Rated “R” Christian Reading

Misconceptions About God – God Won’t Let You Go Through More Than You Can Handle

Pic 12One of the first things we learn in God’s School of Ministry is that there are some incorrect suppositions about how God deals with Man. These misconceptions are widely taught as gospel truth in our seminaries and church pulpits. The first misconception that a believer realizes is the falsehood that God will not allow us to go through more than we can handle. Those who continue to espouse such a belief either don’t understand the Scriptures or have never been to Roadkill Seminary.

We often tell young Christians that God won’t put them through more than they can handle to comfort them. In general, from a theological perspective it is appropriate for new believers to understand God will not allow them to be destroyed or vanquished into oblivion by trying times in their life. However it can be terrifying when we are faced with a situation that is presently overwhelming our ability to cope. We can become greatly confused and disoriented because we have been incorrectly taught that these trials and tribulations were never supposed to get this difficult. Besides what makes this belief irrelevant in the first place is that our idea and God’s idea of what is too difficult for us to handle is not the same.

This failure to cope during a trial may cause us to think we are really messed up because we are presently experiencing more than we can handle; yet in our mind we remember being taught this should never happen to a Christian. We falsely think God should’ve come to our rescue by now. “Why don’t the Scriptures work for me?” we think to our self. I believe this misconception adds to the drop-out rate (and sadly, sometimes suicide) for Christians all over the world.

Believers who are experiencing tests and trials that are beyond their ability end up thinking God has abandoned them or they just don’t have what it takes, so they often give up on their walk. The source of this misconception is rooted in a misunderstanding of 1 Corinthians 10:13:

No temptation has overtaken you except such is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make a way of escape that you may be able to bear it.

What the Bible says here is that no “temptation” will entice us so forcibly, so powerfully that we will have to succumb to it. No one will be able to stand before God on Judgment Day and say to God “I’m sorry Lord, I just had no choice but to sin, he or she was just too beautiful to turn down.” Joseph escaped the temptation of Potipher’s wife by running. God made a way of escape. However trials are different. Joseph couldn’t escape the pit or the prison. There are no escapes from these kinds of trials. Just ask Daniel about the lion’s den and the three Hebrew children who were thrown in the fiery furnace, or the countless martyrs throughout history who didn’t have a way of escape. The Scripture here in First Corinthians is referring to no “temptation” will overwhelm us. It is not referring to a trial or the testing of our faith.

Paul himself said he was burdened by circumstances so great they were beyond measure and above his strength to bear. Contemporary preachers may try to sanitize RKS from the Bible but the apostle’s words are still in black and white in 2 Corinthians 1:8:

For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we  despaired even of life.

For the Christian who is being prepared for a higher calling, it appears God will allow, and even specifically design, circumstances and trials to break them, to take them beyond their present ability to cope. It’s only when the Lord takes us beyond our breaking point and blows our “circuit breakers” that we truly discover where our life ends and His Spirit begins. This is the beginning of the Spirit-dependent life.

We acknowledge in the eternal sense that our God wouldn’t allow a trial to destroy us. In truth these trials are about us dying to the strength of flesh and discovering His enabling grace. However, there are times when the Lord out necessity allows us to be overwhelmed beyond our ability to bear, so we will discover the reality of His resurrection power. Are you still unconvinced that God would have you go through something you cannot bear? Look at how Jesus Himself fell under the weight of the Roman cross on the way to Golgotha (Matthew 27:32). It was more than Jesus could handle. The Roman soldiers had to get another man to help Him carry it to the finish line. God will also have particular people positioned in our life to help us continue towards our appointment with death/trial … then resurrection.

As we become obedient unto death as Jesus did, the Bible becomes more than a religious book; it becomes the Living Word of Life. Those who don’t hunger for the higher calling and purposes of God or those who have shrunk back from God’s dealings may find this difficult to accept. Understandably there is a naïve sense of security in believing we’ll never have to face more than we can handle. As we stated earlier, many are called but few choose the path of the chosen. Maybe we’ll never be given the opportunity to be tested like we are discussing here. Yes I said opportunity. It is a privilege to suffer for Christ. It is only the grace of God that has allowed anyone to suffer faithfully for the Lord.

So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. Acts 5:41

Excerpt from “Roadkill Seminary”

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Moses Gets Slammed By Cross-less Believers

Pic 13Do you think Moses knew what competent leadership looked like? Of course he did; he was raised in the finest schools in the world in Pharaoh’s palace. Do you think he knew what excellence was? Egypt had the best of the best. Do you think he knew about effective management and organization? He saw the pyramids being built; he knew how to plan and organize a project. Do you think he had to die to the way God was using him to lead the people of Israel? Was it humbling for him to lead this way; did it make him look like he didn’t know what he was doing? Absolutely! I said all this to point out that it isn’t that leaders like Moses or your leader don’t want things done the right way. But there are times when the Lord leads ministers in a way that is opposite of what you think is the right way, for eternal purposes.

Incompetent Leadership or God’s Divine Leading?

God told Moses to take three million Jews out of Egypt … tonight!!! Where is the competent planning and preparation? “What kind of idiotic leadership is this”? Then God told Moses to lead Israel to a dead-end by the Red Sea. “What kind of fool are we following”? Then God had Moses lead them to where there is no water. “Is this guy blind; I thought he knew where he was going”? He also married a woman who wasn’t even a Jew. “How can he do such a blatantly unbiblical thing in the eyes of the people”?

God told Moses to go up to a mountain for 40 days to seek God’s will. “How could our leader leave us like this; to go on a leadership retreat at this time is unacceptable. He obviously doesn’t care about us”. These seem like valid questions, but they came from a rebellious people. God confronted these rebellious critics with judgment, even opening the ground and swallowing some of them alive. Then the people responded by accusing Moses of killing the people of God (Numbers 16:41).

Time and time again, the direct and specific leading of God was met with ridicule and complaining by the people who lacked the discernment as to what was really going on in the Spirit realm. People still do the same things today. Some believers still perish in a wilderness of complaining and criticisms. Just like immature kids who only see things from their perspective, they have no idea what God is up to. Moses was invested in the will of God all the way. He was totally sold out for God, even if things made him look foolish. He was going to follow the Lord in spite of the embarrassment of looking like an incompetent leader and the relentless criticisms from God’s people who wanted an easier way of life.

Some of the people who complain about others have lives that are so messed up you wonder how they would even attempt to criticize another person. Yet some of may also be well-educated. They may appear to be intellectually mature and quite successful in their occupation. They may look like they have their world all together. Their criticisms may even sound astute and sensible. However, their remarks are often the sharp arrows that come from a prideful believer’s heart whom Satan is using to destroy God’s puposes and your ministry leader.

They may have a form of godliness, but they deny the power or authority of God in your leader’s life (2 Timothy 3:5). They fake submission to God and His leadership. They are only invested in the ministry if they get something out of it. They may offer their skills or expertise but not their souls to the Lord. They keep everyone at arm’s length, avoiding truly investing themselves in relationships or the future of the ministry. They are like Judas, who was part of the disciples, yet was never really one of them.

These cross-less Christians have yet to truly take up their cross and follow the Lord. They are essentially still the same person who came to the Lord yet without any significant character or personality transformation. They are often completely unaware of their immaturity and lack of discernment.

Every leader in every kind of Christian organization will have to deal with these kinds of people. Our book helps you deal with them and helps them to recognize what they can do to not hurt, but help the ministry move forward.

Excerpt from “What In Hell… Is Going On?”

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Leaders and Sin in the Camp

SinThe way a ministry deals with the “sin issue” may have something to do with the kind of calling or ministry DNA the Lord has called them to operate in. One of my pastor friends has several thousand members in his “seeker friendly” church. He said about a quarter to a third of his congregation are cohabitating with someone they are not married to. He doesn’t try to convict them through sermons because he is trying to develop a trusting relationship with them so they will allow the other ministry leaders to address their moral issues later in their home groups. He’s not trying to clean the fish until he knows he really has them in the boat.

Some of my other pastor friends see that philosophy as compromising the Word of God. They clearly see it as watering down the Gospel in order to draw larger crowds. They believe it to be the main reason why the American Church has become so worldly and unable to positively affect the culture. They also believe these ministers are spineless and fear man more than they fear God. They confidently say nobody in their church of 200 is sleeping around, because they are the “real” believers.

Ironically, one pastor boasts that they had hundreds of sinners in their church last Sunday, while the other minister boasts that they had no sinners in service last Sunday. Each ministry leader has a different idea of what a “ministry homerun” looks like. They are both standing at different stages along God’s ministry assembly line (see our book The Inner Journey for more on this Assembly Line). Some are dealing with the raw materials of lost souls by drawing them closer to the boat; others are fine tuning the people by calling them to live the Christian life. Can you see where each ministry may have a different role to play? Can you see your own ministry in this scenario?

Excerpt from “What In Hell… Is Going On?”

God’s Ministry Assembly Line

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Leaders Often Get Along Until The Children Come Into The Room

leadAnother way to describe this tension in the Church would be to use parents as an illustration. Let’s imagine three or four couples along with their children, having a dinner party at someone’s house. The kids are in the back yard playing while the parents are relaxing over coffee and conversation. There is apparent unity and consensus among them as they enjoy each other’s company.

However, when the children come into the living room to join the conversation so does the potential for friction as the different parenting styles become evident. Everyone keeps their thoughts to themselves but on the ride home each car is filled with comments like “I can’t believe they let their kids act that way,” or “They are so mean to their children,” or “That’s not how I would deal with that situation”. These parents got along until the children came into the room.

This family analogy can also illustrate the sentiments between ministers of the Gospel. It may be easy to get along with other ministers, even from different camps, until the sheep (children) are in the room. Suddenly the gifting in each minister wants to impact the people of God according to their abilities. We sometimes presume we know what the people of God “really” need. Instead of each of us affirming and preferring the other ministers, we can doubt their validity.

Sometimes just being in the same room with someone with a different ministry gift can drive you “bonkers” as they seem to over react or under react to certain things. They can appear to be too intellectual or over spiritual. It is difficult to appreciate where they are coming from and why they are coming from there in the first place! But as we mature we will be able to love and really appreciate them and their ministries just like our Heavenly Father does. Remember… Jesus is building His Church. It’s the leadership of our churches that must decide if they are going to be part of the bigger picture. If we fail to be mature in this area our churches and our communities will deteriorate from a place of “completing” each other to a place of “competing” with each other.

Excerpt from “Working Together For Jesus”

Friendly Fire – Creating Your Leader In Your Image

FriendAnother subtle type of control that wears on ministry leaders is from so-called “friendly fire” which comes from well meaning compliments. This is when the senior minister receives little comments or notes from certain people who will compliment the behavior they want them to display. When they preach hard and with conviction, certain people will praise them for being the prophet they always wished for. When they teach long comprehensive expository sermons, certain people will praise them for being the teacher they always wanted them to be. Then when they are passionately reaching the lost in relevant ways, certain people will praise them for being the fiery evangelist they believe every preacher should be. Then if they visit someone at the hospital, they will praise them for being the pastor they always wanted them to be.

When praise comes from a pure heart, it is beautiful and edifying. But unbeknownst to some believers is the subtle spirit of control they operate in as they try to make their ministry leader into their ministry ideal, instead of accepting them for who God made them to be. Like many things in life, it all seems innocent until you are on the receiving end of it.

Excerpt from “What In Hell… Is Going On?”

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The Power of Critical Words

CriticalUnaware that critical words are being used by “evil spirits” with pinpoint accuracy to hit the leader’s heart and mind, we sometimes unknowingly provide the natural vehicles for demonic forces to move about in the earthly realms of our organizations. It is sadly like giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Discerning leaders can actually tell when people in their ministry are speaking against them by the level of demonic attacks on their mind.

Often the Lord reveals by a “word of knowledge” what persons in the organization are causing the division. Just like a parent’s sixth sense, God gives His leaders the ability to know what each of their spiritual kids are up to. The enemy may have planted a selfish idea in their minds about what they think the ministry should do. Yet the minister has to love them, even as they are glaring at them with the “skunk eye” while he or she is teaching the Word of God.

Parents Beware

One pastor recalled a service where he greeted one of the teenage girls in his church as she was getting a drink from the water fountain. As she turned to see him, her face lit up with joy as she said “Hi Pastor Bob”, but then she instantly turned away and looked down and walked away; almost with the look of, “I’m not allowed to like you”. The Spirit of the Lord spoke to him and said, “She loves and respects you, but her parents, particularly her mother, has been speaking negative things about you and the church because mom is immature and controlling”.

Parents have no idea how much damage they can cause their own children when they are openly critical of God’s leadership. These parents have sowed the seeds of rebellion in their children that will manifest shortly in their lives. This teenage girl was receiving the anointing from this leader’s ministry gift as well as from others on the ministry team, but because her parents were critical, she was confused. This can abort the Godly spiritual transfer of what God had for her. That poor girl loved her spiritual leaders, but was also confused by her parent’s remarks.

What usually happens next is the teenager suddenly finds fault with everything at her church. She experiences unexplained conflict with the youth leader and the other kids in the youth group. She ends up going from youth group to youth group or she may stop going to church all together. She may not even realize that she has also been programmed to not submit to godly leaders by her own parent’s critical comments. Sadly this criticism can lead to a directionless and promiscuous life. Most of us are unaware of why we are so critical of authority until we examine our developmental years honestly. So much of what we do in our developing years is often self-centered and tainted by our sin-nature. That is why Jesus said we must all take up our cross in order to kill the part of us that is dangerous to us and to others. Many Christians do not truly realize how often they are used to pray selfish and even demonic prayers as they succumb to “charismatic witchcraft”. In their insecurity they often try to control others and the direction of those around them. They may attempt to push or influence some personal agenda while covering it in religious jargon (James 3:13-18).

They often fail to recognize that even if their spiritual leaders only have the I.Q. of a “speed bump”, they are still required to respect their office and authority from God. To not do so is extremely dangerous for the church and their spiritual condition. Their innuendos breed seeds of rebellion that seem harmless at first, but later reap chaos and hardships for all in the ministry. God will not hold those guiltless who speak against His leaders (Numbers 12:1-16). The Bible says things go well for us when we obey and are submissive to His leaders in our lives.

Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you. Hebrews 13:7

Excerpt from “What In Hell… Is Going On?”

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