Such a Time As This?

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Revival:  In Such a Time As This?

In the book of Esther, Mordecai has been requesting of Queen Esther to go before the King to petition to save her people. Esther knows that coming before the King uninvited may have disastrous consequences, but Mordecai responds: “Who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this.” (Esther 4:14b). Over the last year, the subject of Revival has been burning in my heart. I’ve wanted to understand more about the historical roots of Revival, just as much as I have felt that the embers of another Revival are glowing.

Revival has not only been on my mind, but I have heard it come up in conversations and with the recent Azusa Street Revival celebration (and those simultaneously around the globe)… clearly it’s a global burn. The timing of the Missions and Revival course couldn’t have come at a better time. To grasp what a future Revival is going to look like, we must examine the Revivals of the past… from Pentecost forward to the isolated geographical Revivals that are already happening. There was a portion from the class presentation by Dr. Bruce Ballast that gave me cause to pause, and ask myself… are we living in “such at time as this”?

An excerpt from Dr. Bruce Ballast’s book:

Is there a means that God uses in His sovereignty to bring about a revival in this country that is quantifiable? In the next few chapters I want to focus on a few commonalities from which we can learn. There are at least four factors that recur in these periods of history:

  1. They are preceded by a time of religious decline, sometimes referred to as declension, in the country.
  2. God’s people then feel called to pray;
  3. Prayer leads the church to confession and work t hat allows the Holy Spirit to break out in power;
  4. The revival then produces leaders who continue the revival spirit and create new methods of evangelism or refine old ones.”

In the last few years, a particular piece of scripture keeps popping up. Whether it shows up in a group Bible study, or in my own personal time with the Lord, 2 Timothy 3 is ever present. When leading a group in Bible study, the reaction to 2 Timothy 3 is the same: “That sounds like today, doesn’t it?” Women in my study groups recognize that the warning issued in the scripture is a parallel to the world we are living in today.

2 Timothy 3 (copied from BibleGateway.com)

“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 6 For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; 9 but they will progress no further, for their folly will manifest to all, as theirs also was.

The Man of God and the Word of God

10 But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, 11 persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. 12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

I do not believe it would be bold of me to suggest that most of the church would agree that there has been a spiritual decline in the United States. Churches are closing doors, Christians are pitted against each other on subject of social justice and political correctness. Abortion rates are at 25% of all pregnancies, children are changing genders, people are more concerned about their rights than the overall health and happiness of the population. Drug addiction, pornography addiction, and violence is too common. The family unit has begun to change face as we have embraced single parent homes by choice. Even within the pews of the church we have those who harbor bitter roots of unforgiveness, seek financial prosperity over personal edification, we can not tithe because we are in debt beyond our capacity to repay, and false promises/gods/idols are creeping their way into our homes.

The church is called to persevere, and keep running the race… but just as the scriptures warn us evil gets worse, deception grows. If we can see ourselves in the words of the Scriptures, then I believe we fulfill the first point in Dr. Ballast’s conditions. We must be in a state of spiritual decline. Are we not in such a time as this?

As the faithful become more aware of the parallel between the world today and the warning of 2 Timothy 3, more and more congregations are turning to prayer. Movements are happening within larger ministries that are bringing prayer to forefront of our priorities, and books are being published to direct our faces to Christ through deeper and purposeful prayers. Such as, Priscilla Shirers book Fervent and movie War Room, Revive Our Hearts’ Cry Out prayer event, local churches putting aside denominations to stand in prayer for Revival to come, building prayer ministries and churches setting up prayer rooms, as well as individuals being called to intentional prayer in their lives are becoming more and more prevalent.

One thing that I have noticed in all of the historical accounts of great Revival is a precursor of ramped up prayer life, particularly noticeable among the women of the body of believers. Women starting prayer groups, women praying for specific leaders to come forward, women praying for Revival, or women who are crying out to God to do a mighty work and inviting the Holy Spirit into their towns. Prayer is an integral first step into ushering in Revival, by preparing the hearts of those the Holy Spirit is going to move through. I feel confident is saying that I am witnessing this call to prayer in the lives of women in my local community as well as abroad. The second condition of Dr. Bruce Ballast’s list is being actively met. We are crying out in a time such as this, for the Holy Spirit to bring Revival to His people.

In his third condition, Dr. Ballast suggests that through prayer the church is called to repent. On April 9, 2016 there was an event called Azusa Now, which was on the 110th anniversary of the original Azusa Street Revival. By the blessing of technology, I was able to watch almost the entire Revival event. What I witnessed was breathtaking. The organizers of the event were adamant that the Lord could not bring the Spirit of Revival upon the nation until the church was ready to repent. We needed to repent of the division we had created, we needed to forgive, we needed to reconcile.

When I look through the great Revivals of history, they each had a focus. It is my belief that the theme of the next Revival is going the be Reconciliation of the Church unto Him! We are a people divided, stiff necked, each with their own opinion of what is right, and many listening to those who would tickle their ears with what they want to hear. Man has molded faith to his liking versus molding himself to Christ likeness. At Azusa Now, I witnessed a Christian Pastor, Catholic Priest, and Messianic Rabbi each present an olive branch of reconciliation. Each asking for, and giving, forgiveness to one another in such a humbling and contrite manner that it brought tears to my eyes and convicted my heart of forgiveness that was long over due. Are our hearts being broken, for what breaks His, in such a time as this?

The final condition Dr. Ballast suggests is that there will be an emergence of leaders who are going to usher in the starting point of Revival. It is within reason to suggest that some of these leaders are already positioned on a global scale. However, what we know about Revival is that as much as there will be leaders who have a larger, public, platform (like that of Billy Graham); there is also a need for local leaders who are going to step forward and continue their work in the local congregations. The Lord has granted us technology that allows those larger than life leaders to gain an audience all over the globe. However without local leaders to continue the discipleship process, we would leave these new converts in a lurch.

Without a doubt, the Lord is going to raise up strong leaders who are going to be part of the Revival process. However, there is a responsibility for those of us who are already leading in the church to begin to equip our lay leaders to pick up the baton and lead those new converts as they enter our church doors. We also need to be equipping leaders who can go forward and assist the leaders God brings forward, as they reach out into the community to bring people to Christ. We need mature leaders who can help those that the Lord has brought into repentance, as they find themselves coming back into the fold from which they have wandered. We will need leaders and teachers who have sound doctrine and understanding of the scriptures to teach in the years that will follow the Revival.

With an ever growing population, we are going to need enough leaders and teachers who are ready to disciple and mentor in place (or at least working toward being ready). This means that our current churches need to be preparing for Revival by discerning leaders in the body and coming up with development plans for their spiritual growth. Impressing upon our existing body a desire for Biblical literacy, disciplined prayer life, discipleship/mentor relationships with our seasoned believers, and encouragement to those in the body who feel a call to pastorship or ministry leadership. A great start for this intentional movement toward preparation would include a more direct path toward identifying the spiritual gifts of the congregation, and then applying those gifts into the church now.  Is the Lord readying His people for such a time as what is about to come?  Is a time such as this drawing nearer?

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#Write31Days – Post 8 – Unacknowledged Hurt

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Have you ever had someone hurt your feelings, and no matter how you try to address it with the person… they just won’t own it.    They may try to blame you for the issue, or even shift blame by giving you the “if you didn’t ___, then I wouldn’t have ___” excuse.  You may have even apologized for the things you did in the situation that were wrong, and yet the other person is incapable of even acknowledging their part in the problem.

Unacknowledged hurt, hurts.  It really does.  And, I have found, the longer that it goes unacknowledged the more it hurts.   Whether you have been quietly waiting for the apology or out right demanded one is totally moot, because you are not going to get one either way.  Some people are totally incapable of admitting to their wrongdoing.

In my opinion, it boils down to one of three options:

1. Victim Mentalityvictimmentality

The victim won’t admit to being wrong, because they are incapable of doing so.   They have a skewed perception of reality, and will even project guilt onto you that is actually rooted in someone who previously abused, mistreated, or took advantage of them.  You end up paying the price because of harm that someone else had done long before this situation.  The more people who mistreated them, the more victimized they become.  The more victimized they become, the more they will see everyone out in the world is out to get them.  They are unable to see anyone through an objective lens, unwilling to give the benefit of the doubt  or accept that they may have hurt you. 

2.  Martyr Complexmartyrcomplex

Martyr’s are a bit different than victims because they WANT to be a victim, or at least appear like one.  It’s not that they are incapable of knowing that they hurt you, they just don’t want to bear the responsibility of owning it.  So, they PLAY the victim in order to garner sympathy from others outside of the situation.  They also want you to feel bad, like it is your fault, and bear not only the brunt of the blame … but to do all the work to repair things with them.  Which usually means that you will go above and beyond to try and make things right.  The martyr knows that they were wrong, in whole or part, but you will never hear an admission or acknowledgment from them.

3.  Haughty or Prideful Heart haughtyhaughty

The prideful person actually believes that they are totally innocent of any wrong doing, but not like a victim.  On the contrary, the prideful person is always right and everyone else is always wrong.  This has nothing to do with past experiences or victimization, but instead is a heart issue.  If you are hurt, that is YOUR issue… they did nothing wrong.  You are either too sensitive, have no right to be hurt, were the one who was wrong, etc.  And, the thing is, they totally believe this.  It’s different than the person who knows they are at fault (or at least partially at fault) and tries to pass the blame.  The prideful person truly believes they are totally innocent of any wrong doing what so ever.

The victim will usually make you feel horrible for hurting their feelings, so that you will bend more toward their sensitivities.  The martyr wants everyone else to see how they suffered and how terrible you treated them.  The haughty person would rather walk way from you in their “rightness” than admit to being wrong and try to do the right thing.  But, what is really interesting to me is that there are some people who are mixture of all three.  I didn’t realize it until I wrote this piece, so I suppose there is a fourth category.

There are those who are so certain they are right, that they will put all the blame on you. (Pride)

They will also make sure you feel absolutely terrible about hurting them, even if you are the one who was hurt.  (Victim)

And, they will make sure the whole world knows what you did to them and how you treated them so poorly.  (Martyr)

So what do you do, when you have been hurt…

… and the other person in never going to acknowledge that hurt?

  1.  Pray for clarity over the situation.  Is this a relationship that is otherwise healthy and this is just a particular situation, or is this a toxic relationship and this behavior is repetitive?  Is it time to let this relationship go, or is there restoration possible now or in the future?
  2.  Pray for forgiveness.  Pray for God to forgive you in the areas you failed in the relationship, and then ask God to help you forgive the other person.  Forgiving the other person will be freeing for you, as you will no longer be captive to their dysfunction or the situation any longer.
  3. Pray for discernment.  We usually can not just entirely remove a person from our life.   It may be a family member, a coworker, someone we attend church with, or part of a circle of friends.  Pray that God will help you determine what kind of boundaries you can put in place to protect yourself.  This may mean removing yourself from that person entirely, but it may be a few key decisions that help keep the person at a safe distance.
  4. Pray for healing.  You can cry out to God about your hurt and pain, and ask for Him to heal you.  His healing is not dependent on their acknowledgement of wrong.  His healing can help you move on, more forward, despite their inability to be accountable and reconcile the relationship.

Regardless of their ability to acknowledge the hurt they caused has no bearing on your right to call it what it is.  You can be frank with them, making sure they understand in no uncertain terms that they have hurt you (and perhaps even identifying the level of hurt).  You can choose to draw a line in the sand that can not be crossed until they are willing to acknowledge the hurt they caused.  It’s totally appropriate to do so in a manner that is straightforward without being catty, disrespectful, or mean. 

You can acknowledge the hurt.

God will acknowledge your hurt.

Together, God will help you move beyond it to greater things.

Stop thinking and caring so much about a person, who was able to not only hurt you so deeply… but who didn’t care enough to try and make it right.

 

 

 

Gut Instinct = Discernment

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Going back, about four months ago, an interesting string of events happened.  Someone I hadn’t talked to, in quite some time, popped back on the radar.  It didn’t sit well with me, there was a lot of unresolved stuff in that relationship.  I didn’t think sweeping things under the carpet, or pretending like nothing happened was the right way to go.  But, in the end, I wanted to give the benefit of the doubt.  I dropped my guard, a bit.

A few weeks later, it was painfully obvious to me that there was an agenda for this sudden revival.   I really didn’t want to think that to be true.  I really wanted to give the benefit of the doubt.  I even tried to convince myself that this was the enemy, whispering lies in my ear, trying to stop reconciliation from happening.  Scripture tells us that God wants his people to restore and reconcile with their brothers and sisters in Christ.  I convinced myself this was the case, and I wasn’t going to let the enemy win.  I dropped my guard, a bit more.

Several more weeks would pass of little quips of conversation, but I could still feel a nagging at my soul … this was not genuine.  I decided to put that thought to bed, I could deal with a little bit of skepticism.  I wanted our families to be reunited, I continued to drop my guard, and ultimately her family walked through my front door.  Awkward at first, but as time passed, it got more relaxed.  It wasn’t “like it used to be”, but it was familiar.  The evening ended, everyone survived, and seemed like it went well.

After some time passed, the truth of that evening started to reveal itself.  The younger kids were in the back of the house playing, the older kids just hanging out and talking.  My daughter left the room to get a drink.  When she was supposed to be out of earshot, their kids started talking about my daughter behind her back.  In her own room, in our own home… I was broken-hearted.  I had put my own feelings and skepticism aside, so they could rekindle their friendship.  I invited this pain into my daughter’s life.

To her face, her friend was beaming about how she wanted to go to college here in Florida & basking in some crazy notion about moving into our house for this time period…. plotting and planning out how the bedroom could be redecorated to fit them both.  But, the very moment my daughter left the room, the act was dropped… and the criticism began.  At that point, I flashed back to my original thoughts (which I had been trying so hard to dismiss).  We were being used.

And, the more I thought about it, and sorted through the catalog of the past… I realized how often that happened.  Now, I want to point out, that doesn’t mean there were not moments of reciprocity where we helped one another out.  I’m not trying to paint a picture of a person who is solely interested in using people until they have nothing left.  I don’t think that is the case.  I’m not even entirely sure I’d call my suspicions INTENTIONAL.

But, as I looked over some past instances, a pattern had been developing.  Not just between myself and my friend, but between our daughters.  Even more so, with them.

Sleepovers bad become less about them being together, and more about her getting freedoms she wouldn’t normally be allowed at home.  In fact, there was a sleepover planned & my daughter cancelled it when she found out there were ulterior motives behind it.  What was being sold to me as a “window shopping trip to the mall”, was actually a well thought out plan for her friend to meet up with some guy she met via a phone chat app.  When my daughter found out the real reason she wanted to go to the mall, thankfully, she knew better & cancelled the plans.  I was grateful my daughter had the wits about her, and didn’t enable her friends scheme.

Our “gut instincts” about something, are not usually wrong.

We know when we are in the wrong place, or about to do the wrong thing.

We get a vibe about a person that says:  this person is not safe, is not trustworthy.

Our spirit isn’t settled, we don’t have peace… and we can’t ignore that.

God gives us the gift of discernment to protect ourselves.  I should have known from the beginning this was discernment from God.  I should have listened to that unsettled spirit, and kept the boundaries up.  I could have protected my daughter’s heart from being wounded by someone who has been so important in her life, for so long.  I was trying to talk myself out of doubt, when good reason was sitting right in front of me.

When my friend wasn’t willing to reconcile, which is what God calls us to, I should have known.  Reconciliation and restoration doesn’t come from just “moving on”.  It comes when we are willing to face each other, honestly, and admit to where we messed up.  When we take accountability for our actions.  When we seek forgiveness and offer forgiveness.  It comes in that moment, when we look at another person and say “our relationship is too important for this to go on like this”.  It comes when we own that we are sinning before God by holding anger and resentment in our hearts towards someone in our family of believers.  Sure, it may have boundaries; reconciliation may take time and healing… but it starts out of a spirit of LOVE for the other person & GRIEF over the death of the relationship.

I have repeatedly told my children that truth always reveals itself.  It can’t stay hidden.  Sometimes, it just takes longer for it to show itself.  The sad thing, for me, is that is seems the longer it takes for the truth to reveal itself… the more it hurts.  Especially, when you invited the pain back in.  You opened the door, and let it walk right inside.  And, in doing so, not only exposed your heart to it… but you exposed your family to it as well.

Had I heeded those initial warnings, I could have saved my daughter from learning the truth about her “friend”.  They would have moved, and her memories of that friendship would be GOOD.  Now, it’s broken.

God gives us discernment, but we have to have wisdom to recognize it and understand it.  We also have to be courageous enough to act upon that wisdom.  In my personal situation, I never prayed over it.  I never went to God, seeking His guidance.  I never went to my mentor, to seek godly counsel.  I allowed my fleshly desires (for myself, or family) to let me think I could figure this out on my own.

If you find yourself in a space, like me, where you are wondering if this is discernment or just the enemy attempting to undermine…. PRAY!  SEEK GOD, SEEK COUNSEL.

THE WORDS FELL OUT OF HIS MOUTH

MBA

 

This is a phrase I have begun to use recently, a lot, in regards to my husband.    I think it is fairly accurate.  My husband has a tendency to say things without putting a whole lot of thought to it.  Some times, it is reactionary.   He may not have time to really think through a politically correct response.  Other times, he may be tired from a long day and things slip out in a manner he never intended.  The words literally  just seem to fall out of is mouth.  Like when you spill your coffee, it isn’t intended … but happens.

Once my husband was asked a question about a friend of ours.  He laughed and blurted out a seemingly innocent response.  It wasn’t until he recounted the conversation to me later, that he realized the error he had made.  He responded without qualifying the answer.  So it sounded HORRIBLE, when in reality  it really wasn’t.   Fortunately, I was able to clear things up.

There was another time when my husband was attempting to make me feel better about something, but as the words fell out of his mouth… they did some damage.  In this instance, he realized it immediately.  But the words had been said, he could only apologize.

I could be super annoyed at my husband, I could chide him for being reckless with his words.  I do try to steer him in the right direction, or coach him on a better way to say things.  I do try and encourage him to stop and think before he responds.  But, there are times when the words that fall out of his mouth are SPOT ON.  They may sting a bit, could use a little sugar coating… but he is absolutely correct.

There are are also times when words fall out of my mouth.

With my children, when I respond in anger or frustration, as an example.

Scripture warns us that the tongue is a formidable foe, and needs taming.

Words that fall from our mouths are just as dangerous as bricks falling from wall, and wrecking balls swinging out of control.

Words fall out, when we haphazardly drop that bit of gossip.  Words fall out, when we lose our temper.  Words fall out, when we are disappointed.  Words fall out, when we are frustrated or hurt.  Words fall out, when we make promises we can’t keep (or never intended to).

Words that fall out, have a tendency to hurt.  They leave a hole, where they once were.  Repair and restoration needs to be made.

And, I personally think… the words that fall out hurt far more than the ones that are thrown at you.  Because you never see them coming.