Soul Ties

I’m convinced that one of the weapons in the realm of spiritual things – both for good and for trouble – is the issue of soul ties. As usual, this weapon was invented by God, was designed by God, and was absconded by the enemy.

Soul ties are pretty complicated to explain: it’s when two people’s souls are tied together. Please indulge me for a moment.

Soul ties start in the beginning. “In the beginning, God…,” and God is Father, son and Holy Spirit who are tied together. Shortly after that, he shared it with us: “…and they shall become one flesh.” Adam and Eve, when they came together, were connected by God, and were one person, in one of those strange, you-can’t-see-it way.

And God had a plan for soul ties:

Malachi 2:15 But did He not make them one, Having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring.

So God’s plan for tying souls together is to create godly offspring: to make more kids. Kids like himself.

So the enemy hijacked the plan:

Corinthians 6:16-17 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.”

The enemy takes the same link between people, and he’s bringing his own children from the union. He’s using sex to tie people together in slavery.

Soul ties exist between guys who work together sometimes.

1 Samuel 18:1: Now when he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David , and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.

Here’s a soul tie that appears to be a good one, and it has nothing to do with sex. It’s a couple of guys working together in an authority-based environment (in this case, the army). You can be tied with your boss, or with an employee, or with a pastor or a teacher.

Philippians 2:2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

Paul talks about unity among Christians brings us to the place “of one mind.” This doesn’t mean we agree on stuff; that’s the phrase before, “of one accord.” There’s a tying of souls that happens when we are in unity.

OK. Enough background.

I believe that there are a bunch of inappropriate soul ties among believers. We build relationships in the church that we’re serving – we build soul ties – and then we move on to another church. We build relationships – some of them become soul ties – and then we move. We have soul ties from our pre-Christian days and from relationships since then.

Many years ago, I had a soul tie with a very weird friend; after a while, we drifted apart. Later, I got married, and years later, my bride & I learned about soul ties. One night, ten years after I’d last seen my weird friend, my wife & I were in someone’s guest room, sleeping in twin beds across the room from each other. I couldn’t sleep, so I was thinking and praying, and God showed me the soul tie with my weird friend and told me to renounce it. Beneath my breath, inaudibly, I renounced the soul tie from that relationship. Instantly, my wife – with whom I have a wonderful soul tie – woke up, sat up in bed, and blurted, “What was that? Something just lifted off of me! What was it?”

So here's what it is:

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

God has given us a weapon to divide the soul, to divide my soul from the soul of my weird friend. The soul tie that I had with them clearly affected my wife through the soul tie I had with her. God has given you and me a tool to cut the ties that should be cut and to leave the ties that should be left.

And every soul tie, whether active or not, is a channel that brings stuff into your soul from somebody else’s soul. It’s like we have sixty-eleven IV tubes plugged into our arms, our legs, into every vein on our body; and every IV tube has stuff pouring into our lives from sixty-eleven different sources, with different motives, with different kinds of resources to pour into us. Some of them are fine. One or two may be good, but the majority are filling us with garbage.

So many of us in the Body of Christ have dozens of soul ties that need to be broken off. Let me encourage you to find some folks to walk with you through the process of cutting the ties that bind you.


The Failure of Thomas is Among Us

The apostle Thomas has become famous. We call him Doubting Thomas. There. That’s a good tidy label. Now we’re done with him, right?

No, we’re not done with him. In fact, I believe that Thomas’s sin is one of the most prevalent sins in the church today, and one of the most dangerous if we want to move on with Christ.

The heart of Thomas’s famous sin was that he didn’t believe the testimony of the other apostles about the resurrection of Jesus. His position was, “If I don’t see it, then I don’t believe it.” We can’t pick on Thomas exclusively; the rest of the apostles had just done the same thing: not believing Mary when she told them about meeting Jesus in the garden. And then they refused believe the boys who had met Him on the road to Emmaus.

That’s where a whole lot of the church is. “Sorry, I haven’t seen what you see. I don’t believe it.” We might be talking about Bible truth or moral conduct or the work of the Holy Spirit ; the issue is that we don't believe what someone else has seen, but we ourselves have not (yet) seen.

I’ve seen Thomas’s sin often when judging other believers. Recently, I had reason to be involved in an online conversation with some self-appointed judges of America’s theology. I know: futile conversation, and mostly it was, but it illustrated this disease: “Unless what you’re teaching lines up with my beliefs, I won’t accept it, even when it’s supported scripturally.” I once spoke with a man about an area of moral weakness. “Everybody tells me I have blind spots, but I just don’t see it,” he replied with a straight face.

How many times have we seen this when God does something new or unusual: Someone we know experiences something new and unfamiliar (gold dust, laughter, shaking, or just a new understanding of an old passage of scripture), and many believers shout “Oh, that can’t be God!” Wait! Your brother, your sister, have just told you what they experienced and you don’t believe it? Or perhaps a father among us declares a new truth that we haven’t known before, and we reject it as unfamiliar. I’m not talking about receiving heretical doctrine from people who would compromise the gospel of Christ: in fact, that is about the only thing we’re to judge and reject. We, on the other hand, have taken the example of the Bereans to a completely unhealthy, intellectual extreme that takes us into the realm of rebellion and isolation more than it protects us.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen pastors declaring a Biblical truth to their people, and the people won’t see the truth they’re being taught. We join in the self-sufficient sin of Thomas: “If I don’t see it for myself, I won’t believe it.” It happened in the Book of Acts, when Peter was out jail. It happened when the boys on the Emmaus Road reported home, and in that context, Jesus chews out the apostles for not believing someone else’s experience: “He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen.” (Mark 16:14)

And that’s the heart of the issue: we won’t believe someone else’s word, someone else’s experience. Put into spiritual language, we won’t believe or receive the testimony of our brothers and sisters. And judging from his reaction in Mark 16, that’s not acceptable to God! Sure, there are screwballs trying to hoax us (think of the emails you’ve received from Nigerian princesses) but God has equipped us to avoid being hoaxed.

There are at least two reasons why this kind of Thomas-type fear is inappropriate:

1) God has made us to be a community, not a bunch of isolated individuals. “We are members of one another,” is how the NT says it. That means that I’m not complete without you, and I cannot hear all that God is saying to me by myself. I need you to hear some of it.

2) God has given us a tool – a weapon, if you will - to be able to distinguish the truth from the lie. It’s called discernment, and He requires us to use it. Discernment is a gift of the Spirit; it is not a gift of a suspicious mind. It requires exercise, but with this gift, we are able to discern good from evil, truth from the lie. This is not about “I know and understand;” this is about hearing the echo of truth from the Spirit of God about whom Jesus said, “He will guide you into all truth.” The capacity for discernment is His responsibility, not ours: He expects us to recognize the truth when we’re faced with it, even when it’s weird, and He equips us for that work from His Spirit.

A pair of brief testimonies of my own: recently, I was faced with a tough decision. I had difficulty seeing through all the emotional clutter to understand the direction God was pointing; both the “where” and the “when” of the issue were beyond me. So I asked a handful of folks with whom I have a covenant relationship. They were unanimous in their counsel: this is the direction and now is the time. I still didn’t see God’s direction myself, but I trusted their counsel, and made the decision. In hindsight, they were completely accurate, and had I not listened, I would have made a very bad decision, which would have hurt both me and my family.

Second: some years ago, I was faced with some very unusual people, who were behaving very strangely in church, in their “renewal service.” Their behavior – which I am omitting intentionally, as it is not the point – set off every alarm in my mind, but my spirit was at peace in the midst of it: I concluded that this – as strange as it was – was God. The next several months proved it right: my mind had missed this one, but my spirit had recognized His spirit in this.

So here’s the bottom line: God has equipped us to discern the truth from the untrue, and He requires us to exercise it: with that equipment, He expects us to receive the testimony of our brethren: if they have experienced something in God, if they give us their testimony, we are expected to receive it: when they grow, we are to grow with them! Yes, we discern, and yes, we throw out the garbage (and there’s plenty of that!), but we must receive the truth when our brothers and sisters share it with us, even if we don’t see it ourselves.

Naked in the Streets

Nakedness isn’t about what I have. It’s about what I don’t have.

When I’m naked, as in “naked and unashamed,” I am without clothes. If I’m using “naked” as a metaphor – and I am – then I’m writing the absence of the things for which “being clothed” is a metaphor. I’m also writing about the absence of the things for which “being armored” is a metaphor.

Some time ago, God showed me a series of weird pictures about self protection. Clothes are a layer of protection, though not generally from great big bad things. A t-shirt and shorts protect me from a cool breeze, from embarrassment, from abrasions and scrapes.

Now think of wearing a layer of heavier clothes: more protection, right?

Beyond that, if I’m wearing body armor, then I’m probably planning on going in harm’s way, to places where I need protection from greater weapons and greater attack than a t-shirt will provide. (Either that, or I’m trying to impress the ladies, and that’s not part of today’s conversation.)

The image I saw was actually from the ‘70s movie Rollerball: where armored men played a testosterone-charged sport with armor and spikes (I told you it was weird!). In spite of the armor, it was a remarkably bloody sport.

The next picture was modern soldiers in an Abrams M1 tank: monster gun on top, monster engine in the back, several inches of armor protecting those inside. Did you know that there are weapons specifically engineered to successfully penetrate that much armor?

This is the way He presented it to me: no matter how well armored I am, there’s always a weapon that’s powerful enough to penetrate the armor. If I’m wearing a t -shirt, then my armor can be pierced when I trip and skin my knee, or by a stray blackberry bramble. On the other hand, if my armor is in the form of an Abrams tank, then it takes an armor-piercing shell or a larger-than-average land mine to penetrate my armor.

It’s true that were I to wear the ugly Rollerball armor or the thick steel of an Abrams tank, then I’m pretty effectively protected from skinned knees and blackberry brambles. I’m also protected from machine guns, hand grenades, and drunk drivers.

So which looks like the more effective armor? First glance rather looks like the heavier the armor, the more I’m protected doesn’t it? That’s what I thought too.

And then He pointed out that I can easily survive a skinned knee; and when my t-shirt “armor” is penetrated by a blackberry bramble, sure it hurts a little, and I bleed a tiny bit, but then I go about my day. I don’t venture into land mines or armor piercing shells, because I know that the armor that I’m wearing – the t-shirt that I’m wearing – is completely insufficient of itself to protect me from that level of warfare.

On the other hand, if my armor is thick like the steel of a tank, then when (not if) the armor is pierced, I will be destroyed: I’ll be completely dead. But think about this: if there are enemies in the neighborhood that have armor piercing shells, they’re looking for a tank to shoot at. They’ll never waste those shells on a guy in shorts and a t-shirt.

In other words, the strength of my defenses will to some degree determine the strength of the attack that comes against me. And at some point, an attack will get through my personal defenses. And then what will I do?

So which is the safer place: when I’m well protected behind several inches of steel? Or when I’m wandering around in out-of-fashion gym shorts and a worn-out T-shirt?

There is an application, of course, about walking before God with our defenses down. When we armor ourselves to keep the bad guys out, we keep the good guys out, too. Our armor may be our self-sufficiency, our pride, an unwillingness to let people speak into our lives, or it may be fear of trying something new: it’s anything that protects us from the people around us; it’s anything that keeps from being “members of one another.”

Those defenses – that personal armor – has two problems: first, it seems that people with a strong defense attract stronger attacks. And second, while it keeps out things that can make me hurt, it also keeps out things that can make me better, like my brothers and sisters in Christ, or the presence of a living God.

Now let me clarify: I am not talking about the spiritual armor of Ephesians 6. I’m talking about my own armor, my own defenses. I absolutely need God’s armor, because it’s the only thing that actually cannot be overcome; there is no weapon that is forged against me that can prevail against His armor protecting me, and His armor doesn’t keep Him out of my life.

But in regards to my own defenses, the less I have, the better. Ideally, I’ll walk before God “naked and unashamed” like Adam did. Ideally, I’ll walk with “naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” I’ll live with my life open and uncovered from the eyes of the world. Naked (uh… that’s metaphorical, remember) in the streets.

But doesn’t that leave me open to attack? to being hurt by stupid people or stupid choices?

Well, yes, actually it does, all that and more: I can be wounded by stupid people, by evil people, and I can be wounded by good people in a moment of weakness, too. But the solution isn’t to develop stronger defenses. It’s to be as defenseless – in ourselves – as possible, to take the hits and be wounded, and then to learn to be healed quickly and effectively.

So I am encouraging us to be – spiritually, not physically, of course – naked in the streets: without the defenses of a hard heart, of a manipulative soul: to be open and transparent before God and before our fellow man, and to learn to heal quickly from the wounds that do come our way.

Simple, Powerful Tools

Simple, Powerful Tools

My wife – in addition to being a wonderful human being – is also a gardener. I’ve learned some interesting lessons from her gardens.

One of the most embarrassing lessons is about garden tools.

When Christmas or her birthday roll around, I often find myself in the garden aisle, looking at garden tools. Do you have any idea how many garden tools there are? There are thousands. There are whole, entire catalogs devoted to the latest, greatest, coolest and most high-tech gardening tools! Can you believe it?

Here’s the embarrassing thing: the latest and most high tech gift tools usually fail in comparison to the good old-fashioned tools like shovels and hoes. Best of all are hands; hands with gloves, yes, but hands are the best tools of all.

So the principle is that in gardening, simple tools are better than complex, new-fangled tools.

I think it works that way in the things of God as well, and that’s where I’m going with this. Years ago, one of my mentors taught me (well, “taught us”, a group of us) about a couple of really simple tools when praying – particularly when asking God questions, which is where our faith sometimes stumbles.

I have to admit that at the time, I thought they were so elementary that they were cheesy, simplistic, foolish. I went along with them mostly because I respect him and his team, and these tools work for his group, but secretly, I thought I was past them.

The tools – or weapons, if you like that metaphor – come from 1John:

1 John 2:22 Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son.

1 John 4: 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.

The whole premise of 1John is that there are deceivers in the world, both people and spirits. Have you ever heard something in your spirit and asked “Was that God?” That’s really appropriate: there are (IMHO) four possible voices that I could hear when I’m praying (this is very basic):

1. It could be God.

2. It could be my own soul speaking.

3. There are demonic spirits that are eager to deceive, and

4. Under some circumstances, the spirits – or at least the desires and choices – of other people can influence us.

If you think about it, these two verses offer two tests for that very question, the question of “Is this God,” which implies “… or is this some other spirit?” So when they’re going to ask God questions, this guy and his team introduce their prayer time by addressing the Holy Spirit – and then to make sure they’re not being deceived (or "spoofed") – they ask two more questions:

1. “Whom do you say that Jesus is?” and

2. “Did Jesus come in the flesh?”

This is something equivalent of a test for the email that claims to be from your bank: is it really from your bank, or is it a “spoof” email. The idea is nothing new; the demonic realm has been “spoofing” the Holy Spirit for years! (How else do you explain Mormonism?)

If the answer they hear back is questionable, they know they're being spoofed: it's another spirit claiming to be the Holy Spirit, but it's been un-masked by the simple theology of First John. You can see that these questions necessarily require humility: I must acknowledge that I can be deceived – an admission that many in the Church have difficulty making.

So I’ve begun using these “simple tools” in my own prayer times. I haven’t talked about it (until now) because it embarrassed me: I saw myself as more sophisticated than that. But I’ve begun to value “sophistication” less than I used to, and as I’ve begun to use these simple – even simplistic – questions in my prayer, I’ve found myself asking, “Was that God?” far less often, I’ve found myself becoming more humble in my prayers, and I’ve been learning more. I’ve discovered something of the Holy Spirit’s quick wit, and I’m discovering how much fun He is to hang around when I’m not having to question everything He says!

May I recommend simplicity in your relationship with God, and may I commend the use of these questions when you’re asking for yourself, “Was that God?” It really helps, provided you can get past the simplicity. Like simple garden tools: the simplest disciplines in the Kingdom are often among the most useful.


The Priests Profane the Sabbath.

It will be easy to misinterpret my thoughts here today. I’m going to challenge some of the favorite beliefs of the Pharisaical spirit of today. There are a number of statements that have often come in this context which I am not saying here: please don’t hear more than I’m saying. And I’m only describing one side of this debate. Feel free to add comments with another side if you like.

Yet again, the Pharisees were angry with Jesus and how much freedom He gave His boys.

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. 2 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, "Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!" 3 But He said to them, "Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: 4 how he entered the house of God and ate the showbread which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? 5 Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless? 6 Yet I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the temple. 7 But if you had known what this means, 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the guiltless. 8 For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath." (Matthew 12)

This is a story about profanity, which is to say that it’s about some folks profaning what is sacred to someone else. It’s all about being offended in the name of God, and how Jesus deals with that.

  1. The boys offended the Pharisees because they broke – not God’s law – the Pharisees’ interpretation of God’s law.
  2. The Pharisees’ response ticks Jesus off. The text doesn’t say if He was angry, but He certainly does get confrontational in His response.
  3. Clearly, Jesus’ response offends the Pharisees. In fact, that seems to be part of His purpose here. Judging their response to His next miracle, He succeeded.
  4. His response describes how the priests profane the Sabbath that they serve, by obeying the very Law that the Pharisees are whining about.
  5. His bottom line is in the last verse: the focus here is not about keeping the rules, but about recognizing the True Authority when He walks among us.

But first and foremost, I see Jesus defending His boys, and I’m impressed yet again. When our people are attacked or accused, perhaps particularly when they’re attacked by a religious spirit, it is our place to defend them.

More important to today’s conversation is how Jesus handles the Word in His defense of His boys. He does refer to the Word, but He handles the Word it in a completely different manner from what I see among preachers and pastors and other Word-handlers today.

I’ve been taught that there are two basic ways to handle the Word today: Deductively, where I hold certain beliefs, and I go to the Word to find either teaching or examples that support my beliefs, and Inductively, where I come to the Word and sit under it in order to let it speak to me.

Jesus does neither. He takes a story of men running for their lives, of men acting in desperation. Apparently there is a third way to handle the Word: prophetically. The Spirit of God – whose job description includes guiding me into all truth – apparently thinks He has the authority to grab scripture out of context and bring fresh revelation from that.

Jesus, whom John says is the Word incarnate, uses that story – completely out of context, mind you – to confront well-established religious doctrine: principles that are pretty well beyond questioning. That’s a tough assignment already, but more than that, He actually expects them to understand the principles of the Kingdom based on that out-of-context story taken from the history books they teach others from.

A brief digression: I am not Jesus: I am not the Word incarnate, so I don’t have the same authority to wield His Word. I probably want to reserve the bulk my out-of-context revelation for personal conversation between myself and my Heavenly Lover. Certainly, I’ll need compare my newly-found revelation to the whole of scripture before releasing it publicly. And comparing my revelation to church history may guard me against some of history’s favorite heresies. Let’s not be stupid here.

But Jesus doesn’t stop there: the Son of God, the Word Incarnate, brings to their attention an example of the Word contradicting the Word. Nowadays, we run and hide from apparent contradictions in the Word, and as a result, the world thinks us shallow and ignorant; I’m not sure they’re wrong. Jesus seems to seek those apparent contradictions out, and He wields them as a bludgeon against the religious spirit of the Pharisees, while He teaches his boys spiritual principles they couldn’t learn from those religious leaders. He doesn’t explain the answer at all, so it looks like the question is more valuable than the answer.

So Jesus, who is my example, shows me several things in this story:

  • Defend your friends, even against religious leaders. (Note to self: “religious leaders” does not equal “spiritual leaders,” but that’s for another day.)
  • Let God speak from His word, even if what He’s saying is completely different from what your religious leaders have taught you. Don’t be the Pharisee. Don’t follow the Pharisees.
  • Don’t hide from contradictions and things hard to understand. God often has secrets hidden there. Asking the questions properly – and specifically not having all the answers – is often the right position.

Conclusion: we must obey God rather than men. We need to be in community in order to guard against heresy, but heresy is maybe not as much of a danger to the development of disciples who know the Holy Spirit as religious traditions may be.



New Weapons for New Seasons

I’ve been accused of wielding the “warfare” metaphor more than is perhaps strictly necessary. Perhaps it’s true. It’s what I have; bear with me please.

I was awakened this morning in the middle of the dream. As I worked to get my bearings, the Holy Spirit whispered to my spirit: “You just had a dream. It was about the need to use a different weapon in each different season that comes upon you.”

After talking with my bride for a minute, I stumbled into the … er, the “library” and God & I continued our conversation. I’ll cut to the chase.

I believe that the circumstances we confront, the “battle” if you can handle the warfare metaphor, will be changing, perhaps rapidly. Moreover, every time the nature of the circumstances change, we’ll need a new weapon. For example, I was instructed that right now, I need to use the weapon of “Rest in the Spirit.” I’m actually pretty good at resting, at least at physical rest, and I’m gaining expertise at resting my soul – my mind, my will and my emotions. But I’m not as good at resting in Him. Nevertheless, that’s my weapon for this week.

I heard that, at least for me, the battle will be changing at the end of this week, when I will need the new weapon of “Confronting the Lie with the Truth.” Sounds cheesy, I know. Nevertheless, I believe that this is a legitimate warning for others as well: we’ll need to develop proficiency in a number of weapons (or “disciplines” if you like that better) to confront a variety of assaults against us in the coming weeks and months.

Later this morning, after this whole interesting conversation, I received an email from a friend in Canada, warning that he’s hearing God talking about what he calls “a major initiative by the enemy” in the realm of “dead spirits rising.” I translate that to include “Things that I have overcome are coming back for another shot at me,” and indeed many folks I know have been dealing with that in the past 24 hours or so.

So you can take this warning as you like: it has cost you nothing and it may be worth nothing to you. As for me and mine, we’re going to keep our eyes open for changes in the circumstances that confront us, and keep our ears open for appropriate responses in the Spirit to keep us in all this.