By God's grace—and with a will determined not to dwell on an unpleasant past—we can overcome the challenge of forgetting those things that are behind.
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Jennifer LeClaire explores how some Christians with international ministries, book deals and large staffs become such drama queens (and kings) who think more highly of themselves than they ought.
It isnt always easy to transition from one season to another even in the best of circumstances. Even great blessings can bring difficult transitions. The key to transitioning well is to first discern the change in season.
Rejection works subtly to destroy your self-esteem and your purpose. Rejection causes you to feel sorry for yourself. Rejection spurs you to reject other people before they have an opportunity to reject you.
DC Comics has outed The Green Lantern. Despite his womanizing maneuvers in last summer’s Green Lantern movie, the alien ring-toting superhero has no interest in the opposite sex. It seems when he’s not wearing his neon green garb and accomplishing superhuman feats, the chiseled Green Lantern enjoys kissing his new boyfriend. And an upcoming issue of the comic will show just that to innocent children everywhere.
Perhaps DC Comics is trying to compete with its rival Marvel Comics, which announced just days earlier that it would host the first gay wedding in the June 20 issue of Astonishing X-Men #51. Of course, Marvel Comics has long proved more progressive on the gay superhero front. Northstar, an X-Men character, became the first openly gay superhuman in American comic book history way back in 1992.
And holy cow! There’s also speculation that Batman is about to come out of his caved closet, which would confirm decades-old rumors that Batman and Robin are much more than friends in tights. In the name of gender equality, the comic book industry isn’t likely to leave the ladies out. Will we soon see superheroines like Wonder Woman, Catwoman and the Invisible Woman holding hands, kissing and planning lesbian weddings within the pages of children’s comic books?
Prophets would do well to keep their mouths tightly shut when they don’t have an unction from the Holy Spirit. Yet too many prophets feel the people pressure—the natural expectation that comes with the office—to prophesy profusely in public meetings. And too many prophets feel they must offer up a “prophetic word” about the latest natural disaster, governmental shift or economic crisis.
Yes, God surely does nothing unless He reveals it to His servants the prophets (Amos 3:7). But that doesn’t mean prophets and prophetic people should move beyond the unction and in to presumption, does it? We can prophesy according to the proportion of our faith all day long, but that doesn’t necessarily make it accurate, does it? Prophetic ministry is not an exercise that is ego-boosting—or at least it shouldn’t be.
Week in and week out I write this column. Sometimes I share experiences from my life. Sometimes I share prophetic insights. Sometimes I offer warnings. This week I am fighting a horrible cold and I didn’t really have anything to say. I was not moved by the Holy Ghost to offer a profound exhortation or even some simple edification when I sat down at my computer to start typing. I didn't have anything to say.
Sabine Barig-Gould apologized for the famous English hymn “Onward, Christian Soldiers” he wrote in 1865. Why? For writing it so quickly that some of its lines were “faulty.” He permitted hymnbook compilers to change some of the lyrics, such as the phrase “one in hope and doctrine” to “one in hope and purpose” and “we are not divided” to “though divisions harass.”
If Barig-Gould were alive today, he may be compelled to offer his permission to change the title, adding the word “wounded” to the plight of the Christian soldier.
Sadly, there are too many wounded saints limping around the church trying their level best to serve God. Rather than walking in their Christ-given victory, they are walking in emotional defeat that oft holds them in bondage. Beloved, many of us have battle scars but many others are still the walking wounded. They need the healing balm of Gilead, spiritual medicine to heal their souls. But they also need natural, practical help to break free.
Day and night. Night and day. These are themes that run through the Bible—from Genesis to Revelation—and they are awakening the praying church to new realms of intercession.
Fellowshipping with God through prayer and worship is what we were created for. It’s just that simple. Yet how easy is it to stray from this reality when the spirit of the world is tugging on your sleeve with trouble, with persecution, with the worries of this life, or with the deceitfulness of riches?
How easy is it? Too easy in an American church that’s being lulled to sleep by a false gospel working its way into our mindsets through compromised Christian television preachers and seeker-friendly congregations that look to make numbers rather than disciples.
God can—and often does—speak through natural encounters in our everyday lives. So when I saw two U.S. Army soldiers pumping gas in the car next to mine last week—and when my spirit suddenly went on high alert—I knew the Lord was trying to show me something.
See, I used to live a mile outside the gate of Fort Rucker in Ozark, Ala. Interacting with military personnel was part of everyday life. But since I returned to South Florida 10 years ago I haven’t seen a single military man (or woman). At least not one in uniform. These men were dressed in their camouflage gear complete with boots. No one else seemed to notice them, but I couldn’t take my spiritual eyes or ears off them.
As I watched and listened to how they interacted, I was impressed with both the camaraderie and respect they showed one another. I noticed at least one of them had been deployed—risking his life for the security of the nation—and returned home safely from war by the patch on his sleeve. Finally, before they left, I stepped out and thanked them for serving our country. The major’s smiling response: “It’s our pleasure.” Humble.
When I got back in my car, I asked the Lord what that was all about. He said, “What if these soldiers were out in the middle of the battlefield arguing with each other?”
It’s just a setback; it’s not your future.
I remember when the Holy Spirit spoke those words to me some years ago. I had just taken a devastating blow—a one-two (three-four) punch from the enemy. It sent me reeling with a spinning head and wobbling legs.
Let’s just say I never saw it coming.
But when the Holy Spirit spoke those eight simple words to me it broke the spiritual oppression that was trying to settle on my soul. I suddenly had an all new—more hopeful—perspective. Instead of focusing on my immediate past, I began to immediately look for the next step in God’s good plan for my future.
Have you encountered a setback lately? Something unexpected that spoiled your plans and disappointed your heart? It could be a failed relationship, a broken dream, a financial calamity, a health issue. Beloved, see this setback for what it is. Setbacks are delays. Setbacks are hindrances. But setbacks are not necessarily failures. You did not fail because you encountered defeat. You only fail when you choose not to get back up and keep going. It's just a setback. It's not your future.
Many lessons will spring from Trayvon Martin’s tragic death. It has opened up new discussions on race relations in America and served as a catalyst for a renewed emphasis on unity in the body of Christ.
Although I am grieved over Martin’s death, I am grateful that the church is beginning to rise up and respond. Racism is a heart issue. Ultimately, we will only emerge victorious over this demon-inspired mindset when we attack it as a unified front in the name of Jesus. We overcome evil with good (Rom. 12:21).
I’m nearly 42 years old … too young to remember the evils of segregation but not too blind to notice that Sunday morning is still the most segregated day in America—and it’s not just segregated by skin color or nationality, either. The body of Christ is splintered, with about 38,000 distinct Christian denominations preaching, praying and sometimes prophesying and casting out devils in the name of Jesus.
This is a bold statement and one that will probably anger many. But about seven years ago the Holy Spirit told me denominations were a tool the enemy uses to bring division in the church. I found out later that the very definition of denomination is “a division of part of a whole.” Selah.
Just like Elijah confronted the prophets of Baal, the time is coming when God’s New Testament mouthpieces will confront modern day merchandisers. The true will defy the false. The holy will challenge the unholy. Until that day, spirits of divination, with a little help from the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life, are working overtime to woo God’s true prophets to the side of err.
Some merchandising prophets, with their miracle water, prophetic soap and prosperity oil, are catching naive Christians hook, line and sinker. Other gospel gainsayers are profiting with urgent announcements that God will heal the first five people who run up to the altar with $100 bill in hand.
But perhaps the most dangerous merchandisers are those who use their gift to tap into divination. These prophets announce what the believer wants to hear in order to sow a false seed of faith in his heart and reap an improper financial reward, inappropriately earned position or wrongly received recognition. No matter the merchandiser’s brand of deceit, it is a practice that stinks in the nostrils of God.
As I was preparing a sermon for Palm Sunday, I was struck to the core by John 12. Jesus made a triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The Bible says a great multitude took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! The King of Israel!” (John 12:13).
Yet only a few verses later many no longer believed.
What happened? What shifted? What caused this multitude to go from celebrating Jesus and acknowledging Him as King of Israel to turning their back on Him and days later calling for His crucifixion? Simply put, He told them the truth—and they couldn’t handle the truth. You might say they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved (2 Thess. 2:10).
But let me ask you a serious question: Are you a lover of the truth? Are you a true follower of Christ? Really?
It’s easy to despise the day of small beginnings. Small beginnings often come with hard work and little help. Small beginnings usually offer tall resistance and modest encouragement. Small beginnings typically see limited budgets and abundant setbacks. Nevertheless, whatever God has called you to do, “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin” (Zech. 4:10, NLT).
I remember when God planted a seed in my heart to pray for the nations. I had a large multicolored map on my wall and I was in awe of the massive opportunities for prophetic intercession. Suddenly, the Lord illuminated a tiny speck of an island on this map, one of the smallest islands in the Caribbean. This was my prayer assignment. I was somewhat disappointed. I wanted to storm the heavens of pivotal nations in the earth, but the Lord gave me a small beginning.
I surrender … I found myself saying those words while talking with the Holy Spirit about my frustrations.
Whether you are in ministry, in the marketplace or tackling the all-important task of raising a family—or perhaps, like me, doing all three at the same time—you will no doubt come to a point in your walk with God that you feel like giving up. Paul wouldn’t have admonished us not to grow weary in well doing if he hadn’t witnessed people losing heart at times along the journey (Gal. 6:9).
But I’m here to tell you that the answer is not to quit and give up. The answer is to surrender. And there’s a vast difference between the two. As much as I want to sometimes, I’ll never admit defeat in the midst of doing something God has called me to do. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil. 4:13). And, of course, we know that God always leads us in triumph in Christ (2 Cor. 2:14). I could rattle off a few other Scriptures to drive home the point, but you get the idea.
No, as much as I want to quit sometimes, I’ll never admit defeat in the midst of doing something God has called me to do. But I have learned that there is a time to surrender the vision. Miriam-Webster defines the word surrender as “to yield to the power, control or possession of another upon compulsion or demand,” and “to give up completely or agree to forego especially in favor of another.”
A young woman called me looking for a prophetic word. She was befuddled, sore vexed and all-out desperate to hear from God about a certain situation.
This young, Spirit-filled woman, we’ll call her Tammy, insisted she just couldn’t hear from God. She had prayed. She has worshipped. She had read books on how to hear the voice of God. Yet she adamantly confessed that she could not hear a word. She called me because she wanted to me to “go to the throne” on her behalf.
Tammy went on to rehearse every detail the devil was telling her. She told me how the devil said she was going to get fired on the next round of job layoffs. She told me how the devil said her car was going to break down soon. She told me how the devil said she was going to get sick. And she was full of fear.
Exhaustion; that’s the best word to describe how I’ve felt for the past two weeks. And there is no natural reason for it. I’ve been sleeping plenty. Drinking lots of water. Getting plenty of exercise. (Enjoying more than my quota of Starbucks!)
Yet the morning I penned this article—despite sleeping nine hours the night before—I went back to sleep for two hours after taking my daughter to school. And when I woke up, I was still exhausted—and disgusted.
I was starting to wonder what was wrong with me. And then I got a friendly reminder revelation from the Holy Spirit: It’s witchcraft. Wicked witchcraft. How could I forget? It caught me off guard. Now I'm warning you.
Although the Holy Spirit speaks expressly, we see through a glass darkly. Sure, it’s easy enough to understand the words of that still, small voice in your spirit. But impressions, dreams and visions aren’t always as clear as we’d like them to be—and reasoning blocks discernment.
I remember a time when a friend of mine was planning a trip to Los Angeles. She told me she was nervous about going, but I reasoned that it was a natural case of “the nerves” because she had an important meeting there. The week before she left, I started to get impressions that something bad was going to happen to her in Los Angeles. But it was like seeing through a glass darkly.
At first, I thought it was just fear. I was going through a major trial at the time and had so much coming at me from so many different directions that sorting through it all was more than a little challenging. Nevertheless, I pled the blood of Jesus and claimed the promises in Psalm 91 over my friend every day. The impressions—what I reasoned were imaginations—didn’t stop. Yet I never had a clear word of the Lord “come unto me saying.”
I was raised in spiritual warfare. By that I mean, soon after I got saved I plugged into an apostolic church that vowed to run to the battle line to wrestle spirits of Jezebel, witchcraft, religion—and whatever else was opposing the purposes of God.
My church home was akin to a spiritual war zone. We were always on red alert through prophetic warnings, dreams and visions about the next attack. Indeed, spiritual warfare was a consistent thread in most of the praise, worship, equipping classes, Sunday morning sermons and leadership lessons.
You might call it “extreme apostolic.” We hunted down the demon(s) behind every doorknob like a child with a sweet tooth hunts for chocolate Easter eggs. Looking back, it seemed at times like a contest to determine who could present the most detailed dream or vision about the enemy’s impending plan. Once the enemy was spotted, a shouting match with the principality or power ensued that left you with a sore throat—and no respite from the warfare.
I was in a spiritual warfare ditch, where the enemy and his plans were ultimately exalted over God and His plans. Don’t get me wrong. I believe wholeheartedly in spiritual warfare. But we can get into a ditch with any principle if we take it to the extreme. So we have to ask ourselves: What causes us to take biblical principles to the extreme?
Do you remember when the Lord spoke to the apostle Paul in the night by a vision? He said: “Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city” (Acts 18:9-10).
That’s the Scripture that came to my mind last Friday after I came home from the spa. Yes, the spa. See, I’m not too proud to admit that carrying the weight and fighting the spiritual warfare that goes along with planting a church, writing a new book about the Jezebel spirit, producing worship songs, commenting in a weekly national radio broadcast, working in media ministry at Charisma, raising a teenager as a single mother—I’ll stop there—I’m not too proud to admit that sometimes the warfare against my mind and body is so intense that it borders on overwhelming.
When that happens, I’ve learned that I need to unplug and allow the Holy Spirit to minister to me. And that’s what I did last Friday afternoon. I never imagined that God had someone in the spa ready and waiting to speak a word in due season that would remind me of just how great our God is and how much He really cares. But that’s just what happened. Call it a divine appointment. God had stationed a powerful prayer warrior (with a strong Jamaican accent) in that spa to minister to me by the power of the Holy Spirit.