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.

Same Gift. Different Administration.

Fellow Young Minister,

Merry Christmas! I hope its going well for you on the road. I hear traveling weekly and preaching can get pretty lonely and presents its unique challenges. People are expecting you to show up with the same results everywhere you go, yet each church you’re with has a large variety of differences that show up. Talk about pressure. We know, its only pressure if we let it become so. But, I remember you mentioned how you felt the people expecting you to preach a certain way, because you are an evangelist; which typically means people are going to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, be baptized in Jesus name, miracles and healings are going to show up. Despite the expectations of the people, you mentioned you went ahead and followed God’s Spirit and there was demonstration of the Spirit and of power. This letter is not about the definition of demonstration, but I’m thankful for how you said that you focused on just “doing the will of God, and staying in your lane”. That really went a long way with me. I decided to look into the office God has appointed for you, from a biblical perspective, and the subject became bigger than I thought it would be. I have other friends called to the same office and became very intrigued, because while the Spirit and gift is the same, the administrations are different (1 Corinthians 12:1-4).

In Acts 8, Philip, biblically-known as an evangelist, went about Samaria preaching to people who had not heard of Jesus, having miracles and deliverance confirm the preaching (Acts 21:8). Likewise, people were being baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, but no one was receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit. We don’t hear of Philip getting frustrated over why none were receiving the Spirit, he simply sends word for Jerusalem to send Peter and John. These two apostles show up and Samaritans receive the Spirit. EVERYONE rejoices.

There are a few things I want to denote before going further. Philip ACKNOWLEDGES that there is still a need not yet met, that another individual is gifted for. In the same manner, when people receive the Spirit after Peter and John show up, we don’t hear of Philip thinking he’s a good-for-nothing evangelist. It doesn’t stop there. An angel speaks to Philip to pack his bags and go to a desert where he finds ONE man, an Ethiopian eunuch. He proceeds to preach Jesus to this man, who reads the Scriptures, and baptizes the man in the middle of the desert. Then, God literally translates Philip to another region, like straight out of the movie “Jumper”. What’s astounding to me is that Philip is fully confident in his office and gifting, whether or not he was ministering to a whole region, one man, people received the Spirit, or people were being baptized. I wonder how many places Philip would be “invited to preach” nowadays, if no one ever received the Spirit where he went. Nevertheless, God would speak to him and Philip would listen. Peter had his place. John had his place. Philip had his place. ALL were effective.

Allow me to take this further. You know who else was gifted as an evangelist? Timothy (2 Timothy 4:5). The Scripture emphasizes that Timothy needed to be intentional about making “full proof” of his ministry. Yet, we discover that Paul had STATIONED Timothy in the region of Ephesus (1 Timothy 1). So how does one make full proof of their ministry, as an evangelist, when you’re stationed? We see here that the office of an evangelist isn’t limited to an “itinerant preacher” that’s invited to church services. Paul fully expected Timothy to appoint elders at Ephesus and still grow as an evangelist. It is for this very reason, I believe that Paul told Timothy to “not neglect the gift” that was within him (1 Timothy 4:14). Biblically, evangelists are individuals that are gifted for bearing the good news to SINNERS, not saints. Many times, we call traveling preachers evangelists, when they really may be operating as an apostle, prophet, pastor, or even teacher. I have witnessed young ministers become frustrated or skeptical of God’s gifting for them because it was not administered in the same manner others administered their gifting. They felt called to be an “evangelist” but never had “preaching opportunities” show up. Consequently, they felt like the bible studies they taught, souls won, and evangelistic equipping done in the local church weren’t good enough for a phone call to preach somewhere else. When in fact, it was the most terrifying thing that young evangelist could do to the kingdom of darkness in their hometown – and more importantly, to glorify the name of Jesus Christ.

Scripture talks about the “same Spirit” distributing “manifestations”, “administrations”, and “ministries” to every individual in the church (1 Corinthians 12). I would apply this principle to the five offices in Ephesians 4, as well. The same office, but a different manifestation or placement. BOTH just as effective. All evangelists are traveling preachers, but not all traveling preachers are evangelists. Whether or not traveling takes place right down the street, you’re traveling towards the destination of a soul’s heart, in order for God to intervene where they are at. I love how the Lord has such diversities of gifts in His body, and ALL MATTER. Paul talks about how the “unseemly” and overlooked ones end up mattering the most (1 Corinthians 12:23). It gave me so much encouragement to find this out, because our Lord really has a part for all of us to contribute through. Likewise, I am grateful and excited to know that I will continue to see God glorified in the manners He is through your life, in the years to come. It may be that you are in the same place Timothy was, in 20 years from now; but, God won’t be done doing marvelous things through you.

I suppose I can end this letter with saying, we’ve all received gifts from Jesus on our spiritual Christmas, and we rejoice that though our administrations may be different, the gift and Spirit is one and the same. Thankful to be partnering with you.

Merry Christmas!

When God’s Revelation Messes With My Theology

God and I don’t always agree. But He is always right. There are plenty of factors that can contribute to our perspective of God and the supernatural world. For many people, it’s Stranger Things, Halloween Horror Nights, Bill Maher, or even politics. In fact, just about anything can affect our view of the unseen world because the things that we see with our eyes are made by the things we cannot see with our eyes. That truth and fact is first declared to us in Hebrews 11:3, before it’s ever mentioned in a particle physics class.

Consequently, there are places and truths in and from the biblical God that mess with my theology. There is an all-out war for what occupies our minds, because what we think about becomes our priority, and our priority becomes our investment. Whether or not those investments are healthy, these are the external fruits of our internal roots. I would contend that our view of who God is, is the single most influential factor that can impact the way an individual lives their life. The goal, although, is to match my view of God, with God’s view of Himself.

Ever thought you knew somebody because of what other people said about them – only to find out that it was extremely skewed? How about somebody you just met telling you, “I’ve heard so much about you”, all the while you’re wondering what that means.

Even Jesus faced this with his own friends and closest followers. He asked them who did others say He was, and people started throwing shots in the dark. Some confused Jesus with another family member, others said He was a lonely preacher, while others just labeled Him a usual prophet. In His humanity, I could imagine the thought coming across His mind, “Seriously?” Then Jesus proceeds to ask, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter, one of the more vocal followers, speaks up and says, “You are the manifested humanity of the abundantly real God.” What a bomb. Jesus praises Peter for his accurate response, then a few moments later, lovingly slams Peter for thinking that he knew more than he knew.

I believe this can also happen to us more often than we think, where God’s revelation messes with our theology. I like to see it this way, there is a Jesus that I don’t know yet. Yet, the one I know doesn’t contradict with the deeper understanding I have yet to attain. It is a journey to know who God is.

I believe in God’s grace, mercy, compassion, righteousness, love, holiness, and a ton of other characteristics. I would even say I know them and of them – but not in totality. Why is this? Because of my human frame. Ask your electric company to connect the plant to your house without the use of any transformers and tell me what happens. Transformers are what allow electrical energy to get to our homes without burning them up like a piece of paper. I love the way the grace of God works in people’s lives but I truly don’t know the infinite ways it TOTALLY works throughout the many aspects of a person’s life. The reality of our limited understanding should make us in awe of Him and His grandeur, yet inspire us all the more to know who He is in His accessibility.

I remember meeting a large-framed man at the gym, who looks like a bodybuilding samurai version of Steve Aoki, and beginning to talk about God. His name is so fitting: Samson. He started asking me why Jesus didn’t show up to him, to which I responded along these lines, “Why don’t you ask Him to?” I’m telling you, I’ve never seen an intimidating man like him at a loss for words.

He said, “Well, I don’t know about that.” Evidently, he hadn’t tried. I said, “Are you concerned He’ll actually show up?”

“I don’t know,” he quizzically responded.

I have found myself in that same kind of place, where God’s act of revealing Himself to me in a new way, required my vulnerability. I believe God delights in messing up my theology, or “God-opinion”, because He likes to keep things fresh. Somebody once said, “opinions are like noses, everybody’s got one.” And someone else said, “and they smell, too.”

Everyone is a theologian, with an opinion of what God is like. I’d rather get to know God for who He says He is. If I’ve got to change my theology to find out that His grace empowers me more than I think it does, then let it be unto me. If I’ve got to change my theology to recognize that He’s more holy than I think He is, then let it be so.

I want to know Him, don’t you?

Fellowshipping or Socializing?

Have you ever spent time with friends and left feeling empty? Maybe because of a subject that was brought up, a person that was there, or something that was done while you were there?

How about this: everything was fine, but you still left feeling like nothing was done. I think in an honest, conscious or subconscious, effort to fellowship, you ended up socializing.

It doesn’t make your friends evil – or you boring. I believe there was just a lack of intentionality. I think this is one of the most powerful elements of fellowship. With fellowship, there is a deliberate behavior to engage someone else for the betterment of the individual and atmosphere. With socializing, there is an unspoken pressure to conform to what is acceptable to everyone else. GOOGLE IT. That is the #2 definition of the word.

This isn’t a jab at my friends or self-deprecation, it’s just a real situation we would never want for others, especially those we call our friends. In an effort to make myself available to others, I have miscalculated my presence as being equal to my influence. As much as I would want to carry myself in a manner that influences others in a positive way, it is not always the case. In the 1st century, believers were intentional about this principle of fellowship (Acts 2:42). Biblically, the word means joint-participation and joint-contribution (Strong’s Greek 2842). There are quite a few angles to consider at this point. Who is responsible for engaging who?

WE ARE. Whoever has or wants friends must show himself friendly (Proverbs 18:24). Unless we don’t want friends, then this can easily apply to us. There are some people that act like they don’t need anybody, when in fact they tend to be the most desiring for friendship. So what does it mean to show myself friendly? I think this simply means, looking for avenues in which to engage somebody or provoke them to healthy engagement. I have gone out to eat with friends and acquaintances in the name of a “good time” and my most prominent memory of it was how much money I ill-spent or how much REAL conversation was eluded or diluted to shallow talk. I have realized that if I am generous in my friendliness with others, I am going to be met with generous friendliness. This may shock the person you are trying to fellowship with, but ACTUALLY cause them to answer the question, “Hey, how’s it going?”. Don’t settle for them saying, “Good”, or “Hey, how are you?”. I have been guilty of telling people that answered my “how are you” in such an echo, that they ought to answer me first. I mean, how is that response an answer to the initial question? I have used it a thousand times in moments I wanted to keep my guard up, too; but to engage others, we must be intentional about our communication – understanding our own need for fellowship, and helping it be met in others.

What is the alternative? I do my own thing when hanging out with friends and just care about what I get out of it. I know we all need an escape sometimes from life’s circumstances to just enjoy the safety of our friends. But we must guard the climate of our friendships as a consistent lifestyle choice. If we socialize more than we fellowship, we end up compromising the meaningfulness of the relationships where people feel safe for who they REALLY are. Fellowship is about helping others transform into who they dream to be, while socializing is about letting others conform into who they secretly despise to be. Fellowship is about building others up, while socializing let’s people be dishonest with who they are. I don’t want to pressure people to be like me, but I should be able to provoke them into becoming better. It is amazing to me how God meets people where they are at and ENGAGES them into change. We would be amazed to find out how many people would want to fellowship with us if we understood this. I want people to say they feel better about the value of their own life, when they walk away from spending time with me. Am I 100% performer in this regard? Absolutely not. But even a baseball player that makes it to FIRST BASE, 4 out of 10 times, is considered a mega-star. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes along the way. Next time you meet with your friends or even some acquaintances, you get to pick whether you fellowship or socialize.