Yes.  Somewhere, people still make and keep promises.

They choose not to quit when the going gets rough because they promised once to see it through.

They stick to seemingly lost causes.

They hold on to a love grown cold.

They stay with people who have become pains in the neck.

They still dare to make promises and care enough to keep the promises they make.

I want to say to you that if you have a ship you will not desert, if you have people you will not forsake, if you have causes you will not abandon, then you are like the One, True God, Creator of the universe and the original inventor and pioneer of promises.

What a marvelous thing a promise is!

When a person makes a promise, they reach out into an unpredictable future and makes one thing predictable: that they will be there even when being there costs more than they want to pay.

When a person makes a promise, they stretch themselves out into circumstances that no one can control and yet, controls at least one thing: that they will be there no matter what the circumstances turn out to be.

With one simple word of promise, a person creates an island of certainty in a sea of uncertainty.

When a person makes a promise, they stake a claim on personal freedom and power.

When you make a promise, you take a hand in creating your own future.

[Keeping Promises, Citation: Lewis Smedes, “The Power of Promises,” A Chorus of Witnesses, edited by Long and Plantinga, (Eerdmans, 1994)]

Dear Spirit of Religion…

A Guest Post, by;  Bethany Carson

Photo Credit: Artistically Revealing the Spirit; Artist, Richmond Futch Jr.  If you like the painting attached to this article, please take the time to view Richmond’s other amazing work at:

Dear spirit of religion;

You​ ​are​ ​cruel.​ ​​ ​You​ ​create​ ​bondage.​ ​​ ​You​ ​enslave​ ​people​ ​by​ ​your​ ​demands.​ ​​ ​You​ ​inhibit​ ​freedom.  You​ ​operate​ ​by​ ​heaping​ ​guilt​ ​and​ ​hesitation​ ​on​ ​people​ ​for​ ​how​ ​to​ ​be,​ ​how​ ​to​ ​act,​ ​what​ ​to​ ​say,​ ​and how​ ​to​ ​live.​ ​​ ​You​ ​bind​ ​people​ ​with​ ​chains​ ​called​ ​fear​ ​and​ ​control.​ ​​ ​You​ ​place​ ​people​ ​on​ ​the​ ​hamster wheel​ ​of​ ​“What​ ​ifs?”​ ​-​ ​that​ ​spinning​ ​wheel​ ​of​ ​death​ ​-​ ​and​ ​leave​ ​them​ ​to​ ​run​ ​incessantly,​ ​where​ ​they neither​ ​achieve,​ ​or​ ​advance.​ ​​ ​You​ ​accuse.​ ​​ ​You​ ​condemn.​ ​​ ​You​ ​seek​ ​to​ ​destroy​ ​people​ ​from​ ​the inside​ ​out.

You​​ ​​are​​ ​​an​​ ​​ice​​ ​​cold​​ ​princess,​ ​​​ ​​spirit​​ ​​of​​ ​​religion.​ ​​​ ​​​​ ​​You​​ ​​seek​​ ​​to​​ ​​be​​ ​​right​​ ​and​ ​to​ ​self-protect​ ​​more​​ ​​than​ ​you​​ ​​seek​​ ​​to​​ ​​love.​ ​​​​ ​​Your​​ ​​division​​ ​​of​​ ​​the​​ ​​church,​ ​first​ ​by​ ​denomination,​ ​then​ ​by​ ​congregation,​ ​is​​ ​​the calling​ ​card​ ​​of​​ ​​your​​ ​​ruthless​​ ​​and​​ ​​reckless​​ ​​destruction.​​ ​​ ​I​ ​find​​ ​​comfort​ ​​that​​ ​​Jesus​​ ​​actually​ ​​came​​ ​​to​ ​bring​​ ​​division​ ​and​ ​I​ ​trust​ ​that​ ​His​ ​sovereign​ ​hand​ ​will​ ​use​ ​your​ ​attempts​ ​to​ destroy,​ ​to​ ​prune​ ​that which​ ​is​ ​dying​ ​and​ ​powerless​ ​and​ ​in​ ​turn,​ ​strengthen​ ​His​ ​bride.​ ​​ ​After​ ​all,​ ​his​​ ​​message​​ ​​walked​​ ​​in​ ​direct​​ ​​opposition​​ ​​to​​ ​​religion​​ ​​far​ ​more​​ ​​than​​ ​​it​​ ​​did​​ ​​against​​ ​​the​​ ​​broken​​ ​​sinner.​​ ​​​​ ​I​ ​choose​ ​His​ ​division, because​ ​it​ ​is​ ​what​ ​safely​ ​separates​ ​me​ ​from​ ​you.​ ​​ ​​The​​ ​​yeast​​ ​​of​​ ​​the​​ ​​Pharisees​​ ​​is​​ ​​what​​ ​​puts​ ​the​ ​true believer​​ ​​on​ ​guard​​ ​​(Luke​​ ​​12).​​ ​​​ ​​ ​That​ ​yeast,​ ​which​ ​you​ ​cleverly​ ​attempt​ ​to​ ​hide,​ ​​destroys​​ ​​what​​ ​​Jesus​ ​wants​​ ​​to​​ ​​do​​ ​​and​​ ​​accomplish​ ​through​​ ​​his​​ ​​Bride,​​ ​​the​​ ​​church.​​

​​​​You​ ​certainly​ ​don’t​ ​operate​ ​with​ ​love.​ ​​ ​You​ ​place​ ​demands​ ​on​ ​people​ ​that​ ​are​ ​immobilizing​ ​and unattainable.​ ​​ ​You​ ​demand​​ ​​that​​ ​​churches​​ ​have​ ​boards​ ​of​ ​leaders​ ​​to​​ ​​establish​​ ​​accountability​​ ​​and​​ ​​to​ ​protect​​ ​​an​​ ​​already​​ ​​too-safe​​ ​​American​​ ​​church​​ ​​from​​ ​​anything​​ ​​that​​ ​​might​​ ​​be​​ ​​outside​​ ​​of​​ ​​the​ ​comfort​ ​zones​ ​you​ ​impose​ ​upon​ ​them.​​ ​​​​ ​​But​​ ​​the​​ ​​Holy​ ​Spirit​​ ​​of​​ ​​the​​ ​​Living​​ ​​God​​ ​empowers​ ​churches​​ ​​with​​ ​​warrior leaders​​ ​​who​ ​will​​ ​​cover,​​ ​​protect,​​ ​​and​​ ​​champion​​ ​​an​ ​army​​ ​​of​​ ​​fellow​​ ​​believers​​ ​​into​​ ​​their​​ ​​rightful​​ ​​place​​ ​​of​ ​power​​ ​​and​​ ​​authority​​ ​​over​​ ​the​ ​power​ ​of​ ​​sin​​ ​​and​​ ​​death​​ ​​and​ ​darkness​ ​in​ ​a​ ​fallen,​ ​hurting​ ​world.
If​ ​perfect​ ​love​ ​casts​ ​out​ ​ALL​ ​fear,​ ​then​ ​I​ ​cannot​ ​and​ ​will​ ​not​ ​bow​ ​to​ ​you​ ​and​ ​worship​ ​you,​ ​religion, because​ ​you​ ​walk​ ​in​ ​direct​ ​contradiction​ ​to​ ​the​ ​Gospel​ ​and​ ​power​ ​of​ ​Jesus​ ​Christ.​ ​​ ​I​​ ​​will​​ ​​never​​ ​​bow​​ ​​to​ your​ ​​religious​​ ​​doctrine​​ ​​without​​ ​​first​​ ​​bowing​​ ​​to​​ ​​the​​ ​​person​​ ​​and​​ ​​work​​ ​​of​​ ​​Jesus​​ ​​Christ.​ ​The​​ ​​Gospel​​ ​​of​ ​Jesus​​ ​​Christ​​ ​​was​ ​freely​ ​given​ ​​to​​ ​​set​​ ​​captives​​ ​​free,​​ ​​to​​ ​​loosen​​ ​​the​​ ​​chains​​ ​​that​​ ​​bind,​​ ​​to​ ​unshackle​ ​people​​ ​​from​​ ​​hindrances.​​ ​​​​ ​​Jesus​​ ​​Christ​​ ​​is​​ ​​my​​ ​​doctrine.​​ ​​​​ ​​He​​ ​​gives​​ ​​us​​ ​​a​​ ​​very​​ ​​clear​​ ​​moral​ ​compass​ ​through​​ ​​his​​ ​​Word​​ ​​for​​ ​​how​​ ​​to​​ ​​live​​ ​​and​​ ​​how​​ ​​to​​ ​​filter​​ ​​all​​ ​the​ ​​circumstances​​ ​​we​​ ​​face.​ ​​ ​I​ ​​trust​​ ​​the​​ ​​Holy​ ​Spirit​​ ​​in​​ ​​me​ ​and​ ​other​ ​like​ ​me,​ ​who​ ​reject​ ​your​ ​powerless​ ​splendor,​ ​​to​​ ​​lead​​ ​​and​​ ​​guide​​ ​​us​​ ​​in​​ ​​all​​ ​​truth.​ ​​​ ​​​ ​My​​ ​​heart​​ ​​is​​ ​fixed​ ​​to​​ ​​honor​​ ​​Him​​ ​​and​​ ​​to​ ​seek​​ ​​Him,​​ ​​and​​ ​​God​ ​​promises us ​​that​​ ​​we​​ ​​will​​ ​​find​​ ​​Him​​ ​​when​​ ​​we​ ​seek​​ ​​Him​​ ​​with​​ ​​our​​ ​​whole​​ ​​heart.

While​ ​this​ ​open​ ​letter​ ​to​ ​you,​ ​spirit​ ​of​ ​religion,​ ​is​ ​from​ ​my​ ​pure,​ ​but​ ​resilient​ ​heart,​ ​I​ ​bear​ ​these​ ​words up​ ​with​ ​the​ ​good​ ​news​ ​of​ ​truth​ ​from​ ​my​ ​Father.​ ​​ ​The​ ​good​ ​news​ ​of​ ​truth​ ​that​ ​became​ ​the​ ​person​ ​of Jesus,​ ​who​ ​then​ ​poured​ ​Himself​ ​out​ ​to​ ​fulfill​ ​it,​ ​and​ ​avenge​ ​me​ ​in​ ​the​ ​process.​ ​​ ​You​ ​try​ ​to​ ​convince us​ ​that​ ​your​ ​voice​ ​is​ ​louder​ ​than​ ​the​ ​Holy​ ​Spirit’s​ ​voice.​ ​​ ​But​ ​the​ ​Word​ ​of​ ​God​ ​is​ ​my​ ​weapon​ ​and​ ​I​ ​will lift​ ​this​ ​sword​ ​confidently​ ​and​ ​courageously​ ​toward​ ​you​ ​for​ ​the​ ​rest​ ​of​ ​my​ ​life,​ ​letting​ ​the​ ​Holy​ ​Spirit’s power​ ​burst​ ​forth​ ​like​ ​water​ ​pouring​ ​forth​ ​from​ ​a​ ​cracked​ ​dam.​ ​​ ​On​ ​guard!

1​​ ​​Corinthians​​ ​​14​:1​ ​says,​ ​​“Earnestly​​ ​​desire​​ ​​(Greek​​ ​​-​​ ​​to​​ ​​have​​ ​​strong​ ​affection​​ ​​towards,​​ ​​be​​ ​​ardently​ ​devoted​​ ​​to,​​ ​​to​​ ​​make​​ ​​a​​ ​​show​​ ​​of​​ ​​affection​​ ​​and​​ ​​devotion​​ ​​towards)​​ ​​the​ ​spiritual​​ ​​gifts​​ ​​(Greek​​ ​​-​​ ​​pertaining​ ​to​​ ​​the​​ ​​soul,​​ ​​as​​ ​​distinguished​​ ​differently​ ​​from​​ ​​what​​ ​​concerns​​ ​​the​​ ​​body,​ ​pertaining​​ ​​to​​ ​​the​​ ​​nature​​ ​​of​ ​spirits,​​ ​​pertaining​​ ​​or​​ ​​relating​​ ​​to​​ ​​the​​ ​​influences​​ ​​of​​ ​​the​​ ​​Holy​​ ​​Spirit,​ ​superior​​ ​​in​​ ​​process​​ ​​to​​ ​​the​​ ​​natural​ ​course​​ ​​of​​ ​​things,​​ ​​the​​ ​​miraculous),​​ ​​but​​ ​​especially​​ ​​that​​ ​​you​​ ​​may​ ​prophesy…​ ​Again,​​ ​​if​​ ​​the​​ ​​bugle​​ ​​gives​ ​an​​ ​​uncertain​​ ​​call,​​ ​​who​​ ​​will​​ ​​get​​ ​​ready​ ​for​​ ​​battle?”​

Prophecies,​​ ​​in​ ​the​​ ​​Greek​ ​we​ ​know​ ​and​ ​trust,​ ​​are​​ ​​a​​ ​​prediction​​ ​​of​​ ​​future​​ ​​events,​​ ​​a​​ ​​matter​​ ​​of​​ ​​divine​ ​teachings​​ ​​set​​ ​​forth​​ ​​by​​ ​​spiritual​ ​gift.​​ ​​​​ ​​Prophecy,​​ ​​in​​ ​​direct​​ ​​contrast​​ ​​to​​ ​​tongues,​​ ​​is​​ ​​to​​ ​​provide​​ ​​a​​ ​​clear​ ​battle​​ ​​call​​ ​​to​​ ​​believers!​ ​​ ​We​​ ​​are​​ ​​called​​ ​​to​​ ​make​ ​a​ ​show​ ​of​ ​affection​ ​toward​ ​the​ ​influences​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Holy Spirit.​ ​​ ​The​​ ​​purpose​​ ​​of​​ ​​this​​ ​​deep​​ ​​desire​​ ​​for​​ ​​prophecy​​ ​​is​​ ​​to​​ ​​edify​​ ​​and​​ ​​strengthen​​ ​​people,​​ ​​to​​ ​​encourage them,​​ ​​and​​ ​​to​​ ​​console​​ ​​them.​​ ​​​​ ​​It’s​​ ​​to​​ ​​build​​ ​​up​​ ​​and​​ ​​strengthen​​ ​​the​​ ​​church​​ ​​and​​ ​​to​​ ​​cause​​ ​​an​ ​unbelieving​ ​world​​ ​​to​​ ​​pause​​ ​​and​​ ​​take​​ ​​note​​ ​​of​​ ​​our​​ ​​Jesus!​​ ​​​​ ​​ ​​Prophecy​​ ​​is​​ ​​an​​ ​​impartation​​ ​​of​​ ​​a​ ​revelation​​ ​​or​​ ​​knowledge​ ​from​​ ​​heaven​​ ​​that​​ ​​is​​ ​​meant​​ ​​to​​ ​​give​​ ​​strength​​ ​​to​​ ​​the​​ ​​believer.​​ ​​​​

​​ 1​ ​Thessalonians​ ​5:19-21,​ ​“Do​​ ​​NOT​​ ​​quench​​ ​​the​​ ​​Spirit.​​ ​​​​ ​​Do​​ ​​not​​ ​​treat​​ ​​prophecies​ ​with​​ ​​contempt​​ ​​but​​ ​​test​ ​them​​ ​​all;​​ ​then​ ​​hold​​ ​​on​​ ​​to​​ ​​what​​ ​​is​​ ​​good​ ​and​​ ​​reject​​ ​​every​​ ​​kind​​ ​​of​​ ​​evil.”​​ ​​​​ ​​
You,​ ​spirit​ ​of​ ​religion,​​ ​​seduce​ ​people​ ​into​​ ​apathy.​ ​​ ​You​ ​leave​ ​people​ ​content​ ​to​ ​have​ ​knowledge​ ​and leadership,​ ​and​ ​to​ ​be​ ​skeptical​ ​and​ ​cynical​ ​of​ ​other​ ​spiritual​ ​gifts.​ ​​ ​You​ ​treat​ ​prophecies​ ​with contempt​ ​and​ ​encourage​ ​people​ ​to​ ​quench​ ​them.​ ​​ ​The​​ ​​word​​ ​​for​ ​quench​​ ​​in​​ ​​the​​ ​​Greek​​ ​​is​​ ​​to​​ ​​hinder,​ ​extinguish,​​ ​​or​​ ​​thwart.​​ ​​​​ ​​You​ ​are​ ​the​ ​master​ ​of​ ​​extinguishing​​ ​​any​ ​flame​​ ​of​ ​awakening​ ​and​ ​revival,​ ​no matter​ ​how​ ​frail,​ ​because​​ ​​you​​ ​​fear​​ ​​it​ ​could​​ ​​become​​ ​​a​​ ​​wildfire.​​ ​​​​ ​​How​​ ​​foolish​​ ​​and​​ ​​cowardly​​ ​​of​​ ​​you.​​ ​​​​ ​​You​ ​continue​​ ​​to​ ​set​​ ​​the​​ ​​church​​ ​​in​​ ​​a​​ ​​backward​​ ​​motion​​ ​​and​​ ​​hinder​​ ​​the​​ ​​work​​ ​​of​​ ​​the​​ ​​one,​​ ​​true​​ ​​God.

​​ ​​​​1​​ ​​Corinthians​​ ​​14:12-15​​ ​tells​ ​​the​​ ​​church​​​ ​​to​​ ​​excel​ ​in​ ​those​ ​that​ ​build​ ​up​ ​the​ ​church,​ ​to​ ​pray​​ ​​and​​ ​​sing​ ​with​​ ​​our​​ ​​spirit​​ ​​and​​ ​​with​​ ​​our​​ ​​understanding​​ ​​(Greek​​ ​​-​​ ​​our​ ​minds/intellect).​​ ​​​​ ​The​​ ​​Pharisees​​ ​of​ ​Jesus’​ ​day always​ ​​demanded​​ ​that​ ​He​ ​​bow​​ ​​to​​ ​​intellect​​ ​​alone;​ ​intellect​ ​they​ ​themselves​ ​presumed​ ​to​ ​possess.  Jesus​​ ​​always​ ​resisted​​ ​​their​​ ​​demands,​ ​demonstrating​ ​that​ ​it​ ​was​ ​the​ ​heart​ ​of​ ​a​ ​person​ ​through​ ​which their​ ​identity​ ​flowed.​ ​​ ​Jesus​ ​always​​ ​​included​ ​​the​​ ​​heart.​ ​​ ​In​ ​so​ ​doing,​​ ​​He​​ ​was​​ ​​constantly​​ ​​whispered​ ​about,​ ​muttered​​ ​​about,​​ ​​abandoned,​​ ​​and​​ ​​ultimately​​ ​murdered.​​ ​​ ​Spirit​ ​of​ ​religion,​ ​you​ ​were​ ​there.​ ​​ ​You looked​ ​on​ ​approvingly.​ ​​ ​But​​ ​​He​​ ​​died​​ ​​to​​ ​​set​​ ​​us​​ ​​free​​ ​​from​​ ​​you.​​ ​​​​ ​​This​​ ​​freedom​​ ​​should​​ ​​press​​ ​​us​​ ​​into​​ ​​an​ ​unwavering​​ ​​fear​​ ​​of​​ ​​the​​ ​​Lord,​​ ​​but​​ ​its​ ​precisely​ ​the​ ​​fear​​ ​​of​​ ​​the​​ ​​Lord​ ​ends​​ ​​up​​ ​​returning​​ ​​us​​ ​​to​​ ​​TRUE​ freedom.​

We​​ ​​are​​ ​​at​ ​war​​ ​​and​​ ​​it’s​​ ​​not​​ ​​enough​​ ​​to​​ ​​know​​ ​​God​​ ​​in​​ ​​our​​ ​​heads​​ ​​as​​ ​​the​​ ​​Pharisees​​ ​​did.​​ ​​​​ ​​We​​ ​​must​​ ​​know​ ​him​​ ​​in​ ​our​​ ​​hearts.​​ ​​​​ ​​He​​ ​​must​​ ​​envelop​​ ​​every​​ ​​part​​ ​​of​​ ​​our​​ ​​being.​​ ​​​​ ​​He​​ ​​must​​ ​​strengthen​​ ​​and​​ ​​establish​ ​himself​ ​with​​ ​​power​​ ​​DEEP​​ ​​in​​ ​​our​​ ​​spirits.​​ ​​​​ ​To​ ​evade​ ​your​ ​virulent​ ​tactics,​ ​spirit​ ​of​ ​religion,​ ​we​ ​must allow​ ​Him​ ​this​ ​access​ ​to​ ​our​ ​hearts.​ ​​ ​1​ ​Thessalonians​ ​5:24​ ​says,​ ​​“The​​ ​​one​​ ​​who​​ ​​calls​​ ​​you​​ ​​will​​ ​​do​​ ​​it.​​ ​​​ ​He​​ ​​is​​ ​​SURELY​​ ​​faithful.”​​ ​​​​ ​​Therefore,​​ ​​we​​ ​​can​​ ​confidently​ ​and​ ​continually​ ​​trust​​ ​​the​ ​Spirit​​ ​​of​​ ​​God​​ ​​in​​ ​us.​

And​ ​we​​ ​​don’t​​ ​​have​​ ​​to​​ ​​be​​ ​​afraid.​​ ​​​​ ​​We​​ ​​don’t​​ ​​have​​ ​​to​​ ​​be​​ ​​afraid​​ ​​of​​ ​​getting​​ ​​it​​ ​​wrong,​​ ​we​ ​don’t​ ​have​ ​to​ ​be afraid​ ​​of​​ ​​wolves​ ​and​ ​their​ ​​false​ ​teachings.​​ ​​​​ ​​We​​ ​​are​​ ​​to​​ ​​be​​ ​​shrewd​​ ​​as​​ ​​serpents​​ ​​and​​ ​yet​ ​​innocent​​ ​​as​ ​doves.​​ ​​​​ ​​This​​ ​​means​​ ​​we​​ ​​love​ ​people​​ ​​in​​ ​​the​​ ​​most​​ ​​pure​​ ​​and​​ ​​innocent​​ ​​ways,​​ ​​just​​ ​​like​​ ​​a​​ ​​child​​ ​​would,​ ​while maintaining​ ​a​ ​sharp​ ​radar​ ​against​ ​things​ ​that​ ​could​ ​pervert​ ​the​ ​Gospel.​ ​​ ​But​ ​we​ ​never​ ​operate​ ​in fear.​ ​​ ​We​​ ​​celebrate​​ ​​the​​ ​​gold​​ ​​in​ ​people.​ ​​ ​Though​ ​they​ ​may​ ​be​ ​different​ ​than​ ​us​ ​and​ ​though​ ​they​ ​may be​ ​lacking​ ​a​ ​complete​​ ​​understanding​​ ​​of​​ ​​God,​ ​like​ ​we​ ​all​ ​do​ ​in​ ​different​ ​ways,​​ ​​​we​ ​don’t​​ ​​abandon​
​them.​ ​​ ​We​​ ​are​ ​all​ ​being​ ​perfected​ ​and​ ​moving​ ​from​ ​glory​ ​to​ ​glory.​​ ​​​​ ​​We​​ ​​choose​ ​to​ ​rely​ ​upon​ ​each​ ​other​​ ​​to​​ ​​have​​ ​​a​​ ​​more​ ​accurate​​ ​​and​​ ​​complete​​ ​​picture​​ ​​of​​ ​​Jesus.

And​ ​in​ ​everything,​ ​we​​ ​​rejoice.​​ ​​​​ ​​We​​ ​​rejoice​​ ​​in​​ ​​our​​ ​​sufferings​​ ​​because​​ ​​of​​ ​​your​​ ​​cruel​ ​hand.​​ ​​​​ ​​These​ ​sufferings​,​ ​the​ ​​distressing​​ ​​circumstances,​​ ​​the​ ​distress​​ ​​of​​ ​​mind,​​ ​​the​ ​pressure,​ ​affliction​ ​and​​ ​​trials;​​ ​​they produce​​ ​our​ ​​endurance,​​ ​​which​​ ​​produces​​ ​our​ ​​character​ ​and​ ​thus​​ ​​produces​ ​our​​ ​​HOPE.​ ​​ ​And​ ​our​ ​hope​ ​does​​ ​​not​​ ​​disappoint​​ ​​us​​ ​​because​​ ​​the​​ ​​love​​ ​​of​​ ​​God​​ ​​has​​ ​​been​​ ​​poured​​ ​​out​​ ​​into​​ ​​our​​ ​​hearts​ ​through​​ ​​the​ ​Holy​​ ​​Spirit​​ ​​who​​ ​​was​​ ​​given​​ ​​to​​ ​​us​ ​(Romans​ ​5).​ ​​ ​All​ ​of​ ​that​ ​occurs​ ​independent​ ​of​ ​you​ ​and​ ​the​ ​control you​ ​so​ ​wickedly​ ​crave.
The​ ​power​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Gospel​ ​of​ ​Jesus​ ​Christ​ ​is​ ​at​ ​work.​ ​​ ​Galatians​ ​5:1​ ​says,​ ​“It​ ​is​ ​for​ ​freedom​ ​that​ ​Christ has​ ​set​ ​us​ ​free.”​ ​​ ​So,​​ ​​I​​ ​​worship​​ ​​the​​ ​​person​​ ​​and​​ ​​work​​ ​​of​​ ​​Jesus​​ ​​because​​ ​​worship​​ ​​is​​ ​​my​​ ​​warfare.​​ ​​​​ ​​As​​ ​​I​ ​worship,​​ ​He​ ​works;​ ​and​ ​you,​ ​spirit​ ​of​ ​religion,​ ​​become​​ ​​less​​ ​​powerful.​​ ​​​​ ​​As​​ ​​I​​ ​​fix​​ ​​my​​ ​​eyes​​ ​​on​​ ​​Jesus,​​ ​​you​​ ​become​​ ​​smaller​​ ​​and​​ ​​smaller​​ ​​and​​ ​​I​ ​realize​​ ​​that​​ ​​the​​ ​​illusion​​ ​​of​​ ​​your​​ ​​power​​ ​​and​​ ​​strength,​​ ​​exists​​ ​​to​​ ​​stop​ ​God’s​​ ​​army​​ ​​from​​ ​​daring​​ ​​to​ ​dream​​ ​​and​​ ​​from​​ ​​being​​ ​​willing​​ ​​to​​ ​​take​​ ​​risks​​ ​​that​​ ​​your​​ ​​lies​​ ​​would​​ ​​love​​ ​​to​ ​keep​​ ​​us​​ ​​from​​ ​​taking!​ ​​ ​Hallelujah!​​ ​​​​ ​​ ​​To​​ ​​God​​ ​​be​​ ​​the​​ ​​GLORY!

Signed, A​​ ​​Warrior​​ ​​Tigress​​ ​​for​​ ​​the​​ ​​TRUE​​ ​​Gospel​​ ​​of​​ ​​Jesus​​ ​​Christ

Someone Else

During my federal government career in Small City, USA, promotions were few and far between. Many of the folks that I knew of in my agency and other agencies and departments like it who were being promoted more quickly had to make sacrifices to achieve them. They typically traveled abnormally often, or lived and worked in less desirable locations. When promotion opportunities did come around to those of us who chose to commit ourselves and our families to small towns and stable lives, the competition for them was enormous and inevitably positioned friend against friend. But the reward almost never went to the most qualified. It went to the ones who made a political campaign of their aspirations, independent of their qualifications.

Applying for these opportunities certainly made me aware of the elevated qualifications that each of them required, and caused me to squeeze every drop of relevant experience onto my application in a vainglorious attempt to be good enough, but to no avail. Once the position was filled by the secretly aligned though, another picture began to emerge. The job into which they were promoted became a platform from which to disperse its duties onto the lower ranks, thereby freeing themselves to time and interests that really had nothing to do with the new position.

Let’s contrast that with Kingdom government and the Believers’ mandate to bring Heaven to earth.

I believe God speaks through Believers today. I believe in the overarching themes which I’ve heard consistently, that God is bringing “revival” and that God is going to “pour out.” But the picture I’m personally seeing about what that looks like is different than what I sense is the prevailing thought; which is that God is going to sovereignly do these things, and when He does everyone will recognize them and take their places automatically. Some to disciple and teach others with church programs, and some to be discipled and taught in those church programs. How happy we will all be.

I believe these two themes, but beneath them is where I’ve heard an ad-nauseum abundance of detailed prophecies, from so many sources that they’ve become confusing. My Bible clearly identifies the author of confusion, and it isn’t God.

But while everyone is busy preparing with scheduled activities, organized structure, and slick production, which I presume are being done to make ready, no one is really being transformed in them. When Jesus healed the sick and cast out demons, people flocked to Him from miles around to hear His teaching, which adjusted their thinking to line up with those miracles and the grace of God in them. It was definitely a “revival” and a “pouring out.” The overarching theme then, is what it is today. God wants you to be with Him in eternity, and wants you to be free until you get there.

When was the last time someone had a need and we said we’d pray for them, but didn’t do it in that moment? When was the last time that, when we did pray over someone, we commanded the spirit(s) troubling them to leave? Did we keep at it until the Holy Spirit bore witness with our spirit that they were actually gone? Why should we earnestly desire the gifts, as scripture encourages us to, if we don’t have the confidence to use them? Could it be that we don’t fully walk in the yielding that those things require? Maybe, like my example of earthly government responsibility above, we feel we’re called to direct what God is doing rather than do what God is directing.

God isn’t looking for those who would compete for a promotion in His kingdom, or manufacture a position for themselves when it doesn’t come. He doesn’t look for someone to assume a leadership role in name and title, or website and business card. His leaders are the walk-ons, who have put aside life’s distractions to hear His voice and act on it. His leaders are those who understand that by simply yielding and being available, all of Heaven trusts them to heal, deliver, and set free the captives around them.

See, we’ve taken the prophetic words that would propel us forward to our heads and our hearts, but we seldom put them on our feet. But walking out what Jesus said we would do, that’s what brings revival, and that’s a clear picture of God pouring out.

Just Stand Up

You’ve heard it said that sometimes life can be overwhelming.  Most, if not all of us can attest to that, because we have all experienced the crushing effects of unpleasant circumstances at times.  Some more than others.  There doesn’t seem to be a fair scale that weighs out trouble equally for all.  We envy those who seem to have little, and pity those who have much.

For those of us who have made Jesus our refuge, one of the lessons we soon learn is that our adherence to Him doesn’t necessarily mitigate the trouble that can so easily find us.  We have the promises from Him that troubles can not harm us, because He has overcome the world, but we also have the promise from Him that they will still find us.

Understanding that brings the battlefield from without to within, on the battlefield of our mind, which is ultimately where all battles are won or lost.  Without Christ, that battlefield is still enemy territory, with Christ, it can actually be Holy ground.

Recently condemnation came upon that battlefield for me very strongly, turning into a protracted fight that stretched into two days.  This, in spite of the truth which Romans 8:1 guarantees, that there is “no” condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  But it was vicious and unrelenting, nonetheless.  When it was over, I don’t think I won anything, as much as I thought I was left for dead.  I felt as though my ship had tossed me overboard and I struggled greatly to keep from drowning in the churning deep.

It was on that metaphor though, that I later realized I was thrashing about in merely a few feet of water.  All I had to do to win the battle, was stand up.


The Art of War, or Art as War

What defines a true warrior? Assuming there is a collective of strengths and mastered craft that makes up one of these, where is the comprehensive list of those? What if there are fifteen things on that list and one who calls himself a warrior has only mastered eleven of them, is he still a warrior? Or are they posers and “wannabes” until they show themselves capable in all the necessary warrior criteria?

The world in which we live, sometimes a difficult place to find peace in, almost requires that each of us becomes a warrior in order to establish that peace. Because that’s why we war, don’t we? To have peace. To create a defensible position from which we and those we go to war for, besides ourselves, can live harmoniously with each other and our environments.

Ah, but usually, though, as we seek out those collective strengths and craft that makes for good warriors, what we discover is the ever long list of vulnerabilities, weaknesses, and gaps that allow the trouble into our defensible position, before we’ve become proficient enough in war to effectively keep it out. We are forced to confront the nefarious enemies of all we defend from a compromised position, doing the best we can with what we know. Sometimes that doesn’t work well and then we, along with everyone we’re trying to protect, has to compromise and adapt. Messy business war is, and far-reaching are its effects.

So, calling it an art, as in the ‘Art of War’ seems flippant and whimsically inaccurate. But is it?

I’ve watched a friend who is an artist, or is he a warrior? Both, I’ve presumed. Anyway, I’ve watched him paint wondrously gorgeous paintings, many of which grace our home, and in so doing there is always a circle of chaos around him. Colors so spattered and mixed on easels, aprons, clothing, and skin, that you almost feel sorry for him. He puzzles and broods over every stroke. Some of his best works have the history of their lesser equivalents, which fell short of his own conceived perfection, lying underneath the finished product by a few thin layers of paint.

Consider the writers of old with the tiny shreds of graphite, lead, and rubber eraser lying around them, or the brick layer whose work shoes are no longer flexible beneath accumulating layers of mortar, or the mother who collapses into her bed each night with the myriad messes that befit small children, lying barely atoned for just feet away. One-of-a-kind masterpieces, victories, and defensible security is the common goal of each and every brand of warfare, clearly visible to their warriors, on a horizon which lies on the other side of the battlefield.

And, so, we war.