Happy July! Ironic how the very month we are to celebrate our freedom with fireworks, fireworks are flying over the news and social media. The very underpinnings of the constitution are being shaken and many are left with their head spinning. But there is hope! Here is my "WOW Story" with an encouragement as we celebrate our freedom…
These days may seem bleak for many. In light of the dark news of division, this is what came to question: Freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Tolerance over conviction came into question for many. To stand or to sit, to speak in love equally at the same time- how does one respond? I could sense the pressure many felt while watching the words fill the airways like a pressure front coming through the atmosphere. One thing was certain, the climate was changing. This heaviness I felt through what was whirling around me brought a yet bigger question that took me to my knees: “How will the Christians respond while caught within this paradox?” I knew my response was to be (only) on my knees before I speak.
Feeling not as much lament for the situation as much as what our reaction was to be in the situation, and feeling that many have a great burden for feeling caught in the middle, I voiced a prayer that in my small history, each time the tectonic plates of my world have shaken: “Father what is Your heart?”
As I prayed it was as if the radio volume was being turned up within me…“proclaim,” “proclaim,” “proclaim.” Clearly this reminded me of a pulpit or podium. And as suddenly as lightning can strike in the midst of a storm- RIGHT then, my phone buzzed. I received a text from dear Pastor Friends from out of town: “We have a pulpit that we don’t need, and we were wondering if you wanted it?” Astounded I gasped at the screen, “WHAT?!”…Ok, I live far away, I’m not a pastor of a church, and wherever I go to speak they already have a pulpit (Although I’m usually too short to stand behind it). –So why would I get an offer for one?!...WHY NOW?
Then a photo crossed my phone-screen of this offered gift, and what was engraved on the front of this pulpit? -Neighbors to Nations. “Oh WOW,” I said to myself. Yes, this wow moment jolted me. This was three in a row, three meaning also confirmation. And so there was no choice, by obedience, I texted back “I RECEIVE IT” (Goofy huh?)! How could I not, this big clunky thing is a symbol. The Lord confirmed and answered – in His everyday run of the mill ways (Which by His standards are AMAZING) He "wowed" me with an unexpected, power-filled answer, and with clarity that I am not quick to forget; that He is listening and how very much He cares for His Church and my country which I was praying for. The message from His pulpit to me: When you have the fear of God, you have freedom in Christ, and when you have that, you can be free from the fear of man; so proclaim it!
Many of us have heard –“Love the sinner, hate the sin;” but what about “love the sinner and hate my own sin?” This is the conviction that was shaking my bones- my own evil. What if the Church, His bride needed her dress to be dry-cleaned a bit too? The point not being that we enable it, but we must realize that to turn to God we must first turn ourselves. We are the ones called to stand in the gap in prayer on behalf and repent first. That is what caused the solemn assembly on my living room floor. I am applying what I spoke of in the first post on the National Day of Prayer, on revival prayer, when I say now- judgment begins in the house of God.
This verse can seem condemning at first to be pointing to others, but instead I look at the three fingers pointing to myself. This was the conviction and lament I had more than any other that brought me to this conviction: “Breaking comes before breakthrough and breakthrough before victory.”
BEFORE WE SPEAK WE MUST BE SILENT
Before we speak we must be silent. Sometimes it is seconds, sometimes longer and it is different for everyone in every situation. However, the truth holds that it pays to be proactive rather than reactive. My conviction will always be that despite opposition and offense, the body of Christ needs to stick to their convictions. Why- because Jesus in obedience stuck to the cross and stayed there; for freedom for all. And we are to proclaim from our "pulpits" too; the only question is the receptivity of the audience.
Isaiah 62:1 For Zion's sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem's sake I will not remain quiet, till her vindication shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch. I relate to the question that has heads spinning: On the timeline of history, when the world flip-flops and good is evil and evil is good, do we stand and speak?
Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! There in Isaiah 5:20, 21, the prophet is nudged not to judge to the people living in Jerusalem and Judah but to proclaim the heart of the Father- to warn, to turn, and to redeem. It is a simple, but loud plea. It is a proclamation.
It makes me wonder, on the timeline of mankind, where is the time we are all called to be a prophet and proclaim? After all, there is a difference between both DISCERNMENT and judgment, and also enabling and unconditional love. So the difficulty is how do we speak the truth in love so it is heard? The truth is, regardless of your volume, soft and sweet or loud with the voice of angry thunder, many will only hear it as static. So bottom line: Love does win, but whether we win in the heavenly realms but lose on earth, that doesn’t matter, because Jesus love wins to withstand all of us.
Reverend Billy Graham once said, “It is the Holy Spirit's job to convict, God's job to judge and my job to love”. Jesus is the one true righteous judge. He alone will hold the scales of both mercy and judgment. As the scales tip by the one who weighs- I am so thankful that Mercy triumphs over judgment. And what timing as we celebrate the season of freedom in the land of the free! As a believer, what will you pledge your allegiance? – No I don’t mean what side of the debate will you pledge to – but what will you serve, what flag will you wave, the Fear of God or the Fear of Man?
WHAT FLAG DO YOU WAVE?
We have seen and heard news related to many a flag this past year. Three in particular come to mind. One black, like a dark veil of deception, trying to cover the news- crossing lines of latitude and longitude, its very fabric like vicious death, covers countries abroad, blacking out the light of our own brothers and sisters. This same death-march is determined to master over all, including our nation. Comparable to a black veil looming over as shadow, floating quietly, venturing over the dotted lines of each state- to land upon and eventually smother the freedoms we enjoy, and so often I have taken for granted. The dark deception it brings, that we must bow and smother our freedom to speak, to do- even to live our convictions.
Even in our own land, another flag brings debate of allegiance to the ways of old- now, for several, the X upon it representing division and death.
However, there is a third flag– its colors do not evoke fear of death and destruction, nor does it X-out others in division and discord. From the first day it flew, its colors and their representation were a declaration that would attest, represent, and bring LIFE (I guess this is where we insert music, “It’s A Grand Old Flag”).
Through these trials of the very offenses we realize- Freedom is LIFE.
Nothing can suffocate, black-out, or X-out the LIFE and freedom that Christ’s love and unity brings among brothers. As long as we have breath, death threats to our souls will not suffocate or defeat us. Not in the heart of the free ones.
Thomas Jefferson once said – “I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.” And that is why the red stripe in my flag represents blood; shed in freedom for my freedom. And this justice fought was exemplified by the one who gave the greatest sacrifice – Christ; the greatest freedom-fighter of all, when He shed His blood and fought for “liberty and justice” for every man, and mankind itself. The blood of the Lamb- by it we all can be free. They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. Revelation 12:11
We all can be free: you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. 1 Peter 1:18-19 This is why when I pray over my country, I pray (Actually I plead) that the blood of Jesus be over this land like a banner waving over it, reminding me that “His banner over me is love” Song of Solomon 2:4. The LORD declares this banner of covering as protection and a promise. And so we raise a banner to “denounce and declare” over the darkness to declare TRUTH.
In the same way as those persecuted before us, both of those in centuries past like Stephen who was stoned (35 AD), Polycarp who stood before the Romans and their anti-Christ spirit (255 AD), Bonhoeffer who defied the darkness of tyranny (1945), and now…COUNTLESS innocent followers of an accused “infidel”- The Christ- who have befallen tortures history is yet to tell –all of these dear Saints, their testimonies poured in running lines of red, proclaimed this freedom over an anti…Christ spirit. Any spirit that is anti- Christ brings the spirit of bondage and death (History proves this). So in the same way, we are called as ones to stand in the light of freedom to stand and bring …“Truth and justice for all.”
Isaiah 61:1 is the prophetic first mention of what would be the mission of the Messiah and it is my mission statement: “The Spirit of the Lord God is on Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to the prisoners…”
Christ is the great freedom fighter. So glad He fought for all. In the same, we are to stand for liberty and justice for all. This is how we can join together in the fight, and rise up by bowing down…
We thank you, that you alone proclaimed the foundations of the world into place- of each realm and every Kingdom. Of every mighty, owner, Lord and ruler- YOU ALONE are the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Now, standing in the gap, we pray, and yes plead, that by your blood, shed for us, a boundary of protection be placed around every dotted line of these United States.
With humble valor I ask, invite and implore you Lord:“COME”. Come to bring us the “Fear of the LORD” that reverential awe and wonder would lead our hands and steps. We need a desire to know and do your pleasing, and perfect will; that there be ‘liberty and justice for all’.
For you alone -hold the Scales of Justice.
You alone -are the One True Righteous Judge.
You alone -triumph in mercy over judgment.
Lord we implore, by your utmost grace and mercy, please -apply the scales to proclaim your favor and loving kindness.
Please rescue us from the dark veil of deception that attempts to cover and crowd our view - to oppress and smother us. And instead, wave as a banner over us, and this land, the emblem of freedom -brought by only you- when you fought for our freedom on the cross…and from the grave rose victorious despite the depths of hell and Hades.
May your banner over us be love.
For intense days dark, require equal prayer, said in courage: “Little prayer, little power, much prayer, much power.” (E.M. Bounds) And so, I rise up by bowing down, to pledge my allegiance and give my heart.
Lord I invite you -draw a circle around my own heart first. For true freedom is found in and only through you. I submit myself to gain my freedom. Please take away all my bigotry, judgment, prejudice, and malice I have owned and kept there. Fill those gaps and spaces with all of who you are…LOVE.
Love -to give unconditionally,
Love -to not tolerate sin (especially my own first).
Love -to know when and how to speak and proclaim your heart alone.
And in turn, I stand in the gap for both sides of debate and division, and ask that you alone, draw the line in the sand. -That single line, that by your decree, rightly divides between the flesh and the Spirit. For in you alone I know: “Your boundaries fall for me in pleasant places.”.
Wisdom, discernment, unity, peace, protection, and vision...
We need it now.
I need it now.
WE need you.
JESUS...Jesus is our freedom
In and by your name I pray. Amen.”
Jesus is our freedom
©2016 Casey Schutrop, WOW Ministries
“LORD I have heard of your fame; I stand in AWE of your deeds, LORD. Revive your work throughout all of our lives in our day, in our time make them known…” Habakkuk
Next Post we will continue to celebrate how all can have spiritual freedom through Christ. Be sure to follow WOW on the many social networking platforms you find here and to see the added quotes and verses surrounding the topic of freedom and be sure to connect with us in community. It has been an honor for our team to pray for requests and to hear as you share your stories.
Has the Fear of man ever affected you?
When this happens what do you do?
How does injustice effect you?
When do you feel the most free?