Dealing With Accusations & Confidence In Ministry: Part 3

Fellow Young Minister,

Last week, we discussed 3 preliminary enemies that we face as the voice of envy, accusation, starts speaking: Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem. Their ultimate goal is paralysis by distraction. But the question is, paralysis of what?

Ministries that aren’t confined to the 1.5-hour slot that many inaccurately refer to as “church”. Nehemiah started pursuing a calling that was going to affect an empire, not a building. It meant distinction, identity and legacy in the eyes of the world at the time. But Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem were men of other nations, detesting the distinction of the Israelites as they purposed to rebuild this wall, so they called in reinforcements. They sent a spy by the name of Shemaiah, the descendant of Delaiah and Mehetabel (Nehemiah 6:10).

His name means “Jehovah has heard”, from the lineages that mean “Jehovah has freed” and “whom God favors” (Strong’s H8098, H1806, H4105).

Shemaiah told Nehemiah to run to the temple because there was a rumor that Nehemiah was going to be assassinated at night. He tried tempting Nehemiah into thinking that the temple was the only place where Jehovah would hear us, free us, and give us His favor. This is the confidence that the adversary tries to ransack. He tries to get us to only commit to ministries that are confined to church service times and not make an impact on our world. This is the ultimate goal of envy – to paralyze the world-changing momentum that God wants to impart to us. The accuser of the brethren begins working behind the scenes in a perversely personal way. He will “play” and smite unfairly and want us to think that the “church building” is the only place to find a sense of security. David did say that help comes FROM the sanctuary, but that does not necessarily mean that help comes WITHIN the sanctuary (Psalm 20:2). In response to the devil “playing” unfairly, we must learn how to pray and fight unfairly in the Spirit, appealing to our superiority through Christ and not the inferiority of our flesh. There are ZERO verses to support the fact that the church is a material building. Jesus has anointed and appointed us to reach our world with an authority to tread on enemies that sting from in front and behind – and NOTHING shall by any means harm us (Luke 10:19). These attacks on our character can manifest from before us or behind us and we must allow the Lord to make us spiritually sharp.

How did Nehemiah become so sharp in the Lord? I believe the secret is in the overview of chapters 1 and 2. Nehemiah began praying, fasting, and weeping in the month of Chisleu, which is Kislev; but the building of the wall did not begin until the month of Nisan, ending 52 days later (Nehemiah 6:15-16). This shows us that Nehemiah purposed in himself to pray, fast, and weep for 4 months while the wall was only rebuilt in less than 2 months. Here’s how I believe the Lord kept Nehemiah. By Nehemiah committing himself to a spiritual and natural work in secret, the Lord preserved Nehemiah in the spiritual and natural in public. Nehemiah prayed, fasted and wept in secret OVER TWICE AS MUCH as he worked with God’s people in public. Could we say the same? If we do not highly prioritize our confidence, integrity, and identity in the Lord like Nehemiah, we gamble with our ability to respond like he did.

Could we say that we privately prayed and fasted OVER twice as long as we have publicly ministered? Our confidence in ministry does not come from how many opportunities we get or don’t get. Our confidence comes from the One who called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light. We ought to not worship at the altar of cultural opportunity, thinking we are validated by what happens in a building. We must find our confidence in Christ and reach our world, as He has called us to.

Fellow Young Minister, I mightily believe in you. Ron is better, by the way. Let us keep praying for one another as we learn how to deal with accusations and confidence in ministry.

Dealing With Accusations & Confidence in Ministry: Part 2

Fellow Young Minister,

Thank you for your welcoming response regarding my previous letter. I wrote to you concerning the challenges we face through envy and accusation as we grow in ministry. These influences are birthed from the kingdom of darkness and are the roots of the spiritual resistance, tempting our passions by challenging our character, that we may become distracted and take our eyes off of God’s mission.

Nehemiah is our prime example.

He distinctly had 3 men oppose him: Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arab.

In the heat of our character being challenged, we will face these 3 spirits. Remember, their ultimate mission is PARALYSIS BY DISTRACTION!

First is Sanballat, the Horonite. His name means “strength” from the lineage that means “two caves” (Strong’s H5571 & H2773). Through accusation, this spirit tries to remove the vigor and strength we apply towards the vision God has given us. If it is successful, our spiritual vision is left cavernous. Second is Geshem, the Arab. His name means “rain” from the lineage that means “sterility” (Strong’s H1654 & H6152). Through accusation, this spirit tries to discourage us by having us think that God’s blessing in the mission will end up becoming unfruitful, because our character cannot “hold up”. Third is Tobiah, the Ammonite. His name means “Jehovah is good” from the lineage that means “tribal” (Strong’s H2900 & H5983). Through accusation, this spirit tries to dampen our passion with complacency, that we may focus only on the status quo of our own unit. The temptation is that we don’t have the character through Christ to push the envelope.

Be aware. When the letter was sent to Nehemiah after the fourth wave of opposition, the Bible says that only Sanballat and Geshem spoke in the letter. Tobiah is silent, because complacency is almost always a feeling and not a voice.
These three spirits were calling Nehemiah to come out to the plain of Ono (Nehemiah 6:2). Ono was the valley of craftsmen and holds the significance that these spirits want to take us to the place where we are only focusing on our own “craft” and not on the bigger picture of the kingdom of God (Strong’s H207). Their strategy is to paralyze us from growing in leadership because we will begin to question our character and ability to lead others in God’s direction, so we ought to stop trying.

These are critical points of strategy that are operating when accusations come our way. We must recall that the enemy is a spirit, not a person. These spirits may follow us to an altar call, to the platform, to the pew, to our cars, to work, to wherever. We must endure like a good soldier of the Lord Jesus.

The Bible equates our enemy as the accuser of the brethren. So we must learn to not only protect others from falling prey to these pressuring accusations, we must find safety in loving brethren who will speak against these accusations with us. There are prayers that we cannot pray over ourselves, because God wants us to lovingly pray for one another (Ask Paul). We must come to a place where we say, “I am my brother’s keeper!” The adversary knows that we are focused on becoming who God wants us to become, so the wedge he tries to insert is between each other, by having us fall prey to these accusations – either in isolation or cooperation.

I must say, I have another letter for you next week to elaborate on some final matters regarding accusations and confidence in ministry. It took me awhile to just digest Sanballat, Geshem, and Tobiah. But some others come on the scene as well, to compromise our confidence in ministry. Remember, EVERY evil work is at hand. Though we are dealing with demonic wisdom as James would say, God has made us “wiser than our enemies” through His Word (Psalm 119:98).

Dealing With Accusations & Confidence in Ministry: Part 1

Fellow Young Minister,

I spoke to Ron this past weekend. The moment I heard his voice I knew something was disturbing him. He kept on heavily sighing till he cracked, “Man, I don’t know if ministry is for me.” I could feel him covering his own face on the other side of the phone. He proceeded, “I want to please God, and I’m giving it my all, but I feel like people think I’m drawing attention to myself”. He paused, “Some bozo said that I think I’m all that.” Ron wept.

I’m sure there’s not a single honest person in ministry that likes to be accused. Yet, I believe it is one of the most acute ways that our character is challenged. Ron was facing something that I believe we will all face in becoming who God wants us to become: accusation.

Accusations can really cut to the heart because they often seem to slice right into our vulnerabilities. We can say something that was misinterpreted, misunderstood, or miscommunicated – doing it with focus on God’s kingdom, and encounter something called envy. The Bible says “where envying and strife is, there is confusion and EVERY evil work” (James 3:16). Using Strong’s G2205 and G2052 causes the verse to read this way, that “where [rivalry] and [factions are], there is [disturbance and instability] and every evil work”. That is a frightening verse that God has had to remind me of – not SOME evil work – EVERY evil work. Certainly, evil and opposition come against those that give up everything to become who God wants them to become. It’s a spiritual necessity that is supported by the Scriptures over and over again. And I want to share with you something that I discovered about Nehemiah, because though the Scriptures say we effectively overcome evil by doing good and God DELIVERS from evil; it’s not a humanly simple thing (Romans 12:21, Matthew 6:9-13).

Nehemiah was a cupbearer made governor, who got a burden for the people of God and the mission of God. He determined to rebuild Jerusalem’s torn wall, knowing it represented legacy and security for the city of Jerusalem. He set out to do this after being able to enlist builders from the nation, only after enduring the challenges of bringing people together and other socio-economic battles. At this point, the accusations begin. Four times, Nehemiah was pressed to stop his endeavors. While the fifth time, a letter came to him. It stated:

“It is reported among the nations, and Geshem says that you and the Jews plan to rebel; therefore, according to these rumors, you are rebuilding the wall, that you may be their king. 7 And you have also appointed prophets to proclaim concerning you at Jerusalem, saying, ‘There is a king in Judah!’ Now these matters will be reported to the king. So come, therefore, and let us consult together [among the villages in the plain of Ono].”

Nehemiah was accused of trying to make a name for himself, because he had given himself to God’s mission and God’s people. They even said he was appointing a prophetic ministry unto himself to get self-approval.

Nehemiah’s response? He plainly says that these things aren’t so, but invented in the heart of the enemy in order to make God’s people AFRAID and DISTRACTED (Nehemiah 6:8-9). Many times, in pursuit of God and His kingdom, the adversary will try to distract us with the fact that we may be making others feel uncomfortable because of our pursuit in God. The adversary knows we love people and have a burden for God’s kingdom; so he tries to use our passionate sincerity against us in order to halt our hunger. We are reminded that Peter possibly faced the same thing when he got out of the boat in Matthew 14. Jesus NEVER singles Peter out to be the only one to step out of the boat, yet only Peter responds.

Why does God allow this? Because for different areas of His kingdom, God establishes precedent through those who are wired for leadership. So, how do we know if we are wired for leadership?

Well. Do we feel the pull to establish a precedent?

It is through this PULL to establish a precedent that we will face opposition. Two forces that oppose those hungry to establish a precedent are accusation and envy. Accusation is the voice of envy and if we do not have a revelation of our IDENTITY and INTEGRITY in Christ, we will look at ourselves in the mirror of torment, over whether or not we fit the description that we are being accused with. Accusations come from the adversary, correction comes from the Lord and His appointed, anointed leadership. It is critical to understand this. We must respond like Nehemiah, “THESE THINGS ARE NOT SO…” (Nehemiah 6:8-9).

The thing is, my beloved fellow young minister, is that we will become WORN OUT by the accuser of the brethren IF WE DO NOT SPEAK AGAINST this voice of envy called accusation (Revelation 12:10). Our primary enemy is not people, it is the spirit that acts behind them. God allows this to happen through people even close to us because He is shaping our character through it. But we must allow God to use us in return to shape the spiritual realm – this is done by WHAT WE SPEAK.

This is one of the principles of true prophecy and false prophecy – BOTH considered prophecy; yet, one God initiates, the other the enemy initiates. Verse 11 shows us that Nehemiah considered this accusation a PROPHECY spoken against him. But in order to nullify the false prophecy, Nehemiah had to SPEAK a TRUE prophecy about his identity in the Lord. So we must do the same.

REMEMBER. This is done almost entirely, if not completely, in a prayer room, because our primary adversary is a spirit, not a person. Through this, we must endure hardship like a good soldier of the Lord.

I have more to share with you next week, because it is devices like these that paralyze prophetic ministries from coming into fruition.

I believe in you. Remember Ron in your prayers. Let him know how great he is, too.

Love, Fear & Vulnerability

If I would ask an individual what the opposite of love is, it’s likely they would say “hate”. Although, I would contend that hate is only a fruit of love’s antonym and not the root. The Scriptures state that “there is no fear in love; but [complete] love casts out fear; because fear has [punishment with it]. He that fears is not made [complete] in love” (1 John 4:18, Strong’s G2849/G2851/G5046).

While love does not room with fear, complete love confronts and casts out fear, wherever it is. It appears that it is possible to have God’s love operating in our lives, but not possess maturity in God’s love, causing us to not confront and cast out fear. Hence, a mature flow of God’s love in and through our hearts causes a third party to become involved. For the sake of this writing, I will be using “complete”, “wholesome”, and “mature” interchangeably. Here’s an example of what I mean: let’s say Alan possesses love that is given by God – two parties. Since Alan is not operating in mature love, he does not confront and cast out fear. On the other hand, let us meet Alan operating in COMPLETE love. He is compelled by God’s complete love to confront and cast out fear, which was not resident with Alan since the beginning. Alan must be drawn to Brian (3rd party), in order for God’s complete love to become evident and impact Brian and his challenge with fear. God’s complete, mature love is only achieved when a third party is involved. I believe this is why John said that if a man does not love a fellow believer whom he has seen, how can he love God, whom he has not seen (1 John 4:20). John sets the foundation in verse 12 stating that “if we love one another, God [actively] dwells in us, and His love is [continuously MADE COMPLETE] in us”. So in order for us to grow from God’s love to God’s complete love, we ought to simply exercise the initial love of God we receive, as a seed sown into the lives of others – because the process of giving, is the process of maturation in God’s love.

Now why bring vulnerability into all of this? I believe vulnerability is the human experience that acts as the middle pivot point which holds the seesaw of love and fear. How we handle our vulnerability is what can cause us to go further in God’s love or further into fear. Consider the moments where you have felt vulnerable. Why did you hesitate? Why did you feel the call to insecurity? Why did you begin to open the invitation to hide? Why did you feel fractured? And seek to become disengaged?

I believe it was because you began to feel the spirit of fear begin to beat its drum on the side of fear and not allow the Word and Spirit of God resound the beautiful tempest of truth on the side of love. I would not be afraid to say, that God’s love is terrifyingly beautiful. The terrifying portion being a product of the fact that God’s love meets us at the degree of our EXPOSURE – whether mental, spiritual, emotional, or even physical. God’s love is first manifested as a response to our exposure. This is a reason why the Scripture states that God demonstrated His love towards us, that while we were yet sinners, Jesus Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). Jesus shows us His love at the highest degree of human exposure: the point where a human corrodes in their sin. Now let me quickly and simply define sin: “missing the mark” (Strong’s G266). I sin whenever I miss the mark. It could be a simple request from God, but me still miss doing it how He asked, by His means, not my own.

I define sin because even when dealing with our weaknesses and vulnerabilities, we can sin by insisting on hiding from God. God is the epitome of patience. Yet, if we refuse to come before God with our vulnerabilities, we sin in His sight; for it is a good thing to come before God with our weaknesses (James 4:17, 2 Corinthians 12:9).

So we get to choose what we do with our vulnerabilities. Many people teeter and totter on this seesaw of love and fear, trying to bear some vulnerabilities with the love of God and others with the fear of exposure. When the truth is, vulnerabilities ought to be cast everyday, not carried (1 Peter 5:7). We must cast our vulnerabilities at the feet of Jesus, where we can walk towards the side of His love, to grow unto complete love and cast off fear behind us.

That is love, fear, and vulnerability in the context of Jesus and us. But here’s the additional layer that God uses to challenge us into growing with complete love.

The people closest to us.

These are the individuals that learn what makes us tick and what makes us ticked. And it’s possible that we would have more trouble being seen of others than being seen of God. It is possible we have more trouble being exposed to those closest to us than being exposed to God. There are many reasons why this can occur – whether it is a childhood experience, lack of effective communication, unhealed wounds, conflicting perspectives, and much more. Yet, God uses these relationships to produce COMPLETE love in our lives, because a third party is now involved. This is the valuable characteristic that God wants to produce in us: complete love.

So, on this weekend when many celebrate Valentine’s Day, remember to thank those who, with God’s complete love, have helped you confront fear in your life when you were in a vulnerable place.

To My Fellow Worship Leader

Dear Fellow Worship Leader,

I’m not a singer-worship leader like you, although I have seen others lead worship without singing. Anyway, for the sake of this letter, we’ll adhere to a cultural definition of worship leading: the person who sings, typically at the center, and directs a song according to the leading of God’s Spirit, encouraging the congregation to get involved. Quite a mouthful. But in many places, that’s a close definition. This letter is not to criticize your role. I really do sympathize with you, via all of the memes about leading worship and the pressures you face. But, I am writing (ranting) to you today because I am tired of your excuses.

Yes. You heard me right. I’m tired of your excuses.

Look. I’m a musician. I get around to discovering a lot of different types of “Christian artists”. Many of them write phenomenal songs and others are just plain unbiblical and self-centered. They have nothing to do with focusing on Jesus and it sometimes KILLS an album for me. What gets me too, are the songs that are just AMAZING, and the person who released it just RUINS the song with excessive runs and flashy display of their talent. I only end up remembering their over-the-top singing ability and not the heart of the lyrics. Ever ask yourself why some songs skyrocket in popularity when someone else besides the original songwriter sings it? It could fall either of two ways. Either the person who made it popular is talented, or they’re anointed. I know which one characterizes you more.

So what am I tired of? I think you’re getting the idea.

I’m tired of you not writing and developing the songs God gives you. Are you not provoked to jealousy, love, and good works when you hear a BOMB song from X-Y-Z “Christian artist” and yours sits, possibly in some notebook, for no one to hear? I know much of the Psalms were birthed in deep prayer and God was the first one to hear them. But let’s just forget blessing the Kingdom, right?

Can you tell my tone is very sarcastic?

WE WANT TO HEAR YOUR SONGS. I’m writing to you in such a manner because I REALLY BELIEVE IN YOU. I want to provoke you unto love and a good work by writing the songs God puts on your heart and blessing others with them. Publish them on Instagram or Youtube or something. I don’t know. It’s gotta get out SOMEHOW. And no. You don’t need some crazy record deal in order for it to be published. Ask David what kind of record deal he had before he started sharing his songs. ALL OF ISRAEL WOULD SING HIS SONGS. We need songs that are BIBLICAL. Colossians 3:16 clearly shows us how we need songs and spiritual hymns that produce wisdom, a spirit of teaching, and admonition. But these songs aren’t separate from the word of Christ. I heard a worship leader, one a lot of people would not consider “close to Jesus”, recently state that too many people feel the pressure of having to spur up a congregation by the use of their own words and motivation. He said this, “Don’t try to get God to endorse your words. God will always endorse HIS WORDS. If you want something supernatural to happen, minister His Word in song.”

I’m not writing this letter to you because I think you’ll get a big head with doing this. I really believe many of my songwriting friends don’t deal with pride, they deal with discouragement. They think nobody wants to listen to their songs, or feel like they need some weird ethereal approval for a song to just be put out here. Why aren’t you giving yourself to that gifting God has put in you? I’ve heard it said it takes more work to bury your talent into the ground, than to actually invest in it. The Parable of the Talents shows us that the man who considered his talent insignificant was called “wicked” (Matthew 25:26). I know who you are. We ought not to fall into this temptation.

You’re frustrated, already. I know it. You’re frustrated because you’re passionate about God’s role in His kingdom, but you’re distracted by the pressures you face in having to succumb to a certain type of “worship leader role”.

You are a WORSHIP LEADER. I know you feel the Holy Spirit leading you into areas of the Spirit when you are leading and you hold back. I see right through you. I know you want to speak more things into the atmosphere of the Spirit, yet you feel like you did not lead a song well unless you got EVERY SINGLE RIFF AND LICK HIT “WELL”. I’m not here to debate praising the Lord in a skillful manner and what the Bible says about it. Since when were we called to hold instruments of praise, whether a voice or guitar, and forget BEING an instrument of praise?

I know who you are. The Kingdom needs your worship leadership. I know what you do in secret. I believe in your God-given ministry. You’re not Benita Washington. You’re not Fred Hammond. You’re not Kim Walker-Smith. You’re not Bethel. You’re not Tasha Cobbs-Leonard.

You. Are. You.

So please stop trying to be like them. Don’t you know you’re called, chosen, and forming into further faithfulness? It’s better when you lead worship. I’ll just be real plain – for X, Y, & Z reasons that you and I have discussed in private, it’s better when you lead worship.

Turn loose. I believe in you so much. Get out of your own way.

Thanks for listening to my rant. I trust you hear my heart. Let me know when you release your songs.

Unrecognizable

Ever look into the mirror and think to yourself, “Where did time go?”

“HOW OLD AM I?”

Try going through pictures that go further than your 10-year challenge and look at your parents and siblings, cousins, childhood friends. You’ll notice that some people become more unrecognizable than others; then we have those whose facial lotion is labeled “The Fountain of Youth”.

But what about internally?

There are situations in this life that can and will cause stark character adjustments in our lives. It may even be people that contribute to major change in our lives, whether positive or negative. These conditions can cause us to become unrecognizable, in others’ sight – or even our own.

To quote every human being with an honest, existential thought process, “LIFE IS CRAZY”. Every person is a combination of their experiences and their perceptions of those experiences. Perceptions shaped by inner wirings, parents/guardians, friends, relationships, leadership, nutrition, habits, culture, religion, academic background, you name it. We come across people that we once knew very well, and 5 or 10 years later, are vastly different – yet, strangely the same.

It is much like the difference that comes to our lives when we begin to grow deeper in God, where we release things from our lives that are not representative of Him. Friends that we may have even grown up with, would give us a look of, “You’re different.” But we’re still ourselves.

What is this phenomenon? And how or why does it happen?

First off, ever think about the likelihood of God allowing something grave in our lives to happen, in order for us to become better? It’s funny because sometimes we think we know better than God does, in order for us to become better. Yet seeing that our concept of “better”, is no better than a human’s best, what about God’s concept of “better” and “best”? We may have heard it 1000 times, something like, “We pray for God to change our situation, while God is wanting us to change.” We are reminded by reading “The Blessing of Losing Control”, that God will allow us to lose control in our lives, in order for us to realize that we need Him. This positions us for a powerful process of change that I want to discuss today.

The Scriptures state that we are “transformed by the renewing of [our] mind” (Romans 12). And so God’s first field of work, is our minds; because if God can cause us to think differently, He will get us to behave differently. It does not matter how religiously inclined our thinking and living may be – God is God – we ought to allow Him to work in and through us to form the person He wants us to become. Many people try becoming who God wants them to become, using their own human means. I’ve done this, too. They condemn themselves into praying. They burden themselves into the work of God’s kingdom. They chastise themselves into serving others. These people greatly lack a sense of fulfillment in their lives and are often critical or cynical towards themselves and others. They may even be SINCERE and WELL-MEANING, but their ability to see afar off who God wants them to become, is not complemented with a surrendered way of thinking. These individuals will eventually become weary and possibly lose their faith in God. This lifestyle is very grievous.

On the other hand, what happens when we allow God to do the shaping for us to become who He wants us to become? We are encouraged of Him to pray. We share His burden for His kingdom. We love our way into serving others. We live in fulfillment of our God-given role. But the process that takes us into that role, can really change us.

We ought to remember that Jesus resurrected WITH His scars still visible – present for all of eternity and a representation of the fact that He used to look a different way. The Bible states that His appearance was marred more than any man (Isaiah 52:14). This meaning that Jesus was beaten with such pain and affliction, an unrecognizable experience for His divinity, to become recognizable in His scars for our humanity. It was the scars of Jesus that helped Thomas recognize His Savior (John 20:24-27). It will be the scars that identify Jesus to the Jews at His second coming. His scars are a testimony to the fact that we can be healed and live with the scars of experiences from this life, yet walk in the new one that Jesus provides. Even if we go through an experience in our lives that leaves a deep scar, it demonstrates how deep God’s healing can go – for no scar hurts. So while scars can leave us unrecognizable, so will the glory of God through our lives make us unrecognizable.

When you allow God to operate in this manner, people will praise you for who you will become in Him. But the scars will remain as a teacher, teaching us to give glory only to God.

Romans 8:18-19 NKJV For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.