’t forget, God detests gossip, slander, and discord. Ask Him for the grace to love what He loves, and hate what He hates.

2) Listen & Share (The Right Way)

Most women are acutely interested in the small details of other people’s lives. We can spend hours hearing all the particulars of So-and-So’s wedding or the birth of someone’s baby. We can cry tears of joy when we hear about how a guy proposed to his future wife, even if we’ve never met the couple. We want to know all the details—the setting and their clothing, the how, when, and where—and we want to relive every emotion felt and expressed throughout the entire experience. Most men, however, are fine to just hear the basics. “So-and-so got married yesterday” is about all they care to be told.

A woman’s interest in details can be a beautiful thing when submitted to the Spirit of God. It enables us to “rejoice with those who rejoice” (Rom. 12:15) in a special and meaningful way. It helps us be a sensitive and empathetic listener when someone is struggling with something. 

But, as I found out in my friendship with Allison, there is a right way and a wrong way to listen.  We must be guarded against hearing too much information under the banner of “open and honest communication”.  I have discovered that it is entirely possible to offer godly counsel and emotional support to someone without knowing specific details about their hurts or concerns toward others.  For example, when a woman wants to share a personal struggle with me that involves another person, I now ask her to speak in generalities (not specifics) and not use the person’s name.  I find that I am able to encourage her, exhort her with Scripture, and pray for her even more effectively when I don’t know all the details or who the offending person is.  Why?  Because I’m not distracted by critical thoughts, doubts, or suspicions toward the person in question, and I’m not tempted to take up second-party offenses.  

The same is true in reverse.  When we find ourselves taking relational struggles or “people concerns” to a friend or mentor, it can be tempting to share far more information than they really need to hear.  Psalm 62:8 says, “Trust in Him at all times…pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge” (NIV).   While human counsel and encouragement has its place, God is first and foremost the One we should be pouring out our heart to—not our girlfriends.  Let God become your primary sounding board and listening ear—He is a far better listener than any human ever could be.  And if you share your struggles with a friend or mentor, be sure that you do so with honor, guardedness, and discretion—remembering that in most cases, less is more!

LET GOD BECOME YOUR PRIMARY SOUNDING BOARD AND LISTENING EAR

Along the same lines, be watchful how you pray with your Christian friends about your relational struggles or concerns about people.  Prayer can quickly become a form of “spiritualized gossip” if you use it to share unnecessary details about a person’s faults and shortcomings.  Be watchful not to use prayer as an opportunity to gossip or create discord in the Body of Christ.  And when in doubt—don’t.  Meaning, if you are uncertain whether a particular prayer is appropriate or not, then don’t say it publicly.  Save it for your prayer closet instead.  After all, God is the One you are praying to, not your fellow Christians!  Silent, personal prayers that are “for His ears only” are just as effective as prayers prayed in front of dozens of other believers.

3) Weigh Your Words (And Posts)

Romans 14:19 says, “…let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another”. The word edify means “to build someone up in their faith, to promote another person’s growth in Christian wisdom, piety, holiness, and so on”.  In other words, if you don’t have something important, edifying, and God-honoring to say, then don’t say it!  Jesus said in Matthew 12:36, “…every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment” (KJV).

In other words, we must weigh each word we say (and write) in light of eternity.  And in today’s digitally-obsessed culture, we must also remember that digital gossip is still gossip.  So if you choose to speak, blog, text, Tweet, Pin, Instagram or  post on Facebook, your goal should be to edify your readers, to build up others’ faith in Jesus Christ and encourage them spiritually through what you are sharing, or to bless your friends and family members and remind them of your love for them.  If your words serve an eternal purpose, they can be wonderful tools to build the Kingdom of God.  If they serve a destructive purpose, they can be dangerous tools in the hands of the enemy to wreak havoc on relationships.  So make godly edification your goal with every word you write, type, text, or speak.

The Very Thought of Him

Amy Carmichael—one of my favorite missionary heroes—writes in her book Gold Cord about a kind of “vital unity” that she and her fellow workers cultivated among each other: 

“It often appears to us that there is nothing except our private walk with God which is more detested and assaulted by the devil than this beautiful happy thing, the loyalty that is the basic quality of vital unity.  We made one careful rule—the absent must be safe with us.  Criticism, therefore, was taboo…what other way of life can satisfy the heart that is set on living in the ungrieved presence of its Lord?  The very thought of Him shames unkindness”.

These words express perhaps the most important antidote against gossip:  taking our eyes off ourselves—off our own offenses and hurts and personal gripes and emotions and pride and preferences—and fixing our gaze upon Him instead.  When we remember how much He has sacrificed, how much He has given, how much He has suffered for us, we realize that criticizing and attacking each other is utterly shameful and foolish.  He longs for us to love each other “fervently, with a pure heart” (1 Pet. 1:22).  And this is how we demonstrate that we truly love Him—by loving one another (1 Jn. 4:20).  Gossip has no place in view of the Cross.  If only we do not stray from its shadow, our words will always honor others and in so doing, honor our worthy King.

Thanks to Leslie Ludy of Set apart girl for these words of guidance. Be blessed everyone https://setapartgirl.com/magazine/article/10-31-16/guarding-against-gossip

Women in Ministry – Is there an issue?

I’ve been meaning to re-blog this post on Women in Ministry by the United Pentecostal Church International (UPCI) for a while now especially with the regenerated debate on the role and function of women in the church. I hope it enlightens as it blesses. God bless you.



The United Pentecostal Church International has always recognized the ministry of women, including ordination to the preaching and teaching ministry. Over the past several decades, the percentage of credentialed ministers who are women has declined, but in recent years there have been renewed efforts to affirm and encourage women in ministry. Let’s take a look at this subject historically and biblically.[1]

Historically the Roman Catholic Church has never allowed the ordination of women as priests, and until the mid twentieth century the many Protestant denominations followed this precedent by restricting pulpit ministry to males. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the Holiness and Pentecostal movements recognized the ministry of women based on the anointing of the Spirit. For example, both men and women served in the leadership of the Azusa Street Revival. When William Seymour, the founder of the Azusa Street Mission died, his wife, Jennie, became the pastor. Maria Woodworth-Etter was the featured evening speaker of the 1913 worldwide camp meeting in Arroyo Seco, California, that served as a catalyst for the emergence of the Oneness message. In the earliest Oneness Pentecostal ministerial directory that we have (1919), 203 of 704 ministers, or 29 percent, were women.

In the UPCI women have served as general youth secretary, general Sunday school secretary, district youth president, district home missions director, Bible college president, national board member (outside North America), and General Conference evening speaker, as well as pastors, evangelists, teachers, and missionaries. Currently, several key offices are restricted to males: all district board members, district global missions directors, and men’s ministry officers. However, other key offices are open to women: general superintendent, assistant general superintendent, general secretary, general global missions director, and other general and district offices not already named. The reason for these distinctions appears to be more cultural and historical than theological.

The proportion of women ministers has diminished over the years probably due to several factors. First, the early Pentecostal movement was about two-thirds female, but as more men entered the movement and as it became more socially accepted, men increasingly assumed leadership roles. Second, there was a backlash against the women’s liberation movement of the 1960s and 1970s, as Pentecostal women did not wish to be identified with the attitudes and mannerisms of worldly women who fought against biblical morality. Third, Pentecostals were influenced by the theological and social positions of Fundamentalists, who strongly opposed women in ministry. Consequently, many Pentecostal women fulfilled their ministry without seeking ministerial credentials. Often, those who experienced a ministerial call married ministers and worked alongside their husbands without seeking credentials of their own.

In the Old Testament God used women as judges and prophets. (See Judges 4:4; II Kings 22:14; Isaiah 8:3.) The new covenant opened the door for greater involvement in ministry by everyone including public prophecy (anointed proclamation) by both male and female (Acts 2:17; I Corinthians 14:31). The general principle is that in the body of Christ opportunities are not restricted on the basis of ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or gender (Galatians 3:28). In the early church, women served in various leadership and ministry roles.

  • The daughters of Philip were prophets (Acts 21:9).
  • Priscilla was a teacher and apparently a pastor along with her husband, Aquila (Acts 18:26; Romans 16:3-5).
  • Phoebe was a deacon (Romans 16:1).
  • Tryphena, Tryphosa, Persis, Euodia, and Syntyche were Paul’s coworkers in the gospel Romans 16:12; Philippians 4:2-3).
  • Junia was an apostle along with Andronicus, apparently her husband (Romans 16:7).

In dealing with a situation in Ephesus, Paul explained that women were not to usurp authority over men but were to minister under proper spiritual authority (I Timothy 2:11-12). Apparently some women there had begun teaching contrary to the established doctrine of the church. Thus he instructed Timothy, the overseer, that they had no authority to teach but needed to be silent. Because of a problem in the Corinthian church, Paul also explained that women were not to interrupt a public assembly to ask questions (I Corinthians 14:34-35). The instruction to be silent is not absolute but specific to the conditions being addressed. Otherwise, if interpreted absolutely, women could not sing, pray aloud, testify, or teach Sunday school, contrary to the principles of New Testament ministry that we have already seen. Paul taught that women could speak in public worship as long as they did so with proper respect for authority and while upholding their feminine identity (I Corinthians 11:5-6).

Bishops (pastors or elders) are to be the husband of one wife (I Timothy 3:2). This statement means they must follow the moral teaching of the church with regard to marriage. While it is phrased in terms of the typical or generic case of males, the purpose is not to imply additional qualifications of being male and married. Otherwise, single males such as Jesus and Paul would not have qualified.

In summary, we should recognize the ministry of women as long as they follow biblical authority in the church and in the home. The same is true of men. Women are not to imitate men but are to exercise their ministry in distinctively feminine fashion, for God has called them as women. Indeed all ministers are to fulfill their ministry in the context of their own unique identity, personality, gifts, and calling. The ministerial or pastoral style of a woman will be different from that of a typical male, but it can still be effective. In fact, we need different types of ministries and churches to reach our diverse population. We need every available worker in the harvest. Those who are dying need immediate attention, and it doesn’t matter whether the physician is male or female. We urgently need more preachers, teachers, pastors, pastoral counselors, and missionaries who can minister effectively in a variety of ways and relate to different kinds of people. There are many reasons why women in ministry should receive ministerial credentials: accountability to spiritual authority, validation of ministry, credibility inside and outside the church, participation in ministerial fellowship and decision making, and establishing of role models for young women who are seeking God’s will. Our world desperately needs more Apostolic ministers, both male and female.[2]i

[1] For a historical discussion see Bernard, History of Christian Doctrine, vol. 3. For a scholarly biblical discussion see Bernard, Apostolic Life, ch. 33. For an exploration of the issue in fictional form see David Norris, Cara’s Call (Florissant, MO: Apostolic Teaching Resources, 2011), available from Pentecostal Publishing House.

[2] This article is adapted from David K. Bernard, The Apostolic Church in the Twenty-first Century (Hazelwood: Word Aflame Press, 2014), 85–88. For a more extensive discussion of passages of Scripture that are sometimes interpreted to forbid women from serving in certain ministry or leadership roles—including I Timothy 2:11-15; 3:2-4; I Corinthians 14:34-35—see pages 89–94 of the same book.