After seeing some uncommon fruit that followed an extraordinary, albeit unsettling week on Facebook, I woke up this morning with a remarkable word from the Lord.
My skin is white, a condition I rarely think about, unless I’m lathering it with sunscreen to step into one of these long, hot, Texas, summer days.
Maybe, that’s because I grew up on the North side of Houston, in an area that was not trendy enough to be designated as a ward of the city.
Our next-door neighbor, second parents, and two people dearest to my heart, were legal immigrants from south of the border who shunned those who entered our country illegally.
My parents were ministers who loved both.
I grew up watching my dad, my brother, and my husband work with both, become friends with both, help illegals work through the system, pray for miracles as some sought citizenship and weep for the loss of fellowship when one was denied.
Today, my sister and her husband pastor a large church in the same area; a congregation that is almost entirely made up of both legal and illegal brothers and sisters in Christ. They minister to every conceivable situation that arises from this issue. They have seen God move mountains, work miracles, and continue to be God to those who remain as well as to those who must go back to the country of their birth.
In this country, and for those who live along its boundaries, border issues did not become issues of color until politicians decided that color was synonymous with power.
Today, we are being told to open our borders because that is what love would do. Therefore, God is on trial. We have been asked the question, “What Would Jesus Do?”
Before He made man, God looked down at the earth and found it in a state of darkness. It was formless, void, and chaotic. All its boundaries had been compromised.
There is no coincidence why all the evils, injustices, and ravages of sin come together in this one place, drawn, like a magnet, by supernatural forces.
Because foundations and boundaries cannot be separated lest the structure fall.
Psalm 11:3, “When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?”
From the beginning, God established boundaries to form the foundations whereby the sons of God could “subdue the earth.” In other words, He pushed back the encroachment of chaos by forming a foundation that was defined, confirmed, and settled by boundaries.
And God spoke to chaos and commanded that it would not cross the boundary. Lawfully and specifically, He defined the borders so that confusion, anarchy, deficiency, and absence would know where the line had been drawn.
He separated light from darkness, Genesis 1:4.
Job 26:10, “He has inscribed a circle on the surface of the waters at the boundary of light and darkness.”
He separated the waters in the heavens from the waters in the sea, Genesis 1:6.
Psalm 104:9, “You set a boundary that they may not pass over, so that they will not return to cover the earth.”
Job 38:9-11, “When I made a cloud its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, and I placed boundaries on it and set a bolt and doors, and I said, 'Thus far you shall come, but no farther; and here shall your proud waves stop.”
He separated the waters in the sea from the dry ground, Genesis 1:9.
Proverbs 8:29, “When He set for the sea its boundary so that the water would not transgress His command, when He marked out the foundations of the earth.”
Jeremiah 5:22, “Do you not fear Me?’ declares the Lord, ‘Do you not tremble in My presence? For I have placed the sand as a boundary for the sea, an eternal decree, so it cannot cross over it. Though the waves toss, yet they cannot prevail. Though they roar, yet they cannot cross over it.”
Just as there were boundaries for the Kingdom of Heaven, in the same way, the first thing God did was establish boundaries on the earth.
Sin will never enter heaven’s gates. Evil will never climb over its borders. Chaos will never overcome the Prince of peace.
And so, it was that God gave man a foundation designated by boundaries that would define our home because all the nuances and problems that evil would present could not begin to be addressed until our foundation was firm, secure, and strong.
Which is why, there are boundaries for nature.
Boundaries for governments.
And boundaries for men.
These boundaries have nothing to do with the “enlightenment” of the times we live in. They exist, as they always have, to protect the sons of God in a sin-cursed world where Satan seeks to devour and destroy all who cross boundaries.
To bring chaos back.
In December of 2004, we saw the devastation and power of destruction that can happen when one of these boundaries are crossed, even briefly. The loss of life in the Thailand Tsunami was mind-boggling. There wasn’t a single heart that didn’t break for the plight of the souls that suffered.
Scripture has been used a great deal, lately, on both sides of this issue, but outside of its boundaries, scripture, too, is meaningless.
Because God is a God of boundaries.
Proverbs 22:28, “Do not remove the ancient boundary which your fathers have set.”
The boundaries of nations are established by God.
Isaiah 26:15, “You have increased the nation, O Lord, You have increased the nation. You are glorified. You have extended all the borders of the land.”
Acts 17:26, “And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation.”
Satan understands boundaries, which is why he continuously tries to tear them down. It is the only legal way that he can steal, kill, and destroy.
Job 24:2, “Some remove the landmarks. They seize and devour flocks.”
When we take the act of removing boundaries lightly, we participate with evil.
Hosea 5:10, “The princes of Judah have become like those who move a boundary; on them I will pour out My wrath like water.”
At the end of 2014 and beginning of 2015, pastor and prophet Rick Joyner presented a word of warning that came from several prophetic dream encounters. These warnings can be understood more clearly today than they were on the day he first shared them. (YouTube: Rick Joyner; Morning Star Ministries, September 9, 2014 and February 3, 2015.)
In these dreams, a spirit of evil had broken through our boundaries and the same blight and destruction that the innocent citizens south of the border were fleeing was rushing in, like a flood of devastation, over state lines.
The safety and provision of this nation had been sold for political gain.
Wars are fought on many different frontiers, today. Cyber war. War on Terror. Desert warfare. Special Ops. War against poverty. War against Christians… etc. But we cannot be a light to the nations, a comfort to the distressed, or food for the hungry, if we are physically at war, attempting to survive our own demise.
In his second dream, he walked amongst the camps, where he was invisible, at first. What he witnessed was an intense spirit of terror, hatred, and privilege rolling over the ranchers near the border; an escalation of things they have experienced in recent years. Brutal murders were taking place and yet, so much famine followed this group that they had been reduced to cannibalism and great fear had invaded their own ranks.
As he walked, he realized that he represented the believers in our nation. It was the attitudes of the heart and the behavior of Christians that would determine the outcome of this crisis.
Eventually, the Lord allowed the evil spirit that was controlling the gangs to see Rick and attempt to entice him into joining the horde. When Rick refused to let his heart be turned by bigotry or narrow-minded preconceptions or political partisanship and intolerance or spiritual animus, he heard the sound of marching feet approaching from behind and turned to see the army of the Lord coming to destroy those who were intent on destruction.
I want to make sure the reader hears what is being said. This is not a discussion about racism. It’s not about people who hate people who don’t look like them. It’s not about people who worship Trump or love his policies, his tweets, or who refuse to deal with things he may have said or done in the past. It’s not about people who don’t love people who come across our borders looking for a better life.
There is evil on both sides of the border. Hate. Anarchy. Until Christ returns, it will remain so, but there is also grace and love in abundance.
Our border guards, the majority of whom are of Mexican descent, are asking why we are allowing their names to be slandered by a media that is comparing them to Nazi’s and falsely accusing them of running Labor camps. These are men and women who not only face life and death situations daily but provide food and clothing from their own cupboards to meet needs and help illegals who are caught in impossible situations… a cup of cold water.
Until we walk side by side with them, we must avoid becoming part of the inflammation of the masses by a politicized media.
Make no mistake: this is a spiritual issue; a war for the future of our nation. A war over boundaries. A war between good and evil; chaos and peace.
God has been challenged. The God Who gives His ministering servants the sword to avenge evil, to enforce borders; the same God Who takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked.
Ezekiel 18:23, “Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?”
What we are talking about is the ultimate act of Love for the innocent people who have struggled with the evil that has violated their borders, crossed their boundaries, eroded their foundations, and devastated their futures. We are talking about laying down our life and the ease with which the enemy can manipulate the emotions of our flesh.
My parents were right to love both legal and illegal immigrants. My neighbors were right to hate the evil that mocks boundaries and avoids consequences.
God desires that we remain a nation that can help the innocent rebuild their borders; be a Light in their darkness. A people who can offer aide. Food. Clothing. Shelter. Protection. Salvation.
But first, we must protect the boundaries of our nation so that our nation can be the provision they need.
To do that, hard choices must be made. The borders must be protected from evil and such is the mandate of governments, because the same evil that has blighted their land seeks to blight ours; to put out the last beacon of Light.
To reduce the planet to chaos once again.
Proverbs 14:34, “Righteousness exalts a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.”
Finally, let me say that there is such a thing as an “unrighteous law” or “border” and there are unrighteous situations that happen at our borders because we are all flawed and human. We get things wrong. We make mistakes. We create bad law. And the bad law we create opens the door to the invasion of evil where the Accuser of the Brethren can use difficult situations to blame, to justify greater evil, and to tear down boundaries.
Abortion laws are the best example I can give of an unrighteous law and the invasion of evil that follows. So, what is a believer to do when faced with an ungodly law that has become a part of the foundation of a nation?
He is to lay down his life, John 15:13.
In 1989, God asked me to cross the boundary of the laws concerning abortion in our nation. Here I stood, being asked to obey God rather than man’s law and yet, the same God had also said, “be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established,” Romans 13:1.
There are those who live in the extremes of scripture, using them to justify their opinions. The Bible calls those people the “untaught” or “unstable.” “People who distort even the scriptures to their own destruction,” 2 Peter 3:16.
The fact is that God never contradicts Himself.
For me, there was no dilemma. How to obey was clear. I crossed the boundary. Disobeyed the law and accepted the consequences that followed. In other words, I honored both. I respected the law by yielding to its consequences when I violated it. The result was a story of supernatural proportions. I was in my early 30’s and had never, before, experienced the glorious nature of God as I did through that one act of laying down my life.
So, what can a believer do for such a time as this?
1. Lay down your life for your brother at the border – Love God and refuse to fear man. Don’t become a part of the spirit of cannibalism that is blaming, pointing the finger, accusing, and condemning those who don’t agree with your “side.” Don’t make this about you. Don’t “feel good” because you allowed politicians and media to manipulate your emotions. Weep for those who are caught in the battle and pray for a solution to their crisis. Become an answer to their need, but don’t force the foundations to be destroyed by allowing a hard case to make a bad law. Give God an opportunity to arise.
2. Pray – Call a prayer meeting in your home, at your church, or in someone else’s home. Refuse division.
3. Pray for our president – Whether you voted for him or not, follow the advice that Christians are called to follow under every leader. Pray for him. Ask God to give him wisdom and refuse to be part of a political spirit of hatred, division, finger pointing, and opinionating. Watch your words because the power of our agreement brings heaven to bear and ministering spirits are sent to accomplish what we speak. I’m not saying don’t disagree, but as I have shared, disagree with honor and respect. There is no fear, no hatred, and no accusation in perfect Love.
4. Trust God – The same God who cares for you cares for the people south of the border and it is He Who sets every boundary in place. Some of us are born in luxury. Some are born in poverty. Some are born in freedom and some are born in bondage, but God has a plan for every individual soul. Not only does He set boundaries in place, but He decides the location of our birth because He has a purpose and a plan for our life.
My prayer is that wherever you are, you will trust God, especially in the darkness. Only then, can He be the Light of the world.
May Jesus Christ remain high and lifted up; the Founding Father of the United States of America.
Lord of All who come through her boundaries.
“Our theology makes little room for great trials. Everyone wants a beach and not a barren wilderness. Right? But listen, just as God created deserts and wildernesses in His natural creation, He has also designed deserts and wildernesses to fulfill a crucial part of transforming His spiritual creation.” ~Brian and Candice Simmons, The Wilderness, Where Miracles are Born.
I believe that the biggest problem the church faces today is found in these passages: “And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them. And the people shall be oppressed, everyone by another, and everyone by his neighbor: the child shall behave himself proudly against the elder, and the base against the honorable,” Isaiah 3:4&5. [KJ2K]
The spiritual gift of mature, seasoned discernment once spotlighted those who had been through the wilderness of preparation. These were they whom God had prepared for service and whose time of promotion had come. However, we are living in a time when proud flesh is mounting the platform of leadership and influence because no one is guarding the gate of promotion.
But God will not share the platform with our flesh.
“And He said to me, ‘My holy lovers are wonderful, my majestic ones, my glorious ones, fulfilling all my desires.’ Yet, there are those who yield to their weakness, and they will have troubles and sorrows unending. I never gather with such ones, nor give them honor in any way.”
I was practically born on the platform of “church celebrity.” I know firsthand how we exalt our musicians and leaders. Had it not been for the divine intervention of God in a wilderness season of humility, shame, and death to Self, I would be lost in the sin of pride, today.
Whether it is the person teaching our children, directing our youth, pastoring our church or leading our worship, discernment is necessary to recognize seasons. God only promotes His holy lovers; those who are called, prepared, anointed and set apart.
It is proud flesh that advances based on the political spirits of control, appeasement, fear of man, personality, intimidation, favoritism, and Self-promotion. We often wonder why God does not manifest in our midst and yet, our platforms are filled with carnal, undead flesh.
Any decision we make that arises from the manifestations and motivations of the flesh is sin.
God’s holy lovers are those who have spent time in the closet of intimacy. They are those who learned to fall on the Rock in their wilderness season of necessity, difficulty, and adversity.
They have discovered that their strength is in Christ, alone.
If God is going to “gather” with us again, discernment must make a comeback.
Spiritual mothers and fathers must be willing to speak truth to one another and to the younger generation. Spiritual growth in the church is no different than in the home. Guidance, teaching, love and correction are all necessary for maturity.
Without these things, spiritual children cannot come into their season of responsibility as holy lovers of God.
When our leaders have met with Him in private, God will gather with His people.
Transformation requires adversity
Facing our adversary on the battlefield of adversity leads to transformation because adversity is the mirror through which we observe our true adversary, which is Self.
The carnal mind is blinded to the sins of Self, though constantly aware of the sin in others.
Proverbs 11:1, “To set high standards for someone else, and then not live up to them yourself, is something that God truly hates.” [PT]
Salvation without transformation becomes a trap for setting a bar we never reach. It is the birth place of expectations, proud flesh, manipulation, and oppression.
God sends us into the wilderness of adversity to judge ourselves. It is in this mirror that we will finally begin to examine the fruit hanging from the limbs of our own behavior.
Behavior is the legal witness truth subpoenas in the courtroom of adversity.
No matter how much we protest, our behavior either testifies on our behalf, confirming that Self is dead, or it testifies against us, proving that sin is alive and well.
To see accurately and recognize the nature of Self in us is to face the adversary within.
A spiritual novice is one who has met the Savior but has not recognized the cost of grace. Neither age nor how much time has passed from the moment of salvation defines this stage.
The spiritual novice is easily offended because Self is still lord of their behavior. They see others as the adversary, which is why they are dangerous when placed in a position of leadership.
They may be called, but they have not yet been chosen.
The wilderness exposes the offended spirit that causes us to blame others. To see others as the enemy is to fail the test.
In every hardship we face, Self is being exposed. The purpose of adversity is to open the eyes of our heart so that we can tear down the stronghold that is exalting some wounded part of our undead Self against the knowledge of God, 2 Corinthians 10:3-6.
Soul-salvation is the journey into spiritual maturity and the purpose of our wilderness.
Moses was a wilderness expert. Guilt led him in, but transformation brought him out.
Moses did not come out of the wilderness trusting in the gifts or talents of Self, but rather, leaning on his Beloved. It was from this position that he led the people of God into a brand, new, born-again experience. He was no longer the same impatient, impetuous man, who killed the Egyptian.
This new man exercised patience over and again as the people struggled with the traditions, behaviors, traumas and habits of their time in slavery. Because of his own wilderness experience, he stood as their intercessor, not as their judge.
Oh, that we would understand this principle.
When we promote those, who have not been through the wilderness of transformation, we promote proud flesh who assassinate the slaves in their midst.
I have seen one too many memes about how people hurt pastors these days. As the daughter of a pastor who was married to the son of a pastor, I cannot compute the image of a true shepherd who is a victim of the people.
Every authentic leader understands the cost of grace. They are aware of the wasted years they spent in the bondage of mental addiction and emotional slavery. They are acutely aware that they can do nothing of themselves.
A true leader is prepared for the pain of leading slaves out of bondage because they never forget the pain they inflicted on others when they served their old masters.
The same grace that lifted them out is the grace they extend. The same mercy that covered the shame of their sinful behavior is the mercy they offer.
What I can testify to, however, is that when a leader abuses the people, God intervenes: Jeremiah 10:21; Jeremiah 23:1-2; Jeremiah 50:6; Ezekiel 34:2-10;21; Zechariah 10&11; etc. There is a special judgment for those in a position of influence, James 3:1, which is why, only those who understand the cost are qualified for the position.
For that reason, before He promotes us, He prepares us.
The second time Moses tried to blame the people for his actions, God acted quickly and severely. Moses did not enter the Promised Land, Numbers 20:12.
Pride, anger, and blame are adversaries that infect our heart and arouse sinful behavior.
Pride perverts our perspective. Anger triggers us to do the right thing at the wrong time or the wrong thing at the right time and blame causes us to meet injustice with injustice. Only by leaning on our Beloved can we keep these adversaries from arising.
When we fail to give God His rightful place of honor, Self rises to the occasion and causes us to sin against God.
Moses forgot the lessons of the wilderness and it cost him.
It was Self that forced Moses into the desert; the same stronghold that controls all who refuse to endure their time of purification in the wilderness of adversity.
When we promote someone before their time, we abort their true destiny.
Insecurity is the result of terminating the process that leads to humility. Cutting the process short produces insecure leaders who mistake their lack of confidence for humility. Instead, their insecurities cause them to lean on the arm of flesh rather than rely on the Holy Spirit.
God saw a leader in Moses when he was in his mother’s womb. He saw the potential for humility long before Moses experienced the meekness of a contrite heart.
“Seeing” potential is not the same as “realizing” potential.
God knew that one day Moses would be known as the humblest man on earth, but not without the wilderness.
Love sees beyond the physical and into the future, but it does not interfere with the process. Love does not cut the cocoon or help the butterfly avoid its struggle.
In the name of love, we have done that very thing, creating disfigured, distorted caricatures of authority; leaders who abuse the weak.
Humility is critical to promotion in God’s house, but it does not surface without killing the Goliath of Self.
When there was no one left to blame for his sin, Moses learned humility.
He was raised in a palace with everything he wanted at his fingertips. He was a celebrated prince of Egypt. He conversed with kings, managers and heads of state, but in the wilderness, he was just another shepherd keeping watch over the sheep.
Sometimes, God must reduce us before He can promote us.
After 40 years of wilderness experience, Moses embarked on a conversation with a bush.
God knows when the work is done.
Malachi 3:3, “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness.” [NIV]
When Moses was willing to talk to the burning bush, God knew that the work of humility was complete.
Hearing God’s voice is the number one priority of leadership, but how many leaders would dare talk to a bush?
Pride keeps us from speaking to strange and unlikely receptacles.
Pride keeps us from hearing God’s voice.
Pride hides the Self that the wilderness exposes, but humility embraces responsibility and finds freedom in failure.
Hiding sin creates shame. Shame reinforces pride and pride leads us back to our sin. It is a vicious cycle; a cycle that traps countless leaders in the prison of Self-focus.
When we refuse to humble ourselves and face our true adversary, we miss the burning bush and the talking donkey that carry God’s voice.
The wilderness of adversity freed Moses from the shame of sin.
It was in his own, personal desert, that Moses faced the Self-serving Self within; the man who blamed others for his angry outbursts and subsequent casualties. It was in the wilderness that Moses became a man of character, integrity, and hope.
All because he was willing to face the truth about Moses.
It is only when we face the adversity created by our adversary that we come to the end of Self and receive the grace necessary to rise, again.
Heart disease is the number one cause of sin in the church.
Not the physical ailment that took my husband’s life, but the spiritual condition that crept into his soul long before we met. A heart that has grown frail from lack of hope, has opened itself to disease and is in danger of losing faith in God. “Without faith, it is impossible to please God,” Hebrews 11:6. In that fragile and weakened condition, sin is magnified, and Self-control is diminished.
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life,” Proverbs 13:12.
In the book, The Wilderness: Where Miracles are Born, Brian and Candice Simmons write, “We often resent the way God leads us and the paths we end up walking to find our Destiny Road.”
Sometimes, the only way to our destiny is through the wilderness.
Religion diminishes spiritual encounters, but faith reaches into the unknown and brings heaven to earth. Faith believes that everything that touches my life has purpose.
Faith believes that every offensive, unlovable person, every painful crisis, every troubling predicament is designed specifically for my transformation.
Johnnie often said, “Nothing occurred.” In fact, he emblazoned it on T-shirts, bumper stickers, and signs. It became his mantra because it was in our wilderness that his faith, which had long been lost, began to blossom.
It was there that he remembered who he was.
It was there I learned that each wilderness is unique to the traveler. No two are alike. My personal wilderness is designed specifically for my personal lack. Which is why I cannot blame others for the torments that rise and fall beneath my breast.
But there is another side to the wilderness; the danger of judgment. Because no two wildernesses are alike, because we are all struggling with our own demons, we are tempted to excuse our wilderness while judging the desert God designed for our brother.
Their lack is being exposed…
Because the wilderness is the place where death meets life, Self must die so that Christ can live.
Therefore, the desert is the place that separates the seekers from the pretenders.
Those who get trapped in judgment will circle their sin until love wins.
If “nothing occurred,” then God is in my distress, just as He is bigger than the desire that tempts me to sin. Seeing Christ in my tormentors is the beginning of triumph.
Problems lead me out of temptation and into purpose. Problems clear my vision.
Finding purpose in my problem, ensures blessing and attracts victory.
Blame confines us to our wilderness.
Twice, Moses disobeyed God and twice, he blamed others.
1. When he committed murder, Exodus 2:12.
2. When he struck the rock a second time, Numbers 20:10-12.
No doubt, there were those who used the occasion to judge his heart, but this was personal between God and Moses. God was revealing a hidden fracture in his soul.
As the opposite of Love, Self is the embodiment of sin. When we choose to follow the thoughts, ideas, emotions, feelings, or willful decisions that please Self, we treat God with contempt.
Moses followed his emotions. He defied God and obeyed the voice of Self.
It is through Self that sin is expressed in the world. When Self ignites, souls are injured.
Christ cannot be formed in us so long as we are yielded to the impulses and triggers of Self, but at salvation, we reckoned ourselves dead to sin, Romans 6. At least, we were supposed to.
Sometimes, it takes a wilderness to expose the Self that thrives in our soul.
“Kings and those with great authority in this world rule oppressively over their subjects, like tyrants. But this is not your calling. You will lead by a completely different model…” Matthew 20:25&26. [PT]
When Moses blamed the people for his rebellion, his sin was exposed.
Sin initiates shame, which incites blame.
Shame provokes us to blame others for the sin we commit at the instigation of Self-serving Self. When he killed the Egyptian, Moses blamed political injustice.
And God sent him into the wilderness for a season of transformation and training.
The wilderness exposes sinful behavior, revealing what is in our heart.
Religion condemns behavior, enflaming our heart.
But God designs our wilderness to transform our behavior, renovating our heart. The remedy to spiritual heart disease lies in our willingness to study ourselves in the mirror the wilderness provides.
Only then can we see what others already know.
Grace greater than our sin
God’s grace covers our sin. Not to condone it, but to change it.
Once, we were sinners who became sons. Now, we are a Self becoming Love.
Salvation is the reformation of every past wound, trauma, and lie we once believed, Galatians 4:19; Ephesians 4:22-24. It is our soul being renewed by the Knowledge of God, Romans 12:2; Proverbs 2:6.
If our behavior isn’t changing, we have not been born again.
“To change what we are in the flesh will take a wilderness, a desert that exposes all that’s hidden inside of us,” Brian and Candice Simmons.
The first time Moses endured the wilderness, he yielded Self-will to follow God’s will. Pride was broken. He led with humility, Numbers 12:3, which means, he grew in grace.
With greater responsibility comes greater accountability. His next act of disobedience was met with a different result. He received his miracle but activated unchangeable consequences.
Discipline is grace revealing sons.
“My son, don’t underestimate the value of the discipline and training of the Lord God, or get depressed when He has to correct you. For the Lord’s training of your life is the evidence of His faithful love. And when He draws you to Himself, it proves you are His delightful child. Fully embrace God’s correction as part of your training, for He is doing what any loving father does for his children. For who has ever heard of a child who never had to be corrected? We all should welcome God’s discipline as the validation of authentic sonship. For if we have never once endured His correction it only proves we are strangers and not sons,” Hebrews 12:5-8. [PT]
I often told Johnnie, “I know you are a son because you never get away with sin!”
The same was true of Moses. Despite all previous achievements, the door to the Promised Land was closed.
God is not impressed with our achievements. He is moved by our obedience.
But no matter how you explain it, this was a strange ending to an impressive life. Could it be that the promise we dream of is not the prize? Could the event we see as failure, actually be the moment of our greatest success?
Is it possible that while we press toward our vision, God is pressing toward us? Could it be that we are His prize? His Land of Promise?
Is it conceivable that the transformation of our hearts is His singular and relentless pursuit?
Freedom to Fail
Failure is often God’s means of restoring our soul.
To fear failure is to miss the joy of transformation.
Unlike us, God is not ashamed of our failures.
Johnnie’s favorite message was, “Freedom to fail.” Having grown up in a pastor’s home, the pressure to appear perfect was both unbearable and unsustainable. In fact, it led to a fractured soul and sinful choices.
If we don’t know who we are, we will imitate our surroundings.
What separates Prince William from his peers is not a physical crown, but the knowledge of the crown he represents. He acts according to the knowledge of who he is.
Knowledge matters. The knowledge of the good of evil causes sons of God to pretend to be slaves.
I Corinthians 10:4, “For they drank from the spiritual rock that traveled with them, and that rock was Christ.” [NLT] Moses real purpose was to bring the people out of a slave mentality and into the realization that they were sons, but when he struck the rock a second time, his staff came down on Christ, Himself.
Is there any failure greater than that?
Every act Moses executed at God’s command was a prophetic decree that pointed to Jesus, the Rock, from whom living water would satisfy every thirsty soul.
But not this act.
This act was blasphemy.
The spotlight of success is blinding. Rarely do we see our true Self in its glare. For most of us, it takes a wilderness to acknowledge our failures, especially when it means facing the fact that we have struck the Christ we love.
In God’s kingdom, failure is a rite of passage, not a disgrace. In fact, freedom to fail is the freedom to keep getting up until hope becomes sight.
True failure is the failure to acknowledge our failure.
Without Christ, the Rock, Moses was only a murderer and a pretender. Like us. We were all murderers, assassins, and thieves who left that life behind to become true sons. Which is why He takes our actions seriously when we steal a brother’s reputation, shatter a sister’s hope, or shackle weary souls with the condemnation of rules and ritual. We are striking the Rock.
The One New Man Bible says, “The Jewish teachers had known since the earliest times that the tongue was a great problem for most people. They say slander is the equivalent of murder, that what is called character assassination is exactly that – assassination, murder.”
It is one thing to judge an atmosphere. It is entirely another to judge a heart.
We strike Christ each time we judge others instead of judging ourselves.
Wagging tongues and waggling fingers only confirmed the lies that had been carefully woven into Johnnie’s fractured soul. Trying to live up to the constant expectations of an outward appearance without inward transformation convinced him that he was, indeed, a failure.
Like too many young seekers before and since, he became the person others believed he was.
Encouragement is a fragile gift; easily broken.
Discipline is proof of Love
In God’s kingdom, discipline serves His purpose. God uses correction to bring sons out of slavery and into their inheritance.
Like the children of Israel, Johnnie’s wilderness became his mirror. To the casual observer, what appeared to be chaos, was his personal desert. Like the children of Israel. God wasn’t being cruel when He led them into a wilderness where thirst waited around every corner. He was using the natural craving of the body for physical water to reveal the spiritual condition that had brought them into slavery in the first place.
Like failure, privation has a way of humbling us so that we can see the truth about ourselves.
James 3:1 reveals that there will be a special judgment for those who are called to lead God’s people. What we say and what we do, matters. Moses would not enter the land of his dreams because he intentionally disobeyed God. His disobedience resulted in the failure to present an accurate picture of Christ to the people. In response, God revealed His love for Moses through an act of correction and as he submitted to the hand of His Father, Moses taught his greatest lesson.
Only a true son yields to correction.
How many leaders disobey Christ, but fear the people finding out more than they love God? How many leaders struggle to keep a façade active, hoping no one will discover the reality beneath the image?
God still disciplines those He loves because discipline can turn failure into freedom.
Matthew 21:43&44, “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.”
It is better to fall on the Rock than to have the Rock fall on you.
The one who falls on the Rock will be broken. There’s no doubt about that. Failure breaks our pride, crushes our resistance, and tears down our walls, but when we allow our failure to bring us to the Rock, brokenness takes on new meaning.
Jesus is the “healer of broken hearts.”
Mom often sang a song by that title at our Sunday evening meetings at the Salvation Army in downtown Houston. She would look into the glassy, intoxicated eyes of failure and lift her voice, “He’ll mend your shattered dreams.” She would reach her arms out as though she held knitting needles in both hands, moving gracefully in a sewing motion. “He’ll pick up the threads of your broken life and weave them together, again.” The unforgettable melody would float over the broken congregation and the worst among them would begin to weep as hope swelled in hearts that had long forgotten how to dream.
When we fall on the Rock in submission and repentance, hope births something more beautiful, more perfect and more amazing than we had ever imagined possible.
We see beyond ourselves.
It is here, in his surrender to correction, that we find his greatest legacy for Moses had finally overcome the enemy of his soul. No more Self-reliance. No more blame. He, alone, took responsibility for his actions.
When Moses was free to fail, God was free to bring Him into His glory.
But here again is the real wonder because even in his act of disobedience, Moses was, unwittingly, still preaching the gospel message.
In this event of greatest weakness, when sin’s failure seemed to have grasped all victory from a life of promise, mercy flowed from the Rock.
Self-rightness is the cosmetic of religion and the mask of pride.
But those who embrace their failure will see God.