What’s Love Got To Do With It? (2)

Freedom in ChristIn its pure expression in Christ, love is strong, challenging, graceful, confrontive and quite messy.  Love is not static but dynamic. The strength of God’s love flowing through the Body of Christ is often devalued by leadership through compromise and a fear of man. It is diluted in its expression when leaders try to always please people. If there is a fear of people getting offended or losing membership, love is sidetracked from its essence, speaking words that lose power. The world is looking for authentic Christianity.

Christians, in trying to look or sound like the world in order to win people, trying to be culturally relevant, actually lose the essence of power and authority which flows through the reality of love. Love is messy. Love laid the path to the cross for Christ, a messy affair that brought salvation for us. Love is costly and Christ paid the price for our salvation and freedom. We rest in that perfect reality but love indeed produces suffering in our lives in Christ. It is best we not toss the word ‘love’ around so lightly.

The Body of Christ is weakened and devalued in power and authority through a misunderstanding of exactly what love is in Christ. The world desperately seeks authenticity, which the church is sorely lacking in measure. We can’t express love outside of Christ in God. God is love and His love is expressed in Christ through Holy Spirit. Looking to be culturally relevant has stripped the church of the gifts, speaking in tongues, power ministries and deliverance of demons from peoples’ lives.

There are wonderful churches out there that walk in New Covenant reality, expressing themselves through community. They are few and far between. This community flows in power and authority, with true leadership helping people grow into maturity through the expression of love, which is multifaceted in the Body. What that means is that as we gather, we gather to express truth that is gentle and soft as well as challenging confronting – all formed on a foundation of love. Love is not mean or rude but neither is it compromising or easy to hear. Offense abounds everywhere. People are threatened by truth, labeling it as judgment so as not to digest any part of what is being said to them. Leadership is in need of great change and change is here and is indeed coming. Church, as we know it and knew it, is over. What is coming? We will all see in time as it changes in form and expression.

Right now, so much of the church, seems bent on pleasing the needs of people rather than seeking the heart of God and walking in His will and ways, whatever the cost. I am not intent on generalizing here only to state the problem but to look for a solution for us,  stating relevant observations, challenging us to realize that Christianity is costly. Jesus paid the price in full for our freedom. I marvel at that revelation. In turn, that revelation embeds itself deep into my being. I am then willing to walk in a love that takes risks. Love that does not risk being misunderstood, rejected or persecuted is actually no love at all.

Here’s an example of compromise and fear in the name of love.

I was in a meeting some time ago where a woman kept interrupting the meeting. Her need of attention was obvious, along with her deep-seated anger due to circumstances in her life. Words often betray one’s heart as it did hers to me that day. This is where accurate discernment comes into play. What does this woman need to get free, not to be pacified in the midst of her bondage? And, how does one do this in love, walking in wisdom and grace. Knowing when to speak, when to be silent and as a leader, when to correct and challenge to maturity.

People gathered around her to pray. I was told that this often happens so it became obvious that there was a need in her to cause confusion and take center stage. Over the years, I saw this over and over in leadership.

Back to the story. The leader wanted people to pray for her and minister to her with love and compassion – their perceived idea of love and compassion. Yet, this turned out to be love coated in a fear of man. As I watched them pray, I saw that it grieved God’s heart for He wanted her to be free but it would take some words spoken in love’s strength that would shift her into a new place where she would have to make a decision. She would either receive or get offended. It was her choice and once made, leadership would then handle it accordingly. Right now, leadership just perpetuated the problem due to this fear of man.

Leadership gave her a great challenging word to change to be free. She rejected what people were telling her, telling them outright, she was actually okay. The leader then apologized for his word to her. How is this down? Quite easy. With qualifiers that dilute true power and authority. He said something like “Well, this word may be right. I am not sure. Please pray about it. I believe God is saying this but if it does not bear witness then just discard it.

TruthOh my! Why even bother? There was so much qualifying being done that it appeared to be full of mercy and grace. BUT, it was actually full of fear – and in fear there is little faith and even less change.

In subsequent meetings, she did the same thing over and over – interrupting and trying to interject confusion into the meeting with her needs.

Now for some intense honesty here. Over the years, I didn’t always walk in love. That is why God is revealing love’s strength to me today in the midst of my heart healing. I was angry and that came out in my preaching and prophesying. When confronted with this anger, I swung to the other side and tried to be merciful, not confronting, not challenging, thinking that I must learn to be more loving. It did not work. I had to learn about love by looking to the expressions of Jesus as He focused on the Father.  I see love as strong, clear and awesome as well as soft and gentle and tender. I will risk misunderstanding and rejection to focus on growth and maturity in people speaking in love. But,  I will not imprison love within my contained definition. Love is life and love flows – all in its multi-faceted expression.

That was just one example above on a small scale but it shows my point. The strength of love is to be shown in and through leadership without fear of man or people pleasing. Love takes on many different forms and expressions. Look at Jesus………..the creative expression of His Father in heaven, living and moving and being in love.

May the strength of love empower Christians to risk reputations, honor, finances, and even ministry to walk in an uncompromised love of Christ. To love the Body of Christ so deeply and to love people so strongly that we desire change and maturity so that the Kingdom is advanced in greater measure throughout the earth.

In Christ,
Debra

DebraIf you would like Rivers of Eden Ministry to come to your home group, church, or gathering please comment below, or contact us on Facebook or Twitter. Read Our Timeline to get better acquainted with our lives. Marvin and I realize that there are times when small groups of people do not have finances to bring us in. We will still come, as Holy Spirit leads. Just pray and ask.

What About This “New Thing”?

The prophetic word: “Contend for the new thing!”

My breakdown of the word “contend” is in the previous blog post. Now, what about this ‘new thing?” How many times have you and I heard from the prophetic community that there is a ‘new thing’ coming, already here, on the horizon, ready to break out, etc. etc. etc.???? I mean, let’s get real but not judgmental. But……let’s get real and honest. I can’t accept everything that comes down the wire as truth just because it is said by someone who is ‘in the mix’ or in the ‘prophetic limelight.”

Again, not being sarcastic here, but it is time to mature. And, maturity brings discernment, wisdom, and grace. I simply cringe when I hear people fawn all over leaders because they were prayed over, prophesied over, or slain in the Spirit over. At the risk of being labeled critical, judgmental, or not honoring of God’s appointed leadership, I simply can’t buy into it anymore. Just the sound of ‘reverence’ that comes out of someone’s mouth because they attended such and such a conference by such and such an apostle or prophet makes me cringe inside. Most of the time, I see little if any focus on Jesus Christ. In my humble opinion, I want Jesus and if it does not point to Jesus, then why bother with it?

Back to the ‘new thing’ in a minute okay? Just want to say a few more things here.

When I first heard this word “Contend for the new thing!” I questioned whether I had any right to confront it or challenge it. I see myself, at times, as little, and these guys out there (with a few gals) as big, experienced, iconic, with a following, and more. Who am I to confront it? Will I be labeled rebellious or judgmental? What about honoring leaders?

My self-talk went something like this: “Who are you? Why does your opinion matter? Who will listen anyway? They know more than you. God has appointed them in this position of leadership. Don’t go against them or you may be fighting against God’s anointed.”

After a few days of this, I realized something. I have been talking about finding my ‘sound’ for a long while now. To sound forth what is in my heart, I just need to say it. I used to speak forth consistently until all these years of brokenness, rejection, and persecution came my way. That knocks the life and light out of a person. It did me. Slowly, I am coming back and self-doubt is moving over to concede to a voice of truth in me that can’t be silent anymore or I will fade into oblivion.

Okay, with that being said, now what about that word ‘new’? What is this new thing we keep hearing about over and over and over? I will get to the crux of the matter in the next blog but let me process here with a few questions.

What is ‘new’? How do I understand the word ‘new’ in this word? As I said, the word ‘contend’ implies that I must strive, grapple, and go head to head with procuring the new thing?

I am not a theologian but I do study Scripture. There are several meanings to the word ‘new’ in Scripture. Neos or kainos. Neos indicates new in time such as an upgrade to a new car or a new computer, indicating a time frame. Kainos indicates new in substance, a different kind, novel, unprecedented, never seen before. So which one is it? Is something new coming in time such as a new move or revival OR is the new already here, within us in Christ?

I will make an observation here based upon years as a Charismatic, prophetic person. Here is what I believe many people would think about this word. The ‘new’ that is coming is something in the realm of a new movement, a new stream, a new revival, a new atmosphere, etc. For many, based upon the prophetic grid of interpretation, this word indicates that the ‘new’ is something ‘out there’ that is going to hit all around and we need to prepare for it.

Whatever the ‘new’ is often refers to something ‘out there’ coming because that is often what prophetic words today tend to focus on. What is ‘out there’? Well, here’s a few examples.

A new revival
The rising up of apostles and prophets
Healing, signs, wonders
Extreme manifestations
Financial breakthroughs
Angelic armies

Are you getting the picture? I am all in for all of the above. I am all in for the prophetic. I am all in but……………………..

Don’t OUTSOURCE the word ‘new’ to something external to the reality of Jesus Christ who is all in all. This then takes the focus off of Christ and puts the focus on the ‘new’. Are you seeing this? I am not downplaying the prophetic. It just needs a new language to align us in the reality of Christ in me as the main thing. More tomorrow about this ‘new’ thing. Focus on Jesus Christ and Him alone. He is the center of it all.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. (Colossians 1:15-18 NKJV)

In Christ,
Debra Westbrook

Debra NapaRivers of Eden Ministry is called to challenge people to a life of creativity, revelation and intimacy in Christ. Marvin and I look forward to hearing from you, allowing us the opportunity to minister in the grace and love of Christ in your gathering, church, home group or conference.  Currently we are planning a trip to Kenya in July in which we are looking forward to establishing new relationships with leaders for a Kingdom purpose. Contact us on Facebook or Twitter for more information.