Tag Archives: Bethel

Growing in God: Word based, Spirit Directed, the Radical Middle, part 2

 

This is a drawing that I did on Good Friday.  It is called “Carol – When I survey the wondrous cross.”  It’s of my mother, who died this January in Toronto, Canada, while I was tethered to South Africa during chemo treatments.  It will be part of my second colouring book, Colouring with Jesus 2 (the first version of the colouring book is available in South Africa via Takealot). Click here if you are in South Africa and would like to purchase one.

My name is Laurie-Ann, and I’m a missionary. During my mission travels, I have ministered with people in Northern Ireland, Pakistan, Canada and the USA.  I’ve also ministered in African countries like Kenya, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, South Africa, Botswana and Namibia. But at this time, we live in the beautiful Western Cape of South Africa.

During the last article, we learned the how important the balance of the Word and the Spirit is in our lives.  I had learned this lesson through Canadian broadcaster David Mainse.  He said, If you don’t have the Holy Spirit in your life, you DRY up.  If you don’t have the Word, the Bible in your life, you BLOW up.  Yet when you receive from both the Word and Spirit together, you GROW up.  I thought that this made sense, but I didn’t ponder on it; other that I should always have a biblical base for sharing my prophetic impressions. After all, I did come to faith in a Baptist church.  They love scripture, and so they should! It’s important to have a good, solid understanding of the Bible.  We need to know the Bible, so we have a standard to go by in our faith.  Our personal devotions and words of knowledge aren’t scripture. But these often repeat scripture in a loving, personalized way.

RT Kendall was one of the speakers at our Iris Harvest School. He’s been on the Word side of the church for years, but he became Spirit-filled along the way.  Since he didn’t come from the Spirit side of the church, he keenly sees some tendencies that could pull people away from what is known as the “radical middle,” or the core of our faith.  This term is used by the Vineyard movement, especially by the late Bill Jackson. [Radical Middle ministries dot org]  I remember hearing the term “radical middle” when I was part of the Vineyard. It was certainly something that they strove for.  They even called themselves a ‘centred-set’ rather than a ‘bounded set.’  What they meant by this, was that mainline denominations have a clearly thought-out set of beliefs. Anything outside of these isn’t a part of their creed.  The Vineyard then saw themselves strongly agreeing on the central aspects that all Christians believe. Secondary, more divisive issues, were less central. Vineyardites could differ on these without it being a big deal.  This attitude seemed to change after the Vineyard distanced itself in 1995 during the Toronto Blessing revival.  Alan Hawkins is a theologian based in North Carolina. He unofficially shared with a Vineyard theology forum that he could see changes in the Vineyard after that unfortunate church split.  He said, “If you read [Bill Jackson’s book] Quest for the Radical Middle, you find an amazing record of the work of the Holy Spirit within the Vineyard. That is, until 1995, at which point the book literally changes character and tenor, and reads like a denominational report.”  If you read Jerry Steingard’s book ‘From Here to the Nations, “it reads like Jackson’s first 19 chapters.”  [unofficial report from a retired Vineyard pastor’s Facebook page, May 10, 2019]  The movement may have become ‘safe’ from scoffers, but they lost their place in the radical middle of Spirit and Word. This unfortunate split has been reconciled, and the Catch the Fire stream will always acknowledge their Vineyard roots.

So when you aim to be in the radical middle, you cling to the core truths of your faith. This helps keep us from going off the deep end.  Life is in the middle of the river, where the water is fresh.  It is in this place that many biblical truths that seem to contradict each other, actually don’t.  I would elaborate, but that’s another for another time.  What is important and what matters are the central truths of our faith. The Alpha Course movement takes that same stance. While the Course began in the Anglican Church, many different streams of the Church use it for seekers and new Christians.  Alpha includes all central aspects of Christianity, while secondary teachings like say, the differences of how to baptize, aren’t discussed. That’s what denominational classes are for. Nicky Gumbel shares an idea that he attributes to early church father Augustine, based on the Apostle Paul’s words in Ephesians 4:3, “Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace;” but not at the expense of the truth.  Nicky gently shared seventeenth century theologian Rupertus Meldenius’s motto, “in essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty [and] in all things, Charity” in a gentle way. (Click for quote)  Nicky’s explanation was, “In the really essential things of the faith, the things that are at the core of our belief, there would be unity. In the things that are more peripheral (the non-essentials), there be freedom. People can believe different things; that’s fine. And in everything, love.” [Alpha Course, 2009 version, “What about the Church]  This motto has been picked up by many churches, from Anglican to Moravian.  [Mark Ross]

Unfortunately, this conciliatory attitude of unity in essentials hasn’t been adopted by all.  During my research, I discovered one anonymous blog author who wrote: “balancing Spirit and Truth is like trying to balance law and grace.”(for quote click here) [Ben Eastaugh/Chris Sternal-Johnson]  I don’t think this is a fair comparison.  The Bible contains law, but we don’t live BY the law. We need to read the law section of the Old Testament. It teaches us about holiness. The apostle Paul explained Galatians 3:24: “the law was our guardian until Christ came. It protected us until we could be made right with God through faith.”  This means the law teaches and shows us what sin is. But we can’t be made holy through the law; that’s impossible. So you can’t balance living by the law against living by grace. Paul speaks about that in Galatians. That’s going backwards in our faith towards legalism.  This is actually a pitfall of the Word side of the church.  Legalism chokes the life out of you, and only makes you religious.  Danny Silk warned that if teachers play their true role in the church, they will first have to be willing to pursue a supernatural lifestyle.  They will have to be dissatisfied with the armour of their arguments and the lifelessness of their theology. […] Teachers must embrace mystery.”   [Danny Silk, Building a Culture of Honour]

So as faith is dead without works, so theology is dead without the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit helps your faith become active.  The Bible helps your faith become stable.  When Jesus taught his disciples and all those around him, he used “show and tell.” Jesus’ teaching was not passive, even when he taught his disciples to “turn the other cheek.”  This takes an active decision. The writer of Hebrews shared that the Word is alive and powerful, but this is because the Holy Spirit breathes it.  He is the author. Listen to the words of Hebrews 4:12: “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.”

RT Kendall shared in Harvest School talk about how we can grow in godly character and the fruit of the Spirit. This happens through genuine obedience and persistence in our faith, where the Holy Spirit helps us through difficult circumstances. He reforms our hearts. Scripture is an amazing tool to bring change.  Like the scripture in Hebrews 4 that I just shared, this is a living surgical tool. It’s important to not run from this and seek comfort instead.  It takes real guts to be an obedient Christian.  It takes not only head knowledge of Scripture, but also an open heart to let those words transform you.  Say you struggle with fear and insecurity.  You may feel like you are orphaned, and all alone.  Yet, as children of God, who love Jesus Christ, we aren’t orphans anymore. We are loved children.  You may read the words of scripture, but it’s the Holy Spirit that helps you take that word to heart.  It is he who transforms your heart so you can receive that truth, and the love that comes directly from God.

RT told us at Harvest School that we “need to work in the Word, to actively read it, pray it and think on it.  Too often Spirit people want a rhema, or (Holy Spirit) word, because it is quick and we are lazy” [RT Kendall – notes from HS 24, June 15, 2016].   When we pursue scripture with the Holy Spirit, he makes it come alive to us. This is where the practice of Lexio Divina comes in. This is actively reading scripture more than a few times, to allow the words to speak to you.  Sometimes the Holy Spirit can give you an impression of the context of the scripture you are reading.  Say is Jesus is speaking to Martha that he is the resurrection and the life, you can actually imagine Jesus comforting Martha on the death of her brother Lazarus with the hope that he will again be alive.   Jesus was creating a “now moment” full of God’s promise.

These “now moments” are similar to when Heidi Baker ‘stops for the one.’ She does this in obedience to a prompting from the Holy Spirit; the timing is God’s, but there is also a scriptural command to care for the orphans and widows. Some scriptures call these people the “least of these.”  James 1:27 says pure and undefiled devotion, “in the sight of God the Father, is caring for orphans and widows in their distress, and refusing to let the world corrupt you.”   The third Iris core value is to care for the least of these.  The IrisGlobal site shares:  “We look for revival among the broken, humble and lowly, and start at the bottom with ministry to the poor. God chooses the weak and despised things of the world to shame the proud, demonstrating His own strength and wisdom. Our direction is lower still.” [Iris Global site – https://www.irisglobal.org/about/core-values]

When Heidi responds to the Holy Spirit’s prompting, it’s partly by obedience to God’s general guidance in ministry to the poor. But she’s also obedient to the Holy Spirit for the time and place. Heidi shares many such stories in her books. She also was led in January 2010 to stop for me. She gave me roses, a hug and a kiss.  It took years for me to figure out that Heidi was simply led to bless me. I learned from another Iriser in East London, that Heidi often blesses specific people at conferences this way. And on that day, I was the one.  I was in the centre of that convergence. This was the morning after I responded to a missions call, by giving my yes to a life of service. I didn’t know what that would look like. A ministry team member prayed over me, and shared that I would be working with the poor. There are many kinds of poor.  In Ottawa, we have the refugee poor, the single mothers poor, and the hidden poor who work multiple low paying jobs to make ends meet.  I can identify with the latter, since I’ve only once had a job that was able to cover rent and basic expenses – and even that was short lived.  I’ve always just had a part-time job or no job at all.  If I weren’t helped by my dad or husband, I might have been on welfare, despite having two degrees, art school and radio broadcasting school.  Yet, God still supplied my needs.

Then I met the real poor in Pakistan and different African countries. I worked in Ottawa’s east-end with French-speaking west-Africans.  The poor are among us.  They are in townships and neighbourhoods, sometimes hidden in plain sight, sometimes secluded. Do we really require Holy Spirit to remind us about them?  I believe so, yes.  Sometimes we go about our daily lives, and forget about those around us, because we have tunnel vision.  It takes a prompting to shake us out of our stupor. We need to see a divine appointment that’s set up right in front of us.  I’m very thankful when Holy Spirit gives me that leading. Sometimes the Father wants to do something special right then with that specific person. When you respond to this nudge, it’s obedience to BOTH Word and Spirit. Can you reach out to people with just the Bible scripture?  Of course you can.  But will you?  Perhaps.

Brian Nickens is a valued teacher in Bethel Church, Redding. He used to be a Word Christian, and the pastor of a few Calvary Chapel churches.  He wrote a book called “Hunger Driven: Overcoming Fear and Skepticism of the Supernatural Lifestyle.”  Like RT Kendall, he has a solid foundation of scripture. He became Spirit-filled later on.  He shares on his website [brianknickens.com] that Jesus ministered by both Word and Spirit. He shared a Bible story from Luke 4:31-37:  “ Then Jesus went to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and taught there in the synagogue every Sabbath day. 32 There, too, the people were amazed at his teaching, for he spoke with authority.

33 Once when he was in the synagogue, a man possessed by a demon—an evil spirit—cried out, shouting, 34 “Go away! Why are you interfering with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”

35 But Jesus reprimanded him. “Be quiet! Come out of the man,” he ordered. At that, the demon threw the man to the floor as the crowd watched; then it came out of him without hurting him further.  36 Amazed, the people exclaimed, “What authority and power this man’s words possess! Even evil spirits obey him, and they flee at his command!” 37 The news about Jesus spread through every village in the entire region.”

Nickens shares that Jesus taught the word, and acted in the Spirit in the same gathering. He says that “Jesus most often began his ministry events and then operated according to his observations as to what his Father was doing in that given moment.  Notice that response of the crowd after they witnessed the demonized man delivered. [They] said, ‘What authority and power this man’s words possess! Or, more clearly in the World English Bible, “What IS this word?This word “was the declaration and exhortation of the written word of God.  [It] literally agitated and activated the spirit realm.  Jesus did not teach a series on family living, he declared the Word of God.  This kind of example of Word and Spirit is the key that unlocks the kingdom of heaven in our midst.  [It also unlocks] the supernatural realm around us.” [brianknickens.com/word-and-spirit]

Nickens also shares that there are many Spirit people who don’t realize the journey that Bethel Redding has gone through to reach revival.  He says, “so many are reading the books, speaking the language and singing the songs of Bethel; while at the same time, [they] fail to see the big picture as to how they got there.  So many try to attach the bells and whistles of this movement to their ministry.”  [Nickens – website as prev noted]

They may expect the same result, but they won’t get it.  There is no shortcut to excellence, so there is no shortcut to revival either.   Nickens says, “you have to labour in the Word. If you trace the Bethel Redding journey, you will discover [that] it is a journey through the Word of God into the realm of the Spirit.  When … [scripture teaching] results in a move of the Spirit, Bill [Johnson] is never in a hurry to move out of that moment.  That is Revival at its core.”  [Nickens – website as prev noted]

Amos Yong is a Fuller Seminary professor. He reviewed RT Kendall’s book co-authored with Paul Cain.  Cain was to represent the Spirit side of the church, and RT the word side, and yet both were hungry for the other side. Cain encouraged Spirit people to get into scripture, and RT encouraged Word people to embrace the Holy Spirit, while having a biblical base.  Some critics had and still have a problem of using both, despite examples of Jesus and the Apostle Paul.  Amos Yong got to the heart of the matter. He said that “the problem is [in] how to understand the Word and the Spirit as both distinct and independent on the one hand, and yet mutually related and interdependent on the other.”[Amos Yong, “Between two extremes: Balancing Word Christianity and Spirit Christianity: A Review Essay (of a Paul Cain-RT Kendall book) Feb 25, 2000]

There is no either or.  Why choose when you can have both?  Bill Jackson was a writer and Vineyard pastor in various locations. He wrote the book Quest for the Radical Middle, that I mentioned earlier. He and the then Vineyard attempted to combine evangelical Word-based faith, with the Holy Spirit. This was called “empowered evangelicalism or the Third Wave movement.  It included the Vineyard, the Anglican Mission, Soul Survivor, Acts 29, and Canada’s Anglican Renewal Ministries, or ARM Canada.  [paraphrase from radicalmiddleministries.org] I was the secretary and later bookkeeper for ARM Canada, so I was blessed to partake of the Third Wave through the Vineyard, ARM Canada, and the daughter of the Vineyard, Catch the Fire. This became part of my culture, in my own search for the radical middle.  Surprisingly many Word Christians think this middle is actually the extreme.  Yet if you don’t utilize BOTH Word and Spirit, you ARE NOT in the middle at all.

Bill Jackson’s son, who now runs his ministry, notes on their website a beautiful rendition of what is the centre of the river.  He says, “the ‘radical middle’ is the beautiful intersection of the Word and the Spirit.  As empowered evangelicals, we are grounded in the Word of God, while listening to the Spirit of God, as he leads us into mission.  Radical middle people want to be about both the Word and the works of Jesus.  Jesus both proclaimed the reality of the kingdom of God and demonstrated the power of the kingdom.  Our call is to go and do likewise.”  When Word and Spirit converge, there is action and power.

I discovered a suburban Durban church called City Hill, that includes itself in the radical middle.  This is what they say this is: “One could argue that the wheel is one of man’s best inventions. A bicycle wheel, for example, is a brilliant piece of engineering. From the centre of the wheel radiates spokes that support the tyre which rotates and propels the bike forward. If the centre of the wheel is slightly to the left or right or just a little too high or low, the spokes would not be equal lengths and the tyre would not be perfectly round and it would not function the way a wheel should. Are the spokes important? Yes! Is the tyre necessary? Yes! But they would all be redundant without that all-important middle which forms an inherent part of the wheel. The centre is radical!”  The centre is Jesus, who used both Scripture and Holy Spirit. [Bonny Dales, Culture Magazine, Issue 31, from here.

If Jesus is the centre, what does this look like in our lives?   How do we live that out? RT Kendall believes that many forget God’s sovereignty.  They say, “Lord, increase my faith, help my unbelief.”  So, ask God for mercy. You never outgrow the need for mercy. RT shared at our Harvest School that we need to remember the sovereignty of the Holy Spirit. We need to respect this.  We also need to remember the sensitivity of the Holy Spirit. It’s too easy to grieve God.  Listen to Ephesians 4:30-31: “Do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.”

The chief way we grieve the Spirit is by bitterness. This could be pointing the finger at someone else, losing your temper or road rage. But if you ask Holy Spirit to help you to overcome these, he will give you joy, peace and authenticity.  This doesn’t mean that you can’t be angry – just not vent it in a sinful way.  David took his anger to the Lord in Psalm 69. Mercy tempers anger and cools it right down, which is why we don’t outgrow the need for mercy.   If you do grieve the Spirit, you don’t lose your faith, but you can lose your sense of his presence.  So our job is to be quick to repent.  Imagine if the ungrieved Holy Spirit filled ALL of us.  No one would take offence at mistakes. There would be no bitterness and nothing to prove. This is a beautiful part of being in the middle of the river.

When you have no offence or bitterness in your heart, you can walk with integrity. This is in balance between Word and Spirit.  It becomes easier to HEAR his voice.  Ask God his opinion on the attitudes you have. Work on not grieving Holy Spirit.   The Holy Spirit is like a dove, gentle, untrained and wild.  Pigeons on the other hand are angry birds, that can be trained. Too often we’re like the pigeons that squawk and hurt each other.

The Spirit and Word also converge in surprises.  Allow Holy Spirit to surprise you.  This is where specific nudges come in, based on Jesus’ words to love our neighbours.  The NOW aspect is the Holy Spirit’s timing. This is just like Peter and John with the beggar at Gate Beautiful. It’s like Heidi Baker with stopping for the one. It’s like Matteus van der Steen with stopping the car to reach out to two specific Ugandan street children.  God’s plans are wonderful, as are the specific assignments he gives us. When we walk in that middle, we are in just the right spot to hear God.  So watch your heart, and don’t choose any sides.  Just look up and keep your focus on the Lord.

If we, as Christians, are to fulfill our calls, we are to be a people of love, power, morality, truth, justice and equality.  We are to be an example of how to live: in love, peace and unity with each other. We are also to manifest God’s glory and power.  When we fulfill this purpose, we become the people of the radical middle; as a conscience to our nations, and a living testimony that points to God.

Bert Farias from Charisma Magazine notes that this radical middle is a stance that God often takes in scripture. He doesn’t take sides. One example of this is when Joshua was preparing for the battle of Jericho and his eyes are opened to see the Captain of the Lord’s army.  The  captain follows the Lord’s command, not Joshua’s.  Joshua 5:13-14 shares, “When Joshua was near the town of Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with sword in hand. Joshua went up to him and demanded, “Are you friend or foe?”  14 “Neither one,” he replied. “I am the commander of the Lord’s army.”  So Farias advises, “let us not take sides, but let us move according to the Lord’s command.” [Bart Farias, “The Church must move from the Right Wing and Left Wing into the Radical Middle” Charisma magazine.

Let’s pray. Lord, open our hearts to be at the centre between Word and Spirit.  Take away any bitterness, and offence we may have against others.  We forgive those who have hurt us, and ask for you to heal and soften our hearts.  We want to walk to hear your voice, experience your joy and be at peace as we love others through you.  Bring us to balance and show us mercy, as you transform our character.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

If you’d like to hear an audio version of this article, please visit the Ways to Grow in God podcast page on the Coppleswesterncape.ca website (under the listen drop-down menu).  Click here  and scroll down to #56!

If you have been blessed by this article, please let us know!

For those looking for news on my cancer journey, I’m now about to have a preliminary scan before 16 radiotherapy sessions in Cape Town.  My oncologist believes this may be the last major step of beating the cancer, so it doesn’t return.  I’m also in MLD and compression therapy for lymphedema (also known as lymphoedema), which is swelling of the lymphatic system.  While we explored that this condition was a side result of the mastectomy, I actually had primary lymphedema in my legs since 2006.  It’s time it’s dealt with.  Click here to the medical campaign page for info! 

Blessings to all,
Laurie-Ann Copple

 

Growing in God: How give and receive honour (Honour pt 2)

My name is Laurie-Ann, and I’m a missionary. During my mission travels, I have ministered with people in Northern Ireland, Pakistan, Canada and the USA.  I’ve also ministered in African countries like Kenya, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, South Africa and Botswana. But at this time, we live in the beautiful Western Cape of South Africa.

During our last article, we learned it’s important to develop a culture of honour.  This means intentionally choosing to honour God, leaders, widows, the vulnerable and everyone we meet.  In earlier teachings we learned about encouragement and blessing. Honour is a BIG part of that.  Honour is choosing to see the potential, the intrinsic value or the hidden gold inside a person. You draw it out of them.  Relationships grow stronger and full of healing when honour is involved.  When we honour and listen to people, it grows your relationship. When we do this with God, it’s very special.   Imagine what would happen if we honour and really listen to our spouse!  No more nagging.  No more need to shut out nagging with half-closed ears. Honour validates.  Dishonour… well, it basically feels like a curse.  That is especially the case with the commandment of honouring your parents.  If you don’t, your life won’t be blessed, or even long-lived.

Tony and I work with children and teens in the townships, as well as some farm children in an area between Worcester and Robertson. Many of these kids don’t understand about honour, and authority.  Some of their parents do, since we’ve often been addressed as tannie and oom.  Our team has been loving on these kids for a year now.  It’s a slow process, since we only see them once a week.  Respect is important and we are earning their respect with being constant.

Yet we also battle a different culture.  How does the Cape Coloured community express honour?  Or the Xhosa?  Or even the Afrikaaners?  We are learning.  Sometimes we have to set aside our Canadian and British sense of honour.  Thankfully there are commonalities.     The language of divine honour is still to hold great value in the people you are with.  Honour actually sustains the human spirit.

We have young teen girls who we have been training to lead Bible studies in Avian Park private homes.  These girls need to honour their hosts, since these venues are opened up for their ministry.  The girls also need to honour the children who are with them.  They would be like big sisters to the children who come to hear stories that will impact their lives.   They need to be consistent in loving them and being there for the younger children.

Years ago, I remember an American prophet who ministered in a Toronto church where I was a parishioner.  His name was Marc Dupont.  He said that just as the medium is the message (a phrase championed by Canadian Marshall McLuhan), so the prophet is the prophecy.  What Marc meant was that whatever you are proclaiming must be shown in your own life.  If you are passionate about spreading the Father God heart of love, then that love must show in your life to others.  If you are to speak about honour, you must model and show honour in your own life. So these girls must show the love of God as big sisters to these kids.  They must also honour the hosts of the house venues where they are ministering.  This is a learning process, and we find that discipling these girls a joy in many ways, yet they need to learn how to honour us as well.    It may take time.  So, we know about establishing a culture of honour. When we honour, it blesses those we honour, but it also blesses us!  This is especially the case of honouring parents, but it also works in honouring everyone.

On the world political scene, the deliberate use of lies and ‘fake news’ to gain political advantage is the very opposite of honouring those who may be standing in the way of a particular objective.  It breaks the rules of classic diplomacy, and it will always in the end worsen the situation.  The attitudes of some leaders have been influenced by the tactics of  thousands of social media users and people attempting to hoodwink as many as possible with urban legends and conspiracy theories.  The whole concept of honour and the value of truth are unknown by such people.

How do we honour?  We start with God.  So how do we honour God?   We honour God with our sincere worship. John records the angels singing in Revelation 4:11, “You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honour and power.  For you created all things, and they exist because you created what you pleased.”   We want to worship God in more ways than songs.   It needs to be a lifestyle where we put him first, and honour him above everything else.  We need to pour out what we do every day to God.  I do that in my art, writing and working with children.  I’m still learning to do that in other ways.  God is interested in all we do – not just the things we do in public.  He’s worth it because he is worthy.

We honour God with our tithes and offerings. Proverbs 3:9 asks us to “Honour the Lordwith your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce.”  In the law it was about giving him a tenth, and God would multiply the remaining nine tenths. A tithe is a tenth, and the offerings may be above that, for different reasons.  But whether it’s the first ten percent or an offering, it should be the best we have, not what we’re trying to get rid of.  Why give him garbage when he gave us his best?  The prophet Malachi catches some of this dialogue in Malachi 1: 6-8.  Listen to it in the Message version:

“Isn’t it true that a son honors his father and a worker his master? So if I’m your Father, where’s the honor? If I’m your Master, where’s the respect?” God-of-the-Angel-Armies is calling you on the carpet: “You priests despise me!  “You say, ‘Not so! How do we despise you?’  “By your shoddy, sloppy, defiling worship.  “You ask, ‘What do you mean, “defiling”? What’s defiling about it?’  7-8 “When you say, ‘The altar of God is not important anymore; worship of God is no longer a priority,’ that’s defiling. And when you offer worthless animals for sacrifices in worship, animals that you’re trying to get rid of—blind and sick and crippled animals—isn’t that defiling? Try a trick like that with your banker or your senator—how far do you think it will get you?” God-of-the-Angel-Armies asks you.

Sometimes we defile others when we give hand-me-downs that aren’t in good condition.  Many people in Canada give their garbage clothes away when they are rags.  There’s a reason why certain charities ask for gently used items.  I remember when I came to Kenya for the first time.  I noticed a stall of used clothes in Nairobi and I was interested.  My co-worker Jeff told me, “those clothes came from North America.”  It’s true – so many of our cast-off items do end up in Africa.  Think of how much longer these clothes would last if they were in better condition.  Some are polluted offerings.  And think, how many times we just give our leftover change to God? It’s not like He’s a parking attendant on the street.

We honour God by keeping the truth and speaking it in love. The enemy has always attacked truth, but now, it is more obvious. Currently, truth is twisted about sexual orientation with much confusion over gender identity.  That’s only one area that’s being re-written in many cultures.  There’s also the fight to proclaim life on both ends of the spectrum: conception and natural death.  We have abortion on demand as if it’s birth control.  We have euthanasia for the expendable of any age.  What happened to loving LIFE?  Instead we have a culture of death.  This is a deception to keep us from the word of God.  It’s not honouring.

The Prophet Isaiah warned us in Isaiah 5:20: “What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil; that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter.”  Talk about confusing!   Malachi 2: 1-8 also talks about God’s priests teaching lies to seekers, and the dishonour that comes when that happens.  Patricia King says that when you step into honour, you step into blessing. When you step into dishonour, you step into a curse.  These scriptures are a call for the priesthood to speak righteousness that will align people with blessings and honour.  We need to keep God’s word as part of honouring him, especially in a way that reflects God’s heart.

We honour God through obedience. This is obedience to God, but it can also affect how we honour our leaders. The writer of the book of Hebrews advises in Hebrews 13:17 to “Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.”  Say you’re in a church and the pastor goes into things that are definitely off.  Patricia King has advice on how to handle that.  She says, “If you leave a church due to not feeling comfortable with your decisions, just leave.  Don’t make a fuss. That’s not disobedience. Not making a fuss is actually honouring them. If you do make a fuss, you are cursing your life. It  brings contention, strife and division to that church.

Let’s say that you are in a church and the pastor starts preaching that leaving newborn babies in garbage dumps is fine.  And you’re sitting there, thinking, ‘oh my gosh, that is so not fine.”  In fact, the early church rescued unwanted babies all the time in a stand for life.  So you go and talk with the pastor with respect. You say “pastor, the word says this…  Can you explain to me where you’re getting this from?”  He explains, and you say, “I am so sorry, I love you. But I cannot agree with that. I am not in agreement with it and I cannot support it.  I’m going to be leaving this church. I’m going to be praying for you. I’m not going to be speaking evil against you, but I need to speak the truth in love.”  So you leave, but you do it in honour, not dishonour. God’s going to look after that.  We need to honour God’s truth but in a way that isn’t dishonouring either.

Here’s another example. Say your employer wants you to do something that’s wrong. Nicky Gumbel tells a story on Alpha about Gimbo, a man who refused to lie on the phone for his employer, Harrods. He was asked to tell the caller that his boss was out and Gimbo refused.  When the boss got off the phone, he was angry; but Gimbo replied, “If I can lie for you, I can lie TO you.  And I won’t ever do that.”  From then on, Gimbo became the most trusted employee in that company.  Gimbo honoured his boss.

And now to honour others.  How do we honour them?  Here’s some things that will help you.  Look for the good in each other.  Celebrate each other.  I remember helping people in a divorce recovery workshop back in the 90’s.  Holy Spirit impressed on my heart that these hurting people needed not only to forgive, but they needed to honour their former spouses.  As well as any potential new spouses!  When Tony and I married, we included mutual encouragement in our vows.  We could have included honour as well.  But the core is to look for the good in each other and celebrate that.  Don’t speak bad about them to other people, although sometimes you may have to acknowledge issues to work through in private.

And then there are the people that seem to rub you the wrong way.  It may just be a cultural difference or a personality quirk.  So don’t look at that one thing that drives you crazy.  Look for things that you can honour.  Look for things you can celebrate. You can always find SOMETHING to celebrate in that person.  Look at their intrinsic value – what they have inside.

One way to honour is to celebrate birthdays.  In our Worcester church, they post the names of all the people who have a birthday that week. A leader then shares a word of encouragement to the birthday people.  I celebrated a birthday during Harvest School in northern Mozambique, and I was showered all day with love, songs, cake and more. I think it was my favourite birthday.   Those were acts of honour.  Then there’s mother’s day and father’s day. You come to church and they honour parents on their day.  I’ve received flowers and chocolate and Tony’s received fishing birdies, chocolate and biltong. Those days are an opportunity to honour each other.  It’s one thing I like about Facebook – it reminds you of your friend’s birthdays!  It’s easy to honour on a birthday. Could we choose to honour on the other days of the year?

Last week we talked about honouring our parents. You can also honour your children. If you are a parent, aunt, uncle or children’s worker, you can speak life into these kids. Recognize the unique way that God has created them to be. Allow them to be who they are.  Don’t compare them with their siblings.  Listen to their ideas and tell them that you’re proud of them. Tony and I honour our girls by encouraging them to say what they love about each other.  This is becoming a regular exercise.  They are beginning to respond, and last week, Bella decided that she would say what she loved about us.  The previous week, the girls told me that they loved the way I loved them.  Bella told me that the first time I welcomed her to our home, she felt loved and all warm inside.  She’s come to think of me as a second mother and she told me she loved me.  Then she turned to Tony. She told him that she loved him also, and said that he was kind, full of respect for people and that he is there for them.   Wow, we really felt honoured by Bella, who has such a gift of encouragement and teaching.

We can honour each other by preferring them over ourselves.  One way to do this is to be generous.  There are so many ways to do that.  Sometimes gifts are helpful, other moments need acts of service.

We can honour each other by speaking well of them in public as well as private.  This includes when the person is not even there – it’s not done for effect to impress that person.  But even then, some people can honour publicly but dishonour them in private. Patricia King says that “sometimes we’ll say something nice about a person because it’s right to do. But then we’ll go talk to someone else in negativity about them, and that’s dishonouring.  That cancels out your honour. You want to have honour on every side.”

We can honour someone by giving them a special personal gift, like the Queen of Sheba did to Solomon. Don’t you feel honoured when someone gives you a gift? It’s like wow, they were thinking of me!   This is what I tried to do when I drew some of our kids club children in a drawing with Jesus.  One of the girls was amazed and said with wonder, “Wow, you thought of me??  Jesus was also thinking of me?”  That reaction made it all worthwhile.  She received the love and felt honoured.

We can honour by caring for others – especially widows and the vulnerable.  Sometimes they need a little offering to them to give them hope and a sense of value.  It’s beautiful.

Honour is also something that can be culturally sensitive.  It requires awareness and a gentleness to go carefully when you approach someone.  Honour is something that is easier if we deal with the junk in our hearts.  The junk includes unforgiveness, pride and conflict.  If these things are not dealt with in our lives, they can lead to the very opposite of honour.  They will further fragment broken relationships, cause wounded hearts, inequality, pain and fear.

Forgiveness is something that arose again and again in Rob Packer’s book The Life-Giving Power of Honour, as well as Danny Silk’s book Developing a Culture of Honour.  Forgiveness is powerful. I’ve watched healing happen through the lives of those forgiving and the forgiven.   Anglican pastor Dale Lang publicly forgave the school shooter who killed his son back in 1999.  Dale ministers to other families who have endured similar suffering and he brings forgiveness and love into the equation.  He’s able to honour them, since he knows the pain, and he also knows that bitterness and unforgiveness is a trap.

It’s too easy to not forgive if you feel you have been dishonoured.  This can happen with friends and family who may have become too familiar with you. They may not even recognize they are dishonouring you. Proverbs 18:19 says that “it is harder to make amends with an offended friend than to capture a fortified city.”  I know this truth personally.

Years back, I made a cultural error with a female Japanese pastor I was friends with at the time. When you are in a Japanese home, you must take your shoes off as a sign of respect and honour.  I always did this, except for one time, where I just wasn’t thinking.  I brought over another friend to introduce to this lady, and I was focused on my other friend, rather than my hostess.  I forgot to take off my shoes.  She became extremely upset with me, shooed me out, and never spoke to me again.  While I apologized deeply and sincerely for my momentary lapse, this was not enough.  I grieved the loss of the friendship, and I never forgot this lesson on honour.  When Tony and I took a tour of our South African rental home, the then-current tenants were from South Korea.  They also showed honour by taking off their shoes, but they offered honour to us by offering little sockettes to cover our feet.  So we complied and smiled at them.

So when you honour, remember that honour grows nobility in people.   Honour is humility in action. It’s the very opposite of pride that isolates you into a prison of self.  Kris Valloton says that “for a Christian, honour is a condition of the heart, not just the product of a good environment.”

Today we’ve journeyed on how to honour others.  There’s so much to learn, but along the path, I’ve hinted at times on how we receive honour.  Since honour is relational, it usually is returned back.  On our next broadcast we’ll discover more about how to receive or obtain honour.   Because we are God’s creations, we have special value inside. And when we come to faith, we have Christ in us, the hope of glory.  Look for the gold in each other and choose to honour.

Lord, I ask you to help us learn to honour others.  Help us to honour you and to learn the importance of honour. Open our eyes to see the beauty in others, whether they are family, friends, or complete strangers.  May we be instruments in healing where dishonour has wounded souls, as you are healing us.

In Jesus’ name. Amen.

If you would like to hear an audio version of this article, please follow this link to CopplesWesternCape.ca and scroll down to #37

Blessings and love, Laurie-Ann

PS for any of you who pray – I was diagnosed with stage 3B inflammatory breast cancer here in South Africa.  We will need to go back to Canada after the chemotherapy treatments are done, to continue treatment in Ottawa.  Please keep us in prayer for healing and finances.  We are crowdfunding, since insurance won’t cover this, and we are already missionaries living by faith.

Our medical campaign page is here for financial contribution info, medical story info and prayer points: Copple Medical page.