I MUST complain!

Job 7:11

11 “I cannot keep from speaking.
    I must express my anguish.
    My bitter soul must complain.

“One of the most consistent teachings of Scripture is that moments of difficulty will come. Rather than grumblingwe should pray and push forward, trusting God to expand our souls.” 

This morning as I read the excerpt above from a devotional written by a well-known Christian leader, my eyes fixated on the words, “we should.” As I paused to consider the proceeding phrase, “rather than grumbling,” I became angry. I agreed with the sentiment of what the author was saying, “we should” pray. However, I found myself adamantly opposed to the statement that suggested what we should not dogrumble– or as Job puts it, complain. In the current season of my life, I have felt the sting of familiar religious phrases from the friends of Job who tell me what I should and should not do to end my suffering. The words they communicated may have been true, but they did not taste like the sweet fruit of love.

We should” reeks of a religious spirit. Its motivation is that of obligation to the law, not love. Jesus never taught His disciples to perform the ten commandments perfectly to please Him. Instead, He invited them- He invites us- to love Him; thus, fulfilling the most important commandment in the law of Moses. The Lords desire is that we trust Him with all of our heart (mind, will and emotions).

I know about loving Him with some of my heart. I was what some would call a strong-willed child. And that strong will didn’t go away when I was born again! As a young believer, I was on my way to becoming a well-respected religious leader. A Pharisee of Pharisees. I worked diligently at transforming my mind. I disciplined my will to submit, submit, submit. But I was absolutely void of any emotion in my relationship with the Lord. I had spent an entire lifetime learning to stuff my feelings. I knew how to pray and push on. That is, until 2011, when I saw JESUS face to face while receiving healing and deliverance ministry from others in the body of Christ. During that encounter, I was SET FREE from emotional bondage! By the power of His Spirit, I could no longer keep from speaking. I HAD to express my anguish. My bitter soul HAD to complain. As I did so, the Light of the world exposed what was hidden in darkness, thus releasing a floodgate of tears that as Corey Russell says, turned into liquid prayers.

My friend, I submit to you that we SHOULD grumble, complain, throw a hissy fit, or have a temper tantrum! God already knows what’s in our hearts. Why are we so afraid of expressing it to Him? Do we fear His rejection? Do we believe He will leave or forsake us if we don’t perform our religious duties perfectly? Or do we fear what our friends will think or say if we absolutely lose it? I encourage you to read to the end of Job’s story in the book that bears His name. Yes, God rebuked Job for his pride, but He did not condemn him for expressing what was in his heart as he suffered great loss. 

Let us, like Job, bare our souls to the One who knows every intimate detail of our lives. Let us trust that when we have a 4-year-old meltdown in our room, our mothers garden, or the Walmart parking lot, He can handle it. Let us believe He is who He says He is: comforter, healer, deliverer. Let us remember, He is a good Father, able to give us good gifts and a good spanking, when we need it. Let us be like little children, expressing the good, bad and ugly in His presence, without fear. This is how we learn to love Him with ALL of our hearts.

Parents, Do Not Provoke

Ephesians 6:1-3

Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord,[a] for this is the right thing to do. “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.”[b]

Another parenting failure.

I’ve had a few (thousand) in my tenure as a mom.

Recently, I ignored anotherwarning from the Spirit about one of our children. As a result, I failed to intervene on their behalf, again. So, the Lord spoke through two of our other children to get my attention. Hello!? Did you hear what I said? He pursued and corrected me through our kids!!!

Humbled.

Grateful.

Thankful.

Ephesians 6:4

Parents, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.

I used to think the above-mentioned verse meant that parents only provoked their children to anger by commission. As a kid, I often erupted when my parents disciplined, said “no,” or restricted me from what I wanted. And I’ve experienced the same backlash from some of our strong-willed kiddos. But today I saw this passage differently. I realized children can be provoked to anger by omission.

In the midst of this latest parenting episode, our child was lashing out in anger because of what I didn’t do. I ignored the Lord, neglected to intervene, and justified myself in being passive. In so doing, I failed to see what was happening in the unseen. Our child was battling, unsuccessfully, against an enemy that is continually trying to steal, kill and destroy their life.

But, God.

GOD!!! 

God, our helper – the One who knows all and sees all, gave dreams, wisdom and discernment to several of our family members. The result? Difficult discussions and a willingness to admit failure, but not defeat. God was faithful! He provided a way of escape for ALL OF US! 

Now before we go blaming the enemy for everything, let’s get one thing straight: Satan and his legions have no authority unless we give it to him. Our child was not some innocent bystander (neither was I). And this particular onslaught was not a result of us advancing the Kingdom- thus, ticking off the enemy’s camp. No. Repeated rebellion against authority resulted in an invitation to torment. Deliverance and discipline (boundaries) was needed- and has been implemented. Boundaries guard the heart! An unguarded heart is open to all forms of attack. And an unguarded heart is easily provoked to anger. 

I gotta tell ya…

Every failure I’ve endured as a parent is a result of a childish heart that rebels against the Father. Every success I’ve enjoyed is a result of a childlike heart that bows to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. And every triumph is a result of a humbled heart that obeys and overcomes by the power of His Spirit.

My fellow parents,

I plead with you, for the sake of future generations. Throw out your self-help books. Ignore the educated experts. Reject the advice of the world. Stop making behavioral excuses because of labels (I have a child on the Autism Spectrum and one with ADHD. I understand the science- but the Spirit trumps all in the training of our children). Seek the Lord. Fear Him. Obey Him. He alone is the creator and sustainer of family. He alone is the One who beckons prodigals to return home. Let’s get to know the Father. Let’s train our kids to know Him. The eternity of their souls is at stake. 

Childish things

1 Corinthians 13

13 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;[a] but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages[b] and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! 10 But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless.

11 When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 12 Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.[c] All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

Amidst the ongoing political chaos, I recently got sucked into the vortex of fear that invaded the body of Christ. As I continued hearing and reading the urgent messages by the right, left and middle that consumed the media, I began being tossed to and fro on the waves of public opinion.

Why?

I pulled up my anchor.

I stopped going off to a quiet place EVERY DAY to pray. Instead of picking up the Word, I picked up my iPad to read the words of others. I wanted to be informed. I wanted to be prepared for what might or might not happen. I wanted all knowledge of good and evil! I wanted to be. Like. God.

Thankfully, the Spirit within me interrupted the noise of the storm one morning and whispered 1 Corinthians 13 to my soul. I turned off the world and tuned into heaven. When I looked at the One sitting on the throne I realized that my focus had shifted to the words of prophetic people, Trump and Biden, Republican and Democrat. As a result of eating that fruit, I found myself naked and afraid- hiding from God. 

But…..He is faithful. He never grows weary of calling out to me, “Jodie, where are you?!”

Once again, His Word anchored my soul. His Word washed me in His love. His Word corrected and rebuked me. His Word cast out fear. And His Word beckoned me to love- regardless of church doctrine, regardless of political affiliation, regardless of who was right or wrong. I found it interesting as I re-read the overly familiar passage (1 Corinthians 13), that Paul seemed to divert from his love message to the church in Corinth by mentioning his childhood.

Why?

Perhaps he was saying that spiritual maturity does not equal soul maturity. 

Spiritual maturity (gifts):

Speaking in tongues

Praying in tongues

Prophesy

Words of knowledge

Faith

Giving

Service

Soul maturity (fruit):

Patient

Kind

Not jealous

Not boastful

Not proud

Not rude

Not demanding

Not irritable

Not record keeping

Not rejoicing in injustice

Never gives up

Never loses faith

Hopeful

Enduring

I’ve been saved and following the Lord for more than 20 years. I’ve grown in spiritual maturity; knowledge of the Word, prophesy, praying in tongues, giving and serving others, and interpreting Gods secrets revealed through dreams.

But in areas of my heart- my soul, I’m still a little girl. In immature little girl. I often think like an 8-year-old. I often reason like a 4-year-old. I haven’t put away all my childish things. Case in point: when the arrows of pain and pressure penetrate my heart, I sometimes react in outbursts of anger. Like a volcano, I erupt violently, spewing hot lava all over the people I’m supposed to love. Like a child, I basically throw a massive temper tantrum.

As I’ve listened to and read other believers words, posts and comments on social media I see that I am not alone in my immaturity. The body of Christ has many infants and toddlers who refuse to grow up. Instead, we’re content to remain in adolescence for decades. Instead of crucifying our flesh, we continue to operate out of our anointing without operating out of the Fathers heart. Instead of repenting for our childish ways, we decree and declare and demand our own way. We have been nosy gongs and clanging cymbals during this election. It grieves the Lord. And it should grieve us.

I don’t understand His ways, but I believe the Commander of Heavens armies is sovereign over the Commander in Chief of America. I don’t understand His ways, but I believe the Spirit is saying to the churches in this hour, “it’s time to grow up in love.” I don’t understand His ways, but I believe God is calling those of us who’ve been prodigals to come home. He’s causing those of us who’ve been stuck in the pig muck of society to come to our senses. He is running out to meet those of us who’ve spent our inheritance on the Great Prostitute. He’s putting a ring and a robe on those of us who’ve lived as orphans. He’s welcoming us as sons and daughters back into His house. He’s teaching us how to pray. He’s training us to love, as He first loved us. 

My brother, my sister, I humbly ask you to take a moment. Leave the worlds playground and go off to a quiet place to pray. Allow the Spirit to search your heart. Ask the Lord, “what are the areas of immaturity in my soul?” Confess your childish ways. Repent for your temper tantrums. Receive His love, and return His love by obeying His commands. 

The world is watching and waiting for us to prove that we are His disciples. 

John 13:35

35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”