Equipper’s Survival Guide

PressureSpiritual abuse is like finding a coin in your backyard. There are two sides to it, and they are both dirty.

I certainly have no time for ambitious, authority-addled manipulators who use and abuse the ekklesia in the name of God to satisfy their own need for greatness: pimping the saints for their own needs, milking them of their time, talent, and treasure for ego-validating dreams and plans.

Yet, there are also thousands of humble, self-sacrificing, and faithful men and women who tirelessly serve the ekklesia in love, who struggle to keep their sanity as they face the onslaughts of the adversary, their own brokenness, and alas, miserable treatment by the ones they serve: being pimped for other’s needs and being told it is “serving the body.” Sacrifice for others? Yes. Pimping? No.

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What Does “Kingdom Government” Look Like?

Key to my heartKingdom government is not about authority and ruling. It is about restoring and replicating in humanity, the love the Father and Son have for, and in, each other. Where love is perfected, authority is not necessary. There is no hierarchy, government or “ruling over” in the Trinity. Just shared, interpenetrating, eternal, self-sacrificial love!

Do a word study some time on the “God is” statements of scripture. You will find things like: God is love, God is righteous, God is true, etc. What will be conspicuously absent is: “God is authority.” Why?

Where love is perfected, there is nothing to “rule!”

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Doing Life Backwards Causes Us To Fail – by Edward Kurath

Rear view of a young woman holding a paint roller“If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love” (John 15:10 NKJV).

This is a typical English translation.  It implies that if we keep God’s commandments, we will abide in His love.

If this is correct, then this implies that God loves Jesus because Jesus keeps His commandments.  After all, Jesus is here making a parallel between His relationship with the Father and our relationship with the Father (“just as?). 

So then God’s love of Jesus is conditional? What an affront to God!

Fortunately, this translation of the Greek is in error.  It is backwards.  What the Greek really says is that if we abide in God’s love, we will keep His commandments.    Keeping His commandments is the result, not the cause.  In the Greek, keeping God’s commands is in the “accusative” case, what in English is referred to as the direct object.  The direct object (the effect) receives the action of the subject (the cause).

In the typical English translation, the cause and effect are reversed. 

What Jesus is really saying is that the reason He keeps God’s commandments is because of the presence of God’s love in Him.  He has a “good root” in Him which impels Him to live a Godly life.  Likewise (“just as”), if we have a “good root” (Jesus in us), then we will keep God’s commandments, not the other way around.

The horse is supposed to pull the cart.

Tragically, the typical English translation impels believers to strive to keep God’s commandments so that God will love them.  They are doomed to failure, because we can’t love God by trying hard.  If we could do it, Jesus died in vain.

How do we get Jesus “in us?”  That is what my book “I Will Give You Rest” explains.

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Copyright 2012. This article is posted here by permission of Ed Kurath, www.divinelydesigned.com. Please contact edkurath@divinelydesigned.com for forward and reprint permissions.

QUIT PRAYING!

We do not need to pray about that which God has made explicitly clear in his revealed Word! This is hardly hot news to most of you. However, this principle is regularly violated and abused by many well-meaning believers, some not so well-meaning.  

It is inappropriate to pray, when God is asking for responsive obedience.  I regularly interact with Christians who use a pseudo-spiritual cloak of prayer to cover impenitent self-will, rebellion, disobedience, and fear of the unknown or what they cannot control and manage. Fearful controllers will always leverage “we need to pray more” to their advantage. It is a particular plague among “prophetic” believers.  By that I mean Christians who believe, as I do, that the voice of God can still be heard and discerned in the redeemed human spirit. The closed canon does not render God a mute.

Believers often engage in a manipulative spirit when they say,  “I have prayed about it and the Lord told me I must .  . .” This is not the language of mutual respect and dialog.  It is the language of spiritual ultimatum—spiritual blackmail.  It is impossible to interact with people who use this type of language, without stepping all over their prayer life and self-perceived spirituality. How can you or I compete with God? How can you or I give any input to people who believe the Almighty has definitively spoken to them? You can’t reach a soul that is locked down with “God told me.”

It is common charismatic lingo used to keep others at a comfortable distance and to justify whatever notion may pop into our heads to do. You do not need to pray about whether or not you should abandon your wife, cheat on our taxes, have an affair, or other such nonsense. The answer is NO! Quit praying!

You might say, Steve, don’t be so silly, this is obvious. Well, let me briefly rehearse two true stories so I can convince you that this is not silly, nor always obvious, but rather an epidemic problem.

I once had to deal with a situation where a wife and mother of eight children was caught fornicating with her boss. Not rumor . . . in the act. She was the wife of an elder in another  church. When confronted, her response was: “Well, I’ve prayed about it, and I was trying to lead him to the Lord!”  Yes, indeedeeee folks, fornicating for Jesus. That’s some evangelism technique. She was deadly serious, and this was not some “new convert” who fell off the turnip truck yesterday.

I was once in a “city-wide pastors unity meeting” (yuck) of all the so-called “gate-keepers” (yuck) of the city. An older gentleman there began to share that he felt a call to a certain city, but that his wife did not want to go. He “prayed about it” and “felt” he was to leave his wife and “fulfill his calling” as the calling is the most important thing. Every leader in the room justified the man, encouraged him, except myself and one other brother (We were accused of being negative, judgmental and elitists.). Oh, and by the way, the wife of this man was a wheelchair bound invalid on oxygen. Well, with the “endorsement” of the stone-blind “gatekeepers of the city,” he left his wife and “started his ministry,” with the obvious results of disaster. His marriage and his ministry failed . . . well, as Gomer Pyle used to say: “Suhprise, suhprise, suhprise . . .”

These are not isolated incidents. Folks, you may have no idea of the sheer corruption and nonsense that goes on behind closed doors at “leadership levels.” Reason among many that the way we have been conducting ourselves regarding “leadership” needs a complete overhaul.

You don’t need to pray about some things. The answer is NO! And if the so-called “city gate keepers” are that stone-blind and ignorant . . . what does that say about all our pretention to spiritual significance, “cutting edge” this and that, and spiritual “gate keepers?” What a pile of excrement.

Praying to God for hours to bring “revival,” save souls, or whatever we may want Him to do on our behalf, is useless if He is requiring repentance and reconciliation. This is particularly true concerning interpersonal relationships. It is easier to talk and pray about unity and revival than to get real and deal with the  breaches in relationship that prevent unity in the first place!  Most American Christians simply do not have the stomach for the hard work required for biblical interpersonal reality.  They will leave a church rather than resolve relational difficulties. (Of course, they will pray for unity and revival at the next church they bless with their presence!).

An individual undergoing a crucifixion experience, is not helped by the prayers of others for blessing and escape. Believers with an unsanctified mercy or compassion gift frequently err in this regard. Sentimental prayer based on human analysis of circumstances and a soulish desire to spare people from difficulty, often runs counter to God’s redemptive purposes. We must always pray in wisdom with a God-perspective.  If we do not know how to pray, well, that’s what the indwelling Holy Spirit is for—get to know Him and let Him pray through you.

Endless prayer over the same issue or pending action, can be a cloak for unbelief, passivity, fear, timidity, and faithlessness.  When God is calling for faith action, it is inappropriate to keep praying.  ACT don’t PRAY! 

Moses at the Red Sea is a classic scriptural example. When faced with an impossibility, he cried out to God.  God reproved him for his prayer and exhorted him to use what was in his hand.  Moses’s rod can represent many things: authority, the anointing, etc. Simply, it represents what has already been provided and what has proven effective.  For the believer, this is the Word of God, the indwelling Spirit, our union with Him and with one another, and our confidence as His sons and daughters. 

Vacillation and indecisiveness are not fruits of the Spirit—better to be bold and decisive and have to compensate for mistakes, than to be immobile and right too late!  No decision is a decision.  God’s admonition to Joshua wasn’t “be cautious and be careful,” but rather “be bold and be strong.” Individuals who insist on “more prayer” may be yielding to a human (or demonic) spirit that requires absolute assurance in every detail before stepping out in faith.  This is a religious manifestation of a perfectionistic,  emasculated spirit, not godly virtue. The way of faith always encompasses a degree of uncertainty and risk.

Many in the ekklesia, for whatever reason, are severely damaged in this area.  Change, risk, and abandonment to God are more than they can emotionally,  spiritually, psychologically, and sometimes culturally handle. When confronted with a faith response requirement that affects them personally, they can suffer near personality disintegration. These dear individuals simply must get help, healing, and deliverance, either sovereignly from God or mediated through competent ministry.

Pragmatism often masquerades in the ekklesia as wisdom. Many believers’ minds are deeply impregnated with worldly and culturally conditioned concepts of wisdom, prudence, and caution that impersonate godly virtues.  The world’s wisdom is devilish, and inordinate caution is the protective mantra of the fearful.   

Godly wisdom and faith are two valid biblical virtues maintained in tension by divine design.  They are like a kite and string: wisdom is the string that enables the kite of faith to arise and stay in a proper sphere.  The kite of faith keeps the string of wisdom from being earth-bound. Healthy Christianity requires both.

However, the overall tenor of the New Testament is that faith is the superior and eternal virtue. Faith is the short-supply commodity the Lord seeks in his people and in the earth.  If we must err, err to the side of bold faith–it is what the Lord is looking for.

Inappropriate prayer is simply a manifestation of the carnal mind in rebellion against God, masquerading in religious garb.  The in-working of the cross  and the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit are God’s provision and remedy. The disciples asked the Lord to teach them to pray (Lk. 11:1-13).  He promised that the Father would give the Holy Spirit to that very end, if we persist in asking for Him. We have the same confidence and more because the Teacher and the Spirit of prayer is now within us,  forever, to the end of the age.

Let’s stop the nonsense. Lets can the hyper-spiritual lingo. Let’s be real people and let’s not cloak our disobedience with prayer.


Copyright 2012,  Dr. Stephen R. Crosby, www.swordofthekingdom.com. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references.  For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact stephcros9@aol.com.

 

The Offense of Radical Grace

Judge Shaking FingerGod uses very flawed, damaged, and “imperfect” people to accomplish great things for His kingdom interests.  After all, damaged, imperfect, and flawed people are all He has to work with to begin with, including you and I! The expansion of His kingdom is not held hostage to the development of our character. Faith works by love, not by holiness and this is offensive to all spiritual over-achievers.

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The Other Guy is . . .

Our Candidate is . . . . . .Their Candidate is . . .

TOLERANT                                     LACKING CONVICTION

JUST HUMAN                                UNETHICAL

FRUGAL                                           STINGY

CARING                                            A SENTIMENTALIST

HONEST                                           INSENSITIVE

HOPEFUL                                        NAÏVE

A REALIST                                       TOO NEGATIVE

SENSITIVE                                      LACKING COURAGE

FORGETFUL                                   INSINCERE

JUST                                                  UNFORGIVING

NUANCED                                       INCONSISTENT

HONESTLY MISTAKEN               DECEIVED

GENEROUS                                     A SPENDTHRIFT

A PEACE MAKER                           A COMPROMISER

HARD WORKING                          DRIVEN BY AMBITION

EASY GOING                                   LAZY

DISCIPLINED                                  WOUND TOO TIGHT

DISCERNING                                  JUDGMENTAL

HUMAN                                            AN IDIOT

LOVING                                            SENTIMENTAL

A DISCIPLINARIAN                      HARSH

COMMITTED                                  RIGID

MERCIFUL                                      WISHY-WASHY

VERY SOCIAL                                 A BROWN-NOSER

UNDERSTANDING                        SPINELESS

DELIBERATIVE                              INDECISIVE

BOLD                                                 RISKY

RELIABLE                                        A SLAVE TO ROUTINE

DECISIVE                                         SHORT-SIGHTED

SOPHISTICATED                           A SNOB

PRINCIPLED                                  INFLEXIBLE

DETAIL ORIENTED                      OBSESSIVE

ORDERED                                        CONTROLLING

GROWS PERSONALLY                 NO CORE CONVICTIONS

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Copyright 2012,  Dr. Stephen R. Crosby, www.swordofthekingdom.com. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references.  For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact stephcros9@aol.com.

What About Holiness?

It is easy and cheap to exhort/preach/teach/correct “immature” people to “standards of holiness.”

You can browbeat people into holiness. But the result well be a well-managed, orderly, neat, prim and proper . . .  prison camp, not the beautiful bride and body of Christ. You can get behavior modification if you preach holiness hard enough. The unregenerate nature loves to perform to standard, especially if incentivized with the prospect or religious reward or promotion in religious systems as a result. Shoot, you do not even need the Spirit of God, nor need to be born again to modify ones behavior to “biblical standards.” Lots of cultists do exactly that.

On the other hand, it is difficult and costly to lay our lives down for weak, failing, “morally deficient” human beings/believers,  manifesting incarnational love, gain access into their hearts, and once safely in their hearts, like a father with his children, reveal the Holy One, who Himself, will bring forth “holiness” as a fruit of the life and love of God exchanged between people in love with each other.

When the foundations of love (the REAL thing, not the cheap stuff we prattle on about) are established, the fruit of holiness is as logical an outcome as green grass after a rain. Trying to establish holiness without love will inevitably produce one of two outcomes: A culture of resentment toward authority, or a culture of legalism.

Copyright 2012,  Dr. Stephen R. Crosby, www.swordofthekingdom.com. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references.  For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact stephcros9@aol.com.

The Four Talons of Mammon: 'Mammon is More than the Love of Money'

The Four Talons of Mammon

The Four Talons of Mammon

Many scriptures can be difficult to understand and apply. However, the mutual exclusivity of serving God and mammon is not one of them.  Jesus was clear:

No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him. And he said unto them, “You are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knows your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.”  – Luke 16:13-15

No worker can serve two bosses: He’ll either hate the first and love the second or adore the first and despise the second. You can’t serve both God and the Bank. When the Pharisees, a money-obsessed bunch, heard him say these things, they rolled their eyes, dismissing him as hopelessly out of touch. So Jesus spoke to them: “You are masters at making yourselves look good in front of others, but God knows what’s behind the appearance. What society sees and calls monumental, God sees through and calls monstrous.” – Luke 16:13-15, The Message by Eugene Peterson.

Just what is “mammon?”

Mammon isn’t a common term for us. Historically, it’s an old Syriac name given to an idol worshipped as the god of riches. Ambrose Bierce called mammon “the god of the world’s leading religion.” The pursuit of money is the religion of this present world, and mammon is its god. Why? Because, as the old pun on the Golden Rule goes: “He who has the gold, makes the rules!” When it comes to money, too many Christian fingers are coated with Super Glue, rather than Teflon. I do not believe there will be any large scale “wealth transfer” until we develop  “Teflon fingers.”

Mammon is any controlling, coercive, dominating power (church, legislation, economics, military, etc.), fueled by money: “controlling” my own life, or through force controlling others. When we are in control, we are lord, not Jesus. There can only be One King. That is why Jesus was so stark on this matter.

I believe mammon is the prevailing principality/prince in the West, and the claw of mammon has four talons. Every believer intent on growing into the full stature of Jesus Christ will have to face and overcome each of these in his or her life.

Religion

The church long ago sold the birthright of spiritual riches for the allure of money, control, and power. The church played the harlot with Constantine, and has yet to fully recover. Preaching “silver and gold have I none, but such as I have, I give you . . .[1] will not get you invited to this year’s “Keys to Success” conference! Between the influences of the modern “prosperity gospel,” “self-help/self-realization” teaching (masquerading as the gospel), and the control factor in many institutional constructs, it has reached the point in the West that preaching the acquisition of wealth is considered the very essence of what it means to be a Christian, and it is a sad, sad situation.[2]

Wherever money, control, and power aggregate, a spirit of mammon is at work, yes, even in the ekklesia of God, living room or sanctuary! Dealing with a mammon problem is like bad breath and body odor: it’s always  “the other guy’s issue!”  It is more like hypertension: my problem, but I just don’t recognize it! It can be neutralized quite simply: practice giving all three away! The kingdom of God is built upon scattering a death and resurrection seed, not the aggregation of resources. God’s family is built by releasing resources, not hoarding them.

There are many who find themselves in various forms of “de-churched expression” who feel they have extracted themselves from the grips of the machine-like control of institutionalized religion. Perhaps, they have. There can also be a sense of naïve superiority in these climates, thinking being extracted from institutional religion is of itself, some great spiritual triumph. It is not. Merely being extracted from institutionalized religion is not an end in itself. It is the removal of but one of mammon’s talons from our soul, and the easiest one! If I have been set free from a coercive tithe to an institution, and my kingdom giving has dried up or vanished, all that is proven is that one talon has been removed from me. At least one of the other three remain deeply entrenched in my soul while my posterior is entrenched on a sofa.

Politics

Jesus is Caesar[3] is fundamentally a confronting political statement. The apostles were not martyred because of how nice they were as people, or because of their teaching about what one had to do to go to heaven when one dies. They were killed because they advocated a king and a kingdom in opposition to, and exclusive from, what Caesar had to offer. Jesus and Caesar are incompatible.

When it comes to politics, I know there are no simplistic answers for a people who live in a representative democratic republic (something that did not even exist in Jesus’s time). Teddy Roosevelt wrote a book called: Fear God and Do Your Part. That seems reasonable to me, and is about the extent of my political fervor. My concern is for the illicit wedding of the church in America to right-wing politics, and the venom that often accompanies the ungodly union.

Apparently for some, it is alright to act like the devil to represent Jesus! Russell Moore said: “American Christianity has been a political agenda in search of a gospel useful enough to accommodate it.”[4] I agree. We will never “change the culture” or “win a nation” by trying to out-Caesar Caesar with Caesar’s resources, values, and methods. Force in any form—money, militarism, consumerism, authoritarianism, morality, legislation, etc.—is not Jesus’s method for cultural transformation. The power of Jesus’s kingdom is about a life laid down for enemies, even unto the death.

Finances/Commerce

If talons had toenails, commercialism and materialism would be two. We make rationalizations to ease our conscience, but very few of us in the West are able to be content in either abounding or abasing when it comes to money. Few would consider themselves “blessed” in a season of dire economic distress, a condition that is abounding these days.

It’s easy to believe one is free of the influence of mammon when the checking account if full. It’s wonderful to talk about the “Lord providing” when we are drawing a government unemployment check or other benefits from the hand of Caesar.[5] It is a different matter when there is no paycheck, and the impossibilities of this life are looming over your financial solvency, and Caesar is nowhere to be found, or asking something of you that will compromise your worship. Who is Father then?[6]

I have a good friend who taught “faith” and “financial faithfulness” for years. When the church he led closed, and the paycheck he had been receiving ceased, he had a nervous breakdown. When he got on the “resurrection side” of this issue, he candidly confessed to me that what the Lord was trying to teach him through it all. In all those years that he had been boldly proclaiming “faith,” and “giving and trusting God,” etc., his own faith had been in his bank account and in his biblical principles of finances, not in the person of Jesus. It took him hitting rock bottom to discover that mammon had a death grip on him and he didn’t know it.

Few in Jesus’s kingdom know how to make money a servant. In most cases, money is Lord[7] (in spite of all our denials to the contrary). You make money a servant by practicing liberality—by giving it away.

Health and Medicine

Power has been defined differently throughout our nation’s history and culture. A generation ago it was defined by the equation: military + industry = power = control.  That’s no longer true in modern Western societies. Today’s power equation reads: information + capital = power = control. There is an emerging power structure that has the potential to control our very existence by creating physical dependency upon it. The formula is: medicine + money = power = control or more specifically: pharmaceuticals + healthcare + government + money = power = control.

Because of the collusive elements of the above equations, and the skyrocketing cost of medical care and insurance premiums, there are literally millions of people who cannot afford to be sick. The choice for these is either complete financial ruin or dependency on the state. The day is coming for many believers, when we are either going to have to experientially know Him as Healer, sell our soul to the gods of this age, or die. The whole matter of the gifts of the Spirit will move from the fringes of Sunday morning enthusiasms into life and death realities.[8]

When it comes down to it, we will know what we really believe, we will know the fabric of the reality of our belief systems, we will know who our god really is, when either our health or our finances is put to the test. If our God is God only when we are well and wealthy, we have no god other than our own self-interest.  A veneer of Christianese, applied with a Bible brush and some systematic theology glue, on top of an iron self will, is not the faith of Jesus Christ.

Conclusion

Jesus’s kingdom is not fueled by mammon. It’s fueled by love, forgiveness, and death and resurrection. The precious indwelling Holy Spirit, the power He brings, and the daily disciplines of the cross, are the means by which the believer can extract each of these talons from his or her soul.

I’m not saying it’s easy. On the contrary, it is costly. Dying daily is always costly. Nor am I saying that having legitimate, temporal needs met through finance is outside of God’s economy. It’s not . . . when He is truly Caesar of that economy and not us!

I know in my own life, the hold of these talons in me is being exposed and challenged . . . for my benefit and maturity in sonship. My flesh hates it, but the new creation man in me can only rejoice that my Father is so faithful that he ignores my cries as they are being extracted, and heals and fills the place they once occupied. To be truly free from these talons is to be free indeed. Ultimately, it is about worship. These four talons represent the major arenas of what it means to be alive as a human being.  Whoever rules those arenas in me, and over me, is Lord, and a Lord is worthy of worship.

[subscribe2]

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[1] Acts 3:6

[2] The quickest way to transform a city is to buy it.”  Rich Church, Poor Church. Unlock The Secrets of Creating Wealth and Harness the Power of Money to Influence Everything. Chester: gateKeeper Publishing, 2007, 65.  Somehow, I just can’t picture Jesus sitting under a fig tree in Galilee, scratching His head saying: “Gee, I wish I had thought of that.” For more discussion on this topic, please refer to our title: Wealth Transfer, www.stevecrosby.com. I personally know of another so-called apostle who teaches that you cannot be a true apostle unless you are a millionaire. That is a disgusting doctrine of demons.

[3] English KJV: Lord. Greek: Kyrios. Latin: Dominus. Caesar was their “lord,” Master, ruler, king, etc. The name Caesar has worked it’s way into language as the equivalent of Lord: Russian -Tsar, German-Kaiser, etc. Short version: the one who gives the orders and the one to be obeyed.

[4] Quoted in Brian Zahnd, Beauty will Save the World. Lake Mary: Charisma, 2012, 13.

[5] No condemnation is intended. I have drunk from the government trough myself. I am just confessing I am not in denial about my true state, and about there being no viable economic alternative among God’s people in a Western, independence, and privacy-based culture.

[6] Caesar was referred to as both Lord, God, and  “father” of the state, and dependency on him as the great benefactor was encouraged.

[7] In spite of our denials to the contrary about “money is just a tool to accomplish ‘ministry’ ‘for Jesus.’”

[8] The previous two paragraphs are excerpted from our title: Healing: Hope or Hype? If interested in a more thorough treatment, it can be obtained at www.stevecrosby.com.

Copyright 2012, Dr. Stephen R. Crosby, www.swordofthekingdom.com. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references.  For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact stephcros9@aol.com.

Spiritual Abuse Recovery: The New Jezebel: 'How to Identify and Recover from Spiritual Abuse - You Are Not a Jezebel'

recovery from spiritual abuse

spiritual abuse recovery

Thousands around the world have been damaged by bad church experiences and are in need of spiritual abuse recovery. A church atmosphere of spiritual abuse normally has definable elements. An insular and isolated leadership culture is one of those elements. In doctrine, many of these cultures have the theology and language of servanthood. In practical expression, their leadership culture is one of hierarchy, elitism, secrecy, immunity, and privilege.

Many who have had a bad church experience, and are in various stages of spiritual abuse recovery from the hurt of that bad church experience, have to come to grips with a common ploy used by agendized leaders. That ploy is to label anyone who disagrees with them and their “authority” as a Jezebel. It is a persistent problem in many expressions of the body of Christ.

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Permissibles versus Essentials

There are many practices within a typical church for which the scriptures (especially the New Testament)  have nothing or little to say. Scriptural silence is not scriptural prohibition.  In the spirit of gospel liberty, many things are permissible such as Sunday school, worship teams, men’s ministry, youth ministry, women’s ministry, nursery, etc.

However, when permissible things become essential things, we are in deception.

For example, do you think Paul had any “anointing” at all in his ministry and meetings without 45-60 minutes of “worship” preceding his preaching? Do you think the Spirit “moved” in his meetings without a worship team, a dance team, a banner team, and a team of prophetic intercessors? It may be an offensive shock to some, but these things are not gospel essentials. They are not necessary for an “anointed” meeting to occur. They are permissible, perhaps a blessing, perhaps a “help,” and perhaps utterly irrelevant distractions.

When we give disproportionate time, money, and resources to permissible things, at the expense of essential things like care for widows, orphans, the poor, and our neighbors (whose names we probably don’t even know . . .  so much for “love your neighbor”) . . .  we are deceiving ourselves.

Preaching Christ crucified, risen from the dead, and our transformation into his image and likeness in this life (which is our worship: see Rom 12), loving one another and the world, are some essentials.

Our values, methods, and priorities–what we do with our life, time, talent, and treasure–should reflect gospel essentials, not permissibles. Permissibles are meant to be enjoyed. Essentials are meant to be committed to with all our being.

Your devotion belongs to Jesus in His person, and His essentials, not peripherals and permissibles.