Life. Abundantly.

Boldly equipping followers of Christ.

Month: August, 2011

They May Take Our Lives But…

It’s ironic that the very subject that I want to discuss today – lack of freedom – is the very reason that this is such a difficult article for me to share. But two days ago I felt God very distinctly say to me:

“Vanessa, you will not be able to follow Christ until you’re willing to offend people.”

Wow. You see, I know that Jesus did such an excellent job of offending people that they eventually crucified Him, brutally murdering Him by one of the single most horrendous means of execution ever devised by man. However misguided fools have been telling me for most of my life that being a good Christian (whatever that is) means never offending anyone, never hurting anyone’s feelings, and never ever ever shocking anyone, so sometimes I still think that the wimpy, emasculated, “Ned Flanders” version of Jesus that our media and churches have so brilliantly propagated is the model for how I should act.

But the fact stands that some of the most powerful displays of love I’ve seen in my life have been from people for whom actually loving me was far more important than necessarily making me feel good.

So, even though I like to people please, and however much I know that the people that I typically like to please (i.e. those in positions of power) generally don’t like to hear what I’m about to say, I’m going to bring it. And if I get crucified for this, at least I’m in good company.

For the last few days I’ve been obsessively meditating on this one statement, rolling it round and round in my head like a mantra…

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

Isn’t that just the most rousing statement you’ve ever heard? Can’t you just see William Wallace charging across a Scottish glen yelling this at the top of his lungs to a crowd of dishevelled countrymen? Can’t you just see Maximus Decimus Meridius commissioning his most noble soldiers with words of the sort?

In the last few weeks these words have been blowing my mind, offending me with their greatness and amplitude as I peel back more and more layers of understanding of how this corrupt and depraved world has so utterly ensorcelled me into believing that slavery is both normal and acceptable. Truly our world is more like the Matrix than we even realize. So many of us have been brainwashed into thinking that our life choices are what we were designed for, when in fact our very being is slowly having the life sucked out of it by entities that do not have our best interests at heart.

It’s not coincidence that most Christian men I meet almost invariably quote “Braveheart” and “Gladiator” as being their favourite movies and “Wild At Heart” as being their favourite book. And it’s not coincidence that most women I meet have suffered substantial wounds from being treated as though they’re second class citizens, placed here on earth solely to help men fulfil their destiny. All of this is to do with the glorious thing we call FREEDOM.

I don’t think that most of us even start to fathom how important our freedom is to God. Sadly most Christians’ idea of freedom is being able to wear jeans to church. And if we’re really lucky we might even have the “freedom” to dance in the aisles! Wow – with freedom like that who wouldn’t want to join us?! (If you haven’t figured out by now that I’m a big fan of sarcasm, this might be the day. If my tone offends you, please see the article I devoted to this subject titled “What To Do With a Double- Edged Sword.”)

I don’t think most of us have any understanding of just how much God hates slavery, bondage, and burdens. If we did I doubt we’d be quite as passive as we are about the sheer amount of bondage going on all around us. If we did I doubt we’d put up with the sheer the amount of crap we do in our own lives.

While freedom is one of the least understood commodities in this world, it is also one of the most needed commodities in this world. Our society needs people who are boldly, valiantly, and irreverently saying “no” to bondage. We know this because the most enigmatic and legendary people in history are those who had the guts to irreverently give the finger to slavery and run their race with strength and perseverance.

We say that we’re free, and yet we chose to place ourselves under the yoke of…

Religion

We say that we’re free, and yet we chose to submit ourselves to church systems that benefit a few elite people, while the masses are relegated to being just as much followers of men as they are followers of Christ.

I believe that so much of what we are taught about subservience and respect of authority by church organizations is mass manipulation and control, and absolutely not what God wants for His bride.

Where there is truth there is freedom. But I see so many church organizations where people don’t feel they have the right to disagree, where people don’t feel they have the right to say no, and where people don’t feel like they have the right to their own thoughts, or to be treated as an equal by their church staff.

Now I’m not saying for a moment that it’s wrong to be expected to defer to others at times. I’m not saying for a moment that we shouldn’t honour those who teach us, or seek out truth from those who have genuinely consecrated their lives to the pursuit of it. I’m not saying for a moment that the body of Christ shouldn’t congregate together.

What I am saying is that it’s absolutely wrong for there to be a two-tiered system within the body of Christ between the elite few who periodically stand on stage in a building, and everyone else. What I’m saying is that it’s wrong when there’s a culture of “celebrity” within the local church. What I’m saying is that it’s wrong when people get ostracized or penalized for laying down boundaries with their leaders or voicing different opinions to them. What I’m saying is that it’s wrong when people are looking to man to lead them more so than Jesus, and are being encouraged at some level or another to do so by their leadership.

This stuff is so incredibly insidious that much of the time we don’t realize we’re being controlled and manipulated. We misjudge the level of religion that’s going on simply because the church features modern music, because the speaker is charismatic (and wears jeans!), or because the church uses sofas rather than pews. We comment on how wonderfully non-conformist it all is, how hip it all is, and how modern it all is, when really it’s still the exact same system of man-centered hierarchy that I believe makes God very, very angry. In such situations the majority are still being controlled, manipulated, and repressed to serve the purposes of the minority, which is still the exact same system of slavery that religious leaders have been employing for thousands of years.

We say that we’re free, and yet we place ourselves under the yoke of…

Unfulfilling and Abusive Employment

God designed Adam for dominion. Adam was an entrepreneur; he farmed his land and was the sole decision maker about a great deal of important things. He was designed for work and he partnered with God in developing and transforming the world he lived in. He lived a life that was deeply cogent with his purpose.

We were all designed for dominion. We were designed to impact our world and to be a vital part of transforming our reality. And yet so many of us have yielded to what is in essence little more than organized slavery in many cases. We work in these inhumane little cubicles, have to ask to take toilet breaks, and have our schedules dictated to us by a clock. Our work is dull and we have absolutely no driving reason to do it other than to pay the bills. This is a truly dismal way to live!

It saddens me greatly that even though I live in the United States of America, historically the most entrepreneurial country in the world, so many of its people seem to have largely forgotten their heritage.

I do understand that in certain seasons of life it’s necessary to temporarily submit to The Man. Doing so can actually be very strategic in setting us up for our destiny, as demonstrated by Biblical leaders such as Joseph and David. But it deeply shocks me when I see countless unemployed young people with incredible skills and talents that are just waiting for someone to give them a job. It seems that nobody has ever really taught them to take initiative and to build a business around their skills or talents!

I personally believe this is the case because it doesn’t behove corporate America to teach children and young people about just how much power and dominion they were designed for. It seems to me that it’s highly unlikely to be by accident that most people go through twenty years of schooling without learning how to run a business or even manage money. I mean, in all your years of schooling, did you even have a single class on how to invest, protect, and grow your money? Surely wouldn’t that be one of the most key skills to teach people, more so than say, the names of ancient dinosaurs?! I believe that however well intentioned the education system might seem that a blunt appraisal of it can only conclude that it’s largely designed to set people up for slavery (and in many cases, debt.)

But we just all accept that it’s normal to be in bondage to an unfulfilling job for forty plus years of our lives, because that’s what the system teaches us. As a result we face unfulfilled destinies and mid-life crisis, and our nation faces countless unsolved problems because the very people who were designed to be the answer have been indoctrinated into believing that someone else should be in charge.

Please understand that I’m not saying that employment is necessarily bad. If someone has a job that they genuinely love and that is allowing them to fulfil their calling, then they are absolutely living out freedom in this area. I’m just pointing out that the vast majority of people who are employees do not feel like they’re living a life of freedom, as evidenced by the fact that if someone gave them a blank check they’d be out the door in a heartbeat. As subversive and radical as this suggestion is, I don’t think that forty years of bondage to a job we hate is what God had in mind for us when He designed us.

We say that we’re free, and yet we place ourselves under the yoke of…

Gender Inequality

Every form of religion throughout history has involved the oppression of women. This is because ever since woman was created Satan has been looking for ways to undermine and destroy her, because he knows the true power of her beauty and calling.

So many believers have an incorrect understanding of what scripture says about women, and this has sadly warped their minds into believing that the oppression of women is not only righteous, but also mandated by the Bible. This lie unfortunately appeals to the woundedness of many men, and as a result countless women are bound to unhealthy and unsatisfying marital dynamics that are crushing them rather than elevating them.

I battled for many years with the pain and confusion that comes from being told that a godly wife is a wife who never says “no” to her husband, who doesn’t lead ministry, and who doesn’t engage with the marketplace.

For me one of the saddest consequence of such thinking is that the fact that it essentially endorses HALF of God’s army being largely disabled! Jesus (the guy we’re actually supposed to be following) declared, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” But yet we foolishly wound and hamper half those workers because of a few utterly misinterpreted directives, taken utterly out of context, which were never even spoken by Christ himself!

Indeed in some local churches the grasp of the fact that freedom is not gender specific is so dismal that the very suggestion that women were made to co-reign and co-lead with men results in accusations of the spirit of Jezebel faster than you can say “oppression”!

I would love to be able to discuss in greater depth this matter, as it’s such a commonly accepted form of bondage. However, because space prevents me from doing so, I encourage you to discover the very excellent “God’s Most Beautiful Creatures” series by Kris Vallotton, which you can download by clicking here.

In this teaching Kris proves that there is a demonic conspiracy to disempower, deface and destroy women. He shows us how the devil has used religion to carry out his devious plot for thousands of years. He demonstrates through scripture how God created women to co-reign and co-lead with men, and the difference between the power of the curse in the Garden of Eden and the power of the Cross in the Garden of Gethsemane. Women – if you want to be free to live the life you were designed for, you need to acquire this teaching. Men – if you want to truly be the man and husband God designed you to be, you need to invest into this teaching!

We say we’re free, and yet we place ourselves under the yoke of…

The Media And Other People’s Opinions

I don’t think we even realize how many hours a day we spend absorbing the opinions and thoughts of worldly, corrupt, and evil people through the radio, TV and many other forms of entertainment! These people continually speak curses over us, bind us to fear, and brainwash us into being desensitized to perverse, corrupt, and abhorrent things!

We indiscriminately leave the TV on and get blasted with hours a day of advertising that either guilts and manipulates us into buying thing we don’t need, or makes us miserable because we can’t.

We give our time over to utterly damaged and narcissistic fools like Lady Gaga, or Paris Hilton, or anyone who has Kardashian for a last name. We allow our schedules to be dictated by this drivel, because we’ve been conditioned to believe that we have no other choice than to let these perverse people reign in our lives.

We think that it’s normal to know all kinds of gossip about people we’ve never even met, and some of us are actually foolish enough to spend our money on getting into even further levels of bondage with that stuff.

Now I’m not saying that entertainment is bad, I did spend the best part of a decade working in film and television after all. I’m just saying that we need to seriously question whether we’re the ones in control of this area of our lives or not.

It really alarms me when I think about how much time I’ve personally given over to reading about the opinion of Paris Hilton. And why did I do that? Because almost everything around me had told me that that was normal, and that that was good for me. Wrong, and wrong! I’m at a point in life where I will boldly declare to King Media that I will not be dictated to about whose opinion I should value, and whose I shouldn’t.

So look…

Freedom isn’t free, and if you’re truly serious about being free you’re going to have to give some things up.

Are you serious about being that William Wallace figure that refuses to bow his knee to oppression? Are you serious about being that Maximus Decimus Meridius character that remains noble and unfettered no matter what circumstance tries to dictate to him? Are you serious about being that William Wilberforce figure that sets captives free? Or do you just want to be like everyone else – trading your freedom for the supposed comfort of cable TV and the safety of “acceptance” into a religious social group?

If you want to live a quality of life that most people don’t have then you’re going to have to gain some skills and discipline that most people don’t have. You’re going to have to make some choices that most people don’t make. And you’re going to need to be willing to ask yourself some questions that most people aren’t willing to ask themselves.

Sadly freedom is a fight that has to be constantly fought and it’s a war that has to be continually waged because the demonic realm is absolutely relentless in trying to place us in bondage, and the depravity of those around us almost just as much. Almost invariably there’s going to be a person or a situation trying to place you in bondage and dictate to you how you should live your life. Even Galatians 5:1 corroborates that we’re going to have to stand firm, because there are things that are going to try to put us in slavery time and time AGAIN! People’s brokenness, their controlling and manipulative bents, and their lack of respect for the basic rights of others is such that there’s probably always going to be someone who you’re going to have to be saying “no” to if you’re serious about pursuing and maintaining freedom.

So I encourage you to be bold, and to ask yourself with honesty what things are oppressing you. It might be that every time you get round a particular situation, or a particular individual, that you start feeling less than good. May I humbly suggest that those feelings are an indication that at some level a degree of bondage is at play? It may be that the bondage has to do with your own junk, it might be that the bondage has to do with the other person’s junk, or it might be a combination of both. You have the permission to explore those feelings. And you have the permission to then say “no” to whatever form of bondage you find to be at the root of it, even if some people don’t like it.

For it is for freedom that Christ has set YOU free. Stand firm, then, and do not let YOURSELF be burdened again by a yoke of slavery!

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Let’s Talk About Sex

I was drinking a cup of tea whilst staring blankly out of the window when I felt God tell me to write an article on sex. Nonplussed, I slowly swallowed down a gulp of tea and then proceeded to tell Him He was wrong. And, as usually happens when I try giving advice to the creator of the universe, I lost the argument.

I think that discussing sex in the context of theology is almost always a challenging endeavour. This is in large part because so many believers come from backgrounds that ascribe all kinds of legalism to sex, all while utterly failing to recognise the context of scripture. So, to lay a quick foundation for such people, this article is based on the firm belief that:

1. God is a big fan of sex. If we truly believe that God created man and that God created woman then the logical conclusion is that God also created sex. And, just to rattle a few religious bones, let me put it very bluntly: God created orgasms. Certainly He could have instituted that we would procreate by a completely mundane means, but instead, because He’s a really, really good God, He planned something entirely more fun.

2. Sex isn’t just for procreation. While procreation is certainly a wonderful by product of sex, there are all kinds of other great reasons for engaging in sex, such as fun, enjoyment, connection, intimacy, and comfort. (There are numerous verses that indicate this, but I won’t dive into that right now because it’s somewhat outside of the scope of this article.)

3. Moral boundaries are of the Lord, but undue inhibition isn’t. If you doubt this, read the Song of Songs. This holy book describes in detail (all within the context of a monogamous marital relationship) stripping, erotic dancing, oral sex, and foreplay. Yes, they’re ALL in the book.

(This actually reminds me of the time that a friend who had just started following Christ told me she thought she had a faulty bible because she’d discovered all this raunchy stuff in the Song of Songs. I found it somewhat funny but also somewhat sad that I actually had to explain to her that God’s word declares Him to be a huge fan of enjoyable marital sex.)

So, that foundation laid, I feel that the topic of this article is to be a discussion of sex as an act of prophecy and spiritual warfare. (Yep, bet you’ve never seen that in Cosmo before!)

It seems to me that the first step towards understanding why sex is (amongst other things) designed to be a prophetic act is to start by defining what a prophetic act is, and what the function of a prophetic act is.

In my mind there are few words that explain this more aptly than Ed Silvoso’s in the epic manifesto “Prayer Evangelism”. He starts by explaining that prophecy is simply a symbolic act designed to denounce a specific spiritual lie and/or to announce a spiritual truth:

“The primary intent of a lie is always to exert some form of control over the person being lied to. The truth is always more powerful than lies; but those who believe a lie come, within the scope of the lie, under the control of the liar.

When even a small group, made up of people affected by such lies, performs a prophetic act that exemplifies and declares the opposite of what a particular lie proclaims, then a circle of truth is painted around the devil, thereby exposing his scheme for all to see, for he cannot stand in truth.

Prophetic acts are powerful because they express on earth what God has already decreed in heaven.

When we read that the devil is a liar, we assume that he lies to us but not to his minions. If the devil were to speak the truth to his demons, he would have to disclose certain unpleasant facts about the end of time – facts concerning the lake of fire, their eternal demise and satan’s utter defeat. If he were to let them in on news of their fate, it is safe to assume that his troops would not fight for him so intensely.

To be successful, a liar must conceal the fact that he is a liar, otherwise no one will believe his lies. The devil avoids truth so his cover will not be blown. A prophetic act does exactly that, altering and eventually exposing, through the insertion of truth, the devil’s carefully orchestrated cover of intertwined lies.

Spiritual truth can never remain dormant; it has to be declared. And when it is, the truth challenges and eventually changes that which opposes it. As a result, what was thought to be impossible (through satan’s lie) now becomes possible (through Jesus’ truth) – not just in that time and place but beyond. Like ripples in a pond, the spoken truth moves outward in ever-expanding circles set by the initial prophetic act.

When we punch a hole in the darkness, at first light just filters through the hole. But the light keeps on spreading, until the once-impenetrable mantle of blackness eventually dissipates.”

From this we learn that a prophetic act is simply any kind of symbolic act that denounces a specific spiritual lie and/or announces a spiritual truth. The purpose of such an act is to make truth known at a spiritual level.

So how is sex a prophetic act?

We read in scripture that the relationship between man and wife is an illustration of the relationship between Christ and the church. In fact many Bible scholars have written on how the act of sexual union between man and wife actually foreshadows the the union and intimacy that will eventually take place between Christ and His people.

As such we can propound that the sexual union between man and wife is actually, amongst other things, a prophetic act that declares the truth of God’s coming kingdom, because it expresses on earth what God has already decreed in heaven.

It declares the truth of a wonderful alliance to come when God is finally fully united, exposed, and intimate with His bride.

As such I believe that every time a married couple have sex together, amongst other things, it releases truth and faith into the spiritual atmosphere. As such it’s actually a form of spiritual warfare, as the very act of it declares satan to be a liar.

And satan doesn’t like that one bit. He doesn’t like being repeatedly reminded of what God has decreed about the end of days, or what God has ordained about the salvation of believers, and he doesn’t like his lies being blown.

For this reason I believe that the prophetic component of marital sex is one of the major reasons that satan has done his best to corrupt, pervert, and undermine sex as a whole.

Indeed the prophetic element of sex is part of why sex outside of marriage is so utterly destructive, and part of why adultery and fornication grieves God (as well as it being relationally, emotionally, and physically destructive.) Certainly the uncommitted, selfish, and self-seeking nature of such perversion is a mockery of what sex was designed to be: a symbol of commitment, unity, dedication, consecration, and servant-heartedness.

I think that when we start realising just how multi-faceted and powerful sex is we start to realise that its importance goes even beyond matters of human relationship. Sex can literally be a symbol of truth and a prophetic act of spiritual warfare, or it can be a means by which the demonic realm mocks God.

So whether we’re single or married lets make sure that we fully elevate and honour marital sex as the wonderful and prophetic act that it was designed to be.

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