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.

Creative Expression – Breaking It All Down!

God often speaks to me in one word or one-liners straight into my spirit. They can hit me when I least expect it or they can creep up slowly so as to infuse slowly over time into the foundation of my Christian life. The word ‘deconstruct’ has been in the slow infusion process in my life over the past month.

Deconstruct. Deconstruct. I hear it. I see it. I know it is working life in me to speak it forth as a source of encouragement and challenge. I am often a walking prophetic message carried in and through my life. In the past, I tried to ask God to do this some other way, but He doesn’t seem to hear me.

So I accept that I talk the talk only as I walk the walk. I impart to each of you that which dies and brings resurrection life in me so it can flow out to you in words of life.

Deconstruction. This is what God is doing in my life. What exactly does it mean? Let me show you first in this video. If you don’t see this video by email, just click on the link to go to the online version.

Deconstruct – selective dismantling of building components, specifically for re-use, recycling, and waste management. It differs from demolition where a site is cleared of its building by the most expedient means. It is referred to as “construction in reverse’. Deconstruction focuses on giving the materials within a building a new life once the building as a whole can no longer continue. It’s life construction, in reverse.

So, I am being broken down, torn apart, not for the sake of destruction or annihilation of who Debra is, but for the beautiful sake of reconstruction of who I am created to be in Christ. Some things just gotta go. He is tearing me down with His gentle hands of love to recreate someone greater with the life of Christ flowing through her. This verse comes to mind.

Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20 Message)

There I am, laying in pieces on the ground. All my faults, my weaknesses put on display over the past years for all to see. The anger, the unresolved unforgiveness, the death of my sister, the near destruction of my marriage, ………there’s more but just a few examples will suffice for now. Right there in front of me, I see the results of a life broken beyond repair. Pieces of what could have been strewn around me. I fail to see anything that could come to greatness at this point. Who can put this all together?

There’s the deconstruction process. Bit by bit, piece by piece. Sometimes it hurt. Sometimes it lasted longer than I wanted it to last. Yet, all along, I submitted to it in various ways. Sometimes I cringed, got angry and threw things. Other times I simply resolved myself to the reality that I was a mess Better to bring it all down so that I can rise up again in His life. I used to get so tired of being me. Have you ever felt this way? Yet, things are quite nice right now, after years of deconstruction. It is tapering off a bit. Now, at this point in my life, I settle into stillness quite well, forgetting the noise of the world, coming apart to BE with Jesus Christ. In His life, I have life.

In this place of intimacy in Christ, He tears down, builds up, and deconstructs my life down to the basics. Down goes that wall of unforgiveness and anger. It serves no purpose. It is detrimental to my peace and my joy. Then bam, I am confronted with my own insecurity and down it goes, exploding quickly into pieces. I carried it for so many years, often using it as an excuse to procrastinate and withdraw from everything. Going through the house, He levels it all to bring it down to its foundation. There I am. All props gone. Presumptions flying into the distance. What’s left? Just the foundation. What exactly is that foundation? When all the props are brought down, there I stand in naked truth, barely recognizable yet so very alive. What now? Feeling so exposed and nowhere to hide. What now?

Well, it’s like this. I am being re-membered, put together oh so well to BE Debra. Bit by bit, piece by piece. What life has tried to steal, what evil has tried to destroy, God is restoring to my life in Christ. I cringe when I think that at my age I am finally finding out who I am created to be, walking in freedom and wholeness with each passing day. Why did I not get it sooner? Why now? Why the waste of time? Well, those words only show that there is always further need for some deconstruction, some tearing down. Deconstruction is a process that never goes away. I am always in the process of being remodeled and remolded for I am human in every way.

Here are some great words by CS Lewis that goes along with all of this. Enjoy!

Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself. ~CS Lewis, Mere Christianity,

In Christ, Debra

Please pray and consider having Rivers of Eden minister in your gathering, home group, conference or church in 2014. This is our year of release wherever and whenever God opens His doors bringing His grace and His glory through us to those to whom we are called in this season. Feel Free to contact us on Facebook, Twitter, or on our Contact Page on our web site.

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