Our Identity is LOVE

Our Identity is LOVE

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Love Himself—Jesus—rebirths us as New Creations.  All the stuff that once seemed important becomes nothing more than rubbish when compared to the glory of who Jesus is.  Christianity is all consuming when rightly understood.  Jesus is either the preeminent reality in our lives—the center, the focus, the beginning and end, the light–the purpose, truth and glory of who we are—the passion that drives us, the power that transforms us—the Person we live for and the One who died for us—or we have not really grasped Christianity yet…!

How do you see yourself?  So often our identity is shaped by many things other than our relationship with Jesus.  Perhaps we view ourselves through the lens of our early years.  Perhaps our identity has been more shaped by the wounds of life than the healing we have in Jesus’ wounds.  Often, we see ourselves through the words of others, rather than the Word of God…

As Pastor John Cahill said so well in a Facebook post this week, sexual sin is more crippling than other sin, because people identify themselves through their broken sexuality, rather than through Jesus.  The Bible confirms that sexual sin is different than other sins precisely for this reason (See 1 Cor. 6:15-20).

Thus, to identify yourself as “straight” or “gay” is to be sold cheap by nothing more than sexual preferences and brokenness, rather than to be owned by Jesus—who bought you, Christian, at highest price.

Our identity can never be reduced to or defined by what our flesh wants, or by the work we do, or by the emotions we feel, or by the voices of others or those in our own mind.  Our identity, if we are Blood Bought, is simply this: CHRISTIAN.

BY GODS GRACE, THOSE LESSER THINGS THAT CLAMOR TO BE OUR “IDENTITY” CAN BE HEALED!  REMOVED!  DEYSTROYED!

Christians have one and only one identity:  JESUS!  We are IN Jesus.  To “add” to Him is the ultimate subtraction.  To identify ourselves through something broken, rebellious, sinful, or fallen is the ultimate rejection of His grace.

So, as individual Christians, our identity has been set.  We are a New Creation in Jesus.  We identify with Him.  We see ourselves through His eyes.  Jesus defines who we are, what we are, how we are, where we are and why we are.  Jesus is the Alpha and Omega (beginning and end) of our Identity…!

What about congregations?  Church people, like sheep, often flock to places because of identity—Identity other than what is ours in Jesus.  “Cool” Church, “Rich” Church, “Hipster” Church, “Traditional” Church “Contemporary” Church “Mega” Church… all have one too many words in their name.  Jesus plus anything is…nothing.  The Bride is identified in and by Her Groom, period.  Jesus alone forms the Church’s real identity.

We should know.  Our congregation, in the recent past, has been identified most proudly as Livingston’s “richest” church, “coolest” church, and “largest” church.  None of those things are inherently evil, but when “cool”, or “wealthy” or “biggest” becomes more important to our identity than “Christ-follower,” we have missed the point of being a New Creation.

The Lord has called us as a congregation and as individuals to settle this thing in our heart.  We are NEW CREATIONS not through a building or a job or a reputation or by sexual brokenness; we are New Creations only in and by Messiah Jesus.  He is our identity.  He is the only point of Church.  He is God… and we are not!


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For the Love of Elders

For the Love of Elders

In this, the year of love, it appears the Lord is calling us to raise up an Elder’s Body in our Congregation to help shoulder the spiritual load.  The Lord’s love for His Body and Bride is at the root of all this!

As Dr. Scott Kelso pointed out to us, the idea of Elders in leadership goes all the way back to Moses.  First, Moses’ Father-in-law Jethro noticed that the burden of leading Israel especially in terms of legal disputes was killing Moses.  He suggested raising up leaders to delegate the responsibility to (Exodus 18).

In Exodus 24, Seventy Elders of Israel accompanied Moses part way up Mount Sinai to glimpse God’s Glory.

About 20 months later as recorded in Numbers 11, the Lord put His Spirit upon 70 Elders to help Moses carry the burden of leading Israel—especially as they complained about the wilderness journey—and in this instance, about their desire for meat.

Scott Kelso related to us that Numbers 11 was the passage the Lord led him to preach as he shared about the idea of Elders with Trinity UMC back in the 1980’s.  Scott was stressed, tired, and on the verge of burnout from pastoring a growing church into the things of the Holy Spirit.

  • SO GOD USES ELDERS AS A WAY TO LOVE ON OVERWHELMED PASTORS!

But that is not all.  As we will see over the next few weeks, GOD ALSO:

  • LOVES ON THOSE HE RAISES UP TO BE ELDERS, and
  • LOVES ON COGREGATIONS THROUGH HIS CHOSEN ELDERS.

So, as always, God’s love flows in every direction.  His purposes in raising up an Eldership to help shepherd congregations is beneficial to absolutely everyone in the Church.

But to be honest, I do not feel the Lord leading me to preach from Numbers 11 now, because burnout is not my or our most urgent need (although it is an ever-present concern). 

I believe the Lord’s heart for OUR CONGREGATION in terms of ELDERS has more to do with:

  • recognizing those whom He has gifted and equipped in Biblical Eldership;
  • being more sensitive to the things of the Spirit;
  • handling difficult situations, teaching, intercession, and doing deliverance/healing ministry.
  • being better prepared for the spiritual battles around us;
  • creating the place for men to accept their God-given place of headship;
  • always being an incubator for people to rise up, grow up, and lead FROM the Father’s Heart;
  • Enlarging our territory and moving out our tent-pegs;
  • Preparing us to help Shepherd the final Awakening.

So LOVE HIMSELF is calling us to establish a Body of Elders within our congregation.  He is doing so because He loves those whom He has called to be Elders…  He is doing so because He is Loving this congregation with Elders…  He is doing so because He loves this region and He loves this fallen world…  He is doing so because He loves me, your pastor.  He is doing so because He loves YOU.  He is doing so because HE IS LOVE!!!


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Elder Love

Elder Love

We had an amazing time last weekend as a church family!  I have had many tell me that this past weekend was a breakthrough for our church—the dawning of a new season full of promise and potential that is truly exciting.  There is a palpable sense of unity and joy in our congregation that is refreshing and glorious.  Truly, our “mourning has been turned to dancing!”

The Pop-up Church experience at the Lake on Saturday was a great time of fellowship, testimony, and outreach.  Sunday morning Worship was incredible.  The Sunday evening “Oaks of Righteousness” Fellowship and Worship time was powerful—both the time we shared eating delicious food around the tables and the times of delicious prayer and repentance and worship around the cross.  Many did not leave that service till close to 10:00!

I have received word of at least one salvation and one medically documented healing miracle since last weekend!!  Many more of us were deeply touched and transformed…

But for me, it was the training on Biblical Eldership that was as powerful in the Lord as anything else we did together as a family last weekend.  Listening together to the Spirit of God as we heard great teaching on what Elders in our Church could mean to us spiritually was just astounding.

Collectively, over 30 leaders in this congregation heard the Lord leading us to raise up Elders in our church to be spiritual leaders who help carry the load, pray as intercessors, augment altar prayer, and help in healing, deliverance, and disciplinary ministries.  For a pastor with a passion to equip the saints for ministry, this is an exciting season for me indeed!

I will be sharing more about Biblical Eldership from the pulpit in the coming weeks, but, like everything else we are about, this is simply a move to be more like the FIRST Church in the book of Acts in terms of local leadership, vision, and accountability.  All of us should be excited!!

As we are reading together in both Timothy and Titus, there are clear and concise character qualities we look for in Elders.  As we read in many other places in Scripture, God raises up leaders to advance the Kingdom.  May it be so here!

This is the most exciting season I have seen in the 16 years I have been here.  It is a wonderful time for us a church family and for the Kingdom of God.  I praise the Lord for it—and I praise the Lord for the honor of serving here with you!!


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A Weekend of Love

A Weekend of Love

Today, tomorrow, and Sunday are important days in the life of our Church-and could eternally impact your life, and the life of your family!

Biblical Eldership Gathering

Friday evening from 6-8 and Saturday morning from 9-12, Rev. Dr. Scott Kelso from Columbus Ohio will be here to teach us about Biblical Eldership—and how that might look in our setting.

  • ALL IN LEADERSHIP, and all who would like to come, should come!

Dr. Kelso is a recognized expert in Eldership as outlined in Scripture and practiced in the early Church.  As he shares with us, I am hoping the Lord will clarify in our collective minds how we might better operate as a “First Church” in the things they did at… First!

Elders in the New Testament Church were men of highest character chosen to lead not because they had money or cultural status, but rather because they were mature believers who had Christ-like characters.

Here is my question:  Since God is refining and clarifying our Identity as a congregation, is Biblical Eldership supposed to be part of our Identity?  I think Scott’s visit will help us discern!

Oaks of Righteousness Family Worship Night

Sunday Night at 5:30, I am hoping and praying that ALL of us—plus as many guests as we can bring—will be part of the MEAL and WORSHIP GATHERING we are having in the Family Life Center beginning at 5:30 and continuing until…

This fellowship and worship gathering is important to the future of our Church and to the destiny of more than a few of us.  I suggest you come hungry—not simply for the good food which will be provided—but most importantly, for the Spiritual Food the Lord desires to feed us!

  • ALL Sunday evening Life Groups will be attending, and everyone else affiliated with this church, or just interested in knowing Jesus more, should COME!!  It will be a great night and is an important night for us—an important night for YOU—and your family!!

I love you deeply, and am looking forward to seeing you Friday evening, Saturday morning, and especially Sunday evening!  - Pastor Craig


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Wilderness Love

Wilderness Love

I two-way journaled a couple weeks ago, thanking the Lord for the amazing Church Council meeting we had on May 23 and asking Him to speak to me about the Wilderness series I am currently preaching on Sunday mornings.

Two-way journaling is very simple—you write down your greeting and questions to the Lord, and then you begin to write as you hear or see some sort of response from the Lord.  The more you exercise in this, the clearer you will hear/see the Lord.  For accountability and accuracy’ sake, you submit what you see and hear to mature believers, and you always compare what you see/hear with the Word of God, the Bible.  God NEVER contradicts Himself!

The Wilderness series is based on the 5 to 10 years David spent in the wilderness, in caves and hideouts, running for his life—and growing up to be a Man after God’s own heart!  As individuals, we go through wilderness seasons that God will use (if we submit ourselves to Him) to heal us, prepare us, and employ us.

Some congregations, too, go through wilderness seasons just like David did—not as punishment nor as a proof that something is wrong, but rather, as a preparation to grow into the character and nature of a king in service to the King Himself.  Apostasy (the abandonment of genuine Christianity for the sake of expediency and human popularity) is on the rise; Apostolic (genuine Biblical) Christianity is under attack much as David was.  We should be honored to be in the wilderness as a church and dare not miss the lessons the Lord is trying to teach us!

Here is my Journal entry from 5/24…

Lord, good morning!  Thank you for the power of your grace—your love—thank you for hope!  And thank you for a great Council meeting last night!!  I believe you want me to preach on the wilderness and how it formed David’s identity, character, and his heart.  What do you want me to see?   To become?  To share?

            “My son, I want you to grow—as My son and father David did!  I want the struggles to lead you to dependence on Me like you have never known before.  I want you to embrace holiness of heart and life more deeply than ever!  Look at how it formed his prayer life; Look and see how it changed him (David) as a worshiper; Look and see how I form a congregation; and look and see how David treated and led that congregation. 

            You can’t really be a king without the wilderness; You really can’t shape a nation, a congregation, without the wilderness.  My ministry did not begin until after my time in the wilderness—and the greatest years of ministry for you and this congregation are just beginning!”

I am excited by what the Lord is teaching us, and honored to be part of a congregation that is being prepared to lead in Apostolic fashion in a world ever-more given to apostasy.  While many walked away from David for comfort’ sake, those “outcasts and losers” who stayed or came to David became the leaders of Israel, the “Mighty Men of God” referred to in Scripture!

May we become EVERYTHING God is shaping us to be in this time of wilderness training!


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Love in Action

Love in Action

It is exciting to be part of this great church family!  Last Sunday was the most powerful experience of the Holy Spirit’s presence in a worship service that most of us have ever experienced.  In all truth, we experienced Pentecost, and on Pentecost Sunday of all things!!

What is almost as exciting is the transformation taking place on Sunday mornings and Wednesday Evenings.  I want all of us to be excited about what is happening in our family!

  • We are adding adult short-term classes on both Wednesday nights as well as Sunday mornings.  These classes, like the Men’s class on Wednesdays, or Darren Ford’s new class on Spiritual Gifts on Sunday mornings, are a great way to grow as disciples and to get to know new folks.  They also give the significant number of gifted teachers in our congregation an opportunity to operate in their Spiritual gifting.  Our goal is to have at least two adult classes running at any given time on both Wednesday evenings and on Sunday Mornings.
  • Wednesday evenings at 5:00 a new Life Group/Prayer Meeting is meeting in the Sanctuary under Catherine Cate’s leadership.  The presence of the Lord in this gathering is overwhelming!
  • A new Pre-School Children’s class has formed on Wednesday nights from 6:00 to 7:30 under the leadership of Carissa Houser, in addition to Connie and Donna’s K-5 class, Tina’s 6-8middle school class, and John Cahill’s senior high life group and class.  There is also a Nursery provided.
  • Our Children’s Sunday School Classes are now using new curriculum coming from Bethel Church in Redding California.  The Curriculum focuses on Children experiencing the Lord and learning how to truly hear Him.   Reports from our Sunday Schools and Son Seekers are exciting as Children focus on hearing and journaling as they see and hear the Lord.

PARENTS – this means your children are part of a Sunday School experience that is fluff-free and Jesus-full!

ADULTS – this means that coming Weds. evenings and Sunday mornings at 9:00 is well worth your time.

FOR ALL OF US – this is what Love in Action looks like in the life of a church.  Our Children are learning the deep things of Jesus in fresh new ways.  Spirit-gifted teachers have new opportunities to use the gifts God has placed in them.  Spirit-led people of all ages have new and ongoing opportunities to grow as disciples.

THE HOLY SPIRIT – is moving in new ways in our Family as we move in renewed ways by His leading.  AVAIL yourself to HIM!  Join a new class.  Invite friends and families to church.  Receive a fresh Baptism!

SERVE in the Children’s Sunday School Ministry!  See Tina Green for info and opportunities!

SAVOR the awakenings happening in our Family as the Awakening of all awakenings unfolds before us!

FINALLY, MARK YOUR CALENDERS FOR:

KINGDOM MINISTRIES HEALING SCHOOL – October 16-20

REAL LOVE HEALS CONFERENCE – October 20-22.


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Healing School/Real Love Heals

School of Healing/Real Love Heals

As we begin June, I want you to be aware of a life-changing week that will be here before we know it.  I’m talking about October 16th through October 22 – when we will host two amazing events as one…

Starting Monday evening, October 16 and continuing through Friday evening, October 20th, Rev. Dr. Bobby Cabot will be here as we host her Healing School, Encounter the God Who Heals.  Many of you remember Bobby as the leader from our second Real Love Heals Conference four years ago.  She is a fantastically gifted teacher and prayer warrior!

Tina and I were part of the School in January in Nashville.  It was a tremendous week of learning about how to operate in Healing gifts of the Spirit, experiencing those gifts firsthand, and witnessing those gifts set others free, and we cannot recommend too strongly for you to plan on attending—and on bringing others with you.  This is the most in-depth and hands-on School of Healing I know of anywhere…!

Friday Night, October 20th we will close out the School by having a Healing Service open to the community, in which all those who attended will be the prayer teams for those who come to the service.  THIS IS CERTAINLY THE NIGHT TO BRING THOSE YOU KNOW WHO ARE SICK—PHYSICALLY, SPIRITUALLY, OR EMOTIONALLY—TO COME AND RECEIVE HEALING FROM THE LORD!

But the Healing Service has a double function and blessing, as it kicks off our 2017 REAL LOVE HEALS CONFERENCE!  Continuing Saturday October 21st, Real Love Heals will feature Garry Ingraham, the national director of Transforming Congregations, an organization which helps congregations and individuals present the full Gospel of Jesus’ healing to those struggling with sexual brokenness and other life-controlling issues.

Garry—as well as his wife—both came out of homosexual identities, “and know hundreds of others who have chosen the narrow path of surrender to Jesus, rather than the wide path of what the world tells us is good, healthy, and unchangeable.”

“This is what our ministry is all about—helping Christian leaders develop environments that allow people to be known in their brokenness and be restored to sexual and relational wholeness according to God’s design.  We want to help stop all the lying and pretending that we (the Church) are engaged in, and return with repentant hearts to the One who wants to forgive, heal, and restore through the transparency of His community.”

So mark your calendars—and get the word out—because October is going t be an amazing month of healings, deliverances, breakthroughs, and joys as LOVE HIMSELF teaches us, through Bobby, what New Testament healing looks and feels like; and, through Garry, what the REAL LOVE of GOD does in the hearts and minds of broken people!

  • Healing School:  Monday October 16-20
  • Healing Service: Night of Healing/Real Love Heals Start:  Friday, October 20th 7pm
  • Real Love Heals Conference: Friday evening & Saturday (9-5), Oct. 20-21
  • Special Guests Sharing in the Sunday Services Oct. 22

Together, this promises to be a week of true Awakening; a time to operate more fully as an Eastern Gate; a time to be a Lighthouse Church.  October may well mark the end of our “Wilderness Wanderings,” and the beginning of a mighty Kingdom season…!


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Our Identity in Christ

Our Identity in Christ

I felt the Lord say these words to me last week as I was asking Him to clarify our identity as a Church and my identity as a pastor: “My Church has an identity – ME!  You can identify My people by the wounds they bare; not just the Name they claim…”

In Jesus, we are a new creation.  In baptism, we put on Christ Jesus.  In HIM we live, and move and have our being…  Scripture is clear – “Christians” are thus called by being first and foremost identified IN and BY and THRU Jesus!  HE is the point of our being; HE is the center of our existence; HE is the Alpha and Omega—the beginning and end of all life, meaning, purpose and destiny!

Though wounded (and finally executed) for following Jesus, the great leaders of the faith like Peter, Paul, James, and so forth were and are known for being IN CHRIST, not for what they did or whose family they were from or how much money they made or what school they graduated from or…

Paul is NOT known as the tent maker who taught about Jesus; Paul will forever be known as the Apostle who gave his life for the Good News of Jesus—and happened to make tents to allow him to do so more freely….

Peter is NOT known as the fisherman who “worked Jesus in” around tilapia season; Peter will eternally be known as the Rock who preached and taught Jesus until the day they crucified Peter upside down…

James is NOT known as the slow-to-come-around half-brother of Jesus; James will perpetually be known as the mighty prophetic leader of the Jerusalem Church who left his former life and hometown behind to live—and die—for the Truth who is Jesus Messiah!

I could go on all day, but you get the point.   Or maybe, we don’t…

We sometimes forget the social sacrifices and changes that are required of us if Jesus is truly going to be first in our life—truly LORD of our lives.

Peter struggled mightily with the Lord before he could even associate with Gentiles—much less enter their homes or eat their meals.  His world was turned upside down as Jesus lowered the sheet—and the gantlet—to no longer call what God calls clean, unclean; those who God calls neighbor, enemy.

Paul struggled mightily as God called this well-educated man from a well-known (read that affluent) family to hang out with the most impoverished and least-educated folks in the entire Empire.

James struggled mightily as a country-boy relocated to an urban center leading an incredibly diverse congregation of new believers “from every nation.”  Think of the social adjustment—not just for James but for the whole church!  Social adjustment can be a painful wound—one that identifies us as Christ’s!!!

You see, the Church of Jesus is built upon the rock of HIS IDENITY, with social structures and constructs adjusting accordingly.  Yet, the American Church is often—even usually—built upon the sands of people’s social comfort first, with faith in Christ adjusted—or relegated—to a lower place.   

People segregate along educational, social, economic, and racial lines in this country with horrifying consistency—failing to recognize that this segregation comes at the expense of Jesus being FIRST…

As I look at what Father has done in our congregation, I am deeply amazed by the diversity God has brought us to.  We are as diverse on every level as you can get in Livingston Tennessee!  We have become a congregation that is built on our JESUS IDENTITY before our Social Identity…!  It takes the Holy Spirit to pull something like this off—just as it did in Jerusalem.

When Jesus is truly our identity, we are willing to sacrifice our social status and even the friends we hang out with (Paul certainly did!) for the sake of something far higher—Jesus as truly the LORD and CENTER of our lives!


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Returning to First Love

Returning to First Love

As I was plugging in this laptop computer to write you this note, the oddest thing happened.  I dropped the cord on my foot—just the plug-in part—and it hurt something fierce…

You see, as one of the lingering side-effects to the Chemo treatments, my fingers and toes are numb—and yet overly sensitive—all at the same time.  Medically, it is called neuropathy.  Physically, it is (for me) just a minor inconvenience.  But spiritually, it can be incredibly dangerous…!

Spiritual numbness—neuropathy—can be caused by any number of “chemo” treatments, such as becoming offended (see blog entitled Love Overcomes Offense), or extreme trauma, or perhaps most commonly in our culture, busyness and exhaustion.

When we become numb to the Spirit—numb to the presence and Person of God—we almost always become hyper-sensitive to the slightest bumps and the smallest snubs from the people around us. 

Ironically, you can’t suffer from numbness if you haven’t first enjoyed feeling.  Superficial Churchianity “protects” people from becoming spiritually numb by never leading people to genuine and deep experiences of the Lord and His Spirit in the first place.  Hopefully, however, we all recognize that shallow spirituality isn’t a good “solution!”  I am grateful to have toes, even if they are currently numb!

Deep experiences of the Lord, then, lead us to feel—to LOVE—deeply.  But life-inflicted neuropathy causes us to become hyper-sensitive to even small amounts of irritation…

This is the heart of what the Lord Jesus was speaking to the Church of Ephesus in Revelation 2.  This church had drunk deeply at first of the Lord’s presence and Love, feeling with incredible sensitivity His heart and His heart for others.  But the church had become numb in love over time.  And in that numb place, they were in danger of becoming hyper-sensitive to the perceived slights of their own brethren, and insensitive to the needs of the community around them…

Our congregation has been called by the Lord to be a place where people really and genuinely experience the Lord deeply.  We have a congregational expectation to feel and soak in the LOVE of God—and then to share that Love with our neighbors.  In those deep experiences of Jesus—in Life Groups, or while listening to the Word using the Life Journal, or at the Lord’s Supper, or in a prayer circle—wherever—we develop a deep sense of feeling, spiritually—and we Love extravagantly because we bask in the presence of the One who first loved us!

But, like the Church at Ephesus, we are in danger of numbness—precisely because we first learned how to feel…  Because we have felt Love deeply—we can become numb to it.  We can suffer from temporary—or even permanent—spiritual neuropathy.  Numb to the presence of the Lord, we become overly sensitive to loved-ones around us, hurting fiercely simply because of an inadvertent slight…

THE CURE?  END THE NUMBNESS!  When the numbness is gone, so is the hyper-sensitivity to slights.  SO HOW DO WE CURE THE NUMBNESS?  By leaning in again to the One who gave us feeling in the first place.  We must fight through in prayer and worship and Word until we feel—really feel—again.  And once we are restored to sensitivity in our hearts, we quit being overly-sensitive in our flesh…!

For this reason, Jesus told the Church at Ephesus to Love like they did at first.  We must, too!


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Love Overcomes Offense

Love Overcomes Offense

And Then (in the last days) many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another.  Matthew 24:10 NKJV

Jesus makes clear that the most obvious signs of the days leading up to His return will be offense, betrayal, and hatred.  You can’t turn on the television without seeing the clear fulfillment of this prophecy as people march in protests over almost everything, with levels of hatred in speech and action unheard before.  But my major concern (and Jesus’!) isn’t with the world in general; it’s within His Church…!

The word “offense” denotes a tripwire to a trap.  Becoming offended at persons or situations traps us in a place where betrayal and hatred become natural and love and forgiveness seem impossible.  Truly, as John Bevere has made clear, it is The Bait of Satan.

Bevere is reintroducing his book and teaching series on the subject and as part of the promotion has established a test on the internet to see if one is holding on to offense.  Remember, you cannot operate in Love and Offense at the same time; offense is like a cancer that consumes those trapped in it, destroying hearts and making for “a root of bitterness (Hebrews 12:15)” that draws many others into the trap.

TAKE THIS TEST TO SEE IF YOU ARE HOLDING ONTO OFFENSE:

The website is:  https://www.messengercourses.com/p/are-you-holding-offense

I encourage you to take the test, and if there is interest, we’ll teach The Bait of Satan here again.  In the twenty years since the book was first released, the problem of offended hearts has only grown exponentially.

There are a few things that we need to make sure we are clear on concerning this end-time plague…

  1. Offense, betrayal, hatred, bitterness—these can literally destroy your walk with God.
  2. If you go looking for offense, you will find it.
  3. Once offended—caught in Satan’s trap—our perspective on all of life becomes warped, and bitterness quickly replaces forgiveness and love as our “default” setting.
  4. Offense justifies all kinds of ungodly behavior, language, and gossip.  True and complete forgiveness is marked by an absence of these poisons.
  5. Offended people walk away from their churches, marriages, and relationships—but find it almost impossible to walk away from their offended hearts…
  6. Offense is a contagious disease, trapping people as they take on other’s offense.
  7. “Offended Christian” is ultimately an oxymoron; offense and Christ’s Love are mutually exclusive…
  8. Justifying offense is like justifying murder; killing others in our hearts because they “hurt” us leads us to a prison every bit as real as death row…

If you are human, you have been offended.  But absolute forgiveness releases the trap.  Restored relationship breaks the bars.  Letting go of the hurt releases the hate—and opens the gates of release.  Don’t take on another’s offense; rather love them enough to confront the disease!   Don’t justify offense; don’t delve into betrayal; don’t glorify hatred.  These are the very things that killed Judas Iscariot—and they can as easily kill followers in our day!!

LOVE is the answer—but it CANNOT cohabitate with offense.  Repent, forgive, restore—until only love is left!

 


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