A Change of Seasons

I guess that there was a season where God was blessing it, but I think the blessing has moved on. I think we’re coming to the end of the season of the anointing being on those whose full-time work is “in the ministry.”

I suspect that the blessing was less on “full time ministry” than it was on “ministering in His name,” but it sure looks to me like that season – whatever it was – is now over.

There are still some people in “full time” ministry who walk in favor, in the midst of God’s move today. But if you look closely, they are mostly in the work of equipping others, sending out a new generation of “ministers” who generally have no title, have no ministry paycheck. They are spreading the good news, demonstrating the Kingdom at their “secular” (whatever that means) work, and the secular mission-field pays their living.

As a result, they have a credibility among the world that those who make their living from purveying the gospel never had.

I invite the saints of God to work hard, forcefully, to rid themselves of the religious heresy that “full time ministry” is better ministry. It’s not. It’s actually a hindrance, though it is a comfortable hindrance.

The best ministry nowadays, and generally the best anointing, comes to those who live and work and eat and sleep among the world to which they minister.

That means that those whose “day job” gets in the way of “their ministry” probably have the more effective ministry. And many of those whose “full time job” is ministry, find their work less effective, when measured by Kingdom standards. 


Milk or Meat?

There are a couple of places in the NT where the apostles contrasted the intake of believers, using the metaphor of “milk” as the food for babies against “meat” as the food for mature men & women. (1 Corinthians 3, Hebrews 5, 1 Peter 2 are the clearest.)

The apostles (Paul, the anonymous author of Hebrews, and Peter) all seem to reference something similar to John’s stages of Christian growth (1 John 2:12-14): that there are clearly stages of growth for us as Sons of the Most High. John makes it clear: believers in different stages of growth have different needs (for a discussion of those stages, see here:

Reflecting on this, I observe several things:

§         There are several places where believers are described as children, as milk-drinkers, often bemoaning the fact that by this stage of their growth, they should be eating meat and changing the world.

§         There appear to be NO places where any of the apostolic writers of the NT acknowledge a group that has progressed from milk-drinking to meat-eating. This may be simply because the epistles were all written to address problems among one church or another, and the churches that made the transition didn’t need corrective letters. There is no epistle to the church at Antioch, for example; it may be that this early center of the Church may have gotten some things right, though we have no record of it.

§         When we are young believers, we require milk. And when we become mature believers, milk is still good.

§         We are expected to progress beyond the basics. We are expected to graduate from being nourished by the “elementary principles” of “milk” to digesting and being nourished by “meat.”

§         So much of the church in our day has not even well learned the “elementary principles”; These are the “milk” or “baby food” of Christian nurture (Quoting Hebrews 6:1 here):

1.      repentance from dead works and of
2.      faith toward God, of
3.      the doctrine of baptisms (note the plural), of
4.      laying on of hands, of
5.      resurrection of the dead, and of
6.      eternal judgment.

A number of prophets and apostles are speaking of the need, now upon us, but growing in necessity, of believers being established enough in theses topics that they are comfortable (and safe) moving on to more challenging topics. In fact, Holy Spirit has been speaking to a substantial number of believers about what some of those more meat-like discussions will be about, but they would only serve as a distraction in this conversation.

As He speaks to me about some of the meatier topics of growth that I see coming to us, I am reminded of two applications that have relevance in this conversation:

1) There will be people (possibly people who are invested in a spiritual “milk-delivery service”) who will not understand of believers’ need for meat, who will speak against it (even accusing meat-eaters of apostasy and heresy), and, sadly, who will succeed in preventing hungry believers in their sphere of influence from obeying the scriptures and pursuing more advanced topics.

2) Those who choose to leave the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, and go on to perfection, not laying again the above foundation, will likely have to go on in the face of such opposition. A very likely booby-trap will be to engage argumentative milk-delivery devotees in extensive discussion about the need for meat, though it will be necessary to discern between those committed to not moving on from milk from those who have only known milk but long for more. A wiser response may be just to “set our face like flint” toward digesting and practicing that which Father is feeding us, and leaving the nay-sayers to themselves.

I believe it will be valuable to recognize in advance (if it is in advance) the opposition that will be confronting us more and more as we run the race set before us. Such battles are often won in advance, when we make our determined decisions of how we will respond before we meet the opposition.

How will you respond when faced with this choice? Will you choose a steak knife, or a warm bottle?

Forgiveness & Healing: An Important Distinction

There’s an uncomfortable contrast between forgiveness and healing.

We forgive those who wound us, and with the grace that Jesus is so generous about pouring into our lives, we can (eventually) forgive even the most debilitating, the most wounding, the most egregious offenses against us.

More, we need to forgive those offenses. In some way (see Matthew 6:14), our own forgiveness is tied to how we forgive others. And we’re commanded to forgive (see Matthew 18:23-35), so it’s pretty important.

But forgiving is not the same as healing. The act of forgiving the one who hurt me does not – in and of itself – heal the wound that they caused. Forgiving them is about not holding the offense in my soul against them, about no longer looking for revenge (whether actively or passively) against them, about not allowing a “root of bitterness” to grow in my spirit to make accusations against my offender and against God. That’s powerful stuff, but it’s not the same as healing the wound that came from their offense.

On the cross, Jesus forgave the people who nailed him there, but he still died from the wounds. In Acts 7, Stephen forgave those who wounded him by throwing stones, but he, too, died from that stoning.

I’ve seen confusion among believers about this in two manifestations:

1) “I’ve forgiven them for wounding me. So why am I still wounded? I thought that forgiving them would make it stop hurting!”

2) “But you forgave me! Why aren’t you trusting me? Why are you still acting like you’re hurting there? I guess you didn’t REALLY forgive me, did you!”

The reality is that forgiving and healing are two completely different issues. One might as well ask, “Why am I broke at the end of the month? It’s still raining in the Northwest, isn’t it?” Well, yes, it is still raining in the northwest, but that doesn’t actually have anything to do with your personal spending habits! In similar manner, there is not a direct correlation between forgiving and being healed.

It’s worth noting that there IS a small-but-significant connection between forgiving and being healed: we receive healing more easily when we’ve forgiven. But don’t be distracted by that small issue: healing is not an automatic result of forgiving.

We must forgive, of course, and there are enough reasons to forgive to fill a book. We could fill another book on the differences between forgiving someone and trusting them in the same way again. Frankly, they would be fine books, but that’s not the purpose for this article, which is to shoot down the false belief that “My forgiving you brings me healing.” It’s a small step in the process, and an important one, but it is not the healing.

I can forgive you for shooting me in the knee, but I will still walk with a limp until my knee is healed.