Unlearning the Learned: Separating Kingdom From Culture

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.    – Jesus Christ 


If you want to understand what a relationship with Jesus looks like, that is your verse. Jesus gives us rest. As we follow Him, we become more like Him: gentle and humble. Following Him is easier and lighter than any other religion. (Matthew 11:28-30)

However, there is a religion that is a huge block to Christians truly experiencing a real relationship with Jesus. And that is Christianity.

Christianity is the heaviest religion one can carry. 

The Pharisees were the best at this! They searched the Scriptures so much, thinking that it would save them, but never came to an understanding of the truth: the revelation of Jesus Christ (John 5:39). Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). To be under a religion of the true God, and not have a relationship with Him is heavier than any other way to do religion (Matthew 23:4). When we cling to Him, we find rest, and we find relationship. We don’t find a rule book.

It’s really easy to make Christianity a set of rules to live right, but Jesus wanted to bring us to Himself. There is so much religious dogma. We have hundreds of denominations, doctrines, and theologies. The only reason all these “ologies,” denominations, and doctrines were created was because there were disagreements. But disagreements are not Biblical (1 Corinthians 13).

Many people grow in their walk in certain denominations but I wonder how many people as why is there so much division. I understand that some denominations were formed out of foolish reasons like what colors our pews should be. But a good amount of theologies denominations differ on very important issues. Why is this?

How is one supposed to find the truth? | Which denomination should I belong to?

A lot of us get saved in certain churches, and because we have a genuine relationship with Christ, we automatically trust our churches to have the truth. However, we are always called to test the spirits, test scripture, and be led by the Holy Spirit.

I go to a non-denominational church. As I’ve grown in my relationship with God, there are some things I agree with my leadership, and somethings I don’t. It’s been such a journey wrestling with Scripture through the Holy Spirit on what is the truth in all things (Acts 17:10-12).

I realized that I don’t want anyone to determine what I believe except the Holy Spirit. We are oftentimes warned in Scripture not be deceived, to hold on to the truth of the faith. At the end of the day, we are all going to be accountable to God for ourselves (Romans 14:12). Which means we CANNOT blame our leaders for things we got wrong to the Lord because we each have the Holy Spirit and Bible.

I am not saying I don’t trust my leadership. Everyone is on their own journey with Jesus and coming to a knowledge of the truth. That means that if I test the spirits and fully believe my leaders have a genuine, living, breathing relationship with Jesus, I should follow them and also have grace for them in areas where they fall short, just as they should do for me as well.

What I am saying is, we may have learned a lot of things that we received because we trusted human words verses the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is here to guide us in all truth. He is should who you listen to first and foremost.

The truth is, there is a lot of things people differ on, and for many of those things, there is ONE TRUTH. God is not divided and neither should the Church be.

I want to encourage to start asking questions. Start looking at the division in the Church. Jesus prayed for His followers to be unified (John 17:20-23). Are you praying for that? Does the current church today look unified to you? (Ephesians 4:3-6)

The ONLY reason there is disunity is because MANY are not being led by the Spirit.

Are you? 

As you start exploring these topics, there will be many things you will have to unlearn. As you unlearn them, the Holy Spirit may teach you something different. Or you may learn the same thing because you did have the truth. However, you will start to realize how much you believed some things because someone said them, and not because the Holy Spirit revealed it to you (Romans 12:1-2, 1 Corinthians 2:9-16).

God is raising up a generation that wants the truth and nothing but the truth. The world is searching for the truth, and if the Church is divided that creates a barrier (Mark 3:25). Remember what the Spirit of God is here for, to guide us into all truth (John 16:13). So let His Spirit guide you and be a part of this generation rising up that puts the Kingdom of God over their culture!

Advertisements

The Way the Mind Should Work

I was reflecting on the Church in America yesterday. It’s something I do often. I tend to be  pretty global-minded. In a weird but beautiful way, I’m very passionate about a lot of different things. I often find myself jumping from book to book in multiple different topics and usually circle myself around on the wide range of topics over and over again. 

Last night, I was reading a book on marriage and it stated Romans 8:5-11: 

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. (The rest of that passage is really great and applicable to what I’m talking about. Go check it out!)

I love Romans 8. It’s my favorite chapter in the Bible. But God illuminated my eyes to this passage in a new way. Currently, there is an attack towards various churches of America that tend to lean towards what many may call a “feel good” or “watered-down” message. Messages like these are usually focused on positive thinking, declaring blessings, speaking life over yourself, and trusting that God will bless you. 

As I was reading Romans, I realized that speaking on these things are not wrong or untruthful. There is power in understanding how all those topics apply to us Biblically. The issue is, those types of messages do not encompass all that God has to say to His disciples. Many are quick to call people false teachers, but it is not abnormal for people speak on topics they are more passionate about.

Do I think that should be the case?

I believe within any leadership/teaching/pastoral role, we should be teaching all that Jesus has commanded us to do. At the same time, we ought to be careful to not wrongly attack the body of Christ when someone is off. It’s important to truly understand what is happening, why, and seek counsel from the Lord before we address anyone. Often times, the plank needs to be removed from our own eye before we correct others (Matthew 7:3-5). 

So what does it mean to have a mind governed by the Spirit? 

We know that the fruits of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control (Galatians 5:22-23). In verse 24-25, it says, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus has crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Having a mind governed by the Spirit means focusing on what the Spirit is focusing on. The Spirit of God is perfect. There is no flaw. He cannot reflect on sin within Himself because there is no sin in God. 

So why do we so often dwell and reflect on past sins when that is not what the Spirit is doing?

Philippians 4:8-9 tells us to think about what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. This is what gives us peace! 

When our relationship with God is focused more on how we can be better, do better, and live better, that is called a sin consciousness. Your relationship with God is mainly focused on your sin and improving who you are. However, we are to focus on God not our flesh. Having our mind on the Spirit means having our mind on God. God is love, good, and perfect in all His ways.

My time with God is so precious to me. Because I have the Holy Spirit, I go beyond my flesh, connect with God, and learn more and more about Him. That is what moves me to become more like Him. That is how I’m transformed.

Romans 12:2 says, 

Do not conform to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is– his good, pleasing and perfect will. 

The Bible knows what it is talking about when it says, life and death is in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). Your words strongly effect you, as well as your thoughts. What you speak in your mind to yourself is just as powerful as what you speak out loud.

My friends, let’s change our verbiage. Let’s stop saying how we are working on not being mean and start saying we are working on being kind. Let’s stop saying we keep falling short and start saying His grace is sufficient for us. Let’s start confessing the truth over ourselves. Let’s start saying who we are in Christ and not who we are without Him. This is how we walk in the Spirit!

Does this mean we never pay attention to our sin? Of course not! But when we sin, we confess and believe we are forgiven. We ask God for the grace to not do it again and we move on. Listen to the instruction of the Spirit. Most of the time, God wants to teach you why you fell into sin and what to do next time. He is our counselor! He helps us work through the deep-seeded roots of our sins. If all God is to you, in a personal sense, only a God who convicts you but doesn’t guide you, love on you, or give you joy, you’re not receiving all He has for you. My prayer is that you dig into the Word and see who God really is and how a relationship with Him should actually look like.  

I leave you with Ephesians 3:16-20: 

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses all knowledge– that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably all that we can ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. 

Love, Hate, and Dead-End Theology

It’s okay to have the wrong answers. It’s okay to be wrong about our conclusions on God and the Bible. Everything should line up with the Word of God. The problem is, when we come to a conclusion that is incorrect, we cannot force God into our box so that we don’t have to admit we’re wrong. Humble yourself, turn around, and keep seeking the truth. His grace is sufficient for you.

This is a post by Micah J. Murray. No, I do not agree on all His beliefs, but this article is definitely worth the read.


 

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.” – The Holy Scriptures

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” -Jesus

God is love. Love your enemies. These two statements lie at the heart of the Christian religion.

So it may come as a surprise that many Christians follow a line of theology leading them to conclude that God hates sinners and that we must love our enemies enough to hate them too.

And no, it’s not Westboro Baptist or some other fringe group of radicals saying these things. It’s well-respected preachers and theologians – men whose books, sermons, and ministries have had an undeniable role in shaping contemporary American Evangelicalism.

///

Earlier this month I was driving to a friend’s house in Virginia when I hit a dead-end road.

I had missed a turn and instead of telling me to turn around, my GPS just kept giving me more directions. I followed it turn by turn as it led me down gravel back roads surround by woods. I knew that the road I was on didn’t seem right, but the GPS seemed to think that it would eventually bring me to my destination. So I kept following it.

It wasn’t until the directions led me to a dead-end gravel road in the middle of the night that I knew I had gotten way off course, probably several miles back.

We do this with our theology too. Following logical, turn-by-turn ideas until they hit a dead end. When that happens, we have a choice: we can either turn around and retrace our theological steps until we find where we got off course, or we can accept that this dead-end theology must be what God is like, because we followed all the directions and this is where we arrived.

///

God is love.

I don’t think any Christian would deny this. But some people have followed a theology that results in a god whose actions are anything but love. Rather than recalibrating their theology, they opt to redefine love and preach a God who hates some people.

These should be stark warning signs that our theology has run off-course. 

The most notorious example is Mark Driscoll’s infamous “God Hates You” sermon:

Some of you, God hates you. Some of you, God is sick of you. God is frustrated with you. God is wearied by you. God has suffered long enough with you. He doesn’t think you’re cute. He doesn’t think it’s funny. But [understanding that God hates you] is the beginning of freedom.

But Mark Driscoll is a shock-jock preacher known for his bold statements. He’s probably the only preacher who would actually preach from the pulpit that God hates sinners, right?

Oh. John Piper preached that very same thing more than twenty-five years ago:

Yes, I think we need to go the full biblical length and say that God hates unrepentant sinners. If I were to soften it, as we so often do, and say that God hates sin, most of you would immediately translate that to mean: he hates sin but loves the sinner. God hates unrepentant sinners—which means that his infinite wrath hangs over them like a mountain of granite and will in the end fall.

And on The Gospel Coaltion blog, Justin Taylor quotes John McKenzie saying:

There is a lawful hatred of the sinner; and indeed there must be, since such a hatred is the obverse of the love of God. The love of God hates all that is opposed to God; and sinners–not merely sin–are opposed to God.

This has long been my objection to the theological structure that elevates God’s wrath to such a central point of the Gospel narrative. When the doctrines of God’s hatred toward sinners and God’s unconditional election of a few are held tightly, the meaning of love is too often sacrificed to make the theology “work”.

Matt Chandler’s theology reveals this conflict as well. After hearing him preach that “God delights in you!” I asked him if this was true of the “unelect” in the room. He replied:

“Yes He does but not in the way He loves those that are His. That’s a different type of delight.”

Within this theological framework, “love” can  mean creating a human life and then deciding to not elect that life for salvation, thereby willfully abandoning it to an eternity of torture. This is still love, just a different type of “love”.

When love and hate can be used so interchangeably, your theology has effectively rendered the world “love” meaningless.

///

Wrestling through the implications of this theology last year, I noted that it also negates God’s command to love:

This leads me to wonder, if God only loved a few enough to save them from hell, why should I love my neighbor? Statistically speaking, God probably didn’t love him enough to choose him to be part of God’s family before the foundation of the world, so why should I care about him during these few brief years before he’s sent crackling into hell

People assured me that regardless of how their theology may mangle the meaning of God’s love, I still had to love my neighbor – if for no other reason than because the Bible tells me so.

But this week Desiring God published an article suggesting that my conclusions were perhaps not far from theirs. In a piece titled “Do You Love Your Enemies Enough to Hate Them?“, Jonathan Parnell argues:

In fact, if the love is real, it must include hate.

But that hate, if we are obeying Jesus, means that we hate them not only because of their disgusting injustice, but for what that injustice means for their souls. Piper explains, “There is a kind of hate for the sinner (viewed as morally corrupt and hostile to God) that may coexist with pity and even a desire for his salvation” (222).

Love for our enemies means, fundamentally, that we hate our enemies for wholeheartedly joining in the evil that will ultimately cause their damnation.

It seems that what’s being advocated here is an alternative to the infamous “love the sinner / hate the sin” cliche.

Instead, we are to “love the sinner / hate the sinner”.

This is the logical conclusion of a religion that preaches “God hates you”. Eventually we are told to hate our enemies too.

This should be the dead end road that tells us we’ve missed a turn somewhere along the way. If God commands us to love our enemies, we should question any theological assertion that suggests God hates God’s enemies. But that questioning would strike at the very heart of this new-Puritan obsession with God’s wrath. So instead they redefine “love” to include “hate” – protecting the foundation of their theological systems but destroying the nature of love and the character of God in the process.

///

When I got to that dead-end road in the middle of the night, I knew it was not my friend’s house. Though I’d never been there before, I knew what his home should look like – and it wasn’t this.

We have an idea of what God is like – God is revealing Godself in the earth and the sky and the Scriptures and the law written in our hearts. So when our theology leads us to conclusions that twist God’s love into hate, we shouldn’t just shrug it off as the pride and confusion of our sinful hearts.

It’s possible to follow all the instructions and still wind up at the wrong destination. Don’t try to talk yourself into accepting that wrong is right, that evil is good, that hate is love. Just turn around and retrace your steps back to Jesus.

The Joy of the Lord Is My Portion!

I was having a conversation with a new friend recently. She is a believer, but she comes from a different theological understanding than I do. Now, I take “theological standing” very differently than most. I don’t necessarily have a theological standing. I would like to say that Jesus is my theology. I don’t belong to a denomination, but some would call me charismatic. All I know is, I am a Christian, I follow Jesus, and the Word of God is my guide. All other labels can be thrown away.

This friend of mine is very different in that sense. She is reformed, Calvinist, and cessationist, all of the things. But as believers, we can still have a relationship. In the midst of one conversation, I started to profess how good and faithful God is and how He’s reflected that truth in my life. This friend of mind felt the need to add to this point and said, “It’s important to remember that He is still sovereign and He is still in control, and even when He doesn’t do things the way we want, He is still in control of it all.”

Yes… 100% agree with that.

I realized something got lost in translation. I felt as though this is what my friend heard, “God is always so good and faithful to me, He answers my prayers how I want. Everything feels so good all the time with Him, because He is so good.”

I felt as though this friend was trying to communicate to me that life will not always be good, but God is in control. To go even further, I feel as though she was trying to say, God will not always seem “good” and “faithful” to you, but He is still in control. As much as I agree with that statement, sometimes it may not look, in a physical sense, that God is being good and faithful, that doesn’t mean I have to ever doubt that He is. I can always shout those truths from the rooftops.

I’ve been reflecting on this conversation today, and I had to write about it. My life has had many ups and down. I’ve had seasons when I’ve begged God to move in certain ways, and He didn’t. I’ve been through pain, heartbreak, and tragedy. However, going through all of these circumstances, I’ve seen how God has worked through them and I have seen His goodness and faithfulness in it all. Why is it that when people profess God is good, it is sometimes received as if the person doesn’t understand that life can be hard? Through all life’s circumstances, God has words for us to help guide us through these times.

As I was reflecting on this conversation, the Holy Spirit started to put some verses in my heart to show me that joy is my portion. I can always stand on the promises of God because the Bible is my authority, and what God says is truth. God said He is faithful, so I believe it. God said He is good, so I believe it.

My favorite verse is Romans 8:28:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose. 

I can be confident that in ALL things, the good AND the bad, God is working for MY GOOD. In His presence is fullness of joy (Psalms 16:11). God said He will never leave me or forsake me, so I know that He is always near (Hebrews 13:5). This means that I can ALWAYS have joy!

Through the bad things, you ask? Yes! Even then! Paul said in Philippians 4:4-7:

Rejoice in the Lord always! I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near! Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 

Paul commands us to rejoice in the Lord always! This means that it is my portion to be able to rejoice in the Lord always (being able to and actually doing it are two different things)! Paul says this right before he tells us not be anxious about anything and that when we pray God will give us peace. So, clearly I should rejoice even when I have a reason to be anxious. I should also continuously pray. When I do that, God WILL give me peace! That’s His words, not mine. Joy and peace are both my portion!

Okay, but anxiety is one thing. What about when things are just awful? Paul in James 1:2 says,

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 

What are trials of many kinds? Paul explains in 2 Corinthians 12:10:

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecution, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 

Clearly, an easy life was never promised to us in Scripture. I can bring up numerous verses to confirm that. However, we can hold on to the promise that even within difficult times, we can have joy. I can declare that God is good and He is faithful, even when nothing looks good in my life and God feels distant.

Even if God feels distant, is He? If I don’t feel peace or joy, does that mean that God has changed? No! That means I’ve changed! He promised that in His presence there is fullness of joy! So I will press into Him, and as I do, I hold on to the promise that joy is my portion.

How can I claim these truth’s when I know that I will die? Well, we know that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). And in His presence? You should have it down by now: There is fullness of joy! No matter what happens, joy will always be my portion. Thank you Jesus! I hope to always declare in my life, through the good and the bad, that God is so good to me, and He is so faithful!

The Lord’s loving-kindnesses indeed never cease; for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. 

 

Redeemed Women, Rise Up: Why Christian Women Can Preach the Word

What does it mean to be a redeemed woman? I never struggling with this question until recently. Here’s a little back story of my Christian history.

I grew up in a non-denominational, primarily African American church. Whatever church you grow up in shapes how you see Christianity. As a young adult, I left the church I grew up in, spread my wings, and I went to a different, non-denominational church. Both churches were pretty similar in their beliefs, just different in style and culture. These churches shaped how I saw Christianity. I’ve recently realized that my normal is not everyone’s normal. In case you were wondering, this is what’s normal for me:

  • Believe in the active functioning of all gifts of the Spirit. Including the “sign” gifts (prophecy, miracles, healing, tongues).
  • Women can preach.
  • Fasting is a lifestyle that all believers should have and pursue.
  • We can discern and hear God’s voice.
  • Women can preach.

You many have noticed, one thing is on the list twice. Why? That is what I am going to emphasize (the other topics will came later). Many of you reading this have already decided I am a false teacher, heretic, or a witch, based off of that list. If that is you, this post is not for you. This post is for those who are seeking an understanding of a woman’s role in the Church and Body of Christ. This post is for those who don’t claim to know everything about the Bible, and are willing to learn and receive something they have never seen before. I am here to give a reason for the hope that I have (1 Peter 3:15).

Women can preach. This is the story of how God revealed this Biblical truth to me:

I’m currently doing a 10 month mission trip. I have a heart for the nations. I don’t know how God will use that quite yet, but during this trip, He’s been working in a way that I didn’t expect. I found myself at a place surrounded with 50+ Christians who grew up differently than me. Basically, everything in the list above is not a theology accepted by those around me. Some label my theology, “charismatic.” I never realized that “charismatic Christianity” was not equal to Christianity for all believers. How could I be so ignorant about this? I’m not sure. But I learned real quick the reality of the church in America.

One day, as I gathered together with my fellow believers, the topic about women sharing the word came up. Some woman mentioned that they wouldn’t be comfortable speaking with the men in the room because it goes against their theology. One of the male believers asked if everyone understood why this conversation was happening. Most nodded their heads. I stayed still and silent. I’ve lived with these believers for 2 months and didn’t know they were against women preaching. Oh, how ignorant I was.

Again, the idea that women can preach was my norm growing up. I didn’t even know this was an issue within the Church. Was I wrong? Is this not how God intended it? Have I been misled in my theology? I had to figure out why they believed this and who was right? So I went on a journey.

I found the famous passage that causes the source this belief. 1 Timothy 2:11-14:

A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived, it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. (NIV)

Whoa.

Yes, I have read this verse before, but for some reason, I always disregarded it. In my Christian worldview, I trusted that because I’ve seen women preach, this was just a cultural statement for the time it was written (never think that way… ever). I didn’t know why. I didn’t ask questions. I trusted my leadership. But listen, this is why it is so so SO important for you to read the Word and understand it for. your. self. The reason for ANY division on the Bible is because people read and misinterpret the Bible through their flesh and not the Spirit. You can end up listening to deceiving spirits. Every person should test the spirits on their own and not just trust what other people say because they are a believer. *slight tangent*

I read 1 Timothy 2:11-14 and asked God, “How could this be? I’ve heard many women preach. I’ve seen the Word go forth from these women with power. People have come to know Christ under these women. Women preachers are going all over the world and ministering to both men and women! How could You be against this, God?” I read on to the next verse. 1 Timothy 2:15:

But woman will be saved through childbearing– if they continue in faith, love, and holiness with propriety. (NIV) 

WHAT IN THE WORLD DOES THAT MEAN? I did not understand that concept. Saved in what respect? I wrestled with this verse for a short while, but I could not grasp the meaning of this verse, so I decided to google it.

*inserts in google search bar* “meaning of 1 Timothy 2:15.”

I’m going to admit it. I was searching in favor of my own bias. I wanted woman to be able to preach! I needed someone to prove me right! However, my google search came up short. I got all this wishy-washy interpretations of the passage.

Okay.

New search: *inserts in google search bar* “Why woman can preach.”

Surprisingly, there were not a lot of good articles. No one explained why 1 Timothy 2:11-15 does not apply to me as a woman today! I kept falling short. But for some reason, the lack of understanding for verse 15, the uncertainty of what that meant, was exactly where I put my hope in that God had something more in there. I prayed, “God, I don’t understand how woman can preach according to your word, but I also don’t understand this verse. I believe the answer is in this verse. I believe with my eyes and ears that women can preach, but I want you to reveal it to me in your Word.” I read many articles and blog posts regarding this topic. I continued to search, but nothing explained it in a way that connected with the Holy Spirit within me. So eventually, I dropped it. But only for a season.

I started a fast in January 2019. On the second day, the Holy Spirit impressed on my heart to revisit this topic. I had faith that it is God’s will for women to preach. But I was only going to stand confidently on it if I saw it in the Bible (a mindset we should have for everything). God waited for me to surrender my flesh in order to hear His Spirit clearly. He was ready to tell me His truth, and at that point, I was ready for it no matter how difficult.

Disclaimer: I am not going to twist the Word of God. I don’t need to go to the original Greek translation to understand the Word and neither do you. The Word is living and active (Hebrews 4:12). You do not need to be a scholar or theologian to understand the Bible. You don’t need to go to seminary or Bible college to understand the Bible.  I don’t need to hypothesize what anything means. God’s word reveals God’s word and it is only revealed to us through the Holy Spirit. There are hidden secrets within His Word that are only understood by those who have the Spirit of God (2 Corinthians 2:9-10). I believe the part of the Church that is allowing woman to speak are hearing clearly from the Spirit, but we lack a Biblical understanding of why that is the Spirit’s heart. It’s important to always stand on the authority of the Bible, always being ready to give a reason for the hope you have (1 Peter 3:15).

Here is God’s revealed Word on why woman can preach:

Galatians 3:28 says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, nor is there male nor female, for you are all one in Christ.” 

This passage is talking about how we are justified in Christ (read in context). Everything that God has given to His children, He has given it to all of His children regardless of their worldly position. (Clearly there is a physical/cultural difference between slave and free, Jew and Gentile, male and female. Paul is talking about a spiritual difference.) This means I receive the same inheritance, same blessing, same salvation, same grace, and same Spirit, as any other believer. Paul says this, but yet also says women can’t preach. Why?

In 2 Timothy, Paul referred to the fall and how Eve was the one who sinned first. So God led me back to Genesis 3. The curse of the fall for women was Genesis 3:16. It says, “To the woman he said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” 

“Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you” makes sense when we put it in context of Ephesians 5:22, when Paul tells women to submit to their husbands. But let’s look at that whole passage. Ephesians 5:21-33:

21. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husband as you do to the Lord. 23. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the Church, his body, of which He is the Savior. 24. Now as the Church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 25. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her 26. to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the Word 27. and to present her to himself as a radiant Church without stain, wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29. After all, no one has ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the Church– 30. for we are members of His body. 31. For this reason a man will leave his wife, and two will become one flesh. 32. This is a profound mystery– but I am talking about Christ and the Church. 33. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

WOW! What a deep passage. I’ll say that this passage in itself should, speak for the history of Christianity that abuse of women was NEVER okay and NEVER condoned by God. *slight tangent*

What is this passage talking about? Well Paul says it in verse 32! He is talking about Christ and the Church. Marriage has always been used to describe the relationship God has with Israel (look it up). And He continues to use marriage as the picture of His relationship with the Church today. So Paul here is using the marriage of Christ to His Church, to explain the marriage between a man and a woman. It is clear that Christ is returning to a purified and unified Church. Which means that the Church will continue to be redeemed here on earth. So if the Church is being redeemed, and women in this analogy is mirroring the Church, then clearly, women are being redeemed too! But from what?

Didn’t Jesus’ work on the cross break the curse of sin? Yes it did (read Romans 5). We know that those who confess with their mouth “Jesus is Lord” and believe in their heart that God raised [Jesus] from the dead, will be saved (Romans 10:9). So the work of the cross is finished. Salvation is finished. We are saved by grace and grace alone. All we do is have faith, and work out our salvation (meaning continuing to have faith in Jesus). We are made righteous in God’s eyes. There’s nothing that can change that. But we also know that in our flesh, we still sin. We know that in our relationship with God we are continuing to become more and more like Jesus as we walk with Him. Our spirits are pure because we have the Holy Spirit. But our soul (mind, will and emotions), is “not yet” pure. It won’t be completely pure until we are with Jesus. THAT is the part of us that is being redeemed. God’s plan is to redeem His body, the Church, throughout history. That is the same redemption plan He has given to woman.

Because Eve led Adam into sin, the curse was that Adam will be the leader. But God’s original plan was for Adam and Eve to be equal and to be each other’s helpmate. When Jesus became a curse for us, He broke that curse. However, sanctification and the redemption of our souls has always been a process. The curse has to reverse! God has been working throughout history to redeem women. I’m sure we can all admit that the way women have been denied rights in the past has been unjust. Things are different today. Is this not in line with God’s plan of redemption towards women? So let’s bring this back to the challenging passage of 1 Timothy 2:11-15:

A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived, it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But woman will be saved through childbearing– if they continue in faith, love, and holiness with propriety. (NIV)

If we know that God has been progressively purifying His church throughout history, we know it had to start from somewhere. When Paul wrote this verse, the curse JUST got broken. Women were not in a position to lead. Women were nothing in the eyes of men. But Paul, through the Holy Spirit, foresaw the plan of redemption for women. And that plan is hidden in verse 14. The verse says, “BUT women will be saved.” Saved from what? He mentioned it right before that verse: the condition in which women at that time were currently in. If woman continue in their role, which was to have children, be a mother, and do it in faith, love, and propriety– then commandment that God gave woman during the time Paul wrote this will not always need to be in play because the curse is broken! God is redeeming woman here on earth like it is in heaven! The word “But” in verse 14 is a word of hope. It is a word that says, this is how it is, BUT there is something else that is going on! And praise God that He doesn’t leave us where we are no matter who we are! But God!

Woman, we have the same inheritance as any other believer! The gifts and the calling of God is not dependent on your sex! Are you walking in faith, love and propriety? Can He trust you to not lead men into sin? To not be deceived and a deceiver? If you love God and are obeying His commands, you can be anything that God says ANY of His children can be! You can be an elder, bishop, pastor, teacher, preacher, leader, prophet, ANYTHING! You are free! God is not a respecter of persons (Romans 2:11)! We are all one in Christ Jesus! This brings us back to Galatians 5:26!

My prayer is that as you read this, whether you are male or female, that the Holy Spirit will open your eyes to His truth. Go and test the Scriptures. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal His truth to you. Don’t let religion, traditions of men, keep you from the freedom of the Gospel. Don’t let your denomination dictate your belief. Don’t let disagreeing with my “charismatic theology” stop you from receiving what God may have for you.

If you are reading this, and you are at a church that doesn’t support women preaching, prayerfully consider if God wants you to leave, or if God wants you to stay, fast and pray for a revival and for people’s eyes to be opened. God can use you as a catalyst for change!

I leave this with you. Women, you are redeemed. Whether you see it or not, you are redeemed. There is no male or female in Christ. You can receive all that God has to offer His children. We are getting closer to the end of time. The Lord said He will pour out His spirit on all people. Sons and daughters will prophecy (Acts 2). Women, I charge you with this:

Rise up! You deserve respect! You deserve love! You deserve to walk in the fullness of your inheritance as a child of God! Get out from under a curse that has already been broken!

RISE UP!

God’s Ancient Plan to Unify His Church

BLACK LIVES MATTER! MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!

I wonder what emotions those sparked in you. Maybe a feeling of frustration or irritation. Maybe a feeling of power and strength or hurt and pain. So many different and conflicting emotions.  Either way, relax. I’m not going to talk about the BLM movement, politics, or systemic issues. In fact, I hope this brings hope and unity instead of anger and division.

I used to be a racial warrior. I was going to college with the plan to get a social work degree. As I got educated, I started to fight. Social media was my main platform, and oh boy, did I use it! I was passionate about exposing “the truth” in this country. My goal was to tell everyone the logic and the knowledge behind all the issues that plague our country and world. However, it always came back empty. No one’s opinion ever changed. Those who were for what I was for, stayed true. Those who were against what I was for, stayed against it. I always ended up crying, angry, and hopeless.

In my second year of college, I rededicated my life to Jesus and started on my journey as a Christian. Since then, many things have changed. I stopped going to school, I moved back home, and racial issues— I let that go. You see, I didn’t let it go because I was a Christian. I let it go because it was too much. Dealing with racism was too heavy. Arguing. Pain. Ignorance. It was too heavy. I was so broken. As I grew in my relationship with God, He started to change my focus. I started to realize where the real fight was (It’s not against people– Ephesians 6:12). I started to have a Biblical understanding and Christian worldview regarding the issues of this world. However, when it came to my concern for racial issues, my heart was hardened. I never cried when another African-American was killed, I never watched the news, I never read any articles, and I rarely got into debates on social media. I refused to have conversations about race. But it wasn’t because of my faith. It was because if I did, instantly, the anger that boiled inside me was unbearable. So, I numbed all my feelings towards racial issues.

Towards the end of 2016, God started challenging me to address this hardening of heart, but I struggled to do so. In my mind, being a Christian and being black conflicted. I felt as though I shouldn’t have the pain, and I shouldn’t struggle with the weight of racism. Do you know what I mean? As Christians, we’re supposed to declare, “We’ve been set free! We’ve been redeemed! I am no longer chained to the weight of this world! I am a child of God!” My mind tried to tell me that if I have an issue with race, I’m not focusing on my identity in Christ, and I’m not setting my eyes on things above. For some reason, I thought being a Christian means, in some way, I needed to be colorblind. However, little by little, God started to open my heart to the truth.

I started to ask questions to myself and to God. God, I know the world will never unify, but why is the Church still divided? Why do I feel like I can’t talk about the pain with the body of Christ? Why do I feel like white Christians don’t care?

As I opened up to God, He started to show me my hurts: all my encounters with racism, with internalized oppression, and self-hate due to racism. But what stuck out to me the most, was realizing, I walked through those situations alone. I have had more white friends than I have had black friends. BY A LOT. But I realized, many of them of them have seen and been in situations where I have dealt with racism of some sort. However, not one has ever seen my pain. When an African American gets killed and social media blows up, I see white Christians post all the time, “LOVE LOVE LOVE”, but those in my life have never reached out to me and asked me how I was doing.

This hurt.

I went to a social justice and race seminar at the end of 2016. It confirmed a lot of the things the Holy Spirit was teaching me as well as the reason of the perceived conflict of being black and a Christian. One speaker, Allen Hood, sparked something in me. To paraphrase in regards to the Black Lives Matter movement, he said that it’s so easy to bring out your Bible and say everything that’s wrong about what goes on. But it’s important to realize that behind the anger is hurt. African Americans are hurting. As Christians, our first response to our brothers and sisters is to listen, hear and understand their pain (James 1:19). This white, male, Christian, shocked the life out of me. As he talked about how important it is to get into the world of African Americans and understand their hurt, tears streamed down his face. Tears streamed down my face.

Now let me tell you something, This may sound blunt, but at that point in my life, white people’s tears, in regards to racial issues, never moved me. Don’t get me wrong, they are sympathetic and the emotions may be real, but African Americans don’t need sympathy. We need empathy. We need our pain to be felt. We need to be walked with and talked with. There is a kind of distance with sympathy, but a closeness with empathy. It was clear that Allen Hood has touched the pain. I can’t tell you how hard I tried to explain everything: the system, logic and the history. I gave countless examples, lashed out in anger, talked about the fear and frustrations, but I rarely talked about the pain. I never told my personal stories of dealing with racism again…. and again…. and again. I never  talked about the multiple times I’ve cried, or the constant battle I’ve had to love myself for the skin I am in when it causes so much pain. It’s time to start telling my story.

In this seminar, the speakers also talked about how the world will continue to divide. Racial issues will continue to increase, but the Church will grow together in unity. Believers and unbelievers will be able to look to the Church for racial reconciliation. This gave me so much hope. I have lost all hope in this world, and I was honestly starting to lose hope in the Church. I was on the road of only having confident hope that in heaven, all will be made well. But seeing  just one, white, male, Christian, who loved Jesus, and was so passionate about racial reconciliation, awoke something within me. Hope. Being in a room full of white Christians, humbling themselves by being there, searching for answers on how to deal with the racial issues of today, sprung my hope in the Church.

We have a long way to go, but we’ll get there. This starts with our white brothers and sisters humbling themselves and feeling our black brothers and sisters pain. It’s not good enough to have black friends but be oblivious to the pain they’re in and not hear their story. It’s a necessity to understand that the pain of racism doesn’t go away when you know God. I know my identity in Christ. I know how God sees me. I know I am His child and that nothing about me brings more or less value to how He sees me. I believe that I am included in the anthem of 1 Peter 2:9. I know He has a purpose and a plan for me as stated in Jeremiah 29:11. And I know His plan for me is not bound by this world as promised in Romans 8:28.  However, I think anyone can admit that being a Christian doesn’t mean you go without trials, tribulations, and pain. This means the pain that I will carry for the rest of my life is dealing with racism because it will never go away in this world.

The truth is, the hope of the Gospel isn’t just about all the things God can do for you in this world. You can’t just go to a brothel and preach God’s blessings on earth. You can’t go to a 3rd world country and promise God will bless them all financially. Many people will live their life in pain and suffering, but it does not mean they do not know their identity in Christ. The hope of the Gospel includes that this world will end! There is a better life in store for those who believe in Jesus. This world will hurt you and kill you, but this isn’t the end! Praise God for the Good News!

Racial reconciliation ALSO starts with me and those who have the same struggles I do. I need to open my heart and be vulnerable. If you are a person of color and reading this: stop being angry when people don’t understand your explanations, logic, or frustration. We can’t always argue others into believing what we believe. We need to tell our real stories, in real ways, with real face to face conversations with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

I get it. Talking about race makes you uncomfortable. It’s convicting, it’s annoying, and you honestly have the ability to ignore it if you want to. Allen Hood said, “I can handle being uncomfortable for a few years of this short life when they’ve been uncomfortable for 200 years.” I understand that it’s very difficult for a person to get to this point. Our nature is to make things as easy and comfortable for ourselves as possible. Touching the pain is not easy.

I asked God, “How can I convince my white Christian friends that they need to touch my pain, that God is calling them to do more? How can I show them that this is the way to unify the Church in regards to race?” God put in my heart, Galatians 6:2– Carry each others burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. We are called to show the law of Christ, which is love, by carrying each others burdens (this goes both ways). Although there are so many great things about being black, it is also comes with a burden. Let me repeat that: being black automatically comes with a burden (to some it may feel heavier than others. Don’t undermine someone’s pain because another may not feel it to that extent). Black people are an oppressed people group all around the world. It. Is. Hard. To. Be. Black. I reiterate, for us Christians, this is not because we don’t know who we are in Christ, but because of the world we live in. Everyone is affected by the evil of this world.

All of this drew me to believe that God’s Word truly answers all of my questions regarding race. I don’t need to look to the world for a solution. God is sovereign and He is in control. The Church will unify when we love each other fully. I believe this because that is what God said will happen. That is one of the purposes of the Church. And I trust Jesus. So are we all ready to do this together?

Let’s Complete the Great Commission

I was listening to one of my Pastor’s amazing sermons the other day, and I felt the need to share one of the important points he made:

In Matthew 8:28-34 and Luke 8:26-37, Jesus was going into the land of the Gentiles, and ran into a demon possessed man. My pastor spoke on a revelation in the Scripture and said, “Jesus went there because this guy wasn’t a Jew. Jews don’t eat pigs. When Jesus went there, He was crossing cultural barriers. He (Jesus) was saying we’ve got to bring the Word of God to other people groups.”

I love that statement as it resonates with where I am today. That is the Great Commission – in Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus commands his disciples to go and make disciples of all nations (ethnos) baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. 

I am so thankful that I serve a God that cares about the whole world and all peoples (by the way, it’s been His heart from the beginning – Genesis 12:1-3)! It goes beyond me, my family, my city, state, and nation.

But what does all nations look like? What are people groups? Well, we know what the end of the age will look like. In Revelation 7:9, we know that a great multitude will sit in front of the throne of God and Jesus, one that no one can count, people from every tribe, people and language. WOW! God cares about every. single. ethnolinguistic AND tribal people. The Joshua Project defines people group as the largest group within which the Gospel can spread as a church planting movement without encountering barriers of understanding or acceptance. The Gospel is meant to cross over every cultural barrier, for every language, and every tribe. God is SO intentional!

Did you know?

According to the Joshua Project, there are approximately 17,000 people groups in the world. And approximately 7,000 of those people groups are unreached people groups. Meaning, there is little (under 2%) to no active evangelists trying to reach them. 41% of the world is unreached and has little to no one trying to share the amazing Gospel that we have complete access to, with them. The Great Commission is not complete and Jesus will not return until it is. So who is responsible?

God gave the command to His disciples to spread His name, for His glory, among the earth. He gave His Church the command. If you are His disciple, it is not a choice to play a part in reaching all nations. God is patient, and He is waiting on His Church, His disciples, to spread His name to the ends of the earth.

Jesus knew that this may take awhile, and He tells us how to complete this task. In Matthew 9:37-38, “Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.

41% of the world is unreached. The harvest is plenty and we must pray. Earnestly. This is where is starts and ends: soaked in prayer. 

I see the end closing in. I see so much hope in this upcoming generation. A lot of us see the signs of the end all over: children hating their parents, lust, violence, and an increase in so many sins, but I see a generation DESPERATE for something more, desperate to travel, desperate to GO, and I believe God wants to raise up this generation to be His disciples to finish the task. To be willing to leave their father and mother, to sell all their possessions, to be persecuted for the name of Jesus and GO into all the world. These were PROMISES to His disciples. Those who are willing (not called), those who endure hardships, for the sake of God’s glory, will be blessed. Mark 10:29-30, “Truly I tell you, Jesus replied, no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother and father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields – along with persecutions – and in the age to come eternal life. But many, who are first will be last, and the last be first. 

Jesus’ disciples were never promised safety and security. Set your eyes on eternity, not on today. This world is not our home. Where are you building your house? (Hebrews 13:4)

William Tyndale wrote the first English Bible translation and was martyred for it. Someone died for you to know the Gospel in your language.

Can you pray? Pray for God to raise up laborers, senders, mobilizers. We need it. The world needs Jesus, and God needs His glory that He is sooo rightfully due from all the nations. Allow God to open your hearts to see how He wants you to play a part in the Great Commission. Remember, we were blessed to be a blessing to ALL nations.

Beyond the Fear

I will wait for the Lord, my soul waits. In His word, I do hope. Psalms 130:5

Death. That has been a fear I’ve been struggling with for YEARS. This fear has been manifested in different ways throughout the years. At this time in my life, the uncertainty of where I’m going leads me to thinking I’m not going anywhere. Of course, that is a COMPLETE lie of the enemy. But God has revealed to me that my fear of death is rooted in two deeper issues: a need for control, and/or a lack of control. I’ve always been extremely controlling. Out of every situation in life, whether I was in the right or wrong, I usually felt as if I had total control. However, when I would focus on things that I didn’t have control over, fear set in.

As I’m growing in my relationship with Christ today, I know that I can’t have control if I want to surrender my life to God. Yes, I can plan. But at the end of the day, my plan has to submit to God’s will. What God has recently shown me is that having this fear of the future and death means I’m NOT giving Him control and surrendering my life to His will as I thought I was. So, the answer to no longer being a victim to this fear: putting my total trust and hope in God and His promises.

As I meditated on Psalm 130:5 last week, God has given me more peace. I am more content regarding where I am right now. I know that I am in a growth period. I know that what I am doing now is not the area God is calling me to be in the future, but it’s where He’s calling me right now. It is EXTREMELY hard for me to not know exactly where God is taking me, exactly when, and exactly how. (I am a huge life planner.. see…control) However, I want to enjoy this rooting process. God is growing me and I don’t want to miss out on noticing and receiving what He is doing in my life right now because I’m so focused on the future.

I am called. I will get there. But now, I move beyond the fear and.. I wait.