Q: Jessica, Should I move churches?
I hope you don’t mind me asking you this but I need some Godly counsel,one that is not biased. For the past couple of months I think I have been hearing God wanting me to move from my current church to another one, but I havent acted on it because I want to test and make sure that I am not being decieved by the enemy. I’m not really happy in my current church and I feel like I’m not growing anymore. I often feel uncomfortable, and I find it really hard to love and serve God with ease ….I really need to know what one does in a situation like this….thanx in advance
What an appropriate question. I myself have also asked myself this question before. It is odd in a sense that as we become more “spiritual” (the way God intends us to be) the “humanity” in man becomes clearer and clearer. The humanity in our Pastors, teachers, preachers, and leadership.
The conclusion that I have come to is this…
Does your church-
1. Preach the Word of God uncompromisingly?
2. Believe in ALL the Fruits of the Spirit?
3. Teach of the Holy Spirit and all of applications of it in your life?
4. Does the leadership attempt to live by the Bible in a lifestyle evangelism way, or at least repent when they have been wrong?
If so, and you can not find anything unbiblical about the place that you assemble, then I would suggest that you begin to go in early and pray for the church and its people, that the Spirit would fall and renew those in it. Scripture says “The fervent prayer of the righteous avails much”. YOU are the church, YOU are the righteousness of God- YOU can change things, from inside out.
If however you feel, and have found the leadership of your church more manly than spiritual, pray for the change. If in doing your own research (of the Word) you have found the teaching to be consistently out-of-line, I would suggest that you pray to God to make it evident for you what you should do. Moving churches is an ordeal, and you are right to wonder if you are doing the right thing. We aren’t just talking physical bodies, we are talking our offerings and our tithes as well. I am sure that you would hate to get up and leave in offense, just to go get offended somewhere else. Taking offense helps no one, and hurts everyone.
Remember dear, that YOU are the church. Our churches are where we go for edification, celebration, and assembly. If your Pastor is teaching you the Word of God, receive Him and His Word. People will continue to let you down, it is how you as the church influence THEM that makes the difference.
Pray and obey sister, and let me know how it turns out! I will be praying for you and that your decisions would be made clear and perfect! If the Lord is telling you to go.. GO, GO, GO! Don’t hesitate! God is never wrong, and He only has what is BEST for us in His mind. Don’t let tradition weigh you down, from being lifted up!
If you have taken offense, or someone else has taken offense to you in the church, and that is why you want to go… well, pray for them. But we Christians don’t run from anyone, we run to God and He resolves everything!
UPDATE: Our friend has decided to stay on at her church, and pray for the people in it. (The churches teachings being found sound and uncompromising) She has taken the stand to pray and be apart of changing the internal climate of the church, from within. I will pray for her that she begins to see a move of the Spirit from her fervent and righteous prayer!
Q: Jessica, What does Jesus expect from us in regards to “turning the other cheek”?
I read your post on unconditional love and it really has me thinking, how are we supposed to love others who hurt us? What does Jesus expect of us? Especially those who continue to hurt us or have abusive tendencies? Or those who constantly lie and try to take advantage of others? Where is the line between self respect and self preservation and forgiveness and unconditional love?? I always seem to interpret the scripture “forgive your brother 77 times” and “turn the other cheek” as allowing hurtful people to remain in my life and continue to love them and look past their hurtful ways. But is this really what Jesus meant??
Hallelujah! What a great question that you have asked, and what an awesome opportunity for me to be able to share with you my thoughts!
I think that the bottom line in the whole issue is forgiveness vs. tolerance. Forgiving a person is in fact something that we should ALL do. Your question is so good because doesn’t it sometimes seem contradictory of Christ to say, “77 times” to forgive to Peter, but then also to say when spreading the gospel “If a town does not receive you, dust off your sandals and leave?” He also said to the unfruitful fig tree, “May you never bear fruit again!” and immediately the tree withered.
Luke 13:6 & 7 says:
“Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?'”
WHOA! So here we have Jesus telling Peter to seemingly “forgive” forever, but to the disciples and to the fig tree he is saying, “YOU DON’T PRODUCE FRUIT, GET OUT OF MY SIGHT, You are not worthy enough to take up the nutrients from even the soil!”
Now, I have learned that the Bible never contradicts itself when you read it as a whole. Peter, became “the rock” after years of being known as “Simon” which means “weed” (A weed wavers in the wind). Peter CONSTANTLY wavered in his emotions, and as a matter of fact you will read in the NT when Peter is weak he is referred to as Simon and vice versa. To the point where Jesus says to Peter in Mark 8:33 “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”
Peter by instinct took offense. It was in his nature, along with his passion and zeal came this dangerous tendency to become offended an be found in an emotionally and unstable state. Like, cutting off the ear of the soldier in Gethsemane and denying Christ! Having Jesus tell Peter of ALL His disciples the importance of forgiveness, was as CRITICAL for Peter- as it was for us… probably MORE so! I suppose it would be like a kid saying to you, “Um mom… is it REALLY that important to eat vegetables?” “YES son, ALWAYS eat your vegetables.”
Forgiveness for the Christian is like water is for the river. Without it, the river could not exist. Do we need to forgive? ABSOLUTELY, do we need to tolerate abuse… ABSOLUTELY NOT.
There is found in the Bible scripture after scripture of men standing up for injustice. From Noah, to Jesus Himself! Jesus didn’t just “turn the cheek” to the devil, He hit Him with the hardest blow… DEATH! Did the devil really think he could “kill” God… HA! Jesus staying alive and playing the “flesh” game and ruling on the earth without having descended first, would have been for him to live in a “tolerated” humanity. The longer He lived in the flesh only, the longer he had to live “under the rule” i.e. the physical limitations of the “ruler of this world” satan! Jesus made a STAND, intolerant of future injustices for ALL of mankind!
TURNING THE OTHER CHEEK
It is my opinion that the “turning the cheek” scripture cannot be read without also reading “Be angry and sin not”. The scripture says BE angry. Read it again… “BE ANGRY and sin not” (Eph 4:26) It is OK to be angry! Many times God acted with righteous and jealous anger. (Christ throwing over the tables in the temple for instance). I once heard Creflo Dollar preach that “Anger is ok, as long as you are angered TOWARD righteousness.” In other words, are you using the “anger” in a productive means to make a change and see a positive result? Or are you getting angry in just in retaliation? We can easily get angry towards righteousness in some things like being ANGRY about the relief efforts in Haiti, or at the devil for attacking us, or at any other harmful injustices to society/family… BE MAD, but don’t try and get even- GET TO WORK!
BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS
“Blessed are the peacemakers” Did you know that the Greek definition of “peacemaker” means “the one who delivers the message of salvation”? Seriously, a peace maker is a person who helps to make peace in the SOULS of men regarding salvation! That is what Jesus was referring to!
I was up late the other night watching The Biggest Looser, and I was thinking about your question as I watched a boxing match between two women. The attacker was like BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM!! The woman who needed to loose weight was taking the hits. I noticed that there was really a rhythm and a tappity-tap-tap to the sound of the hits. It was at this moment that I thought about a person (maybe like you), just standing in the ring getting beat on BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM!!, and I began to wonder is this type of abuse God’s BEST? Are we “fully equipped” (Heb 13:20-21) by God to just sit back and TAKE THE BEAT DOWN? NO GOSH DARNIT!
The devil will take EVERY opportunity to hit YOU, and he will use everyone that he can to beat you OUT of God’s best. BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM!! What I have learned however, is that it is not about you hitting back in the ring of life, in order to hurt the other person, it is about you preserving the word that you know for yourself to be true!
The word “rebuke” in Hebrew literally means “TO CHANGE YOUR POSITION”, so when the enemy is attacking you and beating you- we MUST put him in his place! We are called to use our God given authority to FORCE him to change his position! He, being the weaker vessel than the Lord God Almighty, by the name of Jesus MUST relent!
He who rebukes a man will in the end gain more favor than he who has a flattering tongue. Proverbs 28:3
If you KNOW (for example) that stealing is wrong, how long do you let your “friend” force you to steal? If you KNOW premarital sex is wrong and not God’s best, how long do you hop into bed? Forgiving someone’s negligence of the Word by accepting them and tolerating them, is NOT what Christ has instructed us to do! We must first change OUR position through rebuking and reproofing ourselves, then we must take a stand and rebuke and correct the harmful actions of others.
“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”For I came to SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW; and A MAN’S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD. “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” Matt 10:34-37
THE WORD FOR “UNAPOLOGETIC DISTANCING”
What I do, in real life application, is practice “Unapologetic Distancing”. If there is someone in my life who constantly tries to abuse the power that they have, to somehow “lord” over and try and control me, they do not get ANY of my precious time. I walk in forgiveness toward them by being available to serve and help them the minute they come back in repentance and are ready and willing to desire a change- if this is the case, I am there with open arms to receive them! But if not? What to do when someone else will not relent? Unapologetic distancing! I do NOT go out of my way for them, and I am NOT sorry about that ONE BIT. At times, I have had to put even close family members through this distancing in protection of the jewels that the Lord has given to me- so that they not be thrown before the swine! “A MAN’S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD”
The question then becomes, are we SOLD OUT to Christ and HIS message enough to let harmful relationships go-even our families? The Word DOES say, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” As long as we tolerate abuse and captivity (since Christ paid the price to set us free), we are loving the tormentor MORE than the Freedom Giver, and that is no way to live at all! JESUS died we could be made free!!
There are a couple of CLAUSES to Unapologetic Distancing for the Christian, and that is in regards to husbands and wives, and sons and daughters*. NEVER and under NO circumstances is it ok to “write a spouse off” or put ANY kind of distance between the two. It is a spouse’s role to bridge ALL divides and sanctify all unrighteous married behavior through prayers and vigilance and belief in the blood shed on the cross for our redemption. There is a way that a spouse wins back their mate, and it is through self-respect and a DEEP walk with Christ. If the relationship is however NOT bonded by marriage, than Unapologeticly Distancing for the sake of the gospel is what we ALL need to do!
In Christ’s love-
Love Always, Your friend-
*If you are having a challenge with abusive children, and or children that abuse themselves… GO GET THEM! Hug them no matter what the age, love them and support them, apologize to them and ask them for their forgiveness. We as parents MUST take responsibility over our children’s choices in their lives- and we MUST be available to them to help them get through our parental negligence. Too many parents write off their children for making “their own bad decisions” when in reality- their decisions ALWAYS come as a result of a parents leading example. This is a PAINFUL process, as we all WANT to be great parents- and think we are the best, but when there is error or harm being manifested in the family- be quick to repent, help and put back the pieces!
Q: Jessica, it’s OK to distance myself from others who hurt me? (Cont)
Wow thanks Jessica!!
I am always so amazed and appreciative when you respond. The distancing.. I can do that?? Lol!! I thought forgiveness and loving meant I still had to allow them in my life. I tend to think that satan causes division, and since he wants to cause division in relationships I can’t allow this.
I feel I have to hang in there and show them the love of Jesus. It’s very interesting, this is all family, people I love. They have very hurtful outbursts, and so the cycle is that they say things- I cry, I pray, I forgive, and then I allow it to happen all over again! I have been distancing myself from one of them for about six months now, and from the other for about three. I finally called him (my father) yesterday after months of not talking and he called me back and left the most horrible message. I mean called me the worst possible names. So I cried, and then I wanted to call him back and try to make peace with him.
Here I am thinking that it’s never the person, it is satan working through him to cause division- so I can’t let satan win. Does that sound crazy?? It’s very interesting, whenever I am getting close to God it never fails that one of these bi polar people in my life will attack me. It is the strangest thing.
Ok so what I think that I got out of this is that I can forgive, and love from a distance until people are ready to act right. And it’s ok to do this.
Thank you Jessica I can’t tell you how many times I have prayed and thanked God for a posting you did or for encouraging words you have said. So thank you
My sister! I am SO glad we get to continue our conversation!
You know it is really hard sometimes to distance yourself from others that have/have had a major impact in your life. But the foundation MUST always be in the Word and in Love. We have some family for instance, who have chosen to live contrary to the Bible’s teachings as the infallible Word of God. They know where we stand in the Word, and we have both -it pains me to tears- had to distance ourselves entirely. Now this has not come about without MANY MANY conversations and hours of listening, but we are at a “stalemate” and in no uncertain terms am I ever going to allow someone else redefine the Word of God that is true, in order to “just make peace”.
I heard a preacher once preach, “We must all STOP seeing ourselves as the woman with the issue of blood, and START seeing ourselves as the man in the robe!”
CAUSE AND EFFECT
This statement wasn’t to say, “You can BE Jesus” (Of course, there is only ONE Jesus)- it was to say that we must stop focusing on our grievances and begin thinking AS Jesus did/does… and I couldn’t agree more! Paul charges us to be imitatorsof Christ. He says “copy me as I copy Him”. Sometimes, loving someone MEANS distancing yourselves from them, because in all truth WE ARE the spiritual food that they are eating (they in effect are sucking up and withdrawing from us our anointing), and while we should always be filled to OVERFLOWING (in our prayer time and time with the Father), there comes a point when SUCCEEDING in life does THE MOST GOOD. Maybe you have heard that the “best way to get back at someone else is to succeed anyway?” While I am not a fan of “getting back” at people- I am a BIG fan of allowing to Lord to level the playing field. God operates in this earth through seed time and harvest time, cause AND effect! Sow the seed of love, and then TRUST in the power within the seed to bring God’s Word into fruition- we cannot speed up God’s timing no matter how many times “we turn our cheek.”
Hurting people hurt people… you know that. I once heard a message in which God said to the preacher- “You help people that I wouldn’t even help!” WHOA what a word! Reminds me of this scripture: “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.” Matt 7:6
We all must LISTEN to God #1, in what to do, if He tells you to call your accuser and be STRONG, than girl He will equip you to be able to handle it!
If NOT, if the Lord gives you rest to move on, and yet you still attempt to make peace… then sweetie, make sure that you are not just trying to force a reconciliation so that YOU can feel better. It is prideful of us to expect “all of our relationships” to be good ones. I DESIRE all the relationships in my life to be a good ones… but pride would cause me to try and FORCE others to see things my way, just so I could “feel better”.
They Hurt Me, I forgave, I Distanced Myself… NOW WHAT?
PRAY! FAST! Intercede! If you have unapologetically distanced yourself from someone who hurts you and you still desire restitution, ALL that is left is to PRAY AND FAST like crazy! We battle NOT with flesh and blood, and I know for a fact that we can fight a GREATER fight through the spiritual intercession of prayer and faith for another. I daily pray for our accusers, that they would turn to Christ and understand that it is NOT too late, and that they can be happy abiding in God’s Word- despite the choices they have made.
My sister, I like you, really do ACHE that all the relationships in my life be “perfect” and healthy. But that scripture about “taking up our cross” and that “He came not bring peace but to be a sword” really comforts me in the times of making a stand for Him. Can you imagine even John the Baptist (Jesus’ cousin) said, “Is this the one we are looking for- or should we look for another”!!
YOU CAN DO THIS sister, you DO NOT need to continue on the path of receiving abuse into your life, follow God and do whatEVER HE tells you to do… you have been set free*!
In Christ’s Love-
Love Always, Your Friend-
UPDATE: Our friend responded to this Q & A with:
Thanks Jessica, I think your right I do know what to do. As I am reading your email response, it occurred to me that God is so much bigger than me and their salvation isn’t totally dependent on me– wow!!!! It’s all coming together so clearly.. It’s this thing I have from childhood growing up with an abusive mom and dad, where I always feel responsible for other people wow!! Isn’t it great when something just dawns on you??!! I have been doing that very thing and allowing it into my adult life. Thank you again Jessica