How to Deal with Offense: Your Questions on My Latest Sermon Answered

The Road to Lost Innocence
I am deeply concerned by the offense that I see boiling over in the hearts of the Church today! In the midst of these tumultuous times, I feel it is extremely important to lay down our offenses, examine our hearts, and protect our innocence. It can be easy to take on bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness when our world is divided, personal opinions are loud, and the stakes feel high. Yet I’d propose that the Lord is asking us to protect our innocence and purify our hearts.
Because this has been weighing heavily on my heart, I recently shared a message with Bethel Church on a Sunday morning in regards to protecting our innocence and guarding our hearts from offense. It’s important to note that the message I shared was just as much for me as it was for everyone. As I opened my Bible that morning and began to preach the Word you could feel the relevance of the word settle into people’s hearts as the Holy Spirit ministered across the room.

There is not just one road that leads to the fast track of a virtueless life. Small pit stops in arrogance, entitlement, offense, bitterness, disillusionment, unforgiveness, lack of gratitude, and self-will are pathways to the pitfall of lost innocence. We see this in the life of David, starting in 2 Samuel 11.

We are pulled into the heated and pinnacle moment in King David’s life in 2 Samuel 11; the beloved king is faced with the temptation of a beautiful woman while at war with his enemies. In a fleeting moment David commits adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, one of his greatest men. When David found out Bathsheba was pregnant with his child, the reality that faced him and the shame that plagued him sent him scrambling to cover his mistake. He attempted multiple times to have Uriah lay with his wife Bathsheba so he would be known as the father of the spurious child. David even stooped so slow that he got Uriah drunk, hoping that Uriah would go home to his wife. Yet Uriah had better character drunk than David had sober — he refused to lay with his wife while the king’s men and the whole Israelite army was at war with their enemies. When all of David’s attempts failed, he plotted the death of Uriah, ultimately killing one of his greatest warriors in order to cover his wrongdoing. As we can see throughout David’s journey, innocence isn’t lost by one virtueless act, but rather death by a thousand paper cuts or multiple pit stops in arrogance, offense, and unforgiveness. 

When offense, bitterness, entitlement, or unforgiveness take root in our heart, weeds begin to grow. If you do not pull the weeds and tend to the garden of your heart, the fruit of your heart will wither and weeds of offense will grow over. I’d propose that one of our greatest responsibilities is to care for the health of our heart; to tend to the weeds of bitterness, offense, unforgiveness and so on. Proverbs 4:23 says: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” I challenge you to consider the areas of your heart where weeds have grown over and need pulling today. Invite the Lord into those places and to heal your heart from the pain. 

 Questions on Offense and Forgiveness Answered 

Question 1: How do we protect our innocence and guard our hearts and be present at the same time?In order to protect our innocence we must first give up our judgements. We need to humble ourselves and loosen the grip on thinking we know why everyone makes the decisions that they do. I want to challenge you to consider the factors your leaders face, not just political leaders, but church leaders, school leaders, bosses, etc. Leaders make decisions that often affect a large group of people and if we assume we know their motives behind the decisions they make instead of recognizing the information and knowledge about their choice, we lose an opportunity to love them well and protect our hearts. Question 2: Does forgiveness mean not judging the person for what I forgave them for?First we must acknowledge there are two kinds of judgement. One form of judgement is when you are making decisions between what is right and wrong. We make these kinds of judgments all day long; whether we should speed up or slow down at the yellow light, or eat another bowl of ice-cream. Then there are the kinds of judgements where we condemn people or think we know the intention of someone’s motives. But, the truth is only the Lord knows someone’s heart. What I am getting at is that we can forgive someone and judge their action as wrong, but we are not to condemn someone for their wrongdoing.Question 3: How do you authentically love someone if you don’t like them? As a believer we are called to love the unlovely; this is our job. Yet, the Lord knew in our own human ability this would be incredibly challenging. This is why He sent His son so that we would have connection with Him. John 14:20 says, “On that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you are in Me, and I in you.” The Heavenly Father loves the world, and because He lives in us, we have been given access to His agape love. I’d propose that when we tap into the love of Christ for someone we can actually access our human compassion for the person. You might begin to ask yourself questions like, “I wonder what their story is” or “What are the events in their life that have caused them to make that decision?” The Lord will begin to reveal the gold in the unlovely, because they are His children that are made in His image — there is something to love in each one of them. Question 4: As a leader how do you accommodate all the different views and opinions in one Church? As a Church leader it is not my job to get everyone to do the same thing. My God-appointed job is to love people, teach people about Jesus, and expand the Kingdom. Now, if I teach you noble values and the scriptures and it doesn’t affect the way you vote and the choices you make I am not sure I’ve done a very good job. But, let me be clear, it doesn’t mean you’re going to vote the same way I vote. This is the beauty of the Body of Christ, there is diversity in thought, and beauty in our differences and still we can gather together with one heart and one vision to worship the King and bring heaven to earth. My prayer for you this week is that you would begin to experience the agape love of God. That the areas of your heart that were once offended and burdened with arrogance or bitterness would be overcome with the love of God and you would experience the compassion the Father has for each and every one of His children. May we grow and be known by our love for one another. 

Free Indeed

Every Place
Going into all of the world means we must share the truth and love of Jesus everywhere. Take one look at the New Testament, and you see life-altering conversations happening everywhere. These moments happened with families in homes, with beggars in courtyards, and with tax collectors in marketplaces.
Today, spiritual conversations happen in homes, workplaces, events, streets, and even online. People can encounter Jesus anywhere. We meet people where they are, and many times, that starts at home.
Of course, we know thought-provoking spiritual conversations aren’t limited to front porches and living rooms. We train believers to understand that the love of God can be shared in any place. We can share the gospel at a mailbox in the suburbs, at a rural village well, or in a cubicle in a skyscraper.
The mandate Jesus gave us to go into the world is just as important today as it was when it was first spoken. We cannot wait for others to come to us. We must travel far and wide to every place and take the love of Jesus across the world.

September Daily Prayer Watch

Every Place
Going into all of the world means we must share the truth and love of Jesus everywhere. Take one look at the New Testament, and you see life-altering conversations happening everywhere. These moments happened with families in homes, with beggars in courtyards, and with tax collectors in marketplaces.
Today, spiritual conversations happen in homes, workplaces, events, streets, and even online. People can encounter Jesus anywhere. We meet people where they are, and many times, that starts at home.
Of course, we know thought-provoking spiritual conversations aren’t limited to front porches and living rooms. We train believers to understand that the love of God can be shared in any place. We can share the gospel at a mailbox in the suburbs, at a rural village well, or in a cubicle in a skyscraper.
The mandate Jesus gave us to go into the world is just as important today as it was when it was first spoken. We cannot wait for others to come to us. We must travel far and wide to every place and take the love of Jesus across the world.

The “Avalanche of Ministry”

Every Place
Going into all of the world means we must share the truth and love of Jesus everywhere. Take one look at the New Testament, and you see life-altering conversations happening everywhere. These moments happened with families in homes, with beggars in courtyards, and with tax collectors in marketplaces.
Today, spiritual conversations happen in homes, workplaces, events, streets, and even online. People can encounter Jesus anywhere. We meet people where they are, and many times, that starts at home.
Of course, we know thought-provoking spiritual conversations aren’t limited to front porches and living rooms. We train believers to understand that the love of God can be shared in any place. We can share the gospel at a mailbox in the suburbs, at a rural village well, or in a cubicle in a skyscraper.
The mandate Jesus gave us to go into the world is just as important today as it was when it was first spoken. We cannot wait for others to come to us. We must travel far and wide to every place and take the love of Jesus across the world.

HOW TO OVERCOME A SPIRIT OF SUICIDE

My team was praying this morning and felt led to pray protection against a spirit of suicide, and repost the blog below (originally posted on September 13, 2019). I have personally battled with suicidal thoughts. There were moments when I felt as if my heart would quite literally break under the weight of depression; taking my life was a tempting escape. That’s why it’s imperative for me to tell you how I found absolute freedom from depression and suicidal thoughts. And, not only that, but to share the
vision and the fire I have to fight for my life, and for the lives of those battling with this right now. If you’re having suicidal thoughts, I want to tell you today that your life is important. You are loved! In the same way that I’ve had breakthrough in warfare against suicidal spirits, I want to tell you that you can have the same! There is hope for you today because the truth of the matter is— God is in the midst of this trial with us! He will not leave you or abandon you.If you’re dealing with suicidal thoughts, I
deeply urge
you to reach out for help today. If you’re having immediate thoughts of ending your life
please do not hesitate and call the
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or the Bethel Transformation Center:
http://bethelredding.com/ministries/transformation-center
or Bethel Pastors on Call team at 530-255-2066._____________________________________________The spirit of suicide is one of the most nefarious thieves to prowl the planet.
Many years ago, I was under the influence of a suicidal spirit for several grueling months. One of the biggest challenges I faced was that every time the spirit talked to me, it injected a desire to follow through on the thought to end my life. It came not only with a lie but with a compulsion that sometimes felt like it could take over my thoughts and even my actions.If you’re battling a spirit of suicide, I want to remind you that not all of your thoughts are your own!
It would have been easy to separate my experience from a spiritual battle and rather tell myself that I was going crazy, but realizing that the thought to end my life was not my own helped me to differentiate between true reality and the false reality the enemy was trying to convince me of. I’d propose that it is not in your nature to want to destroy your life and the very thought of it comes from the devil.TWO SIDES OF SUICIDAL THOUGHTSThe truth is that there are two sides to suicide. In some cases, suicide is rooted in the soul. In others, it begins as a spiritual attack.Suicidal temptations that begin in the soul are, in many cases, the result of unprocessed pain.
When you experience trauma or situations in life that make you feel like your heart could quite literally break under the weight of your depression, taking your life and going to heaven can be a tempting escape.I was in church a few years ago and laid my hand on a lady who had been a part of our community for years. As soon as I touched her, I had an overwhelming feeling that I wanted to kill myself.
I knew from my experience in deliverance ministry that this unction was not my own but rather the gift of discernment in action. I leaned over to her and said, “Are you doing okay?” She said yes. I asked her if she was having thoughts about killing herself. Her glasses fogged up and she started crying. She whispered through her tears, “For the last six months I’ve been plagued every day by suicidal thoughts and I don’t know why.”I prayed for her really quietly as worship continued in the room. I asked if she had a painful situation happen six months ago that was so excruciating that at the moment she thought to herself, “I can always take my life and escape the pain.” It was like watching a light bulb go off in her mind as she exclaimed, “Yes, I lost a grandchild six months ago!”I said, “You partnered with a spirit of death to find peace instead of finding it in Jesus.”We then prayed through asking Jesus for forgiveness for partnering with a spirit of death, instead of the Prince of Peace. She was delivered in that moment and never had a problem with the spirit of suicide again! In this case, her soul-pain was the root of her suicidal temptations and opened a door for a spirit of death to mock and tempt her. I’ve been in that place before when I had a complete crash
and went through months of pain due to extremely heartbreaking situations my family was facing.CHOOSE A LEGACY OF LIFEWhat kept me from taking my life was that I didn’t want to leave a legacy for my kids to have a dad that killed himself. Even though I was in so much pain, I decided to attach myself to the reality of what it would be like for them and I found the vision
and fire to fight for my life, and for their lives too.It’s important that when we go through the deepest valleys in life
that we do not partner with a spirit of death to find peace instead of clinging to Jesus.
The spirit of death is a liar and won’t bring true relief to your weary soul. Only God can carry the weight of your burdens and bring you into a place of rest. In His presence, He restores you with His healing love, comfort and peace!SPIRITUAL ATTACKSOver the years I’ve asked crowds of people I’ve been preaching to how many of them have had an incident like this: You’re driving down the road and all of a sudden, you get the urge to crash your car. Gripping the steering wheel, your heart filled with fear, you hold on for dear life and then suddenly it’s over. Every time I’ve asked this, most of the room raises their hands. This incident of spiritual attack is not uncommon!Most people do not crash their cars to end their lives, but this moment can cause questions to rise up that never would have come up before — “What’s wrong with me? Am I going crazy? Maybe I am in fact depressed?” And if we don’t catch it, we can begin to meditate on the fear that it will happen again and allow the spirit to tell us stories about our lives. Again, remember that not all of your thoughts are your own! We must resist the temptation to entertain the lies that a spirit of death tells us.PROCLAMATIONS AGAINST SPECULATIONSIf a suicidal spirit is talking to you I want to encourage you to remind yourself of who GOD says you are, and the condition He says you’re in now. I know what it feels like when all seems lost, to not see a way out of your agony, and to feel like nobody in the world can sympathize with your struggle. The truth is, God is holding you this very moment and He will not leave you or abandon you. He can identify with your struggle because He, too, was tempted with suicide. He can empathize with your profound pain because He experienced it all on the cross.I encourage you to use proclamations, prophecies and God’s promises as your weapons against evil speculations! Gather your prophetic words and favorite Bible verses and speak them out loud. Remind yourself of the testimonies of what God has done in your life against every lofty thing that rises up against you.LET MY TESTIMONY PROPHESY VICTORY IN YOUR LIFEIn the same way that I’ve had breakthrough in warfare against suicidal spirits, I want to tell you that you can have the same! There is hope for you today! I declare that God has come to give you not just life, but abundant life (John 10:10) and all of His promises over your life are “yes and amen!” (2 Corinthians 1:20).I’d like to note that suicidal spirit often brings its fiendish friend, shame, along with it. I implore you to resist the feelings of shame and tell someone close to you about your struggle. If the devil tempted Jesus with suicide then certainly there is no shame in your temptation either! You are not your temptation. You are who God says you are!My heart is with anyone that has personally been impacted by suicide or has had a loved one that has battled with suicidal thoughts. My prayer for you today, is that the Spirit of God would rest on you and peace would fill your mind. 

HOW TO CULTIVATE A HEALTHY FAMILY THAT CHANGES THE WORLD

What does a healthy family look like? How do you cultivate this? I grew up begging the question and searching for the answer, I wanted the experience of a healthy home so badly.

My home life was dysfunctional, broken, and abusive; I only dreamt of joyous family dinners and holidays spent together. Maybe you’ve experienced the same thing, wishing your family was different or that it hadn’t deteriorated? From a young age I dreamed of the family I would raise one day and what I wanted our home to feel like. The only problem was, I had never experienced it for myself. I had no idea how I would cultivate it; it became my mission to find out. 

The kingdom of God is not limited by the lack of love or dysfunction you might have experienced in your home growing up. The truth is that God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called. He arrives on the scene of dysfunction and begins crafting a redemptive story for our future, providing tools and strategies for the deficit of healthy home experience. God gave me the mission to lead my family before I had ever seen a healthy family

displayed. Raising a family doesn’t come with a user manual, it is a lifelong lesson of continual surrender and sacrifice.

I’d like to propose that if you are going to make a difference in the world you have to start within your household. Our most important project and precious gift are the lives given to us to lead by God. Family is a heavenly assignment, noble decree, and a virtuous pledge to the sacrifice of personal gain for the pursuit of a greater love – that transforms homes and society beyond our four walls. 

The truth is, love looks like something!
It’s a daily decision to sacrifice my selfish ambition. It’s more practical than you might think… It looks like showing up to your kid’s soccer game, spending time doing an activity with your family they enjoy, excusing yourself from a meeting for a family emergency…These decisions ripple across barriers and send a resounding message of commitment and love beyond your four walls. The challenge is, we often want to replace the daily determination to be present to the few in our family with a monumental moment. The truth is, we cannot fix what is broken because of continual absence of affection by displaying one extravagant expression of love. Cultivating a healthy family is a process, it takes time to prepare a foundation that could weather any storm.I want to encourage you to ask yourself what your family needs and begin showing up for those needs on a daily basis.
This might be as simple as checking in with your family and asking how they are and what they need or putting aside intentional time with your spouse by doing something they love. Caring for the few will affect the multitudes, this is what will change the world!

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